Saturday, November 19, 2016

Amid dark days, Light pokes

Evergreen hope is heralded amid darker and drearier days four weeks before Christmas, December 25th, observing Christians claim. After all, it is Christmas that historically emerged from the birth of the God-man, Jesus the Christ, who is the "way, the truth and the life" for believers, especially Catholics. No doubt, once the Gospel is fully embraced with followers pressing behind Jesus, divisions, exclusions, absolutes and more will scatter to the sidelines. Until Christians fully claim Christ as the Way, a wandering and wondering culture amid a Divine Disconnect, and, broken world and family, will show its divisive face. That is, a face far from the Christ born centuries ago in Bethlehem, house of bread. Merry Christmas follows after the trek and weeks of Advent when waiting and embracing of the Light in darkness shines brightly.

Give Thanks A Chance

It's the oldest tradition in our Nation. Thanksgiving Day. A festival of family, food and faith in an enlarged "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It is. Indeed. And, in fact. Thanksgiving is a combination of gratefulness and sharing. And, grateful people are happier individuals. After a vitriolic presidential campaign, thanksgiving may well be what this nation needs. While Abraham Lincoln called for a general thanksgivng amid the Civil War, it was Sarah Hale, reports show, who is the Godmother of Thanksgiving Day that was made official by George Washington, other historical notes suggest. Give thanks a chance. It's worth it. After all, it is full of the evergreen virtue of hope founded in faith, for sure.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


We hear about greatness these days. What is it? Is greatness success? Overcoming other nations? Beating the opponent? Is greatness full of virtue, inner strengths? Is it integrity, accountability, thinking and engaging the common good? Greatness is a good thing, no? It is a relative term, isn't it? Greatness is comparative like justice. It is. It's like doing the Creator's justice as the common Word has carried God's way, truth, and life down through the ages. The only problem it seems to me is that we keep thinking this culture has to reconstruct everything, including God's created creatures, humans, and more!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tony Conti (Helinski)

"All for the glory of God." That's what Anthony Helinski who changed his legal name to Conti, wants on his epitaph. After over three months in Angela Hospice in Livonia, Michigan, Tony died Sunday, October 9th at about 2:10 pm. "Prefer nothing to the love of Christ," was his favored quotation while we were classmates at Saint Mary's College, Orchard Lake, MI. Tony savored 'Snoopy' and 'Peanuts,' and, Simon and Garfunkel's, "I Am A Rock!" He did. That was in 1967-71 when the Pittsburgh, PA., native, Tony, drove up Heron Hill in his home steel state of the sports' teams of Steelers and Pirates. The stick-shift automobile began to roll backwards down that hill. My, my.... We safely descended and made our way up once more on to his childhood home, and more. Tony relished showing me around. We worked together on the Orchard Lake Schools' 1971 Eagle Yearbook. Journalism was our joy...and, writing...and putting together letters, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. We composed. We prayed. We learned Polish, Greek, Latin, and English. Aiming toward ordination as pastors was a thrilling adventure. We arrived to be ordained deacons and clergy in 1976. Lots has happened...broken bridges mended and morphed, and more, praise God! Memories of Tony. He would have turned 68 on October 16th. Brain tumors beat his indomitable spirit him as he battled the cancerous sells for months. Tony enjoyed writing, reading, smoking, drinking coffee, and residing in Detroit at 6444 Townsend Street, 48213 ever since I introduced him to Connie and Chuck Conti while we were at Saint John's Seminary, Plymouth, MI., in formation to be ordained Catholic pastors. Tony earned degrees for counseling also, later, while serving at multiple parishes, including, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Detroit, Saint Joseph, Monroe, MI., Sacred Heart, Dearborn, and Saint Ignatius, also in Detroit. Efforts to contact Tony Helinski's family were made. Tony's birth father was to have 'burnt' a family member, admitted Tony once more as his lips pressed a Smoker's Choice cigarette when we sat on the patio at the hospice. Tony told his story. He also reconciled estranged rapport. He articulated well his brain anatomy, and more. Tony told of his demise. He seemed to accept his fate. Weeks ago, when he was still able to stand and consciously decide, we talked about going to Kevan's Grille near Twelve Mile Road and Hayes, in Warren, MI. Nurses OKed our 'night trip' and, I did the necessary paper work to please attorneys . . . and . . . He was buried this past Monday near Charles and Concetta Conti. His temple of the Holy Spirit rests in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Detroit, MI., a site near and dear to my family and me. Our own parents, and PFC Lukas Ventline, among other relatives, are buried there. The loop of loss needs closing. Grieving is like that. A hole in one's heart and soul, or not, the process of grieving, then mourning, mounts for a year or more. It does. Eternal + rest unto Tony, O Lord, and, let perpetual light shine upon him. Lawrence Ventline 25959 Waterway Drive Harrison Twp., MI. 48045

