Reflections by Patti Murphy Dohn on the Church, family, grief, saints, and hope amidst the storms in our lives... May you always find that God is in the clouds! 

Patti Murphy Dohn retired in 2014 after 33 years of service as Campus Minister, retreat director, and Religion teacher at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981. Presently, she continues her ministry through bereavement outreach, coordinating the school's alumni prayer chain, while archiving the school's history.  

Patti was awarded the Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2012. She served the Archdiocese on the Screening Board for the Office of Vocations under Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal O'Brien, and Archbishop Lori. She is also a past-board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. and Saint Margaret School in Bel Air.

Along with writing for "The Catholic Review," Patti is a member of the Catholic Press Association, as well as the Catholic Writers Guild and the Associated Church Press. She is available for speaking engagements, consulting, and retreat work.

Patti and her husband George split their time between their homes in Bel Air, Maryland and Singer Island, Palm Beach, Florida.


Twitter: @JCSMinistry

Facebook: Patti Murphy Dohn

Instagram: @PattiMurphyDohn

 God is good!! All the time!!



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Recent Comments

Beautiful story! thank you for continuing to inspire us Patti.


And your BFF didn't know this story? Great article to read. I,can envision it! What an amazing intuition you followed. Someday soon we will talk more!

God is in the clouds

Music Monday: "With You By My Side" and the prayer of St. Francis de Sales for the Class of 2014

The Class of 2014 has been sent forth to let their light shine in the world:

David Haas' beautiful hymn "With You By My Side" is a joyful prayer for all who move on this year into a future filled with newness and perhaps some fear of the unknown. This song is quite moving and will fill you with hope, as no matter what is to come, our loving God is there to guide us through it.

In a similar manner, the prayer of St. Francis de Sales exhorts us to trust in the Lord to care for us and guide us along all the paths of our lives:

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in His arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same understanding Father who cares for
you today will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

--Saint Francis de Sales

God is good... All the time!!

June 02, 2014 07:07
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: Feeling joyful with "Lord of the Dance"

The recessional hymn yesterday at St. Francis de Sales Church in Abingdon was "Lord of the Dance." An old favorite of mine from the days when my kids were little and used to sing it with their classmates at St. Margaret School, I found myself tapping my feet and singing all five verses with the Music Ministry as the majority of the congregation made their way out. 

This song traces its roots to 1848 when Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett composed his classic hymn "Simple Gifts" and identified it on the manuscripts as a dance song. The actual lyrics note dance movements: "To turn, turn will be our delight / Till by turning, turning we come out right." 

Re-adapted in 1963 with some new lyrics by English songwriter Sydney Carter with the title "Lord of the Dance," and then again in 1977 by John Langstaff, the song has a beautiful history and ranks as all-time favorite with many Christians.

John Langstaff's rich vocals are featured in today's Music Monday video. Enjoy the photos of people from all over the world dancing with joy as Langstaff sings with wonderful background musicians.

"Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!"


Have a great week!!

May 19, 2014 12:47
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Calling on St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of exam-takers

“As long as there are tests and exams, there will be prayer in school.”

It’s that time of year again:

College finals, AP exams, semester finals….

Lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and studying, too.

My most-read blog of all times was posted last June,  2013 when the students in my “Mission and Ministry of Jesus” course were taking their final exam. We called upon the intercession of the patron saint for students taking exams, Saint Joseph of Cupertino. I had taken the classic old prayer that our grandparents might have said before their exams and updated it.

Prayer requests for students taking exams and tests:

Over the past twelve months, I have had comments and emails from people all over the world asking for prayers and intercession from St. Joseph of Cupertino for academic success for themselves and their family members. Nothing worries people more than the prospect of not doing their best on a final exam.

Join me in praying for all our students and loved ones who are now hitting the books and preparing to wrap up another semester or year of study.

Don’t forget: Acknowledge your thanks:

Be sure to follow up by posting a word or two of gratitude to St. Joseph of Cupertino in the comment area here below. Tradition holds that we must acknowledge his intercession, especially when we are successful in our endeavors.

Prayer to Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Patron Saint of Those Taking Exams:

O Saint Joseph of Cupertino,

who by your prayer, obtained from God the blessing to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew:

Grant that we may, like you, succeed in the exams we take today.

In return, we promise to make you known and to encourage others

to pray to  you for their scholastic needs as well.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of students, pray for us.

O Holy Spirit, enlighten us.

Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for us.

Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of Divine Wisdom, enlighten us.



God is good!! All the time!!

May 07, 2014 08:24
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: A tribute to teachers on the Feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle

“To be entrusted with the teaching of the young is a great gift and grace of God.”

