Friday, August 29, 2014


This blog entry is rather personal since it chronicles a number of events in John’s life as he marked 50 years in the Brothers.  Some happenings in the local community may be missed because the blogger was not there. 
Some of the Group of 1964
 JUNE: The Reunion

From June 10 through 24, John was in New Jersey to visit his brother and sisters, and to attend a reunion, in New Rochelle, NY, of men who joined the Irish Christian Brothers, as we were then named, with him on July 4, 1964.  After a few days with family, on Friday the 13th, Br. Kevin Bernard, now stationed in Peru, picked John up and they went to New Rochelle for an evening of pizza and tales.  On Saturday there was breakfast at what used to be the College Diner and more stories, followed by a campus tour, then Mass, then a lovely long lunch that went into the evening. 
Ray [John] Mackey, John Casey, Kevin [Jude] Barry

Ray [Raphael]Smith, Jim [Thaddeus] Shemanski, Jim Ryan--our musicians

Ray Smith, Reno [Anthony] Frigo the organizer, and Jim Shemanski

On Sunday morning there was a brunch in the tents set up on the back lawn of 21 Pryer Terrace, now home to the All Saints Community. The evident brotherhood was testimony to the experiences we had 50 years ago with Brothers who taught us by example what discipleship and brotherhood could be.  While only a few remain in the Brothers, it feels like the brotherhood remains in all of us.
John with Sr. Ona Bessette CND and Sr. Grace D'Amico SSND on his final day at Office of Educational Services shortly before  they surprised him at a dinner with a group from St. Philip Neri School where he'd been principal. John was clueless. 

John with: Patricia Casey, Bill Casey, Br. Kevin Bernard, and Mary Casey 
The trip gave John a chance to spend time with Kevin, who visited with the Caseys and spent some days traveling with John.  They found an extraordinary pie and lunch place in Red Hook, NY, visited the homes of two Hudson River artists: Olana [Edwin Church] and Cedar Grove [Thomas Cole] as well as visiting the community in West Park where they spent a morning in the graveyard gratefully reflecting on the men who shaped their lives. 

The reunion with the 1964 Habit Group, and the time with a friend savoring the experiences of a shared life in the congregation, was a foretaste of the Kingdom—on earth as in heaven; if one is just aware.

On John’s return to New Orleans, the community had Erika Enlund’s Mother, Grandmother and Aunt for dinner on the 25th.  It was a surprise visit; we had a lovely evening with the Enlunds the day before her birthday—which she spent with her family and some of her friends. The Enlunds got some sightseeing in and put in a shift at Lantern Light Ministries.

By this time, we had a visitor, Br. Patrick Donatus McCormick, a member of Br. Charles Joachim Avendano’s group.  Both will be 89 this Fall.  Br. Donatus was on his way from our now defunct community in Seattle to live in our Brownsville, Texas community.  He and Brother Daniel Thomas Lejeune came to be a presence in the house while Charles, and Bob and John went to the Province Chapter in Jacksonville, Florida in July.  Before that, to celebrate our Congregation’s Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on June 27th, we had dinner at our favorite Creole spot, Ignatius on Magazine Street.  Donatus approved.

On June 30th Donatus chipped in, with Br. Tom Lejeune, to help set up the Blessed Pauline Room for a local celebration of John’s Golden Jubilee.  Br. Bob, Br. Charles and Erika were at work. 

Steven Neier, Br. Charles, Erika, Br. Donatus, Br. John and Br. Bob at Vincent's

 We celebrated Erika's birthday on July 1 at Vincent's on St. Charles Avenue, a truly Italian restaurant, our Erika declared.  Br. Donatus realized he wasn't in Seattle anymore!

Mary and Patricia stayed at the home of Sr. Pauline and Sr. Nancy, Holy Faith Sisters who live nearby.  The Sisters were in Ireland for the summer.

On July third, John’s family, Mary, Patricia and Bill arrived; on the 4th Patricia joined John at the 6:30 AM Mass at St. Henry’s that marked the actual day John joined 50 years ago.  John and his family walked the French Quarter on the 4th—everything, including the Cathedral was closed, but they had a great lunch at the World War II Museum.
Casey's at Ignatius on Magazine Street on July 4th

On the 5th, the Brothers Community, and our two visitors renewed vows at a prayer service, John made [for him] brief remarks, and the guest enjoyed a wonderful reception hosted by the LaRoccas and Decossas.  The Superintendent of Schools was kind enough to come, as well as the Vicar for Religious, the former pastor of St. Henry’s and Fr. Doug Brougher at one of his first outings since hip surgery. Erika Enlund, our current volunteer, joined us, and we had a lovely surprise when Allison Maralado [2010-11] and Aaron Cook arrived.
Colleen LaRocca and Linda Decossas organized, oversaw, enlivened and hosted the Jubilee gathering.
On Sunday, the Caseys had Mass at St. Stephen’s Church, breakfast at ‘A Broken Egg Restaurant’, a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art and dinner at the Maple Street Café.  Monday John and his sisters visited Laura Plantation, his brother visited Magazine Street.  On the 8th the Casey clan departed.

