Reflections by Patti Murphy Dohn on the Church, family, grief, saints, and hope amidst the storms in our lives... May you always find that God is in the clouds! 

Patti Murphy Dohn retired in 2014 after 33 years of service as Campus Minister, retreat director, and Religion teacher at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981. Presently, she continues her ministry through bereavement outreach, coordinating the school's alumni prayer chain, while archiving the school's history.  

Patti was awarded the Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2012. She served the Archdiocese on the Screening Board for the Office of Vocations under Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal O'Brien, and Archbishop Lori. She is also a past-board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. and Saint Margaret School in Bel Air.

Along with writing for "The Catholic Review," Patti is a member of the Catholic Press Association, as well as the Catholic Writers Guild and the Associated Church Press. She is available for speaking engagements, consulting, and retreat work.

Patti and her husband George split their time between their homes in Bel Air, Maryland and Singer Island, Palm Beach, Florida.

Email: pattimurphydohn@gmail.com

Twitter: @JCSMinistry

Facebook: Patti Murphy Dohn

Instagram: @PattiMurphyDohn

 God is good!! All the time!!

 

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Beautiful story! thank you for continuing to inspire us Patti.

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And your BFF didn't know this story? Great article to read. I,can envision it! What an amazing intuition you followed. Someday soon we will talk more!

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God is in the clouds

Remembering Archbishop John Carroll and his devotion to the Blessed Mother on the bicentennial of his death




December 3 has been an important day in my calendar for years now.
It was on this date in 1815 that the first bishop in our United States went Home to our Lord. 

John Carroll, a native Marylander and Jesuit priest, was born on January 8, 1736 in Upper Marlboro, less than 40 miles south of the site where he would later have the first Catholic cathedral built.

Father Carroll was appointed the first bishop of Baltimore to serve our newly-formed nation by Pope Pius VI in 1789. He was 53 years old.

Considered to be the patriarch of American Catholicism, John Carroll later became the nation’s first archbishop in 1808 when Pope Pius VII elevated Baltimore to the status of archdiocese when he created the Dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown, Kentucky.
 
Archbishop Carroll’s final resting place is now located in the crypt of the Baltimore Basilica, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, America’s first Catholic cathedral. He had commissioned the building of this cathedral in 1806 with the design of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Though he never lived to see its completion, Archbishop Carroll's body was transferred there from the seminary crypt upon its completion. 

My life with John Carroll:

When I attended high school four decades ago at John Carroll in Bel Air, I did not yet realize that my life would be so richly influenced by the scholar and patriot for whom the school was named. Though other institutions of learning bear his name, this Harford County school is the only one located in the diocese where he served for so many years.

Returning in 1981 to teach Religion and later serve as Campus Minister at John Carroll (the school), I found John Carroll (the man) becoming part of the fabric of my life. 

As I taught about his life and influence on the American Church during the early years of our nation, I discovered more and more that John Carroll (the scholar) was both a pioneer and an early patriot. His zeal for the Faith and for our country was inspiring on so many levels.

But it was his deep devotion to our Blessed Mother that resonated most strongly with me. For years I shared with my John Carroll students that the best way to pay tribute to the man for whom our school was named was to imitate his devotion to Our Lady, reciting the rosary regularly, and visiting the cathedral that he named in honor of her Assumption. 

While on his deathbed, Archbishop John Carroll reflected,

“Of those things that give me most consolation at the present moment is, that I have always been attached to the practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that I have established it among the people under my care, and placed my Diocese under Her protection.” 
(From The Life and Times of John Carroll, by Peter Guilday, Encyclopedia Press, NY, 1922) 

Connecting at his cathedral:

For a number of years, I gave tours of the Baltimore Basilica to my sophomore students after we had served the lunchtime meal next door at Catholic Charities’ Our Daily Bread. The highpoint of our tour was always the visit to the crypt where Archbishop Carroll is buried. The marble cover to his burial spot is engraved in Latin with his name. It never ceased to amaze me how my students felt a kinship with our school’s namesake through this visit to his tomb.

Since my retirement in 2014, I have had the opportunity to read more from Archbishop Carroll’s writings and deepen my affection for the man whose name and initials have became engraved on my heart. 

As we remember Archbishop Carroll today on the 200th anniversary of his death, may we be inspired to rediscover our own connections to the Church in Baltimore and the roots of American Catholicism, and like him, deepen our devotion to Our Lady.


Read more:



December 03, 2015 02:08
By Patti Murphy Dohn


A new school year is here: Time to reflect and pray about the transitions




The photos are all over Facebook… 
Bright smiling faces (mostly), new book bags, shiny shoes, fresh haircuts, clean school buses, and some teary-eyed Moms (and Dads).

The new school year has started for most of the schools in our area. As a matter of fact, our grandson Tyler started third grade this morning at Piney Ridge Elementary School in Sykesville. Both Tracy and Stephen walked him to the bus stop with cameras in hand (from their smart phones). Even their sweet dog Stella was on hand to see all the children off to their first day of school.


