Saturday, December 30, 2006


This pictures the turn-around point of one of my usual 2-mile walks. Running I must do on the university track but walking off the edge of the campus and to this small Merion Park is a quick refresher. The mild winter to this date allowed me to pack in some December miles and I will have completed 600 miles for the year 2006 by midnight tomorrow. If I wanted to walk and run these miles all at once, I could make it to Detroit in less than six days!

My doctor tells me that this is great exercise and works wonders for my blood pressure and cholesterol count. But still, when I asked about how much ice cream I could eat, he replied, "Keep walking away from the ice cream." Alas! This exercise is like a treadmill. I don't dare get off because I'd gain 60 lbs. next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Warm Christmas greetings to all those parents, grandparents and adults who love their children more than themselves. And to the children whose dignity demands a world free from violence and filled with opportunity for their talents of love and service.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

" Christmas is acomin' and the geese are getting fat. (So am I. ) Time to put a penny in the old man's hat."
But we still have a week to get ready. Just a few words based on Luke 3 that we read last week:

Second Sunday of Advent. Luke 3 John the Baptist

In the sixth year of the presidency of George W. Bush, when the leaders of the Senate and the House are in transition, when Rendell is reelected the governor of Pennsylvania, when John Street is the mayor of Philadelphia, when Justin Cardinal Rigali is in the fourth year as Archbishop of Philadelphia, when the nation is at war in Iraq, I celebrate Advent for the sixty-seventh time. And Advent never seems to lose its power. Some years are years of waiting and watching filled with confidence that a child shall lead us. Some years are years of worry because the darkness threatens to overwhelm us. Some years are years of only blind hope over against this enduring age which some have called the age of our abandonment by God.

Pablo Gargallo, a Spanish sculptor of the last century, fashioned a stark and strident hardened-steel image of John the Baptist now displayed in a sculpture garden in Washington, D. C. The Baptist opens wide his mouth; he knits his brow; he places his stolid feet firmly on the ground; he raises his right arm to accentuate his words; his interior organs are empty spaces and his bodily limits rimmed in a prickly way. Only cult followers would go out into a desert to see such a figure. We need to thank God that John the Baptist is not he who is to come and that he is only the announcer.

His lifestyle may not be appealing to us but the Baptist shows us a path to follow. As it is written: “The word of God came to John…in the desert. He went throughout the whole region of the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." He announced the one who is to come.

We sometimes think of Advent as a time of waiting. But this is very far from the idea that the Baptist had. No advent of waiting for John the Baptist! He did not wait in some secluded cave along the Jordan for something to happen. He was an activist. There is a sense in which his activism propelled Jesus into the ministry that the Father planned for Jesus. Like the disciples, like Mary, like Joseph, the Baptist is essential to God’s plan. If he had not begun a movement of baptism of repentance, if he had not allowed himself arrest and early death, Jesus himself may have stayed in the background somehow unaware of the fullness of His father’s plan.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Thanks, Frank and Jeanne, for a great party to celebrate Frank's birthday. Keep the Faith.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tree and Sympathy: Some days are better than others.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A series of three statue plazas lines the Schuylkill River above the boathouses. This is one of a set of four statues illustrating the spirits that built the nation. This one of the Preacher sits on a small plaza with three other similar statues: the Poet, the Scientist and the Laborer.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Without Win here to join us, Sister Ellen and I feel a little empty place in our hearts. Though it truly took a whole town, not just a village, to raise Gesu School from the ashes of the parish closing, Win’s kindness to us and to the children of Gesu school beginning back in 1989 made the difference: without him the future was a mountain of struggle and mediocrity. With him and his ideas Gesu has the energy to ascend as if on crystal stairs and reach for an excellence, knowing that it is within our grasp.

In the name of the three of us, I thank all of you. You came tonight to recognize the wonderful gift that Gesu School is to the children of Philadelphia. We thank the American Catholic Historical Society and the committee, especially Lou and Jim and the DiIulios for their gracious leadership and hard work.

And Sister Ellen and I acknowledge our siblings and other relatives who are joining us, Ellen’s sister Nancy and my siblings: Sister Mary (I introduce myself as her brother), Tony, Eileen and Jeanne with her husband Frank. I am grateful to speak about receiving the Barry Award for Gesu School because of my father’s love of Catholic history and my mother’s origins in County Kilkenny.

