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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three tidbits

RESULTS ARE INCONCLUSIVE (so, what else is new?) in the never-ending balloting to elect a U.S. Regional Council. Both Father Bob Jalbert and Father Ed Szendrey led the list of four, but neither garnered a majority of votes.

So their names as well as those of the other two also-rans, Br. Tom Hickey and Fr. John Moran will appear on the (mercifully) final ballot to go out. We will chose ONE name and the top two vote-getters will be pronounced the Second and Third Assistant. Recall: the first straw ballot for U.S. Regional went out last April. Oy vey!

Oddly enough, the newly constituted House Council (Lukaschek, Blazo, Dargan, Ahearn and moi) is actually larger than either the Regional or General Council. I guess the smaller the unit, the more men needed to take the mean to govern.


BR. WAYNE FITZPATRICK announced today that Fr. Jim Gavin, ofm Cap., of Brooklyn, will lead us in a Lenten day of prayer on Tuesday, March 23. The theme has yet to be chosen but chances are it will have something to do with repentance, conversion and maybe death. Just a guess.


FR. RAY FINCH made a cameo appearance yesterday, and today returned to the 39th St. House in preparation for his return to Bolivia. (Or is it Peru? Chile? Someplace down there.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

House meeting 2/17

TWENTY-FOUR of the 85 residents attended.

The Ill-named E.A.T. (Emergency Assistance Team) has been renamed the M.E.T. (Medical Emergency Team) and volunteers are still needed for this important ministry to accompany men to the hospital when they have a medical emergency.

Center Coordinator Nancy Kleppel asks that Maryknollers give the 941-7636 number plus their extension to family and friends so they can call rooms directly instead of going through our switchboard operators, who have been getting inundated with literally tens of thousands of calls in recent months.

A Lenten day of reflection and penance service may be scheduled for the second week in March.

Br. McKenna asks that people not be so helpful and not remove the fliers for his Thursday night movies from the bulletin boards.

Br. Kevin Dargan recited a long list of periodicals that have disappeared and pleaded with the men to return whatever they "borrowed." He suggested moving the security camera to focus on the periodical room door instead of the library entrance.

Fr. Joe Veneroso's suggestion that the room be locked whenever the library is closed went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Leading in the race for the all-important House Committee to replace Fr. Tom Keefe and Fr. Dan Jensen who have moved to St. T's are:

Fr. Mike Zunno, Br. Tom Hickey and Fr. Joe Veneroso, each with 4 votes.

Br. Kevin Dargan and Fr. Tom Ahearn got 3 votes each.

Mike and Tom asked their names be removed. A motion was made to appoint the remaining three to the House Committe and a resounding yawn of apathy carried the motion.

An attempt to resurrect the monthly Quality of Life meeting died a'borning.

The meeting mercifully ended at 4:30.

Sent from my most excellent iPhone

Ashes to ashes

ASH WEDNESDAY certainly put me in a repentant mood, for the same reason yesterday's Mass did (read next post!) It's not that attending liturgies here will make your life longer. It will just seem that way. Many souls got sprung from Purgatory, in the Key of B flat.

Hey, but stay tuned! In less than an hour we will be holding our monthly house meeting, absent our pastoral director, Fr. Ernie Lukaschek. who is still recouperating nicely at St. T's. Br. John Blazo will attempt to herd cats, er, I mean conduct this meeting of Maryknollers.

I don't know yet what the agenda is, but I know Br. Kevin Dargan, one of our librarians, is getting pretty tired of periodicals, notably CELEBRATION, Magnificat and Homiletics, sprouting legs and walking off, usually with America, U.S. Catholic and the NCR.

I only hope if things do come to blows--or at least a shouting match--it does so before 5 when I have to go to Evening Prayer.

One musical trainwreck, one homiletic meltdown

IT'S NOT LIKE WE DON'T GET ENOUGH PRACTICE. Yesterday's funeral for Fr. Bill Marley was an improvement over our last fiasco, but that's not saying much. Even with Yours Truly leading the singing, I was no match for the organist who had a mind, tempo, volume and key all her own. Knowing when to stop playing is an important skill to cultivate. Knowing when to let go of the final chord already and let the celebrant get on with the liturgy remains an elusive goal.

Simply volunteering to preach during the time alotted for the homily should not automaticaly qualify someone to speak, ex temporaneously, unprepared and to absentmindedly rehash the entire biography from the prior evening. I do not fault the man who generously stepped up and volunteered. I fault those who selected him (for the second time in a row no less) and especially those in our "community" who couldn't be bothered to preach at a brother's funeral.

