Archive | September, 2011

Keep Walking

30 Sep

photo credit: Mark Bowen/HOPE

Nancy waited at the airport for the arrival of our guests from Jordan, Galilee and the West Bank. The “LPS” on the sign she held welcomed the educators from the Latin Patriarchate Schools (LPS), the Roman Catholic schools of the Holy Land.

By accident, coincidence or divine desire the Transportation Security Administration sign also greets them with, “Keep walking … Do not stop or turn back.”

All teachers and administrators can become discouraged, weary or disheartened. In their lands, in which Christians are in the minority, and where the presence of violence or the threat of violence or the tendency toward violence or the call for violence can distract or even appeal to their students, these teachers from the Holy Land can have additional challenges, with the accompanying additional opportunities, of course.

Dear friends from the Holy Land, keep walking, do not stop or turn back. Keep walking …  in hope. Do not stop … trusting. Do not turn back … from your dreams. Do not turn back … from your peaceful and non-violent ways. “Keep walking … Do not stop or turn back.”

ahlan wa sahlan

29 Sep

It was a very good day.

While having lunch at “Melt” in Northside, my Celtic Woman’s “Amazing Grace” ringtone stole my attention from my good company and my Muffaletta sandwich. The number I did not recognize at all; the voice I did not recognize at first. It was Ranim, calling from Jordan. In her fourth year of medical school, eight years since her visit to us at St. Andrew, she lightened and brightened my day, as she does whenever we speak.

I told Ranim that it was a big day in Milford, with teachers from the Holy Land arriving this afternoon, two of whom are from her (former) school in Beit Jala. “Who is coming?” she asked. “He was my teacher! She is a very good teacher,” she said of Mr. Waseim and Ms. Iman.

The teachers have arrived safely in Cincinnati. Thanks, God! A gorgeous day has greeted them. They are settled in their rooms, have eaten their first meal in America, and are resting from a long trip.

Ahlan wa Sahlan. Welcome.

Palestine and the U.N.

26 Sep

Everyone has an opinion on the Palestinians asking the United Nations for recognition as a state.

At the end of the day, which will it be: (a) full membership as a state, (b) non-member state observer, or (c) non-state entity observer?

All will agree on one thing: it has people talking.

Message for Holy Land Visitors

26 Sep

From the cross

flows a message of 

a message of hope … a message for peace

in the school cafeteria

on the Seton campus

 of St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School

Milford, Ohio

for our visitors from the Holy Land

who arrive on Thursday.

(Yes, it’s a rosary)

Get ready. Get set. Welcome!

26 Sep

Twelve teachers and administrators from the Holy Land are visiting Cincinnati from September 29 until October 9: six from the Palestinian Territories, two from Galilee and four from Jordan.

The first public event for the educators from the Holy Land will be a “Welcome Mass” on Sunday, October 2 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Andrew, Milford. At a luncheon following Mass, the teachers from the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala will give presentations about their school and about the situation in which they and their students live.

This visit from the schools of the Latin Patriarchate (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jerusalem) is sponsored by H.O.P.E. (Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators), and continues the interaction that began when teachers from various Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati traveled to Bethlehem during the summer of 2010.

Four of these Holy Land educators, as representatives of their school, will be entering into a permanent partnership with teachers and administrators from our St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton school. Teachers and children from our Catholic school in Milford will be joined in solidarity, learning and faith with teachers and children from the Catholic school in Beit Jala (Bethlehem). How exciting and mutually beneficial this relationship will be!

Another group of the teachers will be visiting Our Lady of Lourdes School to establish a relationship with them. Doubly blessed our Archdiocese will be!   

September 11: Prayer of the Faithful

11 Sep

At Masses today at St. Andrew we offered the same prayers of petition that we prayed in our church on September 16, 2001 – five days after 9/11 – [with one addition].

Priest: Even when the forces of darkness appear to prevail, we who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say.  As we remember that no spiral of hatred and fear and violence will ever prevail, let us beg the Lord to calm every fear.

For the Church in our nation and throughout the world: that the gift of faith might bring peace.

For our President and all who lead us: that they be given divine wisdom, clear thinking, a spirit of prayer and strong faith.

For our country: that we might have a rebirth of trust in God, as we are being confronted by confusion and fear.

