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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A festivus miracle!

The return of the purificators was as sudden and mysterious as their disappearance.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bethlehem or bust

[Blogger's note: I usually post my homilies at my other site but, since Fr. Joe Fedora was the inspiration for this, I thought I'd post it in both places. Enjoy.]


Joseph and Mary had such wonderful dreams and plans for the future. Following Jewish custom, they would be engaged for one year before living together as husband and wife. Then one day their dreams came crashing down because of two terrible facts: Mary was pregnant and it's wasn't Joseph's baby.

Joseph was filled with so many conflicting emotions and thoughts. Doubt, anger, hurt, resentment, confusion, betrayal, sadness and fear. Fear of what his family and friends would say when they found out. Fear of being thought a fool. Fear of being judged by religious leaders. Fear he had trusted and loved the wrong woman. But most of all, fear of what would happen to Mary when people found out. The Law of the Lord was clear. Such women must be stoned to death.

How many sleepless night did Joseph spend, tossing and turning, tortured by these thoughts and awful possibilities? Then he made up his mind to divorce her secretly so as not to expose her to the Law.

It was at this point that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her is conceived by the Holy Spirit."

Joseph rose from his sleep and took Mary as his wife and the rest, as they say, is history.

As we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, consider there are people in our church today whose dreams have been shattered and whose future is in doubt. Some of you may be angry, hurt, resentful, confused, sad and filled with fear. The gospel message for you today is the same as to Joseph and the same as to Mary, "Do not be afraid." You are exactly where God wants you to be and no matter what happens, God will be with you.

Do not be afraid of losing your job. Do not be afraid of losing your health. Do not be afraid of losing your life. God will be with you. This is the message of Christmas. This is the hope born in a manger in Bethlehem.

I have never been to Bethlehem, but I hope to go there someday. My friend and colleague, Father Joe Fedora, lives and works in Peru, in South America. He sent me a Christmas message two weeks with the good news. He said:

"Guess what? I´m going to Bethlehem and I´m planning on spending lots of time there! I’m traveling light; I can’t afford to be weighed down by things I won’t need. One carry-on should do it. Getting there shouldn’t be a problem; I’ve been there before and, besides, I’ve lots of angels and stars showing me the way. Once I arrive, I’m going to take off my shoes and maybe even kiss the ground. And then I´m off to the manger – the AIDS ward and soup kitchen and prison – to hang out with Jesus. I’m going to Bethlehem and don’t even have to leave Lima.
“When I was sick…
When I was hungry…
When I was in prison…”
Where will you be spending the Holidays?
May the angels and stars in your life show you the way to Bethlehem.
Merry Christmas!
Love, Joe

So as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and hope that all the parties and presents will take away whatever pain we may be feeling, remember Bethlehem is only a car, a bus or a subway ride away. A homeless shelter, an old folks home, a hospital. All these are the stable of Bethlehem because in all these Christ may be found.

And when you find Christ, or rather, once Christ finds you, you'll no longer be weighed down by fear. Do not be afraid to take Joseph, and Mary and Jesus into your hearts and into your homes. Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Memorial Service for Fr. Tom Goekler, M.M.

A memorial service for Fr. Tom Goekler was held today in our main chapel. Many guests, relatives and friends, began arriving last night. Former Maryknoll priest associate Father Jack Martin, from Newark, was presider and Fr. Bill Donnelly, who had worked with Tom in Central America, was homilist.

Remembrances at the end of Mass were given by Tom's oldest sister and a lay couple from Amistad Catholic Worker House in Hartford, Conn., which Tom helped found.

(Thanks to Fr. Ed Szendrey for supplying these details.)

On December 10, Archbishop Henry Mancell of Hartford celebrated a memorial Mass there, inviting Maryknollers in the area to concelebrate.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Christmas Party pix

Clarified clarifications

More details are coming in from the house meeting which, if you haven't figured out, I did not attend having procured tickets for one of the last remaing performances of West Side Story.

* Having heard reports of our previous meeting, Father General said he came protected by two Council Members. (like Brutus escorting Caesar to the Senate?)

