Saturday, June 13, 2020



Filled With Gratitude


Not too long ago, in this very blog, I wrote some words that keep coming back to me. "Charity may begin at home, but it doesn't have to stay there!" 

This pandemic, with its unemployment and shortages, has brought out the best and worst in people. We have all heard too much about the worst, but today I want to express my amazement at the best - the generosity of people I know and barely know. 

I think many of us have tried to be a little extra generous to people here in our country who are going through hard times. I expected that! What has surprised me is that people are still being generous to people in the Caribbean missions where I volunteer. That is something I did not expect! 

Just when I think the well is about to run dry, I get another gift to meet the needs of our fellow Catholics I have met down in the missions. Whether it was the tragic fire that burned down the Guadalupe Home for girls, a 50% cut-back in the diocesan staff or a food budget reduction in the Bishop's Pastoral Centre (residence, office and chancery), people have been moved to help. They seem to know, somehow, that whatever hurts here, hurts down there in spades! 

Below is a photo of the four "care packages" (my second shipment since Easter) that I sent down recently - staples that are either too expensive for them or not accessible in the islands. I am getting good at bargain shopping, packaging and shipping! 

I thank you!
Bishop County thanks you!
The Diocesan Staff thanks you!
The priests, Sisters and Deacons thank you!
The orphans at Saint Benedict Home thank you!
The Catholics of the diocese thank you! 

Thursday, June 11, 2020


This is the eighth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.  


All of us use toilet paper, and unless we have a "problem," we don't think about it too much until somebody yells "shortage," like they have done during this pandemic.  Then it becomes, overnight, more valuable than gold to masses of people. The hysteria around the accumulation of toilet paper has been pitiful to watch. It has truly been strange. In reaction to COVID-19, people are going crazy over hoarding, of all things, toilet paper! If you don't believe me, watch this! 

Just when you think it can't get any stranger, I came across this related video while I was researching this blog post. There are people who are actually addicted to eating toilet paper!

If you have a stockpile of toilet paper, I suggest that you sell it while prices are high! Suppliers predict that the market has been so flooded that prices are bound to drop drastically in the near future and people's precious "goldmines" will be pretty much worthless. The only good thing is, if the mice don't get into it, it has no expiration date. It will merely continue to take up valuable space for years to come. You will probably get so tired of working around it, that you will be ready to give it away to a homeless shelter, burn it in the fireplace or just take it to the dumpster.

If we can learn anything from this "toilet paper hysteria," surely it must be this! Resist a "herd mentality" and "following the crowd" and think for yourself! 

If you have been stockpiling toilet paper on one hand and refusing to wear a mask at public gatherings on the other, you have earned the right, to put it bluntly, to be labeled a "nut case!" 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


This is the seventh in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many of us do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


When you "savor" something, you enjoy it so much that you want to make it last forever. With that in mind, "savor" carries a connotation of doing something slowly. If you "savor" that chocolate tart, then you eat it slowly, bit by bit, deliberately picking every last crumb off the plate. The word is often applied to eating, but you can "savor" any pleasurable experience, including things like winning a raffle or your moment in the spotlight.

Try savoring everything you do, every experience! There is no moment that cannot be savored — even those routine moments, even those times when you’re alone with nothing to do.

Savoring is about learning to live presently, to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a "delicious" practice.


As I have mentioned before, one of the things I like to do, especially when the weather is balmy or there is a gentle rain falling, is to get up early, right after the sun comes up, and go out on the deck with a cup of really good coffee and just sit there in the quiet and let the smells, breezes, bird chirping and rain falling on the pond in front of me wash over me. Talk about "savoring" the moment! I don't even like to get up early, but those "savoring" moments make it all worthwhile! 

Savoring, a magical act, is usually applied to eating good food. Take a single square of dark chocolate and put it in your mouth, but don’t chew and swallow it. Let it sit there, as you savor it, noticing its earthy notes, hints of citrus, the richness of its texture as it melts in your mouth. You swallow it almost regretfully after letting it linger, fully appreciating the deliciousness of it, giving pause to think about the people who grew the beans, who roasted and ground them and hand-crafted them into this square of joy. One of the things I recommend during this pandemic that you use this extra time to savor food by "dining" instead of just "eating."


One of the problems that causes many people to be overweight is that they eat too much. A big reason people eat too much is that they eat large amounts of food, quickly. It’s tasty, so they eat it fast and then get some more!

During the pandemic, I’ve been trying to avoid eating in front of the TV and embrace sitting down to a "set" table and savoring my food. When I do this, I don’t just cram it down my throat, but I pause for each bite and I give it space. I savor it.

This means that I make it possible to really notice every taste of each bite, the texture of it, and give thought to where it came from, who made it, what went into it, and what it will do for my body.

