This week The Catholic Review
is saying goodbye and best wishes to web editor Jennifer Williams
. And I am offering my own Kudos for a job well done to this former student turned friend.
Since 1999, Jenn has been part of The Catholic Review team that brings news of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to our community and to the world. But I knew Jenn before she had an inkling that journalism was going to be part of her future vocational calling.
A 1995 graduate of The John Carroll School
where I served for many years in the Religion Department and as Campus Minster, Jennifer first experienced the thrill of seeing her writings published while in high school. She worked on the staff of the literary magazine Pinnacle
during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. (Also contributing to this magazine was her 1995 classmate Father John Rapisarda
Jenn moved into journalism during her junior and senior years, working on the newspaper staff of the Patriot
while remaining a staff member of Pinnacle
. It's hard to believe that she also found time to run cross country and track all four years, attain academic membership in the National Honor Society, all while achieving perfect attendance for those four years. That's a real accomplishment!!
After graduating from John Carroll, Jenn attended the former College of Notre Dame of Maryland, majoring in Communication Arts. A summer internship after her sophomore year with The Aegis
in Bel Air led to a full-time position there as a staff reporter. And a post-graduate internship with Baltimore Sun
features editor Mary Corey was a career highlight. Jenn later wrote about the impact of this successful editor as a mentor and a professional role model
when Corey died at age 49 from breast cancer in 2013.
Joining the staff of The Catholic Review in 1999, Jenn rose through the journalistic ranks from staff writer to news editor to web editor, learning and implementing the latest technologies as the field of journalism changed to adapt to the culture of the times. She has received awards from a number of press associations along the way.
During her years on the CR staff, Jenn has written literally hundreds and hundreds of articles.
Among her favorites are:
~"Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter successfully closes on his Catholic faith," on his faith journey to the Catholic Church before his 2014 marriage.
(Photo: Tom McCarthy Jr. | CR Staff)
My earlier connection with Jennifer during her high school years came full circle in 2012 when she and former social media specialist Matt Palmer
invited me to start blogging for The Catholic Review
. Jenn and Matt, through our Facebook networking, knew that I was handling an extraordinary amount of pastoral care and grief crisis ministry
that summer and they invited me to write about my experiences. What followed was the beginning of "God is in the Clouds
I had lunch the other day with Jenn and "Open Window
" blogger Rita Buettner. Jenn told us that one of the best parts of the past sixteen years with The Catholic Review
has been meeting so many different people in her travels throughout the archdiocese.
I will surely miss working with Jennifer as I continue to write my blog. And it will be strange not seeing her name pop up in my email inbox twice a week with the latest CR e-newsletter. But I know that our longtime relationship is not over.
Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
Yes, times change. I can vouch for that as I have certainly changed and transitioned especially over this past year since my retirement from ministry at John Carroll. And now it's time for Jenn to experience her own new chapter.
Jenn wrote a poem during her junior year of high school in the John Carroll Pinnacle entitled "Future of the Graduate." Though it speaks of the collective group of high school seniors moving on to a future filled with college and the certain anxiety that accompanies that transition, it surely, on second reading, reflects the mixed bag of emotions that all of us face when confronting change.
My prayer for Jenn on the road ahead is that joy, laughter, and good health be part of the journey and that her abiding faith sustain her whenever the path gets rocky.
May she know the love and prayers of those who treasure being part of her journey.
"Future of the Graduate"
~Jenn Williams '95
Where are you going?
Who do you want to be?
I can't see into the future--
Only inside of me.
Everything changes when you ask me Why?
Afraid I won't make it-
or maybe that I will.
Wondering if my success is your failure-
Sorry- if it is.
Worried that I'll somehow miss out...
Laughing if I do.
Call me. Ask me. Tomorrow.
It's the future that I dread.
Right now I'm feeling happy,
I've got daisies in my head!
Published in the 1994 Pinnacle, literary magazine of The John Carroll School
during Jennifer's junior year of high school.
May 20, 2015 11:17
By Patti Murphy Dohn
George's Mom, Eleanor Dohn, now age 96, lives in Getzville, New York near Buffalo: This photo was taken after her graduation from high school.
My husband and I spent three days in Buffalo last week visiting George's Mom. George grew up in the town of Clarence, just northeast of the city. His parents had a home there for over fifty years just off Main Street.
His Mom, Eleanor, now age 96, always saves some mail for us to go through when we visit since her eyesight has been failing in recent years. One of the items in the bag was a formally-addressed envelope from the high school that she had attended over eight decades earlier. Yes, more than eight decades ago. You see, Eleanor Giles Dohn graduated in the Class of 1936 of South Park High School
Located in south Buffalo, South Park is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, with a huge gala planned for the first weekend of May. Though the date had passed, I assured Mom that I would write a note and send her best wishes to those in the alumni office who planned the event. This elicited a nice conversation about memories of her high school days.
The next morning, the writer in me asked Mom more questions about her memories of classes, activities, and friends. She has an incredible recall of events that took place long ago, providing detailed descriptions and the correct spelling of last names. As Mom went on and on sharing detailed high school memories, I took notes.
Four years of Latin and three years of French studies were part of the curriculum for her graduation with a classical diploma. Mom spoke of teachers, principals, classmates, and social events. I later read about the school's history online and my research confirms Mom's memory down to the spelling of the last names!
Prom date turned author:
Mom reminisced about friends, sports, social activities, and going to the prom with a very smart classmate. She told us that this Roger Dooley later became an author after he attended Canisius College, the Jesuit school of the Diocese of Buffalo. They were Latin classmates for four years. Mom then spontaneously started reciting conjugations and quotes from Ovid. I loved it, a former Latin student myself.
She told us that Roger and their classmate William Williams (yes, that’s the name she gave me!) were "smart kids" who later graduated with high honors.
Writer, teacher and film scholar:
Only 73 at the time of his death, we learned that this "writer, teacher and film scholar" had taught English and American literature at Canisius College, as well as Iona College, St. John's University, and Queensborough Community College. He was named dean of humanities and chairman of English in 1964 at Manhattan Community College. He wrote four novels "about the experiences of Irish-Americans in Buffalo: "Less Than the Angels" (1946), "Days Beyond Recall" (1949), "The House of Shanahan" (1952) and "Gone Tomorrow" (1961). He also wrote "From Scarface to Scarlet" (1981), a study of American films of the 1930's."
My mother-in-law was not surprised to hear about the accomplishments and experiences of her high school friend. She noted that he was incredibly smart during their teenage years. And I later learned that Roger had actually graduated at age 16, two years younger than his peers.
The biography for Roger Dooley
is listed on the Catholic Authors website
. Really an autobiographical sketch, it was originally published as a chapter in "The Book Of Catholic Authors, Sixth Series: Informal Portraits Of Famous Modern Catholic Writers" edited by Walter Romig in 1960.
In his own words, Dooley speaks of the publication of his books as "the ultimate realization of the boyhood dream that has been closest to my heart ever since I was fourteen, a sophomore in high school:"
"It was then that I first vaguely conceived the grand ambition of trying to record in fiction the world in which I was growing up, the whole complex network of families, most of them Irish, known to each other for generations, since their early years in Buffalo's colorful old First Ward."
Dooley shares much about his philosophy of writing styles, his academic journey through college degrees and professorial teaching and mentorship at New York-area institutions, and his great interest in film and the theatre.
In summation, Roger Dooley finishes his account on his writings by relating the importance of where he came from (Buffalo) as well as the life experiences he had as a professional in New York City.
"But no matter how my acquaintance here may widen through the years, I shall probably continue to convey my fictional observations in terms of people like those with whom I grew up. As Willa Cather observed, a writer does not choose his material, he adjusts himself to it, since it was basically absorbed before he was ten. But then, too, as Miss Cather herself was advised by Sarah Orne Jewett, 'How well you must know the world before you can begin to write about the parish!' "
Preserving family history through the oral tradition:
George's Mom told us that she had a copy of Roger's first book and kept it for many years in the bookcase of the family's Clarence house. It is always fascinating to listen to my mother-in-law, Eleanor Dohn, describe her teenage years growing up in Buffalo. Her amazing memory of details makes for extended conversation and more questions about the life she led before she married George’s Dad.
