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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Honorable mention

Last Monday I attended the winter conference for directors of religious education in the Brooklyn diocese. Meeting at the old seminary building in Douglaston, about 200 DREs heard Mr. Victor Valenzuela from the Oakland, California, speak about the New Evangelization.

He started by stating the Holy Father and bishops will be "going full bore" on this topic, now that we have seemingly gotten over the "speed bump" of the New Roman Missal. Victor admitted this "new" evangelization is simply rediscovering the emphasis for mission ad Gentes begin with Vatican II and Gaudium et Spes, Evangelium Nunziandi, and later Redemptoris Missio.

Everything he said, Maryknollers already know and practice. Victor emphasized that today, mission is no longer defined by or limited to geographic areas, but must include inner conversion. "Mission can only proceed from a personal relationship with Jesus," he said.

The challenge facing religion teachers is that few parishioners attend post Confirmation. At least the new Roman Missal encouraged many to return to church for Mass, if not enroll for a refresher course in Catholicism 101.

He then gave public acknowledgement for the overseas mission work done by Maryknoll over the tears. When I "air-pumped" my arms, he said, "And it seems we have a Maryknoller with us here!" At which point the assembled group erupted in applause. So I did my bit that evening to fly the Maryknoll flag.

The entire content of Victor's talk can be seen and read at: www.victorvalenzuela.net

Speaking of Brooklyn, we have eight relatively newish priests from Brooklyn here for two days of reflection. They do intermingle at meals, so maybe we can instill a schmeckel of the mission spirit in them before they return to their parishes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rome bound

In the next several days, Superior General Ed Dougherty, Father Ray Nobiletti and Mr. Christopher Reilly will join about a thousand other guests of Archbishop Timothy Dolan in Rome, where the latter will be elevated to Cardinal at the consistory on February 17.

Actually, Ray is the guest of another Cardinal-designate, Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong and a close friend of Maryknoll and many Maryknollers.

Christopher, for his part, will actually be participating in several of the Masses at the various basilicas following the elevation at St. Peter's. At three of these, Christopher will cantor. At the others, he will be part of a 55-member choir also flying over from New York. Christopher, you'll recall, is our new choir director. When Archbishop Dolan received he pallium back 2008, Christopher actually had to cantor at all nine of the Masses around the Eternal City.

Soon-To-Be Cardinal Dolan, for his part, is scheduled to celebrate our Foundation Day Mass this coming June 29th here at the Knoll.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Alive and well

No, homies, I have not been silenced, censured, censored, kidnapped or otherwise banned from cyberspace.

I have been lazy.

Well, not entirely true. I have been away visiting the "missions" to the the southeastern Caribbean as is my annual wont this time of year. (Not entirely false, as San Juan, St. Martin and St. Thomas USED to be missions!) And I did celebrate Mass for about 250 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. And no, I was not the official chaplain, nor was I given a free cabin, or anything for that matter, except for the satisfaction of knowing that Catholic passengers asked the cruise line if Mass would be available on the two Sundays we were at sea. RCCL replied they no longer contract chaplains, but if a priest were among the passengers, he could volunteer his services.

Granted I am of Italian extraction and should be impervious to pangs of guilt (the notorious captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia being most recent proof of this), I nonetheless buckled and added my fully stocked Mass kit to my other luggage. The Catholics were most grateful. I mentioned Maryknoll and one man said he was a cousin of a Maryknoller but I can't recall who. Sorry!

While at sea I had no access to Wi-Fi or cellular, so was incommunicado, as it were. Once we docked in San Juan (a U.S. territory), I could check my Facebook page (OK, I confess, that's were I spend my time online these days. That, and Words With Friends). Mr. Roger Clark, former lay missioner to Korea and former artist on our magazine staff, had posted on my page. That was when I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Mr. Rodney Swanger at the age of 55, of a heart attack.

Rodney had been a Maryknoll seminarian back in the 1980s and did OTP in Japan. He left the program, but later also worked in our Walsh building in the Social Communications Department and did a masterful job cataloguing and digitalizing our massive photo library. He was the first (and last) curator of the Maryknoll Visitor Center Museum and kept the exhibits fresh and current until his departure about five years ago.

The other reason I have failed in my duties to keep you all abreast of developments here at Mother Knoll is that there haven't been any.

Well, Physical Plant did finally get ATT to remove the two dormant phone booths from our building. What with everyone having a cell phone nowadays, superman will just have to change elsewhere.

The Wellness Committee will host a combined St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Day celebration, combining Italian and Irish food (such as it is) and Italian and Irish music (such as it is) on March 15. The Ides of March. Could be interesting.

Entitled "Gaelic & Garlic", the evening meal will be followed by group singing and bantering from Fr. Don Doherty, representing the escapees from the Emerald Isle and Yours Truly, making him an offer he can't refuse.

Stereotypes will be flying fast and furious.