Thursday, July 22, 2004

Speaking of Retreats

As I pack to go on a retreat weekend as posted, I see today's Long Island Catholic article on the various retreat houses in the Diocese.   

"What we’ve done here is focused our work through the lens of the new cosmology,” explained Dominican Sister Honora Nolty, executive director of the retreat center. “We’ve become an eco-spirituality center."


Fr. Groeschel used to have a popular annual retreat at a retreat house on Long Island (not one mentioned in the article)  but stopped because he did not like what was going on there.  It was his desire to see an orthodox retreat center on Long Island that led to the Lay Preachers establishing an adult program at Kellenberg.  I go to nights of recollection and retreats there and would highly recommend them to anyone.  Unless of course you are into the new cosmology.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Requiescent in Pace

'Selfless' constable mourned

"More than 2,000 attended Brooks' funeral Mass at St. Martin of Tours in Amityville yesterday morning. The retired New York City police officer, 44, was shot to death Friday while working his one-day-a-week job as a Babylon bay constable."

A Tale of Two Retreats

I will be on retreat this weekend - a teaching retreat at Kellenberg Memorial High School's retreat facility.  This retreat is run by a couple of retired NYC police officers who started an adult retreat program with the help of Fr. Benedict Groeschel.  (For the whole story, see A Spirituality for Police Officers .)   This is the first time that Fr. Groeschel will not be giving the opening talk at this unique type of retreat.  The retreat is geared towards learning stuff instead of spirituality and the teaching is all solid.  The speakers are:  Msgr. George Graham, Msgr. William Smith, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, Mr. Tom Cook, and Mr. John Moreno.  In a separate part of the school's beautiful campus, there will a Youth 2000 New York young people's retreat.  The homilist at the closing Mass at the young people's event will be Fr. Groeschel!  I will have to see if I can sneak over to the event on Sunday morning to see if I can say hi to him, but chances are he will spend the time with the kids and rightfully so.  What a blessing to be able to see Fr. Groeschel again though.   And this may be the first time he is out and speaking since the accident?? 

But, as the commercial says, Wait  - There's More!!  This teaching retreat I will attend will include a final talk by Fr. James Pereda, who will speak on the traditional Latin Mass.  He asked for and received permission to offer the traditional Latin Mass after the talk on Sunday.  So I will be attending a traditional Latin Mass at the same time and almost in the same place as Fr. Groeschel will be giving a homily at a Novus Ordo Mass.  On the grounds of a large high school that is unapologetically Catholic.  Things are looking up in this diocese!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

