Sunday, February 26, 2012


On Ash Wednesday we ended up in different churches for Mass; Bob at a crowded 6:30 AM Mass in the rectory chapel at Good Shepherd Parish, Charles at St. Joseph’s on Tulane, and John at St. Stephen’s Church at noon Masses.  So our Lent began.

During the week, Bob renovated the bookcase in our living room and the books now rest comfortably on sofas, chairs and tables awaiting a session of sorting and weeding out.  Bob and the remaining staff at Operation Helping Hands will soon be relocated to rented space in St. Gabriel’s Parish in Pontchartrain Park, more distant from us than the current location.  As part of the closing down, on Friday Bob drove a pick-up loaded with equipment to the manufacturer’s plant in Houston, Texas.  He did the 700 mile round trip in one day, leaving home at 4 AM and returning at 6:30 PM despite a back-up in Baton Rouge. 

On Saturday, Charles attended a morning workshop on caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  The conference was at Our Lady of Wisdom Health Care Center on the West Bank.  Charles was particularly impressed with the expansive, purpose- built facility that was better than anything he had seen in Arizona or California.  He noted that the treatment of those physically handicapped as they age is much different than that needed for persons with dementia.   Dementia patients require a different approach and skill set from caregivers.  Charles commented on the building accommodations, signage with large print, monthly calendars and dedicated space for a variety of activities so that things are not scheduled depending on room availability but rather on patient needs.

Br. Charles with Joe and his wife.  Joe mans the kiosk on Tuesday
On Sunday, the Presentation Sisters honored volunteers like Charles who aid the guests at Lantern Light Ministries.  There was food and fellowship, a brief but moving reflection and a short video presentation.  John met Fr. Perry Henry, CM, the Province Leader of the Vincentians in the Midwest; they staff St. Joseph Parish on Tulane Avenue where Lantern Light is located.  Fr. Henry said he had just seen our Province Leader, Br. Hugh O’Neill, in Tucson at a meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

This coming week, Charles and Bob will be back to their respective ministries while John will be in a different school/institution every day!  We are readying ourselves for a number of schools and individuals visiting us during March—one of whom we just heard about this week!  
Charles and Barry, Sr. Nancy and Sr. Pauline [Sisters of the Holy Faith]
The quote on the invitation to the “Celebration of Light” at Lantern Light Ministries stood out for us:
            “God is in the slums, 
                    in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. . .
            God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. . .
            God is in the debris of wasted opportunities and lives,
            And God is with us if we are with them.”

We spoke with the director at Lantern Light, Sr. Vera Butler, PBVM who told us that they must find a new insurer and it will triple their insurance.  The poor have few advocates who spend much of their time on direct service to their guests.  Our Volunteer Community tries to give what we can but it seems little in face of the needs.  However, we are hopeful, since we see how far the Sisters can make every donation and gift go! 

Right now, it is all about the money!  If you’d like to help a group that is making a real difference that we have seen and can testify to, send a check to: Lantern Light, Inc., 1803 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70112-2229. 

Sr. Enid Storey, PBVM and Charles.  He's paying attention!

Our Founder, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, was profoundly influenced by the Presentation Sisters; in fact he helped finance their work in Waterford while still in business, and later he adapted their rule of life and we were originally the Presentation Brothers!  He was not poetic like Bono; he simply wrote: “Give to the poor in handfuls.”

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