Monday, May 30, 2016

A memorable moment

     This morning I celebrated Mass at the parish for the first time since April 1st.  I did concelebrate a Mass each of these last three weekends, but this was the first "solo" flight.  This illness that began on the 1st of April has robbed me of two months, and made me grateful for many things, not least of which are the help of my local brother priests and the prayers of so many friends and parishioners and staff.  Today is significant because it is Memorial Day, on the original date, and my sixty-ninth birthday.  How time flies.
     Those friendships and the relationships that are established in ministry sustain me on my journey, and lift my spirits when times get difficult.  A few weeks ago in the mail I received a letter from the local Serra Club of Greensburg whose sole purpose is to promote vocations to the priesthood.  As a part of their efforts, they invite 7th and 8th grade students in the local Catholic schools to write letters to their local priests.  I received three such letters this time.  One was a 7th grader from Queen of Angels School named Johnny P. who thanked me for the school masses that I offered and also said "... the homilies that you give at our school liturgies have helped me make some important decisions about my faith that have been very helpful, and give me a sense of confidence in the decisions that I have to make."   Jordan M. thanked me for my years of service as a priest and in the parish as pastor, and said "Your homilies are always very interesting and make me think about my life when I come home.  I try to think about your homily during the week so I can live a better life."  And finally, Lucas F. said "You are a great priest.  I have had some wonderful experiences at your Church ... Everyone was nice there, and I could easily understand the homily ... Thank you for responding to God's call to the Church."

     With words such as this, how can one's spirits not be lifted!  Thanks, guys.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Longevity and Faith

Within the past month our local Church and our local community, as well as our priestly presbyterate have lost two women of Faith whose lives spanned 220 years.  Both were mothers of priests who served this Diocese, and both were good women who inspired many.  Both had been residents of Saint Anne's Home in Greensburg.

On April 4th, Pricilla Brandt, mother of our retired Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, died in her sleep at the age of 107.  Mrs. Brandt's life was long and interesting, and she took great delight in all things, the simple and the extraordinary.   I remember Bishop Brandt having an enjoyable conversation with my sister soon after he arrived in the Diocese as they discussed the various soap operas on tv that each of our mom's enjoyed.  I also remember Mrs. Brandt taking great delight in the fact that her son was "the bishop".  She was a good woman of Faith whose life spanned a remarkable time frame.

And on May 7th, Mrs. Irene Ciuffoletti, another resident of Saint Anne's Home and possibly the oldest resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, died at the age of 113.  She was the mother of one of our deceased priests, Father Angelo Ciuffoletti.  Her funeral Mass was this afternoon in her home town of New Kensington.  Mrs. Ciuffoletti, who I mentioned in an earlier post, was active and alert, loved life and her relationship with the Lord, and was also an inspiration to those who knew her.
May these two good women
enjoy eternity and
And may the souls of the Faithful Departed
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

43 years of journey - 1,000 post of Journey Thoughts

     Forty three years ago this morning V. Paul Fitzmaurice, Peter L. Peretti, Roger Statnick and yours truly were ordained to the priesthood by the late Bishop William G. Connare at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.  It was a cool but glorious morning.  Thus began my journey, for which I am eternally grateful to Almighty God, and to the People of God who have helped in my formation.  All four of us are still serving in active ministry in this Diocese, and God has been so generous in his blessings.  I wish my brothers well on this special day.

     In my recent illness I have had the opportunity for much tv watching.  One of those shows is "The Chew", a cooking show on in the early afternoon.  Today they are marking their 1,000th program, with much hoopla.

     Today also marks my 1,000th post of "Journey Thoughts".  It has been an extraordinary journey within "the" journey, and I am deeply indebted to those who have faithfully followed these random thoughts regarding priesthood over these years, and those who are so encouraging.  Our God is SO GOOD!

Monday, May 2, 2016

a pause on the journey - a lost month

     One month ago, April 1st, I awoke on that Friday morning with my right leg twice the size of my left leg.  This was after a night of soreness and nausea that I thought was the beginning of the flu.  As the day progressed, my leg from the knee down began to turn red and get hot, and by evening there was a place where there was an oozing of fluid on the lower leg.  On Saturday I went to the emergency room and was admitted for six days with a severe case of cellulitis and a severe case of sepsis in the blood in the right leg.  At the same time, my left shoulder, which is full of arthritis and is a regular problem, froze up on me so that I could not use it at all.

     After two MRI's and two other major procedures, a month of intravenous and then oral antibiotics, and multiple visits to the infectuous disease doctor and the wound clinic to deal with the five wounds that developed on the right leg, I an slowly recovering.  I have done nothing for the month of April.  In fact, it has been lost to me, as has much of the Easter season.  Saturday was my first excursion out - to Mass and yesterday to our annual Bike Blessing, and they did me in.  This is my first time at the computer as well.

     Throughout all of this, my neighboring brothers from IC and Saint Agnes have been graciously covering for me.  My staff has been great and very accomadating.  The parishioners and friends have kept me in prayer and thought, with cards and visits.  And most importantly, my sister Janie has stopped her life to take care of me in every way possible.  I am in her debt.  To all who have been praying for me ....THANK YOU!  And keep praying.  I can't wear a shoe yet, and am not driving.  I will post whenever I can, and will keep you all in thought and prayer.