Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Don't Forget Mass tonight at 7pm
Blessed Sacrament Parish
14 Elm Street

Reception to follow

Be sure to bring a bag of groceries for the homeless.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eternal Rest Grant onto Him

I am saddened tonight to report the passing of an incredible young man and former student of mine. He was a young man filled with great love, joy and enthusiasm and he will be missed by all who knew him as friend, cousin and son. I can think of few people that I have ever known that have been so filled with wide eyed wonder and hope. Thinking back to his days in my class, and his subsequent later visits, I am struck by the smile and the laugh that epitomized his presence. At 11:26pm this evening he was welcomed into eternal life as his family prayed at his side.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and may Your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Please continue to pray for him and his family during this difficult time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Today I ask you to place in your prayers a former student and his family. At this time I am unable to share with you details, but I ask that what ever you are doing please take time this day to pray for them during this most difficult of days! Pray that God may walk with them today and surrond them with His love and mercy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top Ten Things to Do Over Christmas Break

Below is a top ten list of seminarians to do over Christmas break, compiled by our House president.

The Top Ten
By: Chris Ballard
The Top 10 Things to Do Over Christmas Break

10. Sleep!
9. Collect all of the things from home to bring back to the seminary that you thought you shouldn’t bring when you first came.
8. Travel to somewhere exotic on the Diocese’s dime (ahem, Erie...)
7. Visit old high school friends and realize that “normal people” don’t commonly discuss such things as consanguinity, the immanent Trinity and the nature of transubstantiation.
6. Read all of the pages that you “meant to get to” during the semester.
5. Impress your family and friends with all of your newfound philosophical and theological knowledge.
4. Annoy your family and friends with all of your newfound philosophical and theological knowledge.
3. Discover what freedom from papers actually feels like.
2. Recall what it feels like to be unique and special (i.e. the only seminarian for miles).
1. Become cheap labor for your pastor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Rare Book Adventure

Throughout my entire childhood my family has always lived in small town America. The world of traffic lights, movie theatres and even McDonald’s restaurants were always something that was reserved for the large ‘cities’. Growing up without video games, cable television or the internet I had to rely on my imagination, and my spirit, to find adventure. Adventure I found at every corner and in a special way in books. Each trip to the library was an opportunity to travel to anywhere in the world and do the unimaginable. The library was and is an adventurer’s paradise.
To this very day I still recall with great joy the excitement that used to accompany my Tuesday trips to the library with my elementary school class. We were met each week at the door by the stern and intimidating librarian Mrs. Buzzell, who was twelve tall, breathed fire and had eyes behind her head, or at least that is how I remember it. Once inside the one room library, formerly the one room schoolhouse, she would share with us amazing tales of adventure, and transport us to a world beyond small town New England. Since that early age I have always had a great love of time spent in the library. Filled with this great love and a spirit of adventure I recently endeavored to explore our own library here at St. Mary’s in order to see what treasures were hidden deep within. This fact either makes me the world’s biggest nerd or a “Renaissance Man”.
Experience tells me that 95% of the people use 5% of the library and never know what they are missing. The good stuff is always hidden deep below the surface and away from first glance. Here at St. Mary’s it is no different, after all let’s be honest most of us frequent the computers and the man eating chairs more than the stacks, the basement or even the John Paul II room. However, with a little curiosity and a few minutes to kill you might be surprised what you can discover.
So with a few hours to kill I began my journey with tens of thousands of my newest friends. I know some of you will laugh and say that I do not have anything better to do with my time. However, who among us has not wasted away an afternoon on the internet, in front the TV, or playing Pacman in Donnelly (sorry Mike). Within five minutes of beginning my treasure hunt I discovered that we have books on the shelf, and in general circulation, from the 1700’s. How crazy is it to think that right this moment there are books in our library which are older than our country. Books which you can bring up to your room, read in the chapel or take on an adventure to Panera bread. The first seminarians ever to be trained in this country used them, and here we sit three hundred years later.
My adventure did not end on the first floor although I considered doing so. Nevertheless I continued on further and made my way to the basement, where before long I was peering in the windows of the rare book room. Filled with courage and a little chutzpah I made my way upstairs and right into Tom, the head librarian’s office to request an appointment and a tour. He gladly dropped everything to help me and by six o’clock that evening Judy, the night librarian, was leading me downstairs and through the padlocked doors of the rare book room.

