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!!



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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

Catholic Throwback Thursday: Celebrating good Dads and the families they raised on the anniversary of the first Father's Day

Anniversary of the first Father's Day:

Today is the 104th anniversary of Fathers Day. The driving force behind this celebration in our nation was Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. The daughter of a single father who raised six children on his own, Dodd was inspired to push for a similar day to honor all fathers when she heard a sermon at her Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about Anna Jarvis' establishment of Mother's Day.

(Fun Fact: Anna Jarvis emphasized that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world.")

Dodd urged her pastor to join her campaign to honor Dads starting on the June 5 birthday of her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Local pastors claimed they did not have enough time to plan their sermons, so the date was moved to later in June. The following year, on June 19, 1910, the first Father's Day was observed throughout Spokane, Washington with sermons honoring fathers given at area churches.

Though observed annually on the third Sunday in June, it was not until 1972, six years after President Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential proclamation honoring fathers, that President Richard Nixon made Father's Day into a national holiday by signing it into law.

Honoring and remembering some influential Dads:

For this week's edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday, I'm looking back at some of the Dads who raised many of the Catholic leaders whom we have admired over the years.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Flores, Buenos Aires, the eldest of the five children of Italian immigrant Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori.


Pope Francis as a young priest is seen with his father, Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori. (Photo: AFP)

Formal family portrait of the Bergoglios in Buenos Aires: Standing from left: Alberto, Padre Jorge, Oscar, Marta;
Seated: María Elena (the only sibling of the Holy Father still alive today), with their mother
Regina María Sívori, and father, Mario José Bergoglio. (Photo: Archives, Reuters/ AP)


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born and baptized as Josef Aloisius Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was the youngest of the three children of Josef Ratzinger, Sr. and Maria Peintner Ratzinger. His sister Maria, who never married, managed the household of her Cardinal-brother in Germany until her death in 1991. Their brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, is still alive today.

The brothers attended seminary together after the end of World War II and were ordained in Munich on June 29, 1951.


Father Josef Ratzinger (standing right), and his brother Father Georg Ratzinger (standing left), with their father Josef, sister Maria, and mother Maria on their ordination day, June 29, 1951.


The Very Rev. G. Gregory Gay, CM, whose family members have been lifelong parishioners of Saint Stephen Church, Bradshaw, is a native of Kingsville and a 1971 graduate of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Since 2004, he has served as the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the 24th successor of Saint Vincent de Paul.

But when he's here in town, it is all about family....

One of ten children, Fr. Greg is seen with his brothers (from left) Joe, Bill, and John with their father George Gay at the August 16, 1987 wedding of their sister Mary Anne Gay Halloran. Mr. Gay, who passed away in December of 2006, and his late wife Jeanne left a legacy of strong faith and family values to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
 (Photo courtesy of Patty Gay O'Brien, Rebecca O'Brien, and family.)

Read more about Fr. Greg in my three-part series from last September and October on his family, vocation to Vincentian priesthood, and his life of service to the poor and disenfranchised all over the world: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 


Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 6, 1950, the eldest of the five children born to Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan. Mr. Dolan passed away from a fatal heart attack less than ten months after their son's June 19, 1976 ordination to the priesthood.

Family members have recalled the importance to Mr. Dolan of sending his children to Catholic schools, going to Mass, and having a strong work ethic. When son Timothy was in the seminary in Rome, his Dad sent a handwritten letter every week and often included a cassette tape with his thoughts and musings so his son could stay in touch with home and family in a more personal way.


Cardinal Dolan's Mom, Shirley Dolan displays her family portrait at her home in Ballwin, Missouri:
 Seated with her late husband Robert, and surrounded by their children
 (from left): Lisa, Debbie, Timothy, Bob and Patrick. (Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News)


John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our only Catholic president of the United States, was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (1888–1969) and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995).

JFK at right and his brother Robert with their Dad, Joseph Kennedy, in July of 1938.
 Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. with his famous family: This formal Kennedy Family portrait was taken on September 4, 1931 at the family estate in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts: 

From left: Robert Kennedy, "Buddy" their dog, John F. Kennedy (at back), Eunice Kennedy, Jean Kennedy on her Dad's lap, wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (who was expecting Edward "Ted" Kennedy), Patricia Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (at back), and Rosemary Kennedy.
(Photo by Richard Sears, on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)


Rev. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large of "America" magazine, best-selling author, popular speaker and retreat master, was born in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1960 to James and Eleanor Martin.
Enjoy Fr. Jim's stories about faith, family, and saints in "My Life with the Saints," one of my favorite books.

After a brief career in the business world, Jim entered the Society of Jesus in the summer of 1988. He was ordained to the priesthood eleven years later on June 12, 1999. Holy Orders were conferred by Jesuit Archbishop Lawrence Burke, SJ (1932-2010), then serving as Archbishop of his native Kingston, Jamaica, after earlier episcopal ministry as the first Archbishop of Nassau, Bahamas.

This family portrait was taken on Father Martin's ordination day, June 12, 1999:
His Dad, James Martin, who passed away in 2001, beams with pride as he stands next to his newly ordained son, with daughter Carolyn and her baby Charles, wife Eleanor, and son-in-law Charles, Sr. (on left).

 (Photo courtesy of Rev. James Martin, SJ)


Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was born Peter John Sheen on May 8, 1895 at the apartment above the family hardware store in El Paso, Illinois. He was the eldest of four sons of Newton Morris "Newt" Sheen and Delia Sheen, and was called Fulton, which was his mother's maiden name. Baptized by Father Jeremiah H. Quinlan, the pastor of St. Mary's Church, four days later as Peter John, the future bishop was usually called P. J. as a child, before being known exclusively by his mother's maiden name. 

Fulton Sheen was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919. An early radio and TV evangelist, he hosted "The Catholic Hour" on radio (1930-1950), followed by his Emmy Award-winning program "Life is Worth Living" 1951-1957). He served as Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951, and then as Bishop of Rochester from 1966 to 1969. His cause for canonization opened in 2002, with the title "Venerable" bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI in June of 2012.

Early 1930s photo of Mr. and Mrs. Sheen with their sons (from left): Joseph, Fulton, Aloysius, and Thomas  (Photo: Fulton J. Sheen Archives)


Can you name this famous father-son? They directed and starred in "The Way," a film about the pilgrimage on "El Camino de Santiago."  HINT: The father actually adopted the last name of the famous clerical televangelist whom I featured above.

June 19, 2014 08:51
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Catholic Throwback Thursday: Looking back at the eight meetings of popes and presidents on American soil

It's Catholic Throwback Thursday:

Yesterday I posted 20 interesting, fun facts about meetings of popes and U.S. presidents.

Today we are flashing back to the eight visits of popes and presidents that were held on American soil for this week’s Catholic Throwback Thursday.

Quick facts:

1. Today’s Vatican visit of President Obama marks the 28th meeting of a president with the pope.

2. Of our 44 United States presidents, only 12 have ever met with the then-current Holy Father.

3. These papal-presidential meetings, which include 6 different popes and 12 U.S. presidents, have occurred over a span of 95 years.

4. Eight meetings between presidents and popes have taken place here in the United States.

Let's flash back:


First visit of a pope to the United States: Pope Paul VI, the first Pontiff to visit our nation, had a full day on October 4, 1965, including an address to the United Nations and a meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. This was his third trip outside Italy and his only trip to our nation during his papacy.  (AP Photo/File)

First White House visit by a pope: President Jimmy Carter met with Pope John Paul II at the White House on October 6, 1979. This was the first of 15 meetings between Pope John Paul II and a U.S. president.

Fairbanks, Alaska was the meeting place for a quick visit between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on May 2, 1984. The Holy Father’s plane was refueling on his trip to Seoul and President Reagan was on his way home from a trip to China. (PHOTO: Ronald Reagan Library, Austin, Texas)

Note: When my husband and I went on an Alaskan land-sea tour in 2004 we landed at Fairbanks International Airport where a large plaque marked the meeting room from this papal-presidential visit.


 President Ronald Reagan’s second meeting with Pope John Paul II here in the United States took place at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami on  September 10, 1987. Pictured here with Mrs. Reagan, the Holy Father and President Reagan later strolled in the gardens and talked privately. (Photo: Vizcaya Museum)


President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II addressed the media at a news conference before World Youth Day in Denver on August 12, 1993. (Getty Images)


President Bill Clinton again meets with Pope John Paul II on October 4, 1995 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo: Getty Images)


 President Bill Clinton’s third U.S. meeting with Pope John Paul II took place in St. Louis on January 26, 1999. (AP: Ron Edmonds)


The most recent visit of a Holy Father to the United States took place on April 16, 2008 when President George W. Bush hosted Pope Benedict XVI at the White House. More than 13,000 guests gathered on the South Lawn and sang “Happy Birthday” to mark the Holy Father’s 81st birthday.  (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

President Bush met with Pope Benedict in the Oval Office after the Welcome Ceremony. Pictured is the birthday cake baked by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

Catholic Throwback Thursday:

Do you have any suggestions for a future look back on Catholic Throwback Thursday?

Email and share your ideas:

March 27, 2014 12:33
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Countdown to Christmas: December 17: The Holy Father’s birthday, snowy Buffalo, and the O Antiphons

The Chapel at The John Carroll School during this Third Week 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.


Ad Multos Annos:

It’s December 17: Today is Pope Francis’ 77th Birthday!!

He has brought so much joy to so many people since his election as the 265th successor of Saint Peter the Apostle this past March 13th.  He has asked for our prayers from the very start, so it is no surprise that he has also asked for our prayers for his birthday.

May he be blessed for many more years to come!! Happy Birthday, dear Holy Father!!

Check out Pope Francis' special day complete with birthday cake and candles with this video from Rome Reports



 Pope Francis at the Vatican's "Santa Marta" medical clinic, which assists families with financial need. Here are some great photos from Saturday of this child who captured the heart and the zucchetto from the Holy Father. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)


Shuffling off to Buffalo:

The days are flying by and soon it will be Christmas.

My husband and I flew up to Buffalo this past weekend to celebrate Christmas and her 95th birthday with my dear mother-in-law. It was a lovely time to enjoy each other’s company, to also see my husband’s brother and his wife, and to cherish this special early celebration.

We enjoyed lots of good reminiscing, wrote out and mailed Mom’s Christmas cards, looked at all the goodies she has received, and shared Baltimore’s best Berger cookies with all the good people who help her each day. I explained to a few of the nurses that just as their tourists take home hot sauce for Buffalo wings from the famous Anchor Bar, so too do visitors to Maryland enjoy our famous Berger cookies. Who can resist a good Berger cookie?

It snowed the entire time we were in town. Buffalo has lots of snowfall and storms from the lake effect off Lake Erie. It was quite beautiful, but also bitter cold with wind chills below zero. We still had a great visit, but unfortunately we did not get to take George’s Mom out to eat. She loves our excursions to favorite restaurants in the area, but due to the weather, we ordered in food from three different places for delivery over the course of the weekend. We will look forward to going out to eat on our next trip!!



From the hotel restaurant across from University of Buffalo on Sunday morning:
Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn


The Advent “O Antiphons”

“O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!”

—Today’s Antiphon for December 17

The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a much-loved Advent classic. And today the Church starts the singing and the praying of the “O Antiphons,” long used with the recitation or chanting of the “Magnificat”

during Evening Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. In similar form to the classic hymn, these antiphons are now used primarily as the Alleluia verse before the Gospel reading at daily Mass. A different one for each day of the week before Christmas Eve, these beautiful verses invoke the coming of the Messiah using a different biblical image as a title and ending with a prayer intention.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops website shares this information about these beautiful verses:

“The Roman Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah."


Music for your Enjoyment:



Enjoy this amazing arrangement of the classic Advent hymn by The Piano Guys: with Steven Sharp Nelson on cello and Jon Schmidt on Piano. Filmed on the set of Jerusalem movie set.


Prayer for December 17

Oh, God of wisdom,
I want to praise you and give you my life.

Like a loving parent,
you bless me.
You have watched over me,
knowing my history
and the path that led me to you.

Thank you for the peace
you promise peace in my life.
I ask that I be always aware
of the strength of your great power.
May it never leave me.

So many people before me
in so many generations,
have served you so humbly,
answering your call.
Please give me the wisdom and courage
to be your humble servant.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!


December 17, 2013 07:44
By Patti Murphy Dohn