Saturday, May 27, 2017


After three priest retreats in four weeks, I am ready for a rest. In the last TWO weeks alone I have given twenty retreat conferences and preached nine times!

I travel a lot for work, but this will be my first real vacation in four or five years.

Since I am already in Vancouver and the Archdiocese of Vancouver has paid my airfare, I decided to take the cruise to Alaska. I probably would never fly out here just to take a cruise, but it makes sense under these conditions.
Father Tom Clark of Bardstown is flying up to join me. We will board the ship, NIEUW AMSTERDAM, May 27 for Alaska and disembark back in Vancouver on June 3 and fly home on June 4.

My last cruise was the year I celebrated my 25th anniversary - 1995. It is only right that I celebrate my retirement even if it is three years late, The original celebration (a trip to France) was cancelled because of a blood clot in my left leg two days before I was to leave. I thank God I checked it out, as I was hospitalized a few days, or I might have died on that plane.

This blog may enter a "sleep mode" for a few days - just like me - depending on the availability of electronic data on the cruise ship. If possible, I may send a few photos. Otherwise, if you don't hear from me till June 5, don't panic and send out the search dogs.

Myself - moments after leaving Vancouver.

Father Tom Clark with Vancouver in the background - ready to sail. See the flag of The Netherlands on the back of the boat. The company is Holland-America Lines

Having a Gin and Tonic in honor of my Irish  friend  down in the islands. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Archdiocese of Vancouver Priest Retreat
Group Two
May 22 - 26, 2017
Westminster Abbey
A Benedictine Abbey of the Swiss American Congregation - like Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
Westminster Abbey was founded by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon

The stipends for these retreats will be used in my ministry in the island missions of the Caribbean. It is part of the needed funds to send a 40'  shipping container of surplus medical supplies, used laptops for two computer camps, a dozen office chairs for the diocesan chancery, sixty stacking chairs for the new chapel that we are building and some wonderful brass liturgical furnishings for that new chapel. 

Archbishop Michael Miller CSB and myself.

Preparing the gifts for the daily concelebrated retreat Mass in the Abbey Church

Preparing to go out for daily Mass

In the two weeks I presented these retreats, I preached eight times and delivered twenty presentations. This was definitely the most talking  have done in any of the hundred plus  priest retreats/convocations.
Only a crazy person would even attempt it! The priests at home would have killed me!

On a couple of evenings, some of us went down to the bottom of the hill to a pub for wings and beers.

A view from the monastery over the Fraser River valley.

A prayerful path up to the lookout over the river.

Week Two - Left Side

Week Two - Right Side

You've heard of the BACK STREET BOYS? These are the BACK SEAT BOYS!

Part of the week two group lining up for Mass in the Abbey Church

International Priests: India, Kenya, India and India. Father James from Kenya was absolutely so much fun to be around - a real comedian.

We slipped out of the retreat a couple of nights to get a drink at the pub at the bottom of the hill.
These priests came from (left to right) Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, India and Congo.

Abbey Church on the right and Guest House on the left.

The grounds were beautiful with flowers everywhere - the result of the moderate climate along Canada's west coast, lots of rain and so hard working young  Benedictine Brothers.

Grave stone of one of the early monks of Westminster Abbey - Father Aidan Angel OSB, born February 17, 1890, died May 24, 1965.

Driving back into Vancouver from  the retreat with Father James Hughes. 

Monday, May 22, 2017



I was invited to lunch to see first hand a very interesting new, growing ( in some places controversial - see * below) Catholic community called the "Neo-Catechuminal Way."

I was invited to a very hospitable lunch at the  seminary of the Neo-Catechumenal way in Toronto -  one of several in the us, Canada and many Latin countries and around the world. It was located across the street from one of their parishes. There are seminaries located in Toronto, Denver and Philadelphia for example.

They go out as missionaries with the help of missionary families. Members are typically from all over the world. Founded after the council, they do not use the latin mass. They have interactive homilies, liturgical practices and live in small communities like the early church, their most desired places to do missionary work is in large urban areas, rather than small towns.

I led their annual seminarian retreat at their redemptoris mater seminary in toronto three years ago  when they joined the seminarians of St. Augustine, the diocesan seminary of Toronto, for their seminary retreat.

Their seminarians are mostly young and  full of passion for ministry.

The Neocatechumenal Way

In the primitive church, when the world was pagan, those that wanted to become Christian had to begin a "catechumenate," an itinerary of formation in preparation for Baptism. Today the process of secularization had brought many people to abandon the faith and the church: because of this there is a necessity for an itinerary of Christian formation.

The Neocatechumenal Way is not a movement or an association, but an instrument in the parishes at the service of the bishop to return to faith many of those who abandoned it.

The Way began in the early 60's in one of the slums of Madrid, by Kiko ArgĂșello and Carmen Hernandez, and was endorsed by the then Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Morcillo, who noted in that first community a true rediscovery of the Word of God and the implementation of the liturgical renewal proposed in that time by the Council.

Having seen the positive experience in the church of Madrid, in 1974 the Congregation for Divine Worship chose the name Neocatechumenal Way for this experience.

It is a way of conversion through which the richness of the gospel can be rediscovered.

In these years the Way has diffused itself to over 900 dioceses, in 105 nations, with over 20 thousand communities in six thousand parishes.

In 1987 the first international missionary seminary "Redemptoris Mater" was opened in Rome. The seminary hosts youth that have discovered and matured their vocation in a Neocatechumenal Community and have answered the call to go and announce the Good News in the whole world. Many Bishops have successively followed the experience of Rome and today in the world there are over 70 diocesan missionary seminaries "Redemptoris Mater," where over two thousand seminarians are being formed.

Recently as an answer to the Pope's call for a New Evangelization, many families that have lived this experience have offered themselves to help the mission of the church going to the most secularized and dechristianized places in the world, preparing for the birth of new missionary parishes.

Immersion baptism, a part of an intense catechumenate, is important enough to have the font right in front of the altar and in the midst of the people.

*In many places this movement is very controversial as this site elaborates.


On Saturday evening I was invited to the cathedral to celebrate the 50th anniversary of priesthood of a local priest who is also the recently retired bishop of Kamloops. I led his priest a couple of years ago so I knew him. We gathered at the Italian Cultural Center for a banquet where over a hundred guests gathered to pay tribute.

Archbishop Miller of Vancouver, Bishop Monroe retired bishop of Kamloops and Archbishop Exeter retired bishop of Vancouver.

My table.

Another table of Bishop Monroe's priest friends.

Sunday Night Dinner

After preaching at the Sunday night mass at the cathedral, one of the young men acolytes invited me to dinner to have food typical of north China. He, however, is from Hong Kong.

We had a very fascinating conversation. He was very interested in the parts of the United States outside its big cities and very, very knowledgeable of U.S. History.

Vancouver is a very expensive city so, like many young adults, he has several jobs - a full time and two part time jobs. He has made time, however, to volunteer as an altar server at the cathedral.

Roger Tse from Hong Kong

Sculpture of a homeless person in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary

The homeless person, of course, is Jesus.
Notice the wounds in his feet. 


This morning, after talking to a married deacon from the Philippines over coffee in the Cathedral Rectory about his seminary days, his leaving, his marriage and now his being ordained a permanent deacon, I am amazed at how fortunate I am to have such conversations and have such similar experiences wherever I have been in nine countries.

I came from a town of about twenty-seven people. I was too bashful to read in front of the seminarians in the seminary. Now I get to meet, and address for hours, people from all over the world, thousands of priests from many countries, hundreds of bishops and even a few Cardinals.

By the time this week is over, I will have given 20 hour-long retreat conferences and delivered 9 homilies here in Vancouver, Canada, alone. This coming week will be my nineteenth priest retreat in Canada all together - from one end to the other: from Victoria and Vancouver in the west, all across the center, to Labrador and Newfoundland in the east. I have spoken in at least four Canadian parishes and attended at least ten celebrations with the laity.

My world seems to be expanding, not shrinking, in retirement. I am amazed and I am very grateful.

Sunday, May 21, 2017



Given at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, BC
Sunday May 21, 2017

       I will not leave you orphaned.
            John 14:18

God has always been portrayed in Scripture as having a soft spot in his heart for the orphan and the widow. Jesus and Mary, who probably lost Joseph when Jesus was young, knew first-hand what it was like to be an orphan and a widow.  It is not surprising, then, that one of the things that Jesus promised his disciples at the Last Supper, overcome with fear of being abandoned, was not to leave them orphaned, but to send them the Holy Spirit as a Comforter.  

Many people over the years have been “orphaned” in the literal sense of the word, either through abandonment, kidnapping or death. I cannot begin to imagine how traumatic that would be for any child, especially those old enough to know what is going on.

Even more people have been “orphaned” in a figurative sense. They have been divorced by their spouses, left as widows and widowers by untimely deaths, jilted by fiancĂ©s or dumped by close friends or “significant others.”

Having had no choice in what happened, they are left traumatized.  They carry those hollow feelings in the pit of their stomachs.  Their hearts ache. Their minds bounce between denial, bargaining and anger. Their obsessive thinking about it nearly drives them crazy as they try to make their way to acceptance. Some never recover from their feelings of being abandoned. 

Abandonment issues are very powerful issues in the lives of many, many people. It’s the fear of being alone and fear of not being able to handle what life throws at them. As social beings, created for interconnection, fear of losing those connections run deep. Genesis tells us that the very first sin ever committed involved a denial of that simple fact.

We are social beings, but what can we do when we have to face a major severing of the connection between our self and a loved one?  Some people go for years believing that if they just don’t like it enough, they will earn a reversal of that fact. When that doesn’t happen, they end up carry an oozing sore of bitterness for years and years – sometimes to their graves.

One of the most moving outreaches to these people that I have ever been involved in are the “Blue Christmas Masses” that I used to offer at Bellarmine University during the Christmas holidays when the loss, grief and loneliness of many come into sharp relief. .      

Prayer is sometimes about the only lifeline many people have during these traumatic times. For some, prayer helps about as much as anything, especially the kind of prayer that asks for a reconciliation with reality. But isn’t that the best kind of prayer – the kind that asks God to help us accept his will, instead of asking God to change his will? Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, who herself was left widowed and childless, is a perfect model for those who feel abandoned by those they love.

We may feel abandoned, but the truth of the matter we are never really abandoned. One of God’s name is Emmanuel, which mean “God with us!”