Category Archives: St Francis of Assisi

Why was a Pakistani Franciscan Moved from Pakistan to Troy, New York?

We’ve already written an exposé report about the St Anthony of Padua parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, under the pastoral authority of bishop Edward Scharfenberger, but the questions keep coming; no answers, just questions.

Why did Franciscan brother Phillip Hira desert his Pakistani brothers and sisters?

Why did Franciscan brother Phillip Hira desert his Pakistani brothers and sisters?

Our first reportage on that parish was to report the scandal of its pastor, Mario Julian, who in lieu of a homily played a popular Christmas song, “So this is Christmas.” That was a gross violation of Roman Catholic doctrine and teaching with regard the homily. Yes, it was a scandal but we’ve already reported on that scandal so we won’t waste anymore time beating a dead hippo.

Mario Julian allegedly recently had bariatric surgery, stomach reduction surgery, and we hope he has had a good recovery; his parish is likely to have a much slower, less favorable recovery from Julian’s incompetence.

We did read with some interest the biography of Julian’s parish assistant, Franciscan lay brother Philip Hira. Hira was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1952. Hira received all of his education and religious formation in Pakistan, and spent most of his entire adult life in Pakistan.

Hira came to the United States in 2006.

Julian & Hira

Julian & Hira

According to his biography on the St Anthony of Padua parish website, Hira has completed 4 units (years) of clinical pastoral education (internship of 1 day a week for a year  =  1 CPE unit). This means that Hira has spent at least 4 years at Albany Medical Center as a chaplaincy intern. Clinical pastoral education interns pay about $700 a year to work at the hospital as pastoral care providers to patients while learning the ropes of pastoral care (Yes! The patients are exposed to amateurs). That means that someone is paying $700 a year for Hira’s education at Albany Medical Center, and AMC is receiving those services for nothing!

Reading a bit further, we learn that Hira is serving as a “volunteer”, that is, unpaid, chaplain at Albany Medical Center Hospital and at St Mary’s Hospital in Troy. We find that this unpaid activity at local hospitals is a bit suspicious, considering the fact that Hira is supposed to be serving the St Anthony of Padua parish in Troy, under the questionable supervision of Mario Julian.

Hira expects to be “certified”as a Catholic chaplain, but we don’t see how that’s going to happen in the near future, since that will require continuing education and certification procedures, which, for a chaplain, are totally unnecessary. That sort of activity takes Hira away from his parish duties, if in fact he actually has any.

In a previous article we mentioned that American religious orders have prostituted themselves. This is most clear in the Franciscan order, where Franciscan lay brothers and priests have been farmed out to ailing and understaffed diocesan parishes for years. This has had a very harmful effect on the Franciscan religious communities because when a Franciscan leaves the religious community life, he generally experiences injury to his spirituality. Furthermore, the Franciscans are a religious community with the communal life is an essential part of being Franciscan. Ask yourself what happens to a Franciscan when he lives outside of the community of his Franciscan brothers? Do I have to answer that for you?


franciscan missionary union logoFranciscans have traditionally been great missionaries. From the start of the Franciscan order, Franciscans have evangelized the world from Italy to the American West, and from Assisi to, yes, Pakistan.

Pakistan is 96.28 % Muslim, with Christians accounting for 1.59 % of the population, and Hindus 1.60 %. According to the Pew Forum, in the USA Christians represent some 70 % with Catholics representing some 20.8 %. Non-Christian traditions represent a total of a mere 5.9  %, which includes Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews! It would appear that Hira’s best work would be done in Pakistan, not in Troy, New York! So, with such a considerable non-Christian population in Pakistan and giving the evangelization and catechization ministry of the Franciscans, we would have to ask both brother Hira and his superiors Why? on earth was he taken from Pakistan and relocated to the United States?

There’s a lot going on in Pakistan involving Christians if we can believe much of the press coming out of the country like “How Christians Survive in Pakistan’s ‘Land of the Pure‘”, where we read:

“The Catholic minority currently lives in fear because of the recent attacks on churches. Sister Pilar admits, “Our apostolate is that of example … We cannot try to convert people directly.”

“Catholics in Pakistan run schools open to everyone, not just Catholics. There, “they receive a good education.” For Christians, having these schools in Pakistan is “a stimulus for us to know our religion better.”

“In fact, years ago there were many illiterate young people; thanks to these schools, the majority of them now receive an education, so Sister Pilar is hopeful.”

If that article is anything to judge by, Hira’s call would be in Pakistan, not Troy, New York! Wouldn’t you agree? Unless Troy’s Pakistani population has skyrocketed in the last 10 years! We’d  have to check the census data…

Moreover, as a parish assistant and chaplain, Hira is by nature Pakistani! He lived his entire life, or at least 54 years of it in Pakistan (born in 1952 and coming to the USA in 2006  =  54 years). So our question is this: How on Earth can you expect someone so steeped in a culture so alien to that of the United States to minister effectively to such a mixed population. Revisiting the statistics for Pakistan we see that Muslims make up 96.28 % of the population versus 0.9 % in the United States; in Pakistan Christians are 1.59 % versus 70 % in the United States. Now where do you think Christian, Catholic missionary, evangelization, catechization work would be needed more? In Pakistan or India, Pakistan’s nextdoor neighbor, or in the United States? Again, we have to ask Hira’s superiors what they had in mind when removing Hira from Pakistan to the United States. Or is there something more sinister in this history other than just plain bad judgment?

Seems that St Anthony of Padua parish is home to a considerable number of nagging questions that beg for answers. It also seems that St Anthony of Padua parish is just one of a considerable number of parishes with some really weird goings on.

