30 June 2011

“Old Ironsides”

One of the treasures of New England was recently featured in a final question on the Jeopardy game show. The question dealt with an 1830 poem that saved an historical item. Only one of the contestants got the correct answer: Old Ironsides/USS Constitution, the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel.

This heavy frigate was launched in 1797 and served in the War of 1812. It earned its nickname, “Old Ironsides,” in a battle with HMS Guerriere, in which many of the rounds fired by the British warship bounced harmlessly off the Constitution.

Background information:

U.S. Navy: USS Constitution

USS Constitution Museum

Wikipedia: USS Constitution

"Old Ironsides" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Bingham, ME, Fire Department Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The Town of Bingham, Maine, recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bingham Fire Department.

The department, which serves Bingham, Moscow, and the unorganized territories of Concord and Mayfield, was established in 1911 after a fire in July of that year destroyed a number of large buildings on Bingham’s Main Street.

The department currently has 24 members and averages approximately 75 calls per year.

Media report:

Morning Sentinel: Bingham celebrates fire department's 100 years (23 JUN 11)

Background information:

Town of Bingham: 100th Anniversary of Bingham Fire Department

Bingham Fire Department

Town of Bingham

Facebook: Bingham Fire Department

Wikipedia: Bingham, Maine

Mark Shea on the Roles of Prophets and Priests in the Church

"One of the greatest aspects of our Church is that, while it certainly makes room for the office of prophet, it primarily relies on the office of priest on a day to day basis.  The reason that's good is because we have a culture that is all agog for prophets and almost wholly ignorant of the need for priests.

"What I mean is this:  our culture puts great emphasis on the charismatic individual with the story of personal inspiration and revelation.  That's good as far as it goes.  We need to hear from people who have had an encounter with the living God.  Such people are, says St. Paul, letters from God with the word of God written on their hearts.  A Mother Teresa or a St. Francis or any other member of the communion of saints makes the gospel credible to us because see them living it and realize it's possible for us to live it too."

In a recent commentary, writer Mark Shea reflects on how Catholicism, and the gospel it preaches, does not stand or fall with charismatic celebrity types. He reminds us that we do not own the gospel it belongs to Jesus and we belong to Him. Our role is to pass the Gospel message along, and our priests play an invaluable role as part of the process.

To access Mark Shea's complete post, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Mark Shea: Prophets and Priests (27 JUN 11)

Reflection Starter from Benjamin Franklin

“A little neglect may breed great mischief. . . . For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the battle was lost; for want of the battle, the war was lost.” - Benjamin Franklin

29 June 2011

American Goldfinch

One of the treasures of New England is the great variety of wildlife in the region.

Recently I’ve had a couple of occasions to watch goldfinches busying themselves with their affairs of the day, and these birds definitely count as one of the region’s treasures.

For more information about goldfinches, please visit:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: American Goldfinch

Wikipedia: American Goldfinch

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 - 29 June 2011

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The readings for the vigil Mass are Acts 3:1-10, Galatians 1:11-20, and John 21:15-19. The Responsorial Psalm for the vigil Mass is Psalm 19 (Psalm 19:2-5).

The Gospel reading for the vigil Mass is as follows:

Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

A reflection on this celebration from Saint Augustine:

The Crossroads Initiative: Saint Augustine on Peter and Paul

28 June 2011

Ernie Haase & the Signature Sound Quartet and the Gaither Vocal Band: America Medley

As we approach the Independence Day celebration, I offer Ernie Haase & the Signature Sound Quartet and the Gaither Vocal Band singing an America Medley:

USFA and Safe Kids USA Encourage Fire Safety During Independence Day Celebrations

The U.S. Fire Administration and Safe Kids USA are encouraging families and individuals to prepare for a safe and memorable Independence Day celebration by practicing safe grilling and leaving the fireworks to the professionals.


As can be noticed in may of the region’s neighborhoods, many children and adults are fascinated by fireworks. However, they can be extremely dangerous.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual death and injury report on fireworks, approximately 40 percent of fireworks injuries occur to children younger than 15 years of age.  In addition, CPSC received reports of three fatalities related to fireworks in 2010.

To access this CPSC report, please visit:

CPSC: 2010 Fireworks Annual Report

The best way to protect family and friends is not to use any fireworks at home. Instead, one may attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Fireworks Fire Safety Tips

  • Sparklers are not toys.  They can reach 2,000o Fahrenheit--hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Leave pieces of fireworks on the ground after an event.  Some may still be ignited and can explode.
  • Stand several feet away from the professionals lighting fireworks; fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.

For more information related to fireworks safety, please visit:

U.S. Fire Administration: Focus on Fire Safety: Fireworks

Safe Kids USA


On Independence Day, many Americans look forward to picnics, camping, and other outdoor activities.  The holiday, however, also brings fires and injuries due to outdoor cooking.  By taking a few fire safety precautions, one can ensure that everyone enjoys a safe Independence Day.

Grilling Fire Safety Tips

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose a fire hazard and a risk of exposing occupants to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.  Grills should be positioned  at least 10 feet  away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep, matches, lighters, and starter fluid out of the reach of children in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.
  • Use long barbeque mitts and long-handled grilling tools to protect the chef from heat and flames when cooking.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

For more information about grilling fire safety, please visit:

U.S. Fire Administration: Summer Fire Safety: Grills, Fire Pits, and Campfires

Safe Kids USA

Horace Mann

One of the best treasures of New England is the people of New England - those who currently live and those who have lived here previously. Each of these individuals, famous or not, has/had his/her own unique mixture of creativity and other personal gifts, and each contributed or is contributing to make this region what it is.

One of these people is Horace Mann, an educator, lawyer, and legislator originally from Franklin, Massachusetts. Mr. Mann has been called the "Father of American Education." 

For more information about Horace Mann and his contributions to education, please visit:

NNDB: Horace Mann 

North Carolina Stae University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences: Educational Contributions of Horace Mann 

Unitarian Universalist Association: Horace Mann

Tennessee Criminal Law Resources: Horace Mann on Education and National Welfare

Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the public comment period by 30 days for the draft guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. In response to requests from state and local officials, as well as other stakeholders, EPA and the Corps will take additional comment until 31 July 2011 on this draft guidance that aims to protect U.S. waters.

U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have developed draft guidance for determining whether a waterway, water body, or wetland is protected by the Clean Water Act. This guidance would replace previous guidance to reaffirm protection for critical waters (waters are deemed critical for the health of the American people, the economy, and ecosystems in communities across the country). It would also provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The draft guidance is designed to reaffirm protections for small streams that feed into larger streams, rivers, bays, and coastal waters. It is also designed to reaffirm protection for wetlands that filter pollution and help protect communities from flooding. Discharging pollution into protected waters (e.g., dumping sewage, contaminants, or industrial pollution) or filling protected waters and wetlands (e.g., building a housing development or a parking lot) require permits. This guidance is designed to keep safe the streams and wetlands that affect the quality of the water used for drinking, swimming, fishing, farming, manufacturing, tourism, and other activities essential to the American economy and quality of life. It is also designed to provide regulatory clarity, predictability, consistency, and transparency

This change in the public comment period will not impact the schedule for finalizing the guidance or alter the intent to proceed with a rulemaking.

