Monday, March 31, 2008

Latest Allison Bottke Book Tour starts here tomorrow

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents and the S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group Network are powerful resources to help parents and grandparents who have challenging adult children gain S.A.N.I.T.Y. in a world spinning out of control. Tell a friend in need…help change a life. Visit

Come back tomorrow when I talk with Allison about her latest and most personal book--perhaps it can help you deal with a similar situation.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Holy Spirit Inspries climb to Mt Kilimanjaro

7/2008 12:00:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article
Name: Bob Riley
Occupation: Semi-retired salesman
Parish: St. Alphonsus, New Munster
Book recently read: "Night and the Holocaust," by Elie Wiesel
Favorite movie: "The Quiet Man"
Favorite quotation: "Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser." - Vince Lombardi
(Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

Holy Spirit inspires fund-raiser to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald

A Lily Lake man has been taking charity fund-raising to new heights in aid of three charities close to his heart.

Bob Riley, a 66-year-old semi-retired salesman and trustee for St. Alphonsus Church in New Munster, devotes the majority of his non-working hours toward helping others. He recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Climb for Sight, Kenosha's Shalom Center and Farm of the Child, an organization he and his wife Susan have supported for years.

Based in Honduras, Farm of the Child is a community dedicated to caring for poor and orphaned children and which promotes the development of a productive society of devout Christians. Founder and father of seven children, Vincent Pescatore was killed in a plane crash on his way to the mission in 1996; his wife Zulena continues the work today.

"We got involved with Farm of the Child four years ago through a dear friend, Mike Frisby, who asked if we would like to help children in Honduras," he said. "Having been a foster home for over 30 years and having adopted four children in addition to our four biological children, it seemed a natural fit."

Married to Susan for 48 years, the couple has 15 foster children in addition to their eight children -Michael, Kelly, Shannon, Sean, Paul, Mariza, Jean and Christopher.

Because of his unique fund-raising ideas and contagious enthusiasm, Riley recently was appointed director of the organization's development committee and chose to climb Africa's largest mountain from Jan. 28 through Feb. 2, as his initial effort to raise funds for the group.

"Basically my job as development coordinator means that I am the fund-raising person and as such I come up with different ideas, which is an area that I am very comfortable in," he said. "I spent 35 years raising money for Maryville Academy in Des Plains, Ill., where Fr. John Smyth handled 1,200 children a year and while they received state subsidies, we raised all the monies for the extras and established a fund whereby every child could attend the college of their choice for four years."

Beginning at 6,000 feet, Riley climbed the 20 miles to the highest summit, raising $30,000 for Farm of the Child by asking people to pledge an amount per foot.

Riley came up with the idea to climb the northeastern Tanzania mountain, whose Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet is its tallest point, from a friend who is involved in Climb for Sight. The challenge to climb appealed to Riley who has completed 11 marathons and 10 150-mile bike rides to raise funds for multiple sclerosis under his belt.

"This climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro was extremely difficult and far exceeded the marathons that I ran," he said. "It took six days and a very intensive training schedule."

Although Riley was in excellent physical shape, he sought a personal trainer through Aurora Fitness Center to prepare for the rigorous climb. Focusing on upper body strength and improving balance, he ran many flights of stairs with a 16-pound backpack strapped to his back.

To remain focused throughout the climb, Riley prayed three rosaries on the way up the cold and treacherous mountainside. The Holy Spirit and the words of Fr. Smyth echoing in his mind each day also motivated him.

"When we die and we are standing before God, he will say, 'Robert, I gave you some talent and what did you do with it?'" he said, adding, "No matter how much we give, we have never missed a meal or gone without, so I guess we have much more to give."

In addition to the challenge of combining two parish councils with one priest and two parishes - St. Alphonsus merged with St. John the Evangelist in Twin Lakes - Riley's next big effort is to raise $25,000 for the Shalom Center.

"I have been involved there for 10 years as a volunteer in the food pantry," he said. "Last May, the board asked me to join the board as director of fund-raising and also get involved in the capital campaign for a new building and $4,500,000 effort. This is a great interfaith organization and I dedicate my work to my deceased sister, Colleen, who was also homeless in the later years of her life."

In addition to his other charitable work, Riley continues to volunteer with Multiple Sclerosis Society and helps with several Illinois food pantries. He attributes his desire to help others to the Holy Spirit.

"My faith is the base of all my endeavors and I like to believe that I am guided by the Holy Spirit and not driven by my obsessive-compulsive personality," he said. "I will go wherever the Holy Spirit leads me."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jelly Beans and giggling girls

There is simply nothing like yellow organza dresses on little girls, or petite lavender blossoms on a light blue backgrounds.

Nieces Valerie and Heather entertained Blaise and I yesterday with giggles, tickles, games, coloring and some good natured squealing.

Oh how wonderful to be 4 and 5 again.

The intelligence of little ones these days is astounding, when we were about to play a card game, Blaise and I got mixed up on the directions so we asked them to get out another games.

I was looking at the board and mentioned to the 4 year old--Heather that I hoped I could figure it out.

With a quick retort she chirped, "Auntie Karen, This game is quite simple, I honestly don't know how you could mix it up."

Then the touching picture of 80+ Sister Norena biting a bead off of Heather's candy necklace was enough to make me tear up--and later sitting on a tiny table coloring with them and a glass of white wine by her side--priceless!

There is truly nothing like spending holidays with family--God bless us all

Friday, March 21, 2008

St Catherine Residence continues mission of helping women

St. Catherine Residence continues mission of helping women

Sisters of Mercy facility expanding

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - Valerie Yelk is proof that change is possible.

