Patti Murphy Dohn serves as Campus Minister for The John Carroll School in Bel Air, MD. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981.  She serves on the Screening Board for the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations and is a former board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. 

She can be reached at:


July 2014
June 2014

Email Subscription

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Comments

Please keep my daughter, Melanie in your prayers. She is preparing for her California Bar Exams on July 29 thru July 31, 2014. St, Joseph of Cupertino, pray for her. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for her, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us. Thank so much.


Pope Benedict XVI (from Germany) may put in a few prayers for divine intervention of his own if its Germany v. Argentina.

God is in the clouds

A Prayer for the City of Baltimore: Honoring the community service of Father Luigi Esposito

“I love to see people coming out together and having fun." -- Father Lou Esposito, pastor of Our Lady of Pompei, on the positive impact of events such as the Highlandtown Wine Festival this past April.
(Photo: Erik Zygmont/The Baltimore Guide)

 Double golden jubilee celebration:

Yesterday's Catholic Throwback Thursday looked back over the last 50 years of priestly and parish ministry of Father Lou Esposito of Our Lady of Pompei Church.

This Saturday marks his golden jubilee of priesthood, as well as celebrates his 50 years of service to his parish community at 3600 Claremont Street in Highlandtown.

The parish is having a special Mass of Thanksgiving on Saturday, June 19 at 4 p.m., followed by an invitation-only dinner. Members of the parish and the local community are invited to join Father Lou on Sunday for the 10 a.m. Mass. A lunch reception will follow for those who attend in the parish hall at 201 S. Conkling Street.

Serving the people of Baltimore:

Father Lou has been an integral part of the community life in Highlandtown and the surrounding regions over the years. He has served on boards for civic service groups, and as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus and other religious organizations.

In January of 2011, Father Lou was invited to give the invocation at the start of the Baltimore City Council meeting. The prayer was so poignant that Councilmember Nicholas C. D'Adamo, Jr. made a motion to "journalize the invocation." It was so ordered, and thus preserved for use by future generations. 

The prayer is particularly meaningful as it calls for all citizens to use their gifts and talents for the good of others, while recognizing the diversity which enriches us as a society. 

 Prayer for the City of Baltimore by Rev. Luigi Esposito: 

Father in Heaven, we come to You this evening from the Council Chamber of our
beautiful Charm City and we ask You to bless our City Council members. 
Father, guide their minds with Your wisdom, that they might create laws and programs
which will make a positive difference in the lives of our citizens.

Father, fill their hearts with Your love, the love that is the only force capable of
conquering so many of our social, spiritual, and moral obstacles. And let their
example inspire us all to live a life filled with mutual understanding, with care
and concern for our neighbors, with the ability and the willingness to accept all
differences as cultural and social wealth, which enrich all of us and make our life
a beautiful experience.

Our city is not perfect. Our fellow citizens are conditioned by many human
limitations, but, Father, Your love and Your wisdom can guide us all, City
Councilmembers, civil and religious leaders, and all citizens, to look toward a
future made slightly less imperfect by our combined efforts, efforts which You
alone can bless with success. 

July 18, 2014 09:30
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Golden jubilee for a Baltimore treasure: Celebrating 50 years with Father Luigi Esposito of Our Lady of Pompei Church

Father Luigi "Lou" Esposito looks back over five decades of priesthood and of ministry at Our Lady of Pompei Church
( Erik Zygmont/The Baltimore Guide)

This Saturday marks the golden jubilee of priesthood for one of the unsung heroes of the Archdiocese of Baltimore: Rev. Luigi Esposito. "Father Lou" is also celebrating fifty years of service for the parish community of Our Lady of Pompei in Highlandtown at 3600 Claremont Street.

The parish is having a special Mass of Thanksgiving on July 19 at 4 p.m., followed by an invitation-only dinner.

Members of the parish and the local community are invited to join Father Lou on Sunday for the 10 a.m. Mass. A lunch reception will follow for those who attend in the parish hall at 201 S. Conkling Street.

This week's Catholic Throwback Thursday takes a look back over the years with Father Lou.