Family history should be a required part of conversations in every household. You never know what you are going to learn.
Free Download of "Less Than the Angels"
Thanks to Archive.org, you can read Roger Dooley's first novel, "Less Than the Angels," published in 1946.
Click on this link to get your copy.
May 19, 2015 03:32
By Patti Murphy Dohn
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
~This inscription from the Gospel of Luke 10:2,
is a constant reminder of the power of prayer.
Last November 23, Archbishop William E. Lori dedicated the remodeled adoration chapel, located in the undercroft of the basilica near the Crypt Chapel, to Monsignor Arthur Valenzano, the basilica's 24th rector, in gratitude for his “goodness and priestly example."
Photo: Archdiocese of Baltimore
At this dedication liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament was placed within a restored Gothic-style monstrance by the archbishop. This monstrance has an incredible back-story. It was literally fished out of the Loch Raven Reservoir more than twenty years earlier by an angler who thought he had a hooked a huge catch. Archbishop Lori explained in his homily, “Using a monstrance fished out of a lake, we will ask the Lord to send us new ‘fishers of men’ — both here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and in the whole Church.” The renovated chapel “from this day forward, will be set apart for fervent and persevering prayer for new vocations to the sacred priesthood and to the consecrated life.”
Photo: Archdiocese of Baltimore
Read more about this incredible story in "Monstrance fished from reservoir centerpiece of new adoration chapel."
"Your continued prayers for vocations in the Archdiocese are important and powerful."
~Msgr. Arthur Valenzano
The spiritual influence of Msgr. Arthur Valenzano:
Msgr. Valenzano had first initiated Forty Hours Devotion for the intention of vocations at the basilica back in 2011, after previously launching perpetual adoration in his former parish back in 1997.
A renewed effort to have committed men and women sign up for a regular weekly hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was launched after the November, 2014 dedication liturgy at the adoration chapel. Archbishop Lori announced there that the adoration chapel “will be dedicated in honor of one of the finest priests I have ever known,” and he read from the plaque that it was dedicated “with heartfelt gratitude, as a perpetual testament to the goodness and the priestly example" of Msgr. Valenzano, “through whose faith, hope and love countless souls have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, who is here present in the Most Holy Eucharist.”
Eucharistic Adoration was suspended starting May 11:
But just this past week, Msgr. Valenzano issued an urgent email plea for help to all those who have currently committed to a weekly Holy Hour:
"I am deeply grateful to your commitment to a holy hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel of the Basilica. Your continued prayers for vocations in the Archdiocese are important and powerful. In order to keep the current schedule of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament it is necessary to have at least two individuals committed to a specific hour and day from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. At the present time there are a large number of hours that are not covered; therefore, it is necessary to adjust to what is possible even as we continue to strive for the goal of forty hours of Adoration each week in the Basilica. Unfortunately, until this situation is resolved, it is necessary that daily Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament be suspended beginning Monday, May 11.
With this memo you are asked to renew your commitment to a specific hour and day of the week. We will not include Fridays right now since the Catholic Center is closed on Fridays for the summer and many of our adorers work there.
Hopefully each of us can encourage and invite a friend or colleague to participate. Thank you for your dedication and cooperation.
Sincerely in Christ,
Msgr. Arthur Valenzano
Can you commit to a weekly Holy Hour?
*Two adorers are required for each one-hour time slot from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
*If two people wish to split an hour and each devote thirty minutes, that may also be arranged.
*You do not need to be a member of the Basilica parish to participate as an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament.
*If you live, work, or regularly visit the downtown area, you are invited to take advantage of the opportunity to spend time in prayer in the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
*Please note that when you register for a particular time and day of the week, you are registering to be an adorer for that same day and time for subsequent weeks.
Sign up here:
*If you would like to participate, please call contact Kathy Wandishan at: 410-727-3565 x. 220 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayer for Priestly and Religious Vocations:
O Father, you desire all of us to be happy.
Stir up the grace of a religious vocation in the hearts
of many men and women.
Grant to them the willingness and generosity
to give of themselves,their lives, their time and their
talents to the service of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord and
Savior, and to His Holy Church.
May more men and women go forth as priests, deacons,
brothers and sisters to bring the truths of our Catholic faith
to all others so that soon they, too, may know You better
and love You more...
and serving You, be truly happy.
May 15, 2015 01:25
By Patti Murphy Dohn
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
As we celebrate Mothers Day this weekend, let’s pause to remember all the Moms with gratitude and prayer:
Prayer for Mothers 1:
God our Creator, we pray:
-for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility;
-for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
-for those who are tired, stressed or depressed;
-for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;
-for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty;
-for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
-for those who have children they do not want;
-for those who raise children on their own;
-for those who have lost a chmm
-for those who care for the children of others;
-for those whose children have left home;
-and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.
Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender,
and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,
living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.
“We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher
“Men are what their mothers made them.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Prayer for Mothers 2:
we thank you for the love of the mothers you have given us,
whose love is so precious that it can never be measured,
whose patience seems to have no end.
May we see your loving hand behind them and guiding them.
We pray for those mothers who fear they will run out of love
or time, or patience.
We ask you to bless them with your own special love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our brother.
“God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.”
~ Jewish proverb
“Tis the month of Mary,
Blessed Queen of the May,
Mother of God we pray you,
Bless and protect all mothers,
On this their special day.”
~ Irish Prayer
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Prayer for Mothers 3:
We thank you for adopting us into your family through the miracle of
your grace, and for calling us to be brothers and sisters to each other.
Today, loving God, we pray for our mothers:
-who cared for us when we were helpless
-who comforted us when we were hurt
-whose love and care we often took for granted.
Today we pray for:
-those who are grieving the loss of their mother,
-those who never knew their biological mother, and now yearn for her
-those who have experienced the wonder of an adopted mother’s love
-the families separated by war or conflict.
Lord, give them special blessings.
Keep us united with you and with each other, so that we can be and become all that we are meant to be.
“Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.”
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
Honoring our Blessed Mother:
Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
May 07, 2015 04:37
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Today is the 88th birthday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
Born in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, on April 16, 1927, on my Grandmother’s sixth birthday, the former Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. Then 78 years old, the new Pope Benedict XVI became the oldest pope to serve the Church in 300 years.
Waving from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica after being elected in April 2005 (EPA Photo)
Where were you…?
Where were you when you heard that news on February 11, 2013 that Pope Benedict XVI, at age 85, had announced that he would step down from the papacy citing a "lack of strength of mind and body due to advanced age” seventeen days later on February 28?
He shocked the world with this monumental announcement, making him the first pope to step down from his pontificate since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
Announcing his resignation during a consistory with Vatican cardinals on February 11, 2013 (AP Photo)
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,
I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age
are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature,
must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.
“However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions
of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel,
both strength of mind and body are necessary-
strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me
to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
--Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI walks with his cane following his final general audience on Feb. 27, 2013.
(Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/CNS)
Above: The final tweet of Pope Benedict XVI as @Pontifex: February 27, 2013
Pope Benedict left the Vatican on February 28, 2013 by Italian air force helicopter, circling Rome during the sunset hour while bells rang out from St. Peter’s Basilica and from every church in the region.
He would spend the next three months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo until the renovations were completed at his new home in the Vatican Gardens at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.
"I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.
"With all my heart, with all my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, with all my interior strength, I still want to work for the common good and the good of the church and humanity.”
--Pope Benedict XVI to those gathered outside Castel Gandolfo on February 28, 2013
Glimpses into the retired life of the Holy Father Emeritus:
So what has Pope Benedict been doing since his retirement?
He has kept a low profile with a quiet schedule during the past two years.
Here are some of the highlights:
First meeting of two living popes in modern times:
Just days after his election, Pope Francis traveled by helicopter from the Vatican for this private first meeting with the former pontiff on March 23, 2013 at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. During the visit, they prayed together and had lunch. Pope Francis gave his retired predecessor a gift, an icon of Mary and Jesus that the Russian Orthodox delegation to the inauguration had given him the previous week:
“They told me this was Our Lady of Humility. If I may say, I thought of you.
