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September 3rd, 2003
I'm Staying in the Non-Profit World Because I Want To

It took me by surprise when my two very successful cousins, who both recently graduated from law school, said to me, “You’re going to have to stop doing this volunteer stuff because you’re making us look like money-loving consumer freaks.”
In a way, this statement affirmed my decision to stay another year (instead of going to grad school) at Campus for Human Development, the homeless adult day center in Nashville, TN, where I’ve worked the past year as a Jesuit Volunteer. And it put down their decision to be lawyers.
Catholic guilt?
But I think they missed the point. What I’ve come to realize this year is that it is important that we just do what we need to do to make it, try to do…

September 2nd, 2003
Nobody Drove Me to the Convent

“There I was, there I was, there I was… in the Congo .”
It was the first thing my friend Vinci blurted out after, “hello,” at our recent reunion. About ten years ago we were roommates and “There I was, there I was, there I was…” was the soundbite we picked up from some cheesy commercial.
An avalanche of images came rushing back. Words have such a power to bring up images…and ideas.
Father-what-a-waste
Like “Father-what-a-waste,”
a phrase someone I know had recently used about her boss, a Jesuit priest. I know it was only meant as a joke, but, really, you wouldn’t call your best friend’s husband, “Mr.-what-a-waste,” would you?…

September 1st, 2003
A Journey to Italy, a Reminder of Catholic Roots

They say you can’t go home again. In my case, its usually because someone has changed the locks on the door—so that I, literally, can’t go home again.
And being the transient that I occasionally find myself being, I got a chance to go to Italy this summer and visit my ancestral home—a tiny city in the Abruzzo region called Villa San Angelo; population 500.
There’s a little house there, among a bunch of other little houses (villas, by definition, have lots of little houses). And it’s such a cool connection to the past.
Before moving to America, nearly everyone in my family had been born in this house. My aunts and uncles, my grandpa, my great-grandpa, you get the idea. Just standing outside…

August 30th, 2003
Art's power to transform reality

Art has the power to transform us into something better, something greater, so long as we don’t merely place it on a pedestal. On my recent trip to Nicaragua, several images revealed the sensitivities of my heart in a way that I did not expect.
The streets in Leon, Nicaragua, were filled with youngsters hawking everything from small trinkets to newspapers to water. As we made our way to the Cathedral, other small children found their way to us, asking for food or money. Even in the Cathedral, there were dozens of people begging. I felt uncomfortable. My friend Ken, remarked that “we’ve learned to ignore the poor at home.” Here it wasn’t so easy.
Where’s Jesus?I decided to focus…

August 29th, 2003
Nothing to Do During the Blackout, New Yorkers Did Well

The power actually browned out—gradually—in our section of midtown Manhattan on August 14 at 4:10 p.m. But before ten full minutes had elapsed, everything was completely gone.
Like for most of those affected, the information came in slowly. We assumed it was just our immediate neighborhood. Then we heard it was the whole City. Then: New Jersey and Connecticut too.
Soon we got our ‘D’ batteries from the local newstand and got the full report off the radio—fifty million people across the Eastern Seaboard up to Toronto and Ottawa in Canada.
New Yorkers, of course, remember the infamous Blackout of 1977, when looting caused panic and millions of dollars in damage. No one knew if a similar fate awaited…

August 26th, 2003
Was It Just Me and My Possible Tumor - or Not?

It started with a simple physical. The doctor was almost done when, feeling my neck, she exclaimed, “Hello, what’s this?”
This turned out to be a lump , the size of a strawberry, nestled on my thyroid. It didn’t occur to me that it might be something to worry about. That is, until she called for another doctor’s opinion. They had never seen a lump that size before, which started my heart pounding like a Ricky Ricardo bongo solo.
Then she referred me to an oncologist.
Now I was worried
But I discovered that the fear of cancer was not foremost on my mind. Instead, I found myself thinking, “I may be sick and I’m alone.” That part, about being alone, was almost as scary as…

August 22nd, 2003
Finding Marguerite's Dream in the Red Rock Desert

Ash Wednesday, 1932
An art student stands on the avenue in New York City in 1932, looking up at the Empire State Building, recently completed.
Most people from around the world have been impressed by the mammoth structure, awed by its ramrod straightness. Inevitably some visitors think of King Kong.
But on that day Marguerite Brunswig, en route home from Ash Wednesday mass, saw in the building’s art decco structure something unusual—the bulging form of a Cross. And it spun in her head the idea of a cruciform, almost-Gothic church built in the manner of these massive modern buildings (she passed Rockefeller Center on the way to her 85th St. apartment).
Seventy plus years later I—adopted New Yorker, priest,…

