The beach by the Singer Island, Florida pump house (Photo: From the webcam at the Palm Beach Lake Worth Inlet)
Sharks... Just the mention of the word elicits emotions ranging from fear to excitement to trepidation to intrigue...
They have been in the news many times over the past few weeks. There was a huge buzz surrounding the 40th anniversary of the classic blockbuster movie JAWS, followed by close sightings near the shore line in a number of beach towns, including last weekend in Ocean City, Maryland. Newscasts have also included reports of some serious injuries, with a few beaches even closing down temporarily as sharks came close to the shore as they follow the fish migrations north.
South Florida sightings:
An hour north of our home in Palm Beach County, reef sharks swam so close to shore two weeks ago
that all the beaches in St. Lucie County were closed for the day. It was a huge fright to many vacationing families as this species of shark can grow to ten feet in length.
Check out what all the fuss was about in this 13-second video which shows two reef sharks snuggling close to the water's edge at St. Lucie's Waveland Beach. This video shows just one example of why experts advocate for swimming only at lifeguarded beaches and never going into the surf alone. Watch here on YouTube
An underwater paradise near the Blue Heron Bridge:
Phil Foster Park
is a stone’s throw from our home on Singer Island, located just north of West Palm Beach on the Lake Worth Lagoon of the Intracoastal Waterway. The park's beach, under the famous Blue Heron Bridge, offers easy access to an artificial reef and snorkel trail. The trail, perched just 200 feet offshore in 6 to 12 feet of water, depending on the tides, attracts divers and snorkelers from all over the world. Since Singer Island has the closest proximity to the Gulf Stream, the result is warm turquoise waters, with great visibility, perfect for divers and snorkelers of all ages.
The local scuba community takes pride that the Blue Heron Bridge was named the best dive site in the world by PADI’s Sport Diver magazine in 2013
. The vast array of marine life contributed to that designation. You can dive or snorkel amid stingrays, seahorses, octopus, manatees, sea turtles, lobsters, and countless species of fish, just to name a few.
Shark sculptures ready to be submerged off Phil Foster Park (Photo: Palm Beach Post)
Shark sculptures submerged off Phil Foster Park:
One man is trying to take the fear factor away from sharks with his artistic donation to the snorkel trail. Part-time Palm Beach County resident Thomas McDonald, also of Roanoke, Virginia, is an artist, diver, and underwater photographer. He created three concrete hammerhead sharks, each weighing 1500 pounds, and donated them as the first phase of a underwater sculpture park at the snorkeling trail off Phil Foster Park.
I first heard of McDonald's work when I saw a notice about the shark submersion in the Palm Beach Post (photo above). His plan was to incorporate his love of art and the ocean by creating and donating these concrete replica hammerheads.
Intrigued by the generosity of the artist, as well as the good fortune of local divers and vacationing snorkelers, I headed over to Phil Foster Park with my camera last Friday morning to see the shark sculptures being lowered into the water.
Divers, boaters, swimmers, and paddleboarders were out bright and early near the beach at Phil Foster Park to be among the first to see the hammerhead shark sculptures after they were lowered into place on the snorkel trail. (Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
Glad that I arrived early, I was able to speak to a number of the people who have vested interests in the future of this area as a lure to the diving community, as well as a new cultural oasis.
On hand to watching the launch of the new sharks were:
(From left:) Victoria Van Dam of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Wendy Puz, Environmental Analyst for the county's Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), and Daniel Bates, ERM deputy director; (Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
The sculptures, affectionately called the McSharks for artist Thomas McDonald, are five feet long and about thirty inches tall. They were lowered into the water by a crane on a barge during high tide on June 19, and placed into position by Pura Vida Divers, a PADI 5-star dive center located nearby on Singer Island.
(Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
Start of an underwater sculpture park:
Daniel Bates, deputy director of the county's Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), watched the process with me from the shoreline, along with his colleague Wendy Puz, and camera crews from all the local West Palm Beach TV stations.
Bates shared with me and the television news crews that the sharks are the first pieces in an underwater sculpture garden along that 800-foot snorkel trail. Citing that there are other underwater sculpture reefs throughout the world, Bates explained that algae and coral will start to grow on these pieces within a few months, then attracting even more marine life. He likened it to an aquarium.
(Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
And in turn, more divers will also be attracted to the area, as evidenced by the number who waited to see these sculptures once they were in place. Some families with young children were among the spectators, ready to snorkel over and get their first glimpse of the hammerheads.
(Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
Bates noted that the Blue Heron Bridge is a world-renowned location and the Department of Environmental Resources Management wants to keep enhancing it. He praised the vision and generosity of artist Thomas McDonald whose donation was at no cost to the county and local tax payers. As McDonald’s plan came to fruition, there was a growing excitement from both the arts community and from local divers.
Always ready to cover the news on the waterfront is South Florida's own James Wieland, @SurfnWeatherman of WPTV.
After conducting interviews, James dove in and hit the snorkeling trail with his underwater camera to take photos and video footage of the three sharks for the evening broadcast. (Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
It was so nice to be able to catch up with Baltimore's good friend, Sandra Shaw, formerly of WBAL-TV,
who has been part of WPBF's First Alert Weather Team in West Palm Beach for the past five years.
Sandra did special features on a number of our Catholic schools when she worked for WBAL.
As the sharks were submerged, sculptor Thomas McDonald was underwater in full diving gear watching the placement. Afterwards, he swam to shore and spoke to the news crews and spent a few minutes with me.
Thomas McDonald, sculptor of the three hammerheads and inspiration for the underwater sculpture reef (Photo: Patti Murphy Dohn)
Artist Thomas McDonald laughed as he told me that sharks “bring out a reaction in people… some are afraid of them and many people love that fear a little bit.” He was excited to share his hammerheads, which took four months to make, with those who visit the trail at Phil Foster Park. He donated his time and artistry to Palm Beach County in memory of his father who died in May and who inspired his work. Tom explained that seeing his plan finalized at the start of the Fathers Day weekend meant a great deal to him as he remembered his Dad’s legacy.
A diver for the past thirty years, Tom was intrigued by his first visit to the Blue Heron Bridge and fell in love with the marine life there. He told me that is why he chose this location for the donation of his sculptures as it “is a world class dive site." He added that "the County has been so helpful. I'm grateful for what they have done to make this project a reality today.”
Michael DeLuca, a rising junior at Boca High School, was also happy to be on hand for the submersion of the shark sculptures. He completed his Eagle Scout project there last November, placing two artificial reefs by the snorkel trail.
Michael told me that it "couldn't be a better location" because of the number of divers and tourists in the area. "The hammerheads bring a cool addition... It's great that they have been placed along the trail."
Enjoy these videos of the hammerhead sculptures:
2. This 2-minute video shows local snorkelers with the three shark sculptures, as well as some of the nearby marine life.
Come snorkel with the hammerheads:
Plan a getaway to the West Palm Beach area of South Florida and come snorkel along the trail with the new shark sculptures:
Phil Foster Park is located on the east end of the Blue Heron Bridge (900 Blue Heron Blvd, Riviera Beach, Florida 33404).
The snorkel trail can be accessed by walking under the bridge to the south side of the park, overlooking Peanut Island. The three sharks are straight out, toward the beginning of the trail.
For a few other stories on my adventures in Palm Beach County, Florida:
June 30, 2015 03:29
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Portrait of Archbishop John Carroll located in the Georgetown University Library/ Artist: Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828)/ Wikimedia Commons
Bishop and Patriot:
Archbishop John Carroll, the first bishop in the United States, was born on this date, January 8, in 1736 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Considered to be the patriarch of American Catholicism, John Carroll was named the first bishop of this nation by Pope Pius VI in 1789.
Headquartered here in Baltimore, John Carroll later became the first U.S. Archbishop in 1808 when Pope Pius VII elevated Baltimore to the status of first U.S. archdiocese with the creation of the Dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown, Kentucky.
Archbishop Carroll was born to Eternal Life on December 3, 1815. His final resting place is in the crypt of the Baltimore Basilica, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, America’s first Catholic cathedral, which he commissioned to be built in 1806 with the design of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
2009: Then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, newly installed Archbishop of New York, prayed at the resting place of Archbishop John Carroll in the crypt of Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption before Mass on September 17, 2009. Joining him were Cardinal William H. Keeler, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and bishops and priests serving with Catholic Relief Services. Photo: The Baltimore Basilica
Archbishop John Carroll Holy Card from Cardinal Seán's Blog
Prayer for the Government:
In 1791, Bishop John Carroll wrote and delivered the well-known “Prayer for the Nation,” urging American Catholics to recite this regularly with their parish communities for God's blessings on our nation and the Church.
Prayer for Government:
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.
We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for his Excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Read more about Archbishop John Carroll and his impact on the American Catholic Church here.
The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland was founded in 1964 and named for the first U.S. Catholic bishop: They celebrate their 50th anniversary year in 2013-2014. Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn
September 9, 2013: Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn
Archbishop William E. Lori, the 15th successor to Archbishop Carroll, wore the pectoral cross of the first U.S. bishop at the Mass for Catholic Schools Week on January 30, 2013 at The John Carroll School. Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn
January 08, 2014 04:32
By Patti Murphy Dohn
The Vigil Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent at Saint Francis de Sales Church, Abingdon (PHOTO by Patti Murphy Dohn)
"Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.”