I often go back to the rich history of the Jesuits and the IHM Sisters at Gesu School. Father Villiger, the builder of the great Gesu Church, barely set foot on the property at 17th and Stiles in 1868 before he started the parish work with young children that would eventually flourish as a full parochial school. Then the Notre Dame Sisters first and then the IHM Sisters arrived on the site. Here is a directive that Father Villiger gave to the Jesuits who worked with him: “the Jesuits are not to interfere with the work of the sisters because the sisters know what they are doing.” Win and I, I think, paid attention to this directive when working with Sister Ellen. She for her part does not carry out another of Father Villiger’s directives. He wrote: “In order to preserve the proper decorum, do not dismiss the boys and girls at the same time.”

Let me continue with some remarks that Win himself would have made if he were here. That is I quote from a recent text that he wrote for presentation at the recent Gesu Symposium on Inner-City Education.

“We have faith in our teachers. Who demonstrate a dedication akin to vocations.

“We have faith in our families: mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents who raise our beautiful and precious kids under the most difficult of circumstances. Without complaining. Although the injustice of their lives in this ridiculously richest of nations cries out for justice.

‘But most of all, we have faith in our children. Who come to our doors randomly, as toddlers, and depart as young men and women ready to assume productive roles. Were it not for this place and their caring families, society would come at them largely as a city of mean streets.

‘We don't exactly teach them that failure is not an option; they have only to look left or right on their perilous ways home at night to know that this is not the case. Failure is definitely an option [around here.]

“We teach them, rather, that, with dedication and hard work, and a credible faith in themselves, success in life is within their grasp. That they can believe in themselves. That, far from being losers, they are precious children of a caring God. They learn grammar and math and history and geography but all the while is the drumbeat of our faith in them and their consequent faith in themselves. This is our most important lesson.”

Thanks, Win. And a lesson that strengthens us all: we are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus; we are precious children of a caring God.

Win and Sister Ellen and I want you to know that the children have inspired relationships with so many of you and with so many others. These relationships bring a joy into our three lives that is far more than finite; today and into the future that joy knows no bounds. Thank you.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I visited Elvis in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum . I took this picture of several of my Jesuit brothers, many of us from my same era, the era that marveled at the new sounds through the decades.

The museum is almost worth a trip to Cleveland! Really! The material is wonderfully set out...including lots of stuff and costumery that belonged to the King.

But best of all there is music. Headphones all over the place so that you can hear the sources of rock and roll in black and country music. The artistic founders of rock and roll are featured regardless of their fame or fortune.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

...............RED STATE BLUE STATE.........

On November 7, I will cast my vote in Pennsylvania for our new Senator, Robert Casey, Jr. Here are three reasons for my vote:

1) an entirely personal reason: Robert Casey, Jr, taught at Gesu School as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in the early eighties after his graduation from Holy Cross College.

2) Senator Santorum is running on a platform reacting to what he calls Islamofascism, especially how it manifests itself in Iran. Santorum’s tactic to answer Iran seems limited to such things as nuclear bunker-busting bombs. His speeches on the matter are imprudent. He clearly represents a certain point of view but such a limited view will prevent him from making sound judgments.

3) I am annoyed at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Coalition which questions on the weakest of grounds Robert Casey’s commitment to life issues. Santorum wants to jettison the possibility in the Senate of the practice of the filibuster; Casey does not and may, therefore, prevent an up or down vote on a Supreme Court nominee. Casey knows that what goes around comes around and the filibuster can help life issues as well as hurt them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


The Jesuit Superiors from our Province were there for a meeting last week. We spent some time discussing the future of the Jesuits in the United States. When I first became a Jesuit, we numbered 8100. Today we are a little less than 3000 in number. We may be growing in some other countries but here we continue to decline in numbers.

Meantime a great number of lay men and women are embracing leadership positions in our schools and parishes.

So what looks like a sunset might actually be a sunrise. We are returning to the earliest days of the Jesuits 450 years ago when the lay confraternities were the leaders of Ignatian inspired ministries.
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here is a butterfly deep in the countryside.

Herman Davis (Gesu School, 2003), a boy who lived in the center of North Philadelphia far away from the countryside, still knew something about nature and wrote this hiaku when in sixth or seventh grade:

A butterfly lands on a leaf.
I look at it.
It looks back at me.
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Saturday, September 30, 2006







Did not God choose those who are poor in the worldto be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?

