Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Letter from Vince Francioli, Benedictine High School Teacher to Russ Davis

This was sent to classmate Russ Davis, who invited Vince to attend our Benedictine Mens' Breakfast.

September 25, 2010

Dear Russell,

That was the most enjoyable reunion I have attended in a very long time. How very thoughtful of you to arrange it and to invite me.

Thank you for the photos. I hope to see you in church sometime. Many of  us from Mt. Carmel (recently closed Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church) are going to the 11:00 Mass at Our Lady of Peace. Come there and see us. I am sure everyone would enjoy talking to you.

God bless you. I remain your old teacher,

Vince Francioli

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Birmingham Six

September 19, 2010

Birmingham, England. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, a 19th century convert from Anglicanism. Newman was an enormously influential man in both the Anglican and Catholic churches. The beatification moves him closer to possible canonization. 

In a related story, the six men arrested for allegedly plotting an attack on Pope Benedict were released without charge. No weapons or suspicious materials were  found in their homes. The arrests had overshadowed the Pope's visit in the English media.

Makes you wonder.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sister Mary Ignatia, Sister of Charity of Saint Augustine



J.C. Sullivan

Cleveland, Ohio. “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man,” said Thomas Aquinas. “To know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire and to know what he ought to do.” Some of our fellow human beings never recognize even one of these truths. Rare is the person who understands two. One who understood all three was a woman who began life in County Mayo as Della Gavin and ended it as Sr. Mary Ignatia, Sister of Charity of Saint Augustine (CSA). Forty years after her passing she has been commemorated and fondly remembered.

A woman ahead of her time, many believe she should be commemorated for her life’s work and vision. Cleveland Attorney John Myers is one of those people. Through his efforts, and the support of numerous others, a street in Cleveland has been co-named Sister Ignatia Way. All this, forty years after her passing. A gathering of her sisters, dignitaries, friends, recovering alcoholics and others were on hand for a ceremony honoring Sister Ignatia’s memory.

From Ballyhane, two miles outside Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland,  Patrick J. and Barbara (Neary) Gavin emigrated with their seven year old daughter. In 1916, while World War I was raging in Europe, she entered the sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine in 1916. Eleven years later, with fragile health and exhaustion dogging her, she was transferred from the Music Department to the new St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. While there she was approached by a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous to allow one of his patients into the hospital for care. Thus began a spiritually-directed endeavor with men and women addicts. In 1952 she was transferred to St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland, “to work with AAs.”

On the feast of the Holy Rosary she received permission to open “Rosary Hall Solarium.” Its initials also honor a co-founder of AA, “Robert Holbrook Smith.” Revitalizing RHS is Executive Director Dan Davies’ mission. “The rosary today was said in honor of Sr. Ignatia, who prayed it daily with patients.”

“My boss at the time was the late Bob Sweeney, who had Mulranny roots,” said Myers. “Bob had the sad honor of being one of her pallbearers when she died.  He made me aware of whom she was and I was amazed this woman had helped co-found AA, which is in every country of the world.” To have a woman who was a daughter of Ireland and daughter of Cleveland have such a remarkable affect on the world is a remarkable thing.”  Myers thinks that because she was a woman, and a religious, she never got proper recognition in her lifetime from those outside CSA. Myers believes AA would never have achieved its current status without the spirituality connected with the program. “Myers also gives much credit to former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, then-Council President Frank Jackson and Cleveland City Council for supporting the legislation co-naming East22nd St.  He was also sure to thank the Gavin and Neary families of Mayo who “shared their daughter with the world.”

Sr. Ignatia was a second cousin to Cleveland’s Fr. Jim O’Donnell. Mary O’Donnell Hayes (John), who is active in the West Side Irish American Club, is another cousin. Sister’s late brother, Patrick, Jr., had no offspring.

Sr. Judith Ann Karam, President and CEO of Sisters of Charity Health System said Catherine O’Donnell Lenihan worked with Sister during the 1960s. Her father, Mike O’Donnell, is Sister Ignatia’s cousin. Her Catherine’s husband is Frank Lenihan from Ballycroy. “This is a wonderful celebration of the life of Sister and the wonderful community that is AA. It was always so awe-inspiring for me to see the work she was doing and the influence she had on the people she served.

