Saturday, March 21, 2020




In my writing, I have often cited a story about the prophet Muhammad who met a man one day who had left his camel untied. When Muhammad questioned this decision, the man replied, "I trust Allah!' Muhammad answered, "Trust Allah, yes, but tie your camel first!" 

Pray, friends, but also use good sense! Pray and stay home!

(A photo from our local Supplies Over Seas newsletter.) 

S.O.S is a local charity that collects surplus medical supplies and sends them to places with needs - around this country and around the world.  

I have worked with them to send two huge shipping containers of surplus medical supplies to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines over the last few years.  We are working on another one.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


At least 28 priests in northern Italy have died from COVID-19



As I write about this pandemic, I realize that I am writing as a single person who has the luxury of being retired, living alone and in pretty good health even at 76. Being retired, I realize that I do not have to worry about exposing myself to possible infection by having to "go to work" or  worry about "losing my job." 

I am very concerned about the health and financial wellness of families who were already struggling and do not have the luxury of almost complete "social distancing" like myself.  Many families contain multiple children and elderly parents who need attending to - some of them with special needs and with already precarious health conditions. 

I have already decided that if the government mails me one of those "stimulus checks," I will give it to a struggling family. I already have some families in mind right now. Hopefully, this might inspire some others who "don't really need it," to do the same. 

I am also very worried about the people in the Caribbean missions where I have been volunteering the last five years, especially the orphans of St. Benedict Home for Children. I have been in telephone contact with Sister Nyra Anne, administrator of the Home.  


One of the best things to come out of this pandemic is people's return to prayer around the world. Now that many "official" prayer gathering are cancelled, people are becoming very imaginative in their prayer life: e.g. watching televised Masses, creating video prayer groups and families saying the Rosary together again. Besides praying together as a family, maybe this pandemic can offer them a time to put away the electronics and talk to each other - and maybe even eat together at the table! 

One of the most imaginative ideas I have seen so far came from a priest in Milan, Italy. Because Mass attendance was cancelled all over Italy, he told his parishioners to send their photos and selfies so he could remember them at Mass. He taped their pictures to the pews.

Parishioners in Poland lay prostate on the floor after Mass imploring God to deliver the world from this virus pandemic.

Nobody remembers going to confession this way!  Here is a creative idea one priest came up with! 

After my mission trip to Saint Vincent was cancelled and I realized that my calendar was clear for a week or more, I have basically "self-quarantined." I stay home as much as I can and try to find positive things to do around the house. 

I find myself praying more often than normal as my mind wanders. I try to restrict my intake of "too much" news. I need to "keep up," but I don't need to "obsess."  

Again this year, I put all my Kroger receipts in a box and I will save them till the end of Lent. I try to buy "sale items" and "generic brands," rather than expensive brands. Kroger lists how much you save during each purchase at the bottom of the receipt. The highest so far is $16.00 and the lowest is $4.00. At the end of Lent, I add them all up and give that amount to the Rice Bowl project. 

Once in a while, Kroger offers a "Friday freebie." Last week, it was a dozen eggs. I got my free eggs and offered them to an elderly couple with a sparse cart leaving the store. They were grateful as they excitedly took them.  

I am on a house cleaning campaign. Each day I tackle a room or a closet or a cabinet. I am getting rid of unneeded junk and old clothes. I am cleaning out files. I may even wash windows if this keeps up for a few weeks. 

I am eating healthily and simply. I am back on my treadmill. I may even go out for a few long walks in Saint Michael Cemetery behind my condo. Doing something healthy is much more rewarding and uplifting than over-eating,  sleeping too much or sinking into a depression over this.  

I like to write, so I decided to journal more regularly and to put some of my reflections in blog posts, like this one, as a way to express my feelings and maybe offer some encouragement to those who read my blog. 

If this goes on for more than a few weeks, I may even start writing another book or finish that play I started writing several years ago. I lose all sense of time when I write. It is a great pass-time and it is certainly more productive than watching TV. 

I am staying in contact with my friends in the islands, Germany, Ireland and the United States so as to offer them some encouragement. About four times a day, I make a call to a family member or friend to check on them to see how they are doing. 

I have been stunned at how many people have called to check on me! I must say that I am a bit blown away that so many people have reached out to me and shown concern for me, even to the point of volunteering to run errands for me if needed! I am truly amazed and grateful! 