Luigi Esposito's First Communion back home in Italy. He hails from Casoria, a province of Naples.  
(Photo: Courtesy of Rev. Luigi Esposito/ The Baltimore Guide 

 Father Lou attended the Vincentian Minor Seminary in Naples, then completed his priestly studies at the Mary Immaculate Seminary and College in Northampton, Pennsylvania.  He was ordained on July 19, 1964.
(Photo: Courtesy of Our Lady of Pompei Church/Joseph DiSeta)


Father Lou celebrates his first Mass in his hometown of Casoria, a province of Naples
(Photo: Courtesy of Our Lady of Pompei Church/Joseph DiSeta)

 Father Lou with Archbishop William D. Borders at his Mass of Installation as pastor of Our Lady of Pompei Church in 1984.
(Photo: Courtesy of Our Lady of Pompei Church)

Father Lou has been an integral part of the sacramental life of the Sobus Family for many years: Seen here with Father Lou at his celebration as new pastor in 1984: (From left) Mary Sobus and her children: Christina, Theresa, and Andrea. 
(Photo: Courtesy of the Sobus Family)

Father Lou has always been involved in efforts for the local community: Seen here at a town meeting with Dominic "Mimi" DiPietro (1906-1994), the First District Baltimore City Councilman who was sometimes referred to as the "unofficial mayor of Highlandtown," and Maryland Senator Joseph S. Bonvegna (1922-1988), who hailed from Baltimore District 46 (House of Delegates 1967-1975, State Senate 1975-1989).  
(Photo: Our Lady of Pompei Church/Joseph DiSeta)

Father Lou welcomed Bishop Madden for his parish visitation to Our Lady of Pompei in August of 2013
(Photo: Our Lady of Pompei Church)

 Holy day festivals (Photos: Our Lady of Pompei Church/Joseph DiSeta)

Father Lou has inspired the people of Highlandtown for 50 years.  
(Photo: Our Lady of Pompei Church)

Father Lou has served as pastor at Our Lady of Pompei since 1984, 20 years after arriving at the parish. This weekend his parish celebrates five decades of great ministry.
(Photo: Courtesy of Rev. Luigi Esposito/ The Baltimore Guide

God bless Father Lou for his many years of service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the good people of Our Lady of Pompei Church!!

You are a true inspiration!!

July 17, 2014 12:08
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: Inspiring selections from "Les Misérables" in honor of Bastille Day

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower for July 14 Bastille Day celebrations
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Bastille Day, celebrated annually on July 14, is French National Day. On this date in 1789, troops stormed the Bastille marking the start of the French Revolution.

Bastille Day became a national holiday on July 14, 1880 and is celebrated throughout France, as well as in French communities and major cities all over the world with parades, festivities, and fireworks.

The musical "Les Misérables," based on Victor Hugo novel, tells the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant seeking redemption after serving nineteen years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. In a grace-filled moment, Valjean was inspired by a kind and merciful local bishop to start living a virtuous life in the service of others. The revolutionary backdrop to Jean Valjean's story includes a group of courageous students who make their last stand for freedom at a street barricade. The song "Do You Hear the People Sing?" illustrates their hopes and dreams for the people of France.

The tenth anniversary concert for "Les Misérables" was filmed in October of 1995 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Gavin Taylor, theatre superstar Colm Wilkinson performed the role of Jean Valjean.

"Do You Hear the People Sing/One Day More!"

Joining Wilkinson for the encore were seventeen former Jean Valjeans from seventeen different nations, each singing "Do You Hear the People Sing?" in native language. The entire anniversary cast joined in at the end with the last verse of "One Day More!"

This video will have you singing and humming all day:

July 14, 2014 11:09
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Catholic Throwback Thursday: A grateful salute to Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski

Join Archbishop Lori this Sunday, July 13 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen at 3pm for a Mass of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, who will be installed next month as the new Bishop of Springfield Mass.

This week we take a look back at just a few of the events in the life of our own Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski in anticipation of the Mass this Sunday, July 13, to honor his years of service here in his home diocese. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Mitchell as the new head of the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts on June 19.

