I’m really excited to announce that All Saints Museum is proud to present the Dear Saints Podcast, available on Spotify November 28th. I will be reading entries from my Dear Saints book series. The podcast will begin with my Christmas devotional, taking you through Advent, Christmas, and into the New Year over 40 days. The Dear Saints books are written in the voice of the Saints, and they incorporate plenty of Scripture and practical advice to inspire you through each day. Although I highly recommend purchasing your own copy of the Dear Saints books, my wife really urged me to do this podcast for those who don’t necessarily like readying, or may not have time to read – but who would be more apt to listen to a podcast while commuting, etc. I really hope you will enjoy.
Where to even begin? This is a dream. And like dreams, I’ll just lay it all out here without any order, unsure of the beginning, and even less sure of the end.
If you’ve ever seen Hotel Transylvania, it’s a cute family film about Count Dracula building a hotel for monsters, so they can be themselves without fear of humans – very top level summary… ha! This is my dream for All Saints Museum. A place where people can enjoy their faith without fear. It just so happens that I also really love the hotel that Dracula builds – a castle, with trap doors, hallways, secret rooms. I’d make All Saints Museum the same – a place where people can wander around and get lost – and yet actually want to get lost! I’d model it after St. Michael Castle (St. Michaels Mount – in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall England). I really want it to be in the Bay Area, because I do believe that California, with such a rich Catholic past, needs to be brought back to the faith – I’m thinking Santa Cruz would be ideal (Santa Cruz meaning Holy Cross – after all, it was St. John of the Cross who I wanted to honor originally).
I want this Museum to include four (4) integrated yet unique “parts” for lack of a better word. I want it to be a theme-park, hotel, basilica, and conference center – collectively All Saints Museum (of course the church would be distinct).
The theme park (more properly the museum) will be dedicated to St. John of the Cross (since he recognized the importance of ordering our senses toward God). It will be an interactive park (mainly indoors) and include combination of rides, displays, shows, and presentations. While it may include pictures and art, I want it to be virtually indestructible – so that kids of all ages can enjoy the displays, etc.
Imagine flying with Saint Joseph of Cupertino on a sky-line across the top of the museum to have a view from above. Taking a relic-coaster tour of the Catacombs, or around the Museum – like the Disneyland train that goes around the park, dropping off guests at different areas. There could be a St. Pio “bilocation” ride. Gladiator ride on chariots around an arena. A boat ride of course – after Noah or Jonah, or with the Apostles when Jesus was walking on the water. An ascension ride. There are so many great ideas around the Saints that lend themselves to rides and entertainment.
Walk with Adam and Eve through the Garden of Eden. Or come face to face with Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Walk the Villa Dolorosa while saying the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. This can be done by an actual physical sets and props, or using Virtual Reality (VR), which is the wave of the future. I do want to have all the Saints life-size in a wax museum – or throughout the park. There would be displays of the Saints in their most famous moments – perhaps an exhibit with St. Stephen on knees about to be stoned with caption on the bottom – last words “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Or St. Catherine of Siena advising Pope Gregory XI. St. Joan of Arc. The Annunciation. Have fun in the St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle” escape room, where guests have to answer trivia about saints to unlock the clues and doors. Again, there are so many things that could be done.
Experiencing an IMAX theater view of the Creation account in Genesis. Planetarium for viewing and researching the solar system. Learn about the lives of the Saints with holographic images of the Saints (like in Jurassic World). Catholic movie presentations for seasons (like the Passion of the Christ on Holy Week, etc.).
There are many ways the Museum could be organized – by type of Saint (Married, Widowed, religious, Virgins, Martyrs, etc.). Could also have one side of museum be the Old Testament and the other side the New Testament.
The Hotel would be dedicated to St. Martha (although maybe St. Andre Bessette since he was the humble door keeper). It would be themed so that rooms are dedicated to Saints and include time-period appropriate décor, etc. St. Philomena Room, St. Dymphna Room, St. Gerard Majella Room.. etc. The Saint name instead of room numbers ?
The Basilica would be dedicated to St. Gemma and St. Francis. I’d model the church after St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco (highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area). I want it to have various niches with altars for different Saints. Would love to have Relics displayed throughout for veneration and devotion. Mass on Sundays of course with a bell tower to let visitors know when Mass is going on. – Park would shut down Sunday during Mass to make sure all guests do not miss their Sunday obligation. This is a MUST!
