Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bridgeport - Boston - Montreal - Chicopee - Montreal

November 27, 2014 Peace and Good, I am continuing my visitation of the Canadian custody and bringing it to an end. I visited Boston both to visit the friars in the parish there and to get together with one of our friars from Rome who is on Sabbatical there. Both were enjoyable. Boston is a great little city. I then flew to Montreal. Our friars have a number of presences here, and I have been visiting them one by one. They mostly work with the Polish immigrants. The only problem is that now that Poland is part of the European community, young Polish people who want to make a living no longer travel to the US or Canada. They go to Germany or Great Britain where it is much easier for them to travel back home every once in a while. This means that these communities in Canada are growing older and will eventually disappear as they meld into the larger Canadian community. I spoke with the friars about this and we started planning for the eventual future for these sites. I flew down to Chicopee, Massachusetts for the funeral of one of the brothers of one of our friars in Rome, fr. Donald Kos. Donald is 77 years old, and travel is getting more difficult, so he was not able to make the funeral, which made it all the more important that I would be there. I fly back to Rome tomorrow for a couple of weeks of meetings this coming week. I finished some books: The Greatest Battles in History: the Battle of the Bulge by Charles River Editors This is one of those short but thorough studies put together by the Charles River Editors concerning various topics. This one covers the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. The studies are well done but limited in scope. Because of their length, they cannot go into depth on any topic, but what they treat they deal with well. Pavlov’s House by Russell Burgess This is the story of the defense of Stalingrad during World War II told from the aspect of the defense of one particular apartment block which would block the advance of the Nazi’s. I think that this might be a true story, which makes it all the more remarkable. After reading a lot about Stalin, he is not one of my favorite people. He killed as many if not more people than Hitler. Yet, there were heroes in the defense of the Soviet Union against the invasion of the Nazi’s during the World War. This book deals with the great generals who guided the battle, but even more with the simple people who fought it to the death. Kim by Rudyard Kipling I had never read anything by Rudyard Kipling, so I was pleased that the collection that I was reading, one on spies, contained a story called Kim. He is an English boy in India whose parents have died and who is raised by Indians. He is clever, and is more a street child than a normal Englishman. He meets a Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage and becomes his disciple. This is probably the first story in English literature in which a Buddhist is one of the heroes of the story. He eventually becomes a spy for the British Raj in India. The story is well written, although a bit wordy at times. The Three Lame Men: The Adventures of Ellery Queen This is the usual story about how Ellery Queen solves a mystery in which one woman is found dead and her lover is missing, presumed kidnapped. He is able to deduce from three sets of foot prints of someone who is obviously limping that something is wrong in the story that he is being told. Once again, the terminology used for various people is somewhat racist (at least according to today’s standards). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ellicott City (Baltimore) - Clifton, NJ - Bridgeport, CT

November 15, 2014 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I finished off some slower days at Ellicott City this past week and travelled to Newark, NJ to first of all visit my publisher, Catholic Book Publishing Company, and then to conduct a visitation at one of our friaries in Clifton. I have been writing for Catholic Book for some 30 years now. Most of what I have done is children's books, but I have also done some meditation books and some Bible Study Books. Since I have been on the road with my ministry as Assistant General, it has been tougher for me to keep up with writing and taping, but I do what I can. I can steal an hour here and there and so I can do shorter projects. The parish at Clifton was originally a parish of my home province, but at the chapter we handed it over to the Canadian custody which is for Polish people. Probably 60% of the parish is Polish, including most of the young people (although their children quickly become Americans). Three of the four friars there are new, so the friary community is just getting off the ground. One of the old timers at the parish is Br. Ed Handy who works for Catholic Charities in an Aids center. He looks like a 60 year old, and I was shocked when he said that he was already 74. He is a good source of common sense wisdom for the younger friars in the community. Two of the other friars had been missionaries in Kenya, and the third just moved in from South Boston. The next stop was Bridgeport. There were two friars there who I know for decades, and one new one whom I met once while he was serving in Ireland. This is a more Polish parish with probably 70% coming directly from Poland. Many of the older Americans are now home bound. The friars here do a great job in ministering to them. Fr. Stefan, who is from Poland, is one of the kindest and gentlest priests I have ever met. Fr. George Maslar from OLA province works at a local nursing home. He is already 77, but he is still on the go. This afternoon the friars are running me up to Boston which is the next stop in the visitation I finishing the following books: The Neighbor by Dean Koontz This is a novella which speaks about a young girl and boy who have terrible parents and must face the perils of a haunted house right next door. What makes it worse is that the person haunting the house is a pervert who has ogled the girl and had killed another young girl and buried her in his basement. The story is well written, as are all of Dean Koontz’ works. Waiting Out Winter by Kelli Owen This is a short story about an infestation of flies which carry an incurable disease. It turns out that the government released the flies to combat an infestation of worms that were eating up the forests, but they released the wrong batch of flies. Society degenerates as everybody hides in their own houses out of fear of contact with the disease. It is a post-apocalyptic vision of the break down of society, but seen from one family’s viewpoint. No Simple Victory by Norman Davies This is a long and very detailed overview of World War II by a British scholar who had done most of his studies on the countries of Eastern Europe, especially Poland. His premise is that while almost everyone condemns the crimes of the Nazis, they often overlook the crimes of Stalin who was just as bad in his own way. He compares the War in the East to a battle between two groups of gangsters. He tries of give a balances overview of the story. He treats the European theater of war and all but ignores the Pacific. This is a very studied, very worthwhile book on the topic. The bearded Lady: The Adventures of Ellery Queen This is another of the short stories in the Ellery Queen genre. In this one, Ellery is looking for a murderer of a man who painted a beard on a portrait as a clue to his murderer. The only problem is that the beard is on a woman in the painting. He is able to figure out from this insignificant clue and a couple of other details who killed the victim. Take care and Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pretoria - London - Ellicott City - Louisville

