Archive for March, 2009

Confessions of a Youth Minister’s Son

March 30, 2009

Sean received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first-time this past Thursday as he prepares to receive his First Communion in May. It was fortuitous timing that Sean’s First Confession was the day before FREEDOM, the YMO’s annual youth reconciliation event.

So in the midst of my last-minute planning for FREEDOM, I sat Sean down on Thursday night to ask him about his experience and to pray with him in thanksgiving.

“So what did you confess?” I asked him.

“Dad, I’m not supposed to tell you!!!” was Sean’s quick reply.

“Very good son” I answered, actually covering up the fact that I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to ask him about what he confessed.

“But if you really want to know…” Sean continued. I smiled sheepishly, not sure if I should encourage him, discourage him, or run and hide.

“Just give me a summary then” I said.

“Well, I confessed all the names that I call Jacob. You know, names like dork, dummy-head, clown, goofball…”

I cut him off while trying to maintain a straight face. “Okay, Sean, that’s enough! I get the point!”

Turning to the task at hand, I decided to probe a bit further.

“Hey Sean: why do you think we’re calling our confession event FREEDOM?” I was curious as to how he’d answer.

“Because Jesus died on the cross to free us from our sins” Sean replied, “and in doing so our hearts are made anew.”

I offered up a prayer in thanksgiving: Sean’s answer confirmed that he did indeed understand the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Needless to say, I can’t wait until May!

Good thing he didn’t ask me about my confessions!


Top 10 Rejected Names for FREEDOM

March 28, 2009

One of the highlights of last night’s FREEDOM 10th Anniversary Event was when Father Mark and I presented the “Top 10 Rejected Names” for the event. All of the items were met wth laughter, cheers, jeers, groans, applause, or sometimes a combo of all 5!

Here is the Top 10 as presented at FREEDOM (big thanks to Mike for many of the ideas, Krissy for helping me order them, and Mark for providing the sweet drum roll and rim shots):

10. Somebody gonna get hurt a-real bad
9. March Badness
8. High School Confessional
7. Sin There, Done That
6. “Oh No,you dinnnnnnnt!”
5. So You Think You Can Sin?
4. The Biggest Loser
3. Come and Tell or Go to Hell
2. Amazing Disgrace
1. Go Ahead, Make My Day (said by Father Mark)

Honourable mentions include: Hell’s Kitchen, Can You Top This?, Learn Not to Burn, “You Did WHATTTTT?”, Confess your Mess and Shock the Priest

A Night to Remember…for all the wrong reasons

March 24, 2009

Sunday night was certainly a night to remember…or maybe a night to forget! It seemed like it would be a relatively normal night: I was going to a talk at a parish youth ministry night, and then ref the annual LIFE TEEN vs. Knights of Columbus basketball game at my home parish of St. Paul in Richmond.

I made my way to the Vancouver parish (that will remain anonymous…haha) and met the youth ministry coordinator and core team to set up and prepare for the night. I put a lunch bag into the fridge; it contained a sports bottle full of milk and an unopened bottle of Pepsi…I was going to use each of them in my talk. We locked up the kitchen (so I thought) and headed upstairs for Mass. So far so good.

Immediately after Mass, I went downstairs, booted up my computer, and booted to the fridge to retrieve the bag of goods. Immediately, I sensed that the bag felt too light. Much to my surprise, someone had taken the bottle of Pepsi! The youth ministers were embarassed and very apologetic for my missing prop. I assured them it was no big deal, and that I could re-work that part of my talk. I then remembered seeing a box of Pepsi in one of the storage rooms earlier in the day. I was able to retrieve a can and all was good in the hood.

It was certainly a first: I’ve never had one of my props stolen. Thankfully, it was a $2 bottle of Pepsi as opposed to a laptop, LCD projector, or my notes!

In hindsight…perhaps the perpetrator was just trying to help me keep my Lenten promise. I guess we’ll never know.