Conference Center dedicated to St. Francis de Sales or St. Thomas Aquinas – one of the Drs of the Church – since it will be state of the art and devoted to studying, research, and exploring the faith, etc. This Conference Center will include a retreat house, a library, a lecture hall / auditorium for speakers and shows, and perhaps work with Rome to have “US” divisions of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Vatican Museum, and other Pontifical Committees so that research and partnering can be easier for those not able to travel to Rome
I want an enclosed parking structure that is seamlessly integrated to the Castel. Parking, therefore, would be part of the experience of visiting the Museum. Would have levels similar to Dante’s levels, where the base level would be themed like hell, up to the very top level that would be themed as heaven, and all the various levels – there would be a spiral turn up the middle for traffic to enter and exit, and the center spiral would have giant statues of Angels ascending and descending. Outside walls would have stained glass so that from the outside you wouldn’t know it was a parking structure, and from the inside you would have the beauty of the light coming through.
The Road Ahead:
I’m a family man, with a beautiful wife of 20 years and three (3) lovely daughters. I’m devoted to my family, and I do have a day-job that I’m quite loyal to as well. Therefore, as much as I really want to just dive into this Museum project, it does actually scare me a bit. I want to make this happen, but I don’t quite have the support I need to really make a go at it yet. I know God wants me to manage my domestic church first. And so until I know what God really wants the next step to be, I’m at least casting this net out.
Our core goal and motto is – Venerating Saints of the Past, Inspiring Saints of the Future. No matter where I’m at in this project, this is what I hope to do. Day by day, brick by brick, I pray that one day this dream Museum will become a reality.
Dario Sattui built his dream castle – he used real authentic Italian stone (like 1300 century building materials). I would like to do the same. I want All Saints Museum to be built with noble materials, and as much as possible not simply pre-fabricated and raised up quick. I think an awesome fundraiser would be to sell the building blocks for the Museum, literally. And each stone / block would have the donors info on it – kind of like the central walk-way of Disneyland that has pavers with names on it. The structure of All Saints Museum would be a monument to those who contributed to building it.
If you want to reach out with any words of encouragement, any prayers (or prayer intentions I can pray for), any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share – please reach me at [email protected].
I’ve put out a few books, and sales go toward All Saints Museum – as well as future book projects. You can check out the Dear Saints book collection on Amazon (Dear Saints: Lenten Edition, Dear Saints: Christmas Edition, Dear Saints: Catechesis on Saints, and I’m currently writing Dear Saints: Catechesis on Sacraments to be released next year).
Financial or other contributions are tax-deductible. All Saints Museum is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Funds will go toward our mission, and ultimately to fulfilling this dream.
Either way, please reach out, we need each other as fellow workers in God’s Vineyard.
Thank you so much, and God bless!
As I had stated before, relics play a central role in this Museum, and I want to continue this. Over the years it has become more difficult to attain relics, and I attribute this largely to the misunderstanding and abuse of them. They are bought and sold on websites like eBay, which is extremely scandalous. Many good Catholics buy them attempting to “rescue” the relics – but this only exacerbates the issue because it creates and solidifies the demand. Sellers take advantage of buyers who will do anything to “rescue” them. And many of these relics are counterfeit to begin with anyway. True relics are authenticated by Postulators and Bishops in charge of the distribution of them, and they cannot be sold. They are given. And they are not owned either. Those who posses relics are the stewards of them. Relics are meant for public veneration by the faithful. They are meant to be exposed and venerated, not horded away for private devotion. Therefore, Bishops now are cracking down on even sending relics out for legitimate use. I encourage people to NOT buy them online, no matter your intentions. Pray, and let it go. That’s all you can do. But in the mean-time. I also encourage people to learn about relics. They are an extraordinary gift to us. They are a testament to the fact that our Saints aren’t just legend or myth. They are true. These were real people who truly lived on earth. They ate, slept, suffered, had fun, smiled – they were human!
You know, we don’t get grossed out or even question when a famous basketball player gives a fan their shoes or jersey, or when fans risk life and limb to catch a foul ball or hockey puck. We don’t seem to be phased when a famous actor’s clothes are sold at auction for millions, or when fans fight over the pick tossed into he crowd by a famous singer. It’s human nature to want some token or memento of someone who we look up to or admire. We all have special sentimental attachments to things passed down to us from past generations in our families. It’s natural to want this connection to the past, to stay close physically to our loved ones. We visit graves for the same reason. Even in biblical times, the tombs of the kings were well known, and the bones of relatives were always buried close so that their memories wouldn’t perish with them.