Public input received will be carefully considered as the agencies make final decisions regarding the guidance. These comments will also be very helpful as the agencies prepare a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The original 60-day public comment period was originally set to expire on 1 July 2011. The agencies will be publishing a notice of this 30-day extension in the Federal Register.

For more information related to this issue, please visit:

EPA: Clean Water Act Definition of "Waters of the United States"

GAO: Lessons from the H1N1 Pandemic Should Be Incorporated into Future Planning

The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic was the first human pandemic in over four decades, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there were as many as 89 million U.S. cases. Over $6 billion was available for the response, led by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS), with coordination provided by the Homeland Security Council (HSC) through its National Security Staff (NSS). In particular, HHS’s CDC worked with states and localities to communicate with the public and to distribute H1N1 vaccine and supplies.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office was asked (1) how HHS used the funding, (2) the key issues raised by the federal response, and (3) the actions taken to identify and incorporate lessons learned. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from five states about their interaction with the federal government. GAO also reviewed documents and interviewed officials from HHS, DHS, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), NSS, and other organizations (such as associations).

GAO found that, as of December 2010, HHS had spent about two-thirds of the $6.15 billion that it had available for the H1N1 pandemic response. HHS spent the majority of the funds on developing and purchasing H1N1 vaccine and providing grants to all the states and selected local jurisdictions. State and local health officials reported that the grant funding was critical to their response efforts;  they also noted challenges presented by the grants’ administrative requirements. HHS’s spending plans for the remaining $1.98 billion include longer-term pandemic preparation efforts, such as activities to reduce the length of time required to produce a vaccine.

Several key issues were raised by the federal government’s response to the H1N1 pandemic:

  • Prior pandemic planning efforts and federal funding paid off, although specific aspects of prior planning were not relied on because of the nature of the H1N1 pandemic. For example, interagency meetings and exercises built relationships that were valuable during the response. Prior funding built capacity in several areas, including vaccine production.
  • The credibility of all levels of government was diminished when the amount of vaccine available to the public in October 2009 did not meet expectations set by federal officials. However, state and local jurisdictions valued the flexibility that they had in deciding their distribution methods. Additionally, while the use of a central distributor for the vaccines was generally cited as an effective practice, the 100-dose minimum order was viewed to be problematic.
  • Public surveys generally found CDC’s communication efforts to be successful in reaching a range of audiences; however, these messages fell short in meeting the needs of some non-English-speaking populations.
  • Deployment of the Strategic National Stockpile—a supply of medicines and medical supplies to be used for a national emergency—met the established goal. However, CDC and state officials identified gaps in planning, including disparities between the materials expected and those delivered, as well as the need for long-term storage plans for stockpile materials.

The NSS asked federal agencies (including HHS and DHS) to complete after-action reports based on their involvement in the pandemic response. The NSS has not determined if these reports (and the associated lessons learned) will be shared with key stakeholders. Nevertheless, a DHS official commented that sharing lessons from the reports with key stakeholders would foster a spirit of government transparency and might help build stakeholder trust.

To access the complete GAO report, please visit:

GAO: Influenza Pandemic: Lessons from the H1N1 Pandemic Should Be Incorporated into Future Planning (27 JUN 11)

A Reflection on the Eucharist

In a recent reflection, Father Scott Hurd (Executive Director of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of the Permanent Diaconate) others some thoughts on God’s gift of the Eucharist.

To access Father Hurd's complete post, please visit:

Fr. Scott Hurd: Care Packages from Home (26 JUN 11)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Frederic Ozanam

"The best way to economize time is to 'lose' half an hour each day attending Holy Mass." - Blessed Frederic Ozanam (founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society)

Background information:

Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), Eastern Province USA: Frederic Ozanam

Vincentian Center for Church and Society: Blessed Frederic Ozanam: 1813-1853

Wikipedia: Frederic Ozanam

27 June 2011

"Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"

In thanksgiving for many blessings, I offer this hymn of praise:

Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition, Hampton, NH

One of the treasures of New England is the variety of artistic events (the fine arts and others) that are held throughout the region. A good example is the recent Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampston, NH.

To access a Portsmouth Herald article on this year's competition, please visit:

Portsmouth Herald: 'Phase Shifter' top sand sculpture at Hampton Beach (26 JUN 11)

Portsmouth Herald Photo Gallery: 2011 Master Sand Sculpting at Hampton Beach

New NLC Report: Public Safety Programs in the Immigrant Community

A number of police departments in this region and across the U.S. function via a framework of community policing and rely on trust and partnership between police and local residents, including those from the immigrant communities. In order for this process to work properly, the police need to remain aware of problems within the community, and this knowledge is dependent on resident crime reporting and witness testifying. It is important that all residents, including immigrant populations (who are often more vulnerable to crime), feel secure in interacting with the police and coming to the police department for help.

Unfortunately, several barriers separate immigrant communities from local police departments, hindering relationship building and effective community policing. Miscommunication occurs due to language barriers and cultural differences over police customs, cultural norms, or gender roles.

Many immigrants also fear the police, either due to imported expectations from their home country or from deportation concerns and the confusion surrounding local law enforcements’ role in federal immigration enforcement.

To overcome these barriers, several police departments across the country are implementing innovative programs to reach out and expand public safety to their local immigrant populations. Increased communication between police and immigrant communities improves policing and public safety for the entire community.

To highlight these programs, The National League of Cities “Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration” program recently released its third report in the Municipal Innovations in Immigrant Integration Series: Public Safety Programs for the Immigrant Community

This new publication is designed to address the role of cities in immigrant public safety and is designed to give cities and towns a starting place to plan and improve their public safety outreach programs toward their local immigrant population.

The report highlights good practices from 17 U.S police departments (including Chelsea and Lowell, MA and New Haven, CT ) and includes recommendations for developing immigrant public safety programs in other communities.

To access this NLC report, please visit:

NLC: Public Safety Programs for the Immigrant Community (2011)

A Look at the Pope's Efforts to Eliminate “Filth” in the Church

A recent Vatican Insider article takes a brief look at some of Pope Benedict's efforts to meet the challenges related to the abuse scandals in the Church.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Vatican Insider: Ratzinger strikes again at the "filth" in the Church (9 JUN 11)

Background information:

CatholicCulture: New Vatican document on sexual abuse of minors (16 MAY 11)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Circular Letter - To assist Episcopal Conferences in developing Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clerics (3 MAY 11)

Reflection Starter from Saint John Vianney

"All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man." - Saint John Vianney

Background information:

Domestic Church: Saint John Vianney

26 June 2011

John Michael Talbot: "I Am The Bread of Life"

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, I offer John Michael Talbot singing "I Am The Bread of Life":

Christian Music in New England: Treasure House

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 Treasure House, a four-person, rock-oriented Christian worship band from southern Connecticut.