 Her legacy, according to Sr. Mary Denis, Archivist, for the Sisters of CSA, is, first and foremost, all those who were present at the ceremony. those who have struggled with demons and have come to sobriety.” Furthermore, for the community and those who have ministered and supported them, has always been “a willing acceptance of whatever God sends can indeed be a blessing, not only for oneself, but in untold ways, for countless others.  Bill Wilson recalled having a small dinner with her on her 50th jubilee and could only think of her of poignant and repeated saying, ‘Eternity is with us now.’ 

Sister Ignatia was one of the untold many living saints who now, and throughout the ages, have ministered to humanity. John Myers believes the gift, the miracle, of a path to sobriety, which Ignatia helped form, is something larger than any one person, one program or one institution. “… Her genius was to infuse a movement with a life-renewing and sustaining spirituality. Not that of a faraway Pope, or the dogmas of religion; not the church or the clergy, but rather, the simple spirituality which is appropriately here on the street, an every day spirituality, an every man, every woman  spirituality; a higher power found, recognized and shared here on the street.  This is why we gather on the street, in this small way, long overdue, to honor her memory and say thank you.”

Monday, April 19, 2010


Timothy J. Meagher, Archivist
Catholic University of America

The memories of Ireland’s Great Famine (1845-49) would echo through Irish and Irish American history. Many Famine exiles turned their energies to building up the Catholic Church in America. Indeed, the power and influence of such Famine survivors in American Catholicism was remarkable.

Just a rough count reveals that at least 16 of the 89 bishops of the United States in 1890 had grown up in Ireland during the Famine. The first three rectors of the Catholic University of America, John J. Keane, later Archbishop of Dubuque; Thomas J. Conaty, later Bishop of Los Angeles; and Denis O’Connell, later Bishop of Richmond, had also grown up in Ireland during some or all of those bleak Famine years.

This group of Famine survivors among the Catholic Church’s hierarchy also included the two most important and powerful men in the American church at that time, or at any time in its history, for that matter:  Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and Catholic University’s first chancellor, and Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul. John Ireland was 8 years old when the Famine hit his native Kilkenny. Hunger and disease carried off his aunt and uncle, forcing his parents to take in a brood of young cousins. Eventually, Ireland’s family, the cousins included, emigrated to America.

Gibbons suffered even more from the Famine’s havoc. His father, Thomas, died from Famine fever in 1847. and two years later Gibbons sister also died. Young James was so distraught at her death he refused to eat for several days.

How did these paragons of the American church remember the Famine? John Ireland did his best to forget – at least publicly. America and the future, not Ireland and its past, became his passion.

Gibbons, too, loved America, but he did not forget the Famine. For Gibbons the Famine could only be understood as part of God’s “mysterious providence.” To him, “the Famine had been sent to send the Irish upon a mission to America where they would build the church in the greatest republic in the world.”

Ireland’s suffering had produced America’s salvation, perhaps, but the pain of the sacrifice of people never really went away.

Jewish Sam Miller on Catholics

Excerpts from an article written by non-Catholic Sam Miller -- a prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman:

Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?

Do you know -- the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.

The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.

The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people -- not just Catholics -- in the United States today.

But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.

Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church; 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.

Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic problem.

A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.

The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.

Walk with your shoulders high and you head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States. Then remember what Jeremiah said: "Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.

Be proud that you're a Catholic.

Friday, April 9, 2010

List of Prison and Jail Locations throughout the Cleveland Diocese

                        Diocesan Ministry to the Incarcerated


Rev. Frank Godic, Pastoral Care Services and Health Affairs
7911 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102, 216-431
For general jail and prison resources, please call:
Parish Life Office, 216-696-6525, ext.3500

St. Edward Church, 419-289-7224
Cuyahoga County Jail

1215 West 3rd Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
Rev. Mr. Martin Thiel, 216-443-6182; 216-749-0414
Parish Life Office, 216
-696-6525, ext. 3500
Rev. Neil Walters, 216-581-2852

North Royalton City Jail
14800 Bennett Road
North Royalton, OH 44133
440-237 -8686

Euclid City Jail  
545 East 222 Street
Euclid, Ohio 44123
St. Christine Church, Euclid, Rev. Patrick Henry, 216-261-1410

Sr. Elaine Theresa Burrows, SIW, St. Thomas More Church, 216-749-0414

Northeast Pre-Release Center
2675 East 30 Street
Cleveland, OH 44115
Rev. James O'Donnell, 216-566-0531
Mrs. Linda Catanzaro, 216-348-4119

Cuyahoga County Detention Home
2209 Central Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
Rev. James O'Donnell, 216-566-0531

Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Institute
4321 Green Road
Highland Hills, OH 44128
Rev. James Masek, 440-842-5533