With a little support, backed by a transitional housing program, Yelk, 30, is a new woman with a new life.

Ever since she walked into the offices of St. Catherine Residence seeking help three years ago, she has broken her cycle of searching - searching for meaning, family, future, or a place to call home.

"I was really going through transition in my life and heard about St. Catherine from a friend," Yelk said. "I don't know where I would be without them; I don't have any friends or family to stay with. They literally saved my life."

Because of the support services, counseling and guidance offered by St. Catherine, Yelk is working, volunteering and planning to return to college.

"I think St. Catherine gives women great support, but also gives you time to re-evaluate your life and decide where you want to go," she said. "It is a launching pad for achieving future goals."

The mission to help low income women become independent began 114 years ago after Milwaukee's Mayor John Koch approached the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas to develop a program to teach women to become self sufficient.

According to president Lynne Oehlke, the sisters responded by opening St. Catherine Residence, a rooming house where women paid modest rent, learned a skill and belonged to a community of women helping women.

"The first residence housed, I'm told, 20 women," she said. "In 1913, a second, larger residence was built for 200 women. Both residences were located on land owned by Marquette University on Sycamore Street. The marketable skills for women at that time were cleaning, child care, sewing and teaching, which the Mercy Sisters taught to the women who could stay until they had sufficient skill to support themselves."

McAuley Apartments to expand mission

Keeping to its original mission and philosophy is key to St. Catherine's success, and the reason behind its latest 46-unit expansion, the McAuley Apartments. Named after Sisters of Mercy founder Catherine McAuley, the building, slated to open in August, will offer one and two bedroom apartments, on-site laundry facilities and exercise equipment. The facility will allow residents to move into their own safe, affordable apartment while remaining connected to the SCR support system.

Since its inception, more than 17,000 women have benefited from one of St. Catherine's four housing opportunities, each tailored to the individual goals of the residents, said development director Debbie Hangsterfer.

"All tenants pay rent and agree to be involved in off-campus activities of school, employment, day programs or volunteer service," she said. "Each resident identifies three employment, education, personal and/or family goals she wishes to accomplish while at St. Catherine and the majority reach some or all of their goals by the time they leave. Upon exiting SCR, they are asked to complete a survey about reaching their goals. Seventy-five percent report achieving their educational goals; 80 percent accomplish employment goals, 71 percent report financial stability, and 95 percent reached personal goals."

The facility offers traditional housing for women in the midst of change, independent living for women 17 years old and preparing to leave the foster care system, Right Start for pregnant, single women over the age of 18, and Next Step for homeless women in treatment for an addiction or who have a behavioral health diagnosis. After completing an initial treatment phase, they move to SCR for their continuing recovery.

Women from 17-70 served

While serving women ranging in age from 17 through 70 might seem to pose a generational challenge, the residents appreciate the camaraderie and ability to learn from others.

Living with multiple sclerosis would have been much more difficult if 59-year-old Mary Charles of Wauwatosa had not found SCR eight years ago.

"The residents and staff are always ready to help and are very kind," she said. "I enjoy spending time with them, giving of my time and praying for their needs."

With degrees in respiratory therapy and journalism, Charles devotes her free time to volunteer work. She helps with the bulletin at her parish, St. George, Eastern Greek Catholic Church, takes care of her father two days a week, and plans to attend a religious national convention for her church in California.

"Coming to SCR expanded my view on life and it has been great meeting all the people here," she said.

Charles' success inspires Oehlke.

"I have a special place in my soul for women, and a place to hang your hat or to call home is a fundamental need right along with safety," she said. "When a person doesn't have a safe home and a safe neighborhood, every ounce of mental and physical strength is sapped seeking it. Sometimes, women seek it through abusive relationships, through being dependent when, in fact, they have all of the potential they need to take good care of themselves. Sometimes a woman has a physical barrier that limits her earning power or makes ordinary living more difficult. Sometimes a woman just needs a safe and affordable home from which to get her bearings before and during her journey toward being a better educated and employed member of society."

Residence encourages personal growth

Providing the network of friendships, information and the connection to community resources is another facet of SCR

"Most women leave financially more secure than when they came," said Oehlke. "We have women graduating college, especially the medical technical fields, and women who have found a good paying job with benefits. My impression is that they go on to have productive, satisfying lives."

One of the younger residents, Tasha Levy, 22, came to SCR 15 months ago with her mother and siblings.

"We had some family circumstances and she decided it was the best place for us to live," Levy said. "I am taking classes at MATC and really enjoy it. I'll be choosing a major in the fall and think I would like the culinary arts."

Growing closer to her family and learning independence is a priority for Levy who plans to complete her education and continue working in the call center at Metavante, and as a customer service representative at H & R Block.

"Tudy Tucker, one of the staff here has really been a mentor of mine," she said. "I really admire her, she helped me a lot last summer and encouraged me to get out and do more things."

Spiritual growth also occurs

Spiritual direction and Sunday Mass is offered by Capuchin Franciscan Fr. Matthew Gottschalk of the House of Peace. Although the original charter from the Sisters of Mercy was to welcome women of all faiths or with no religious affiliation, more than half of the women use the chapel outside of Mass for spiritual reflection.

For Yelk, SCR helped her grow closer to God and mature in her faith.

