Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A LOUISVILLE LANDING


THE GREEN, GREEN (BLUE) GRASS  OF  HOME



Southern Indiana, at the Ohio River's edge, as the plane approaches Louisville. 

     

Seeing downtown Louisville, and its bridges, on the way home is always a great sight! 



Louisville at night as seen from southern Indiana.





Looking upriver toward downtown Louisville from the McAlpine Dam and Locks. That's I-64 on the right. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

COMING UP THIS FALL - THE DIOCESE OF BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS


ANNUAL PRIEST CONVOCATION 
September 9 - 11, 2019 



Diocese of Belleville, Illinois

Bishop Edward Braxton

I get to drive to this one! It's this side of Saint Louis! 
I have been there before. I did a one-day session with pastors a few years back! 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

PALM SUNDAY






When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’


I am convinced that most people do not understand what Palm Sunday is about and I am not absolutely confident that I can explain it as well as it needs to be explained. I'll try anyway!

To understand it, I think we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Remember, Herod was so paranoid about the baby Jesus being a “newborn king” that he had all the young boys in Bethlehem slaughtered – just in case. Jesus, Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt for a few years. 

Even when Jesus came out of obscurity to begin his ministry, we read at the beginning of Lent about Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert as he discerned what direction his ministry should take – what God’s plan was for him.

One of the temptations Jesus was offered by the devil was to take the political power road – to become a king. We know that, even though Jesus concluded that this was not God’s path for him, people were always trying to make him a king. Even some of his apostles thought that that option was always on the table. Remember the story where James and John tried an end run around the other twelve by asking for the two best jobs in this new kingdom they thought he was going to set up in the near future.

We will read tonight that Judas was so disappointed with Jesus over this very issue that he tried to force Jesus hand to “get on with it,” only to see it backfire. When it didn’t work, he ends up committing suicide.

All this “king talk” among the people, all the dreams about power inside his inner circle and a rising tide of paranoia among the Roman occupiers was about to explode when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

When Jesus and his band arrived in Jerusalem, the streets were clogged with religious pilgrims from everywhere. The air was full of tension. Jesus’ own popularity had reached a fever pitch, the religious leaders’ jealousy had reached the boiling point and the government’s worry had become paranoid.  Everybody in authority, as well as Jesus, seemed to know that this trip smacked of a show down.  Jerusalem was indeed tense when Jesus arrived for the Passover - something big was about to happen. 

It was in this tense situation that Jesus came riding into the city, not quietly, but with total fanfare. Everybody noticed. This triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not some harmless little passion play. It was a deliberate move with dark possibilities.  Everybody knew that the very presence of Jesus in Jerusalem at Passover could set off a riot.

When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats
on the road.’

Palm waving and the throwing of coats on the road were not just a nice gesture of welcome, spontaneously invented for this particular occasion. These gestures had major political overtones. In the past, when kings arrived to ascend their thrones, people threw coats on the road. Palm waving was a symbol of Jewish nationalism, synonymous with waving a rebel flag. Many in the crowds wanted a Jewish Messiah-King who would overthrow the hated Roman occupation and they thought Jesus could fit the bill. Even though Jesus had fought off several efforts of this kind, the crowds knew what kind of Messiah they wanted. They wanted a powerful revolutionary.

In response to the people’s misguided reception of him as a political, David-like, Messiah, Jesus deliberately came into the city on the back of a jackass, a pack animal.  It was a powerful counter statement that simply went over the heads of the crowds. While they waved palms and chanted nationalistic slogans, by this action Jesus said, “No! I’m not the kind of king you imagine! My power is a spiritual power, not a political power!”

This “temptation,” the temptation to become a powerful political leader, had been proposed by Satan at the beginning of his ministry.  The gospel tells us that Satan left him to wait for another occasion. It had been proposed to him, on various occasions, throughout his teaching days. Here it was again!   Satan, in various guises, never gave up, even at the end. Jesus, consistent in his refusal, remained faithful to his call as a humble, peaceful, spiritual messiah to the end.

Throughout history, the church has sadly from time to time given into the temptation to choose political power as a means to its goals, always with disastrous results. Again, in our own time, not convinced of the real effectiveness of spiritual power, some Christian communities have fallen for the temptation to take the short cut to achieve its mission by courting political power.  What is their rational? It seems that they believe that if people won’t choose to be good, they need to be made to be good! Palm Sunday has a lot to teach the church, even today!  My friends, our power is not a political power. It’s even more powerful than political power. It’s a spiritual power! Pope John Paul II had no armies, but he helped bring down communism just by his preaching and presence. That’s spiritual power!  Pope Francis has no real political power, except in a one-square mile of ground inside the walls of the Vatican, but he has tremendous spiritual power. That is the real source of our power as well – the power that comes from authentic Christian living.


















