31 January 2012

Congress for the New Urbanism Releases Sustainable Street Network Principles

The Congress for the New Urbanism recently released Sustainable Street Network Principles, a publication designed to be a set of principles and key characteristics of a sustainable street network as a setting for both commerce and culture.

The Principles are designed for traffic engineers, urban designers, urban planners, and engaged urban citizens. They outline why sustainable street networks are essential to a vibrant and healthy society and what makes a street network sustainable.

To access a copy of Sustainable Street Network Principles, please visit:

CNU: Sustainable Street Network Principles

Background information:

Congress for the New Urbanism

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 - 31 January 2012

Saint John Bosco

As some people are aware, a favorite saint of mine is Saint John Bosco (1815-1888), whose feast day is celebrated today. This is an enhanced re-post of of a item originally posted on 31 January 2011.

A priest in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, he had a special ministry to urban boys – initially teaching them their faith. This ministry expanded to teaching other academic subjects, including the skills needed in a few trades (initially shoemaking and tailoring, and then expanding to printing and other trades).

Father John Bosco worked to educate the whole person body and soul. He believed that one’s faith, rooted in Christ, should permeate everything one does, including work, learning, and recreation.

When I was teaching, I tried to follow his education philosophy, which (among other things)was a preventive system, placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin and encouraging frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. He encouraged his teachers to follow the example of Jesus, teaching the boys with patience, kindness, and calmness.

John Bosco was noted for the ministry of reaching out through the printed word. He wrote a number of booklets and other printed pieces to teach aspects of the faith, to combat false teachings, and to encourage his readers in a number of areas. In his writings, he worked to communicate information so recipients could readily understand the information or concepts involved.

With the encouragement of Pope Pius IX, John Bosco founded a religious order to focus on education and missionary work, with a special focus on young people. This order was the Society of Siant Francis de Sales, better known as the Salesians.

Saint John Bosco is a patron saint of editors.

For more information about Saint John Bosco, please visit:

Catholic Forum: St. John Bosco

Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Giovanni Melchior Bosco (1907)

Da Mihi Animas: An Interview with Saint John Bosco (30 JAN 11)

A reading from Saint John Bosco:

Lop Notes: Excerpt from a Letter by Saint John Bosco (31 JAN 12)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces with which You surround us during difficult and challenging times.

Reaction to HHS Contraception Rule

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring nearly all private health plans, including most religious organizations, to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices has been drawing more and more attention from the Church as well as from other individuals and organizations throughout the U.S.

Media reports:

LifeSiteNews: ‘To Hell with you!’ That’s what Obama just told Catholics, says bishop (27 JAN 12)

National Catholic Register: Cardinal Wuerl Thinks Church Can Win Contraception Fight (26 JAN 12)

National Catholic Register: Sebelius' Contraception Mandate and the Media (28 JAN 12)

Catholic News Agency: Rep. Smith: HHS mandate is attempt to end Catholic health care (24 JAN 12)

Religious News Service: Top Catholic bishop feels betrayed by Obama (25 JAN 12)

Religious News Service: Catholics rally against Obama contraception mandate (30 JAN 12)

Media commentaries:

Boston Pilot: Ruling on health care needs to be judged in light of truth (27 JAN 12 )

Boston Pilot: Time to figure out how to violate our consciences (27 JAN 12)

Accuracy in Media: Column: Catholic Church Rejects Surrender Terms from Obama (30 JAN 12)

Washington Post: Editorial: Respecting religious exemptions (22 JAN 12)

Truth in Love (Blog of Bishop Paul D. Etienne): US Department of Health & Human Services on Wrong Side of Constitution (28 JAN 12)

Denver Catholic Register: Bishop's Column: “The Bell is Tolling” (25 JAN 12)

YouTube: Fr. Frank Pavone: Obama Tampering with Conscience

Background information:

USCCB: Conscience Protection: Bishops Vow to Fight Coercive HHS Mandate

Pope Benedict XVI: Address to U.S. Bishops  During Ad Limina Visit (including Reaffirmation Of Religious Liberty) (19 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Saint John Bosco

"'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.' Therefore, according to the Gospel, any citizen can be a good Catholic -  that is, side with Jesus Christ and the Pope, and do good to his fellow men ' and at the same time side with Caesar, namely, observe the laws of the land, except when the rulers persecute religion or tyrannize the consciences and minds of citizens." - Saint John Bosco

30 January 2012

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

For a daily compilation of recent news stories related to municipal government in New England (and issues being faced on the local level), please visit:

New England City & Town News Notes

The Challenge of Aging Water Systems

As communities throughout this region are aware, the infrastructure of many of our water systems is aging to the point where there have been a number of water main breaks, leaks, and other occurrences that have been posing significant challenges to our communities. This was recently highlighted by an article in the Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME). There are a number of initiatives in progress to address this issue, but there is a long ways to go.

Media report:

Kennebec Journal: Aging water systems pose huge challenges (30 JAN 12)

Background information:

New England City & Town: Public Works Issues: Water Infrastructure

New England Water Works Association

American Water Works Association

Water Environment Federation: Infrastructure

Water Infrastructure Network

EPA: Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy

EPA: Aging Water Infrastructure Research

Urban Land Institute: Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative (2010)

EPA: Asset Management for Local Officials (2008)

National Environmental Services Center: Managing Aging Water Infrastructure Assets: Planning Ahead Saves Time and Money (2009)

EPA: Research Plan: Innovation and Research for Water Infrastructure for the 21st Century (2007)

EPA: The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis (2002)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for our Catholic schools and the great blessing they are.

A Reflection on the Future of Catholic Schools

As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week this week, I offer a commentary written last June by Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC). In this commentary, Msgr. Pope reflected on a few of the many challenges currently facing Catholic schools throughout the nation (including the costs of running a school vis-à-vis the ability of many families to pay the tuition in these difficult economic times).