It’s hard to overeat when you savor each bite, and take your time. In this way, you can also learn to enjoy healthier foods. You can also eat healthfully most of the time, and then enjoy a bit of birthday cake without overdoing it, because you just need a little bit in order to savor it. 

When you savor things, you slow down. You pay close attention — the closer the attention, the more you’ll get out of the savoring. You won’t rush to the next thing, but stop and give some space to the activity. You won’t be worried about what you have to do later, because you are fully enjoying the present. 

This is savoring, and it takes practice. You can do it right now, wherever you are: pause and look around you and savor this very moment. Even if it doesn’t seem to be special, because let’s face it you’ve done what you’re doing a thousand times, savor it anyway. Fully appreciate the gift you’ve been given. 

This is a practice you can do several times a day — find a few rituals for savoring, like enjoying your morning coffee, or taking a bath, or reading to your child, or having a tea ritual in the mid-afternoon. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. 

Savor everything you do, every experience. There is no moment that cannot be savored — even those routine moments, even those times when you’re alone with nothing to do. 

Savoring is about learning to live presently, to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice. 

‘As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. 
Otherwise you will miss most of your life.’ 

Monday, June 8, 2020



This photo is taken from an advertising poster for the sad 1958 movie, "He Didn't Have a Clue: A Young Country Boy Commits Himself to an Institution." It tells the heart wrenching story of a young boy's struggle between the joyful anticipation of "getting out of dodge" and the awful dread of "jumping off a cliff!"  

This rare photo from the movie shows the central character minutes before leaving home at age 14 to go to the seminary in Louisville! Trying to smile into a blinding sun and being uncomfortable in his new bow tie and mandatory navy blue uniform, the star of the movie is pictured here looking clueless about what he was getting into! 

The plot of this third-rate tear-jerker movie struggles throughout to make sense, but ends on a positive note. 

After quoting Mother Teresa one too many times at priest convocations, I found myself elected as the fourth Superior of the Sisters of Charity, replacing Mother Teresa. I did talk them into changing the name of the headquarters in India from "Mother House" into "Father House." Accepting this job may have been the biggest mistake of my life! I grew up in poverty! I didn't like it then and I don't like it now! 

Following the crowd and not asking appropriate questions can get one into trouble! Since retirement, I often look back and ask myself, "How did I get myself into that situation?" 

This is exactly the question I was asking myself a couple of years ago when I ended up on a bus full of Caribbean bishops headed to the Apostolic Delegate's Office in Trinidad! 

I was afraid of being thrown off the bus so I told them that I was the Bishop of Rhodelia, on a Caribbean vacation, and that I had gotten on the wrong bus by accident! 

Curiously, the Caribbean bishops looked confused, but tended not to ask too questions! I pulled it off! 

During the pandemic, I was doing OK (at least I thought I was) until one day I kept catching myself waving at phantom people that I thought I saw on the other side of the room! 

I was OK with having a few "uninvited guests" for a few days, but trying to keep enough groceries in the house got to be a pain, without mentioning the fact they did not clean up after themselves! 

When they refused to walk to the Kroger Liquor Store to get me some more gin and tonic, I threw them all out and waved goodbye for the last time!  

Here is a shot of the day I spotted the first gray hair in my beard in a wall mirror at the DeNiel Home for Old Priests!  

Someone entered my name into the "Cooking Channel" TV show, "The Worst Cooks in America." Last year, I came in as first runner-up to Father Bill Hammer (on my left).  Part of the contest is you have to eat what you cooked. Several of the other priests had to be treated for food poison. No wonder we have a priest shortage! 

Liturgical dancing has all but died-out in the United States, but I have been pretty successful  in reviving it down in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Pam, the bishop's Pastoral Centre housekeeper, and I practice for the Offertory Procession outside the about-to-be dedicated Saint James Chapel.  

This was the last photo taken of me and my Parish Mission music group, "The Addams Family Values Gospel Choir." We had a "good run" until our head vocalist retired to Florida. Who knows? Maybe she will move back and we can "get the band back together" someday! 

This conversation took place during my recent appearance on the TV show, "Be Careful What You Ask For." "Listen, I appreciate your help with finding surplus medical supplies for the islands, but what am I to do with 10 million tongue depressors? There are less than 110,000 tongues in the whole country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines!"

My college seminary years were very demanding. We had to learn all kinds of new skills. One of the things that took a lot of practice was "looking religious" at all times. 

Those were the days before "evening Masses." Back then, like all college students, college seminarians liked to "sleep in." However, it was not allowed so I got very good at "day-sleeping." I learned to sleep with my eyes closed, while kneeling and holding a book, without snoring!  

To this day, I can't go to sleep without holding a book and wearing black pajamas!