For more information about Treasure House, please visit:

Treasure House

Garden Clubs in New England

One of the treasures of New England is the number and variety of beautiful gardens throughout the region. Some of these are maintained by individual, some by local communities, some by churches and other non-profit organizations, and some by local businesses.

To encourage gardening and to answer questions that people might have related to garden-related challenges, a number of garden clubs and other organizations have been formed.

For more information about garden clubs in New England, please visit:

New England Region, National Garden Clubs

Federated Garden Club of Connecticut

Garden Club Federation of Maine

Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts

New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs

Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.

Federated Garden Club of Vermont, Inc.

New England’s Fire Service Heritage: Vermont State Firefighters' Association

Throughout New England, there are a number of firefighters’ organizations. One of the oldest is the Vermont State Firefighters' Association, which was organized by small group of Vermont firefighters in the mid-1800s.

At that time, firefighters from different fire companies would gather to discuss fires, fire prevention, and related topics. Eventually, the group decided it would be good to have a statewide organization of firefighters to address these issues.

The Vermont State Firemen's Association was officially formed on 7 November 1890 by a legislative Act passed by the Vermont General Assembly.

For more information about the Vermont State Firefighters' Association, please visit:

Vermont State Firefighters' Association

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (also known as Corpus Christi, from its Latin title). The assigned readings are Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; and John 6:51-58. The assigned Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 147 (Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20).

Today’s Gospel Reading is as follows:

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

For some reflections on these readings and on the feast we celebrate today, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Are You a Man or A Mouse? A Reflection on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (25 JUN 11)

A Concord Pastor Comments: We are what we eat. . . (24 JUN 11)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist

Dr. Scott Hahn: June 26th, 2011 - Corpus Christi: Word of the ‘Living Father’

The Lectionary: Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world (23 JUN 11)

The Word Embodied: The Church of Unity

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for June 26, 2011: Corpus Christi (25 JUN 11)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Feast of Corpus Christi

Vermont Flooding Update

Vermont continues to recover from its recent record setting flooding.

Media reports:

Burlington Free Press: Old Vermonters vow to rebuild after flood (25 JUN 11)

WCAX-TV: What to do with all the debris (25 JUN 11)

Burlington Free Press: Burlington Electric to burn Lake Champlain driftwood at McNeil plant (24 JUN 11)

Burlington Free Press: Vermont flood recovery centers open today (24 JUN 11)

WCAX-TV: 41 flood-damaged Vt businesses seek loans (23 JUN 11)

Burlington Free Press: FEMA, Burlington officials hold flooding disaster response session (22 JUN 11)

Burlington Free Press: Red Cross moves flood offices to Colchester (22 JUN 11)

WPTZ-TV: Volunteers Across U.S. Now Assisting Vermont Flood Victims (15 JUN 11)

Burlington Free Press: Photo Gallery: Aftermath of Lake Champlain Flooding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to Vermont to supplement the state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding during the period of 23 April to 9 May 2011.

This action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Additional information:

FEMA: Federal Aid Programs For State Of Vermont Disaster Recovery (15 JUN 11)

FEMA: President Declares A Major Disaster For Vermont (15 JUN 11)

FEMA: The Three-Step Process To Disaster Assistance

FEMA: Recovering From and Coping With Flood Damaged Property

Massachusetts Catholic High School Graduate Named SADD National Student of the Year

A recent Catholic high school graduate from Lowell, Massachusetts, has been named the 2011-2012 SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) National Student of the Year. Deanna Boucher, a recent graduate of the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, MA, will be the national student spokesperson for the organization, which has nearly 10,000 chapters and hundreds of thousands of active participants in schools nationwide.

Student of the Year responsibilities include publicly addressing issues affecting teens, serving a
one-year term on the SADD National Board of Directors, and leading nine other youth leaders who comprise the SADD National Student Leadership Council (SLC).

In the fall, Ms. Boucher will be attending Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This university is sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of Immaculate Heart of Mary.

To access a Boston Pilot article about Ms. Boucher and this award, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Lowell Catholic school student named SADD National Student of the Year (24 JUN 11)

Background information:

SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions)

Facefook: SADD National

ParentTeen Matters

Academy of Notre Dame

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"'Rabbi, where are you staying?' Each day the Church responds: Christ is present in the Eucharist, in the sacrament of His death and resurrection. In and through the Eucharist, you acknowledge the dwelling-place of the Living God in human history. For the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Love which conquers death. It is the Sacrament of the Covenant, pure Gift of Love for the reconciliation of all humanity. It is the gift of the Real Presence of Jesus The Redeemer, in the bread which is His Body given up for us, in the wine which is His Blood poured out for all. Thanks to the Eucharist, constantly renewed among all peoples of the world, Christ continues to build His church: He brings us together in praise and thanksgiving for salvation, in the communion which only infinite love can forge." - from Blessed Pope John Paul II's World Youth Day homily on Sunday, 24 August 1997, in Paris, France

25 June 2011

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "Battle of New Orleans"

In this presentation, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performs "Battle of New Orleans." Set to historical pictures, it is an upbeat version of Johnny Horton's tune:

USFA for Kids

The U.S. Fire Administration has established a webpage designed to help children learn about fire safety. The website, USFA for Kids, also has guides for parents, teachers, and other caregivers to assist them in teaching about this important topic.

To access the USFA for Kids website, please visit:

USFA for Kids

Institute of Medicine Releases New Recommendations Regarding Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies

Even the youngest children in the United States are at risk of becoming obese. Today, almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length, and slightly more than 20 percent of children between the ages of two and five are already overweight or obese. Because early obesity can track into adulthood, many leading health officials recommend that efforts to prevent obesity begin long before a child enters school.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences recently reviewed factors related to overweight and obesity from birth to age five, with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary behavior. In its report on this research, the IOM recommends actions that healthcare professionals, caregivers, and policymakers can take to prevent obesity in children five and younger.

Pediatricians and other healthcare professionals have an important opportunity to make parents aware of their child’s excess weight early on, and the IOM recommends that healthcare professionals measure weight and height or length in a standardized way, as well as pay attention to obesity risk factors, such as rate of weight gain and parental weight, at routine pediatric visits.

In addition, the IOM recommends that parents and child care providers keep children active throughout the day and provide them with diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; these diets should also be low in energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods. Caregivers also should limit young children’s screen time and ensure that children sleep an adequate amount each day. What happens to children during the first years of life is important to their current and future health and well-being.

