Tag Archives: St. Gabriel the Archangel

Saturday:) Some More Sanctuary Sketches

3 Oct

“Each sketch, each drawing, each painting brings me closer to the realization that…I’ll never be a world famous artist. But, it sure is a wonderful learning experience.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Thursday afternoon, I drove over to St. Gabriel’s for Adoration and sketching in the Sanctuary. I had started a sketch of the crucifix above the altar the week before, but I didn’t get very far. For some reason, the depth of the symbolism is quite distracting. Could I possibly do it justice? This crucifix reference happens to be the very first in my series of Sanctuary Sketches many months back. I gave that original sketch to Father Don that day when he was giving the new seminarian a tour of the church. I realized that wanted to have an original sketch of my own to keep. Not to mention, I’ve gotten a tiny bit better in my drawing skills since then.

My rough draft and proportions were a bit off. I didn’t realize until I was fully committed that I ran out of room for Jesus’ feet. Oh no. When I sketch, I try and leave white space at the top and bottom for my photos and applications. Oops!
I always take a photo of my subject so I can zoom in on the detail and also to finish up at home. Otherwise I’d be at church all day.
Time to go home and finish up another day.
OK, here’s my funny story. I didn’t like how poor Jesus had no feet. So, I got another sheet of watercolor paper and added it to the bottom, just adding a little extension to the feet and cross. Unfortunately, it left a little line on the photo. I was happy with most the rest of the sketch. But, I was hoping the apps on Artisto wouldn’t make the line too pronounce.
Some of the Artisto applications….
I think this one might be my favorite. Very simple and soft. Which one do you like best?


Saturday Celebration At St. Gabriel’s~ 25th Anniversary

26 Sep

“Life is a celebration. Consider everything that makes you happy as a gift from God and say, ‘Thank you.”
― Francis Lucille


This evening after the 5 o’clock Mass, the parishioners of St. Gabriel the Archangel celebrated their 25th Anniversary. There usually is a church picnic in the fall, but this was a good time to have an anniversary celebration. Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Kelly presided over the Mass, seeing as he was the original pastor 25 years ago, it was an honor for him and the parishioners.

A lot of volunteers and donors provided a wonderful outdoor celebration complete with tents, DJ, fun activities for the kids, free food and drinks. Last Sunday, they announced the reminder… “And free beer and wine, I repeat, free beer and wine.”

Father Don, our Pastor, thanked everyone, especially Bishop Kelly for making St. Gabe’s such a wonderful family.
Bishop Kelly enjoyed visiting his old stomping grounds and talking to old friends. The once small parish he started 25 years ago now has over 4,000 families. And you know those Catholics. They have a lot of kids.
It was nice to run into old friends, and see new faces and families.
Talk about old friends. Fire Station 5 had a truck and EMS vehicle there. I said, “Hi guys, it’s Miss Toni.” The reply was, “Oh, the lady that brings us all the goodies all the time.” The truck was for the kids to admire and ring the bell, and I guess the EMS vehicle was for any medical emergencies or for all those free beer and wine overindulges. (Just kidding?) Catholics don’t drink much…haha.

It was a lovely evening, and I feel blessed to be part of the St. Gabriel Family.

Saturday:) Special Sanctuary Sketches

19 Sep

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

~Richard Bach


I have been finding great joy and peace during my visits to St. Gabriel’s for Adoration and meditative sketching in the Sanctuary. I started a sketch two weeks ago, but never got around to finishing it until this evening. It’s the stained glass window called, “The Visitation.”

Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, both pregnant. Elizabeth carrying the baby John the Baptist who leaps in her womb when in the presence of Mary and her son Jesus, in Mary’s womb. “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.”
My finished pencil sketch. Now, to apply the awesome Artisto applications.
A few of my favorites.

Saturday:) Sanctuary Sketches

5 Sep

“Sketching on a regular basis requires you to pay close attention to the visual world around you. With practice, you begin to see things you never noticed before.” Paul Laseau


My Sanctuary Sketches have become very inspirational. I look forward to the quiet time, but also practicing my drawing skills. I always have to laugh because when I begin sketching faces and hands, the figures tend to look like Quasimodo, and that’s just the female figures. 🤦‍♀️

Thursday, I spent a couple of hours at church. A very nice meditative time.

My friend, Helene, happened to be at Adoration at the same time and captured a photo of me sketching the stained glass window of The Assumption of Mary.
My initial sketch in the Sanctuary.
I I worked about two more hours this evening to finish this sketch. Then, to add some of my favorite Artisto apps to my sketch.
One of my favorites.
Just a few of my favorites.

Happy Saturday, my friends.

Saturday:) Sanctuary Sketches

22 Aug

“Solemnity plus beauty equals inspiration.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Yesterday, amidst all the chaos and my scurrying about, my quiet time at St. Gabriel just sketching was wonderful. I spent nearly two hours sketching and meditating.

