Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unpacking update

I apologize for the lull in blogging. I'm still working on an internet connection.

All is well so far. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's Going On

I'm sitting in my room at St. Thomas, on what will be the last Friday night that I'm stationed here, watching the NHL draft on TV, after having decimated a pizza from the Race Zone, who make one of the best bar pies I've had in my life.

The room is in a bit of disarray. Most of my things are already over at the St. Lawrence rectory, waiting for me to start unpacking. In the meantime, though, this place is a mix of boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and the bare minimum of clothes and stuff. It's a little surreal to see this room I've called home for a year feel so un-homely. I was kidding around with a local funeral director this afternoon, as I prepared to do a wake service for a deceased parishioner of my new parish. I told him that for the first, and probably only, time of my life, I've got two houses (I guess that makes Lawrence Harbor my "shore house"). It'll be exciting to move into the new rectory, but for now, I'm more concerned over moving my things out of this rectory.

So tomorrow morning, I have a funeral at St. Lawrence. Then, tomorrow evening, St. Thomas is having a reception to say goodbye to myself and Fr. Abraham Lotha, who is also leaving the parish. Last Sunday, I had two Masses at St. Thomas and one at St. Lawrence. This Sunday, so far, only two Masses at St. Thomas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


My pal, Fr. Guy, back in the blogosphere after his move to Rector of the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in Raritan, NJ, has written an excellent essay on the history of the Pallium, a piece of vesture which will be given out by Pope Benedict early next week to 34 Archbishops who have been named since last year's investiture (among them the Archbishops of Detroit, New York, St. Louis, Omaha, and New Orleans).

Click HERE for Fr. Guy's essay.

Monday, June 22, 2009

still packing, started moving

Sorry I've gone quiet on the blog front. I've been packing since last week, and for the past few days I've been loading up my car and bringing stuff over to the new rectory.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

From the Breviary today:

"O pure and holy virgin,
how can I find words to praise your beauty?
The highest heavens cannot contain God
whom you carried in your womb."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

B16 on St. Jean Vianney

In anticipation of tomorrow's Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (which will inaugurate the special Year for Priests), Pope Benedict has written a letter to the Priests of the world on the Curé of Ars.

Remember that Pope Benedict chose not to continue Pope John Paul's tradition of an annual letter to Priests every Holy Thursday. While he has made himself available each year for "Q&A" sessions with the clergy of Rome (which clergy everywhere could learn from), a letter from the Holy Father specifically to Priests is a rarity.

Click HERE to be taken to the English translation of the letter, as posted on the Vatican website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paul v. Jean-Marie

OK, so it's not on the scale of the "Thrilla in Manila", "Kirk v. Picard", or even "Ginger v. Maryann", but you get the idea.

The Pauline Year (remember that? It's still going on) will officially come to an end on Monday, June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The Year of the Priesthood (in which we've been given St. Jean M. Vianney as a role model) begins this Friday, June 19, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

So, in a quirky twist I don't believe we've had in recent memory, we'll actually have ten days of two "dedicated years" going on.

I mean, who do you cheer for?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Packing up

Bing was a liar!

Remember the beginning of The Bells of St. Mary's? Father O'Malley shows up at the rectory with ONE suitcase? As if all his earthly possessions fit into that one bag? Yeah, right. LIES!

I'm taking a break from packing. It's been exactly one year since I did it last, and I've gotten better at it. I saved the boxes from last year, breaking them down and storing them under my bed. Now, packing is like a big jigsaw puzzle: I put each box back together and then put in it whatever is written on the outside. At this point, it's like a game.

The truth is that a move is a good thing every so often. It gives you the chance to go through things you'd ordinarily leave untouched, and ask yourself, "Do I really need this?", "Have I used this in the last ___ years?", "Did I even open this box from the last time I moved?", "Whatever happened to that puppy they gave me?"

My friend, Fr. Jim Weldon, a Priest of the Diocese of Wichita, had a great blog entry recently on his parish's blog. If any of you know of a Priest who is being transferred, now is the time to offer to help. It's a great way to get free theology books, since he doesn't want to pack them but can't bring himself to throw them away.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi reading

Whether you are celebrating it this Sunday (or last Thursday), the feast of 'Corpus Christi' got me thinking: If I were to recommend some reading to parishioners on the topic of the Eucharist, what would the list look like?

