"To all that visit here: live, love, and laugh during your lives and never take for granted the time we have together”
Annie McGann Cumpston would have been a senior at The John Carroll School today.
January 7, 1997 - March 23, 2003
(All photos from the Cumpston Family and Annie's Playground)
The outpouring of support from the community resulted in a memorial beyond the family’s wildest dreams: Annie’s Playground in Fallston
. Opened in 2005 in Edgeley Grove Park, the memorial playground celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
Ten years after Annie's death:
Annie’s Mom reflects on the heartbreak that eventually found a way to smile:
“Annie’s Playground meant finding a reason to smile again. I would do anything in the world to have my daughter here with me today and I know that our family will never be the same again, but I will be eternally grateful for the loving community that came together and helped us pick up the pieces of our tragic loss.
“When I could not find any good coming out of our loss, our family and friends were able see beyond. The playground means that I get to see my little girl everyday in the smiles of other children. To me, it is almost like a safe haven where all those who have been lost too soon can watch over and protect those who visit.
“The experience was bittersweet, but it meant finding acceptance. I truly believe that our sweet Angel is present in the laughter, the excited screams as children slide down slides, the courage as they complete the monkey bars for the first time, and the thrill as they get higher on the swings. She is dancing in the wind.”
—Megan McGann Cumpston
“Every life has a beginning and an end. Let’s celebrate the stories in between.”
Check out the poignant stories shared on “The Stories Between
,” a website created by longtime Cumpston Family friend, Sharon Perfetti.
Your vote supports this website which shares the legacy stories of Annie and so many other who have gone before us.
Read more stories from Annie’s sisters, relatives, and friends tomorrow in Part 2:
Tomorrow I will share more stories about what Annie’s Playground
has meant to the Cumpston Family and their close friends.
The Cumpston Family and members of the community are in the final planning stages for "Annie’s EGGstravaganza,"
a fundraiser to support needed repairs and improvements at Annie’s Playground
Mark your calendars: Annie’s EGGstravaganza on Saturday, April 4:
To celebrate the tenth Anniversary of Annie's Playground, a fun-filled day for the whole family has been planned:
Activities included on April 4:
Annual Easter Egg Hunt from 10 to 11:30 am (Registration stars at 9:30 am for three different age groups)
Visit from the Easter Bunny,
HIGHLIGHT: Easter Egg Drop by helicopter from 11:30 to 12 noon: 1000 eggs!!
Lots of activities including Harford County ambulances and fire engines to promote safety awareness.
All activities are free and open to the public.
Support the Raffle:
Tickets are available for $10 and will directly benefit Annie's Playground:
Your ticket will correspond to a numbered egg which will be dropped from a helicopter:
“All of the eggs that land in our giant Easter basket will be eligible to win our GRAND PRIZE worth over $500!!! We will also have 15 other great prizes for eggs that land in our Easter Basket! The more tickets you buy, the better chance you have of taking home our GRAND PRIZE!”
How to get your tickets:
To purchase tickets: Make your tax-deductible donation payable to Fallston Rec. Council.
Send your check to: First Home Mortgage, 808 Baltimore Pike, Bel Air, MD 21014
Note: The numbered tickets to match the numbered eggs will be mailed to you, so be sure to include your full name, mailing address, and phone number along with your donation. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the event.
You can also stop by to pick up tickets in person at First Home Mortgage in Bel Air.
For more information on this event, please call 443-879-9820.
If you'd like to help make Annie’s EGGstravaganza a huge success while spreading some Easter cheer, you can volunteer by emailing:
Ann Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan DeVoe: email@example.com for more information.
Visit Annie’s Playground at Edgeley Grove Park:
864 Smith Lane
Fallston, Maryland 21047
Harford County Parks and Recreation
410-638-3559 (Monday through Friday 1 pm to 4:30 pm)
Read more in Part 2 on Friday:
Don't forget to check in tomorrow for Part 2 on Annie McGann Cumpston and read some more poignant reflections about what Annie’s Playground
has meant to Annie's sisters and their relatives and friends here in “God is in the Clouds.”
Annie's portrait from St. Margaret School in Bel Air.
March 05, 2015 01:46
By Patti Murphy Dohn
This upcoming Sunday begins the second annual National Catholic Sisters Week
. Started in 2013 in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, this weeklong celebration started last March 2014.
The website for National Catholic Sisters Week
explains that the week is “intended to shine a national spotlight on the good works and good will of Catholic sisters. It recognizes past and present sisters, from the movers and shakers pressing the frontline of social change to the faithful praying in cloistered chapels."
Calling for your stories:
In an effort to promote the good work of our local Sisters, I would like to hear your stories about the Sisters and the religious communities who influenced you and your families. Your special memories and tributes will be featured next week in “God is in the Clouds
My personal gratitude to the Sisters:
Thank a Sister:
Let's honor the faithful women religious who guided you, challenged you, prayed for you, influenced you, and were your mentors and friends.
Deadline Sunday, March 8 by 12 noon:
Email your memories and tributes to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attach a photo if you have one.
Let’s thank the women of faith who shaped and formed us: the good Sisters!!
Thank a Sister:
Enjoy this video that was made to kick off the 2014 celebration:
The Year for Consecrated Life:
Pope Francis has designated the Year for Consecrated Life, started on the First Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and ending on World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016.
March 03, 2015 12:09
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, Maryland
(Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)
For over five decades, the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House
has served the spiritual needs of the young people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Affectionately called ‘the House’ by those of us who have ministered there, O’Dwyer hosts thousands of youth and young adults each year.
Founded in 1963 as the CYO Retreat House, this archdiocesan facility was founded by Msgr. Clare O’Dwyer who envisioned a “spiritual powerhouse” for our youth. Cardinal Lawrence Shehan
(the 12th Archbishop of Baltimore from 1961-1974) approved the purchase of an old lodge with twenty acres in the northern Baltimore County town of Sparks. Msgr. O'Dwyer directed the students from Mount St. Joseph High School on the first retreat in September of 1963. The House was renamed for Msgr. O'Dwyer after his death in 1982.
A great story from the Director of the House:
has served as O'Dwyer's director since 2011. He shared with me this beautiful story about how retreats often impact lives many year later, sometimes in the most amazing ways. Enjoy this heartwarming story and his personal reflections that follow.
“God sending a note from her younger self to her older self”
“Last November, I received a completely unexpected phone call, and had the opportunity to hear another of those wonderful stories about the impact that being at the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House had on someone’s life. It is a great story for all those who work in ministry and work with young people.
“Kathy, who lives in Oregon now, was on the phone. She let me know that she had attended a retreat here at the House as a teenager in 1972, and had greatly enjoyed being here. Kathy also let me know that during the retreat the participants wrote a letter to themselves, which after the retreat was mailed home to them. Kathy got her letter, but never opened it. The letter got put aside and forgotten about.
"Fast forward nearly 30 years later to 2000. Her mom is cleaning out the house and sends a bunch of Kathy’s things to her in a box. One of the things Kathy comes across is the letter from her retreat. This discovery came during a particularly trying time for herself and her husband. She didn’t go into a lot of detail of what was in the letter, but she did tell me a few things.
“Kathy thought of it as God sending her a note from her younger self to her older self, reminding her of the important lessons from retreat. It contained things such as love yourself as God loves you, take time to be with God in prayer, that God is in the people you meet, and that you have much to offer.
“…God giving her just what she needed when she needed it.”
“She (Kathy) also said it was God giving her just what she needed when she needed it. The letter was put away for safe keeping, and for a time, forgotten about again.
“Kathy then told me that a few months ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily it has been found early and her treatment is going well. It is also about this time Kathy rediscovered the letter from retreat in a jewelry box. Once again it was just what she needed to hear in a tremendously difficult time in her life. It was yet another, and now a familiar way, that God reached out to her and provided what she needed.
“This time she felt compelled to call the House and tell someone about her experiences, and it was my good fortune to be that person. Kathy talked about what a special place the House is for young people, how she was so grateful for the experience she had here as a teen, and how grateful she is for the effect her retreat has had on her 30 and 40 years later! She told me she was praying for the young people coming here on retreat, for the staff, and for the work of the House.
“…so much of what we do in ministering to youth is planting seeds…”
“The call was such a blessing and another amazing example of God’s grace. It gave a clear reminder of how so much of what we do in ministering to youth is planting seeds, and that in God’s time it bears fruit. In the busyness and the sometime frustrations of the day, in the grind of the week, we might lose sight of what we’re trying to do in our ministry, of what our mission is, and what it’s really about. The fruits of our labors might be seen that day, or in a week, or a month, or a year; or sometimes 40 years from now!
