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If blog activity seemed quiet these last few days, there is good reason for it. On Monday, I traveled to the National Catholic Planned Giving Seminar.  I needed some more experience in my assignment as Director of Planned Giving and thought this would be a good opportunity for continuing education.  Additionally, I was attracted to the idea of spending four days in Phoenix, Arizona in February.

The weather has been absolutely amazing, with highs in the upper 70’s.  The downside is that it is a business trip, and I spend most of the day in conferences.  It is a pretty structured day from 8:00am to 4:00pm.  We get the occasional “stretch” or “coffee” break between the sessions, and I try to go for a 10-minute get outside the hotel and in the sunshine.  Otherwise, we are in a hotel conference room that has been having heating and cooling issues, which required most of us to wear sweatshirts the first day.

The conferences have been very informative and helpful.  Since I had limited training in preparation to be Director of Planned Giving, it is good to go through these sessions and have a better vision and understanding of a variety of matters related to the work.  The conferences are on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

I was not about to go to Phoenix without seeing some of the sights.  After the conferences, I have had a couple chances to get out and see more of the city and dine with friends.  Before I made the trip, I wondered if there would be anyone attending that I would know.  One priest I knew who was attending the conference, Fr. Michael Schueller of Epworth, Iowa, served under our Archbishop Jerome Hanus and has visited Conception Abbey several times in recent months.  Also, I met a woman named Connie who works at St. Charles Borremeo parish in Port Charlotte, Florida.  My parents are at their vacation home in Port Charlotte right now, and they just told me how they attended Mass at St. Charles.  I, too, am very familiar with the parish from my visits to Florida over the years.  In fact, my mother remembered Connie from a recent talk she gave after Mass, and from her beautiful singing voice (Connie also serves as a cantor at the parish).  Connie’s sister lives in Phoenix and the two of them invited me to supper on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday evening I met up with Pat Stewart, a great friend and parishioner of Sts. John and Paul parish in Wexford, Pennsylvania, where I served during my year as a deacon.  Pat regularly flies from Pittsburgh to Phoenix for work, so he is very familiar with the area.  I just wanted to see some of the mountains and go hiking.  We took some beautiful pictures by the Phoenician resort (unfortunately, we were not staying there).20140227-080115.jpg20140227-080041.jpg20140227-075915.jpg

We climbed the Leonard Monti Trail on the Arizona State University campus right before the sunset.  It has an elevation of 1,495 feet.  Pat joked that he is 20 years older than me and he did not know if he was going to make it.  I assured him that I would give him sacramental absolution in case of emergency.  He seemed consoled by my promise.  He treated me for supper in Scottsdale afterwards.20140227-075955.jpg

Planes headed into the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport flew by us, not far from where we climbed.20140227-080008.jpg

I took the picture below by accident.  Talk about good timing!  The plane looks as if it were affixed to the top of the antenna.20140227-080021.jpg20140227-080131.jpg

I return to the cold on Friday, but hope that I can bring the warm weather with me.