"My relationship with God and living here at St Catherine has allowed me to practice my faith," she said. "Without God in my life I would not be responsible and wouldn't be here today. I was living in the now and I look back and see that I am responsible. I pay my bills on time, and get to work on time - this is all because of God. I cannot take credit for it."

Racine Dominican offers peek behind Iron Curtain

/20/2008 12:00:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article
Fluent in Slovak, Racine Dominican Sr. Mary Raynoha has been helping to translate narratives of Slovakian sisters who survived communism into English. “Now I know why God let me live this long,” said the 91- year-old Racine Dominican. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Racine Dominican offers peek behind Iron Curtain

Sister part of project documenting ‘Sister Survivors of European Communism’

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald

RACINE - The first time Sr. Mary Raynoha heard the voice of God, it was to draw her to religious life.

The second time, it drew her to communist Czechoslovakia.

"I was looking at a Slovak newspaper and all of a sudden I heard his voice inside me and he said, 'Go to Czechoslovakia,' but I really thought that meant to take the next plane," laughed the Racine Dominican.

Two years later, in 1971, Sr. Mary obtained permission from her superiors to leave her order for the month-long journey to visit relatives in Slovakia.

"It was difficult to obtain permission because I have multiple sclerosis and because of the communism in Slovakia, they were worried about my safety," she admitted. "But a year before I went, my two sisters went on ahead and located a cousin who could make the requests to the community for me to go, so they paved the way."

While traveling to visit some of her 900 cousins, Sr. Mary also traveled to nine convents and learned firsthand what it was like to live under communist rule.

Project needed translator

Nearly 40 years later, the 91-year-old nun understands the purpose of God's second call to her. Two years ago, she read an advertisement in St. Anthony Messenger magazine about an international project documenting the lives of religious sisters who survived communism in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine.

Fluent in Slovak, Sr. Mary knew she would be able to assist Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia Margaret Nacke and Mary Savoie in translating the narratives of the Slovakian sisters into English.

"Now I know why God let me live this long," she admitted, "As it is really great to be a part of this history, and to be able to contribute to the good of all who will read the sisters stories."

According to Sr. Margaret, Catholic religious congregations, once flourishing in Central and Eastern Europe, suffered major crises resulting from political and ideological changes imposed by communist rulers on society in general and religious congregations in particular.

"The public life of congregations was interrupted for four decades by these outside forces, depriving sisters of freedom, confiscating their properties, forcing them into exile and compelling many to manual work in factories, on farms and in mental institutions," she said.

Concerned that these sisters' stories would be lost to history, the two sisters from Kansas began efforts to preserve their words. In 2003, they began a project, "Sister Survivors of European Communism," and visited generalates of congregations in Rome whose members served in Eastern Europe during communism to ascertain the validity of such a project.

"We also collaborated with presidents of Leadership Conferences of Women Religious in the eight countries of our focus: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine in collecting data such as testimonies, photographs, books and documents," said Sr. Margaret.

Untold side of communism

According to Srs. Margaret and Mary Savoie the stories of the sisters are a significant and necessary aspect of Catholic history as they cover a side of communism about which most people are unaware.

"We know much about the Holocaust, but how many Catholics know that the communists focused on the liquidation of the Catholic Church?" remarked Sr. Margaret, adding, "Although it was obviously unsuccessful."

For Jesuit Fr. Michael Fahey, a Marquette University theology professor, the project is an opportunity to preserve historical data not generally found in text, as the information exists solely in the memories of those who lived the experience.

"We may think as time passes for survivors that the pain is less," he said. "But this is not true, because as time passes, one has more time to think and reflect on the experiences and the losses."

'God watched over me'

For Sr. Mary, the opportunity to translate the sisters' words was important, but more importantly, she understood firsthand what they experienced as she traveled from convent to convent meeting many of them, all the while not realizing her own life was in jeopardy.

"God really watched over me because although I was in the country, it was a miracle that I got out," she said. "I had no idea that there were restrictions against Catholic religious going over there until I was ready to leave. At the end of the checkpoints before I was to fly home, they weren't going to let me leave because I had 'Sister' on my passport. But about a half hour later, a Serbian came along and took me to the airport in an ordinary car; I gave him a dollar and got to my plane on time. Somehow God blindfolded all those who looked at my passport because they didn't want religious coming in the country - especially not into the convents."

Reading the 37 testimonies of the Vincentian Sisters of Satmarok, Slovakia, edified and strengthened the faith of Sr. Mary during the five months it took to translate the 105 pages into English.

"They are stories of courage and love of God and neighbor," she said. "Those stories will edify many people and help them also to follow their good example - and it could also strengthen a weakened faith."

Powerful testimonies

The testimonies paralleled many of the heart wrenching conditions she witnessed while visiting the nine convents. While visiting the Praemonstratentian Sisters on June 24, 1971, Sr. Mary learned from Sr. Emmanuela that the convent's chapel, gardens and grounds no longer belonged to the sisters.

"The communist state confiscated the convent and grounds and now, as owners, paid each sister about $31 or 500 crowns each month, of which each paid back $22 or 360 crowns for room and board," she said. "The sisters sold the produce to local dealers and gave the money back to the state."

The 50 Dominican Sisters in Nachod, Czech Republic, lived in a large Benedictine monastery with five other religious communities. The sisters spoke of a vastly different life than the religious sisters in the United States.

"In 1950, from all convents, the sisters had been dispersed to work in factories and on farms," she said. "In 1968, they were allowed to teach in schools for two years and the elderly were concentrated in special places."

A 1969 Salesian newspaper describes much of the horror directed at the religious during that time.