Our grandson Tyler was back to school on Monday


I'm not going back to school...again:

For me, the start of the new school year, as always, brought the anticipation of new beginnings and challenges. 

And then I remembered… I’m not going back to school.  Again
This is the start of the second school year since my retirement from John Carroll in June of 2014. 

It was a new and strange experience last year to not be there for the first day of the new school year after 33 years on campus. My husband and I tried to fill up our newfound freedom. We even went to the beach.



Change, change, change:

But transitions can be tough. Not only for adults who may be experiencing change due to retirement or new jobs, but also for all the children who are experiencing new changes in their lives… Including those who are new to preschool or kindergarten, those starting elementary, middle or high school, and all those making transfers to new schools in new areas.

Hopefully, we pray, the parents and teachers of those most affected by change this school year will provide much comfort and will guide our children in their transitions with patience and compassion.

What’s the toughest part of back to school?

I have heard from quite a few parents and children who share that the challenges in starting a new school year include:
 
-reestablishing a weekday/school night routine after the freedom of summer vacation, 
-having earlier bedtimes,
-packing lunches again,
-waking up to the alarm clock’s early call, 
-getting back in the habit of doing homework,
-balancing school, sports, and other outside activities,  
-and much more.

Every household is different and thus faces different challenges.




A prayer from the patroness of Catholic education:

One of the principal patron saints of Catholic education is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She started the Catholic school system here in the United States under the direction of our first bishop, Archbishop John Carroll.

The following prayer from her writings is a wonderful way to start each day this year, especially for teachers and older students. 
    
Prayer of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:

O Father, the first rule of our dear Savior's
life was to do Your Will.
Let His Will of the present moment be the first rule
of our daily life and work, with no other desire but for
its most full and complete accomplishment.
 
Help us to follow it faithfully, so that in doing what
You wish we will be pleasing to You.
 
Amen.
 
 ---

Another great prayer for the new school year is from Sadlier Publishing Company:

It is excellent for teachers, parish catechists, and for families too:


---

May your first weeks of this new school year be filled with new adventures and a smooth transition to a new routine.
May God richly bless our families and our teachers!
Amen. 

September 01, 2015 02:47
By Patti Murphy Dohn


School’s out: Summer prayers and blessings for families and educators




Area schools started dismissing for summer break last week. By next Friday, school children and teens from all parts of Maryland and the Archdiocese of Baltimore should be finished the school year and ready for some rest and relaxation... 
And swimming and outdoor play...  
And summer camps and trips to the beach…
I can almost taste the snowballs and boardwalk fries, can’t you?

No doubt, the smiles of teachers everywhere are getting bigger and brighter. They are wrapping up report cards and exam grades, covering bulletin boards, and unplugging their classroom electronics.

The start of summer is truly the happiest time of the year for students and teachers. Prayers of gratitude are going up each minute of the day.

Summer prayers and blessings:

Let's put ourselves in the hands of our loving God and pray together
that He will bless all of us and our families
during the wonderful months of summer.


May we make our homes places of relaxation,
joy, love, peace and safety.
May we be generous and considerate,
not thinking only about ourselves,
but helping others enjoy the blessings of the summertime.
Lord God, Creator of all things,
guide our steps and strengthen our hearts
during these months of summer and vacation days.
Grant us refreshment of mind and body. 
May we constantly strive to make a meaningful difference
in the lives of our loved ones and in the world around us
as we enjoy the warm days of summertime.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

---

 
Christ, Teacher and Lord,
Bless all in this school as we seek to end our year
with the grace You so generously provide.
We give thanks for the students and the faculty, the administrators, 
and all who have contributed to this year of nurturing and growth.
We affirm all the positive moments: 
Of insight, of the excitement of learning,
Of accomplishment, of creativity,
Of laughter, of a sense of community.
We recognize the times of struggle, of difficult work,
of misunderstanding,
Even of failure…
We give these to You for transformation,
So they can become seeds that will find fertile soil.
As we leave for the summer,
May we take with us the knowledge
that You will keep us all in Your embrace
so we may rest and be restored,
And so we can continue in the ongoing discovery of Your Love.
Amen.

---

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn
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O God of all beginnings and endings,
We praise and thank You for the gift of this school year.
It has been a time filled with grace and blessings,
With challenges and opportunities,
joys and sorrows.
The days have passed quickly, O Lord.
The weeks, the months, the seasons,
the holidays and holy days,
The exams, vacations, breaks, and assemblies,
All have come forth from Your hand.
While we trust that Your purposes
have always been at work each day,
Sometimes it has seemed difficult to understand and appreciate
Just what You have been up to in our school.
Give us the rest and refreshment we need this summer.
Let our efforts of this past year bear fruit.
Bring all of our plans to a joyful conclusion,
And bless us, according to Your will,
With the fulfillment of our summer hopes and dreams.
Watch over us in the weeks of rest ahead,
And guide each day as You have done this past year.
Help us return to school with a new spirit and a new energy.
May we continue to grow
In age, wisdom, knowledge and grace
All the days of our lives.
Amen.