I never like my initial attempts at my sketches. I really have a hard time with people and faces and hands. But, I don’t give up. I chose this beautiful white marble bas relief of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
I do most of the sketching in the quiet Sanctuary, then finish up the next day at my leisure. I got this far on Friday.
I was packing up and getting ready to leave when two ladies came in. The younger lady went to light a candle and the older lady, in a walker, was getting out her rosary. I stopped on my way out and talked the ladies. I was showing them my sketches and telling them my story of quiet time in the Sanctuary. Jennifer and Marie were very impressed with my drawings. I had them all with me. I showed them a couple of notecards that I had made using my photo app. We chatted a while, then I wished them nice day and started walking out. Hmm… I turned around and said, “OH, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer you these notecards.” I only had two, so it was perfect. They really appreciated the random act of kindness from a stranger. (Yep! They don’t come much stranger than me.)

This evening, I finished my sketch, adding details, shadows and more pronounced lines. When I was finished, I was pretty happy.

Then, it was time to play with my Artisto phone app.
I think this is my favorite.
These are a few of my favorites.

Saturday:) Some More Sanctuary Sketches

15 Aug

“Truly, sacred rest is soul care. We honor quiet time alone with God. We intentionally step away from the chaos of life. We unplug from noise and distractions. We relish moments of tranquility.”
― Dana Arcuri


As promised yesterday, more on my stop at St. Gabriel for Adoration and Sanctuary sketching. After my fulminating experience and long wait at the doctor’s office, I stopped at the chapel for Adoration then into the main sanctuary for a little alone time with God and my sketchpad.

The stained glass window that I wanted to sketch was in the back of the church, so there was no comfortable way to lean over or sit backwards to face the back. So, seeing as I was the only person in the entire place, I went way back into the vestibule and found a folding chair. I set it up smack-dab in the middle of the main aisle facing the beautiful back window.
Here’s how I started my sketch. I’m never very happy with the initial process. (He looks like a homeless hippie dude, saying , “What’s up, man?”) Plus, it’s hard to get a lot of detail with a pencil and from an object so far away and up near the ceiling. Sometimes “ya gotta wing it.” I have a funny unofficial caption for this one.

CAPTION: “Father, look what they’re doing to this beautiful planet that you gave them. OY VEY!”

I sketched for a little over an hour. I usually get the main details in, then go home and finish the rest with my photograph for a reference. I try not to add too much detail because my Artisto app on my phone creates some awesome images.

Finished sketch, ready for some Artisto app magic.
Just a few of my favorites.
I can’t decide which one I like the best. There are about 15 to pick from. These are my favorites.

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Saturday:) Sanctuary Sketches For The Soul

8 Aug

“The most sacred time is spent alone with my quiet thoughts, my sketch pad and my Lord.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I started a new tradition for myself a few months back. When I have a chance to go to St. Gabriel for Adoration on Thursday or Friday, I take a sketch pad and a pencil with me. First, I visit the chapel for Adoration, kneel beneath the crucifix, with the Eucharist displayed in the beautiful gold monstrance. I say a few prayers, then sit quietly with my thoughts.

Later, I walk through the chapel door which leads to the corridors behind the altar and into the main sanctuary. I light a candle, put an offering in the St. Vincent de Paul poor box, then walk straight up to the first pew and sit. Pretty much every time I’m there, there isn’t a single solitary person in the entire huge beautiful church. It’s an awesome feeling.

Yesterday, I worked on a sketch of the beautiful glowing dove above the altar.

It was pretty far away, so I had to use artistic license.
It seems like a pretty simple dove, but I spent well over an hour lightly sketching, adding details, darkening, erasing, and smudging shadows with my finger. The quiet contrast of the massive empty sanctuary was a perfect contemplative setting for the soul.
When I was finished, I knew that my cool Artisto app on my phone would create some amazing colorful renderings. I was not disappointed.
Just a few of my favorites.

I’m sure you can see why this is such a special time. Just a sketch pad, a pencil, and my Lord.

Sunday Sermon and Some Other Stuff

20 Apr

“To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.”

~Stanislaus I


This morning I was able to sleep in a little because there was going to be a very special live streaming Divine Mercy Sunday Mass at 11 am at St. Gabriel. But, as is my custom, I still attended Mass in my jammies. The service was officiated by Dallas Archdiocese Bishops Burns and Kelly. Bishop Kelly was our original founding pastor at St. Gabriel back in 1996, so it was a special service.

Today’s Gospel was the “Doubting Thomas” story. The disciples were all locked away in a room after the resurrection, fearing for their lives. Jesus appeared before them saying, “Peace be with you, ” and showed them His wounds. Thomas was not with them, and when they told him that they saw Jesus, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless he could see and touch the wounds himself.

Eight days later, Jesus appeared in the closed room, and invited Thomas to touch the wounds so he could believe.

28 Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’

29 Jesus said to him: You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

My take on it… sometimes you have to believe in things that you can’t see or don’t have physical proof of. That’s what faith is. You can’t see the air, but you know it’s there and you breathe. You can’t see love, but you can feel it.