Ashland County Jail
1205 East Main Street
Ashland, OH 44805
Geauga County Jail
13281 Ravenna Road
Chardon, OH 44024
St. Helen, Newbury, Rev. Mr. Will Payne, 440-564-5805
. Edward, Parkman, Rev. John Burkley, 440-548-3812
. Lucy, Middlefield, Rev. John Burkley, 440-548-3812

Geauga County Youth Center
13300 Aquilla Road
Chardon, OH 44024
440-285-2222, ext
. 5340


Medina County Juvenile Detention
655 Independence Drive
Medina, OH 44256
St. Francis Xavier, Rev. Mr. Dan Norris, 330-725-4968
Medina County Jail
555 Independence Drive
Medina, OH 44256
St. Francis Xavier, Rev. Mr. Dan Norris, 330-725-4968

Grafton Correctional Institute
2500 South Avon Belden Road
Grafton, OH 44044
Rev. John Seybold, 440-926-2364
Rev. Mr. John Rivera, 440-327-4426

Lake County Youth Detention Center
53 East Erie Street
P.O. Box 490
Painesville, OH 44077
St. Anthony of Padua, Fairport Harbor, Mary Rininger, 440-354-4525

Lake County Jail
104 East Erie Street
Painesville, OH 44077
St. Mary Parish, Painesville, Marty Hillier, 440-354-4381
. Anthony of Padua, Fairport Harbor, 440-354-4525


Lorain County Detention Home
9967 South Murray Ridge Road
Elyria, OH 44035
St. Agnes Parish, 440-322-5622

Lorain Correctional Institute
2075 South Avon Belden Road
Grafton, OH 44044
Rev. Charles Ryba, 440-236-5095
Mrs. Rita Bowen, 440-322-5622, ext. 17
Lorain County Jail
9896 Murray Ridge Road
Elyria, OH 44035
Rev. Albert Krupp, 440-322-5622
Mrs. Rita Bowen, 440-322-5622, ext. 17

Lorain/Medina CBCF
9892 Murray Ridge Road
Elyria, Ohio 44035
Rev. Albert Krupp, 440-322-5622
Mrs. Rita Bowen, 440-322-5622, ext. 17

North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility
2000 South Avon Belden Road
Grafton, OH 44044
Fr. Charles Ryba, 440-236-5095
Mrs. Rita Bowen, 440-322-5622, ext. 17


Mohican Juvenile Correctional Facility
1012 ODNR Mohican 51
Perrysville, OH 44864
St. Peter Parish, 419-994-4396

Wayne County Jail
201 West North Street
Wooster, OH 44691
330-287 -5770
St. Mary of the Assumption, Wooster, Rev. Steve Moran, 330-264-8824
Boys Village Ohio, Inc. (Smithville)
2803 Akron Road
Wooster, OH 44691
St. Mary of the Assumption, Wooster, Rev. Steve Moran, 330-264-8824

Summit County Jail
205 East Crosier Street
Akron, OH 44311
Mr. Dell Rogers, 330-688-6412, ext. 467

Summit County Juvenile Detention Services
650 Dan Street
Akron, OH 44310
St. Martha Parish, 330-376-5144

Youth Development Center
996 Hines Hill Road
Hudson, OH 44236
St. Mary Parish, Rose Gordyan, 330-653-8118, ext. 227

St. Helen, Newbury, Rev. Mr. Will Payne, 440-564-5805 

Friday, April 2, 2010



The Greater Cleveland Veterans Memorial (GCVM) was created as a living memorial to honor those Greater Clevelanders who lost their lives in wars of the 20th Century. They are memorialized at the GCVM website http://www.clevelandvetsmemorial.org/.

Recently a plaque honoring the parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel who lost their lives in World War II was rescued from possible oblivion when it was announced the church was being closed. It is currently in the office of Frank Piunno, NCR, Inc., Mayfield Hts., Ohio. He is the nephew of Michael J. Piunno, who is among those listed on the plaque. A smaller reproduction of the plaque is pictured here held by Russ Davis.

Davis and JC Sullivan, Vietnam War U.S. Army veterans and members of the Italian American War Veterans Post 34, have taken up interest in the names on the plaque. They discovered a number of gaps in information at the GCVM memorial site. They are asking the Italian-American community of greater Cleveland if they can help. Missing from the memorial site are:

BARBERA, SALVATORE. No photo or unit information. Died in No. Africa, 1943.
CALCO, WILLIAM M. Died in Italy. No photo or other information.
ELLIS, EDWIN. Non-battle death at Alexandria AAF, LA. No photo or other information.
FUSCO, RALPH A. No photo.
LONGO, JOSEPH A. No photo.
PIUNNO, MICHAEL J. No picture or unit information.
TODARO, FRANK. No photo or unit information.
PETRARCA, FRANK J. No unit information. Medal of Honor information has been sent to the website.

