They Like Me, They Really Like Me


I’ve been the road warrior this week and usually have no problems blogging from the road but this time, I had little means of access to the internet in California and what little I had I used during my workshop for priests and deacons. By the time I got to Albany (after a red eye flight and an Amtrak train) I was clearly exhausted and had to get right to work by presenting at the Diocese’s Faith Formation workshop.

In short what I do at these things is present how media can be used in ministry. I more or less advocate for the minister here and not really for technology. The idea is not to create another Busted Halo ® Website but to use different types of media to accentuate ministry that you’re already doing as a pastoral minister. One participant was our good blogging friend Fran Rossi Szpylczyn (I’d like to buy a vowel) from St Edward’s Blog Who I’m pictured with here and whose picture I stole without so much as asking.

Then on Monday night I led a session called Faith & Social Networking: Using Blogs, Facebook & Twitter for Faith Formation, Community Building & Evangelizing. In some grace-filled miracle world, 20 people found their way to my room and attended. If you read this blog you know how important I think that social networking is for faith.

Yes it can be all too postmodern and isolating… if you let it. Since God uses all things for good, that means this is used for good too.

To that end, there is website for young Catholic adults (all are welcome however – denomination and/or age not a problem!) listed on the blog sidebar to the right; it is called Busted Halo. The co-founder of that site is also an author of a book called Googling God, Mike Hayes. He also has a blog called Googling God, also on the sidebar here.

In any case, Mike was the featured speaker yesterday and I was thrilled to meet him. This man has more vitality and energy around how to reach and influence young Catholics than just about anyone I have ever met.

Fran is now hired as my agent.

With all seriousness intact, it’s always my honor to go and to speak with people who have dedicated their very lives to Christ and the church. Most importantly I see the dilemma that they see–that young adults are not making the church part of their lives anymore. So what to do? I think my job is to show that young people are still inspired by things in the world and it’s our job as ministers to make the connection back to the message of Jesus and the traditions of Catholicism.

Not an easy task but the groudswell is forming.

San Jose’s Priests and Deacons

I’ve been doing a bunch (and I do mean a bunch) of workshops for the Diocese of San Jose over the past two days, hence the lack of blogging (I’ve missed you too!). And the time I have spent with them has not merely been fruitful for them (I pray!) but also has renewed my own faith in the clergy in many ways.

These guys are very concerned about serving the needs of young adults in their diocese–a place where 87 different languages are spoken and lives in the heart of silicon valley. How do they bring people into that contemplative and spiritual space? I’m hoping that at least some of them begin to do at least one of the many things that both and and that they themselves have suggested. They’re off to a good start their Bishop, Most Rev. Patrick J. McGrath is already twittering.

But more than simply serving the needs of young adults I’ve been moved by their fraternal love for one another and for the respect they have for their Bishop and he for them. It’s rare to see a diocese so close knit and I think these men are relishing the time they spend here on this working retreat together. Our time has been filled with hard work, joyous singing, sharing the eucharist and then being together around mealtime. The weather has been kind and I’m sitting in the shade now enjoying the California climate.

So please keep these men and the people they serve in your prayers. I’ll have at least two interesting stories of people who serve here upcoming.

For the childless mother on Mother’s Day


Vinita Wright has these powerful words that remind us that giving life can take many different paths.

I will not be attending church this Sunday, because it’s Mother’s Day, and I choose not to be present at that inevitable moment when all the mothers of the congregation are recognized. I have nothing against mothers; this is about my life. At many churches, there comes a point in the service where the pastor says, “I’d like all you mothers to stand” and everyone applauds as women of all ages rise and smile. In some congregations, prizes are given for those with the most children, those who are oldest, those who are the most recent mothers, and so forth. I don’t think we do anything like this at my church, but there is always the Mother’s Day Brunch after the service, and during the meal kids from the youth group scatter throughout the crowd and hand a carnation to every woman. At that point I must decide whether to be pissy about it and refuse to take the flower, or to be gracious and carry around the bloom while feeling completely fraudulent in doing so.

For this reason, I don’t attend church on Mother’s Day. I was able to stand up one year, long ago, in another church, the one and only time I was pregnant. But I lost that baby just a couple of weeks later. Today I am past the age of childbearing, and I am happy with my life. I accept it as a gift from God, and I do practice gratitude and recognize the many graces of my days. But I would have preferred motherhood, and so this single boycotted day of the year is my simple protest against the imperfection of life.

Enough of my story. This article is for you, the woman who is childless. I have decided what I would say if I were the pastor on Mother’s Day. I would ask the mothers to stand, because they deserve applause, by all means. But after they were seated, I would ask all those women to stand who were not mothers. And I would say something like this:

Check out the rest here and say a prayer to St. Gerard Majella (pictured above) who is the patron saint of childless couples.

Dad’s 81


Happy Birthday to my father Michael Hayes Sr today. He is a young 81 and still drives his car and is in generally good health–good enough to continue to care for my ailing mom, which is an inspiration to me and a lesson for all of us.

I think my dad has been a great example of not merely being a good father to his children but an excellent husband to his wife. My parents have been married for nearly 59 years! For those unaware my mother has been riddled with many health issues since I was about 10 or so. Nearly 30 years later my mom is still at it and more importantly, my dad has always been at her side. It would have been very easy for dad to run, afraid of watching his love grow old and frail–but instead he’s faced it head on.