The night ended at 7:45pm, just enough time for me to bolt back to Richmond. As I drove quickly (yet safely) to St. Paul’s, I quickly (yet safely) texted Rich (the head organizer of the game) and Dave and Chris (techical producers) to tell them that I would arrive well ahead of my promised 8:15pm arrival time.

I’m not sure if 3 minutes counts as well-ahead…but I was able to furiously don my gym attire and charge into the gym just as the national anthem ended (literally 30 seconds before tip-off).

The game was exciting as usual, with the teens scoring with 13 seconds left to squeak out a dramatic 51-50 victory. Kim and I did our best to be fair, competent referees…and I think we succeeded. None of the Knights were waiting to jump us in the parking lot after the game.

In hindsight…maybe fair, but not-so-competent. In probably one of the most embarassing moments of my life (and that’s saying quite a lot!!!), I proceeded to trip over my own feet while making a 180 degree turn. I was sprinting down the court ahead of the developing fast-break when I tried to pivot to face the play. In the midst of what should have been a simple maneuver, my legs intertwined with each other (remember I was going at full speed) and I did a complete backward somersault, rolling head over heels into the end wall in plain view of close to 150 people in the gym.

The end result was ugly: I was lying on my stomach, heels pressed against the wall, my watch hanging from my wrist, and my self-esteem ripped to shreds. I looked to the right, and saw Gail, Jennifer, Pat and Krissy pointing and laughing. My lovely wife Gail claims she was laughing out of concern, but I didn’t have the time nor energy to press her on the issue.

As the 10 players ran in my direction, I tried my best to push myself up but I felt a sharp pain in my gluteus maximus. Thankfully, the play went the other way and I was able to eventually stand and start moving again. Needless to say, I was moving rather gingerly for a few minutes and today I still have a bruise on my left cheek (and I’m not talking about my face).

A stolen prop and a thunderous tumble. All in the name of youth ministry. That makes it all worth it.

I think.

Take ctrl

March 15, 2009

Lord, give me humility so I may not judge my worth by the number of friends I have on Facebook, or the number of times people comment on my blogs, photos, and videos. Stop me from replying to each comment individually just so I artificially boost the number of comments.

Help me see that it doesn’t matter how many followers I have on Twitter, and that it’s truly ok if the number of people I am following is greater than the number of people following me. Give me creativity so my tweets are actually interesting to read, and not just what I’m going to eat for lunch.

Grant me wisdom so that I won’t correlate my self-esteem to the number of views my videos have on Youtube. Help me realize that it’s ok to make a video that gets an average of 4 stars instead of 5. And help me differentiate the constructive comments from the destructive ones.

And lastly, whatever You do, please stop me if I ever decide to make my own website. I mean…come on…who has their own personal website?

Whoops…too late.


Did You Know That…(Crica 2000)

March 12, 2009

Here’s my version of those “25 facts about me” posts but with a twist: this is the actual list of facts that Gail and I prepared 9 years ago for our wedding reception on July 8, 2000.

Each fact corresponded to a table number…and once Gary or Dave (our awesome emcees) read “your” table fact, it was your turn to eat!

Hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane…some of it’s quite amusing even now.

Did you know that:

1. Gail does not know how to ride a bike
2. Gail has never had a nose bleed
3. Gail is blind without corrective lenses
4. Gail failed her driver’s test twice before finally passing
5. Gail first studied to become a dentist
6. Gail will teach grade 2 at St. Paul’s in September
7. Gail was born in Cebu, Philippines
8. Gail thought pug dogs were ugly before Clay gave her Shaila
9. Gail is the Godmother to 3 kids (Daniel, Antonio, and Emily)
10. Gail owns over 60 pairs of shoes (in comparison, Clay has 4 only 4 pairs)
11. Clay got one hour of sleep last night
12. Clay gets his hair cut every 2 and a half weeks
13. Clay is terrified of spiders and gets Gail to kill them for him
14. Clay has appeared on Much Music
15. Clay is a Youth Minister working with the LIFE TEEN program at St. Paul’s
16. Clay learned how to play the drums on his own 3 years ago
17. Clay used to shave words into the back of his head
18. Clay can’t blow bubbles in bubblegum or whistle
19. Clay wore diapers to Kindergarten
20. Clay suffered a compressed back and sprained foot in the last 3 weeks before the wedding
21. Clay and Gail have been seeing each other since December 14, 1989 (over 10 years)
22. Clay and Gail kept a daily dairy together for their first 7 years together
23. Clay and Gail met through a school musical, “Lumberjacks and Weddingbelles” where they were paired as husband and wife
24. Clay and Gail have gone to 3 of the same schools: Burnett, Richmond High, and UBC
25. Clay and Gail got engaged at LIFE TEEN on February 28, 1999
26. The first time Gail was over at Clay’s she got in trouble for staying too late and was not allowed to go over for a year
27. Clay gave Gail chocolates for their one month anniversary, not knowing Gail doesn’t eat them
28. Gail and her family introduced Clay to the Catholic Church in 1992
29. Clay and Gail’s favourite hobby is falling asleep with Shaila in front of the TV