As she turned the lights on and dusted away a few cobwebs, before my eyes sat thousands of volumes of rare and incredibly old books.

Judy knew her stuff and began explaining to me the differences between the styles of printing, types of books and binding processes surrounding me.

Before long I was holding a small leather bound book with initials carved on the front. Upon further inspection I discover it belonged to a man named Symon Paulu’s and was dated 1577.

As I flipped through its yellowed pages I saw large amounts of margin notes
and underlining

and immediately thought of all my readings for Dr. Miles’ class. Incidentally the amount of readings we have covered in his class this semester is about equivalent to the three thousands volumes in the rare book room, but I digress. Holding Symon Paulu’s prayer book 432 years after he lived I could not help but to pause and feel the breadth of history that separates us both. As exciting as Symon’s prayer book was there were literally thousands of others each with their own unique stories waiting to be told, like the two giant color atlases brought over by the Sulpicians in the 1700’s which detailed nearly every corner of the globe. Also who can forget the volumes of religious works smuggled out of England after its split with the Church and subsequent persecutions. Each volume meticulously kept minus one thing, a small cut on each of the opening pages. The cut had removed the name of the publisher and patron, as the tides of history had turned against the Church and her people in Great Britain.
After spending a good thirty minutes in the rare book room I came across a gigantic choir book from the 1400’s. It easily was the size of the desktop in my room and weighed forty to fifty pounds. When I carefully pried open its wooden cover and pushed aside its metal lock, I discovered hundreds of pages of carefully drawn choir texts with classic musical notations. The pages, made mainly from animal skins, were filled with the words of hymns written large enough so that an entire monastic community could share it all at once. Occasionally the texts were brilliantly illuminated with incredible detail, artistic design and gold lettering. Overwhelmed, I stood there in shock for several minutes, overcome by what I had seen. Just earlier that day I had been listening to Father Kulbicki discuss the Church of the late Middle Ages, and here I stood with part of its history before my eyes and in my hands.

Judy simply looked on with an amused smile, sharing in the wonder and excitement that accompanied my visit. Not wanting to keep her from her work I quickly concluded my visit and made my way back to my room to file this story.
In the end my adventure allowed me to discover many treasures at the St. Mary’s Library, including the prayers of Symon Paulu, a choir book from the 1400’s and a librarian with a passion for books and an incredible ability to bring them alive for a wandering adventurer.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Sadness There is Joy

Yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call . When the phone rang I almost answered by saying "yeah, what do you want," as I thought it was one of my buddies down the hall calling. Instead it was my mentor calling to pass on some unfortunate news he had just heard, the pastor of my parish assignment at the seminary had been found dead earlier in the morning. I was of course shocked and saddened. Msgr was scheduled to retire the next day, today. He had recently been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease and was beginning to have serious mobility issues, but no one expected this at all. From what I understand he had visitors the night before, including a priest friend who gave him a blessing and absolution while he sat in his favorite chair. The next morning he was found having passed away in his chair. Msgr. was a good man who had faithfully given his entire life to serve the Church. In keeping with a dream he had always had, he returned home to the parish of his childhood and spent the last nine years there, where his faith life began. As sad as his passing is I cannot help but to be moved by the beauty of his passing. He quietly passed into eternal life, resting comfortably just feet from his family parish, having just received the Sacrament of the sick and absolution, resting comfortably in his favorite chair. This morning I am off for Mass at the parish. As seminarians we are part of the parish community, serving at Mass and participating in events, classes, etc... This Sunday instead of attending the Pastor's going way party and the 11:30 Mass being said in his honor, we will be praying for him and hoping that he is enjoying the ultimate retirement party, eternal life with He who made us. Today there will be no party, only the tears of a parish and community grateful for the gift of a man who was one of their own and his faith.


Important Blog News:

Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).