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!!



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

Catholic Throwback Thursday: A brief history of World Youth Day

The logo for the 2016 WYD in Kraków was designed by Monika Rybczyńska: Read about the symbolism in her design here.


"You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”
—The greeting of Pope John Paul II to youth during his papal inauguration Mass on October 22, 1978


In less than two weeks, hundreds of thousands of young people and youth ministers from all over the world will descend upon Kraków, Poland for World Youth Day 2016

The Archdiocese of Baltimore will be represented among the huge crowds. A delegation of 40 young adults, led by Father Matt Buening, Catholic chaplain at Towson University, as well as seminarians Matt Himes and Tyler Kline, will be in attendance. Local teen groups from Mount de Sales Academy and St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis are traveling to Poland as well. 

The Catholic Review will have up-to-date coverage each day from Maureen Cromer, who will blog about her experiences in “Pilgrims in Krakow.”  

Why Kraków?

The homeland of Pope Saint John Paul II is the perfect location for a celebration for World Youth Day (WYD) during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This year’s theme, which was one of three Beatitude-inspired WYD themes announced by Pope Francis in 2013, is “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." (Mt 5:7) 

During the 1983-1984 Holy Year of the Redemption (which marked 1950 years after Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection), as well as the 1985 United Nation’s International Youth Year, Pope John Paul II invited young people to come to Rome to pray with him each year on Palm (Passion) Sunday. Though organizers initially expected about 60,000 to attend, crowds ranged from 250,000 in 1984 to 300,000 in 1985. These youth from many nations, who gathered with the Holy Father at the Vatican, affirmed their desire to be actively connected to Christ and their Catholic faith.  

The next year, in December of 1985, Pope John Paul II announced the institution of local events, which he called “World Youth Days,” to be held on the diocesan level every Palm Sunday, commencing in 1986. The Holy Father would also attend international gatherings for WYD, to be held every two or three years in different countries which he would select. 

Pope John Paul II reflected on these early youth events in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994):

“No one invented the World Youth Days. It was the young people themselves who created them.  Those days, those encounters, then became something desired by young people throughout the world. Most of the time these Days were something of a surprise for priests, and even bishops, in that they surpassed all their expectations."

International celebrations: 

The first international World Youth Day was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987. Pope John Paul II also presided over seven more before his death in 2005. They were held in the following locations: 

  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1989;
  • Częstochowa, Poland, 1991;
  • Denver, Colorado, 1993;  
  • Manila, Philippines, 1995;
  • Paris, France, 1997;
  • Rome, 2000 for the Jubilee Year;
  • Toronto, Canada, 2002;

Above: Then-Archbishop of Baltimore William H. Keeler took this photo in the helicopter with Pope John Paul II, who was praying his rosary when he sees the enormous crowd gathered in Cherry Creek State Park for the WYD-Denver closing Mass on Aug. 15, 1993.
He later told the youth there:
“Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life.”
(Photo by Archbishop W. H. Keeler)


To the 800,000 youth gathered at the closing vigil in Toronto in 2002, which would be the last international WYD for Pope John Paul II:

“When, back in 1985, I wanted to start the World Youth Days… I imagined a powerful moment in which the young people of the world could meet Christ, who is eternally young, and could learn from him how to be bearers of the Gospel to other young people. This evening, together with you, I praise God and give thanks to him for the gift bestowed on the Church through the World Youth Days. Millions of young people have taken part, and as a result have become better and more committed Christian witnesses.” 

—Pope John Paul II, July 28, 2002, Toronto


Pope Benedict and Pope Francis continue the legacy of WYD:

Four months after the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI presided over World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany (August, 2005), followed by Sydney, Australia (2008), and Madrid, Spain (2011).

Pope Benedict greets the crowds after arriving at WYD in Madrid (AP photo).


Pope Francis, who was elected in March of 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict, traveled to Rio de Janeiro just four months later for WYD (July, 2013). At the closing Mass at Copacabana beach, he joyfully announced that he would meet again with youth from all over the world for WYD 2016 in Kraków, Poland, the homeland of now-Saint John Paul II. 

Three million people gathered on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro for the closing Mass of WYD 2013 with Pope Francis.
(Photo: AP/ Felipe Dana)

WYD 2016 in Kraków:

According to Rome Reports, registrations for this upcoming WYD have been received from thousands of youth representing 107 countries, along with more than 10,000 priests, over 800 bishops and almost 50 cardinals. Poland, Italy, France, Spain, and the United States are the five countries with the most registrations. 

As Pope Francis prepares to join our young people in Kraków, organizers are expecting as many as 2 million to attend the overnight vigil and closing Mass on July 31.

These young people who gather in Kraków next week are in for one of the most exhilarating spiritual experiences of their lifetime. Not only will they meet people from around the world, attend catechetical sessions and Mass each day, but they will have countless opportunities to open their hearts to hear God’s call to live a life of mercy as they experience His love in new and profound ways. 

Let’s keep all the youth in our prayers.
God is good!


Read more of my reminisces on World Youth Day here in:

July 14, 2016 01:59
By Patti Murphy Dohn

This week in Church History: Marking the 226th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore

Today is the 226th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore:

Baltimore was named the first diocese in the United States by Pope Pius VI on November 6, 1789 by the papal brief “Ex hac apostolicae.” The Holy Father also approved the election of John Carroll, SJ as the first bishop. In an unusual twist of circumstances, the local priests voted for their bishop with Carroll getting 24 of the 26 votes. This first American diocese was comprised of the 13 original states and the territories. 