Are you ASKING me or TELLING me?

March 9, 2009

Sometime in the summer of 2005, Msgr. Mark Hagemoen (my predecessor as Director of the Youth Ministry Office and then serving as Vicar General for the Archdiocese) came into my office and shut the door behind him. I knew it was going to be serious.

“Clay,” Father Mark started, “We are going to second (as in secondment…not as in “after first”) Rob to the Chancery to serve as an assistant to Archbishop Roussin.”

At the time, Rob was the administrator of the YMO and in essence, my right-hand man. Needless to say, I was very shocked.

I respectfully countered “Are you asking me or telling me?”

Father Mark’s reply made it clear in no uncertain terms: “I would much rather work in cooperation than opposition.”

The writing was on the wall, and I respectfully and obediently accepted the proposal. After all, who was I to question the diocesan leadership? Rob’s temporary secondment became a permanent transfer after close to 10 years of Rob working for the YMO. However, it’s worked out extremely well for everyone, as Rob is now serving as the assistant for Archbishop Miller, and I’ve been blessed to work with people like Krissy, Sharon and Faye. To this day, Father Mark and I still chuckle about how much “say” I had in the process.

Fast forward to this past Saturday: I took our 3 kids to a play-date at the Estradas while Gail tutored in our home. I received a very generous offer from my friend Mike to go to that night’s highly-anticipated hockey game between our red-hot Canucks and the Conference-leading San Jose Sharks. Coming a day after our entire family received comp tickets to the Vancouver Giants game; I was giddy with my good fortune.

Knowing we had planned for a nice family night at home that evening, yet also knowing of my absolute love for watching the Canucks live (especially when I don’t have to pay for the ticket), I anticipated it being a tough sell to 2 of my family members in particular. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not talking about Jacob and Kayla.

I pulled Sean aside and asked him if he knew who the Canucks were playing that evening.

“Of course” Sean answered. “They’re playing the Sharks. It’s going to be a great game.”

Summoning strength similar to my encounter with Father Mark almost 4 years ago, I then asked Sean “Is it okay if Daddy goes to the game?”

That’s right…I actually ASKED my 7 yead-old son if I, his 34 year-old Dad, could go to the game. I stopped just short of asking him to brush my teeth and tuck me in when I got home.

Sean’s eyes filled with tears, and I knew they weren’t tears of joy.

“Yes, Daddy. You can go.” I figured that Sean was upset for 2 main reasons: that he couldn’t go to the game with me, and more generally that we wouldn’t be together that night. Sweet kid, that Sean.

Then, I picked up the phone to call my lovely wife.

“Honey…Mike asked me to go to the Canucks’ game toinght. Can I go?”

Recalling our plans for a family night, Gail and I went back and forth for a few minutes on the phone. She didn’t care that the Canucks had turned their season around with an impressive run of wins. Or that San Jose is one of the premiere teams in the league. Or even that I didn’t have to pay for the ticket.

“I guess so” she replied. “Besides, are you asking me or telling me?”

My answer was hardly clarifying: “Uh, thanks babe!” Sweet woman, that Gail!