“Young people need the light of watchful guides to lead them on the path of salvation.”  

“Your faith should be a shining light for those whom you teach.”

—Quotes of St. John Baptist de la Salle

Music Monday pays tribute today to our teachers with a special prayer and song.

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle, founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and patron saint of our Catholic schools and our teachers.

“The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.”

—Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, Founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross


Prayer for Teachers:

Lord Jesus, You taught with words and by example—but always with out of love.

Please guide our teachers during this school day and every day to create a positive learning environment for their students.

Give them strength to meet the needs of their diverse learners.

Give them patience when moments are trying.

Give them creativity to develop engaging lessons.

Give them humility to recognize when their students are actually teaching them.

And give them loving hearts so that they may always teach out of love, just as You did, Lord.


--Adapted from 'Prayer for Teachers' by Meredith McCarthy ‘95

“The Notre Dame Book of Prayer”

University of Notre Dame Office of Campus Ministry, Ave Maria Press, 2010 

“Teacher Appreciation” song by Brian Asselin and Eric Disero


"What is nobler than to mold the character of the young? I consider that he who knows how to form the youthful mind is truly greater than all painters, sculptors and all others of that sort.”—St. John Chrysostom

April 07, 2014 09:00
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: An inspiring start to a new week with "Amazing Grace" by Celtic Woman

Today's Music Monday features "Amazing Grace" by Celtic Woman:

Since their debut in 2004, this all-female Irish musical group, described as being  "Riverdance for the voice," has entertained audiences around the world with a range of music from traditional Celtic to contemporary tunes.

With almost 15 million hits on Youtube, their rendition of "Amazing Grace," backed by a full orchestra and a dozen bagpipers in Dublin, is guaranteed to start your day on an upbeat spiritual note. Pun intended.

Have a wonderful week!!

March 31, 2014 08:49
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Go to Joseph: Honoring the patron saint of the Universal Church and the ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, along with a song and prayer for his Solemnity


Happy Saint Joseph’s Day!!

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the gentle and humble man who was the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of our Lord and Savior. Devotion to good Saint Joseph is strong among Catholics the world over as witnessed by the multitudes of men, schools, and churches that bear his name and pray for his intercession.

My school, which is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, has had a special love for Saint Joseph since our opening in 1964. The first teachers to staff John Carroll were the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. These good women served our students and their families here in Bel Air for over 45 years.

Many of our students and teachers are wearing the small purple crosses which Sister Bernard Howe, SSJ cross-stitched for us to wear this Lent. “Sister B” made 1000 crosses each summer that she was on staff here at John Carroll for that upcoming year’s Lenten observance. We are blessed and honored that she repeated this generous act of kindness for our 50th anniversary year.

Guidance Counselor Larry Hensley with John Carroll junior and seniors who are sporting their purple Lenten crosses, lovingly stitched by Sister Bernard Howe, SSJ. (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

Ring tradition tied into Saint Joseph's Feast and the Sisters of Saint Joseph:

Our juniors celebrated the receiving of their school rings during last Thursday’s Ring Ceremony, Friday’s Ring Mass and breakfast, and Saturday night’s Ring Dance. A whirlwind of fun, photos, and memories for the Class of 2015. The timing of our Junior Ring festivities has always been placed close to St Joseph's Day to honor the Sisters. What a wonderful time-honored tradition!!

May God richly bless these fine religious women and their community for their selfless love for our students and devotion to our school and so many other schools and organizations over their years of ministry.


“Prayer of Saint Joseph” sung by Angelina

Gifted singer Angelina explains the Sicilian tradition of the “St. Joseph altar” (also known as the St. Joseph’s table), which is traced back to prayers for St. Joseph’s intercession during a medieval famine. Enjoy her presentation and her beautifully sung “Prayer to St. Joseph” from the gardens of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica.


Saint Joseph: A Hidden Life from "Who Cares About The Saints?”

Fr. James Martin, SJ reflects on the life and profound influence of Saint Joseph in his 7-minute video from his Loyola Productions DVD "Who Cares About The Saints?” based on his book by the same name. Be inspired.


 Through the intercession of Saint Joseph, may we daily discern the ways we can serve our neighbor and follow the vocation to which God calls us.

Prayer to Saint Joseph:

St. Joseph, patron of workers and carpenters, you were entrusted to be the foster-father of the Son of God.

In our work may we place our trust in your example.

May your spouse, the Virgin Mary, increase our gift of gratitude for the vocation that was given to us by the Father and Holy Spirit.


— Brother Ed Luther, C.S.C.

