Archive | November, 2014

Andrew: Advent Adventure

30 Nov

The First Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30.

Since today is November 30, and since today is a Sunday, this is as close as the First Sunday of Advent every gets to the Feast of St. Andrew.

For Catholics throughout the world today is also the beginning of the Year of Consecrated Life. And for us at St. Andrew it our patronal feast day.

Here is what I said after the Gospel at this morning’s 8 o’clock Mass in Milford:

Here is the text and the music of the song we sang at the end of Mass – and which we will sing on every Sunday during Advent and often during this year of consecrated life:

Andrew Advent Adventure WAKE UP song words

This is the official soundtrack of the song:

You gotta love this smile and that scarf:

Andrew Advent Adventure SCARF

Don’t miss the words of Francis at the bottom of the picture. 

Abouna Sleman in Milford – day 2 – shopkins?

23 Nov

Saturday evening after a Thai dinner I was walking (and gawking) around my house with Abouna Sleman. In what used to be the room where my mother slept when she visited, I showed him the chair in which mom loved to sit when she prayed her morning prayers and her rosary. It is next to the window which looks out on the Mary grotto behind the rectory. I enjoyed going through my mom’s funeral program with him, showing him the pictures of the family and of some of the people and the things that were important to her. He smiled and reacted most when I turned around the Christmas ornament of my house that mom had painted for me, “Ahhh. Nice.” It was the grotto of Mary outside the window by which he was standing. Sleman HOPE 05 On Sunday morning Abouna concelebrated the 11:00 a.m. Mass which included the baptism of baby Ryan Joseph. During the Eucharistic Prayer, at the consecration I stepped aside, so that Abouna could chant the words of Jesus in Arabic, as he lifted the bread and the chalice from the altar. Arabic is the language presently spoken that is closest to Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. We heard the words of consecration chanted in the tone and inflection close to what the apostles heard from the lips and heart of Jesus at the Last Supper. You can hear the at minute 47:00 at this link: Words of Jesus in Arabic.

This morning when Abouna was speaking to his mother on the phone before Mass, I wanted him to thank his mother for giving him to us. Her response? “I did not give him to you. I gave him to God … (pause) … God can give him to anyone He wants.”

After speaking with his mother Abouna was arguing on the phone with someone. When he hung up, I asked him what that was all about. It was his 8 year old sister, asking him over and over what he was going to bring back for her from America for Christmas. At the end of Mass, I asked the people to give him some ideas as to what he should take home to her. He was told about paints and markers and art books. He heard about teddy bears and dolls. 

There was a lunch later in the church hall that was ready for his visit. Sleman HOPE 02 The event was about peace, love and hope. Sleman HOPE 03 And sure enough, in midafternoon, when we got back to the rectory from the luncheon, there was a bag hanging on the doorknob of breezeway door. One little girl, 8 year old Izzy, didn’t just give him an idea; she conned her dad to take her to buy something.  Sleman HOPE 04

When I got back in the house I went directly to google “Daesh” and “Erbil and oil” to learn a little more than I had known before.

And then I turned on a football game and fell asleep. 

Abouna Sleman in Milford – day 1 – goetta within 24 hours

22 Nov

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It is a pleasure to have Father Solomon in my home for a few days. He is in town for a wedding of his cousin. We get him first.

His arrival at CVG was a half hour early, but we made up for the early arrival by sitting on I-275 for more than that, waiting, me impatiently, he patiently, for “all” of the traffic to exit on the first of the two Milford exits. At the second exit a tractor trailer truck had over turned and the highway was closed.

In the evening we went to the west side to Judy and Bill’s home. There he brought smiles to 20+ faces. Teachers and friends of HOPE gathered for appetizers, drinks and dinner. Judy and I shared a Palestinian Taybeh “White” beer. It was like being back home in Palestine.

After a long, long, long, needed sleep, Abouna awoke. I told him that I had two surprises for him at breakfast. He would not find out what they were until we arrived at our breakfast place. One surprise was that the owner of the restaurant was originally from Abouna’s home town in Jordan. Conversation revealed that the old gentlemen knew Abouna’s grandfather and his father. It is a small world. You should have seen the smiles on the faces of the two of them as they made the connections. The second surprise was ….. drum roll …. goetta! Within 24 hours of his setting foot in America for the first time, he tasted goetta. That will hard to top. He liked it a lot.

What makes him smile in the next photo is not the goetta. He is speaking with his mother back in Jordan.

