Thursday, January 26, 2012


Bishop Libasci Joins NH Catholic Institutions in
Denouncing Obama Administration Mandate

(MANCHESTER, NH) Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, and other leaders of Catholic institutions in New Hampshire are denouncing the recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) intends to implement a rule that mandates that coverage for sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception be included in virtually all health plans, regardless of whether the employer or the insured individual has a moral objection to such drugs and procedures. Bishop Libasci said the edict represents an untenable attack on religious liberty and a radical incursion into freedom of conscience.

“The HHS rule creates an alarming and serious concern that negatively impacts the Catholic Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith,” said Bishop Libasci. “The federal government, which claims to be ‘of, by, and for the people,’ has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.”

The announcement from HHS includes a very narrow exemption for religious organizations that employ and serve those of the same faith. This exemption does not cover Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charitable organizations all of which would be forced to comply, or not offer health care coverage to employees or stop hiring and serving non-Catholics.

Dr. Joseph Pepe, interim CEO of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester said, “Catholic Medical Center employs over 2000 people and is a leading resource for health care in the community. If the Obama Administration does not rescind this rule, we will be forced to either provide coverage that is contrary to our organization’s ethical and religious commitment, or withhold healthcare insurance from our employees. Both options seem unfathomable.”

Thomas E. Blonski, President and CEO of New Hampshire Catholic Charities said, “As a Catholic organization, we feel strongly that healthcare should be accessible to every American. Yet, the United States government’s wanton disregard for the pro-life beliefs that we and other faiths share is not only tragic but truly un-American.”

Saint Anselm College’s President, Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., said he is horrified by the decision. “In a country and a state that values and respects individuals’ right to exercise their religious beliefs and live according to their conscience’s best lights, it is simply appalling to think that this mandate is anything other than an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. If the Constitution grants, as it does, a priority of place to the Freedom of Religion, the Administration should respect it and allow an exemption for the beliefs of Catholics and persons of other faiths. If it fails to do so, we need to urgently call on the members of Congress to rescind this unthinkable mandate.”

More information on what the proposed HHS rule means is available at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Working on Big Night

Preparing for a big night tonight, I will be presenting a reflection for a parish prayer group. Scrambling to study for a big canon law quiz, and to prepare for tonight's presentation........ will let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today We March!

Today I journey to D.C. to March for Life for the 14th time. I march because I believe that EVERY life... has dignity, EVERY life has value, and EVERY person has a beauty that nothing can ever compare to. I march to end Abortion, for the same reasons I fight to end the death penalty, to end discrimination for ANY reason. I march for life for the same reason I work to end poverty because EVERY LIFE HAS VALUE! To all those who fight for justice, and who fought for the voiceless, you are my inspiration. To all those out there who have chosen Life when it is not easy, when the world seems against you, know that you are my heroes. Know that on this day when I march, I march for you. I march to thank you for your courageous witness to this world. I march each year also to say thank you to two women I have never met, to say thank you for two of the greatest gifts in my life, I march to say thank you to the birth mothers of my two adopted sisters. Sonya and Lisa I cannot imagine life without you. Know on this day I march for you, and I will continue marching to the day I die!

To those who feel trapped and who need support in order to choose life, know that I am only one phone call, one email, one facebook message away and I will help and support you, no matter what. To the two young women who have contacted me over the years, know you too are my heroes.

To those who are not with us on this issue know I love and respect you all and pray that one day you come to understand that this issue is not about telling anyone what to do, but rather the simple principle that all life matters, all life has dignity. Yes on this day many who march will not understand that when we say all life has dignity, we truly mean all people. I pray for these people too and hope that one day this world will come to understand that Every person matters, every person has dignity, and every person deserves life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cut Off From the World: A Blessing and a Curse

This week my phone officially died. In an increasingly technological world it has been a big adjustment to get used to being without a phone at my side. At first the great challenge was being without the phone as a watch. It is amazing how dependent I had become on even this small part/operation of my phone. After learning to figure out which clocks in the Seminary are accurate and which ones are lies, I settled into a routine. There is something nice about not always knowing the exact moment, something nice about being able to simply rest in the moment.