---

 

Wishing all of you a wonderful summer filled with blessings and God’s grace…
Be safe and enjoy the days ahead of rest and relaxation!!

God is good: All the time!!

June 11, 2015 12:57
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Prayers and good wishes: God bless the Class of 2015



Photos by Patti Murphy Dohn


It seems as though every year goes by faster and faster…
My first year of retirement from Campus Ministry has gone by in the blink of an eye.

Now that the John Carroll Class of 2015, as well as all their senior high school peers across this nation, have finished their studies and are ready to graduate, it is fitting that I share a prayer for them and for all the graduates of the Class of 2015.




Praying for God’s grace and blessings on the Class of 2015:

High School Graduation Prayer: 

Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you with thankful hearts for all those near and dear to us who are graduating from high school.   
We thank you for giving each graduate the talents, abilities and self discipline required for this wonderful accomplishment.  
We are grateful to You for providing the teachers, mentors, coaches and youth counselors who have taught them, nurtured them and challenged them along the way. 
Now that their minds have been well equipped with the basic knowledge of many different subjects, we pray that their hearts and spirits will also be well equipped for successful living.  
Add heavenly wisdom and discernment to their knowledge.  
Infuse their ambitions and dreams with Your love.  
Help them to desire Your good way for their future.  
Remind them that you are only a prayer away when they meet obstacles, heartbreaks and challenges.  
May they always be courageous enough to ask for help, advice and support when they need it.  
May they never needlessly suffer alone without reaching out to You and to others who care. 
As they become independent adults, help them learn the secret of dependence on You.  
Give them a desire to know more about You.  
May they find you in the Scriptures, in the joy of new love, in the gathering of Your people, in the beauty of Your creation and in the strength of their youth. 
And now may Your blessings be theirs as they begin a new life full of joy and promise.  
Amen.





When I was Campus Minister, I invited the members of the junior class during their ring ceremony to place their new high school rings on their fingers with the open end of the embossed design facing toward them. This signified that the student still had more than a year left to learn and take to heart all the traditions of the JC school community and to be ready to represent that legacy as graduates at the end of the following year.

So today, on the graduation day for the Class of 2015, I invite the newest alumni, after receiving their diplomas, to take off their JC ring, turn it around, and place it back on their fingers with the embossed opening facing outward. 

This commissions the Class of 2015 to go forward and share with all those they meet along their life-journey the lessons they learned from their John Carroll experience. 

Lessons such as: 

~Go, make a difference; 

~Let your light shine; 

~To be “compelling, considerate, and uncompromising,” characteristics which were attributed to our patron, Archbishop John Carroll; 

And to always remember: 
~In good times and in bad, that God is good... All the time!!


May our loving God richly bless the Class of 2015!!


May 29, 2015 11:09
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Godspeed: A fond farewell to Catholic Review web editor Jennifer Williams



Jennifer Williams

This week The Catholic Review is saying goodbye and best wishes to web editor Jennifer Williams. And I am offering my own Kudos for a job well done to this former student turned friend. 

Since 1999, Jenn has been part of The Catholic Review team that brings news of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to our community and to the world. But I knew Jenn before she had an inkling that journalism was going to be part of her future vocational calling.

A 1995 graduate of The John Carroll School where I served for many years in the Religion Department and as Campus Minster, Jennifer first experienced the thrill of seeing her writings published while in high school. She worked on the staff of the literary magazine Pinnacle during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. (Also contributing to this magazine was her 1995 classmate Father John Rapisarda.)

Jenn moved into journalism during her junior and senior years, working on the newspaper staff of the Patriot while remaining a staff member of Pinnacle. It's hard to believe that she also found time to run cross country and track all four years, attain academic membership in the National Honor Society, all while achieving perfect attendance for those four years. That's a real accomplishment!!

After graduating from John Carroll, Jenn attended the former College of Notre Dame of Maryland, majoring in Communication Arts. A summer internship after her sophomore year with The Aegis in Bel Air led to a full-time position there as a staff reporter. And a post-graduate internship with Baltimore Sun features editor Mary Corey was a career highlight. Jenn later wrote about the impact of this successful editor as a mentor and a professional role model when Corey died at age 49 from breast cancer in 2013.

Joining the staff of The Catholic Review in 1999, Jenn rose through the journalistic ranks from staff writer to news editor to web editor, learning and implementing the latest technologies as the field of journalism changed to adapt to the culture of the times. She has received awards from a number of press associations along the way.

During her years on the CR staff, Jenn has written literally hundreds and hundreds of articles.

Among her favorites are:

~"Ravens' Justin Tucker talks football, faith" written during his 2012 days as a rookie kicker;

~"'Shear guts' - Maryvale grad shaves her head for charity," on a young woman who raised money by shaving her head in 2012 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation for childhood cancer research;

and:

~"Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter successfully closes on his Catholic faith," on his faith journey to the Catholic Church before his 2014 marriage.