Maybe that’s why we think Pope Francis should pay less attention to American politics and more attention to his ailing church, his maverick American bishops, and the organizational and administrative disorder in the church at large.

Perhaps bishop Scharfenberger can answer these questions, since he would be responsible for what is going on at St Anthony of Padua on his (Scharfenberger’s) watch. What do you think?

Abba Silas, Heresiarch

Abba Silas, Heresiarch, Editor


New Organ Campaign: Please Make a Donation

church organ

For the past couple of years the organ in the chapel at the Franciscan friary of St Anthony of Padua in Catskill, New York, has been whistling along with the hymns. No one seemed to be able to get it to go away, and was a symptom of a sick organ. After several visits from technicians, who had to finally  admit defeat and the inability to resolve the “whistling,” the guardian of the friary has finally had to give permission to ask for donations to support the purchase of a new organ.

praise-God-w-musicThe new organ will run at least $15,000 but it is money well spent, since the friary and the Franciscan friars provide a much needed venue of spiritual enrichment with their beautiful Frnaciscan traditions and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for a full house every Sunday and standing room only on feast and holy days.

Unlike diocesan parishes the friars do not take up collections during Mass but rely solely on the generosity of the faithful to support the friary and their work in the community, supporting even diocesan parishes when needed.

Poverty, Simplicity, Joy

Poverty, Simplicity, Joy

The Franciscan order in it’s more 800 years since its founding by St Francis of Assisi, one of the patron saints of Italy and the patron saint of the Environment, has served the world well in its ministries to the poor, to youth, teaching and preaching, and missions in the third world. Committed to holy vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, the friars own nothing of their own and live in community, a life of prayer and service.

Please aknowledge the wonderful and holy work of the Franciscan friars at St Anthony of Padua Franciscan Friary by making a tax-deductible donation to the organ fund. Your donation can also be made in the memory of someone dear to you or even in your own name, and you will have the joy of knowing that each time the organ in the chapel of the Franciscan Friary of St Anthony of Padua is pouring forth its accompaniment to the voices of the faithful in praise Almighty God, you had a part in making that possible through your generosity!

Please send your donation to:

Fr John Bavaro
Guardian of the Franciscan Community
St Anthony of Padua Friary
P.O. Box 487
24 Harrison Street
Catskill, New York 12414-0487

When sending your donation, please do not forget to mention that your donation is for the organ fund, giving your name and, if applicable, the “In Memory Of” name, or prayer request. We would very much appreciate it if you were to mention this blog or Compassionate Care Associates. Or you could even enclose a print-out of this page with your donation.

Thank you so very much in advance for your generosity. May you be blessed with peace and good health in mind, body and spirit.

Peace and Blessings

Peace and Blessings

The Editor
Pastoral Care and Spirituality

Tedious if Not Platitudinous…On Public Prayer and Poetry

The Local, Regional and National News Is Fast Becoming Tedious If Not Platitudinous. A Sure Sign that Media is Spiritually Exhausted and Intellect-Starved.

boys on fenceJudging from the front page of the some of the local and regional rags as well as the digital table-talk, and from the subject-matter dominating the blather–it’s not news, actually, nor is it journalism, by the way–the tabloid-wannabe-news is fast becoming undisguised infomercials promoting ideological, political, or commercial, that is, they’re local propaganda rags. We’ll look at the latest edition of a local weekly newspaper (the Ravena News Herald of Ravena, New York) to see what we mean at the grassroots level of misinformation.

In a front-page piece commemorating the local Boy and Girl Scouts of America reaffirmatin of faith in God at a meeting in the Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, we read that

“…dozens of community members gathered at St. Patrick’s Church in Ravena to witness the Cub and Boy Scouts of Troop 1067 reaffirm their commitment to reverence, “to be reverent toward God, faithful in his [Ed. note: God’s?] religious duties and to respect the beliefs of others” in accordance with the law of the Scout put forth by the Boy Scouts of America.”

That bit of scurrilous reporting which, if you read the news outside of Ravena-Coeymans, is the epitome of misinformation and hypocrisy, given the BSA’s refusal to stop being a pillar of discrimination, exclusion and hate, where even the federal government has long ago legislated against such practices. I think it’s the part about to “respect the beliefs of others,” that got my attention. But more on that some other time.

But the most glaring first-page gaffe is the caption under the large photo on the first page. More on that below.

Weeblos of Pack 1067 illustrate the deadline sin of gluttony in a skit at the Scouts Own Service on Sunday.(Source:

Weeblos of Pack 1067 illustrate the deadline sin of gluttony in a skit at the Scouts Own Service on Sunday.
(Source: The Ravena News Herald, Vol. 132 No. 52 (February 14, 2013). Photo by Marlene McTigue)

This was followed by a rather lengthy “prayer” read by Brian Searles, BSA troop master, which runs more than 144 words and takes up 2/3 of the first page text. That “prayer” runs along the lines of the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi that starts, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”

“Dear Lord, bless all those everywhere who contribute to shape the hearts, minds and bodies of young people. Let us remember what they have taught and apply it daily.”