You gave us so many examples of humility and tenderness.”
(CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis welcomes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI back to the Vatican
after two months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo;
(Photo: Reuters/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis visited the Holy Father Emeritus at his new home, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on May 2, 2013.
(CNS/L'Ossevatore Romano via Reuters)
Living with Pope Benedict at the monastery will be his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who also serves as prefect of the papal household to Pope Francis, along with four staff, all consecrated laywomen from Memores Domini. His home includes a chapel, library for his large book collection, and a guest room for his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger of their native Germany.
The music room with piano is especially important to Pope Benedict, an accomplished pianist, who plays daily. His favorite composer is said to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
“His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”
—Pope Benedict XVI on Mozart
Besides piano practice, the Holy Father Emeritus is said to spend his time in prayer, reading and study, in informal private meetings with friends and associates, and keeping up with the daily news from the L’Osservatore Romano and the evening news broadcast.
A private concert was held on January 14, 2014 for the occasion of the 90th birthday of the brother of the Holy Father Emeritus, Msgr. George Ratzinger, the former music director of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the Boys’ Choir of the Cathedral in Regensburg.
“...the honor of a lifetime…”
Lauren Green, who serves as Fox News Channel's chief religion correspondent based in New York and has a degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, was the classical music pianist.
“To be asked to perform for the pope seemed like Divine intervention alone. But other things happened that convinced me God’s hand was in it, guiding my path.”
Read how Lauren Green knew it was “a God thing” in “It was a God thing -- adventures in faith on the way to concert for Pope Benedict, his brother.”
Attending the Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 22, 2014 for the creation of 19 new cardinals:
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, age 86, embraced Pope Francis before the start of the consistory where these new members were elevated to the College of Cardinals.
Sister Gisela Upunto Msuya, a Dominican nun from Same in East Timor, who studies at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) and lives in Rome, visited the Holy Father Emeritus on July 25, 2014. (Photo: Facebook)
In his third public appearance since retirement, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Pope Francis on September 28, 2014 for a celebration for grandparents and the elderly in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo: Reuters)
“He is discreet, humble, he doesn’t want to get in the way... It feels like having grandpa at home, because of his wisdom.
It does me good to listen to him. And it also encourages me a great deal.”
--Pope Francis said of his predecessor, noting that elderly persons transmit 'wisdom and faith, the most precious inheritance.’
Archbishop Georg Gangwein serves as the secretary to the retired Holy Father.
Selfies with the Pope Emeritus:
This photo of the Holy Father Emeritus, at age 87, with seminarian Giuseppe Ricciardi
who hails from the southern Italian diocese of Aversa was posted on Twitter:
"Ecco il primo #selfie in assoluto del #Papa Emerito #BenedettoXVI, in compagnia di Giuseppe Ricciardi di Aversa." pic.twitter.com/ejZFJcXjnW
— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) on September 11, 2014
"Here is the first #selfie ever of #Papa Emeritus #BenedettoXVI, in the company of Giuseppe Ricciardi of Aversa."
Shortly thereafter, Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) tweeted a second selfie of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, this time standing with Italian priest Fr. Sebastiano Sequino.
"Non c'è uno senza due! Ecco il secondo selfie di oggi di #Papa #BenedettoXVI, stavolta con Don Sebastiano Sequino." pic.twitter.com/lYEc66vseZ
— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) September 11, 2014
“There’s two, not just one!
This is the second selfie from today of Pope Benedict XVI, this time with Father Sebastiano Sequino”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI exchanging the Sign of Peace with cardinals during the Beatification Mass for Blessed Pope Paul VI. This liturgy was celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on October 19, 2014.
(Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Archbishop of Panama Jose Domingo Ulloa, with Bishop David Bishop, Monsignor José Luis Lacunza, and women from their delegation meet with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on November 19, 2014 at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
This year's Epiphany/ birthday visit for the brothers:
Msgr. Georg Ratzinger flew from Munich to Rome on December 29, 2014 to visit with his brother, the Holy Father Emeritus, until January 16. They would celebrate Msgr. Ratzinger's birthday, now the 91st, there again at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
This year’s celebration included another concert, with music by Il Trio Böhm, held in the same room at Vatican Radio as the 90th birthday concert the previous year.
The chamber musicians were Michela Berti paying flute, Claudio Cavallaro on the clarinet, and Daniele Veroli playing the horn.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI again attended the consistory held this year on February 14, 2015 for the creation of 20 new cardinals
The Archbishop of Lviv Mieczysław Mokrzycki, took his brother bishops to meet Benedict at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens on February 21, 2015 while on their ad limina visit to Rome. The Archbishop served as second secretary to St. John Paul II and also to Pope Benedict XVI until he was appointed Archbishop of Lviv in western Ukraine. Pope Benedict ordained him to the bishopric in St. Peter's Basilica and now invited the Archbishop to lunch at the monastery and expressed a wish to meet his brother bishops.
For his 88th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI will once again enjoy the company of his brother, Msgr. Ratzinger, for a ten-day visit.
The Holy Father celebrated his 81st birthday at the White House with President and Mrs. Bush on April 16, 2008 during his pastoral trip to the United States.
Ad multos annos!!
April 16, 2015 04:31
By Patti Murphy Dohn
My youngest daughter is getting married in eleven days:
How time flies. It seems like she was just a little girl running around the playground at St. Margaret School...
But no... In what seems like a blink of an eye, she is now all grown up with a career as a dental hygienist, a house of her own, and a man to whom she will vow to spend the rest of her life next Saturday.
Joy abounds when there's a wedding in the family:
We are so excited for Katie and Karl and their new life together as husband and wife.
The plans and preparations are almost final...
The wedding shower was a huge success:
Delicious cupcakes for dessert and colorful African violets as favors.
And the bachelorette evening was great fun:
Katie even invited her proud Mom and her Grandma to attend the dinner at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion near the Inner Harbor.
After-dinner fun with the wedding party: Katie with sisters Tracy (left), Meighan, and brother Joseph.
What's left now?
Just a few more tasks are left on our to-do list:
Finalize the number for the caterers, pick up the wedding gown from being steamed, attend the rehearsal and dinner next Thursday, and order the food for the girls in the wedding party to enjoy the night before the Big Day.
And worry... Worry?
What's there to worry about?
Every mother of the bride can relate to the worry that everything will go perfectly for her little girl-turned-bride.
Some things we can't control, of course... Like the weather.
And tomorrow will be the first day that Katie's wedding date is included in the ten-day weather forecast.
Our fingers are crossed for good luck:
The statue of the Blessed Mother has been in my bedroom window facing outside for the past two weeks. She was there for the month before the 2011 wedding of my older daughter Meighan too.
Have you not heard about this old Italian Catholic tradition?
Asking for the Blessed Mother to intercede for us for beautiful weather for our special occasion?
I just recently read about the Irish doing the similar practice of placing the Infant of Prague statue in their windows to hold off the frequent showers in their native land. The BBC wrote about this practice back in 2013 in an article entitled "Religious statue believed to guarantee good weather
And what about rain on the wedding day?
Blogger Cissy Romano
, wrote one year ago today that "rain on your wedding day can bring so many blessings to you and your significant other. It is raining, once again, on my 7th wedding anniversary. I feel just as blessed today as I did 7 years ago. Our knot is strong because it started off drenched with rain."
Photo: Don't rain on my parade
"Most religions believe that rain is symbolic for a new beginning. I am Roman Catholic. I baptized all three of my munchkins shortly after birth. The Holy Water was used to cleanse my little ones at baptism for their fresh start in the Catholic Faith. Also, if you have ever lived in a place where blooming trees and bushes paint the sides of streets and fronts of houses every spring, you also know how welcome rain is to wash away all of the pollen that is making you and the rest of your house ill from allergies. Rain washes away the impurities and allows for the air you breathe to be fresh.
God bless you rain."
Katie's wedding day will be perfect:
Whether the sun shines brightly or it rains on April 25, we know that the day will be perfect because of the two wonderful persons who will be united as husband and wife that day.
Our joy will know no bounds.
But the Blessed Mother will stay in our bedroom window and we will continue to pray for fine weather:
All powerful and ever living God, we find security in Your forgiveness.
