Friday, June 28, 2013

Good-bye Saint Peter, Harper Woods, MI., and Saint Sylvester, Warren, MI


That is not enough when loss is endured.

After decades these two churches close Sunday with services in the morning at each edifice.

Then what?

Another gathering with a meal follows for each parish community.

Grief entails that.

Loss is hard.

After investments of self, our sources, and more, these communities go their way Sunday.

How sad.

Sadder is witnessing to the multiple churches and schools imploding.

When my own parish church of Saint Thomas closed over thirty years ago, people knelt on the steps ascending to the multiple doors of the Romanesque edifice.

Parishioners protested.

They did.

Today, learned helplessness abounds.

A shortage of priest personnel prompts the shuttering across the nation.

Lack of sources, and imagination is also a cause of closure.

Communities need to come together.

Originally, in homes, at the seashore and elsewhere, people met and prayed and praised.

We can do this.

We will.

God is here.


Building Bridges

Linking lives, building bridges, reconciling hearts that are bruised and broken.

That's hard work.

Yet, the Church wants to link arms with the followers of all religions.

The aim in this fruitful dialog is to see the true good of everyone and of the culture and society as well.

Derided by conflicts, violence and raging and waging wars, we long and yearn for serenity and peace.

Peace comes from God.

Peace is prayed for from, with  God, the source of it.

Living out on this planet urges us to see peace as a duty and obligation.  All of us are in need to working for peace.  Dialogue is vita to this initiative to live together well.

We must become architects and artisans of peace daily.

God summons us to live and work for peace.

I'm hoping clergy will join Rabbi Dorit Edut, Imam Abdullah El-Amin and me Wednesdays at 12 noon in La Dolce Vita Restaurant to step up to the plate for dialogue in a fledgling Detroit, and world.

Write us at, will you?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nutrition the Natural Way

God is natural.

Human nature longs to be natural also.

In eating, for example.

Raw is good.

Fresh-cut apples, green beans, beets, and more.

The Sacred Scriptures are the place to go for natural.

With Harrison Township seniors yesterday at the Tucker Center in Harrison Township, Michigan, where I live, these elderly listened engagingly.

I shared confidential information with them about God's food.

Cut cucumbers and zucchini squash in raw!

For sure.

Some sea salt, basil and dill, and a bit of oregano with pure virgin oil and Chinese cabbage for color.

Adam and Eve didn't cook anything.

Eat it raw.

God's way.

Sunday's Sermon: Saving Grace

At noon each day at Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish School on Detroit's east side, a bell chimed for my classmates and me to pray the famous Angelus, "the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary."

The conventional 'Hail Mary' prayer followed repeatedly.

There's something about bells booming about in my mind these days.

Perhaps its the upcoming Independence Day next week.

I don't know.

A tall bell tower erected toward the clouds of heaven, so to speak, regularly sounded like the routine meals of breakfast, lunch and supper with my nine-member family, Chipper, and some chums from the neighborhood who stay around to taste my mom's apple pie.

Go figure.

Mary's Jesus in her own tabernacle is what this prayer is about, it seems to me.

The Angel Gabriel invites Mary and us to cooperate in God's loving plan of creation.

Human, even regional cooperation of the metropolitan area of Detroit, Michigan, in this town's hour of need, comes to mind also.

The prophets Elijah and Elisha are challenged in their call to help undo the idolatry of a nation that chose it over God.

No easy summoning for Mary, me, and prophets to be sure.

Even the disciples seemed 'luke warm' and tepid with the Good News of Jesus.  They were afraid as we are of it at times. 

It asks much of us.

Joy and serenity, however, follow and flow freely from within the recesses of our hearts.

Like me.

Perhaps, like you also?

Attachments to idols in our time and culture are common.

And, to drugs and others attachment disorders of substances or process addictions.

Life is like that when one loses or forgets meaning as the aim of life. Lesser gods follow.

They swallow up meaninglessness. They steer us down alleys and foreign places we best leave and let be.  We get trapped at time too.

We return to God's way and Word.  And, we are full of wonder once more.

Freedom is a grace and blessing.

It is a favor.

"Be it done unto me according to your word," we may say in unison with Mary, a disciple of the Lord.  The first disciple, some say.

God's freedom soars surer and sounder than the freedom we know in this land.

We seek it.

The Word and Eucharist nourish us on our way toward freedom.

Reviving Ringing Bells for Fourth of July

In 1963 bells chimed in on Independence Day, July 4th.

"Let's ring freedom bells!"

Those wondrous words sounded out with the hymn of bells abounding throughout America.

Why not ring bells again this Fourth of July as we savor liberty and justice for all?

On this 237th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America, let the rings roll mightily across the land at 2 pm July 4th.

