Monday, February 24, 2020

Letting the Earth Speak

Cattle ranch in Oklahoma

Desert buttes in Utah,

Oil Well in West Texas
The new decade began for me  with several trips to the western US to preach appeals for Unbound. Being that I am from the  East Coast the vast expanses of land in the western part of our country is something unusual as well as awe inspiring for me.

Another development in my life comes from reading and studying Pope Francis' recent encyclical Laudato Si.He takes on several issues in this wonderful work. One of his main points is stressing that the earth is our common home. He is inspired in many ways by Francis of Assisi, author of the canticle which begins with those very words, Laudato Si, and in which he praises God for the earth, the water, the sun and the moon which he calls his brothers and sisters.

   In my own prayer I have recently reflected on how God speaks to us through creation. Here in central Florida where I live the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay, the wonderful tropical vegetation and the interesting birds of the area speak to my heart of God.

   Moving out of this area and experiencing God's creation in other ways enriches this sense of the beauty of our common home. It also brings about sadness when I see some of our lands being recklessly destroyed because of greed. Do we need oil? Sure, but not at the expense of ruining our rivers, streams and underground waters.

   I invite you to reaad and study Pope Francis' encyclical and to reflect on St. Francis wonderful canticle.

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.[3]

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Priest For The World

    Welcome aboard to my new blog.  I have chosen to keep the same web address so that my Wandering Friar Posts are available here by just scrolling down. As the new blog title suggests I will be offering perspectives from my own heart and soul on my life and on the world around me. I also hope to avoid entering into the mire of rancor that floods the internet today.  That having been said, here goes.

   I was ordained to the priesthood in May of 1971, almost 49 years ago. At that time I was quite aware that while a priest is ordained to serve the whole Church, The Body of Christ, and indeed the whole world, his immediate and primary focus is to serve the parish, school, etc. where he is stationed. That was certainly my primary focus in places where I served.

   As the years have gone by I have noticed that I have become, by God's grace, a priest for the world. Prepositions can be important.  I do not say "of the world" for two reasons.  One is that a priest is not supposed to be worldly, desiring money. power, etc.  The other is that I am not a megalomaniac who thinks that I have some sort of special power over the world or that I am widely known around the world. Rather, I find that I am becoming more aware of and connected to the wider world in my ministry and more desirous of raising awareness of the wider Church and the wider world in my preaching.

   In many ways I have been prepared for this role from an early age.  In the fourth grade my teacher, Miss Kelly, specialized in geography. I still remember her vivid presentations about different countries including slides that she had taken while visiting many of them.  Later, in the seminary, I was always intrigued by  the stories told us by friar missionaries who were home for vacation. Since joining the Ministry of the Word in 1987 I have visited more than half of the 50 states and 3 provinces in Canada. I spent almost three years in Bolivia and  served in Rome for 7 months as a confessor in the Jubilee Year 2000.  I was chaplain on 4 mission trips to Honduras.  Finally, in recent years I have been preaching weekend campaigns for Unbound, a charity that invites people to sponsor children and needy elders in 19 different countries.With them I have been on awareness trips to El Salvador and Peru and am sponsoring someone in each of these countries.

   I list these wanderings of mine not just to say "Wow, look at the places where I have been.", but because in each of these places and others I have encountered people form all over the world and heard their stories, stories of faith, of struggle, of courage, of love and much more.  When I preach missions and retreats all of this wonderful journey comes with me. When i preach for Unbound I am actually able, by God's grace, to connect people in our country with folks in other parts of the world. I consider all of this to be a unique blessing that has shaped my ministry as a friar and as a priest. My awareness of all of this came together in the past year (2019) as I traveled to places like Honolulu, Peru, Fargo North Dakota, Mississippi and New York.  I realized that the good Lord was enriching me and  shaping the sense of my vocation.  I am grateful for that. Of course, with all my travels returning to my friary community in between events is vitally important. I may be a priest for the world but without grounding in my community I would easily float adrift. Also, my roots are in Boston and I enjoy visiting my brother and his wife, his daughters and hgis gandchildren whenever I can.

Below are some pictures from 2019:

With a Hawaian lei around my neck at Mass in Honolulu

With my sponsored frined Anthony and his family in Peru

A memroy garden at a parish in Brooklyn for 11 people killed on 9/11

Baptizing my grand nephew Michael
 With all my travels my family is never forgotten
Family gathered with baby Michael

With awareness trip group at a home in Peru

With an all female fan group in Green Bay watching the Packers

An Unbound table at a parish in Texas


Friday, January 17, 2020

New Year, New Beginning

 As promised several weeks ago I am starting a new blog.  I tried several different formats but decided just to rename The Wandering Friar blog and go from there.  As a result all of my old posts can be accessed. That is the good news.  The bad news is that I am struggling with formatting the page. As a result things like my schedule and my profile must be accessed by clicking on the 4 lines at the top right of the page.  I hope to correct this soon.  Keep posted for an actual article.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

An End and a Beginning

This, my friends, will be the last entry for The Wandering Friar blog.  No, I am not finished writing.  You may have notices that entries have been infrequent and scattered.  I have decided to start a new blog in order to give me a new focus. You will hear from me shortly

Fr. John

Still Wandering and preaching the Word.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Lord of the Dance

Dancers in costumes of recycled materials

 I arrived home from Peru, tired but full of joy and gratitude.  I was intending to begin with a description of various aspects of the Unbound program in Peru and I will be doing that in my next entry.  However, as I brought this experience to prayer and reflection another aspect of this trip, a very important one, emerged for me. You see, I encountered the Lord there. He danced with me.

  One of my favorite hymns come from a 19th century Shaker community, the Lord of the Dance.  Each line of the hymn basically says that Jesus danced with us at each stage of  His life.  The chorus, however, goes beyond that. It says:

    Dance then, wherever you me be.  I am the Lord of the dance said He.  I'll lead you all, wherever you may be.  I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

   The trip to Peru as one of Unbound's awareness trips.  It is not called a mission trip because the focus is on becoming aware of not only the work of Unbound, but also the realities of the countries we visit.  While in Lima I became very much aware of the work of Unbound and why certain things were done.  I also was struck by the poverty there as well as the contrast of the poorer neighborhoods with the wealthier ones.

   Upon returning home I became more aware of the Lord's presence in all of that.  Twice during the week we were treated to presentations of native folk dances.  At the end of those presentations the dancers came and picked out one of us sponsors to dance with them.  Yes, then, the Lord of the Dance
was drawing me in.

 On Thursday of our visit those of us in the group who were sponsoring children in Peru got to meet them.  To say the least it was a great joy to meet 13 year old Anthony whom I sponsor as well as his mother and his 5 year old brother. While I had brought a few small gifts for Anthony I was touched by the fact that his family had a gift for me, a knitted lion that his mother made.  It is a small thing but it expressed so well the love that they had for me.  I encountered the Lord in that as well.
Special needs young woman who chose me to dance with her

  So, as I think back on that week I am so grateful that the Lord of the dance called on me during that wonderful time.

Member of our group called to dance

With Anthony and the special "Lion"

Friday, August 9, 2019

Sponsored Elders an Special Needs

On this final day of our journey we met with a gathering of  sponsored elders and special needs people. It was truly a joyful time, one of being overwhelmed by their love and appreciation. After that it was off for a nice lunch and on to a hotel near the airport

Special need group performing

Elders with  typical fold dance

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Meeting My Sponsored Friend

Today was the highlight of the trip, meeting our sponsored friends. Pictures say it all
With Anthony, what a joy to meet him

Anthony, his mother and little brother 
Sponsored Friends and families waving goodbye 

Letting the Earth Speak