Saturday, December 16, 2023


The clipping (below) was given to me by one of the residents of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged on a recent visit. 



Thursday, December 14, 2023


After making twelve trips down to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, after COVID struck and after the local volcano erupted, I had to end my trips to the Caribbean missions. However, I will never forget the many kids we were able to help especially at Christmas, Easter and the beginning of the school year.  

I remember the toys at Christmas, the chocolate and candy baskets at Easter and the boxes and boxes of school supplies when school started.  I remember the fund-raising, the shopping, the packing, the shipping and the happiness that it brought to the people donating it and the people receiving it - whether it was the huge shipping containers of medical supplies or the candy, food, toys, school supplies, vans and cars, the summer computer camps for kids and the upgrading of a few churches. I will never forget our involvement in the total renovation of the Pastoral Centre with its new St. James Chapel, several retreat rooms, offices, upstairs kitchen, dining room, living room and its air-conditioned meeting room and second kitchen downstairs.    

Yes, I remember all the things that so many of us were able to do for the children, the parishes, the diocesan staff, the Pastoral Centre, the schools and the hospitals, but I will never forget what meeting so many of them has done for me personally. They will always occupy a special place in my heart, especially at Christmas time. 

Sister Nya Ann, Sister Carmen, Santa Claus (Fergal Redmond) and a few of the kids of St. Benedict Home for Children with their Christmas presents (above). 

Sister Zita and a few of her kids from the Bread of Life Home for Children. 

When I first started volunteering, I noticed that many of the kids were carrying white dolls with golden hair that people had sent down. I think I bought over 50 black dolls for the kids. 

Some of the kids for whom we bought Christmas presents were so excited. 

We did not forget the kids on some of the outer islands. Here they are waiting next to a table of presents ready to be opened. 

An ocean of happy kids ready to open their presents. 

I'll never forget this little girl patiently "waiting in joyful hope" for her Christmas present in the "Loaves and Fishes" soup kitchen shelter in downtown Kingstown. 

More kids at one of our Christmas parties at the "Loaves and Fishes" soup kitchen. 

Sunday, December 10, 2023



John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert. John was clothed in camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey.
Mark 1:1-8


For me, John the Baptist has to be one of the hardest persons in the whole Bible to warm up to! To be honest with you, I’ve never really liked him! In fact, during this warm and fuzzy Christmas season, he can be a thorn in the side or a pain in the rear end! He was a true “wild man,” the kind of man you would grab the kids and pull them close if you ran into him on the streets. The smell of him alone would probably gag a horse!  His home was a cave in the wilderness where very few people would want to go, much less live there! For clothes, he wore a disgusting old camel hide and for food he ate the locusts he found flying around and the wild honey that he discovered hidden in the cracks of rocks or in the hollows of scrub brush.  Men who wear fur, eat bugs and scream a lot get on my nerves pretty quickly! On second thought, he had a beard so I guess he was not all bad!


John preached a fire and brimstone message of repentance in preparation for someone he calls “mightier than I.”  Like all charismatic preachers with a fresh message, people went out in droves to check him out and some to receive his baptism. They craved that fresh start and that new life that he talked about.  


When the religious establishment folks went out to investigate, in their minds, this “nutcase” who was drawing people away from them, they found a hairy, bellowing preacher who did not mince words. He tore into them and called them “a nest of poisonous snakes,” warning them not to even try to hide behind their religious malpractice. In his way, he told them to “put up or shut up.” He challenged them to quit talking a good line and to deliver on their claims, because a powerful “someone” would be coming who would separate the “wheat” from the “chaff.” The “wheat” would be gathered into God’s barn and the “chaff” would be burned in an unquenchable fire.  


As you can imagine, these words certainly did not endear him to the religious establishment, but he did not stop there. He took on the political establishment as well. He got in King Herod’s face and told him that he was committing incest and that marrying his brother’s wife was not right. That kind of confrontation was tantamount to smacking a lion across the face. Embarrassed in front of his guests, Herod had John’s head cut off and served up on a platter for speaking so bluntly!  


John was a “prophet” and this is what “prophets” do. Prophets are not so much people who predict the future as people who get up in your face and make you look at present truths you are trying not to see.  Today, we would call them “whistle blowers,” people who drag the truth out into the light of day whether it is convenient or not! Like prophets of old, whistle blowers are often considered “nut cases” at first. Like prophets of old, whistle blowers often get themselves killed, either actually or figuratively, because most establishments do not like to have their boats rocked or their embarrassing truths to come out into the open. Instead of heeding the truth, people usually turn on the truth-teller. If you have ever been involved in such an action, you know just how dangerous telling the truth can be. If you were not physically hurt, you may have been labeled or blackballed for years and maybe even for life.  


We still kill prophets in a host of creative ways. We shun friends who will not go along with us when we invite them to agree with us when do wrong.  We rage against "wokeness" when what it exposes is too painful to admit. We ridicule the teaching of the Church, and those who teach what the Church teaches, when they won’t bless the wrong we want to do. We call evil good and good evil so that we can live with inconvenient truths, even when we know in our guts that what we are doing is wrong.     


All of us have a built-in “prophet” as well. That built-in “prophet” is called our “conscience.” Our conscience is constantly confronting us with truths that we would just as soon not look at. When our consciences keep accusing us of violating our principles, we have ways of “silencing” them temporarily or even “killing” them for good. We regularly silence our consciences with alcohol and drugs, so that we can do what we know is wrong.  If we do it regularly and consistently over the long haul, we can even kill our consciences, until one day we are capable of doing or believing horrendous things that no longer even shock us!  As someone said, “When there is no faith, there is no conscience. When there is no conscience, there is no morality. When there is no morality, there is no humanity.”


When we stop listening to our prophets, inside and out, we sooner or later end up in a dark place with no escape.  On the other hand, Jesus said this: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!” (John 8:31-32)  External prophets and our internal consciences shake us awake and make us face the truth because “people who tell us what we want to hear are not necessarily our friends and people who tell us what we don’t want to hear are not necessarily our enemies.”  Yes, the truth will set us free, but as President James A. Garfield said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” The truth of the matter is this.  To relieve our misery when we are faced with unpleasant and unwanted truths, we tend to kill our prophets and numb our consciences!


These days, when truth is at stake, we desperately need communal prophets and personal consciences to rub our noses in the truth no matter how painful it is to look at! Today, we have way too many people willing to tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear!  Truth still matters!