* It may take $5M+ to make Bethany inhabitable and bring it up to code. (Blogger's note: I don't know where the rumor got started that we paid the lay missioners $1 for Bethany. It may be a recycling of the historical incident where we paid the Sisters $1 for our property back in the day.)

* The cause for canonization of Bishop Walsh was separated from that of Fr. Price ostensibly to make it easier. The diocese of Raleigh would do the legwork for their homeboy. (Wouldn't that double the cost?)

* Fr. Dougherty reminded the men that harassment charges encompass more than sexual misconduct. If our words or behavior repeatedly make an employee feel he or she is working in a hostile environment, that can justify a harassment allegation. (Gee, too bad Maryknollers can't bring charges against fellow Missioners.)

* Fr. Dougherty also made a cryptic comment about the weather in Navarre, France (where the heart of Fr. Price is entombed at the foot of St.Bernadette) being "as cold as the reception." No word whether the General Council will bring harassment charges against the Sisters of Charity.

* On a positive note, Doc welcomed Fr. Jim Madden to the vocation team and said the transition from Fr. Dennis Moorman will take place in March 2011. And, keeping our fingers crossed, there may be a "bumper crop" of new candidates accepted into formation.

Health Services Christmas Party

Fr. Dougherty's topics

At the Town Hall meeting with Society residents yesterday, Doc touched on the following topics:

* His trip to Rome

* The Cause for the canonization of Bishop James A. Walsh will be formally opened on January 24, 2011.Bishop Michael Burbridge of Raleigh, North Carolina will be here at Maryknoll for this and the Opening Liturgy on January 25.

* The Bethany deal has not yet been totally worked out (when the Society reposseses ownership.)

* Society members vacation allowance will be restored.

Father Dave Smith, our CFO, sent in the following clarification about the employees COLA raises:

Hi Joe,
Thanks for your recent blogs. I just wanted to alert you to a slight correction that you might want to make in case any of the Society employees read your blog. When the GC announced a 3% COLA raise, they also stipulated a minimum $2000 COLA raise. In other words, the employee will receive either a 3% raise or a $2000 raise, whichever is larger. For many it will be the latter. The point at which 3% becomes larger than $2000 is when someone’s current gross salary is $66,667. Anyone currently receiving less than that amount will receive the $2000 raise.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spoiler alert!

Among other things, when Fr. Dougherty speaks to the residents at the house meeting tomorrow, he will announce that our vacation allowance will be restored in 2011. See? Turning 100 has its advantages.

Good news of great joy

To the delight of all, Fr. Ed Dougherty announces a 3% COLA raise beginning in January for all employees who were hired before September 2010. The recession is officially over!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Church architecture 101

The prize for correctly identifying the wooden, narthex frontispiece upon which the new Channel 15 camera was permanently mounted goes to Ms. Barbara Osborne of the Council Secretariat. Congratulations, Barbara!

(Second prize goes to the first Society member who can correctly identify the arcane architectural term: "chapel.")

Speaking of rood screen, we may have inadvertently begun a new liturgical tradition here at Mother Knoll last Wednesday on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when, in the midst of Fr. Mike Duggan's Eucharistic prayer, one of the two concelebrants was inspired to open the rood screen. He didn't succeed. So he was joined by the other concelebrant but, even after much rattling and pulling, the screen remained stubbornly closed. The spectacle was distracting enough to everyone to cast doubt on the validity of the Mass for all but the main celebrant.

On Tuesday (tomorrow) at 3:00 p.m. we will hold our annual Employees Christmas Prayer Service followed by a Christmas Party. The party will be in the dining room; the prayer service will be held in the main space between the narthex frontispiece and the rood screen.

On Wednesday, December 15, at 3:00 p.m., Fr. Ed Dougherty will hold a Town Hall meeting in the Asia Room with Society members. The topic has not been announced, in keeping with everything else.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Channel 15 Milestone

Last Friday's record-breaking attendance at the Christmas concert wasn't the only first. The entire concert, from beginning to end, was televised live on Channel 15 from a permanent camera mounted next to the clock atop the wooden arches in the back of the chapel. (Special mention in my blog will go to anyone who can tell me what that piece of wordwork separating vestibule from nave is called. Even Google the Great failed me.)

