28 February 2011

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 28 February 2011

Reflection Starter from J. R. R. Tolkien

"The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Background information:

Theology of Andrew: J.R.R Tolkien & Eucharistic Theology (21 AUG 08)

Connecticut Neighbors And Friends Helping Woman Rebuild Greenhouse

One initiative that has often happened (although, unfortunately, not always) throughout the history of New England, is the response of a community to a disastrous event that befalls a member of that community.

One such response was recently chronicled by Hartford Courant columnist Helen Ubiñas, who wrote about neighbors and friends assisting a Coventry (CT) senior citizen whose greenhouse collapsed (as did so many other buildings this winter) under the weight of ice and snow.

To access Ms. Ubiñas’ column, please visit:

Hartford Courant: Helen Ubiñas: A Winter Disaster Brings Out A Wealth Of Community (27 FEB 11)

Background Information:

Topmost Herb Farm, Coventry, CT

Facebook: Topmost Herb Farm

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly Looks at Churches Making Movies

PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly recently ran a report about a Friends (Quaker) congregation  in Yorba Linda, California, that is in the process of making a feature film. The film, entitled Not Today, is designed to tell the story of a spoiled young American who goes on a partying trip to India and gets pulled into the search for a little girl who was sold to human traffickers.

To access this Religion & Ethics Newsweekly report, please visit:

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: Churches Making Movies (25 FEB 11)

Panoramic View of the Sistine Chapel

For a high-resolution panoramic virtual view of the Sistine Chapel (located in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City), please visit:

 Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour

When you are on the website, you may click and drag the mouse to look around. You may also zoom in on objects to look at the details (the zoom in/out controls are in the lower left hand corner of the screen).

For background information about the chapel and its works of art, please visit:

Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel

(Thank you, Kim Komando, for the tip.)

27 February 2011

A Message from the Holy Land

In his homily this morning, Father Bob, pastor of Saint Maria Goretti Parish (Pawtucket, RI) offered some comments related to his recent canonical retreat in the Holy Land.

His reflections included some observations about challenges being faced by many of the Christians in the Holy Land, and he spoke of his group's meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem. During this visit, there was an opportunity for questions, and Father Bob asked the Patriarch what message he could take back home - to his parishioners at St. Maria Goretti and as well as other Catholics here.

The Patriarch said to remind us that Jerusalem is our home, and we are always welcome there. It is, after all, the mother church of all of the churches (dioceses and parishes) that have since been formed.

The Patriarch also had a message of four P's for us:
  • Prayer - prayer is needed for the Christians living in the Holy Land,
  • Pilgrimage - he encouraged pilgrimages to this holy place,
  • Projects - he encouraged us to come up with projects to help support the holy places and the Christians in the Holy Land, and
  • Peace - he encouraged us to hope and pray for peace in this troubled land.

These are, indeed, words to reflect on and follow up on.

Sr. Marie Morgan, OSF, on Being Open to a Whisper from the Lord

Sister Marie Morgan, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and a Theology teacher and part-time pastoral counselor at Marian High School, Mishawaka, IN, recently wrote a thought-provoking refection on being open to the whispers of the Lord.

To access this reflection, please visit:

The Integrated Catholic Life: SPD and the Prince of Peace (27 FEB 11)

Social Service Ministry Idea Starter: Sock Exchange

The Archdiocese of Boston newspaper, The Pilot, recently ran an article about a “sock exchange” ministry that Father John Capuci (currently pastor of Saint Malachy Parish, Burlington) was inspired to initiate.

To access the article from The Pilot, please visit:

The Pilot: 'Sock Exchange' trades in good works, not finances

Background information about St. Malachy Parish:

Saint Malachy Parish, Burlington, MA

Father Capuci, ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1990, has been involved with parish ministry, youth ministry, and marriage preparation. He has been a Catholic high school chaplain and was director of The Center of Jesus the Lord, New Orleans, Louisiana, a Catholic Charismatic Retreat Center. He has spoken at a number of conferences and workshops and has written a book, Opening the Gates of Praise. For additional information about Fr. Capuci, please visit:

Father Capuci on the value of praising God

The Pilot: Boston priest in New Orleans looks forward to helping rebuild (16 SEP 05)

"Lilies of the Field"

This week's Gospel reading reminds me of when I was teaching literature to the seventh and eighth grade students at what was then Saint Patrick School in Providence. I closed out the 8th Grade school year with the book version of the Lilies of the Field, written by William E. Barrett.

After we read the novel, I would show the movie version of the story. The movie, Lilies of the Field, starred Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, a role for which he received an Oscar for Best Actor. The movie received five Oscar nominations.

To view the full movie, please visit:

Internet Move Database: Lilies of the Field

To view the final scene of the movie, including  the song, Amen," please visit:

YouTube: Lilies of the Field - Amen

Linda Randle: "His Eye Is on the Sparrow"

Related to today's Gospel reading, I offer Linda Randle singing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow":


Sunday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Sunday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 49:14-15, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, and Matthew 6:24-34. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 62 (Psalm 62:2-3, 6-9).

Today’s first reading is as follows:

Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my LORD has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Today’s Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

For reflection related to these readings, I offer:

Deacon Greg Kandra: Homily for February 27, 2011: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Msgr. Charles Pope: Three Aspects of Anxiety And How to Overcome Them - A Meditation on the Gospel for the 8th Sunday of the Year (26 FEB 11)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: God and Mammon?

The Deacon's Bench: This Sunday’s gospel, set to music (26 FEB 11)

The Word Embodied: Only in God

Fred Rogers

On this date in 2003, television host (and Presbyterian minister) Fred Rogers passed away.

He was the creator and host of PBS's Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from 1968 to 2001, and this program has impacted the lives of countless children since its inception. Most PBS stations continued to air reruns of the program until August 2008, when PBS removed it from their daily syndicated schedule. (PBS continues to distribute repeat episodes independent of its daily feed, and a number of stations continue to air these episodes.)

For more information about Fred Rogers and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, please visit:

Museum of Broadcast Communications: Fred McFeely Rogers

Television Academy Foundation: Archive of American Television: Fred Rogers

Wikipedia: Fred Rogers

Gratefulness.org: Fred Rogers, Kindly Neighbor (1928-2003)

Association of Educational Publishers: Hall of Fame: Fred Rogers

Rotten.com: Fred Rogers

About.com: Urban Legends: Was Mr. Rogers a Marine Corps Sniper / Navy Seal?