I have some serious questions as to the “what they have been taught,” and if the scout leader is referring to the explicit policy of discrimination and hate espoused, defended, and ipso factotaught” by the Boy Scouts of America espouse with regard to certain groups. The venerable scout master Searles continues:

“When facing deceit and dishonesty, let us be trustworthy. If we see hypocrisy and faithlessness, let us be loyal. Where disregard for others and where materialism prevails, let us be helpful. In an atmosphere of ill manner, let us be courteous. Where some measure manliness in brutality and crudeness, let us be kind. Though law-breaking and rule-scoffing are common, let us be obedient. While others grumble and grouch, let us be cheerful. In an environment blighted by waste and extravagance, let us be thrifty. When confronted with danger and temptation, let us be brave. As we see filth and pollution everywhere, let us be clean. While witnessing impiety and irreligion, let us remember to be reverent. In short, in a world that has for generation after generation lamented the lack of good examples, let us Scouts stand out, grow up and be real adults.”

Clumsy as Mr Searles plagiarized prayer might be, his complaints are quite clear–we all know what he’s talking about, don’t we?

Actually, had Mr Searles simply read the Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi, maybe someone in the group would have more completely appreciated the intended prayerfulness of the moment and would have actually attempted to live the admonitions promoted by the holy example of the saint, and centuries later distilled shortly before the First World War into the now popular and familiar verses. (To read and download a copy of the Franciscan Peace Prayer I’ve prepared, click this link: The Story Behind the Peace Prayer of St Francis )

It’s rather ironic, too, that these lofty confessions of what our society and community have come to represent: “deceit and dishonesty,” hypocrisy and faithlessness,” “disregard for others,” “materialism,” “ill manner” ( must admit, I’m at a loss to really understand what that is supposed to mean), “manliness in brutality and crudeness,” “law-breaking and rule-scoffing,” where our neighbors “grumble and grouch,” and in a culture that confronts us daily with “danger and temptation,” where we find “filth and pollution everywhere,” and in our very churches we witness “impiety and irreligion” (irreligion is an interesting word meaning hostility towards religion. I don’t think that’s the problem though.), “lack of good examples.” In a word, doesn’t this sound like the routine in this community, in the local schools, in the  entire country–with few exceptions? And let’s ask ourselves how long the Scouts have been the model of American youth? And where do they go and what do they once they graduate from our schools, move on from the scouts, and enter the mainstream?

The same issue, reports also on the front page, an interview with a local official,  a building inspector, who allegedly advocates, misconstruing a Robert Frost line, that  “Good fences make good neighbors?”  While it’s not really out of character to read that a building inspector might advocate good fences, he also advocates more laws to smooth out relations between citizens and local officials but good relations involves building community not fences, and seeking collaboration and consensus, not compliance with laws.

R. Frost (1874-1963)Probably Turning in his Grave!

R. Frost (1874-1963)
Probably Turning in his Grave!

In a misinformative and pitifully distorted version of both American literature and reality, the idiot reporter, one Bryan Rowzee (reporter with the Ravena News Herald of the Hudson Catskill Newspapers group), in the front-page item, kicks off his item with a quote from Robert Frost’s memorable poem, Mending Wall. But in the true spirit of American journalism, Rowzee prooftexts, misinterprets and so falsifies to his readers the message of the poem, and does so by taking one familiar line out of the context of the whole poem, similar to what’s done business as usual in the American propagandist media.

For starters, the poem is a lament of fences, how walls and fences are something that are unnatural:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

And throughout the poem Frost questions the necessity for fences and even characterizes the neighbor who builds the fence (in the poem a stone wall) as being

…like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness

In fact, Mr Rowzee, Frost’s poem has nothing good to say about walls or fences; in fact, the entire poem is a statement against walls and fences! Mr, Frost, describes his neighbor likening him to a menacing caveman as he puts a rock into the wall, and repeats, “Good fences makes good neighbors.” So, either Mr Rowzee is trying to be cute and is using the Frost quote in total ignorance of what the poem actually preaches or, Mr Rowzee is being sneaky and using the quote to ridicule the interviewee in the article. Difficult to say unless you read the item in the News Herald, and until you reach the paragraph

“Conrad said the town loves growth and wants growth but needs growth that follows the laws created to help the whole community. He said he hopes that this business and others will benefit from clearer zoning maps and believes this may lessen misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and town officials.”

The building inspector interviewed in reality has a motley history of contradictions and obstruction; he’s not much different from any other small-minded, small-town, power-drunk petty official. Of course, Mr Conrad, the building inspector,  loves walls and fences, they’re unnatural and intended to isolate and obstruct. He’s been building unethical walls in his community for years, and has gotten very good at it.

Moreover, there’s nothing small-minded, small-town, power-drunk petty official’s like more than passing laws that make them appear more powerful and make their jobs more secure, while at the same time make everyone else’s lives more complicated, and unpleasant, increase the already insufferable red tape and corruption in the area, and offer more opportunities for the small-minded, small-town, power-drunk petty official to do “favors” for special people.

Like so many in our élite, exclusionist community, political, religious groups, our Conrad talks out of both sides of his face

two-facedLike so many in the Ravena-Coeymans élite, the judge, who violates the Code of Judicial Ethics and interprets the law according his own or his party’s (im)morality; the mayor or board member who plays loosey-goosey with public money, the community wife, who runs a close second to her double-talking husband and has a teflon surface with her supporters;  the attorney who places avarice and winning above ethics and justice; the bishop or prelate, who juggles doctrine with politics, and politics comes out on top, to the detriment of credibility, and the list could go on and on, those who cooperate in the sin of others  must by necessity talk out of both sides of their faces, but as a made members of the élite inner circle, they are loyal to the their own corrupt interests and to their godfathers and protectors.

So you can really understand, given the example of our building inspector’s associations, history, cronies, and the mob he hangs out with, we must carefully scrutinize statements like “the town … wants growth but needs growth that follows the laws created to help the whole community. He said he hopes that this business and others will benefit from clearer zoning maps and believes this may lessen misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and town officials.”