Ms. Kathy Brophy, from her remote position in the VCR/DVD room next to the Africa Room, was able to remotely control camera angles, zoom and focus throughout the concert, which was shown live in our main building as well as at St. Teresa's. The concert was also recorded for replay at later times so I will be able to check if she captured my good side during my 30-second solo! More than one Maryknoller, seeing the overflow crowd, either gave up his seat so a guest could be seated or simply gave up trying to get into the chapel, and returned to watch the concert in the comfort and privacy of their own rooms.

This permanent camera situated in an unobtrusive spot on top the (word for those wooden arches) will serve us well during our planned Centenary Masses next year, as well as future ordinations, sending ceremonies, Jubilees and funerals.

Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick must be credited and thanked for successfully and persistently shepherding this project through many complicated bureaucratic hurdles and budgetary setbacks. His perseverance paid off with our men in St. T's able to enjoy the concert and witness the first of many historic gatherings.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Concert Blockbuster!

Maryknoll's annual Christmas concert tonight drew a record, overflow crowd of 600+ people. The chapel starting filling fully one hour before the 8:00 "curtain". With Standing Room Only crowds in the back of the chapel, Mario Cerdas and Theresa Rodrigueez, from housekeeping, sprang into action and set up extra chairs in the back, in the center aisle and even in the sanctuary.

The Christmas Concert was the official musical opening of Maryknoll's Centennary celebrations. The return of long-time Maryknoll music director Ms. Lucille Naughton (she directed the choir when I was ordained in 1978) was surely the reason behind this record-breaking crowd. Kudos to Security and Physical Plant that dealt with parking and traffic issues. Br. Tony Lopez also assembled a hospitality crew to hand out programs and carol booklets.

Songs included "Non nobis, Domine" (from the movie Henry V), "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Gesu Bambino."
Maryknollers were acknowledged and then all joined in singing the Maryknoll hymn. A children's Choir supplied the "Aw!" factor with "Little Drummer Boy", "Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". There was time for audience participation with traditional favorites such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" "Joy to the World" and "Angels We Have Heard On High".

Lucille also previewed three songs from the Maryknoll Centenary Missa ad Gentes, by Michael Joncas: "Lord, Have Mercy" ,"Gospel Acclamation" and "Lamb of God". She also invited those present to attend the special rehearsal of the entire Mass, with timpani, trumpet, flute, piano and organ, on Sunday, January 23 at 3:00 p.m. (We might have to set up the Spellman Room and Lady Chapel if the crowd is anything like tonight's!)

One departure from tradition. The choir and assembly sang "Happy Birthday" to Maryknoll to end the concert and adjourned to the Spellman Room for birthday cake, coffee and tea. Santa's helper (Fr. Joe La Mar) passed out candy to children of all ages.

Our Centennary is off to a great start!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent busyness

Sorry for my silence, folks. Things get crazy just before Christmas, as I'm sure you understand. Some interesting things are going on, however. This, from Fr. Richard Callahan:

The results of the Maryknoll Farm (a.k.a. the “Pachamama” Farm) for 2010 are in:  33,000 pounds (sixteen and a half TONS) of vegetables and fruit were distributed to six food banks in the area. Over the past nine years since the farm was started, it has produced and distributed 158,000 pounds of food to the food banks. Special thanks to Fathers John and Fern and to their many volunteers for taking seriously Jesus’ command to “feed the hungry” in our midst. ~Richard B. Callahan, M.M.

Following the gas leak (which is not totally repaired) Sodexo made the switch over to propane. Four huge tanks are now outside the kitchen.

Vocation ministers, Admissions, Initial and Lifelong Formation people have concluded a productive three-day meeting here.

Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty has asked for a "Town Hall" meeting. But here's where the buzz at the salad bar gets tossed. Some say he will meet with only Society Members this Wednesday, others say it will be in January, and still others say that's for Maryknoll Employees as well. The term "Town Hall" evokes nervous laughter from the troops. Perhaps they're thinking about the raucous Town Hall meetings the Tea Partiers held two summers ago. In any event, no matter when it's held, it's sure to make a buzz.

