Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Day for the new Archbishop of New Orleans

Tommorrow is the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and it is a big one for New Orleans. Our New Archbishop, Gregory Aymond recives the pallium. Read more about it right here:

PALLIUM Jun-23-2009 (600 words) Backgrounder. xxxiReceiving woolen pallium, archbishops are reminded they are shepherdsBy Cindy WoodenCatholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sign of an archbishop's authority is not a scepter, but a circular stole made of lamb's wool to evoke the idea that he is, first of all, a shepherd.The stole, called a pallium, goes around the archbishop's neck and is worn over his chasuble when he celebrates the Eucharist. It has a 12-inch strip of material hanging down the front and back.Every year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope places a pallium around the neck of each prelate named in the past year to head an archdiocese.Prelates from the U.S. and Canada scheduled to receive a pallium from Pope Benedict XVI this year are: Archbishops Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb.; Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans; J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec.Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, will be among those receiving the pallium.As the church's chief pastor, Pope Benedict also wears a pallium. But while an archbishop's is made from the wool of lambs blessed by the pope on the feast of St. Agnes, the pope's is made of the wool of both lambs and sheep to reflect Jesus telling Peter "Feed my lambs" and "Feed my sheep."For more than three years, Pope Benedict used a pallium that was wider, longer and worn differently from the ones given to archbishops.When he was elected in April 2005, the pope accepted a pallium based on the design of the pallium from the first millennium of Christianity. With the pallium draped around his shoulders, its ends hung down his left side and reached below his knees.In June 2008 Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of ceremonies, announced that Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II, would go back to wearing a pallium similar to the ones worn by the archbishops.Msgr. Marini, who constantly invokes a desire to illustrate liturgical "development in continuity" with the past to explain how and why Pope Benedict's liturgies have been mixing older and modern vestments, said using the shorter pallium showed how it had changed "over the span of more than 12 centuries." But he also said the short version was easier to wear and so was more practical.When the long pallium was introduced in 2005, Vatican officials had explained that, historically, the pallium became shorter as the chasubles worn at Mass became heavier and more elaborately decorated. Even after the Second Vatican Council, when lighter materials were used again, chasubles tended to have a strong design on the chest and a long pallium hanging down one side seemed to clash aesthetically.Accepting the longer pallium, Pope Benedict also accepted a new set of chasubles dotted with ancient symbols such as bees, shells or flames for Pentecost, rather than having a large central design.But now that Pope Benedict uses both the newer chasubles as well as those of his predecessors, the short pallium was judged to be more appropriate.When Pope Benedict went to L'Aquila, Italy, in April to visit the survivors of a major earthquake, he carried with him the long pallium he had received when he was elected.Visiting the severely damaged Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila and venerating the remains of St. Celestine V, a 13th-century pope who abdicated just a few months after his election, Pope Benedict placed the long woolen pallium on the saintly pope's casket and left it there as a gift.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holy Mary Mother of God

Today, Saturday June 27th was the Feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria. Now this saint lived in the late 4th and early 5th century; approximately 1,575 years ago. He is known as the defender of the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary. Read what he wrote all those many centuries ago:

"That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to Him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught by the holy fathers.
In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the Holy Virgin as Mother of God. I cannot resist quoting his own words: As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of holy Scripture is that it is written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Savior; namely, that He is and has always been God, since He is the Word, Radiance and Wisdom of the Father; and that for our sake in these latter days He took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man.
Again further on he says: There have been many holy men. Jeremiah was sanctified in his mother's womb, and John while still in the womb leaped for joy at the voice of Mary, the Mother of God. Athanasius is a man we can trust, one who deserves our complete confidence, for he taught nothing contrary to the sacred books.
The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, He was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendants of Abraham, fashioning a body for himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in Him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.
It is held, therefore, that there are in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nontheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by St. Paul's declaration: When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons."

WOW! Again, written just a few centuries from the end of the Apostolic era and the patristic times. Cyril, as a bishop, played a preeminent role at the Council of Ephesus where some wanted to deny Christ as true God AND true man and Mary could not be mother of God. Of course the Church has always held that Mary is mother of God because she gave birth to Jesus.

Today, I read the following from Dr. Scott Hahn, fast forward some 1,565 years or so: "If you could have created your mother and preserved her from original sin, would you? Would you? Of course you would. But could you? No you couldn't. But Jesus could and so Jesus did!"

Again, powerful! Want to pray a prayer based on Scripture and 2,000 years of consistent teaching, try a Hail Mary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ one more time

One more Michael Jackson highlight with a Mariah Carey tribute:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is how I prefer to remember MJ

No matter what...pray for MJ, his family and fans; I thought he was awesome when he was young.

We need Good News tonight

This is from America's Got Talent; an inspirational performance and inspirational story:

God Bless America

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


LSU Tigers win the National Championship in Baseball for the 6th time and just 2 years after the Tigers were crowned football champions; everybody should be so lucky to be a Tiger fan!!!! Kind of makes you feel bad for the rest of the country!