Morning Prayer Antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
In the last Advent days leading up to Christmas, I will share some reflections, prayers, and music for you to enjoy during this very hectic holiday season.
JOSEPH OF NAZARETH from St. Joseph's Chapel, Suffern, New York
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent:
We attended the Vigil Mass yesterday since we are having our family Christmas dinner this afternoon and wanted to have extra time in the morning for the final touches. Deacon Richard Stine gave a wonderful homily at St. Francis de Sales, Abingdon, concentrating on the plight faced by Saint Joseph when he found out that Mary, his betrothed, was with child. He also related this conundrum with that which is faced by many families today who do their best to give support to family members who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies.
Speaking of Saint Joseph…. He doesn’t get a lot of press in the Scriptures. There is no record of any of his spoken words. But the accounts of the key moments of his life with the Blessed Virgin Mary, both before and after the birth of Jesus, are powerful lessons in his trust in God. Today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24) recounts the dream where Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife as the child she is carrying was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Joseph continues to be a quiet role model to so many of us who seek to trust in God’s providence each day.
Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, 1670-75, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), Ringling Museum, 17th Spain & England
More reflections on Saint Joseph:
Another excellent homily for today’s Fourth Sunday of Advent by popular blogger Deacon Greg Kandra can be read here
Reverend Mishael Miller of Baltimore's Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church will sing the Baltimore Raven's kickoff National Anthem for the last time at M&T Bank Stadium today (December 22, 2013). Baltimore Sun photo
Mishael Miller’s last National Anthem for the Baltimore Ravens:
After 18 years of providing patriotic pride for our hometown Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium, amazing baritone Mishael Miller will sing the National Anthem for the last time before this today’s last home game of the season kick-off. This assistant pastor at the Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church is following God’s call to serve as the new pastor of the St. Luke A.M.E. Zion Church in Birmingham, Alabama next month.
Reverend Miller told the Baltimore Sun: "I have always been involved in the church. I was playing church in my living room as a kid. I would make a pulpit and an altar. Ministry is at the root of all that I do. It seems like I don't know anything else. And I've been preaching since I was 18. I was involved in youth ministry for my church in Philadelphia."
Invited to sing the National Anthem for the very first Ravens game on August 3, 1996 at Memorial Stadium since the Morgan State University marching band was playing, this 1995 Morgan music grad so impressed Art Modell that he was invited to sing for all future games.
Enjoy this 5-minute video interview where Mishael Miller tells how his love of singing and music developed in church, how he was invited to sing for that first game in 1996 with Art Modell asking him to stay on permanently, and how Ravens fans “help” him by shouting “O” near the end of the National Anthem.
Those lucky enough to attend today’s game will enjoy Mishael Miller singing Christmas music during halftime. How wonderful!!
Singing for baseball too: "The Star Spangled Banner" by Mishael E. Miller, June 12, 2010, at the Baltimore Orioles-New York Mets game with the support of Ravens cheerleaders in the background.
Today’s “O Antiphon”
“O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!”
—Today’s Antiphon for December 22
Music for your Enjoyment:
Honoring Saint Joseph: There is so little music about Saint Joseph, so I was delighted when I found this beautiful tribute called “Joseph’s Hands.” Composer Michael Mikulin spent two years working on this song dedicated to Saint Joseph which “reminds us all of his incredible service. He is a model father to all of us. The song details the birth of Jesus, Joseph's dream, and the flight to Egypt.”
Enjoy this classic version of “Silent Night” by Bing Crosby, another golden oldie.
“Joy to the World”
Arranged by Mack Wilberg and produced by and broadcast on PBS, "Joy to the World" was the opening song their program "Sing We Now of Christmas: A Festival of Carols", featuring the choirs of First Presbyterian Church in Davenport, Iowa under the direction of Steven R. Jobman. Arranged by Mack Wilberg.
Prayer for December 22:
Oh, Jesus who descended from Jesse,
you are a sign of God's love.
I feel hopeful and expectant,
filled with a rebirth of joy and love.
I depend on you so much.
You are a rock for my belief
and a sign of God's love.
Fill me with your praise!
I want to sing your glory,
filled with joy
for the message of hope you send.
I don't always understand
when you are acting on my behalf.
Thank you for the message of hope you send me.
