Christmas 2013 saw only Br. Charles at home; he celebrated with the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Faith at their apartment on Coliseum Street; coming home with a sizable goody bag. Bob was in Minnesota, John in New Jersey, Travis in Schenectady, Erika in the Poconos and Lauren on Long Island.
All were back for New Year’s; the volunteers went to the French Quarter; John stayed home and baked scones while waiting up for midnight; Charles and Bob managed to sleep through the fireworks in our neighborhood which were lovely, loud and illegal. On New Year’s Day there were four for dinner; Charles, Bob, John and Erika sat down to dinner; Lauren skipped the meal and Travis was at the airport to pick up John Petrullo who was home from Madrid for the holidays. It was a nice treat for us and John spent a few days visiting folks he worked with, especially at Lantern Light Ministry.
Most went back to ministry sights on January 3rd, Lauren was off from school and then had a bad cold or the flu. The Christmas Season lasts here through Twelfth Night to the Baptism of the Lord on January 12th. Then Mardi Gras begins and 'King Cakes' appear. Mike Petri, Iona '12, and a very close friend of Lauren's was here from the 14th to the 19th.
|Br. Bob, two visitors, Lauren, Ben Bovin from Manhattan, Mike Petri, [Iona '12]a friend of Lauren's, and a visitor.|
On January 17th eleven students and a staff member from Manhattan College came for dinner; they were LaSallian Volunteers here for a week of service. They came to us at the end of their time to meet our volunteers and have a group reflection, which Travis Wain facilitated.
|Travis led the Manhattan College student reflection.|
During the reflections, one of the students, in reflecting on her ministry experience in New Orleans, said about the people she had come in contact with: “I will always remember the resilience of their spirit and the softness of their hearts.” In this lyrical and beautiful line she captured the reason individuals and groups come to New Orleans, not so much to help others, but to experience a community where personal relationships, gratitude, resilience, faith and ‘softness of heart’ are palpable and real. One cannot spend time here in service, and having met the people, leave unmoved.
|The young lady on the right spoke of a resilient people with soft hearts.|
|Portrait with King Cake [and ice cream chasers.] Hey, this is New Orleans.|
|Visitors discover Blue Bell ice cream and King Cake. Let joy be unconfined!|
|That's Ben Bovin, our Manhattan College contact, on the right.|
|John Tran, All Hallows '12 and Ivan Borhoquez, All Hallows '12 flanking Br. John. They are very proud graduates and remembered Brs. Bechner, Dunbar, Hamilton and O'Toole and Mr. Sullivan's definition of family: Forget About Me, I Love You.|
In the year ahead, I hope you will have time to pause for moments of quiet reflection… the results can sometimes be surprising.
For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.
On the first Christmas, in the fields above Bethlehem, as they sat in the cold of night watching their resting sheep, the local shepherds must have had no shortage of time for reflection. Suddenly all this was to change. These humble shepherds were the first to hear and ponder the wondrous news of the birth of Christ - the first noel - the joy of which we celebrate today.”
[From Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas 2013 broadcast to the Commonwealth]
BLOG 01.21.14: A NEW YEAR