Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Another Island Miracle


When I asked Sister Zita last January what she needed for her Bread of Life orphanage, she told me she needed a starter for the van. She said that the kids were pushing it to get it started. I was not convinced that was all she needed so I asked her to send pictures of the van. When I saw its condition, I said to her, "You don't need a starter! You need a van! That thing is too dangerous to be driving kids around in! Let me see what I can do!"

I have been working all year, doing priest retreats, dropping hints to friends and leading parish missions. My goal was to get her a new van for Christmas! As it turned out she needed it BEFORE Christmas! 
Well, another miracle! I was able to have the new van keys presented to Sister Zita and the kids this week! 
Bishop County blessed it and I made sure the kids had a little after-school party to celebrate! The only thing left to do is to put the
CATHOLIC SECOND WIND GUILD logo on the doors and make sure some extra rust proofing is applied underneath. The salt air can eat the bottom of a car out in no time!  
I can't thank my friends enough who helped me pull this off! 


Rusted out floor in front of the back seats. 

Is that a bald tire or what? 



Bishop County blessed the new van today after school. 

Fergal presents the keys to Carmelite

Sister Zita and the Bread of Life Home for Children driver. 

Sister Zita, I told you we would have it before Christmas!

God bless you for all you have done to raise these kids! 
You have put your heart and soul into this ministry!

Some of the kids, Bishop County, friends, designated driver, staff members and neighbors all gather around to celebrate. 

They even had balloons waiting inside the van for the kids.

They waited for the blessing until after the kids got out of school.

I hope he is crying because he's happy!
Maybe his balloon popped?

Little Daniel who captured my attention on my first visit just keeps growing. He wore one of the shirts, the shorts and the running shoes I sent down earlier this year.

This little girl, Kayla, is always happy it seems!  

I told Sister that we should have a little party for the kids. 
They would be coming from the school and they would be hungry.
What better way to celebrate than a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken! 

Sister, at least you won't have to cook for the kids when you get home!

We could not have pulled this van project off without the help of volunteer from Ireland, Fergal Redmond.  From ordering to delivery to securing insurance, he was on the ball! 

School Supplies


It is quite an operation to get things from here in Louisville to the kids in the islands. Below is a photo of just the school supplies that we collected. The seven boxes of snacks were still in my garage.  I bought most of the snacks/lunch, by the case, from DOLLAR TREE. Many friends found the school supplies on sale at various stores. 

I took all the smaller boxes of snacks/lunch and school supplies to S.O.S. to be put into larger boxes. 
Below are two volunteers sisters who helped. They were then tapped again, labeled and stacked on a cart to be loaded into a truck. 

Tim Tomes, on the left, loaded them into his truck and followed me out to FORWARD AIR on the Outer Loop to be shipped to AMERIJET in Miami, Florida, to then be shipped on by plane to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Here the 13 boxes as they arrived at the Roman Catholic Pastoral Centre of the Diocese of Kingstown to be picked up by Sister Carmen of Saint Mary's School and Sisters Zita and Nyra Anne from Bread of Life Home for Children and Saint Benedict Home for Children. 

Oreo cookies, Rice Crispie Treats, Granola Bars, Nut Rolls, Salted Peanuts Packets,  Vanilla Cookie Packets, Tuna Fish, Vienna Sausages, Peppermint Candies, Life Savers, Cheese Crackers, Oatmeal Pies, Cracker Jack, and Pop Tarts, 

and one of  "her children" 

 sent her "thank you" and some shots of "her children" trying out the snacks. 

Here some of the kids at Bread of Life Home for Children are enjoying some of the snacks - in this case some of the Little Debbie oatmeal pies. I hope they love their new van! 

630 kids

Sister Carmen 

Just One of the Second Grade Classes


Hello Fr. Ron

Thanks very much for the school supplies. Ms. Johnny and I collected the boxes last Monday but did not get a chance to go through them entirely. This was so because all the teachers had Professional Development sessions in preparation for the new school term for the whole of last week.

Tomorrow Wednesday 29th I will be at school so I will check the boxes and organize the stuff for distribution next Monday when school reopens. I will also take with me some of the needed supplies for Srs. Nyra and Zita's children. 

Ms. Johnny and I were really excited for the children. Both teachers and students will be happy with what they receive. 

I sincerely thank you on behalf of the principal, teachers and students of St. Mary's R. C. School. We do appreciate your hard work and loving kindness. Please extend our sincere gratitude to all those persons who responded and continue to respond so generously to your request in helping us. 

God bless you all!

Sister Carmen

Sunday, September 23, 2018


If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be
the last of all and the servant of all.

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a priest, and as far back as I can remember, priesthood has often been an uphill struggle. I struggled to get to ordination and I have struggled to remain a priest, especially during the height of the sexual abuse scandal. In spite of it all, I choose it again to day, with gratitude. 