Give us fine weather we pray,
so that we may rejoice in Your gifts of kindness
and use them always for Your glory and our good.
Checking out the blossoms at the venue:
Katie and Karl on a recent visit to the Liriodendron in Bel Air
April 14, 2015 03:19
By Patti Murphy Dohn
(Photo: Getty Images)
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land.”
— Song of Songs 2: 11-12
After a long, hard winter, the weather in many areas of our nation is finally getting warmer and signs of Spring are everywhere.
Blessed to be new snowbirds:
My husband and I were lucky enough to enjoy our first retired-winter in Florida this year. Every morning I would wake up to check the forecast here in Bel Air and then in the Singer Island area near West Palm Beach. Such a contrast!! I so vividly remembered the bitter cold of last year’s polar vortex… And I did not regret missing this extreme weather this year.
We left the 80-degree warmth almost three weeks ago to return to Maryland for the wedding festivities for our youngest daughter. But we were not prepared to be greeted by snow on the ground… What a shock to the system!!
We came home from this view on Singer Island to snow on the ground in Maryland...
Easter joy leads us to Springtime:
Now that we are in the midst of the Easter Octave with its promise of joy-filled hope and spiritual rebirth, we see the trees and flowers showing signs of new life as well. The birds are singing. The deer are making their rounds in our garden. The crocus and daffodils are in bloom. And there are buds on the trees.
We loved the 70-degree warmth yesterday.... Spring is in the air. Alleluia!!
Some inspiring quotes on Springtime:
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
— William Shakespeare
"Spring drew on . . . and a greenness grew over those brown beds,
which, freshening daily,
suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night,
and left each morning brighter traces of her steps."
— Charlotte Bronte
“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”
― Emily Dickinson
“Spring’s greatest joy beyond a doubt is when it brings the children out.”
— Edgar Guest
“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”
— Harriet Ann Jacobs
“Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant.”
“That is one good thing about this world...there are always sure to be more springs.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke
“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.”
— Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it, you want —oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want,
but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
— Mark Twain
"A kind word is like a spring day.”
— Russian Proverb
Enjoy these beautiful classical music selections for Springtime from Vivaldi, Strauss, and Schumann:
Easter blessings!! Happy Spring!!
April 07, 2015 03:58
By Patti Murphy Dohn
At 7 p.m. tonight, they will gather with classmates and loved ones for one of the best traditions of their high school experience in Bel Air: the reception of their John Carroll ring.
This ring ceremony —and all the festivities that accompany it— is part of a time-honored tradition and legacy that has been passed down to every class since the very first class received their rings to identify them as members of the John Carroll Class of 1968.
The school celebrated their fiftieth anniversary year last year, and after fifty years, there are plenty of traditions to celebrate and to remember.
It's a rite of passage at the Catholic high school in Harford County. And the excitement spans three days.... The ring ceremony on Thursday evening, the Mass and breakfast on Friday morning, and the Ring Dance on Saturday evening.
The first faculty members of the school in 1964 were four Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Because of their community’s legacy to our school for 45 years, Saint Joseph has always been a special patron saint for John Carroll. The timing of the Junior Ring ceremony and dance has always been placed close to the March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph's Day to honor the Sisters for their selfless service to our students over their years of ministry.
Notice the embossed design representing the school on the onyx:
Part of the tradition includes how to wear the ring as a student and later as a graduate:
When I was Campus Minister, after the juniors had each received their ring boxes during their ceremony, I had invited them to place the ring on their fingers with the open end of the embossed design facing toward them. This signified that the student still had more a year left to continue to learn the traditions and heritage of the school community and to be ready to represent that legacy as graduates at the end of the following year.
In the same manner, at graduation, I would prompt the new alumni, after receiving their diplomas, to take off their JC ring and place it back on their fingers with the embossed opening facing outward. This commissioned the new graduating class to go forward and share with all those they encounter along their life-journey the lessons they learned from their John Carroll experience. Lessons such as: Go, make a difference; let your light shine; to be compelling, considerate, and uncompromising, characteristics which were attributed to our patron, Archbishop John Carroll; and to always remember, both in good times and in bad, that God is good... All the time!!
Reflections from an alumnus-faculty member:
Michael Gaudreau, who graduated with the Class of 1970, has been teaching Art at John Carroll for forty years. He has also been the speaker at the annual Ring Ceremony, sharing his reflections on the meaning of the ring to the thousands of JC alumni.
Michael recalls faculty member Ed Miller recruiting him, as a new alumni-teacher, to say a few words to the juniors on what his JC ring meant to him. Subsequent classes kept inviting him back and now the Gaudreau stories are part of the legacy of receiving the school ring:
“I joke about being a tradition. When I started telling the story, the school was too new to have traditions. As I tell the kids (and their parents), ‘Now we have a history, and within history is story, and this is ours.’ I enjoy it when the Juniors begin to realize they are part of something bigger than a piece of flashy jewelry.
“I wear my ring all the time. It is a timeless, modern, and well-designed piece of jewelry. I always ask the audience to raise their hands if they still wear the ring and many do. This makes an impression on the kids.”
Michael’s shares lots of great stories, including those about the ‘high-recognizability’ of the gold and onyx ring. He loves relating how older alumni see younger graduates wearing their ring and make the connection, about grads recognizing the ring on other grads all over our nation and throughout the world, in places such as Italy, Ireland, Russia, and Thailand.
Among his favorite stories are the ‘lost ring’ stories, including the girl who lost her ring on the beach in Ocean City in 1985. It was found fifteen years later by a beachcomber with a metal detector. He returned the ring to the school office and the owner was identified since our juniors get their names or initials with graduation year engraved inside.
Michael shares that he has learned more about the origin of the John Carroll ring over the years.
Some fun facts include:
- The first design of the ring was drawn on a paper napkin by the school’s first Art teacher Frank Kelly while having dinner with the first principal, Rev. Raymond Wanner, at a restaurant in Aberdeen.
- The Class of 1968, the first to receive the ring, didn’t much like the onyx and gold design, but changed their mind after they got them and saw the unique and classic style.
- The shape of the imprint on the onyx was based on the shape of the school chapel, which was designed by Michael Gaudreau’s uncle, Thomas L. Gaudreau of Gaudreau, Inc. Though many have believed the chapel to be shaped like the bishop’s mitre—in honor of Archbishop John Carroll—Thomas Gaudreau designed the chapel as though God was cradling something special, the people gathered within, in His hands.
- Principal Father Ray Wanner wanted the ring to be simple and beautiful, something that would not be thrown in a drawer after graduation. His belief was that exposure to beauty, in good design, in landscape, art, and in architecture, made for a richer life, and in doing so brought us closer to God.
Graduates share their stories with the Class of 2016:
“… super-excited for my sister:”
Sierra Ficca of the Class of 2013, a student at Towson University, wears her JC ring every day. She recalls how special her ring ceremony was and is looking forward to this evening’s program when her younger sister Nicolette, Class of 2016, receives her ring as well.
“The JC ring is a symbol of the best four years of my life! Everyone says college will be the best, but for me it was high school at John Carroll where I met lifelong friends and have close ties with the faculty and teachers!”
Sierra happily recalled a fond ring memory:
“Courtney Wilson, my best friend from high school, and I were heading to Rock Spring Swim Club, where Courtney worked, to relax and go tanning after school one day. We arrived in our uniforms. We were the only ones there at the pool except for an older lady who stopped us to admire our “cute uniforms” and ask where we went to school. When we told her John Carroll, she quickly held out her hand and flaunted her ring, asking to see ours! She told us that she was part of the first graduating class, meaning she was also part of the first class to receive a ring! She made us laugh when she said that her class used to color the ring with yellow chalk so the engraving would pop out. I love this story because she was so thrilled to see that the ring was still the same, and that the uniforms had gotten much cuter!”
Sierra (on right) and Courtney after the JC ring ceremony in 2012
"... having a nice bond to my classmates."
