30 September 2011

Maine State Fire Marshal Office Prioritizing Investigations

The Maine Office of State Fire Marshal is now only dispatching its investigators after regular business hours to fire scenes that involve death, serious injury, or suspicion of arson, Public Safety Commissioner John Morris recently announced.

Media report:

Kennebec Journal: State attempting to prioritize calls while reducing overtime (22 SEP 11)

Background information:

Maine Office of State Fire Marshal

Thank You, Lord

Thank You, Lord, for the ways in which You guided the development of Holy Scripture and the many ways You reach out to us through Scripture - to teach, to encourage, to admonish, to inspire.

Attacks on DOMA Threaten Marriage, Church-State Relations, Warns Archbishop Dolan in Letter to President

The Obama Administration’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, will undermine marriage and create a serious breach of Church-State relations, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in a recent letter to President Barack Obama.

The Administration’s assault on DOMA, Archbishop Dolan said, will "precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions."

The letter with its accompanying analysis of the Administration's threats to marriage may be found at USCCB: Archbishop Dolan Letter to President Obama on DOMA (20 SEP 11).

Archbishop Dolan especially objected to the Justice Department's legal arguments that equate those in favor of DOMA to racists. It is "particularly upsetting," he said, when the Administration attributes to those who support DOMA "a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing," he said.

He underscored the Church's position recognizing "the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction" and said "we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person."

"Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it," he said. "While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality."

Archbishop Dolan advised President Obama: "push the reset button on your Administration's approach to DOMA."

"Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman. Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense - but this will happen if the Justice Department's latest constitutional theory prevails in court."

Archbishop Dolan asked President Obama to "end its campaign against DOMA, the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom."

"Please know that I am always ready to discuss with you the concerns raised here and to address any questions that you may have." he added. "I am convinced that the door to a dialogue that is strong enough to endure even serious and fundamental disagreements can and must remain open, and I believe that you desire the same."

Reflection Starter from Saint Jerome

"The scars of others should teach us caution." - Saint Jerome, priest and Doctor of the Church (and whose memory the Church celebrates today)

29 September 2011

Redesigned Providence College Website

Providence College recently recently unveiled a redesigned website that is designed to emphasize the college's Catholic and Dominican identity (as well as highlighting academics, campus life, and athletics).

Providence College was founded in 1917 by the Dominican Friars of the Province of Saint Joseph in conjunction with the Diocese of Providence.

To access the new website, please visit:

Providence College

Providence College: Catholic and Dominican

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Norwich city planners take a tour of city's potential (The Day)

ME: Former clerk sues town (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Council: Lawsuit settlement needed (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: Teachers allowed to leave school grounds during lunch (New Hampshire Union Leader)

RI: Rebuilding City Hall (Woonsocket Call)

VT: Bennington Select Board changes economic study funding amount (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

City of Norwich, CT

Town of Chelsea, ME

City of Attleboro, MA

Manchester, NH, School Department

City of Manchester, NH

City of Woonsocket, RI

Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce: Bennington, VT, Town Government

President Encourages Students in Back-to-School Speech

President Barack Obama recently delivered his third annual Back-to-School Speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, DC. The speech was live streamed on WhiteHouse.gov so that classrooms across the country could listen to or watch the remarks.

Speech transcript:

The White House: Remarks by the President in Back-to-School Speech (28 SEP 11)

Media report:

Huffington Post: Obama Encourages Learning In Washington Back-To-School Speech (28 SEP 11)

NBC News: Obama to Students: America Needs Your Ideas (28 SEP 11)

Background information:

The White House: President Obama's Back to School Speech

Handtub Junction, USA: 12th Annual Fire Memorabilia Auction

Handtub Junction, USA and Triple Nickel Auctions will be holding their twelfth annual Fire Memorabilia Auction on Saturday evening, 5 November 2011. The event will be held at Saint Philip Greek Orthodox Church, 500 West Hollis Street, Nashua, NH.

Handtub Junction is looking for consignments for the auction. Interested parties are requested to email them at HandtubJunction@aol.com.

For more information about the auction, please visit:

Handtub Junction, USA, 12th Annual Fire Memorabilia Auction

Background information:

Handtub Junction, USA

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for creating Your angels and for all You do for them and through them.

Robyn Lee on God's Accomplishing Big Things Via Our Little "Yes"

"My friend Heather and I are involved in a ministry called Theology on Tap. The basic idea of Theology on Tap is creating a forum where young people of all walks of life could talk about the faith in a casual setting at a bar or restaurant. A typical Theology on Tap consists of a 45 minute talk, 15 minutes q&a and time for fellowship afterward.

"This forum opens the door to young people who wouldn’t think to walk through the doors of the church, but would maybe listen to a talk at their favorite bar. Hearing the Truth in this setting may open their hearts to come back Home."

In a recent commentary, Robyn Lee (a senior writer for Faith & Family magazine) reflected on some of the ways in which little things we do may be used by the Lord to touch people's hearts or accomplish other aspects of His plan.