PBS Kids: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA

Related items:

Fred McFeely Rogers 2002 Commencement Address at Dartmouth College

The Huffington Post: John Merrow: Another Year Without Fred Rogers, When We Need Him the Most (25 FEB 11)

Reflection Starter from Fred Rogers

"If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person." - Fred Rogers

Bob Cousy

On this date in 1959, Bob Cousy, of the Boston Celtics, set a National Basketball Association record with 28 assists as Boston beat the Minneapolis Lakers, 173-139. That game (played in Providence, RI) was the highest scoring game in NBA history up to that date. (The Celtics' 173 points is still the NBA record for a non-overtime game).

Cousy's record was broken by Scott Skiles, of the Orlando Magic, who had 30 assists on 30 December 1990. Cousy's record of 19 assists in one half continues as an NBA record.

The 6'1" Cousy, considered one of the best passers and playmakers in NBA history, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame (now the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame) in 1971. He was a 1950 graduate of Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, and he currently lives in Worcester.

Background information:

NBA Encyclopedia: Bob Cousy Bio

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Boston Celtics

HowStuffWorks: Bob Cousy

Boston Sports Then and Now: Bob Cousy (21 OCT 09)

Holy Cross Magazine: Holy Cross Top 10 (Spring 2000)

Boaton Globe: For Cousy, assist record was just another game in passing (31 OCT 10)

26 February 2011

One of Life's Little Lessons

When one is asked a question that needs an affirmative answer, it is not very prudent to nod one's head while drinking a cup of coffee.

Fortunately, when I did this earlier this week, I had not yet left for work, and I had time to change quickly change my shirt.

'Tis a good reminder to think about what I am doing.

Congratulations Joe!

 Congratulations to son Joe, who, earlier today, went up 58 flights of stairs at One Financial Plaza, Providence, as part of the 2011 Fight For Air Climb to raise funds for the American Lung Association.

Joe estimated he made the trex in the area of 8 minutes. He was very pleased that he was able to raise $1,030 for the American Lung Association through the generosity of his supporters, an amount which exceeded his "wildest expectations."

For more information about the climb, please visit:

American Lung Association: Fight for Air Climb, Providence, RI

Monsignor Charles Pope on the Place of Mystery in the Religious World

“In the secular world a mystery is something which baffles or eludes understanding, something which lies hidden or undisclosed. Now the usual attitude of the world toward mystery is to solve it, get to the bottom of it or uncover it. Mysteries must be overcome! The riddle of “who-done-it” must be solved.

“In the religious world mystery is something a bit different. Here mystery refers to something partially revealed, but much of which lies hidden. . . .”

Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) recently wrote an interesting reflection on “mystery” and its place in the religious world.

To continue reading Msgr. Pope’s essay, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: What You See is Only Part of What You Get – A Meditation On the Magnificence of Mystery (24 FEB 11)

Doo Wop: “Duke of Earl”

One example of Doo Wop is Gene Chandler singing “Duke of Earl”:

      Gene Chandler: Duke Of Earl

Doo Wop

A number of people are aware that I like many genres of music. One of my favorite types of music is Doo Wop.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines doo-wop as a “style of rhythm and blues popularized in the 1950s and characterized by words and nonsense syllables sung in harmony by small groups against a stylized rhythmic melody.” I guess that’s as good an introduction as any.

For additional background information, please visit:

Wikipedia: Doo-wop

History of Rock: The Doo-Wop Sound

YouTube: Doo-wop segment from CBS Sunday Morning

Doo Wop Preservation League

Rewind the Fifties: Doo-Wop

Doo wop dreams

Circe's Doo Wop Cafe Internet Radio Station & Club

Sam Houston State University Department of Library Science: Doo-Wop

Idea Starter: Adopt a Bus Stop

In many areas of New England during this winter, public transportation patrons often had a difficult time waiting for a bus. Because of snow piles at bus stops, patrons (including myself) often had to wait in the street, putting themselves in danger of being hit by a passing automobile. Other patrons (also including myself) have waited on cleared sidewalks, but they then had to climb over a snow bank to reach the bus.

In the Portland/South Portland, ME, area, residents or businesses may volunteer to maintain one the bus stops (perhaps one near their home or workplace). Participants in the Adopt-a-Stop program receive a shovel in advance, and a small Adopt-A-Stop sign is attached to the bus stop sign in recognition of the volunteer’s efforts.

The goals for the program and its volunteers are to:

  • provide safe access to primary bus stops within twelve hours of completion of municipal snow plowing,
  • guarantee a safe place for at least two bus patrons to stand while waiting for a bus, and
  • maintain the area free of debris.

For more information about this initiative, please visit:

Greater Portland's (Maine) Adopt-A-Stop

Portland Green Streets: Be Inspired to Adopt a Stop! (26 JAN 11)

Soeur Sourire: "Dominique"

In the 1960's, a Dominican nun from a convent near Waterloo, Belgium, Soeur Sourire (Jeannine Deckers after she left the convent) had a song that became number 1 in the U.S.: "Dominique" ( a song, in French, about Saint Dominic).

Here are some filmed segments related to Soeur Sourire, who was also known as the Singing Nun:



This YouTube post includes the lyrics of "Dominique" (sung and in print, with an English translation):

Soeur Sourire - Dominique lyrics

The story of Soeur Sourire inspired movie writers and producers, and, in 1966, The Singing Nun was released with Debbie Reynolds starring as Soeur Sourire. Soeur Sourire also appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in January, 1964. Here is a clip from the movie:

YouTube: Dominique - Singing Nun

While Soeur Sourire was in the convent, any proceeds from the song went to the convent. Unfortunately she left the convent, and the Belgium government then wanted her to pay taxes on the money she had donated to the convent while she was a nun. Tragically, she later committed suicide.

For more on the life of Soeur Sourire, please visit:

Wikipedia: The Singing Nun

Communities in Rhode Island: Exeter

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of communities of various sizes - including cities, towns, boroughs, villages, and plantations.

One such community is Exeter, a town in Rhode Island. With an estimated population of 6,309 (2009), the town occupies 57.7 square miles of land northwester corner of Washington County. It was originally part of North Kingstown, an it was incorporated as a town in 1742.