The challenge of being without a cell phone has been great as I am a big texter and I like to keep in touch with my family on a regular basis. Luckily my friends have been kind and lent me a phone when needed. I am hoping my brother will be able to send out his old extra phone soon, so that I can be back in business.

All of this being said I must say I kind of enjoy being hard to get in contact with. It is like being on a mini retreat. I have been enjoying quiet time and it certainly has reminded me of the great importance of not getting too plugged in.

Today at Mass the celebrant gave a great homily in which he discussed how many people will check their phones when they get a text while driving. He freely admitted that most of us do. His point was simple, we always check texts while driving because we think it might be something important. We check texts at meetings, at restaurants, with family present, when we are talking with others, because someone might have something important to say. However, he also noted that God speaks to us, he calls us, he texts our hearts and our very beings, yet so many of us are too busy to respond, to busy to see what he has to say in our hearts, in his Word, in Scripture. We check text messages because they might have something important to say, yet let the Bible collect dust, despite knowing that God uses the Word to speak to our hearts, show us the way, and tell us something most important.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grades Are In!

After a long semester in the Fall our grades are finally in and all things went well.

My marks were as follows:

Catholic Social Ethics: A
Preaching: Pass (Pass/Fail Course- focus is meant to be getting better and not grades)
Extra Ecclesiam: A-
Canon Law: A
Becoming Pastor and Teacher: A

My New Semester is shaping up to be a good one, with what I hope will be a nice and reasonable work load. My courses will be:

- Contemporary Ecclesiology (a look at issues defining what it means to be a Church and challenges facing the Church)
- Canon Law II
- Becoming Pastor and Teacher II (it is a course focused on training us to be deacons and practicing baptizing, weddings, etc...)
- Sacraments
- Gospels and Social Justice

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Beautiful Tradition

A few years ago over coffee with some good friends, a crazy idea was born, to invite all of my former students to come together just before Christmas to pray together, to feed the hungry and to share in each other's company. Four years later I can say with great joy that each year on December 22nd hundreds of young people have gathered in a tiny Church in the heart of Manchester to do just that, to feed the hungry, to pray together and to share in the joy of the season.

This year, as every year, I have been moved to tears to see so many familiar faces united in faith and in action. Since early November I have been furiously working to send out personalized Christmas cards, invitations, facebook invites and the like. I have kept my formation, prayer life and studies at the forefront, but have dedicated a great deal of my personal time to this endeavor, which has taken me away from my blog, etc... This year when December 22nd rolled around hundreds of young people answered the invitations and the call, and came once again, filling Blessed Sacrament Parish to the fire coded limit.

I was grateful for all who came, and grateful that this special night was able to be shared with Bishop Peter Labasci, our new bishop in Manchester. He graciously accepted an invitation to attend, but insisted on sitting quietly off to the side, so as not to draw away any attention. The Bishop came to support our young people and in doing so he proved inspirational yet again.

Below is the reflection I offered at the end of Mass that night. I do hope you enjoy!

I would like to begin by thanking Father John and Brother Charles for being such gracious hosts to us all during this most busy week before Christmas. Bishop Labasci, Reverend Fathers, our most talented musicians, gathered friends, thank you all for coming out here on this cold winters night, and thank for your presence here, it not only lifts my heart, and strengthens my spirit, it also warms the very being and essence of us all, gathered in this place, on this night.

My young friends, I would like to thank you in a special way for being here tonight. Your presence not only brings joy to my heart, it also fills my Spirit with hope. On this night, just days from Christmas, when many of you are just returning home for the first time since a busy semester and following intense exams, you have come here, to this special place, in prayer. Some of you, have even come this very night, directly from the airport. Your presence, here, speaks more profoundly then any words that I could ever share, and the gift you give by your presence, and by your very person, has more value than the greatest of treasures under any tree. A great American president once said, that the future favors the bold. My young friends, on this night, you have chosen to boldly witness the beauty of your faith and the depths of your love, and the future, favors your Hope.