To access a copy of this report, please visit:

National Academies Press: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies (June 2011)

Media report:

CBS Evening News: Report cites danger of fat toddlers (23 JUN 11)

Background information:

National Academy of Sciences: Institute of Medicine

New England City & Town: Health & Human Services Issues: Childhood Obesity

Augusta, ME, To Allow Credit Union Inside City Technical School

In an effort to encourage and teach students how to manage their (and other people's) money, the Augusta, ME, City Council voted in a zoning change meant to allow a Maine Education Credit Union branch to be built inside the regional Capital Area Technical Center.

To access a Kennebec Journal article about this initiative and some related concerns, please visit:

Kennebec Journal: City OKs credit union inside technical school (18 JUN 11)

Background information:

Capital Area Technical Center

Augusta Department of Public Schools

City of Augusta

Wikipedia: Augusta, Maine

Pope's Reflection during Corpus Christi Celebration

On the Solemnity of the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ (which was celebrated on Thursday, although it is allowed to be celebrated on the second Sunday after Pentecost here in the United States), Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Rome's basilica of Saint John Lateran and then presided at the Eucharistic procession to the basilica of Saint Mary Major.

In his homily, the Pope recalled how today "the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession along the streets of towns and villages to show that the risen Christ walks among us and guides us to the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus gave us in the Upper Room we openly display today, because the love of Christ is not reserved for the few but is intended for everyone".

Referring to Eucharistic communion, the Holy Father said that "while bodily food is assimilated by and helps sustain our organism, the Eucharist is a different kind of bread. We do not assimilate it; rather, it assimilates us to itself so that we are conformed to Jesus Christ, become limbs of His Body, a single thing with Him. This is a decisive step: indeed, precisely because it is Christ Who transforms us to Himself in Eucharistic communion, so in this meeting our individuality is opened, freed from egocentrism and inserted into the Person of Jesus, Who in turn is immersed in the communion of the Trinity."

"Thus the Eucharist, while uniting us to Christ, also opens us to others, makes us limbs of one another: no longer are we divided but a single being in Him", the Pope added. "Eucharistic communion unites me to my neighbor with whom perhaps I am not even on good terms, but it also unites me to my distant brothers and sisters all over the world.

"Those who recognize Jesus in the consecrated Host recognise Him in their suffering brothers and sisters, in the hungry and thirsty, in the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned; they are attentive to everyone and take concrete steps to help those in need. From the gift of Christ's love arises our special responsibility as Christians to build a united, just and fraternal society. Particularly in our own time in which globalisation makes us increasingly dependent upon one another, Christianity can and must ensure that unity is not built without God - in other words, without real Love - which would only open the way to confusion and selfishness."

Benedict XVI continued: "The Gospel has always sought the unity of the human family, a unity not imposed from above or by ideological or economic interests, but based on a sense of responsibility towards each other, because we recognise one another as members of the same body, the Body of Christ, because we have learned and continue to learn from the Sacrament of the Altar that sharing and love is the way to true justice."

"Without any illusions or belief in ideological utopias, we advance along the paths of the world, carrying the Body of the Lord with us like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation", said Pope Benedict concluding his homily. "With the humility of knowing that we are simple grains of wheat, we remain firm in the conviction that the love of God incarnated in Christ is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing new heaven and new earth for all men, where peace and justice reign; and in the faith we see the new world which is our true homeland".

(from the Vatican Information Service)

Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, Darien, Connecticut

One of the treasures of New England is the variety of special activities (some seasonal, some not) that are held to raise money for different charities. One such example is the 81st Annual Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show recently held at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien, CT.

Each year this horse show benefits a different charity. This year's designated charity was the Stamford Hospital Foundation.

Media Reports:

Stamford Advocate: Horse show celebrates equestrian traditions (19 JUN 11)

YouTube: Cosmo Topper is 3rd in 1.10M Jumpers at 2011 Ox Ridge Charity Show

YouTube: Carayan Z Jumps Double Clear in Thunderstorm in 3'7'' Ch-Adult Jumpers at Ox Ridge Charity Show

YouTube: Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show- M&S Childrens Hunter Classic

YouTube: Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show

Background information:

Ox Ridge Hunt Club: Horse Shows

Ox Ridge Hunt Club

Wikipedia: Horse show

Wikipedia: United States Equestrian Federation

Stamford Hospital Foundation

Wikipedia: Darien, Connecticut

Eucharistic Flash Event in the UK

On the Solemnity of the Ascension, Capuchin Franciscans in the United Kingdom organized a flash event honoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

To access a video of this event, please visit:

Mommy Life: Lift the City - A Catholic Eucharistic flash mob (24 JUN 11)

Mark Shea Reflects on Our Charisms

"Our Lord gives each of us charisms in baptism, which like merely human talents, can take all sorts of forms. The difference is that our charisms are ordered toward bring the grace of God to our neighbor and helping to rightly order the world to his glory."

In a recent commentary, illustrated by a video of a great piece by a young accordion player, writer Mark Shea reflects on the charisms each of us has.

To access Mark's complete post, please visit:

NCR: Mark Shea: God's Gifts Are Found Anywhere (24 JUN 11)

Christopher Closeup: Vicki Peterson of Act One

Tony Rossi, host/producer of Christopher Closeup (the radio show and podcast of The Christophers), recently interviewed Vicki Peterson, the Programs Director for Act One in Hollywood, who discussed her mission to teach people who want to pursue screenwriting and production careers how to create quality stories while also staying grounded in their Christian faith.

To access this interview, please visit:

Tony Rossi: Movies, Beauty, Truth, and Swear Words (23 JUN 11)

Christopher Closeup Podcast: Vicki Peterson

Background information:

The Christophers

Act One

Reflection Starter from Winston Churchill

"It is no use saying 'we are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary." - Winston Churchill

24 June 2011

Peter Paul & Mary: "Blowin' in the wind"

In this video clip, Peter Paul & Mary sing "Blowin' in the wind":

Opportunity High in Hartford, CT, Works to Stem Dropout Rate

The Hartford Courant recently ran a profile of Opportunity High, a partnership between the Hartford, CT, schools and Our Piece of the Pie, a nonprofit agency focusing on youth development. Opportunity High, from which 42 students graduated this year, is one part of the school district’s five-year reform plan to raise achievement and lower the city's dropout rate.

To access the Hartford Courant article, please visit:

Hartford Courant: Turning The Dropout Rate Around: Opportunity High School Grads Step Into The Future (14 JUN 11)

Background information:

OPP: Opportunity High School

Hartford Public Schools

Our Piece of the Pie

City of Hartford

Wikipedia: Hartford, Connecticut

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Dropout Prevention

Middletown, CT, Girl Scouts Collecting Knitted Dolls for Medical Mission

One of the treasures of New England is the many acts of compassion offered on behalf of those in need in this region and beyond. One such example comes from Middletown, Connecticut, where members of Girl Scout Troop 62886, based at Saint Mary's School, are collecting knitted dolls for a medical mission in the Dominican Republic. As part of the process, the scouts organized a knitting social to invite people to work on the dolls.