The following parishioners are not listed on the website:


If any readers can help fill in the blanks please contact Russ Davis (usprep1987@aol.com) or Sullivan (osullivan9@roadrunner.com).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Irish Catholics stand united in defending their faith

Author:   "De Bard"

God knew the fallibility of man when He created him, yet He gave him free will. Through His love, He also offered forgiveness. Jesus knew well the weakness of man; He was sent by the Father to experience it and to encourage those who had fallen victim to that weakness to accept forgiveness and return to the Father. When He said Thou art Peter - the Rock - and upon this rock I will build my Church, Jesus knew well that he was giving his religion into fallible human hands; didn Peter betray Him as Adam had betrayed the Father.

Throughout time there have been, and still are, countless saintly clerics who followed Peter, but there have also been a few who have fallen victim to the human frailty that God built into us to test us. Our faith has experienced everything from corrupt clergy to an unprincipled Pontiff yet we have survived. Our history is pockmarked with tales of greedy prelates who coveted earthly wealth and pleasures, brutal treatment of others in Inquisitions, and betrayal of the innocent by pedophile priests. Yet forgiveness - the healing message of Jesus - continues and the true Church still survives.

In the past, the misbehavior of a few Catholic clergy drove some away to seek God elsewhere and we experienced the formation of other religions; some even disagreed with, or thought they could improve on, the message of Jesus and formed still more protesting congregations. But they all fell victim to the fallibility of man. Through the years, there have been immoral Ministers, rotten Rabbis and corrupt Clerics among those who claimed to be the Lord laborers.

One saving grace is that most follow a moral and just God and believe in God message of forgiveness. However, there are some among them who profess a hatred of the original followers of Christ papacy in order to justify the existence of their own breakaway religion. That is why the Ancient Order of Hibernians - the oldest Catholic lay organization in America - has suffered the arrows of adversity from anti-Catholic bigots throughout our history and indeed, it provided the reason for our very formation. Today, the intolerance of those who hate the original followers of Jesus consistently highlight the few criminals among Catholic clergy and ignore non-Catholic transgressors. That is why we must stand tall, as our fathers did, in the face of anti-Catholic rhetoric and provide a united, defending wall against such intolerance. Our predecessors were needed then and stood to the task; we are needed now!

De Bard

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Letter from Fr. Jerry Ragan re faithful Catholic clerg

The last 18 years have not been easy ones for most priests as we've as we been shamed by too many of our brothers doing unspeakable evils to vulnerable children and too much secrecy in trying to cover up those crimes. Many of us would have left the ministry long ago if it had not been for the support and encouragement of so many faithful Catholics who stood by us. For a Boston Catholic to still have such a deep love for the Church and a willingness to speak up for the many good priests and bishops who are faithful to their vows and their people is remarkable. Jack Meehan you are a blessing to me and I thank you.

In Christ,

Fr. Jerry Ragan,
1420 Monte Sano Ave.
Augusta, GA. 30904

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Homecoming - A Daughter's Lenten Reflection

Susan M. Moutin

FEBRUARY 15, 2010 

Ashes mean something different to me this Lent. As I am marked with this sacred symbol, my heart connects to a two-chamber urn sitting on my mother’s old dresser. One chamber is now filled with her ashes.

After a two-and-a-half-year struggle with breast cancer and then leukemia, my mother Maryhelen (nicknamed Mother Mary when she gave birth to my youngest sister on Christmas) died on the feast of the Assumption 2008. How appropriate this day of death was for a woman born and raised in the Parish of St. Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin), who then spent most of her adult life in two Marian parishes: Mother of Perpetual Help and St. Mary.

My mother was a woman of faith. She regularly sang in our church choirs and was active in Christian women’s groups. Our family was devoted to Mary and rarely missed the weekly devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help or Mass on the five first Saturdays. Like many choir members who were active when the church shifted to the use of the vernacular after the Second Vatican Council, she struggled at first and missed the beauty and awe of Latin hymns. But as liturgical renewal progressed, she gradually adapted and came to love the sacred hymns of John Rutter as well as the folksy musical style of the St. Louis Jesuits and Marty Haugen.