Friday, April 12, 2019

THE FIRE THAT ALMOST STOLE EASTER!


MY BASKETS, BUNNIES AND BEANS ARE SAFE




My 96 Easter baskets were scheduled to be on this boat to be taken to the kids on the islands of Canouan, Mayreau and Union for Easter. Happily, they were spared. They were not loaded yet. The kids will get their Easter baskets by another way - still undetermined! 



This is the GEM STAR before its fatal fire. This is one of the main ways people and provisions are taken to the outer smaller islands. 



It caught fire in the port in the morning hours. Someone had been welding the day before which is probably the cause of the fire. Thank God no passengers were aboard at the time. 



On fire, the GEM STAR  was towed away from the port to spare other boats. 

This was the view right in front of the Pastoral Centre where I stay. The bishop and the staff could watch it burn from the balcony. 




A small fire soon became a raging fire!



It was still burning in the night! 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS?

   
OUR DELIVERIES MAY COME EVEN AFTER WE ARE GONE

My neighbor upstairs, James E. Burke, died last week. 
Yesterday the UPS man left him a delivery note that stated: 
"We're Sorry We Missed You. We Will Try Again Tomorrow." 

Sadly, he won't be there! 







"For Whom the Bell Tolls"

John Donne


No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.




Saturday, April 6, 2019

ISLAND VOLUNTEER TRIP #12 - PART IV

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: KIDS AT PLAY
A Little Morning Beach Soccer Below the Pastoral Centre

a close-up view



a wider view




ANOTHER BIRTHDAY DINNER



Bishop County and Fergal Redmond took me to Young Island for dinner on Thursday night for an early celebration of my 75th birthday. It was a very nice place on the water! We got a chance to talk at length about my projects in the Diocese of Kingstown and how we might tie up some loose ends before going forward.  It was a truly relaxing evening with just the three of us! 



Inside the covered out-board motor boat that ferried us over to Young Island for dinner.



FRIDAY MORNING FROM THE DECK

Here is Something Saint Vincent is Beginning to See. 
In my 12 trips, I think this is only the third one I have seen coming into port. This is by far the nicest one. It is operated by a Swiss Company that was originally founded in Italy. This is certainly good for the economy to have them stop in Saint Vincent. 




TWO MORE IMPORTANT MEETINGS

1. Ministry of Health



Sandra Davis (on the right) met with Bishop County, Fergal Redmond and myself to discuss the second 40 ' shipping container of medical supplies from S.O.S. and church furnishings that will be going down soon. 




Donna Bascom, from the Ministry of Health, was unable to attend because of sickness, so Sandra Davis, our contact person for the container, represented the Ministry of Health. 

Besides the shipping container, Sandra Davis will coordinate the connections between Paul Sherman MD and his wife Susan Sherman RN and some local doctors, as well as some hospital and clinic coordinators. They will be going down in July for their first fact-finding volunteer mission trip. Until now, they have been volunteering in Kenya. 

2. Stewart Structural Engineering Limited

Friday afternoon, Bishop County, Glenford Stewart (Structural Engineer), Fergal Redmond (Diocesan CPA, Wendel Edwards (Principal), Yohance Gibson (Vice Principal) and myself met at Saint Martin's Secondary School for Boys to discuss a possible future project. 






In the school yard there is a 100 year old mango tree loaded with fruit not quite ripe yet. 




Mango fruit, still green, but ready to ripen. 




FRIDAY NOON MASS AT THE CATHEDRAL
Downtown, Kingstown
SVG


We had local people and guests from the cruise ship. I met tourists from Germany, Italy and Ireland. The new airport with a couple of direct flights from the US and the fact that some nice cruise ships are now stopping here is a good sign for the struggling economy. 




TRIP TWELVE IS NOW HISTORY







I WILL FLY HOME THIS AFTERNOON
I will leave Saint Vincent about 2:30 pm and be home a little after midnight - if all goes well. 


AS ALWAYS, I HAD SOME AMAZING EXPERIENCES ON THIS TRIP


SOME OF MY OBSERVATIONS

1. In many ways we have it easy in the USA compared to the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In fact, we are quite spoiled when it comes to the availability of things, the ease of getting around, the speed with which things are done and the conveniences of normal daily living. Its as if we are ready to scream as if our arm has been cut off when we simply have a hang nail! People seem to be a whole lot more patient in the islands. 

2. People have to make a great effort to go to work, go to school and go to church - sometimes walking in sweltering heat or waiting along the roads for a ride. Simple tasks seem to require a lot more effort down there. 

3. The people take great pride in their children. Even in a country with lots of poverty, children always seem to be meticulously dressed, combed and groomed for church and school even after walking for miles along the sides of very narrow and forever winding roads.