March 19, 2014 12:23
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: Caribbean steel drum rendition of "How Great Thou Art" to warm your heart on a winter day



Winter blues?

Another snowstorm has hit the mid-Atlantic seaboard and most of the school systems across the state have closed due to the weather conditions. My John Carroll students are having yet another cyber day of study at home on their laptops. And the local news anchors are increasingly playing off of Shakespeare and Steinbeck and calling this "the winter of our discontent."


Here's a song and a prayer to help warm your hearts and get your week off to a good start:

One of my all time favorite traditional hymns "How Great Thou Art" with a Caribbean twist on the steel drums of the Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra.
Warming to the heart and soul... Enjoy!!


"How Great Thou Art"


Traditional morning offering prayer for a new day and a new week:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day and week
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.


Fellow "Catholic Review" blogger Rita Buettner of "Open Window" and I are getting ready for Lent.
Today Rita honors the 110th birthday of Dr. Seuss with a snowy poem.


March 03, 2014 12:08
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Countdown to Saint Patrick's Day: A morning prayer from "Saint Patrick's Breastplate"



Tomorrow is March 1. That means the Irish High Holyday is just 17 days away!!
To get us in the Irish spirit, here is a prayer from Saint Patrick to start our day.
Taken from the Gaelic poem called "Saint Patrick's Lorica," the words have been attributed to the Irish Saint himself according to oral tradition. A lorica (or breastplate) was a mystical garment that was said to protect from illness and danger, and which would guarantee the wearer Eternal Life.

Translated into English by Ce­cil Alex­an­der in 1889 and known more commonly "Saint Patrick's Breastplate," it became part of the collection of sacred hymns "Liber Hymnorum," which is kept in Dublin.


I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension...

Taken from: "Saint Patrick's Breastplate"

My fellow "Catholic Review" blogger Rita Buettner of "Open Window" 
 and I are blogging each day this week (Monday, February 24 to Sunday, March 2) in conjunction with the "7 Posts in 7 Days" challenge from Jen's Conversion Diary.

Today Rita has a her weekly "7 Quick Takes." Enjoy reading her story about Mother Teresa, her new statue of Saint Joseph for the garden, and her Lenten challenge to read Pope John XXIII's "Journal of a Soul."

 Tomorrow is a new day: Let's see what Saturday brings to "God is in the Clouds."

Have a great weekend!!


February 28, 2014 08:58
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Winter Storm Pax, being a snow angel, and a prayer for those in need of shelter and heat



Over a foot of snow greeted us this morning at our home in Barrington in Bel Air (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)


The snow started last night as Winter Storm Pax made its way up the I-95 corridor into DC and Maryland. Everyone knew what to expect for days in advance in order to be prepared. Of course, the grocery stores and gas stations were packed.

I spent the afternoon with my daughter Meighan and my 6-week old granddaughter yesterday. Meighan ran out to the store before dinnertime to get food for their pug Lilly. When she returned, Meighan told me that Pet Smart was packed, the nearby Target and Walmart parking lots were jammed, and that there was a back up to get into the huge lot at the liquor store. Nothing like an impending snowstorm to help the economy!!

Almost every county school system in the state is closed today. Tomorrow is certain to be a repeat as the next wave of snow moves through later tonight. We measured over a foot here at my home in Bel Air. And my students are having cyber days while school is closed.

Schools with 1-to-1 computer programs and teacher websites can get a lot accomplished when school is not in session.... Just as many adults work from home when they can't get out of their neighborhoods due to bad weather. The nice thing about cyber days is that you can work at your own pace and set your own hours. Looks like there will be a long weekend to get everything done and submitted online.

Be a Snow Angel:

I too jumped on the cyber bandwagon and sent out my Morning Prayer to the students and teachers via email with a renewed call for our students to be snow angels

Please don't forget my snow day challenge from yesterday morning:

Let your light shine by offering your help at home with the shoveling and cleaning off your family cars:

Have a positive attitude and amaze your parents with your kindness!!

Also: Look out for your neighbors and be a #snowangel!!


Today's Prayer: 

Join us as we pray for all those affected by this winter storm. Today's prayer is for those who are in need of shelter and warmth during this stormy weather: 


God of compassion,

your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,

whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable

and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:

we hold before you those who are homeless and cold

especially in this bitter weather.

Draw near and comfort them in spirit

and bless those who work to provide them

with shelter, food and friendship.

We ask this in Jesus' name.


God is good : all the time!!

Archbishop John Carroll, pray for us.

Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Medard, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Be safe and warm. And don't forget to be a snow angel!!


 The view of our backyard before sunrise this morning (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

February 13, 2014 02:19
By Patti Murphy Dohn