Bishop Mitch responded to this papal appointment with his usual grace and humility:

“It is with deep gratitude to almighty God, to His Holiness, Pope Francis, and to our papal nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, that I accept His Holiness’ appointment to be the bishop of Springfield, Mass... I will remain forever grateful for the privilege to have ministered as priest and bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for nearly 30 years. The formation and guidance that I have received from the dedicated archbishops, bishops, priests, religious men and women and laity of this wonderful Church leave me humbled yet hope-filled in answering the call to be bishop of Springfield...

As we are united in our faith, let us be faithfully united in prayer for one another.”

Bishop Rozanski, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1984 and consecrated as auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 2004, will follow newly-retired Bishop Timothy McDonnell, 76, as the ninth Bishop of Springfield.

(Photo Archdiocese of Baltimore)

A festive gathering of bishops from the Premier See: From left: Bishop Denis Madden, Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Archbishop William Borders, Cardinal William Keeler, Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Bishop William Newman, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski.

(Photo George P. Matysek Jr./ CR Staff)

Bishop Rozanski celebrated Mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious,  home of the famous "Infant of Prague" statue, during the June, 2011 pilgrimage to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. 

(Photo CNS/Paul Haring)

Bishop of Wilmington W. Francis Malooly (left) meets with former colleague, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, before the opening of January 18, 2012 meeting at the Vatican. Gathered in Rome for "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses were bishops from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services, and from the Virgin Islands.

Bishop Rozanski prays with the participants and staff members of the High School Leadership Institute at the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks on July 27, 2012.

Baltimore-area Sister-jubilarians are honored by Bishop Rozanski (far left), Cardinal O'Brien (center), and Bishop Madden (far right) after a celebratory Mass in the summer of 2012.
(Photo Baltimore Sun / Noah Scialom)

Bishop Rozanski, assisted by seminarian Josh Laws, blessed the new media center at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in September, 2013.

Bishop Rozanski blesses the new Science Lab at St. Mary's School, Hagerstown.

(Photo Baltimore Sun / Karl Merton Ferron)

Marking the start of the Lenten Season at the Ash Wednesday Vigil Mass on March 4, 2014 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

From left: Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Deacon Charlie Hiebler, Archbishop William E. Lori (front), Fr. Joseph Marcello (at back), and Bishop Denis J. Madden.

(Photo CNS/Catholic Review/Tom McCarthy Jr.)

Gathering before the Mass to kick off this year's Fortnight for Freedom Mass on June 21 at the Baltimore Basilica.

From left: Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden; Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and bishop-elect of Springfield, Mass.; and Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin Holley.

(Photo Johanna Coughlin)

Bishop Rozanski celebrates Mass at St. John the Evangelist on July 4 to close the Fortnight for Freedom here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.


Bishop Mitch, we send you off to Springfield with our love and grateful prayers.

You will always be in our hearts here in your hometown of Baltimore!!


Read more about Bishop Rozanski's new assignment as we wish him farewell: 

July 10, 2014 02:31
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Argentina's good luck charm: What you should know about Pope Francis' love of soccer and the World Cup

A fan of Argentina holds a photo of Pope Francis while on his knees as he watches the World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland inside the FIFA Fan Fest area in Sao Paulo on July 1. Argentina beat Switzerland 1-0 in extra time to move on to the World Cup quarterfinals.

(AP photo/Nelson Antoine)


Two weeks ago I featured Pope Francis' lifelong passion for soccer (fútbol) to mark the opening of the World Cup games for my Catholic Throwback Thursday.

This fun look-back with lots of photos and soccer-related quotes about faith and life drew the attention of a number of readers. Relevant Radio and Spirit Catholic Radio both invited me on the air to talk about the Holy Father and the World Cup.

2014 World Cup standings:

The Argentine national team takes on the Netherlands this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET for the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. Argentina's fans are praying for the big win. They took home the World Cup championship in 1978 and 1986.

The devastating July 8 loss for Brazil against Germany took away the possibility of a final show down between Brazil and Argentina.

The Argentine team captain is soccer (fútbol) superstar Lionel Andrés Messi, a devout Catholic, who plays forward. He met Pope Francis last year when the Argentine and Italian teams gathered for an audience at the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on August 13, 2013. They were in Rome to participate in a friendly exhibition match the next evening in honor of the Holy Father, fútbol’s biggest fan.