Not many years ago I traveled with a group of fellow Jesuits and colleagues to India to see the Jesuit works there. We visited Calcutta, a perplexing place where the trappings of contemporary life meet teeming crowds of men, women and children who live simple lives of hardship sleeping on the streets and existing from day to day. One afternoon we took a cab to a craft shop that catered to tourists; some of us wanted to purchase gifts to take home. I finished my shopping first and decided to wait for the others outside on the crowded street hoping to find some rhyme or reason to the riddle of Calcutta. I found something that surprised me. A beggar boy of about ten, no doubt carefully trained and rewarded for his skill, began to pester me for a handout. I resisted and decided to go back into the store knowing that the guard would prevent him from coming in.

But as I sat inside waiting for my companions the boy kept up a vigil within sight of me through the plate glass doors of the entrance. He kept staring at me and every once in a while our eyes would meet. No doubt his handlers trained him in this stare hoping that it would finally shame the target into making a donation.

It worked. But in this unexpected way. Sitting there I heard the eyes of that beggar boy telling me that I was no better off than he. In the great scheme of things, his eyes said, we are both beggars lacking the means to a secure destiny. And I heard Jesus’ question from the scripture: “Which of you by worrying can add even a cubit to your stature?” His stare said to me: “you are poor like me; we are all poor; and the poor always share what little they have.”

Myself and my companions as well, we all gave him some money as we left that fancy shop and it was all we could do to tumble into a cab before other beggars came to besiege us. I have no illusions about that boy…. His only future was the hardness of the street. At best when he got older he could use his skill to get other boys to work for him the way he himself was working in some syndicate of beggars.

As his face lingers in my memory, so, too, does the lesson I learned that day. We are all poor beggars. I feel like the lad in the parable of the king, the king on parade without his clothes. The lad hollers out for all to hear what noone else will say, that the king is naked. In this case, I holler out: despite our clothes, maybe some of them fine like this vestment, despite our houses and cars and bank accounts, despite our skills and talents, we are all poor, we are all beggars.

Fortunately we learn in the good news of Jesus Christ that this universal poverty does not leave us hopeless or condemned. On the contrary. But more of this in a moment.

The poor teach us many things. Our Jesuit friend Dean Brackley, a professor at the University of Central America in El Salvador, encourages all of us who experience a relative material security to encounter those who have relatively little. Here is how he puts it:

“Engaging the outcasts puts us in touch with the world, with ourselves and with divine mercy. They draw us into life’s central drama, disclosing that the world is much more cruel than we supposed, but also much more wonderful. When they insist on celebrating life, no matter how bad things are…, they communicate hope. [Our engagement with them, then, gives hope and] heals those parts of ourselves that we had banished into unconscious exile…When the poor welcome [us and] are disposed to forgive, they mediate an acceptance greater than their own [placing] us before the mercy of God.”

The poor put us in touch with the world, that real world where billions live, with ourselves, with our real selves without pretense and posturing, and with acceptance, by them and finally by divine mercy.

In our prayer together here at this Mass, in our private prayer, it is well for us to have some faces of the poor to bring to mind. We do not need to go to Calcutta; one can find these faces right in our backyard. Twelve million children in the USA are poor. About a third of African American and Latino children in the USA are poor. These kids are right in our backyard and they stare at us and challenge our identity. Some smile with us and share with us something that they have. Others suffer in a sadness that none of us can do very much to ease. Across the world there may be 500 million children who are poor.

Many religions of the poor have benevolent gods that embrace and protect these children so that they never feel entirely abandoned. Our own Judaeo-Christian scriptures read today reveal a God who embraces the poor and lightens their burdens. We read in the letter of James:

“Did not God choose those who are poor in the worldto be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom…”

Our scriptures read today reveal a God who reaches out to the marginal, to those whose physical problems prevent their participation in full human life and cause them to be beggars in this world. We read in the prophecy of Isaiah:

“Our God comes to save us. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

In our gospel read today Jesus interacts personally and directly with a man who is deaf and unable to speak clearly. We read in the gospel of Mark:

“And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.Jesus said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”

Some of us can conceal our poverty and disabilities from others. A beggar boy on the streets of Calcutta learns to project his poverty in public, even to make it more dire than it really is. But most of us have the means and the desire to hide our poverty and even to hide some of our disabilities. Be that as it may, the scriptures suggest an entirely different course of action. The scriptures urge us to name and to own our poverty and our disability and turn them over to the Lord for transformation. The scriptures urge us to name and to own our doubts and our regrets and turn them over to the Lord for resolution.

