Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Special Night

Blessed Sacrament Parish
Wednesday, December 22nd

Bring a bag of Groceries for the poor

A Favorite Christmas Story

The Man and the Birds by Paul Harvey

The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound...Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud...At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them...He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms...Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me...That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm...to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand." At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Party 2010

This year I am the Social Life Chair at the Seminary. This elected position requires me to be in charge of all the activities that occur in the house throughout the year. As social chair I get to work with other guys in the house to plan socials, soccer tournaments, parties, etc... This year I worked to make some changes to the annual Christmas festivities. The Program this year was as follows:

Musical Prelude St. Mary’s Jazz Band

Program of Events:

O Come All Ye Faithful- Community
Blessing of the Christmas Tree & Creche- Rev. Mr. Brian Capuano
O Little Town of Bethlehem - Community
Before St. Mary’s - Presented by the Pre-Theology
Boar’s Head Carol - The Tallis Scholars
Christmas Movie Presentation - First Theology
Dramatic Reading - Mr. Warren Tanghe
Lo’ How A Rose Er Blooming - The Fr. Barre Singers
A Day in the Life… - Second Theology
Silent Night - Father Hy & Friends
Angels We Have Heard On High - Third Theology
O Silent Holy Night - Miss Zenaida Bench
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Fourth Theology
Mas Alla - Spanish Schola
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Father Griswold & The Faculty

Please join us following the program for homemade cookies and cider

One of the fun surprises I added in this year was the surprise arrival of Santa at the end of the party. Santa was a wonderful and eccentric priest who plays the part perfectly. At the very end of the program "Santa" was pulled into the main hall by a team of reindeer that consisted of secretaries, seminarians, librarians, professors, priests and even the dean and rector. It was great because it involved everyone on every level. It was also a great fun.

One of the Seminarians who narrated a skit, and who portrayed an old Saturday Night Live Character.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I just came across this interesting post from the Jerusalem Post. It is a great article on the research efforts recently uncovered on Pope Pius XII. Recently historians have been trying to unfairly paint him as a Nazi Collaborator. The famous tag line that has been used is "Hitler's Pope". All of this has flown in the face of conventional wisdom, particularly after World War II which declared that Pope Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of Jews, so much so that the lead Rabbi in Rome converted to Catholicism after the war. The media of course loves a great anti-Catholic rant and has been pedaling the Pius XII-Nazi story for years. The interesting thing is that after all this time Pope Pius XII's defenders seem to be right.

I figure the Jerusalem Post is a great source for the story. Enjoy


Hitler’s Pope saved 200,000 Jews’
07/09/2010 01:34

Historian: visas that Pius XII secured for converts probably went to other Jews as well.

“Hitler’s Pope,” Pope Pius XII, may have arranged for 200,000 Jews to leave Germany after Kristallnacht, The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.

German historian Dr. Michael Hesemann told the paper that Pius, then known as Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, wrote to archbishops around the world, asking them to obtain exit visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” and Jewish converts to Christianity.

Hesemann is doing research in the Vatican archives sponsored by the Pave the Way foundation, a US interfaith group.

Elliot Hershberg, chairman of Pave the Way, reportedly said: “We believe that many Jews who were successful in leaving Europe may not have had any idea that their visas and travel documents were obtained through these Vatican efforts. Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong.”

Pius was nicknamed “Hitler’s Pope” because he did not publicly denounce the Holocaust, the Nazis or Adolf Hitler.

“The fact that this letter speaks of ‘converted Jews’ and ‘non-Aryan’ Catholics indeed seems to be a cover,” Hesemann told the Daily Telegraph, adding that evidence suggests that visas would have been given to Jews who didn’t convert, as well.

“You couldn’t be sure that Nazi agents wouldn’t learn about this initiative,” he reportedly said. Therefore, the then-cardinal worded his letter in a way that would not allow Nazis to claim that the Catholic Church was an ally of the Jews and use it as propaganda.

The appeal was dated November 30, 1938 – 20 days after Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass.”

Pope Benedict XVI : Pius lived a life of "heroic virtue"

Cardinal Pacelli was the Vatican’s secretary of state at the time. He was able to ask for the visas because of an agreement he signed with the Nazis, which protected Jews who converted to Christianity.