He also noted that, in these challenging times, "More than ever Catholic Schools are needed." He follows up by stating, "New visions are needed if Catholic Education is to have a future as anything but elite private schools for the rich."

Msgr. Pope then referred to two specific examples: Don Bosco Cristo Rey Catholic High School in the Archdiocese of Washington and Saint Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland. He strongly recommended that schools carefully choose a specific niche (e.g., offering a “back to basics, no-frills” curriculum) in order to stand out and to attract students.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Future of Catholic Schools Depends on Bold and Creative Intiatives. Here are Two. (14 JUN 11)

On a personal note, in many ways it was a sad day when Saint Patrick School, a K-8 school in Providence, RI, closed in 2009 - one of several schools that closed in the Diocese of Providence and in other parts of New England over the past few years. These were great resources that the Church community and the greater community no longer had. I had the great blessing of teaching at St. Pat's for fifteen years.

St. Pat's, though, did not close completely. The economics were such that it could not afford to keep its doors open as a K-8 school. However, it reopened in the fall of 2009 as Saint Patrick Academy, and it has positioned itself to be a small, affordable high school. It is a great initiative, and it meets a real need in the greater community. May this continuing transition be greatly blessed, and may the Lord send an outpouring of choice blessings on each of the Catholic schools throughout the nation.

Reflection Starter from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

"The fruit of Silence is Prayer
The fruit of Prayer is Faith
The fruit of Faith is Love
The fruit of Love is Service
The fruit of Service is Peace."
- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (a.k.a. Mother Teresa)

29 January 2012

Wessex Male Choir: "Psalm 150"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer the Wessex Male Choir singing "Psalm 150":

The Five-second Rule

Over the years, I have run across many people giving voice to the “five-second rule” when a piece of food or piece of flatware hits the floor. According to common belief, a the item is not supposed to be affected by any bacteria on the floor if it is picked up within five seconds. (Memory fails me, but I believe I’ve also invoked the rule on a number of occasions.)

However, science research has determined that the “rule” is based on a fallacy, and the item does indeed become contaminated. Prudence says throw away (and don’t eat) the food or wash the flatware before using it.

For more information:

New York Times: Science: The 5-Second Rule (28 FEB 11)

Snopes: Five Second Helpings

Clemson: Public Service Activities: Paul Dawson: The Five-Second-Rule

Wikipedia: Five-second rule

Catholic Schools Week

This week, the week of 29 January-5 February, is Catholic Schools Week. The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2012 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.”

The theme focuses on three priorities that Catholic schools establish that make them stand out from other educational institutions. Children are taught faith – not just the basics of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God. Academics, which in Catholic schools are held to very high standards, help each child reach his or her potential. Service, the giving of one’s time and effort to help others, is taught both as an expression of faith and good citizenship.




RI Catholic: Bishop Thomas Tobin: Catholic Schools: Building Strong Foundations (19 JAN 12)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Deuteronomy 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, and Mark 1:21-28.

The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 95 (Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9).

For one version of today’s Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Psalm 95 (Responsorial Psalm) If Today You Hear His Voice, Harden not Your Hearts

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are?the Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."

His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 29, 2012)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Mad to Sad to Glad: A Portrait of Powerful Preaching and its Effects, Based on the Gospel for the 4th Sunday (28 JAN 12)

A Concord Pastor Comments: A word on anxieties and personal demons (27 JAN 12)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for January 29, 2012: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (28 JAN 12)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Authority over Demons

The Lectionary: Like Jesus, we must dispel evil from the world (26 JAN 12)

Dr. Scott Hahn: The King’s Authority (January 29th, 2012 - Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Word Encountered: Expressions of the Call (Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Dominican Daily: Sirius XM Radio: January 27, 2012

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the awesomeness of Your creation, down to the most minute detail.

Fr. Barron on Flannery O'Connor

“One of the greatest disciples of the twentieth century was neither a priest, nor a religious, nor a married person. She was a celibate, single woman who spent the last 13 years of her life battling lupus while writing some of the best fiction the world has ever known - all while living on a 455-acre dairy farm in Milledgeville, Ga. with her mother, her books, and forty-four peacocks. Her name was Flannery O’Connor.”

In a recent commentary, Father Robert Barron reflect on the life of Flannery O'Connor, a famous writer who was also a devout and inspirational Catholic.

To access Father Barron's reflection, please visit:

The Word on Fire: Books: The Vocation of Flannery O'Connor (23 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Saint Thomas Aquinas

"All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly." - Saint Thomas Aquinas

28 January 2012

The Tokens: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

It's time for The Tokens singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor of the Church. A Dominican priest and professor, he is considered a patron saint of Catholic Schools, of students, and of universities. He is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time.

At one time a student of Saint Albert the Great, among his other accomplishments he helped people realize that, just because Aristotle was a pagan, any truth that he spoke should not be disregarded. Thomas Aquinas said that truth cannot contradict truth. There was a bit of controversy at the time because of a faulty translation of Aristotle’s writings, and one thing Thomas Aquinas focused was finding out what Aristotle really wrote (perhaps a good lesson for us at a time when so many written and spoken words are taken out of context or mistranslated or otherwise misunderstood).

For background information about Saint Thomas Aquinas, please visit:

Doctors of the Church: Saint Thomas Aquinas

Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Thomas Aquinas (1912 Edition)

G.K. Chesterton: St. Thomas Aquinas (1932)

OrdoPraedicatorum: Dominican Saints 101: St. Thomas Aquinas (27 JAN 12)

RI Pro-Life Rally Disrupted by Occupy Providence Protesters

Unfortunately, there was a disturbing event during the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally at the Rhode Island State House Thursday (26 JAN). A number of Occupy Providence members participated in a demonstration, organized by the Rhode Island Sexism League, that broke up the pro-life rally.

