Thursday, February 11, 2021


A Simultaneous Announcement For All My Friends
Generous Donors to My Efforts in the Caribbean Missions


After six very successful years of working in the Caribbean missions, after doing so much good for so many, it is time to really read the handwriting on the wall. Various circumstances are telling me that it is time to move on to a new ministry, something closer to home. I will let you know what that "something closer to home" means in a few months. 

After twelve trips to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the COVID-19 pandemic caused me to cancel my thirteenth scheduled trip last March. I had hoped that COVID would be a thing of the past by now, when in fact it has gotten worse. Even though the islands were spared for a while, it has now moved very quickly into the islands since the Christmas travel holidays and is now spreading rapidly. What's worse, mutations of the virus are expected there and elsewhere. Travel, the rest of this year into next year, does not look promising. As if all that is not bad enough,  they are having a deadly outbreak of dengue fever (causing more deaths than COVID) and a large shark infestation! On top of that, the volcano in Saint Vincent has been showing activity again and the country still remains on alert. Then there is always the annual hurricane season to come.  You can't make this stuff up! 

My volunteer partner, Fergal Redmond, has been held up in Ireland for over a year because of serious health issues and is still not permitted to travel without a clear date on the horizon when that could change from his doctors. Meanwhile, the COVID pandemic keeps spreading its way through in Ireland as well.  I do hope he will be able to visit me again here in Kentucky someday before we both have to "hang it up" for good. 

On a personal note, I will be turning seventy-seven this April. While I do not have any major health problems at this point, I do have a few issues that I need to keep a watch on that make it wise to be close to good health care which is not available in the islands. These factors were also part of my decision to give up my trips to Canada and across the United States doing priest retreats and convocations as a way to raise funds for the Caribbean missions. I still hope to restart taking real vacations again, once it is safe, but so many long distance work trips for weeks at a time are most probably a thing of the past.   

As much as I hate shutting down the CATHOLIC SECOND WIND GUILD in Saint Vincent in the Grenadines, I leave knowing that my donor partners and I have done much good for many people. Many of our efforts will have lasting value and help them in many ways going forward whether it be in the area of health care, educational support, the renovation of the Pastoral Centre, transportation  or  church renovations and updates. All of us who were involved in this ministry, including those who made volunteer trips, will have lasting memories of the people we have met and tried to help through things like  computer camps, Christmas toys, Easter baskets, school supplies, help with diocesan staff salaries, furniture and furnishings and so many things that we have forgotten already.  I will still be able to make deposits and send on any donations that people are inspired to send to them. A couple of the small "reserved funds" will remain in place until they are gradually dispersed.  

Personally speaking, I am leaving with a heavy heart. I tried my best to give my best. I gave it everything I had. I lived and breathed "Caribbean missions" for the last six years. Even good things do not last forever. In any regard, I want to express my heart-felt gratitude to God for this memorable six-year experience. I will never forget it. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the people Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. I wish them well and I will always pray that God will spare them from danger and continue to to bless them with His care. 

I thank all those who have supported the CATHOLIC SECOND WIND GUILD - SVG CHAPTER over the last six years from the bottom of my heart. I think we can all be proud of what we have accomplished in support of our fellow Catholics in the Caribbean missions.  We have done a good thing and God will remember it. 

Please continue to pray that the people of the Caribbean will be spared diseases like COVID, poverty and natural disasters like volcano eruptions and hurricanes. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021


 Random Post-Panic Pandemic Reflections

Norton Hospital Vaccination Center

Here I am getting my first COVID vaccination.  I tried not to look at the needle. 
I took a selfie to distract myself. To my surprise, it was absolutely painless! I
had no after affects, not even a sore arm! 
January 23, 2021


Relief Is On the Way

I got my first vaccination today (January 23). I am as excited as a kid at Christmas or a person who has had a huge tax bill "resolved" by Optima Tax Relief! I am not "out of the woods" yet, but I feel that the "rescue party" has finally arrived on the scene to transport me out of a horrible situation! My second vaccination is scheduled for February 13. I can't wait!  

Two things dawned on me in the process. (1) How in the hell do many seniors manage to make their way through the online process of things like Norton's MyChart, digitally sign the forms and answer the several text alerts? I use a computer almost every day  and I barely found my way through that jungle! I guess that is why God invented children and grandchildren! (2) I learned again that if you really want something, you have to stay alert, push ahead, don't give up and then you can often be rewarded. I was determined to get the first vaccination I could get for my age group. I wasn't first in line, but I was part of the first day or two to get an appointment before they had to quit taking appointments because of a short supply of available doses.  I guess it is another case of "if you snooze, you lose!" It reminded me again that I often give up too easily and back off if it gets complicated. I guess that is a hold-over from childhood days when I was called a "runt" because of my small size. I am reminded, even as I am writing this, of another expression from my childhood - "root hog or die!" "Root hog or die" is a common American catch-phrase dating at least to the early 1800s. Coming from the early colonial practice of turning pigs loose in the woods to fend for themselves, the term is an idiomatic expression for self-relianceThomas Merton was right, "The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little."  