Why not revive this cherished tradition that had its beginnings with President John F. Kennedy?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"They Weren't Making Fun of Detroit in 1943"

That's the topic set for Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11 am in the Michigan Military Technical  and Historical Society, 16600 Stephens Road, Eastpointe, MI., 48021.

Doors open at 10 am for exhibit tours.

Visit for more.

Harry T. Cook is the speaker at the site that chronicles Michigan in defense of democracy, its emblematic theme notes.

Our Fifteenth Anniversary of Care of the Soul Companions All Faiths Festival (AFF)


That's Care of the Soul Companions All Faiths Festival (AFF).

We're fifteen.

Imagine that, will you?

An adolescent in terms of age.

And, our mission has been over the decade and one half to ignite each one's dignity and worth by awakening it in self and others.

We began in 1998 in Saint James Church in Ferndale, MI., with Robert Wurm, a pastor there, enthusiastically inviting us to be there to serve the people of God.

On the East Side, we were at Saint Malachy Church, Sterling Heights, simultaneously, with multiple growth groups at each site. Jospeh Gembala, a pastor there, would spend plenty of time before and after my individual counseling sessions. In fact, he relished conversing early after 9:30 am Mass almost daily.  I'd remind him my code of ethics of the APA required me to be prompt with patients as a board certified professional counselor.  We even celebrated 25 years of service there as an ordained person with an engaging party after Mass. Thanks to Fr. Joe Gembala and Fr. Bob Wurm for their graious hosting.

At others sites we were treated as outsiders to say the least.  And, ignored by parishioners, we carried on, yet,
words spread quickly that "they" were here again!

God is in that also, however.  We learned a lot.  We felt in some way how people were categorized as mentally ill, as addicts, and more, sad to say, by so-called Christians.

Grief groups, a class in acceptance inspired by the late Edward D. Popielarz, 12 Step sessions, local retreats at St. Paul, Detroit, Manresa Jesuit, and more, including, Gethsemane, Kentucky where Father Louis Mertin is buried, and sung evening prayer with psalms rounded off some of the vibrant beginnings.

Currently, I meet informally with individuals for sessions in the Harrison Township Community Center, and, in Big Jack's Bar-B-Que Grille in Roseville, MI., on the first Monday and third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 pm. Reservations for the wholistic, aerobic and anarobic exercise, nutrition counseling from the Sacred Scriptures, pastoral and clinical counseling, monthly morphing, mending, accepting, and spiritual direction, and more, are appreciated at, or, (313) 530 2777.

Memories abound as this country doctor-like pastor moves across the AOD, MI., where this counseling emerged.  It is time to celebrate once more with a 2 pm Mass, and more, Sunday, September 8th in a site TBD with dinner at Big Jack's in Roseville, following for all.

It will be a Gratitude Gala at 15.

Be there!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Things Pope Francis Implies

The curious and faithful were captured when Pope Francis engaged the imagination of billions worldwide.

Francis rode the bus with other cardinals, paid his own hotel bill, and said at dinner after he stepped onto the balcony when white smoke showed him to be the new pope:

"God forgive you!"

Because he enjoys diversity he also appreciates unity to enrich the dialog and to address common issues by religious people, among others, as Fulton Sheen, a New York bishop said long ago.  Sheen, an outstanding orator and media specialist knew how to imagine a fresh world, suggesting that all religious people can come together to pray, but don't have to be one religion.

He is humble.


And, funny with a sense of humor.

He stays close to the people and those hurting or excluded, for sure.

The evergreen virtue of hope enfolds him.

He is a Franciscan, a "green" pope.

Are we all, then?

Pope Francis is one to watch after a dry spell.  He lives in the trenches with people and wants to lift up life.

I cried hours after I realized who will now steer us Catholics, and the faithful the world over.

Something was freed up within me after a wind that seemed stale.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who We Are and Are Not

Recently I recalled how groups and organizations, even parties define themselves and are bonded together in a negative way.

They're defined by who they are against, who is their enemy, what they do and do not do.

It seems we always have to have an enemy to be against in living daily.

They're wrong. 

We're right. 

Of course.

That's how it works these days.

We have to have a problem.

It's them.

This country or that.

Detroit, or Flint, Michigan.

They're the problem.

The issue.

Old people.  Young people. 

The neighbors.

Same gender attracted are the problem.

Instead of being aware and awake to resolving the issue positively, we're obsessed with "them," the enemy.

We may find it beneficial to stop being against anyone, anything.

Understanding one's story and why she or he may be the way they are is worth exploring beyond ousting, condemning, rejecting and excluding them.

Of course, one needs to call sin for what it is today.

Evil has to be identified.

However, religion leads.

It has a prophetic role otherwise religion is self-referential alone.