Some attendees found it ironic that members of the Occupy movement would join in the protest the day before the Diocese of Providence opened up a homeless shelter in response to one of Occupy Providence’s requests to the City of Providence.

Media reports:

WPRO: Pro-lifers: Occupiers attacked rights to free speech (27 JAN 12)

Life News: Occupy Protestors Harass Pro-Life Advocates in Roe Event (27 JAN 12)

RI Right to Life Statement:

Rhode Island Right to Life: Occupiers Declare War on Pro-Life Movement (26 JAN 12)

Media Follow-up to National March for Life

Here are a number of news reports and commentaries (inspirational and/or reflective) related to the recent National Prayer Vigil for Life and National March for Life and other related events:

Boston Pilot: Boston youth rejoice standing for the Gospel of Life (27 JAN 12)

RI Catholic: Marchers sacrifice to defend human life (19 JAN 12)

Boston Pilot: Life, liberty at 'core of our national character,' Boehner tells rally (27 JAN 12)

Boston Pilot: Visit to historic site prompts profound reaction on pilgrims (27 JAN 12)

Washington Post (Commentary): Why we march for life (23 JAN 12)

Catholic Herald: Slippery slopes revisited (18 JAN 12)

The Deacon's Bench: “Abortion snatches the knitting out of God’s hand…” (25 JAN 12)

Baltimore Sun (Commentary): A hidden cause of Baltimore's population loss: abortion (23 JAN 12)

NunSpeak: Walk for Life West Coast 2012 in Pictures (22 JAN 12)

National Review Online: The Vision of a Pro-Life Generation (27 JAN 12)

LifeSiteNews (Commentary): Today, I returned to the abortion clinic where I aborted my babies 12 years ago (26 JAN 12)

LiveAction Blog: Why My Generation Will End Abortion (28 JAN 12)

Live Action: Why The Mainstream Media Ignores Or Distorts The March For Life (25 JAN 12)

LifeSiteNews (Commentary): The silliest pro-abortion argument ever (is one you hear all the time) (17 JAN 12)

NCRegister: Steven D. Greydanus: CBS Notices Pro-Lifers After All (26 JAN 12)

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: New Britain Struggles To Fill Police Vacancies (Hartford Courant)

ME: Grants for eight Maine coastal projects awarded (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Belchertown expected to save $1.8 million by performing October snowstorm clean-up itself (Springfield Republican)

NH: School puts store off-limits (Concord Monitor)

RI: Council Pushes For Arts District (Bristol Phoenix)

VT: State board approves agreement for expansion of BRSU districts (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

New Britain, CT, Police Department

City of New Britain, CT

Maine State Planning Office: Maine Coastal Program

Town of Belchertown, MA

Concord, NH, School District

City of Concord, NH

Town of Bristol, RI

Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, VT

Connecticut Council for Education Reform Offers Recommendations

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform, a non-profit organization composed of business and civic leaders, recently offered some recommendations designed to help close the state’s education achievement gap while raising academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut.

The council is recommending:

  • Teacher and leader employment and retention policies that attract the highest quality professionals and insist upon effectiveness as defined by their ability to demonstrate improvement in student performance, not seniority, as the measure of success defined by redesigned evaluation systems.
  • A system of high-quality academic interventions for every K-12 student who is behind in reading and math, which may include summer school or extended learning time, and a high school graduation assessment to ensure that a high school diploma reflects levels of competence.
  • A state strategy for addressing turnaround schools and districts, which includes specific recommendations for increasing authority, accountability, parental choice and funding that follows the child.
  • A chart of common accounts for accountability of state funds to determine the effective use of funds to improve student performance.
  • A multi-year phase-in process to provide sufficient funding for all low-income three and four year olds to attend a high-quality preschool program.

Media report:

Connecticut Mirror: Do education grants work? State rarely checks (26 JAN 12)

Background information:

Connecticut Council for Education Reform

Executive Summary: Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement 2012 Report

Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement 2012 Report: Every child should have a chance to be exceptional. Without exception. (A plan to help close Connecticut’s achievement gap.)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your great love, Your limitless love, for me.

A Question from Father Najim

In a recent video commentary, Father Michael Najim (Vocation Director of the Diocese of Providence and chaplain at La Salle Academy, Providence, RI) offered a potentially life-changing question to seriously consider.

To access Fr. Najim’s video post, please visit:

Live Holiness: One Question that Can Change Your Life (26 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter

"The wise man doesn't expect to find life worth living. He expects to make it that way." - Source Unknown

27 January 2012

National Report Ranks Cities and States for Bicycling and Walking

In a new report, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, the Alliance for Biking & Walking ranks all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities on bicycling and walking levels, safety, funding, and other factors.

Among other findings, this report advises that:

  • In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, butt 87% of these trips are by car; 27% of trips were shorter than one mile, yet Americans used their cars for 62% of these trips.
  • While bicycling and walking fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, obesity levels increased 156%.
  • Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians: adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities; this age group accounts for 6% of bicycling trips and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.
  • Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just seven jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects; according to the report, cost benefit analysis show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.
  • On average, the largest 51 U.S. cities show a 29% increase in bicycle facilities since the 2010 report.

To access the full report, please visit:

Alliance for Biking & Walking: 2012 Benchmarking Report

Background information:

Alliance for Biking & Walking

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: Seymour could be on cutting edge if it bans town meetings by teleconference (New Haven Register)

ME: South Portland resident sues to end health insurance for city councilors (The Forecaster)

MA: Springfield Public Health Council considers tobacco ban in stores with pharmacies (Springfield Republican)

NH: Winchester school board to sue panel (Keene Sentinel)

RI: Council pushes back on fire vehicles (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Burlington/Winooski School Districts win $3.5 million grant (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Town of Seymour, CT

City of South Portland, ME

City of Springfield, MA

Town of Winchester, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

Burlington, VT, School District

Winooski, VT, School District

Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You call us to reach out to others and the graces You give us during this process.