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Abuna Sleman in Beit Jala and in Fuheis

22 Nov

This week my friend, and friend of HOPE (Holy Land Outreach for Peace Education), is with me (and us) in Milford.

In the days ahead there will be photos of his visit. As he stirs upstairs in my rectory, after his first ever sleep in America, a very long sleep indeed, I post a few photos from when we met. 

Back in June 2012 then-deacon Sleman (Solomon) helped our group of teachers and pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrate Mass in the olive grove of Cremisan valley on the edge of Beit Jala. That is when we first met him. 

Cup 03 Cremisan JoAnne  (4)

You see in the photo above that I am using a ceramic chalice. This chalice was signed on the bottom by all the teachers and pilgrims who attended that Mass.

That same evening I presented that chalice to Deacon Sleman.

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To this day that chalice is used every Friday afternoon, when the parish priests of Beit Jala celebrate Mass at that place in the Cremisan valley.

In June 2013 I went to the Holy Land, this time by myself with no pilgrims or teachers in my care, thanks be to God. The purpose of this trip was to attend the ordination of Sleman in his home parish of Fuheis, Jordan. During the  ordination ceremony, after the bishop, in his case the patriarch, lays hands on the deacon being ordained a priest, all the priests who are present process to the man and lay hands on him as well. 20130624-091123.jpg

A little later in the ceremony all the priests return to the newly ordained priest to offer him a sign of Christ’s peace. As I watched the Latin patriarchate priests approach him, I saw that they were kissing his newly ordained hands. I found it to be a lovely custom, and did the same after I said, “Peace, Abouna (Father)”

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After the ceremony the newly ordained does not walk to the dinner-reception. He is carried, as seen in this video. Notice the fire works going off.

The next day he returned to his home parish, in which he was ordained the day before, to preside at his First Mass of Thanksgiving. What a  surprise for me to see him riding into the courtyard of the parish grounds on a white horse! He told me just yesterday that it was a surprise for him, too, and that he had never been a horse before that ride.

This is probably my favorite photo of the day of his first Mass.

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 Welcome to Milford, Abouna Sleman (Father Solomon).

Agatha and Melithon

16 Nov

Whenever I meet a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, I tell her that I am a “charity case,” meaning that I was taught by the Sisters of Charity when I was in grade school at St. Jude. The Sisters of Charity, those sisters who taught me in grade school, are partly responsible for me being a priest today, especially Sister Mary Agatha and Sister Melithon. The other day I went to the Motherhouse cemetery in Delhi to find the graves of the two of them. P1070090 As I stood over each, I simply said, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”

Sister Agatha was my seventh grade teacher. When it came time to bid farewell to the eighth graders a year ahead of us, someone decided that we would do a “funeral” for the soon to be graduates, complete with casket, mourners, dark candles and dirges. Sister Agatha decided that I would be the minister, apparently doing some sort of subtle type casting. I remember that I wore the tux of the father of one of the girls in the class. Years later I was doing a chaplain internship at Good Samaritan Hospital. On the list of my visits one day was Sister Mary Agatha. I went into her room, with Roman collar and white hospital jacket, to find out from her that she had cancer. However many times I told her that I was not yet a priest, she kept insisting on calling me, “Father.” We kids remembered her as very strict. We would have said “mean,” remembering a tale, whether or not true I have no idea, that she gave a kid a bloody nose. All we knew for sure was that he left classroom with her in a hurry and came back in with a bloodied tissue held to his nose. Certainly, she had clobbered him, we knew.

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Sister Mary Agatha, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”

Sister Melithon was the principal when I was in the fifth grade. After school one day all the boys who wanted to be servers were in the same classroom. Sister Melithon looked over the group and told the nun in the room with her, “Sister, everyone is okay, except those two boys back in the corner by the window.” She pointed to me and the kid behind me. Somehow she had decided that I would not be a server. Even though no one questioned Sister Melithon, I have assumed that it had something to do with my liking to tease the girls. Sister Melithon has a lasting place in my vocation tale, as I boast that I thought at that moment, “I’ll show that nun! I’ll invite her to my first Mass.” In three years she changed her tune a bit. I was one of the eight grade boys that she waned to visit the seminary for a tour and a lunch of hot dogs and baked beans. As a seminarian, we used to refer to those days of visits of little kids, “zoo days.” I am cluless as to why she shifted from thinking that I could not serve the priest at the altar to thinking that I could be the priest at the altar.

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Sister Melithon, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”