28 February 2013

Fair Haven, VT, Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Recognized for Outstanding Service

Peter Laramie, Chief Operator of the Fair Haven, VT, Wastewater Treatment Plant is being honored with a “2012 Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Excellence Award” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the EPA Region 1 (New England) Office, Mr. Laramie has done an outstanding job over the years in maintaining and operating the facility. Mr. Laramie and his staff have also done significant work in recent years to optimize biological phosphorous and nitrogen removal at the facility and have successfully reduced the nutrient loadings discharged to the Castleton River and ultimately Lake Champlain.

The EPA Regional Wastewater Awards Program is designed to recognize personnel in the wastewater field who have provided invaluable public service managing and operating wastewater treatment facilities throughout New England.

“The professionals operating these wastewater treatment plants, as well as the municipalities and the state environmental agencies that support them, are essential to keeping our environment healthy by protecting water quality. I am proud to give them the credit they deserve,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office, in a prepared statement.

EPA’s New England office formally acknowledged Mr. Laramie for his fine work during the annual New England Water Environment Association Conference on 30 January. Mr. Laramie will also be acknowledged at the May 2013 Green Mountain Water Environment Association annual spring meeting in Killington, Vermont.

Background information:

EPA: Wastewater

EPA: EPA’s Sustainable Water Leadership Program

Fair Haven Water and Sewer Department

Town of Fair Haven

Wikipedia: Fair Haven, Vermont

Green Mountain Water Environment Association

New England Water Environment Association

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for our communities and for the many ways individuals, families, and groups work together to make these communities the places they are.

Julia Greeley, Former Slave, Being considered for Sainthood

“Julia Greeley always walked the streets of Denver with one thing: a red wagon. Inside that wagon was a seemingly endless supply of items for people in need. But Greeley was no rich woman.

“‘She was a slave,’ said Father Blaine Burkey, archivist for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, who has spent years studying Greeley.

“The former slave, who lost one of her eyes when her slave master hit her with a whip, came to Denver from St. Louis. She lived in several homes in the areas of Curtis Park and Five Points. And she never went a day without going to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which still stands at 2760 Larimer Street.”

A recent Black History Month report by Denver’s KUSA-TV highlighted the life of Julia Greeley, who may be considered for sainthood.

To access the complete KUSA-TV report, please visit:

KUSA-TV: Former slave could become a saint (8 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from Abraham Lincoln

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

27 February 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those who minister in volunteer public safety positions in our communities and for all You do for them and through them.

Fr. Kiley on Living in the Presence of God

“The Bible employs exalted names for God like king, ruler, warrior and judge, along with other worthy metaphors like rock, fortress, shield, and refuge.

“But these worthy descriptions of God clearly limit the height and breadth and depth of his exalted being. Similarly scholars nowadays no doubt think they are doing God justice when they refer to him as the ‘Supreme Being.’ But God is not supreme in the sense that he outranks all creation in perfection. The Divine Nature is not merely an exalted degree of human excellence. God’s excellence is not of degree but of kind.”

In a recent commentary, Father John Kiley, pastor emeritus of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Warwick, RI, reflected on the presence of God in the life of His sacramental Church and in the lives of authentic sacramental Christians.

To access Fr. Kiley’s complete refection, please visit:

 RI Catholic: The Quiet Corner: Living in the presence of God (21 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from George Washington

“When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.” – George Washington (in a letter to Edmund Pendleton, 22 January 1795)

26 February 2013

New England Wastewater Treatment Plants Recognized for Excellence

The Adams, MA, Wastewater Treatment Plant; Lee, MA, Wastewater Treatment Plant; Uxbridge, MA, Wastewater Treatment Plant; Gorham, NH, Wastewater Treatment Plant; and Westerly, RI, Wastewater Treatment Plant were each recently selected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a 2012 Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award.

The staff of these wastewater treatment plants were recognized by EPA’s New England Office for exceptional work in operating and maintaining the plants.

The EPA Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award was established to recognize and honor the employees of publicly owned wastewater treatment plants for its commitment to improving water quality with outstanding plant operations and maintenance. According to EPA, more often than not, and particularly with the smaller facilities, conscientious operators and staff continue to perform exceptionally with limited resources.

The Uxbridge Wastewater Treatment Plant staff was acknowledged for its outstanding work on 30 January at the annual New England Water Environment Association Conference in Boston.

Background information:

EPA: Wastewater

EPA: EPA's Sustainable Water Leadership Program

Adams, MA, Wastewater Treatment Plant

Town of Adams, MA

Lee, MA, Wastewater Treatment Plant

Town of Lee, MA

Uxbridge, MA, Wastewater Division

Town of Uxbridge, MA

Gorham, NH, Water & Sewer Department

Town of Gorham, NH

Town of Westerly, RI

Wikipedia: Adams, Massachusetts

Wikipedia: Lee, Massachusetts

Wikipedia: Uxbridge, Massachusetts

Wikipedia: Gorham, New Hampshire

Wikipedia: Westerly, Rhode Island

New England Water Environment Association

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for health care workers on the various levels and for the many ways You minister to Your people through them.