Then I thought about which books have helped me in my years as a seminarian and Priest? So I looked on my bookshelves, and these are some of the books that are there (and in no particular order):
  • In the Presence of Our Lord: The History, Theology, and Psychology of Eucharistic Devotion by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR and James Monti (published by Our Sunday Visitor). A nice survey book.
  • Catholics and the Eucharist: A Scriptural Introduction by Stephen Clark (Servant Publications, Ann Arbor). A bit more involved reading.
  • The Eucharist, Gift of Divine Life prepared by the Theological-Historical Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (Crossroad Publishing Company, NY). An excellent book to read and reflect upon, good spiritual reading.
  • The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist by Fr. James O'Connor (Ignatius Press). We used this one in our seminary class on the Eucharist.
  • God is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Ignatius Press). A collection of pre-papacy essays and homilies from different occasions.
  • The Holy Eucharist: Christ's Inestimable Gift by Francis Cardinal Arinze (Our Sunday Visitor). A paperback book, great for meditations in front of the Bl. Sacrament.
  • The Eucharist: Our Sanctification by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Separated at birth?

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua

Today's feast day always has finds a soft spot in my heart, because St. Anthony is the patron of my home parish.

My hometown of Port Reading is a small town that I like to describe, when I was growing up, as having had "one traffic light and five pizza places." Planes fly overhead on their landing approach to Newark Airport. Railroad cars spend the night hooking up (but not in that way; get your mind out of the gutter) for their journeys. The main street running through town is (big shock) Port Reading Avenue, and that's where you find St. Anthony's Church.

I first knew it as the place my grandmother would take me when she was watching me and wanted to go to daily Mass. Eventually it became the place where I went for my Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings (as a little Jewish kid I can remember thinking that the water fountain in the basement dispensed holy water; I was afraid to drink it). Eventually the friendships I made with local kids meant that I'd spend more time at the church, but this time "behind the scenes", hanging out in the sacristy waiting for my friends to finish serving a wedding or a funeral so we could go play afterwards.

Somewhere along the way it also became a spiritual home. By the late 80's the church had become structurally unsafe, and a new church had to be built. In the meantime, St. Anthony's School had become the place where Masses were held and the Scouts continued to meet. My friend would have to go to Mass before we could go mall hopping around New Jersey, and so I started to go to Sunday Mass at the old school. Eventually I began to stop for Mass on my way into work, when I began my Town Hall career, which gave me a nice peaceful start to my day and led me to seek Baptism.

As a Catholic, I continued to attend Mass almost daily, both in the old school and then eventually in the new church which was dedicated in 1991. Slowly but steadily, my Pastor got me involved in parish activities (even taking me to a Diaconate ordination). This was when I began to consider Priesthood, and it all revolved around St. Anthony's. By then I was a "regular face" at parish activities, and the parishioners could not have been more supportive of my decision. While I was in Major Seminary, a new Pastor was named, who continued to be a great source of support and encouragement, taking me eventually through the ministries of Lector and Acolyte, and ordinations to the Diaconate and Priesthood. St. Anthony's has always been a special place for me, and today's feast day always fills me with memories from my home parish.

What about YOUR home parish? When you walk into the church where you attend Mass, do you have a litany of memories through the years? So many families today move from parish to parish.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Congratulations, Penguins!

Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"cut it off and throw it away"

Today's Gospel contains some pretty radical stuff:  "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.  ...  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna."

Just figurative language?  Jesus using metaphor to convey a point?

Submitted for your approval (I say in my best Rod Serling voice), the story of hiker Aron Ralston.  In 2003, Ralston was rock climbing in Blue John Canyon in Utah when a boulder shifted, trapping his right arm underneath.  For five days, Ralston rationed the little food and water he had with him, hoping for someone to either come by or come close enough to hear his voice. Realizing his options were running out, Ralston made the decision to amputate his own arm.  "Better to lose one of your members", eh?  (Read the whole story here)

Now, most of us don't do any serious hiking or rock climbing (though I do remember a few seminary classmates who rappelled down the side of the building during our last week at Mt. St. Mary's).  What do we have in our lives that the Lord is asking us to radically "cut off"?  An addiction?  A vice?  Old bitter feelings or a grudge we've held onto for years?

Cut it off today and walk away from it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just wondering...

With today being the Feast (okay, obligatory memorial) of Saint Barnabas, how many of you who went to Mass this morning heard the first Eucharistic Prayer?  It starts, "We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving..."

We were taught in the seminary that it's a nice thing to use EP#1 on the feastdays of those who are specifically mentioned within the prayer.  I used it at Mass this evening and Mass was still under a half hour.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TJH interview now on EWTN website

The archived video section of the EWTN website now has my interview on The Journey Home, for the next week anyway.