To access Ms. Lee's complete post, please visit:

Faith & Family Live!: Small Acts for God (23 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Saint Teresa of Avila

"God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person." - Saint Teresa of Jesus (a.k.a. Saint Teresa of Avila)

28 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Norwich parents hear how to improve schools (The Day)

ME: Baileyville expands its landfill and industrial park (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Mendon parents, teachers turn to Casino Night for classroom tech (Milford Daily News)

NH: Former factory to become Peterborough park (Keene Sentinel)

RI: Town broadens senior tax program (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Wilmington has fun while cleanup efforts continue (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

Norwich, CT, Public Schools

City of Norwich, CT

Town of Baileyville, ME

Mendon-Upton Regional School District, MA

Town of Mendon, MA

Town of Peterborough, NH

Town of Cumberland, RI

Town of Wilmington, VT

Trust for Public Land: Forests Can Help New England Thrive in the New Economy

In a recent report, sixty organizations urged lawmakers to help meet New England’s economic challenges by investing in the region’s forests, and outlined six critical federal policy opportunities to conserve New England’s forests for economic and environmental benefit.

According to the Trust for Public Land, the report, A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England’s Forests, is released at a time when forest cover is declining in all six New England states. Conversion of the region’s forests threatens drinking water and flood control, the forest-based economy, and capacity for natural climate regulation. New England’s forests are the headwaters for all of the Northeast’s major rivers, controlling floods and protecting drinking water for millions of people. The region’s 33 million acres of forest support a $13 billion forest products economy, including almost 52,000 jobs in Maine, and store vast quantities of carbon to offset more than a quarter of New England's carbon dioxide emissions.

To access a copy of this report, please visit:

The Trust for Public Land: A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England's Forests

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the cooling effect of gentle breezes on warm days.

Justice Scalin on Duquesne Law School Retaining Catholic Identity

"He is one of the most outspoken, influential and controversial justices in the recent history of the Supreme Court, and on Monday, Antonin Scalia marks his 25th anniversary on the nation's highest court.

"He came to Duquesne University Law School on Saturday and challenged its officials to preserve the school's Catholic identity in a speech commemorating the school's centennial."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently carried an article about Justice Scalia and his address to those in attendance. To access this article, please visit:

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Scalia: Duquesne should strive to retain Catholic identity (25 SEP 11)

Background information:

Duquesne University School of Law

Wikipedia: Antonin Scalia

Reflection Starter from Dale Carnegie

"Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.  Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger.  If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves." - Dale Carnegie

27 September 2011

Worcester, MA, Fire Lieutenant Receives State Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year Award

Worcester Fire Department Lieutenant Annmarie Pickett, head of the Fire and Life Safety Education and Risk Reduction division recently received the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services 2011 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award at the 17th Annual Massachusetts Public Fire and Life Safety Education Conference.

This award is designed to recognize individuals or teams for their involvement and commitment to make the world safer from fire or other preventable injuries. Although fire and life safety education may be their job, the Department of Fire Services looks for people who go above and beyond to make a difference. The award is designed to honor people who demonstrate qualities such as leadership, teamwork, creativity, vision, and perseverance.

Media report:

Telegram & Gazette: Worcester firefighter wins safety award (26 SEP 11)

Background information:

Massachusetts Department of Fire Services

Worcester Fire Department

City of Worcester

Wikipedia: Worcester, Massachusetts

Arethusa Falls, Harts Location, NH

New England has a number of beautiful natural features, and Myrna and I were blessed to view a number of these features in New Hampshire over the weekend when we went to the Mount Washington Valley area for Chris and Mary's wedding.

One of these features is Arethusa Falls, in Harts Location. Arethusa Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the state, and there is a hike of about 1.3 miles (or more - depending on what is considered the starting point) to reach it. The waterfall is beautiful and, in my opinion, well worth the effort to make the climb (the trail goes up a good 800 or so feet).

For more information about, please visit:

New England Waterfalls: Arethusa Falls

Waterfalls of the Northeastern United States: Arethusa Falls

Flickr: Arethusa Falls

YouTube: Arethusa Falls New Hampshire

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Saving heart victims' lives can begin at school (News-Times)

ME: Bath salts drug use spreading throughout Maine, officials say (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Town-owned utilities have better rates and service, report says (Sentinel and Enterprise)

NH: Five police shootings, four mentally ill victims (Concord Monitor)

RI: Pensions in R.I.: Poorest communities shoulder a greater burden (Providence Journal)

VT: Bennington’s health care premiums rise (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

Danbury, CT, Public Schools

City of Danbury, CT

Maine Office of Substance Abuse: Bath Salts

Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice

MA: More towns study going electric (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

MA Dept. of Energy Resources: Municipal Utility Study (28 JAN 10)

Northeast Public Power Association

Manchester, NH, Police Department

City of Manchester, NH

Rochester, NH, Police Department

City of Rochester, NH

Hillsborough, NH, Police Department

Town of Hillsborough, NH

Disabilities Rights Center, NH

New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association

Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island

Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce: Bennington, VT, Town Government

EPA Initiates Plan EJ 2014 To Assist Communities in Improving Health and Environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the initiation of Plan EJ 2014, which is designed to be a roadmap that will help EPA integrate environmental justice into the agency’s programs, policies, and activities. Plan EJ 2014 identifies Cross-Agency Focus Areas, Tools Development, and Program Initiatives as three essential elements that will advance environmental justice across the EPA and the federal government. Plan EJ 2014 is named in recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.

In implementing the Plan, EPA is planning to seek to meaningfully engage with communities and stakeholders.

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution
  • Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment
  • Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

Plan EJ 2014 is not a rule or regulation. It is a strategy to help integrate environmental justice into EPA's day to day activities.

In 2014, EPA plans to make an assessment of its progress in achieving the goals of Plan EJ 2014. Based on this assessment, EPA will produce a report on the accomplishments, lessons learned, challenges, and next steps for continuing the Agency's efforts to make environmental justice an integral part of every decision.