LSU; 'nuff said!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Pope and the Prez

CNS article below on upcoming meeting between the Pope and the Prez. We all should pray for a meaningful meeting where the Pope expresses his displeasure about America's abortion, embryonic stem cell policies. Continue to join me in praying for the President's conversion on life issues:

POPE-OBAMA Jun-23-2009 (240 words) xxxiPope to meet Obama July 10 during evening audienceBy Cindy WoodenCatholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10 for an audience scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.Obama will visit Italy July 8-10 to participate in the Group of Eight summit, a meeting of leaders of the world's wealthiest nations. The meeting will be held in L'Aquila, site of a devastating earthquake in April.After the G-8 summit, the president and his wife, Michelle, are scheduled to fly to Ghana, arriving late July 10.Although Pope Benedict usually meets heads of state and government in the morning, the Vatican agreed to host Obama's first visit to the papal palace the evening before he flies to Africa.It is not clear whether Miguel Diaz, a theology professor tapped by Obama to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will be present for the meeting. As of June 23, the Senate hearing for the new ambassador's confirmation was not on the public schedule of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.Discussions between popes and U.S. presidents usually focus on common concerns regarding world events and the church's concerns over issues or policies with special moral relevance. So in addition to discussing ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq, Pope Benedict likely will bring up his concerns regarding abortion policy in the United States and renewed government permission for embryonic stem-cell research.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's Day Reflection

Today is that Sunday in June that everyone knows as Father’s Day. For many of us dads it is a great day to reflect on our own role as father and the fathers and others who helped us along in this life.

Like all of you reading this who are dads my most profound joy are my children. In this category I have been truly blessed. My son Jimmy continues to thrive in his professional career of veterinary medicine and is preparing for his wedding next spring. Jimmy has lived away from home in North Carolina now for over six years. He has made his mark in his adopted community of Greensboro and Reidsville, NC and we could not be any prouder. Our daughter Elizabeth is beginning her junior year at LSU and is doing quite well. She has a great grade point average and seems to have adjusted well to college life. She is very dedicated as she is working two summer jobs right now. She has great friends and is quite busy. It was a joy to have her with Wendy and me on our recent vacation.

Father’s Day for me sometimes brings back memories of a childhood without much involvement from my own dad. In fact, I have as many difficult memories of dad as I do great ones. Fortunately, God has always allowed me to feel more sympathy than anger about my dad. His was a sad existence of unfulfilled potential. Long after my mom and dad separated I had the opportunity to visit with him in the facility where he spent the last few years of his life. Remarkably, it was a very wonderful experience and my dad was calm, warm, almost vulnerable. I will always remember that visit. But then just one year later my next memory was one of some frustration as a visit to dad was cancelled. I never really understood why, but adults seemed to be quarrelling. And sure enough, just a few months later, now some 18 months removed from our last visit, he was dead. I was all of 15 years old. I remember being very sad, more so for him than for me. At times, I often wished I could have done all the normal father/son stuff but it was not meant to be. So I have lived most of my life simply happy that dad helped create three pretty decent human beings. And I continue to love him, pray for him and remember our last visit.

Despite the reality of my dad’s difficulties, I was not shy of remarkable role models. I will always be grateful that my aunt and her new husband moved in with my family and helped raise my sisters and me. We called him Uncle Tiny because he wasn’t real tall, but he helped get me through many experiences that otherwise called for a father’s involvement. They never had kids and we often believed, in part, it was because of us. His extended family all adopted us as their own too and this always made for great holiday gatherings and summer picnics. Like father’s Uncle Tiny had his moments too. But his overall contribution to assisting me through childhood can not be overlooked. Then there was my Uncle Durel, my dad’s oldest brother. He made sure that my mom could get me through Catholic high school. And he never forgot our birthdays, holidays and is primarily responsible for that last great visit I had with dad. And there is Uncle Jimmy who was a blast to be around. He made a young boy so happy when he made sure I got to go to every home Saints game for a couple of years in old Tulane Stadium. Yes, we were there for the Tom Dempsey field goal and we stayed to the end! And then there was a next door neighbor that was a great role model for me. And I could call him Father. Our neighbor was a Catholic Priest, Fr. Hannigan. He was a great Priest; he even started me in ministry as a lector at age 14. He loved baseball, and I always watched all-star games, World Series and other games at the rectory. In this day of so many negative stories of parish priests from decades ago, Fr. Hannigan was a true friend and mentor. And one of the best fringe benefits of my wonderful marriage to Wendy was a father-in-law who although rough on me from time to time really loved me, especially when we gave him two grandchildren. Despite knowing better, he tried to make me a mechanic, a horseman among other things. Wesley tried hard, but deep down, he knew better.

It is often said that any fool can be a dad and so this is true. Real men make marvelous dads. While I did not have my own dad with me most of my young life, I never suffered from dad-like role models whose contribution to who I am today I cherish more and more as the years pass by. All of my “fathers” have gone on to the Father now and I hold their memories dear.

For a great part of my life, I never really took the time to explore the personal intimate relationship all of us are called to have with God the Father. I now know him in our own relationship. I can talk to my Father and realize that it was He who chose me, created me, and called me to serve Him and His Church. I also have come to understand that Jesus was asking me to consider the Father as Abba, which really translates closer to “daddy” than any other English word. In these last dozen or so years I have lived my life in conversation with my “daddy” attempting to do His will. And when I long to hear “I love you” or “well done son” from the lips of a father, I just need to be quiet and listen for God. He never lets me down.

So I give all the glory to God, my Father, for His everything. And I praise Him too for the fathers in my life; my own dad Roland, Uncle Tiny, Uncle Durel, Uncle Jimmy, Fr. Hanngan, my father-in-law Wesley, and all the men whose own fatherhood inspires me everyday of my life.

Happy Fathers Day dads and thank you Father for all the gifts you have bestowed on all of us.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary Permanent Deacons

One of the earliest goals I set for my foray into having my own blog and updates was to inform about the ministry of the Permanent Deacon. To that end, I cannot let the anniversary of this date pass by without commenting.

Even though we are embarking on the Year of the Priest tomorrow, today’s date is a very important date in the life of the restoration of the Permanent Diaconate. On June 18, 1967 Pope Paul VI issued a motu proprio, Latin for by own hand or own initiative, restoring the Permanent Diaconate. Therefore you could say today is the 42nd anniversary of Permanent Deacons as we know them now.

The name of the document Paul VI issued is Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, General Norms for Restoring the Permanent Diaconate in the Latin Church. It can be accessed at

Pope Paul clearly acknowledges the momentum for restoration of the Permanent Diaconate in Vatican II through the document Lumen Gentium. Notice however that the Pope clearly begins the document with Scriptural reference from both Philipians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Of course we all know that the order of Deacons is found in Acts with the selection of seven men who assume duties of service at table to assist widows. Of these seven, St. Stephen is of course the most widely known because he was the first Christian era martyr.

Of particular note from the Pope’s document is the listing of duties of a Permanent Deacon. Note the order of those duties he lists: the first eight are liturgical, from assisting at mass to baptisms, weddings, funerals, reading Scripture and instructing and exhorting (preaching) and finally we come to #9, charity and social assistance.

One can easily make the argument that while most Catholics do see Deacons in their liturgical functions, the most profound activity of the Deacon is social service. Just in my home Archdiocese of New Orleans alone, Deacons serve as the primary contact in prisons, juvenile detention facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, food banks, seamen outreach on the Mississippi River, assist travelers at the airport, youth programs, tribunals, and more; much more. I make this point primarily to address the average Catholic’s belief that Permanent Deacons are a direct response to a Priest shortage. While no one would disagree that Permanent Deacons have assumed many functions, the order itself was not restored because of a Priest shortage. Even if every diocese had an abundance of Priests, the Church acknowledges the need to sacramentalize service in the person of the Permanent Deacon.

So today, I join all my fellow Permanent Deacons in saying Happy Anniversary and offer prayers that all of us will continue to pray for blessed, fruitful ministries. If you get a chance, review the document, Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem and pray for vocations to the Permanent Diaconate and always pray too for vocations to the Priesthood.

It's not Chinese New Year; it's the Year of the Priest

Pope Benedict XVI has declared the Year of the Priest commencing June 19th. This coincides with the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And to help commemorate this special year, the Pope gives us the figure of that great Catholic priest, St. John Vianney, the Cure' of Ars, to focus on the priesthood. 2009 is the 150th anniversary of the death of the beloved St. John Vianney who loved his ministry and was especially known for his devotion to confession.

The year of the Priest is an opportunity for all Catholics to reflect on the gift of the Priesthood and the individual ministries of those men who pastor your church parish, teach in our schools and seminaries and work to promote God's Church. Priests have many responsibilities these days and lots of demands are placed on them. In addition to presiding at Mass, they faithfully hear confessions, anoint the sick, prepare couples for marriage, meet with couples to preserve marriages and so much more. They run schools, administrate the day to day operations of a parish and need to be a spiritual jack of all trades!

In this special year that begins tommorrow, reflect on all your parish Priest does in service to the Body of Christ. And do not be afraid to thank them for all they do or do something special to let them know how much we cherish their vocation. And speaking about vocations, pray for more laborers for the harvest and support your closest seminary. Encourage the young men in your life to consider the Priestood as an option. Speak boldly in support of the Catholic Priethood as a life long vocation that bears good fruit.

I wish to thank my Pastor, Fr. Robert Cavalier for his faithful witness and untiring devotion to his vocation. And I'm thankful for the gift of Fr. Raymond Guillot to our parish family. He brings enthusiasm to his call to serve both our parish and the students at Archbishop Hannan High School. And to all the Priests who have made a difference in my life, from the Marists of Algiers, the Salesians of Archbishop Shaw and the Benedictines of St. Joseph Seminary and Abbey. I also want to thank all the Priests who supported my discernment and formation, elping me toward ordination and to our outgoing Archbishop Hughes for his dedicated service to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

May this gift of the Year of the Priest bring great blessings to the universal church and blessings in all our lives. May it bring forth new vocations and a renewed sense of reverance for the mysteries of our faith.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's a sin too

I was shocked one day a few months before ordination when a parishoner asked me if racism was a sin. I could tell she was both sincere and totally not convinced that racism is a sin. For many, I still believe it is generational. In any event we must proclaim that yes, racism is a sin.

I wish that I had more of my resources at my disposal tonight but I'm sitting in a hotel room, on a stormy night just 15 miles south of downtown Cincinnati. Yesterday morning I was in Memphis and at the urging of my not quite 20 year old daughter we visited the National Civil Rights Musuem located at the Lorraine Motel. If you are my age, or there about, you may recognize this as the spot where Martin Luther King was assasinated.

Let me say without a doubt, this was one of the most profound and well done musuem tours I have ever experienced. And I was equally not prepared for the emotional impact and profound sense of sadness I felt throughout the various displays. And to physically stand inside both the room King was leaving as he was murdered and the room where the assasin, James Earl Ray, fired the shot was overwhelming.

I have grown so much personally in my attitudes and belief about racism and the basic dignity of all human beings. We are all made in God's image. Each of us posseses in us the ability to achieve great things; the greatest of these to know, love and serve God and spend eternal life with Him.

How is it that we distrust each other based on race? What is it about the color of someone's skin? Why in our last election could those who voted for or against a candidate of color not resist the temptation to make it about race?

Soon, I will post a brilliant report issued by Archbishop Alfred Hughes, our now retired Archbishop in New Orleans, about racism and the heroic men and women from New Orleans who stood in the gap and fought against racism. Today, our community is a melting pot of white European descendants from so many different countries, and black Africans and Caribbeans, Hispanics from Mexico, south and central America and Asian Pacific folks from Vietnam and the Phillipines and other countries. We still have many racial divides that spill into politics, economics and our cultural experiences. Still, many people of faith worship in congregations that tend to be segregated by race.

Catholics from all walks of life would do well to study the lives of Martin de Porres or Katherine Drexel or Henriette de Lisle. These powerful Catholic witnesses gave all of us the example of treating all people as children of God; and yet that is what we are; all of us. And don't forget the example of Archbishop Oscar Romero of Nicaragua who defended the marginalized and poor of his country and died celebrating Mass at the hands of an assasin.

Whenever you see the opportunity to participate in any of the faith based programs that address the issue of race and racism take part. If you want to explore this in your parish, my home parish, then please call me. We all can work together to create a society based on our character and not the color of our skin.

And if you ever get a chance to be in the Memphis area, yes Graceland is great and the ribs are super and the Peabody ducks are cute, but do yourself a huge favor and visit the National Civil Rights Musuem and the Lorraine Hotel. You will never forget the experience.

Racism is a sin; pray for an end to racism.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Friday and it's June?

Today is Good Friday but it's June? And indeed it is June with 95 degree temps and heat index in triple digits. The news broke early this morning. We have a new Archbishop and he is one of us. Bishop Gregory Aymond is from Gentilly and went to seminary first at St. Joseph's here on the Northshore where I live and then at Notre Dame. A priest since 1975, he served as an Auxilliary Bishop here before taking the reins of the Diocese of Austin in 2000. I so look forward to working with and for him as one of his Permanent Deacons.

This morning I was able to assist at Mass when Fr. Raymond broke the news to the congregation. It was evident that most knew Bishop Gregory.

So is the news today of our new Archbishop enough to make me say Good Friday. Well, it would be if I did not spend a good bit of the day in prison. Yes, I usually go on Wednesday nights and preside at Communion Service. But I have long desired to really go where the inmates live and work and spend their day. And today I did. I visited all 4 cell pods at Rayburn, only missing the cell blocks. In the pods, the men live 64 in a big dorm room. I easily met and greeted over 100 men today, offering greetings, prayer and an invite to attend our Catholic services. My guide for the afternoon assured me that my presence as a representative of Jesus and his Church was huge. He informed me that I am the 1st Catholic chaplain to tour the pods in years. For that I say thanks be to God.

I must admit that I saw things today that I never dreamed I would ever see. But for the most part, I saw and met men who are doing their time, were respectful and even some expressed a need to draw closer to relationship with the living God. It will be my pledge to do this monthly. Perhaps at this time of year, I will not do this in the middle of the day when its so hot outside, and inside too. No A/C in prison.

Everyday since ordination, I marvel at the people God has placed in my life. Sometimes I grumble about tasks I have to do or work assignments that come from holding down a full time job. Whether at work, doing errands, cruising through Facebook, or countless other things, I meet someone who approaches the "deacon" about God, the Church, the joys and fears of their lives. Everyday! If being a Deacon gives them confidence to use me as His instrument then I can truly say that which I learned in formation: its not what I do but who I am; service sacramentalized as a Permanent Deacon.

Indeed, it is a Good Friday!

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever! Heb. 13:8

Deacon Mike

More on our new Archbishop

Archbishop Aymond thrilled to head his native Archdiocese of New Orleans
By: pfinney
Friday June 12th 2009
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, the first New Orleans native named to head the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its 216-year history, said June 12 he was humbled by Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment...

By Peter Finney Jr.NEW ORLEANS – Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, the first New Orleans native named to head the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its 216-year history, said June 12 he was humbled by Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment and pledged to listen and minister to those who have been affected by the restructuring of the local church in the four years since Hurricane Katrina.Archbishop Aymond, 59, who has been Bishop of Austin, Texas, since 2000 and who previously served for 19 years as professor and then rector of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, succeeds Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes as the 14th Archbishop of New Orleans.Archbishop Hughes turned 75 on Dec. 2, 2007, and served for 18 months past the age limit established in canon law for bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. Archbishop Aymond will be formally installed as archbishop at an Aug. 20 Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, and Archbishop Hughes will act as administrator of the archdiocese until then.Archbishop Aymond said he would examine the pastoral plan necessitated by Hurricane Katrina and promised to meet with people who have been hurt by the closings of churches and schools. The archdiocese promulgated the final phase of its post-Katrina pastoral plan in April 2008, reducing the number of parishes from 142 to 108, citing a shortage of active priests, declining population and uninsured damage to churches, schools and other institutions.“I would be more than willing to reach out in a spirit of reconciliation to those who have been hurt, for whatever reasons, in the church,” Archbishop Aymond said.He said the “reorganization” of the archdiocese “was given a great deal of thought and prayer, and obviously I am not here to second guess my predecessor and the work that his staff did.”“But I certainly want to be a shepherd who would be willing to meet with people and talk to them and walk with them in a time of hurt … to make sure that the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New Orleans is reaching out in all areas to care for the people,” Archbishop Aymond said.Also present for the news conference was former Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, the still spry 96-year-old who served as the 11th archbishop from 1965-89 and ordained Archbishop Aymond to the priesthood in 1975.“I did a great job!” Archbishop Hannan said with a laugh.“As you always do,” Archbishop Aymond replied.Archbishop Francis B. Schulte, who served as the 12th Archbishop of New Orleans from 1989-2002, was out of town. New Orleans holds a rare distinction of having four living archbishops.Knowing the New Orleans Archdiocese as well as he does should benefit him in his ministry, Archbishop Aymond said, although in some cases it might prove to be a mixed blessing.“There’s an old saying by Jesus that a prophet is acceptable except in his own country,” Archbishop Aymond said, “so I would hope that the prophet would be acceptable in his own native land. One of the fears is that I have been away for nine years, and so I want to reconnect with people and with the unique and wonderful culture that exists here – very Catholic and very spiritual. I want to make sure I take the time to do that.”Archbishop Hughes, who will remain in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and devote much of his time to spiritual direction and retreat work, said he was thrilled that Archbishop Aymond has the distinction of coming home to work with the people he knows best.“You are no stranger to us all,” Archbishop Hughes said.He applauded Archbishop Aymond for overseeing tremendous growth in the Austin Diocese over the last nine years, including an increase in the number of parishes and schools. He called the Austin campus ministry program a “a model for outreach to young adults of college age.”Archbishop Hughes also asked forgiveness of any parishioners hurt by the pastoral decisions he had to make in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.“The difficult decisions that I have been called upon to make have been made after careful consultation and prayerful discernment,” he said. “Inevitably, there will be those who differ with me. … God grant the understanding and the healing that will enable us to be the vibrant, evangelizing and eucharistic church he calls us to be.”Archbishop Aymond said he would travel to Rome June 29 to receive the pallium, symbolic of the authority of a metropolitan archbishop, from Pope Benedict XVI.“Even as I returned to New Orleans for vacations and to visit family and friends, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be back here as archbishop and doing ministry as the shepherd of this church,” Archbishop Aymond said. “But I accept that responsibility knowing that I will depend on God and God’s help. … I promise to stay close to the Lord in order that I can fulfill my episcopal ministry faithfully.“Certainly, like anyone else taking on new responsibilities, I have questions and fears, but I will place those in the hands of the Lord. God will walk with me and God will walk in front of me, showing me the way.”