Baltimore was elevated to the status of an Archdiocese on April 8, 1808 with the establishment of the Dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown (Kentucky).

Today, the Archdiocese has 145 parishes covering a territory of nine Maryland counties (Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, and Washington), as well as Baltimore City.

Anniversary Mass:

The Archdiocese culminated its 225th anniversary last year with a Mass of Thanksgiving on November 2 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Principal celebrant Archbishop William Lori was joined by Archbishop-Emeritus Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, former bishops of Baltimore and bishops from neighboring dioceses.

Read more about that festive celebration:

2,000 pack cathedral to celebrate archdiocese’s 225th jubilee” by Catholic Review editor Christopher Gunty.

Enjoy more memories from the 225th anniversary:

“Former Catholic Review photographer Tom McCarthy Jr. spent the course of 40 hours, from sunrise Oct. 1 until after sunset Oct. 2, chronicling these daily happenings as he traveled 530 miles.” 

Click on this link to read more about the making of this 5-minute video-documentary:




Special thanks to the Baltimore Sun for providing special coverage of this historic event:

Read more in "Baltimore Catholics celebrate 225th anniversary of nation's oldest archdiocese."  

November 06, 2015 04:09
By Patti Murphy Dohn

This Week in Church History: The 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate and much more

Last week, I started a new feature in "God is in the Clouds":  “This Week in Church History.” 

Here is a look at events which occurred this upcoming week in years past, as well as a glimpse at next week’s highlights:

Historic events that took place over dates in the upcoming week:

October 26, 2011:

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut (the current Archbishop of Baltimore) called for the defense of “the American legacy of religious liberty” during a hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. The bishop was addressing Congress in his new role as head of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Read an account of Bishop Lori’s day before Congress from the U.S. Bishops’ website:

The transcript of Bishop Lori’s full testimony before Congress can be read here.


October 28 has great significance:

October 28, 1510:

The birth of St. Francis Borgia, SJ (1510-1572): 
Francis Borgia was the fourth Duke of Gandía (Spain), a Spanish Jesuit priest, and the third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He expanded the Jesuit order into the Americas and Asia.

Borgia was canonized on June 20, 1670 by Pope Clement X and his feast is celebrated on October 10.
He is the patron saint of Portugal, as well for protection against earthquakes. 


October 28, 1958: The election of Pope John XXIII:

On this date, Cardinal Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli (1881-1963), the Patriarch of Venice, was elected the 261st pope on the eleventh ballot of the 1958 conclave. The conclave that elected him took place from October 25 to 28, 1958, following the October 9 death of Pope Pius XII whose papacy lasted from 1939 to 1958.

On why he choose the name John:

"We choose John...a name sweet to Us because it is the name of Our father, dear to Us because it is the name of the humble parish church where We were baptized, the solemn name of numberless cathedrals scattered throughout the world, including Our own basilica...We love the name of John because it reminds Us of John the Baptist, precursor of our Lord...and the other John, the disciple and evangelist...Perhaps We can, taking the name of this first series of holy Popes, have something of his sanctity and strength of spirit, even—if God wills it—to the spilling of blood.”

--Excerpt from: Religion: “I Choose John…” from Time Magazine, November 10, 1958 edition.

Newly-elected Pope John XXIII extending his first papal blessing:
(Getty Image: Ullstein Bild)


October 28, 1965:

2015 is the Golden Anniversary of "Nostra Aetate" (Latin for “In our time”):
This Vatican 2 document was promulgated on this date in 1965 by Pope Paul VI.
The document’s formal name is "DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS." It was passed by a vote of of 2,221 to 88 by the assembled bishops at the Second Vatican Council and was one of the most influential documents issued by the Council Fathers, paving the way for much-improved relations between Jews and Catholics.

50th Anniversary:

The Council of Centers for Jewish-Christian Relations has published “Resources for the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate.” 

(Photo: Courtesy of American Jewish Committee)
March 31, 1963: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (Polish-born American rabbi (1907-1972) meeting in New York with Cardinal Augustin Bea, SJ (1881-1968), who shepherded the process of Catholic reflection that led to Nostra Aetate. A leading biblical scholar and ecumenist, Cardinal Bea was the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity from 1960 until his death in 1972. 


October 29, 1950:

65 years ago: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Johannes Baptist Neuhäusler (1888-1973), the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. 


November 1:


November 1, 1946: 

Pope St. John Paul II was ordained to the priesthood by by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, the Archbishop of Kraków, just 12 days after becoming a deacon. 


Looking ahead:


November 6, 1789:

Baltimore was made the first diocese in the United States on this date in 1789 with Fr. John Carroll, SJ as the first bishop.


Do you have a special date that you would like me to include?

Be sure to email me:

God is good! All the time!

October 25, 2015 10:52
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Godspeed: A fond farewell to Catholic Review web editor Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

This week The Catholic Review is saying goodbye and best wishes to web editor Jennifer Williams. And I am offering my own Kudos for a job well done to this former student turned friend. 

Since 1999, Jenn has been part of The Catholic Review team that brings news of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to our community and to the world. But I knew Jenn before she had an inkling that journalism was going to be part of her future vocational calling.

A 1995 graduate of The John Carroll School where I served for many years in the Religion Department and as Campus Minster, Jennifer first experienced the thrill of seeing her writings published while in high school. She worked on the staff of the literary magazine Pinnacle during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. (Also contributing to this magazine was her 1995 classmate Father John Rapisarda.)

