Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fr. Edwin Sanders, S.J. celebrates 70 years as a Jesuit

Today over one hundred guests  joined us Jesuits here at the Jesuit Center to celebrate Fr. Edwin Sanders.  He began his novitiate as a Jesuit here on August 14, 1946.   Ed celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in our Main Chapel grateful for his seventy years as a Jesuit.   Deacon Richard Wentzel, from St.Mary's in Lebanon, preached.  His humorous memory of Ed included Ed's remark after his accidental fall in the church aisle as he began the final commendation at the coffin of a St.Mary's parishioner.   This parishioner had grown into her senior years in the parish.  And Ed remarked that he counted himself the last man to fall for her.

Among those attending were a couple, Pat and Eileen, who served with him on marriage encounter teams in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.   Also a brother with his sister, the brother being among his first altar servers at the Pittsburgh parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1968.

Among my remarks to those gathered to celebrate Ed:

"Ed has never retired and still celebrates Mass at Highlands (a retirement community) and hears confessions at St. Joseph’s Villa (a covent).  Here at home he is available for spiritual direction and hears the confessions of retreatants and others.  

May we, too, lay, religious and clergy, carry on our ministries with the commitment and love that you, Ed Sanders, show us daily well past those so-called limits set by retirement.   God has blessed you and us through you.  May God’s assistance continue ad multos annos." 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mars over the Jesuit Center in the August sky

The last three cool, clear evenings brought me out to see these two planets now in the southwestern sky over the Jesuit Center.  This pictures the sight at about 8:30 PM, Mars between Saturn above and the star Antares below not long after sunset.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Brickwork by "Kelly for Brickwork" at Jesuit Center

First Floor windows recessed and crowned
with arch and keystone.  This required bricks
of a different size to line some of the recess.

Second floor window at rows end capped 
with slanted "soldiers" with a circular base of tied-in bricks

One of the large dining hall windows
with rounded panes.


The plainer regular second story window with  slanted soldiers 
and sitting over the lower window's keystone.

The third story windows under the roof cornice.

The bricklayers in 1928 who built the walls of  what is now the Jesuit Center and home of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth knew all about the intricacies of brick walls as more than a facade.  
John B. Kelly, "Kelly for Brickwork" worked under the general contractor Matthew McCloskey and Brothers of Philadelphia. Every surface brick is tied into the brick or cement block behind it with ties ( a brick laid directly perpendicular to the surface.)    And the hundreds of windows have a half dozen patterns of brick decor.  Only the most demanding building owners call on such skills today.  (It is said that there is somewhere in the walls a "green brick" said to be a Kelly trademark.   I have yet to scan all the bricks to find it!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jesuit Vows August 13, 2016 Jonathan Pennacchia

Each year young men after two years of formation as Jesuit novices, take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus. This past Saturday, August 13th,  nine young men joining the two east coast provinces took such vows.

Here am I with one of the men, Jonathan Pennacchia.   I got to meet Jonathan during his spring-time mission at Gesu School in Philadelphia, a school where I also worked some years ago.

He surprised me when I saw him after the vow ceremony on that Saturday because he was wearing a Gesu School lapel pin, one that I had a part in designing some 25 years ago.   

Thanks, Jonathan, for your outstanding service at Gesu School and for your years ahead on mission as a Jesuit.

Monday, August 15, 2016

ASSUMPTION of the Blessed Mother

Another elaborate floral display at the Shillington Convent of the Precious Blood Sisters.   The shy altar sister tells me that she creates these pieces, this one for a jubilee party for two of the sisters but also for today's feast.

FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION  2016    Our Lady’s body whether immediately upon death or even without death (as some believe) experienced a resurrection into a state of glory and became present with Jesus, her Son, in his full human self.    Early on this mystery came to be a common belief among so many Christians, a belief long celebrated in the common prayer of the faithful.   There are those that would say this dogma goes beyond proof of scripture.   One might say it is better left undefined as dogma.   But the dogma honors the human body in a time of crisis for the human body in faith and practice.   We live in a time when many dishonor the body in so many ways, with abortion, with drugs and alcohol, with euthanasia, with eating disorders, with promiscuity and the like.   

God out of love creates and sustains our human bodies.  God, moreover,  honors our human bodies by the Incarnation, where one of the Trinity, the Son Jesus, takes on a human body identical to ours.  God crowns these honors given to the human body  by raising the body of Jesus and welcoming it into the Kingdom of heaven and then in the Assumption of Mary.  