Two weeks ago I was serving Mass at a parish in Baltimore as part of my regular seminary responsibilities, when something strange occurred, something unplanned and unexpected. I was seated quietly in the sanctuary as the priest and Eucharistic ministers began to distribute communion, my eyes were closed and I was quietly reflecting and enjoying the peace. When suddenly I heard a voice call my name. Andrew, Andrew it kept whispering.

At first I thought to myself this is it. This is that defining moment in prayer when I hear the very whisper of God. The more I sat the more I realized that that voice that kept calling my name sounded strangely like the Altar server seated next to me. As I looked up, he pointed me to the cantor who was also whispering my name and calling me towards her. I thought to myself, this is strange why would the cantor be calling me. Ahhh, perhaps it is a glass of water she needs. But as I got closer she began to frantically point to the music. Once again I thought to myself, that is funny, why is she pointing at music, was I singing the along with the wrong words.

Then, she looked deep into my eyes, with fear in her own, and she said the most horrific words I could ever hear, words that struck fear into the heart of my soul, and threatened to send me running out of the very Church I served. She looked at me square in the eyes and said “ I have an emergency, you are cantor now.”

In one swift moment, I had gone from the complete peace and comfort of my prayer to the horrors of singing before a full church, and a pew full of my friends who just happened to be visiting that morning. She did not reappear and my awkward moment was stretched out for what seemed like eternity. The microphone was working well and picked up every quiver in my voice. The Church was packed, I was nervously gripping the hymnal and putting on a fake smile, all the while the very horror and panic that struck my heart, was now striking the ears of all those gathered that fateful morning, that moment the cantor called me by name.

This very night God has called us each by name, to be here, to be present, together in our prayer, our service to the poor, and our friendship with one another. He was present three years ago when the dream of creating this evening was born over a cup off coffee I shared with some good friends, and former students visiting me at the seminary in Baltimore. When I said do you think we can make it happen, do you think we create a beautiful night, when young people who once journeyed together, and whose journeys now take them so many different places, return home to this place, to the Church, to pray together once more, and to journey together for a little while, and to be the love that Christ calls us to be and to be together as family once more, so that when our journeys call upon us again, we can rekindle the fire of faith, and the warmth of love which dwelt among us on Christmas morning, and dwells among us this night.

As people of faith we know that these are not the only reasons God calls us together this night. We know that as our lives move on and take us so many different places, he still speaks to our hearts and whispers to our souls. God calls us each by name. He called the shepherds who watched over their flocks, so that they would encounter the new born king. He called the Magi, the three Kings and led them to a tiny stable. He called Mary and Joseph and asked them to tenderly care for the ultimate gift of love. And this night he calls each of us from wherever we are, he calls us, those that know this place, this church well, he calls those who have been strangers, those who have been lost, and those that have never felt the warm embrace of God’s love.

He reaches deep into our hearts and calls us to not only to witness the Gospel to the waiting world, but also to be a resplendent fire that goes and lights the world ablaze with love. He calls us to lay down our nets, to leave our flocks, to follow the star, to surrender our lives to his will, to answer his call and come follow him.

That surrendering, that answering of the call, which God shares with us this night requires each of us to ask not what we want, wish, hope and dream, but rather to ask what it is that God has in store for us, and what it is he calls us to be. Sometimes, that call will lead us away from all that we know and love, and sometimes it leads right where we always knew we would be. Whatever the case may be, it always lead us right to where our hearts find rest. The challenge for us all tonight, whether we are far along our life’s journey or just beginning, is to look deep within and find God’s voice. And answer yes to his invitation to come follow him, to be unafraid to consider where it may take you, and to be humble enough to consider it might not be where you expect, it may be to a seminary or to a classroom, to a family or a factory, or right in this Church this night.

As we prepare for the joy of Christmas which waits ahead, may we courageously answer his call, and accept his invitation to bring love into the world, just as Mary did. And may we reflect His light and love to the world which waits.

God Bless you all and Merry Christmas.

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