Relics are sacramentals, because they have their end goal in leading us to a greater faith. They bring us closer to the Sacraments. It is by venerating relics, the Saints they represent, where we receive devotion and inspiration in our faith – to live heroic lives just as they did! This is really what faith is all about – faith is the substance of things unseen as St. Paul teaches us. And it doesn’t get more substantial than a physical part of the saint!
I always feel bad asking for signs from God. It’s not usually a good idea, because God desires our confidence in him. However, he also understands our human weakness. He knows that even when he reveals things to us, our minds sometimes are too small to really comprehend which direction he’s pointing us in. And so God does give us the grace of miracles many times. Nevertheless, most times we don’t even take the time to realize that they are miracles. Sometimes we pass them off as coincidences, too stubborn to accept that God is offering his help to us in our time of need.
Several miracles have happened that I can recall, two of which are noteworthy here.
I love all the Saints very much. St. Francis is my patron Saint, and he holds a special place in my heart of course. However, while I was searching the web for Saints I came across one that looked a lot like my daughter, and her incredible, beautiful, innocent look just pierced me. St. Gemma Galgani – what an wonderful Saint. I was drawn to her, and she spoke to me through her eyes. Now, there is website dedicated to her (www.stgemmagalgani.com), operated by Glenn Dallaire who is such a nice person. I reached out to Mr. Dallaire in regards to acquiring a relic of St. Gemma, the first relic I ever sought. He gave me some advice on how I might write a letter to the postulate for her cause. I wrote the letter in early March of 2015. In an age when we can send and receive emails and text messages instantaneously, to send letters via traditional “snail-mail” takes a lot of patience. But it also is a lot more rewarding to receive something physical that you can touch – almost as if those letters themselves are relics – even sacramental in nature. I sent the letter with high expectations, yet with a sense of peace that either way at least I was trying. I didn’t necessarily have a sense of urgency for a response. Like a fishing line cast into the lake, I set my pole and was content to wait. Now – if you know anything at all about St. Gemma, this is one of the few Saints to have received the Stigmata (the wounds of Christ). She was a victim for sinners, offering her own suffering united to Christ for the salvation of souls. St. Gemma was particularly devoted to Good Friday, and in fact it was every Friday that she herself bore the wounds of Christ. Her Stigmata was particular to Fridays. So it was no small miracle when, behold, a package from the Passionists in Rome arrived in my mail on none other than Good Friday – only a few weeks after having written. It was a 1st Class Relic of St. Gemma. Of all the days! The package wasn’t sent express, it wasn’t guaranteed. So there was no way for them on their end to coordinate it arriving exactly on Good Friday. And the fact that St. Gemma was Passionist at heart, dedicated to Good Friday and the Passion of our Lord. There really is no other explanation, other than to admit that Our Lord willed this to be so. I’m forever grateful for this consolation – a hint by our Lord that this Museum, this mission, is something he desires.
The other miracle that stands out to me on this journey is the All Saints name. As previously mentioned, it was Ms. Cox who had recommended the name to me. It’s worth mentioning here that in my first call with her, she told me to “build my museum brick by brick, just like St. Francis”. This was before she knew that my Patron Saint was St. Francis – so this was already a wink by God that he was present in this situation. But I took her advice to heart. A few days later on my way to work, as was my custom, I stopped by Our Lady of Peace to pray before the Blessed Sacrament about this. As I knelt in prayer, a holy card caught my eye in the pew in front of me. It was very early in the morning, and hardly anyone was there. So I picked up the holy card. It was a prayer card provided by All Saints Church – a church I had never heard of before. Coincidence… I think not. I knew at that point that God had answered my question. And All Saints Museum was official.