Exeter is the home of Yagoo Valley Ski Area & Sports Park, the only ski resort in Rhode Island. A large segment of the town is occupied by the northern part of the state's Arcadia Management Area.

For more information about Exeter, please visit:

Town of Exeter

Wikipedia: Exeter, Rhode Island

RI Economic Development Corporation: Town of Exeter

Exeter Historical Association: Facts about Exeter

J.R. Cole: History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island (1889): Town of Exeter

Exeter Historical Association

Rhode Island Roads: Exeter, Rhode Island

Rev. Tom Leutner on Being Open to God’s Presence

"Legend has it that St. Francis of Assisi was out for a winter's walk and came upon an almond tree. He asked the tree to tell him about God. The almond tree blossomed immediately as if it were springtime. St. Francis could look at life through a heart of love as well as his physical eyes. It enabled him to see beyond the physical characteristics of a tree in winter to reveal its inner spiritual nature. It is amazing what we see when we open our hearts in love and see the multiple layers of reality.

"I was sitting, pacing really, at the emissions inspection station waiting for my car. Other drivers were lining up; soon the noxious fumes began to build up as their idled cars waited for the attendant. Annoyed by the fumes and noisiness of the shop, I surrendered."

In a recent commentary in the Greenwich Time, Rev. Dr. Tom Leutner (pastor of Dingletown Community Church, Greenwich, CT) reflects on how we can find God in the midst of the chaotic moments of everyday life.

To read his complete reflection, please visit:

Greenwich Time: The Rev. Dr. Tom Leutner: Can we bloom in winter? (25 FEB 11)

25 February 2011

Bourne, MA, Firefighter Fired for Facebook Posts

A Bourne, MA, firefighter was recently fired for violating fire department rules and regulations by posting what was termed negative messages and images on his Facebook page.

To access a Bourne Courier article on this event, please visit:

Bourne Courier: Bourne firefighter/paramedic is fired over his Facebook posts (24 FEB 11)

Because of concerns related to potential negative impacts of Facebook and other personal social networking posts by public safety, education, and other municipal government personnel, many communities in the region are working on developing guidelines – on the department level or community level – related to such posts.

Gordon Graham, of Lexipol, recently offered tips related to use of "Social Networking Sites.” To access this tip, please visit:

Gordon Graham: "Today's Tip from Lexipol"

Background Information:

Bourne Fire Department

Town of Bourne

Wikipedia: Bourne, Massachusetts

The Old Man of the Mountain

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of legends, places, foods, and other features that are directly related to what many people think of as the New England culture.

One such feature was the Old Man of the Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The Old Man of the Mountain (which has also been called the Great Stone Face) was actually a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in Franconia. When viewed from the north, the perspective was that of a face.

The first recorded mention of this profile was in 1805, and it has been pictured in a number of printed and video pieces over the years (including the reverse side of the state quarter of New Hampshire). The Old Man collapsed on 3 May 2003.

For more information about the Old Man of the Mountain, please visit:

Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site

White Mountain Art & Artists: The Old Man of the Mountain Gallery

The Old Man of the Mountain Memorial

Rachelle and Steve: Photos from atop The Old Man of the Mountain after the collapse

The Connection Between Dying Counties, Closing Catholic Schools, and Humanae Vitae

“The Internet is abuzz this week with reports from the U.S. Census Bureau that one-fourth of all U.S. counties are dying. The reasons given are an aging population, an increase of only 9.7% in the U.S. population over the past ten years (the lowest decennial increase since the great depression), and migration to more affluent counties in the midst of a protracted economic slump. Demographers call this ‘natural decrease.’ The etiology, in fact, may not be so natural at all.

“In the same decade that “natural decrease” has taken place, Catholic bishops have been closing Catholic schools all over the nation, much to the consternation of the laity. So what’s behind the trend?”

This commentary by Dr. Gerard M. Nadal looks at the connection between these dying counties, the closing of Catholic schools, and Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

To continue reading the complete post, please visit:

Coming Home: Dying Counties and Closing Catholic Schools: Reconsidering Humanae Vitae (24 FEB 11)

Background Information:

Humanae Vitae - Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Paul VI on the regulation of birth (25 July 1968)

Reflection Starter from Benjamin Franklin

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more
convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the
affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his
Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?" -
Benjamin Franklin, to other delagates at the Constitutional
Convention, 1787

24 February 2011

New York City Fire Apparatus - 1903

Here is a clip of horse drawn New York City fire apparatus returning to their station in 1903:





(Thank you, Firegeezer, for the tip!)

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and
tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the
frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet
affability that influences his words and actions, presents every
object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light." - Saint
Francis de Sales

Music in Massachusetts: Mark Francis

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of music of many different genres, including (but not limited to) religious, classical, folk, Celtic, sea shanties, rock, country and western, bluegrass, and the list goes on and on. New England is home to a number of composers, artists, and venues.

One such artist from Massachusetts is my brother Mark (a.k.a., Mark Francis), whose music may be considered New Age.

For more information about Mark Francis, please visit:

Mark Francis (Sky9Music)

"Amazing Grace"

I've had a couple of posts featuring the presentation of the hymn "Amazing Grace," a hymn that was written by John Newton (1725-1807). This hymn is probably one of the recognized Christian hymns (at least of the hymns in English).

Lyrics:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.


Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.


The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.


Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.


When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
 

Background Information:

CyberHymnal: Amazing Grace

Library of Congress: Performing Arts Encyclopedia: Amazing Grace

Annointed Links: Amazing Grace: The Story of John Newton

HymnTime.com: John Newton (1725-1807)

23 February 2011

Reflection Starter from Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Strip Mall Fire in Southbury, CT

An early morning fire on Friday, 18 February, destroyed a number of businesses in The Commons, a strip mall located at The Commons, 250 Main Street South, Southbury, CT.

The Southbury Fire Department was assisted by companies from Newtown, Oxford, and Woodbury.

Media Reports:

Connecticut Post: Fire destroys 12 businesses in Southbury (19 FEB 11)

WTNH: 12 businesses destroyed in Southbury fire (18 FEB 11)

FireGeezer: Commercial Fire in Connecticut

Background Information:

Southbury Volunteer Firemen's Association

Town of Southbury

Wikipedia: Southbury, Connecticut

Google Map: 250 Main Street South, Southbury, CT

Literature from Maine: Edna St. Vincent Millay

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of literature - including writers from this region and literary works set in this region.

