Monday, November 12, 2012


Catherine Drennan and a friend, Jen Gold, who was with Americorps in New Orleans in 2009-10 came to stay with us during Voodoo Fest the weekend before Halloween and stayed for a few extra days when Sandy intervened and return flights to the Northeast were cancelled.  It transpired that Catherine had welcomed a group from Iona College her year when John Petrullo was a student with responsibility for organizing the group.  Br. John figured it could have happened and then came the evidence. 
As Ryan Dannaher [in the yellow shirt] says:  "Who knew?"
 That’s Catherine on one side of Br. John and John Petrullo on the other side!  Catherine and Jen were delayed, but New Orleanians are used to being welcomed when we have to evacuate so it was good to be able to host others.  We went to dinner at Ignatius one night for old times sake; and for  the crawfish etouffe.

As Charles and Travis look on, guests are warned:  "Behave or no cake."
 On October 28th, the community celebrated Charles’ 87th with a gathering of people who minister with Charles at Lantern Light and folks we have come to know.  Sisters of the Presentation, Cabrinis, Ursulines, Charities and Notre Dames joined the volunteer community.  We had lots of finger food and cake—eight candles at the top and seven at the bottom so we did not set off any alarms. 

Moments before, John phones home:  "Br. John is threatening to withhold cake! 

The cake has arrived and is beautiful to behold.

Note how cake and shirt match.  Will you be able to do that on your 87th?
Joined by our refugees and at the suggestion of Jen Gold, we took Charles to Jacques-Imo’s on Oak Street on the Monday after—it was still in the octave.  The decorations and music there could best be described as ‘funky’ but the food is superb—and they even turned the sound system down a bit for us
Stephen Casey joined us from Jackson on Tuesday and visited Charles, Bob, John Petrullo, Travis Wain and Matt Beben at their ministry sites, and accompanied Travis and Matt to explore evening cultural practices in New Orleans during Halloween.  Stephen spoke of his recent time in Rome with Brothers from other congregations and got to see our domestic immersion experience here in NOLA.

Br. John was in Plano, Texas, November 3-4 at the National Religious Vocation Conferenceon a panel discussing volunteer communities.  While there he met Br. James MacDonald our vocation coordinator and a few others.  DeaconSteve DiMartino, an old friend and colleague was there, just back from Nairobi where he facilitated the congregation meetings.

Br. John returned on Sunday, the 4th and participated in a meeting at our residence of the Sisters of Christian Charity, whose founder, Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt stayed at 4219 Constance twice in the early 1870’s.  Travis Wain, John Petrullo and Matt Beben had welcomed the Sisters and their associates, helping them to set up their audiovisuals and get started while Br. John was flying back.

The week of November 5 saw Br. John in three of our Catholic high schools for the Discovery Walk program and in one of the parishes. 

Br. John with Iona Prep students and faculty for the reflection part of the evening.
On Friday, 19 Iona Prep students and four teachers who were staying at Camp Restore and working with the St. Bernard Community Project joined the community for Br. Charles special salad, [one person made a meal of it, it is that good], jambalaya, shrimp fettucine, and mountains of French bread—all courtesy of Fr. MichaelJoseph Nguyen, pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish  in East New Orleans.  After dinner we had a reflection/conversation upstairs and then ice cream and bread pudding. 

Iona Prep students exploring the culture of New Orleans
Matt just told Br. John dessert was delicious but is all gone. 
Br. Ray Vercruyusse was in town to make two presentations at a conference sponsored by the Elementary Department of the National Catholic Education Association.  He joined us for the evening; Matt did the honors and picked him up and returned him to his hotel.

On Saturday, the 10th we had a community outing to a “haunted” plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, some 35 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.  
The Myrtles, St. Francisville, Louisiana  They say it is haunted!
It is a lovely sight, they had a good restaurant attached, and it seemed  a fitting way to anticipate John’s birthday.  Go figure.   

Doing research?  Checking the score?  Calling for help?

Br. John asks: "Did we have lunch yet?"

"What do you mean,'Strike a pose'?"
 On Sunday, November 11, Bob Koppes set out driving to Cincinnati, Ohio for a meeting of the Catholic Volunteer Network coordinators.  

Br.John attended Mass in East New Orleans with the Iona Prep students at Resurrection of Our Lord parish.  That's Fr. MichaelJoseph Nguyen in the middle.  At the conclusion of Mass he asked Br. John to stand so the congregation could sing "Happy Birthday."  There being no place to hide, he did so.  On Sunday evening, the community went out to dinner for Br. John's birthday at the Rum House on Magazine Street which advertises its cuisine as Caribbean.  The chopped shrimp and the seared scallops were great!  And prices were reasonable, too. 


I vow to thee, my country—all earthly things above—
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago—
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Words: Cecil A. Spring Rice [1918]
Music: Gustav Holst

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