Monday, November 11, 2013

Chicago - Milwaukee - Rockford - Peoria - Wenona- Clinton - Chicago

November 11, 2013 Peace and Good, I have been travelling around the friaries of St. Bonaventure Province throughout this past week, meeting with all of the friars who are stationed in this area. This has involved going to Milwaukee where there is a magnificent Basilica dedicated to St. Josaphat. The basilica was redone a few years ago in its original style. It is so beautiful that it is used as a site for symphonies and operas. I then went down to Rockford. There is a parish there which is originally a Sicilian parish which now has a number of Hispanics who worship there. I gave a parish mission there around 8 years ago as part of their celebration of the 100th of the parish. Some folks still remembered me there. They have a tremendous devotion to St. Anthony – more vigil lights than I had ever seen before. I then went to Peoria. There are three sites associated with this friary. One has a rectory and serves four separate churches. Another serves three churches. Then the third, which is the actual site of the friary, is a good sized parish. The friars live in these three sites and get together once a month for their friary meeting. This morning I drove three hours to Chicago and met with the friars at the friary here on Kenmore Avenue, about three blocks from Loyola University. I have the rest of the week to complete the visitation. Then I will present the findings to the definitory here in Chicago, go home to Rome, write up a report, and present it to the definitory over there in Rome. Eventually this report will be given to all of the friars in the province as part of their preparation for their provincial chapter which will be held this April. I am finishing up here just in time. It is snowing outside, and I would have hated to drive on some of the country roads downstate during a snow storm. I really admire the friars down there who serve the people in the rural areas. I finished a few books: The Lady Queen: the Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Gladstone This is the story of a remarkable queen of Naples in southern Italy. She was also the ruler of Provence in southern France and for a time of Sicily. She was married a number of times, and one of her husbands was murdered by some of her supporters (something for which she was put on trial for and acquitted by the Pope). She had to play politics and fight against any number of enemies throughout her long reign. At the end, she backed the wrong party in the division of loyalties when there was more than one pope at a time and she was overthrown and eventually murdered. The book is well written and the story informative, especially about someone who is so little known in our own times. Storm over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to Civil War by Joel Silbey This is the story of the controversy that surrounded the attempt to get the United States to annex the Republic of Texas. The northerners realized that it would become a slave territory, and they opposed it. The president played some dirty politics to get the new state accepted, and it left hard feelings between the politicians of the north and the south which festered over the next decade and a half and the eventual secession of the southern states and the start of the civil war. The book is well written and gives a good sense of how one faction played off the other throughout this era. Barbarossa Derailed: Smolensk 10 July – 10 September by David Glantz This is the story of a major battle that occurred in central Russia during the Nazi invasion in 1941. Hitler’s troops easily overran the border defenses and even the initial secondary defenses. The battle of Smolensk was a great attack and counterattack by the two sides in which the Soviets were technically defeated, but which delayed the German juggernaut for long enough that they were caught in the open outside of Moscow when the winter descended and when the Soviets had been able to gather enough troops to launch a counterattack with fresh troops against the all but used up German forces. Unfortunately, this author insists in giving in detail every regiment assignment and every major order from the leaders of each army, so it is the kind of book that would interest a scholar of army history but much less so someone who only wants a sense of what happened in this particular battle. I hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude


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