4. Women seem to bear the most weight when it comes to work. They know long days and long nights of cooking, cleaning, shopping, praying and monitoring children, as well as often holding down full time jobs or trying to sell fruits and vegetables in small stalls along the streets. 

5. The religious Sisters work very hard, especially those who teach in the schools and run orphanages. They don't know what a 40 hour a week is! It's full time and full speed all day and into the night while wearing a habit and veil and living in very humble circumstances. 

6. There are a lot of poor children in this island nation. Many are being raised by grandparents and single parents. Many do not have enough to eat, even at school. Some cannot afford the minimal fees and have to have their grades withheld until they can pay. 

7. There is a lot of creativity and imagination because of the poverty. They can be very imaginative and "get it done" by re-purposing obsolete items and fixing things with old parts. Sometimes, whole homes are built from scrap metal, cardboard, used lumber and old stones - often on stilts on the side  of a mountain. Small gardens are very often "terraced" into the sides of steep hills.




Close-up of gardeners at work.



Distance shot of same gardeners.




8. Because people are seldom locked behind doors in air-conditioning, there is a lot of noise - lots and lots of noise - from roosters crowing in the early morning, to cars blasting music out of windows rolled down, to honking horns and just plain yelling in public places. The first thing you hear in the morning are roosters crowing, followed by barking dogs. As the city comes alive, that is followed by honking horns and loud music coming from cars. 

9. Surprisingly, the water is safe to drink. The government has obviously and deliberately invested some money in the water system - at least in the areas where I have been. Parking in the city of Kingstown during the day is another issue. Roads are very crooked, young drivers can be aggressive and landslides are a constant problem. 

10. Lots of fresh fruits and a variety of interesting vegetables, many unfamiliar to me, seem to be readily available. 

11. Even though Catholic parishes are small, the music is energetic and often sung from memory with a very Caribbean sound - drums, guitars and sometimes keyboards. 
People are used to long sermons from priests and deacons. The recent Parish Missions went on for 5 nights and the crowds were consistently good. 

12. The people that I have come in contact with are very warm and welcoming. I am always comfortable when I am with them. I know more and more people by name and I can see how fast some of the younger ones have grown from trip to trip. Catholics are a small minority of the population and I am inspired by their determination to hold on to their Catholic faith. 

13. Catholics in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a small minority because of its history as an English colony. Other islands may be predominately Catholic because of their histories as Spanish or French colonies. Therefore the Catholic Church may be very different from island country to island country in the Caribbean. Historically, the Portuguese and Dutch have been there too and still have some influence.

14. What have I learned? I am hopefully being taught to be a little more patient and a lot more grateful! I have learned that doing all this at my age helps me forget about just how old I am and hopefully will help me stay at the top of my game a bit longer! I am grateful for the friends who have supported me in this work and the insights I am gaining by putting myself in so many new situations at this point in my life! I am actually a bit proud of myself for being so "adventurous" at 75! With the exception of one time, I have traveled down there alone eleven of the twelve times.  I pray for health good enough to keep me going back a few more times before I have to "turn in my missionary card" and "hang up my collar" for good! 

15. I feel honored, blessed and privileged to be able to do all these things, including priest retreats all over Canada and the United States, especially in my retirement years. My philosophy of "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" is paying off big time!  I have learned that with a little nerve you can actually do more things than you ever thought possible. Even if people laugh at you, judge you or even punish you out of jealousy, just go ahead and do it!  As a favorite quote puts it, "You can run with the big dogs or you can just sit on the porch and bark!"


ALL IN ALL, THIS WAS ANOTHER VERY BLESSED TRIP!




Thursday, April 4, 2019

ISLAND VOLUNTEER TRIP #12 - PART III



A quiet moment on the deck of the Pastoral Centre after lunch.
The Pastoral Centre was a very busy place this week!  


Fergal Redmond (above) and Kimberley Olliver (below) make sure the donations we send down are protected and used as designated. 





Part of the weekday Mass group with Bishop County presiding in Saint James Chapel in the Pastoral Centre. 


Msgr. George Bardowell, the oldest priest of the Diocese. 



HEADED OUT FOR THE PARISH MISSION


Father Elton and Father Mark, two of the four Redemptorist
priests on the Mission team, head out for the first night of their week-long Parish Mission.



A VISIT TO SAINT MARTIN SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR BOYS




Mr. Wendell Edwards, Principle of Saint Martin Secondary School for Boys, Fergal Redmond and Bishop County paying a visit to Saint Martin School to discuss a possible future project below.



Opening night of the 2019 Lenten Parish Mission in Stubbs featuring the Redemptorist priest mission team. 



Father Boniface who oversees the parishes on the islands of Canouan, Mayreau and Union will see to it that the 96 Easter baskets we sent down will be assembled and distributed to the kids on all three islands at the Easter Sunday Masses.