In this way we can become like the poor whom Dean Brackley describes, we can become the people who put others in touch with the world as it is, put others in touch with themselves as they are and put others in touch with the divine mercy.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


At the finish line of the first annual KRISTIN'S KRUSDAE 5K run to raise funds to fight Domestic Violence.

Kristin's Krusade honors the memory of our daughter, sister and friend, Kristin Mitchell, who was murdered by her boyfriend on June 3, 2005.

Kristin graduated on May 14, 2005 from St. Joseph's University with a degree in Food Marketing. She was very excited about starting her new sales executive position, with a well-known food marketing company, starting on July 8, 2005. Three weeks after graduation, at the innocent age of 21, Kristin's life was brutally taken away from her, her family and all of her friends.

"A lot of good would have to come out of something this horrible." These were the exact words spoken by Kristin's parents the evening they learned of her death. A whole lot of good begins with Kristin's Krusade. Kristin's Krusade will raise funds for the Kristin Mitchell Foundation for Violence against Women. What happened to Kristin could happen to any of us. Let us use Kristin's story as a starting point for our important "Krusade".


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Chris Beck, Gesu School President, welcomes the crowd to the dedication of the additional and renovated spaces at Gesu School. 20,000 square feet of space make the school more adaptable to the needs of Gesu's 450 children. Chris announced that the school had raised 80% of its goal of $12,000,000, half for building needs and half for endowment.

Good and gracious God, continue to send your Spirit upon the staff, the teachers and the children of Gesu School as they begin this school year of 2006-2007. May they know your Spirit of courage and hope as they enjoy the miracle of these new and refreshed spaces. As your Spirit encouraged the builders of these spaces and helped them endure their hardships, may your Spirit encourage Gesu’s children and help them endure the hardships of education and the challenge of becoming mature men and women.

May the children of Gesu School live according to the heritage preserved for them by their ancestors giving you the praise day by day. May they come to know themselves as brothers and sisters of Jesus, your Son, and of all the world’s children. May they discover themselves as children whom you love and who by their efforts can offer this world your love and service.

Lord, you brought us to this day. Bring us back in Junes to come for our graduation ceremonies so that we can continue to thank you. May we celebrate the graduation of the class of 2007 and witness many graduations to come.

We ask all these things in praise of our God, Father, Son and Spirit.

God’s Workers, God’s Building, God’s children. Perfect together.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The sculpture garden at the Hirshhorn. Along the Mall in Washington, DC. I like this picture taken on September 3 because the blue sky opened up after days of clouds and my little camera also caught the blue.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The water display at the National Museum of the American Indian (on the Mall in Washington, DC). I visited here with Jeanne and Frank and Mary.

A splendid building with ochre stone facing and these water falls and pools on the mall side.

On the street side are gardens of native corn, tobacco and melons. Did I see any potatoes? The museum does feature native peoples of both North and South America. And the peoples of Peru and Bolivia survived any food crisis because of their rich varieties of potato.

Frank pointed out the use of the word "contact" in some of the Museum descriptive displays. Making "contact" describes for the native peoples what the Europeans thought of as the "discovery" of the Americas.

Monday, August 28, 2006


A meditation pond on the grounds of the Medical Mission Sisters in Fox Chase, Philadelphia, PA.

A Prayer to conclude our reading of John 6

This prayer reflects on the questions that Jesus and Peter exchange in the wake of the failure of the sermon about “eat my flesh and drink my blood.”

“Jesus then said to them, ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go?’”

Truly, Lord, to whom shall we go? Help us to be clearer about Peter’s answer, about our answer; help us to understand the true quality, the true makeup of your failure to win over the crowds. There is no one else but you who wants so fully to suffer all of our joys and sorrows. There is no one else who leads us in extending compassion to the world. There is no one else who will return and take us and our brothers and sisters into glory. Help us to experience you in your resurrection as Peter did in the end of John’s gospel so that we can say with him: “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The view from the new roof writing room. The view of the school playground, the Gesu Church and the Philadelphia skyline will inspire Gesu's young writers to reach new horizons.
Posted by Picasa GESU SCHOOL IN PHILADELPHIA The new 4th floor gym after the roof is raised.
President Chris Beck and 8th grader Angel observe the laying of the new floor.
Posted by Picasa GESU SCHOOL IN PHILADELPHIA The lighter red wall coloring represents the newly built extension of useful space for Gesu School in Philadelphia. A dream come true for the trustees, faculty, staff, parents and children.

