Kuukausittainen arkisto:heinäkuu 2009

New York 27th-28th June 2009

It is time to tell about my 2 last days in the US. I took a Greyhound bus one more time from Hagerstown to New York via Philadelphia. I arrived in New York around 5 pm and headed to a beautiful chapel for a Saturday evening meditation, after which I had a nice get-together with some nice people. I got the chance to tell them about Finland and let them taste Finnish salmiakki (ammonium chloride, commonly eaten as candy in Finland), which about 90 % of all foreigners find disgusting:D



I had the privilege to stay with Tony, a friend of a friend of a friend, with Portuguese background. He had a nice flat on Manhattan with nice flatmates as well. We had a good evening with some good beer and excellent music as well. In the morning we headed to St. Patrick’s cathedral for Sunday morning Mass. It is one of the world’s biggest and most impressive churches and it was full of people.




After Mass we went to Central Park and took a ride around with a horse (and a rider who explained to us where all the famous movie scenes took place).



Then it was time to have lunch, after which I already had to take the bus from Grand Central to the airport. There I was reunited with my father and brother. We spent the last (little) money we had and got on the plane, which safely brought us home to Finland. Then I had only a week to recover from jet lag and prepare for my trip to Italy, about which I will be writing… soon.:)

Washington DC 26th June 2009


Welcome to Washington DC and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception! Now that was another amazingly beautiful sanctuary right there, one of my definite favorites! I visited Washington with Bob Sungenis, had some great Ethiopian food first and then went to Mass here on St. Josemaría’s feastday.


After Mass we visited the bookshop and had a good laugh when in the ”saints” section there was first St. Therese of Lisieux and then next to her – Scott Hahn! As I was taking a photo, a woman walked by and informed me: ”He’s not a saint!” Sungenis had a good laugh and what crowned it all was that the woman recognized Sungenis and said some kind words to him.


Next we visited some sights, including the natural history museum where Sungenis as a faithful young earth creationists informed me of all the mistakes of the datings and reconstructions of various dinosaur bones etc. It was fun and we had good discussions. Then we saw the white house but we were lucky enough not to see Obama though.


It was a very hot day and so we got a beer and sat down at a concert of Celtic music. Then suddenly it started pouring and we got all wet but found shelter in an Episcopalian church. We drove back home, talked and had some wine and salmiakki, went to sleep, got up early in the morning and it was time for another bus ride… and the last days in New York.

St. Paul – Hagerstown/Greencastle June 24th-25th 2009

After the trip to Chisholm I came back to my host family and spent a fun evening with them telling about the trip and teaching twinkle twinkle to little James in the Finnish language. I also got to meet the first representative of the third generation. Here’s a nice family portrait. I really felt like part of the family.


Like mother, like daughter: Emily and Michelle going to morning Mass (and I with them of course). There was another perpetual adoration chapel and we stayed there for a while. There was also a nice picture of the conversion of St. Paul in the church.


Then it was time to leave St. Paul (both the picture and the city, but not the apostle) behind and head on a 27-hour-long road trip! I took the Greyhound bus from St. Paul to Hagerstown, Maryland, transfering in Chicago, Illinois and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plus somewhere extra. Some of the stops were in Madison, Tomah, Cleveland, Milwaukee… I sat next to some very interesting and sometimes peculiar people. A man from Liberia, a Sufi from Pakistan, an Amish family that spoke a very strange German dialect… at one point the lavatory ”for your convenience” (as the driver always announced) was actually for our inconvenience because well… it started stinking big time. Here are some views from the journey: Chicago by night, Pittsburgh by day and an Amish baby&uncle:)




Sometime before 6 pm on the 25th I arrived in Hagerstown. I was taken to Greencastle, PA, where the Sungenis family resides. Robert Sungenis is a Catholic apologist, founder and president of CAI. He is also a baseball umpire and so I got to see my first baseball game:) I also got to meet the wonderfully sweet children. They loved my magic tricks although there were problems pronouncing and remembering names on both sides:) I heard one of them later said: ”Elmo didn’t know our names, but he did card tricks for us.” :D



I also brought some salmiakki (ammonium chloride ”candy”) and soy sauce for Bob;)


Chisholm 23rd June 2009

And the journey continues. Now it’s time to tell about one of the most exciting days on my trip (and perhaps in my life too), as I finally got to travel to Chisholm where my grandfather was born in 1917. None of my family members ever got the chance to go there so I was the first. It wasn’t easy though – there are no trains there, no buses either, and the plane would’ve cost like 400-500 dollars. Providentially a friend of mine found two friends who were willing to help me out and drive me. Randy (left) drove me to Forest Lake and Paul (right) drove me to Chisholm and then back to Hinkley, where I took the bus back to St. Paul. We all had breakfast together and celebrated my graduation (Bachelor’s) which officially took place that very day.