Jenn moved into journalism during her junior and senior years, working on the newspaper staff of the Patriot while remaining a staff member of Pinnacle. It's hard to believe that she also found time to run cross country and track all four years, attain academic membership in the National Honor Society, all while achieving perfect attendance for those four years. That's a real accomplishment!!

After graduating from John Carroll, Jenn attended the former College of Notre Dame of Maryland, majoring in Communication Arts. A summer internship after her sophomore year with The Aegis in Bel Air led to a full-time position there as a staff reporter. And a post-graduate internship with Baltimore Sun features editor Mary Corey was a career highlight. Jenn later wrote about the impact of this successful editor as a mentor and a professional role model when Corey died at age 49 from breast cancer in 2013.

Joining the staff of The Catholic Review in 1999, Jenn rose through the journalistic ranks from staff writer to news editor to web editor, learning and implementing the latest technologies as the field of journalism changed to adapt to the culture of the times. She has received awards from a number of press associations along the way.

During her years on the CR staff, Jenn has written literally hundreds and hundreds of articles.

Among her favorites are:

~"Ravens' Justin Tucker talks football, faith" written during his 2012 days as a rookie kicker;

~"'Shear guts' - Maryvale grad shaves her head for charity," on a young woman who raised money by shaving her head in 2012 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation for childhood cancer research;


~"Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter successfully closes on his Catholic faith," on his faith journey to the Catholic Church before his 2014 marriage.

(Photo: Tom McCarthy Jr. | CR Staff)

My earlier connection with Jennifer during her high school years came full circle in 2012 when she and former social media specialist Matt Palmer invited me to start blogging for The Catholic Review. Jenn and Matt, through our Facebook networking, knew that I was handling an extraordinary amount of pastoral care and grief crisis ministry that summer and they invited me to write about my experiences. What followed was the beginning of "God is in the Clouds."

I had lunch the other day with Jenn and "Open Window" blogger Rita Buettner. Jenn told us that one of the best parts of the past sixteen years with The Catholic Review has been meeting so many different people in her travels throughout the archdiocese.

I will surely miss working with Jennifer as I continue to write my blog. And it will be strange not seeing her name pop up in my email inbox twice a week with the latest CR e-newsletter. But I know that our longtime relationship is not over.

Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
Yes, times change. I can vouch for that as I have certainly changed and transitioned especially over this past year since my retirement from ministry at John Carroll. And now it's time for Jenn to experience her own new chapter.

Jenn wrote a poem during her junior year of high school in the John Carroll Pinnacle entitled "Future of the Graduate." Though it speaks of the collective group of high school seniors moving on to a future filled with college and the certain anxiety that accompanies that transition, it surely, on second reading, reflects the mixed bag of emotions that all of us face when confronting change.

My prayer for Jenn on the road ahead is that joy, laughter, and good health be part of the journey and that her abiding faith sustain her whenever the path gets rocky.

May she know the love and prayers of those who treasure being part of her journey.



"Future of the Graduate"  
~Jenn Williams '95

Where are you going?
Who do you want to be?
I can't see into the future--
Only inside of me.

Secure- Maybe.
Everything changes when you ask me Why?
Afraid I won't make it-
or maybe that I will.

Success- Possibly.
Wondering if my success is your failure-
Sorry- if it is.
Worried that I'll somehow miss out...
Laughing if I do.

Call me. Ask me. Tomorrow.
It's the future that I dread.
Right now I'm feeling happy,
I've got daisies in my head!

Published in the 1994 Pinnacle, literary magazine of The John Carroll School
during Jennifer's junior year of high school.

May 20, 2015 11:17
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Celebrating the heroic ministry of Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien in Baltimore and beyond

The inspiring ministry of Cardinal O'Brien:

Archbishop Edwin Frederick O’Brien became the fifteenth Archbishop of Baltimore on Oct. 1, 2007.

In the five years that he served as the shepherd of our Premier See and the last two years as our Archbishop Emeritus, now-Cardinal O'Brien has shared some of the most poignant moments of local Church history with us, as well as the recent changes that have impacted the entire Church in our era.

For today's edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday, we honor the ministry and continued legacy of Cardinal O'Brien.

At the July 12, 2007 press conference announcing the appointment of Edwin Frederick O'Brien, Archbishop for the Military Services, as the fifteenth Archbishop of Baltimore:

This is one of my favorite photos of Cardinal O'Brien who looks so happy as he and Cardinal Keeler share the news of his appointment with our local Church. (Photo: Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

"He has leapt from military airplanes, served in jungles during the Vietnam War and travelled extensively to current battle zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. From his working-class the upper echelons of Catholic power—carrying a Christian message of peace and love to some of the world's worst war-torn terrain." --The Baltimore Sun on the military service of Archbishop O'Brien


Archbishop O'Brien greeting the auxiliary bishops before his installation as Archbishop of Baltimore on October 1, 2007  (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Lloyd Fox)



Elevating the chalice during his Mass of Installation at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Archbishop O'Brien is joined on left by Archbishop William D. Borders, the thirteenth Archbishop of Baltimore  (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Algerina Perna)


Receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, 2008 (Photo: CNS/ L'Osservatore Romano)


"If Joseph Martin is not in heaven, I don't think any of us has a chance."