The extension includes an elevator. The rooftop includes new science, music, writing, resource and after school rooms. Also a junior-high-size gym.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Posted by Picasa FROM THE ARCHIVES


This photo is a kind of cheerful Pieta, an Indian sister caring for a child too deformed from birth to sit up.

The picture reminded me of the much starker image taken in the early seventies by famous photographer William Eugene Smith in Minamata, Japan; that photo of a mother bathing a child deformed from birth by industrial mercury poisoning. With his photos Smith drew the attention of the world to the dangers of mercury poisoning.

Posted by Picasa FROM THE ARCHIVES


On a sunny day in the mountain town of Tiraque, a two-hour mountain-road climb from Cochabamba, Bolivia, I asked thirteen-year-old Sergio Vargas to pose with my Phillies cap. He gladly did. After the photo, he took the cap off, carefully adjusted the velcro to fit his head and then put it back on. I didn't have the heart to ask for it back despite the brightness of the tropical sun on this early winter day. So we have a new Phillies fan in Bolivia.

I was part of a delegation of nine faculty and staff from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia visiting Bolivia and its Fe y Alegria programs for elementary, high school and adult students, a system of 200 centers of Popular Education. We were spending ten days visiting such sites in this poor Latin American country little regarded by the powers of this world.

In the long drive that morning up the nearly deserted highway from Cochabamba, we left the city behind, gradually rising along muddy stream beds, narrow in the dry season, until the waters flowed clear and brilliant coming fresh from the mountains themselves. Our road climbed up and up the sides of mountains. The small farm plots passing below us in the valleys appeared greener and the livestock more content as the air became more rarified.An old Spanish church dedicated to the Virgen de Las Angustias, (The Virgin of the Agonies), a deeply traditional Spanish dedication, dominates the town square in Tiraque. A Jesuit priest celebrates Mass every weekend but the three sisters, two from Spain, Missionaries of Jesus Christ, do all the pastoral work in an the extensive and mountainous area, Father being otherwise engaged 2 hours away in Cochabamba during the week.

As an area center, Tiraque is an ideal site for a Fe y Alegria program. There are classroom activities for all ages, greenhouses and residential dormitories constructed with mostly local materials by local workers, many of whom volunteer their services in this communal effort. Of the several hundred students, sixty are residential boys and girls from 12 to 17 years of age.

These sixty students, as in all the Fe y Alegria residential centers, share the household chores required by their living together in dormitory style. Students participate in student government committees that supervise such things as recreation and health, cleanliness and maintenance.
Sergio attends as a resident all week while he studies language arts, math and the methods of raising vegetables and farm animals. He walks weekends to his family farm about 15 miles away. When in high school he will continue learning Spanish while also studying his native tongue (Quechuan), and learn some English, some science and some computer skills. According to the local directors of Fe y Alegria students like Sergio are unlikely to go to college or to move to the city but will be leaders in their high mountain farming communities. Their families have been farming for centuries. They are self-sufficient and never face starvation. Even in the worst of times the great variety of potatoes, conditioned to any weather and any blight, has sustained them.

A small and instructive archaeological and cultural museum right at the site of the school informs students like Sergio of the rich heritage of his people. For three millennia his ancestors have been living off the land, hunters and gatherers first, then farmers and settled people. When Europeans came to Bolivia, many of the indigenous people maintained their own traditions in the remote valleys and mountain sides. At their museum the children of Tiraque learn about their own history apart from the European and North American cultures that have now penetrated into the countryside. They learn with the help of the Fe y Alegria model to preserve the best of their own traditions and ways of life.Sergio and his 60 residential school mates shared with us a lunch of peanut/potato soup, hard boiled eggs and boiled potatoes. The students were seated and waiting patiently for grace before meals, some for many minutes, while we guests joined them in the dining hall. In their grace they prayed that they could share what they had with anyone in need.

Peacefulness rested on these mountain children far from the demonstrations by workers and indigenous peoples endemic to the capital, La Paz, and the frequent blockades by protesters that close the country’s roads. They have the best of two worlds: the advantage of a good education and some access to health care without the pollution that sometimes veils Cochabamba, and without the stresses of joblessness. They need not be numbered among the children that sleep fitfully by night in Bolivia’s urban parks. They need not be numbered among the young who find their only work in the coca fields feeding the cravings of the first world. May they be spared the worst that political and economic unrest brings to countries like Bolivia.