Larry Noto of the Class of 1994, the Director of Marketing ad Sales at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, clearly remembers his Ring Day:
“It was a special ceremony and a nice tradition, the feeling of being a part of that special community and having a nice bond to my classmates. Whenever I see someone who has a ring that looks like ours, I'll ask if they went to John Carroll... It’s a nice connection.”
“… reminds me of one of the best times of my life.”
Vickie Ensor Bands, Class of 1975, who serves as the Director of Community Outreach and Executive Director of the HealthLink Primary Care Clinic at Upper Chesapeake Health System, also wears her JC ring everyday.
“My ring ceremony and dance were both very special. First, it was held on my birthday and second, it was really the first time I was involved in something that was a tradition. I remember two special days… with the ceremony, lunch with friends, turning our rings, and going back to school to decorate for the big dance the next day. It was all so special.
“I feel that wearing my ring keeps me connected to a school community that I love, one that helped mold me into the person that I am. My ring reminds me of one of the best times of my life. When someone recognizes my ring, it makes me feel part of a special and unique group.”
“… reminds me of where I'm from…”
Midshipman 1/C Ryan Eilerman, USN, of the Class of 2011, is a 2015 graduate of the Naval Academy and works for the US Department of Defense. One of his favorite high school memories is his Junior Ring Dance:
“My JC ring means a lot to me. It's elegant and simple, and reminds me of where I'm from… my friends and family, my patriot family, and those who invested their time and energy into me. It keeps me connected to my great memories and my roots. I wear my ring all day everyday and rarely ever take it off.”
“I always get questioned on where the ring is from, and when I tell people that it's my high school ring, they are always surprised at how proud I am of saying that. I ran into a person in San Diego who noticed the ring and asked if I went to JC!
Family legacy at John Carroll:
Jon Yantz, of the Class of 2013 and a student at Frostburg State, still wears his JC ring every day.
“The JC ring is a sign of unity and family. It is a great conversation starter and a great way to meet new people.
“With my mom (Maureen Matejka Yantz, Class of 1985) having the same ring and my brother, a junior, about to get his ring tonight, makes my ring all the more special.”
“sense of community…”
Kim Pollock Mueller, from the Class of 1987 and a business owner, shared:
“Receiving my John Carroll ring was a milestone in life for me. It meant acceptance and accomplishment. The sense of community was even greater once I received my ring. If I know I am meeting up with friends from JC, I always wear it.
“I remember when I was in a gift shop in Disney World when I was 25 and I ran into a graduate of JC and his son who was a student at the time. It was nice that recognizing the ring gave two complete strangers a reason to say “Hi."
Hayley Boyle (on left) and her friends show off their new JC rings before the Junior Ring Dance in 2011
“… the unique connection I have with all other JC alumni.”
Hayley Boyle, Class of 2012, shares about being part of a longline of John Carroll graduates in the Boyle Family:
“My Ring Day was very special, as I knew I was joining a lot of my family and many alumni in this great tradition. I felt honored to carry on such a unique tradition. The ring breakfast, ceremony, Mass, and dance made all of us juniors feel super special.
“I wear my JC ring every single day, only taking it off when I swim in the ocean. I was on a vacation in Florida when a woman came up to me and recognized my ring. It is amazing how noticeable the ring is even far from Bel Air!
“The JC ring is the unique connection I have with all other JC alumni. It is very special to my heart. When I look down at my ring, it reminds me of the amazing things JC gave me.”
Hayley (second from left) and her friends Emily, Kaitlyn, and Caroline had just received their JC rings and were eager to start the traditional ‘turning of the rings’ for good luck!
“… knowledge, unity and pride.”
Jessica Farrell Trout went to JC with my daughter in the Class of 2002:
“My JC ring represents knowledge, unity and pride. To this day, I still enjoy seeing people in all different places wearing their ring. Meeting people of different ages from different locations, all because you share a common background, is pretty cool!
“The ring ceremony and dance were very special to me and will always be remembered. The dance was just as special to me as senior prom. I felt like it brought us all together as one by giving us our rings and then celebrating after.”
Another long family tradition:
The JC rings of current-senior Amanda Brannan and her Dad, Steve Brannan, Class of 1980
Amanda Brannan is a current senior, a member of the JC Class of 2015 who received her ring last March:
“I wear my ring everyday… 24/7! It is a tradition. My dad has a ring, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and now I have a ring.
“It means that you are a part of the John Carroll community even after you graduate, it’s more like a family. I am proud to wear my JC ring.
“Ring week last year has been my favorite week so far at John Carroll. So many memories that I will never forget. I loved every minute of it, and I would do anything to be in the shoes of the Class of 2016 right now and experience ring week all over again.”
Amanda celebrates with me, her Campus Minister, last March
“… represents the greatest years of my life thus far.”
Lindsey McCumber, Class of 2014 and student at UCLA:
“I wear my JC ring nearly every day. The JC ring and its uniqueness symbolize the unique and unifying experiences I had in my four years there. It is extremely special to me and represents the greatest years of my life thus far.
“The ring dance was special to me because it differentiated what other schools consider their junior-senior prom. Our ring dance had a purpose and was only for our junior class. It was incredibly unifying.”
“In my senior year, I lost my ring for three weeks, noticing it missing while at a friend’s house in Bel Air. Somehow, nearly a month later, a classmate’s mother found it in the mulch of a preschool playground in Aberdeen! To this day, I have no idea how it got all the way over there, twenty minutes away, unharmed."
Lindsey and her boyfriend Dylan at her Ring Dance
“… represents a community that spans generations.”
Ryan Selvy, of the Class of 2011, is about to graduate from MICA:
“The excitement of Ring Week is very memorable: the breakfast, turning our rings, and the induction into the community made the week very exciting. All the events made me feel like I was a part of something much bigger than myself.”
“A lot of people have walked up to my sisters (who graduated in 2006 and 2008) and Mom (of the Class of 1983) in the middle of nowhere and found out they were also alumni because of wearing their JC rings.
“The JC ring represents a community that spans generations.”
“… a symbol of family…”
Emily Soller of the Class of 2012, a student at Stevenson University, shares:
“I wear my ring every day and barely take it off for anything. It's like it became a part of me and I felt different if I didn't wear it.
“The JC ring is a symbol of family to me, and each year a limited number of students are lucky enough to become part of this family that can last a lifetime. It's one of the most memorable moments in high school when receiving your ring and finally becoming a part of something special.
“The whole ring week was the best time in high school. Everything about it was special and memorable. And going to the dance with my best guy friend made it even better and just so much fun. To me, it was definitely better than prom because it had more meaning behind it.
“Recently, I was getting an upgrade on my phone at AT&T and the gentleman helping me saw my ring and told he graduated from JC back in the 80’s. We spoke about teachers and different events at school. It was just nice to meet someone of a different generation and share different stories about JC.”
Sharing the JC ring tradition with her four children:
Bernie Evering Webster of the Class of 1978 is married to a JC grad and they are parents to four JC graduates. She shares:
“I wear my JC ring almost everyday. It means that I was part of a bigger picture when I needed it most in my life ... My Dad died a year before I started attending John Carroll. And JC was the family that I needed! To me, the ring symbolizes that family.
“I’m very proud to say that my four children all have a JC ring too. My ring ceremony was special to me, as well as the four programs for my children. Each one ‘transported me’ to a special place. Mr. Gaudreau told the story of the ring with such pride. It gave me a whole new perspective on the ring design and made me love it even more!
“Once, when we were in the Outer Banks, swimming in the ocean, a woman waded up to me and asked if I went to John Carroll in Bel Air… I was floored… and it was all because of recognizing the JC ring.”
“… a huge milestone…”
Sara Stifler of the Class of 2011:
“My ring ceremony was a huge milestone and, after growing up playing with my parents' high school rings—those big gaudy things—I was excited to have my own, and was even more excited because I think the JC ring is absolutely beautiful. It's classic and I just think it's lovely.”
Lost and found… twice:
Mandy Pazdersky Harry of the Class of 1998:
“It makes me proud to have attended such a wonderful and close knit school. I think I would like to start wearing my JC ring more often.