I got into priesthood because I wanted to help other people get more in touch with God, while getting more in touch with God myself. The primary duty of priests is to preach and I feel more like a priest when I preach from the pulpit and try to help people open up to God a little more and when I find myself opening up to God a little more in the process.

I never thought too much about what I would have done, if I had not become a priest, until I was pastor of the cathedral. The cathedral was my biggest and most visible challenge. I went from being a young, two-time country pastor to being a pastor to some of Louisville’s biggest movers and shakers and a downtown community leader.  Several times, during those years, I was told that I could have been a millionaire if I had gone into business.  Even though those words come to mind every once in a while, especially when I am discouraged, I still wouldn’t trade with anyone, no matter how rich they are! I agree with Albert Schweitzer when he said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Of course, business people can serve and millionaires can serve, and I know many who do, but serving as a priest has always been my "thing."

I love this gospel story.  Like a bunch of teen-age boys, Jesus catches his disciples bragging about who was "number one," who was "the greatest." Can’t you just see them twitching in silence, sheepishly raking their sandals through the dust, eyes downcast, pulling at their robes, as they realize that Jesus had overheard them and faced them down with that piercing look of disappointment? 

We are told in today's gospel that Jesus “sits down” to deliver his lesson to them on discipleship. Rabbis, Jesus included, normally taught as they walked along the road. When a rabbi “sat down” to teach, it was a sign that something very serious and essential was about to be taught. (We Catholics have a vestige of that custom even today when the pope speaks “ex cathedra,” “from the chair.” When the pope speaks “ex cathedra,” “from the chair,” his teaching is binding on all in the Church. See that big chair over there? Only Archbishop Kurtz sits in that chair. When he speaks "ex cathedra," "from the chair," what he says is meant to be very serious.

Sitting down, Jesus delivers one of the essential teachings of our faith. “Listen, boys, let's talk about being “number one!” If you want to be number one in my book, if you want to be great, make others number one, build others up to greatness!  Don’t get sucked up into the popular wisdom of scratching your way to the top so that you can be served by others.  If you want to be my followers, if you want to be happy from the inside out, you must look for ways to help others be successful, to make other people shine, to bring out the best in others.  

A diocesan priest’s whole purpose is to be called from the laity and to live among the laity so as to serve the laity by focusing his ministry on the spiritually empowering the laity.  Ordained priesthood, then, is essentially about living a life of service to all those in the baptismal priesthood. My job is to serve you and make you great.  My priesthood make no sense without my connection to building you up and serving you.

The New Catechism of the Catholic Church says that five of our seven sacraments are geared toward our personal salvation: baptism, confirmation, eucharist, reconciliation and anointing of the sick.  The other two sacraments, holy orders and marriage, are geared toward the salvation of others.  Holy Order and Matrimony are sacraments of service to others. That means that people enter into Christian marriage, not for what they can get out of it, but because it offers a structure for serving one’s partner and one's children. Married people are supposed to be people who specialize in “love giving.” It is not 50-50, as some would say, it’s about giving 100% regardless of what you get back. Few ever measure up to that lofty ideal, but it is still the ideal. Priests are ordained and people marry to serve, and their service to their parishioners or partners and children is what will make them happy and holy.

Besides ordained ministry and marriage, there are many other ways to serve as well. Some serve as teachers, doctors, nurses, politicians and musicians for example, but no one serves like parents who raise children. Parenting calls for the selflessness of Mother Teresa, the patience of Job and the resources of a small country. For twenty to twenty-five years, parenting is about giving and serving without let-up, putting the needs of one’s children and spouse before one’s own needs.  Marriage partners and parents have my deepest admiration.

Fellow believers, we live in a world where shrill voices try to seduce us into the trap of  believing that happiness is to be found in scratching our way to the top so that we can be served by others.  We hear more and more people talking about “taking care of number one,” “my rights and my needs” and “every dog for himself.” Jesus offer a contrary vision, a road less traveled, a vision that says “greatness is about serving the needs of others.”  That does not mean that all of us need to run off and join Mother Teresa’s community. We are all called to serve, but we are called in a host of different ways. Often “service of others” is as simple as bringing an attitude of service to whatever we do, be it a student-focused teacher, a child-focused parent, an attentive spouse, a caring doctor, an honest business person, an ethical politician, a priest who is people-focused! As an old country song puts it, “Do what you do, do well!”

Service begins with noticing. Noticing leads to caring. Caring leads to service.  When we serve, we put others first. When we put others first we are acting “like Christ” who came to serve, rather than be served.  Only when we act “like Christ,” do we deserve the name “Christian.”  Remember the hymn we used to sing in the 60s? “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will now that we are Christians by our love.”