Bishop Kelly gave a wonderful homily comparing how our situation today is similar to how the disciples were locked away in fear of the unknown, but they still had faith. We are locked away in our homes, uncertain of our future and our safety, so we must remain faithful. He also reminded us what Pope Francis said. During these difficult days, we need to help one another and the less fortunate.

“We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other,” he said during his homily in front of a rainy St. Peter’s Basilica, before an empty square and a single priests.

It was a beautiful Mass with a wonderful message and amazing singing.

Bishop Burns gave his final blessing to all.


Then of course, the highlight of my Sunday is getting to FaceTime with my little granddaughters and watching them grow right before my eyes.

Saturday:) Catholic Bingo~ Nobody Does It Better

23 Feb

“Bingo isn’t really gambling when all the proceeds go to charity, and everything is donated for a worthy cause. It’s a Catholic thing.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


A fun night of bingo with a Mardi Gras theme at St. Gabriel this evening. This was my first time attending, and I didn’t realize how huge and elaborate it would be.

It was a sold out event sponsored by the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.

Thousands of dollars were raised for this wonderful ministry. SVdP provides appropriate assistance to anyone needing food, clothing, rent assistance, utility assistance or other emergency needs.

Guess who I ran into on my way in? Father Don.

There were all kinds of raffle prizes, silent auction, donation boards, a 50/50 raffle, tons of food, and the grand finale was a huge double sided bar of wines and spirits to be raffled. We Catholics enjoy our alcohol. One person won all of these bottles.

I didn’t even purchase a raffle ticket for the booze. What if I won? Even I don’t have that many friends to drink all that. But, I did donate a print of one of my paintings, and I got to talk to the lady who won my silent auction donation. She loved my angel.

I sat with several friends as we played eight different games of bingo. Not just the plain old kind, but things like H shaped, X, outer box, inner box, etc. Way to much thinking for me. But, we had a good time, and as I said, a lot of money was raised. Even the winner of the 50/50 raffle, which was over $1,200, donated their winnings to the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.

These are the lovely ladies that I sat with this evening. As you can see, there was plenty to eat and drink, and a good time was had by all.

Look at all these nice people gathered together for a wonderful cause. As I’ve always said, “If a lot of people give just a little, so much can be done for many.” This evening, a lot of people donated a little time, a little money, and a lot of heart. Plus, we all had a lot of fun.

Sunday Sermon and 60+ New Friends

21 Oct

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”

~Henri Nouwen


Another beautiful Sunday. I love greeting before Mass, getting lots of hugs and handshakes. I passed out little cars and a beanie baby to my little friends, and ran over to welcome the Chateau bus. I gave each senior friend a big hug and a piece of chocolate candy from my Halloween stash.

Today’s Gospel was Jesus telling his disciples about the necessity to always pray, using the parable of an unfair judge who kept denying justice for pleading widow. The judge finally gave in, saying that he didn’t fear God nor respect anyone, but the widow kept bothering him so he would finally render a just decision “lest she finally come and strike me.”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones

who call out to him day and night?

Will he be slow to answer them?

I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.

But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

My take on it… the parable is telling us that the Lord will make sure justice is quick to those who are faithful and constant, but when the final day comes, will God find any faithful? I sure hope so. Don’t give up or give into the ways of sin, greed, and corruption.


Well, I just took a short break from writing here because the tornado sirens went off. Scary! I grabbed a big pillow, blanket, flashlight, and cell phone and took cover. I called my sister and talked to her until the sirens stopped. Now, we are just under severe thunderstorm warnings. So far, so good.


Back to Sunday. After Mass, Helene and I had volunteered to dispense our parish picture directories in the cafeteria. Very nice books. Everyone was impressed. They looked like high school year books. We joked around saying that we should bring our books next Sunday and get autographs and ask friends to sign our books like we did in high school. “Good luck next year.” “2 good 2 B forgotten.” Remember those? They were also passing out the baby banks, where we put in our loose change and cash for a few weeks to support various children’s groups.

I got home in time finish up my pasta salad and divide into containers. I was invited to a friend’s house for a potluck barbecue at 1 o’clock Wow! Lots of great food and even better company.

Then, Helene and I had joined a church group called 60+ that was meeting at 5:30. We didn’t even know such a group existed, but we saw the sign up sheet at the church picnic a couple of weeks ago, and we decided to check it out. The only requirement is being 60 years old or more. Well, we’ve got that covered.

We met at Dave Manders’ gorgeous home in McKinney. There were probably 40 to 50 people there, with so many wonderful folks and delicious food. It was so nice to talk to people that I see every Sunday at church, but never knew their names or get to chat. Then, there were new friends to meet. We were welcomed with open arms.

Father Don was there to give the blessing before we ate, and to join us for fellowship, food, and conversation.

I feel so blessed to be part of such a loving church community. I’ve made so many good friends at St. Gabriel the Archangel, but more importantly, I’ve become even stronger in my Catholic faith. I like this quote below. “Church is who you are. Church is what you do.”