For additional information about Plan EJ 2014, please visit:

For additional information about the project’s focus areas, please visit:

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 - 27 September 2011

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for being an active participant in my life and in the lives of each of Your people.

Pope: It Is Time for the Church to Set Aside Her Worldliness

As part of his recent pastoral visit to Germany, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives of Catholic associations active in the life of the Church and of society.

After thanking them for their Christian service and witness, "something that is not always easy at the present time," the Pope pointed out that, "for some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from Church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change?"

"The Church", he explained, "is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptized. . . . Yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change. . . . As far as the Church in concerned, though, the basic motive for change is the apostolic mission of the disciples and the Church herself.

"The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission," he added, explaining that this mission embraces three aspects: bearing witness, making disciples in all nations, and proclaiming the Gospel. "The Church's mission has its origins in the mystery of the Triune God, in the mystery of His creative love." She "has nothing of her own to offer to Him Who founded her. She finds her meaning exclusively in being a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God's word, and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God."

"In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness," the Pope said.

And he went on: "In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from the 'worldliness' of the world. . . . One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform."

"Secularizing trends," he added, "whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like, have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty." In freeing herself of material ties, "her missionary activity regained credibility."

Benedict XVI recalled that history shows how a Church detached from the world can bear more effective missionary witness. "Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and, in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world," he said.

"It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully, . . . stripping away from it anything that may seem to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.

"To put it another way: for people of every era, not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. . . . This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals" conceal "the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it."

Pope Benedict concluded: "It time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness. . . . A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers, and to their carers. . . . Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God's love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now."

(from the Vatican Information Service)

Reflection Starter from Mother Teresa

“God made the world for the delight of human beings - if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we've waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us - you just can't resist Him. I believe there's no such thing as luck in life, it's God's love, it's His.” -  Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)

26 September 2011

"Now Thank We All Our God"

In thanksgiving for the many blessings sent our way this weekend, I offer the Cambridge Singers and the City of London Sinfonia (conducted by John Rutter) performing John Rutter's arrangement of "Now Thank We All Our God":

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Westbrook commission seeks input on changing town government (New Haven Register)

ME: Pupils flood Ocean Avenue school (Portland Press Herald)

MA: City's attempt to avoid $4M in flood wall repairs fails (Eagle-Tribune)

NH: A safe way to dispose of drugs (Keene Sentinel)

RI: Trade shaves big bucks off Bristol's new fire truck (Bristol Phoenix)

VT: Vermont towns look to cut police costs (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Town of Westbrook, CT

City of Portland, ME

City of Haverhill, MA

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

Keene, NH, Police Department

City of Keene, NH

Monadnock Voices For Prevention

Town of Bristol, RI

Sir Ken Robinson

Northern Maine's GreenME Initiative Wins Federal Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Funding

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the winners of the $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multi-agency competition launched in May to support the advancement of twenty high-growth regional industry clusters. Investments from three federal agencies (the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and the U.S. Small Business Administration) and technical assistance from thirteen additional agencies will promote development in areas such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, aerospace and clean technology in rural and urban regions spanning 21 states. Projects are being driven by local communities that identified the economic strengths of their areas, with funding awarded to the proposals deemed the best.

One of the winning initiatives (and the only one from New England) is the GreenME program from Northeastern Maine (including Aroostook and Washington Counties).  This Renewable Energy Industry Cluster (REIC) consists of representatives from approximately 55 businesses that employ over 500 people located throughout the State of Maine with the majority from the region. These businesses produce energy extracted or captured from on-going natural processes, generated and regenerated naturally. The project objective is to transition 9,000 residential units and 20 commercial facilities to primary or supplemental wood biomass fuel in four years. According to projections, this would result in 260 direct industry cluster jobs and 196 indirect and induced jobs in the regional economy.  Planners advise that the implementation of this renewable energy strategy will require a comprehensive and targeted workforce development strategy to train residential and commercial heating installers.

Media report:

Bangor Daily News: Commission receives $1.9M to help create renewable energy jobs (24 SEP 11)

Background information:

U.S. Economic Development Administration: Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge

USEDA: Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge Project: GreenME

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You poured on Mary & Chris's marriage celebration and all of its related activities this weekend.

Congratulations, Mary & Chris

Congratulations to daughter Mary and her fine husband, Chris - the newly married Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Wing. May their marriage be a truly blessed one!

Reflection Starter from Saint Teresa of Avila

"What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people!" - Saint Teresa of Jesus (a.k.a. Saint Teresa of Avila)

24 September 2011

Bristol, RI, Saves $$$ on Engine Purchase

Media report:

Trade shaves big bucks off Bristol's new fire truck (Bristol Phoenix)

Background information:

Town of Bristol, RI

Flexibility from No Child Left Behind Opportunity Set with High Bar Designed to Advance Equity and Support Reform

In an effort to support local and state education reform across America, the White House recently outlined how states can get relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - No Child Left Behind (NCLB) - in exchange for serious state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college- and career-ready.

States may request flexibility from specific NCLB mandates that are stifling reform, but only if they are transitioning students, teachers, and schools to a system aligned with college- and career-ready standards for all students, developing differentiated accountability systems, and undertaking reforms to support effective classroom instruction and school leadership.