“I lost my ring twice. Once, during senior year at cheerleading practice outside on the lawn… It was found only after the lawnmower mangled it. So I had to get a new one. Then, I lost my new ring during senior week in Ocean City while doing cartwheels in the sand. Several of us went searching for it with no luck. About six months later my grandfather gave me a note on Easter Sunday that had been sent to him. Someone with a metal detector found my ring and sent letters to several people with my last name. They sent it back to me!!”
“… being a part of JC's legacy …”
Travis Nelson, Class of 2014, is a student at UCLA:
“I wear my JC ring every day. To me, the ring means being a part of JC's legacy and is one of the major things that validated my time at JC.
“The ring ceremony gave me a real sense of community with the school. The ring breakfast and the rest of that day were really proud moments.”
"... share that bond with my three sons..."
Judy Wallace Fritz, Class of 1980 and local business owner:
“I wear my JC ring all the time. It always meant a lot to me because of the memories and pride I have for my high school. It means even more to me now that I share that bond with my three sons - all proud JC ring-wearers.
“Ring Day was a great memory. Hearing the story about how the design came to be was very special and made the ring even more meaningful to me. It's more than a beautiful piece of jewelry; there is such meaning and history behind it.
“Just this past Saturday I was at an event and was introduced to someone. We shook hands and, while holding his hand, I turned our hands to show that we both were wearing JC rings… An instant friend and warm connection! I have no friends from other schools who continue to wear their ring 35 years after graduation. We are special. We are forever patriots!”
Tyler Fritz, Class of 2010, works with Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and is the son of Judy Wallace Fritz ’80 (above):
“While working here in Walt Disney World, I wear my ring proudly everyday. The JC ring means pride to me. Patriot pride. It's the one thing that reminds me of all of my fantastic memories I made at John Carroll… All of the wonderful people I met and all of the things I was a part of during that time.
“My ring dance was really special to me! My junior year is when I made my core group of friends and we all were able to attend the dance together.”
Tyler (second from right in front) and his friends gather before their Junior Ring Dance in 2009
“God's presence shines through…” A ring story from Appalachia
Shannon Olsen, of the Class of 2013, is a student at Millersville University:
“I wear my JC ring all the time. For me, it is carrying on a tradition not only for the school, but also for my family. It is a sense of pride for the amazing school that gave me so much. It is a symbol of belonging. My ring ceremony was special because I was the first of the second generation in my family at John Carroll, and for me, I was carrying on my family's legacy at the school.
“When I was down in Terra Alta, West Virginia, the summer after my junior year for the Appalachia Work Camp, I was at my work site helping build a new deck. I was getting ready to use the chop saw, and I was scared that my ring would get damaged so I wrapped it up in my sweatshirt and placed it under the tree. At the end of the day, when I went to grab my stuff so we could head back to camp, I picked up my sweatshirt and my ring was not there. I panicked and began frantically searching all over the site, along with the help of a few of my friends. After about 30 minutes, we were told that we had to go back for dinner. I was heartbroken that I had lost it. We all got back to camp for dinner, but I was too worried and sad to eat anything. My site leader, Jenna Silcox, also a JC alum, said that she knew I would not be satisfied unless I had checked every inch of our work site. So the two of us drove back over and began searching again. After about 10 minutes, our clients came outside and asked if they could help us look. The husband was about to drive up the road to his daughter's home to borrow her metal detector to see if that would help, when he began walking back from his car toward me. As he approached me, I noticed that sitting in his hand was my ring. I burst out in tears because I honestly thought I was never going to see it again.
“After this incident, my ring almost never leaves my finger. I feel God's presence so much whenever I am in Terra Alta, and it is because of the amazing people that live there. Without the kindness of my clients, I would have never found my ring, and it is just in little things like that when God's presence shines through in my life.”
Shannon (third from the left in middle) and her friends show off their new rigs before the Junior Ring Dance in 2012
"... very proud that I had the chance to go there."
Tori Quinn, of the Class of 2011, is studying at York College of Pennsylvania:
“I've been wearing my ring ever day since I received it my junior year. The ring means a lot to me. When I look at it, I think about my years at John Carroll, about the education I received, and how much John Carroll has helped me in college.
“The ring means a lot to me especially when people recognize it and ask me about my experience. I feel very proud that I had the chance to go there.”
Tori (on right) celebrates receiving their JC rings with her friend Kristen in 2010
"... becoming part of something much bigger than I could ever imagine..."
Abbey Levee is a current senior, the Class of 2015, and received her ring last year:
“I always wear my JC ring, it's like a part of me. My ring is the symbol for all the things I've endured and been blessed with in my four years at John Carroll. I couldn't imagine spending high school anywhere else with any other community. My ring shows to the world that I am part of the growing legacy that is John Carroll and the people in it.
“My Ring Ceremony was one of the most memorable moments of my life. As I sat on the stage waiting to receive my ring, I felt like I was becoming part of something much bigger than I could ever imagine… and I was right… There will be nothing but great memories with great people.”
Abbey and her friend Billy show off their rings at the Junior Ring Breakfast last March.
Want to read more about the John Carroll ring and see more great photos of JC juniors celebrating this traditional rite of passage?
Check out my 2013 post:
March 26, 2015 10:13
By Patti Murphy Dohn
The Irish high holy day has always been a big deal in my family. That’s because it’s my birthday and the reason why I have my first name.
Since my husband and I retired last year, we have spent much more time at our home on Singer Island, in Palm Beach County, Florida.
So how does one celebrate the "Luck of the Irish" and the “Wearing of the Green” in South Florida?
Here are our best suggestions:
Palm Beach Shores is located on the southern tip of Singer Island.
Since 1990, they have sponsored a festive parade the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.
Last Saturday, my husband George and I attended this fun occasion.
We went early so I could take photos, of course.
Our neighbor David Cross has taken part in the parade for several years as part of the Mummers group.
The Singer Island Mummers:
Our neighbor David Cross (second from left) is seen with neighbor Pat Leonard (far right), along with Nancy (second from right), and another local friend (on left) who joined in for this fun day.
George and I helped our local "St. Patrick" get suited up for his second year as the Irish patron, and I taught him how to give the bishop’s blessing.
What a great guy!!
What’s a good parade in South Florida without the local pizza delivery boat?
Yes, this vessel delivers to the boaters out near Singer Island and nearby Peanut Island.
2. Attend the annual Gaelic Mass:
sponsored the 29th annual “Irish Fest on Flagler” near the waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach.
Billed as “Florida’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Party,” this festive weekend included music, dancers, food and beverages, an Irish marketplace, and an array of children’s activities. Sunday morning started off with their annual Gaelic Mass.
George and I arrived 90 minutes before the Gaelic Mass began at the Meyer Amphitheater. I met a number of event coordinators, including those participating in this year's liturgy, and enthusiastic members of the crowd who were decked out for the “wearing of the green.”
It was great to meet Patti and Karl (on left) of West Palm Beach, and John and Rebecca of Boston (on right) before the Gaelic Mass. They were decked out in green to enjoy the Irish Fest.
Grandparents Matt and Marianne Kinnane (center: fourth and fifth from left) of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York are wintering in Beverly Hills, Florida on the Gulf Coast. They were here on the east coast this weekend visiting friends on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the coast of Martin and St. Lucie counties.
Marianne and her friend Eleanor went to high school together, and they have long-celebrated St. Patrick’s Day together. Fond memories include the parade in New York City. Now they get together for the festivities here in South Florida.
One of Marianne and Matt’s five grandchildren, Kiera from Queens, New York, who will be six next month, was given a fun school project. Hence, Kiera has been able to join in on her grandparents’ adventures as “Flat Kiera.”
I was lucky enough to meet Matt and Marianne, “Flat Kiera,” their Florida friends and neighbors, even Hazel the adorable dog!!
The Gaelic Mass:
Starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday, the Gaelic Mass was celebrated by Fr. Tom Flynn, a retired priest of the Diocese of Cleveland who spends his winters in Boynton Beach. Fr. Flynn has a great Irish wit and has celebrated this liturgy for the past five years.
Much of the congregation of this outdoor liturgy gathered around the outskirts of the amphitheater to escape the direct sunshine on the warm Sunday morning.
Patrick Ferguson, originally from Galway, was the lector. He did a beautiful job with the Gaelic translations.