In planning for our opening ceremony on January 25, the intention is to precede the liturgy with a procession of flags of all the (42) places we've worked in our 100 years. Maryknollers would carry in each flag in chronological order and the emcee would announce each flag, i.e. The United States of America, 1911 (accompanied by the papal flag), China, 1918 etc. One diplomatic kerfuffle might arise as the Palestinian flag (1990) enters and is announced as such. Would our expected Jewish guests be offended? Yet we could not in good conscience bring in the Israeli flag. One suggestion is to announce it as "Bethlehem" instead of "Palestine."

While attending a retreat up at Graymoor for our Korean junior high students from Queens, I spoke of our up-coming Centennary with some of the friars. They, in turn, told me of some of their up-coming events next year, including a Mass to be celebrated there by Archbishop Dolan on-----October 30. To those of you unfamiliar with all our planned celebrations, that is the same day His Emminence is scheduled to be the main celebrant at our official Centennary Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Now, I've heard from those who know him well and it's quite possible he'll be able to be in both places. Let's just hope he can and we don't go down to St. Pats just to say Mass by ourselves.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recruiting the Maryknoller of the future

[Bloggers note: the following reflection comes courtesy of Fr. Jack Keegan. While it did not originate "around the salad bar" here at the Knoll, I post it in hopes of inspiring conversations other than our latest medical procedure.]
The Lay orientation of the Maryknoll Society Member.

The late Thomas Wilcox, M.M. used to quip as he walked into the dining room at Maryknoll, New York: “Maryknollers are the only ones who dress for manual labor and nobody does it!” Remarks made in jest often have the truth hidden in them. Something as symbolic as clothing may have the truth about our future inhabiting it. It sees Maryknoll Society members having their roots in the laity of the Church. It knows that we are secular priests and lay brothers. We are neither a religious order nor a religious congregation. We do not live the very admirable lifestyle of people being faithful to their vows. We are different. That is our pride, and this difference should not be glossed over. This pride of ours needs to be stressed, even advertised. Except when wearing liturgical vestments for presiding or assisting at the eucharist or other liturgical services, we do not wear a distinctive garb or habit separating us from the people from whom we came and whose mission we desire to facilitate.

The reason is simple. The words concluding Matthew’s Gospel: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” were words addressed not simply to us , a specialized Society, or even to Roman Catholics, but to all disciples of Christ, people whom we later and to this day have learned to call ‘Christians.’ We have come together as a Society under oath, not to replace or substitute for Christians being involved in mission under their bishops, but to offer a particular expertise to make fruitful their being ‘sent’ to bear the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” into the whole world. The Vatican II decree, AD GENTES, on the mission activity of the Church offers its own commentary: “The pilgrim Church is missionary by heir very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin in accordance with the decree of the Father.”

Beginning to be a Maryknoll Society member in the 21st century.

The prospective Maryknollers can expect to begin this new life in association with other Maryknollers who will be there to help them grow more confidently into their identity as Christians. This formation, growing into more confident Christians, is the purpose undergirding the theological education they will begin pursuing. A faith seeking, not indoctrination, but understanding is a necessity if they are intent on becoming person’s who can enter into worlds not as yet integrated into their life of faith, with the hope of discovering God’s saving presence as it reveals itself. It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Maryknollers of the future will have some of the characteristics of the worker-priests of an earlier twentieth century generation. They  look forward toward becoming specialists helping Christians find and affirm God’s saving presence in what are believed to be non-traditional boundaries of the Church, areas of human life thought to be devoid of God’s saving presence. Perhaps they are heralds whose cry announces an incomprehensible mystery coming to grace our lives from the future.

Living an uncertain future.

