Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy news to share!

Hello, my friends!

Since many of you will be visiting this page more regularly in the coming months, I wanted to include this major update on here: my now fiancee Betsy & I got engaged this past Sunday (12/19).  We're both really excited and we're planning to get married this summer!  I know that a some of you have met her and have been praying for us.  Thank you for that!  She and I have been spending this Advent praying and sacrificing in preparation for this exciting time of our lives.  And if I hadn't proposed yesterday, I don't think that either of us could have waited any longer!  We've been having a great time telling everyone the story... I hope that we'll get to tell it to you in person at some point... but for now, here's a blog version:

It was a beautiful day... I had given Betsy a card the night before inviting her to come to Natick Center on Sunday morning, re-walk our first date, and start an incredible journey with me.  Before she arrived in the morning, I had placed flowers and postcards with pictures of each place at each of the stops on our first date.  I wasn't at any of the places... I was waiting in the adoration chapel at St Patrick's while she was following the path.  I was really praying that none of the cards or flowers would blow away (they didn't!).  When she walked into the adoration chapel with the dozen red roses, my heart was so thankful that all had gone according to plan.  I'm including the pictures that I put on each of the cards that I made for her.

The first stop was the place where we had our first date- Bakery on the Common in Natick.  Luckily I sent her a text telling her to "look down & to the right at the door of BotC" right before she got out of her car because she didn't know WHAT to expect at this first stop!

There she found 2 roses (representing the two of us) & a note sending her to the next stop from our first date- the old Montrose school building (her high school).

There she found 7 roses (representing the seven years that she went there) & a note sending her to the next place we had gone- St. Patrick's church across the street.
Outside on the church steps were 3 more roses (representing the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) and a note inviting her to meet me in the adoration chapel which was the last place we had stopped on our first date (I knew that she shared my love for God and had a beautiful faith VERY early on!).  We prayed together in the adoration chapel and presented the dozen roses to the Holy Family before walking back towards her car.

At this point in the story, she says that she WAS thinking that I was going to propose right then... but once we started walking back, she wasn't sure anymore!

As we walked back by the common, I told her that there was one more stop- the gazebo in the center of the town.

When we walked up, she found four roses (3 purple and 1 pink for the Advent we had just spent together leading up to Christmas and this joyous occasion) and a final note.  I got down on one knee, asked her if she would marry me, and she said, "Yes, of course!"

We went right from there to St. Theresa's (her family's parish, affectionately "St. T's") to the 11 AM Mass to really thank God for His amazing goodness.  Her dad sat with us during Mass and never noticed the new ring on Betsy's finger!  We told her parents the good news when we got back to their house after Mass.  Her youngest brother Paul was the first sibling to find out.  And then we got to spend the rest of the day traveling around and telling all of her brothers & sisters (it takes a while when she's one of eleven!).  My family already knew that I was planning to ask her on Sunday morning... I think I had used ALL of my cell phone minutes last week running all of the details by them. Their prayers and support helped me make it to the end of a very long week of anticipation!

The story is a little more exciting in person ;-) but I really wanted to share it with you as soon as I could.  All of the places that we went on our first date have been very meaningful for us as we have been growing in our friendship and love.  It was such a blessing for me to put together this special engagement for Betsy... and she really loved all of it!  The two pictures of us were taken by a very nice woman named Hilda- she was the THIRD person we asked after being turned down by two other couples hurrying off somewhere!

I hope that you're all doing well & I hope that I'll get to spend time with each of you soon.  Please pray for Betsy & me as we prepare to get married in the summer.  I'll be praying for you and for your families as well.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Blessed New Year!

Lots of Love & Peace & Joy from Boston,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Help support Children's Hospital Boston! Miles for Miracles Boston Marathon run is Monday 4/19!

(This is an email that I sent to family and friends yesterday about my upcoming charity run for Children's Hospital Boston.  Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who you think would be interested in supporting this great cause!)

Hello friends and family,

I hope that you had a blessed Easter and that all is well for you and your loved ones on this beautiful spring Sunday.  I'm writing today to ask for your help with my goal of raising money and awareness for Children's Hospital Boston.  This is the third year that I have trained with the Miles for Miracles team and run the marathon to support this great hospital.  In the first two years, through the amazing generosity of my family and friends, I have raised over $12,000 for Children's.  I'm hoping that I can count on your support to reach my goal of $4,000 for this year.  The website to donate is: http://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=mt0079.

Each year Children's Hospital has paired me with an inspirational patient partner.  This young patient is someone whose story I can share and someone from whom I can draw inspiration when I am heading out on a cold winter morning for a long run.  In 2008 I ran for a young girl named Emily.  Thought I never got to meet Emily, her mother told me that Emily's spirits were always brightened by the doctors, nurses, and support staff at Children's.  Last year, I ran in honor of a young boy named Justin.  Justin and I have stayed in touch since last year's training period.  He is a senior in high school this year and just invited me to his graduation in June.  Justin is a perfect example of the amazing work that happens at Children's Hospital.  Born with scoliosis, it was thought that Justin would never walk.  However, he completed the Falmouth Road Race (7 miles) all by himself last August on the Cape.  He didn't care that he was the last runner to cross the finish line.  And he couldn't wait to call me and tell me his results!