To access a Middletown Press article on this initiative, please visit:

Middletown Press: Girl Scouts want community involved in knitting project (23 JUN 11)

A Note from the Past: Catholic Digest on Father Patrick Peyton

Catholic Digest recently offered a reprint of an article (from its June 1948 issue) on Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. (1909-1992), a Holy Cross priest who did much to promote prayer, devotion to Mary, and family togetherness. His slogan, "The family that prays together stays together," is familiar to many people who are not familiar with his name.

In 1942, Father Peyton started the Family Rosary crusade in 1942, and, through this crusade, he encouraged millions of people to pray the Rosary. Consequently, he became known as the Rosary Priest.

He also started Family Theater Productions in 1947. This initiative has produced over 900 radio and television programs and films, many of which are periodically run on EWTN.

To access this Catholic Digest article, please visit:

Catholic Digest: The Man Who made Hollywood Pray (June 1948)

Background information:

Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC

Family Theater Productions

Family Rosary

Holy Cross Family Ministries

YouTube: Rosary priest's ministry celebrated worldwide

Father Peyton was a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the same congregation in which Saint André Bessette served.

Congregation of Holy Cross

LopNotes: Saint André Bessette (17 OCT 10)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"Holiness is not perfection according to human criteria; it is not reserved for a small number of exceptional persons. It is for everyone; it is the Lord who brings us to holiness, when we are willing to collaborate in the salvation of the world for the glory of God, despite our sin and our sometimes rebellious temperament." - Blessed Pope John Paul II (in the homily during the beatification Mass of Saint Damien of Molokai)

23 June 2011

BYU Combined Choruses: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

In this presentation, the Brigham Young University Combined Choruses sing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" (from the album A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns):

Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Rockport, Massachusetts

One of the treasures of New England is the variety of opportunities that are offered for a person to hear live music from an assortment of genres. One good example is the Rockport Chamber Music Festival which is currently takes place at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Massachusetts.

For more information about the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, please visit:

Rockport Chamber Music Festival

30 Years of Inspiration,Music and Community (Reprint from the Spring 2011 Behind the Notes newsletter)

2011 Rockport Chamber Music Festival Brochure

Rockport Chamber of Commerce: Rockport Chamber Music Festival

Background information:

Wikipedia: Rockport, Massachusetts

Justice Department Launches CrimeSolutions.gov Website

The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs recently launched a new website designed to be a central, credible resource to inform practitioners and policymakers about what works in criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim services. This site, http://www.crimesolutions.gov/,  includes information on more than 150 justice-related programs and assigns "evidence ratings" - effective, promising, or no effects - to indicate whether there is evidence from research that a program achieves its goals.

CrimeSolutions.gov is a searchable online database of evidence-based programs covering a range of justice-related topics, including corrections, courts, crime prevention, substance abuse, juveniles, law enforcement, technology and forensics, and victims.

The new website is part of the Evidence Integration Initiative (E2I) launched in 2009. The Initiative's three goals are improving the quantity and quality of evidence the Office of Justice Programs generates; integrating evidence into program, practice, and policy decisions within OJP and the field; and improving the translation of evidence into practice.

Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week

This week, 19-25 June, is being observed as Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week. This year’s theme is “Surviving the Fire Ground - Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness.” Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week is a collaborative program sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the International Association of Fire Fighters(IAFF); it is coordinated by the IAFC’s Safety, Health and Survival Section and the IAFF’s Division of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine, in partnership with more than twenty national fire and emergency service organizations.

Fire departments throughout the U.S. are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activity during Safety Week and to focus entirely on survival training and education until all shifts and personnel have participated.

One of the most challenging calls during fire ground operations is a MAYDAY call, issued when a fire fighter’s personal safety is in imminent danger. Fire fighter fatality data compiled by the United States Fire Administration have shown that fire fighters “becoming trapped and disoriented represent the largest portion of structural fire ground fatalities.” The incidents in which fire fighters have lost their lives, or lived to tell about it, have a consistent theme - inadequate situational awareness put them at risk.

Although firefighters don’t plan to be lost, disoriented, injured, or trapped during a structure fire or emergency incident, fires are unpredictable and volatile, and they will not go according to plans. What a fire fighter knows about a fire before entering a blazing building may radically change within minutes once inside the structure. Smoke, low visibility, lack of oxygen, structural instability, and an unpredictable fire ground can cause even the most seasoned fire fighter to be overwhelmed in an instant.

This year’s Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week focus is designed to help firefighters prepare for when failure does occur. Without such training fire fighters do not have the practiced skills to rely on if and when they get into trouble.

For additional information related to Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week, please visit:

IAFC: Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week


FireRescue 1: FIREGROUND: Calling Mayday!

FireRescue 1: FIREGROUND: How to prevent a Mayday

Background information:

IAFC: Safety, Health and Survival Section

IAFF: Health, Safety, and Medicine

IAFC: Safety Week Resources: Firefighter Survival

A Prayer for Priests

A couple of recent Lop Notes posts related directly to priests. I have also recently been hearing and reading a number of comments related to specific priests; some of these comments were positive and others were negative.

I could not help but think of a prayer I first ran across many years ago, a prayer which I offer here:

A Prayer for Priests

Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord, keep them, for they are Thine -
Thy priests whose lives burn out before thy consecrated shrine.
Keep them, for they are in the world, though from the world apart;
When earthly pleasures tempt, allure, shelter them in Thy Heart.
Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain,
When all their life of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.
Keep them, and O remember Lord, They have no one but Thee,
Yet they have only human hearts, with human frailty.
Keep them as spotless as the Host, that daily they caress;
Their every thought and word and deed, deign, dearest Lord, to bless. Amen

Search for Recalls

The USA.gov website has a feature that enables one to find the latest recalls or to search for a specific recall on a food, drug, auto, or other product.

To access this feature, please visit:

Usa.gov: Recall Search

Reflection Starter from John Wooden

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden (1910-2010), noted American basketball coach

Background information:

Coach John Wooden

Bill Walton: Wooden Tribute

Associated Content: John Wooden: a Celebration of the His Top 5 Greatest Moments in Life (5 JUN 10)

Wikipedia: John Wooden

22 June 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 - 22 June 2011

New Englanders and Their Corvettes

One of the treasures of New England is the great variety of hobbies or other avocations that people throughout the region have. This includes a number of groups and individuals who have a great appreciation for motor vehicles of a particular manufacture or type.