Twentieth century Maryknoll  Society members were clear as to what their future would entail. The Society’s purpose was evident. Beyond its concern for the well-being and holiness of its members, the Society saw itself intent on establishing local churches in lands beyond the United States, i.e. in the emerging nations of the world. This was its field afar. Maryknollers, in the twentieth century, brought the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” into a post-colonial world. But, as decolonization proceeded after World War II, a point was reached in the 1970’s when nearly all the world’s territory was under the jurisdiction of sovereign, independent states. Nation-states were territorially defined units the government of which was supreme in internal affairs and independent with respect to external affairs. Most of the states which now form the political organization of the world were created after World War II. Prior to that time, perhaps 47 nations existed on the globe. Now there are as many as 192 attested to by the United Nations, a number that remains fluid. The nation-state system has been extended to the entire globe from its origins in 1648 at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in Europe and the Peace of Westphalia. In the 21st century the nation-state system is under great pressure.
Maryknoll Society members carried the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” into this emerging world. This was its field afar, a world beyond the United States, where people were developing their own sense of nationality. In the places to which they went, they founded the local church where none had previously existed. Often opening seminaries, they helped give birth to an indigenous priesthood and national hierarchy. They began parishes and took up pastoral work, awaiting the day when local priests and bishops would be ready to replace them. In Latin America, they helped reinvigorate a Church that needed rehabilitation. Now, in the 21st century, Christianity is no longer the extension of European Christendom, but a WORLD religion, the largest religion on the globe. Today, local churches are ready to seize their own responsibility for evangelization. Maryknoll Society members face an uncertain future, one which sees the nation-state being surpassed, but which offers new possibilities. It also requires a new expertise if it iOs to be in service to a WORLD religion.

Fields afar for the 21st century.

Some members of the Society may continue on as those who went before them. They will be founding Christian communities in geographical areas untouched by local churches. Perhaps they will become specialist in parts of the world dominated by Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. They will be living in advance of either the existence of a local church or its reach, They will be hoping to revision Christianity from the revelation of the incomprehensible mystery of God they hope they will uncover there.

But other possibilities are also on the horizon. One field afar is the world of the multinational corporation. The multinational corporation is, as Richard Barnett and R. Muller have said, “The most powerful human organization yet devised for colonizing the future.” With the exception of a handful of nation-states, multinationals are alone in possessing the size, technology, and economic reach necessary to influence human affairs on a global basis. It may not be stretching the truth too far to claim that in the future human beings who are not in some way related to a multinational corporation, not its ‘citizens,’ are in danger of becoming the discarded on the globe. The Japanese writer, Terutomo Ozawa observes: “The ultimate modal form of multinationalism if it is allowed to take its own course unhampered by the parochial intervention of nation-states is geocentric, the final stage being one in which the multinational corporation has no country to which it owes more loyalty than any other, nor any country where it feels completely at home.”

Here is a new field afar for the Maryknoll Society member of the future. This is a world into which the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” must enter, and the presence of a saving God facilitated.  It will take creativity, and continuing education for Maryknollers to learn the language of this world. Hopefully, the Society will assist in placing them within it or in some position from which its growth and influence can be directed toward the enhancement of human life.

Another possible field afar for the Maryknoll Society member in the 21st century is the world of international organizations. International organizations- both governmental (IGO’s) and non-governmental (INGO’s) are the new political institutions. IGO’s are international organizations established by an agreement among governments. INGO’s are not so established. The first modern international governmental organization was created in 1815, and the first modern international non-governmental organization dates back to the 17th century. It is, however, only in the second half of the twentieth century that they have become so numerous and so important as to become a prominent feature of the global political system.

The creation, existence and growth of IGO’s and INGO’s clearly demonstrates how unsuitable the nation-state is as a unit for dealing with many contemporary problems. Because of the growth in numbers and the importance of international organizations, the global political system has been in the throes of potentially revolutionary change. States entangled in webs of international organizations is the proper simile to describe the contemporary global political system. The future Maryknoll Society member may choose to enter this world. It is important that those populating these institutions have the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified”articulate in their lives.

The placement of people into this world where the future is being created may be a difficult process, both for the prospective Maryknollers and the leadership of a Society bent on facilitating them. It is a tough language to learn and a world over which the Society has no control. But, it may well be a place where the incomprehensible mystery of a God who graces us from the future may be met.