From our New Archbishop

A letter from Archbishop Aymond to the people of New Orleans
By: SComiskey
Friday June 12th 2009
A letter from Archbishop Aymond

June 12, 2009
Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
I have been informed by Archbishop Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio, that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has named me Archbishop of New Orleans. This news humbles me and I renew my gratitude to God for calling me to serve as a bishop of the Catholic Church. I also express gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for his faith in me and for entrusting to me the pastoral care of you, the people of God in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I promise to pray for you daily and to strive to be for you a good shepherd, reflecting to the best of my ability the mind and heart of Jesus.
I regret that my visit to New Orleans for this announcement has to be very brief. I must return to the Diocese of Austin for a 4 p.m. news conference. In the near future, we will have many opportunities to share more relaxed time together. I look forward to my “home coming” in August.
Though I have been away from New Orleans for the past nine years, I have often recalled very fond memories and have prayed for the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans every day. Returning as your Archbishop will give us the opportunity to renew memories of the past and to journey together in new ways as God’s pilgrim people in the future. I particularly remember the very dedicated priests, many of whom I had the opportunity to teach during my years at Notre Dame Seminary. The priests, deacons, religious and laity in New Orleans form a lively, vibrant family of faith. I look forward to being a part of this family again.
I will be traveling to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul, June 29, to receive the pallium from our Holy Father, a symbol of the pastoral responsibility of an archbishop. The people of God in the Diocese of Austin and the Archdiocese of New Orleans will remain in my prayers and heart as I kneel before the Holy Father to receive the pallium.
As I pray for the local Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, I ask that you please lift me in prayer, especially during this time of transition. I look forward to the Installation Mass on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 at 2 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral. Until then, God’s peace be with you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Bishop of Austin

A new Archbishop for New Orleans

The following article was in this mornings blog, Whispers in the Loggia. I awoke this morning with the local news station announcing breaking news and here it is. In a little over two months we in the church of New Orleans have a new Archbishop. As a Permanent Deacon I welcome the opportunity to serve Archbishop Aymond and I remain very grateful to Archbishop Hughes who will always be my Archbishop who ordained me. There is also a good story at

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crescent City, Native Son: Aymond Home to NOLA
Continuing this year's rapid clearout of the Stateside docket, this morning the Pope named Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin as the fourteenth archbishop of New Orleans.Ordained a priest for the Crescent City in 1975 and its auxiliary bishop from 1997 until his transfer to Texas' capital three years later, the 59 year-old choice -- the first NOLA native ever to lead the Big Easy's local church -- succeeds Archbishop Alfred Hughes, who reached the retirement age of 75 in December 2007.A well-seasoned, pastoral, conciliatory figure who's led one of the Southern church's "boomtown" dioceses through sustained growth (threefold uptick in priestly vocations included), Aymond returns to a hometown still rebuilding from 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history. Succeeding a prelate whose seven-year tenure proved unpopular in many quarters as a result of Hughes' history in the abuse-tarred Boston chancery over earlier decades and his more recent task of handling the 370,000-member archdiocese's need for post-storm adjustments, the new man on Jackson Square arrives with the twin benefits of knowing the lay of the land on Day One and, so it's said, enjoying the high regard of his once and future presbyterate, much of which he formed at the city's Notre Dame Seminary, where the archbishop-elect served as rector for 14 years.Suffice it to say, all the local cred will come in handy.A wonkish, media-savvy cleric, the archbishop-elect inherits a local church that, according to estimates, lost a quarter of its Catholics after Katrina and, among other moves, closed a quarter of its parishes as a result. The process has been tougher than usual given the sensitive post-storm mood, and emotions were notably stoked after sit-in demonstrations by members of two closed parishes were broken up by city police, who arrested several protestors in a January operation that saw one shuttered church's door broken down.Last Saturday, Aymond ordained five new priests for the 425,000-member Austin church, which has doubled in size since 1990. The same morning, Hughes ordained three men for the archdiocese.On a historic note, today's move gives New Orleans a distinction without precedent on these shores: four living archbishops. Beyond Aymond and Hughes, Archbishops Francis Schulte (1989-2001) and Philip Hannan (1965-89) are well and kicking, with the eleventh archbishop -- who ordained his newest successor to the priesthood -- still widely viewed as the city's "first citizen." Its history dating to 1682, the NOLA church -- founded in 1793 as the diocese of Louisiana and the two Floridas -- is the nation's second oldest diocese. In more recent times, it's the only Stateside see to have its own iPhone application.According to early word, the archbishop-elect will be installed in the French Quarter's Cathedral-Basilica of St Louis on Thursday, 20 August. Along the way, Aymond will likely join the four other newly-named American archbishops -- Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Tim Dolan of New York, St Louis' Robert Carlson and Omaha's George Lucas -- who'll receive the metropolitan's pallium from B16 at the Vatican on 29 June.As a result of the move, the new vacancy at Austin leaves seven US dioceses currently without a resident bishop. Another eight sees are led by an ordinary serving past the retirement age.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Preparing for Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus

This Sunday we arrive at the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We honor the Body of Jesus, given for our salvation and the Blood of Christ, poured out for us. Jesus is the nourishment we need on our journey to eternal life.

As I prepare for the upcoming liturgy I reviewed my notebook from my diaconal formation on the Eucharist. Here I have found some rich reminders of the truth of the Eucharist.

In Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, from Vatican II says it all: The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. All other sacraments, all ministries, all apostolates, all activities are bound up in the Eucharist.

The Gospel for this feast day is Mark 14:12-16, 22-26. Here we read of the celebration of Passover by Jesus and the Apostles. We know this event as the Last Supper.

“While they were eating, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, ‘take it, this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘this is the blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.’”

The Last Supper indeed is a Passover Meal. Compare the events to those found in Exodus 12:

A lamb without blemish = Jesus the Lamb of God
Jewish Passover = Last Supper on Passover
Passover table ritual = followed at Last Supper
Unleavened bread to quickly flee Egypt = unleavened bread at Last Supper
Passover at night = Last Supper at night
Passover table reclined to eat = so too at Last Supper
Washing ritual = Jesus washed the feet of the disciples
Breaking of bread in middle of meal = Jesus breaks bread in middle of meal, after the blessing
Passover required wine = Wine at Last Supper
Passover required interpreting some of the foods = Jesus reinterprets the Passover meal

Now we can explore the meal from Passover to Eucharist.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

If we continue with verse 27-34 we see about worthy reception of the Eucharist. St. Paul even warns of eating and drinking judgment on self and illness from unworthy reception. How can this be if it is only a symbol?

The Gospel of Luke, chapter 22:14-20 parallels 1 Corinthians above.

Mark 14:24 quoted above parallels Matthew 26:27-28.

And we have the entire chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, including the Bread of Life discourse which I will explore in a future post.

For now I’ll close with words from a Eucharistic hymn so often used at communion:

I received the living God and my heart is full of joy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sacraments of Service

This was one of those weekends while in service as a Catholic Permanent Deacon when you just marvel at all God allows you to witness. First, I assisted a visiting Priest to my parish for a wedding. The young couple, Mark & Laura have begun their new life as husband & wife after their ceremony yesterday afternoon. I had the privilege to preside at the rehersal but assisting at the wedding was awesome. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and pray that they will invite a deep relationship with God into their married life.

In Catholic marriage, we know that the actual ministers of the Sacrament is the couple themselves. The Church further teaches that the exchange of consent between the spouses "makes the marriage". No consent = no marriage. And this consent is sealed by God. Authentic married love is caught up in divine love.

Also yesterday, our Archdiocese celebrated the ordination of 3 new Priests for service in New Orleans. Since I could not be at two places at one time, I opted to attend a Mass of Thanksgiving for Fr. Daniel Brouillette at my neighboring parish of St. Peter's in Covington. I remember Fr. Daniel as a student at St Jospeh's Seminary College where I attended daily Mass for years. He presided over a beautiful liturgy supported by many priests and seminarians. Holy Orders, like Matrimony, is a Sacrament of Service.

We all should pray for our new Priests as well as all Priests and a rededication to vocations. I have been thrilled to read of so many ordinations this year and realize that vocations must continue to keep our faith alive and vibrant. I was especially blessed today to have Fr. Daniel give me a blessing with consecrated hands.

All of these beautiful events come at the end of a full day of ministry and a full weekend. In addition to the events listed above, I preached at three Masses, witnessed two annointings of the sick, visited with a dear friend who lifts me up in prayer everyday and topped off celebrations around our 32nd wedding anniversary.

So as I prepare to end a beautiful Sunday I'm recalling the words from today's responsorial psalm: Blessed the people the Lord has chosen; chosen to be His own.

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Holy Trinity Homily for June 7, 2009

Homily for Feast of the Holy Trinity

One is the loneliest number that you ever knew, two can be as bad as one its’ the loneliest number since the number one. This song is by Three Dog Night. So we’ve covered 1, 2 and 3. Of course this song is not really about lonely numbers, its’ all about relationships.

Let’s do some congregation participation: how many of us are in a relationship. Well, if you didn’t raise your hand, you may need to explain that to me. We’re all in relationships; husbands and wives, parents and children, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors, coworkers, people of faith! And relationships are complicated.

