Sunday, May 30, 2010

Young Adults

Young adults from the University of Toledo accompanied campus chaplain, Jim Bacik, to a Woodhaven, MI., church last week.

Seven types of millenial Catholics were listed for a group called, Elephants in the Living Room, a group of pastors with support from parishioners. They engage problems the church isn't discussing, according to organizers of the lecture.

Collegians have grown up with "greater religious pluralism than their grandparents," according to Bacik who has been a teacher and campus minister at the campus parish in Toledo.

Among the types of of spirituality - awareness of God and others - of Catholic college students who make up thirty per cent of the collegiate population, according to Bacik, are those whose current concerns are eclipsed beyond religion and those who are absorbed in their study; those who hold for a private faith; those who want to work with other denominations (ecumenical); those satisfied with Catholic Mass and sacraments; those embracing social teaching and, a "green" approach to faith; and those collegians who join groups to share their faith.

Bacik said Catholic collegians have moved beyond categories of conservative or liberal, for example, and, although they have little awareness of the progressive, ecumenical Second Vatican Council, (1962-65) these Catholics have similar longings for purpose like other Catholics.

The "age-old struggle between grace and sin" is part of their makeup, Bacik concluded.

Hope surrounds Catholics, nevertheless, and, engaging young adults, the campus minister said, is "our basis."

For more information, contact,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Military Memorial

Men and women of the military are remembered Memorial Day.

They gave.

Today, they give us their memory.

And, much more.

PFC Lucas Ventline led a full life cut short at 23 in Vietnam along with 58,000 other Americans, let alone other casualties of the other "side" who matter also.

One world requires imagination to end war as a means to settle disagreements. There are not sides, or, teams.

Either we learn to live as one, or, we will die across the globe.

A soldier's destiny rests in the hands of those who experience what Winston Churchill called, a statesman's "stress of soul."

Keeping faith forever with the fallen that favors living together in dialog beyond conflict and battle comes from this stress of soul that must be a guiding light in search of tomorrow all the days of our life with the young and the restless, for sure.

We will sing, God Bless America, and proudly so.

Perhaps, by now, it is also time to bless God, to be a blessing for God who would want us to wage war no more, I'm sure.

While I place a U.S. flag at my brother's grave today where he rests next to mom and dad in Mount Olivet Cemetary in Detroit, Michigan, I will also connect with Lucas, with the Creator,
and with the billions who breathed thier final breath of life in battles brewing everywhere, it seems these days, near and far, in families at home, in hearts far off.

Evergreen hope, I pray, will buoy a time when primitive war and nuclear weapons will be no more.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guns, A Grenade, And A Child

Aiyana was seven when it is alleged that a grenade went through the window of her home where the kid on the couch was shot, apparently with a gun.

A packed Second Ebenezer Church flowed with tears, chants and the search for "Somebody in the Neighborhood Who Can Fix This," one preacher pronounced and pleaded passionately.

President Obama was also sent a letter, another preacher said, to come to Detroit and "heal this problem, as you go to Iraq in war there."

The plot is thick and the possibilities greater to "fix" this pathology, this problem, Pastor Edgar Vann pleaded.

Words are insufficient.

By their fruits, we shall know them, Jesus said. By now, the rot is rat infested with talk.

Action needed now. Together.

Time magazine featured Clement Kern on its cover decades ago when the Corktown pastor of Holy Trinity in downtown Detroit wanted the people "no one else wants."

I cry for them.

Imagine the solution they could bring to the table. If only we would welcome the warming and hospitality center folks of St. Aloysius Church where Archbishop Allen Vigneron works nearby.

Novelists, other writers, community leaders, teachers, parents, psycholgists and the other finest minds can fix this fractured infrastructure, Kern believed as he challenged contemporaries to come together and imagine the way out of this desperate situation.

Saint Rita is the patron of desperate situations. Her feast day celebration and roots run deep in relationships with us. She was plagued with domestic violence from her husband. She found a way to work it out.

Desperate people do desperate things.

We're desperate enough by now.

Somebody in the neighborhood can fix this problem.

Bring 'em on now.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mandela Moment

His Long Journey Home book impressed me.

Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after a quarter-century, released of the bars that confined him.

Still, he seemed "free" even before the bars lifted to let this man go!

Perhaps as eventful and stunning was his willingness to forgive his enemies who locked him up.

That kind of forgiveness, penance and reconciliation, is a lesson to learn in relations with others.

Deep dignity, compassion and real democracy for his country are gifts, for sure.

While reading his trek I was touched by his deliverance from resentment, from the French, meaning, re-sent, I'm told, until I "let go" of that festering unhealed wound within. Sealed resentments are returned to sender, if you will, to paraphrase a popular song, until he or she releases the wound and the wounder for that matter.

Mandela is a model for us to do that for a better world.

Following Jesus, he forgave, let go, loved his enemies in spite of their own sin and shortcomings that put him in jail unjustly. Yet, like St. Paul, who wrote most of the Christian Scriptures, there was no concealing of the Word of God in jail for Mandela as well. Life poured forth despite bars.