(Photo: Tom McCarthy Jr. | CR Staff)


My earlier connection with Jennifer during her high school years came full circle in 2012 when she and former social media specialist Matt Palmer invited me to start blogging for The Catholic Review. Jenn and Matt, through our Facebook networking, knew that I was handling an extraordinary amount of pastoral care and grief crisis ministry that summer and they invited me to write about my experiences. What followed was the beginning of "God is in the Clouds."

I had lunch the other day with Jenn and "Open Window" blogger Rita Buettner. Jenn told us that one of the best parts of the past sixteen years with The Catholic Review has been meeting so many different people in her travels throughout the archdiocese.

I will surely miss working with Jennifer as I continue to write my blog. And it will be strange not seeing her name pop up in my email inbox twice a week with the latest CR e-newsletter. But I know that our longtime relationship is not over.

Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
Yes, times change. I can vouch for that as I have certainly changed and transitioned especially over this past year since my retirement from ministry at John Carroll. And now it's time for Jenn to experience her own new chapter.

Jenn wrote a poem during her junior year of high school in the John Carroll Pinnacle entitled "Future of the Graduate." Though it speaks of the collective group of high school seniors moving on to a future filled with college and the certain anxiety that accompanies that transition, it surely, on second reading, reflects the mixed bag of emotions that all of us face when confronting change.

My prayer for Jenn on the road ahead is that joy, laughter, and good health be part of the journey and that her abiding faith sustain her whenever the path gets rocky.

May she know the love and prayers of those who treasure being part of her journey.

Godspeed.

---

"Future of the Graduate"  
~Jenn Williams '95

Where are you going?
Who do you want to be?
I can't see into the future--
Only inside of me.

Secure- Maybe.
Everything changes when you ask me Why?
Afraid I won't make it-
or maybe that I will.

Success- Possibly.
Wondering if my success is your failure-
Sorry- if it is.
Worried that I'll somehow miss out...
Laughing if I do.

Call me. Ask me. Tomorrow.
It's the future that I dread.
Right now I'm feeling happy,
I've got daisies in my head!

Published in the 1994 Pinnacle, literary magazine of The John Carroll School
during Jennifer's junior year of high school.



May 20, 2015 11:17
By Patti Murphy Dohn


‘Planting seeds’ at the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House: The impact of a retreat letter forty years later



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.

Having led junior retreats there for many years for my students at The John Carroll School, I can personally attest to the fact that lives are changed there. And for some high-risk youth, lives are saved… literally and spiritually.


A great story from the Director of the House:

Michael Downes 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


The impact of a Catholic education lasts a lifetime: Part 2


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.

She reminisced,

"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.

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"...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.

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“...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. 

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“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


Celebrating the heroic ministry of Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien in Baltimore and beyond



The inspiring ministry of Cardinal O'Brien:

Archbishop Edwin Frederick O’Brien became the fifteenth Archbishop of Baltimore on Oct. 1, 2007.

In the five years that he served as the shepherd of our Premier See and the last two years as our Archbishop Emeritus, now-Cardinal O'Brien has shared some of the most poignant moments of local Church history with us, as well as the recent changes that have impacted the entire Church in our era.

For today's edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday, we honor the ministry and continued legacy of Cardinal O'Brien.



At the July 12, 2007 press conference announcing the appointment of Edwin Frederick O'Brien, Archbishop for the Military Services, as the fifteenth Archbishop of Baltimore:

This is one of my favorite photos of Cardinal O'Brien who looks so happy as he and Cardinal Keeler share the news of his appointment with our local Church. (Photo: Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

"He has leapt from military airplanes, served in jungles during the Vietnam War and travelled extensively to current battle zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. From his working-class roots...to the upper echelons of Catholic power—carrying a Christian message of peace and love to some of the world's worst war-torn terrain." --The Baltimore Sun on the military service of Archbishop O'Brien

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Archbishop O'Brien greeting the auxiliary bishops before his installation as Archbishop of Baltimore on October 1, 2007  (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Lloyd Fox)

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Elevating the chalice during his Mass of Installation at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Archbishop O'Brien is joined on left by Archbishop William D. Borders, the thirteenth Archbishop of Baltimore  (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Algerina Perna)

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Receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, 2008 (Photo: CNS/ L'Osservatore Romano)

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"If Joseph Martin is not in heaven, I don't think any of us has a chance."