Cardinal O'Brien presided at the March 13, 2009 funeral Mass at the Baltimore Basilica for Sulpician Father Joseph C. Martin, the co-founder of Father Martin’s Ashley addiction treatment center in Havre de Grace, who died on March 9 at age 84. The Baltimore Sun called Father Martin "the 'wounded healer' who overcame alcoholism and, through his 'chalk talk' and the home he co-founded, helped some 40,000 others to do the same."  (Photo: Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)


Archbishop O'Brien leads the procession to the crypt at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen following the funeral for Archbishop William D. Borders, the thirteenth Archbishop of Baltimore who served from 1974 to 1989. He passed away on April 19, 2010 of colon cancer at Stella Maris at age 96. At the time of his death, Archbishop Borders was the fourth-oldest living Catholic bishop in United States history, and the longest-surviving bishop of both Orlando and Baltimore. (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Lloyd Fox)



Archbishop O'Brien announced the reorganization of Catholic schools in March of 2010 in a program called "Preserving the Tradition, Transforming the Future: The Rebirth of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore." (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Algerina Perna)


Archbishop O'Brien joined the Sisters for Life for the John Cardinal O’Connor Conference at Georgetown University on the day prior to the 2011 March for Life. Entitled “Building a Culture of Life Today: Learning from the Life and Legacy of Cardinal O’Connor,” the panel of presenters included from left: Bishop William Lori, Professor Helen Alvare, Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ (moderator), Mother Agnes Mary, SV, and Archbishop O'Brien. (Photo: Sisters of Life)


Archbishop O'Brien presided over a Divine Mercy Sunday Mass on May 1, 2011 at the Basilica of the Assumption marking the beatification of Pope John Paul II earlier that day in Rome. After Mass, the archbishop led a procession around the block to the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / May 1, 2011)


Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, the assessor of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, formerly a priest in the Diocese of Greensburg, welcomes Archbishop O'Brien to the Rome headquarters on September 16, 2011 after the August 29 announcement of his appointment as Grand Master.

As Archbishop De Andrea placed the medallion around his neck, he said that this new role "is like a chain that ties him to the Holy Land" and to the knightly order of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS)

"I am grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me and hope in the years ahead I will be a help to the Holy See and to the wonderful land where Christ walked." --Archbishop O'Brien

Archbishop O'Brien follows the leadership of U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley who stepped down due to health concerns in February. He passed away on December 11, 2011 at age 76 in Darby, Pennsylvania.

"We look to forward the cause of peace in the Holy Land — that’s the Holy Father’s burning desire — and to stopping the exodus of Christians, to make more available the holy places to more people and to encourage pilgrimage to the Holy Land."  --Archbishop O'Brien in an interview with CNS.


Celebrating Mass at Saint Peter's Tomb on Jan. 16, 2012:

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl (center) with Cardinal-designate Edwin O'Brien and Archbishop Timothy Broglio to his left. (Photo: CNS)

This marked the beginning of the ad limina visit to the Holy See for the bishops of Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, the Virgin Islands and the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services.


New member of the College of Cardinals Edwin Frederick O'Brien receives the red biretta from Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012. (Photo: Franco Origlia, Getty Images Europe)


Among the twenty-two new cardinals created that day were two from the United States, both sons of New York: Cardinal O'Brien and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. (AP Photo)



New Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien is congratulated by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, personal secretary of the Holy Father, during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 (Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images Europe)


Archbishop of Baltimore-designate William E. Lori, along with Cardinal O'Brien, prays at the crypt of Archbishop John Carroll in the Baltimore Basilica on May 15, 2012, the eve of his elevation as the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore, Afterwards a vespers service was held there at the Basilica. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun / May 15, 2012 )


Twenty-year reunion for the Pontifical North American College Class of 1992. Cardinal O'Brien was their seminary rector at the NAC:

From left: Fr. Brian McGrath, Msgr. Jim Checchio (the current rector of PNAC), Fr. Don Henke, Bishop Paul D. Etienne, Fr. Brian Hayes, Bishop Liam Cary, Bishop William Waterscheid, Msgr. Charles Antonicelli; kneeling Fr. Joe Fonti, with Cardinal O'Brien. (Photo: Bishop Paul D. Etienne


On the eve of his first trip to the Holy Land as Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Cardinal O'Brien said he hoped to encourage the region’s Christian minority with a message of solidarity from Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholics in the West.

Shown here in his Rome residence on November 24, 2012, Cardinal O'Brien shows near a replica of the crosier of Pope John Paul II and other personal mementos. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

“The church in the Holy Land has been under unfriendly domination throughout the centuries, and the fact that we still exist there is almost a miracle... We have to do everything we can as a Catholic people to encourage them and to let them know that we are one with them in their struggle.” --Cardinal O’Brien told Catholic News Service



Enjoy this two-minute video with Cardinal O'Brien previewing his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land


Cardinal O’Brien is greeted by students at the Catholic seminary in the West Bank town of Beit Jalla on November 28, 2012.

His Eminence was making his first visit to the Holy Land as Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, a chivalric order that supports church institutions and Christians in the Holy Land. (Photo: CNS/Heidi Levine


Flashing back to 2009:

Ten Episcopal nuns, all members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor convent in Cantonsville, Maryland, along with their chaplain, Father Warren Tanghe, became Catholics during Mass in their chapel back on September 3, 2009. Archbishop O'Brien blessed each of them as they renewed their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Four years later on the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1, 2013:

The All Saints Sisters of the Poor look back to their feast day in 2011:

"For us Sisters, the Feast of All Saints has always been special since it is our Titular Feast, but since 2011, it has taken on even more importance. On that day, in the Basilica of the Assumption, in Baltimore, which is also the first Metropolitan Cathedral in the United States, we were erected as a new institute of Consecrated Life in the Roman Catholic Church, and our public vows."--All Saints Sisters of the Poor

Photo of the Sisters with then-Archbishop O’Brien following that November 1, 2011 Mass.


Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien at the March 20, 2012 press conference announcing that Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport was named the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore at the Baltimore Basilica. (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Karl Merton Ferron)


The Installation Mass for William E. Lori as the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore on May 16, 2012 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Archbishop Lori was shown wearing the pectoral cross that belonged to Archbishop John Carroll, the first United States bishop and first Archbishop of Baltimore.

With Cardinal O'Brien is retired Auxiliary Bishop William Newman (far left), and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States (second from left).

(Photo: Catholic Review)


Cardinal O'Brien dedicated a new Latin Patriarchate school at Rameh (Northern Galilee) on November 29, 2012. He was joined by Patriarch Fouad Twal, as well as Bishop Marcuzzo, the Patriarchal Vicar for Israel who originated the project 18 years prior.

“I had prepared a written text, but when I saw the crowd, the followers of the different religions living together in joy and brotherhood, when I saw the enthusiasm of the parents and the students, I set aside my speech and my heart … spoke.”'--Cardinal O’Brien

The first stone for the building project had been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI at his Mass in Nazareth on May 14, 2009 during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For the village of Rameh, population 8,000, with 51% Christian, 29% Druze, and 20% Muslim, the school is central to the unity of its people. The Patriarch noted that “the school was not only a place of learning but also a place of dialogue between religions and culture, which must always be at the service of man and the construction of new bridges of friendship and love for all without distinction.”

(Photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)


King Abdullah of Jordan met with Cardinal O'Brien and the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Fouad Twal December 2, 2012 in Amman. They discussed the fragile situation in the Middle East and their quest for lasting peace. (Photo)


Who could ever forget the day that Pope Benedict XVI told the world that he was stepping down from the papacy?

On February 11, 2013, Cardinal O'Brien and his priest-secretary Msgr. Adam Parker witnessed the historic announcement from Pope Benedict XVI. This photo was taken by Msgr. Parker immediately following the announcement and published by The Catholic Review.


American cardinals gather at the Pontifical North American College before the March, 2013 conclave:

From Left: Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Francis George, Cardinal Seán, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Cardinal Edwin O’Brien (Photo: BostonCatholic-Flickr)


Cardinal O'Brien greets newly-elected Pope Francis (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano)


Cardinal O’Brien, the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem carries woven palm fronds in the procession for Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on March 24, 2013. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Thank you, Your Eminence, for your outstanding service to our Archdiocese and your commitment to peace and understanding in our world.

We are grateful for your ministry and assure you of our prayers.

Ad multos annos!!


The coat of arms of Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien:

Father Edwin Frederick O'Brien was ordained a bishop by New York Archbishop Cardinal John J. O'Connor at St. Patrick's Cathedral on March 25, 1996, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop O'Brien chose as his episcopal motto: Pastores Dabo Vobis ("I will give you shepherds") from Jeremiah 3:15.

October 02, 2014 01:54
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Thirty years later: Remembering Lawrence Cardinal Shehan and his legacy to the Church and to Baltimore

Omnia in caritate "All things (be done) in charity." (I Cor. 16:14):

The motto of Lawrence Cardinal Shehan (Photo: Archdiocese of Baltimore)

Looking back thirty years:

The summer of 1984 was extremely hot. And I would know, as I was expecting my daughter Meighan. But the overwhelming heat did not keep me and several thousand other faithful Catholics from attending the August 30 Funeral Mass for our beloved shepherd: a role model of staunch faith and a pioneer in the fight for human rights, fair housing, racial equality, Catholic education, and a leader in ground-breaking ecumenical relations.

Cardinal Lawrence Joseph Shehan, the twelfth Archbishop of Baltimore, passed on to Eternal Life on August 26, 1984 at the age of 86. Born in 1898 on Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore City to Thomas P. and Anastasia Dames (Schofield) Shehan, Shehan went to school at St. Ann’s right down the street, before going on to study at St. Charles (high school) College Seminary, St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he was ordained on December 23, 1922 at St. John Lateran Basilica.

I had a particular love for Cardinal Shehan since he had confirmed me, as well as had founded John Carroll School (1964) where I spent 33 years of my career. It was an honor and a privilege to pray with people from every walk of life who honored his memory at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on that bright, sunny day, August 30, 1984.


"Without question, he was a man who was convinced of the mission of the church. His entire life, up to the end, was devoted to having people appreciate the civilizing influence of the church." —Archbishop William D. Borders, the 13th Archbishop of Baltimore

Funeral Mass booklet, alongside “A Blessing of Years: The Memoirs of Lawrence Cardinal Shehan”

Some of the highlights of the Cardinal’s more than six decades of ministry:

1. Parish ministry at St. Patrick Church, Washington, D.C.;

2. Catholic Charities in D.C.: Assistant Director from 1929-36, then Director from 1936-45;

3. Auxiliary Bishop to the archbishop of Baltimore and Washington in 1945;

4. Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Baltimore in 1947;

5. Named first Bishop of the newly-established Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut by Pope Pius XII (serving from 1953-1961);