“Reminders like Kathy’s help us to know that our work with young people does bear fruit even though we realize many times we’ll never get to see it, or hear about these types of experiences. I am so grateful to Kathy for being God’s messenger in this instance.
“God wants us all to know that the work we do with youth every day is important and does matter. It helps to provide us the strength and hope we need to continue on in our ministry.
“This is but one of literally hundreds of thousands of stories of young people who have experienced the ministry of the Retreat House. Young people, now adults, who were given the opportunity to come on retreat, and to deepen their relationship with the Living God through activities, games, talks, prayer, reflection, Reconciliation, and Eucharist. Young people who today still continue to deepen that relationship with their Savior, who are this generation’s disciples. We pray they develop what will be a lifetime relationship with Jesus, and spread the Good News to others.
May God continue to bless us all, and continue to bless our ministry to youth!”
—Mike Downes, Director, Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House
Read more about the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House here:
1. Read about what the House has meat to John Carroll students since the late 1970s:
4. Welcoming new director Michael Downes in 2011:
February 26, 2015 03:00
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Remembering Mark David Pacione
The wonderful musicians from Spirit and Song
, a division of Oregon Catholic Press
, put together this poignant tribute to youth ministry icon Mark Pacione
who passed on to Eternal Life on December 29 at age 60. Their poignant rendition of “Be Not Afraid” has been shared many times since it launched on YouTube on February 8.
This "Spirit & Song Artists’ Tribute” was the brainchild of ValLimar Jansen
who was unable to attend Mark's funeral and wanted to honor his memory through the gift of music.
Watch the memorial tribute here below on the YouTube link and then come back to read the amazing story of how ValLimar Jansen pulled together this poignant tribute with artists who were in all different parts of the United States, in different time zones, and on different schedules.
It was truly a labor of love.
Published on Feb 8, 2015
Text based on Is 43:2-3; Lk 6:20 ff.
Text and music © 1975, 1978, Robert J. Dufford, SJ and OCP. All rights reserved.
Singing in order of appearance:
The making of the video tribute:
Reflections from ValLimar Jansen:
"As you know, I could not be at Mark's funeral. So I wanted to find a way to pay tribute to Mark, who did so much for the Church. He was so encouraging to my husband Frank and me, telling us to minister, as a couple, as much as we possibly can. He and (his wife) Carol~~what wonderful peer-mentors and friends...
"I had this idea, a few years ago, inspired by the work of Eric Whitacre and Playing For Change. I wanted to choose several songs for Liturgy, from the Spirit & Song hymnal and do each song the way we created this video tribute to Mark. When Frank and I could not be at Mark's funeral, I felt compelled to bring this idea to fruition, for Mark. He did so much work for the young Church and youth ministry, I felt that we Spirit & Song artists, who dedicate so much of what we do to serve Youth and youth ministers, needed to do something special for Mark.
"Here is the idea I had a few years ago and how we did Mark's tribute video. I called Laure Krupp, General Manager of Music Outreach and Partnerships at OCP (Oregon Catholic Press). I told her what I wanted to do and explained my artistic vision. She was in full support of the idea and suggested that I ask assistance from one of the members of her staff, Rodolfo López (Rudy), who could edit the video. This made me the Producer of the video and Rudy Lopez the Editor. I also had a very important phone call with Jesse Manibusan, so he was an important and initial consultant on the project. We decided on the key in which all of us should perform the song. Rudy suggested that in addition, I should give the artists a click-track tempo, so we would all record our individual videos at the same speed.
"I sent a text blast to a group of Spirit & Song artists and asked if they would be willing to help me create a video tribute to Mark Pacione. I asked the artists to record themselves singing the Roman Catholic hymn, "Be Not Afraid" by Bob Dufford, at 96 click-track tempo. At the advice of Rudy, I asked them to use their computer, cell phone or iPad, at the highest resolution, and record themselves singing the entire song, for we planned to edit it with all the contributing Spirit & Song artists singing it.
"What a task!
"All of the artists were working in dioceses or parishes, on the road ministering, in recording studios working on their next project, caring for their families and a combination of all of these things and more! I asked each artist to keep their video simple, high resolution and use an app to get the click-track tempo correct.
"So, people started sending in their videos, created on cell phones, laptops, or iPads, and Rudy began the editing process. A few of the videos we received were not usable, because the resolution was too low. I would love to name all of the artists who sent in a video contribution, including those whose videos we were unable to use: Steve Angrisano, Josh Blakesley, Tom Booth with Bobby Fisher and friends, Sarah Hart, Frank Jansen, ValLimar Jansen, Rodolfo López, Jesse Manibusan, Chris Padgett, Curtis Stephan, Tom Tomaszek, and Greg Walton.
"Pulling everything together, adding a percussion track and beautiful photos of Mark, Rudy sent me edit after edit so I could do my job as Producer. I wrote the dialogue at the beginning of the video, with Rudy adding a line or two. I gave him notes on the final changes I wanted, approved his final edit, and we were ready to go live.
"Please look for collaborative works from me in the future! The innovative, creative, and positive ripple-effect of the life and work of Mark Pacione continues. Once again, Mark was the inspiration for us to create something that proclaims our faith, our love of Jesus and His Church and our belief that all those who walk in the light of Christ, will rise from death to live in God's glorious light of everlasting life!"
The other artists reflect on their involvement:
I asked the artists involved to share what it meant to be included in this video tribute.
Here are some of their reflections:
"ValLimar called me and we spoke about possible songs and possible participants. Val facilitated the whole thing. All of us had known of Mark. Many of us had worked with him! He actually introduced me to the 'real deal crab cakes' before one of the pilgrimages I had presented at some years ago. It was a joy and honor for each of us to be part of this.
"It meant the world to me! Grateful for his faith and friendship. His ministry flows on!!"
"Patti, it meant so much, because Mark meant so much. He was such an amazing man whose legacy of love will keep going for many years to come. The best tribute we can all give is to keep his spirit of love and kindness and welcome going!"
"Honestly, I didn't know Mark very well. Val contacted me about doing a tribute... I got on the net and read up on Mark and felt an immediate connection. I think it was the joy and 'freeness' in his photo. It reflected what so many of us experience as we try to bring forth the Kingdom of God. It's hard to explain to others why we do what we do for so little materially. His picture captured the the joy in Christ that makes it so worthwhile."
"That night we were having a 'house concert' at my place in Tucson. Bobby Fisher and his daughter Serenity, myself, with Linda Ronstadt's nephew Michael Ronstadt on cello and a local drummer recorded the song.
"Before the concert started, we talked about Mark's death and his beautiful life, and then we did the song - with no rehearsal, no fanfare, and maybe a little too slow, but somehow beautiful."
From the editor of this video memorial tribute:
"I was very honored to have the opportunity to work on this video project because, although I did not know Mark Pacione personally, I was very moved by the outpouring of support for this project by the Spirit&Song artists. The desire to bring tribute to Mark Pacione was genuine and this video made it tangible. The sentiment that Spirit&Song artists expressed at the loss of such an important minister for the Church was heartfelt and honest. I am glad for the fact that because of this tribute, others will share in the knowledge of the important work that Mark Pacione did for the youth of this country, and, that hopefully, it will inspire others to take a place in this important ministry."
~Rodolfo ("Rudy") López, Hispanic Events Specialist, Clinician, Recording Producer
Now that you know "the rest of the story..."
Published on Feb 8, 2015
Text based on Is 43:2-3; Lk 6:20 ff.
Text and music © 1975, 1978, Robert J. Dufford, SJ and OCP. All rights reserved.
Read more about the ministry of Mark Pacione:
Reflections by those who were impacted by Mark's ministry with young people:
Former members of the St. Margaret's youth group under Mark's leadership in the late 1970s and early 1980s share the impact he made on their lives:
Colleagues from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and national leaders in youth ministry share the inspiration Mark provided in their own areas of ministry:
The obituary from The Catholic Review:
This YouTube folder
contains eight informal videos from the Mass of Christian Burial on January 3, 2015 at St. Margaret Church, Bel Air, Maryland.
February 17, 2015 10:29
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Catholic Schools Week: January 25-31, 2015
On Sunday I kicked off Catholic Schools Week (CSW) with my best memories from years past during my ministry at John Carroll and some reflections by grads of Catholic schools in Harford County.