, nationally-renowned Irish musician from Boca Raton, served as cantor for Mass and emcee for the Irish Fest. He hails from County Kerry and melted my heart with his rendition of "Lady of Knock" during Offertory.
After the Prayer of the Faithful, Father Flynn led the congregation in the Memorare
prayer and made a special appeal to those who have not memorized this beautiful prayer to our Blessed Mother to learn the prayer and pray it daily.
3. Listen to Irish Music:
After the Gaelic Mass, George and I stayed to enjoy more of the music of Noel Kingston
who served as cantor of the liturgy. Noel is well-known throughout South Florida for his poignant Irish ballads. He sang for well over an hour and had the audience laughing, singing, and crying to his rendition of “Danny Boy.”
Noel has a tradition of ending his concerts with a tribute to the branches of our armed services, followed by a soulful “God Bless America.” We loved every minute and look forward to seeing and singing with Noel again soon!!
4. Go to the beach, of course!!
Singer Island is said to be closer to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream than any other location in North America. That’s why our waters are so perfectly turquoise in color.
What better way to spend part of St. Patrick’s Day than going to the beach and jumping a few perfect waves?
Green bathing suits not required.
Enjoy this recent video I took of the surf on our Singer Island beach:
5. Watch the sunset:
The luck of the Irish is a great thing, but when you live in South Florida, it’s important to stop and watch the sunset.
What better way to count your blessings than a beautiful sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway?
Our home is on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Blue Heron Bridge and we see manatees, starfish, stingrays, so many varieties of fish, an occasional sea turtle, and boats of all sizes from our seawall. Two nights ago we saw three dolphins jumping in and out of the water just as the sun was going down. How blessed are we to be able to see God’s splendor?
This baby manatee came up for a breath of air while swimming next to its mama right next to our seawall.
There was another adult manatee following them.
Also known as seacows, manatees are large aquatic mammals that average ten feet in length and 800-1200 pounds when full grown. Read more about these gentle giants here at the Save the Manatee website
6. Pray to Our Lady of Knock:
Listen to the poignant song “Lady of Knock,” sung by composer Dana (Rosemary Scallon), while you learn more about the 1879 apparitions of our Blessed Mother in the village of Knock in County Mayo:
“Lady of Knock”
There were people of all ages
gathered 'round the gable wall:
poor and humble men and women,
little children that you called.
We are gathered here before you,
and our hearts are just the same,
filled with joy at such a vision,
as we praise your name.
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all my cares and troubles cease,
as we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace.
Though your message was unspoken,
but the truth in silence lies,
so we gaze upon your vision,
and the truth I try to find.
Here I stand with John the teacher,
and with Joseph at your side,
and I see the Lamb of God,
on the Altar glorified.
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all our cares and troubles cease.
As we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace.
And the Lamb will conquer,
and the woman clothed in the sun
will shine Her light on everyone.
Yes, the lamb will conquer,
and the woman clothed in the sun,
will shine Her light on everyone.
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all our cares and troubles cease.
As we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
I’m wishing all of you have the luck of the Irish today and every day!!
As for me, I’m counting my blessings and celebrating my own special day….
And it’s going to be 86 degrees here on Singer Island!!
March 17, 2015 02:21
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Annie McGann Cumpston
January 7, 1997 - March 23, 2003
(All photos from the Cumpston Family and Annie's Playground unless otherwise noted)
Dove released by Tom and Megan Cumpston at the grand opening of Annie's Playground in 2005
There are no words to properly express what it means to lose a child. But the outpouring of love and support from the community provided the lifeline that the Cumpston Family needed most.
I invited Annie’s family and close friends to reflect on what Annie’s Playground has meant to them and what their hopes are for “Annie’s EGGstravaganza."
“She is dancing in the wind.”
Annie’s Mom shared her heartbreak with us yesterday as she reflected on the loss of her second daughter in 2003:
“Annie’s Playground meant finding a reason to smile again. I would do anything in the world to have my daughter here with me today and I know that our family will never be the same again, but I will be eternally grateful for the loving community that came together and helped us pick up the pieces of our tragic loss.
“When I could not find any good coming out of our loss, our family and friends were able see beyond. The playground means that I get to see my little girl everyday in the smiles of other children. To me, it is almost like a safe haven where all those who have been lost too soon can watch over and protect those who visit.
“The experience was bittersweet, but it meant finding acceptance. I truly believe that our sweet Angel is present in the laughter, the excited screams as children slide down slides, the courage as they complete the monkey bars for the first time, and the thrill as they get higher on the swings. She is dancing in the wind.”
—Megan McGann Cumpston
Tom Cumpston preparing Annie's memorial for the playground.
"Annie will be watching over everyone..."
Annie's sister Alice reflected:
"Annie was always so very happy, always with a smile on her face. What she loved most was putting smiles on everyone’s faces and making sure that they were okay. Annie’s Playground is a huge comfort to me and my family as we know that it brings so much good and happiness to all who come to play there. I know that Annie would want nothing more than to see all who come to her beautiful playground with smiling faces have the opportunity to spend time with their family. We all wish nothing more in the world than to have had more time with Annie.
"Annie’s Playground is all about remembering Annie and all of those who were lost and will never be
forgotten. It symbolizes coming together to be with your family and loved ones. I hope many people come to Annie’s EGGtravaganza with their families to enjoy the playground and share smiles and laughter. I know that Annie will be watching over everyone and smiling along with us.
"She truly brings comfort and happiness because I know she is always there by my side, and with the help of everyone coming together at Annie’s Playground, we can return that love and security that she has been giving us, while paying tribute to Annie and all of those who we have dearly lost.”
—Alice Cumpston, Annie’s sister, a junior at The John Carroll School
Annie's sisters (from left) Susie, Maddi, and Alice at a family wedding in April of 2014
"... family, fun, and remembrance"
From Annie's sister Maddi:
"Annie's Playground means family, fun, and remembrance. To me, it means family because it not only brings my family together, but many other families who are also looking to have fun and to hangout. No matter your age, I know that when you go to Annie's Playground you will have so much fun and many laughs. Annie's Playground is about remembering my sister for her admirable life. It reminds me of how many people knew and loved her for her sweet and loving personality through all of the bricks placed in her garden.
"For this year's EGGstravaganza, my hopes are for many more people to come and experience the fun and enjoyment that we all had last year. I encourage people of all ages, young and old, to come out and just have a good time with their friends, while searching for Easter Eggs, and remembering our sweet Angel Annie."
—Madelyn Cumpston, Annie’s sister, 8th grade student at St. Margaret School, Bel Air
“…. finding acceptance in tragedy”
From Annie's older sister Susie:
"Annie's playground means finding acceptance in tragedy. It means comfort in knowing that she will never be forgotten and that every day she plays a role in children's happiness and laughter. Annie's playground means helping other families cope with the loss of a loved one in knowing that this playground was built in memory of all lives taken too soon. For me personally, it meant doing one last thing for my little sister here on earth until we see each other again."
"My hopes for Annie's EGGstravanganza is the ability to raise enough money so that the playground can look shiny and new so when every child visits it for the first time they get to experience Annie's Playground in it's best form!"
—Susan Cumpston, Annie’s sister, sophomore at James Madison University
Susie dedicated her 2013 John Carroll senior project to recording her sister’s legacy:
Susie hopes to keep her sister's memory alive through this most-touching video.
“… the single most enlightening experience of my life. God was there that week.”
From Annie's Aunt Erin:
"Helping to build Annie’s Playground stands alone as the single most enlightening experience of my life. God was there that week. Any doubts about his existence and the goodness and selflessness of people were washed away for me. Seeing a community of strangers come together to help heal a family was a gift to my family. Knowing that Annie’s beautiful little life would live on in this magical place brought me some peace that is intangible and hard to explain. As the years have passed and I see all those lovely families enjoying that little slice of heaven makes my heart sing. Yes, I’d rather have Annie here with us but she is everywhere for all those families that never even knew her. It is my great hope that people who go there will learn the greatest lesson…life is precarious and full of challenges, so hold dear to all the moments you have with loved ones. Embrace the joy they bring.”