"In 1950 there were 10,000 nuns. There are now 7,646 left. Of these, 5,000 work at some job while the others live from a pitiful pension. In the night of April 1950, trucks stopped before all the convents and the doors were battered in. They were summarily carried off on the long road of suffering. They were taken under police supervision and interned as prisoners. Afterwards, they were set to work as forced laborers in weaving mills, in lumber mills, on state farms, at tasks quite different from anything they have been trained for ... they were willing and worked hard for almost nothing. Finally they were concentrated in ruinous institutions in remote districts without contact with their community or colleagues."

Cruelty strengthened faith

Many religious were unable to withstand the hardships and died. Despite their hardship, most retained their vows and bore no grudge for their mistreatment. Instead of breaking their faith, the isolation and cruelty seemed to strengthen it, including those around them. Incredibly, more young women aspired to become nuns. In 1984, Sr. Terezia Vargecka, whom Sr. Mary met in Olichov on June 12, 1971, visited the Siena Center and shared some of the stories with her.

"She said the girls dressed in secular clothes so the state would not know, and they lived in various places and met at night," she said. "In 1985, Sr. Terezia wrote to me, 'We have given ourselves into the service reserved for him and his brothers and sisters. From thence comes that true peace: to serve him and all with love, in every circumstance of life. Even when sometimes it is very difficult, when we would rather flee from the flight."

Sr. Mary learned that priests were also victimized, as she met a persecuted bishop living in secret while on a riverboat trip in Umela Oravaska, Jazero.

"We met three young graduates, and a fine, middle-aged man who knew some English. He interpreted some difficult words for me and translated some of mine for the students," she said. "On the way off the boat there was a plank to be crossed. I said to this man, 'Since I have multiple sclerosis and I am not sure-footed, will you give me a hand here?' He replied, 'Yes, gladly, and it is a consecrated hand.' I expressed my joy that he was a priest and asked his name and location of his parish. He replied, 'I can't tell you my name and my parish is all of Czechoslovakia.' No doubt, this was the 'secret bishop,' Jan Korec."

Ordained a bishop in 1951, and arrested several times, Cardinal Korec wrote 60 books on religious freedom and published more than 15 abroad. Working underground, he continued his mission until the revolution to end communism began in 1989. He was appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1991.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Triduum

My favorite season of the Church year and despite Blaise's sore knee from surgery two days ago, we will be there each of the three days--with joy and appreciation for our my reverant and holy faith.

Knowing what he was about to suffer, Jesus of took bread in his hands on a Thursday evening and broke it and with that, began the series of events leading to his crucifixion and death. Christ, the beloved Son of God, rose triumphant on Saturday evening and put an end to death forever. The holy days are key to our salvation and confirmed the final covenant between God and people.

The combined celebrations are called the Paschal Triduum. Paschal refers to the Paschal Lamb that was central to the Jewish feast of Passover. Three of the gospel accounts tell us that the last meal that Jesus ate with his friends on Holy Thursday was the Passover meal. The Gospel of John, stressing the significance of Jesus as the Lamb of God, has the Crucifixion occurring on the day of Passover at the time when the Paschal Lambs were being slaughtered at the temple for use throughout Jerusalem.

In the Jewish tradition, Passover is the time to reflect on God's saving actions in the life of Israel. It marks the first covenant that God made with his people. The Lord's angel "passed over" the homes of the Jews marked with the blood of the lamb that had been sacrificed and made it possible for the Jewish people to flee the slavery of Egypt. Many years before, God had promised Abraham that his descendants would have a homeland and that they would be a blessing to all the world. The movement of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom is the fulfillment of that covenant.

Jesus came to bring a new covenant between God and his people. This covenant would be sealed not with the blood of a lamb, but as the true Lamb of God-sealed with his own blood. His was the perfect offering because his offering brought more than freedom from slavery. It brought freedom from death. Jesus yielded to a death he had the power to avoid. He knew that we all will one day face the terror of death. The death he faced was more diabolic than any we can imagine. He was condemned by his religion, executed as a common criminal, deserted by his friends, and suffered unspeakable anguish.

On either side of this painful and disgraceful death, Jesus offered us gifts of immeasurable value. Before his death, he left us with the sacrament of the Eucharist, a guarantee of his presence among his people in a special way until the end of time. At his Resurrection, he removed the sting of death from the lives of those who believe in him and his promises.

Each of the three liturgies--Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday-are days of love. Holy Thursday is humbling and blessed. Can you feel what the disciples felt as we celebrate the anniversary of the Eucharist. Can you relate with the Garden of Gethsemene as Jesus asked his dicsciples to stay awake with him for a little while?

Can you keep a dry eye at Good Friday services as the priest prostrates himself before the altar, wince at the sound in our hearts of Jesus' scourging, and venerate the cross with our quivering lips. My tears cascade down my cheeks when I imagine his sacrifice and feel His love permeated through it.

The most beautiful and awesome liturgy of the year is the Easter Vigil. The church is plunged into darkness, and we depend solely on the light of Christ. The haunting melody of the Exsultet echoes throughout the walls, and we hear the history of God's fidelity to his people. Suddenly, the lights are thrown on, the bells ring, and we sing "Glory to God" with full hearts and clear understanding.