Conrad, the official with a modicum of power and authority,  apparently believes that more laws controlling what residents and neighbors do and “help the community,” and that more laws “will lessen misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and town officials.” Which side of his mouth is this coming from, I ask?

To all those who share such a perverse world view, the only way that misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and village/town officials can be lessened is not by creating more laws but by streamlining the administration. This may very well entail eliminating some laws, some positions of authority, and rehabilitating what’s left, an administration that will first of all put an end to the corruption and coercion that has hallmarked communities, government, church for decades through ineffectual governance, poor teaching, and pandering to the vociferous ignorant! It will involve elimination of the money pits and dens of cronies we popularly call our administrative and governing bodies and purging the hypocrites and ignorant from our leadership and who call themselves licit leaders! A thorough re-examination of ourselves and our systems would be the wisest move ever for our communities.

Before you create new laws or bring in new systems, Leaders, there’s a hell of a lot of healing that has to be done to “lessen misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and town officials.”

Most communities, whether secular or religious, have been hemorrhaging members and resources while being poisoned by the corporations and oppressed by the special-interests, while popular denial and complaisance are feeding and fostering the small-minded, small-town, power-drunk petty officials, who all believe they have their positions for life and can hand them over to their designated heirs. And theyhave all but silenced the democratic process in our communities, both secular and sacred. Clean out and town hall and the pastoral centers completely and maybe the fresher air in the town and diocese, parish, congregation will attract more health conscious entrepreneurs, ministers, leaders, thinkers. To date all that our communities appear to have attracted are corpse flies feeding on the dead and dying communities, businesses, churches. What community organizations and institutions that are left standing after the special-interests and sociopaths have finished are disillutioned, angry, and suspicious of anything that comes out of the town halls or from the chancel!

Officials like our example, Mr Conrad,  haven’t a clue what they’re talking about! Before you create new laws or bring in new systems, Leaders, there’s a hell of a lot of healing that has to be done to “lessen misunderstandings and strained relationships between community members and town officials.” The TRUST and CONFIDENCE in local government and in our Church leadership has to be re-established after decades of a local corrupt machine of indiffernece, impotence, self-interests and special interests have made our entire communities  into a communities of paranoid recluses!

Rather than Building Fences or Proselytizing that “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” or that Laws Lessen Misunderstanding and Heal Strained Relationships, Government, Church  and the Boy Scouts of America–at all levels–Should be Proactively Tearing Down Fences and Building Community in spite of the Hypocrites, Whether Religious, Social, or Political Hypocrites!

The Moment of Truth is NOW!Make Positive Changes Now. Tweak Later.

The Moment of Truth is NOW!
Make Positive Changes Now. Tweak Later.

So back to page 1 of the Ravena News Herald. We can start by not asking God to do what we ourselves are very capable of doing ourselves, if we simply follow the ethical principles taught by the Gospels and especially the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount). If you’ve forgotten what they are, find a Bible and read them again, if you ever have read them. The entire law condenses down to, “Love God totally and love your neighbor as you love yourself!”

Careful How You "Pray"!

Careful How You “Pray”!

Misusing prayer to make a political appeal to empty hearts is a sacrilege and involving God in that conspiracy is blasphemy! In the precincts of a Roman Catholic sacred space used for secular purposes, the prayer should either not have been done or the real experts in screwing up prayer should have been invited to invoke the petition to the divine: either the pastor of the Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick in Ravena or the bishop’s minion, the deacon at St Patrick’s. At least the screwed up prayer would have been screwed up professionally. But to have such a “prayer” come from the lips of a representative of an organization that conspicuously and publicly discriminates and offends the dignity of persons, and whose hypocrisy flies in the face of such dignity and of  the community of the Faithful is an affront to fair play and justice.

But certainly, the admonition that can be taken from the scout master’s so-called prayer is the enumeration of the darkness that the speaker finds in the community, society, and the world. But just publicly displaying awareness of those evils, evils that are right outside our doors, is not enough. Solutions are needed but no solutions are offered. That doesn’t work for me at all.

The newspapers at one time played an important educational role–they now churn out chum, crap!

The public media have lost all sense of dignity and continue to fail in their obligations to the people of our communities. Where the public media, the newspapers, played an important role of sharing good information while playing fair, and demanding quality in the information they send out to the public–yes, the newspapers at one time played an important educational role–they now churn out chum, crap! The conspicuous cover photo accompanying the article, “Scouts reaffirm their faith in God in annual service,” regrettably demonstrates this point. In the caption we read: “Weblos of Pack 1067 illustrate the deadline sin of gluttony in a skit at the Scouts Own Service on Sunday.” What is a “deadline sin”? Doesn’t the editor know gluttony (actually intemperance in moral theological terms) is a “deadly sin“? Shame on you!

Poor editing, poor attention to detail, poor reporting substandard education of the still-reading public. But giving reporter Rowzee the benefit of doubt, maybe he was actually writing his article tongue-in-cheek.