Andreas Widmer on Vocations

"When I entered the Swiss Guards, I was twenty years old and, like my fellow guards, in peak physical condition. But as fit and energetic as we were, John Paul II could still run rings around us."

In a recent commentary, Andreas Widmer, a former Papal Swiss Guard and cofounder of the SEVEN Fund, reflects on vocations in the light of Pope John Paul II.

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

The Catholic Thing: The Importance of Vocation (26 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Vincent van Gogh

"Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent van Gogh

26 January 2012

"El Shaddai"

"Just because," I over this presentation of "El Shaddai":

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: New Haven firefighter union hires lawyer​ in exam battle (New Haven Register)

ME: School choice will make Maine more student-friendly, commissioner says (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Landfill seepage, costs up says BoH chairman (Telegram & Gazette)

NH: Merrimack Zoning Board to consider appeal of Jehovah’s Witness church (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Woonsocket to audit tax-exempt properties (Woonsocket Call)

VT: Bristol planners work to resolve extraction zone hangup (Addison County Independent)

Background information:

New Haven, CT, Fire Department

City of New Haven, CT

Legal Information Institute: Ricci v. DeStefano (07-1428); Ricci v. DeStefano (08-328)

Maine Department of Education

Sturbridge, MA, Board of Health

Town of Sturbridge, MA

Town of Merrimack, NH

City of Woonsocket, RI

EPA Releases New Tool with Information about Water Pollution Across the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the release of a new resource designed to provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. This resource, the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool, brings together millions of records and is designed to allow for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant.

Searches using the DMR Pollutant Loading Tool result in “top ten” lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations.

Facilities releasing water pollution directly into our nation’s waterways, such as wastewater treatment plants or industrial manufacturers, must receive a permit to discharge under the Clean Water Act. Each permit sets specific limits for how much can be discharged. It also requires the permittee to frequently sample their wastewater discharges and report the data to their state or EPA permitting authority.

A link to the new tool can be found on EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) website, which provides information about inspections, facility compliance, and state and federal enforcement actions. EPA has also released several new ECHO features, including a search for criminal enforcement cases and web developer tools that make it easy to tap into ECHO reports and maps.

Background information:

EPA: Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool

EPA: Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO)

EPA Region 1 (New England)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for your reminder, as recorded in Scripture, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust.” (Mark 5:36/Luke 8:50)

Omar Gutierrez on Trust in the Lord in the Spirit of St. Francis de Sales

"The temptation to despair and presume the end of all that is right and good in our nation is an easy trap to fall into. It is a common tool of the enemy to make us fearful and to behave rashly. It can, indeed, send us running into the metaphorical arms of ideologues in the other extreme. Remember to trust in the Lord, and not in the policy wonks convinced of this or that system. There are no systems. There is only the love of the Master for all of us."

In a recent commentary, Omar F. A. Gutierrez reflected on the lessons of Saint Francis de Sales as applied to these very challenging times.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Regnum Novum: Trust in the Lord: The Feast of St. Francis de Sales (24 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Charles Kingsley

"Thank God - every morning when you get up - that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you a hundred virtues which the idle never know." - Rev. Charles Kingsley

25 January 2012

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: When Enforcing Undocumented Workers Law, One Police Department Dominates (Hartford Courant)

ME: Bangor council to begin planning waterfront trail system (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Town seeks control of water system (Telegram & Gazette)

NH: Former Nashua alderman questions president’s committee involvement (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Sidewalk Inspectors Are Out (East Providence Post)

VT: Vermont whooping cough cases surge; schools take precautions (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

East Haven, CT, Police Department

Town of East Haven, CT

City of Bangor ME

Town of Oxford, MA

Aquarion Water Company

City of Nashua, NH

City of East Providence, RI

Vermont Department of Health

National Firefighter Code Of Ethics

The Cumberland Valley (PA) Volunteer Firemen's Association, a mutual aid organization, recently developed a National Firefighter Code of Ethics.

The idea for the Code was initially proposed in the Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper published by the association. Proposed by the National Society of Executive Fire Officers, it is designed to be a guide for acceptable behavior already practiced by all but a very small percentage of the fire service. Since then, the idea has gained momentum and received support from fire service leadership throughout the U.S.

Beginning in 2008, the CVVFA began studying the impact of inappropriate, unethical, and sometimes illegal conduct/behavior by a small number of fire service members that threatens to erode the moral high ground from beneath the fire service. Fire service opinion leaders met at St. Joseph's University and at the National Fire Academy to explore these concerns. This lead to the issuance of the Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper in March 2010. This white paper discusses a number of social, cultural, and ethical issues impacting the fire service nationwide.

Points in the Code include:

  • Always conduct myself, on and off duty, in a manner that reflects positively on myself, my department and the fire service in general.
  • Accept responsibility for my actions and for the consequences of my actions.
  • Avoid situations that would adversely affect the credibility or public perception of the fire service profession.
  • Conduct my personal affairs in a manner that does not improperly influence the performance of my duties, or bring discredit to my organization.
  • Recognize that I serve in a position of public trust that requires stewardship in the honest and efficient use of publicly owned resources, including uniforms, facilities, vehicles and equipment and that these are protected from misuse and theft.
  • Exercise professionalism, competence, respect and loyalty in the performance of my duties and use information, confidential or otherwise, gained by virtue of my position, only to benefit those I am entrusted to serve.

To access a copy of the National Firefighter Code of Ethics, please visit:

National Firefighter Code of Ethics

Media report:

Firehouse Magazine: Group Creates National Firefighter Code Of Ethics

Background information:

Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper

National Society of Executive Fire Officers

CVVFA: FirefighterBehavior

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for protecting Your Church despite all the force lined up against it and despite the failings of individuals within it.

Msgr. Pope on the Indefectibility and Infallibility of the Church

"There are very few certainties in this world about anything. But one thing is for sure: The Church will prevail, the Church will be here to infallibly lead us to the end of days.

"'How arrogant!' you might say. And yet, say it I did! Why? Not because of any human guarantee, but based rather on the firm promise of Jesus himself."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the prevailing power of the Church to endure to the very end.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: On the Indefectibility and Infallibility of the Church – As Seen on T.V. (24 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"There are no galley-slaves in the royal vessel of divine love - every man works his oar voluntarily." - attributed to Saint Francis de Sales

24 January 2012

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 - 24 January 2012

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: Norwalk fire inspector files discrimination complaint (The Hour)

ME: Town wants to be known (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Westminster Planning Board puts wind power bylaw on paper (Sentinel & Enterprise)

NH: Loan fund chief aims to revive brownfields for economic development (Concord Monitor)

RI: Commissioner: Watchaug purchase 'a farce' (Westerly Sun)

VT: Burlington proposal would give laptops or iPads to 1,900 students (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

City of Norwalk, CT

Town of Richmond, ME

Town of Westminster, MA

Capital Regional Development Council, NH

EPA: Revolving Loan Fund Grants

New England City & Town: Environment Services Issues: Brownfields

Town of Charlestown, RI

Burlington, VT, School District

City of Burlington, VT

SCOTUS: Warrants Required for GPS Tracking

The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled, in a unanimous opinion, that a suspect’s rights were violated when his vehicle was monitored for four weeks via a GPS device without an appropriate warrant.

To access a copy of the Supreme Courts opinion, please visit:

Supreme Court of the U.S.: 10-1259 / United States v. Jones

Media report:

Washington Post: Supreme Court: Warrants needed in GPS tracking (24 JAN 12)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of clouds.

Fr. Robert Barron on Jesus and Religion

“Every once in a while, a video unexpectedly becomes an Internet sensation, garnering attention all over the place and spreading like wildfire through the virtual world.

“Just this past week, a phenomenon of this type has emerged in the form of a slickly produced video of a 20-something-year-old man in a leather jacket half rapping, half speaking a poem about Jesus and religion — more specifically how the former came to abolish the latter.”

In a recent commentary, Father Robert Barron reflected on this pro-Jesus, anti-religion video and explained how Jesus came to fulfill religion, not to abolish it.

To access Father Barron’s reflection, please visit:

NCRegister: Fr. Robert Barron: 'Jesus Didn't Come to Abolish Religion; He Came to Fulfill It' (23 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

"God preserves this great world amid constant change, wherein day turns into night, night into day, spring into summer, summer into autumn, autumn into winter and winter into spring. One day is never perfectly like another: some are cloudy, some rainy, some dry and some windy. Such variety gives great beauty to the universe." - Saint Francis de Sales

23 January 2012

National School Choice Week 2012

This week, the week of 22-28 January is National School Choice Week, a grassroots initiative designed to focus on the need for effective education options for all children, including increased access to great public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools, private schools, and homeschooling.

Planned by a diverse and nonpartisan coalition of individuals and over 200 partner organizations, National School Choice Week includes a number of events and activities that highlight support for school choice programs and proposals.

For additional information about National School Choice Week, please visit:

National School Choice Week

To mark the beginning of National School Choice Week, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has released the 2012 edition of its annual ABCs of School Choice, a comprehensive guide to school choice programs throughout the United States.

This edition contains a basic primer on school choice as well as specific, detailed updates on all 34 school choice programs in the country. The description of each voucher, education savings account, tax-credit scholarship, and individual tax credit and deduction program includes program summaries, information on scholarship values, student eligibility and participation, and related statistics and trends.

To access the , please visit:

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice: 2012 ABCs of School Choice 

Background information:

Facebook: School Choice Week

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

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: NAACP seeking federal scrutiny of discrimination allegations in New London (The Day)

ME: York's declining enrollment prompts talk of school closure (The York Weekly)

MA: Lights on in Mansfield? (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: Money set aside, intersection waits (Concord Monitor)

RI: City Gets Education Aid Early (East Providence Post)

VT: Towns That Share Fairlee Shoreline Consider Joint Control (Valley News)

Background information:

City of New London, CT

Town of York, ME

Town of Mansfield, MA

Town of Pembroke, NH

City of East Providence, RI

Town of Fairlee, VT

Town of Thetford, VT

Town of West Fairlee, VT

Lake Fairlee Association, VT

Vermont League of Cities and Towns

SUFC Endorses Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Report

The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition recently endorsed the Vibrant Cities Report. In its endorsement, SUFC recognized the potential the report and its related initiative can have as a catalyst for effective change and increased support of sustainable urban forests and communities.

The Vibrant Cities Report is the product of 25 peer-designated leaders from multiple sectors who are stakeholders in healthy, vibrant, and livable communities. As stated in the report, its purpose is to “explore the implications of integrated natural and built urban environments and their possibilities for the future.”

To access a copy of the report, please visit:

Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action (November 2011)

Background information:

Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition

Making a Difference

A number of years ago when I was editing the program booklet for the annual Rhode Island Pro-life Conference, I ran across the following story, and I used it in the booklet for a few years. (Today’s March for Life activities triggered the memory.)

“While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

“As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

“He came closer still and called out, ‘Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?’

“The young man paused, looked up, and replied ‘Throwing starfish into the ocean.’

“The old man smiled, and said, ‘I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?

“To this, the young man replied, ‘The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.’

“Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, ‘But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!’

“The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves, and said, ‘It made a difference for that one.’”

Fire Heavily Damages Southington, CT, Industrial Building

One firefighter was injured as a fire heavily damaged a building at the T.C. and Sons Trucking complex, 200 Clark Street, Southington, CT, on Thursday, 19 January. The fie building was occupied by Disturbed Image, a truck club.

The initial alarm was transmitted shortly before 1230 hours. Southington firefighters were assisted by companies from Cheshire.

Media reports:

Record-Journal: Fire rips through Southington industrial building (20 JAN 12)

Republican-American: Blaze guts industrial building (20 JAN 12)

Southington Patch: Fire Chief: Garage a ‘Complete Loss’ (19 JAN 12)

WFSB-TV: Massive fire rips through Southington building (19 JAN 12)

WFSB-TV: Fire burns Southington trucking company (19 JAN 12)

YouTube: Clark Street Fire Explosion

YouTube: Fire Southington Warehouse 1.19.2012

Background information:

Southington Fire Department

Town of Southington

Wikipedia: Southington, Connecticut

Google Map: 200 Clark Street, Southington, CT

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the precious gift of life.

Federal Guidelines: Religious Organizations Required to Cover Contraceptive Services

The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. This announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

The statement, released of 20 January by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, reads as follows:

“In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.  The rule allows certain non-profit religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services. Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception.  Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country. 

“After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule.  We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support.  We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.

“Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, it is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services. The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.  And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws and regulations give to health care providers.”

In commenting on this statement, Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences. To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”

At issue, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders state, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for the conscience of Catholics and all other Americans.

“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. “I have hundreds of employees who will be upset and confused by this edict. I cannot understand it at all.”

Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, voiced disappointment with the decision. Catholic hospitals serve one out of six people who seek hospital care annually.

“This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection,” Sister Keehan said.

Cardinal-designate Dolan urged that the HHS mandate be overturned.

“The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”

The rule is currently subject to two lawsuits filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty - one on behalf of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, and one on behalf of Colorado Christian University. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

To access a video statement by Cardinal-designate Dolan, please visit:

USCCB President Sharply Criticizes HHS Mandate

Media reports:

Cardinal Roger Mahoney Blogs L.A.: Federal Government Mandate for Contraceptive/Sterilization Coverage (20 JAN 12)

Catholic News Service: HHS delays, but does not change, rule on contraceptive coverage (20 JAN 12)

National Catholic Register: HHS Secretary Sebelius: Church Groups Must Provide Contraception (20 JAN 12)

Whispers in the Loggia: "A Foul Ball, By Any Standard" -- On Conscience "Edict," "The Bishops Vow To Fight" (20 JAN 12)

The Hill: Health plans ordered to cover birth control without co-pays (20 JAN 12)

NCRegister: Kyle Duncan: The Other Health-Care Mandate: Good Samaritan Turned Upside Down (21 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Ronald Reagan

"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born." - Ronald Reagan

22 January 2012

Celtic Thunder: "Amazing Grace"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer Celtic Thunder singing "Amazing Grace":

39th March for Life Reminds Us of True Values on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

This weekend the nation remembers the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion at any stage of the preborn baby’s life in his/her mother’s womb. To sadly commemorate this decision and its tragic consequences, there are a number of observances taking place in this region and throughout the nation.

The 39th March for Life will be on Monday, 23 January in Washington, DC. The pre-march March for Life Rally will be on the National Mall (west of 8th Street near the Smithsonian Castle) beginning at 12:00 PM and continuing until approximately 1:30 PM. It will be followed immediately by the March for Life itself.

As in previous years, the Solemn Vigil Mass for Life/National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities) will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Vigil Mass. EWTN will broadcast coverage for this event beginning at 6:30 PM.

The Archdiocese of Washington will host its 16th annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life on Monday. CatholicTV will broadcast coverage at noon and at 8:00 PM.

This year’s events will also include a “Mini-Rally” this afternoon, 3:00-5:00 PM, in Lafayette Park, north of the White House. This program will include speakers (including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee), music ,and prayers, as well as a “MiniMarch” along 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in full view of the White House.

Media reports:

RI Catholic: Marchers sacrifice to defend human life (19 JAN 12)

Kennebec Journal: State House rally targets Roe v. Wade (15 JAN 12)

CatholicMom: MarchForLife - Social Media Spreads The Message Of The March For Life (19 JAN 12)

Unfortunately, there have been other remembrances – treating this Supreme Court decision as a positive decision.

Media report:

Pawtucket Times: Pro-choice activists hold rally to mark anniversary of Roe v. Wade (20 JAN 12)

Background information:

March for Life

National Prayer Vigil for Life

Walk for Life West Coast

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; and Mark 1:14-20. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 25 (Psalm 25:4-9).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Psalm 25 The Lord teaches us His ways

The Gospel reading is as follows:

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 22, 2012)

Msgr. Charles Pope: I Keep So Busy Workin’ for the Kingdom, I Ain’t Got Time to Die. A Meditation on the Readings for the Third Sunday of The Year (21 JAN 12)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Detachment from the World

The Deacon' Bench: Homily for January 22, 2012: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (21 JAN 12)

The Sacred Page: Leaving Behind the Nets: The Readings for the 3d Sunday of Ordinary Time (20 JAN 12)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Following Him (January 22nd, 2012 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities You give us to be Your ambassador in each of the circumstances in which You place us.

Arkansas Referee and Diaconate Candidate

“The similarities between John Hall III's roles as an aspiring deacon and a basketball referee may not be immediately apparent to the layperson, but the 52-year-old Hall begs to differ. He said he finds a lot of similarities between heaven and hardwood.”