— Erin McGann Kleinman, Annie’s aunt
“Jesus lives here. Annie lives here too. Joy lives here.”
From Annie's Aunt Lisa:
"Annie’s Playground is the embodiment of living with hope. Annie’s family took a most tragic event and with faith, hope and the love of their family, friends, and countless members of our community created this treasured playground.
"Our family worked through much of the darkest times of Annie's death through the creation of this playground. It is a place of joy. For me personally, when I hit hard times in my life, I search for joy, big joy, because that is where I feel Jesus' presence most. Jesus' joy comforts me and pulls me through the darkest times. Jesus lives here. Annie lives here too. Joy lives here.
"To me, the playground is a living breathing thing that it still being created as more families share their stories of loss through the many plaques, plantings, memorials and bricks. These same families come to Annie's to spend time with their loved ones, finding new ways to experience the joy and hope that life still offers. What a testament to the human race that when we lose a loved little one, we eventually go to where the little children are. We go to the playground.
"The playground is an open invitation for all of us to focus on what is most important in life. The Easter EGGstravaganza is a wonderful way for us to pass on to our children the practice of living life with the hope and joy."
—Lisa McGann, Annie’s aunt
"... to witness joy in the Spring"
From Annie's godmother and Aunt Lorene:
"Annie’s playground was built not only in memory of Annie, but all those who have gone on to a better place. It is a reminder that although we deeply loved, we will never lose the memories of how they touched not only our lives, but many others as well.
"Life must go one and hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles of all who enjoy the playground reminds us of this. ‘Mama Annie’ -- as we called her, because she had so much compassion for others -- is looking after all those who visit the Memorial Bricks and is able to help them have peace in their hearts.
"This EGGstravaganza will bring the community together to witness joy in the Spring, which is the beginning of a time of regrowth. With extensive advertisement, it will reach more people who might not know about this magical place. EGGstravaganza is enjoyed by the children, the parents, grandparents and all those who remember the excitement of collecting Easter eggs and the thrill of what’s inside them!"
—Lorene Cumpston Tompros, Annie's aunt and godmother
For more info on the memorials at Annie's Playground, click here
“… what a community can achieve when they come together”
From Sharon Perfetti, who served as general coordinator for Annie’s Playground:
“For me, Annie's Playground represents what a community can achieve when they come together to support each other. While Annie's Playground was one hundred percent inspired by Annie and the desire to remember her life, it grew to include so many other children who were lost too soon.
“And then the thousands of people who came out over the three week build to make it all come to fruition. When we started the Annie's Playground project our goal was to know that someone, somewhere would be saying Annie's name every day. And I do believe we might have achieved that goal.
"The EGGstravanza is another example of the community gathering in Annie's name and memory while getting the chance to enjoy their own families.”
—Sharon Perfetti, longtime Cumpston Family friend and co-founder of the Cool Kids Campaign, was general coordinator for Annie’s Playground
which was built by thousands of volunteers in late September and early October, 2005.
Mrs. Perfetti also oversees “The Stories Between
” website which shares the stories of those who have gone before us.
“… helped us greatly in our healing process.”
Kelli Szczybor, who lost a young son in 1998, is passionate about the memorial aspect of Annie's Playground:
"Annie's playground has been a special place for many families.
“For our family, it began during construction. We got to volunteer with hundreds of strangers from the community to create this beautiful place for each of our children in memory of a special little girl that was taken from us way too soon. It was a great feeling working together as a team for such a happy project, even though our hearts were heavy with the loss of Annie.
“But to this day, we point out that part of Annie's playground that we helped to put together! It makes you feel so special.
“Annie's Playground has brought my family so much peace as well. My son Ryan passed away in 1998 at the age of 15 months. We were able to sponsor a slide in Annie's playground in memory of my son. We also bought a brick paver in the memorial garden with his name on it.
“This helped us greatly in our healing process. For years, I have been able to take my children to play at Annie's, and while they run and play, I was able to sit in the memorial garden and be at peace in my thoughts. What a treasure!
“It always makes me smile when I pull up to Annie's at any day of the week and the parking lot is full! I always think to myself, "Wow, Annie, look at how many families you have made happy today!"
Kelli and her husband Andy Szczybor have spearheaded another memorial playground, "Angel Park
" in Perry Hall in memory of their son Ryan who died of leukemia at the age of fifteen months.
Watch this video about Angel Park which was produced by JC graduate George Stover and Adventure Productions:
“… to escape, to play, to laugh…”
Family friend and committee member Steve Lutche reflected:
"Annie’s playground is an everlasting tribute to Annie who inspired an entire community who came together to build something so good in spite of something so tragic. Annie continues to live with us today through her family and the playground, and she continues to protect and watch over her friends and loved ones. She left us all way too soon. She is our Angel Annie.
“The playground has done so much good. It continues to be a destination for all, the young, the old, for all their families, to enjoy the activities, to escape, to play, to laugh. It is part of our family, having helped from the very beginning to make it a reality for our generation and those to come. It is peaceful, yet vibrant.
“The EGGstravaganza will continue the celebration of all the playground represents, and the celebration of Annie, an innocent, vibrant, and loving young child who left us too soon, but who continues to inspire."
—Stephen W. Lutche, Esquire
“… being able to witness the innocent joy of children…”
"Annie's Playground is a special part of Harford County because it is a place to remember those that we lost too young, while still being able to witness the innocent joy of children who may not understand why the playground was built. It is a place that we can remember the joy that Annie & Kurt brought to our lives everyday.
"Hopefully this event will help Annie's Foundation raise the money necessary for the upkeep of this special place."
—Meaghan Owens, on behalf of The Kurt M. Chenowith Foundation
For more info on the memorials at Annie's Playground, click here
“… through the laughter of the children”
Amanda Brannan could have been Annie's classmate today:
“I never got the chance to meet Annie, but I have been able to meet the rest of her family. Annie's playground is a safe place that I like to go to during the summer. This past summer I was training for my 39-mile walk in New York. I would walk the Ma and Pa Trail and stop at Annie's playground to have lunch. I loved stopping there at Annie's and just thinking about her.
“Annie would have been in my John Carroll Class. She lives on not just through the St. Margaret School and John Carroll communities, but through the laughter of the children that come to Annie's playground.”
—Amanda Brannan, senior, John Carroll Class of 2015
“… memories and fun times.”
More memories from another John Carroll student:
“To me and my family, Annie’s Playground means memories and fun times. As kids, my parents used to always take us to Annie’s playground. There we would play ‘capture the flag’ or ‘hide and go seek’ or, my favorite, ‘tag.’ We could run around there for hours!
“Now, when we take my little sister to play there, I typically take a friend or two and we take a walk along the scenic pathway.
“For the upcoming fundraiser, I hope it is a huge success so that current and future kids will always be able to make the long lasting memories that my family and friends and I were able to make!”
—Reiley Overend, freshman, John Carroll Class of 2018
Members of the John Carroll Class of 2015 gathered with the Cumpston Family in May, 2014 after Mass.
Then-juniors, the students pictured were kindergarten classmates of Annie at nearby St. Margaret School.
The Cumpston Family also honor Annie's memory annually with scholarships at John Carroll and St. Margaret's.
(Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)
God is indeed in the clouds:
As time and wisdom teach us, God is there with us in our darkest days, carrying us through with hope to deeper understanding and faith.
Annie Cumpston’s legacy lives on through the laughter and playtime of the thousands of children who visit the playground named for her each year.
We pray in deep gratitude for that special gift that Annie’s family and friends have shared with so many.
Learn more about Annie Cumpston and Annie’s Playground:
Originally published on April 27, 2004, this article was reposted on January 8, 2015 in honor of Annie’s 18th birthday
3. The Baltimore Sun and Aegis photo gallery:
By The Aegis staff and file photos
4. Take a video-tour of Annie’s Playground:
Produced by Robert B. McArtor, REALTOR with Maryland HOMES Team, RE/MAX Components, enjoy this 8-minute video-tour.
5. Read about how Jim Hunter, the announcer for the Baltimore Orioles, came up with a great idea for fundraising:
March 07, 2015 08:23
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By Patti Murphy Dohn