St. Ignatius Loyola invites us to reflect on our experience to see how God’s hand has been with us not only in consolation and joy but in desolation. A large portion of his Spiritual Exercises invites the retreatant (and each of us, at any time) to delve more deeply into the life of Christ and engage in Christ’s interaction with the world of his time by using our senses and imagination to place ourselves in the stories. We can imagine ourselves as characters mentioned in the stories and even as characters who may have been left out. As we move toward Holy Week, exercising our imagination on the stories from Christ’s passion and death can bring unexpected insights.

The Lenten readings are rich: the temptation in the desert; the transfiguration; the parable of the fig tree; the parable of the lost sheep; and the woman caught in adultery. As we enter each story we deepen our understanding of Jesus. Retelling the stories helps us to keep Christ alive in our own life.

As I begin another Lent, reflecting on my mother’s dying process has been a profound spiritual preparation for the season. The family was “blessed” by having six weeks with her after a first serious death scare on July 4. During these weeks she said goodbyes from her bed or, on the days when she could manage it, from the living room recliner. The hospice workers who visited each day noted that she was one of the few people who gave away their wardrobe before they died. My sisters, nieces and I had helped her sort through her simple clothing while she specified where each piece was to go: relatives, friends, St. Vincent de Paul Society or Goodwill Industries. She told stories about many of the pieces: what she wore at special events like Knights of Columbus parties, family weddings and baptisms and first Communions, which she never missed.

She agonized about what to wear in the casket. I thought she had resolved the issue when she decided on the outfit she wore for my oldest son’s December wedding several years ago. But now we were in July. One hot steamy night as we sat up talking—because the nights provided the most anxiety and fear for her as she approached death—she told me she had been reconsidering the choice. “It might be too warm,” she said. “Mom, I don’t think it will matter,” I replied, wondering if she would remember this conversation in the morning. She was worried about the appropriateness of a winter-weight garment, as if knowing she would die in summer.

But what overwhelmed me, my dad and my siblings was the constant daily parade of people into the house, people whose lives she touched: her sisters, our cousins, in-laws, neighbors, hospice volunteers (she herself had been one), lionesses (she was a member of the Lions Club), bridge partners, food bank volunteers (she was one), choir members and others. On an average day we received more than 40 phone calls from people checking in on her. Sometimes I wished the phone would stop ringing.

Culling through boxes of photos and recounting the great stories associated with them reminded me of how we as a faith community cull through the images and words about the life of Jesus, the key moments and relationships we will always remember because they have become something of who we are as a Christian family.

In the last six weeks of her life, Mom received daily Communion at home during a visit from the young pastor or pastoral associate. No matter what had happened in the preceding day or anxiety-producing night or what pain she was in when Father Brian came, her reply to his question, “How are you today, Mary?” was always: “Oh, I’m a little bit better.” Yet more than 10 times in those six weeks, near-death experiences brought Father Brian and his sacred oils to anoint her for the journey that seemed so long in coming. I commented in her eulogy that she was anointed so many times she likely slid right into heaven.

The last week was by far the most difficult. On the day she died, she entered into a state that hospice caregivers know well—the body’s oxygen supply diminishes. She was unable to communicate with us from about noon that day until about 3. Then, to our amazement, she called for my dad and reached over to hold his hands. She became quite anxious and thrashed about (another expected pattern in the death process).

But what happened next will be etched in my heart and soul forever. About an hour before her death she reached out her arms and began distinctly saying, “push me, pull me, push me, pull me.” Mom was not speaking to any of us in the room. I had no doubt that she was being greeted by angels and her deceased sisters and brother, whom she missed so much (she was the oldest of eight children born in close succession, and they were very close).

Those were her last words. “Push me, pull me.” Then she became quiet. I felt her soul slipping from her body. We gathered my siblings and dad around the bed and began to pray: Our Father; Hail Mary. We all touched her. I put one arm around dad’s shoulder as he sat on his walker next to the bed, and had one hand on mom’s foot. I instinctively began praying the Memorare, a prayer that had been renewed as a deep part of my own spiritual journey when I struggled with some issues years earlier. Then from the deepest recesses of my memory I prayed aloud the novena prayer to the Mother of Perpetual Help. Mom took five or six deep breaths and died.

If there is such a thing as a peaceful death, we were blessed with one for mom. Now, less than four feet from the side of that bed, my mother’s ashes sit, awaiting the day she will be joined by my dad and then interred in their plot in the parish cemetery.