In December, Pope Benedict XVI declared Pius “Venerable,” a title that means the Church believes he lived a life of “heroic virtue.” If two miracles performed by Pius are found, he will be canonized as a saint.

However, some Jewish groups demanded that the canonization process be frozen until the Vatican opens its secret World War II archives in 2014.

Sir Martin Gilbert, a British historian and Holocaust expert, has said that Pope Pius XII should be considered as a “Righteous Gentile” by Yad Vashem.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The End is In Sight

53 pages written, 3 hours of sleep, 3 classes down, 1 to go!

Mass, Dinner, Class, Sleep!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stop the Insanity!

The past week has been insanely busy. I will be able to post a more substantial post come Friday, in a meantime please say some prayers. This week our vocation director and there are various responsibilities and meetings to attend to etc... Last night we had a wonderful dinner with him, Bishops McCormack and Christian. After returning to the Seminary I had to attend to my House Infirmarian duties and tend to a seminarian who was sick. Our evening began with a 8:45pm visit to the Doctor, continued with a trip to the hospital and ended at 7:00am this morning when I returned home. I just got up from resting (2:00pm) in order to write a 10 and 25 page paper due tomorrow morning. Say some prayers as it is going to be a ghoulish night!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Halloween Party

I decided it might be fun to post some pictures from our annual Halloween party. It is a night of good fun and a break from the crunch time of the Semester. We carved pumpkins, had a costume contest and even did apple bobbing. Also there was lots of free food and drinks.

Dan, the Donnelly Lounge Boss went as superman since he is often told he bears a resemblance to Clark Kent. In proper fashion he did reveal his costume till halfway through the party.

Brother Mark, a Franciscan, spent the whole night spouting off cryptic and wise messages.

Rob a funny seminarian from the diocese of Trenton came as an Aussie.

Jeff Paveglio, a fellow Manchester seminarian decided to go as a Texas Ranger. The scary part is the Mustache fits him well.

I went as the Gather Hymnal in the Chapel. We use to hymn books at the seminary, one called Worship and the other Gather. Worship is filled with traditional hymns wall Gather is filled with more contemporary ones. Since many of the more conservative guys in the seminary hate the songs in the Gather hymnal (and contemporary music), I figured it would be fun to dress as it. I figured they would love it because they find it scary and everyone else would just laugh. I made the pages and all. I won first prize!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cuba builds a New Seminary!

Earlier today Cuba opened its first new Catholic Seminary since the Revolution in 1959. Since the Revolution Fidel Castro and the Cuban government has been hostile to the Church and people of faith. However beginning in 1998, when Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, the Church and Government have been slowing improving relations. The Catholic Church and the Cuban government have begun working together on issues of great importance. The building of a new Catholic Seminary and the attendance of President Raul Castro at its dedication is yet another important sign coming out of Cuba and a reason for hope for the future.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting Day!

Don't Forget to Vote!

The Catholic Bishops have put out a great guide as to issues that we all must consider when selecting candidates.

Catholic Voter Guide

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

What Better Day to Highlight one of the Church's newest declared saints then on today, the Feast of All Saints. Today the Church celebrates those Holy Men and Women who are with God in the heavenly kingdom. So often when we hear the word Saints we think only of the big names like Francis, Joseph, Andrew, Therese, Teresa, Clare, etc.... however in doing so we forget that many of the greatest saints in the history of the world were humble men and women known only to a relatively few. In my own life I can think of many people who have passed on from this world, and who undoubtedly are enjoying the fruits of the heavenly kingdom. To be in heaven, to be a saint, is the ultimate goal of all of our lives. The Church for its part highlights and recognizes the lives of men and women who have displayed heroic virtue and who have lived lives worthy of Christ. Saints are never perfect, and they include the likes of the cantankerous St. Jerome, the doubtful St. Thomas and the reformed figures like St. Augustine.

This year the Church canonized an Irish woman by the name of Sr. Mary MacKillop. She is a real profile of courage and faith. The story reflects the difficult realities of the struggle the Church has faced and the courageous voices of women like Sr. Mary and others who have stood for justice and truth. As the Church looks to the future, She must come to terms with the past, and remain steadfast in the pursuit of truth and justice, and always filled with faith.

Below is a story from the Irish Times covering her life.

Pope Benedict today canonised Australia’s first saint, a 19th century nun who exposing the activities a paedophile Irish priest

Sr Mary MacKillop was one of six Catholic figures canonised today at a ceremony in Rome.