6. Twelfth Archbishop of Baltimore (from 1961 until his 1974 retirement);

Archbishop Shehan throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game on Holy Name Night at Memorial Stadium in 1964; Seated to the immediate right is then-Msgr. (later Bishop) Frank Murphy, who served the Archbishop as priest-secretary; On the far right is Father Joseph L. Muth, Jr.; (Photo/ Joseph F. Siwak)

7. Served as a Council Father for all four sessions of Vatican II (1962-1965);

Seen here in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 18, 1965 during a public session of the Second Vatican Council (Photo: AP/Gianni Foggia)


Seen here in Rome after one of the Vatican II sessions, Cardinal Shehan, an unidentified monsignor, and Rev. James Laubacher, S.S., who served as "peritus" (expert) to Cardinal Shehan, meet with the Holy Father. (Photo: Society of Saint Sulpice)

8. Elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1965; Was the second cardinal in our Premier See following Cardinal James Gibbons;

Cardinal Shehan’s Cappa Magna (great cape) is on permanent display in the museum room on the lower level of the Baltimore Basilica (Photo: Cardinal Seán's Blog)

9. Became Archbishop-Emeritus in 1974, continuing to live at the Basilica and celebrating early morning Mass there every day until his illness in 1984;

Last official duty before retirement: While serving as papal legate for Pope Paul VI to the 40th Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne, Australia in 1973, Cardinal Shehan presided over an Aboriginal Mass attended by almost 30,000. This liturgy featured “100 aborigines in full war paint and native dress performing an interpretative dance of the Last Supper in lieu of the first scripture reading.” (Photo: MDHC Archdiocese of Melbourne)

10. The final resting spot for Cardinal Shehan is the crypt of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Did you know?...

A. Cardinal Shehan ordered the desegregation of all the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1962, and mandated that administrators at all Catholic hospitals and institutions abide by a strict practice of nondiscrimination.

B. A champion for equal rights and harmonious race relations, he issued a pastoral letter Racial Justice (italics) in March of 1963, stating that "discrimination has no place in the Church."

C. Five months later, Cardinal Shehan participated in the March on Washington (August 28, 1963) with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"In his work with the Bishop’s Conference, Cardinal Shehan was instrumental in shaping the rules and the changes for the diaconate that enabled African Americans to become deacons." —Charles Tildon, appointed by Cardinal Shehan as the first chair of the Archdiocesan Urban Commission in 1966

D. Cardinal Shehan joined other bishops in appealing to the Supreme Court in 1967 to overturn bans on interracial marriages.

E. A leader in ecumenism from 1962, he was appointed by Pope Paul VI to the Vatican Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and was named to represent the Holy Father at meetings with the Orthodox Church, which resulted in the lifting of the mutual excommunication made between Rome and Constantinople in 1054. (Cardinal Shehan also established this country’s first Commission for Christian Unity.)

Cardinal Augustin Bea, SJ (1881-1968), the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, visited Baltimore in 1963. A noted biblical scholar and ecumenist, he worked with Cardinal Shehan on Jewish and Christian relations both during and after the Second Vatican Council. Seen here with Cardinal Shehan at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. (Archives Photo)

F. He spoke out regularly against the Vietnam War, which he called ( "uncontrolled violence and senseless wholesale destruction of human life and moral values." He reiterated in 1971, ''It is a scandal the Christian conscience can no longer endure.''

G. He was unable to participate in the 1978 conclave due to the new changes implemented by Pope Paul VI that a cardinal over the age of 80 was ineligible to vote.

''I wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness at this time.'' —Part of a telegram sent by Pope John Paul II the week before Cardinal Shehan’s death; Seen here greeting the newly-elected Pope John Paul II after the 1978 conclave (Photo: Pontificia Fotografica Felici)


Celebrating St. Joseph’s Day at St. Martin Home for the Aged in 1974; The adorable little one, now grown up with a family of her own, is Megan Wheltle. (Photo: "A Blessing of Years," University of Notre Dame Press)


Short in stature, Cardinal Shehan often joked about his height. According to a New York Times article published upon his death:

“Once when asked about his success as a fund raiser, he quoted ''Shehan's Law'': ''The smaller the individual, the more likely he is to receive help from others.''


Senator Edward Kennedy visits Cardinal Shehan, retired Archbishop, on May 11, 1980 while in Baltimore on his presidential campaign trip. (Photo: AP/William Smith)


Cardinal Shehan School in Northwood celebrated their 25th anniversary last year with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lori on September 23, 2013: (Photo: Tom McCathy, Jr./ Catholic Review)

Archbishop Lori spoke of Cardinal Shehan during his homily: “He was a great friend of everyone... a great peacemaker in our community back in his day. We’ve gathered to celebrate a Mass to pray for peace and I know that all of you want a very peaceful, beautiful world.”


Celebrating our 225th Anniversary:

As the Archdiocese of Baltimore celebrates this special anniversary year, may we always remember the legacy of this faithful shepherd who loved the Lord and His Church. May his example inspire us to live our lives standing up for peace and justice for all God's people.


Lawrence Cardinal Shehan (1898-1984)

(Photo: Catholic Review Archives)

August 28, 2014 01:55
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

Music Monday: A Salute to St. Patrick's Day with "Be Thou My Vision" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"

The Irish High Holyday is finally here and I am multiplying the celebration with both the Wearing of the Green as well as my Irish birthday. As you can see, I was named for the saint of the day.

For this week's Music Monday, I am sharing two great Irish tunes.

"Be Thou My Vision" is one of the most famous of the traditional Irish hymns. The original Irish text is usually attributed to Dallán Forgaill, with the prayerful text translated into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne in 1905. Seven years later in 1912, Eleanor Hull put the text into verses. 