One such writer is Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), who was born in Rockland, Maine, and who lived in Camden for a number of years..

For more information about Edna St. Vincent Millay, please visit:

Poetry Foundation: Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950)

Wikipedia: Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poetry Landmark: Edna St. Vincent Millay's hometown of Camden, ME

Edna St. Vincent Millay Society

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Renascence

Celtic Woman: "Amazing Grace"

As we remember the passing of Dr. Bernard Nathanson and the grace that was offered to him, I offer, for reflection, Celtic Woman presenting "Amazing Grace":


The Passing of Dr. Bernard Nathanson

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a physician from New York who helped to found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) and became an active pro-life supporter, recently passed away at age 84.

Dr. Nathanson had estimated he had performed 75,000 abortions in his career, and, at one time, he put a lot of effort into promoting the legalization of abortion.

One of the happenings that led to him reconsidering his position on abortion was the development of ultrasound. In 1984, he directed and narrated The Silent Scream, a documentary that shows an abortion from the perspective of ultrasound.

After his change of heart, he became active on a number of fronts in the pro-life movement. included in his efforts were books he wrote, including Aborting America (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979) and The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind (Washington: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1996).

Dr. Nathanson has been quoted as saying that abortion is "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States."

Through the efforts of Rev. C. John McCloskey (an Opus Dei priest), he converted to Roman Catholicism and, in December 1996, was baptized by Cardinal John O'Connor in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.

May Dr. Nathanson rest in peace.

Related media reports and commentary:

Wall Street Journal: Remembrances: Onetime Abortionist Who Joined Other Side (22 FEB 11)

Headline Bistro: Death of Dr. Bernard Nathanson Reminds Faithful of the Power of Forgiveness (22 FEB 11)

LifeNews: Bernard Nathanson Passes Away, Was Early Abortion Muckraker (21 FEB 11)

Background information:

Several Sources Shelters: The Silent Scream

EWTN Library: Julia Duin: Bernard Nathanson's Conversion

22 February 2011

Reflection Starter from Father Robert, O.P.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7

“There is a beautiful gospel song called ‘Lean on me.’ When troubles that weigh us down, can you picture yourself letting your tired or worried head rest on the compassionate and loving chest of Jesus! St. Paul captures this sense of trust and comfort in telling us God’s peace giving care transcends all our understanding. He is watching over us and all that concerns us. Despite the brokenness of your lives, we are urged to trust God in the very depths of our being. No matter how desperate your circumstances, we can trust and lean on Jesus. He will still our anxiety and needless worry for we can count on His unfailing love and strength.”

- Father Robert, O.P. (from a recent Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, Chicago, IL)

Community Service in Connecticut: Farmington River Watershed Association

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of community service organizations that are working to address a particular concern or group of concerns.

One such organization is the Farmington River Watershed Association, which is striving to protect and to restore the natural resources of the watershed of Connecticut's Farmington River.

For more information about the Farmington River Watershed Association, please visit:

Farmington River Watershed Association

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 22 February 2011

George Washington

Today is George Washington's birthday. Washington, the first President of the United States (under the U.S. Constitution), is considered by many people to be one of the greatest Presidents the U.S. has had.

This is an excerpt from his official White House brief biography"

"Born in 1732 into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman.

"He pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. The next year, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, he escaped injury although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him.

"From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Married to a widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, he devoted himself to a busy and happy life. But like his fellow planters, Washington felt himself exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. As the quarrel with the mother country grew acute, he moderately but firmly voiced his resistance to the restrictions.

"When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years.

"He realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He reported to Congress, 'we should on all Occasions avoid a general Action, or put anything to the Risque, unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn.' Ensuing battles saw him fall back slowly, then strike unexpectedly. Finally in 1781 with the aid of French allies - he forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

"Washington longed to retire to his fields at Mount Vernon. But he soon realized that the Nation under its Articles of Confederation was not functioning well, so he became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President.

"He did not infringe upon the policy making powers that he felt the Constitution gave Congress. But the determination of foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern. When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.

"To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances."

"Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon, for he died of a throat infection December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A selection of quotes from George Washington:

"The ways of Providence being inscrutable, and the justice of it not to be scanned by the shallow eye of humanity, nor to be counteracted by the utmost efforts of human power or wisdom, resignation, and as far as the strength of our reason and religion can carry us, a cheerful acquiescence to the Divine Will, is what we are to aim." (in a letter to Colonel Bassett, 25 April 1773)

"By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho' death was levelling my companions on every side." (in a letter to John A. Washington, 18 July 1755)

"Nothing but harmony, honesty, industry, and frugality are necessary to make us a great and happy people." (to Marquis de Lafayette, Mount Vernon, 29 January 1789)

"I am sure the mass of citizens in these United States mean well, and I firmly believe they will always act well whenever they can obtain a right understanding of matters; but in some parts of the Union, where the sentiments of their delegates and leaders are adverse to the government, and great pains are taken to inculcate a belief that their rights are assailed and their liberties endangered, it is not easy to accomplish this; especially, as is the case invariably, when the inventors and abettors of pernicious measures use infinite more industry in disseminating the poison than the well disposed part of the community to furnish the antidote." (in a letter to John Jay, 8 May 1796)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a chronology of George Washington's life, please visit:

Smithsonian Institution: George Washington - A National Treasure: Chronology

Other information:

Foundations Magazine: George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation

Coptic Priest and Evangelist to Muslims

Although little known outside the area called the Middle East, Father Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest, has been making his presence felt among the Muslims in that area.

Well versed in Classical Arabic, he often sits with the Koran and the Bible, and he will expound on various topics related to Islam. There have been a number of converts to Christianity who credit Father Zakaria with starting the conversion process in their lives.