I wrote an article about him when the movie Million Dollar Baby came out. As an Irish immigrant, the Clint Eastwood character in the movie, a boxing fan like my dad, showed the tortured nature that caregivers all go through. Some have a deep inner resolve that helps them get up each day and face the hard truth–that this person is not getting better and that it’s their job to be cheerleader, nurse, psychologist and short order cook all rolled into one. Some can hack it, like my dad and some succumb to the temptation to end their pain by ending the life of those they care for by assisted suicide. (spoiler alert) While I obviously don’t agree with what Clint Eastwood’s character did in the movie, I did feel for him. Caregivers go through so much and the temptation to end suffering is indeed great.

But at their age, with each passing year, in which every day is a gift, I realize how lucky I am to have a dad with the strength and inner resolve that he has had.

I hope I have half the strength he has as I grow older and as I travel my years with my love, Marion–who my dad truly adores as if she were his own daughter (that’s how I knew she was “the one”, by the way!). It will be more than enough.

Blessings Dad! Happy 81.

RIP: Dom DeLuise

Deacon Greg mentioned Dom Deluise’s death on his blog and growing up with his comedic antics, I was indeed a fan. He had such great timing and such great slapstick energy. Such as on this scene–one of my favorites from the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:

While the Cannonball Run was probably his silliest role, I’m fond of a little known Burt Reynolds movie called The End. It’s not a superb film but when you’re a little kid, it’s hysterical. Deluise plays a mental patient who agrees to help Burt Reynolds kill himself after a failed suicide attempt lands him in a mental ward. The slapstick hilarity begins there.

My favorite scene: Reynolds goes to confession for what he thinks will be his last time to a young priest who in fact, is hearing his first confession.

Reynolds: “I have a hard time calling you Father!”
Priest: No problem, just call me, Dave.”
Reynolds: (Kneeling in confessional booth): “Bless me, Dave for I have sinned…”

(laugh track)

Reynolds (enumerating his sins): “Oh yeah, I sell real estate.”
Priest: “That’s not a sin.”
Reynolds: “It is the way i sell it!”

(laugh track)

Deluise was always happy in his role as show stealer from Reynolds and that spoke volumes to me. He never really got top billing in the movies he was in but in a sense, was at least publicly happy “to be typecast” and relished each second on screen. A lesson for us all.

So rest in peace, Captain Chaos, the world will miss you!

Swine Flu = God’s Wrath for Abortion says priest

From Australia’s Canberra Times

Swine flu and Mexico’s recent earthquake had been the judgment of God for that country’s abortion laws, a visiting US priest told members of Canberra’s St Christopher’s Parish on Tuesday.

Father Wade Menezes, recommended to the parish by the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge, is conducting a mission for the parish each evening until tonight at St Peter Chanel’s Church, Yarralumla.

Though the exact words used by Father Menezes cannot be quoted, it is reliably understood they had a similar meaning to those by Victoria’s Catch the Fire Ministries’ leader Danny Nalliah, who said Victoria’s devastating February bushfires were the consequences of the state’s abortion laws.

Ugh. When did divine retribution (which by the way JESUS refutes in nearly every Gospel passage about healing) start sneaking back into the lexicon.

It makes me sad that this guy is poisoning the minds of people.

Thoughts?

More on Faith in Flux

While the USCCB tries to tell you that 68 percent is a great retention rate, I will tell you the truth and not the spin.

That’s a horrible rate.

First of all 1 in ten AMERICANS (that’s total population) are former Catholics. That means for every thousand people in America, one hundred of them were Catholic and found what they thought was a better deal. That’s an embarrassing number.

6 out of 10 of the people surveyed who left Catholicism and became unaffiliated with another faith were asked why they left Catholicism. They cited teachings on abortion and homosexuality. 50 percent cite teachings on birth control and about 40% say we treat women badly. I state very clearly here–these people could have and should have been retained. I’d like to see more information here–but my thought is that these people probably simply did not dismiss the church’s notions on these issues but perhaps felt judged by someone in the church, or witnessed judgmental behavior. There’s also bound to be wide-ranging misconceptions about what the church really does teach on these issues as well. Now that being said…

What about the people who really looked at the church’s teaching and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for them? Do we just let them go? I think so at least consciously.

But this is my point about the power of action over words–and granted, we need to do both–but I think the more powerful of the two is action. People may think that Catholics are a bunch of finger-waggers because of their beliefs, but many think that because see see a lot of Catholics living their beliefs inconsistently. I think that needs to change. I know I’m not the best person, by any stretch when it comes to caring for the poor or depriving myself of something in order to better use my resources to help someone less fortunate.

When people see us living our beliefs by the fact that we stand up for the needs of the poor, we help pregnant women and help care for their children long term–despite its effects on us–then will people start to ask deep questions about why we live the way we live.

But the fact remains that most people are self-interested and don’t REALLY care about the poor–but only do so to the extent that it doesn’t bother them. We have all we can do some days to get people to notice their next door neighbors–never mind, the unborn, the poor, the homeless, or the elderly who many have insulated themselves from even seeing.

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