Five of the six boxes of Easter goodies have already arrived at the Pastoral Centre. The sixth and final one should be here this week!
I am excited because I now know they will actually be here in time for Easter! 
Thanks to all who helped with this project! 






Sister Martha, a Saint Joseph of Cluny Sister, teaches the second grade at Saint Mary's School. We dropped off quite a few boxes of pens at the convent for the school kids. The pens are compliments of my youngest brother, Mark. 



Saint Mary's Cathedral Primary School Principal, Ms. Eula Johnny. 



There are more than 500 children in Saint Mary's grade school and believe me thy are packed in to small spaces. Located in a crowded downtown, there is no playground on the campus, just a courtyard between the school and the Cathedral not large enough for any organized sports - except for things like jump rope, hop-scotch and kicking a small ball around - a few kids at a time.  


Saint Mary's School is out for spring break. Here is one of the empty classrooms. We dropped off a box of items for one of the booths at their upcoming June Festival fund-raiser.

WEDNESDAY



This morning, since I was presiding at the 7:30 Mass, I got up at 5:30 and took a cup of coffee out on the deck. This is what I saw - a windjammer ship docked in front of the house. The port is off to the left. In contrast, a small dingy dinghy just passed with two fishermen heading home. 



The new Saint James Chapel we built a few years ago. 




Lots of "Jameses and friends" made it happen!



Waiting for Mass to begin. This is the view from the Chapel. 



Father Mark, Colin and Father Ako



Reader, Jerry Jensen, Bishop County and Father Mark



Father Ako, Bishop County and Father Mark



Bishop County and myself


ANOTHER IMPORTANT MEETING



On Wednesday morning I met with Shanda Boyer, Youth Minister, to check up on our plans for this coming summer's Kids Computer Camps on three of the islands and a Kids Field Day for the orphanages in Georgetown. 
Thank you Beth Kolodey, Karen Crook and Tim Tomes for coming down in July to help with those programs. 


RAPHIQUE SARGEANT


I was happy to see an old friend again, Raphique, on this trip.
I have watched him grow up since I started coming down. 
He is the son of Collitta, the Pastoral Centre cook. 
We were able to sponsor him to go to World Youth Day in Poland a few years back. He is now 21 years old. 
He is a very likable young man and I have great hopes for him. 




MARTIN FOLAN'S 74th BIRTHDAY

Martin Folan, a volunteer from Ireland, celebrated his 74th birthday today. He is in the dark shirt under the yellow plant picture of the wall behind him in the center of the photograph. He went swimming at Bequia Island for the day and joined us for snacks and drinks at the end of the day. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

ISLAND VOLUNTEER TRIP #12 - PART II


I AM NOT HERE VOLUNTEERING ALONE




On the left is a psychologist on the left, Jerry Jensen, of Minnesota. He is working with some adults who can help him offer care to the children who need counseling. 
 In the center is Bishop County.
On each side of the bishop are Redemptorist priests conducting  Lenten Missions in some of the parishes, There are four of them working as a team. 
On the right is one of the Catholic school teachers. 



I PREACHED THREE WEEKEND MASSES
with Redemptorist Father Rodney Concelebrating

Saint Benedict in Georgetown
Saint Joseph in Bellvue
Mary, Star of the Sea in Sandy Bay



Mass at Saint Benedict in Georgetown



Mass at Saint Joseph in Bellvue



I met Jamary at Mass when I came down for one of my first trips. He has really grown, but still carries the cross at Masses. 



The is the Deacon Best Family - Deacon Best, his wife, his two daughters and granddaughter. 



Adrian, the drummer at Mass, and I talked before Mass. 



A Methodist Minister and his wife, Reverend and Mrs. Brown, attended Mass today. 
Father Rodney was the main celebrant for this Mass and I preached, 



This little guy got a pair of swim goggles that I had brought in my gift box. 



I talked to some of the kids after Mass. One of the things I noticed here is that people still dress up for church - the kids are always dressed and combed and at their best! 



Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Sandy Bay




Preaching in Sandy Bay.   



I brought everyone a small gift - children and adults. 
Everyone was excited about what I would pull of of the box next!



The parish in Sandy Bay knew my birthday is coming up so they presented me with a cake at the end of Mass and prepared a wonderful lunch for all who had attended the Mass,



WE MADE A STOP AT 
SAINT BENEDICT HOME FOR CHILDREN



Carmelite Sisters Nyra Anne and Carmen



"Yes, Sister, I agree! She certainly needs a new wheel chair!" 



I can't believe how much he has grown! 



Thanks to a couple of generous sponsors, the young girl in the middle with the red shirt, Aneisha, went to the Special Olympics 2019 in Abu Dhabi with Sister Nyra Anne and and some twenty-four other kids from Saint Vincent. She ran track and came home with two gold medals and one silver medal. There were 5 other gold medal, and one bronze medal, winners from Saint Vincent.