This year I am running in honor of a young boy named Andrew.  Andrew is a major reason that our marathon team is called Miles for MIRACLES.  His story is truly a miracle.  Born in Mexico City, Andrew was diagnosed with an immune system disease.  Doctors in Mexico had no answers for his parents, and so they moved to Boston to seek treatment at Children's.  Andrew's mother was pregnant at the time, and when she gave birth to Andrew's sister, the doctors at Children's used the healthy cells from the umbilical cord to cure some of Andrew's sickness.  He still lives today with various ailments.  But the treatment that he has received at Children's has allowed him to live what most people would consider a "normal" life.

These three stories are just a few of the many awesome ones that I have heard since becoming a member of the MIles for Miracles team.  Not all of the stories have a happy ending, and it has been sobering to hear of some of the loss that has happened for some of our team members.  We are running together, though, to continue to support this great hospital which has done so much for children in the Boston area.  As a teacher at Boston Latin School, I know that the majority of my students have been patients at the hospital or have known someone who has received treatment there.  And so because I believe in the good work that the doctors and nurses and researchers are doing at Children's, and because I feel so blessed to have each of you in my life to support me, I am asking for your help in reaching my goal of raising $4,000.

Every gift helps.  Every gift makes a difference.  There is no gift that is too small.  There are two ways to give:
Give by check -  Make checks out to "Children's Hospital Boston" and contact me for my address

The marathon is just one week away - Marathon Monday = April 19, 2010.  I feel ready to run the race and set a personal record!  My goal is to finish the 26.2 miles in under 4 hours and 30 minutes.  For those of you who will be on the course, please let me know, and I will give you an idea of when I'll run past the place where you'll be watching.  For those of you who are interested in following my progress online, you will be able to do so by logging onto http://www.baa.org and searching for me by name or by bib number - My bib number = 23104.

I thank you for all of the love and support that you have shown me over these three years of running the Boston Marathon for Children's Hospital.  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who you think may be interested in supporting this wonderful hospital.  You are all in my prayers each day.  I ask that I will remain in yours along with the great kids for whom the Miles for Miracles team is running!

Love & Peace,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Berkshire Bank giving grants to non-profits

Please read the following appeal from my friend and director of New Spirit, Inc., Pat Sears.  If you are willing to help, please visit the site and follow the instructions to vote for New Spirit to receive a $5000 grant.

New Spirit is a youth-ministry organization based in Springfield, MA.  Each year Pat Sears and Barry Kingston run nearly 100 retreats all over New England.  I have been volunteering with them for over a decade, and they have been a beautiful influence in my life.  Please consider helping them by voting for New Spirit to receive this grant.  Thank you!

From Pat:

Berkshire Bank is giving away four $5,000 grants to non-profit organizations.  One of the grants will go to a charity in the Pioneer Valley.  The grants will be awarded based on the highest number of votes received during the voting period of November 13, 2009 to January 31, 2010.  The general public has the ability to vote for the non-profit organization they would like to see win a $5,000 grant.  One vote per person.  If you're willing to cast a vote for us, please go to:  www.jointheexcitement.com
In addition to filling out your name and address, you'll need the name of our organization (New Spirit, Inc.) and our address (40 Riverview Terrace  Springfield, MA  01108).  Thank you in advance for your help. 

The most direct link is http://www.berkshirebank.com/about_us/in_the_community/berkshire-bank-foundation/help-us-give-away-20000/vote-here/jte-vote-here

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BLS Freshman Boys Basketball Schedule

The Boston Latin School Freshman Boys Basketball season starts this week along with the JV and varsity squads. I'll be coaching the young guys again & I'm looking forward to working with these young athletes. One of the coolest things that happened this week was finding out that my assistant coach works for Children's Hospital Boston. I've run the Boston Marathon for Children's Hospital for the past two Aprils.

The Twitter hashtag for the season will be #blsbball. Follow @CoachMcQuade for updates. And follow @KBernazzani for updates on the BLS girls basketball season!

Boston Latin School - Freshman Boys Basketball Schedule

12/11 vs Arlington 4:00pm

12/16 @ Wayland HS 4:00pm

12/18 @ Acton-Boxboro HS 4:00pm

12/20 vs Catholic Memorial 12:00pm

12/22 vs Westford 4:00pm

1/5 vs Bedford 4:00pm

1/8 vs Concord Carlisle 4:00pm

1/12 vs Newton South 4:00pm

1/15 @ Weston Academy 4:00pm

1/19 vs Lincoln Sudbury 4:00pm

1/22 @ Waltham HS 4:00pm

1/26 vs Tyngsboro 4:00pm

1/29 vs Acton-Boxboro 4:00pm

2/2 @ Westford Academy 4:00pm

2/5 @ Newton South HS 4:00pm

2/9 vs Waltham 4:00pm

2/12 @ Lincoln Sudbury HS 4:00pm

Friday, September 25, 2009

Defensive struggle in Stoneham ends with a Latin victory

Last week on Wednesday the BLS freshman football team traveled to Stoneham High School for our second game. We arrived to a grass field behind the school that obviously hadn't been mowed this season and was backdropped by a rock wall painted with various student shout-outs. It was a cool place to play, but it illustrated the point that Stoneham's freshman coach made when he said that Stoneham is "a soccer school" where they "don't care much about football."