In the meantime, while I was praying I was also researching. I wrote letters, reaching out for advice, guidance, anything. Just trying to find that next door. Where was God leading me? From the earliest moments of this calling I had a special spot in my heart for relics, and I started to learn more about relics and really loved the idea of having something physical present to drive home the reality of the Saints – more on that to come – and so an early “version” or stepping stone to All Saints Museum was “Triumphant Tours”. As I began to receive some relics, I wanted to try to make these accessible to people in hospitals and prisons – people who couldn’t come to a Church to see them. This lead me to meeting a few people. It also lead to some doors being closed. And, like I said, some other doors being opened. I found Treasures of the Church, and we were able to host this at our local parish. I wrote the Knights of Columbus. I wrote the founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University (Thomas Monaghan). I wrote Dario Sattui who had built a veritable castle in California (Castello di Amorosa – highly recommend a tour of this amazing work) . I wrote numerous Bishops. And I wrote several people about how to start a business – needing a business plan, having a feasibility study done, etc. I gathered as much information as I could.
In my research, I found that it is a good idea to gather as much intel about competing or similar businesses. Therefore, I tried to find other museums, and other theme parks, that I could compare and learn from. I found that there are a few very successful religious museums with a similar flavor – Creation Museum is one, and the other is the Museum of the Bible. Both demonstrate the interest people have in learning their faith. They also demonstrate that such businesses can be successful. I also learned that there were religious theme parks that had seen some success. One such theme park was The Holy Land Experience, which was massively successful until the founder essentially fell in love with the money (you know what they say about the love of money – sadly). But this validates that there is a market for such family enjoyment – there simply needs to be someone at the helm who truly is interested in the benefit of the guests.
During this time of research, I also wrote to Ms. Christina Cox, Foundress and president of The National Museum of Catholic Art and Library (NMCAL). Ms. Cox took an interest in me right away, taking me under her wing as it were. She was the one who encouraged me to make a leap of faith and incorporate my Museum. She told me that if I do this, it will be a concrete step forward to making this dream a reality. And she was right. I went on to incorporate and establish my Museum as a tax-exempt non-profit. She also advised me to consider re-naming the Museum “All Saints”, since my focus was the Saints – and she felt like “The Dark Night Museum” was… well… too dark. I had to pray about this because I really wanted to honor St. John of the Cross. However, as I went to pray about this, God gave me a miraculous sign that she was right again. One miracle among many that have given me faith in this project.
I knew from my love of the Saints and my Catholic faith that when one receives a calling in their heart from the Lord the best thing they can do is pray and listen more intently. Most of the time God doesn’t just lay out the whole plan for people – otherwise we would get cold feet and back away entirely, because God’s plans are always greater than our own minds believe we can achieve. Rather, God lays down one section of the road at a time, leading us through the labyrinth one leg at a time, one foot in front of the other, step by step. If we are attentive to the voice of God, and we follow his lead and his promptings, then we find that where one door might close, another one opens up. We just have to keep knocking, asking, seeking. He will honor our feeble attempts at stumbling around in the dark. He shines the light where our eyes need to focus.
And so with this, I prayed. I listened. I dreamed. I imagined what could be done. I poured my heart out to our Lord. I spoke to him about the pros and cons of a museum. I talked to him about how this idea could really help a lot of people grow closer to their faith. I also talked to him about how I don’t like working weekends, especially Sundays – and that I would want this museum to honor the Lord’s day. I brought to the Lord all my feelings and desires, all my thoughts and ideas, and I just laid them all at his feet.
I also sought spiritual advice from several priests I knew. One priest in particular (Father Michael Pintacura) was also in the process of making his own museum (I encourage everyone to pray for him and the museum dedicated to Blessed Anna Maria Taigi http://taigivision.org/). God speaks to us in many ways – mostly through Scripture, but also through other holy men and women. He also speaks to us through the voice of his Saints.
This is what prayer really is. It isn’t so much about me asking this, and God granting my wishes. It’s a dialogue between a Father and a son, between family. I have to constantly remind myself of this, because it can feel very one-sided at times… me doing all the talking. I have to learn to listen more. I’m still learning. Still praying. And I’m still listening.
Now, as much as I am dissatisfied with the direction Disney has taken with many of their movies as of late – not necessarily its “woke” agenda in general, as much as its attack on traditional family values more in particular (most especially their treatment of what it means to be a real father)… as much as I try NOT to support this, I can’t help but LOVE the Disneyland park. And I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. Our family usually goes once a year to enjoy time together and experience the thrill and shear entertainment of the magical land. There is something just special about it. It didn’t really hit me at first, but I think more and more – especially after my haunted house – I realized that there is something good about our human experience. God gave us our senses. It seems obvious. But God really did give us all our senses, and after He had created everything he said that they were “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This is why the Mass is so very special – because it appeals to our whole human person – body and soul. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament – they all appeal through our body to our soul. This is actually why Jesus instituted the Sacraments. It is in fact why Jesus himself became man – he came to experience our humanity, so that our humanity might experience his divinity!