Msgr. Pope on Proclaiming the Truth about Heaven and Hell

“Some recent data available over at the CARA Blog presents a sober picture for the Church in the decade ahead. I have long suspected that the 25% of Catholics who attend Mass today was a number that is going to drop quickly, as the last generation to be widely taught that missing Mass is a mortal sin steps off the scene. It would seem that the stage is happening for that.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the lack of a sense of urgency among Catholics in anything related to death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Recent Look at the Numbers Says it’s Time for Some Unvarnished Truth (11 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

“When, O Lord, will patience with our neighbor take possession of our hearts? This is the final and most excellent lesson of the teaching of the saints; happy that spirit who fully understands this! We are always anxious that others put up with our miseries, and that they tolerate us; yet the miseries and faults of our neighbor always seem so great and unsupportable!” – Saint Francis de Sales

25 February 2013

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week, the week of 24 February-2 March, is being observed as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week), an initiative designed to increase awareness and education about eating disorders and body image issues for effective recognition, early intervention, and direction to care.

For more information about this observance, please visit:

NEDAwareness Week

Background information:

National Eating Disorders Association

Facebook: National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

NEDA: Educators Toolkit

NEDA: Coach & Athletic Trainer Toolkit

NEDA: Parent Toolkit

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for instituting each of the sacraments and for the fountains of grace they are.

A Lenten Prayer Reflection from Father Fleming

In a recent commentary, Father Austin Fleming, pastor of Holy Family Parish, Concord, MA, offered a Lenten reflection on a prayer offered by people in Nigeria.

To access his complete post, please visit:

A Concord Pastor Comments: A Lenten prayer from Nigeria (21 FEB 03)

Reflection Starter from Mother Teresa

“Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.” – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)

24 February 2013

Second Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Philippians 3:17-4:1; and Luke 9:28-36. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 27 (Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14).

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

YouTube: Psalm for the Second Sunday of Lent (cycle C)

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying.

While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Second Sunday of Lent (February 24, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Every Round Goes, Higher, Higher. A Meditation on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent (23 FEB 13)

The Sacred Page: The Second Sunday of Lent: The Beginning of the New Exodus (21 FEB 13)

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.: From Tabor to Calvary: Did God Abandon Jesus?

The Happy Priest: The Meaning of Suffering (24 FEB 13)

Word on Fire: Sermon 633: The More: 2nd Sunday of Lent

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Glory in Sight (February 24th 2013 - 2nd Sunday of Lent)

The Word Engaged: Temptations (Second Sunday of Lent C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the healing graces of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Report: Father Emil Kapaun to Be Awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

“Emil Kapaun, a priest from Kansas celebrated for his actions during the Korean War and in a North Korean prisoner of war camp, will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama, the nation’s highest military award for bravery.”

A recent article in the Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) offered a brief profile of Father Kapaun and of the efforts to have him awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

To access the complete Wichita Eagle article (as well as a number of links related to Father Kapaun), please visit:

Wichita Eagle: Father Emil Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor (23 FEB 13)

Related articles/information:

Catholic news Agency: Fr. Emil Kapaun beatification cause heads to Rome (6 JUL 11)

Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School (Wichita, KS): Father Emil Kapaun

Reflection Starter from Saint Maximilian Kolbe

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.” – Saint Maximilian Kolbe

23 February 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for glimpses of the beauty of Your created world that You give us throughout the day – whether it be in parks or other natural areas, in photographs and paintings, or in videos.

Fr. Najim on Pope Benedict and the Voice of God

“Over the last few days, I’ve been pondering what the prayer of Pope Benedict’s heart must have been during these past weeks What was it like for him? What was happening in his interior life, in his heart to heart conversations with Jesus? What was he saying to Jesus? And what was Jesus saying to him?”

In a recent commentary, Father Michael Najim, reflected on the Pope’s decision to resign as a lesson in prayer and discernment.

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

Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction: Pope Benedict and the Voice of God (16 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from Francois Fenélon

“We can often do more for other men by trying to correct our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.” – Francois Fenélon

22 February 2013

Happy Birthday, George Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A selection of quotes from George Washington:

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

Smithsonian Institution: George Washington - A National Treasure: Chronology

Other information:

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

2013 American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb

Son Joe is planning to again participate in the 2013 American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb in Providence, RI, on Saturday, 23 February. The climb will held at One Financial Plaza (which is also known as the Sovereign Bank Tower), beginning at 9:00 AM. Joe is scheduled to start at 11:03 AM.

In this event, participants race the clock and climb to the top (29th floor) of the building. The event is also a fundraiser for the American Lung Association. There is a $35 registration fee and a $100 fundraising minimum. (Fortunately, there is a water stop on the 15th floor.)