One such example is illustrated by a recent Corvette show in East Providence, RI. To access a Providence Journal article about this show, please visit:

Providence Journal: Corvettes are the stars of this classic car show in E. Providence (19 JUN 11)

Background information:

New England Corvette Club

Club Corvette of Connecticut

Corvette Club of Rhode Island

Central Falls, RI, Embracing Charter Schools

In Cranston, RI, people are fighting over whether to allow a new public charter school. Yet, 10 miles to the north in Central Falls, local educators are embracing charter schools to an extent unheard of in most school districts across the country.

To access a Providence Journal article about this issue and some of the concerns involved, please visit:

Providence Journal: In Central Falls, charter schools considered great learning resources (20 JUN 11)

Background information:

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Charter Schools

Fr. Cessario on the Priest as Instrument, Helping People to Live in the Truth

In his homily at the recent celebration of the silver jubilee of the priestly ordination of Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., editor-in-chief of Magnficat, Father Romanus Cessario, O.P., reflected on what it means to be a priest.

Quoting Saint John Marie Vianney ("The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus."), Fr. Cessario went on to say that the simplest definition of the priest comes from the Catholic tradition. "When the ancient fathers sought to explain the workings of Christ's human nature, they borrowed a philosophical term. Instrument. . . . Christ's divine Person acts through the human person of the priest. As living instruments of the Lord Christ, priests mediate between God and the whole of creation."

To access Father Cessario's complete homily, please visit:

The Friar Blog: Helping people to live in the truth (21 JUN 11)

Background infomation:


Reflection Starter from Harry S Truman

"I do not believe there is a problem in this country or the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount." - Harry S Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States

Background information:

The White House: Presidents: Harry S. Truman

21 June 2011

Sha Na Na: "At the Ritz"

It's time for a little Sha Na Na  - performing "At the Ritz":


One of the treasures of New England is its abundance of animal life of various types. One type of insect life that attracts a bit of attention during the summer months is the firefly.

For more information about fireflies, please visit:

Boston Museum of Science: Understanding Fireflies

Rank Smart: Firefly

Wikipedia: Firefly

Lightning Safety Week

This week, 19-25 June is being observed as Lightning Safety Week. Its theme is “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

Summer is the peak season for what is considered one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena - lightning. However, lightning strikes year round. In the United States, an average of 55 people are killed each year by lightning. To date, there has been 5 deaths in 2011.

In addition, hundreds of people are permanently injured each year.  People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including (but not limited to) memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, and depression.

For more information related to lightning safety, please visit:

National Weather Service: Lightning Safety

The Hartford, CT, Housing Authority and Its Homeownership Initiatives

A few years ago, the Hartford, CT, Housing Authority was involved in a number of controversies. Now it is in the news as a formidable player in the Hartford's economic development scene and as the top seller of new single-family homes in the city.

To access a Hartford Courant article on how the Hartford Housing Authority has remade itself and on some of its initiatives, please visit:

Hartford Courant: Hartford Housing Authority Remaking Itself Into A Force For Homeownership (20 JUN 11)

Background information:

Hartford Housing Authority

City of Hartford

Wikipedia: Hartford, Connecticut

Charter Oak Communities (formerly the Stamford Housing Authority)

R.I.P. Father John Randall

Last week Father John F. Randall, of the Diocese of Providence, passed away. A friend, Bill McKenna, reminded me he was sometimes known as the Holy Spirit Saint.

Although he was assigned to Providence’s Saint Patrick Parish for a number of years, I did not know him there. By the time I started to get involved in St. Pat’s, Father Randall was pastor of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish.

I was fortunate to have had the chance to work with or interact with him a few times. From my point of view he was a good priest and a holy priest.

When I first met him, I was on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee. During this time, there was a number of amendments proposed for the Rhode Island Constitution (the result of a state constitution convention that examined the document and offered recommendations related to it). One of these amendments would have greatly restricted abortion in the state, and Father Randall (as well as a number of his parishioners) were strongly involved in the effort to promote this amendment (which was defeated at the polls).

Well known in the Catholic charismatic movement, Father Randall was instrumental in the movement’s growth in Rhode Island. Myrna and I have participated in a number of charismatic prayer meetings at St. Charles - prayer meetings in which he was actively involved. In addition, while I was teaching at Saint Patrick School, Father (along with Jim and Nancy Collard) led one faculty retreat, a weekend-long Life in the Spirit seminar.

Yes it was a privilege to have known Father John Randall. May he rest in peace.

Media reports and other tributes:

Providence Journal: Rev. John Randall, 82, dies; known for renewal efforts on Providence’s Smith Hill (19 JUN 11)

Diocese of Providence: Father Randall's Obituary (5 JUN 11)

Deacon John's Space: Fr. John Randall, Crusader for the Holy Spirit Dies (16 JUN 11)

St. Patrick Church: In Memory Of Our Beloved Fr. John Randall, Phd

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

20 June 2011

Tanya Tucker: "He's Got The Whole World in His Hand"

As a little reminder we all sometimes need, I offer Tanya Tucker singing "He's Got The Whole World in His Hand":

Background information:

Wikipedia: He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

New Hampshire Lakes Association

Among the treasures of New England are the number and variety of individuals and organizations working to protect  one aspect or another of the region's environment. One such organization is the New Hampshire Lakes Association, which strives to protect the lakes of the Granite State.

The New Hampshire Lakes Association is a nonprofit, tax-exempt volunteer organization that works on issues concerning lake shore land and watershed protection, water quality improvement, boating safety, lake environment education, and fisheries and wildlife preservation.

For more information about the New Hampshire Lakes Association, please visit:

New Hampshire Lakes Association

NFPA Issues Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released the Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, a study that looked at the current needs of the nation's fire departments as compared to those identified in assessments done in 2001 and 2005. The goal of the project was to identify major gaps in the needs of the U.S. fire service and to determine if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Grant programs are continuing to reduce the needs of fire departments.

“Fire service needs are extensive across the board, and in nearly every area of need; the smaller the community protected, the greater the need,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA, in a prepared statement. “While we are seeing the positive impact of well-targeted grants, there is more to be done to ensure our nation's fire departments are prepared to provide the necessary protection to their communities.”

This report looked at personnel and their capabilities, including staffing, training, certification, and wellness/fitness; facilities and apparatus; personal protective equipment; fire prevention and code enforcement; the ability to handle unusually challenging incidents; and communications and new technologies.

To access the complete NFPA assessment, please visit:

NFPA: Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service (June 2011)

Father Edward McNamara on Wearing the Rosary as a Necklace

Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome) was recently asked about the appropriateness of wearing a rosary as a necklace - a practice we often see among young people in our area.

It has been my experience that a number of Catholic school students do wear it as a sign of devotion to our Blessed Mother (although, because of uniform guidelines, they are requested to wear it underneath their shirts/blouses). For many of the high school age youth, there are other reasons, including a form of identification related to youth gangs. Whenever a see a young person, I make it a practice to ask Mary to pray for him/her.