In Part 2, I'll continue to share more reflections from Catholic school grads on the impact that this education had on their lives.
More reflections on our Catholic schools:
"...her words come back to me."
Mrs. Susan Fisher, retired John Carroll English department chair, attended grade school at St. Charles Borromeo in her native Toledo, Ohio.
"An Ursuline sister, Sister St. Simon, my teacher for fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, held me accountable and didn't allow easy A's. She treated her students as adults with intelligence instead of as children. She also boosted my confidence by publishing an essay about me as an example of why students should be trusted and given the freedom of their own ideas."
Susan later attended Mary Manse College in Toledo, a women's college which opened in 1922 and was also operated by the Ursuline Sisters. She reflected,
"Years later, I had the good fortune to attend a women's college where this same sister had transferred; I enrolled in her philosophy course, Metaphysics. Every time I'm in an existential mood, her words come back to me. I hope I became a teacher who was like her in that I tried to find the best in my students and to avoid talking down to them."
(Note: Mary Manse College eventually went coed in 1972, but when hard hit by economic times in the 1970s, declared bankruptcy and closed in 1975.)
Mrs. Fisher’s AP English class hosted Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz in 2011.
Bretholz was the author of “Leap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe.”
Read more about their extraordinary classroom experience here.
Bretholz died in March of 2014 at age 93.
Read more about Leo Bretholz's impact on John Carroll students here.
"...beacons of morality and inspiration."
2014 John Carroll grad Lindsey McCumber is now a freshman at UCLA. She shares about the impact that John Carroll had on her life:
"After attending public schools during elementary and middle school grades, John Carroll was a breath of fresh air. The teachers stood not only as instructors, but as beacons of morality and inspiration.
"Throughout my four years, I developed a higher moral compass and became a part of a strong community full of love and support... that way in part because of the community's shared faith. I can't believe that it was sheer chance that just about every faculty member and student was happy to come to school.
"I feel that because faith served as our school's foundation, somehow it made the experience more pleasant and enjoyable, and it always made me feel safe. I never realized this in its entirety until I spent time at a non-religious institution (at college now at UCLA)... There is definitely a difference.
"Another thing that really touched me was how whenever I would discuss my career aspirations with my teachers, they would refer to God's purpose/calling for me. That was unbelievably comforting, knowing that I wasn't pursuing a silly job, but rather finding out what I was meant to do.
"It also made me feel like my teachers actually cared about me... And I can text some of them still today about everyday problems or trials. I don't know if my friends from public schools can do that."
Lindsey (center) performed in “Singing in the Rain” November of her junior year (2012).
Seen here with friends and castmates Karly (left) and Kyleigh (on right).
Lindsey and her classmates enjoy Senior Field Day which was held the week before graduation in May, 2014.
“...truly blessed to have such amazing students over the years”
Marie Prosser, a graduate of St. John the Evangelist School in Hydes, John Carroll in 1998, and then-College of Notre Dame of Maryland for her masters in teaching, shares about the strong impact that she experienced during her Catholic school days which led to her commitment to service and education.
Marie's service include teaching science first with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps, then teaching physics and religion at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore in 2002-2003, chemistry at the Institute of Notre Dame, and biology at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Marie also taught Spoken English as a Salesian Lay Missioner in 2012-2013 at Don Bosco Catholic High School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ;8
She reflected on teachers who made a difference and on her own years in the classroom:
"As you know, Catholic education has had a tremendous impact on my life. All of the teachers who encouraged, inspired (and sometimes even challenged) me certainly gave me something I would not have gotten any other way. Here are some examples:
"Sr. Ann (SSND) was my English teacher from fifth through eighth grade. Because of Sister Ann, I have always known more about grammar than most people I interact with. I think of her when I pedantically correct posts on Facebook.
"Mr. Ralph Trautwein (Deacon at St. Ignatius, Hickory) taught my AP Bio class at John Carroll the year his wife was undergoing cancer treatment. He had to miss a lot of time to care for her, but he always made a point of being there for our AP class as much as he could. The first chance I had, I "stole" his genetics lesson about the Blue People of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky.
"I always worry that I will run into an old student, and not know his or her name. So far, that has not happened, thank goodness! I have been truly blessed to have such amazing students over the years, and it has been great to watch them grow up. High school goes by very quickly, and the students graduate before you know it. The students have always been the best part of the job of teaching.
"I left teaching this year. I'm not as young as I was when I started, and I didn't have the energy to keep up with teenagers any more. I now work in an office, where it is much quieter and less stressful. My second career as an engineer suits me well, and I do not miss the classroom...yet. But I know the time will come when it is back to school time and I will wistfully think back to my own time as a Catholic school teacher. Should I ever have kids of my own, I'd hope to have the opportunity to send them to a Catholic school."
Read more about Marie's ministry in Ethiopia here.
“Come, Live Life”
Our National Catholic Schools Week has parallel commemorations in nations all over the world.
Enjoy ‘Come, live life’ was written by Michael Mangan, an Australian Catholic school grad and former Catholic school teacher, for the Australian 2014 Catholic Education Week. Mangan served as co-ambassador for the annual celebration which was held last July 17 to August 2 and themed “Come, live life in all its fullness”.
January 29, 2015 10:34
By Patti Murphy Dohn
The celebration of National Catholic Schools Week (CSW) was kicked off today across the United States. Always one of my favorite weeks of the year, this annual event gives our schools and parishes a chance to intentionally celebrate the strong foundation of values they pass down to many families generation after generation. The National Catholic Educational Association has sponsored CSW since 1974. This year's national theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
My best CSW memories:
This year is my first "retired CSW" and I am still celebrating joyfully the legacy that was handed down to me from my lifetime of Catholic education on both sides of the desk.
I always loved the special festivities that I coordinated at John Carroll each year to highlight the many benefits of being part of a Catholic school community. From student and teacher appreciation days to honoring St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Bosco, and our school patron Archbishop John Carroll, having special speakers in to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and blessing throats for the Feast of St. Blase when CSW extended into February... all the activities were centered with a faith-based focus.
My favorite part of the week was always our highly-attended CSW Mass, often celebrated by one of our Archdiocese of Baltimore bishops. Having the Mass on Grandparents Day allowed our students to showcase their school to family members, as they joined together for our Eucharistic celebration and then enjoyed the luncheon that followed. The bishop's special blessing of all the grandparents was a heartwarming part of this annual CSW tradition.
Bishop Denis Madden with Deacon Joseph Krysiak and Father Stephen Sutton before the 2014 CSW Mass at John Carroll
The biggest influence on my life:
Catholic schools formed me into the woman I am today, no doubt. The strong influence of the good Sisters of my youth, followed by the dedicated examples of faith and scholarship from faculty in my high school and college days were integral to my own calling to devote so many years of my life to following their lead. It was a career filled with joy as I worked with young people and their families passing on the values of faith, academics, and service.
Other reflections on our Catholic schools:
I invited those who went to our Catholic schools to again this year share the impact that it had on their lives. I had so many responses from grads of all ages that I have written two parts to this CSW blog. Here are comments from the first group...
"... prayer is an anonymous gift you can give anyone..."
Alan, a graduate of St. Margaret School and John Carroll in the 1970s, reminisced:
"In the fourth grade, whenever we heard a fire or police siren, our class would stop whatever we were doing and pray a Hail Mary together for the intentions of whomever might be sick, injured, or otherwise in need of God's intercession. It taught me that we're never too busy to pray, that prayer is an anonymous gift you can give anyone, and that often the best way to reach a Son is through his mother. Half a century later, I still say a Hail Mary whenever I hear an emergency siren."
"Catholic social teaching... my guide to life..."
Christopher, a graduate of St. Stephen School in Bradshaw, John Carroll, and Catholic University, shared some key memories:
"An experience that quickly comes to mind--a good fun memory--was when I was in middle school at St. Stephen. I remember we were outside playing at recess when the church bells started ringing and our teachers called us in so we can see the new pope that had been elected. We all started running into the school to watch Pope Benedict XVI make his first appearance.
"As for as a lasting impact of Catholic school... I think it's our Church's seven themes of Catholic social teaching. It's my guide to life and how to be a good person to others."
Christopher's senior portrait for the John Carroll Class of 2011 yearbook
....welcoming, faith filled atmosphere....
Laure, a preschool teacher at St. Joan of Arc School in Aberdeen and the parent of two John Carroll students, shared how she came to love Catholic education:
"I was a public school kid and then teacher, and was sure my kids would go to public school. That is until I went to St. Joan of Arc's open house. The "family feel" and welcoming, faith filled atmosphere was incredible. It was shortly after 9/11 and the students talked about how they stopped and prayed on that day. I realized my boys could live their faith every day in school. I left that day knowing that my kids would attend Catholic schools. My son Joe graduates this year from JC, David follows next year, and I've now taught in Catholic schools for eleven years. I love my job and the Catholic education my boys have had."
Laure with her husband Ray, one of my former John Carroll students
A multi-generational family legacy:
Jen, a graduate of St. Margaret, Bel Air, and John Carroll, shared her family legacy:
"Catholic schools have been a special part of my family, as my parents, sisters, cousins, and I have all attended Catholic schools growing up.
"My sisters, cousins, and I attended St. Margaret School and The John Carroll School, and my cousins’ children are now at St. Margaret’s. I attended St. Margaret’s from Pre-3 until 8th grade, and graduated from John Carroll in 2013. My sisters, Stephanie and Kathy, are also graduates of both schools.
"The most significant impacts that these schools have had on me is instilling a sense of community, tradition, and compassion for others. Throughout my years at these schools, I repeatedly saw our school communities come together in both times of celebration and of sorrow. After the passing of loved ones in the school community, the amount of support and love that was shared was heart-warming. Examples are when many volunteers came together to build Annie’s Playground and when the JC community raised money for Mr. (Eddie) Maynard and his family during his (present) cancer battle.
"The St. Margaret’s and John Carroll communities, intertwined with each other, are composed of compassionate and caring people who are there for each other.
"During my years at both of these schools, I felt as though my teachers wanted me to succeed and truly cared about my education and progress as a student. Whenever I was in need of assistance, in my academics or personal life, my teachers never hesitated to lend a hand or an ear.
"Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher myself, and I believe that the inspiration of my teachers over the years has confirmed and furthered my interest in and love of teaching.
"In third grade at St. Margaret’s, I was particularly interested in helping my teacher, Mrs. Bogdan, in the classroom. More than anything, I wanted to get a sense of her job and understand what a teacher really does, because she did it so well and seemed to really love working with all of us. Mrs. Bogdan allowed me to help her a few times, and I am grateful that she encouraged me and showed how much she wanted me to follow my passion.
"I have many fond memories of teachers who have been an 'icon' at both St. Margaret’s and John Carroll. Mr. Ken Bean, Mr. Craig White, Mrs. Margaret Kelly, Mr. George Appleby, and Mr. Ed Miller are a few teachers who come to mind.
"My cousins, who graduated years ahead of me, would ask me if these teachers were still there, often including a funny story about them as well. We also discuss many of the traditions that these schools are proud of, including something as simple as 'The Flea on Santa’s Tree' Christmas play performed in second grade at SMS, or the John Carroll Ring Ceremony, a special and memorable night for juniors who receive their class ring.
"Today, my sisters and I still wear our John Carroll rings, as do many other people I see out in the community. There have been many times when someone asks me if I went to John Carroll because they recognize the ring on my finger, a ring that symbolizes the values and traditions of JC. I feel proud to wear my John Carroll ring, and I am equally as proud to say that I have attended Catholics schools. The faith-based education and values that I have been taught have shaped me into the person that I am today.
"During my education, my teachers were not only focused on teaching me about subject material, but they also taught me how to be a compassionate, giving, and respectful person. Our years of adopting an Advent family and donating to St. Rose of Lima in Haiti showed me at a young age that we are all God’s children, and it is important for us to help those in need. As the Bible tells us, 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
"I learned how to love others and treat my peers with respect as a result of these projects at St. Margaret’s and John Carroll, and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to understand the world around me. I am forever appreciative and proud that I attended both St. Margaret’s and John Carroll, and I will carry the lessons that I have learned with me as I get older.
"And, of course, I will never forget that God is Good, All the Time!"
Jen Kreis and her sisters display their John Carroll rings:
Stephanie of the Class of 2006, Jen of the Class of 2013, and Kathy of the Class of 2008.
The wedding day of Jen's sister:
Four John Carroll graduates show off their JC rings on Stephanie's 2013 wedding day
A shout-out to her Campus Minister:
Megan of the John Carroll Class of 2005 sent me her personal gratitude:
"I just read your request for CSW input on Facebook and it made me think about how much of an impact YOU had on me. Without you I would never have survived. During that year when I was being harassed, you were my rock. You let me vent and listened and helped me with whatever you could! I couldn't have asked for a better teacher and mentor during high school."
Thank you, Megan...
You-- and all my JC students-- were the reason why I stayed at John Carroll for well over thirty years...
To make a difference in the lives of the students is most essential.
Watch for Part 2 of this CSW blog this Wednesday and hear more about the incredible impact of our Catholic schools.
Yes, God is good… All the time!!
Read more about Catholic Schools Week in my friend Rita Buettner’s “A letter to our son as he gets ready for kindergarten” from her Open Window blog:
Rita includes a blog linkup with more posts on why other writers love Catholic schools too.
Check it out!!
January 25, 2015 10:22
By Patti Murphy Dohn
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida
The winter culture in South Florida is completely different than in Maryland. Where else can you go to the beach to watch sea turtles being released back to their ocean home after medical evaluation/rehabilitation in January… with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s?
My husband George saw the notice in this morning’s Palm Beach Post. We left our Singer Island home to witness our first turtle release at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. Located just seven miles north of us on the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach County, the Loggerhead has been furthering their mission to “promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles” since 1990.
Have you ever seen a sea turtle ambulance? The Sea Turtle Rescue is always ready to go....
The Loggerhead keeps excellent data on turtle nests during the March to October season
Locals, tourists, and school groups gathered several hours before the 12 noon release to find the perfect spot to see the turtles go back to their ocean home. Cars in the parking lot were from many different states including New York, Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Georgia.
Arriving an hour ahead of time, my husband and I met a few staff members, took photos of the two turtles in the center's protected swim areas, and made our way to the beach. People of all ages, from babies in backpacks to retired snowbirds, were already gathering along the roped off release area. Many brought chairs and blankets for the wait time.
I chatted with a teacher who brought 40 fifth-graders from Imagine NAU School in Port St. Lucie:
Her students got a tour of other rescued turtles in the protected pool holding area before today's release.
Annie and Yettie:
Annie just came to the Loggerhead two days ago. This large sub-adult Kemp's ridley sea turtle was hooked by a fisherman on Tuesday off the Juno Beach fishing pier. The staff at the Loggerhead removed the hook and did X-rays to ensure that there were no internal hooks. With none found, the 52.5 pound turtle was scheduled to be released today with Yettie.
Annie swims in her holding pool just minutes before being transported on the nearby gurney to the beach where she was released earlier today.
Yettie, a large juvenile green sea turtle, arrived at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center on September 10. Weighing in at 34.1 pounds, she was found floating in the Intracoastal Waterway near the PGA bridge in North Palm Beach. According to her bio, posted next to her holding pool, there was "an old healed injury to the caudal carapace. Bloodwork revealed the turtle is hypoglycemic. Radiographs showed an abundant amount of air in the intestines... Likely due to an infection which will be treated with antibiotics."
Yettie was treated with antibiotics and fluids with dextrose.
The later update showed that air was no longer present in the intestines and that antibiotics would be continued.
After four months of care, Yettie, seen above in the holding pool, was released earlier this afternoon.
Hopes and release reflections from the Education Manager:
I spoke to Kerri Allen, the education manager, before the release took place about what these events mean to the staff of the Loggerhead. She told me that “the best part is getting to share the rehabilitation work we do with the public, and seeing the joy and excitement it brings to everyone gathered.”
In light of her work in their education department, Kerri shared their hopes “to bring more awareness to the sea turtles and the work we do here, as well as the actions that anyone can do to help preserve the species and the environment.”
Annie and Yettie are transported to the beach
Yettie is carried to the water's edge by staff members
Yettie is placed on the sand, but took some encouragement to move closer to the surf
Yettie (above and below)
Mike Albanese of the Venue Marketing Group took aerial footage by drone for the Loggerhead’s Eighth Annual Lights Out Gala to be held on Friday, January 30, with the theme “An Enchanted Evening Under the Sea.”
The Venue Marketing Group drone hovers overhead as local news videographer from WPBF films Annie swimming among the waves.
Many thanks to Tom Longo, the communications/marketing manager, and Kerri Allen, education manager, for their warm hospitality today.
For more information:
Visit the Loggerhead Marinelife Center at:
14200 U.S. Highway One, in Juno Beach, Florida 33408
Check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest too.