Cardinal O'Brien presided at the March 13, 2009 funeral Mass at the Baltimore Basilica for Sulpician Father Joseph C. Martin, the co-founder of Father Martin’s Ashley addiction treatment center in Havre de Grace, who died on March 9 at age 84. The Baltimore Sun called Father Martin "the 'wounded healer' who overcame alcoholism and, through his 'chalk talk' and the home he co-founded, helped some 40,000 others to do the same."  (Photo: Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

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Archbishop O'Brien leads the procession to the crypt at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen following the funeral for Archbishop William D. Borders, the thirteenth Archbishop of Baltimore who served from 1974 to 1989. He passed away on April 19, 2010 of colon cancer at Stella Maris at age 96. At the time of his death, Archbishop Borders was the fourth-oldest living Catholic bishop in United States history, and the longest-surviving bishop of both Orlando and Baltimore. (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Lloyd Fox)

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Archbishop O'Brien announced the reorganization of Catholic schools in March of 2010 in a program called "Preserving the Tradition, Transforming the Future: The Rebirth of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore." (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Algerina Perna)

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Archbishop O'Brien joined the Sisters for Life for the John Cardinal O’Connor Conference at Georgetown University on the day prior to the 2011 March for Life. Entitled “Building a Culture of Life Today: Learning from the Life and Legacy of Cardinal O’Connor,” the panel of presenters included from left: Bishop William Lori, Professor Helen Alvare, Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ (moderator), Mother Agnes Mary, SV, and Archbishop O'Brien. (Photo: Sisters of Life)

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Archbishop O'Brien presided over a Divine Mercy Sunday Mass on May 1, 2011 at the Basilica of the Assumption marking the beatification of Pope John Paul II earlier that day in Rome. After Mass, the archbishop led a procession around the block to the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / May 1, 2011)

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Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, the assessor of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, formerly a priest in the Diocese of Greensburg, welcomes Archbishop O'Brien to the Rome headquarters on September 16, 2011 after the August 29 announcement of his appointment as Grand Master.

As Archbishop De Andrea placed the medallion around his neck, he said that this new role "is like a chain that ties him to the Holy Land" and to the knightly order of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS)

"I am grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me and hope in the years ahead I will be a help to the Holy See and to the wonderful land where Christ walked." --Archbishop O'Brien

Archbishop O'Brien follows the leadership of U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley who stepped down due to health concerns in February. He passed away on December 11, 2011 at age 76 in Darby, Pennsylvania.


"We look to forward the cause of peace in the Holy Land — that’s the Holy Father’s burning desire — and to stopping the exodus of Christians, to make more available the holy places to more people and to encourage pilgrimage to the Holy Land."  --Archbishop O'Brien in an interview with CNS.

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Celebrating Mass at Saint Peter's Tomb on Jan. 16, 2012:

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl (center) with Cardinal-designate Edwin O'Brien and Archbishop Timothy Broglio to his left. (Photo: CNS)

This marked the beginning of the ad limina visit to the Holy See for the bishops of Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, the Virgin Islands and the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services.

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New member of the College of Cardinals Edwin Frederick O'Brien receives the red biretta from Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 18, 2012. (Photo: Franco Origlia, Getty Images Europe)

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Among the twenty-two new cardinals created that day were two from the United States, both sons of New York: Cardinal O'Brien and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. (AP Photo)

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New Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien is congratulated by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, personal secretary of the Holy Father, during the courtesy visits at the Paul VI Hall on February 18, 2012 (Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images Europe)

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Archbishop of Baltimore-designate William E. Lori, along with Cardinal O'Brien, prays at the crypt of Archbishop John Carroll in the Baltimore Basilica on May 15, 2012, the eve of his elevation as the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore, Afterwards a vespers service was held there at the Basilica. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun / May 15, 2012 )

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Twenty-year reunion for the Pontifical North American College Class of 1992. Cardinal O'Brien was their seminary rector at the NAC:

From left: Fr. Brian McGrath, Msgr. Jim Checchio (the current rector of PNAC), Fr. Don Henke, Bishop Paul D. Etienne, Fr. Brian Hayes, Bishop Liam Cary, Bishop William Waterscheid, Msgr. Charles Antonicelli; kneeling Fr. Joe Fonti, with Cardinal O'Brien. (Photo: Bishop Paul D. Etienne

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On the eve of his first trip to the Holy Land as Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Cardinal O'Brien said he hoped to encourage the region’s Christian minority with a message of solidarity from Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholics in the West.

Shown here in his Rome residence on November 24, 2012, Cardinal O'Brien shows near a replica of the crosier of Pope John Paul II and other personal mementos. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

“The church in the Holy Land has been under unfriendly domination throughout the centuries, and the fact that we still exist there is almost a miracle... We have to do everything we can as a Catholic people to encourage them and to let them know that we are one with them in their struggle.” --Cardinal O’Brien told Catholic News Service

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Video:





Enjoy this two-minute video with Cardinal O'Brien previewing his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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Cardinal O’Brien is greeted by students at the Catholic seminary in the West Bank town of Beit Jalla on November 28, 2012.