And again, the glaring ignorance of Mr Bryan Rowzee and his pitiful misrepresentation of a renowned American poet laureate’s poem, Mending Wall, reveals the deplorable level of teaching the humanities, even important American literature. Rowzee’s gaffe reveals two things at least: the carelessness and indifference of the print media in terms of accuracy and reliability of facts, even well-established facts, and the failure of our education system in teaching our American literary heritage to such an abominable degree that an allegedly “qualified” journalist (a term used very loosely, indeed, in this discussion), one whose prose is made public as if it were credible, doesn’t have an inkling of understanding of what he’s writing about. If Mr Rowzee knew anything of what he was writing about he would have used the line from the Robert Frost poem correctly, and Rowzee would certainly have known better than to have printed the Conrad quote. But giving Rowzee the benefit of doubt, maybe he was doing both tongue-in-cheek. We can only guess!

seek truth

Don’t Believe Everything You’re Fed!
The Editor

If you’d like to read Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, I’m pleased to attache a copy. Just click this link: Mending Wall by Robert Frost.

Special Notice: We make every effort to be truthful, complete, fair, and balanced on this blog; therefore, if you see anything that you know to be false or incorrect, or if you have additional information to clarify any issue, please let us know by e-mailing your information or by leaving a comment. It’s very important to us that we don’t fall into the same category as those whom this blog is intended to expose. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation and assistance!

A Moment to Consider Suffering

“There is a time for everything…under the heavens a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc 3:1a,7b)

The Suffering in the World and the Heaviness of Grief Drag the Soul Down and Weight it With Despair…But It Is Better to Light A Single Candle than to Curse the Darkness Around Us.

animated candle small

All religious and spiritual traditions teach that man lives in horizontal time or chronos; the Divine time is vertical, kairos. In Divine time there is no past or future, it is all here and now. Unlike humankind, the Divine does not look to the past nor to the future, they are simply unnecessary because the Divine is perfect and that perfection embraces unchangingness and allknowingness. Perfection does not have to learn from the past nor hope for the future.

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

But we exist in a different dimension, if you will. We can either despair of the past or hope for the future; resent the past and despise the future; or as Ecclesiastes teaches, we can accept that the Divine plan provides for “a time for everything…a time to be born and a time to die..a time for scattering stones and a time to gather them…a time to embrace…a time to search…a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak…a time to love…and a time for peace.”

The Divine plan is Perfection and Immutable. It keeps us on schedule and on plan always, whether we like it or not, and whether we understand it or not. The world is full of pain and suffering, most of it so far away from us that we almost take it for granted and go on with our own lives without considering that human beings and other creatures are suffering immensely but we don’t see their tears or hear their cries…so they’re easy to pass by and cast our eyes away. Until it strikes close to home. But the Divine plan includes us always and when Perfection sees its creatures becoming callous to the lessons of suffering, Perfection brings it closer to home so that we, too, can face the challenge and become humbled by it. When we see suffering we can appreciate the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: There is a time to be born and the fact of being born brings with it the fact of death.

gathering togetherWe are made of fragile materials and we break, sometimes very badly, and we die. It’s when we are humbled by challenge, moments in the Divine Plan that we are incapable of comprehending, that it becomes time to gather stones to rebuild, a time to embrace our universal humanity as the kin-dom of the Divine, a time to search for meaning in the challenge. But above all and essential to the purpose of the Divine Plan is that a time of challenge is a time for love, a time for God, because as John teaches “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 Jn 4:8). Gathering together in love, we are in a time of mending, of healing; in that time of healing we find a time to be silent, present, and a time to speak. As stones gathered searching for meaning in the challenge, and embraced by the power of perfect love, we heal in silence and sometimes speak silently in prayer…we seek peace.

The events in the world that cause suffering and despair, confusion and anger, anxiety and hate are in our time, not Divine time, we can move into Divine time by staying in the moment, no past no future, for but a breath’s time and find peace in the moment we occupy now.

blue tear

Let’s stop for a moment being stones scattered and be stones gathered, remembering in this moment the suffering around us. Let’s stop for a moment to heal, to love, to be silent. Let’s stop for a moment to be peaceful and to grant peace to all of Creation. It’s in the Divine Plan. Let’s stop for a moment and remember we are created in the image of a God who is Love.

Remembering in this Divine moment of love, healing, and peace, the suffering in the world of all Creation, and remembering the acute pain we now suffer with the events closer to us. In your own, personal way remember the suffering in Newtown, Connecticut.


You Are Not One Of US…

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. (Mark 9: 38-41)


It would seem that Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and her mentors are shooting themselves in the foot! Not ony is Ms Blain and her mentors exemplifying and incarnating all the worst street wisdom about Roman Catholics, and playing into the hands of their worst detractors, but they are also turning their backs to the best of the Christian Tradition in terms of encouraging good works and works of mercy and charity. Judging from Ms Kate Blain’s response, if it is truly the position of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, no one but those associated with a Roman Catholic parish or receiving the support (just what the nature of the support should be is unclear) are licitly or legitimately practicing a ministry in pastoral or spiritual care to the suffering. What a pile of crapola!

So, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Evangelist refuses to publish an advertisement because the advertiser is “not working through any parish or with the support of the Albany Diocese,” according to Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist.
Always the curious one, I thought something was very fishy with this whole affair and so I picked up an Evangelist to check out some of the ads that are being run in the rag. Here’s just a sample:

Fidelis Care, selling health insurance plans
McDonough’s Farms, selling trees and wreaths
Silver Parrot, selling jewelry items
Ross and Visconti, a law firm specializing in family law, general law and wills
Celtic Treasures, selling Irish gifts
Joe Mazzone Antique Services, buys and sells antiques
Eddy Senior Living, a secular assisted living facility
Marra’s, sells home healthcare items
Falcon Trace, a secular “active adult community”
The Spinney at Pond View, cottage rental community
Romanation Jewelers, buys and sells gold
Eastwyck Village, retirement living
Ohav Shalom Apartments, independent senior living
Adirondack Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Delmar Place, assisted living residence
Bob Tahlam, Inc., basement and cellar work
Advanced Hearing Aid Centers
Shaker Pointe at Carondolet, independent senior living
Mr Fix It, plumbing, electrical, carpentry
Wesley Woodlawn Commons, assisted living
Accent, healthcare services
Visiting Nurses Healthcare
A&B Stairlifts
Albany Housing Authority, Senior Housing
The Lira Ensemble, polish music
W.J. Lyons Funeral Home Inc.
Stefanazzi & Spargo, monuments
Wm. J. Burke & Sons Funeral Home

Yes, we thought you’d be a bit surprised., and we’re none the wiser for the effort. There’s no rhyme or reason behind these advertisements, they cover a wide range of services unrelated to a parish and certainly don’t need diocesan support. In fact, the ads are supporting the diocese to some extent.

So we have to look elsewhere for an explanation why an advertisement for genuine and much-needed services would be canned by the Evangelist.

A big question looms large in this consideration: Is someone at our sacred and holy Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center playing a career assassination game? Are there personal or political motives behind the refusal. Does someone or several of our loving, charitable, good Christians at the Pastoral Center have an axe to grind with regard to the advertiser. It wouldn’t be the first time that some Church functionary saboutaged the work of ministry for personal reasons.Is this a form of cowardly punishment or retribution? But just the thought of the bad press, the damage to an already suffering image, the civil consequences that such stupid misconduct will entail is chilling.

This raises a number of troubling contradictions in this diocese, including but not limited to:

  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany sends its deacon candidates to a local secular hospital that epouses explicitly interfaith pastoral care to patients, and whose manager is of the Calvinist tradition, apparently loathes his own denomination (RCA, according to the AMC pastoral care manager, the “deformed” Church of America), and has no great love for Catholics, unless they’re female, “disgruntled””, outspoken and dissenting. Two Roman Catholic priests are on the hospital’s pastoral care team and paid by the RC diocese of Albany, and I have personally witnessed some very anti-Catholic and abusive treatment of those two clerics at the hands of some non-Catholics. Knowing the situation at the hospital and in the Pastoral Care department there, one wonders what the rationale is behind the diocesesan practice of sending deacon candidates to train there if interfait pastoral care is not supported by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  • While I was completeing my master of divinity degree at the Roman Catholic school of theology and divinity supported by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany (Bsp Howard Hubbard) and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester (Bsp Matthew Clark) and most recently in Syracuse, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, my pastoral formation supervisor encouraged me to participate in the clinical pastoral education (CPE) program at Albany Medical Center, which I did. In terms of experience it was incredibly edifying, that is, in terms of the direct clinical experience on the floors. The personal experience with the supevisor and the peer experience was frustrating to say the very least. It was not the place for a traditional or conservative Roman Catholic or one with weak faith or one with no guts. I was surrounded by feminazis, Calvinists, and sociopathic “disgruntled” female Roman Catholics/Episcopalians; a male Catholic was chum in shark-infested waters = I didn’t have the chance of a snowball in hell unless I put up a very strong front, and I stood by my faith, my Tradition, and my ethics. So, if the Roman Catholic school of theology and ministry sends its students to participate in the interfaith program at Albany Medical Center, knowing the the program is promoting the interfaith model of pastoral care, how is it reasonable that the editor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s newspaper, Kate Blain, refuses to run an advertisement on interfaith pastoral care?


The Ultimate Perversion!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Female Gay Bishop!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
How Close are We?
The Ultimate Perversion!
Female Gay Bishop!
How Close are We?
  • The very school of theology and ministry I attended and which awarded me the master of divinity degree is a former Roman Catholic seminary college that went Guess what! Interfaith in order to survive. Right in the middle of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center we now find Roman Catholics sitting next to Baptists, Calvinists, Episcopalians reciprocally revealing their ignorance. Now the Protestants, Jews and Calvinists can experience first-hand the renowned infighting that goes on among Roman Catholics. They can, along with the now appalled traditional and conservative Catholics, experience the liberal priests and female religious dissenting, criticizing their Church, and hear the eunichs in the group pander to the instructors and to the wannabe women priests [and bishops]. Typical ambiguous and ambivalent American attitude, typical American “be politically correct or be shunned”, “How dare you have such an opinion!?!” type of Me First! exchange. But it’s all in the interest of unity, of ecumenism, of interfaith dialogue, of …or is it revenues?

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany appears to support the interfaith pastoral care effort…or does it?

(There are a number of discrepancies in the pastoral formation programs both in the diocese but most particularly at St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry that require review and correction. Those discrepancies have nothing whatsoever to do with the supervisor/director of the program itself but the way the students’ projects are selected and executed leaves a great deal to be desired. But this is something that we shall take up with the accrediting body itself.)

The Roman Catholic Church has spent a great deal of ink writing about the importance of care of the suffering, the sick, and the dying but it seems that much of what is written and prmulgated is contradictory in one respect or another. Or, in its slavish dedication to the principle of subsidiarity, the Church has delegated much of its authority to self-serving, poorly catechized managers and underlings. The Pastoral Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany lacks overall leadership, although it is figuratively headed by a brilliant saint of a man, somewhere along the line the minions and the satans have usurped power over their domains and the Center has turned into a collection of feifdoms, the Evangelist obviously being one of them.