Pope Francis receives a gift from Italy's Gianluigi Buffon, and Argentina's Lionel Messi at the Vatican.

(CNS photo)

Pope Francis reminded the Argentine and Italian players that they are to take seriously their place as role models for their fans, especially the youth, calling on them to foster the game's “beauty, generosity, and camaraderie.”

Though injury prevented Messi from playing in that 2013 game, he told reporters after the papal audience that "the best way for the players to respond to what the Pope said was to give fans a clean and exciting game, and to live upright lives."

“Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life. We have to excel on and off the field.”

–-Lionel Messi


Fun Fact:

Did you know that Lionel Messi played for a number of years for Spain and led the Spanish club Barcelona to victory at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup Finals in Japan, defeating the Neymar-led Brazilian club Santos 4–0?


"Pray for me that in the playing field that the Lord has placed me, I can play the game honestly and courageously, for the good of all.”

-- Pope Francis on August 13, 2013


What you need to know about Pope Francis and soccer:

1. Pope Francis, like most Argentinians, traces his love of soccer (fútbol) back to his earliest childhood days. In Argentina, fútbol and faith go hand in hand. Watch carefully and you see both the players and the fans praying before and throughout the games.

2. Pope Francis' childhood soccer hero was René Pontoni (1920-1983), who played for San Lorenzo in 1946 when they won the national title.

3. The Holy Father's home team is the San Lorenzo football club of the Bajo Flores section of Buenos Aires. He is a huge fan. The team's wins and losses were a frequent topic of discussion with commuters during his bus ride to work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis has spoken fondly in the past of his childhood memories of going to games with his father and watching them play in Buenos Aires at the Gasómetro Stadium. 

San Lorenzo de Almagro home stadium.

4. Formally known as Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro, this local fútbol club was founded by Padre Lorenzo Bartolome Massa in 1908 who allowed young people to play on church property instead of in the streets.

Padre Lorenzo Massa

5. Pope Francis is a card-carrying member of the San Lorenzo Club, having paid his dues annually since 2008, even renewing them last year after his election as pope. Member (ID No. 88235) since 2008.

6. The San Lorenzo team proudly displayed “Papa Francisco” badges on their jerseys for the game against Colon, which happened right after his election to the papacy.

San Lorenzo’s Denis Stracqualursi with team jersey featuring Papa Francisco.

7. Papal fútbol miracle?

The San Lorenzo team won that game which was scoreless for the first 73 minutes, until Colon striker Ruben Ramirez put a deflected San Lorenzo corner kick into his own net to give the San Lorenzo team a 1-0 win.

Fútbol miracle? The opponent scores a goal for the new Holy Father’s team?

The San Lorenzo fans, of course, credited the prayerful pull of their biggest advocate, Papa Francisco.

Check out this video of that goal...


8. You too can follow the San Lorenzo team:


Facebook page 


Pope Francis receives an Argentine soccer jersey during his June 25 general audience in the Vatican's St. Peter's Square.

(CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The prize trophy was presented to the Holy Father by San Lorenzo soccer team's President Matias Lammens (right) and deputy-president Marcelo Tinelli in December after the team won the Argentine championship. Pope Francis then held high the trophy of his favorite team. The meeting happened after his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 18


Pope Francis holds up a soccer jersey that reads "Francisco Campeon" (Francis Champion), another gift from his favorite soccer team San Lorenzo, which won the Argentine championship last December.

(CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

In return, Pope Francis gave the team players and managers an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary which they said they would keep in the stadium.

9. Argentina's good luck charm

Larger-than-life photo that the Argentinian national soccer team brought with them to the World Cup games in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 

(Photo via CNA/Twitter/@InfoRafaela)

This enormous photo is from the August 2013 meeting of the national team with the Holy Father, taken the day before Argentina beat Italy in a friendly match. According to the news publication Diario Castellanos, the hope is that this photo will “give a message of hope prior to the beginning of the World Cup.”

10. Who is the patron saint of soccer?

As I mentioned earlier, you can see the players and the fans visibly praying both before and throughout the game.