For more information about ESEA Flexibility, please visit:

U.S. Department of Education: ESEA Flexibility

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Southington ethics board sees conflict in Parking Authority vote (Record-Journal)

ME: Scarborough bans synthetic pesticides on town property (The Forecaster)

MA: Archaeologist to check stonework so Upton's Heritage Park can open (Milford Daily News)

NH: Nashua ambulance contract proposal called into question (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Providence schools devise ‘zones’ to engage parents (Providence Journal)

VT: Brattleboro counts up costs of Irene (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

Town of Southington, CT

Town of Scarborough, ME

Town of Upton, MA

City of Nashua, NH

Providence, RI, Schools

City of Providence, RI

Town of Brattleboro, VT

Post-Irene Initiatives Connects Helpers with Those in Need

One of the responses related to destruction caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene in this region was the development of a Vermont website designed to help connect persons in need with persons able to provide assistance. Although it had a grassroots beginning, the website, #VTResponse, rapidly grew, and was able to facilitate a number of helpful connections.

The founders of this effort, Matt Sisto and Katy Kent (of Reality VC), have started the process of making this networking tool available in each of the states.

Media report:

Burlington Free Press: Web-savvy innovators connect helpers with those in need after Irene (22 SEP 11)

In Windham County, VT, a website has been established to serve as a one-stop shop for information regarding the flood.  It contains information on upcoming meetings, regional road conditions, volunteer and donation opportunities, FEMA news, cleanup advice, and more (including links to the #VTResponse website.

To access this website, please visit:

Windham County VT Status Information

"Feed the Birds"

While in Providence's Kennedy Plaza awaiting a bus for East Providence yesterday, I watched a lady feeding the pigeons in Burnside Park, I was reminded of "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities to gather with family members and celebrate special occasions.

Diane Korzeniewski on Padre Pio's Response to Persecution

In a recent commentary, Diane Korzeniewski reflects on Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) and his response to the persecution he received from within the Church.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Te Deum laudamus!: St. Padre Pio's response to persecution from within the Church (23 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

23 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: City parks are ‘getting pounded’ by vandals, director says (Bristol Press)

ME: High recidivism rate spells end to Bangor drug court (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Sandwich tries new tack to restore beaches (Cape Cod Times)

NH: Students grapple with racism (Concord Monitor)

RI: E.P. Police focus on seat belt scofflaws (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Town planners discuss reconstitution study (St. Albans Messenger)

Background information:

City of Bristol, CT

City of Bangor, ME

Maine Judicial Branch: Maine's Adult Drug Courts and the Drug Court System

Town of Sandwich, MA

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

Concord, NH, School District

City of Concord, NH

City of East Providence, RI

City of St. Albans, VT

Town of St. Albans, VT

43 Percent of 2011 College-Bound Seniors Met SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark

The College Board recently announced that 43 percent of 2011 college-bound seniors met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. The SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark represents the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success and completion. The SAT Benchmark was developed to help secondary school administrators, educators, and policymakers evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs in order to better prepare students for success in college and beyond.

The College Board also announced that more college-bound students in the class of 2011 took the SAT than in any other high school graduating class in history. Nearly 1.65 million students from the 2011 graduating class participated in the college-going process by taking the SAT. The class of 2011 SAT takers represented the most diverse class in history.

The SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark was developed based on research analyzing the SAT scores and college performance of a nationally representative student sample at more than 100 colleges and universities. The SAT Benchmark score of 1550 (Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing score combined) indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of college, which in turn is indicative of a high likelihood of college success and completion.

To access the College Board’s complete announcement, please visit:

College Board: 43 Percent of 2011 College-Bound Seniors Met SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark (14 SEP 11)

College-Bound Seniors state profile reports for the New England states:

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: Connecticut

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: Maine

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: Massachusetts

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: New Hampshire

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: Rhode Island

College Board: College-Bound Seniors 2011: Vermont

Background information:

The College Board

College Board: Common Core State Standards Alignment: ReadiStep, PSAT/NMSQT and SAT (2010)

Steve Green: "He Who Began a Good Work in You"

In this video, Steve Green sings "He who began a good work in you" (based on Philippians 1:6):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for blessings disguised as problems.

The Power of Example in the Workplace

"It’s a tough time to be Catholic in the workplace.

"However, with hardship always comes opportunity. Although some are critical of the Church's consistent teaching on faith and morals, others are discovering the depth and beauty of Catholicism every day. At the same time, workplace regulations and policies designed to treat all people with justice can sometimes have the effect of treating them as commodities.

"People are not commodities."

In a recent reflection, Kevin Lowry (Chief Operating Officer of The Coming Home Network International) offered three ways to evangelize in a workplace by the power example - ways which, at the same time, help us to be more effective in our daily work.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Grateful Convert: Workplace Evangelization: 3 Ways to Shock Your Co-Workers (22 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Padre Pio

"Pray, hope and don't worry. Anxiety doesn't help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer" - Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

22 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Region 10 takes lead in lawsuit seeking magnet school funding answers (The Register Citizen)

ME: Portland police promote mental health services for all (Portland Press Herald)

MA: Fitchburg officials suspend school choice (Sentinel and Enterprise)

NH: Property taxed as 4-unit is allowed only three, says city (Portsmouth Herald)

RI: Hearing on car tax leaves many Warwick residents frustrated (Providence Journal)

VT: Vermont schools seek normalcy post-Irene (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Regional School District #10, CT

Regional School District #16, CT

Capitol Region Education Council, CT

Connecticut State Department of Education

City of Portland, ME

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Fitchburg, MA, Public Schools

City of Fitchburg, MA

City of Portsmouth, NH

City of Warwick, RI

Town of Royalton, VT

Bethel Business Association: Bethel, VT

Library Card Sign-up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. The American Library Association has designated this as a time to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

2011 Library Card Sign-up Month Logo

To access an audio PSA for Library Card Sign-up Month, please visit:

ALA PSA: "Sign up for the smartest card" (Audio)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of music that inspires us.