I remember and relive day after day the journey to my mother’s death because it brought all of us closer to our own destiny and to God. So it is with the Lenten journey. This is a time to remember the life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ because it brings all of us closer to the Resurrection.

Susan M. Mountin is director of the Manresa Project, a vocation discernment intiative at Marquette University, where she has served for more than 30 years as a campus minister, administrator and adjunct professor of theology.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You're Still Catholic?


J.C. Sullivan

If I needed a reminder of why I don’t go to Mass every Sunday, a recent Christmas provided it. I must qualify what follows however.

Because of my previous writings critical of some practices of the Roman Catholic Church, some have thought I had abandoned the Roman Catholic faith into which I was born. I have abandoned the American Democratic Party, I confess. And, individuals within the Roman Catholic faith have certainly given me reasons to think, “Hey, why the H… have I remained Catholic?” Certainly some priests and other individuals have given me reason to become agnostic. However, my personal spirituality holds that faith and religion are two different things; faith being spiritually given while religion is man-made. But, back to Christmas Mass.

In anticipation of the 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day Mass at St. Barnabas,  I showered, shaved and donned a class “A” uniform, i.e., dress clothes. Our church building is what might be called modernistic – we have no kneelers, which isn't a bad thing. However, except for a few of the faithful, I don’t believe American Catholics have any sense of  reverence.

I observed men, women and families beginning to fill the pews. In they came – men in jeans, their sons in numbered sports jerseys with football players names on the back. Most wandered into their chosen pew, many with their hands in their pockets. No sense of reverence, no acknowledgement of the tabernacle and the presence of God. No bowing of the head, no genuflection, as if they were entering a movie theater. In came oversized women who ought to be wearing clothing that flatter their figure but instead are squeezed  into undersized pants. Don’t they know how they look?

Inside the church, in front, hangs a painting of what, I suppose, is somebody’s depiction of  what the historical Jesus looked like. I don’t know how they know that – maybe a painting of Jesus has survived and they have painted a newer, larger version. It’s a  distraction to me.

Yet, despite all these personal misgivings, I see the innocent child peering back over the pew in whose family is seated. The brass is heard clearly, enhancing the music from the cantor. The bell choir is novel and appreciated. Most important, however, is the presence of the faithful. My presence there carries on the tradition of my family. I’m aware of the history of the Irish and the persecution of those of the Catholic faith. I’m there because I want to be – an outward sign of my faith.

I’ve been given a good Catholic education in grade and high school. As one of nine children of a Cleveland Detective, my parents sacrificed to pay tuition to insure I had a Catholic education. It’s been a good base for the development of my spiritual growth, which wasn’t an easy task for my parents and teachers, and has given me an inquisitive mind.

I thank the Sisters and Priests of my boyhood who gave me an education in faith and morality. I thank the Benedictine Brothers and Priests of my high school for being the models of manhood that I remember. I thank my parents for loving me inspite of having given them reasons for not doing so. 

It’s for these reasons that I don’t go to church every Sunday. It’s for these reasons I have remained Roman Catholic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Morrisroes and O'Dohertys of County Mayo, Ireland

edited by J.C. Sullivan and Jim Rukosky

     In times of Eireanne, unfortunately similar to that of today,  two men of Mayo would stand firm. Patrick Morrisroe the son of Mary Brennan and John Morrisroe was born in Charlestown, County Mayo 19th February 1867.  His baptismal sponsors were Luke Brennan and Frances Kelly.  As seemed to follow family suit, he was educated at the local N.S. Seminary, then on to Ballaghadereen and Maynooth College. Following his ordination at the Cathedral at Ballaghadereen he served in the diocese of Achonry. In 1896 Patrick returned to Maynooth to become  Junior Dean in the College.

     Patrick was consecrated a Bishop at the age of 44 in the Cathedral, Ballaghadereen, along with his cousin Most Rev. Bishop Michael J. O'Doherty,  later to become bishop of Zamboagna, in the Philippines.  Most Rev. Dr. Healy, Archbishop of Tuam was the consecrating prelate, and was assisted by Rev. Dr. Clancy, Bishop of Elphin.  The congregation which filled the Cathedral included Messrs. John Dillon M.P., J. McVeagh M.P., and John O'Dowd M.P.  The sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. Beechler, Maynooth College.