St. John of the Cross wrote his famous book “The Dark Night of the Soul”. And in it he steps through what many Saints have experienced – a spiritual darkness, where God seems to have abandoned the person (recall Jesus on the cross – “my God, my God! O Why have you abandoned me”). This experience is oriented at stripping a person of their attachments to feelings in order to re-orient those feelings toward God. The Dark Night, just like the Mass itself, is a grace given by God which appeals to the whole person (body and soul) in order for them to Love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength!
It is an unfortunate fact that many Catholics go to Mass expecting some sort of entertainment value. And while the Mass itself isn’t meant to be that for us – the Mass of course has a much greater purpose – the desire for some holy entertainment is not without merit. Yet – where can Catholics go for such wholesome, whole – person, holy entertainment?
It was the combination of all these thoughts where God placed the idea in my heart of a Museum for the Saints – but not just a run-of-the-mill museum with pictures on a wall. Rather, I want a place that might replicate the Disneyland experience but with more to it than just the thrill of a ride. My thought was that our Catholic faith is always a “both / and” faith. If Disney could offer this kind of enjoyment with no real depth behind the characters, and rides etc.. Why could we not have something similar that actually teaches people about the Catholic faith in an unsuspecting way? I wanted to call it The Dark Night Museum, in honor of St. John of the Cross.
The idea for All Saints Museum didn’t come in a single instant. It was born from several events over multiple years that has developed with time.
Nevertheless, there is one critical moment that stands out above most others.
About 10 years ago my children were much younger, and I was coaching one of their recreational soccer teams. It was fall-time, and I thought it would be a great team experience if I held a Halloween Party for the kids and their families – but not just any Halloween Party… I wanted to convert my garage into a haunted house! I got to work with the plans, drawing up sketches, taking measurements, putting together ideas. With few funds, little materials, but a whole lot of creativity, the 20 x 20 garage space was turned into a wonderland of amusement. There were steps and stairs, a slide down into a bottom-less pit illusion, with a house of mirrors, an electric chair, and doorways to nowhere. We had pneumatic lines to add spooky puffs of air in unsuspecting places, and strobe lights, candles, with motion detectors and black lights to add special effects. My brother-in-law is a tech expert, and he helped put together all the pneumatics, infrared cameras, electric chair prop, with a computer and TV monitors so that the parents could see what was going on from outside! The parents were blown away by the haunted house. And needless to say, those kids still talk about it to this day. It was a-maze-ing!
I learned some things from this experience. I learned that kids minds are already a land-mine of imagination ready to explode at the slightest trigger. It only takes a little bit of mystery, some seeds of anticipation, and some hints of expectation, and the kids eyes are wide and their hearts pounding They love adventure and the unknown – some more than others of course.
I also learned that God was speaking to my heart in all of this. I had built things before, like the deck I built in my first house, among other diy projects. I love rolling up my sleeves, getting my hands dirty, and creating things. We are, as you know, made in the image and likeness of God – who is the Supreme Creator. So, naturally it is in us to want to make stuff. I was blessed by my father, who taught me how to use tools. He taught me the honor and joy in hard work.
But it wasn’t until this haunted house that I understood how such gifts, when stewarded properly, can really and truly bring people together and put smiles on children’s faces. I saw this and I felt like there was a holy market for such entertainment and joy…
If you have a hard time understanding the Catholic practice of praying to the Saints, or want to learn more about why Catholics believe what we do about Saints, then my new book – Dear Saints: Catechesis on Saints – is for you.
Written in an easy Question and Answer format, this book is full of scripture references and practical advice that explain and defend Catholics devotion to the Saints. It is divided into 5 sections, and covering a total of 40 questions, which makes this book is ideal for a 40 day devotion.
My prayer is that this Catechesis will be a source of answers for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike in understanding the Saints and their important role in our lives.
Lent is upon us. Still wondering what to do for Lent? Consider this devotional. Hear from the Saints each day, as they give you Scripture to meditate on and practical advice to help you as you prepare for Easter.