It seems that many people are reluctant to take the vaccine. I find this very curious. Good science says it is safe and effective. When I weighed whether to believe the scientists or risk dying on a ventilator or having long-term health issues from the effects of having had COVID 19, I knew what I was going to do. I was going to take the damned vaccine, as soon as possible, no matter what, even if I had to do the injection myself!  

Sunday, February 7, 2021



Rising very early before dawn, Jesus left and went off to a deserted place, 

where he prayed.

Mark 1:29-39

When I was a young boy, we lived across the road from my grandparents. We simply ran back and forth all day, as if we had a home and a branch office across the road. One of the things I remember clearly is going in the front door of their house after dark, knowing they would be sitting side-by-side in the dark in their rocking chairs.

They sat down in their rocking chairs after supper and, even though the sun had gone down and it had gotten dark, they didn’t bother to turn on a lamp. They just sat there, probably in silence, rocking. I always knew where my grandfather was sitting because I could see the red dot of his unfiltered Camel cigarette glowing in the dark. It never crossed my mind whether they thought my arrival was a nuisance or a relief from the solitude. I guess I thought I was doing them a favor barging in uninvited!

I read somewhere that couples who can enjoy their time together in silence will always stay together, but a child cannot imagine anyone actually enjoying silence.

Today we read about Jesus getting up early in the morning to go off by himself for some silent prayer. Notice some of the things the Scripture text says. "He rose, very early, before dawn, to go off to a deserted place." “Everybody was looking for him.” “The whole town was gathered at the door.” “They brought to him all who were sick or possessed.” “He cured many of the sick and drove out their demons.” After all that, it says he rests, prays for direction and then moves on to another town to minister to the people there.

This is the pace and pattern of Jesus’ ministry – frantic activity, withdrawal and rest, prayer for clarity and then back to work!  We see it here and we see it again and again. In chapter six, after an especially busy time, it says that Jesus took his apostles to a deserted place to rest and pray before going back to work. Sounding very contemporary, the Scripture text says, “People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat!”

For many people today, this kind of "silence in a deserted place" can be downright scary. There is a term for it – sadatephobia. This “fear of silence” was relatively unheard of  fifty years ago, back in the days my grandparents ended their day sitting together in silence, but today psychotherapists are seeing large numbers of individuals who cannot tolerate silence and they believe the numbers will continue to rise in the coming decades.

Many experts believe that technology has given rise to the constant need for sound, therefore producing a greater number of people suffering from sadatephobia. For many more people, not just the young anymore, it is impossible to sit in a quiet room for even a few minutes without their phones, music, TV or the noise of traffic around them.

I have suspected for a long time now that there is, as well, a connection between the noise level of the world and the loss of our sense of the divine.  Simply put, it seems to me that the world is so noisy today that even God can’t get a word in edgewise.

There is a beautiful moment in the Bible when the prophet Elijah feels God’s presence. The Scriptures say that a powerful wind tore the mountains apart, but God was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. It was the whisper of God. From all I know about God, he doesn’t yell, he whispers. Maybe that is why we can’t hear him too well these days. 

Silence, today, is looked on as odd, when in reality it may be dangerous to do without it. American writer and journalist, Susan Taylor, says, “We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly - spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”

Several years ago, we dumped the idea that we need to honor the third commandment that tells us that we should stop every seventh day to rest and pray. Thinking that the whole idea of regular day of rest was outdated, thinking that we know better than God, we created the endless-loop workweek. Now we are dealing with the results of such arrogance: stress related diseases, alienation among spouses and children, and the rise of the drug culture to kill the pain and to help us sleep. Thinking that the whole idea of a regular day of prayer was outdated, thinking that we can do without God’s guidance and input, we replaced regular prayer time with recreation, shopping and more work.

Is it a sin not to observe the Sabbath, not to rest and pray with the community once a week, like they used to say it was many years ago? Yes, I believe it is! Yes, I believe it is a sin! Why, because it hurts God? No! It's a sin because it hurts us! God gave us the third commandment, not because he needs our worship and he needs rest, but because we need to express our gratitude and we need to rest, because we need to listen for God’s direction in prayer before we go back into our frantic lives on Monday and because we need to spend some quiet time, on a regular basis, with our families and friends.

The world tells us that the secret to success is to do more. God tells us that the secret to success is to do less. Who are you listening to?