You call them Firefighters

There are men and women who fight for us every day; who face uncertainty, leaving their families to rescue yours, knowing that the chance for them never coming home is higher than most; whose uniform not only identifies their commitment and belief in honor, valor, brotherhood, and tradition, but is their only line of defense against the forces they face.

They are the only one left in the evacuation zone, staying until the last possible moment. They wake up at any time of the night, ready to respond to the call to duty. They are the face we see breaking through the flames, and the face of the one who carries you to safety.

They are the some of the bravest men and women the world will ever know, risking their lives in an a attempt to save the lives of others. They run into burning buildings, at raging forest fires, and stare death and fear in the eyes with no hesitation or second thoughts.

They are on the front lines in the war against Mother Nature’s fury, providing the last stand to protect that which we love and cherish most.

They have families, loved ones, interests and hobbies.

They are the warriors of the people, the fighters, our saviors, and the bravest among us.

We call each other Brother and Sister, and cherish each as if they were our very own flesh and blood.

You call them Firefighters.

September 11

These days in September are always an emotional roller coaster for me.

On the morning of 9/11 I went to work early. I had a pretty large meeting scheduled with the Superiors of the Jesuit Provinces in the US, as well as a few bishops.

I was at work for about 30 minutes preparing, and my phone rang. It was my then partner and still best friend Fredo Alvarez, and he was inconsolable. He was finally able to tell me that there was a plane crash at the World Trade Center. His mother worked on that block and he couldn’t reach her.

I turned on the TV in the conference room and watched the second plane hit on live TV.

We immediately cancelled the meeting, and I said Mass with the fellow priests and bishops. We prayed. We prayed harder than I think I have ever prayed. At the moment of the consecration of the Body and Blood of Our Savior, the plane hit the Pentagon.

We finished Mass and sent everyone home. I took a cab to my other assignment- The Basilica in DC, where the Cardinal was going to say a televised Mass for the nation.

Again we prayed. We prayed harder than I had ever prayed before.

I prayed for Fredo’s mom, and for the men and women I have come across in FDNY- the greatest fire department man has ever dreamt up.

I Prayed for a former co-worker and now FDNY Lt. on Rescue 1. He would have been on the initial alarm that day. I wrote him a long letter of recommendation so he could get on his the job- his dream of all dreams.

I finally made it home hours later- Metro was closed, taxis were overwhelmed. I shared a cab at one point with a woman who was a reporter for the Washington Post- her girlfriend was a reporter at the NY Times, and she couldn’t reach her.

I prayed again.. prayed harder than I had ever prayed before. We cried. Crying was the default action of the day. Our Nation was bleeding- taking as close to a mortal wound as freedom can bear.

Fredo’s mom was alive- she was late to work that day, exited the subway and saw the plane hit. She then walked from lower Manhattan to the Bronx- it took her 12 hours.

I spent weeks looking through the published list of FDNY’s losses looking for Matt’s name. Six days later I found out he was ok.

I prayed.. prayed harder than I had ever prayed before.

And I cried.

Today, 18 years later- I still cry. I cry for what our country lost; for the pain those left behind still feel every single day; for those lost in the battle against those forces who hate us just because we, like those lost, chose to get on a plane, to go to work, to don an SCBA, climb in a patrol car, to hold the hand of a dying elderly woman.

We lost a sense of our innocence that day. Something that no war, no memorial, no prayer will restore to us.

And today, 18 years later. I cry.. and I pray… I pray harder than ever before for those still in harms way here locally, in the military, and for those brothers of mine who are about to join the military.

We all have more praying to do.

God Bless you all.


Notre Dame

I Continue to pray for the Church Catholic as we watch Cathédrale Notre Dame burn.

While the Church are the people gathered (ecclesia), and never the building- it is the great edifices made by man to Glorify God that give us community, focus, the sense of sacred and divine that dwells within us.