Msgr. Pope on the Majesty of God's Creation

"OK, it's gotten controversial to say it, but I want to say it anyway, that creation shouts its maker. It reveals its creator, and manifests its God. While the more militant atheists the more extreme followers of scientism and secularism may well scoff and urge believers like me to the door, I want to say again, I see God in what he has made, and he has done a marvelous thing."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the beauty and wonder of God's creation.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Majesty of God is Manifest in What He Has Made – A Meditation on a Great Hymn of Creation (21 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Yoda

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda, from "Star Wars" Episode IV, The Empire Strikes Back.

21 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Torrington officials losing patience with blighted property owner; wants former Arcade bowling site demolished or sold (The Register Citizen)

ME: Andover residents learn cost of inaccurate floodplain maps (Sun Journal)

MA: D-R schools add faster servers, e-readers, netbooks, iPadsl (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: Sewer leak caused by poor soil (The Citizen)

RI: Middle school introduces new grading policy (Kent County Daily Times)

VT: Board wants to send Hale Mountain appeal to DRB (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

City of Torrington, CT

Andover, ME (Unofficial)

FEMA: National Flood Insurance Program

Dighton Rehoboth School District, MA

Town of Meredith, NH

Coventry, RI, Public Schools

Town of Coventry, RI

Town of Shaftsbury, VT

National NeighborWoods Month

October is National NeighborWoods Month, an annual observance sponsored by the Alliance for Community Trees. This observance is designed to celebrate trees in our communities. During the month, thousands of volunteers will join forces to plant and care for trees, learn about the environment in their neighborhoods, and take action to make their communities cleaner, greener, and healthier.

For more information about National NeighborWoods Month, please visit:

National NeighborWoods Month

Background information:

Alliance for Community Trees

NFPA Issues Report on 2010 Fire Loss in the United States

In 2010, public fire departments in the United States responded to 1,331,500 fires, according to estimates based on data the National Fire Protection Association received from fire departments responding to its 2010 National Fire Experience Survey. According to NFPA, this represents a slight decrease of 1.3 percent from the previous year and is the lowest since NFPA started using its current survey methodology in 1977–78.

To access an NFPA Fire Journal report on this survey, please visit:

NFPA: Fire Journal: Fire Loss in the United States During 2010 (September/October 2011)

To access the complete report, please visit:

NFPA: Fire Loss in the United States During 2010 (September 2011)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the inspiring words of Your saints.

Dr. Peter Kreeft on God and Love

"Without qualification, without ifs, ands, or buts, God's word tells us, straight as a left jab, that love is the greatest thing there is (1 Cor 13: 13). Scripture never says God is justice or beauty or righteousness, though he is just and beautiful and righteous. But 'God is love' (1 Jn 4:8). Love is God's essence, his whole being. Everything in him is love. Even his justice is love. Paul identifies 'the justice of God' in Romans 1:17 with the most unjust event in all history, deicide, the crucifixion, for that was God's great act of love."

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Boston College, has written a thoughtful essay on love.

To access the complete essay, please visit:

Peter Kreeft: Love

Reflection Starter from Saint Theresa of Avila

"Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing trouble you. Everything passes. God alone remains." - Saint Teresa of Jesus (Saint Theresa of Avila)

20 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: PCB questions linger at Columbus School (Connecticut Post)

ME: Lisbon town clerk honored by peers (The Times Record)

MA: Contract awarded to replace failed alarm system at Somerset Middle School (The Herald News)

NH: Couple may keep property (Hollis/Brookline Journal)

RI: New crop of street trees in Pawtucket are dying off (Valley Breeze)

VT:  Elderly struggle to stay in Grand Isle (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Bridgeport, CT, Public Schools

City of Bridgeport, CT

Town of Lisbon, ME

Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association

Town of Somerset, MA

Town of Hollis, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

Town of Grand Isle, VT

International Walk to School Month

October is International Walk to School Month, which is designed to give children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event as they celebrate the many benefits of walking. In 2009, millions of walkers from around the world walked to school together for various reasons - all hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk.

The goal of the walk varies from community to community. Some walks rally for safer and improved streets, others to promote healthier habits, and still others to conserve the environment. Whatever the reason, the International Walk to School events are held to encourage a more walkable world - one community at a time.

For more information about International Walk to School Month, please visit:

International Walk to School Month

Background information:

National Center for Safe Routes to School

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 - 20 September 2011

Vermont Covered Bridge Society

One of the treasures of New England is the many covered bridges found throughout the region.

The Vermont Covered Bridge Society was founded in 2000 to address the loss of Vermont's covered bridges, which had decreased from over 500 bridges to less than 100. This society strives to promote covered bridge maintenance and preservation and to help with the education of the public about the value of historic sites.

For more information about the Vermont Covered Bridge Society and about Vermont's covered bridges, please visit:

Vermont Covered Bridge Society

Vermont Bridges

Constitution Week

This is Constitution Week, an observance designed to promote study and education about the Constitution of the United States. This founding document was signed by 39 Constitutional Convention (also known as the American Congress of the Confederation) delegates at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, on 17 September 1787.

