Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Eve

Today on Thanksgiving Eve many people are traveling, others are at home preparing for tomorrow’s dinner, others are shopping and some are even having a quite evening at home.  Whatever you may be doing take time today to be grateful for the countless blessings you hold in your heart. Thanksgiving is a time to remember and celebrate.  Each year we have the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends this special day. In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians we read, “Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.” (2: 7)  We have so much to be thankful for and today is a good time to take stock of our blessings.  As we prepare to watch parades, enjoy being with family and friends, or thoroughly enjoy a festive meal let us always remember that God’s love with be surrounding us long after the meal is ended and the dishes are cleaned.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Foundation of the Ursuline Order

Happy Foundation Day of the Company of St. Ursula!

484 years ago today, November 25th, 1535, St. Angela Merici founded the Ursuline sisters.
On this feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Angela Merici gathered with the first 28 members of the Company of St. Ursula and after celebrating Mass together signed the book of the Company, thereby making their commitment to a life of virginity, service and love for all people. They lived in the midst of family, workplace and local community. The group would meet regularly for prayer and would be visited by the local leaders in the Company.
At that time, to freely choose this state of life was to engage oneself in a novel and unique enterprise in the Church. These women courageously contributed to the advancement of women in the society of the day, since they were not cloistered.

St. Angela Merici left her wishes and educational approach in documents she dictated to her male secretary: her Rule, Counsels, and Testament. As a person of rich and practical experience, her principles were full of wisdom and common sense. These documents formed the first Ursulines and continue to guide the Ursulines throughout the century in their education mission.

Thank you, St. Angela Merici, for following God’s call and founding a company of women dedicated to service and love for all people.

We wish the Ursuline Sisters, associates, alumnae, benefactors, friends, collaborators, companions and members of the company all over the world a blessed Foundation Day!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Martyrs of El Salvador

Today we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the brutal murder of six Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter in San Salvador.  A group of highly trained soldiers entered the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador shortly past midnight on Nov. 16, 1989.   Their target was the president of the university, Ignacio Ellacuría Beas Coechea, S.J., the rector of the university.  Killed along side of him were:  Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., vice-rector of the university, a leading expert on Salvadoran public opinion; Segundo Montes, S.J., dean of the department of social sciences; Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J.; Joaquín López y López, S.J.; Amando López, S.J.; Elba Ramos, their housekeeper; and Celina Ramos, her sixteen-year-old daughter.

These brutal murders shocked the world and called people called for immediate retribution.  Those charged were tried and only two were found guilty of the major charges the others were given lesser charges. They were murdered because they were labeled communists and were reported to be in solidarity with the poor.  The civil war in El Salvador lasted 12 years and claimed some 75, 000 lives.

These eight people joined Sisters Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Maura Clarke, MM, Ita Ford, MM and Jean Donovan (an Ursuline volunteer), as well as Archbishop Oscar Romero who were killed in the civil war also.

These senseless murders call for us to reflect on the value of every human being and challenge us to be persons of peace and justice.  May the cry for justice for all people be heard and respected for all.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Story of Zacchaeus

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.  Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.  When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over."  And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."  Luke 19: 1-10

Zacchaeus is saved us, because he descends from Abraham. He is saved, too, though, because he descends from the tree!   I have always loved the story of Zacchaeus.  Perhaps it is because I can easily related to his height issue.  Zacchaeus was a wealthy man and had a need to see who Jesus was.  He had heard of Him but desired to see Him so he climbed the sycamore tree.  Jesus calls Zacchaeus down, just as He calls each of us.

Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree, to a direct encounter with Him. Jesus does not condemn him.  He calls him to dwell with him.  The same message is there for us.  Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him and be saved.  Like Zacchaeus we too need to have the desire to see Jesus and follow.  We are called to have open and listening hearts.  Jesus takes us as we are and invites us to grow and develop into who we are called to be.  May we live each day with that certitude of heart.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Natural Disasters

Seven years ago today the east coast was rocked by Hurricane Sandy.  I remember that day so clearly.  We had gone over to Mass at the Ursuline Provincialate to be greeted by our Provincial who asked us if we could move in for a few days to help out in case the employees could not get in.  After the initial shock passed we immediately said we just needed to go home and get our things for work.  As soon as Mass ended we headed home and packed up for what we thought would be a few days.  We began our tour of duty by making sure all the beds were made and that there were names on the doors so the sisters would know what room they would use.  Several sisters came from our convent across New Rochelle and those who lived near water also moved in.  We wound up staying for a week, school was closed so we really just remained safe with the sisters.  About three days after the storm hit we went home to check on our apartment since we were not there for the storm.  Once we got to our apartment we were greeted by the fact that there was no electricity or heat so we emptied the refrigerator, put away our work clothes and headed back to the convent where we stayed until the electricity was restored. 

Watching the news was nonstop and when I spoke to my sister I realized that the storm had taken her house.  She told me that, “Barnegat Bay met in my living room.”  As she said this she described the point at which they decided to abandon their house and seek higher ground—it was when a piece of siding landed in their front lawn.  A week later I visited her home to help with the gutting of it.  The water was just less than four feet high which meant that insurance would only pay for half of the walls to be replaced.  We ripped out carpets, took out furniture and cleaned out the refrigerators which still had water and minnows in the draws.  For the past seven years she has fought with FEMA, contractors, been robbed and after finally finishing her house she has sold it and moved to a smaller home away from the water.  Her story is very much like so many others, many of whom have still not completed repairs. 

Today we are praying for the people of California who are battling fires once again.  Two years ago we lost our Retreat Center in Santa Rosa, one of the sisters lost her home and her dog and many lives were turned upside down due to fires.  Let us continue to pray for all those who are in the path of natural disasters -- that all will be safe.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tree of Life

One year ago today a lone gunman opened fire with an AR- 15 rifle at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  Eleven people were killed that day and six others were injured.  The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 years of age.  Two were brothers and greeted people as they came to the synagogue and one had survived the Holocaust.  The conservative Jewish synagogue has remained closed since that fateful day but many people visited the site to mark the one year anniversary.  There is a fence that surrounds the synagogue which has been decorated with messages from around the country and artwork sent by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The outpouring of love and support does not lessen the pain of the senseless violence that had occurred.   There have been random acts of violence since that fateful day, as well as, threats of violence.  Our world is in such pain and everyone needs to come together and work for justice for all.  We need to remember the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor.  Each one of us has been created in the image and likeness of God and that is both a call and a challenge to act out of that reality.  May those who have succumbed to senseless violence rest in peace and may we always seek to foster peace in all we do.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Light the Night

Tonight I participated in the Light night walk at Rye Playland.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk funds treatments that are saving the lives of patients today. LLS is making cures happen by providing patient support services, advocating for lifesaving treatments and pioneering the most promising cancer research anywhere. And it's all happening now. Not someday, but today. Each year friends, families and coworkers form teams to raise money in support of our mission.

For the past 12 years I have walked in honor of a dear friend of mine Bob who lost a valiant battle with Leukemia.  I had the pleasure of knowing Bob and his family for well over 40 years.    I am still friends with his wife and children and now grandchildren.  Bob had an incredible outlook on life.  When he became ill he fought with all his will and never gave up hope.  Tonight in his honor we donned our “Big Bobby” shirts and gathered for our team photo with great pride.  One of the most special parts of the time is having the opportunity to go into the remembrance tent.  In the tent family and friends are invited to write a message to their loved one.  Each year the messages get more personal and there are often many tears shed. 

The opening ceremony has changed over the years and tonight’s begun with the sharing of a survivor’s story.  A woman who told her story shared how “faith, hope and humor” sustained her on the journey.  She also shared that in January she had her blood test and her oncologist called her to congratulate her that she was in remission and was also pregnant.  The one thing she wanted was a child, her son, Tyler is now two months old.  This story like so many give tremendous hope.  Let us pray for all those who have succumbed to cancer, are fighting cancer, or are in remission from cancer.  May a cure be found very soon.