30 August 2010

At Risk Youth Escape City to Surfing Camp

The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI, arranged for a three-day surfing camp to get a number of at-risk Providence teens away from the city’s streets. Some of the camp’s participants have been gang members, others have juvenile records, and still others have never been in trouble but are deemed to be at-risk because of lack of family support or mentors.

To read the Providence Journal article on this event, please visit:

Providence Journal: Escaping the city for the shore, surf (30 AUG 10)

For background information about the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, please visit:

Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence

For additional resources related to youth gangs, please visit:

New England City & Town: Public Safety Issues: Youth Gangs

29 August 2010

Sha Na Na: War of 1812 Skit

Sha Na Na performs a War  of 1812 skit:

     Sha Na Na: War of 1812 Skit

A Look at Cuttyhunk Island

An article in today’s Cape Cod Times looks at life on Cuttyhunk Island (off the coast of Massachusetts in Buzzards Bay), calling it the antithesis of city life. This island, and the other islands in the Eizabeth Island chain, make up the town of Gosnold (2000 population – 86, of which 52 lived on Cuttyhunk).

To read this article, please visit:

Cape Cod Times: Cuttyhunk Island lives life, condensed (29 AUG 10)

For more information:

Wikipedia: Cuttyhunk

Wikipedia: Gosnold, Massachusetts

Rhode Island Fire Chief Receives Outstanding Leadership Award

Chief Stuart D. Pearson of the Harmony Fire District in Glocester, RI, was recently awarded the 2010 Fire News Outstanding Leadership Award by Fire News and The Cygnus Public Safety Group, who partnered this year to present the award at last month's Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Maryland.
For the complete article from the Woonsocket Call, please visit:
Woonsocket Call: Harmony fire chief gets leadership award

Father Stan and Catholic Rap

Pedro Guevara Mann, Salt + Light Television host, sits with singer/songwriter, musician, author, and Franciscan Catholic Priest, Father Stan Fortuna to speak about his music, his new book, You Gotta Love, and his new pilgrimage to Rome and Poland, in the footsteps of "the Great One", John Paul II:

      Salt + Light Television: Catholic Rap

Notes: Salt + Light Television is Canada’s first national Catholic television network. This interview dates back to before the World Youth Day observance in Australia.

Fr. Stan Fortuna: "Everybody Got 2 Suffer"

Fr. Stan Fortuna presents his rap, "Everybody Got 2 Suffer":

     Fr. Stan Fortuna: "Everybody Got 2 Suffer"

A Reflection on This Sunday's Readings

 The world may say nice guys finish last, but Jesus says the last shall be first.  Humility is often misunderstood as wimpy weakness. 

In his reflection on this Sunday’s readings, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph. D., explains why humility is a mark of true strength and why it opens doors:

Readings for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.: Humility Opens Doors (Why the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth)

Nine Alarm Fire Strikes Vacant Roxbury Warehouse Complex

A nine-alarm fire destroyed a vacant warehouse complex at 34 Howard Street extending to 57-75 Norfolk Avenue in the Roxbury section of Boston, MA, last weekend. The structures involved were an 8-story concrete building (50' x 75') and a 1/2½-story brick/wood interconnected commercial building (200' x 80').

The initial alarm was transmitted at 10:27 PM on Saturday, 21 August, and the All Out was transmitted at 4:28 PM on Sunday, 22 August.

Media Reports:

Boston Globe: Warehouse had a long list of safety violations (24 AUG 10)

Boston Globe: Questions follow warehouse inferno (23 AUG 10)

Boston Globe: Huge blaze destroys Roxbury warehouse (22 AUG 10)

Boston Globe Photo Gallery: Huge fire destroys Roxbury warehouse (22 AUG 10)

Boston Herald: Jakes seek cause of Roxbury warehouse blaze (22 AUG 10)

Boston Herald Photo Gallery: Large fire burns at Boston warehouse (22 AUG 10)

NECN: Buildings charred by 9-alarm fire were in foreclosure proceedings (22 AUG 10)

NECN: Investigators search for clues in Roxbury fire (22 AUG 10)

NECN: Fire tears through Roxbury industrial complex (22 AUG 10)

WBZ: Chief's Research Plays Huge Role In Roxbury Fire (22 AUG 10)

WBZ: Large Fire Burns At Boston Warehouse (22 AUG 10)

WCVB: 'God Was Smiling On Us' Says Fire Chief (22 AUG 10)

WCVB: Warehouse Burns To Ground (22 AUG 10)

WHDH: Crews investigating Roxbury warehouse fire's cause (22 AUG 10)

WHDH: Massive fire destroys Roxbury warehouse (22 AUG 10)

YouTube: Huge Fire in Boston Warehouse (Roxbury) on August 21st 2010

Background Information:

Boston Fire Department Website

Boston Fire Fighters, Local 718, IAFF

METROFIRE (Mutual Aid District)

Audio: Boston Firefighter's Battle Nine-Alarm Fire

Elliot Belin: Boston Fire Department Activity Report - August 2010

Google Map of 34 Howard Street, Boston, MA

Wikipedia: Boston, MA

28 August 2010

"Our Tongues Need to Be Bleached" - a Commentary on the Increased Use of Profanity in Today's Society

Brain Sullivan, an editor of the Berkshire Eagle (Berkshire, MA), recently wrote a commentary about the increased everyday use of profanity:

"My definition of profanity is any word you wouldn't say in front of your mother. I'm really not overreacting here, nor am I on any kind of crusade. But the fact is that the use of profanity in this country has reached epidemic proportions, and if we can't learn to curb our tongues, then we might as well take the lid off whatever transparent and loose rules we have and let that cowflop fly in every direction. . . .

"I tried a little experiment back in the spring. I kept track of how many profane words I heard in the course of the day. I think I was up to between 30 and 40 by mid-evening when I stopped counting. For the record, I didn't spend the day with drunken sailors, and no offense meant to our sailor friends.

"Profane words aren't even being used much to provide emphasis or to make firmer a point of contention. They are used as simple adjectives and nouns that in the scheme of the sentence structure would appear to be completely unnecessary."

To continue reading the rest of his thoughtful essay, please visit:

Berkshire Eagle: Our tongues need to be bleached (26 AUG 10)

25 August 2010

Archaeology Project in Vermont's Jamaica Stae Park

The Brattleboro Reformer recently ran an interesting article about an archaeology project in Vermont's Jamaica Stae Park. To access the article, please visit:

      Brattleboro Reformer: Uncovering an ancient world

MA & RI Gain Race to the Top Education Funding

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Massachusetts, Rhode Island, seven other states and the District of Columbia have won grants in the second phase of the Race to the Top competition.