His Eminence was making his first visit to the Holy Land as Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, a chivalric order that supports church institutions and Christians in the Holy Land. (Photo: CNS/Heidi Levine

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Flashing back to 2009:

Ten Episcopal nuns, all members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor convent in Cantonsville, Maryland, along with their chaplain, Father Warren Tanghe, became Catholics during Mass in their chapel back on September 3, 2009. Archbishop O'Brien blessed each of them as they renewed their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Four years later on the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1, 2013:

The All Saints Sisters of the Poor look back to their feast day in 2011:

"For us Sisters, the Feast of All Saints has always been special since it is our Titular Feast, but since 2011, it has taken on even more importance. On that day, in the Basilica of the Assumption, in Baltimore, which is also the first Metropolitan Cathedral in the United States, we were erected as a new institute of Consecrated Life in the Roman Catholic Church, and our public vows."--All Saints Sisters of the Poor

Photo of the Sisters with then-Archbishop O’Brien following that November 1, 2011 Mass.

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Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien at the March 20, 2012 press conference announcing that Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport was named the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore at the Baltimore Basilica. (Photo: Baltimore Sun/ Karl Merton Ferron)

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The Installation Mass for William E. Lori as the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore on May 16, 2012 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Archbishop Lori was shown wearing the pectoral cross that belonged to Archbishop John Carroll, the first United States bishop and first Archbishop of Baltimore.

With Cardinal O'Brien is retired Auxiliary Bishop William Newman (far left), and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States (second from left).

(Photo: Catholic Review)

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Cardinal O'Brien dedicated a new Latin Patriarchate school at Rameh (Northern Galilee) on November 29, 2012. He was joined by Patriarch Fouad Twal, as well as Bishop Marcuzzo, the Patriarchal Vicar for Israel who originated the project 18 years prior.

“I had prepared a written text, but when I saw the crowd, the followers of the different religions living together in joy and brotherhood, when I saw the enthusiasm of the parents and the students, I set aside my speech and my heart … spoke.”'--Cardinal O’Brien

The first stone for the building project had been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI at his Mass in Nazareth on May 14, 2009 during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For the village of Rameh, population 8,000, with 51% Christian, 29% Druze, and 20% Muslim, the school is central to the unity of its people. The Patriarch noted that “the school was not only a place of learning but also a place of dialogue between religions and culture, which must always be at the service of man and the construction of new bridges of friendship and love for all without distinction.”

(Photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

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King Abdullah of Jordan met with Cardinal O'Brien and the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Fouad Twal December 2, 2012 in Amman. They discussed the fragile situation in the Middle East and their quest for lasting peace. (Photo)

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Who could ever forget the day that Pope Benedict XVI told the world that he was stepping down from the papacy?

On February 11, 2013, Cardinal O'Brien and his priest-secretary Msgr. Adam Parker witnessed the historic announcement from Pope Benedict XVI. This photo was taken by Msgr. Parker immediately following the announcement and published by The Catholic Review.

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American cardinals gather at the Pontifical North American College before the March, 2013 conclave:

From Left: Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Francis George, Cardinal Seán, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Cardinal Edwin O’Brien (Photo: BostonCatholic-Flickr)

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Cardinal O'Brien greets newly-elected Pope Francis (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

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Cardinal O’Brien, the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem carries woven palm fronds in the procession for Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on March 24, 2013. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

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Thank you, Your Eminence, for your outstanding service to our Archdiocese and your commitment to peace and understanding in our world.

We are grateful for your ministry and assure you of our prayers.

Ad multos annos!!

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The coat of arms of Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien:

Father Edwin Frederick O'Brien was ordained a bishop by New York Archbishop Cardinal John J. O'Connor at St. Patrick's Cathedral on March 25, 1996, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop O'Brien chose as his episcopal motto: Pastores Dabo Vobis ("I will give you shepherds") from Jeremiah 3:15.




October 02, 2014 01:54
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Thirty years later: Remembering Lawrence Cardinal Shehan and his legacy to the Church and to Baltimore


Omnia in caritate "All things (be done) in charity." (I Cor. 16:14):

The motto of Lawrence Cardinal Shehan (Photo: Archdiocese of Baltimore)


Looking back thirty years:

The summer of 1984 was extremely hot. And I would know, as I was expecting my daughter Meighan. But the overwhelming heat did not keep me and several thousand other faithful Catholics from attending the August 30 Funeral Mass for our beloved shepherd: a role model of staunch faith and a pioneer in the fight for human rights, fair housing, racial equality, Catholic education, and a leader in ground-breaking ecumenical relations.

Cardinal Lawrence Joseph Shehan, the twelfth Archbishop of Baltimore, passed on to Eternal Life on August 26, 1984 at the age of 86. Born in 1898 on Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore City to Thomas P. and Anastasia Dames (Schofield) Shehan, Shehan went to school at St. Ann’s right down the street, before going on to study at St. Charles (high school) College Seminary, St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he was ordained on December 23, 1922 at St. John Lateran Basilica.

I had a particular love for Cardinal Shehan since he had confirmed me, as well as had founded John Carroll School (1964) where I spent 33 years of my career. It was an honor and a privilege to pray with people from every walk of life who honored his memory at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on that bright, sunny day, August 30, 1984.