Hey, give me a break, it's Ash Wednesday. I'm sure I'll be in a better frame of mind after I eat something!

On a more upbeat note, Chace Olinger (Indiana), one of five vocation prospects applying this year, arrived this week to go through his battery of tests and interviews and physicals in preperation for the Admissions Board. Chace spent some time in Japan last year, getting to know Maryknollers and our work there.

Similarly we welcome Glen Di Angelo (Georgia) who will arrive this Friday and who spent time last summer in Bolivia.

Psychological tests? Hey, if they can endure our liturgies I say, "Sign 'em up!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

This 'n' that

KUDOS to our grounds crew who did yeomen's work throughout the night on Tuesday and all day Wednesday clearing the 5+ inches of snow from our parking lot, walkways and even from the tops of cars.

The snowday on Wednesday and delayed opening on Thursday, coupled with Presidents' Day on Monday (so people could take a HUGE six-day vacation if they took today off as well) might account for the meager attendance at Thursday's Food For Thought. Fr. John Brinkman presented the faith approach to global climate change as articulated in Copenhagen to a diminished group of eight Maryknollers and six employees.

Perhaps I am partly to blame for not blogging about the Food For Thought in a more timely manner. I know Fr. John McAuley had actually planned on leading a delegation from Taiwan to attend the talk which I had incorrectly advertised for last week. The good news is that Ms. Maureen Touhey videoed the presentation and may be willing to send you a copy just in time for your Lenten penances.

Speaking of which, Maryknoll will hold its semi-annual blood drive this coming Tuesday, February 16, just in time for Mardi Gras. A special supper will again pick up the theme of "Laissez les bon temps rouller!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Our Snow Lady of Marykno

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Heart of Jesus retreat

FR. Romane St. VIL will conduct a previously scheduled Heart of Jesus Retreat for the Haitian community all day Saturday (today!) at Maryknoll.

He leaves for Haiti after that. I think.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti Update

ONLINE contributions to Maryknoll's Haiti relief effort total $18, 913 so far.

This sum does not include the $670+ that was donated at our special Mass for Haiti, nor does it include the private journal transactions from individual Maryknollers.

Father Romane St. Vil leaves for Haiti tomorrow. Father Dennis Moorman, his classmate, will join him on February 15, to offer whatever moral support he can to Romane as he undertakes this difficult journey.

Among the team of volunteer physicians Romane has assembled is Dr. David Kim, a former parishioner at St. Paul Chong-Ha-Sang parish in Queens, now working in L.A. He contacted me on Facebook after the earthquake because he wanted to volunteer through Marynoll. Luckily we were able to place him through Fr. Romane.

Pray for the success of this mission and for continued relief efforts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


SORRY! Father John Brinkman's Food For Thought talk about a faith perspective on climate change will be NEXT THURSDAY, February 11.

I will report on Father Frazier's discussion group that was held today as soon as I find someone who attended it.

Two gatherings & one escape

TODAY at noon Fr. John Brinkman will speak at the Food for Thought gathering in the Founders Room on the challenges of Copenhagen, a look at climate change from a faith perspective.

AT 4 p.m., in the Africa Room Fr. Bill Frazier will lead a discussion of his paper on reconciliation as a follow-up to the conversation about God & the earthquake in Haiti.

As for my part, I may miss both of these to seize an opportunity to see Avatar again in IMAX 3D at the Pallisades Mall in West Nyack.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Update on Ernie

I AM HAPPY to report that Fr. Ernie Lukaschek came through his surgery with flying colors—and with both kidneys! The surgeons removed what they needed to remove and all went well. Thank you all for your prayers!

Today we had a wonderful Mass for St. Blaise, with the Blessing of Throats, that drew a larger than normal crowd so we relocated to the main chapel. Many employees also came at the end of the Mass for the Blessing. I extended this rite to the Sodexo staff in the kitchen and Fr. Mike Zunno was kind enough to bring his candles up to health services.

So popular is this particularly arcane practice, even among nonCatholics, that I am investigating how better to make it available next year, during our 100th.

Incredibly disappearing stuff

CORRECTION: In my previous blog I posted that Fr. Ernie Lukaschek's operation was Thursday. It's today: Wednesday, Feb. 3. The request for prayers stands.

Fr. John Kaserow, our liturgy coordinator, noticed our new aspergillum (sprinkler, for you post Vatican II types) that bore an uncanny resemblance to a whisk brush, had apparently grown a pair of wings and flown away. Either that or someone had a sudden urge to sweep their floor. In any event, in looking for it in time for Fr. Jim O'Neill's wake, John happened upon the old aspergillam which had gone into hiding when the new one arrived.