Our beloved bishop Howard Hubbard (RC Diocese of Albany) and his brother bishop Matthew Clark (RC Diocese of Rochester) are both nearing retirement and their personal pastoral ministries have been phenomenal in terms of goodness, charity, brilliance, but their legacies will be remembered for their excess liberalism. The buzz is that at the Albany Diocese the greatest fear is that a conservative bishop will succeed Hubbard. If this happens, say Bye! to the fiefdoms, the self-serving monopolies and nepotism, and to the women religious who have pretty much taken over running the place.

It’s not the Holy Spirit that moves the Roman Catholic Diocese at Albany, it’s the cliques. And it’s high time the Diocese and the departments and parishes were returned to the Church, to be run in accordance not with liberal agendas but with the Roman Catholic Tradition and the Magisterium. It’s time Christian kerygma becomes the modus operandi and not personal agendas or the like. The idiotic grins are a poor cover-up for the envy, the paranoia, the anxiety, the ambition beneath. How has it reached such a point, I have to ask?

(It’s not just in Albany, either. I spent years nurturing relationships in a local Eastern rite parish, St Ann Maronite Catholic parish in Troy. scary-clownsFor more than a decade I was part of the parish life, grew to become very close to its former pastor and its parishoners. The pastor was transferred and I asked to do a year of my pastoral formation with the new priest who was very young, from Lebanon, and not long in the USA. The young priest had a poor command of English, very little parish experience (about 6 months unter the supervision of a senior priest down south), couldn’t preach to save his own soul, and was culturally inept (the Church in the Middle East is incredibly different in Traditions, organization, and in its participation in politics). The wet-behind-the-ears monk thought he knew everything, though, except integrity, honesty, humility, and inclusiveness. He openly spoke hatefully of Muslims with parishoners and was inauthentic. I confronted him, he ran to his bishop, his bishop ran to my bishop, this bishop supported him, my bishop asked me to cool it. That’s the way it goes: the bishops support their priests regardless of the damage. I disappeared and was demonized. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. But it shouldn’t have to be that way and wouldn’t be that way if the bishops would be bishops and stop pussyfooting around.)

According to the Chinese, “The fish rots from the head down.” Oh! How true! Look around you.

So, back to the Evangelist and editor Ms Kate Blain, now making policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. What say ye, bishops?!?

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mark 9: 38-41) Is that really so? Are we still preaching this (I know I am).

animated candle small

What’s important here? The fact that one operates out of a parish or the fact that one has the “support of the diocese” ( read that as “has not invoked the perfidy of someone with some power at the diocesan offices”). Who is this Kate Blain to make the determination that one does not have the support of the diocese. And if that is true, why does the Roman Catholic Diocese not support qualified spiritual care regardless of company or special-interest connections.

I’d be happy to discuss this dilemma with anyone from the Pastoral Center. Just give me a time and a date. According to Saint Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry which awarded me the “gold standard” professional degree in pastoral and theological studies, the Magister Divinitatis, which I received from the hand of bishop Matthew Clark and the co-authentication of bishop Howard Hubbard, I should be qualified to engage in such a debate…and to provide qualified pastoral and spiritual care regardless of the faith or Tradition of the recipient.

But there’s still the question of why the editor of the Evangelist refuses to run my ad that is in full accord with express Church doctrine and policy, with the explicit teachings, and with the promulgations of the USCCB? Do we have female bishops in the RC Church already? Yes. But not officially, it seems.

Please share your thoughts on this subject matter. And stay tuned for the next installment: a discussion of Church teachings on the care of the suffering, sick, and dying (and how it’s falling on it’s egg-stained face).

Shut up! And do your homework!The Editor

Shut up! And do your homework!
The Editor

Sin Against the Dignity of Creation

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This Article is Different from Most You Will Read On This Blog. It’s Angry and It’s a Morality Lesson, Too!

When’s the Last Time You Looked at Yourself, Deeply?


Morality and ethics are things we used to learn at home from grandparents and parents, on the street from public servant role models (police, firemen, etc.), at school, in church. Now we pack our grandparents off to the nursing home, our public servants are thugs, sluts and thieves and our teachers aren’t much better, and who, really, goes to church anymore and who can really say they know anything about their religion or denomination, too? We’re in a very pitiful state as far as our morality and character are concerned, and our ethics is even worse.

So the theme of this blog is a quote from a beloved teacher, model, human being, St. Francis of Assisi, who said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” (Patron Saint of Ecology, 1181-1226) If you think about that statement, it should switch on some lights…somewhere.

It’s very true, though, when you think about it. If you tend to treat things, animate or inanimate, sensate or insensate, traditions or customs, without respect, love, compassion, sensitivity you’re very likely to treat other people and other living things the same way. And you know what? Generally, that disrespect and lack of compassion is just how you feel about yourself, we are told. Low self-esteem, low self-respect is usually reflected outward onto others, the world, people, creatures of all types.

This weekend, I visited the Iroquois festival at the Iroquois Museum in Cobleskill. There I enoyed demonstrations of Native American survival techniques, examined artifacts, viewed artworks, and learned a lot about the culture of the Iroquois Confederacy a “republic” of six nations. The Iroquois call themselves the “Haudenosaunee“, which means “People of the Longhouse,” or more accurately, “They Are Building a Long House.” They were politically sophisticated and tolerant, had a highly developed culture and religious system. They were matriarchal, a woman was head of the clan and picked the chief, and they were matrilineal, you took your mothers clan name and belonged to her clan.

What’s a North American native culture to do with a 12th century Italian saint? Well, they both stressed oneness with nature and creation, respect of others, the necessity of a positive compassionate relationship with all of creation for survival. Something we have lost touch with today.