"These states show what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a prepared statement. "Every state that applied showed a tremendous amount of leadership and a bold commitment to education reform. The creativity and innovation in each of these applications is breathtaking. We set a high bar and these states met the challenge."

While peer reviewers rated these ten applicants as having the highest scoring plans, very few points separated them from the remaining applications. The deciding factor on the number of winners selected hinged on both the quality of the applications and the funds available.

"We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round," Duncan continued in his statement. "We're very hopeful there will be a Phase 3 of Race to the Top and have requested $1.35 billion dollars in next year's budget. In the meantime, we will partner with each and every state that applied to help them find ways to carry out the bold reforms they've proposed in their applications."

The 10 winning applicants have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, created pipelines and incentives to put the most effective teachers in high-need schools, and all have alternative pathways to teacher and principal certification.

The Department of Education has posted all Phase 2 applications online. Phase 2 peer reviewers' comments, and scores will be available on the website by August 25th; videos of states' presentations will be posted by September 10th. Phase 1 materials are available online.

U.S. Dept. of Education: Race to the Top Fund

23 August 2010

The Adventure of the "Story Walk" in Northern Berkshire Territory

A "Story Walk" pre-school reading initiative combining storybook pages with downtown walking, hands-on activities, and a library visit in North Adams, MA, is generating positive excitement among parents, children, and local business owners.

To access the North Adams Transcript article on this adventure that introduces children to literature and to the library, please visit:

     North Adams Transcript: ’Story Walk’ connects exercise, reading

Reflections on the Relevance of Saint Pius X

"Leo XIII made the Church credible in the eyes of the world.  He showed mastery in international diplomacy, and was respected-even admired-by liberal rulers around the world.  But at the end of his long pontificate, it was felt by many that the Church needed a more spiritual focus . . . above all, led by the example and preaching of the pope himself."

On Saturday, the Church celebrated the memory of Pope Saint Pius X. Brother Peter Martyr Joseph Yungwirth, O.P., shares a homily for this celebration. This homily, by Rev. Br. Hyacinth Marie Cordell, O.P., is entitled "The Relevance of Saint Pius X," and it may be accessed by visiting:

     Rev. Br. Hyacinth Marie Cordell, O.P.: The Relevance of St. Pius X

22 August 2010

Taking Time to Enjoy God’s Creation

Yesterday morning I was viewing the sunrise while heading home with a couple of gallons of water from the "village well" (a.k.a. Girard Spring Water in Marieville).

As I was looking at the beauty of the sunrise and its effect on the various clouds in the eastern sky, I reflected on the many natural wonders of God's creation. Obviously I've only seen a very small number of them over the years, but I was grateful for the ones I have seen. I also remembered the old adage, "Stop and smell the roses."

Most people have a number of responsibilities and concerns, some of which are very weighty. In most cases, though, there are opportunities, if we allow ourselves to be open to them, to enjoy some aspect of God's creation.

I've been very blessed in that the travel to my current job requires me to take two buses - one into downtown Providence and then another one into East Providence. Most days on my way to work, I get off the first bus before reaching downtown and walk over to Providence River Park, along South Water Street, where I will catch the bus into East Providence.

Usually I have a few minutes wait, and I can enjoy the views along the Providence River. Sometimes the tide is coming in, and sometimes it is going out. Sometimes I am just enjoying the quiet scene (maybe with a bit of busyness on the part of a variety of birds – sparrows, rock doves [a.k.a. pigeons], ducks, geese, gulls, cormorants, and others), but I've also had a number of interesting observations.

One time I was watching as a parent duck was teaching a duckling how to fly. The adult bird would take off, low to the water and set down a bit further on. The duckling would then beat its wings furiously trying to get into the air, but it would just make progress along the water. I suspect the duckling finally made it into the air at another time.

I've also had opportunities (around low tide) to observe a lot of crab activity in the river. On one occasion, I even saw a couple of them climbing up vertical concrete steps – it was just like watching a spider climb a wall (of course, the crabs were under water).

I'm also blessed in that, just before reaching my workplace, there is a brook flowing into a small wooded area. When I'm a little early getting to work, I make it a point to go to this area and enjoy God's creation while spending some quiet time with Him.

As many people know, I enjoy walking. There are times when I really need to make good time, and I move quickly with a purpose. Most times, though, even if I'm on an errand, I try to be open to the Lord's creation around me and may stop and enjoy a little scene.

Opportunities of various types are being presented to each of us each day. Thank you, Lord, for these opportunities, whether we are aware of them of not, whether we pay attention to them or not. May each of us be more open to them, may we be more appreciative of them, and, through them, may we be more aware of the awesomeness of Your creation.

Stuff to Think About

John Shay, Sr., (a.k.a., STROADE) shares this batch of "Stuff to Think About":

* Politicians are people who, before election, promise a car to every garage. And after election they get busy putting up parking meters.

* Children are of great comfort to us in our old age, and they help us get there much more quickly than we otherwise would.

* A Taxidermist and Veterinarian went into business together.... (combined their business?) Their new slogan is: "Either way you get your cat back!"

* Be like a duck - keep calm and unruffled on the surface, but
paddle like crazy underneath.

* One who smiles rather than angers is always stronger. - Chinese wisdom

* There is no need to boast of your accomplishments and what you can do. A great man is known, he needs no introduction.

* There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist. - Mark Twain

* Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open. An open mind enables you to grow and learn.

* My business is not to remake myself, but to make the absolute best of what God made. - Robert Browning

* A smile is a language even a baby understands.


                What's The Difference??

A young girl who was writing a paper for school came to her father and asked, "Dad, what is the difference between anger and exasperation?"

The father replied, "It is mostly a matter of degree. Let me
show you what I mean."

With that the father went to the telephone an dialed a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, "Hello, is Melvin there?"

The man answered, "There is no one living here named Melvin. Why don't you learn to look up numbers before you dial them?"

"See," said the father to his daughter. "That man was not a
bit happy with our call. He was probably very busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch...."

The father dialed the number again. "Hello, is Melvin there?" asked the father.

"Now look here!" came the heated reply. "You just called this number and I told you that there is no Melvin here! You've got a lot of nerve calling again!" The receiver slammed down hard.

The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that was anger. Now I'll show you what exasperation means."

He dialed the same number, and, when a violent voice roared "Hello!", the father calmly said, "Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?"