Pope Saint John Paul II is frequently called upon for intercession by fútbol fans as he too loved the game all his life. Canonized by Pope Francis in April, John Paul II usually was the goalkeeper whenever he played back in his hometown of Wadowice, Poland. During his papacy, he often highlighted the importance of sports.


"Live your sport as a gift from God, an opportunity not only to improve your talents, but also a responsibility...  I have confidence in all the good you can do, especially among young people.”

--Pope Francis, August, 2013


Argentine fans hold a photo of Pope Francis between soccer legends Lionel Messi, left, and Diego Maradona before the July 1 World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo. Argentina won the match and advances to p lay Belgium July 5.

(CNS photo/Emilio Lavandeira Jr., EPA)


July 09, 2014 10:40
By Patti Murphy Dohn

"I will give you rest" - A meditation on hope and compassion from Matthew's Gospel for this Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
 and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
--Excerpt from the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time:
 Matthew 11:25-30

The Gospel reading for this Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time offers a message of hope for all of us.

"Do Jesus' words strike a chord within us?", asked the pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Church at the Saturday Vigil Mass. "Have we come here today burdened in any way? Is there something wearing heavy upon our mind, or our heart, or perhaps our body?"

 "What might Jesus be saying to us, as he looks upon us with gentleness and compassion?"

 And so this good priest meditated with all of us:

You with arthritis or cancer or paralysis, come....

You who are bent low with guilt over some past sin....

You who are fast-paced and project-oriented and task-driven and afraid to give yourself some rest....

You who are suffering from an intimate relationship that has grown cold and distant....

You who are uncertain about the future, about death, or about life after death....

You who think you always have to be in control and manage everyone else's affairs....

You who are so preoccupied with yourself: what you eat, the way you look, the way you dress....

You who cannot rest because of intense resentments and bitterness....

You who are addicted to alcohol or drugs or pornography or shopping or gambling or excessive computer use....

Come, no burden is too heavy for me to ease.
I have borne them in my passion and death.
I have overcome them in my resurrection.
I am with you.
I will breathe my Spirit within you, will calm your fears, and strengthen your spirit.
Come to my banquet, receive me in my Body and my Blood,
And I will refresh you and teach you to refresh one another.

Come, you are not a burden.
You are my beloved.
Come, forever you are mine."


July 05, 2014 10:59
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Catholic Throwback Thursday: A special look at past “Fortnight for Freedom” events in honor of Independence Day

The 2014 “Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve” wraps up this Saturday on Independence Day. This year's theme focuses on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accordance with human dignity and the Church's teaching on Social Justice.


"What better way to join together as Americans and as the Body of Christ to promote our First Amendment right of religious freedom," --Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, Diocese of Charleston, speaking about the first Fortnight for Freedom, June, 2012


“The Founding of the Colony of Maryland” by Tompkins Harrison Matteson, 1853 (Maryland State Art Collection)


Fortnight for Freedom:

The Fortnight for Freedom started in 2012 and is a two-week period of prayer, education, and action from June 21 to July 4 in support of religious freedom. Sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, this timeframe was chosen specifically as "the liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power--St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome."


Today’s edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday looks back to some key moments from Fortnight for Freedom observations over the past two years.


New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan raises a foam finger to promote the first “Fortnight for Freedom” in 2012 (Tami Chappell/Reuters/Landov)


Opening Mass for the first Fortnight for Freedom in 2012 at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, our nation’s first diocese (Photo: Johanna Coughlin, Archdiocese of Baltimore)


Deacon Joseph Krysiak at the opening Mass for the first Fortnight for Freedom on June 21, 2012 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. (CNS/Catholic Review/Tom McCarthy Jr.)

