30 Years Ago It Was No Miracle: It Was AWESOME

I was 10 years old when the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team upset the Russians, arguably the greatest hockey team in the world and then went on to beat Finland and capture the Gold Medal. For some reason however, with apologies to Al Michaels, I never liked the term “Miracle” being fawned on this group of hard working young athletes. It seemed condescending to me. And often I think that people have low expectations of college students and of young people in general.

My favorite player on that team was the Goaltender, Jim Craig. Jim is a motivational speaker today and he seems to agree with me. See for yourself.

And to find out where these great athletes are today, check this out:

Yes Fordham, There is a Santa Claus

A retroactive Hat Tip to my classmates Joe Squillace and Tracy Crimmins from Fordham University where this story originated at Christmas 1991.

Joe and Tracy were students at Fordham and spent a good deal of their time doing what some would say was a thankless job: Running the Community Service Organization’s “Give A Child a Christmas” campaign. They would gather hundreds of toys by asking the college students to simply go out and buy a toy for children who lived in the poorer section of the Bronx.

The job of organizing and preparing for the huge Christmas party was gargantuan. But Joe and Tracy in the midst of their studies and activities would somehow spend lots of sleepless nights getting all the gifts together and they’d even plan the party that would bring much joy to a bunch of children who were often jaded and skeptical that Santa could ever exist.

Occasionally there would be glimmers that would make it all worthwhile. Like the time when someone donated a huge teddy bear to the campaign. It was one of those huge bears that you win for throwing 150 balls into the clown’s mouth in a row at the fair. They kept that bear unwrapped in the back room thinking it was too “off the charts” in comparison with the other gifts. But when one little girl came forward and said: “There ain’t no Santa Claus and I ain’t even gonna get what I asked for at this stupid-ass party,” Joe sprang into action. “Well what do you want?” he asked. She simply said, “A teddy bear, not that it matters.” Poised in the closet almost magically behind her was the giant bear. And just as magically, Joe, dressed in Santa’s big red suit, asked his compatriot elves to open the door. There stood her bear. Just as she had asked. She hugged that bear longer than I ever had seen anyone hug anything. Pure magic.

But the next story takes the Christmas Fruitcake…

At the end of that very same party, when all of the other students had put in a long hard day’s work, Joe and Tracy gathered up the remaining toys and lugged them all to the subway to bring them down to another children’s home so that they could distribute them to other needy children in the area.

On the subway, after their long journey, Joe and Tracy were enjoying a scenic ride on the elevated #4 train back to Fordham. They spied a little girl of about 5 or 6 years old sitting across from them. A child of the Bronx, she rode the subway with her mother, back home this day. “She had big beautiful eyes,” Tracy told me. “The kind you can’t ignore!” They made pleasant conversation with her.

Tracy: “So are you ready for Santa Claus to come?”
Little Girl: “Nope! Santa doesn’t come to my house.”
Joe: “What? C’mon! What do you mean?”
Little girl (with mom looking nervous): “Well…my mommy told me that the South Bronx is too far from the North Pole for Santa to come all that way. So Santa doesn’t come to our house because it’s just too far, even for flying reindeer!”

Joe and Tracy knowingly looked at the child’s mother and played along.

Joe: “Oh I see. That’s too bad, huh?”
Little Girl: “Nah, it’s OK. I already got my gift from Santa anyway.”
Joe: “Now wait a minute! What do you mean? Santa doesn’t come until Christmas Eve, everyone knows that!”
Little Girl (giggles and says): “I told you silly, the South Bronx is too far! So what Santa does is he gets a bunch of his helpers together at this place called Fordham and every year he makes sure that the gifts get there EARLY. So we get our Christmas a bit earlier than everyone else! We go every year for my gift there.”

At this juncture Joe and Tracy were desperately trying not to openly cry.

Joe asked her one last question:

“Did you get what you want?”

“I ALWAYS get exactly what I ask Santa for!”

And in unison, as they walked out of the subway car, Joe and Tracy responded tearfully together:

“So do I.”

As we await the magical season of giving, may we be reminded that God, sometimes might not give us what we want, but always gives us exactly what we need. In fact God holds nothing back from us and gives us his very self.

May we be able to recognize that gift this Christmas and may we be able to give that same gift of love to others.

Merry Christmas.

Addendum: A bunch of my classmates just informed me that Virginia O’Hanlon (yes, THAT Virginia) is also a Fordham graduate. They granted her a doctoral degree sometime after 1912. Surprise, surprise!

And a child shall lead them…

Or in this case a whole bunch of kids showing one another just what it means to be Jesus for someone else.


Camp Barnabas from Steve V on Vimeo.

An extra hanky wave at the Good Deacon.

And you thought Susan Boyle was inspiring

If these kids don’t win, there’s something wrong with the world. Their mother was hit by a drunk driver and they literally sang her and others in her hospital back to health. She was comotose for 8 months and now is in a wheelchair. Amazing.

Let us pray for more inspiring voices who are able to sing when tragedy strikes.

William Donohue on Catholics Who Support Abortion: “I Hate Them”

The NY Times today had a very interesting and accurate piece on Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, a man who has been parodied by the likes of South Park and poked fun at by Stephen Colbert. With regards to the events of the past few weeks, Dohohue’s remarks in the Times towards Catholics who support abortion are most unchristian in my view.

“All the secularists feel that their moment has come, and that now is the time to mount the attack on everything they hate.”

That would be people like him, and his church, and whatever decency remains in the American character, he said with a smile and a wink that makes Mr. Donohue likable in person even as he looms, like a cop with a search warrant, over the intersection of American culture and conservative Catholicism. In Mr. Donohue’s world view, atheism is nowhere near as bad as apostasy: he has been most vicious in attacking Catholics who support abortion rights, and he admits it. “I hate them,” he said.

Hate? I think the line in scripture says that they will know we are Christians by our LOVE. And perhaps that is what escapes people like Donohue who prefer adherence to agenda and the single-mindedness of focus on getting their own way over dialogue and compromise.

However, there is something likable about Bill Donohue. He doesn’t take himself too seriously at times including this cheeky bit on Stephen Colbert’s program.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
William Donohue
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When I was in radio, I would put Donohue on the air with some of the talk show hosts I produced (Joan Hamburg and Bob Grant mostly) simply because he was entertaining. I would get to talk with him off the air and we’d have some friendly banter while we waited for commercials to end. I would like to report that he is a very nice man and the “crazy man act” seems to be just an act–but an effective one–he gets lots of attention.

I often think if he wasn’t so loud the things he complains about would slowly just fade away (or not so slowly). He calls attention to a lot of things that are just innocuous.

I would say I agree with Donohue about 10% of the time–or more accurately I should say his approach. But I will side with him on one thing: There indeed is a lot of anti-Catholic bias out there–perhaps not as much as he thinks and not as much in Hollywood as he thinks–but it is undoubtedly present.

I tweeted the other day that the two last acceptable prejudices are Catholics and fat people.

I added two last words to that tweet: “I’m doomed!”