In a recent article, the Arkansas Catholic profiled Mr. Hall and his work as a referee and the opportunities it provides to be an ambassador for the Faith.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Arkansas Catholic: Blessed are the peacemakers: Hall finds similarities in faith, sports (21 JAN 12)

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

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in it’s final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of 'the strong' against the weak who have no choice but to submit." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

21 January 2012

Keep America Beautiful and U.S. Composting Council Partnering to Promote Waste Reduction

Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) recently announced that the organizations will join forces on efforts to increase waste reduction through composting education and activities nationwide.

Under the agreement, KAB and USCC will share educational resources and seek to identify collaborative opportunities that benefit their constituencies and the general public by promoting awareness of the important role composting plays in waste reduction, improved soil structure, improved water quality, and reduced soil erosion.

Over 30 percent of KAB’s 587 certified affiliates serve as the recycling coordinators for their communities, and 60 percent are housed within some form of local government. The organization also forges partnerships with State Recycling Organizations and other community-based organizations to host collection events, and deliver resources and programming such as America Recycles Day that strives to raise awareness and increase participation in recycling.

Over the course of 20 years , the US Composting Council has developed initiatives that promote the recycling of organic materials through composting. The Seal of Testing Assurance Program is a national compost testing and labeling program in the US designed to raise the level of professionalism of the commercial compost producer.   This program further evolved in 2011 with the introduction of the Consumer Compost Use Program, which uses STA test data to create certified uses (e.g., lawns, gardens, planting trees, etc.) for compost products based on established parameters.

Background information:

Keep America Beautiful

U.S. Composting Council

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 moves forward with green energy plans (Connecticut Post)

ME: Bangor council panel expresses little interest in leasing golf course (Bangor Daily News)

MA: New insurance agreement to save Framingham $1.7 million (Boston Globe)

NH: Officials hold out hope for Rochester magnet school plan despite committee's vote against it (Foster's Daily Democrat)

RI: Police chief reaches out to local businesses (Westerly Sun)

VT: Rockingham library renovations proceeding well (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

City of Bridgeport, CT

Bangor, ME, Municipal Golf Course

City of Bangor, ME

Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses

Town of Framingham, MA

Rochester, NH, School Department

Town of Rochester, NH

Westerly, RI, Police Department

Town of Westerly, RI

Rockingham, VT, Free Public Library

Town of Rockingham & Bellows Falls Village, VT

James Taylor: "Winter Wonderland"

As I was headed to East Providence yesterday after the early morning snowfall, I saw a number of scenes that triggered "winter wonderland" in my mind. In gratitude for the beauty f these scenes, I offer this presentation of James Taylor singing "Winter Wonderland":

Business Insider: 17 Big Companies that Are Intensely Religious

Business Insider recently presented a photo essay of seventeen big companies that are deemed very religious.

To access this presentation, please visit:

Business Insider: 17 Big Companies That Are Intensely Religious

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for being an active participant in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.

Archbishop (and Cardinal-designate) Dolan on Stan Musial

“On the morning it was announced that the Holy Father had nominated me a cardinal, one of the journalists at the press conference in front of the Christmas crib in St. Patrick’s Cathedral asked if I had ever ‘wanted to be a cardinal.’

“‘Yes,’ I readily replied.  ‘When I was six years old.  I wanted to be Stan Musial!’”

In a recent reflection, Archbishop (and Cardinal-designate) Timothy Dolan, of the Archdiocese of New York, offered some thoughts on Stan (“Stan the Man”) Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was also a committed Catholic.

To access Archbishop Dolan’s post, please visit:

The Gospel in the Digital Age: An Inspiration to Generations (19 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But . . . the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'" - attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

20 January 2012

André Rieu: "The Beautiful Blue Danube"

Time for some Strauss: In this video, André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra play "The Beautiful Blue Danube" (by Johann Strauss II):

The video was recorded live at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria, and it includes dancers from the Austrian Elmayer Dancing School.

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: Panel tasked with child's play (Republican-American)

ME: Nuisance cat rules suggested for Farmingdale (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Nativity scene sparks threat of lawsuit (The Sun-Chronicle)

NH: Councilors accept gift of power station for electric vehicles (Portsmouth Herald)

RI: Pawtucket solicits bids on security cameras (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Pownal to install cameras on buses (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

Town of Oxford, CT

Town of Farmingdale, ME

City of Attleboro, MA

City of Portsmouth, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

Town of Pownal, VT

EPA Grants Awarded to Improve Health in New England Communities

EPA’s New England office is awarding thirteen grants across New England under its 2011 Healthy Communities Grant Program, totaling approximately $372,000, to support community projects addressing environmental and public health issues.  The projects funded through this program will result in reduced environmental risk, protection and improvement of human health, and improvements to the quality of life for communities across New England. 

The Healthy Communities Grant Program combines resources from nine EPA programs to strategically address environmental and public health issues burdening New England communities.  The goal of the program is to competitively select projects that will achieve measurable environmental and public health results in communities across New England.   Eligible projects must meet several criteria including: (1) location  in /or directly benefit one or more of the EPA’s  identified Target Investment Areas; and (2) identification of how the proposed project will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results in one or more of the EPA’s identified Target Program Areas.  Target Investment Areas and Target Program Areas are identified in the annual Request for Initial Proposal. 

In 2011, the Target Investment Areas included Environmental Justice Areas of Potential Concern, Narragansett Bay Watershed, areas with Sensitive Populations, and/or Urban Areas.  Target Program Areas included:  Asthma, Capacity-Building for Environmental and Public Health Issues, Healthy Indoor/Outdoor Environments, Healthy Schools, Narragansett Bay Watershed-Based Water Quality Management, and Urban Natural Resources.