A commentator in the Scandal Time post below calls me an [nasty name].  I liked that because sometimes I enjoy being an [nasty name].  But today, I realized I am an ungrateful [nasty name], and that is not cool.  Here I am posting on horrible things in the Church and I just realized today how lucky I have been since my reversion (and before)  Here is why:  I spent a good amount of time at the bookstore today skimming through two books: 
Father Joe:  The Man Who Saved My Soul
The Miracle Detective:  An Investigation of Holy Visions
I like to skim books at the bookstore because if I bought every book I was interested in I would need a warehouse to keep them in.  I still have many books on my shelf that I have not had the time to read, so I skim.  In skimming Father Joe, I found the story to be funny and heartwarming.  The author, Tony Hendra is a writer, known for his work at National Lampoon.  Hendra was 14 when he groped a married woman, whose husband then insisted he see Father Joe.  Hendra was so impressed by this Benedictine monk, that he trained to become a monk himself.  He was encouraged to go elsewhere though, but he kept visiting and writing with Father Joe throughout his life.  Through failed marriages, agnostic periods, and substance abuse, the author was wisely and lovingly counseled by Father Joe.  He takes his son to visit Father Joe when the priest was dying of cancer.  I was imagining how this might make a good movie.  The scene of Tony Hendra visiting the monk's grave and singing the Salve Regina for him almost made me tear up a little.  (I am not emotional at all).  How wonderful this book would come along at this time when Catholics need stories of great priests to refresh our confidence!  The thing is that I have never met any "bad priests".  The priests and brothers and nuns that taught me were wonderful, so I should be grateful, as is Hendra.
Skimming The Miracle Detective really hit me hard though.  The book itself is interesting as an agnostic author who writes for Rolling Stone investigates various Marian apparitions and how the Church "handles" them.  He is respectful and even drawn to the faith in the process of writing the book.  But for me, the author's interview with Fr. Benedict Groeschel at the end of the book really made me realize how lucky I have been.  He is informed about Fr. Groeschel by two priests at the Vatican who speak very highly of the priest.  One calls him a saint, one calls him "Groucho Marx in a habit".  (I think they are both right).  The author writes about how difficult it is to get in touch with the friar.  He is told he only answers phone calls about 2 hours every other week, so he calls several times.  He recounts attempting to speak to someone in Fr. Groeschel's office who doesn't seem able to carry on a conversation.  (He later learned Groeschel ministers to the mentally ill and they act as his assistants).  When he does meet him, he learns that his reputation as a funny, brilliant and holy man is well-deserved.  The author is impressed by Groeschel and I realize that I have had the opportunity to hear this great priest speak several times.  I have even been on two weekend retreats with Fr. Groeschel giving almost all the talks and celebrating Mass the whole weekend.  The book makes Fr. Groeschel out to be one of the most impressive priests (intellectually and spiritually) in the Church today and here I am (me!) able to meet and learn from him.  
This weekend I will be attending the "teaching retreat" run by Lay Preachers that Fr. Groeschel helped establish at the Kellenberg High School retreat house.  This is the first time that Fr. Groeschel will not be giving the opening talk for the retreat.  Fr. Pereda, the priest who celebrates the weekly traditional latin Mass in the diocese, will be speaking on the latin Mass.  He asked for and was given permission to celebrate the Mass at the end of the retreat.  How fortunate I was to come back to the Church at this time, and in this place. 

Fiend robs nun's rosary
"A nun wearing her white habit was viciously mugged on a Brooklyn street yesterday morning by a thug who knocked her to the ground and stole her purse and rosary beads, cops said."
Tell me if any of this sounds familiar to Catholics: 
Former school chief's mixed message  

The Roslyn school district on Long Island has quite the scandal on its handsIt started out in 2002 when the chief financial officer Pamela Gluckin was discovered to have stolen money from the district.   Did the school district notify the police or the DA?  No.  They allowed her to quietly retire after she paid $250,000 back to the district.  They thought this was the amount she stole, but it turns out to have been much more than that.  Why would the school district do this and keep it secret?  Because an outside attorney told them they had no obligation to notify anyone.  How did the school superintendent and school board explain Gluckin's sudden departure?  They told parents she was ill.   This year an anonymous letter was sent to the Nassau District Attorney's office and other officials that exposed the 2 year old theft and the district's coverup.  What was the reaction of the school superintendent to this letter?  He dismissed the allegations and accused the letter writer of sloppy accusations.  The superintendent,  Frank Tassone, was believed by parents because you see, he was very charismatic.  But some people were concerned because Tassone was more concerned with finding out who sent the letter rather than addressing the accusations it contained.  Eventually it was discovered that Tassone had billed $800,000 to a company that was owned by his roomate, Stephen Signorelli.  It turns out that Tassone was using school district money to live a posh lifestyle.   He even bought a home with a 32 year old man, Jason Daugherty in Las Vegas.    The superintendent has now been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $1 million over 27 months. 
 Some more things about the situation that seem familiar to me come from this New York Times article:   Shattered Impressions of a School SuperintendentIn it I learned that: 
"Until several months ago, many people in this affluent village said, it would have been unthinkable to imagine Dr. Tassone in such a context. He was a progressive leader who spoke of social justice, made condoms available in the high school and built a community service program founded on the concept that the privileged class should give something back. " 

"Dr. Tassone's fall from grace has unleashed a torrent of anger in Roslyn"

" 'Call me Frank,' " Paul Burros, a Roslyn resident, recalled Dr. Tassone saying when he met him at a school district gathering four years ago."