Presidential Proclamation -- Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, Constitution Week, 2011:



In the summer of 1787, delegates from the States gathered in Philadelphia to build a new framework for our young republic.  Our Constitution's Framers represented diverse backgrounds, and on key issues, they were divided.  Yet despite their differences, they courageously joined together in common purpose to create "a more perfect Union."  After 4 months of fierce debate and hard-fought compromise, the delegates signed the Constitution of the United States.

For more than two centuries, the Constitution has presided as the supreme law of the land, keeping our leaders true to America's highest ideals and guaranteeing the fundamental rights that make our country a beacon of hope to all peoples seeking freedom and justice.  Together with the Bill of Rights, our Constitution is the backbone of our government and the basis of our liberties.  Even while retaining its structure, our founding document has grown with our Nation's conscience, amended over the years to extend America's promise to citizens of every race, gender, and creed.

Americans are defined not by bloodlines or allegiance to any one leader or faith, but by our shared ideals of liberty, equality, and justice under the law.  We are a Nation of immigrants, built and sustained by people who have brought their talents, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit to our shores.  Generations of newcomers have journeyed to this land because they believed in what our country stands for.

Every year, thousands of candidates for citizenship commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by becoming American citizens.  These men and women have respected our laws and learned our history, and some have served in our military.  Today, we invite them to join us in writing the next great chapter of the American story.

In signing the Constitution, the Framers provided a model of American leadership for generations to come.  Through controversy and division, they built a lasting structure of government that began with the words, "We the People."  This week, as we celebrate our Founders' timeless vision, we resolve to stay true to their spirit of patriotism and unity.

In remembrance of the signing of the Constitution and in recognition of the Americans who strive to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 108), requested that the President proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as "Constitution Week."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2011, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17 through September 23, 2011, as Constitution Week.  I encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


# # # # #

For more information please visit:

National Constitution Center

The Center for Civic Education

Boston's IMPACT II – Resources

Apples4theteacher: About U.S. Constitution Day | Constitution Week

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) through which You forgive our sins and increase and deepen the life of grace in our souls.

Msgr. Pope on Grief as a Gift

"Grief just has a life of its own. I often tell people that you can’t get around grief you just have to go through it and experience it to its top. It seldom lets us off the hook. It has something to say to us, something to give us."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on some aspects of the role of grief in our lives.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Good Grief: A Meditation of How Grief can be a Gift in Strange Package (16 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Thomas Jefferson

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever." - Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781

19 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Torrington officials, realtor encouraged by responses since June's Developer's Day for prospective property buyers (Register Citizen)

ME: Schools find value in single-gender classes (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Town to save cash by refinancing debt (Salem News)

NH: 4 million sewage disks recovered (Concord Monitor)

RI: Filings grow in Portsmouth lawsuit over teacher hiring (Providence Journal)

VT: Heart of Vermont still in recovery mode after Tropical Storm Irene (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

City of Torrington, CT

Sanford, ME, School Department

National Association for Single Sex Public Education

Town of Sanford, ME

Town of Marblehead, MA

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services: 2011 Hooksett Wastewater Treatment Plant Incident

Town of Hooksett, NH

Portsmouth, RI, School Department

Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Basic Education Program

Town of Portsmouth, RI

Town of Chester, VT

Town of Granville, VT

Town of Mendon, VT

Town of Pittsfield, VT

Rochester, VT

National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week

This is National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week. Many communities in this region have staff members serving in one of the branches of the Armed Forces Reserves and in the National Guard, and the support by their communities makes it easier for these service members to carry out their commitment to the nation. Thank you for your support.

For more information about National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, please visit:

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Presidential Proclamation -- National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, 2011:



Since September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Generation has borne the burden of war with courage and valor, continuing the legacy of the brave men and women who served before them.  More than five million volunteers have worn our country's uniform over the past 10 years, and thousands have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Making up nearly half of our military power, the National Guard and Reserve are vital to our operations at home and abroad.

During America's struggle for independence, ordinary individuals in small towns across the colonies banded together to confront an empire.  Today, their spirit lives on in the Guard and Reserve.  The members of our National Guard and Reserve demonstrate the dignity and selflessness that are at the core of the American spirit.  These patriots serve not only in combat, but also when disaster strikes at home, offering a strong hand to victims of floods, tornadoes, and fires across America.

The employers who provide jobs to our Guard and Reserve members when they are home are also vital to our success.  Many of these businesses go above and beyond, offering tremendous support to service members and their families during deployments.  We are deeply grateful for their work, and this week, we celebrate not only our service members, veterans, and military families, but also their devoted employers.

The extraordinary service of our Guard and Reserve members would not be possible without the unwavering support and care provided by their families and civilian employers.  To help connect our service members, veterans, and their families to the opportunities they deserve, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden announced Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative to support and honor these patriots.  As part of this initiative, we issued a challenge to private sector employers to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses.  We have also proposed tax credits for businesses that hire our returning heroes -- they fought for our country, and the last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.

