Archive | October, 2015

on the road together (01)

18 Oct

There is a three-week Synod on the Family taking place at the Vatican. I just want to be in the neighborhood during the last (third) week of the synod and for a few days after the closing of the synod. So, tomorrow I leave Dayton for the flight to Rome, coming home on the 28th.

I asked the tour agent for a hotel that was close to the Vatican, clean, with good Internet. He has put me up at the Domus Carmelitana, which is a 15-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica. I will sleep in the same hotel nine nights in a row.


Not much is on my radar or agenda. I have a ticket to attend the General Audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday, October 21, and the Closing Mass of the Synod on Sunday, October 25. Being in the sardine section for both events, I do not have any great hopes of seeing Francis close up. I’ll also go to the Angelus gathering with Pope Francis at Noon on Sunday, October 25, with tens of thousands of other believers, pilgrims, tourists and fans. Touring the Vatican Gardens is the one touristy thing that I wanted to make sure that I did, so I bought two tickets: one for Thursday and one for Friday, just in case it rains on Thursday; if I like it, I can tour twice. Other than that I plan on walking to St. Peter’s Basilica every day, several times a day, and doing whatever else strikes my fancy, whenever it strikes my fancy.

I have printed out two articles to read on the plane: “An interview with Archbishop Blasé Cupich of Chicago” and “Pope Francis address at synod’s 50th anniversary.”

The word “synod” has its origin in a Greek word, σύνοδος (synodos), meaning “on the road together.”

I like that: on the road together. I like that a lot!

strawberry-rhubarb and peach

17 Oct

The laid back, slower paced, always having a friendly smile and ready for some conversation people of West Milton love pies.


They really love their pies.


And so does this new West Miltonian. Knowing that tomorrow I leave for Rome, and that on my return on October 28 I intend to “get back on program,” so that I can get my belt loops back where I like them, I went to town and bought two pieces of pie to bring home with me this afternoon. The strawberry-rhubarb, I convinced myself, was for after Mass and after packing. Well, it was after Mass anyway.


The peach is for breakfast in the morning … after I pack.

pleading for long lasting justice

16 Oct

On the rear vision mirror of my car …

hangs the gift that I bought in Jerusalem and gave to my mother, which she called her “fancy” rosary, and which I gave back to myself when she died. Alongside it is the Jerusalem key chain that two teachers from Nablus gave me last Friday evening. Yes, that is the Palestinian flag and the Islamic Dome of the Rock.

On either side of my garage doors hang two flags: Palestinian and Israeli. They fly with heads bowed, both in grief over the daily violence in their land that we call holy.

This afternoon they are in agitation.

May they soon fly in calm and security, in long lasting reconciliation and justice.

15 seconds of focus

6 Oct

Focus 02

When I declined their offer to fly me to Denver for a filming session, they countered with the offer to hire a videographer here in Cincinnati, and to fly Sarah from Denver to Milford to ask me a few questions.

October last I had welcomed Father John Lager to St. Andrew for the weekend. He is the national chaplain of FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students – which is a national outreach that meets college students where they are and invites them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.

focus notes

I met Sarah for the first time at the parish church from which I had retired just three months ago. She had flown in the night before and had stayed overnight with a college friend who just had a new baby – a happy dovetailing moment. After a quick hello and how-do-you-do with Sarah, as the camera man set up his equipment, I made some notes for myself:

staff: flexible and efficient

Father John: not money, not self-promoting

takes a Church to be present to college Catholics

focus on Jesus, being catholic

parishioners, children, grandchildren

focus 01

Under the lights, as the camera pointed at me over Sarah’s left shoulder, with a couple reminders – “Look at me, not the camera; keep your hands away from your face and not between you and the camera; repeat my question in your answer” – and after a few stutter starts and clumsy moments, the conversation turned easy.

When Sarah and the videographer were satisfied, he packed up his equipment and handed Sarah a flash drive with everything on it that she needed to fly back feeling accomplished.

Would I recommend to a brother priest/pastor that he welcome a FOCUS priest to preach and speak at all the Masses some weekend? Why wouldn’t they want a visit? It was truly an evangelizing moment and an “en-courage-ing” moment for our parishioners. It definitely was not a fundraising venture and was not an inordinate self-promotion event. It was a positive event for our parishioners, for they heard that, yes, the Catholic Church can and does do something for Catholic students on campus, that is, for their children and grandchildren.

After lunch with Sarah, and sending her off toward the airport for an evening flight back to Denver, I was left with only one question: of all that was recorded, what of me will be included in the final promotional video; what will my fifteen seconds of fame, perhaps better, my “fifteen seconds of FOCUS” look like?

raising the bar

6 Oct


voting Balance BarMy ballot was #208, I think.

Today was the first day to vote in Ohio. Since three months ago my new home is in Miami County. The courthouse in Troy, almost ten minutes away by car, is easily accessible and easier to navigate. After voting I went to the town square, which is actually a circle, where I sat down, and prepared to enjoy my special treat. As you can see from the photo, (1) the flag is at half staff, I presume because of the nation’s mourning over another and latest school shooting, (2) the outside of the rotunda of the courthouse is in the background, (3) I “Ohio” voting, and (4) my favorite of the Balance Bars is the yogurt honey peanut.

Next election my ballot to be #1, I hope.

and to all a good night

4 Oct

The hall awaits the 270 synod fathers from all continents and the 48 other participants, including 18 married couples.

photo synod hall empty

Here’s hoping that they all get a good night’s sleep. 

it was a Saturday

4 Oct

On this day in 2003, October 4, I met Issa, Tamer, Tamara, Ranim and Mary at their Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala, West Bank, Palestine. It was a Saturday morning. It was a blessed event for me!Kids and Rob 1a



3 Oct


“Every family is always a light, however faint, amid the darkness of this world”

Pope Francis, 3 October 2015

let us pray

3 Oct

In the Vatican this evening there was a prayer vigil in anticipation of the beginning of the Synod on the Family tomorrow. Will you join these people in prayer as soon as you finish looking at these photos?


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