A Look at Non-emergency Calls to 9-1-1 Centers

It happens too often in taxpayer-funded 9-1-1 call centers throughout New England: people call emergency operators for a variety non-emergency reasons:

A recent Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT) article looks at the various types of non-emergency calls received by emergency communications centers in southeastern Connecticut:

Connecticut Post: Dispatchers: Many 9-1-1 calls not emergencies

Matt Warner on Parish Fundraising

Matthew Warner (founder of flockNote.com, TweetCatholic.com, and QuoteCatholic.com) recently used on a joke he ran across as a reflection starter in the National Catholic Register:

The joke: "A pastor got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: 'I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.'"

The reflection: "Most needs in each parish can be met by its parishioners. The trouble is that all of the money is still in their pockets. And all of their talents are being used at home or in their workplace. And all of their time is being spent doing other things. They need to be convinced to participate. Sadly, they are not.

"And I must say, I don’t blame them for not being convinced. I’m rarely convinced either."

To read Matt's entire reflection, please visit:

Matt Warner: Don't Run Your Parish Like a 2nd Grade Fundraiser

21 August 2010

Idea Starter: Promoting the Local Economy

In New London, NH, the businesses and organizations that make up Destination New London recently listened to a presentation by Cinda Baxter, founder of the 3/50 Project. The 3/50 Project works to promote a local economy, and it encourages residents of a community to identify favorite local businesses and spend $50 a month in those places: $50 combined, spent in independently owned local businesses.

The impact? According to Ms. Baxter, a former small business owner, if only half of the employed population spent $50 a month, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue. Of the money spent locally, 68 cents of every dollar is returned to the local community through payroll, taxes, and other expenditures (compared with 43 cents of every dollar spent at a national chain and zero of every dollar spent online, except for salaries of local postal and delivery personnel).

This was, I believe, the first time I've heard of the the 3/50 Project. $50 a month does not seem like a lot. However, as I thought about recent expenditures, most of the money did go to chains.

Now, Ms. Baxter is not saying don't spend money at chains.  Chains have the buying power to be able to keep retail prices at a lower level. In addition, chains can often offer items not available at a local store. What Ms. Baxter is saying, though, is that it is important to also support the local economy.

Ms. Baxter talks about picking three local businesses one would hate to see disappear. That is a good way to look at this proposal. But I think one could also make an effort to spend that $50 locally, even if more businesses are involved.

Let's see how it would work out in practice. Striving to spend $50 a month locally might mean:

  • getting a haircut at Norman's instead of at Supercuts (which is what I do anyway).
  • getting pizza at Pawtucket House of Pizza instead of at Domino's.
  • getting a cup of coffee at Amanda's Kitchen instead of at Dunkin' Donuts.
  • getting cheese and milk at Joe's Market instead of at Save-A-Lot.
  • getting fresh vegetables at a farmer's market instead of at Stop & Shop.
  • eating lunch at Amanda's Kitchen instead of at Burger King.
  • picking up some repair materials at Mount Pleasant Hardware instead of at Home Depot.

This type of effort may take a bit of work, but it could also make a difference - especially if a number of people made the same commitment.

For more information about the 3/50 Project, please visit:

      The 3/50 Project

(Thanks to Jessie W. Levine, Town Administrator of New London, NH, who put me on to this project with her weekly town notes.)

20 August 2010

USCCB Announces Vatican Approval of New Roman Missal English-Language Translation, Implementation Set for First Sunday of Advent 2011

Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has announced that the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has been issued for the dioceses of the United States of America.

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a 23 June letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on 24 July, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on 22 January.

Cardinal George announced receipt of the documents in a letter (dated 20 August) to the U.S. Bishops and issued a decree of proclamation that states that “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

The date of implementation was chosen to allow publishers time to prepare texts and parishes and dioceses to educate parishioners.

In the coming weeks, staff of the bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship will prepare the text for publication and collaborate with the staff of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which will assist Bishops’ Conferences in bringing the text to publication. In particular, ICEL has been preparing the chant settings of the texts of the Missal for use in the celebration of the Mass. Once all necessary elements have been incorporated into the text and the preliminary layout is complete, the final text will go to the publishers to produce the ritual text, catechetical resources and participation aids for use in the Liturgy.

Receipt of the text marks the start of proximate preparation for Roman Missal implementation. Before first use of the new text in Advent 2011, pastors are urged to use resources available to prepare parishioners. Some already have been in use; others are being released now. They include the Parish Guide for the Implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ, a multi-media DVD resource produced by ICEL in collaboration with English-language Conferences of Bishops. Both will be available from the USCCB.

Information on resources can be found at:


U.S. Department of Education Awards Charter School Grants to Increase Public School Options

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the award of charter school grants to state education agencies in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, as well as in ten other states, to increase public school options in those states.

The $256 million in this year's funding is designed to assist in the planning and implementation of public charter schools and dissemination of their successful practices through the Charter Schools Program. (President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget request includes a $54 million increase in the Charter Schools Program, bringing the total to $310 million.)

The purpose of the Charter Schools Program is to increase financial support for the startup and expansion of these public schools, to build a better national understanding of the public charter school model, and to increase the number of high-quality public charter schools across the nation.

For more information about the Charter Schools Program, a program of the Education Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement, please visit:

U.S. Department of Education: Charter Schools Program

Charter schooling began in 1991 with an enticing promise: new public schools - with the freedom to be better and held accountable for results - could offer excellent choices for families and stimulate the entire public school system to improve. Now, more than 15 years later, charter schools are no longer an idea but also a reality. There are now over 4,300 schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia, serving more than 1.2 million students -about 3 percent of all public school children. And there is still a demand - tens of thousands of families are on waiting lists to enroll in charters

Although there has been rapid growth and considerable success, the charter sector is standing at a crossroads. While many charter schools are performing at the highest levels, some struggle to provide the quality education our students deserve. The U.S. Department of Education believes that charter schools can do much better, fulfilling their promise as an engine of educational innovation and quality for students across the country.

In order to engage the charter school community in a discussion of various issues related to charter schools, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement held a National Charter School Policy Forum in May 2008. The event gathered nearly 100 leaders from throughout the charter sector (including charter school operators, leaders of charter support organizations, researchers, policy experts, and philanthropists and other funders) to share lessons learned and outline future directions for the charter sector.

To access the Education Department’s report on this forum, please visit:

U.S. Dept.of Ed: A Commitment to Quality National Charter School Policy Forum Report (2008)

19 August 2010

Tougher RI High School Standards Having Effect

“Thousands of incoming high school juniors may be unable to graduate in June 2012 because of tougher graduation requirements, and state education officials are beginning to grapple with the consequences of their new high standards.”