And, of course, we have another reason to cheer on our Phillies. I don’t want a boy who has so much going for him in life to wear a hat that might bring him sorrow.

August 20, 2006 Twentieth Sunday of the Year John 6: 51-58
“He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Medical Mission Sisters, Fox Chase PA

This gospel from the sixth chapter of John presents a great challenge for the preacher. The words we read are a part of a long homily that Jesus himself is preaching, five times longer than what we read today. Jesus bases his homily on a text of the Old Testament…. The text is this: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat….”

In the final words of his homily Jesus develops the theme of eating even further and talks of eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood. Eating the manna does not give life but eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man does give life. Jesus’ reference to flesh and blood is a reference to the bloody way in which he is to die. And he invites us moreover, to take part in his life and death in this very intimate way; invites us to actually chew (the word for eat clearly includes this notion of chewing) on his body and drink his blood…..

Ray Brown calls this language “evocative of the Eucharist.” And adds: “the words, ‘the bread that I will give is my own flesh for the life of the world’ may well be the Johannine Eucharistic formula comparable to ‘This is my body which is given for you’ in Luke[’s gospel.]”….

Our challenge is placing the power of the Eucharist into the real world in which we live…..

We struggle to live in a world known for its moral and physical danger; we are sometimes so much more conscious of the violence of human life than we are of the generous spirit of love that fills most human relationships. In this context each of us has his or her own conversation with the Lord who shares himself so completely in the intimacy of our prayer. Sometimes as individuals we do not know what to say; in this case we should imitate what the saints said. Sometimes as a gathering of believers we do not know what to say; in this case we go to our ritual books or to our hymns or to our statements of common mission. Sometimes the events of the day or time simply overwhelm us, render us wordless and we need a Jesus who will respect our silence and restore our speech.

And this is a suitable place for us to be quiet in His presence.

“He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Sunday, August 13, 2006

For years I have wanted to hike the Kitchen Creek Trail at Rickett's Glen State Park. Recently on a trip from Philadelphia to Syracuse, the extra time became available and I took the liberty of the detour.

Above some hikers brave the slippery rocks. And below the flash added some balance.

What is left to see? Rickett's Glen and Florence all in one summer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Picture: Graduates of Gesu School, June 2006 These 12 students took part in Project Forward Leap, a prep for prep program.

More opinion to support early childhood, middle school and college prep for children who otherwise lack the proper foundation for college:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

This site contains a chilling story of bodies floating in the Tigris. There is nothing redeeming about this story except that some Shiites believe it their religious duty to swim out into the river, collect the bodies and offer them proper burial.

See this article with photos at site below:

Volunteers Collect Bodies In Iraq
by Jamie Tarabay
Swimmers drag a bloated body towards the river bank. They volunteer every day to watch for people who've been killed north of Baghdad and then dumped in the Tigris River.

Altar Decor at Medical Missions July 23, 2006

Mark 6: 30-34 Medical Mission Sisters 10 AM

(opening paragraphs from homily)
You may remember that we did a brief unscientific survey one Sunday recently to determine the relative popularity of two gospels, the one according to Mark, the other according to John. There was no contest; John’s gospel was more popular hands down. But this morning we must suffer through a homily on Mark’s gospel, my favorite. Hang in there: the next five Sundays belong to most of you! You will be treated richly to John’s gospel.
In fact, in the gospel readings from this Sunday to next there is a deliberate and puzzling change. This Sunday’s reading from Mark is a transition reading and only an introduction to Mark’s presentation of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, sometimes called the feeding of the 5,000. But next Sunday, oddly enough and even puzzling to those of us who favor Mark, we reject the continuation in the narrative from today’s gospel; instead of reading Mark’s presentation of the miracle of the loaves and fish, we read rather John’s presentation of that same miracle. Well in any case this should be pleasing to you who choose John over Mark.
No matter. The sequence of the readings even if there is a change from Mark’s gospel to John’s respects the intent of Mark. In the reading today we hear of Christ’s compassion ("his guts," as Jake Donahue says) on the crowds that gather around him, a compassion that moves him to preach and teach. Today’s gospel is very much like the first section of our usual liturgy in which we experience the compassion of Jesus as he proclaims the word and seeks to help us understand it. Today we read about Jesus nourishing the minds and hearts of the crowd. Next week is much like our gathering around the table of thanksgiving and we read about his nourishment of their bodies in the feeding of the 5000....