Pope Francis said the Church has become too self-referential.  It needs to reach out with Matthew 25.

This can happen  largely by way of experiencing those we are against and excluding.

Starting with their own story of pain works well.

Try it.

You may find this a fruitful way to live without rejecting and being against anyone.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Being positive, taking care of one's self, and exercising and eating non-processed foods are key to health.


The Gospels are always about life, breathing and resuscitation of those without breath.


God is about living, loving, letting be!  Like Mary, mother of Jesus!  Mary was always about letting it be!  Let it be!

What an attitude to be well, wonderful and fruitful.


Grace, favor, blessing all build on human nature, for sure.

If a negative thought would never cross our lips, life would be different, well!

Only the positive grows well, and health, and more.

Be well.

Be positive.

It the best way to live life in love.


Friday, June 7, 2013

A Hearty Hug for Detroit

Marge Hallman of  East Point, Michigan enjoys a hearty hug after eight decades of living her life well, she says.

Detroit got a huge hug from cheerleaders the other day.

Civic leaders, including clergy and the interfaithful, gathered at the iconic Focus:HOPE that was founded by the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis in the late '60s when Detroit erupted in riots.

Among the Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders was 36th District Court Judge Brenda Sanders and senior editor of The Michigan Chronicle, Bankole Thompson.  He addressed "Civic Responsibility and Detroit's Future."

A series of "speak up" sessions have been held in the metropolitan Detroit area since Summer, 2011. They aim to support Detroit in its crisis.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed in the clergy," confessed Thompson, referring to religious leaders and their lack of willingness to step up to the plate.  The activist speaker and cheerleader for Detroit received a rousing round of applause following his speech of twenty minutes.

Responders to Thompson's talk included the Rev. David Kasbow of Unification, Pastor Sidney Griffin of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Detroit, Rabbi Dorit Edut who has ties to Isaac Agree Downtown Temple,  and, Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Detroit Muslim Center.  He urged education about each faith tradition's teaching to prevent misunderstanding and lessen tensions in the area.

Mark Shifflett of Waterford, MI., attended with his mother, Joan Shifflett who resides in Sterling Heights, MI.  Shiffletter persisted in telling participants that "Detroit needs to pick up its litter."

El-Amin agreed.

"We can all do that!"

Dozens of faithful cheered Detroit in Roseville at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on December 5, 2011, including Rabbi Mordehai Waldman of Oak Park, Roseville State Representative Harold Haugh, Mohamed Abbass of the American-Islamic Community Center in Madison Heights, Center Line resident Paul Domenick, and Fraser resident Al Bileti.

Organizers claimed that Detroiters and suburbanites could do "a better job of following Jesus' to love one another," said Sandra Bell of the Inclusive Communities Uniting (ICU) another planner of the session Thursday, with Care of the Soul Companions All Faiths Festival. 

The groups promoted support for their Declaration for Life urging an end to conflict and division in and outside the womb, and a Macomb County Community Marriage Policy that aims to strengthen families, and, those in crisis.

"This was an enthusiastic and explosive gathering that ignited us at Focus:HOPE, pulling together clergy in revitalizing Detroit starting now," shouted Pastor Sidney Griffin, a longtime supporter of Detroit.

Griffin, a vocal and assertive pastor for over four decades is set to host the same group on July 25 at 11:45 am.  A proposed "peaceful bridge-building walk along  Van Dyke at Eight Mile up to Toepher into Warren is scheduled for August 22nd, according to Griffin.

Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts are invited, along with their city councils, and other civic leaders, including churches of all faith traditions, planners said.

Although officials from Detroit did not attend the meeting, Director of Community Relations, Frazier Kimpson participated in the meeting two years ago.  At that meeting, he said:  "I think the church community is going to have to pull us all together."

Kevin Orr, a bankruptcy attorney, is the emergency manager for Detroit. He's meeting with creditors and unions these days trying to avert Detroit's bankruptcy.

A picnic at the historic Belle Isle Park in Detroit is set for August 11th.  Hundreds attended last summer at the park that the State of Michigan want to take over.  The City of Detroit resisted, however.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hope Against Darkness

It was Francis of Italy who asked God to be made an instrument of peace.

Francis was asked to "rebuild my church."  And, brick by brick, was his intention and first as he honored the Maker's request.

Morphing and mending a broken community and culture was the aim, however.

We need Francis in today's time's when the world seems divided between those who believe and those who reject God and religions.

Catholics recall and lean on the communion of saints for help in troubled times. 

This past Sunday, in conversation with Lutheran pastors and their congregations who assembled in a restaurant in Marine City, Michigan, the enthusiasm loomed large.

Serenity and peace pervaded among the interfaithful.