A recent Providence Journal article addresses some of the consequences of Rhode Island’s new diploma system, which was approved in 2008:

Providence Journal: Juniors facing tougher standards at R.I. high schools

Additional Information:

RIDE: Way To Go RI (Overview of RI Diploma System)

RIDE: The Rhode Island High School Diploma System

RIDE: Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. This awareness month is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council. National Preparedness Month is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

The Ready Campaign is a national public service advertising campaign sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in partnership with the Advertising Council. This campaign is designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. September 2010 is the seventh annual NPM. This year's focus is on encouraging Americans to work together to take concrete actions toward emergency preparedness. All Americans are being encouraged to join the readiness team and truly help themselves, their neighbors, and their communities be Ready.

National Preparedness Month Coalition membership is open to all public and private sector organizations. Groups can register to become an NPM Coalition Member by visiting http://www.ready.gov/ and clicking on the NPM banner. In 2009, nearly 2,700 organizations joined the Ready Campaign in promoting the readiness message across the country in homes, schools, businesses, and communities to highlight the importance of individual and community public emergency preparedness throughout September. As of last Friday (13 August), 2,807 national, regional, state and local organizations have signed on as members of the NPM 2010 Coalition.

During National Preparedness Month, coalition members share preparedness information with their members, customers, employees, and communities. Members spearhead activities that encourage specific steps for individual, neighborhood, and community preparedness. Once an organization registers as a coalition member, it receives access to the NPM Website, which includes a toolkit with templates, resources, and tips to assist with promoting emergency preparedness.

18 August 2010

The Remarkable John Wooden

The Remarkable John Wooden

by Gerald M. Costello, The Christophers

August 16, 2010

A lot of things about John Wooden’s life had the word “remarkable” attached to them, beginning with his age.  He was 99, a few months short of 100, when he died in June.  Remarkable.

You didn’t have to be a sports fan to know that Coach Wooden had died, by the way.  News of his death in Los Angeles was prominently featured in newspapers and in telecasts all over the country, because he was so well-known.

Unquestionably people came to know about him because of his basketball skills, first as a player at Purdue many years ago, and then as a coach at UCLA – not only as a successful coach, but, in the words of New York Daily News sportswriter Dick Weiss, “the gold standard.”

The record bears that out. In just 12 years, from 1964 through 1975, UCLA won 10 national championships, and at one point (1967-1973) reeled off seven of them in a row.  His coaching career at UCLA spanned nearly 30 years, and in that time he won 664 games, for a winning percentage of .804.  Again, remarkable.

But it was what he did away from the basketball court that made John Wooden’s story one-of-a-kind.  He was a throwback, a man raised in another era who never forgot the lessons he learned there.  The coach was thrown into a sports-world atmosphere that lived just for today, but he taught two generations of eager pupils that the standards of an earlier age were worth living by, even more so now than they were then.  And that was something that made a lasting impression.

Take the word of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former Lew Alcindor, who was perhaps Wooden’s greatest star at UCLA and who went on to an illustrious professional career.  “There were so many things I discussed with Coach over my lifetime,” he said, “but the things that mattered were family and faith.”

That was no accident.  Wooden proudly and without pretense made God and family the centerpiece of his life, and he made sure his players got the message.  As Abdul-Jabbar continued: “The fact that Coach was more concerned about having a positive effect on the lives of young men who played for him doesn’t seem like much of an award to people who think like that.  But Coach’s values are from another era.  They were developed in an America that has passed on.  I think that’s the reason so many people are motivated by Coach’s teachings.  His connections to the moral nature of his faith and his ability to convey them to us have given us the answers we need to hear in times like this.” And the basketball great concluded: “His success as a teacher, coach, mentor and parent are testimonies to the wisdom of how he lived his life.”

Abdul-Jabbar spoke at a June 26 memorial service for Wooden, one that the Daily News’ Weiss reported on – and one that was unabashedly sentimental.  Many paid tribute, but the words of Abdul-Jabbar stood out.  He reminded us that in a world where so much is worthless, John Wooden taught lessons worth listening to.  His values might have come from another time, but in fact they are timeless.  The way he lived by them, and encouraged others to do so, made his a singular life.  Or, in a word, remarkable.

(This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Gerald M. Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

17 August 2010

New Bedford, MA, Puts New Fireboat in Service; Boston Orders New Fireboat

The Standard-Times of New Bedford, MA, is reporting about a new fireboat being received by the city's fire department. The vessel, formerly in service as Marine 2 in Boston (the St. Florian II), is a 29' craft with two monitors and a 1000 GPM pump. New Bedford picked it up when Boston retired it.

To read the Standard-Times article, please visit:

Standard-Times: New Bedford fireboat dedicated in memory of late firefighter (17 AUG 10)

Boston, meanwhile, has ordered a new 69' fireboat from Metalcraft Marine, Inc., of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The vessel will replace Boston's Marine 1.

To read the Boston Fire Department press release, please visit:

Boston Fire Dept.: New 69' Fireboat Ordered (6 AUG 10)

Background information:

Britton W. Crosby: Photos of Boston Fireboats

Boston Fire Department

New Bedford Fire Department

MetalCraft Marine, Inc.

Religion vs. Land Use Ruling in Vermont

To one family, the 24-foot-tall cross on a hilltop on their Lyndon, VT, property is an expression of their faith; to a state commission that regulates land use, it is out of character with the natural beauty of the rural neighborhood and should come down. Conflicts like this have appeared in a number of locations in the United States - conflicts that set religious freedom (something preserved and cherished in the Constitution’s First Amendment) in opposition against the local zoning authority and/or state land use/control laws.

To read the Bennington Banner article about this Vermont incident, please visit:

Bennington Banner: Religion, land-use ruling at odds

Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2012

From Beloit College, Beloit, WI:

"Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. . . .

"The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are 'wired' and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

"It is a multicultural, politically correct and 'green' generation that has hardly noticed the threats to their privacy and has never feared the Russians and the Warsaw Pact."

Some of the items on the list:

1. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
2. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
3. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
4. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
5. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
6. WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
7. Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
8. IBM has never made typewriters.
9. The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 ET.
10. Caller ID has always been available on phones.
11. They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
12. Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
13. Soft drink refills have always been free.
14. The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
15. There have always been charter schools.