January 15, 2015 05:06
By Patti Murphy Dohn
"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken."
Praying for peace with the boating community:
When my husband George retired last March, he bought his first boat from one of our neighbors in Florida. And when we returned to our home on Singer Island in early June, after I retired from my ministry at John Carroll, George and I went through the steps necessary to become official Florida boaters. We took the local course through the U.S. Power Squadron, passed the test, and got our Florida boating licenses.
Our next-door neighbor is the commander of the local Palm Beach Sail and Power Squadron and the instructor of the boating course. He encouraged us to become members, and to serve the squadron actively during our "rookie year."
The commander invited me to serve as chaplain, a role for which I have much experience as longtime John Carroll Campus Minister. And this past Saturday night was the annual Commanders' Ball for which I was asked to give the invocation.
Gathering for this festive occasion just two days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I made note to those attending the formal gala that we would be remiss to not pray for peace in the world. I shared with those in attendance that Blessed Mother Teresa said, "Peace begins with a smile."
The cost of a smile:
There is so much truth in that short statement, isn't there? When a smile is given forth, a barrier is broken, so to speak, and both parties are put at ease. Smiling costs us nothing and usually regenerates itself over and over.
The wisdom of smiling:
"A smile cures the wounding of a frown."
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
―Blessed Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
"A smile is the shortest distance between two people."
―Victor Borge (1909-2000)
"A warm smile is the universal language of kindness."
―William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)
"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."
―Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)
"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
―Blessed Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
"Here's wishing you the smiles o' life and not a single grumble."
"If you see a friend without a smile, give him one of yours."
"The world always looks brighter from behind a smile."
“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers.”
―Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
―Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever."
"If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it."
―Andy Rooney (1919-2011)
"I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful."
"All people smile in the same language."
"Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."
―Blessed Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
January 13, 2015 11:39
By Patti Murphy Dohn
“Rescue is what we’re about. We’re an evangelizing church. We get out there and proclaim the word of God … we carry the word of God in our hands and our feet. We try to rescue the world and bring it to some kind of healing.” –Mark Pacione
Memorial Tribute to Mark Pacione:
Don't miss "Part 1: Remembering Mark Pacione: Stories from youth who were impacted during his local ministry” included memories from former youth who were impacted by Mark’s early ministry at St. Margaret School/Church in Bel Air in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The focus for Part 2:
Now we will hear from those who served with Mark or were impacted by him during his service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as in national youth ministry.
Colleagues from Mark’s ministry with the Archdiocese of Baltimore:
“It isn't necessary to give a keepsake to someone you are fond of. But remember we must love without measure and help others without counting the cost. " -- Saint Bernadette
“… his arms wide open…”
Bernadette, as the Youth Minister at Aberdeen Proving Ground, for the Archdiocese of Military Services, remembers the early days of youth ministry at APG in 1998 when one of the Catholic priests on Post suggested that she link with the local diocese for collaboration on retreats, training, and youth events. She first spoke to Mark Pacione when she called to sign up for local youth training with the Baltimore Archdiocese.
“It felt like I had known him for years… he was so caring and sensitive to our concerns. When I arrived (at the training), this giant of a man, smiling, with his arms open wide said ‘There's my military adoptee.’ For over fifteen years, that welcome was constant. But not just with Mark, but also with my ArchBalt family, as I called them. He inspired each of us to believe that we can achieve beyond our dreams to lead our young church in His Word, with doctrine, spirit, music, laughter, and most importantly, the shared attitude of family.
“I have been so blessed with my relationship with the Archdiocese of Baltimore that began with Mark. I have encouraged many of my military counterparts to reach out to their local civilian dioceses for training and events. I travelled alone to the last NCCYM conference in San Antonio, but as I entered the conference center, I heard "Bernadette" and saw smiles and arms open wide… again a family reunion with my ArchBalt family.
“Mark conveyed in many priceless ways that our keepsake, in a sense like a priceless amulet from our Nana, is our love for our faith and that we inherit responsibility to our young church. The love he extended was the ArchBalt Youth Ministry family. His mentoring to them was powerful. He guided them in the love of faith with the same unconditional love as a Dad to his child.
“Mark, faithful servant, thank you for being there for so many of us. Our tears are blessed because of knowing such an incredible man. Rest in His light.”
"No one can undo the good and holy things that God has placed in me."
Father Austin Murphy:
“ was the ‘Jim Henson’ of our youth ministry community”
Father Austin, the pastor of Our Lady of Hope & St. Luke Parishes, who worked with Mark in many capacities, including when he served in Catholic youth ministry at Towson University, shared with me:
“I want to share my thoughts on Mark's impact. As I soak in this sad reality, I believe that Mark was the ‘Jim Henson’ of our youth ministry community. He was innovative, imaginative, energetic, optimistic and encouraging, and we all carry a bit of Mark in us through our ministry. He believed that everyone --***everyone -- was called to be a saint, and nothing could obscure that for him. He sang, ‘No one can undo the good and holy things that God has placed in me.’ And he lived it too.”
Father Marty Nocchi:
"... the one who could set the scene and tell the story of Msgr. Clare O'Dwyer..."
Father Marty, the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Govans, got to know Mark Pacione well when Father served at the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House. He was the last priest-director of the House.
“When I first started working at the retreat house, Mark and I would meet regularly to talk about the vision and mission of the place. Mark was the one who could set the scene and tell the story of Msgr. Clare O'Dwyer and how his dream became a reality…
“It was during that time that our shared vision became a new reality for the 21st Century: ‘a spiritual powerhouse’ for youth. I still remember those conversations, while on retreat, when that vision began to take shape for the future of the retreat house… Mark wanted that to be the reality for years to come, as much as I did… He loved the House and would do anything for that place.”
Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, Maryland
Hey young people who are gathered here, Help me to see your world so clear.
What is the pain that holds you down? What are the secrets that you have found?
It’s my world/ Let me see it through your eyes; It’s your world/ Let me love it through your eyes;
It’s home/ Let me see it through your eyes.
-- frequently sung by Mark Pacione
“…you could have heard a pin drop…”
Matt, former “Catholic Review” beat reporter for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and current Social Media Strategist for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, first met Mark Pacione in 2008 when Matt joined the Review staff.
“Mark invited me to his office so that we could talk about covering his department’s outreach. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of a friendship where he became a kind of mentor to me.
“Back in November of 2008, he invited me to cover the Baltimore Catholic Youth Conference in Ocean City. Very early on there, the administrative team found out they didn’t have enough bottled water for the weekend for the young people. So, he recruited me to come with him to calmly scour the aisles of whatever was open during the offseason in Ocean City. He and I basically claimed whatever bottled water was left on the island. Through it all, he was calm and asked me how I was doing, what was going on with my life, and so on. I kept thinking, “Why isn’t this guy wigging out yet?”
“Later that weekend, there was a dance and the kids were bouncing off the walls. Mark knew they needed peace before bedtime. He grabbed a microphone, from who knows where, and started singing an old spiritual. Within a few minutes, you could have heard a pin drop. Whether it was one on one or with a group of 500 teens, he projected the peace of Christ.
“I'm married to a protégé of Mark's (Cassandra Palmer). That peace and Christ-centered love that Mark projected is felt each day in our home and I'm so grateful for that.”
Matt Palmer took this photo on May 5, 2011 when Mark Pacione was awarded the Cardinal Shehan Award, the highest honor of the Division of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
“…blessed to be among his descendants.”
Kellie has been the Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Ministry at St. Stephen Church in Bradshaw since 1998.
She reflected with me:
“These days people have lots of ‘friends’ online and in person, casting a wide net that may not touch deep waters. But somehow Mark had a unique gift to be really present to people in such a way that his net of friends, though far-reaching, was also incredibly deep. One may feel small among all those who knew Mark, but to Mark, you were anything but small. To Mark, you were a brother or sister in Christ. You were the most important person in the universe. When I think back on hearing Genesis 5:15 proclaimed this past Sunday, I have a distinct picture of God speaking to Mark, and asking Mark to reflect on each and every life he touched.
“He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
And we are blessed to be among his descendants.”
Mark and Carol Pacione with Kellie and her husband Jay Mohney at their October, 2010 wedding.
The Director of Youth Ministry/Adolescent Catechesis at St. Louis Church, Pat has known Mark Pacione since 1983, the early days of youth ministry in the Archdiocese. His wife Lee Ann goes back further as she and Mark grew up together in St. Anthony’s parish.