November 5, 2014 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. The conference in Pretoria was great. I met a lot of wonderful friars doing amazing things. The greatest joy of my job is to travel from place to place and hear the good things friars are doing and be able to be a type of cheerleader for their ministries. I flew overnight to London arriving on the 28th, my feast day. fr. Peter Damian, the Custos of Great Britain/Ireland took me out to the theatre that evening. We went to see Jersey Boys. One of the friars kidded me and said it was odd to see a play with that name in Great Britain, but my answer was that it wasn't called New Jersey Boys, it was called Jersey Boys and that is found in England. I had not been to the theatre in probably 30 years, and the play was so filled with life and energy that I thoroughly enjoyed it. We then went to my favorite restaurant in China Town. It was a great surprise for my feast day. The next day I flew over to Baltimore and have been staying at the provincialate. I am just trying to rest a bit after a very busy summer and fall. I did fly out to Louisville for a few days to visit our Indian friars here. Three friars from India have founded an apostolate to reach out to young adults in this area. Their province has a chapter coming up this March, and the Assistant General for Asia did the visitation in India. We have the rule of thumb, though, that if friars from that province are stationed in other areas, then the Assistant General where they are stationed visits those friars. I have this visitation, and then I have another one in December to visit two friars in Ireland. The Indian friars here in Louisville work at Bellarmine College and they also work for the archdiocese of Louisville. They have a very original approach to spirituality which a lot of people appreciate. They are also some of the best friars I have ever met. I fly back to Baltimore this afternoon and will be there for a week before beginning a visitation of our friars in Montreal. I finished some books: “C” is for Corpse: The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries by Sue Grafton This is the third in the series of alphabet mysteries that I have read. As always, the character of Kinsey Millhone is well done. She is a detective working in a California coastal town. In this episode she is investigating the murder of someone who hired her because he was sure that someone was trying to kill him. The problem is that he didn’t know why because of a car accident which affected his memory. Kinsey continues the investigation even after this young man is killed, seeking to figure out the mystery with the slightest of information. The Reapers by John Connelly This is the story of two professional hit men and their friends. They are portrayed in a most favorable light. They have tried to kill mostly bad people, often working as unacknowledged assassins for the government. Now, after they have retired, someone is trying to kill them. It is a story of how they and their friends band together to first of all find out what is going on, and then to react in the only way they know how. Boy Made of Dawn: A Navaho Nation Mystery by R. Allen Chappell This is a novel based on the Navaho reservation in the southwest. It revolves around the exploits of a social worker who acts as part time detective. He and two others are being called to testify in a corruption case, but their lives have been placed in danger. The book is well written and provides insights into Navaho culture. The characters are well developed and believable. This is one book I would heartily recommend. The Summons by John Grisham This is a well written mystery based on the idea of an elderly judge summoning his two sons to witness his side before he dies. One son, a teacher in Virginia, arrives just after the father has passed away. The other son, a nere do good drug addict and alcoholic, arrives later. The good son finds a large amount of money hidden away. The rest of the book involves his tortured attempt to find out where the money came from and what to do with it. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude