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

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 God is good!! All the time!!



September 2016
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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

Calling on Saint Medard: Prayer to the patron saint of bad storms

Once again, our family and friends along the east coast are in the calm before the storm... a huge snowstorm which meteorologists are calling Jonas. 

With blizzard warnings and school closings pinging alerts to my cell phone, my husband and I share the worry with our family back in Maryland as the hours tick down to the arrival of this huge storm. 

Praying to Saint Medard:

It's time once again to call upon the intercession of Saint Medard, the sixth-century bishop, preacher, and missionary, whose feast is observed on June 8. He is the patron saint for protection from bad storms. 

According to legend, as a child, Medard was once sheltered from the driving rain by an eagle hovering over him.  

The last time I wrote about praying to Saint Medard was two years ago in February of 2014 as Winter Storm Pax was making its way to the east coast. It dumped more than a foot of snow on the Baltimore area.

As we get closer to the start of winter storm Jonas, let us again call upon the intercession of Saint Medard to keep our loved ones safe and to protect all those who are in need of shelter and warmth.

Prayer to Saint Medard:

Saint Medard, patron saint for protection against bad storms,
we ask you to intercede for us during the storms of our lives as well as the storms in nature.

Protect our families and our homes.

We pray for assistance for the victims of snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, especially for the upcoming snowstorm that is headed our way this weekend.

Loving God, send in more helpers, and multiply resources and supplies for the aid of those in need.

You calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee; deliver us from the storms that are raging around us now.

Saint Medard, pray for us.


January 22, 2016 12:42
By Patti Murphy Dohn

A patron saint for the hurricane season: Praying to St. Medard for protection

St. Medard, patron saint of bad storms, pray for us!

We are in the midst of hurricane season here in the United States. It runs each year from June 1 through November 30. 

The possibility of hurricanes hitting home should be on the minds of people living in South Florida. But it has been a number of years since one struck here in Palm Beach County, so many people have been rather complacent.

My husband and I bought our home on Singer Island eight years ago, three years after Hurricanes Frances (105 mph winds) and Jeanne (120 mph winds) hit the area just twenty days apart in September of 2004. The following year Wilma (105 mph winds) hit South Florida, causing 25 deaths and again leaving a number of counties in the dark. 

The outlook for the 2015 season:

"It's very unusual… This is by far the longest that state has gone without a hurricane hit going back to 1851…
Florida is just one of those areas that is most vulnerable because they're in an area,
geographically, in which tropical storms can easily maneuver and make landfall.”

—AccuWeather meteorologist and hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski on the 2015 hurricane season

Hurricane protection prayer at Mass:

Every Sunday when I go to Mass at St. Paul of the Cross Church in North Palm Beach, I am struck by the standard weekly petition for protection from hurricanes in the Prayer of the Faithful:

That we would receive the grace of physical protection from
all storms, disaster and calamity this hurricane season, we pray… 
Lord, hear our prayer.

Calling again on St. Medard:

I first wrote about St. Medard in February of 2014 in anticipation of the winter snowstorm Pax: “Praying to Saint Medard, the patron saint of bad storms.”

St. Medard seems to be the perfect patron saint for the hurricane season. A sixth-century bishop, preacher, and missionary, he is the patron saint for protection from bad storms. As a child, so the legend goes, he was once sheltered from the rain by an eagle hovering over him. His feast day is observed each year on June 8.

Let us call upon the intercession of Saint Medard to keep us safe and to protect all those who are vulnerable during the hurricane season.

Saint Medard, patron saint for protection against bad storms, we ask you to intercede for us during the storms of our lives as well as the storms in nature.
Protect our families and our homes.
We pray for assistance for the victims of snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, especially for the upcoming snowstorm that is headed our way tonight.
Loving God, send in more helpers, and multiply resources and supplies for the aid of those in need.
You calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee; deliver us from the storms that are raging around us now.
Saint Medard, pray for us.

July 23, 2015 02:07
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Among summer's simple pleasures: Watching the full moon rise over the beach

The pace of life gets slower and sweeter each year during the summer season. People seem to smile more, children's laughter is in the air, and the pace of life seems easier to handle.

My favorite part of summer has always been the simple pleasures...

Fresh fruit and vegetables, beautiful flowers in the garden, relaxing at the pool or the beach, good books, warm sunshine on your face, longer days, music on the patio, and the best sunsets of the year.

July's two full moons:

It's July already... Can you believe it? Everyone is getting ready for their Fourth of July celebrations.

But wait... July 1 offers another one of life's simple pleasures: The full moon.

And stop again and take note...

This month we have two full moons to enjoy for the first time since 2012. We start off with the first full moon on the 1st, and finish the month with the second full moon on July 31st. That second one is called a "blue moon," and won't occur again until January 2018. So cool!!

Naming those full moons:

I learned today that July's full moon is always called  "thunder moon" because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month, as well as "buck moon" because bucks start to grow antlers during July. Who knew that?

Tonight's full moon rises over the Singer Island beach: To the right is a seaturtle nest which was discovered on June 19 and marked as "CC" for Caretta caretta, better known as loggerhead turtle eggs. (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

Enjoying today's simple pleasure:

After dinner, I headed across the street from our home on Singer Island to the beach to watch the full moon rise.

It's pretty quiet here in South Florida now with all the winter snowbirds (the human ones) back home in the northern states and Canada. So I had a long stretch of beach to myself as I set up my tripod and camera to catch the rising of the full moon. There were low lying clouds so I had to wait a bit before the moon made itself visible.

I used the Star Chart app on my iPhone to make sure my camera was on track. My neighbors introduced me to this wonderful app last winter which shows all the stars by name and location, as well as the moon and planets. It calibrates your location just by holding your device up to the sky. Pretty amazing.

Video set up on the Singer Island beach to capture the rising of the first full moon of July 2015 (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

The result of my hour on the beach tonight?

Four wonderful videos with the rising of the first full moon of July, 2015.

Enjoy this video of the surf crashing on the shore with the full moon rising overhead:

Good luck?

Some people say that wishing on a full moon is supposed to be good luck.

I prefer to say a prayer than make a wish...

Let God be in charge.

What a glorious time to offer up thanks and praise for the beauty of God's creation than during a moment of incredible wonder, such as tonight's full moon!

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him.
 And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
 Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them
 clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene,
 and every kind of weather through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
 Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.


July 02, 2015 01:01
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Shark alert: Hammerhead sculptures beneath South Florida’s Blue Heron Bridge turn fear into fun 

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:

1. Watch this 1-minute video from the ERM Facebook page to see the hammerhead statues in their new environment by the snorkel trail;

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.

Be sure to email me if you make plans to come for a visit:


For a few other stories on my adventures in Palm Beach County, Florida:

Check out:

June 30, 2015 03:29
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

Saint John of Capistrano and a reminder of spring time


The Oct. 23 feast of the Franciscan friar Saint John of Capistrano (1385-1456) reminds me of the springtime and the miracle of the swallows. It is pretty ironic that I am thinking spring today since it is chilly outside and we have a freeze warning here in Harford County for tonight.

Are you familiar with the Franciscan missions (San Juan Capistrano) named for today’s saint in Southern California and in San Antonio? The Mission in Southern California was founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1776 to spread the Catholic faith to the Native Americans. But it is now most widely known for the “miracle of the swallows” each year on the March 19 feast of Saint Joseph.


According to their visitor website, the cliff swallows winter each year in Argentina and then arrive back each March to this famous Franciscan mission. They make their nests in the eaves there until October when their migration cycle starts again. People from all over the world are known to visit, especially on the March 19 feast day of Jesus’ foster-father when these small birds return at dawn to settle back into their mud nests at the ruins of the Great Stone Church. Damaged by the earthquake of 1812, this Franciscan church is now famous for housing these birds. On the feast of San Juan Capistrano, Oct. 23, the small birds are known to take flight again for their winter destination.

More information can also be found on the website for the local San Juan Capistrano community here

Photo by Diana L. Guerrero 

Today’s Saint:

Saint John, born in Capistrano, Italy, was dedicated to the practice of law in the courts of Naples until he was appointed the Governor of Perugia at the young age of 26. After being a prisoner of war, he joined the Franciscans at Perugia in 1416. He studied under St. Berardine of Siena, who inspired him to spread the practice of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary.

He was known to be an outstanding preacher, and travelled all over Europe preaching the Gospel of repentance and establishing Franciscan communities. At the age of 70 he was commissioned by Pope Callistus III to lead a crusade against the Turks at Belgrade. He led an army of 70,000 Christians to victory, saving Rome and Vienna from attack, thus earning his nickname as “the soldier saint.” He died shortly thereafter in Hungary in 1456.

He is considered the patron saint of military chaplains and jurists.


Excerpt from “Mirror of the Clergy”

—St. John of Capistrano

 “Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a praiseworthy and blameless life. They must completely remove from their lives the filth and uncleanness of vice. Their upright lives must make them like the salt of the earth for themselves and for the rest of mankind. The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to others. They must learn from their eminent teacher, Jesus Christ, what he declared not only to his apostles and disciples, but also to all the priests and clerics who were to succeed them, when he said: You are the salt of the earth. But what if salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Jesus also said: "You are the light of the world." Now a light does not illumine itself, but instead it diffuses its rays and shines all around upon everything that comes into its view. So it must be with the glowing lives of upright and holy clerics. By the brightness of their holiness they must bring light and serenity to all who gaze upon them. They have been placed here to care for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they must live in the house of the Lord.


October 23, 2013 05:50
By Patti Murphy Dohn

A Saint for All Ages: Saint Francis of Assisi


Saint Francis of Assisi by Jusepe de Ribera

Saint Francis of Assisi has always been one of the most-beloved saints in our Church. Among his many areas of patronage, he is the patron saint of animals, pets, and all the wonders of God’s creation. Last year on his feast day I wrote about our sweet pug Daisy. Everyone loves their pets, and so many of our churches are having pet blessings this week in honor of Saint Francis.

Fox 45 reported yesterday that Archbishop Lori will visit the Maryland SPCA today to bless dogs and cats awaiting adoption there, again in honor of the feast of Saint Francis. What a wonderful way to bring attention to this great saint in a city where there are so many pet owners. I especially love seeing all the dogs out with their owners in our busy parks during the weekends, don’t you?

October 4 has always been a special day for me. This year I am particularly excited to celebrate Saint Francis’ feast. Our new Holy Father, who took the name Francis when he was elected on March 13 in order to “not forget the poor,” travelled to Assisi early this morning. He visited the "Renunciation Room," celebrated an outdoor Mass at St. Francis Square, had lunch with the poor and disabled, met with the Poor Clares at the tomb of their foundress, and an interactive meeting with youth in the late afternoon.


An adorable child greeted the Holy Father and then led him by hand to his seat at the dining table.

(Catholic News Service photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

In his homily earlier at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of his namesake: “His first and most essential witness is this: that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him.”

Saint Francis is the patron of Italy and Pope Francis spoke of this at the end of his homily: “Finally, I cannot forget the fact that today Italy celebrates Saint Francis as her patron saint. The traditional offering of oil for the votive lamp, which this year is given by the Region of Umbria, is an expression of this. Let us pray for Italy, that everyone will always work for the common good, and look more to what unites us, rather than what divides us.”

Many people see the strong connection between our Holy Father and this humble saint with their similar visions of rebuilding and renewing the Church. The simple and direct style of Pope Francis’ preaching about love of God and service to the poor and those in need echoes the style of Saint Francis who renounced his father’s wealth to serve God and the poor with his life.

Pope Francis spoke of Saint Francis in his interview with La Repubblica: “He’s great because he is everything. He is a man who wants to do things, wants to build, he founded an order and its rules, he is an itinerant and a missionary, a poet and a prophet, he is mystical. He found evil in himself and rooted it out. He loved nature, animals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved people, children, old people, women. He is the most shining example of that agape.”

G. K. Chesterton said of Saint Francis: “In appearance he must have been like a thin brown skeleton autumn leaf dancing eternally before the wind; but in truth he was the wind.” (Saint Francis of Assisi)

I look forward to next Palm Sunday (April 13, 2014) when my husband and I will visit Assisi for the first time to walk and pray where the beloved saint and the Holy Father have both walked and prayed. I will surely think back to today and smile as I remember this historic visit of Francis to Francis.

Two Francises, two great spiritual heroes.


 Artwork by Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath of BeeStill Studio


The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi before the Crucifix at San Damiano:

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out, Lord,
Your holy and true command.


Feast of St. Francis in 2012

Read my post from last year’s Feast day of Saint Francis about my pug Daisy here

October 04, 2013 01:04
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Arbor Day: Only God Can Make a Tree

Poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918) has delighted generations with his reflections on the beauty of our trees:

I think that I shall never see  
A poem lovely as a tree.  
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest  
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;  
A tree that looks at God all day,        
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;  
A tree that may in summer wear  
A nest of robins in her hair;  
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;  
Who intimately lives with rain.  
Poems are made by fools like me,  
But only God can make a tree.  

Today we celebrate everything about trees:

It's Arbor Day ("arbor" is Latin for tree), and I couldn't think of a better time of year to give attention to the glory of the trees in our region which are coming back to life after a winter's rest. 

 The trees in our garden on the hill have burst into bloom this week

Since the first celebration in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April. Many families and groups take the opportunity to plant new trees on this day. It is said that an estimated one million new trees were planted on the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872.

I did some reading on Arbor Day and discovered that it was started in Nebraska City, Nebraska by the father of the founder of the Morton Salt Company. Julius Sterling Morton (1832 - 1902) was a Nebraska newspaper editor who served as the Secretary of Agriculture for President Grover Cleveland. He loved trees of all varieties and planted many rare trees along with his beloved apple trees at his vast estate in Nebraska City which included a mansion he built to look like the White House. This estate is now Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska City, Nebraska. 

On a personal note, my dear 94-year old mother-in-law Eleanor Dohn has resided at Beechwood Continuing Care in Getzville, New York, near Buffalo, for the past eight years. Last July (2012), Robert Meiss, the longtime-president and CEO of Beechwood retired after serving the community for 23 years. Residents and employees alike honored the work of this kind man in many ways, including a tree-planting ceremony in front of the main building.

Mom wrote a story about this tree which was shared many times before being printed for inclusion in her family Christmas cards, as well as the upcoming edition of their publication "Beechwood Homes Chatter." I'd like to share it with you.

"A New Tree at Beechwood"

When I was walking down the path, I thought I heard voices, but no one was there. I laughed at myself and thought it must be the trees, but I knew that couldn't be true. 

But when I turned at the bend in the path it was so!!

The tall trees were welcoming the very new tree. "Welcome, dear little tree," they said. "You will love it here; the folks love their trees. We will help you grow and remind you to shake off the last leaves in the Fall and watch for the new buds in the Spring. There are lovely birds and some wildlife too: gray squirrels and a chipmunk or two, and an occasional deer. Ooh, look. Here comes one now, a beautiful doe, I see."

"Well," said the doe addressing the tree, "you weren't here when I came through last year. You're a special Beech; it tells us on the plaque right there. Your true friends will help you in all seasons, I'm sure."

We talked awhile, and then the doe said she needed to leave, but would come again. As she left she raised her right hoof to say goodbye.

Later that day as I rested nearby, I asked myself, "Was this all a dream?"
I don't think so. Do you?

Written by Eleanor R. Dohn, July 2012
A Springtime sequel is in process at this time.
Getzville, New York 

A 2013 Arbor Day look at the new beech tree at Beechwood, Getzville, New York.

April 26, 2013 06:29
By Patti Murphy Dohn