After about 3 hours of driving up north we were finally in Chisholm. As people had told me, the nature (trees etc) in northern Minnesota is just like Finland, and so it was. On the way I was reading some old correspondence between my great-grandfather and the relatives back home in Finland. Chisholm itself as a town surprised me – it was much more beautiful and advanced than I thought. But it still retained a peculiar sense/spirit/smell of the early 1900s. Here are some of my first impressions in visual form…




We only had 3 hours to spend in Chisholm. Obviously our main concern was to try to find information on my family. The first thing we saw was the Tourist Information (imagine they have one in Chisholm but none in Pittsburgh!:D). We spent a while there and got some useful materials about Chisholm but the woman there gave us lousy advice as to how to spend the 3 hours (go eat somewhere nice, go see the mines and ride all these new fancy machines etc). We didn’t take the advice but instead went to the archives of the library. We had a look at some old newspapers but didn’t have much luck in finding info about my family.



Down the street there was a souvenir shop, and of course I wanted to get souvenirs for my family. I went in and realized it was almost all Nordic stuff, Finnish and Norwegian flags and hats and cups and mugs and whatnot. So I asked if I could find an American Finn or Finnish American, whichever way you want to put it, and soon the shop was full of them! So one of my long time dreams was fulfilled as I got to hear some true Finglish from these people:) Their parents had come to the US and stayed, they had been born there like my grandfather but never returned to Finland.


As you can see above, our next destination was the Research Center (yes, there just happened to be one in Chisholm, there aren’t many of them in the area). There we had some more luck and found some documents related to my great-grandfather. We also found his home and work address in old phonebooks, and with the help of old maps we found out which modern streets those houses are on today. Time was running out, but we made it just in time to the neighborhood and found all the relevant places. We even got inside the house where my grandfather was born and talked with the woman who lives there now.


So, after an intensive 3 hours (sharp!) we headed back with loads of materials, of which I could only cover a small portion in this article. I will hold a presentation to my family (and why not others too if someone is interested) on my grandfather’s birthday, the 6th of September this year, where I will go through more materials and in more detail. For now I leave you with a photo where I stand before the beautiful nature of the iron mine Chisholm next to the Research Center.


St. Louis Park & North St. Paul 21st-22nd June 2009

As I said before, I will have to skip over two days and come back to 19th-20th when I have my lost memory card. Now I will post about my days with the Jacobs and the Adam families in Minnesota, near St. Paul, the capital of the state. First, on the 21st I was taken to Holy Family Church in St. Louis Park where the parish priest gave an amazing homily on Fatherhood and the ”rights of men” (!) since it was Father’s day. I met my host family, Jim and Barbara Jacobs and we drove home – yes, I say home because the beautiful house immediately felt like home, and by the evening I felt as if I had been in the family for ages!



We had brunch and started talking about Alex Havard, who gave me Jim’s contact info, since he is a good friend of us both. We immediately connected and had loads of things to talk about. During brunch Jim and Barbara’s daughters came for a father’s day visit with their children, so it was a real family reunion. Discussion topics multiplied as I found out one of the son-in-laws knew about Kalevala and the other one was a theologian of Philipino origin. After brunch we juggled in the backyard with the grandchildren and had a lot of fun.


In the evening we went to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was a delicious dinner and we sure didn’t run out of discussion topics. Afterwards we drove around a bit and saw some of the lakes in the area – Minnesota is much like Finland (thousands of lakes…)



Later in the evening we attended Eucharistic Adoration in Holy Family Church. It was beautiful to see a perpetual adoration chapel. Next morning we went to morning Mass in the same church and met the parish priest again, and he gave another wonderful homily since it was the memorial day of St. Thomas More. The Jacobs lent me the movie Man for All Seasons on St. Thomas More which I then watched later on. After Mass and breakfast it was time to move on from a house&family that had truly become like another home for me.




Barbara was kind enough to drive me to my next destination, which wasn’t that far away anyway, namely, to North St. Paul. There I met Emily Adam, who had been in Finland a couple of years earlier. I also met her wonderful family, parents as well as 4 sisters and one little brother. They were all lovely and again I felt totally at home. Among the cool experiences were eating at Sonic’s (where they bring the food from the restaurant to the car on rollerskates) and visiting the Cathedral of St. Paul, which immediately entered the list of my favorite churches (you can see why).




Again I got to see some beautiful MN nature, lakes and trees, and later in the evening Emily’s mother Michelle was kind enough to drive me to Shoreview, another place close to St. Paul, where I met Sharon, whom I had already met at Juho and Dorota’s wedding in 2005. We talked a lot and had some red wine, after which Sharon in turn drove me back to North St. Paul. (Michelle left, Sharon right in photo below). Then it was time for the movie night (Thomas More). Then to bed, for I was going to have to wake up early for an exciting day… stay tuned.



Steubenville June 18th 2009


So, it’s time to tell about my trip to Steubenville, OH, to the Hahn house. Scott stayed at the conference, while his daughter Hannah and I drove ”home” in the middle of the night. We found the right way almost accidentally after having gotten lost, we arrived around 1 am. I was introduced to my room on the 3rd floor with nice wallpaper, very fitting for people whose most famous book is called Rome Sweet Home.