We do not believe that there are glorified human bodies in this Kingdom other than Jesus and Mary.    All our bodies will be gathered together on the last day.    But in the case of Our Lady, we believe that God has simply decided not to wait.  What can time mean in heaven in any case?   Immediately or later is as good as any time in forever.  But Mary’s is the body that bore Jesus.  This is the woman that fed him at her breasts.   This is the woman that guided him to the love and practice of first century Jewish faith.   This is the woman whom scripture pictures as present to the suffering death of her Son.  The dogma of the Assumption simply says that this great lady does not wait, so to speak, for the last day like the rest of the dead to be bodily with her Son.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Flannery O'Connor/Rufino deSantos Wedding


There is no place else I would rather have been on Saturday, July 30 than at the wedding of Fino and Flan in the Philadelphia Church of St. Peter the Apostle.  Fino teaches the sixth grade boys at Gesu School and Flannery teaches theology at Cristo Rey Philadelphia.

I was happy to be the priest of record for the marriage joining homilist, Father Lou Defra, CSC and concelebrant Father Efrem Esmilla.

"Pope Francis in his recent exhortation on the joy of love reminds us, when we are present at the events of marriage and family, to remember the presence of Jesus.   He looks on Fino and Flan "with love and tenderness."   He "accompanies their steps in truth, patience and mercy as He proclaims the obligations of the Kingdom."

We join Jesus and gaze on them today like Jesus encouraging and blessing their commitment to one another and to that new social order envisioned in the dedicated way they enrich one another and so many others day-to-day."

As the day drew to a close I shared with others in my age bracket and remarked how encouraged I was with the presence of so many young people who shared the values of this couple.   Sometimes I wonder about the future of this world but these young people will carry it on their capable and dedicated shoulders.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Paul Bothwell, may he rest in peace.


Paul Bothwell      1941-2016

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be.”

From my homily at the funeral Mass:   We all share our condolences with Ellie, with Bob and John and Don and all of Paul’s relatives and friends.   We praise God for this opportunity to be together in our sorrow....   

When Paul and I were both in middle school, Paul and his family moved to Horace Avenue in Abington just a stone’s throw from where I had lived since birth.    We attended the parochial school here at Our Lady Help of Christians and after graduation went to different high schools, Paul to LaSalle College High School and myself to St. Joseph’s Prep.   But during that time we rode our bikes around town, played some rough games of ball on a nearby vacant lot and listened to many a Phillies game while playing cards together.  We also enjoyed getting into trouble with other boys in the eighth grade.   On one particularly beautiful spring day we refused to return to class after noon recess. Paul and I got a special audience with the eighth grade nun after that prank.  Later while in high school there was joy-riding with an older friend who had a car.  

But in public we appeared more pious when serving Mass together in the auditorium structure where we gathered before this Church was built.  Despite the different obligations of our high schools, we continued serving Mass together.   As a younger kid I had other friends in my immediate neighborhood but they were Lutherans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians.   In those days I was not sure that I could count on them.   But Father Shallow could count on Paul and me to serve Mass and we could count on each other.  No one was surprised that we entered seminary at the same time, myself to the Jesuit novitiate and Paul to St. Charles to prepare for our continued service in the Church.   Despite our separate ways later in life --God leading us along different paths, Paul to a loving marriage-- service in the Church dominated the life paths that we each chose,  Paul and his dear wife Ellie fulfilling their service in all of the local parishes wherever they lived.....

When they returned here to Philadelphia last year I did not imagine that Paul’s time with us would be so short.  I looked forward to having them visit me at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville and even to going to a baseball game with them.  These things never happened.   But it did happen that the two of them became well known as a strong and faithful couple at Simpson House willing to help others and to assist in contributing to that faith community just as they had done wherever they lived.....

All of us, Ellie and his brothers and other relatives especially, have memories of Paul.    And we hold on to these memories today as a way of consoling us in our grief at the loss of a husband, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend whom we loved.   We want, also, to consider how GOD remembers Paul, Paul’s own service on the altar, Paul’s own study and practice of prayer and of faith,  Paul’s generous sharing of life and service with Ellie,  Paul’s care for those in his family and for others.   These memories, even when some detail is lost can console us.   But in God’s heart these memories are vivid and strong, lively detailed images united with the images of God’s Son Jesus.   As God raises Jesus from the dead, so, too, God’s life-giving memory raises Paul to be with his Lord Jesus.