A Clarification

The mission of Christians is broader than the existence of Maryknoll. It is, therefore important for the Society to clarify the public perception of what it wants from Society members, and for what it wants to recruit new members. Without clarification of how it means to serve the continuing mission of Christians to proclaim the gospel, it will have no grasp on the expertise it brings to their being ‘sent’ by Christ. It needs to sharpen its focus. Candidates ought not come to Maryknoll because they are interested in a religious life. There are orders and congregations for that laudable life. Maryknoll candidates cannot be left with hazy ideas about the purpose of their education, nor can they be given vague answers as to why they are needed, and what resources of the Christian tradition they must lean on for their continuing formation. My guess is that spiritual directors may want to mine the history of itinerant preachers for the well springs of their spirituality.

An ecumenical future?

The above headline ends with a question mark. Since it is Christians, not just Roman Catholics, who are sent to preach the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” to the world, it would be a wonderful thing if some manifestation of this reality could be integrated into the Society in the 21st century. How to do this is the open question???


When the Maryknoll Society began under James A.Walsh and Thomas Price in the early years of the twentieth century, and for years thereafter, candidates flocked to her because she was perceived to be on the cutting edge of Christianity, and Roman Catholicism in particular. Her loyalty was to the missionary calling of the disciples of Christ. If that meant shaking up her own Roman Catholic institutional requirements at that time, so be it. Maryknoll was perceived to be avant-garde. In the 21st century can it regain  that inheritance as herald of the presence of the God who graces us from the future?

John E. Keegan, M.M.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looming crisis?

We are in day four of the gas leak. Repairs continue but still no gas allowed into the building. There is some talk that now might be the time to consider going with propane. But that transition would take weeks, if not months. It is safer, but more expensive.

Sodexo staff has done a yeomen's and yeowomen's job to present good meals using electric appliances. But today they have met their match. There will be no pizza for Friday lunch here.

Have you any idea what this means? Remember the ambo brouhaha? Child's play. The last and only time they thought to try something different and moved pizza to Thursday, rioting erupted. You'd have less resistance moving the tabernacle to the Lady Chapel.

So consider this Part 1. Part 2 will be posted after the shouting stops and the smoke clears. (Whatever happened to the "flexible" part of being a missioner?")

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day of Reflection, AIDS Day and on-going gas leak

Today we had an Advent Day of Recollection.

Monsignor Edward Bradley, Newark archdiocesan minister for retirees, spoke on the Gift Received and Freely Given.

More than 50 men attended the two half-hour talks, plus Mass and reconciliation.

He centered his theme on Matthew 10:8 where Jesus called his twelve disciples and told them, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give."

Ed shared a story by a priest, Fr.William Bausch, called "The rabbi's gift." According to this tale, there was once a famous monastery that had fallen on hard times. It was no longer filled with young monks and the local townsfolk no longer came for prayer and edification. Old monks shuffled through empty halls, mumbling prayers (if they bothered to pray at all) and complained about everything and one another. (Blogger's note: this was getting too close for comfort!)

Anyway, in the woods beyond the monastery a rabbi built a simple hut to which he would come from time to time for silent prayer and contemplation. Whenever the rabbi went to his hut, the monks felt sustained by his presence. One day the abbot decided to pay the rabbi a visit. The abbot saw the rabbi waiting for him with arms outstretched in welcome. The two embraced like old friends. Then they stood smiling at one another. The rabbi motioned for the abbot to enter. On the table was a Bible. As the two men of prayer sat at the table, the rabbi began to cry. The abbot also cried his heart out. The two cried till the tears no longer flowed and all was quiet. "You and your brothers serve the Lord with heavy hearts," the rabbi said. "I will give a teaching. I will say it only once. And you must only repeat it once." When the abbot indicated he was ready to receive the teaching the rabbi whispered, "The Messiah is among you."

The abbot assembled the monks in the community room and announced the rabbi's teaching. "The rabbi says one of us is the Messiah!" The monks were dumbfounded. Could it be true? Who could it be? The result was that their attitude toward one another and community life changed. They treated one another with deference and respect. Their prayer was more joyful. Before long, people were coming from far and wide on pilgrimage to be with the holy monks. Young men once again asked to join the community.

They lived as if they had finally found something. They prayed the Scriptures as if still looking for something more.