It was a beautiful house, and a big one, too, 4 floors in total counting the basement and the attic. I spent most of the day inside, sometimes alone in my room (especially when sleeping), other times with the children in the basement, doing magic tricks or talking about soccer. Actually I and Joseph (14) went on to play soccer and do some juggling outside with a local friend. When we came back I realised what a beautiful place the house was located in – what a view from the backyard!



The most important thing though was the visit to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, or rather the campus chapel where we all attended Noon Mass. Before that I and Jeremiah (17, now 18) visited the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the one that sponsored me to the event at st. Vincent’s.



Before I left Kimberly Hahn was kind enough to play some piano, including her newest composition and Be Still My Soul, which is originally Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. Oh and I can’t forget to mention the hour (or two) I spent at the Scott Hahn library in the basement – the library has only about 40,000 books in it, and I hear Scott orders at least one more book every day! I also heard he’s read at least some parts of all the books. Crazy stuff. At this point I am missing some photos because of a memory card I forgot in the US, so I’ll skip 2 days and come back to them as soon as I get the card back (someone should send it to me). Here’s the library from the outside.


St. Vincent Seminary 16th-17th June 2009

So, I spent two more days at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA. Those were some heavenly times for me and so I’d like to pay tribute to the people that contributed and share some thoughts and pictures and links.


First of all, Dr. Scott Hahn (behind in the above picture) is the professor for Biblical Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a famous convert from Presbyterian Calvinism to Catholicism as well as founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. To know more, go to salvationhistory.com or scotthahn.com


Secondly, John Kincaid (front in the first photo), who picked me up from Pittsburgh (after a series of confusions as to who would pick me up – about 4 different people were supposed to do it before him – he was definitely the right man for it!), is a doctoral candidate at Ave Maria University. His conversion story from Presbyterian Calvinism to Catholicism can be read here and heard here (in more detail).


Next, two of the other main presenters were also big names and fine men, and soon they too became friends. Brant Pitre and John Bergsma are doctors of theology and coworkers with dr. Hahn in many projects. They gave talks on Romans 1-3 and 5-8 and kindly answered many of my questions. Pitre also gave me a copy of his masterful dissertation on Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile. His website can be accessed here.


I had the privilege and joy of having lunch and dinner with these men as well as attending a heavenly banquet in the church with them. Also, Dr. Hahn would sometimes take me on his golf cart and give me some personal advice and instruction. In addition to the talks and Masses we had free time, adoration, Q&A-sessions and socializing (with free drinks – used with temperance:). The Q&A session (below) reminded me of the Apologia Forum in Ryttylä, except that the church and the theology were different:)



In the evening of the 17th there was a storm in the area and they feared a tornado might hit us. I actually saw a photo of the tornado in the newspaper in Pittsburgh later on, and well, I wouldn’t have wanted to be hit by it. Luckily we were safe, and Hannah Hahn who was driving to the seminary to pick me up got through it all (rain and hail) safely as well. We left the seminary before midnight but got lost… but then it’s already the 18th and so you must stay tuned to hear what happened next…


New York, Pittsburgh & Latrobe June 14th-15th 2009

So let’s have a look at some interesting events at the beginning of my trip. My first destination was a center of Opus Dei in New York, but in order to get there I needed to take the subway. There I got lost because of unclear maps, I lost my metro card, too, and felt very insecure because of all the masses of people from all over the world, Asian, African, Hispanic… But finally I found the beautiful center and met some nice friends.


Then I took one of the famous yellow NY cabs and got on the night bus to Pittsburgh. The bus wasn’t too good, the driver was unpleasant, and a Russian drunk sat next to me. At each stop the driver put the lights on and woke everyone up. In Pittsburgh no one seemed to have a map, the city was not at all prepared for tourists. Luckily there was a map in the newspaper article that, to my surprise, informed me that there would be a parade in celebration of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup victory just that noon! So I found my way and took part in the party, which took place just outside a Catholic church where I attended noon Mass:


And thus Purgatory ended and Paradise started. After getting a glimpse of ”Lord Stanley” and some of the Penguins, I was picked up by an ex-Reformed Catholic theologian and driven to Latrobe, PA to attend a conference on the Gospel of St. Paul in Romans. We had an intense discussion in the car and many more with other theologians at the seminary where the conference took place: St. Vincent Seminary. The Benedictines chose a beautiful place for their monastery. Even top sports teams go there to practise:


The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology was kind enough to sponsor me to this conference suited mainly for priests, deacons and seminarians. In addition to me there were only a few other lay theologians. I had a nice room, too, near two of the presenters, doctors of theology Scott Hahn and Brant Pitre, whose work I’ve been admiring for quite some time.



The first evening we had the first talk by Dr. Hahn, the founder and president of the St. Paul Center. After the talk we had a chance to socialize, get to know each other and some new publications as well as talk some solid Catholic theology. This atmosphere was something I can’t find in Finland, and it certainly gave me energy and inspiration for the whole upcoming academic year. My thanks to Drs Hahn&Pitre and John Kincaid.