As Easter approaches us this Holy Week, we are in the midst of prayerful witness to the fire of sin, doubt, and fear that consumes the Roman’s to the point of the crucifixion of Jesus, in a vain attempt to destroy love.

Then we all together witness radiant resurrection on Easter morning. Proving to us yet again, and in the most powerful way that God survives, provides for us, and that His Church can be built again on the Rock of Love- just as the Cathedral will be.

Secretary Carson: “40 Acres and a Mule!”

Although I am retired from public ministry, I still like to think that on occasion, I have a voice and something to say about certain issues that either effect Christians, or myself personally.

Today was one of those days.

If you didn’t see what Secretary Carson, the new head of Housing and Urban Development said today, I suggest you check any news site.

Here is my letter to him regarding his shameful comments labeling African slaves as “another form of immigration.”


6 March 2017 letter to HUD Carson address redacted

The wedding crasher…

Recently, I attended a wedding party/reception (but not the actual wedding as it was in Ireland) and there was a wedding crasher of the most unusual sort.. and of course it was meant for me.

I met a very pleasant young man, who was there with his wife, who is a colleague of the groom– lawyers most of them in attendance (this is DC after all- you can’t swing a dead cat without… you know the rest) except this guy: you see, he is a priest.

Well of course, I can’t stop myself in mentioning that I too, am a priest- retired I assured him surely, and we exchanged small talk while waiting in line for the buffet. I certainly could have said, “I’m an ambulance driver” or something and that’s where it would have ended- but not today, and not for me.

We became completely disconnected from the entire reception, each of us casting aside our spouses for the good part of 90 minutes- literally sitting in the middle of the saloon on chairs, all but oblivious to everyone else, engaged in what our spouses and friends laughingly joked was “shop talk.”

Well, it got real…

We talked about the nature of sin, the current environment of “Fearful Christians” and what does it take to get Christians to “Stand up and Look up.” We discussed the state of the church catholic, the pope, gay marriage, female ordination.. the whole gambit.

It was a very deep conversation.. my brain hurt. Not in the “ouch too much tequila and too little memory pain” but in the stretched my brain to places it hasn’t gone in a while pain. Definitely took her out for a good ole run around the block.. it was a good ache, one I have not experienced in a long while.

After we returned to our spouses, I realized how much social justice we were surrounded by in this pub, which donates all it’s profits to open small schools in the 3rd world- 18 to date as I recall. I then realized that even in the midst of the examples of this socially responsible business, we priests had missed something, and it made me ponder what the evening meant.

In the midst of our deep conversation, surrounded by the reminders of social justice mission work, all the other attendees went to eat at the top floor of the bar (think loft space etc.) so there we were, two priests, talking about mission, ministry, lost souls, and getting people to stand up, in this room all alone; or so I thought. You see, off in the corner there was a young man… in a wheelchair… all alone.

It wasn’t until we were done talking and returning, him to his wife, and me to my husband, that we realized this young man was left all alone in a room full of people, seemingly forgotten- even by the priests who spent ninety minutes lamenting the fear Christians hold onto, which makes it too difficult for them to  stand up.

So, I have been pondering this experience all week and what it means. Some of my priest friends feel that events like this are reminders to me of my priesthood and that I should come out of my self-imposed retirement. I’m not so sure. More often than not, I feel God brought me into ministry, and then showed me it was time to step aside.  These reminders of my Christianity are very important to me, and I am certainly open to the gentle wake of the Holy Spirit as it moves through my soul- but I think my time as a true spiritual guide have passed. Still, all in God’s time.

Oh.. almost forgot.. that wedding crasher.. well, I guess I’m not sure. I thought, in my self-centered, self-aware, self-importance ego that the crasher was the Holy Spirit- there to upset my apple cart.

But maybe, The Holy Spirit was there all along, and the man in the wheelchair was his company to keep.

And just maybe, I was the wedding crasher.

May God give you peace…