It is all one thing. The selfless gift of the Eucharist, the selfless death, and the victorious Resurrection are all one great act of love from a pursuing God who could not have devised a better plan for entwining our hearts with his. The Triduum is exhilirating and inspiring and hopefully will stay with me through the year. Have a blessed Paschal Triduum everyone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Little Sister

Take a look at this website,
This is a site about a movie created by a new friend of mine, named Greg Lavin. Made for the youngest set in our lives, Little Sister is a charming story about 4 year old Cora Davis who spends the day feeding the baby animals on the farm with her mother.

She falls asleep after her busy morning and dreams that the babies have become separated from their mothers and tries to reunite them.

The movie is peaceful, calm and loving--and according to many who have reviewed it, in a similar feel as one might experience while watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

I have written a couple of articles about this production and really, go have a look at the movie--it is under $20 and those under age eight will thank you for it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Burned out today

Well Blaise had arthroscopic knee surgery today and he is doing great--but I am exhausted. It's hard for the person NOT having surgeries or procedures done because you sit and worry. It isn't like this is the ONLY thing he has had done lately, either--we've gone through several cardioversions, a couple of coronary ablations, neck fusion, stents, heart catheterizations, and a myriad of other things.

So get this, the doctor comes in and tells me that all went well and he will be up and around in no time. He should use the crutches, should take it easy, not drive, yadda yadda yadda. I am bobbing my head like one of those little plastic birds that dip their heads in a glass of water and when Blaise comes back from recovery, share my newfound knowledge.

He uses the crutches in the hospital.
Uses the wheelchair
throws the crutches in the back seat of the car
uses them to get into the house and leaves them in the laundry room.
There they sit, thumping against the washing machine as it churns the clothes--bang ba bang ba bang.
He has not used them since.
He says he is fine
No pain.
Doesn't need them.
I shouldn't worry about him ripping out anything.


Now, where did I put that liter of Irish Whiskey?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Promises to Erin

So my 13 year old son, Erin asked me the proverbial question..."Mom, if we are really Irish--why don't we eat Irish food?" Not to be blindsided by his comment, I quickly retorted, "Because you probably wouldn't like it."

Now, that wasn't fair, after all, I do enjoy black and white pudding, hare, lamb and pigs head--just don't tell me what they are until I am finished eating!

So, today of all today--on his feast day-Erin's middle name is Patrick, I am making traditional Irish fare. Truth be known, we do enjoy soda bread quite often--and some mornings a bit of streaky rashers, beans, eggs, pratie farls, and lemon curd--it's just that I am not often fond of the other traditional fare.

Tonight's menu is:

Lamb stew and colcannon

Sultana and seed soda bread

Glazed Irish Tea cake

Céad míle fáilte romhat!

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Rath Dé ort!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A bit of Gaelic Philosphy For ye

In life, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you are well or you are sick.

If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will go to heaven or hell.

If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends
You won’t have time to worry!

Reading a great book

I am reading Setting Boundaries with your Adult children, written by Allison Bottke and boy do I wish I had read it before. Well written and informative, this book not only shares Allison's personal experience but gives concise and helpful solutions for those going through similar situations. While I am only about half-way through, it is a powerful and practical book that I am having trouble putting down. In a couple of weeks, I'll be interviewing Allison on her blog tour--so come back and see her great answers.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Birthdays of people more famous than me

Albert Einstein
Kirby Puckett
Billy Crystal
Michael Caine
Quincy Jones
Frank Borman
Hank Ketcham
Les Brown
Pam Ayres
Taylor Hanson

Maybe someday I will be as well known as one of them are

Birthday Today Bah Humbug

Yeah today is the 'big day' and hardly anyone remembered....oh well, this is basically how I feel about it.

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

Too bad it isn't more like this

We drink to your coffin.
May it be built from the wood of a hundred year old oak tree that I shall plant tomorrow.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life of Riley Leads to Parish Lenten Reflection-Catholic Herald

Life of Riley leads to parish's Lenten reflection

Grief becomes lesson on unconditional love of God

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald

If a dog ever had a best friend, it had to be Fr. Jim Loehr. As pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Waukesha, Riley, his golden retriever was always at his side or somewhere near him.

Raised from a puppy, Riley Jameson Favre offered a respite from the contemplative life of a priest, filling in the gaps of loneliness with unconditional love, playfulness and companionship. When Riley died suddenly on Jan. 26 from an untreatable sarcoma tumor, Fr. Loehr was devastated.

"The tumor was fed by his bloodstream and burst, causing internal bleeding and sudden death," he said. "It was undiagnosed and untreatable."

The 8-year-old pooch brought a short lifetime of joy to Fr. Loehr who enjoyed playing fetch with Riley who never tired of retrieving his ball.

"He would cuddle up to me while lying on the floor, and nudge me when he wanted to go outside," he said. "He was the first one to welcome anyone who came to the parish, toy in mouth, leaning up against their legs wanting to be scratched."

Parishioners became accustomed to the four-legged mascot welcomed everywhere but church, and who seemed to offer his own method of support when needed.

"One parishioner told me that he stood by her side while she called the hospital to find out about a sick relative," Fr. Loehr admitted. "It was almost as if Riley knew what she was feeling and stood by her for support. I have received dozens of cards and prayers and good wishes."

Visiting staff members and making daily rounds was part of Riley's routine, especially since he knew he would be rewarded for his efforts, said pastoral associate June Wessa.

"Riley was a wonderful dog to have here at the parish," she said. "He liked to play and encouraged all of us to play with him. We all had treats hidden someplace in our offices for those times when Riley would come to visit."

According to Wessa, a relationship based on love grew between Riley and Fr. Loehr during their eight years together. A similar relationship happens with most owners and their pets.