Take the husband and wife who have been married many years. They truly love each other and have been through a lot. But recently they got into a fight. Soon, they realized it had been a few days since they spoke to each other. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, the husband faced a dilemma. He needed to be up in the morning at 5 a.m. to catch an important flight for a business trip. But he does not want to be the first to talk. Oh the silly games we play. Then he thought, I’ll leave her a note by her pillow. It said, wake me up by 5 a.m. As morning dawned, he woke and noticed plenty of light. He was furious. It was 7:30 a.m. and way to late to make his flight. Now he was determined to speak to the Mrs. And there it was, just a few inches from his pillow: a note from his wife that said simply, its 5:00 a.m. you better get up or you’ll miss your flight. Like I said, relationships are complicated.

As people of faith how is our relationship with the Holy Trinity? Do you find it complicated? Do we rely on the Holy Trinity to help with all our relationships?

The Church gives us this great feast of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in this first week after Easter season. In our readings today, we hear of God the Father as the creator, the doer of mighty deeds. We understand that what God does, God is. We also hear of God the Son, whose identity we share, in his humanity and whose glory we can share if we dare to share in his mission and his suffering. And we hear too that we can share in this mission and be led to our glory by the Spirit of God. And through the Spirit, we become children of God.

God truly knows that relationships are complicated. Our most life-giving and joyful moments come from our relationships. And our most painful experiences in life come when relationships end or grow cold. How much of our time and energy is spent in developing and maintaining healthy relationships? How often do these efforts appear to fail? Yet all around us are examples of wonderful, loving, intimate relationships.

The greatest of these examples is the Most Holy Trinity; Father Son and Holy Spirit! Why? Because the Holy Trinity gives us the model of self-giving love! Ask yourself, how far, how deep, to what extent will God the Father go to reach out to us and love us and invite us into relationship. I can’t figure out a word to adequately describe how far or how deep or to what extent. How far will Jesus, the Son go to love us and save us and invite us into relationship? Look at the crucifix; that far! Adore the Eucharist and receive Him in Holy Communion; that far! No other words will do. How far does the Holy Spirit go to strengthen and sustain us and invite us into relationship? Reread last weeks Pentecost experience and know that we too can have the same experience of the upper room. That far!

Yet still we acknowledge that while the Holy Trinity is a very recognizable tenet of our Catholic faith, it is still the most misunderstood. We teach one God in three persons, we use a three leaf clover or a fleur-de-lis; all to help us relate. But we can recall the scene of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan and there it is in Scripture: Jesus coming from the water, the Spirit descending like a dove and the voice of the Father booming: you are my beloved Son in you I am well pleased. There it is: God in the Most Holy Trinity; in relationship.

So what do we do with our invitation to relationship with God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? Turn to today’s Gospel and follow Jesus’ command: go and make disciples of all nations. How can we do that? Start here at home, within our families and our parish family. Remember, it’s still all about relationships. Pray with the family, heal a relationship, volunteer for at least one parish ministry, return to confession, end your prayer time this week with the Glory Be to the Father and every time you make the sign of the cross; make the sign of the cross. Make it relationship.

Yes relationships are complicated. But we have the example of the one true God, in three persons, in relationship to show us the way. Let me ask again, who here is in a relationship? Now that’s better. One is the loneliest number that you ever knew? I don’t think so. When we focus on One God in Three Persons, it’s the only-est number.

Nothing complicated about it!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A tribute to my wife and our marriage

The day dawned clear and hot, very hot. In fact it would be the hottest June 4th on record in New Orleans. It already felt like mid August weather.

Hot weather usually bothers me but not today. This would be the last morning I woke up in my family home in old Algiers. It really is the only home I remembered living in up to that point. The two story home with a view of World War 2 barracks on the east side of the navy base was grandma’s home. She was already gone but arranged for my mom along with me and my two sisters to live there as long as we wanted. My mom never owned her own home; never.

Despite my love and respect for my family I was glad to be moving on. For the first time in my life, my residence would not be on the Westbank of New Orleans. This hot summer day, June 4, 1977 was my wedding day.

I often tell the story that I met my wife in the 5th grade, for this is very true. We were in the same class and lived just 10 blocks or so from each other. I remember my first “boy/girl” party I ever attended was at her home; a king cake party celebrating our Mardi Gras customs. She was nice enough, but I was not too interested in girls in the 5th grade.

By the 8th grade, girls seemed more interesting to me. In fact I mustered the courage to ask one of my classmates on a date. By the way, the girl said yes and she was not my wife. But fate intervened. I guess 8th grade girls are fickle as my date uttered those words that have stopped many a teenaged boy dead in their tracks: something suddenly came up. Ouch. Enter another friend or two or three who seemed to be on a mission. They all delivered the same message. If you ask Wendy, she will go. So, I asked, and true to my friends’ prediction, she said yes. And thankfully it would not be the last time she said yes! They say 15 year old kids really have no idea about things like love, commitment and relationship. I tend to agree, even though I fell in love on my very first date. Now let me be clear here, especially if you are very young and you are reading this, I do not advocate falling in love at 15; unless you are me and you find another Wendy.

We dated all through high school, despite attending different schools. She joined my CYO group, even played catcher on the girls softball team, even though Wendy was not Catholic. We spent time with each family and everyone became fast friends. We danced at each other’s senior prom and graduated within days of each other. She expressed a desire to become Catholic and did! We went to college together. And on February 14th (yes I am a romantic) 1976 I proposed to my high school sweetheart. She said yes.