August 20th, 2003
Acts of kindness and human nature collide in the Blackout

On August 14th, it seemed as though New York City had become a world where many of the usual rules didn’t apply�from walking in the middle of the street to offering a stranger a ride in your car. People tried selling flashlights for $50 apiece and water for $5.
But more than anything else, we probably used our feet to get us farther than we’d gone in a long, long time.
No need to rush…
There are only 12 blocks between my office and my boyfriend Andy’s apartment building in Times Square, but it took me a half hour to navigate my way through the maze of hot cars, horns blaring, and hot bodies pushing up against each other.
When I entered his darkened lobby I almost collapsed.
But I needed him to sign me in to get

August 19th, 2003
Discovering Our Powerlessness Without Electricity

We were at the third gas station before we knew we were screwed .
“No gas-no power!” a red-faced woman with a thick Newfoundland accent shouted as we pulled the car up to the pumps. Her hands sprayed sweat as she waved her cell phone wildly. “No power anywhere!”
My companion-an acquaintance on a hot day’s business trip to Montreal and back?blinked. She had driven 250 miles with me, a native Montrealer, as her navigator and, as the gas gauge jiggled at a quarter of a tank, she clearly needed direction. We had 110 miles left to go. How would we get home?
“We’re hooped!” the Newfoundlander wailed. She leaned against her dirty red pickup and sighed. The highway-side…

August 17th, 2003
A Mexican-American Woman, an African-American Woman, and an Afternoon Walk

Every human being has dignity and should be treated with respect.
It’s easy, isn’t it?Easy it should be to understand this concept. Not only does the Catholic Church teach it (Human Dignity). We are taught on the playground and in school from a young age to be respectful of one another.
It has been a concept that I have tried to model in my life. I thought of it as a way to be accepting, loving, and always seeing Christ in others. And this teaching had not challenged me in many ways because I have always thought of myself as an easy-going, very-accepting sort of person; that was until last week…
Interpersonal traffic accidentLast week, I stepped out of my new home near the lake in Chicago. I was prepared with…

August 17th, 2003
Canada Brings Gay Marriage to the World - Is the World Ready?

By all accounts, Gay Pride Week in Toronto was different this year. Normally, the festivities draw thousands of tourists to the capital of Ontario and the annual parade?that took place on Sunday June 29?can attract hundreds of thousands. This year, however, tourism was down. SARS paranoia, it seems, still spooks Toronto’s image. Hotels normally filled with Gay Pride revelers remained half empty.
It’s not just SARS, though, that has changed Toronto’s Pride celebration: it’s marriage. On June 10, the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that the province’s marriage laws were unconstitutional because they prevented same-sex partners from marrying. While the court’s…

August 17th, 2003
The Muddy Emotions Watching a Toddler in the Terrible Twos

Did you see that kid in the Wal-Mart a while back, the two-year-old flailing about red-faced and sobbing in the shopping buggy?
He might have belonged to me.
PDA’s—public displays of agitationA few months ago we reached a point where we couldn’t step foot in any public place without my son going through some degree of meltdown. He found endless things worth getting hysterical about—not being allowed to play in the clothing racks, the strange smell wafting through the public restroom. I reacted uselessly, hissing hushed warnings, threatening immediate trips home.
It was just so embarrassing, the public display of it all, the other shoppers’ dirty looks.
Much worse, I was growing uneasy…

August 14th, 2003
The Divine Possibilities of SCUBA for Two

We were on our honeymoon when Steve suggested I take a dive. SCUBA diving’s great, he explained. “The water, the fish-you’ll love it!”
I wasn’t so sure. In all my years of swimming, I always believed that the water’s surface was the place to be. What if I got cold or lost in the waves?
Steve, a certified SCUBA diver, thought I was nuts. And chicken. And he was right. For all the complaints of chill and disorientation, I was really afraid of being underwater and, of course, drowning. For the rest of our honeymoon and during the next year, Steve nagged me to dive. He said it was too divine an experience to miss.
Snorkel this
I took the plunge and, pathetically, snorkeled in our bathtub…