“Mark was later Lee Ann’s youth minister at St Margaret Church. He was our best man, our son's godfather, and was very close to each member of our family. Carol and Mark were the sponsor couple for our marriage. And I was part of a monthly 'breakfast club' with Mark and Bob McCarty.
“It takes a whole church to raise a family."
“Mark and Carol were such an important part of our family, from our own development as individuals, to personal involvement in our marriage preparations and wedding. Mark even wrote and performed "She Brings" at the wedding, a song about our relationship.
“Through the years, we shared meals, house dedications, births, job changes, deaths, academic accomplishments, youth ministry experiences, joys and struggles. We were constantly amazed and blessed by Mark's compassion for and attention to his own family including Carol, Beth, Ian, Mary Louise, Claire, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and the Church family that gathered many times at their houses. We were surprised and touched by countless cards and calls to each one of the Sprankles as we celebrated milestones or just because...
“As we gathered for the countless parties and dinners, we would find him either standing at the stove or by the grill, preparing gourmet feasts in a spirit of great love and care. He was the ultimate in hospitality and always had a kind or humorous word for our children or us.
“Most recently, Mark sent selfies to our kids to remind them that they were loved, and they even found a 'care' package on their doorstep with their favorite foods included. And at his 60th birthday party in October and our last Christmas chili feast, and even when Bob, Mark and I ate our last breakfast club, Mark was sure to express his love for each of us in some way.
“Mark's example, his faith legacy, was bigger than any words could describe and he will live in the hearts of the Sprankle family forever.”
Mark and friends sing a special fun song they personalized for Pat Sprankle’s (seated) birthday;
Selfie fun with: (from left) Maggie McCarty, Carol Pacione, Bob McCarty (front), Pat Sprankle (back), Lee Ann Sprankle, and Mark
“…took care of all those devastating things that I couldn't begin to think of doing, as if it was his honor…”
Linda is a member of St. Joseph Parish, Cockeysville. She first met Mark Pacione when her sister, Sister Lynn Tooma, SSND (1950-1991), worked with him in the 1980's. The former coordinator of adolescent catechesis for the Baltimore Office of Youth Ministry, Sister Lynn died suddenly in 1991 at a meeting of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Albuquerque.
“When I think of Mark, I immediately find a warm smile on my face. For those of you who may remember my sister and knew her well, you would know that only certain people could bring out the child in her, the laughter, and her own appreciation for what she had to offer. Mark was the Number One person who "got her."
“I mainly recall the stories of the many Youth Ministry conferences, High-LI sessions, seminars, and the meals she loved preparing for ‘her boys’ as she called Mark and Bob McCarty.
“Although it has been 23 years, I still remember very clearly how Mark was the one who made sure I had someone with me when I was told of my sister's passing. He took care of all those devastating things that I couldn't begin to think of doing, as if it was his honor, not his burden.
“In short, that describes the Mark I knew, a person who, even in his own grief, gained energy and strength by doing for others. I recently reconnected with Mark in conversation, and was looking forward to having him and Carol come over and share more stories.
“Although that was not meant to be, I truly feel his presence, and that of my sister even more strongly now, as I believe they are organizing heaven's most special events, guiding us in ways that they guided so many on earth. I am very sure that Mark's entrance to his eternal home was accompanied by the welcome phrase, ‘Well done, my friend.’"
Linda’s much-loved sister, Sister Lynn Tooma, SSND (1950-1991)
“… treated me like I was his daughter …”
Julia is the Administrative Assistant in the Archdiocesan Vocations Office.
“I have worked on the same floor as Mark for the past two years. He was a joyful man who never walked by my office without a wave or a smile. Often he would even stop to inquire how I was doing, and was quick to offer encouragement if needed.
“Mark was one of the people who could bring a sense of lightness into the atmosphere at the office. I enjoyed our daily work banter and his sense of humor. I was impressed by his reverence at daily Mass and his love for his faith. It was evident to me that this was the reason he loved his work.
“Mark treated me like I was his daughter and I knew that he was looking out for me. Mark brought a joyful presence to the workplace and it will not be the same without him. He will be greatly missed!”
“…took me under his wing.”
Jennifer is the web and social media editor for “The Catholic Review.”
“When I was 22 years old, I took a job as a reporter for the Catholic Review. Attending Catholic middle and high school left me well-versed in the importance of community service, but aside from CYO dances, the world of youth ministry was somewhat of a mystery to me. I had never heard of a youth pilgrimage where hundreds of young people march through the streets of Baltimore or trips to other cities to interact with thousands of Catholic teenagers from across the nation.
“Mark Pacione, who was at the time the director of youth and young adult ministry for the archdiocese, took me under his wing. He introduced me to the movers and shakers in the world of youth ministry, got my boss to allow me to travel to St. Louis and Indianapolis to cover NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference), and wrote letters to the editor when he was particularly pleased with our coverage.
“What I learned about Mark in this time is the absolute love and dedication he had for young people. He would spend hours outside of the normal workday working on scheduling and activities, from budgeting for dozens of pizzas to be delivered to the youths one night to planning ice breakers and sing-alongs.
“I can still hear his smooth voice as he strummed his guitar and sang the soulful spiritual “Wade in the Water,” which until then, I had never heard.
“My role changed several times over the years here and Mark always remained an avid supporter. Each time we ran into each other, I always asked how his daughter was doing, and he always questioned, “Are you still playing football?”
“Like many, I was absolutely in shock when I heard about his death. Without question, the Baltimore Archdiocese is richer because of all he shared, and so am I.”
“Trying to understand the church that we are becoming.
Trying to imagine the church that we could be.”
--Bio note on the Twitter account of Mark Pacione; He worked most recently with the Archdiocesan Office of Research and Planning.
Reflections from national youth ministry leaders:
Brian K. Johnson:
“…mentored by the best that Baltimore had to offer…”
The Diocesan Director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Brian has known Mark Pacione since his participation in High-LI as a high school student in 1980. Their relationship continued over three decades with Brian’s work in youth ministry on the parish level in Baltimore from 1988-1992, and then with his work on the diocesan, regional, and national levels of leadership.
Brian shared with me:
“When I began my role as a youth ministry leader at St. Cecilia and St. Gregory the Great parishes, I was mentored by the best that Baltimore had to offer…Sister Lynn Tooma and Mark Pacione. There are too many experiences to mention now, but one still serves true in my role today…
"Upon my acceptance of an associate director position in the diocesan office of youth ministry in Galveston-Houston in 1992, we were in attendance at the Region 14 (now Region 4) gathering in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark was the first person that I told that I was offered the position. We had close to a two-hour conversation, some of which is a blur, but Mark shared the following pointers about embarking on diocesan ministry. He told me these things:
1) Immerse yourself in the community,
2) Be present to those you serve and journey with,
3) Don't assume to have all the answers,
4) Speak less and listen more,
5) Remember where you are from, and
6) Stay rooted and grounded in your personal prayer life because you can be consumed by so much that you forget to take of yourself.
“Mark: I didn't forget any of this. Your words have stayed with me to this day as I recall all that I have gone through in 26 years of ministry within the Church. I hope I've done well by you! I will miss you until we meet again.”
Dr. Kelle Lynch-Baldwin, PhD:
“… on his knees in a small village church, at the feet of the elders.”
Kelle, the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, has known Mark Pacione since 1994. She served as a Baltimore youth minister in the parishes of St. Augustine, Elkridge; Shrine of the Little Flower, Shrine of the Sacred Heart, and St. Francis on Harford Road. She was also a founder of the Baltimore Work Camp.
“In the Spring of 2014, I contacted Mark to see if he would be interested in coming to the Diocese of Fairbanks to facilitate two retreats for folks across the ministry spectrum. The first would be offered in North Pole (a ‘suburban’ parish), while the second would be in Galena, an Athabascan village of just 375 people located 270 miles from Fairbanks, which had been decimated by a 2013 flood. Mark’s response was immediate… “Of course!”
“And so, in October, Mark’s “yes” came to fruition.
“There were many epiphanies during his week here, but the one that made the indelible impression occurred in Galena. Village ministry requires flexibility in spades, as commitment to events is not organic to Native culture.
“Therefore, when the first evening began, and more than five times the people we anticipated flowed through the doors, including parish ministers as well as non-Catholics, elders, and families, Mark declared, “We’re moving from retreat to parish mission!”
“The village elders, all women in this matriarchal culture, were seated together. Mark went to the elders, knelt before them, and asked them to please share stories with him of what it was like in the days of their youth to be Athabascan and Catholic.