Joe is still accepting donations, which can be made online by visiting:

American Lung Association Fight For Air: Fight for Air Climb - Providence, RI - Personal Page: Joseph Lopatosky

Go, Joe!!!

Background information:

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

American Lung Association

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You call us and encourage us to live our Faith.

Bevil Bramwell, OMI, on Our Faith and the Challenges of Our Times

“We are at the end of an age. And that is a fact that must loom large in the inventory of our Christian lives, for which we are all individually responsible. The priest or bishop or professor who misled us in college will not be with us at the judgment seat. Neither will ‘the culture’ or the media. Lent is the suitable time to put aside all excuses and to reflect on larger concerns, which are becoming more acute with each passing year.

“The ‘take-out’ model of parishes – where you drop in to church for the sacraments and little else – has left generations of U.S. Catholics poorly informed and largely unprepared for a culture that no longer supports life, basic faith, truth, or morality. So for Catholics, this is the question: how do I carve out my life in a world that constantly contradicts what I believe so that I become a saint?”

In a recent commentary, Father Bevil Bramwell, OMI, reflected on how truly living one’s Catholic faith change’s one’s perspective the challenges of our times.

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

The Catholic Thing: Lent at the End of an Age (17 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

“Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” – G. K. Chesterton

18 February 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those people who assisted others with snow clearing and other services during our recent snow storms.

Russell Shaw on Appreciating Lent

“Why is it that Ash Wednesday and Lent remain relatively popular even in highly secularized times like these? It's a serious question that touches on matters deeper than might at first be supposed.

“The popularity I speak of can be seen year after year on Ash Wednesday, when people – some of them perhaps not all that often in church – stream up the aisle to get their ashes. Not a few then return for Mass or Stations of the Cross on weekdays during Lent. How come?”

In a recent commentary, writer Russell Shaw reflected on the life-giving contact Lent gives us with the reality of mortality, sin, redemption, and the human condition.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Russell Shaw: To Appreciate Mercy, Appreciate Lent (10 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from Abraham Lincoln

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln

17 February 2013

Brian Doerksen: “Take My Life and Let It Be”

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Brian Doerksen: “Take My Life and Let It Be”:

First Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the First Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Deuteronomy 26:4-10, Romans 10:8-13, and Luke 4:1-13. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 91 (Psalm 91:1-2, 10-15).

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

YouTube: "Psalm 91: Be With Me Lord" -- Haugen

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone.’”

Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”

When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: First Sunday of Lent (February 17, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Gospel Train reaches Temptation Station: Stay on Board Children! A Meditation on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (16 FEB 13)

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for February 17, 2013: 1st Sunday of Lent (16 FEB 13)

The Quiet Corner: We should never challenge God’s will (14 FEB 13)

The Sacred Page: Lent as Spiritual Warfare: Readings for 1st Sunday in Lent (14 FEB 13)

Word on Fire: Sermon 632 : Three Questions from the Desert : 1st Sunday of Lent

Dr. Scott Hahn: Forty Days (February 17th 2013 - 1st Sunday in Lent)

The Word Engaged: Temptations (First Sunday of Lent C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many opportunities for spiritual growth You offer us during the holy season of Lent.

Father Ryan Erlenbush on Lenten Mortifications

“Bodily or exterior mortification is the theme of the twenty-third chapter of the third part of the spiritual classic Introduction to the Devout Life by the Doctor of the Charity, St. Francis de Sales [here]. A book worth reading some two hundred or more times before death, the Introduction is particularly notable for its proper balance in all things while stirring the soul with a true zeal to serve God with the whole heart, mind, and strength.

“As we enter the season of Lent – a time particularly dedicated to bodily mortification and fasting – we do well to consider the wisdom and advice of the saintly Bishop of Geneva who will show the true way of devotion for those of us living in the world (rather than in the cloister of a monastery or convent). . . .

“Following St. Francis de Sales, I submit that (for the laity) the diligent and cheerful fulfillment of one’s daily duties is worth more than fasting and mortifications. Indeed, a man’s work may profit him far more than any fast. The task of potty-training a toddler is often a greater mortification for a mother of five children than any hair shirt could be.

“However, St. Francis and I would not advocate setting aside all forms of fasting and mortification – no, not at all! Rather, we only recommend that the practice of bodily mortification be adapted to suit the vocation of the penitent.”

In a recent commentary, Father Ryan Erlenbush reflected on ways in which lay people may offer up Lenten mortifications.

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

The New Theological Movement: Balaam's ass and bodily mortification, according to St. Francis de Sales (13 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from Pope Benedict XVI

“In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works.” – Pope Benedict XVI (in his Message for Lent 2012)

16 February 2013

The Kingston Trio: “They Call The Wind Maria”

It’s time for a little something from The Kingston Trio. In this video, they are performing “They Call the Wind Maria”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those people who work to preserve and share elements of local history.

USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program Launches Amistad Movement

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Anti-Trafficking Program has initiated the Amistad Movement,a new awareness campaign in immigrant communities. The campaign is designed to focus on awareness raising, education, and coalition building among communities most vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking, especially recent immigrants engaged in industries that are poorly regulated (e.g., agriculture, domestic/in-home care, and hospitality).

For additional information about this initiative, please visit:

USCCB: The Amistad Movement

Background information:

USCCB: Anti-Trafficking Program

USCCB: Coalition Of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking

Media reports:

National Catholic Register: New Weapon to Fight Human Trafficking (6 FEB 13)

Catholic News Service: MRS program looks to empower immigrants to combat human trafficking (24 JAN 13)

Reflection Starter from Abraham Lincoln

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

15 February 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, the many ways You continue to call us to (re)turn to You.

Dr. D’Ambrosio of the Forty Days of Lent

“In the English language, the special season before Easter is called ‘Lent.’ The word comes from the ‘lengthening’ of daylight hours as we progress from the darkness of winter to the new light of spring. But other languages, such as Spanish, have a name for this season that is derived from the word for forty. It is the season of the forty days.

“OK, we do penance for forty days because Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness. But did you ever wonder why he was out there for forty days rather than seven or ten or fifty?”

In this reflection, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio offers some thoughts on Lent and why it has forty days.

To access his complete essay, please visit:

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Forty Days of New Life

Related reflection:

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: 40 Ways to Get the Most Out of the Season of Lent!

Reflection Starter from Albert Schweitzer

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” – Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer

14 February 2013

Blizzard Update

Local (as well as state and federal) government agencies, utility companies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and residents are now facing the challenge of cleaning up after the blizzard and restoring a sense of normalcy to New England and beyond.

Media reports:

CT: People Go Back To Work After Blizzard; Snow-Choked City Streets Slow Commute (Hartford Courant)

CT: Cities Turning Tide: Most Streets Finally Clear Of Snow (Hartford Courant)

CT: Farmers cope with snow-collapsed buildings (The Day)

MA: Power back for those near breaking point (Cape Cod Times)

MA: Man killed in Norton head on collision (with snow plow) (The Sun Chronicle)

RI: Equipment failure slows Woonsocket’s blizzard response (Valley Breeze)

RI: Parents confused by Tues. school cancellations (WPRI-TV)

Blizzard reignites coastal erosion concerns (NECN)

Thank You, Lord

Thank You, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us in throughout this holy season of Lent.

Message of Pope Benedict XVI for Lent 2013

“The celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.

“In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John’s fundamental assertion: ‘We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us’ (1 Jn 4:16), I observed that ‘being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us’ (Deus Caritas Est, 1). Faith is this personal adherence – which involves all our faculties – to the revelation of God’s gratuitous and ‘passionate’ love for us, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. The encounter with God who is Love engages not only the heart but also the intellect: ‘Acknowledgement of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love. But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete’ (ibid., 17). Hence, for all Christians, and especially for ‘charity workers’, there is a need for faith, for ‘that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbor will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love’ (ibid., 31a). Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and accordingly, under the influence of that love – ‘Caritas Christi urget nos’ (2 Cor 5:14) – they are profoundly open to loving their neighbor in concrete ways (cf. ibid., 33). This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love.”

Pope Benedict XVI recently offered his message for this year’s Lenten observance.

To access his complete message, please visit:

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2013

Reflection Starter from John Maxwell

“A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John Maxwell

13 February 2013

Juvenile Justice Training in Police Academies

“Over the past decade, police have become a ubiquitous presence in the lives of many youths, particularly those living
in disadvantaged communities. They are now routinely deployed in public schools. As social and mental health services have been scaled back, police are frequently the first responders in domestic disputes involving juveniles.”

A recent Strategies for Youth survey on the state of training about juveniles available in police academies reported that, among other findings :

  • In 37 states, academies spent 1% or less of total training hours on juvenile justice issues.
  • 40 states’ juvenile justice curricula focus primarily on the juvenile code and legal issues and provides no communication or psychological skills for officers working with children and youth.
  • The majority of academies do not teach recruits how to recognize and respond to youth with mental health, trauma-related and special education-related disorders.
  • In spite of the number of young officers assigned to schools right out of the academy, only one state provided specific training for officers deployed to schools.

According to the report, “This training gap for police officers has serious long and short-term consequences. Police officers’ lack of understanding about adolescent behavior and development and ignorance of a host of promising practices and interventions limits the tools and strategies available to them when dealing with youths. This fact is confirmed by the number of juvenile arrests each year – 2.1 million – of which only 12% are for serious or violent felonies. Arrests have profound and long-term harmful consequences for youths, their families and communities, risk the safety of officers, and put a strain on our communities’ already overstretched public resources and institutions.”

