By Charlie Johnston
As I begin to make my visits to various cities around the country, here are guidelines for hosting a visit:
- If you volunteer to be a host, I need an email address I can publish so others in your region can get hold of you. It can be your regular email address or you can set up a separate account for security purposes. If you want to do a separate account, gmail, hotmail and yahoo are free and easy to set up. Once you are set up, I will publish your email as the host for that particular city.
- After your email is published, you should set up a meeting with volunteers within a week to take care of the various tasks needed. Use both people who email you and people you know to set up a committee to organize the visit. The meeting can be at a home or business place, but get people on specific tasks.
- If you volunteer to host, you will need to find a sponsor who will contribute $300 directly to me. This is to finance travel, meals and hotel expenses when needed. I do not need the money until I get there. I want sponsors only – and for this amount. Do NOT pass a hat for me at any public meeting. If you do, I will stop it. I cannot do this without sponsors, but my work is free to all who come. I do not want anyone to come and feel sandbagged by an appeal for cash. My needs are small and I live very simply.
- You may certainly speak to a Priest or Bishop concerning me and ask for a venue, but do NOT pressure them. Certainly, you can direct them to my website so they can see what I am about. This is very important. Our Priests and Bishops have very difficult work ahead. My purpose is to try to support them and give them heart in their work as well as for the laity. I defeat that purpose if I have people trying to force them to take a stand on me. Let them take a stand on the fundamentals of the faith – and let us support them. I have many Priests and a chunk of Bishops who follow me regularly – more than a few who wish to stay anonymous. I respect that. In fact, if I were counseling one, I might recommend it. In political work, I always did what was best for the cause: if that meant being in front, that is what I did. If it meant staying in the background, that is what I did. Our purpose is to build each other up and support our clergy in the work before us. Formally, though the appropriate officials are aware of my work, I am neither endorsed nor forbidden. I have been under the direction of three priests for the last 20 years.
- Once I arrive, someone will need to be responsible for ground transportation throughout my visit. I should always be accompanied by someone who knows most of the people attending various events and can introduce me individually.
- I need some alone time each day. If I need to stay at a hotel, I will pay for that from proceeds from the sponsors. If it is a hotel, I need Internet service, but I prefer cheap – either a decent independent (my favorite type) or something like a Super8. For whatever reason, I do not like the clinically austere feeling of Motel 6 and usually do not sleep well there. Please do not try to impress me with something fancy. It makes me uncomfortable. Several who have volunteered to be hosts have offered little guest houses or hermitages or mother-in-law apartments. That is wonderful and suits my needs to a T.
- I will make arrangements with the host to be picked up at the bus or train station and make arrangements for further travel after I have gotten the host for the initial stop in a particular tour.
- A woman in Denver has offered to co-ordinate much of the arrangements, so once I have a host in a city, you will hear from her.
- I will need an address of the host. Anthony Mullen of the Flame of Love Devotion is drop-shipping materials – booklets and such – to be distributed at the gatherings I speak at. He will ship them directly to hosts.
- Do not be shy about setting up events at Protestant Churches that are amenable. As I have said, all faithful Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, and all faithful Jews, are to be treated as full partners in the work. God will see to the unity…we are to help build up the faithful together. There are no junior partners here.
On the evening of my arrival in a city, the first event should be a private dinner with the volunteers who set things up. I want to get to know and break bread with the committee members who made things possible. The dinner can be at a private home or at a restaurant. If it is at a restaurant, you pay.
On the second day, it should start with a Daily Mass where possible. Forgive me, but 7 a.m. is about the earliest I am prepared to start.
In the course of the day, several types of events should be scheduled – and these can vary. The type of events that can work well are visits to business owners who may be trying to live their values but find themselves under siege from statist enforcers, charitable endeavors such as homeless shelters or crisis pregnancy centers, interviews with Christian publications or radio stations that are interested, tours of Shrines or notable local landmarks. Anything that is solid and may need some bucking up or support is an appropriate venue. I would very much like, where possible, to visit and show solidarity with some Protestant Christians in each city I visit. I have a particular affinity for Evangelicals and traditional Methodists – all of whom were very kind to me on my pilgrimage.
Lunch can just be with volunteers – but it is a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the religious leaders in a city. Where possible, I would love to have lunch with volunteers, Priests and Pastors – both Catholic and Protestant. This allows me to get a feel for the faith-life of a city and what it needs – while also giving clergymen a chance to get to know me without having to take a public stand. Again, my main concern is supporting them on their prime mission.
The visit should culminate with a public meeting in the evening, preferably beginning at 6 or 7 p.m. That gives people time to get home from work and settled. The meeting can be held at a hall of a church that is agreeable, a home, or a room at a VFW or other such spot. There should be a table set aside for sign-in for people who are interested and for materials that will be given away, such as Miraculous Trust Prayer Cards, Flame of Love Booklets and buttons and stickers. On the sign-in sheet, you should keep a copy for yourself and make a copy for me. People who follow my website are focused on acknowledging God, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope to those around them. I want to meet you – but these trips are as much about getting like-minded people in the various regions to know and be in communication with each other. You can be a profound support network together.
At the meeting, I will make about a 45-minute presentation. Then I will enter into a question-and-answer session which will become a dialogue with all present. On several occasions, I will offer a chance for people who need to to be able to leave without embarrassment. I loathe it when people come out for something and are forced into a marathon. I will stay as long as needed to answer and chat with people, but I do not want anyone to feel it is a burden.
My first trip will begin in mid-June. I will arrive in Nashville at the Greyhound Bus Station at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16. I have not made formal arrangements with a host yet. I will go from Nashville to Atlanta, where I am working with a host. From there it will be to Ft. Lauderdale, where I also have a host in place, then to Tallahassee, where my son is and then on to Birmingham. I am open to adding a site or two if there is a solid host who contacts me.
In July, I will visit New England and the Eastern seaboard. In August, it is California. Septembet is the Midwest and in October I will head to Texas and Louisiana. Come November, I will rest until the holidays are over.