The faithful praying at the opening Mass of the 2012 Fortnight for Freedom at the Baltimore Basilica. (Photo: Michelle Bauman/CNA)

 Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori led a candlelight prayer vigil outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 22, 2013. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

Siblings Caitlin (right) and Elizabeth Heaney at a rally for religious freedom in downtown Minneapolis June 8, 2012. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

Closing Mass for the first Footnight for Freedom on July 4, 2012 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Baltimore’s Mount de Sales Academy join friars from the Dominican House of Studies during a candlelight vigil by the U.S. Capitol for the second annual Fortnight for Freedom observance on June 22, 2013. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

Boston's Cardinal Seán O’Malley at a town hall meeting on June 25, 2012. (Photo: George Martell/The Pilot Media Group)

Official Prayer for the Fortnight for Freedom

Fireworks over the National Shrine in Washington, DC

Many blessings for a happy and safe Independence Day celebration with your families and friends!!

July 03, 2014 12:13
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Travel blog: Reflections on the religions of Scandinavia and Russia

Guest blogger and dear friend, Susan Fisher, the retired John Carroll English Department Chairperson, enjoyed a wonderful Baltic cruise with her husband Dean four weeks ago. Today she shares her reflections on religion in Scandinavia and Russia.


I had a lot to learn on our spring cruise to the Baltic.  While we went to see a bit of Russia, we looked forward to seeing Scandinavian museums, palaces, and churches—especially Catholic cathedrals. While the latter exist, we were never shown one on any of our guided tours.  We were reminded that after the Protestant Reformation, the practice of Catholicism in Northern Europe dropped dramatically.  In every country we visited we were told that Lutherans were the dominant Christians.  In fact, when the Church of Denmark split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1536, it became illegal to be Catholic for over three centuries.  

The statistics are somewhat unreliable as they are reported by the Eurobarometer poll, rather than a governmental census, for the most part.  What it shows in recent years, for example, is that only 2% of the Swedes are Catholics, while 41% self-identify as Protestant.  43% say they are atheist or agnostic.

In Estonia, on the other hand, scarcely a third of the population are even believers.  The majority are Lutheran, while less than 1% are Catholics.  Still we parted from our tour group and followed our guide’s directions to a Catholic church in Tallinn, Estonia.   Mass was being celebrated, but we only had time to stand in the back for a couple of minutes.  We were drawn to the cool peacefulness of the predominantly white décor.  Compared to the other churches included on our tour, like those in Russia especially, St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral was tastefully simple.  A couple of children were running up and down the center aisle, but no one seemed to mind.    

This Catholic cathedral was built between 1841 and 1844 on the foundation of what had been a medieval Dominican monastery. The neo-classical façade was added in 1924.  Until the 1990’s, it was the only Catholic church in Tallinn.  Presently, English-language Masses take place during the week at 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Sunday Masses are in Polish and Russian. 


 (St. Petersburg Bureau of Tourism)

In Russia, a recent (2012) survey showed 46% Christians -- including Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic, and non-denominational. Yet only 140,000 Russian citizens claim Catholicism, about 0.1% of the total.  We were taken to the Orthodox Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, a landmark in St. Petersburg.  It is breathtaking and the antithesis of the church in Tallinn.   It was built where Alexander II was murdered in 1881.  Alexander is, of course, famous for having freed the serfs as well as initiating reforms in the military and judicial branches of the Russian government.  The imperial family and thousands of private donors built the church with its amazing mosaics, both inside and out.  Closed numerous times throughout its history, it was closed again in the 1930’s by the Bolsheviks.  Somehow it was only slightly damaged during World War II when the church served as a morgue and later a warehouse.  In 1961 an unexploded Nazi bomb was discovered in the central cupola of the church and successfully extricated. The church re-opened in 1997, now restored to its previous glory.


The walls inside this huge Russian church are covered in what appear to be paintings at a distance, but all are actually incredible mosaics.After visiting St. Petersburg, we journeyed to Helsinki where we had inclement weather.   We learned that once again Catholic parishes are scarce.  78% of the Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and 1% is Orthodox. These two religions only are given special tax breaks by the government.  A much smaller portion of the population includes communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Evangelical Free Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

We visited a lovely country church, again not Catholic, but very moving in its age and simplicity.  The Church of St. Sigfrid in Sipoo was built in 1450 and is one of the oldest medieval churches in the world.  The beautiful pulpit was donated in the middle of the 17th century.  The idyllic setting makes it popular for summer weddings. 