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"Without question, he was a man who was convinced of the mission of the church. His entire life, up to the end, was devoted to having people appreciate the civilizing influence of the church." —Archbishop William D. Borders, the 13th Archbishop of Baltimore


Funeral Mass booklet, alongside “A Blessing of Years: The Memoirs of Lawrence Cardinal Shehan”


Some of the highlights of the Cardinal’s more than six decades of ministry:

1. Parish ministry at St. Patrick Church, Washington, D.C.;

2. Catholic Charities in D.C.: Assistant Director from 1929-36, then Director from 1936-45;

3. Auxiliary Bishop to the archbishop of Baltimore and Washington in 1945;

4. Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Baltimore in 1947;

5. Named first Bishop of the newly-established Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut by Pope Pius XII (serving from 1953-1961);

6. Twelfth Archbishop of Baltimore (from 1961 until his 1974 retirement);

Archbishop Shehan throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game on Holy Name Night at Memorial Stadium in 1964; Seated to the immediate right is then-Msgr. (later Bishop) Frank Murphy, who served the Archbishop as priest-secretary; On the far right is Father Joseph L. Muth, Jr.; (Photo/ Joseph F. Siwak)

7. Served as a Council Father for all four sessions of Vatican II (1962-1965);

Seen here in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 18, 1965 during a public session of the Second Vatican Council (Photo: AP/Gianni Foggia)

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Seen here in Rome after one of the Vatican II sessions, Cardinal Shehan, an unidentified monsignor, and Rev. James Laubacher, S.S., who served as "peritus" (expert) to Cardinal Shehan, meet with the Holy Father. (Photo: Society of Saint Sulpice)


8. Elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1965; Was the second cardinal in our Premier See following Cardinal James Gibbons;

Cardinal Shehan’s Cappa Magna (great cape) is on permanent display in the museum room on the lower level of the Baltimore Basilica (Photo: Cardinal Seán's Blog)

9. Became Archbishop-Emeritus in 1974, continuing to live at the Basilica and celebrating early morning Mass there every day until his illness in 1984;

Last official duty before retirement: While serving as papal legate for Pope Paul VI to the 40th Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne, Australia in 1973, Cardinal Shehan presided over an Aboriginal Mass attended by almost 30,000. This liturgy featured “100 aborigines in full war paint and native dress performing an interpretative dance of the Last Supper in lieu of the first scripture reading.” (Photo: MDHC Archdiocese of Melbourne)

10. The final resting spot for Cardinal Shehan is the crypt of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.


Did you know?...

A. Cardinal Shehan ordered the desegregation of all the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1962, and mandated that administrators at all Catholic hospitals and institutions abide by a strict practice of nondiscrimination.

B. A champion for equal rights and harmonious race relations, he issued a pastoral letter Racial Justice (italics) in March of 1963, stating that "discrimination has no place in the Church."


C. Five months later, Cardinal Shehan participated in the March on Washington (August 28, 1963) with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


"In his work with the Bishop’s Conference, Cardinal Shehan was instrumental in shaping the rules and the changes for the diaconate that enabled African Americans to become deacons." —Charles Tildon, appointed by Cardinal Shehan as the first chair of the Archdiocesan Urban Commission in 1966


D. Cardinal Shehan joined other bishops in appealing to the Supreme Court in 1967 to overturn bans on interracial marriages.

E. A leader in ecumenism from 1962, he was appointed by Pope Paul VI to the Vatican Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and was named to represent the Holy Father at meetings with the Orthodox Church, which resulted in the lifting of the mutual excommunication made between Rome and Constantinople in 1054. (Cardinal Shehan also established this country’s first Commission for Christian Unity.)

Cardinal Augustin Bea, SJ (1881-1968), the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, visited Baltimore in 1963. A noted biblical scholar and ecumenist, he worked with Cardinal Shehan on Jewish and Christian relations both during and after the Second Vatican Council. Seen here with Cardinal Shehan at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. (Archives Photo)

F. He spoke out regularly against the Vietnam War, which he called (archbalt.org) "uncontrolled violence and senseless wholesale destruction of human life and moral values." He reiterated in 1971, ''It is a scandal the Christian conscience can no longer endure.''

G. He was unable to participate in the 1978 conclave due to the new changes implemented by Pope Paul VI that a cardinal over the age of 80 was ineligible to vote.


''I wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness at this time.'' —Part of a telegram sent by Pope John Paul II the week before Cardinal Shehan’s death; Seen here greeting the newly-elected Pope John Paul II after the 1978 conclave (Photo: Pontificia Fotografica Felici)

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Celebrating St. Joseph’s Day at St. Martin Home for the Aged in 1974; The adorable little one, now grown up with a family of her own, is Megan Wheltle. (Photo: "A Blessing of Years," University of Notre Dame Press)

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Short in stature, Cardinal Shehan often joked about his height. According to a New York Times article published upon his death:

“Once when asked about his success as a fund raiser, he quoted ''Shehan's Law'': ''The smaller the individual, the more likely he is to receive help from others.''