"It is a form of love," she said. "Riley helped Fr. Jim remain balanced and healthy as a celibate because he provided some sense of connectedness, a presence that softened the loneliness a bit, I think."

Well mannered, well trained and gentle, Riley never barked, well hardly ever, joked Wessa, who occasionally witnessed his protective side.

"Once Fr. Jim would put Riley in the backseat of his car, Riley would protect it fiercely and would bark and show teeth if you approached the car," she said. "But all Fr. Jim would need to say, very gently, was, 'Riley, it's OK' and Riley would settle down. Fr. Jim is a quiet, gentle man in almost every aspect of his life. He is good with people and was good with his dog."

Because Riley seemed to touch every member of the parish in some way, revisiting the book "Dogspell: A Dogmatic Theology on the Abounding Love of God," by Mary Ellen Ashcroft seemed to be the perfect weekly Lenten study and a fitting way to remember Riley and honor Fr. Loehr.

"When Fr. Jim first came to the parish and we were trying to find a way to introduce him to parishioners as our new pastor, he suggested that we study the book 'Dogspell,'" said Wessa. "The book provides a gentle and sometimes humorous entry into the concept of God's tremendous love for each one of us and all of us together."

According to Ashcroft's tale, Christianity is the ultimate dog story. She writes, "The incredible journey starts with God whelped as a pup in Bethlehem. In Galilee, he walks with people (healing, of course) or sits with them, wagging, nuzzling. And finally, the desperate rescue attempt - scaling mountains, fording streams and dying in his efforts. To what lengths will God go to be with the beloved?"

As a pastoral minister, Wessa often deals with death or other moments of grief and loss. Addressing Fr. Loehr's grief seemed an important thing to do, she explained.

"Sometimes people may still regard our priests as something other than human," she said. "We forget they need time off, we forget they need healthy relationships with all kinds of people, genuine friendships; we forget that they have difficult times because they are so often there for us in our moments of grief and struggle. As pastoral ministers, we need to be strong and gentle at the same time and when grief enters our life, we need support as well. It's the way God has made us all."

Coping and looking for another dog, Fr. Loehr agrees that much about a dog's life can teach us about God, such as unconditional love, complete and total forgiveness, understanding feelings, waiting for your return and greeting you with abounding joy.

"Dog is a wonderful metaphor for God," he said. "'Dogspell' is a wonderful little book that takes the many attributes that you find in a dog and applies them to God," he said. "Riley has taught me much about friendship and much about God. I miss him deeply."


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Being themselves

Only the male species is comfortable distorting their faces in public--these two will do this to me no matter where we are--in church, at the Mall, in a restaurant........'tis 'fun' to be the only female in the house. I am so outnumbered here--even the bird and dog are male.

Killer Dog

Zachary has a new look--don't mess with him!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Older and Wiser?

With my 48th birthday coming up this Friday-it's an opportunity to think about where I have been and where I am going.
Have I lived up to what God wants me to do?
Have I succeeded in being a good parent?
Have I achieved my lifelong goals?
I have failed, but I try
I have not achieved my lifelong goal to write the Great American Novel, but I have a good start.
A good parent? Well, that is debatable as I have made many mistakes--but I try to do my best.

Perhaps God has other plans for me and perhaps I have more to do for Him--otherwise I would be on the other side of the my failures might just be buying me more time.

What I can promise is that I strive each and everyday to do my best, to be the best wife, the best mom, the best writer and the best Christian I can be--if I fail it's because I am human.
I am grateful for the kindness and mercy of God and for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is uncanny, but when I try to get right with God and surround myself with loving people and maintain a loving attitude--everything is better.

So, perhaps 48 will be a good year--and if I do everything with a little love--even the worst situation will be bearable.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hurricane Relief-Kenosha News Article


Disaster Relief

by Karen Mahoney Kenosha News Correspondant

As a self-employed home remodeler Kerry Dietrich has seen his share of homes in disrepair, but nothing compares to what he saw recently in Slidell, Louisiana on his first trip as part of a mission effort by a non-denominational Christian group of volunteers.
“I was dumbfounded,” the Kenosha resident said. “There was a huge amount of damage left there and so much was undone and in need of repair. All the stories I heard about how this place was were true.”
Before Dietrich traveled with 30 other members sponsored by a cluster of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Kenosha, he had wondered like many others why it was taking so long to restore houses more than two years after Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the Gulf Coast. Now he knows.
“When I walked into some of these homes, I was wondering how this can be left undone,” he said, “The woman’s house that we ended up fixing would have been one of the worst homes in Kenosha.”
Damaged by a tornado that spun off from the hurricane, the uninsured 52-year-old Slidell resident, named Annette, received a new roof for her home, and substantial interior work.
“We gutted two rooms and repaired three other rooms,” he said. “Our team consisted mainly of members from St. Mary Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran in Pell Lake. We fixed outlets, repaired windows and closets and gutted bathrooms.”
Many of the homes, including the one Dietrich worked on during the January 26 through February 6 mission trip were molded and dirty, some areas still were filled with debris that was never disposed of.
When it takes several teams of 15 to clean two houses in a week, it becomes clear why such little progress seems to have been made in Louisiana. Each week, church groups like the ELCA effort, headed by retired pastor Carl Johnson travels to New Orleans to provide relief.
The number of volunteers has grown in the three trips they have made to Slidell, as officials estimate will be at least a ten-year rebuilding project to bring the community to a sense of normalcy. According to Dietrich, three people went the first year, 11 the second and 30 this year.
“Pastor Carl is in contact with a pastor who took a call in Slidell at Peace Lutheran Church, and they began helping out through Lutheran Disaster Relief,” he said. “The church has built housing facilities there for those who come to help and are now working with Northshore Disaster Recovery Incorporated, which is a non-denominational group housed in a Methodist church down there. They saw that as long as people are fulfilling the mission of helping those in need—they are welcome to use the facility.”
Exhausted at the end of each day, Dietrich admitted the experience was life changing and a blessing for each member of the team.
“When you see someone who has their home wrecked and then we can come in and help them rebuild—there just aren’t words,” he said. “This woman is 52 and lives with her son—they tried to repair the drywall themselves. They taped and mudded it with their hands, they had no tools—but they did what they could to keep the weather and the bugs out.”
Not content to sit idly by, Annette begged to learn how to do the repair work, so she worked alongside the team.
“She wanted to know how to fix everything so she could continue on what we wouldn’t have time to get to,” Dietrich said. “She was more than willing to help.”
Endless poverty, a lack of funds and little assistance from FEMA, Dietrich was certain that morale would be low. He could not have been more wrong.
“Nobody has a bad attitude,” he said. “That amazed me. Annette welcomed us there with open arms. There was no whining. No complaining and no bitterness-only thankfulness.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Engaged Enrichment-Catholic Herald Article