Both knew how to live and love in their time of oppression.

They were imaginative and nurturing.

Mandela planted a garden near his cell. More life behind bars.

His meaning kept him free behind closed doors.

Richard Stengal blesses our roots and relationships with his latest tome, Nelson Mandela's Way: 15 Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage.

A Mandela moment. A model supreme.

Relearning penance and forgiveness as Benedict XVI admonishes his Church and culture to learn, practice and relish once more.

We all can.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To the Graduates: A Pastor's Perspective

Rounding the bases of life with a high school diploma, a degree, or some technical expertise that enhances your meaning and life, and the common good in tough times is worthy of praise, for sure.


However you may have been nicknamed or labeled while growing up, remember, that is far from all of who you are as a person created in God's image and likes as the Good Book says.

People tend to categorize, pigeon-hole and need to keep you "small" in the eyes of the world, or, the local, competitive market. Some want to divide and conquer and be one-up-on you. Go figure!

You are bigger, brighter, better! Studies show that babies know the difference between good and evil at six months, I'm told. Even the animal world has a moral make-up, scientists says. They feel compassion for the anguishing human being.

Be big from within your best self while the world wants to you be a super star who rakes in the cash at any price, who wants you to be Hollywood's prettiest, with a small soul inside however, so often. Don't be short on service, sitting with the mobs when your voice needs to rise. Even if you're solo in stepping up to the plate for the common good. Be unafraid to stand alone. Leadership is like that!

Believe it!

Be all you can be in the game of life. But, amid the trek, triumph and success that graduation may bring, be fair, kind, and looking out for the underdog. Many fit that fact today. Thousands are down and out, without work, without purpose in some cases, unsure, even lost in the culture that formed and shaped them. Speak up when others choose to sit like Eleanor Josaitis and the late Father William Cunningham who stood when most sat during Detroit's unrest and riots.

Some may lack ethics and morality in the race of a dog-eat-dog world of war raging the world over.

Remember the battle, nevertheless, here at home:

Hungry people near and far,
heartache in need of hope hovering here,
attachment disorders that bring their own package of consequences,
drugs and alcohol dependency,
homelessness, joblessness, those few without faith even.

All of those social ills to face while nations itch to use nuclear weapons. You can help carve a saner path than primitive ways of settling conflict and war. You can! Packed with patience you can change the course and create a new chapter for peace. Hawks like the Henry Kissinger of years ago, now calls for an end to building nuclear bombs by all.

Altruism - that selfless giving can still reign supreme despite what the culture says.

Authenticity and integrity are crowns to wear wisely and well within one's heart to practice

Roots and relationships require taking time for others, including
courtesy and the "courtliness" of compassion and care for all that is fading fast in this society.

Connections with other humans require a pause to greet and welcome your neighbor and
passers-by in the middle of a huge shortage of trust bouncing about everywhere it seems.

After all that is said and done, remember that you can morph and mend a broken heart at home, the job you land, the post-graduate school classmate you sit next to, the neighbor without work, the vulnerable youngster looking for support, the older resident who is ignored, forgotten and perceived as unproductive now after decades of service for the common good and welfare of all.


Me seems to be in. And, we and the society, the subdivision one lives in, the cliques formed to exclude, point to narcissistic personality disorder, to use a clinical phrase.

Me. Myself. And, I.

They last for a limited amount of time. They grow old fast. Without selfless energy they end up empty, dry and without life.

Dear grad:
Remember you are more than "me, myself and I." You are part of the story that came before and will continue after your stunning stint for some decades here. You are part of the global pie, larger than who you may have been raised to be, or told to be, or, made to feel to be, for sure, but, you are a child of the universe, an individual with dignity, yet, one of many trying to make it these days in a tough economy.

From the many, one.

That resounds in America, at least in print, waiting to bond you, the grad, with the billions of inhabitants vying for a piece of the Earth and a space on which to reside well for some limited decades of life before death.

You help to bring that phrase to fruition. It is not easy. You will need at least one good friend with acquaintances to hold you up on this fragile planet. But, one must lead, and get the "ball" rolling as it were. Do it!

11,176 people viewed Ernie Harwell's body and the voice that led people to come together in Comerica Park. His announcing of the Detroit Tiger baseball boys of summer's rite resounds in the clarion call to bring people together beyond partisan politics and voting along party lines alone. You can be the one to do this! Believe in yourself, but others welfare also, and God always. Be passionate, purposeful and network building with a vision for more than just yourself and your bank account.

Others will follow the leader.

With the help of God, be that leader, I beg.


The world needs you now.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Relearning Penance, Pope Appeals

Penance needs to be relearned, according to Pope Benedict XVI. He proposed getting back to penance as leaders take more responsibility for misues of trust and abuse of children by priests.

Not only that, but silence and an alleged cover-up is as alarming.

Karl Menninger, the psychiatrist, years ago asked, Whatever became of sin?

Perhaps the pontiff's plea is what is needed for sure. Starting with leaders, of course. Isn't that where leadership starts in the first place?