So we married on June 4, 1977; an amazing 32 years ago. We were beginning our life together as husband and wife at my childhood Catholic Church. We moved to our first home in mid-city New Orleans. And we were no slow learners. Our 1st child, James (we call him Jimmy) came along 9 months and 1 day later. We explored our careers, moved back to the Westbank and bought our first home.

Our little family was doing great and Wendy and I continued to grow as husband and wife and as parents and learned how to navigate life together. We did everything together and all too often, Wendy stood by and supported my various pursuits and ideas. She even was wonderfully understanding when I committed a career blunder. In fact, in the midst of an awkward job change and not long after we suffered the loss of a baby from a miscarriage, we found ourselves expecting again. Our second child is Elizabeth, born 11 years after Jimmy.

One of the most profound decisions we made together was our life changing move to Abita Springs, La; a small Northshore community about 50 miles north of New Orleans. Here we embarked on new careers and a rural lifestyle with our horses and dogs and not so long ago a bunch of chickens and a goat. It was here that we found our Catholic identity at St. Jane Church and involved ourselves in ministry. It was from this faith community that I heard my calling to pursue the diaconate. And when I came home and told Wendy that I thought God may be calling me to be a Deacon, she simply said, “I know”.

Through almost six years of formation, Wendy supported me and loved me all the more. When ordination finally came, I knew that without her, I could not have arrived at this moment. But that’s been her consistent manner of support; from job changes to community involvement to the unbelievable commitment that comes from being the wife of a Deacon.

After 32 years of marriage and 37 years of togetherness, I can fall in love with her over and over, admire her and be totally amazed by her. Of course, like so many men, I don’t always tell her this and I can be a horse’s rear end too. But I pray that she knows how much having her as my wife and life partner really means.

In these days when our spiritual life is so strong, I thank God for the gift Wendy is in my life. I am thankful to God who created Wendy for me and for creating me for Wendy. I take seriously my Christian husband duty to help Wendy on her journey to eternal life and I know she is helping me achieve the same. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. Mark 10:7-8.

When I reflect on our wedding day some 32 years ago, I remember the second reading we chose from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. And I change the word love to the name of my bride and it looks like this:

Wendy is patient, Wendy is kind. Wendy is not jealous, Wendy is not pompous. Wendy is not rude, Wendy does not seek her own interests, Wendy is not quick tempered nor broods over injury. Wendy does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Wendy bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

Wendy never fails. Love never fails.

After these many years, through ups and downs, good times and bad, despite heartache and pain, in times of joy and laughter, our Love never fails.

Thank you Wendy for the love you always show me, for my beautiful children, for your Catholic Christian witness, for your unfailing devotion, for saying yes, for teaching me the true meaning of love, for your forgiveness, for being you and loving me.

Thank you God for Wendy! Amen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I ran into an old friend recently; the first time we have been together in years. And that means the first time he has visited or even talked to me since my December ordination. His question was innocent enough: what made you become a Deacon? My answer surprised not only my old friend but me too: it was not my idea; it was His!

Every day something happens or is said to remind me that this ministry is fulfilling His will and not my will. I certainly did respond and follow through on my committment and responsibilities, but it is only through God's will that I was ordained a Deacon.

Every day brings new experiences that affirms God's call. Some days they are simple and understated; some days they resound with full voice. The other day I noticed a lady in the back of church; she looked somewhat familiar but not overwhelmingly so. She almost seemed lost so I approached her. She told me that she was glad to see me again and had come to the church to tell me something. I thought for a moment, what did I do now?

She went on to tell me that she had approached me in February to ask if we could baptize her dying friend. She reminded me that he was a long time co-worker that had no family or friends, other than herself and her husband, late fifties, and dying quickly of stage four cancer. Oh yes, I remember. Her request resulted in a phone call I placed to the parish in the town where they lived, about 20 miles away. I do recall being emphatic about having one of the priests follow up. I was assured they would. But as all too often happens, my goal to follow up fell through as I continued to be engulfed by the learning curve of being a new Deacon.

Turns out that the good Priest at St. Margaret Mary parish in Slidell did indeed follow up. He committed to several visits, instructing the dying man in the faith, eventually baptizing him, bringing him Eucharist, confirming him and anointing him. He died soon after, reciting the Hail Mary, a prayer he told his friend he could never remember. On that day, he remembered.

She wanted me to know on this Sunday morning that she was so grateful that I made the call to the church in Slidell. I assured her it was not a big deal to do this but she insisted. She truly made my day by taking the time and making the effort to share with me the beautiful result of that simple phone call.

A man, once so lost, so distant from God, died in the comfort of his two friends, his new Priest friend and in full communion with the Catholic Church. I drove home thinking of that man, his friend who sought me out, and I reflected on the story of the Prodigal Son and the workers in the vineyard.

I did not do anything that any of us could not do. But she came to Mass those many days ago and was determined to seek out someone who was clergy. Perhaps she did not even understand that I was a Deacon; maybe she even thought I was a Priest. It does not matter. She sought help from me and the charism of service, in this case service sacramentalized, carried through to the result I share tonight.

I'll say it again; I love being a Deacon; because it is what God called me to be. I have already been so fortified by so many sweet, special events like this to constantly recommit myself to His will for me.

This was such a great start to a great week. In the coming days, I will meet with a couple working on their marriage, rehearse a couple for their wedding on Saturday, celebrate the ordination of 3 new Priests for our Archdiocese and celebrating the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to my best friend Wendy Lynn. God is truly good all the time and all the time God is truly good.

Deacon Mike