Marriage prep changes under Nazareth Project

MILWAUKEE - Like countless other couples around the country, Nick Mootz and Kristi Ray plan to tie the knot this year.

In preparation for their big day on Aug. 22, and more importantly all the days afterward, the priest at their home parish of St. Roman Parish in Milwaukee, directed them to pre-Cana counseling, now known as the Engaged Enrichment Program as part of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Nazareth Project for Marriage and Family Formation created in July 2007.

"The program meant a lot to us and it did strengthen our bond," Ray said. "I appreciate the program and what it does for couples."

A component of The John Paul II Center for Lifelong Faith and Ministry Formation, The Nazareth Project replaces many functions of the former Adult and Family Ministry office, said David Zampino, the program's director. The Nazareth Project also oversees marriage and family ministry, separated and divorced ministry, and human sexuality.

"The Engaged Enrichment Program is the largest ministry endeavor of The Nazareth Project," he said. "We prepare roughly 1,500 couples for marriage each year."

In years before 2007, the majority of Engaged Enrichment within the archdiocese occurred at the parish level. A few parishes chose to manage their own programs, but the majority participated in Engaged Enrichment Days, which were physically located in parishes and staffed by married couples trained by the Adult and Family Ministry office.

The program changed considerably, according to Lydia LoCoco, the program's associate director, following a surprise meeting with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan last summer.

"The John Paul II Center just opened last July, but Archbishop Dolan met with David before the center was opened and told him that he had a whole wing at the Cousins Center in the business of taking marriage apart, such as annulments, tribunal, etc.," she said. "And he said that the archdiocese needed at least one office in the business of building marriages and families up."

A seemingly perfect complement to their positions, both Zampino and LoCoco are parents of large families. They each have eight children, and along with the administrative assistant in the office, there are 20 children represented among the three.

While the conference format continued once The Nazareth Project assumed the responsibility for Engaged Enrichment, there were significant changes, according to Zampino.

"We expanded the format," he said. "In 2008, these include locations in Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Racine, and Waukesha counties. Parish-based days, supported by The Nazareth Project, are still offered - and will continue to be offered at numerous sites throughout the archdiocese."

Designing the program around a full-day conference-based style offers several advantages over the parish-based programs, such as the ability to offer a wider variety of speakers and broader topics of interest. This fulfills a growing need facing parishes in finding priests or deacons willing to speak during the programs.

Following the mandates in November 2004 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to include specific key topics in the marriage preparation programs, hosting a conference-based enrichment program makes it easier to cover each requirement.

"The Nazareth Project has direct control over speaker and topic selection, and a larger pool from which to draw speakers," said Zampino.

The topics mandated by the USCCB include:

n Communication - including conflict resolution and problem solving

n Sacramental marriage - a permanent covenantal, exclusive, unconditional, life giving, commitment that unites the couple as a sign of Christ's love

n Sexuality - includes Natural Family Planning and intimacy

n Spirituality - includes faith, moral decision making, values and prayer

Topics recommended but not required include:

n Self-awareness - includes personality inventories and roles

n Parenthood - includes family of origin and extended family issues

n Finances - includes stewardship, lifestyle and career issues.

Although Mootz and Ray felt the seven-hour day was a bit lengthy, they came out of the conference with a renewed appreciation for their relationship.

"It reaffirmed how important our relationship is," Ray said. "We were able to better accept that we are the most important things in our lives, and if we choose to live a more Christian life, we will only get stronger as a team."

Since the program was held in a conference setting, the couple chose optional classes, and were surprised that choosing one on prayer seemed to affect them the most.

"It discussed prayer as a couple and how to maintain our spiritual lives," she said. "It was very empowering and helped us consider how much we need to appreciate each other. The conclusion was about prayer, and we prayed the rosary."

As one of several presenters and one of the younger priests in the archdiocese, Fr. Nathan Reesman of St. Mary Visitation Parish in Elm Grove, is pleased to see a greater focus on prayer in preparing the couples for marriage.

"We discuss the theology of marriage and talked about it as a sacrament and what that means as a symbol of married love," he said. "We also discuss sacramental faithfulness and what makes a Catholic in the Catholic Church."