May this beautiful, prayerful hymn be a great start to the Irish feast day for you.

Perhaps the most important part of St. Patrick's Day is the beautiful music.
Enjoy an all-time favorite with those smiling Irish Eyes!!

Prayer for St. Patrick's Day:

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The three in one and One in three.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead.
His eye to watch. His might to stay,
His need to harken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach.
His hand to guide, his shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

-From the Breastplate of St. Patrick

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

March 17, 2014 02:08
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Ten years of Facebook, Catholic connections, and why we love those Look Back videos



Happy birthday, Facebook!! 

Facebook turned ten on February 4. And they celebrated by giving us the gifts: Facebook made us one-minute Look Back videos to share highlights from the years that we have had user accounts. And if you didn't have enough posts or photos, Facebook sent you a thank you card instead. According to Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg, nearly 200 million people have watched their videos, with almost half sharing it on their timeline.  


An evolution in social media:

When my kids were in high school Myspace was the big deal. This was to change after Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies created TheFacebook in their dorm room at Harvard in 2004. For the first few years it was primarily for college students and you had to have an .edu email address to log in. But in 2006 Facebook changed its policy to allow anyone ages 13 and up to join. (Though you may have noticed dogs and cats and young kids on Facebook over the years too...)

According to CNN Tech, there are over 1.2 billion active Facebook accounts with almost 159 million here in the United States.

A lot has changed since Facebook was just for the college kids. The average American user today is 41 years old. I have a number of Facebook friends who are grandparents and great-grandparents. It's a great way to keep up with your friends and family and to see their photos. There are over 350 million new photos posted each day across the globe. Not only do you get to see special occasion photos of weddings, engagements, and new babies, but we also get to see what everyone had for dinner last night.

Our vocabulary has changed over the years with a new understanding of words and phrases such as: tag, share, wall, like, check in, tbt, it's complicated....  Did you know that the New Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2009 was unfriend. ( My iPad's autocorrect just changed that to 'unfriendly.' Yes, to unfriend someone may be unfriendly.)


Catholic connections:

Did you know that Pope Francis was the most talked-about topic on Facebook in 2013?

Over the years Facebook has evolved from the place for keeping up with friends to getting breaking news alerts, reading your favorite newspapers and magazines via story links,  collecting recipes, and finding the sales at your favorite stores and restaurants.

The faithful of all ages can connect with everything Catholic. 

Here in Baltimore you can follow the official Facebook pages for the Archdiocese, the official news media page of The Catholic Review, and many of our local parishes and schools. You will find that a good numbers of our priests, pastoral associates, youth ministers, and diocesan workers connect with their congregations through personal pages.

On a larger basis, you can keep up with the worldwide Church through the official pages of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic News Service, Vatican Radio, Catholic Relief Services, and EWTN, among many others.


Look back videos:

Links to Facebook’s recent anniversary videos were splashed up and down our news feeds, especially on February 4 and 5. I first saw a seminarian-friend's link right after school on February 4. Catching my attention, I watched and loved it. I then clicked the link to see mine. It was terrific!!

If you are on Facebook, you can still see yours here


My Look Back:

Like taking a walk down memory lane set to music, the video started and ended with a beautiful collage of my photos from over the years. Next came my original profile picture from 2008 when I joined Facebook, followed by "Your first moments." Taken before Facebook became one of my blog spots, I was happy to see 2009 photos of Daisy my pug without any gray in her whiskers and a manatee swimming off the sea wall by our Florida home.



Look Back Photos by Patti Murphy Dohn


Next was "Your most liked posts." Mine included a photo from when I received the Archdiocesan Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry (May 2012), and a posted prayer request for my principal when she was undergoing diagnosis on what turned out to be a tumor behind her right eye (it was benign and successfully removed, thanks be to God).

The first photo with my new granddaughter on her New Year's Eve birthday received over 400 likes, followed by a three-generation photo that same day with baby McKenna and my two beautiful daughters. Joy was the word for that day!!


 Look Back Photos: Patti Murphy Dohn


"Photos you've shared" came next: Mine included the Baptism of the second child of two of my former students, the 2011 cast of "White Christmas" at John Carroll, and my student Advisory group last year when we welcomed Isaac from Nigeria. I loved the 2013 photo of my adult children, followed by a #tbt of them when Katie was a baby. My video finished with photos from a wonderful Christmas luncheon with my favorite colleagues and then my husband with baby McKenna. I loved the memories that this video brought back. And the random selection was spot on in capturing a lot of our wonderful times over the past five years.



 Look Back Photos by Patti Murphy Dohn



Almost everyone who posted and shared their Facebook video described being delighted with the photos and statuses randomly selected. Photos from weddings and births were abundant, as well as status updates about job milestones and significant life events.

Our engaged daughter Katie loved her video. She agreed that it definitely had her highlights from the past eight years. Facebook must have ‘known’ that her engagement photos and those with her newborn baby niece were special to her.

Our son-in-law Stephen told me that he really liked the whole idea of the personal videos: "I actually took the time and watched all of my friends' and classmates' videos.  Even though I didn't know most of the people, it was still nice seeing the pictures of people getting married, having kids, and so on."