     A man of deep learning, Patrick was an authority on theological and liturgical matters. His Lenten Pastoral of 1941, one of great controversy was censored by the government.  In it he directs his final comments to a world in crisis.  "As we pen these pages, beloved Brethren, we are face to face with a spectacle probably more appalling than any recorded in the annals of history. Long ago it was predicted that nation would rise against nation and Kingdom against Kingdom."

     At the age of 79 Patrick died at the Palace, Ballaghadereen. Priests and people from all parts of the Diocese of Achonry attended the removal of the remains to St. Nathy's Cathedral.  The Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. Walsh officiated at the house.  The funeral procession was headed by the members of the Diocesan Chapter and a large number of surpliced clergy of the diocese who chanted the Miserere. Members of the St. Vincent de Paul and Gardai acted as pall-bearers and marshals, and gardai, under the direction of Supt. J. Lyons provided a guard of honour. Members of all the Catholic organizations marched in the procession.
   Julia O'Kelly and Michael O'Doherty welcomed son Michael J. into this world July 30, 1874 in Charlestown, County Mayo. Michael's brother Denis J. would later succeed him as rector of the College of Salamanca.  His Grace's early years were spent between his birthplace and Kiltinagh; his early schooling, he received at St. Nathy's College, in Ballaghadereen.  Finishing his course studies he proceeded to St. Patrick's College, Maynooth University for his philosophical and theological studies.  He was ordained a priest 30 November 1897.  He was then only 24 years old.

     A brilliant scholar, his first appointment was to a professorship in his native diocesan college, where he taught for several years.  It was largely through his efforts that St. Nathy's College was raised to a prominent place among the educational institutions of Ireland.

      Michael was appointed by the Council of Irish Bishops, Rector of the College in Salamanca, Spain, where he directed for seven years.  He was successful in restoring the ancient glory of the college.  For it's support Bishop O'Doherty recovered a number of legacies and endowments of which it had been deprived since the Napoleonic wars and subsequent upheavals in Spain.  He became a close friend of King Alfonso of Spain and was honored by the letter with the order of knighthood of the Spanish household, a rare distinction.

     At thirty-seven he had established himself as an educator and administrator and became a notable figure in the Catholic hierarchy.  When the diocese of Zamboagna was created in 1911, his Holiness, Pope Pius X appointed him the first bishop. After his consecration Michael traveled to Rome to meet with the Holy Father.  He met also with Cardinal Merry del Val and Cardinal de Lai.  He left Queenstown 22 February 1912 for America. Accompanied by his secretary Rev Stanislaus Hyghes, PhD. he toured the country from coast to coast visiting friends.  On 6th March he stopped in Baltimore to visit Cardinal Gibbons whom he wanted to meet since he was a child.  On July 26th 1912 he turned his sights east to a new endeavor in a new world.

     Six months after arriving at his diocese Michael’s memories reflect his despair: "When I sit down to ponder (on the needs of my diocese), I am not overwhelmed by the burden, for if God wishes every necessity supplied, so shall it be.  But I feel at a loss to know where to begin".

     There were 40,000 square miles to cover by seventy priests. Often times this resulted in a parish only being visited once a year for sacraments.  Michael writes: "Our great need is Priests . . . and we have no Seminary, not one Catholic hospital in this diocese.  There is no high school for boys and girls, no orphan asylum or other asylum of any kind, no training schools for teachers no Cathedral worthy of the name, no bishop's residence."

      Narrowly escaping the hurricane of October 15th ,where the roof was torn off the pastor's house where he was staying, and two days later surviving a near drowning at sea in a 40 ton steam launch, he would change these missing foundations of Catholic belief. Having assessed the needs of the flock, Bishop O'Doherty began working to establish a general hospital in Zamboagna. Concurrently he began the establishment of Catholic schools.  With great energy, wisdom and courage he set about laying the foundations of an enduring progressive diocese.

     It was at this time that Michael crossed swords with General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing, US Army.  It was not a duel fought in the wee hours between two adversaries  rather a war of the pen between a prince of the church, in defense of his faith, and the enemies and the attacks that are forever aimed at the Catholic religion.  Christianity and Catholic education were the objects of offense and defense. The battleground was the Mindanao Herald, the paper of Zamboagna.  Changes were being made with the enlargement of the "Moro Province".  The opening headline read; With the enlargement of Moro Province to include the vast area and population of the pagan tribes of Agusan and Bukidnon there accrue increased responsibility for our new Governor".  In this was a distinct implication that the majority of the inhabitants of Agusan and Bukidnon were pagans, an insinuation belied by the majority of Christian Filipinos in those areas.  The article piled up more assertions; this geographical change is an appropriate one as it places the bulk of the non-Christians of the southern archipelago under one government..."  A Challenge - a provocation - an attack that had to be answered.