While we walked into the very small church (it holds 170 according to a plaque on the door, but that would have to be standing shoulder to shoulder), and then out among the gravestones in its cemetery, one of our fellow tourists began playing hymns on the small old organ.   A retired organist, he played three recognizable hymns beautifully.  People stood or sat in silence as he played.   Really, it gave me chills to listen, especially as he played my father’s favorite “How Great Thou Art.” His playing and the cessation of rain changed the day for the better. 

We were gone for two weeks and were exposed to history and cultures that changed how we looked at the world.  St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”  I believe we definitely covered a few more chapters. 

July 01, 2014 04:00
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: “Gift of Finest Wheat” in honor of the Most Holy Eucharist

“The Body of Christ is the bread of the end times, capable of giving life, and eternal life, because the substance is this bread of love.” —Pope Francis in his Corpus Christi homily on June 19, 2014

The Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is celebrated every day at every Mass around the globe. But yesterday’s Feast of Corpus Christi here in the United States —the Solemnity  of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—is observed in many other nations on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. It celebrates the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Pope Francis presided over this liturgy last Thursday at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the Rome Diocese.

 "Man carries within himself another hunger, a hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food." —Pope Francis

I attended the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, held in Philadelphia in August of 1976, our bicentennial year. Under the theme of "Jesus, the Bread of Life," the Congress was a high point in my early spiritual life and nurtured my love for the Blessed Sacrament.  

For this week’s Music Monday, I am sharing the official song written for this Eucharistic Congress, “Gift of Finest Wheat (You Satisfy the Hungry Heart),” composed by Omer Westendorf and Robert E. Kreutz.


Meditative scenes accompany the Cathedral Singers, who are conducted by their founder, Richard Proulx (1937-2010).

June 23, 2014 11:02
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Catholic Throwback Thursday: Celebrating good Dads and the families they raised on the anniversary of the first Father's Day

Anniversary of the first Father's Day:

Today is the 104th anniversary of Fathers Day. The driving force behind this celebration in our nation was Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. The daughter of a single father who raised six children on his own, Dodd was inspired to push for a similar day to honor all fathers when she heard a sermon at her Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about Anna Jarvis' establishment of Mother's Day.

(Fun Fact: Anna Jarvis emphasized that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world.")

Dodd urged her pastor to join her campaign to honor Dads starting on the June 5 birthday of her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Local pastors claimed they did not have enough time to plan their sermons, so the date was moved to later in June. The following year, on June 19, 1910, the first Father's Day was observed throughout Spokane, Washington with sermons honoring fathers given at area churches.

Though observed annually on the third Sunday in June, it was not until 1972, six years after President Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential proclamation honoring fathers, that President Richard Nixon made Father's Day into a national holiday by signing it into law.

Honoring and remembering some influential Dads:

For this week's edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday, I'm looking back at some of the Dads who raised many of the Catholic leaders whom we have admired over the years.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Flores, Buenos Aires, the eldest of the five children of Italian immigrant Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori.


Pope Francis as a young priest is seen with his father, Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori. (Photo: AFP)

Formal family portrait of the Bergoglios in Buenos Aires: Standing from left: Alberto, Padre Jorge, Oscar, Marta;
Seated: María Elena (the only sibling of the Holy Father still alive today), with their mother
Regina María Sívori, and father, Mario José Bergoglio. (Photo: Archives, Reuters/ AP)


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born and baptized as Josef Aloisius Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was the youngest of the three children of Josef Ratzinger, Sr. and Maria Peintner Ratzinger. His sister Maria, who never married, managed the household of her Cardinal-brother in Germany until her death in 1991. Their brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, is still alive today.

The brothers attended seminary together after the end of World War II and were ordained in Munich on June 29, 1951.


Father Josef Ratzinger (standing right), and his brother Father Georg Ratzinger (standing left), with their father Josef, sister Maria, and mother Maria on their ordination day, June 29, 1951.


The Very Rev. G. Gregory Gay, CM, whose family members have been lifelong parishioners of Saint Stephen Church, Bradshaw, is a native of Kingsville and a 1971 graduate of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Since 2004, he has served as the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the 24th successor of Saint Vincent de Paul.