Our offense received the ball first and broke a long run on our first play from scrimmage. I think that we thought immediately that this was going to be a repeat of our easy victory at North Quincy. The rest of the first half proved that this game would be anything but easy. Stoneham stopped our first drive after four more plays. Since we were in their end of the field, we went for it on fourth and short, but we were tackled for a loss. It seemed like the wind had been taken from our sails. And it certainly didn't help the players' spirits when Stoneham quickly marched down the field to the 1-yard line.

We called timeout to regroup, and realized that we were in a tough position. However, our defense stepped up big (as it would for the whole game) and stopped Stoneham's next four attempts at the end zone. We took over, but couldn't move the ball at all. So we punted and allowed Stoneham to move the ball right down the field again.

Our defense certainly bent, but they refused to break! On a 3rd down try for the end zone, one of our LBs Miles intercepted the pass and brought the ball back to the 50-yard line. We would end the half tied at 0-0.

In the second half, we were able to continue our great defense, and we were able to muster up enough offense to score once (although the extra point attempt was blocked). We won the game 6-0, and without a doubt defense was the story of the day.

The freshmen understood that we had just taken a big step towards becoming a true team with the way that we had banded together to deny Stoneham on their scoring chances. It's good to be 2-0! Our varsity team won a thriller the next night under the lights when they came back from a 19-7 deficit to win by one (20-19). Little did we know on the freshman squad that the varsity's big comeback would foreshadow our next game at Tyngsboro...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BLS Freshmen start the football season with 28-0 win against North Quincy

What a great day for football! September 10, 2009 marked the first day of school for Boston Latin School... but the Wolfpack football team has been hard at work since late-August. I am coaching the freshmen again along with my assistant coach Jeff Gibbons. He's such a great guy to coach with... I feel really blessed to work with him.

I met my new classes for the 2009-2010 school year. I am teaching juniors for the first time in two sections of precalculus... and I am teaching 10th graders for the fourth straight year in three sections of geometry. I felt really excited to meet all of the new classes, and I was pleasantly surprised to recognize so many of the faces that walked into my classroom! I think this will be a fun year, a productive year, and a year for trying new things in the classroom with the students. I hope that my enthusiasm will be contagious.

We were on the bus quickly this afternoon and on our way to North Quincy. Our two captains - Richard (Moose) and Surdek led the very pumped-up team onto the field. North Quincy's freshmen were at the level that our freshmen were at a few years ago. This was the first game that I have coached in which I felt like we were clearly the better team. We were able to effectively run our offense, and our defense made a lot of tackles in the backfield. We scored three times in the first half (converting 2 of 3 two-point conversions), and capped off our scoring in the 4th quarter with a touchdown.

Our offense executed well. We didn't make every block correctly, but we tried each time! I saw our young offensive linemen fire out low and use their hands to block. That's what we teach them! By the end of the day, we had run the ball 20 times for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns. We had also passed the ball relatively well: 3 of 5 for 60 yards and a touchdown.

We will face teams that are much bigger and much better than North Quincy, but I am convinces that this confidence was important for our players. Since they were able to succeed today, they KNOW that it is possible for them to run our offense well and to play defense with intensity. We will come up against obstacles, but if they stay together as a team, they will be in a great positions to overcome those obstacles.

Good luck to our varsity players tomorrow night as they take on North Quincy at "home" at White Stadium.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hopeful Max Lucado

I woke up yesterday morning and read this passage from Max Lucado's book Grace for the Moment, Volume 2:

God’s Greatest Blessings
Friday, March 13, 2009
“The Son of Man will die, just at the Scriptures say.”
Matthew 26:24

God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters. Any doubters need to do nothing more than ascend the hill of Calvary.

Jerusalem’s collective opinion that Friday was this: Jesus is finished. What other conclusion made sense? The religious leaders had turned him in. Rome had refused to bail him out. His followers had tucked their tails and scattered. He was nailed to a cross and left to die, which he did. They silenced his lips, sealed his tomb, and, as any priest worth the price of phylactery would tell you, Jesus is history. Three years of power and promises are decomposing in a borrowed grave. Search the crucifixion sky for one ray of hope, and you won’t find it.

Such is the view of the disciples, the opinion of the friends, and the outlook of the enemies.

But God is not surprised. His plan is right on schedule. Even in—especially in—death, Christ is still the king, the king over his own crucifixion.
I can relate to this passage because I know the feeling of needing hope in a situation that feels like a disaster. Knowing that God has a plan of good things for me in this life helps me to keep moving forward even when I'm feeling down.