Father's website:

The Hope of All Nations

Media Reports:

National Review Online: Islam’s ‘Public Enemy #1′ (25 MAR 08)

Christian Anti-Defamation Commission: Living Hero of the Faith: Father Zakaria Botros (12 FEB 09)

St Francis Magazine: Observations on Abuna Zakaria Botros (and a Book Review) (October 2009)

FrontPage Magazine: The Strange Teachings of Muhammad (2 JUN 09)

UK Copts: Father Zakaria Botros: Threatened into Silence (10 MAY 10)

21 February 2011

FPRF Study: Home Fire Sprinklers Offer Environmental Benefits and Reduce Water Infrastructure Demand

In a recently released new report, Residential Fire Sprinklers - Water Usage and Water Meter Performance Study, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association) advises that the amount of water used in fighting fires in homes without fire sprinkler systems can be more than twelve times higher than the amount discharged by a fire sprinkler system with a ten minute operation. In this study, the FPRF concludes that, in addition to saving lives and property, sprinklers have added environmental benefits, including water conservation and the potential to reduce water infrastructure demands in communities.

“We have always known that because sprinklers operate early in fires and don’t give them time to grow, the amount of resources needed to extinguish them is much less,” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Foundation, in a prepared statement. “This research provides an analysis of how residential sprinklers reduce the need for a specific resource, water, and the infrastructure it requires. This data is extremely useful for communities as they evaluate the big picture when assessing the benefits that come with implementing residential fire sprinklers.”

According to the report, in the eight incidents reported by the fire departments, an average of 3,524 gallons of water was discharged for firefighting at homes that did not have a residential fire sprinkler system. Assuming ten minutes of operation, typically designed home fire sprinkler systems discharge 280 gallons of water per fire.

To access this report, please visit:

FPRF: Residential Fire Sprinklers – Water Usage and Water Meter Performance Study - Final Report ( February 2011)

Background information:

YouTube: Residential Fire Sprinkler Water Study (FPRF director answers questions about the new study, 16 FEB 11)

Fire Protection Research Foundation

New England City & Town: Public Safety Issues: Residential Sprinklers

Minor League Baseball in Vermont: Vermont Lake Monsters

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of athletic and other recreation opportunities.

There are a number of professional sports teams that are located in the New England area. One of these teams is the Vermont Lake Monsters, a Class A SS Minor League baseball team. This team, affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, plays its home games at Centennial Field in Burlington VT. (The field is on the University of Vermont campus.)

For more information about the Vermont Lake Monsters, please visit:

Vermont Lake Monsters

Reflection Starter from Father Robert, O.P.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined!"

"As we grow in our relationship with God, we find that we need to take a closer look at our lives and see how active God is in our lives and in those of others." - Father Robert, O.P. (from a recent Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, Chicago, IL)

A Commandsafety.com Review of The Station Nightclub Fire

Commandsafety.com, a website that is designed to provide insights on fire service issues related to building construction, command risk management, and firefighter safety, recently posted a review of The Station nightclub fire that occurred in West Warwick, RI, on 20 February, 2003.

To access this view, please visit:

Commandsafety.com: The Station Nightclub February 20, 2003 (20 FEB 11)

20 February 2011

Historical Site in Rhode Island: Roger Williams National Memorial

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of places steeped in history - the history of this region, the history of the nation.

One such place is the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence, Rhode Island. This memorial was designed to commemorate the life of Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island and who is noted for his promotion of religious freedom.

For more information about the Roger Williams National Memorial, please visit:

National Park Service: Roger Williams National Memorial

For more information about Roger Williams, please visit:

Roger Williams Family Association: Roger Williams

Wikipedia: Roger Williams (theologian)

"Bless the Lord, O My Soul"

The opening of today's Responsorial Psalm are "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

With this in mind, I offer Andre Crouch's "Bless the Lord, O My Soul," as sung by the music ministry of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Cambridge, MA:

Sunday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Today is the Sunday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; and Matthew 5:38-48. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 103 (Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13)."

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In a reflection on this Gospel reading, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio asks if Jesus want us to be doormats, suckers who allow ourselves to be taken advantage of by every bully, dictator, and gangster that comes down the pike:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Turn the Other Cheek?

In his homily for this weekend, Deacon Greg Kandra says, “If you wanted to find the most challenging, most difficult, most confounding passage in all of the gospels, this just might be it.

“It is also the most fundamentally Christian – because it is the passage that calls on each of us to be the most like Christ.  More than that, it calls on us to be ‘perfect, like the Father is perfect.’”

To read Deacon Kandra’s complete homily, please visit:

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for February 20, 2011: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflection Starter

"Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's, if we are always criticizing trivial actions - which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives." - attributed to Saint Theresa of Jesus (Saint Teresa of Avila)

19 February 2011

Two Connecticut Fatal Fires

Two fatal fires in Connecticut this week involved persons who either went back into the fire building or stayed in the fire building to help family members.

A woman was killed in a fire at 26-28 Putnam Heights, Hartford, on Wednesday night (16 February) went she went back into the building (possibly to rescue pets); and a man died in a fire at 199 Grandview Avenue, Hamden, early Thursday morning (17 February) as he attempted to evacuate family members.

Media Reports:

Hartford Courant: Woman Killed In Hartford Fire (17 FEB 11)

Hartford Courant Photo: Fire at 26-28 Putnam Heights In Hartford (16 FEB 11)

WTNH-TV: Woman dies in Hartford fire (17 FEB 11)

WVIT-TV: Woman Dies Trying to Save Pets From Burning Home (17 FEB 11)

HFD Radio.com: 26-28 Putnam Heights - 2nd Alarm: 02/16/2011 - 22:15: Scanner Audio

New Haven Register: Father dies trying to save family from Hamden blaze; Wife, 3 children had already escaped; cause of fire yet to be determined (17 FEB 11)

Post-Chronicle: Father dies in Hamden fire; family injured (18 FEB 11)

WTNH-TV: Man saves family, perishes in fire (17 FEB 11)

Background Information:

Hartford Fire Department

Hartford Firefighters Association, I.A.F.F. Local 760

Hamden Fire Department

City of Hartford

Town of Hamden

Wikipedia: Hartford, Connecticut

Wikipedia: Hamden, Connecticut

Google Map: 28 Putnam Heights, Hartford, Connecticut

Google Map: 199 Grandview Avenue, Hamden, Connecticut

A Look at Proposed Wind Power Project’s Effects on Municipal Budgets

WPRI-TV recently ran a thought-provoking story on the effects that the Deepwater Wind wind power project (proposed for an area off the Rhode Island coast) will have on municipal budgets in Rhode Island.