But when he's here in town, it is all about family....

One of ten children, Fr. Greg is seen with his brothers (from left) Joe, Bill, and John with their father George Gay at the August 16, 1987 wedding of their sister Mary Anne Gay Halloran. Mr. Gay, who passed away in December of 2006, and his late wife Jeanne left a legacy of strong faith and family values to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
 (Photo courtesy of Patty Gay O'Brien, Rebecca O'Brien, and family.)

Read more about Fr. Greg in my three-part series from last September and October on his family, vocation to Vincentian priesthood, and his life of service to the poor and disenfranchised all over the world: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 


Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 6, 1950, the eldest of the five children born to Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan. Mr. Dolan passed away from a fatal heart attack less than ten months after their son's June 19, 1976 ordination to the priesthood.

Family members have recalled the importance to Mr. Dolan of sending his children to Catholic schools, going to Mass, and having a strong work ethic. When son Timothy was in the seminary in Rome, his Dad sent a handwritten letter every week and often included a cassette tape with his thoughts and musings so his son could stay in touch with home and family in a more personal way.


Cardinal Dolan's Mom, Shirley Dolan displays her family portrait at her home in Ballwin, Missouri:
 Seated with her late husband Robert, and surrounded by their children
 (from left): Lisa, Debbie, Timothy, Bob and Patrick. (Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News)


John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our only Catholic president of the United States, was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (1888–1969) and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995).

JFK at right and his brother Robert with their Dad, Joseph Kennedy, in July of 1938.
 Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. with his famous family: This formal Kennedy Family portrait was taken on September 4, 1931 at the family estate in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts: 

From left: Robert Kennedy, "Buddy" their dog, John F. Kennedy (at back), Eunice Kennedy, Jean Kennedy on her Dad's lap, wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (who was expecting Edward "Ted" Kennedy), Patricia Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (at back), and Rosemary Kennedy.
(Photo by Richard Sears, on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)


Rev. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large of "America" magazine, best-selling author, popular speaker and retreat master, was born in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1960 to James and Eleanor Martin.
Enjoy Fr. Jim's stories about faith, family, and saints in "My Life with the Saints," one of my favorite books.

After a brief career in the business world, Jim entered the Society of Jesus in the summer of 1988. He was ordained to the priesthood eleven years later on June 12, 1999. Holy Orders were conferred by Jesuit Archbishop Lawrence Burke, SJ (1932-2010), then serving as Archbishop of his native Kingston, Jamaica, after earlier episcopal ministry as the first Archbishop of Nassau, Bahamas.

This family portrait was taken on Father Martin's ordination day, June 12, 1999:
His Dad, James Martin, who passed away in 2001, beams with pride as he stands next to his newly ordained son, with daughter Carolyn and her baby Charles, wife Eleanor, and son-in-law Charles, Sr. (on left).

 (Photo courtesy of Rev. James Martin, SJ)


Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was born Peter John Sheen on May 8, 1895 at the apartment above the family hardware store in El Paso, Illinois. He was the eldest of four sons of Newton Morris "Newt" Sheen and Delia Sheen, and was called Fulton, which was his mother's maiden name. Baptized by Father Jeremiah H. Quinlan, the pastor of St. Mary's Church, four days later as Peter John, the future bishop was usually called P. J. as a child, before being known exclusively by his mother's maiden name. 

Fulton Sheen was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919. An early radio and TV evangelist, he hosted "The Catholic Hour" on radio (1930-1950), followed by his Emmy Award-winning program "Life is Worth Living" 1951-1957). He served as Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951, and then as Bishop of Rochester from 1966 to 1969. His cause for canonization opened in 2002, with the title "Venerable" bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI in June of 2012.

Early 1930s photo of Mr. and Mrs. Sheen with their sons (from left): Joseph, Fulton, Aloysius, and Thomas  (Photo: Fulton J. Sheen Archives)


Can you name this famous father-son? They directed and starred in "The Way," a film about the pilgrimage on "El Camino de Santiago."  HINT: The father actually adopted the last name of the famous clerical televangelist whom I featured above.

June 19, 2014 08:51
By Patti Murphy Dohn

« Older Entries