I am now reminded of the digital picture frame that we gave my dear mother-in-law for Christmas five or six years ago. The photos from the inserted SD card give a rotating slide show which changes photos every five seconds. Since her eye sight has failed over the past few years, this picture frame came back to us. I just plugged it in the other day and we have enjoyed watching the photos, most of which are five to ten years old. I smile every time I see our seven-year old grandson Tyler on it as an infant.


Like sands through the hour glass...

Time moves so quickly and often we don't see the little changes until later. My friend Susan is really good about capturing the special moments of life with photos which she compiles into family yearbooks every December. We were at her home two weeks ago and I got caught up flipping though the pages of her last two yearbooks. So many great memories…

The Facebook Look Back videos gave us a quick one-minute look of random moments along the past few years. These memories and the anniversary surprise have been very meaningful to a lot of us.

Thanks, Facebook. Here’s to your next ten years!!


February 16, 2014 02:23
By Patti Murphy Dohn

World Day of the Sick: Prayers and reflections on illness, aging, tough decisions, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI



Today the Church observes the 22nd Annual World Day of the Sick, with the theme of "Faith and Charity: We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another." This annual observation was started by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1992 to pray for those suffering from illness and infirmity, and to offer support to their caregivers. This soon-to-be saint suffered greatly during the late years of his life. He wrote and spoke frequently of suffering and its connection to sanctification and redemption.



Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes:

The Day of the Sick also coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. People travel from every point of the earth seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary at her shrine in Lourdes, France, praying for healing miracles, both physical and spiritual. It is fitting that Blessed John Paul II placed the date for this annual prayer for the sick on a feast which honors the Blessed Virgin to whom he credited his miraculous recovery from the 1981 assassination attempt.


Another important connection to this date in history:

It was on this date last year (2013) that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing that he had made "a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.” He told those gathered at an ordinary consistory in the Apostolic Palace that he would step down from the papacy at the end of February:

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

…. in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013 (Full text here)



Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore Cardinal Edwin O'Brien and his priest-secretary Msgr. Adam Parker witnessed the historic announcement from Pope Benedict XVI: This photo was taken by Msgr. Parker immediately following the announcement and published by The Catholic Review.



Reflections on Aging: 

I cannot imagine the anguish that the Holy Father Emeritus went through before reaching this monumental decision. He faithfully served his predecessor and saw how he suffered during the last years of his life, witnessing the harsh and debilitating effects of the Parkinson’s disease. To have the courage to take a stand, unprecedented in recent history: To be able to say now is the time, enough is enough... In retrospect, this is inspiring and courageous. I applaud the Pope Emeritus for his decision. The Church has a ‘new normal’ which will allow future pontiffs to breathe more easily when their name is announced at conclaves.

One of the most prevalent fears of adulthood is the unknown health concerns which will affect each of us as the years go by. We all hope and pray to be able to enjoy our sunset years with the ability to get around without too much difficulty, to travel, to spend quality time with our grandchildren and family, and to enjoy the fruits of our years of labor.

This hope for the future is not the reality for so many of our seniors who find themselves stricken with illnesses, many with increasingly limited mobility, and, of course, those waning levels of energy. Aging is not easy. And aging gracefully is not enjoyed by everyone. One’s health dictates the possibilities for day to day living. Since we are not given a looking glass, many people wonder what that future will look like. Tough decisions are often part of the process. I feel certain that many of the aged in our families and communities understood  the concerns that the Holy Father Emeritus felt as he shared his decision to step aside last year and begin a life of prayer for the world and the Church. Picturing him playing the piano, reading, and offering prayer in the Mater Ecclesiae Chapel brings a smile to my face.


Pope Francis and the 2014 World Day of the Sick:

Pope Francis marked today's observation with his morning tweet:

I greet all those who are sick and suffering. Christ Crucified is with you; cling to him! @Pontifex


In his first message for this annual event the Holy Father commended this day to the intercession of the Blessed Mother so that “she will help sick people to live their own suffering in communion with Jesus Christ.” Read the full message from Pope Francis here.  


Prayers for the sick and for their caregivers:


Prayer for the Sick:

God of hope and healing,

Be with those whose bodies

burn with fever,

rage with pain,

struggle for breath,

cry out for limbs that used to be,

or crave addictive substances.

Be with those whose minds and emotions

face the wait of a diagnosis,

wrestle with the choices for treatment,

adapt to a life altered by chronic illness,

recover from abuse,

or push against the encroaching clouds of dementia.

Be with those whose spirits

are exhausted by the quest for health,

doubt the existence of love,

question the fairness of life,

or stare into the face of death.

Cool the fever,

bring balm to the pain,

ease the fight for air,

adapt the body for new ways to move,

and calm the cravings.

Ease anxiety and fear.

Build trust in your everlasting love and care.

God of all, hear our prayer.



Prayer for the Caregiver:

God of comfort and strength,

Be with those

whose backs ache with the weight of lifting,

whose hands are raw from the constant washing,

whose eyes close frequently from lack of sleep,

and whose bodies feel broken and weary.

Be with those

whose anxiety cannot face one more “what if,”

whose thoughts do not dare go beyond the next moment,

whose tears have flowed until there are no more,

whose patience has worn too thin,

and whose mind and emotions have become fragile.

Be with those whose spirits

are exhausted by the demands of caring for the sick,

doubt the existence of love,

question the fairness of life,

or stare into the reality of losing a loved one to death.

Sooth the body and ease the pain.

Calm the anxiety and fear.

Build trust in your everlasting presence and love.

God of all, hear our prayer.



Today's prayers are taken from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

February 11, 2014 11:43
By Patti Murphy Dohn

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