But this did bring up the subject of mean, unauthorized permanent borrowing from the sacristy. Many albs, gone! Matching stoles, vanished! An almost complete set of custom-made Chinese vestments with the character "Tao" (or Way) on the back, missing! (Our guess is our men in Africa and Latin America are not suspect.) The bishop's stool for ordinations, disappeared. (Feel free to nominate your favorite episcopal wanna-be).

And this is just from the sacristy! Br. Kevin Dargan, librarian, reports that some magazines don't last a day in the periodicals room. America and U.S. Catholic both have a habit of sprouting legs. And the surveillance camera outside the library entrance shows nothing unusual, leaving us to imagine very unsavory ways to spirit away a publication.

But wait! There's more! Kevin also reports that while going through the late Fr. Dan Schneider's things, someone or ones felt free to go into the room and help themselves.

The laundry room is another point of departure for one's personal belongings. I once had a brand new shirt (only worn once) disappear when I sent out four shirts for laundering and, get this, I got back three shirts and an empty hanger! Talk about hutzpah! I even posted a "Missing Shirt" bulletin, all to no avail. It reappeared almost one year later, in the laundry room, cleaned and ironed and on a hanger. I guess the culprit thought the rabbinical curse at the end of my bulletin was only a joke.


In other news, once again the right liturgical hand didn't know what the left pastoral hand was doing, so yesterday the funeral pre-empted the Mass of the Presentation. Being temporary, mobile and flexible missioners, we made do.

At second solemn vespers yesterday, we blessed the candles and gussied up the ceremony with lighted tapers and chanting. A recond 15 (count'em--15!) guys attended.

I propbably should have stopped to count the breviaries and candles after the ceremony.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


• WE BID FAREWELL and buried Fr. Jim O'Neill (Japan) today in what can only be called, in all Christian charity, a liturgical train-wreck. The proposed fixed-position closed-circuit camera can be installed in the back of the chapel none-too-soon, where at very least our men in formation can review the DVD and learn many ways how not to say Mass. Not to be totally negative, for once the incensing was actually done correctly, i.e., no incensing the body during the offertory as if adapting an Aztec rite of human sacrifice. (Un)fortunatately we'll have another opportunity to get it right e'er long.

• The first ballot for the second Regional Assistant surfaced the following names: Fr. Bob Jalbert, Fr. Ed Szendrey, Fr. John Moran and Br. Tom Hickey. Since no one received a majority of votes, another ballot will go out in which men will be asked to chose two of the four names.

• Fr. Ernie Lukaschek, pastoral coordinator, asks prayers as he undergoes exploratory surgery tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb 3) on his kidney. Please send Ernie your palanca, blessings, prayers and good vibes.

Pilgrims' Progress

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL PRILGRIMAGE to Central America ended last week with 20 participants (2 deacons and 18 priests, including three canon lawyers) according to Rev. Mr. Steve DeMartino, vocations ministry coordinator, who organized the tour.

As the group made their way around the various spots in Guatemala and El Salvador made holy by the blood of many martyrs, including Bishop Oscar Romero, the four churchwomen and the Jesuits, not to mention hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, the group was particularly moved by the eye-witness accounts of survivors, DeMartino said.

Last of all they heard the stories of Maryknollers who lived there during those dark days: Br. Marty Shea, Fr. Bill Donnelly, Fr. Bill Mullan and Fr. Dave LaBuda. Maryknoll Fathers John Spain and Tom Goekler also hosted the group at their apostolates.

DeMartino proudly points to these pilgrimages as an excellent opportunity for Maryknoll to foster closer relationships with clergy of the Church in the U.S. as well as expose them to the Maryknoll mission reality.

Three of this year's participants expressed a desire to entire into deeper discussion and discernment in possibly joining our Associate Program.

On an unrelated yet too humorous to ignore note, after the pilgrimage, Deacon Steve and Father Dave LaBuda were parambulating in the Petén (no mean fete in itself), when Steve heard the distinct noise of cracking branches and rustling leaves in the jungle canopy to either side of the path. They were being stalked by howler monkeys, to which Dave replied, "Whatever.

Finally Steve could take it no more and turned to address their still hidden adversaries, "Show your faces already!" (although truth be told, I don't know if he spoke in English, Spanish, Maya or Huachuatl). After two fruitless attempts to flush the monkeys out of hiding, one howler appeared and proceeded to live up to his name.

"Is that the best you got?" Steve howled back, at which point the howler proceeded to rain down his answer. Flushed out indeed.