     Without delay, his Lordship advanced readily to the engagement. In a letter dated 11 December 1913 to the editor, He undertook to express the general resentment of the Catholics in having been unceremoniously grouped with the "bulk of the non-Christians of the southern archipelago..."  As the Bishop pointed out the phrase used "either ignores the existence of the Christian Filipinos who are in the majority, or insults excellent Catholics, by including them among the pagans, which they and I as their Bishop resent most heartily."  General Pershing filed a report which read in part "The Public Schools maintained throughout this province are well in advance of the sectarian schools in every particular..."  If there was a way to raise the dander of the Irish born Michael this was it.  He could not let this provocation go unanswered. 

     In his second letter to the editor he showed, based on current data how the parochial school of Dipolog was the finest materially, and on the question of intelligence he revealed that the "parochial schools of Dipitan, Caraga, and the girls' school of Tetuam, even in the matter of English, can stand side by side with the best of the public schools; and in the moral line the less that is said the better for the public schools".

 The Mindano Herald became the forum for these great powers. Numerous erroneous statements were made against the Catholic Church, and the people of the province.  In this duel of great powers, Michael was to win. The final lunge by Bishop O'Doherty was both direct and fatal to Gen. Pershing and Supt. of schools Mr. Charles R. Cameroon.  This lunge delivered with such swift and vigorous ease, sounded the finale in this unique duel. For the adversary's reply was neither parry nor feint, it was an apology: "I apologize for having made these erroneous assertions and beg to withdraw the entire statement, very respectfully, Charles R. Cameroon."  

     To his credit Archbishop O'Doherty was the catalyst in building such notable landmarks in Zamboagna as the Malate Catholic School, the De La Salle College, the Cathedral at Zamboagna, and of course the Hospital blessed by Michael at 9:00am, Sunday 6th February 1916. To his credit Archbishop O'Doherty is credited with founding the National Catholic Education Council, as he was a staunch defender of Catholic education.
     Much is written about Michael's life in Zamboagna, and his service to mother church. To date I have been unable to ascertain information regarding his death.  It is unclear if he was returned to Eireann for internment, or remained in Zamboagna.  Perhaps it may be more fitting that he remained there as this man of Mayo had grown roots deep into the soil of Manila and the Philippines.

     "It is needless to point out the achievements of the Catholic church in the Philippines, as they speak for themselves. However, it is not amiss to state that Catholicism has taken a deeper significance in the lives of the Filipino people . . . and has played a greater role in their conduct.  This, undoubtedly, is due to the influence of the man at the head of Catholicism in the Philippines - Archbishop O'Doherty". Manuel L. Quezon President of the Philippines 24 August 1936.


The Vatican - per Jim Rukosky
Most Rev. Thomas Flynn - Bishop of Achonry, Ireland
Mssr. Patrick Corrish - Archivist, Maynooth College, Ireland Maynooth Library
Mr. JC Sullivan, Northfield, Ohio, USA
Mr. James Rukosky, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On being Catholic

Being Catholic these days is a burden on the soul. Consider Sister Regina Fierman of Richfield, Ohio. In today's Plain Dealer she opines we should be spending money to help the needy instead of on "overeating and self-indulgence." She is thinking of the people of Haiti who have allegedly been driven to eat "mud cakes" because they have no food.

While I certainly have empathy for people anywhere in the world that are suffering, nonetheless, I also adhere to the belief that we Americans, indeed all of mankind, should have a Statue of Responsibility to balance a Statue of Liberty..

What I interpret that concept to mean is that people have a responsibility to one another. Haiti, as in many other geographic locations around the globe, is a mish-mash of people without a culture. Poverty and overpopulation has created a physical glue-together existence. The adults who have created the mess don't have any sense of responsibility to the rest of us, nor to their immediate neighbors. They live on the edge and it doesn't take much to push one over the cliff, just what the earthquake did to the capital of Haiti. And then, in their misery and suffering, they demand.

As fellow human beings we have a responsibility to help them where we can and with the resources we have. However, they are NOT Americans. We have no obligation to bring them here en masse to "re-settle them". I fear the Obama Administration will attempt to do just that, further burdening the current generation of Americans and future ones. Then the question beggars an answer, "Who pays?"

We have a responsibility to nourish our own and promote our own prosperity. Or has prosperity become a dirty word in America? 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Father John Sullivan, S.J.

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