To access Fr. McNamara's response, please visit: 

Zenit: Wearing the Rosary as a Necklace (14 JUN 11)

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

19 June 2011

New England’s Fire Service Heritage: Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine Company

One of the more noted names in the manufacture of steam fire engines was the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine Company of Manchester, New Hampshire

The original company was a textile weaving business that was started in the early 1800's. In 1859, Amoskeag began manufacturing fire engines and  horse drawn carriages. The company remained in business until 1932.

For more information about the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine Company, please visit:

Pacific Heritage Association: The Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine Co.

Manchester Fire Department: History: In The Beginning

Pacific Heritage Association: Amoskeag: Engine Sizes

Pacific Heritage Association: Amoskeag: Triple Harp Tank Engines

Boston Fire Museum: Engine 35 Self-propelled Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine (photo)

Maine Memory Network: Sea Cove Auto Museum: 1881 Amoskeag Fire Engine

Oldbookillustrations: Amoskeag steam-powered fire engine

Pacific Heritage Association: Surviving Amoskeag Fire Engines

Skinner: Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine, by the American Locomotive Works in Manchester, NH

Coachbuilt: Amoskeag Mfg. Co. - 1859-1900 - Manchester, New Hampshire

Middlesex East: The journey of the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine (13 MAR 11)

Bow Valley Chorus: "Te Deum" (Rutter)

As we continue our celebration of Trinity Sunday, I offer the Bow Valley Chorus (from Alberta, Canada) singing John Rutter's "Te Deum":

Christian Music in New England: Nothin' But Jesus (NBJ)

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 Nothin' But Jesus (The NBJ Band), a Christian worship band from the Rhode Island area.

For more information about NBJ, please visit:

Nothin' But Jesus (NBJ)

U.S. Bishops Approve Physician Assisted Suicide Statement

At its recently concluded Spring General Assembly in Bellevue, Washington, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to approve a statement on physician assisted suicide, To Live Each Day with Dignity: A Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide, with 191 votes in favor, 1 against and no abstentions. This document is the first statement on assisted suicide by the full body of the Conference.

"After years of relative inaction following legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon in 1994, the assisted suicide movement has shown a strong resurgence in activity," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a recent statement. "This renewed effort has led to the passage of an Oregon-style law in Washington by popular referendum in November 2008, a state supreme court decision essentially declaring that assisted suicide is not against public policy in Montana, and concerted efforts to pass legislation in several New England and Western states. The Church needs to respond in a timely and visible way to this renewed challenge, which will surely be pursued in a number of states in the years to come."

To access a copy of the full statement, please visit:

USCCB: To Live Each Day with Dignity: A Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide (16 JUN 11)

Background fact sheet:

USCCB: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: From Voluntary to Involuntary

Reflection on the Bishops' statement:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Death is No Therapy At All. The Bishops Speak Well Against Physician Assisted Suicide (17 JUN 11)

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The assigned readings are Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; and John 3:16-18. The Responsorial Psalm is from the book of Daniel – Daniel 3:52-56.

The Gospel reading is as follows:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Reflections on these readings and on this celebration:

A Concord Pastor Comments: A Blessed Trinity Sunday to All! (18 JUN 11)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Trinity Sunday - Is the Trinity Relevant?

A Concord Pastor Comments: Q. What Is the Blessed Trinity? (16 JUN 11)

Msgr. Charles Pope: My God is So High, You Can’t Get Over Him….A Meditation of the Feast of the Holy Trinity _18 JUN 11)

A Word in Season: The Sublime Logic of the Trinity (15 JUN 11)

Apostleship of Prayer: Feast of the Most Holy Trinity (YouTube)

Dr. Scott Hahn: June 19th, 2011 - Trinity Sunday: How God Loves

The Word Embodied: In the Name of the Father

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Gregory Nazianzen

Reflection Starter from Saint Josemaría Escrivá

"God is with you. The Blessed Trinity dwells in your soul in grace. That is why, in spite of your wretchedness, you can and should keep up a continuous conversation with the Lord." - Saint Josemaría Escrivá

East Haddam, CT, Schools Work to Provide Water to School in El Salvador

One of the treasures of New England is the compassion that is often shown in a number of different ways for those in need, whether they be in this region or beyond. An example of this is the effort by the East Haddam, CT, School District to raise enough money to have a well dug on the school grounds of Centre Escolar Canton Valle Nuevo, a public school in El Salvador.

The El Salvador school has no running water for its students, and the East Haddam Schools are working through H2O for Life to provide safe drinking water and proper plumbing for the school.

H20 for Life is a nonprofit organization that works to connect schools (as well as youth groups, businesses, faith organizations, clubs, and individuals) in the United States with schools in developing countries to complete WASH (WAter, Sanitation, and Hygiene) in Schools projects.

The process is designed so that donor partners learn of the global water crisis through service-learning, outreach, and other educational avenues while raising funds to sponsor a WASH project at their recipient partner school. Through the process, students and adults may learn that they can make a difference in the lives of others by becoming energized global citizens and activists for change.

To access an East Haddam Today article on this initiative, please visit:

East Haddam Today: East Haddam students help share gift of H2O (5 JUN 11)

Background information:

H2O For Life

East Haddam School District

Town of East Haddam

Wikipedia: East Haddam, Connecticut

18 June 2011

Joint Center on Housing Studies Releases 2011 State of the Nation's Housing Report

The Joint Center on Housing Studies at Harvard University recently released the 2011 State of the Nation's Housing report.

Among the many issues the report covers is the growth in the rental market. According to the report, some renters are waiting for the tumult in the housing market to buy housing; similarly, some owners - after being affected by the housing crisis - have come back into the rental market. This has caused significant growth in the rental market since the onset of the housing crisis.

The report advises that the scenario for low-income and very low-income renters remains dim. Rising rents and diminishing affordable housing supply paint a bleak picture for people and families in the bottom income quartile. This is coupled with a decrease in real incomes for the low-income population and dim prospects of any federal assistance or intervention.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Harvard University: Joint Center for Housing Studies: The State of the Nation's Housing 2011

HUD Releases Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. According to the report’s findings, levels of homelessness in the United States have stayed flat from 2009 to 2010. Overall homelessness increased by one percent, rising to 649,917 according to the annual point-in-time counts. The number of homeless individuals, unsheltered homeless persons, and homeless persons in families showed marginal increases of 0.75 percent, 2.76 percent, and 1.61 percent, respectively.

The number of chronically homeless individuals declined by one percent; the steady and continual decline of chronic homelessness reflects the success of local and federal efforts to implement best practices to serve chronically homeless people. The report also offers findings from annual prevalence data and the impact of the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.

To access this HUD report, please visit:

HUD: The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress

"What do people live for?"

In a recent post in his blog (The Deacon's Bench), Deacon Greg Kandra shared this thought-provoking video:

"God's Beauty Tips"

"God's Beauty Tips"

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others.