August 3rd, 2003
Service Call on the Road of Faith

Somehow, getting a flat tire in a church parking lot seems wrong. After all, I could have used that hour to get a head start to the beach. Joined friends for champagne brunch. Slept in and perused the Sunday paper over a soy latte . But nooo, I went to church.
And promptly parked on a nail. Obviously the Big Fella doesn’t play favorites, a fact that agnostics should find somewhat comforting.
To the shop, do not pass GoBut be it God or serendipity, I believed my flat tire occurred for a reason. Obviously I was not meant to be on the road at that particular time. So only somewhat grudgingly I steered my limping Toyota in the direction of the nearest auto shop, which I recalled had recently advertised their new Sunday hours.…

August 1st, 2003
The Confessions of St. Augustine and My Journey to Faith

As for every young man brought up in an Irish household, for me watching Notre Dame football on Saturday afternoon is practically a religion.
But that Saturday, in the autumn of 2000, there would be no Fighting Irish.
‘This time with an open heart.’
Instead, I found myself tucked away, in seclusion, in the basement of the Emory University law library.
Having just written a paper critical of St. Augustine’s Confessions, my professor, Ann Hartle, suggested I re-write the paper over the weekend. Her only piece of advice: “This time, read it with an open, sympathetic heart.”
At that point in my life, I was less than one year away from graduating college, soon to begin law school, and…

August 1st, 2003
Resolving Dilemmas of Conscience at Work

My friend Smita (name changed) refuses to write brochures and marketing material for companies because she feels uncomfortable “bending the truth.”
It’s common knowledge that brochures sometimes misrepresent product features, but she won’t write brochures at all, even though it pays well. She’d rather struggle and earn much less writing freelance articles, than go against her value system. To me, she’s a great example of how you can find God in the choices you make at work. Ironically, she’s an atheist.
Integrity in the moment of choiceMost of us spend eight hours a day at work. We deal with people, we make decisions, and we do the tasks that are assigned to us.…

August 1st, 2003
From the Supreme Court to L.A.'s Inner-City Schools

This summer seeping through the quagmire of continuous news coverage of disappearing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the latest J.Lo and Ben antics was news on the ongoing skirmishes over affirmative action.
But lost in any discussion was one of the root causes of low minority educational achievement—the abysmal state of public education in the United States.
Split decision—splitting hairs?In late June the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action as applied to the University of Michigan law school admissions policy—but struck down its undergraduate policy.
Why the difference? Well the court reasoned that the undergraduate program used quotas in determining admission…

July 29th, 2003
A Perspective on the Cost of Denying Women Ordination

Nearly six years to the day that I received my first theology degree, I was back in Boston at an ordination (see box below).
I was at the Episcopal cathedral, not the Catholic one. Jen, a former roommate, asked me and two other women friends from divinity school—a Jew-nitarian (and Wicca-friendly) minister and an Episco-Lutheran postulant to participate in her “deaconing” (being ordained a deacon) as presenters.

Ordination
In Christian churches ordination is the ritual by which the Holy Spirit is called down upon leaders of the community. In the Catholic, Orthodox, and certain other Christian traditions ordination is reserved for men only, while in most Protestant denominations it is open…

July 29th, 2003
Christian Faith Comes Alive on Pilgrimage in El Salvador

Summertime…and the living is on the go. This summer I headed south to El Salvador in Central America.
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful land country, but with a turbulent history that includes many modern-day Christian martyrs. The capital city, San Salvador, is a major Latin American pilgrimage stop.
San Salvador is not exactly Cancún—it’s not a fun vacation. But it is a deeply moving one—you get to know about some of the most courageous and extraordinary Catholics and people of faith of the last 30 years.
A few must see sites:Monseñor Oscar Romero’s house, next to Hospitalito Divina Providencia: Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador surprised the minority wealthy and the majority…

July 28th, 2003
A Young Mother Confronting the Hordes of Baby Products

I’ve never really been one for shopping, but after I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I started looking forward to all the impending trips to the malls and department stores. What fun hubby and I would have browsing for crib bedding and tiny little clothes.
The big yellow bookI bought myself a big yellow book to guide me through the process. It described all the products we would need to make our home fit for baby’s arrival, beginning with the array of options available for diapering and moving without pause through the cradles, car seats, strollers, high chairs, change tables, bottles, bottle warmers; things for swinging, toting, bouncing, cleaning, and rocking baby; things that would…

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