A Mass of reconciliation, recitation of the Stations of the Cross, and more, will morph and mend that sense of sin we seem to have lost as Menninger asks.

To do any less will keep this unhealed wound festering on many fronts.

I hope the right thing will be done . . . this time. To begin to heal and restore respect, it is required penance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

+ Sophia, Mother-in-law of My Boyhood Friend

Sophia died of a stroke late last month and her daughter Renia of Livonia, Mi., grieved deeply before being cleared for an international flight home to Poland. "I never saw her grieve so and she hit the floor upon hearing of her mom's death," her husband Ray voiced with animation.

Ray is a boyhood chum of mine from Detroit's east side near the City Airport where we grew up, asked me why we embalm our deceased. In Poland, he said, they refrigerate the deceased.

Sophia was "waked" in the backyard of the home she and her husband and family owned. All the village seemed to visit, Ray said, showing me photos of Sophia, and, a Mass card someone sent to remember Sophia and pray for the day as the Scriptures suggest is a good thing. Ray seems to be readying himself for his own dad's exit, I thought, as he took time to show me flowers, gifts and notes of concern and condolences sent to his wife renia, a native of Poland.

"More and more people can't afford a funeral in the USA," Ray said, as his son, Matthew looked on from his blackberry and computer, seemingly glued to his dad's voice.

Apparently, funeral homes required embalming. It is not law, however, Ray said.

Image and appearance is important in America, I thought. Refrigeration doesn't make the dead look so polished and pleasant.

Paying through the nose then is the lone option.

More people are contesting funerals these days with shorter visitation time. They also are opting for cremation.

My friend also mentioned in my pastoral visit to his home that Mt. Carmel Parish in Wyandotte is among the few cemetaries that are eco- and environmentally friendly.


Our deep roots and relationships brought Ray, Renia, Matt and me together at the death of +Sophia.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Her, O Lord!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010



The word is derived from Greek, meaning, God within.


When God is near, close to my heart, and, within, where
God loves to be, I imagine, I am an enthusiastic person.

Time taken to connect with the Creator helps. When I pause
and ponder the power of the Maker, something changes and morphs
inside me. I become better.

There is something about an enthusiastic person. The smile, the
joy, the motivation moves me.


Ther recipe is a simple one, yet, difficult to do: Be still. Take time to
connect with the Creator. Pause to recreate. In turn, be energized
to be enthisaistic with passion for the task at hand, the person I meet,
the smile that engages another human being.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Voice of Ernie Harwell +

Ernie's voice followed me everywhere growing up:

While I cut the grass, Harwell's voice boomed big and bold and deep.

While playing ball with chums, Ernie's voice was background hype.

His voice will be missed. I will remember it encompassing much of my childhood.

As I delivered newspapers, the transistor radio sounded the voice of Tiger town

He round the bases of life. A gentle legend. A large life. An unforgettable voice.

I will round the bases Thursday to bid adieu to Ernie Harwell... a believer who was
bold in example, in living, in an unforgettable voice I want to remember 'til I round my final bases of life.

Marriage and Family

Talk about roots and relationships.

Certainly marriage and family have deep roots in our society.

Marriage and family will be discussed Friday, May 7th at 7:30 pm in the American Islamic Community Center on Dequinder, just north of Eleven Mile Road in Madison Heights, MI., 48071,
And, jut like family, a light dinner will be served. Call 248 584 4100 for more information.

Rabbi Mordehai Waldman, Dr. John Kinkel and Mohamed Abbass will address the topic.
Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives will be shared.

This is a fitting way to get to know our faith traditions and the deep roots within them for marriage and family. Perhaps you have a question about marriage and family.

An Oakland University professor, Dr. John Kinkel, notes:

"My first thoughts on marriage come from the Bible, Genesis 1:26. God made humans in "our image and likeness." Man and women, he created them. And all was good. These are powerful words. My wife, Norma, and I reflected on this passage when our daughter, Danielle was married two months ago."

Join me at this event.

Let's support marriage and family and the roots within them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mother's Day

Reminders of Mother's Day pop up everywhere.

Although my own mother died at 54 of colon cancer I recall her regularly.

Moms are the first teachers. Moms show us how to love.

My own mom raised seven of us, including two sets of twins. Mom married dad during the Depression. Mom hailed from Cheboygan, Michigan. The money she earned in Detroit was ent home to help her family.

Moms teach us hospitality. My mom could stretch hamburger to feed the nine of us. How did my mom and dad ever do it? They did what they had to!

May is mom's special month. Their children make their first communion when Christians remember what Jesus did at the last supper showing us all how to give, forgive and live loving lives.
May is Mary's month also. Mary, the mother of God, has a colorful ring of tulips and marigolds placed on her head in grade school. We would sing: "We crown you with blossoms today...

Catholics pray the rosary more in May: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Children are closest to mom. Mom is the center of the family. Perhaps because mom carried me to fruition.

A dose of mom's love goes a long way. Always will. Thanks mom! I love you!

Remember mom May 9th.