This week, we remember our obligations to each other, and we pay tribute to the employers of our Guardsmen and Reservists whose support and flexibility is vital to the strength of our military.  The United States is at its strongest when we live up to our sacred duty to honor and care for our service members when they come home.  The support of employers across our country reflects the best of the American spirit -- the understanding that we are bound together to serve and protect our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18 through September 24, 2011, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week.  I call upon all Americans to join me in expressing our heartfelt thanks to the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers.  I also call on State and local officials, private organizations, and all military commanders, to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


5K's to Support Worthy Causes

One of the many ways in which the people of New England support worthy causes (and get in some beneficial exercise) is by participating in sponsored five-kilometer or other road races. Examples of such races are the recently completed CVS Caremark Downtown 5k in Providence and the upcoming Friar 5K sponsored by Providence College.

Kudos to son Joe and also to son Adam and his wife, E-Lynn, for participating in the CVS Caremark event.

Our Lady of La Salette

Today the Church honors Mother Mary under her title of Our Lady of La Salette.

On 19 September 1846, Mary appeared to two children, Melanie Calvat (age 15) and Maximin Giraud (age 11) who were looking after cattle on Mont sous-les-Baisses near the village of La Salette, France (near Grenoble).

To access an account of this apparition, please visit:

La Salette Missionaries: The Story of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette

Background information:

National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, Attleboro, MA

La Salette Missionaries

Mr. Rogers and Prayer

In a recent post, Deacon Greg Kandra offers an insight on Fred Rogers and prayer.

To access this post, please visit:

The Deacon's Bench: On Mr. Rogers and prayer (18 SEP 11)

For additional information about Fred Rogers, please visit:

Lop Notes: Fred Rogers (27 FEB 11)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You remind us of the importance of gratitude and the many ways through which You encourage an "attitude of gratitude" within us.

Kevin Lowry on Gratitude for Grocery Shopping

"This may sound ridiculous, but one of the most satisfying experiences in my life is shopping for groceries."

In a recent commentary, Kevin Lowry (Chief Operating Officer of The Coming Home Network International) reflected on his gratitude for being employed and being able to shop for groceries.

To access Mr. Lowry's complete post, please visit:

Grateful Convert: Gratitude for Groceries (17 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from Phiippians

"[C]onduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ." - Phiippians 1:27

18 September 2011

New England’s Fire Service Heritage: Brockton Fire Museum, Brockton, MA

Throughout New England, there are a number of fire museums that offer a look into the history of the fire service in a local community, a state, or beyond.

One such museum is the Brockton Fire Museum, located at 216 North Pearl Street (Route 27) in Brockton, Massachusetts. Its exhibits include “Protector #3” (a Class A hand pumper).

For more information about the Brockton Fire Museum, please visit:

Brockton Fire Museum

The Enterprise: Brockton Fire Museum a memorial to its founder (25 MAR 09)

Christian Music in New England: Never Forgotten

A number of people throughout the six New England states participate in activities involving Christian music. Many of these are musicians or other artists who primarily serve their local church community. Other artists play at a variety of different venues and special events (as well as possibly playing at their local church).

Included among these artists is the Never Forgotten, a Christian piano-rock band from Charlton, Massachusetts.

For more information about Never Forgotten, including a schedule of their upcoming events, please visit:

Never Forgotten

Mont Deux Coeurs Monastery (Visitation Sisters), Tyringham, MA

One of the treasures of New England is its religious communities, including its monasteries in which men and women live lives consecrated to the Lord. One such monastery is Mont Deux Coeurs in Tyringham, Massachusetts.

Dedicated to the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of His Mother, Mont Deux Coeurs (the Mount of the Two Hearts) is a monastery of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (founded by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal). This order is a cloistered, contemplative order.

For more information about Mont Deux Coeurs and its community, please visit:

The Visitation Sisters of Tyringham, MA - Mont Deux Coeurs Monastery

American Catholic: Visitation Nuns Mark 400 Years of Life of Prayer, Salesian Charism (5 MAR 10)

Wikipedia: Tyringham, Massachusetts

Saint Louis Jesuits: "Seek the Lord"

In the spirit of today's first reading, I offer the Saint Louis Jesuits singing "Seek the Lord":

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today is the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; and Matthew 20:1-16. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 145 (Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18).

The Gospel Reading is as follows:

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off.

“And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'

“When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.'

“He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Reflections on these readings:

Catholic Online: The Happy Priest Reflects on Being Busy in the Vineyard (17 SEP 11)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Five Dispositions for Discipleship: A Meditation on the Gospel for the 25th Sunday of the Year (17 SEP 11)

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.: The Generosity of God

Sundays Salesian: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 18, 2011)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for September 18, 2011: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (17 SEP 11)

Dr. Scott Hahn: First and Last (September 18, 2011 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Word Embodied: Envious Comparisons

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Augustine: Why are you jealous because I am generous?

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the sense of humor You have implanted in each of us (whether we use this gift or not).

Fr. James Martin on Developing a Catholic Sense of Humor

"Is there such a thing as a “Catholic” sense of humor? That is, beyond simply appreciating Catholic jokes? Or chuckling over funny comments by famous Catholics?"

In a commentary to be published in the upcoming issue of Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, Father James Martin, S.J., reflects on what a Catholic sense of humor is and on how one may develop that sense of humor.