To view the complete list, please visit:

      Beloit College Mindset List fo the Class of 2012

16 August 2010

Skateboarding Priest: A Hit with Young People

One way to get young people interested in the faith: a priest reaches out to young people in Hungary (Thanks to Deacon Greg Kandra for letting me know about this.):

     Skateboarding Priest in Hungary

15 August 2010

The Opportunity of GoodSearch

I first became acquainted with GoodSearch a number of years ago. Maryhouse Ministry, the social service ministry at Saint Patrick Parish in Providence (RI), signed up for it as one of its fundraising efforts. I began using it as my primary search engine, and I eventually made it the home page on the computer on my desk.

GoodSearch is powered by Yahoo, and it is a good, basic search engine. Most of the time when I use GoodSearch, I am able to find what I need. If my initial search does not give me what I want, I then go to another search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, AltaVista, Cuil).

What is GoodSearch? GoodSearch is a search engine that shares fifty percent of the revenue generated from the sponsored search advertisers with the charity, school, or other nonprofit organization of one's choosing. This is an estimated one cent per search (although in some years it has gone as high as 1.3 cents per search). The money comes from the GoodSearch advertisers.

A large number of nonprofit organizations (as of this writing the total is 92,358) have signed up with GoodSearch. To view a current list, please visit:


How does one use GoodSearch?

First go to its website:


Underneath the search box is a question, "WHO DO YOU GOODSEARCH FOR?"

In the box underneath this question, type the name of the charity you would like to support (e.g., saint maria goretti), and click on Verify. Some options will appear. Click on your choice from the options. Your choice will appear in place, with the guidance, "Search now and money will go to your designated cause."

If you do not see the organization you are looking for, you may try a variant on the spelling, or you may go to the list of participating nonprofit organizations (see the link above) to find out the spelling for this use (or to see if the organization is even listed).

Once you have entered an organization to be the recipient of revenue generated by your searches, you can keep informed about the amount of revenue being raised fro the organization by clicking on "Amount Raised."

To make sure your charity is already chosen each time you go to GoodSearch if your cookies are deleted (if your computer allows cookies, the last nonprofit you designated will remain chosen), you may use the following address line as a favorite link or bookmark: http://www.goodsearch.com/?charityid=xxxx (replace "xxxx" with the Charity ID located on the "Amount Raised" page).

For example, since our parish, Saint Maria Goretti (Pawtucket, RI) has signed up for GoodSearch, I use them as my primary GoodSearch charity. The parish ID: 919867, and I have set up my home page as http://www.goodsearch.com/?charityid=919867.

I strongly encourage readers to seriously consider using GoodSearch to help an organization they support.

John Rutter's Magnificat

In celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a presentation by the Bow Valley Chorus (Banff, Alberta, Canada) of the first movement of John Rutter's Magnificat:

      Rutter: Magnificat 

Deacon Greg Kandra on the Assumption

Deacon Greg Kandra (from the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York) offers a reflection on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"Years ago, a friend gave me a holy card with an unusual depiction of the Blessed Mother. She is visibly pregnant, and reading from a book - praying from scripture. As my friend explained to me: it's a great image for a writer. It shows Mary reading the word, while carrying The Word. The Word is within, and without.

"When I was in formation, studying to become a deacon, I taped that image inside my binder, and it was always with me when I went to class. Later, when I gave my first homily at St. Josephat's in Bayside, I was surprised to see a similar image in a stained glass window near the altar. It depicts the Annunciation, with Mary once again reading an open book at the moment of conception. It shows Mary's great devotion to the word, in every manifestation."

To continue reading Deacon Greg's reflection as he ties this image with the Assumption, please visit:

Deacon Greg Kandra: Homily for August 15, 2010: Vigil of the Assumption

You Don’t Know Jack . . . about the Assumption, or do you?

Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Paulist Father Jack Collins recently visited the streets of New York City to find out what people know about the Assumption. (This video, from the website Busted Halo [http://www.bustedhalo.com/], is supposed to be the first in a series of videos by Father Jack.)

The video:

The Paulist Fathers, the first congregation of men formed in the United States, was founded in 1858. Its founder, Isaac Hecker, was a spiritual seeker who lived for a time in Transcendentalist utopian communities where he consulted the leading thinkers of his day. He eventually found the truth he was seeking in the Catholic Church,and he then gave his whole life to it.

The congregation's mission statement (excerpt):

"We give the Word of God a voice in pulpits and print, on radio and television, on the Web and the wide screen.

"We search out those who have no church home, and welcome home those who have been away.

"We share the passion of St. Paul for unity in faith and solidarity in mission among all the baptized in the body of Christ.

"We build bridges of respect and collaboration with people of other world religions."

For more information:

The Paulist Fathers

Celebrating the Memory of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Yesterday the Church celebrated the memory of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, who was a Franciscan priest.

As a scholar, he earned doctorates in philosophy and theology. He was also deeply interested in science. He drew plans for rocket ships, and he had an interest in fire apparatus.

Ordained at age 24, he saw religious indifference as the most serious problem (even poison) of the day. He devoted himself was to combat it.

Father Kolbe had already founded the Crusade of Mary Immaculate (Militia Immaculatae) to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work, and suffering. He now began a magazine (Knight of the Immaculata), which eventually reached a circulation of over one million. Father Kolbe also initiated other publishing ventures and, eventually, a radio station.

In 1939 the Nazis overran Poland. Father Kolbe and the friars at his monastery were arrested. They released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In 1941 he was arrested again as part of a Nazi campaign to get rid of leaders, and he was sent to Auschwitz.

One day, after a prisoner escaped, the camp commandant announced that ten men would die as a punishment. He picked several to send to the starvation bunkers, and one man, Number 16670, stepped from the line and stated, "I would like to take that man's place. He has a wife and children."

"Who are you?" the commandant asked.

The man simply replied, "A priest."

The commandant took Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the other nine. Several days later, on the eve of the Assumption, four of the men were still alive. The jailer came to finish the job with injections of carbolic acid.

Maximilian Mary Kolbe was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982 (Francis Gajowniczek was present at his canonization). He is the patron saint of media communications.

For more information about his life, please visit:

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

There is a shrine in Libertyville, Illinois, dedicated to Saint Maximilian:

National Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

One of the shrine's Father Kolbe had founded, the “Garden of the Immaculate," was located in Nagasaki, the site of one of of the two atomic bomb blasts that hastened the end of World War II.

For a good reflection related to this, please read:

Brother Anthony Josemaria: The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki - “Why, Lord?”

14 August 2010

The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene

As a young man I used to enjoy watching a weekly television program, The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene. The chorus to the theme song I still remember, and, every so often, it would come forth from my lips:

"Robin Hood, Robin Hood
Riding through the glen.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood
With his band of men.
Feared by the bad, loved by the good.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood."