Strategies for Youth is recommending that police academies increase the scope, depth, and focus of training to equip police with a variety of tools and strategies for encounters with youths. They specifically recommend that all police recruits should be taught:

  • To understand how developmental capacities of children and teenagers differ from those of adults and therefore require a set of approaches and strategies appropriate to their development;
  • Communication and behavioral skills that are most effective for working with youth to reduce, rather than increase, the likelihood of conflict or violent response; and
  • To recognize triggers and key indicators of trauma, exposure to violence, and other mental health issues among children and youth, particularly those who live in areas of concentrated disadvantage, and how to use alternatives to arrest for these children.

To access a copy of the complete report, please visit:

Strategies for Youth: If Not Now, When? A Survey of Juvenile Justice Training in America’s Police Academies (5 FEB 13)

Media report:

Boston Globe: Training gap cited for police on youth (12 FEB 13)

Background information:

Strategies for Youth

Blizzard Update

Local (as well as state and federal) government agencies, utility companies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and residents are now facing the challenge of cleaning up after the blizzard and restoring a sense of normalcy to New England and beyond.

Media reports:

CT: Frustrated city residents clear their own streets (Connecticut Post)

CT: Norwich pushes to get snow removed from streets (Norwich Bulletin)

CT: CL&P lends Connecticut communities equipment to help dig out (New Haven Register)

CT/RI: Rescue squads kept busy during blizzard, aftermath (Westerly Sun)

MA: Cape residents: That powerless feeling (Cape Cod Times)

MA: Almost 2,500 NStar customers on SouthCoast without power (The Standard-Times)

MA: No-school days wear out parents (Boston Globe)

RI: Buses stuck in snow, parents upset (WPRI-TV)

RI: Roads leave residents miffed (The Times)

RI: Photos: Aerial View of Blizzard 2013 (WPRI-TV Photo Gallery)

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the holy season of Lent. The assigned readings are Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 51 (Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Reflection on today’s observance:

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for February 13, 2013: Ash Wednesday (12 FEB 13)

Beginning to Pray: Lent - praying from the heart (12 FEB 13)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the holy season of Lent and for the many grace-filled opportunities You are offering us in this year’s observance.

A Deacon’s Service as Hospital Chaplain

“Deacon Del Leonardo carries three pagers and a cell phone on him at all times.

“It’s a necessity in his work as a full-time evening and overnight chaplain at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, but Deacon Leonardo doesn’t mind all of the buzzing and beeping coming from his hip. Rather, he sees those as opportunities to be with patients ‘in the moment’ who are critically ill or close to death.”

A recent article in the St. Louis Review profiled Deacon Del Leonardo and his chaplaincy work.

To access the complete article, please visit:

St. Louis Review: A permanent deacon lends his care to those in need (6 FEB 13)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip.

Reflection Starter from Thomas à Kempis

“Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God.” – Thomas a Kempis

12 February 2013

Blizzard Update

Local (as well as state and federal) government agencies, utility companies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and residents are now facing the challenge of cleaning up after the blizzard and restoring a sense of normalcy to New England and beyond.

Media reports:

CT: Some roads may not be plowed till Sunday, state calls for volunteers (Connecticut Post)

CT: Blizzard Cleanup Continues; Travel Troubles Abound (Hartford Courant)

ME: Portland gets high grades on snow removal (Portland Press Herald)

MA: 40,000 without power in Mass. in wake of blizzard (Boston Globe)

MA: The big dig: Worcester snow cleanup could cost $2M (Telegram & Gazette)

NH: Time-lapse video of downtown Nashua during the storm (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Storm clean-up came with obvious challenges (The Times)

RI: Remote areas a struggle for Natl. Grid (WPRI-TV)

Buried by Nemo, Northeast looks to get back to business (USA Today)

Crews focused on clearing snow, restoring power (USA Today)

Abraham Lincoln

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A selection of quotes from Abraham Lincoln:

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

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

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

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

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

“Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.” (in a letter to Quintin Campbell, 28 June 1862)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You blessed Pope Benedict XVI during his pontificate.

Pope Benedict XVI Stepping Down

“Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the universal church, Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would be resigning at the end of the month after an eight-year pontificate.”

Thus begins a Catholic News Service report on the impending resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the announcement of which caught many people by surprise.

To access this complete report, please visit:

Catholic News Service: Citing health reasons, Pope Benedict announces he will resign (11 FEB 13)

Media reports:

Vatican Radio: Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation at end of month (11 FEB 13)

Catholic News Service: In hindsight, Pope Benedict's resignation seems almost predictable (11 FEB 13)

National Catholic Register: U.S. Bishops Express Gratitude for Pope’s Leadership (11 FEB 13)

National Catholic Register: Pope Benedict XVI’s Papacy, 2005-2013 (11 FEB 13)

This announcement has led, in turn, to a number of commentators expressing their thoughts on what type of person the next Pope should be.  From my (limited) point of view, what is more important is what type of person God wants the next Pope to be. After all, it’s His Church, and it is His Vicar that will be called upon to lead the Church.