It felt good to be among people who looked for light amid days of darkness, perhaps doubt, even depression, for some, I imagine.

Life is like that.

Francis, a man of peace, invokes joy where there may be sadness.

Interfaith dialog is key to common strength in addressing problems pervading us.

Introducing interfaith dialogue where people gather over breakfast, after Mass, at home and school all seems to happen as people have no need of defining it as such.  They just do it! 

They're interfaithful without any fanfare and drama.

Religious people can come together not necessarily to be of one religion, but to join on their needs in prayer to help solve general problems of the day.  They can strengthen marriage and family, address quality of life issues and help all live in security and safety with effective schools.

We all can in the spirit of Francis, the saintly sultan who served to lift up life at its lowest in the trenches where people live, suffer, enjoy, die and rise.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday Sprint

What a Sunday.  And, Saturday as well.

I mean as full, demanding and. . .

Like your own, perhaps?

The whirlwind blitz started Saturday with the sacrament of reconciliation and mass at St. Catherine in Algonac, MI., followed by a counseling session in the area, and a visit with Canadian divinity students at Holy Cross in Marine City, clustered at Our Lady of the River now with St. Mark, Harsen Island included in the threesome.

Other visitors who may show up, I was told, were flying bats in the rectory where I planned to lodge overnight before the Sunday blitz of 8 am mass with another following at 9:30 for college and high school grads. Ready for battle, I was told there's a tennis racket by the stairwell.  When I went upstairs I felt a lack of any cool air and said, "Wow, no air conditioning up here," as I quickly descended  downstairs to move together two soft sitting chairs for my makeshift bed.  They  kept moving apart through the night while I shifted and had happy dreams about God.

A reception followed that young people's mass before I walked over to Riveria Restaurant where I figured many parishioners would be enjoying each other over breakfast with the picturesque treat  overlooking Lake St. Clair and the Canadian border.


Lutheran Pastor Hoarr was  moving about greeting his parishioners while we crossed paths and began a lovely inter-religious dialog.  That will be ongoing, I'm sure!  Awesome parishioners.  Fans of Father Martin Luther, a decent human who I respect. We need to talk more with each other, and other faith traditions.  Taking time to talk is key to a fruitful world.

What a pleasant conversation even before with a dozen of Lutherans from St. Martin's nearby.

Once we cut the ice, and created common ground, a few parishioners joked with me about Father Martin Luther.  "He helped us Catholics hew some teachings on indulgences, simony and more," I shouted in the noisy place with a full house.

We were off to an enduring dialog before a deacon from the church surprised me, asking if I was to have been at St. Catherine's for the 11:30 am mass.

"Oh, oh," I thought, I recalled weeks ago that a call came for me to revise my schedule and add yet a third mass to this full plate!

Imagining how to fix this situation that I was late for already by fifteen minutes into the start of the mass, the deacon made a call to the church telling people to lead the liturgy of the Word while I arrive for the liturgy of the Eucharist that followed.

"This is so absurd," I complained on the way over.

A personnel problem that should have gone away in the 60s at Vatican II emerged in my many thoughts as I followed boats on trailers pulled by jeeps or oversized trucks.


And, slowing my arrival.

"Father, I want you to know where we are," a parishioner shouted in the vestry when I did arrive.

"I know where we are,"  I replied, hearing  petitions read over the "mike." Canned prayers of the faithful  should be replaced for spontaneous general intercessions of parishioners, anyway, I thought as I put on a stole.

A grateful crowd appreciated the efforts to do yet another mass that day with a 50th anniversary of Jerome Singer immediately after in Detroit, and, a 7 pm in Clinton Township after viewing the Ten Commandments at the AMC Gratiot Theatre nearby.

On my way west on M-29 (23 Mile Road) I turned back to Immaculate Conception in Anchorville to say hello to Joe Esper. He left, it was reported, for the 2 pm graduation mass of Cardinal Mooney High School. (Someone told me I should be at that mass also.  Go figure!)

A whirlwind blitz.

It persists.

After dropping off Woofie, my Bichon Frise, I headed west on I-94 to Nativity Church on Gratiot and McClellan.  A full church was listening to stories about Jerry Singer.  Muddled some via the michrophone I went back outside for some conversation with bystanders awaiting some sandwich wraps in an yard reception at the historic inner-city church.

I tire jut reporting this litany of events.

In the life of a pastor.

Whew.... I gasp.

When will it all change?

The Rise and Meteoric Fall of the Catholic Church, a new tome by Russell Shaw came to mind.

I hope there isn't a fall.

But, stand by, there are more surprises everyday by those in charge.

Imagine that. 

Some quiet reflection after supper found me settled into my e-z chair savoring the respite.

I thank God no end.