The grants were awarded to the following recipients:


Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust was awarded $25,000 for their “Bridgeport East Side Healthy Homes Initiative” project.  The project will conduct a targeted neighborhood approach to addressing environmentally related illnesses including: inhalant allergens that contribute to asthma triggers; and lead contamination that poisons young children. 

Town of Stratford, CT was awarded $25,000 for their “Reducing Exposure to Residual Nicotine among Children” project.  The project will develop and implement a community marketing/outreach strategy about Third Hand Smoke and Residual Nicotine Exposure (THS/RNE) to be incorporated into existing asthma programs. 


Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point was awarded $25,000 for their “Algae to Diesel Fuel Production in Backyard Bio-Reactors for Home” project.  The project will build on an existing pilot project for producing home heating oil from algae grown in backyard reactors in order to reduce carbon and sulfur emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. This will ultimately improve ambient air quality and and have positive impact on Tribal health. 


Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health was awarded $24,999 for their “Healthy Learning Environments for Asthma Prevention” project.  The project will achieve measurable reductions in environmental triggers; improve asthma management, and build capacity to address environmental inequities in struggling schools.

Ecumenical Social Action Committee was awarded $25,000 for their “Boston Asthma Initiative” project.  The project will provide a holistic integrated clinical and environmental approach to managing asthma for children in the City of Boston. 

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was awarded $39,235 for their “MA/RI Municipal Management Stormwater Assistance Initiative” project.  The project will improve the water quality of Narragansett Bay and its tributary rivers by improving the effectiveness of municipal stormwater management. 

Health Resources in Action was awarded $35,000 for their “Promoting Purchaser Demand” project.  The project will reduce health disparities, and promote environmental justice, health and safety of low-income and minority populations in New England by increasing the demand for Asthma Services which will result in increased financing/and reimbursement by medical insurance companies. 

New Hampshire:

New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health was awarded $25,000 for their “Healthy Schools, Children, Minds” project.  The project will expand the Tools for Schools program statewide in order to increase a) school building maintenance assessment, b) reporting to the Department of Education, and c) school building environmental improvements. 

Manchester Health Department was awarded $24,999 for their “Asthma Education & Outreach Program” project.  The project will advance the Department’s existing comprehensive pediatric asthma education and outreach program through the official adoption and integration of a holistic healthy homes approach to environmental diseases. 

Rhode Island:

Childhood Lead Action Project (CLAP) was awarded $25,000 for their “Up to Code Providence” project.  The project will expand CLAP’s Get the Lead Out Coalition to expand their work on childhood lead poisoning to include childhood asthma in order to protect children from severe health outcomes resulting from mold, pests, lead hazards, or unsafe renovation practices. 

Save the Bay was awarded $34,556 for their “Flood Hazard Reduction and Water Quality Improvement in the Upper Narragansett and Mount Hope Bay Watersheds” project.  The project will assess coastal adaptation techniques and include activities to provide at risk towns with planning tools for adapting to predicated climate changes.

Rhode Island Natural History Survey was awarded $39,209 for their “Expanding Watershed Counts” project.  The project will develop consensus-based freshwater quality indicators for the rivers and streams in the Narragansett Bay watershed.  


Parks Place Community Resource Center was awarded $25,000 for their “Contractor and Landlord Educational Outreach” project.  The project will reduce childhood exposure to lead contaminated dust during renovation and repairs.

Background information:

EPA Region 1 (New England)

Stamford, CT, Launches Smoke Detector Campaign

In the wake of a Christmas Day fire that killed five people, the City of Stamford, CT, has initiated a campaign to donate 1,000 smoke detectors to Stamford residents.

Media report:

Stamford Advocate: Mayor launches smoke detector campaign (19 JAN 12)

WABC-TV: Smoke detectors being handed out after tragic blaze (19 JAN 12)

Background information:

Stamford Fire Departments

City of Stamford

Wikipedia: Stamford, Connecticut

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hearing.

Fr. Najim: Achieving Spiritual Growth in 2012

In a recent video commentary, Father Michael Najim (Vocation Director of the Diocese of Providence and chaplain at La Salle Academy, Providence, RI) offered one way to achieve spiritual growth in 2012.

To access Fr. Najim’s video post, please visit:

Live Holiness: How to Change in 2012 (18 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from George Walker Bush

“What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort, to defend needed reforms against easy attacks, to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens not subjects. Responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.” - President George Walker Bush, in his Inaugural Address (20 January 2001)

19 January 2012

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: Man Seeks Payment For Handgun Police Destroyed (Hartford Courant)

ME: Winter Sunday shellfish digging wins approval (The Times Record)

MA: Area schools trying to rein in student fees (Milford Daily News)

NH: Troy takes aim at flooding (Keene Sentinel)

RI: Either recycle more, Glocester residents, or pay-as-you-throw (Valley Breeze)

VT: Middlebury moves toward public Wi-Fi (Addison County Independent)

Background information:

Town of Manchester, CT

Town of Brunswick, ME

Massachusetts Association of School Committees

Town of Troy, NH

Glocester, RI, Public Works Department

Town of Glocester, RI

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation

Town of Middlebury, VT

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for warm clothing on a cold day and for those persons You have inspired/guided to develop, produce, and distribute this clothing.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Being “Spiritual” Vis-à-vis Being “Religious”

“What's all this ‘spiritual but not religious’ claptrap? Saying you’re spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking. Let's take it further. You love food but hate cooking? That means you can’t be bothered to learn to cook. You can’t be bothered to study food and a meal and how it all fits together. You can’t be bothered to read cookbooks and learn how to make a recipe. You’re not willing to give it a try and burn something and be embarrassed. You’re not willing to burn your fingers, make a mess and have to clean it up. You’re not willing to invite friends, plan a dinner party, take a risk, spend some money and cook for them.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on the difference between being spiritual and being religious.

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: Spiritual but not Religious? (17 JAN 12)