UPDATE: Sorry, a new episode of TJH has taken its place in the EWTN video archives.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My interview on The Journey Home

The interview I taped for EWTN's The Journey Home airs tonight at 8pm.  The cable company where I live only airs EWTN from 6am to 6pm, so I'm watching it on my computer on the streaming video feed (the US feed) that EWTN makes available through their website (click on "television" at the top of the webpage).

The show will re-air on Tuesday morning at 1am and 10am, Wednesday at 1pm, and Saturday at 11pm.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A long time ago in a Cornhusker State far, far away....

Jeff Miller, author of the blog, The Curt Jester, has written what most of us felt when we heard that Bishop George Lucas was named the new Archbishop of Omaha.

Check it out by clicking HERE, and let the Star Wars jokes begin!

PS - Trekkers/Trekkies, for your information, there IS a Priest of the Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) named Fr. James T. Kirk.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I Love (St.) Lucy's

St. Lucy's is a parish in the Archdiocese of Newark, just a hop, skip, and jump from the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  A visit to the Basilica is a treat in itself, but if it also includes a stop at St. Lucy's, that's like the cherry on top of the sundae.  Click on this LINK to a photo of St. Lucy's interior, and you'll see what I mean.  This wasn't done with a marketing strategy by some consultants in a capital campaign; this was done with the nickels and dimes of immigrants.

Both Sacred Heart Basilica and St. Lucy's are examples of the artistic genius of Professor Gonippo Raggi, a native of Rome who made his home in New Jersey at the turn of the 20th century.  More of his work can be found at St. Catherine's in Spring Lake, as well as the chapel of Villa Walsh, the Motherhouse of the Religious Teachers Filippini.

But I digress.

The pastor of St. Lucy's, Msgr. Joseph Granato, has been there since 1955, when he was a curate to the legendary Fr. Gaetano Ruggiero. Having reached the age of 80, and after having received numerous extensions past the normal age of retirement from active ministry, the Archbishop of Newark has decided that Msgr. Granato should retire as Pastor of St. Lucy's.  Here's where the "he said/he said" fun begins.

Here's a link to an article in yesterday's Star Ledger.

Also, here's a link to a story that'll put St. Lucy's, Newark, and Msgr. Granato in a larger perspective.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

More hockey pics

Back in March, I wrote about how I took part in the Geezer Hockey League's annual Penguin for a Day skate at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes Barre, PA.  One of my fellow players sent me some pictures his family took.

And, since this is my blog (and so perhaps the only place in the world where it really is all about ME), here's more of me:

Some pre-game stretching

Here's some game pics:

Afterwards, the post game photo:

Saint Lawrence, Pray for us!

The twelfth year of my Priesthood puts a new door in front of me.

Last Monday, my Bishop called to tell me that he was appointing me Administrator of St. Lawrence Parish in Laurence Harbor, NJ.  I begin there on July 1.

Yesterday, I met with the current Pastor, Fr. Joe Szulwach, who was kind enough to show me the church and rectory.  St. Lawrence is only about 9 miles east of St. Thomas, and in the same Deanery, so I've had the chance to get to know him for the past year.

Here's the new place:

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Back from 'Bama

In the first quickie business trip of my life, I just returned (at 10am) from a 40 hour trip to Alabama.  The pictures were taken with my phone.

I arrived in Birmingham Airport at about 10:00 Sunday evening.  By 6:30am on Monday, I was outside the EWTN studios and chapel.  The last time I was here was in August of 2007, when Frs. Brighenti & Trigilio and I taped "Crash Course on John Paul II".  June is less humid than August (thanks be to God), which means I didn't start sweating until I was under the TV lights.  Here's the outside of the chapel.

Most Catholics easily recognize the chapel from which the daily Mass is sent around the world.  But not many have seen the room where the Priest(s) vest for the Mass.

After the Mass and before the taping with Marcus Grodi, I had the chance to make another "pilgrimage" of sorts.

Some of you may have read the book, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe", by Fannie Flagg (which was also made into a movie with nearly the same name in 1991).  The book was based on Flagg's aunt, who owned an eatery located alongside the railroad tracks in Irondale, Alabama.  Though it has different owners today, the Irondale Cafe still exists, and still offers southern culinary delights, including Fried Green Tomatoes.  I had to make a visit. 
Here's the cafe and my lunch:

(for the record...
a chicken breast,
fried green tomatoes,
collard greens,
a biscuit,
a piece of sweet potato pie,
and some sweet tea)

PS - That was the best piece of sweet potato pie I've ever had.  I mean it.  Really.  I'd reconsider priestly celibacy if I could marry that pie.