Reflection Starter from Pope Benedict XVI

“Truth is not determined by a majority vote.” – Pope Benedict XVI

11 February 2013

Blizzard Update Supplement

For additional media reports and photo galleries related to the recent blizzard, please visit:

CT: Most Power Restored Along Southeast Coast, Some Shelters Remain Open  (Hartford Courant)

CT: Coit Street residents take matters into their own hands (The Day)

CT: No injuries as snow collapses roof of Waterford business (The Day)

ME: Digging deep: Snow removal could take weeks (Portland Press Herald)

ME: Blaze destroys Centerville home during Saturday snowstorm (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Blizzard hits Scituate, Mass. hard, entire town without power (NECN)

MA: Shelters near capacity as Cape residents remain without power (Cape Cod Times)

MA: Salt Island Rd. homes, Lanes Cove seawall heavily damaged (Gloucester Times)

MA: Storm removes dunes, destroys walkway at Town Neck Beach (Cape Cod Times)

MA: MetroWest towns getting back to normal after blizzard (MetroWest Daily News)

MA: Worcester firefighter has fatal heart attack while clearing snow (WFXT-TV)

MA: Path clearing goes on in wake of storm (Telegram & Gazette)

MA: Snow cleanup efforts draw mixed reactions, but at least the sledding was good (Patriot Ledger)

NH: In NH, big snowstorm translating to cold, hard cash for some (New Hampshire Union Leader)

RI: Crews battle fires during blizzard (WPRI-TV)

RI: Blizzard 2013: The Beautiful Side (WPR-TV Photo Gallery)

RI: The day after the Blizzard of 2013 (Providence Journal Photo Gallery)

RI: Plowing done wrong (Greater City Providence)

Northeast digs out after deadly blizzard (CNN)

Blizzard Update

Local (as well as state and federal) government agencies, utility companies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and residents are now facing the challenge of cleaning up after the blizzard and restoring a sense of normalcy to New England and beyond.

Media reports:

CT: Cleanup Continues; Most Schools Closing Monday; Malloy Tells Non-Essential State Workers To Stay Home (Hartford Courant)

CT: Blizzard cleanup is a shovel-ready project (The Day)

ME: Portland begins to dig out after record snowfall (Portland Press Herald)

ME: Finding Nemo? Easy. Fighting Nemo? Not so much, say Augusta plow drivers, public works bosses (Kennebec Journal)

MA: Region scrambles to resume its routines today (Boston Globe)

MA: 75K on Cape Cod still without power (Cape Cod Times)

NH: Storm pounds region with feet of snow (Foster’s Daily Democrat)

NH: NH continues to dig out from nor'easter (WMUR-TV)

RI: Outages shrinking as residents start digging out (WJAR-TV)

RI: Over 280 hospitalizations due to snow (WPRI-TV)

The Northeast, Buried Under Snow, Tries to Dig Its Way Out (New York Times)

Massive blizzard slams northeast (CNN)

For additional media reports and photo galleries, please visit:

Lop Notes: Blizzard Update Supplement (11 FEB 13)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You give Your people as they face the challenges of severe weather events.

Msgr. Pope on the Hymn, “Once to Every Man and Nation”

“There is a lesser known hymn, at least in Catholic circles, which is remarkably fit for our times since it both challenges us to soberly see the choice before us and also encourages us that the victory is already our if we choose Christ Jesus. I would like to present the verses of the hymn and supply commentary throughout.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how the hymn, “Once to Every Man and Nation,” serves as a reminder of Who is in control of history, and Who will ultimately write the last chapter.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Summons to Courage and a Reminder of Victory in an Old Hymn (6 FEB 13)

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” – G. K. Chesterton

10 February 2013

“Here I Am, Lord”

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Dan Schutte’s “Here I Am, Lord”:

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 6:1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, and Luke 5:1-11. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 138 (Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 138 In the sight of the angels I will sing Your praises Lord

The Gospel reading is as follows:

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 10, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Jesus is a Rock and I’m Ready to Roll: A Meditation on the Gospel for the 5th Sunday of the Year (9 FEB 13)

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for February 10, 2013: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (9 FEB 13)

Marcellino D’Ambrosio, PhD: Adventure or Cautious Mediocrity?

The Sacred Page: “Duc in Altum!” “Put Out into the Deep!”: Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (6 FEB 13)

The New Theological Movement: What St. Paul saw on the road to Damascus, and what mystics see (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) (8 FEB 13)

Word on Fire: Sermon 631 : Duc In Altum! : 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dr. Scott Hahn: Into the Deep (February 10th 2013 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Word Engaged: Open to Transcendence (Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You minister to Your people through Your deacons.

21 Permanent Deacons Ordained in Diocese of Providence

“The Diocese of Providence was richly blessed Saturday when 21 members of the Class of 2013 were ordained to the permanent diaconate on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.”