The project itself is currently on hold because of legal challenges.

To access the WPRI story, please visit:

WPRI-TV: Wind power will cost RI taxpayers $1.5M (17 FEB 11)

Fine Arts in New Hampshire: Manchester Choral Society

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of fine arts presentations, opportunities, and other assets.

One such resource in the music field is the Manchester Choral Society, a community chorus from New Hampshire.

For more information about the Manchester Choral Society, please visit:

Manchester Choral Society

Facebook: Manchester Choral Society

YouTube: The Manchester Choral Society sings von Himmel Hoch

YouTube: Tonight from "West Side Story" - Bernstein - Manchester Choral Society Chorus

NH Public Television: Christmas at the Currier (25 DEC 09)

"Great is the Lord"

Today's assigned Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 145) reminded me of this hymn: "Great is the Lord." This version is sung by Michael W. Smith:


A Doctor Who Makes House Calls

Many people of my generation remember doctors making house calls. When I was growing up, our family doctors were two brothers, Drs. Eugene and Anthony D’Angelo. While we often did go to their office for checkups and for various illnesses and injuries, they did make house calls as needed. Thinking back, they were a great treasure, and I thank the Lord for them and for their ministry to our family and to their other patients.

The Connecticut Post has a profile of Dr. Edward Kulich, a pediatrician originally from Westport, CT, who also makes house calls. His practice is a bit different from the practice of Doctors D”Angelo (who were general practitioners), and it is not for everyone. For some people, though, it does make a difference.

Connecticut Post: Doctor brings house calls back to life (19 FEB 11)

18 February 2011

Historical Persons from Massachusetts: Johnny Appleseed

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is the people of this region, many of whom have achieved renown in one field or another (or sometimes in a number of fields).

One such person, from Massachusetts, was John Chapman – better know as Johnny Appleseed. John Chapman grew up in Leominster (in Worcester County). Although he had a number of interests, he is probably best known for introducing apple trees to parts of Ohio, Indian, and Illinois (hence his “Johnny Appleseed” moniker). Johnny Appleseed has been designated the as one of the state symbols of Massachusetts – the Massachusetts folk hero (M.G.L. Ch. 2, §40).

Johnny-appleseed-1

For more information about Johnny Appleseed, please visit:

Wikipedia: Johnny Appleseed

Absolute Astronomy: Johnny Appleseed

Northwest Territory Alliance: Johnny Appleseed

About.com.Cleveland: Who Was Johnny Appleseed?

Virginia State Apple Board: Johnny Appleseed - a Pioneer

Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center

A Brief Look at American Innovation

“There is a long history of innovation in America's relatively short existence; from lone inventors experimenting in garages to collaborating and competing with international scientists.”

The Christian Science Monitor recently offered a brief look at thirteen inventions – originating in the United States - that have become very much a part daily life here in the U.S. and throughout the world:

Christian Science Monitor: American Innovation: 13 Born-in-the-USA inventions

Reflection Starter from St. John Bosco

“A good Christian should treat his neighbor like Jesus Christ treated His followers; therefore, his dealings with them should be edifying, charitable, full of seriousness, gentleness, and simplicity." – Saint John Bosco

17 February 2011

"P.U.S.H."

From the current issue of The DeerLake Weekly Letter:

"A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do . . .":

      Father's Hands: P.U.S.H.

Natural Features in Maine: Rangeley Lake

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich variety of natural features.

One such natural feature is Rangeley Lake, a scenic lake located in Franklin County in western Maine.

For more information about Rangeley Lake, please visit:

Wikipedia: Rangeley Lake

Rangeley Lake State Park

Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust

YouTube: Headwaters (a film by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust)

Flickr: MJS: Rangeley Lake, Maine

American Greetings Webshots: Beautiful Rangeley Lake

American Greetings Webshots: Rangeley Lake from the height of land

TripAdvisor: Rangeley Images

Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Rangeley Region Information Coalition

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"Whatsoever happens, never let go; hold steadfastly to God, in peace, trusting His Everlasting Love for you." - Saint Francis de Sales

16 February 2011

Reflection Starter: The “Our Father”

“The Our Father is like a classic Renaissance painting that crowds the canvas with spiritual milk for beginners and meat for the mature.” - Father Alfred McBride, O.Praem, from Staying Faithful Today: To God, Ourselves, One Another

New Report: Massachusetts Municipalities Face Staggering Retiree Health Care Liabilities

The fifty largest cities and towns in Massachusetts face a $20 billion liability for retiree health care benefits that threatens to wreak havoc with local government services, according to a new report recently released by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The report, Retiree Health Care: The Brick That Broke Municipalities’ Backs, is the first analysis of municipal retiree health care liabilities in Massachusetts. The $20 billion represents what these governments must pay in today’s dollars for the lifetime health care benefits already earned by 150,000 current employees and retirees in the 50 communities.

According to the report finds, the retiree health care liability for these fifty communities is 99.98 percent unfunded and two-and-a-half times larger than their unfunded pension liability. The report concludes that funding these obligations would place an overwhelming burden on taxpayers.

The report offers a number of recommendations (most of which would require changes in state law) to reduce liabilities and to control the growing costs of retiree health care. These recommendations include:

  • giving local officials the authority to adjust health plans outside of collective bargaining;
  • contributing set dollar amounts and cap municipal contributions instead of tying contributions to a percentage of the premium;
  • basing benefits on years of service as is done with pensions, rather than providing full benefits after 10 years of service;
  • raising the retiree health care eligibility age from 55 to 62;
  • for part-time employees, increasing the minimum eligibility hours to 1,400 per year and prorate benefits;
  • ending spousal/dependent coverage for future retirees; and
  • improving public access to information and centralizing reporting in the state.

To access this report, please visit:

Retiree Health Care: The Brick That Broke Municipalities’ Backs (February 2011)

Norway, ME, Fire Destroys Wood Products Business

An early morning fire on Tuesday, 8 February, destroyed Oxford Pine Products, a wood products business at 24 Marston Street in Norway, ME.

The Norway Fire Department was assisted by companies from Harrison, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Waterford, West Paris, and   Woodstock.