For our world: that the inhuman acts done on September 11 will awaken in the hearts of all the world’s peoples a firm resolve to reject the ways of violence, and to combat everything that sows hatred and division within the human family.

For police, firefighters, paramedics, medical and rescue workers; for those caring for survivors and those charged in some way with the public order; for those serving in all branches of the military service: may they be able to continue to be generous, resourceful and brave.

For all who died in the violence of September 11: those aboard the airlines, those in the buildings attacked and those who were working to save lives … [For those who have died in military service since then, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq] … For spouses who have been widowed, for children who have been orphaned, and for all who have been traumatized.

Priest: God of mercy, God of compassion, God of rescue, God of wisdom, God of comfort, God of peace, we know that you bring light out of darkness, and life out of death.  Help us to remain generous, resourceful, and brave, and to trust with all our hearts that through the cross of Jesus there is victory over every evil.  We pray through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Victim #0001: Greeting Instead of Sending

11 Sep


The first person carried out of the rubble of the Twin Towers was a Catholic priest. Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan friar and a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. His certificate of death designates him as “Victim #0001.”

These words are taken from the homily preached at his funeral Mass on September 15, 2001:

Mychal Judge’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero. His death certificate has the number one on the top … and I meditated on that fact of the thousands of people that we are going to find out who perished in that terrible holocaust … why was Mychal Judge number one? And I think I know the reason. … Mychal’s goal and purpose in life at that time was to bring the firemen to the point of death, so they would be ready to meet their maker. There are between two and three hundred firemen buried there, the commissioner told us last night.

Mychal Judge could not have ministered to them all. It was physically impossible in this life but not in the next. And I think that if he were given his choice, he would prefer to have happened what actually happened. He passed through the other side of life, and now he can continue doing what he wanted to do with all his heart. And the next few weeks, we’re going to have names added, name after name of people, who are being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal Judge is going to be on the other side of death … to greet them instead of sending them there. And he’s going to greet them with that big Irish smile … he’s going to take them by the arm and the hand and say, “Welcome, I want to take you to my Father” … he can continue doing in death what he couldn’t do in life …

And so, this morning … we come to bury Mike Judge’s body but not his spirit. We come to bury his mind but not his dreams. We come to bury his voice but not his message. We come to bury his hands but not his good works. We come to bury his heart but not his love. Never his love.

September 11: In Church That Evening

11 Sep

Early in the afternoon of September 11, 2001, our St. Andrew staff picked up the parish telephone directory with prayerful purpose. They got on the telephone and spoke with one person on each page of that directory, asking them to leave a message at every other phone number that was on their page. The message was simple: There will be a prayer service in church tonight, if you need or want to be there. That evening the church was filled with people who wanted to be together and to pray together.

During the service everyone was invited to write a prayer from their heart. We collected the prayers and read some of them aloud. The prayers still work today, ten years later:

Dear Lord, receive all the victims into your loving arms. Comfort their families.

Dear Lord, ease the pain in so many hearts and the despair in so many spirits. Only you, Lord, can touch and heal these places.

I pray tonight for peace in the world and for the spirit of forgiveness in my heart.

That the hearts of our enemies may be softened and that I will resist the need for revenge. Come, Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Please help us understand what is happening, so that we may not hate, but work together to resolve this horrible tragedy.

Dear Lord, please help us not to have terror and for war not to start. Let our country be safe and free. Help dad to be safe on his trip.

September 11: My Journal Entry

11 Sep

Many of us remember where we were – and what we felt and what we did – on the morning of September 11, 2001. What follows is my journal entry from that Tuesday morning, ten year ago, at St. Andrew.

On September 11 we were all taken aback by the announcement that there was a horrible accident in New York. When there was a second plane into a second tower, we knew it was not an accident. When we heard that the Pentagon was hit, with what little breath we had left, we groaned, “We’re in big trouble.”

I left the parish office, crossed the street and went into each classroom of our parish school, and told the children what was being shown on television. We did what was natural and expected: we prayed. We prayed for those who had died and those who were dying. We prayed for those who were rescuing and ministering. We told God that we were afraid. We asked God to keep us safe from harm and from the hatred of other people. We asked God to keep us from hating and from wanting to harm others in return. Toward the end of our prayer we even brought ourselves to pray for those who hated us so much to do this terrible thing.

I felt some curious assurance, when I looked out the school window and saw a Milford police car in the parking lot.


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