I was (and am) very grateful for my wonderful family. Gail in particular takes really good care of me, and hardly says no without good reason. Some would call me spoiled. I prefer to use the term “blessed.” And “deserving” haha. The night turned out great, as the Canucks won 3-1 in an entertaining tilt, and the boys had their cousins over to play all night while Gail and Kayla did whatever females like to do.

As for me, I find it quite amusing that I ended up TELLING my wife that I was going to the game, but ASKING my son for permission.

I guess that’s what happens when your son is a 2-time Ultimate Canucks Fan winner!

Tipping Suggestions…From the Restaurant Itself!

March 7, 2009

Most of my friends know that I am a decent tipper. It comes from my experience working as a busboy and a general appreciation for the majority of people who work in the service industry. You may recall me writing about it in my blog “Tip or No Tip” just under a year ago.

General consensus now is that 15% is about average…the range being as low as 10% in certain types of restaurants to 18% – 20% is on the higher side. Now, one could argue that there is no obligation to leave any type of tip, but that’s not the point of this blog.

Many restaurants automatically the gratuity for groups of 8 people or more. Again, I’ve seen a range from 15% to 20% for this practice. One might reason that a restaurant shouldn’t dictate the tip, but I can also certainly see why they do it. Group bills are a wonderful way for lesser tippers to employ their strategy of “maybe if I just sit here and pay the minimum, someone else will cover my portion too!” Then, some poor soul is always left to cover the short-fall.

One of the worst examples of automatic tipping was during a family vacation in Whistler. After a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant for about 20 of us, the bill came with a 15% tip added (no biggie) and a card reading: “In Canada, it is customary to leave a tip of 15% blah blah blah.” Now, this was indeed a biggie. Granted, we were a table of Asians, but we were speaking English the entire time (not that I can speak another language…haha) and needless to say, were quite offended that they presumed we were from another country and that we had no notion of the concept of tipping.

And just yesterday, after enjoying a decent fish and chips (it’s a Friday in Lent) lunch at a restaurant near my office, the bill came with 3 suggestions for tips at the bottom. Usually I just triple the GST of 5% to make 15%, round up to nearest dollar, and I’m done. But just in case I wanted to be more generous, the bill actually listed both the tip amount and resulting totals for 15%, 18% and 20%.

At first, I was taken aback given my prior experiences with tipping suggestions. But upon reflecting on it further, it is actually a brilliant idea, as it certainly helps those that aren’t great with math.

However, you’ll still have to guess-timate or pull out a calculator if you wanted to leave a tip of 16%, 17&, or 19% or anything less than !5% or above 21%. There simply isn’t room to list all options. Otherwise, the bill would be longer than your arm!

Describing our Kids: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

March 2, 2009

During one of our treks out earlier today, my lovely wife Gail and I were discussing our 3 wonderful children. Like always when we’re in our van, Sean and Jake were in the back row watching their movie and playing their Nintendo DSs while Kayla was alone in the middle row babbling, laughing, and pulling her shoes and socks off. Needless to say, there was enough going on whereas the 3 of them couldn’t hear (at least we hope not…haha) what we were saying.

So today I came up with yet another “useless and dorky but kinda funny” Clay-games for us to play.

“How would you describe each of our kids in 1 or 2 words?” I asked her. It goes without saying that we adore our children and are very blessed by them. But that shouldn’t stop us from having a little fun as well!

Gail and I interchanged responses, and it was pretty hilarious. One of us went with the optimistic, half-glass full mentality while the other chose the more challenging half-glass empty approach.

Here were our collective responses:

-Sean: smart and sensitive, know-it-all

-Jacob: handsome ladies-man, hard to handle and a clown

-Kayla: beautiful, drama-queen

As per usual with these types of things, there is likely a bit of truth in all of the responses, hopefully more to be found in the “glass half-full” replies. I won’t say which one of us gave which responses, as I don’t want to incriminate anyone…haha. Regardless, we enjoyed a good chuckle at their (or is it ours?) expense.

Now…what would happen if we asked our kids to describe us?

Maybe I don’t want to know!