To access his complete essay, please visit:

OSV Newsweekly: How you can develop a Catholic sense of humor (25 SEP 11)

Father Martin, S.J., is the author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

Background information:

Father Martin's Facebook site:

Facebook: Fr. James Martin, SJ

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

17 September 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: Fired New Milford police lieutenant files suit to get job back, plus $10 million (News-Times)

ME: Contractor declines to sue town (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Tab for school PCBs removal approaches $3M (Standard-Times)

NH: Street performers to hit Concord (Concord Monitor)

RI: Manville fire district voters reject tax cut, save for ladder truck (Valley Breeze)

VT: Charlotte Selectboard to apply for Certificate of Public Good for solar project (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Town of New Milford, CT

Westport, MA, Community Schools

Town of Westport, MA

City of Concord, NH

Town of Lincoln, RI

Town of Charlotte, VT

International Coastal Cleanup

Today (Saturday, 17 September), the Ocean Conservancy is sponsoring its 26th annual International Coastal Cleanup. The event is designed to engage people in removing trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris, and change the behaviors that cause ocean trash in the first place.

Background information:

Ocean Conservancy: 2011 International Coastal Cleanup

Ocean Conservancy: Track Trash - 25 Years of Acton for the Ocean (2011 Marine Debris Report)

Connecticut Fund for the Environment: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - International Coastal Cleanup Day

CoastSeeep 2011; The Massachusetts Annual Statewide Beach Cleanup

Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation: New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup

Audubon Society of Rhode Island: International Coastal Cleanup

Media reports:

EastBayRI: International Coastal Cleanup is Saturday (14 SEP 11)

Manville, RI, Fire District Votes to Save for Ladder Truck

“Given the chance to apply $35,000 toward the operating budget, and thereby cut the fire tax rate by 10 percent, the 70-person crowd at the Manville Fire Station Tuesday evening voted overwhelmingly to instead put the cash in their ladder truck fund.”

At the recent annual meeting of the Manville Fire District in Lincoln, RI, voters approved saving funds for a replacement ladder truck rather than getting a 10% tax cut.

To access a Valley Breeze article on this issue and related concerns, please visit:

Valley Breeze: Manville fire district voters reject tax cut, save for ladder truck (14 SEP 11)

Background information:

Town of Lincoln, RI

Wikipedia: Lincoln, Rhode Island

Phish Concert Benefits Vermont Flood Relief and Recovery

It is good to see people remembering their roots, and this often happens here in New England (as well as throughout the rest of the USA and beyond).

One good example in Vermont is the recent concert by Phish to benefit flood relief and recovery in Vermont.

Media reports:

Burlington Free Press: Special fund set up for Phish concert proceeds (14 SEP 11)

Burlington Free Press: As Phish returns to Vermont, jam band's Burlington incubator takes note (15 SEP 11)

BurlingtonFree Press: Phish jams for flood relief in Vermont (15 SEP 11)

KO Video: Phish Returns to Vermont For Flood Relief Concert (15 SEP 11)

Billboard: Phish Play First Vermont Show in 7 Years to Aid Flood Victims (16 SEP 11) 

Burlington Free Press: Police say the Phish crowd was 'so pleasant to deal with' (16 SEP 11)

Burlington Free Press Video Library: Vermont legends Phish hold benefit concert for Tropical Storm Irene victims

Background information:

Lop Notes: Music in Vermont: Phish (16 APR 11)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the sacrament of Confirmation and for the graces this sacrament brings (including the gifts of the Holy Spirit) to mature our Christian commitment and to deepen the gifts we received at our baptism.

Fr. Michael Orsi on People of Faith Responding to Tragedy

Father Michael Orsi, chaplain of Ave Maria School of Law, recently responded to the question, ”How should we, as people of faith, respond to tragedy?”

To access the post containing his comments, please visit:

VirtuousPla.net: How Should People of Faith Respond to Tragedy (16 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter

"Come apart before you come apart" - Recently posted on the signboard in front of the First Baptist Church in America, Providence, RI

16 September 2011

Rhode Island's East Bay Bike path

One of the treasures of the New England is the number and variety of scenic bike paths and walkways throughout the region. One good example is the 14.5 mile East Bay Bike path in Rhode Island.

Stretching along an abandoned railroad line from Providence to Bristol (and going through East Providence, Barrington, and Warren), the path offers some good views of Narragansett Bay and other scenic vistas.

For more information about the East Bay Bike path, please visit: 

RI Parks and Recreations Division: East Bay Bike path

Greenways Alliance of Rhode Island: East Bay Bike Path 

TripAdvisor: East Bay Bike Path, Rhode Island 

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level) include these articles:

CT: State probe cites 'irregularities' in testing at Waterbury school (Republican-American)

ME: Panel cuts teacher salary supplements (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Affordable housing project meets need for Swampscott (Lynn Daily Item)

NH: Town in search of law enforcement (Concord Monitor)

RI: Councils OK suit against school committee (Bristol Phoenix)

VT: BFPD looking for eyes and ears (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

Waterbury, CT, Public Schools

City of Waterbury, CT

Maine Department of Education

Town of Swampscott, MA

Town of Salisbury, NH

Bristol Warren Regional School District, RI

Town of Bristol, RI

Town of Rockingham & Village of Bellows Falls, VT

Center on Education Policy Issues Report on Progress and Challenges in School Districts’ Implementation of Common Core Standards

The Center on Education Policy recently released a report that discusses school district implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  The report, which is based on survey of a nationally representative sample of schools districts, includes survey data on school district leaders’ impressions of the rigor of the CCSS and their impact on student learning, challenges that districts face in implementing the new standards, and activities that are being carried out at the local level to transition to the CCSS.

To access this report, please visit:

CEP: Common Core Standards: Progress and Challenges in School Districts’ Implementation (September 2011)

Background information:

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Reforms and Standards