Recently I "happened to" come across a website that offers a number of the episodes from this series.

Here is an example:

     The Adventures of Robin Hood: Food for Thought

13 August 2010

A Look at the Value of Libraries

Libraries have been going through some challenging times lately. Due to the recession, funding for libraries has been decreasing. This has led to layoffs of library personnel and to reduced hours of operation. On the other hand, also due to the recession, use of library resources has greatly increased.

This apparent conflict has led to a bit of discussion on the value of libraries and their place in the communities. I personally am very much in favor of libraries. They provide a number of resources that many (in some cases, most) people  would not otherwise have access to, including a vast number of books and periodicals (many of which are not available online); a large number of CDs, DVDs, and other electronic media; a variety of databases; and, in most libraries, free public access to computers and the Internet. Many libraries also offer wireless access. In addition, libraries host a variety of educational and cultural events.

Recently students and faculty from the University of Washington's Information School produced a delightful video, Librarians Do Gaga, on the value of libraries. To view this video, please visit:

Librarians Do Gaga

NPR (National Public Radio) publishes an entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See, written and edited by Linda Holmes. A recent post in this blog, "Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries," takes a look at the role of libraries. To read this post, please visit:

NPR: Monkey See: Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries

 For some serious reading about the current state of libraries in the U.S., you might consider the American Library Association's annual report on libraries:

American Library Assn.: The State of America’s Libraries, 2010

12 August 2010

Bishop Serratelli on Immigration

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, bishop of Paterson, NJ, comments on the immigration challenge being faced by the United States:

"Ever since the Mayflower landed and one hundred English colonists set foot on the soil of this country, America has faced the issue of foreigners coming to a new land.  For the last two centuries, our country has welcomed and absorbed millions of people from every corner of the earth and we have grown strong.  The history of the United States is the story of immigrants.

"The flow of immigrants has been constant, only interrupted by the two World Wars and the Great Depression. During the 17th century, immigrants came to colonial America mostly from England. In the 19th century, there was a greater influx of immigrants from northern Europe.  With the beginning of the twentieth-century, immigrants came mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe.  After 1965, greater numbers arrived from Latin America and Asia.  Today’s immigrants come from Mexico, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, China, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ukraine, Russia and Jamaica.  Some statistics claim that the United States accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined.

"Within the last ten years, there has been a growing concern that the arrival of an increasing number of illegal immigrants has a negative impact on our economic growth, our social system and our national security.  Historically, our government has not been consistent in controlling our borders.  Our federal government has not provided strong leadership in passing and enforcing laws governing immigration in a uniform way.  As a result, state and local authorities have tried to cope with the situation in different ways, sometimes ineffectively, sometimes harshly."

To continue reading this commentary, please visit:

CNA: "Immigration - Pizza, Pita and Pancit"

11 August 2010

Dominican Life | USA

I recently "happened to" come across this website, Dominican Life | USA, which is sponsored by the Dominican Leadership Conference, the networking organization for elected Dominican leaders in the U.S. The site is designed to be an online news magazine about news and activities of Dominican friars, sisters, nuns, laity and associates in the United States. The site also works to promote the preaching charism of the Dominicans and to inspire action on behalf of justice and peace.

To take a look at the site, please visit:

Forfeiture Statute Assists RI Police in War on Drugs

The forfeiture of drug dealers’ assets, a major tactic in the war on drugs, provides a bounty for Rhode Island law enforcement and for substance abuse treatment programs. For the five years ended last December, the latest available data, Rhode Island state agencies and municipal police departments received about $8.7 million in proceeds from drug asset forfeitures overseen by the state and federal governments.

To read a recent Providence Journal article on this program, please visit:

Providence Journal: Forfeiture statute aids R.I. agencies, police in War on Drugs

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"There is no better way of growing toward perfection in the spiritual life than to be always starting over again and never thinking that we have done enough." - Saint Francis de Sales

10 August 2010

A Profile of Nashua Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit

Nashua, NH, Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit assists all divisions within the department, a service that includes long-term investigations. The Nashua Telegraph recently ran a series profiling the POP Unit, with special attention to an investigation of an auto theft chop shop ring in Nashua

To read the articles in this series, please visit:

Nashua Telegraph: City police team seen as cream of crop

Nashua Telegraph: Unit lends a hand to other city divisions

Nashua Telegraph: Unit tackles cases that might go unnoticed

Nashua Telegraph: Plainclothes officers blend in, snag info

Nashua Telegraph: Time for arrests

Nashua Telegraph: POP prepares officers for promotions

Cumberland and Lincoln, RI, Continue Forward on Merging Fire Districts

In several communities in Rhode Island, as well as in each of the other New England states, fire protection is divided among a number of fire districts (some are independent districts with powers to tax, and some are maintained by the municipality).

There has been a move in some of these communities to consolidate fire districts - either reducing the number of districts or consolidating the districts into one municipal department.

One such example is Cumberland, RI. The Cumberland Town Council recently voted to place on the November 2nd ballot a binding referendum question related to merging the town's fire districts. If passed, this would authorize the council to follow up on the consolidation process (including hiring a consultant to assess the proposed consolidation).

To read area newspaper articles on the subject, please visit:

Providence Journal: Cumberland voters to decide on merger of fire districts

Valley Breeze: Fire merger question on ballot - again

The Cumberland process has faced a number of challenges since it began. In neighboring Lincoln, three fire districts have been undergoing a smoother process.

Under the auspices of the Albion, Lonsdale, Saylesville Fire Districts Consolidation Committee, residents of the three Lincoln fire districts have been addressing many of the concerns related to merging the districts. The proposed merger would reduce the town's six fire departments to four departments.

To read related newspaper reports, please visit:

Valley Breeze: Three Lincoln fire districts on verge of merge

Providence Journal: 3 fire districts consider consolidating services

09 August 2010

Homeless and panhandling for a living in New Bedford

New Bedford's Standard-Times takes a look at the handful of the homeless population that panhandles on the public ways in this Massachusetts city:

08 August 2010

A Reflection on Today's Gospel and Preparedness.

The three readings that Mother Church, in her wisdom, provides for us each Sunday (and holy day) contain a vast richness. There are a myriad of possible starting points for reflection/meditation. Sometimes a theme seems to jump out; other times it is drawn out after prayer reflection.

In today's homily at Saint Maria Goretti parish in Pawtucket, RI, Father Bob Bailey focused on the being prepared aspect of today's Gospel reading.

Drawing upon his experience as a boy scout and in his ministries, he guided us toward an awareness of being prepared for that moment when the Lord will come to each of us an individual and tell us it is our time to leave this earthly realm.

This brings to mind the rich man with the bountiful harvest in last Sunday's Gospel reading. This man had such a great harvest that he wanted to build larger barns to store all that grain - but that night his life was demanded of him.

Many of us know about being prepared. During the years when I was actively involved in fire photography, my equipment was ready to go on a moment's notice - the camera was ready and the camera vest had my extra lenses and supply of film (as well as various other items I would potentially need) in its various pockets. I even had a backup belt and pack with even more film and extra items in case of an extended incident, as well as a duffel bag I kept in the car with other supplies (extra socks, extra jumpsuit, canteen, sweatshirt, rain gear, and other items).

This habit has carried over, and, when I go out with my backpack to work or whatever, the pack has a number of extra items ready for use - just in case. (And some of them do periodically get called into service.)

Coming back to the Gospel reading, our Lord has made it quite clear that we can be called from this life at any time. Do I focus on Him and keep my souls in a state of readiness? Do I exercise the same care in my spiritual preparedness that I exercised in my photography preparedness? Do I spend time with the Lord each day? Do I remember His constant presence? Is my faith a living faith, one that permeates my life, that guides my life?

It is a constant effort, and it's very dependent on God's grace. I do have to periodically remind myself of advice given by Saint Francis de Sales: “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.”

"Think designing jets is tough? Try figuring a school budget"

A Lowell Sun interview with aerospace engineer (and former School Committee member) Corliss "Cory" Lambert of Tyngsboro, MA, who helped design the Saturn 5 moon rocket for NASA and Boeing's first 747 jumbo jet:

Lowell Sun: Think designing jets is tough? Try figuring a school budget

Reflection Starter on the Love of God for Each of Us

From today's Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours):

From a dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena

The bonds of love

"My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church - my sin and the sins of others.

"It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

"Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

"We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures."

Why Belief in God is not Enough

From Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio:

Most people in the US say they “believe in” God. This Sunday’s readings invite us to get a better handle on the true nature of Christian faith, which entails much more than just believing that God exists. Does the way we spend, work, vote, plan, and play reflect what we say we believe?

For this Sunday' readings, visit:

Readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

To read Dr. D'Ambrosio's reflection, visit:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Faith as a Dynamic Journey

07 August 2010

Libraries Offer Kindles to Patrons

The Charles M. Bailey Public Library, in Winthrop, ME, is about to start offering patrons Kindles; other libraries are also considering e-books.

For a Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME) article on this, please visit:

Kennebec Journal:  At Winthrop library, the future is now

Related information:

Charles M. Bailey Public Library, Winthrop, ME

Charles M. Bailey Public Library Facebook Page

WaterFire in Providence, RI

Yankee Magazine has a short video about WaterFire in Providence, RI:

Peter Kreeft on the 10th Anniversary of Dominus Iesus

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Boston College and at King’s College in New York City, has written a commentary on the 10th anniversary of Dominus Iesus (published on 6 August 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was headed at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI).

This commentary begins as follows:

Dominus Iesus, published Aug. 6, 2000, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is one of the most important Church documents of modern times because it concerns what is absolutely central and primary in Christianity, Christ himself, because it defends the most unpopular aspect of the Church’s claim today - its “absolutism” - and because it overcomes the dualism of “liberal” vs. “conservative” by which the media classify and evaluate everything. (I wonder how they will classify the Second Coming when they see it.)

To see these three points, all we have to do is try to classify Dominus Iesus as “liberal” or “conservative.” I put an “L” after all its main “liberal” points and a “C” after all its “conservative” points, and I ended up with 30 Ls and 38 Cs.

But the “kicker” is that it is not half and half, or halfway in between; it is so “liberal” precisely because it is so “conservative.”

To understand this, we should first try to spear those two slippery fish: the “liberal” and the “conservative.” (You can’t fry them if you don’t catch them.)

To continue reading this well-written commentary, please visit:

Peter Kreeft: Dominus Iesus: Liberal or Conservative?

To read the document itself, please visit:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Dominus Iesus

06 August 2010

NOAA Still Expects Active Atlantic Hurricane Season; La Niña Develops

The Atlantic Basin remains on track for an active hurricane season, according to the scheduled seasonal outlook update issued this week by the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service. With the season’s peak approaching (late August through October), NOAA advises that the need for preparedness plans is essential.

NOAA also announced that, as predicted last spring, La Niña has formed in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This favors lower wind shear over the Atlantic Basin, allowing storm clouds to grow and organize. Other climate factors pointing to an active hurricane season are warmer-than-average water in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, and the tropical multi-decadal signal, which since 1995 has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions in unison, leading to more active seasons.

“August heralds the start of the most active phase of the Atlantic hurricane season and with the meteorological factors in place, now is the time for everyone living in hurricane prone areas to be prepared,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in a prepared statement.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the whole season – 1 June to 30 November – NOAA’s updated outlook is projecting, with a 70 percent probability, a total of (including Alex, Bonnie and Colin):

* 14 to 20 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
* 8 to 12 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
* 4 to 6 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

These ranges are still indicative of an active season, compared to the average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes; however, the upper bounds of the ranges have been lowered from the initial outlook in late May, which reflected the possibility of even more early season activity.

“All indications are for considerable activity during the next several months,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a prepared statement. “As we’ve seen in past years, storms can come on quickly during the peak months of the season. There remains a high likelihood that the season could be very active, with the potential of being one of the more active on record.”

05 August 2010

Summer School Now a Cool Option in Some Rhode Island Districts

The “summer slide” is one of the most significant causes of achievement gaps in the public schools.  In some Rhode Island school districts, summer school is now an opportunity for struggling students - or even those who are successful - to keep from losing ground during summer vacation.

A recent Providence Journal article looks at summer school in Rhode Island:

Providence Journal: Summer school a cool option in some R.I. districts

04 August 2010

The Power of an Example

The sisters in the Monastery of the Visitation of Georgetown (Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, which was founded by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal), Washington, DC, regularly share reflections in  a blog, "Live + Jesus!"

One of their recent reflections, "The Power of an Example," starts off:

"There is an African proverb that reads: if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito. The mustard seed and the measure of yeast about which we hear in today's Gospel are both very small entities which produce effects that seem disproportionate to their size. That appears to be a common characteristic of the kingdom of God. A fisherman from Galilee, a tax collector, a virgin from the house of David and a carpenter from Nazareth: all instruments used by God for the glory of his Kingdom; none, at first glance, seem likely candidates to help change the world.

"What does this have to do with most of us: the ordinary Jane and Joe? The power of a good example is, perhaps, one way in which we can live out this Gospel. . . ."

To continue reading this reflection, please visit:

Monastery of the Visitation (Georgetown): The Power of an Example

03 August 2010

A Psalm Reflection on Trust in the Lord

Some words of wisdom to live by from today’s Office of Readings:

Trust in the LORD and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure.
Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart's desire.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust that God will act. (Psalm 37:3-5)

02 August 2010

Oil Spill Response

This morning I had occasion to call the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center to report an oil sheen I discovered on the Providence River while walking in Providence River Park to the bus stop where I usually catch the bus heading for East Providence.

One interesting thing about the call: when the center phone was answered, the first thing I heard was a recorded message saying that, if I had any suggestions, solutions, or other inquiries regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I should call 866-448-5816.

This is not the first time I’ve called the National Response Center to report a waterborne spill, although it has been quite a few years since I have done so. I have not always been available for return calls, though, and this time I received two – one from an intermediate center of some type and one from the local Marine Safety Office. I could not give them a lot of information – I gave the size of the spill (about a half mile long and about a yard wide, although I believe it was longer than that), the location (along the east bank, between the old Route I-195 bridge and downtown), and the weather conditions (clear, temperature in low 60’s, winds almost calm, tide coming in). One question I could not answer was the source of the spill (I’m not even sure if it came from the Woonasquatucket River or the Mosshasuck River, both of which combine to form the Providence River).

The National Response Center, by the way, serves as the sole national point of contact for reporting all discharges (oil, chemical, radiological, biological, etc.) into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories. A call to the center triggers a response by the National Response System, which is the government's mechanism for emergency response to discharges of oil and the release of chemicals into the navigable waters or environment of the United States and its territories. When the system was first set up, this system focused on oil spills and selected hazardous polluting substances discharged into the environment. However, it has since been expanded by other legislation to include discharges of all types of hazardous substances and wastes.

This response center is primarily concerned with Federal response, although in many cases there is a state and/or local response. When there is a multi-agency response, the Incident Command System is used to ensure cooperation and to ensure each agency carries out its own responsibilities.

For any spill in navigable waters, by the way, the U.S. Coast Guard is the lead Federal agency.

For more information about the National Response Center, please visit:

     National Response Center

Library Borrowing and Use Are Up, but Funding Is Down

The Rutland Herald (Rutland, VT) just ran an article about current challenges facing libraries throughout Vermont – challenges facing libraries throughout the rest of New England as well.  The downturn in the economy has led to increased library attendance from all population groups, including increased borrowing of books and DVDs and increased computer use. However, the downturn has also led to reduced funding from tax revenues, which has led to cuts in personnel and public hours.

For the complete article, visit:

Rutland Herald: With use up but funds down, Vt. libraries face cuts

01 August 2010

A Reflection from Nick Wagner: Why Pastors Must Blog

Nick Wagner, editor of Today's Parish Magazine, offers an interesting reflection on "why pastors must blog."

He writes, "For a busy parish pastor, a blog has the potential of becoming your most effective and time-efficient tool for evangelization.

"Think of it this way. Suppose that after Mass next Sunday, you are shaking hands and saying goodbye to parishioners as they leave. A new person greets you and says, “Father, I’m thinking of becoming Catholic. Can you tell me what I would need to do?” Now suppose the rest of your Sunday is completely free. And suppose you are not exhausted from the killer week of meetings, weddings, and funerals you just completed. (Hey, this is a fantasy. Bear with me.) If you had all the time and energy in the world, you could spend the next couple of hours just chatting with the seeker that the Holy Spirit sent to you at that moment.

"But you don’t have all the time and energy in the world. You’ve got the next Mass or the emergency finance council meeting or lunch scheduled with the capital campaign chairperson (and largest contributor to the parish). And even if you have nothing else scheduled, you’ve been looking forward to your first free Sunday afternoon in a month to just kick back and watch the game.

"Now imagine there are ten such seekers and imagine there are ten more next Sunday and ten more the Sunday after that. Because in a medium-sized parish with three Masses on a weekend, that’s the potential. You can’t possibly meet, individually, with each and every one of those seekers. But they can “meet” you—if you are blogging."

To read the rest of Nick Wagner's reflection, please visit:

     Today's Parish: Nick Wagner: Why pastors must blog

The Marginal Way in Ogunquit Maine

A short Yankee Magazine video about the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine (along the Maine coast):

Salesian Perspective on Today's Readings

In today's "Sundays Salesian." a Salesian perspective on the Sunday Readings, Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center (a ministry of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales), writes:

"What profit comes to a person from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which one labored under the sun?" (Ecclesiastes 1:3)

"One may be wealthy, but one's possessions do not guarantee one life." (Luke 12:15)

Salesian Perspective

Is wealth an obstacle to living a righteous life? Do possessions prevent us from living a righteous life? Must we choose between the things that are of earth and the things that are of heaven?

Indeed, riches may be a temptation to forsake a God-centered life precisely because they may distract us from pursuing the things that really matter in life: the things that will last forever. However, the root of the problem may not be the wealth - the possessions - the success - themselves, but rather, inordinate anxiety and concern about them.

I took two courses in Economics when I was in college. Sadly, I don't remember much about that year-long excursion other than that there is a striking similarity found between the folks at the extreme ends of the income scale.

The poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich live in fear of losing what they have.

Anxiety about the accumulation and preservation of wealth ultimately prevents us from truly enjoying our blessings and successes in life. As today's Scriptures point out, anxiety about holding on to how much (or even, how little) we possess can lead to tragic consequences.

Francis de Sales wrote in his Introduction to the Devout Life: "There is a difference between possessing poison and being poisoned. Pharmacists keep almost every kind of poison in stock for use on various occasions, yet they are not themselves poisoned because it is merely in their shops, not in their bodies. So, too, you can possess riches without being poisoned by them if you keep them in your home, purse or wallet, but not in your heart." Part III, Chapter 14)

The man in the Gospel parable is not condemned because he had filled his barn with riches: he is condemned because he had allowed his heart to be consumed by riches. So consumed, in fact, that when he was considering how to dispose of his excessive good fortune, it never occurred to him that he might share it with others.

A word to the wealthy...and the wise: the best remedy for being consumed with riches is to practice the virtue of generosity. After all, how can you be anxious about losing what you have if you are already too busy sharing it with - even giving it away to - others?

Therein lies the secret of true wealth . . . in the eyes of God, wealth that truly - and forever - enriches. What makes me rich is not a measure of what I possess: it is an expression of what I am willing to share.