OPERATION LET THE FIRE FALL -- Beginnings

 

I Wondered...

How can we better support the faith of our Catholic military?” I wondered as I lay in bed with fractured vertebrae, the result of a serious vehicle accident. It was November 2007. Catholic military chaplains that I knew were stretched, as well as few and far between, less than 300 for 1.5 million Catholic military. They often travel to perilous places, far from home, hearing confessions and saying mass several times a day, outdoors, in tents, makeshift chapels, most of the time without any music. And still, many Catholic military see a priest only once every several months.

 

Army Chaplain

A Simple Solution

It occurred to me that an iPod, loaded with quality liturgical music, combined with a Bose portable SoundDock, could enrich masses on ships, in the field, even in combat zones. By adding a web site with downloadable music, lyrics, and other inspirational material, we could provide a quality resource to support our heroic Catholic military personnel around the world, even in the most remote bases.

 

Friends & Colleagues Get Involved

I ran it by a friend, Bill Christensen, who thought it was a great idea and wanted to get involved. With the help of Doug Jackson, Judd and Maggie Bolger, Jim Buchheit and Paul Gallagher, the first "FireBox" unit was assembled. In December, Fr. Jesse Bolger stopped by to visit and encouraged me to bring it to the attention of Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore, who had previously been head of the Archdiocese for Military Services (AMS).

 

First Blessing

When Bill and I presented what we called OPERATION LET THE FIRE FALL to Archbishop O’Brien, he immediately grasped its potential. Giving his whole hearted blessing, he encouraged us to go to the Knights of Columbus for support and made arrangements for us to meet with the Vicar General of the AMS, Msgr. James Dixon, in Washington, DC.

 

Knights of Columbus Lend A Hand

In January, 2008, the first presentation of OLTFF to a Knights of Columbus council was held at St. Peter the Apostle, Libertytown, MD. Grand Knight, Marty Nau and the Brother Knights, many of whom were veterans, were very supportive and agreed to help financially. Several weeks later a second presentation was given at St Timothy’s in Walkersville, MD.
Quietly listening to the presentation that evening was the Maryland Knights of Columbus State Secretary, Peter Davio. Having been in the Submarine Service, living underwater for long periods of time with no opportunity for the sacraments, he was deeply struck by the project’s merits. He encouraged me to think big and reminded me that the USO was modeled after a successful Knights of Columbus outreach to soldiers during World War I.
Peter then arranged a meeting with Charles Galina, Col. USMC retired, the Supreme Council Assistant for Military and Veterans Affairs and Ron White, from the Supreme Council Board of Directors. Soon after, at a quarterly State Council meeting in Hagerstown, Peter encouraged all the Maryland Districts to support OLTFF. The response was overwhelming, resulting in enough financial support for the prototype phase.

 

Biker Bar Backing

As word spread, even a local “watering hole” for motorcycle riders, many of them veterans, got wind of the project from some thirsty Knights of Columbus and collected funds to sponsor a "FireBox" unit in honor of one of their own deceased.

AMS Commissions Lay Service

OLTFF Meeting w/Msgr Dixon

Peter, Msgr Dixon and George 2009

At several planning meetings, AMS Vicar General, Msgr. James Dixon, expressed his deep concern for the spiritual well being of our Catholic military in light of the great shortage of Catholic priest chaplains. In response to this serious need, he asked me to compose a Catholic Lay Service, not to replace the Mass, but to anticipate and prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, in the absence of a priest. This service has been approved and is now being used to sustain Catholic prayer at those times and places a priest chaplain is not available.

First "FireBox" Goes to Greenland
In September, 2008 the first OLTFF FireBox unit was delivered to Thule Air Force Base in Greenland by Msgr. Gerald McManus, Lt. Col USAF. Our Catholic military there, who only see a priest about twice a year, began gathering together every week for prayer using the Catholic Lay Service accompanied by the "FireBox" and have expressed their appreciation for OLTFF on several occasions.

International Outreach
In August, 2008, Msgr. Frank Pugliese became the new Vicar General of the AMS. He immediately added his enthusiastic support to the ongoing development of OLTFF, even presenting it by himself to Catholic military chaplains from around the world at the annual AMS Convocations in Hawaii, California, Washington DC and Rome.

Nov 10 Mtg with Msgr Pugliese

Mark Moitoza, Msgr Pugliese from the AMS meeting with Peter and George

 


Official Approval

In January, 2010, after two years of development, we received a very encouraging endorsement and blessing from the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for Military Services for which we are very grateful.

The Rest of the Story
Requests from Catholic chaplains have been streaming into our website, OLTFF.COM, from around the world. As a result of the generosity of so many individuals and organizations, OPERATION LET THE FIRE FALL is now supporting the faith of our Catholic military personnel from the Pacific to Paris Island, Greenland, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt. We look forward to fulfilling all requests from our Catholic priest chaplains and lay leaders who assist them by conducting Catholic Lay Services in their absence.

 

- George Misulia

 

More about the OLTFF Team...

Copyright © 2017 OPERATION LET THE FIREFALL. All Rights Reserved.

OLTFF is a ministry of Crossroads Music, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization, in affiliation with the AMS and KoC.

 
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