“This is the image that I see in my mind’s eye, Mark Pacione, with all of his experiences directing mega events, a mentor to countless youth ministry folks, role model for an untold amount of Catholic young people, on his knees in a small village church, at the feet of the elders.
“In this moment, Mark was at once both disciple (one who learns) and apostle (one who is sent), modeling not only true ministry, but how to live a faith-filled life.”
Proud of his Baltimore: Selfie in Alaska
Dr. Robert McCarty, D.Min:
“…the entire country was his parish.”
The executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Bob has been both friend and colleague with Mark Pacione for more than thirty years. They worked together for fourteen years in the Baltimore Office of Youth Ministry, and then seventeen years collaborating on ministry projects for NFCYM.
“For over thirty years Mark and I shared our personal and professional journeys. Ministering together in the Office of Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and then together developing programs, resources, and services in the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Mark was the consummate professional lay ecclesial minister.
“He was renowned nationally for his keynote presentations, workshops, and retreats. He combined vision with practical application, creativity with insight, and faith with the lived experiences of young people.
“Mark’s passion for his faith, his love of young people, and his creative leadership in ministry were grounded in his commitment to creating disciples of Jesus Christ. He lived a Gospel-based life and our pastoral ministry to, with, for, and by the young Church is stronger because of his influence and witness.
“Mark was always, in his heart, a youth minister, and the entire country was his parish!
Preparing to lead an in-service on the National Directory of Catechesis at the NFCYM Annual Membership Meeting:
(From left:) Mike Norman (Los Angeles), Mark Pacione (Baltimore), Brian Johnson (Galveston-Houston) and Sr. Eileen McCann (USCCB). (Photo from Bob McCarty)
Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.
January 02, 2015 11:58
By Patti Murphy Dohn
"There is a light that can overcome the darkness; there is no darkness that can overcome the light..."
Photo collage made by Jeff Will
“Young people are my ‘holy door’ always. They are the door to what is holy. They are the door to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They are the door to my faith."
When Pope St. John Paul II died in 2005, there were countless calls for “Santo subito” (“Sainthood now”) as people from around the world were expressing what was on their minds in regard to the passing of this holy man and leader of the Church.
And though we are not hearing the words “Santo subito” this week, people from every corner of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and throughout the youth ministry world in the U.S. Catholic Church are indeed sharing what is on their minds….
We lost a holy man on December 29, an advocate for youth and for those who work with youth, and a true Christian role model for all who seek to be disciples of the Lord.
Our newsfeeds on Facebook and Twitter have been filled with testimonials from youth and adults who have been touched by the life of the man who lived in Fallston and who witnessed to the Gospel by the way he lived his life each and every day.
That man was Mark Pacione, who on Monday, at age 60, died suddenly and left us filled simultaneously with deep sadness and grateful joy as he made his way into the Nearer Presence of the Lord.
Mark was an inspiration to all of us who work with youth and with our Catholic schools. I met him when I started teaching at John Carroll in 1981, when he was working at nearby St. Margaret School/Church. When Mark moved on to the Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, I attended workshops and training sessions with him, as well as brought my students to youth events sponsored by his office. Our paths often crossed over the years on retreats, at conferences, area youth events, and at board meetings for the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House.
Mark was always inspiring and a role model to youth and adults alike. Like so many other people, I will be forever changed by knowing this good and holy man.
Watch for Part 2:
"Remembering Mark Pacione: Part 2: Stories from local and national Church leaders" will be posted later today with memories from those who served with Mark or were impacted by him during their service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as in national youth ministry.
"Young people, more than other generations before, are truly excited to grab that task and go rescue the world in so many ways." –Mark Pacione
Remembering the youth ministry days in Bel Air:
Some testimonies from Mark’s service at St. Margaret’s:
"He carried me..."
Shannon, a graduate of The John Carroll School, now a school counselor in Austin, Texas, was in Mark’s Religion Class when he taught Religion and was youth minister at St. Margaret School/Church from her middle school and high school years.
“Obviously there are memories of dances and classroom antics, but I will always remember Mr. Pacione for his kindness on a spring day when I was a pre-teen. I can't be exact on the year, somewhere around 1980... I had surgery on both legs, and though I'd recovered from it, any lengthy walking would leave me in pain. I was never one to quit or give up, and I was determined to walk like everyone else. St. Margaret's had a field day each year. This include walking from our school to John Carroll. By the return trip that day, I was in considerable pain and lagging far behind the group. Someone could have driven me home, but Mr. Pacione knew that it was important for me to be like everyone else. It was important that I "walk" back to SMS. Without hesitation, he picked me up and put me on his shoulders. I should add that I wasn't a little kid. He was strong and he carried me with a poise that made me feel like a queen rather than a chubby girl with messed up legs. The class laughed and sang all the way back to campus. Thanks to Mr. Pacione, I wasn't left behind.”
Shannon shares this photo from her 1993 eighth graduation from St. Margaret School:
(From left) Gina Rapisarda Fritz, Susan Derby, Mr. Pacione, Cristy Kovach Hom, with Shannon Baker on the right
John and Sue Kutcher:
John Kutcher and his wife, Sue Weller Kutcher, were both highly impacted by Mark Pacione in the early 1980s during their involvement with the St. Margaret youth group.
"...intertwined faith with fun in such a seamless way..."
“Even at that time, it was clear that Mark was someone truly special and unique... He threw everything he had into building a community of youth, brought together by dozens of events, each designed to build collegiality.
"There are so many testaments to what Mark built in his years at St. Margaret's, but none so strong as the fact that over 30 years later, most of those friendships remain some of the strongest each of us have. Watching my sons grow up in high school now, I can appreciate even more what Mark did for all of us, and for the community he served. The Youth Group he assembled drew from multiple high schools -- and brought together individuals from all walks of life and interests. Athletes, musicians, scholars, introverts, extroverts -- it didn't matter. Together, we were all just one big group. It was hands down "the" thing to do in high school for hundreds of members. All of these things are truly remarkable, given the diversity of interests, cliques, and everything else that often proves a challenge in the formidable years of teens growing up into young adults. To achieve of all of these things could only be done with a combination of exceptional vision and passionate execution. Mark brought both of those with zeal.
"What's equally amazing, is that Mark intertwined "faith" with "fun" in such a seamless and novel way, that we all were mentored and shaped, sometimes without even realizing it… Mark made an impact on so many young lives, and not just a minor impact, but a major one. To many, Mark is counted as one of the single most influential persons in their lives… He built a lasting legacy with nearly everyone he touched through his missions and passions to serve youth. Those friendships were built rock-solid on the bedrock of faith and fun… and they will last a lifetime for all of us. Few people can count that type of impact in their life's legacy. We all thank Mark for the gift of so many strong and loving relationships that his vision brought together.”
John’s wife, Sue Weller Kutcher, a 1985 graduate of John Carroll, reflected back:
"...one of the most influential people in my life"
“To me, Mark was larger than life. I came into his life as young teenager when I was introduced to the St. Margaret Youth Group. The youth group became such a huge, important part of my life, and Mark was our fearless leader. We all had such respect and admiration for him. He made being a part of our youth group the cool thing to do. He did such an incredible job of bringing together kids from all walks of life: different schools, different interests, different home lives. Looking back, I cannot believe that he had the courage to take 30 kids out on a 100 mile, 3-day bike hike! And he did it with such ease-- year after year."
"Mark was, without a doubt, one of the most influential people in my life. I realized this fact long ago, on one of my drives home from college- I can actually remember the exact moment. I was feeling very proud about how I was doing and it occurred to me at that moment that Mark was such a big reason why. Over the course of my years in the youth group Mark believed in me and trusted me to take on so many roles. By doing so, he taught me how to be a leader and instilled in me the belief that I could accomplish whatever I wanted to if I worked hard for it. And I know he did this for so many others as well.
"I am forever grateful that Mark was a part of my life. And for all of us that had the privilege of being part of the St. Margaret Youth Group during Mark’s years as our leader, we are forever bonded to each other.”
"I needed to tell someone what this man did for me"
A life-saving testimony from “Mags:”
“I can thanks Mark for setting me on the path out of the dark place I was in after my family moved out of Harford County. I was on the road to self-destruction and suicide, particularly after an assault, and he was one of the only people who was willing to sit and listen without judgment. He just wanted to make sure I was okay, whatever that took. Mark told me that meant I should focus on everything that could help me heal…
"He helped me more than all the paid-for therapy I had over the years. I needed to tell someone what this man did for me… And I'm healthy and happy now.”