1. The first thing that I have been thinking about is how vulnerable we really all are, no matter how independent we like to think we are! It is so easy to think that we are "in charge" when we really aren't. 'The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.' No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it. This saying is adapted from a line in "To a Mouse," by poet Robert Burns.

2. I have been thinking of those who have faced, or are facing, health crises like cancer, Parkinson's, disease ALS disease, or even a former student of mine, Father John Hollowell of Indianapolis, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have been imagining how "powerless" they feel, even as they "fight bravely" to "handle" it. I can imagine them bouncing inside from fear to panic to anger, even when they try to show everybody else a "brave face."  I imagine we will get over this at some point, but during it, I am making a special effort to pray for those who live with these feelings all day, every day, for years. 

3. I am praying for those with the virus, those who are treating those with the virus and those who are supplying the equipment and medications needed by those with the virus.  I pray for scientists and government leaders. Along that line, I would like to pass along a prayer I found on the internet.


Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.

Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.

Jesus Christ, heal us.

America Magazine
March 02, 2020

4. As I tried to point out in my homily for the first Sunday of Lent, silence is sacred, especially during Lent. Maybe this pandemic can offer us a time to slow down and spend some time alone in silence so that we can hear God's whispering voice above the roar of ordinary life as we have known it. 

5. Sometimes, I find myself beginning to panic when I imagine myself "getting it."  "What will I do? I live by myself!" "What if this happens......?" "What if that happens.......?" I have decided that I just have to shut down my own negative mind chatter, use caution and repeat the words of Jesus from the gospels, "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust!" (Luke 8:50).  I have to trust that, even if I "get it," I will manage to handle whatever happens. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


...especially my two fellow island volunteers from Ireland. 

Fergal is still in Ireland recuperating. Martin is still down in Saint Vincent caring for the hungry, the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned. 


 Fergal Redmond                                                      Martin Folan  

Tanqueray gin originated in London, is produced in Scotland and is appreciated by Irish and Americans on porches and in pubs everywhere - even by a few of us in Saint Vincent. Yes, the bottle is that perfect green color, but don't wear it, drink it, like those two guys pictured above! They even have their own key lime tree outside the front door! 

Sunday, March 15, 2020




As deeply disappointed as I am, I am trying my best to see some positives in the cancellation of my thirteenth mission trip to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

1. I may have been spared being exposed to the caronavirus on the planes or in the Miami Airport. I am being told that I am "high risk" at my age (76).  

2. I did not carry it to the islands with me, after maybe having been exposed to it on the planes or in the airport. It would have been insane to go down there now because it would have been a risk to their health and to mine. I would not have been any help to them and I could actually have become another burden on them. 

3. I don't have to worry about getting sick down there, where the health system is already stretched to the limits, and maybe having to be quarantined for several weeks in Miami and maybe kept from re-entering the United States on my way home. 

4. I could have pushed myself to go only to find out that people down there did not want to take the risk of gathering in a large group for my workshop and could have already cancelled their scheduled attendance.  

5. I heard they were already in a state of panic after just one identified case. The mood would not have been conducive to good learning with "basic survival" concerns on their minds. 

6. The outer islands kids' ninety-seven Easter Baskets are already down there and waiting for them. It is one of the advantages of planning early.  Maybe this treat will give them a little lift during this epidemic.

7. The ticket was very expensive even though I bought it with thousands of my accumulated "frequent flyer miles." When I cancelled, American Airlines generously reinstated those miles back into my "frequent flyer" account. 

8. There is always "tomorrow." What I have to offer can wait. There is no "expiration date" on the material I planned to offer. 

9. Typical of me, I have already come up with an idea of something they can do that will actually prepare them even more for the workshop I will be offering some day soon. 

10. Thanks to "WHATS APP," texts, SKYPE and e-mails, I can stay in regular contact with them even from here. 


I was reminded by my classmate, Gary Marvin, that one of the last things we learned in the seminary was the difference between chronos and kairos, two Greek words for "time." 

Chronos is the literal measure of time - in hours and minutes.  I was saying, "God, it is March 14! It is "time" for me to go to the islands for my workshop. I need to go now!" Chronos is used 54 times in the New Testament. 

Kairos is "God's time" - the "right time." God was telling me, "It is not yet the "opportune" time for your workshop. The time is not "right" yet. Just wait a bit!" Kairos is used a whopping 86 times in the New Testament.