(final paragraphs)

Because Jesus is compassionate, we also desire to be compassionate. Compassion, someone recently wrote, is the bridge between sympathy and action. It compels us to simple tasks: providing a meal for a family in mourning; for the benefit of others divesting ourselves of things that we do not need; devoting ourselves to study, building skills in language or medicine or art so that we can help others find themselves as God’s sons and daughters.
Compassion moves our leaders to found the renowned organizations that furnish us with large scale arguments for the primacy of love in this world. The Medical Mission Sisters are no strangers to the word compassion. May compassion in imitation of the Lord heal us of our weakness and continue to inspire our every day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

These Gesu School graduates (classes of 03 and 04) at-tended the Ignatian College Connection summer program at Saint Joseph's University, June 2006

first row: Stephanie, Latoya, Latanya, Courtney, Cherokee and Monique

second row: Emanuel, Jeremy, Horace, Leonard, Tristan and Michael Absent: Jahlil

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Duomo in Florence. July, 2006

Sunday Homily July 16, 2006

Introduction to Mass
Reports about our inhumanity fill today’s newspapers. I have no doubt that Israel has been anxiously waiting and planning for the right political opening to attack Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and Hezbollah purposefully and knowingly handed Israel the opportunity. And bullets killed five men on the streets of Philadelphia yesterday. We are at a loss. Let us pray to redouble our own efforts to make peace a priority in our own lives.

Beginning the Homily
Looking at the weather report for the week, I am tempted to take advantage and preach a sermon like one given by my Irish ancestors: thundering on about hellfire and brimstone. Recently I read a memoir that mentioned an Irish priest preaching on this topic some sixty years ago who did not raise the hairs on anyone’s head. His performance was judged as “watery.” I fear the same judgment and will let the weather and global warming speak for themselves. My sermon will be tame and brief but, I hope, challenging.

Mark 6: 7-13 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Here is the advice that Jesus gives to his disciples when he sends them out to preach the gospel: “Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in your belts…wear sandals but not a second tunic.”

For those of us who are surrounded by things and still want to be good Christians, these directives are a hard saying. I was in an airport recently waiting to check my bags and ahead of me were two men trying to figure out how to lighten the baggage that they wanted to check. How could they shift things so that they could carry on some of the weight that they were not allowed to put in the checked bag? Out of that bag and into their carry-on luggage came the shoes: walking boots, dress shoes, golf shoes, tennis shoes, sandals. They were ready for anything but weighed down like most of us.....

I was reminded of a funny passage in a novel I recently read about the Pentecostal family who were flying from Atlanta to Africa to preach the gospel in some remote village. The father of the family, aware that the family had to pack any thing that they might need in that small village, dressed his daughters triply and quadrubly in layers of garments because he knew the airline weighed the checked baggage but didn’t weigh the people.
This quadruple dressing of the daughters strikes us as comical. And the comedy reveals a truth about ourselves. We are attached to our possessions....

But there is no doubt that a focus on our things can lead to a self-absorption that saps us of our openness to service, to love, to the changes that a conversion of heart might require.

What Jesus makes clear here and elsewhere in his preaching: our ambitions ought not to be for tangible things: houses, cars, money. Or for less tangible things: power, skills, entitlements. All of these can only be means to the truly ambitious end that Jesus has for us: the kingdom of God. His principal message here and elsewhere in the Gospels: trust in me.

Saint Ignatius gives us sage advice: if you need the grace to be relieved from a worry about possessions and personal attributes, pray for relief and pray for a confidence in the plan that God has for you. Our baptisms call us to be disciples, to step forward not trusting so much in the things or talents that we have been given but trusting rather in the plan that God has for us.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This is a test



My very first email when I entered the cyber age was from Svetlana who wanted to introduce me to some nice Russian ladies. Now, I have nothing against meeting somebody on the internet. But if Svetlana wanted to meet me, why would I not want to introduce myself with the items in my life that give me hope and consolation. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, instructed his followers to surround themselves with thoughts and hopes and dreams that console and strengthen.

There is enough out in cyberspace that will not do this for me. So my own blog. Maybe you will find something that gives you hope and strength.