Media reports:

Sun Journal: Norway business destroyed by fire uninsured (9 FEB 11)

WGME-TV: Fire destroys Norway wood products business (8 FEB 11)

Background information:

Town of Norway

Wikipedia: Norway, Maine

Google Map: 24 Marston Street, Norway, Maine

Oxford Pine Products

Christian Music in Connecticut: Redeemed

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of Catholic and other Christian music ministers - individuals and groups - who serve in churches, Christian coffee houses, and a variety of other venues.

One such ministry is Redeemed, a contemporary Christian rock band from Connecticut.

For more information about Redeemed, please visit:

      Redeemed

15 February 2011

Reflection Starter

"It is foolish to work up a head of steam unless you know what's cooking." - from a Salada Tea Tag

National Trust for Historic Preservation Selects New Bedford, MA, as One of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2011

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named New Bedford, MA, one of its 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  New Bedford, nominated by Waterfront Historic Area League, was selected for its seaport heritage, scenic beaches, abundant architectural and historical riches, diverse neighborhoods and a burgeoning arts community.

For 12 years the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across America that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from those found at the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and a commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

“New Bedford is rightfully known as the 19th century whaling capital of the world, but maritime history is just the beginning of its appeal,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a prepared statement. “This place has deep roots in historic preservation, and its citizens have shown great respect for all of New Bedford’s cultural and historic elements, including its Civil War history, ethnic diversity, textile mills, and architectural heritage. This is absolutely a distinctive destination.”

The Trust said that New Bedford’s multi-faceted appeal is a credit to the tireless work of its local leaders (such as the Waterfront Historic Area League) who have helped rehabilitate more than forty structures in New Bedford. Noted highlights include its historic downtown (defined by cobblestone streets, period gas lamps, and authentic 19th and 20thcentury architecture), the city’s parks (including one designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and a Civil War-era fort), and its working waterfront.

Other highlights noted include:

  • The Zeiterion Theatre - a completely renovated structure dating back to Vaudeville days and now home to the premiere performing arts center of the region.
  • The North End Cultural District – a “hotbed” of small ethnic shops, offering such unique items as Azorean hand-stitched fabrics and Mexican pottery, as well as New Bedford’s most exotic cuisine.
  • New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park – which includes the Whaling Museum with its 66-foot blue whale skeleton and world’s largest ship model, and partner sites that let one walk the deck of a whaling ship, tour a merchant’s home and visit a whaleman’s chapel.
  • AHA! Nights (Art, History, Architecture) take place every second Thursday of the month, drawing more than 3,000 people downtown to celebrate New Bedford’s unique charms.
  • Its 15 National Register Historic districts and six National Historic Landmarks, including the Nathan and Polly Johnson House which tells  the story of the Underground Railroad and Frederick Douglass in New Bedford.
  • The annual Working Waterfront Festival, nationally recognized as one of the nation’s best cultural festivals, which draws thousands of visitors to the port each September to celebrate commercial fishing, America’s oldest industry.

From 15 February to 15 March, New Bedford will be participating in a public online voting contest to select the 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations Fan Favorite.

Background information:

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Community Policing and the Challenges of a Reduced Budget

In “Challenges of a Reduced Budget,” the February edition of The Beat (the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services monthly podcast series), Lexipol’s Gordon Graham identifies some of the challenges and opportunities reduced budgets provide. He also shares some insight on how community policing can help agencies save money and reduce risk.

To access this podcast, please visit:

The Beat: February, 2011- Challenges of a Reduced Budget

To access a transcript of the podcast, please visit:

The Beat: February, 2011- Challenges of a Reduced Budget (Transcript)

Background information:

U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

Lexipol

14 February 2011

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 14 February 2011

Bridgeport, CT, Fire Department Charged with Safety Violations in Firefighter Deaths

The Connecticut Post recently reported that the Connecticut Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health has charged the Bridgeport Fire Department with five serious state safety violations in a fire that killed two firefighters in July of 2010. The fire department is challenging each of the violations.

To access this article, please visit:

Connecticut Post: Bridgeport cited for serious safety violations in death of two firefighters: city contesting (11 FEB 11)

To access a previous post on this fire, please visit:

Lop Notes: Two Firefighters Die in Bridgeport Fire (29 JUL 10)

Background information:

Connecticut Department of Labor: Worker Safety (Occupational Safety and Health - CONN-OSHA)

Reflection Starter from Today’s Office of Readings

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not;

In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

13 February 2011

Msgr. Stern on the Serious Challenges Facing Egypt’s Catholics

In a recent interview published by National Catholic Register, Monsignor Robert Stern, secretary general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, discusses the status of the Egypt’s Catholic community during the crisis that nation is currently facing:

National Catholic Register: Egypt’s Catholics in Crisis (10 FEB 11)

Background information:

Catholic Near East Welfare Association

EWTN: Catholics in Egypt

Sunday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today is the Sunday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Sirach 15:15-20, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10, and Matthew 5:17-37. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 119 (119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34).

Today’s Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with brother will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. 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.

“It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife - unless the marriage is unlawful - causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,' and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In a reflection on this Gospel reading, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio writes that Jesus is encouraging us to forget about others’ issues and attend to our own:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Holiness of the Pharisees

In a reflection on the three readings, Father John Kavanaugh, S.J., asks, “How different would our own Eucharists be if we took Jesus seriously?” He also notes, “It can be dangerous, mind-altering, to read the Sermon on the Mount.” Why? Read on:

The Word Embodied: The Revolution Jesus Announced

In his reflection on today’s Gospel reading, Monsignor Charles Pope writes about the “way the Lord is drawing a picture for us of the transformed human person.” He continues by writing that Jesus is “presenting a kind of slide show of what sanctity really is.”

To read what Msgr. Pope writes about “the Power, the Principle, and the Picture of New Life in Christ,” please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Slideshow of Sanctity – A Meditation on the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of the Year

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"Strive to see God in all things without exception, and consent to His
will joyously." - Saint Francis de Sales

U.S. News Ranks Boston #4 in Public Transportation

U.S. News & World Report recently compiled a list of what they consider the ten best cities in the country for public transportation, and Boston came in at number four on the list.

To access the complete list, please visit:

U.S.News & World Report: The 10 Best Cities for Public Transportation

12 February 2011

Cave Diving Dentist from Maine

The Portland Press Herald recently ran an interesting profile of a dentist from Norridgewock, ME, who recently received certification in cave diving.