To lose weight, let go of stress, hatred, anger, discontentment, and the need to control

To improve your ears, listen to the Word of God.

For poise, walk with knowledge and self-esteem.

To strengthen your arms, hug at least 3 people a day; touch someone with your love.

To strengthen your heart, forgive yourself and others.

For the ultimate in business, casual or evening attire, put on the robe of Christ; it fits like a glove but allows room for growth. 

Best of all, it never goes out of style and is appropriate for any occasion.

Doing these things on a daily basis will certainly make you a more beautiful person.

- Author Unknown

(Thank you, Pastor Tim Davis, for the tip.)

New Online Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit Designed to Help Demonstrate the Value of Fire Prevention

The Institution of Fire Engineers USA Branch (IFE-USA) is launching a new web-based Vision 20/20 Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit that is designed to give local fire departments tools to prove the value of fire prevention in saving lives and reducing the impact of fire on a community and its economy.  This program was funded by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to demonstrate the value of investing in fire prevention in these difficult economic times.

The Vision 20/20 Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit was developed under one of the five Vision 20/20 strategies, Strategy 1 - Fire Prevention Advocacy.  Vision 20/20 was launched to guide a national strategic planning process for the fire loss prevention that results in a national plan that will coordinate activities and fire prevention efforts.

The toolkit contains a variety of strategies related to fire prevention advocacy and community investment in fire prevention. Topics include implementing an advocacy program, working with the local media, evaluating the program’s impact, and reaching audiences.

The Vision 20/20 Fire Prevention Advocacy Toolkit may be accessed by visiting:

Vision 20/20: A Guide to Fire Prevention Advocacy

The Vision 20/20 initiative was developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Fire Fighters Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program and is led by the Institution of Fire Engineers US Branch. It is an effort designed to guide a national strategic planning process for fire loss prevention efforts.

The project has developed five strategies designed to coordinate  activities related to these efforts:

Strategy 1: Increase advocacy for fire prevention,
Strategy 2: Conduct a national fire safety education/social marketing campaign,
Strategy 3: Raise the importance of fire prevention within the fire service,
Strategy 4: Promote technology to enhance fire and life safety, and
Strategy 5:  Refine and improve the application of codes and standards that enhance public and fire fighter safety and preserve community assets.

Background information:

Vision 20/20

Facebook: Vision 20/20

Vision 20/20 Strategies for Fire Loss Prevention

Cricket in Connecticut

Among the treasures of New England are the various opportunities for athletic competitions in a variety of sports. Some of these are well-known, others are not noticed by many people.

Falling in the latter category is cricket. Popular in the British Commonwealth of Nations, it also has some players here in New England. Connecticut, for example, has a number of cricket teams.

One of these teams, the Danbury Cricket Club, is planning a special event, labeled the "first of its kind in Danbury" - an "Over 30 vs Under 30" match. Among other things, the event is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Danbury Cricket Club.

Media report:

News-Times: Danbury Cricket Club to have special Father's Day game (17 JUN 11)

Background information:

Danbury Cricket Club

Southern Connecticut Cricket League

Connecticut Cricket League

West Haven Cricket Club

Connecticut Youth Cricket

Lord's: Laws and Spirit of Cricket

Cricket Hall of Fame

Wikipedia: Cricket

Saint Cyprian: "On the Lord’s Prayer"

The Office of Readings this week has included a number of excerpts from Saint Cyprian's treatise, "On the Lord’s Prayer."

A wealthy aristocrat from North Africa, Cyprian converted to Christianity around AD 246. By 248, he was chosen Bishop of Carthage. The next year Cyprian went into hiding because of the persecution of Emperor Decius. During his absence, he corresonded with his church, and many of his writings are still preserved.

To access St. Cyprian's treatise, please visit:

CCEL: Fathers of the Third Century: Cyprian: On the Lord's Prayer

Reflection Starter from William Feather

“Do each daily task the best we can; act as though the eye of opportunity were always upon us.” - William Feather (1889-1981), writer, editor, publisher

Background information:

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: Feather, William A

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: William Feather Co. 

17 June 2011

Connecticut River Gateway Commission

One of the treasures of New England is the number of individuals and organizations who strive, individually and collectively, to preserve the beauty of this region. One such organization is the Connecticut River Gateway Commission.

The mission of the Gateway Commission, a state-local compact established by state statute, is to preserve the aesthetic and ecological natural beauty of the lower Connecticut River valley for present and future generations.

The enabling legislation authorized the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to purchase scenic easements and development rights on as much as 2,500 acres of land within the conservation zone. This does not involve the outright purchase of any property. Instead, the state buys from the owners of scenically important lands their rights to develop or alter their properties in ways that might tend to spoil the beauty of the traditional valley scene. The property itself remains privately owned so that it can still be bought, sold, used, and developed within these limitations.

For more information about the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, please visit:

Connecticut River Gateway Commission

A Look at Readiness and College/Career Success

“The push for common core standards - coupled with the distressing numbers of college students who need remedial courses and the dissatisfaction among business leaders with the preparation of high school graduates - has ignited the institutional and political movement to tackle the ‘readiness problem.’

“Inadequate academic preparation is certainly at the core of the problem. But in surveys, employers zoom in on something else: a lack of social, emotional and civic competencies - including a work ethic, a spirit of teamwork and communications skills - that stand as key barriers to employment for four out of every 10 high school graduates who apply for entry-level jobs. Young people themselves often note their own deficiencies in what can be called ‘life readiness,’ such as limited experience in managing finances; difficulty finding adequate transportation, housing and child care; and enormous financial pressures that force them to squeeze in school around jobs.”

In a  recent commentary in the trade journal, District Administration, Karen Pittman (president and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment) reflects on how educators can ensure the readiness of students by understanding the elements of postsecondary success, and understanding the causes and consequences of postsecondary failure.

As one of the two examples to illustrate her theme, Ms. Pittman chose ACCESS, a nonprofit organization working in Boston and Springfield, MA, to provide free financial aid advice and advocacy to all the students of these two in order to help them overcome the financial barriers to higher education.

To access Ms. Pittman’s complete essay, please visit:

District Administration: What’s Readiness Got to Do with College and Career Success? (May 2011)

Background information:

Forum for Youth Investment


YouthBuild USA

"For the Beauty of the Earth"

"Just because," I offer this version of "For the Beauty of the Earth":

An Historical Look at a Maryknoll Bishop in China

China and religion (especially Christianity) has recently been in the news (at least in religion news). In a recent reflection, Dr. Pat McNamara (a Catholic Church historian from Queens, NY) writes about Bishop Francis Xavier Ford, M.M., a Brooklyn-born Irish boy who felt called to China, where he lived, worked, and died.

To access Dr. McNamara's complete post, please visit:

In Ages Past: Missionary to China: Bishop Francis X. Ford, M.M. (13 JUN 11)

Background information:

McNamara's Blog

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers