Thursday, September 20, 2018



First stop - Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown

Trappist Father Seamus with Father Tom Clark, Fergal and Dr. Paul Kelty. 

Our tour group with Trappist Brother Luke 

Trappist Brother Luke with Thomas Merton's (Trappist Father Louis) grave in the background. 

Noon Prayer in the Church at Gethsemani Abbey

Saint Thomas Church (1816) (right). The house (left) was built in 1795 and became the residence of Bishop Flaget and the first Saint Thomas Seminary (1811). 

Standing in front of My OId Kentucky Home. 

My Old Kentucky Home Visitors' Center

Lunch at Mammay's in Bardstown

What is Mrs. O'Leary's cow doing inside Mammy's Restaurant? 

with Jan and Phyllis

Tuesday breakfast at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant with Jan (middle) and Phyllis (right). 

Tim Schoenbachler designed most of the Pastoral Centre renovation in the Diocese of Kingstown, SVG

with Jan and Phyllis


The last evening, we spent celebrating Tom and Rea Clark's 31st wedding anniversary at 

311 Clover Lane restaurant.  It was a wonderful time of sharing stories and Fergal getting to know them. 

The Pastoral Centre,
St Vincent and the Grenadines.
19th Sept 2018.

Dear Fr Ron,

I can scarcely believe that 10 days have elapsed since I arrived in Kentucky. It has turned out to a be a most unforgettable visit and I find it difficult to express in words my heartfelt gratitude for opening your home to me. You have gone out of your way to ensure that my stay here in Louisville would be memorable in all that I encountered and experienced. Of prime place was the party you hosted for me. When my daughter Mary inquired how it went, I told her that some very charming, cheerful, delightful and engaging people responded to your blog post invitation. It was so satisfying to relate to her the extraordinary Kentucky hospitality I was honored to experience throughout a lovely evening filled with laughter, good conversation, wine and exceptional finger food. The truth was that the roles were reversed - everyone made me, as host,  feel at home and most welcome at my party!  

You always seem to engage the right people and evidence of this was reflected in those who responded to your blog post invitation. With Tim, Jan, Phyllis and Bill looking after the beverages and food, we were guaranteed excellent service.  How could I ever forget Karen and Tim from SOS; Jim and Elaine; Carolyn and George; Carmyn and Jeff; Beth who is seriously considering a return visit to teach computer courses to the kids in St Vincent;  Sue and John; Lulu and of course Doreen who would love to return to Ireland and ride with the Galway Blazers one more time! Then there was Debbie and her husband Dr Paul who drove us to the Abbey of Gethsemani on Tuesday ably assisted by Fr Tom who gave a running commentary on all that was to be seen at the monastery – mirabile visu! It was wonderful to meet your neighbors Fr Gray as well as well as Billy. Kindly convey my gratitude also to Ryan and Kenny, to Maggie and David. It was a pleasure to share with Dani and Doug, with Rita and Gary and of course not forgetting Mary Means. A special word of thanks goes to Paul Bluel - I look forward to having a decent chat with him on my next visit.

From my first day here I looked forward to meeting those I had up to now only written to -  I needed to put a face on the name. It was a most enjoyable first encounter to have had breakfast with Greg (Burch) and I came away realizing that my meetings with others would be cherished. The visit to Mr Geraghty, who supplied the lettering for our new chapel on St Vincent was special. He is fortunate to have Kim Browne work for him – she made a big impression and her naturalness and sincerity were captivating. Making contact with all of the Coates family at their place of work was a uniquely pleasant experience. Being summoned, while there,  to join in the birthday festivities of one of their managers greatly added to the visit. Please remind them that the banter about holidays, alcohol, Ireland etc. etc. will be recalled and narrated when I return to Galway.   

These your friends and, I would like to think, mine also if I am not overly presumptuous, help me return to the islands with a sense of renewed commitment. In so many ways they have expressed a vote of confidence and given their support to what I am about in my daily routine.  Their sense of involvement is both engaging and infectious and has in turn expanded the appreciation of companionship in my life. For this I am most grateful.

How could I ever forget my first visit to the restored Cathedral of the Assumption! Before Mass, I easily identified with the plaudits of Pat Patterson and Dr Kelty who shared stories of the renovation vision including the nightmares encountered along the way. The restoration of this magnificent edifice is a tribute to you and your team. Luckily, I have captured on video some of the singing –  it was outstanding and a quality musical addition  to the liturgy. After Mass it was stimulating to hear of Bob Owings speak of his desire to visit St Vincent and the Grenadines with his wife. I think you will have to draw up a list of volunteers – there are so many of them from Kentucky.  I would dearly  love to welcome them all. By the way, would it be in bad taste to ask each of them to bring some bourbon? (Ha!).

Once again, kindly endorse my special words of thanks to Tim Schoenbachler. His many talents are proving to be invaluable and as you well know are a recognizable feature of so many Second Wind projects on the island. Little did I know of the surprise I was to encounter at the night of the party - experiencing his culinary expertise was truly a delight.   His follow-up invitation to dinner at his house last night proved to be a memorable occasion!

How could I ever forget the last evening with Tom and Rea Clark? Just to think I was there to help them celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary! Absolutely wonderful, engaging and generous people!  What a way to end my first Kentucky visit! 

During my brief visit I was struck by the words of gratitude that so many expressed in relation to your involvement in their lives. But in truth this does not come as a surprise to me. You are an inspiration at what you do, and that indeed covers quite an expansive field. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with you so closely and I appreciate the engagement of co-operating  with friends here in Kentucky in helping others less well off. It continues to be an incredible experience.

With sincerest gratitude,


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