"I will search for you when you are not around"
Kelly, a 1983 graduate of John Carroll, has been a teacher at St. Margaret School for the past 27 years, but she traces her memories with Mark Pacione back to her teen years in 1979 when Mark, who had just been hired, spoke at Mass about starting a youth group. Kelly became an active member “from the very first meeting… was on the first Board of the Youth Group under Mark’s ministry.”
“My best memory of Mark is not one of my proudest moments, although it is something that has been brought up again and again over the years! It was 1981 when the Youth Group filled a bus to attend a Huey Lewis and the News concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Somehow, my two friends and I managed to get lost and were unable to find the bus at the end of the concert. The bus left, but Mark stayed behind to search for us. With the help of the Howard County Police Department and several phone calls from us at a pay phone, we were “found.” Mark bought all three of us hot fudge sundaes at the Double T Diner on Route 40 while we waited for my mother to come get us.”
Kelly attended the “SEARCH for Christian Maturity” Retreat in 1983 and shares the retreat letter she received from Mark dated May 15, 1983: (Read more about the SEARCH Retreat here.)
Good morning, I hope that your Search weekend has been both an exciting and a learning experience. I have prayed for you every hour throughout this weekend in hope that this would be a meaningful time for you…
…Although we joke about it now, I hope that the experience of me searching for you at the concert two summers ago becomes sort of symbolic for us. I hope you realize that I don’t want you to be just another youth who hung around St. Margaret’s during her high school years. I want you to be my friend and I will search for you when you are not around and celebrate with hot fudge sundaes when you return…
Kelly sums it up:
"Mark, I know that you are my angel now. I know that you will continue your search for me and we will one day sit together, my friend, and enjoy a hot fudge sundae!!"
"... instrumental in encouraging me to become a CCD teacher."
Karen Smith Natkin:
Karen, another John Carroll graduate, recalls first meeting Mark Pacione in 1979 when he came to St. Margaret School:
“Mark was our religion teacher, youth group leader, mentor, and friend. He was instrumental in encouraging me to become a CCD teacher. And his love of music and the guitar helped me to appreciate my skills as a guitarist.
"Throughout the years, I would run into him and we would always catch up on Beth and Carol, and what was going on in the diocese. Mark was a friend to all and will be missed. Rest in peace, Mark!!”
Karen submitted two photos from her 1981 St. Margaret School graduation trip to Lancaster and from their graduation party where Mark was presented a gift on behalf of their class. We regret that these photos were not clear enough for publication.
"A 'Mark collage' in my heart..."
Eileen Fahres Raff:
Eileen too remembers Mark Pacione when he was her youth minister at St. Margaret Parish during her high school years, 1982-1985. She became involved and later helped with the Archdiocesan Youth Days as a young adult.
“My mother has often said she should thank Mark for helping raise us. Mark entered my life at a time when I was struggling with adolescence and finding my way. His ministry at St. Margaret's Church reached me. The youth group he founded gave me a positive social group, a place where I always felt welcomed, accepted, and appreciated.
"There were so many wonderful things that I experienced through the youth group. I have so many friends that I never would have met if not for Mark and Carol. We share closer ties than just old high school friends, because we explored our faith deeply together. We are family.
"Right now there's just this big jumbled-up sort of "Mark collage" in my heart, of his genuine concern for all of us, his humor, his musical and other creative talents, all the people whose lives he touched, all the great work he did… his hardworking, humble, gentle soul.
"Mark knew many, many people, and he and I would often go years without seeing each other. Each time we would finally cross paths again, Mark would give me his warm smile and seem so touched to see me again. I don't think I will ever know anyone like Mark again, but my life is forever changed for the better for having known him.”
Following in his footsteps:
"Surely you must know how proud I am of you." --Mark to Kristin Rupprecht, seen here during her high school days
Kristin Rupprecht, a 1988 John Carroll grad, has served as the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Saint Margaret Church since 2010. A former member of his youth group from her high school days, Kristin feels honored to follow in the footsteps of her own youth minister.
“I first met Mark when I was in 5th grade. He was my religion teacher in middle school, my youth minister in high school, and I babysat his daughter. He was my boss for a while after college when I worked as his Special Projects Assistant in the Office of Youth Ministry, and my mentor as I transitioned into youth ministry. He and Carol were our sponsor couple when my husband and I prepared to get married. Mark sang at our wedding, and has been a friend and true role model.
"My best memories of Mark are from my Saint Margaret youth group days. Through that experience, we were all blessed to have an incredible man minister to us from his Christ-filled heart, and thus I learned how to minister to others. He lifted up every one of us, no matter our situation. He saw only the best in each of us, and ensured we knew what that was. He taught us life-lessons in love, in kindness, in laughter, in friendship.
"I am humbled and honored to be following in his footsteps at Saint Margaret. When I expressed this to him one time, his response was, "Surely you must know how proud I am of you." I cannot describe the joy those words brought to me.
"May his ministry live on in those whose lives he touched, because as Mark said often, true ministry duplicates itself.”
Shadowing her role model:
“… he always radiated love and warmth”
Karen Fahres Walsh met Mark Pacione back in 1982 when she was 14 and he got her involved in the youth group at St. Margaret’s and regional youth events.
“I became very active in Youth Day, the NRACYAC Convention (Northeast Rural Area Catholic Youth Advisory Council) held at John Carroll every year, and in all of the youth group activities throughout my high school years.
“As is true of most people who met Mark, I have a million stories, and can name a million ways he touched my life. I attended Mark and Carol's wedding and babysat for Beth from birth to age 6. I attended and helped plan so many youth group events that I lost count. I had numerous adventures with him on Bike Hikes, Canoe Trips and Codorus Camping trips.
"However, the one story that sticks out in my mind the most is from high school when, for a career day, I "shadowed" Mark at St. Margaret for a work day, to see what being a Youth Minister was really like.
“Mark was amused that I had chosen to follow him, since our teacher had told us we were allowed to pick anyone we wanted to shadow for a day. He thought his job could be tedious and that I would get bored, but I loved what he did and wanted to spend the day with him.
"Although his job was very busy and we had a lot to do all day, I was amazed by how everyone he came in contact with loved him as much as I did, and as much as all of my youth group friends did. It wasn't just at the church or the school. I accompanied him on errands he had to run and he also took me to lunch that day. Everywhere we went, he made people smile and laugh, just by being himself. It wasn't that he set out to charm people, it was just the way Mark carried himself, and the way he acted that drew everyone to him and made people happy. He always radiated love and warmth and his calm demeanor made people comfortable around him.
"To me, Mark epitomized the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He treated everyone equally and told me, that we are all God's children, He loves us all the same, so who are we to treat anyone poorly? Mark was a wonderful, loving man who influenced my life in numerous ways. I still remember the things he taught me and will miss him dearly.”
“As much as I love youth and young adult ministry, my real passion is to serve the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I grew up in this diocese. I rejoice in its successes and hurt when things are not so happy. I want to help.” –Mark Pacione
Our love and prayers:
Sending our love and deepest condolences to Carol, Beth and Ian, Mary Louise, and Mark’s entire family: Our hearts and tears are joined with yours. Be assured of our prayers as we honor Mark’s profound impact by the way we live our lives.
Read more here about Mark Pacione's "reMarkable" ministry:
1.Read Mark’s obituary by George P. Matysek, Jr. from The Catholic Review;
2.“The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry mourns the loss of a great friend, colleague, and servant of God.” Read the beautiful tribute from the NFCYM here;
3.From the Catholic Review: “Longtime youth director named to schools planning position:” Read this June 16, 2009 article here;
4.From the Baltimore Sun: ““St. Pius X parishioners recall role in 1995 visit of Pope John Paul II”
Read this April 23, 2014 article on Mark and Carol Pacione here;
Included are photos of the Paciones at the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden by Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun.
(Photo: Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun)
5.“The Fifth Mark of the Church" from June 12, 2009:
On Mark’s last day as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, D. Scott Miller, former Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry who took his place, recalls the annual Youth Pilgrimage (themed “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic:” the four marks of the Church) when Cardinal Keeler thanked Mark for his leadership that day, musing that perhaps “Mark Pacione is the fifth mark of the church.”
6.Obituary and book of condolences from McComas Funeral Home;
7.Read the “definition” of Mark Pacione from the Urban Dictionary.
Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.
January 02, 2015 01:10
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By Patti Murphy Dohn