After that elevating exhilarating experience, I found myself traveling down Rt 9W, just a mile or so before the entrance to the NYS Thruway when I saw something that was simultaneously horrific, saddening, ugly, and overall upsetting. It was the very image of what we as human beings have become today, and I decided I would share the sight and my thoughts on this blog.

Was this YOU, or someone you know?
It’s plain SICKO!

There they were, three beautiful animals, less than perhaps 50-100 feet from each other, along the roadside, DEAD! Not killed weeks or even days apart but merely hours, judging by the condition of the corpses. Now I’ve seen death in so many ways in my career and just wandering the world but sometimes the way it happens to be presented just hits you in a certain way. This was a revelation, a shocking revelation of what we human beings have become: The AIDS epidemic killing all of creation. But we’re worse than a mindless virus, we claim to have a spark of divinity, freedom of will, intelligence, gifts that should make us a force for good, not a dark cloud of evil. These creatures were killed by humans in their machines and apparently by humans who had not a whit of concern for their actions nor any sense of compassion or responsibility. Like so many of you out there.

Yes, you are a restless bunch. Can’t stand still for long, have to move, gotta rush to get nowhere, gotta have that new toy but can’t reason Why? The commercials tell us to rush, we need IT now! And you respond by rushing and buying it. How’s that make you feel? A bit depersonalized, taken advantage of? Less than the person you’d like to be. Does it make you feel angry to be used by businesses, industry, government, others? Are you angry? Are you taking it out on the world. I’d guess yes, from where I’m observing. And it’s happened to you so insidiously, that you haven’t even noticed, have you?
Now take a step back and look at yourself. Now look at your children, if you’ve taken the time to produce any or ever had the notion of sharing your life with anyone but your iPhone and your Twitter or FaceBook cyberfriends. Are you constantly checking whether someone wants to message you, needs you to exist? Have you tried leaving the cellphone or the iPhone home and taking a walk…alone? What do you see? Do you like it? (Probably not.)

You hide the elderly and deny the naturalness of aging, you hasten the dying process in the ill but deny death, enjoy wanton and unprotected lust and then spread disease or kill the unborn and then preach chastity, you hurry to get nowhere special and when you get there you can’t wait to get to the next stop, you do most of what you do not knowing (or caring) why we’re doing it and just do it to get it off the list, you rush through every minute of the day without appreciating it or being in the moment even once and then whine that the day’s gone by already (whose fault is that?), you complicate your life with concrete things and lose the connection with the mysteries of life and can’t even visualize much less think in terms of concepts or the abstract. You eat three times more than you should, weigh at least 25% more than you should, but then complain that portions are small and that you’re overweight and unhappy. And you’re angry, fuming. Anger is ugly and does ugly things! Worse still, you deny you’re angry!

One of the ugly things your anger causes you to do is harm the helpless and the innocent, and that’s where my concern for the morality of these developments comes into the discussion. The more you do a behaviour, the more it becomes habit, the more habitual it becomes, the more it becomes your character; your inner voice, your conscience, is a product of all of that. Your good-bad, right-wrong decisions are your morality, and what you do, how you live is your ethics. You are how you live. Are you afraid yet? You should be.
Our entire culture has become toxic.

Back to the Iroquois, the once great Native Americans. Look at what the American culture has done to them and how we’ve accomplished it: Invasion, cheating and dishonesty, eradication by the use of superior weapons and technology, importation of disease, import of an alien culture that is incompatible with centuries of tradition, disrespect for the native culture, forcing alien forms of government on the people, robbing them of their culture, their ethnic pride, their values, and then abandoning them to decline, disease, social degradation, and ultimately disappearance. In other words, we strip them of their dignity just as we strip all of creation of its dignity. And we do this for the worst of reasons and for short-term satisfaction and gain, imposing permanent damage and destruction, and move on to the next victims. Just like locusts devouring one field after another; simply destruction to feed our own perverse drives.


The three dead young raccoons were symbolic of what you’ve become: insensitive, self-serving, unrepentent, uncaring, black holes sucking up everything, destroying it and giving nothing in return. It’s sad, isn’t it?

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What really makes me kind of giddy in a sense is that most of you have no connection with anything really, you’ve created a world of dualities for yourself: you and everyone else, America and the rest of the world, the 1% and the 99%, the good people and the Jews and Muslims, the church-going Christian in church and the church-going Christian out of church. That’s just to name a few of the dualities you’ve set up to make yourself acceptable. You’re so one-dimensional you need to create dimensions outside of yourself. And still you pray, you attend worship, you read the bible, etc. and you learn nothing, your life is still…emptyness. Too bad!

People, there’s got to be an Aha! moment in all of this. That moment where you have that certain revelation, that conversion moment where you say to yourself, “What the #*%$&* am I doing? Where the #*%$&* am I? Where the #*%$&* am I going?” Are you getting closer to climaxing in this orgiastic frenzy of for lack of a better expression, sin against nature?

Take a moment and look in the mirror. What do you see? Now, peel away that surface and what’s under there? Can you really live with that?

The World Is Your Mirror.

Yes! The world is your mirror. It’s what you’ve become and what reflects back on you. You are indiviudally and collectively responsible. We used to talk about duties and obligations but nobody liked that; those words sounded like someone else was pulling the strings and you were all simply being told by big brother what to do: Do this! Don’t do that! You must…! Now we talk about responsibility and following your conscience…what conscience? How responsible are you for what’s going on around you? If you feel you’re responsible have you done anything to correct the wrongs and the evil around you? Or are you irresponsible?

Stop Hurting US! Please!
The Editor

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