She was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1871 after exposing the activities a paedophile Irish priest. She discovered that children were being abused by Fr Patrick Keating in the Kapunda parish near Adelaide in south Australia.

She told Josephites director Fr Julian Tenison-Woods about the abuse. It was then reported to the vicar general and Fr Keating was sent back to Ireland, where he continued to serve as a priest.

Fr Charles Horan, a Galway man who was a colleague of Fr Keating, swore revenge on Sr MacKillop and her order. After only four years as a nun, she was excommunicated by Adelaide’s bishop Laurence Shiel, who was originally from Wexford.

She was turned out on the street with no money and nowhere to go. Five months later, on his deathbed, Bishop Shiel instructed that Sr MacKillop be absolved and restored.

After being reinstated by the Catholic Church, Sr MacKillop became known for her work with disadvantaged children, female ex-prisoners and prostitutes.

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 following a Vatican decree that a Sydney woman was cured of leukaemia in 1961 through Sr MacKillop’s intercession. The second miracle required for sainthood occurred in the mid-1990s when a woman sent home from hospital to die due to inoperable lung and brain cancer was cured.

"It is a great day," said Sr Monica Cavanagh, acting secretary general of Sr MacKillop's order said from her tomb, a short distance from Sydney's famous harbour. "We are proud of Mary. We are proud that she's Australian, that she's a woman and she's a Josephite. We are just filled with great joy. We have probably even had a few tears today."

Some activists in the Church have called on the Vatican to declare her the patron saint of those who suffered sexual abuse by priests.

The Rev James Martin, a prominent Catholic commentator, wrote recently in America, the journal of the Jesuits in the United States, that such a designation would be appropriate for a person he called a "whistleblower" saint. "Only recently has the Church begun to see whistleblowers as necessary - and holy," he wrote. "Victims and victims' families now have someone new to pray for them in their struggles for justice and reconciliation."

In the town of Penola in South Australia state, where in 1866 Sr MacKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a special mass was celebrated with children dressing up in 19th century costume. A special cross made from timber taken from Sr MacKillop's original school has toured Australia over the past two months in preparation for her canonisation.

In Melbourne where she was born, Australia's atheist prime minister Julia Gillard joined celebrations commemorating her life. Near MacKillop's tomb in Sydney, giant screens were set up to broadcast the canonisation ceremony live.

Foreign minister Kevin Rudd, a Catholic who has travelled to Rome for the event, commended Sr MacKillop for "extending education services to girls, to the poor, to the far flung parts of Australia". Opposition leader Tony Abbott, also a Catholic, called Sr MacKillop "inspirational".

Some five million of Australia's 22 million people are Catholic, making it the country's largest religion.

At a solemn ceremony in St Peter's Square, the pope also canonised two Italian nuns, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano, Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Brother Andre Bessette of Canada, and Stanislaw Kazimierczyk of Poland.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

St. Andre

This weekend the Church canonized several new saints, each with incredible stories to tell. This week I want to share a few of them who have touched my heart and who speak to the Church today.

On Sunday, Brother Andre Bessette, CSC was declared at Saint. Saint Andre was a humble man of great faith who has touched the lives of so many in Canada and right here in New Hampshire. Through his humble service and incredible heart thousands of people were healed, and millions came closer to God. There are few words that I could offer that could compare with the beautiful presentation that St. Joseph's Oratory has put together online. It takes about ten minutes to watch but is WELL WORTH IT. So set aside some time for prayerful pilgrimage from your computer screen and be reminded of a little man with great faith.

Click here!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Funny Feeling

Fall has finally arrived at the Seminary and with it there is change in the air. I am not sure exactly what it is but things seem different from when the year started. Work is piling up and energy levels are beginning to run out (for no good reason I must honestly admit). I am not sure what it is but I am having a difficult time finding motivation to do my work. I think part of the reason might be that the closer one gets to overwhelming projects, the more the natural response is to do nothing. I am not sure if this quite makes sense or not, but for me sometimes it seems as if the more I have to do the less I want to do it. This of course creates a problem as one puts off the necessary and thus only digs a digger hole in which to crawl out of. So that is where I sit, with a mountain of work and no real desire to do it. I suppose I will dig deep within and find some energy to get it done, but no such luck yet.