To access a Rhode Island Catholic report on the ordination of these deacons, please visit:

Rhode Island Catholic: 21 ordained to permanent diaconate (7 FEB 13)

To access a related reflection from Bishop Tobin, please visit:

Without a Doubt: Permanent Deacons: Called to be Servants of Christ (7 FEB 13)

When I taught at Saint Patrick School, I had the blessing to work with two of these new deacons – Steve Raymond and Eduardo Birbuet. Well done, Steve and Eduardo!!! May you and the other members of your class be richly blessed as begin your diaconate ministry.

To access photos from the ordination ceremony, as well as a copy of the program book, please visit:

Diocese of Providence: Ordination of First Permanent Diaconate Class Since 2002

Reflection Starter from St. Basil

“We should not accept in silence the benefactions of God, but return thanks for them.” – Saint Basil

09 February 2013

Blizzard Update

A Blizzard Waning continues in effect until 1:00 this afternoon for Connecticut, Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts, and Southeastern New Hampshire; until 4:00 this afternoon for the seacoast of New Hampshire and the coastal plain of Maine; and until 7:00 this evening for Hancock and Washington counties in Maine. In addition, there is a Coastal Flood Warning in effect until 12:00 noon for the east facing coastline of Massachusetts.

Snow plows continue to operate under difficult conditions, and emergency crews have been responding to a number of medical, hazardous condition, and other emergencies. In a number of incidents, emergency vehicles became stuck and had to be rescued by snow plows. In other cases, even the snow plows were becoming stuck, and other snow plows were being taken off the road due to various types of mechanical breakdowns.

In some communities, due to treacherous road conditions and blinding wind-driven snow, all Town vehicles were ordered off the roads until safety conditions improve. Residents have been asked to stay indoors and not to attempt travel by any means (e.g., driving, walking).

States of Emergency have been declared in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. In addition, travel bans, limiting travel by vehicles considered non-essential, have been issued in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Although the blizzard (which the Weather Channel nicknamed Nemo) continues to impact the region, local (as well as state and federal) government agencies, utility companies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and residents are preparing to face the challenge of cleaning up and restoring a sense of normalcy to New England and beyond.

Media reports:

CT: Storm socks state with heavy snow, wind and travel bans (Connecticut Post)

CT: Storm Rages On; Snowfall Totals Over 3 Feet In Some Towns (Hartford Courant)

ME: Historic blizzard batters Maine (Portland Press Herald)

ME: 1 hurt in 19-vehicle pileup on I-295 in Cumberland (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Massive storm hammers area with wind and snow (Cape Cod Times)

MA: Governor Deval Patrick’s surprise travel ban wins praise, criticism (Boston Globe)

NH: Wicked weather tests mettle of Granite Staters (New Hampshire Union Leader)

NH: Snow-mageddon First blizzard of year brings region to grinding halt (Foster's Daily Democrat)

RI: Nemo whitewashes the area (Westerly Sun)

RI: Blizzard knocks out power to 187,000 RI homes, businesses (WJAR-TV)

VT: Area road crews prepare for worst (Brattleboro Reformer)

CNN: 1 dead, 600,000 without power from ongoing blizzard (9 FEB 13)

CNN: Photos: Northeast blizzard

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You minister to people affected by weather events.

World Day of the Sick

Monday, 11 February (the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes), is the 21st World Day of the Sick. This annual observance invites Catholics and other Christians to pray for those who are sick, to reflect on and respond to human suffering, and to gratefully acknowledge and honor all persons who work in health care and serve as caregivers.

“On 11 February 2013, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Twenty-first World Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated at the Marian Shrine of Altötting. This day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the faithful and for all people of goodwill ‘a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who, by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind’ (John Paul II, Letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick, 13 May 1992, 3). On this occasion I feel especially close to you, dear friends, who in health care centres or at home, are undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering. May all of you be sustained by the comforting words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: ‘You are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by Christ and are his living and transparent image’ (Message to the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering).

“So as to keep you company on the spiritual pilgrimage that leads us from Lourdes, a place which symbolizes hope and grace, to the Shrine of Altötting, I would like to propose for your reflection the exemplary figure of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Gospel parable recounted by Saint Luke is part of a series of scenes and events taken from daily life by which Jesus helps us to understand the deep love of God for every human being, especially those afflicted by sickness or pain. With the concluding words of the parable of the Good Samaritan, ‘Go and do likewise’ (Lk 10:37), the Lord also indicates the attitude that each of his disciples should have towards others, especially those in need. We need to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or not we know them and however poor they may be. This is true, not only for pastoral or health care workers, but for everyone, even for the sick themselves, who can experience this condition from a perspective of faith: ‘It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love’ (Spe Salvi, 37).”

In his annual message for this observance, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, using the example of the Good Samaritan, to help those in need in a concrete manner.

To access the Holy Father’s complete message for this year’s observance, please visit:

Message of the Holy Father for the Twenty-first World Day of the Sick (11 February 2013)

Reflection Starter from Proverbs

“Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.” – Proverbs 19:21

08 February 2013

Blizzard Update

Communities throughout the region are preparing for the blizzard (nicknamed Winter Storm Nemo) that will be striking the region today. Highway crews are ready, warming shelters have been set up, and emergency management officials have plans and resources in place.