The gift they received is the gift of the presence of God.

Monsignor Bradley then read a section of Cardinal Bernadine's book, "The Gift of Peace", written just before his death. The chapter dealt with the difficult final years when Bernadine overcame sexual misconduct allegations followed by his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Like Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, the Cardinal described it as "The best of times; the worst of times"---worst because of the humiliation, pain and fear; best because of the reconciliation, support and prayers he experienced.

Bernadine learned if you place your life totally in the hands of the Lord, good will prevail. He encourages us to release those things that inhibit us from an intimate relationship with the Jesus. Letting go is never easy. It is a life-long process. It takes a lifetime to learn these truths.

For the rest of the day, Bradley encouraged us to think about what the obstacles were to our letting go? What things can't we put aside to make room for Jesus.

Finally, from St. Augustine wrote: Let us sing alleluias here on earth in our insecurity. Sing to lighten our labors. Sing to make the journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep on going. Keep making progress in virtue, true faith and right living.

Each of us is here for some mission and it continues as long as we are alive.

Like Ananias who helped Paul remove the scales from his eyes, we are where God wants us to be to fulfill God's purpose, although we might never know what part we played in God's plan until the next life.

Today is World AIDS Day. Alas, gone are the days when our Maryknoll Center buzzed with activity to mark this date. Although Maryknollers continue AIDS ministry in many countries around the world, here at Mission Central there are no more 40 Hours Vigils, no prayer service, no prayer cards, no photo exhibit, no memorial quilt and no special Mass. Still, I want to publicly acknowledge the work of Ms. Susan Weissert who headed the now defunct Maryknoll AIDS office that coordinated our awareness programs for many years.


Aging pipes (see post below on Wikileaks) seem to be at the root of yesterday's gas leak and it will take some time to replace. Till that time, the gas will be cut off to the entire building. Kudos and thanks to the Physical Plant people who have been working non-stop with Con Ed and the fire department. And special thanks to the Sodexo staff for their stepping up to the challenge to give us hot, cooked meals.

Truth be told, had you not known the gas stoves were off-line, you'd never have guessed it from the fine food that continues to come out of the kitchen. Short ribs of beef and pasta with butternut squash, plus roasted tomato bisque were this evening's offerings. What's their secret? In the finest mission tradition, they made do with what they had, namely steamers and electric broilers. But even these have their limits, so starting Thursday they will be cooking our meals at St. Teresa's and the Sisters' then transporting them to our dining room. "Above and beyond the call of duty,"

Gas leak at the Knoll

We are into the first 24 hours of a gas leak first detected by employees yesterday afternoon. Crews are still working to locate and fix the leak which seems to come from rusting pipes. In the meantime, meals are creative. Here are the official emails from Mr. Al Vitello head of Physical Plant and from Ms. Margaret Ellicott-Sheehan, Sodexo manager:

Dear residents and seminary employees,
This Afternoon (Nov. 30) at approximately 1:30 pm two of our Physical Plant Employees detected a smell of natural Gas in the seminary ground floor F-wing. The town Fire Department and Con Edison were called in for an emergency response and the Gas to the building was shutdown. We believe the leak is in the ceiling of the M-wing Cloister and we are looking into ways to make the necessary repairs as soon as possible.
This natural gas line feeds the stoves in the main kitchen and the two gas dryers in the main laundry room. Until the repairs are made and this gas line is tested, the stoves and dryers will be out of service.
We apologize for the inconvenience,
Thank you,
Al Vitiello
Director Of Physical Plant
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Dear residents and employees,
Earlier today (Nov. 30) the gas was shut off to the stoves in the kitchen due to a gas leak.  During this  time we will do our best to provide you with hot meals.  Unfortunately we will have to make some changes to the menu and we will post those changes in dining room and on the menu line daily. 
Please bare with us during this difficult time.  As soon as the gas is turned back on we will be able to provide you with a regular menu and your favorite foods. 
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.  If you have any questions or concerns , please feel free to contact us.
Thank You,
Margie Sheehan & Sodexo Staff


You'll know who sneaks a smoke in their rooms. They're the ones with singed eyebrows.