Charles flew out on the 10th to visit relatives in Georgia, very near Jacksonville where Chapter was held.  Bob drove, with John as passenger, from New Orleans on Saturday, the 12th.  Chapter was a moving and memorable experience of community solidarity in these transformative and difficult days.  John was elected Secretary of the Chapter, which entailed keeping a daily blog.  That is on the Province website.  While this role entailed daily evenings fashioning and typing up a succinct but accurate report, it is believed he missed no evening social gathering.  It is also to be noted that both Br. Bob and Br. Charles went to the microphones and addressed the Chapter on matters of significance.

On the 12th, the St. Henry’s Annual Parish Reunion was held on the lawns of the house and on the first floor.  Tents were set up and it was a great success. 

During the Chapter, Erika kept an eye on Br. Tom and Br. Donatus; or vice versa depending on the author of the piece.  Erika also did an overnighter with the Presentation Sisters and affirmed especially their format for evening prayer.

Charles, Bob and John were back from Chapter by the 20th.  

Our community portrait.  Can you tell we'll miss Erika?  Sr. Monica Gundler SC took the picture before we left for dinner at Commander's Palace

 During the final week we had the Presentation Sisters for dinner on the 27th, and on the 29th we took Erika for a going away dinner at the epitome of haute cuisine in New Orleans, Commanders Palace.  It was superb and as over the top as one could imagine, from the choreography of the service, to the frequent replacement of iced water at your place.  From the turtle soup [with a shot of sherry of course] to the bread pudding soufflé, it was a send off and a celebration that all enjoyed.  Sr. Monica Gundler, SC, joined us so dinner was more inclusive. 
Ursuline dinner: Donna, Ginger, Kathleen, John, Bob, Regina, Charles, Carla, Mary Ann and Carolyn
 On the 30th we had the Ursuline Sisters Community in New Orleans, to dinner when Sr. Kathleen Finnerty, OSU, former Superintendent of Schools was visiting.  On the 31st we had a final community dinner for just ‘us’ at home—Bob cooked—Erika, Charles and Bob enjoyed!  Now remember, this is New Orleans, and food is important—and one has to eat.


Erika left New Orleans for home at the beginning of August; Charles flew to California for 10 days of vacation in Salinas with Dennis Dunne.  Bob continued both his work at St. Joseph’s Parish on Tulane Avenue and around the house, doing a number of repairs on the aging structure.  John had a series of meetings including a group discussing Archdiocesan observance of the upcoming Year for Consecrated Life; another with the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lancaster, and one with the advisory committee for the House of Charity, as well as meetings with a consultant for our volunteer program.   There was also the volunteer floor to ready for the next group coming in.

On the 19th, John Petrullo, [2012-13] arrived and spent several days with us while visiting friends in New Orleans.  That same evening, four young people from the Ursuline UK group came to stay on the volunteer floor.  Scott and Sarah Willins, Dan Lerintiu and Akif Rahman are part of a group of mostly young women who do 10 days of service each summer in New Orleans.  Scott and Sarah have been here before; now married they are chaperones.  It is great fun having a full house—they join us at breakfast time and John sees them when they come in at night—the Sisters have very full days planned for them. Charles and John accompanied the group when they went for dinner at the home of Moon and Verna Landrieu.  Moon Landrieu was formerly Mayor here, responsible for integrating City Hall in the 1960’s; he was later Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter administration.  His son is currently Mayor and his daughter is one of our two Senators in Washington, DC.  We had the entire student group for dinner on the 26th and they leave us on the 30th.
Ursuline UK group on August 26th after group reflection, ready for dessert

August 29th is the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The population, according to the Census Bureau,   is now around 370,000 in Orleans Parish; 100,000 less than in the year 2000.  In the metropolitan region, it is now 1.1 million; down from 1.2 million in 2000.  Progress has been steady, but slow—not unreasonably for the damage suffered.  


“When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
 Mary Oliver


BLOG 08.29.14

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