Media reports:

The Weather Channel: Winter Storm Nemo: Historic Blizzard Arrives Tonight (8 FEB 13)

Hartford Courant: Blizzard Warnings Have Residents, Officials Scrambling To Prepare (8 FEB 13)

Portland Press Herald: Forecaster says: ‘It’s going to be tough’ (8 FEB 13)

Boston Globe: Mass. girds for coming snowstorm (8 FEB 13)

NECN: Worcester braces for Friday's big storm (7 FEB 13)

Dover’s Daily Democrat: Storm readies knockout punch: Communities all brace for the worst (8 FEB 13)

WPRI-TV: RIEMA urges residents to prep for storm (7 FEB 13)

Background information:

Emergency Management Division, Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Maine Emergency Management Agency: Maine Prepares

Maine Emergency Management Agency

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Homeland Security and Emergency Management, New Hampshire Department of Safety

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency

Vermont Emergency Management

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Caribou, ME

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Gray/Portland, ME

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Taunton/Boston, MA

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Burlington, VT

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Albany, NY

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Upton/New York City, NY

Five New England Communities Get EPA Technical Assistance to Help with Sustainability

Five New England communities were among 43 selected nationwide to receive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) technical assistance to pursue sustainable growth that encourages local economic development while safeguarding people’s health and the environment. The New England communities are Bridgeport and Stamford, Connecticut; Brunswick and Portland, Maine; and Brattleboro, Vermont.

The assistance is being provided through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. EPA staff and national experts will conduct one- or two-day workshops focusing on the specific sustainability goal each community chose in their initial application to EPA. The agency offered nine tools this year, including a Green Building Toolkit, Land Use Strategies to Protect Water Quality, and Using Smart Growth to Produce Economic and Fiscal Health.

EPA consulted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation to select this year’s 43 recipients from 121 applicants through a competitive process. Together, EPA, HUD and DOT form the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which coordinates investments in housing, transportation, and environmental protection to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.

For more information on the Building Blocks program, please visit:

EPA: Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities

For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, please visit:

EPA: HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Background information:

City of Bridgeport

City of Stamford

Town of Brunswick

City of Portland

Town of Brattleboro

Wikipedia: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Wikipedia: Stamford, Connecticut

Wikipedia: Brunswick, Maine

Wikipedia: Portland, Maine

Wikipedia: Brattleboro, Vermont

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You give us encouragement as we face difficult circumstances/challenges.

Fr. Najim Offers a Lenten Game Plan

“Lent begins on February 13.  In this video I talk about having a good game plan for Lent.”

In a recent commentary, Father Michael Najim (Director of Spiritual Formation at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence

and chaplain at La Salle Academy, both in Providence, RI) offers one way to experience the blessings of Lent.

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

Live Holiness: Your Lenten Game Plan

Reflection Starter from Anne Frank

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank (in The Diary of a Young Girl)

07 February 2013

Impending Storm Triggers Memories of Historic Blizzard of 1978

National Weather Service and other meteorologists are growing more confident that a major winter storm will impact New England (and other parts of the Northeast) Friday into Saturday. The storm system is forecast to bring strong winds and heavy snow to the region (especially Eastern New England), and a Blizzard Watch has been issued for central and eastern Connecticut, most of south central and eastern Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Snow accumulations are forecast to be in the one- to two-foot range in this area.

The timing of this storm comes shortly after the 35th anniversary of the historic Blizzard of 1978 (5- 7 February), which brought record snowfalls to Boston, Providence, and other locations in the region. The National Weather Service has produced a report that contains pictures and other reports related to this blizzard. To access a copy of this booklet, please visit:

National Weather Service: The Blizzard of 1978 Remembered 35 Years Later

Related media report:

NECN: Remembering the Blizzard of '78 (6 FEB 13)

National Weather Service offices responsible for this region (or portions thereof):

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Caribou, ME

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Gray/Portland, ME

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Taunton/Boston, MA

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Burlington, VT

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Albany, NY

National Weather Service: Weather Forecast Office, Upton/New York City, NY

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our communities, no matter our level of awareness of them or participation in them.

On a Prison Ministry, Even When Unjustly Imprisoned

“I got a rap on my office door recently. The rapper was Karl Keating giving a meet-and-greet tour of the apostolate for a man called Russell Ford and his friend, one Marshall Pickard. I, the rappee, had been looking forward to meeting the man I had admired for many years for his articles in the former This Rock magazine and for his tenacity and courage. Only months ago he had walked out of the Alabama prison system a free man after 25 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.”

In a recent commentary, Patrick Coffin, host of the national radio show, Catholic Answers Live, reflected on Russell Ford and his evangelization ministry during the time he was in prison.

To access Mr. Coffin’s complete post, please visit:

Catholic Answers: Out of the Big House After 25 Years