Give me true faith and love
as I celebrate the mystery
of how you came to be with us.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
Graphic by Look and Learn Catholic Visuals
December 22, 2013 11:46
By Patti Murphy Dohn
The Immaculate Conception by Jose Antolinez (1650)
Today we join with Catholics across the United States in celebrating the feast day of our nation, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Patroness of the United States:
Archbishop John Carroll, my school's namesake, had a tremendous devotion to Our Lady. He was the first to place our nation under the protection of the Blessed Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
He also displayed his deep devotion when he worked with architect Benjamin Latrobe to design the first Catholic cathedral in Baltimore, using the Marian title of the Assumption for the name of this center of worship which was built from 1806-1821 on what is now Cathedral Street.
Eleven years after his death, in 1846, the U.S. bishops officially petitioned the Holy Father, Pope Pius IX, to declare Our Lady as patroness of our country under the title of the Immaculate Conception. This title refers to the dogma which teaches us that the Blessed Mother was preserved from original sin from the very first moment of her existence at her conception.
The Immaculate Conception by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1768)
Dogma of the Immaculate Conception:
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed in his Apostolic Constitution entitled Ineffabilis Deus: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by the Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” December 8 has been a holyday of obligation ever since.
This solemnity is celebrated each year on December 8, but this year (2013), due to the timing of the Second Sunday of Advent, the observance of the Immaculate Conception has been transferred to Monday, December 9.
Over the years I have witnessed a lot of misunderstandings about what is celebrated on this feast day. It seems that a lot of people mix up the Immaculate Conception and the Annunciation. The first feast relates to the conception of Mary in her mother Anne's womb, while the latter refers to the miraculous conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb.
Mary's parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, patron saints of grandparents
Part of the confusion, I believe, comes about during Mass since the Gospel reading for the Immaculate Conception is actually Luke's account of the Annunciation. Despite numerous attempts to explain the definition of this solemnity by Religion teachers, parish catechists, and our priests at Mass, many members of the faithful still leave church under the impression that they just celebrated the conception of Jesus.....
I remember back in my college days in the ‘70s, leaving the noon Mass on December 8, when a religious sister/Math professor was "clarifying" the wrong definition of the Immaculate Conception to a group of students. Being a theology major, I remember just shaking my head and continuing on my way to the dining room for lunch. Arguing with this dear Sister would have been a ‘lose-lose’ situation. I'm chuckling now as I type this memory.
The Gospel reading illustrates how God's providence in being preserved from original sin allowed Mary to be worthy of the Annunciation in her young adult life. And there is no account of her natural conception in the Scriptures to serve as a more definitive Gospel reading for the occasion. Thus lots of confusion ensues…
The liturgical calendar includes the celebration of the Nativity (birth) of the Blessed Virgin Mary exactly nine months after the Immaculate Conception on September 8. In the same manner, Christmas Day is celebrated exactly nine months after the March 25 Annunciation, the conception of Jesus. I always point out this ‘perfect Math’ to my students when teaching about these feast days.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The National Shrine in Washington, DC:
In 1913, Pope Pius X approved plans for the construction of a national shrine in Washington, DC. The cornerstone of what is now the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was laid in 1920. This Marian shrine is referred to as “America’s Catholic Church.” It is said to not only be the largest church in our nation, but in the entire western hemisphere as well. A place of pilgrimage and prayer, the National Shrine has hosted millions of tourists and the faithful from around the world.
On this feast day of our nation, may we always look to our Blessed Mother to intercede for us with her Son, our Lord Jesus.
Prayer on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception:
Father, The image of the Virgin is found in your Church.
Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that
never knew sin,
for you kept her sinless from the first moment of
Trace in our actions the lines of her love,
in our hearts her readiness of faith.
Prepare once again a world for your Son who lives and reigns with your and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
—"Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers"
December 08, 2013 11:23
By Patti Murphy Dohn
This was the introduction to our morning prayer here at The John Carroll School to start our day on November 22, 2013:
As the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Cecelia, patron saint of musicians today, we here at John Carroll join Americans everywhere in remembering President John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, who was assassinated on this date in Dallas in 1963. Today marks the 50th anniversary of his death with prayers and commemorations in all 50 states.
We pray for peace in our land as we honor this good man, our first Catholic president, whose Thanksgiving message—which was not delivered live five days later due to his death—included this statement:
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
May we live each day our own attitude of gratitude for all the good people who make our nation the land of the free and the home of the brave. We will hold a moment of silence this afternoon at the time of President Kennedy's shooting.
Let us pray:
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father,
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment,
And live each moment,
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
In good times and in bad, God is good. All the time.
November 22, 2013 08:55
By Patti Murphy Dohn