To access this article, please visit:

Portland Press Herald: Waterville dentist among select few qualified to explore underwater caves (5 FEB 11)

Background information:

National Association for Cave Diving

Johnny Richards: The Cave Diving Website

Absolute Astronomy: Cave diving

National Speleological Society

An Evangelical Looks at the Catholic Church

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope writes about some comments made by Evangelical author David French regarding the strengths of the Catholic Church:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Evangelical Author Sees Strengths in the Catholic Church (8 FEB 11)

"26 Years of World Youth Days"

As part of a promotion for World Youth Day 2011 Madrid, Grassroots Films recently produced this overview, "26 Years of World Youth Days":



(Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip.)

Matthew Archbold on Praying Well

Matthew Archbold recently wrote an interesting reflection on the difficulties of staying focused while praying:

Matthew Archbold: 7 Reasons I Stink at Praying (7 FEB 11)

Our Lady of Lourdes Follow Up

A slightly delayed item related to yesterday's celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes:

The Deacon's Bench: For the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes: “Song of Bernadette” (11 FEB 11)

Abraham Lincoln

Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, is considered by many people to be one of the greatest Presidents the U.S. has had.

This is an excerpt from his official White House brief biography:

"The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party's nomination for President, he sketched his life:

"'I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families - second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks . . . . My father . . . removed from Kentucky to . . . Indiana, in my eighth year. . . . It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. . . . Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher . . . but that was all.'

"Lincoln made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, 'His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.'

"He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.

"As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

"Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: 'that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'

"Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion.

"The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: 'With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds. . . '

"On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln's death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A selection of quotes from Abraham Lincoln:

"A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones." (from an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, 30 September 1859)

"The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated - quite too nearly all, to leave the labor of the uneducated, in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor. Otherwise, education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive." (from an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, 30 September 1859)

"Every man is proud of what he does well; and no man is proud of what he does not do well. With the former, his heart is in his work; and he will do twice as much of it with less fatigue. The latter performs a little imperfectly, looks at it in disgust, turns from it, and imagines himself exceedingly tired. The little he has done, comes to nothing, for want of finishing." (from an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, 30 September 1859)

"When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." (from an address given to the Springfield Washington Temperance Society. 22 February 1842)

"Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully." (from his Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a chronology of Abraham Lincoln's life, please visit:

Northern Illinois University Libraries: Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project: Abraham Lincoln Chronology

For a series of pictures of Abraham Lincoln, please visit:

Fox News: Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

11 February 2011

DOE Announces Resources to Help Communities Benefit from Solar Energy

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot initiative to “dramatically reduce the cost of installed solar energy” by the end of the decade, the department recently introduced the second edition of Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments. The guide is designed to be a comprehensive resource that will help communities accelerate their adoption of solar energy technologies. In addition, the guide is intended to help communities better understand the steps necessary to permit and license solar energy installations and how to streamline those processes, which can deliver significant savings in the total costs of installing solar systems.

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments also offers guidance for communities on how to develop a plan for expanding the use of solar energy and ways for local governments to tailor their approach to implementing solar projects based on their community and local circumstances.

To access this guide, please visit:

DOE: Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments (Second Edition)

DOE also recently released a publication aimed at helping communities advance local solar markets, the Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development. This targeted guide is designed to provide information on organizing community solar projects, which allow multiple community members to share ownership and benefit from the electricity generated by a single PV installation. For renters and other community members unable to install PV systems on their own property, community-based cooperative relationships often provide cost-effective, innovative financing, and ownership models for investing in clean, reliable energy.

To access this guide, please visit:

DOE: Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development

World Day of the Sick

Today, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Church observes the 19th World Day of the Sick. The theme for this year is “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). World Day of the Sick is a time, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, to “to reflect upon the mystery of suffering and above all to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to our sick brothers and sisters.”

To access Pope Benedict’s message for this year’s observance of World Day of the Sick, please visit:

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the Nineteenth World Day of the Sick

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today the Church celebrates the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Lourdes. As we observe this memorial, we remember a series of eighteen apparitions of Mother Mary to Bernadette Soubiroux, a fourteen-year-old girl in Lourdes, which is located in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées, in southwestern France.

These apparitions in 1858 began on 11 February, and the last one occurred on 16 July. Bernadette described what she saw (in the grotto of Massabielle, a rock where she and friends had gone to gather firewood) as a young and beautiful lady, to use her words - "Lovelier than I have ever seen.” She described this lady as dressed in white, with a blue ribbon sash and a Rosary hanging from her right arm.

For an overview of each of the apparitions, please visit:

Our Catholic Faith: Apparitions Of Our Lady Of Lourdes

For a good reflection on the message of Lourdes and its meaning, please visit:

Lourdes Marian Center: The Message of Lourdes

Our Lady’s shrine in Lourdes, France:

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes), Lourdes

10 February 2011

Characteristics of Effective School Boards

The Center for Public Education recently released a research report focusing eight characteristics of effective school boards. These characteristics include:

  • commitment to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision;
  • strong shared beliefs and values about what is possible for students and their ability to learn, and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels;
  • accountability driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement;
  • a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals;
  • being data savvy: embracing and monitoring data, even when the information is negative, and using it to drive continuous improvement;
  • alignment and sustainment of resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals;
  • leadership as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust; and
  • participation in team development and training, sometimes with their superintendents, to build shared knowledge, values and commitments for their improvement efforts.

To access the full report, please visit:

CPE: Eight characteristics of effective school boards

Saint Scholastica

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict. There is an interesting story related about her and a visit she received from her brother – a story that shows the power of prayer, prayer with a right intention. (I first heard this story in a homily by Father Raymond Kelly at a weekday Mass at Saint Patrick Church in Providence several years ago, and, every so often, something will trigger the memory.)

This version in from the website of the Order of Saint Benedict (O.S.B.):

OSB: Saint Scholastica

Although not much is known about the life of St. Scholastica, an essay by Ruth Clifford Engs offers some insight:

Ruth Clifford Engs: St. Scholastica: Finding Meaning in Her Story

There is a Benedictine priory in Petersham, MA, named after St. Scholastica:

St. Scholastica Priory