Yemen, Hamtramck, MI., U.S.A., North American Continent

It is in ruin. Yemen is under siege. This ancient land bombarded by Saudi airstrike, note news reports. Yemen citizens reside in Hamtramck, and,Dearborn, Michigan, among other cities across our beloved United States. The wars in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Israel, also, stir feelings that sit restlessly within me. Pictures of innocent and bloodied and bombed children bother me no end. They do. Who will stand up against the aggressors? Who will walk with the metropolitan-Detroit area Yemen people? The victims in Syria? Iraq? Who will talk and negotiate 'safe air space' for the children? Who? Who will walk with residents of metropolitan Detroit, MI., Focus:HOPE, a civil rights and human services icon for over fifty years, founded by the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, for example? Thousands walked in my Motown Sunday at the same time thousands walked in Dearborn, MI., and, pressed for Hussan, for justice, against oppressors? Who? Who will stand with the immigrant citizens in Hamtramck, MI., for example, and, urge safety and security in this 2.2 square-mile town where parents asked me during the Labor Day parade: "Why do our children have to breathe in the marijuana smoke in our neighborhood?" Why? Tell us Hamtramck City Manager Katrina Powell? Tell us Hamtramck Police Chief Anne Moise? Why do you refuse to restrict illegal 'smoke'? When I witnessed at the Hamtramck City Council, you sat passively. Why? The dignity and worth of every human person deserves security, safety, more, no? Stand up with us, Hamtramck, MI., City Council, and, make a difference in a town where parents care about the livelihood of our precious children who play, run, laugh and live as children should. Are you with us? Will you lead and enforce ordinances and laws like the Warren, MI., Mayor Jim Fouts who demands 'Fresh Air' as others and he walks or runs or plays in the streets of this ever-striving safer and securer City? Let us know, please, diverse, rich, and beautiful residents, parents and grandparents, entrepreneurs, mosques, churches, educators, Drug-Free Hamtramck Coalition, Block Clubs, and, Hamtramck, MI., City Manager and City Council? Work for us, please!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Beyond a Boxer, He Was the Greatest!

"I am the Greatest," declared Muhammad Ali who just died. He may have been silenced but this distinguished man still stirs discussion everywhere, it seems. He does. A principled guy for peace and justice he brought home prisoners of war in the first Gulf War, history records. Muhammad was misunderstood much the same way Detroit bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton is not understood for his bringing back home prisoners of war from Vietnam. Gumbleton was called a communist by those who hardly knew him, including some of my family members. Muhammad needed to say that he was the greatest. It was a mantra that marked him as a victor beyond being a victim that many Blacks were branded. Like Pope Francis who is declared a socialist by some, I find myself saying, "Hello, Bergolio is from Argentina, and the Gospel of Saint Luke tells of how the early Way of Jesus shared everything in common. They did. So, what does that make Americans and the man of the hour, namely Ali? We need voices like Ali. Like Gumbleton. Like the Biblical prophets who speak up. They speak truth to power. They stir wrestling within most of us when we get right down to it. We don't like the trust, or, we can't stand the truth. In turn, Martin Luther King, Jr., among others were murdered. Like Jesus who stood up for the "least among us" when others simply sat down. He did. Do we need loud and clearly, clarion-calling voices against violence today? Sure do! While youngsters are mass murdered daily in urban setting, outspoken women and men need to speak up. We have to stand up for the little children who have no voice of their own yet. Who will be the greatest and speak up for the little lambs, so to speak? Who? Ali was the greatest because who sided with the little women and men of America. He was a boxer, for sure. But, beyond boxing, I enjoyed hearing his heart and wisdom unfold with truths. So many trust did Ali tell. Muhammad Ali may be dead, yet his 'bites' do bite us in the collective conscience of a Nation that must choose a path for single-parent households, for boys and girls who need mentors when dads or moms abandon and neglect them. Let the next generation of the greatest, please arise? You are needed as much as Ali, Gumbleton, other prophetic voices who refuse to be quiet even after their final breath. Their truths ring and resound in our ears. Lawrence Matthew Ventline is a Catholic pastor who has been a board certified professional counselor for four decades. Father Ventline is a native of Detroit, MI. Reach him at,

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Floppy discs were in. Back in '76. Microsoft deleted the hyphen between micro and soft. And, along with many others, I said "I do" to a covenant agreement as John Cardinal Dearden ordained me a Catholic pastor on June 4, 1976 in the late Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, Detroit, Michigan USA. To mark milestones of married couples, ministers, and those turning "40" anything, for example, we're meeting in a Mass Mob celebration in the second oldest Catholic edifice in the United States, Sainte Anne de Detroit, Sunday, June 5th, at 12 Noon in the church that the University of Michigan co-found and most famous pastor, Father Gabriel Richard, led for years. Father Richard also ran for, and, won public office when priests were permitted to serve in elected positions. The vibrant liturgy with trumpets and more will honor anniversary milestones of all kinds turning '40.' Welcome all! Ste. Anne Church is located at 1000 Ste. Anne Street next to the Ambassador Bridge in downtown Detroit, MI. Then, Thursday, August 25, 2016 in Saint Lazarus Serbian Orthodox Cathedral at 4275 Van Dyke at East Outer Drive in Detroit, just south of Eight Mile Road, the 33rd Annual Missing and Murdered Molly Bish Benefit Day will be observed along with the 25th Anniversary of Care of the Soul and Companions Counseling & the All-Faiths Festival. A complimentary meal will be served. Please reserve your seat with Lori Tims at, or, 586 925 7617 ASAP. 40 is big and mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. That number -- 40 -- usually refers to deliverance from captivity and exodus to a promised land, such as the Israelites deliverance from the Pharaoh of Egypt into Palestine. The big 40. 40. 40 years ago was the year 1976. Moments and milestones marking deliverance to promise, purpose and more, praise God!