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Senator Edward Kennedy visits Cardinal Shehan, retired Archbishop, on May 11, 1980 while in Baltimore on his presidential campaign trip. (Photo: AP/William Smith)

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Cardinal Shehan School in Northwood celebrated their 25th anniversary last year with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lori on September 23, 2013: (Photo: Tom McCathy, Jr./ Catholic Review)

Archbishop Lori spoke of Cardinal Shehan during his homily: “He was a great friend of everyone... a great peacemaker in our community back in his day. We’ve gathered to celebrate a Mass to pray for peace and I know that all of you want a very peaceful, beautiful world.”

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Celebrating our 225th Anniversary:

As the Archdiocese of Baltimore celebrates this special anniversary year, may we always remember the legacy of this faithful shepherd who loved the Lord and His Church. May his example inspire us to live our lives standing up for peace and justice for all God's people.

Amen!!


Lawrence Cardinal Shehan (1898-1984)

(Photo: Catholic Review Archives)




August 28, 2014 01:55
By Patti Murphy Dohn


I'm not going back to school: Musings on my retirement



"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

--Anatole France, French journalist, novelist, poet (1844-1924)


For the first time in my life, I am not getting ready to go back to school.

My friends in education have been entrenched for the past two weeks in faculty meetings, new student orientations, and classroom preparations. And I have not been caught up in this educators' season of "August, the month of Sundays."

My summer, on the other hand, has included travel (from South Florida to Northwestern New York), special family events, and projects around the house. Most mornings have found me drinking coffee on the deck, reading the morning newspapers, and planning my low stress to-do list. There were no meetings, retreat prep, liturgical planning, or the juggling of orientation schedules.


Trusting in God's Providence:

I made a huge move three months and announced my retirement after 33 years of ministry at The John Carroll School. My husband had just retired at the end of March after almost 48 years in the business world. We prayed and discerned when might be the right time for me to join him in this new stage of our life together.  

Our trip to Italy in April found me praying privately at each basilica, shrine, and chapel, as well as the tomb of St. Francis, and St. Peter's Basilica for an affirming sign from “Up High” and a sense of peace that this was the right thing to do.

My husband though was the one who sealed the deal when he told me, "I'm healthy and you're healthy. We deserve to have some fun while we are able after all our years of hard work." George’s words came from the heart, recalling the early death of his first wife fourteen years ago. As for me, I agreed, understanding exactly where he was coming from… I had spent many years working closely with families who were going through crisis... whether it was serious illness, death, or a multitude of tragedies which would strike at any time at any age. Yes, we needed to step back and enjoy the journey ahead.



So now, after over 80 combined years in our respective careers, George and I are retired.

Almost everyone I encountered this summer asked me how I was enjoying my new retirement. And I always replied that it felt like summer vacation. And it has.

Until now.

Our public schools are back in session today and most of the private and Catholic schools are holding orientations and gradual openings. So it is finally sinking in that I am indeed retired.

One of my other newly-retired friends emailed me this morning and asked, "Doesn’t it feel a bit strange - and strangely wonderful - to not be starting school today?"  

The answer is yes. It is exciting to officially start this new chapter in our lives. But it is a bittersweet time as well. My heart is heavy as I will dearly miss the kids at school. They were the ones who inspired me for more than three decades to be ready to meet each new day and new challenge. I hold all of them close in my heart this week…. as I do their cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, and friends who also passed through the doorways of my John Carroll office and classroom over these many years.

And I will certainly miss my dear school friends. There are a handful of women and men who have been like family to me over the years. Our shared experiences and friendships have gotten me through the tough days and, though we will always be close, I will miss our daily interactions, morning coffee klatches, and lunch breaks.


“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream…” —C.S. Lewis

As for now, George and I are getting busy with our bucket list. We have lots of good things to tackle, many of which were previously set aside for when we had more time. Family, grandchildren, travel, hobbies, and good times with friends top our collective list. My personal list includes lots of long-term tasks, especially a number of archival projects that I started working on this summer.

As for the work that I loved and leave behind:

Change is good for everyone involved.

I wish all the best to the two people who were hired to take my place at school. I know that Gary and Michelle will bring new energy and new ideas to the school community. Their work is in my heart and prayers always. And many best wishes to all my friends, colleagues, and students who are starting a new school year: Godspeed!!

As I conclude this retirement blog, I recall the poignant prayer that has long been attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero. It speaks so eloquently of how we who minister, by our work, do plant and water the seeds for a future that we will not see:

And such is life as I venture on to the start of retirement.  

May God be with each one of us on the road of life as we transition into a new normal. Amen. 

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Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the church's mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

—Archbishop Oscar Romero*, martyred Archbishop of San Salvador (1917-1980)

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov., 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him. —USCCB Website



August 25, 2014 09:15
By Patti Murphy Dohn

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