On another note I have been finding my prayer time recently incredibly fruitful. I am not sure why that is, but when I am entering into prayer in the silence of my heart I am feeling the warmth of God's presence in a special and real way. This powerful experience has been further enriched by a flood of random memories from the past which have begun to creep into my mind. When I am in prayer I am finding myself remembering small and random moments in my life. I suppose it will all make sense to me at some point, but for now I am just enjoying them as they come.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Some Summer Photos From My Parish Assignment

I just came across some old photos from my summer assignment from St. Aloysius Parish in Nashua. I thought I would post them and share some great memories. A special shout out is in order to photographer Emma Pratte who took them. Each person portrayed is special to me and has been a great witness to faith. I really love the way the pictures bring to life the parish in a special and prayerful way. Enjoy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soccer Video

In preparation for the Soccer Tournament we competed in earlier this year, we made a little promo video for the team. Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Mary's Seminary Orietation 2010 Video

Part 1: Note the opening sequence- my idea- oh yeah!

Part 2- Watch for my debut. I tried to make Mary Catherine Gallagher proud!

Part 3

Part 4-

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Cousin, An Aunt, Some Old Friends, A Gala and a Giant Rat!

One of the great joys of Seminary life is having company. I imagine it is the same for many stations in life, however I think in a special way seminarians love to have visitors. Since being at St. Mary's I have been very fortunate to have several wonderful people come and visit including my family, friends, former students and priests from home. Each visitor brings with them a breath of fresh air, an excuse to escape the confines of the Seminary campus and a reason to put off work.

This week I was blessed to have three sets of visitors, each who brought their own joy. On Wednesday Night my cousin Patty and I had dinner in Baltimore's inner harbor. Patty lives in North Carolina with her family and was in town for a major IBM convention. Having not seen Patty for several years it was wonderful to catch up on old times and to share a night out on the town. She kindly took me to Cheesecake Factory where we dined like kings and enjoyed a beautiful Baltimore evening. The weather was perfect so we opted to eat outside on the patio overlooking Baltimore's inner harbor. About half way through our meal I saw something run behind my cousin's chair. Not wanting to scare her I said nothing. A few minutes later I saw a brush of fur run by. I was a little disgusted and figured it was a small mouse and kept eating. It wasn't until we were done our meal that I looked over beside her chair and saw what had to be the world's largest rat. Now many of you may presume I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not! The rat was the size of small cat and could easily have weighed ten pounds. I nearly died of shock and it ran away. Needless to say we quickly motioned the waitress and called it a night. If you are in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore beware of the giant rat.

If you see it you will know what I am talking about. If you can catch and tame it I assure you could get a saddle and ride it to school!

On Friday night I was able to go out for Dinner with the Dunn Family from Manchester. The Dunns were in town for family weekend at Loyola University (2 blocks from St. Mary's) where their daughter, and my brilliant former student, MariBriege attends. Peter, Kelly, MariBriege and little Patrick and I went out to Baltimore's famous Cafe Hon Restaurant. Cafe Hon is a unique family restaurant with an eclectic combination of memorabilia. It was great to catch up with them all and to spend an evening with real people. When you are in the Seminary and spend all of your time with seminarians and priests it is easy to get a strange sense of reality.

On Saturday my Aunt Susie was in town for a national convention of Urban Boards of Education. She is on the Board of Education for Jersey City, NJ. My Aunt and I were able to meet up for lunch and I was able to give her a tour of the Seminary. She is an incredible woman with a heart of gold, and she has been very supportive of my journey to priesthood. It was wonderful to be able to show her where I study and to share an afternoon together.

Saturday Night I joined seven other seminarians and the Rector of the Seminary at the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Gala for Catholic Education. The evening was a huge fund-raising event for Catholic Schools, something that is right up my alley. The Archdiocese was able to sell out the evening's Gala and raise close to a million dollars for the support of schools! The evening featured great food, music, and a live auction. It was great to relax with friends and the Rector, Vice-Rector and Director of Development. My favorite part of the evening came when we tried to convince the Rector to bid on a Puppy. He has a cat and is not really a dog person. Despite our declarations that we would walk the dog every day he did not budge. The rector has a great sense of humor and it was in full force during our exchanges about the Puppy Auction. We made sure to buy a stuffed dog and leave it in front of his door the next morning with a little note and a bill for the auction.

Important Blog News:

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