While his experience with the former program is limited, Fr. Reesman knew that attendees and organizers wanted a bit more substance to the program, and more emphasis on topics that were given little attention.

"The most obvious change, and probably the most important, is the teaching on Natural Family Planning and cohabitation," he said. "This is included much more heavily than before. It was always a component built in the theology of the sacrament of marriage, but it was not always the priests who were presenting it. I believe that having someone in a collar puts a bit of force behind the teaching - and that is good."

While there was no primary presenter for the day, Mootz and Ray felt that Fr. Reesman's discussion on the theology of marriage was one of their favorites.

"He did a great job of explaining matrimony and the significance of the sacrament," Ray said. "A lot of the information I already knew but it was important and good to review. I think that it helped us get a better understanding of what we need to do to have a successful marriage. It also reaffirmed our love, because we realized all of the things we would be sacrificing and altering in our lives so that we could make our new life together."

Structuring the program in a conference-type setting is financially a smart move, said Zampino, who admitted that the parish-based day is only able to handle 80 people at a time. In comparison, the conference-based program can handle 200 people at a time, which is a better use for speaker dollars, materials and staff.

While still in transition, the Engaged Enrichment Program is on its way to include a better application of USCCB mandates in 2008.

"Later in 2008, there will be a significant revision in 'The Way of Love', which is the workbook, distributed to the engaged couples," said Zampino. "2009 will see the USCCB mandates more perfectly applied at the parish-based days, along with the introduction of the new workbook."

With the changes in the Engagement Enrichment Program, Fr. Reesman anticipates more emphasis on chastity and vocation awareness in the high school level.

"I think this will help more as time passes and hopefully it will sink in," he said.

Located at the St. Joseph Center of the School Sisters of St. Francis, 1501 S. Layton Blvd., Zampino and LoCoco welcome visitors to their new center.

"We have just gotten started and we enthusiastically and joyfully embrace and want to promote the life-giving teachings of the Catholic Church," LoCoco said, adding, "We also welcome ideas."

Men Can Cook-Milwaukee Catholic Herald Article

Racine men prove worth in kitchen

Effort raises money for St. Richard Parish

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald

RACINE - Fr. Ron Gramza knows how to feed his flock.

Since he began as pastor of St. Richard Parish, he has been busy sowing and reaping, and seems to have cooked up a winner with his latest venture.

Last Sunday, chef Fr. Gramza brought his cooking prowess - and his pistachio encrusted salmon - to the church hall, and joined 12 other members for Men Can Cook, a new and succulent fund-raiser for the parish.

"Well, I can't take credit for the idea, because I got it from another parish," he said, "But I thought it would be a fun way to raise funds and get people together."

Each of the 13 men from the parish donated the food, and prepared distinctive cuisines for a table of 12, including decorations, china servings, tablecloths and, in many cases, ethnic dress.

According to Fr. Gramza, the premise for the idea is that most men have at least one signature dish they prepare, and would welcome the challenge to show off their culinary talents. It was a good thing for the priest that he prepared a trial menu a couple of days before the event.

"I made these chicken wings, and they really turned out like charcoal briquettes," he said, laughing, "It gave new meaning to the term 'burnt offerings.'"

At $20 per plate, the dinner's 156 tickets sold out in just two weeks. Coordinator Bill Mutchler was surprised at the popularity and the willingness of the chefs to prepare somewhat exotic fare.

"There is a buzz going around here about who is going to be the next 'Iron Chef,'" he said.

Dressed in Lederhosen, chef Dave Swencki prepared a traditional German dinner featuring his signature dish, Rindfleisch Rouladen, Spatzel mit Kase, Rotkohl, apple strudel and Black Forest cheese cake.

The beef rouladen is an undisclosed combination of a couple of recipes about which Swencki's lips are sealed; the only tidbit of information he will offer is that his dinner beats the best German restaurant in Milwaukee.

"My wife and I went out one night and after eating the dinner, we said, 'This is OK, but mine is so much better,' and then I knew that I had a winner," he said. "I generally make this a couple of times a year - generally once during Oktoberfest and maybe again in the spring."

Admittedly, confession is good for the soul, and Swencki couldn't let the night go by without giving credit for the mouthwatering desserts to his wife, Laurel, also in traditional German dress.

"Well, I am not alone," she joked. "I think about 75 percent of the men here did have some help with the desserts by their wives."

The details and planning for the dinner amazed Laurel, who said that the parish has really banned together during the past few months, something that no one thought would happen after five southside Racine parishes merged into St. Richard. She gives credit to Fr. Gramza.

"He came up with a Sweetest Day spaghetti dinner with raffle baskets, and the big raffle was a private dinner for six that Fr. Ron cooked and served by himself," she said. "Then he came up with Men Can Cook, had immediate interest from the men, and they planned everything to the smallest detail."

Noisy, but popular were chef Bob Ortwein's appetizers. The Yah Yah Milwaukee Caviar needed a few instructions prior to biting into the crispy potato rounds, topped with a sour cream mixture and caviar.

"You pop this potato round in your mouth and chase it down with a drink of our special 'Irish Lourdes Water' (vodka)," he said, winking, "And then you shout 'Yah Yah Milwaukee.'"

Former St. Richard member Libby Castro enjoyed the outburst while eating the caviar.

"Ooh, this is very good, and I like the 'Lourdes' water, too," she said, laughing. "I hope this becomes an annual thing because this is awesome."

Just a bit nervous, chef Jim Cremer paced the dining area. Dressed in traditional black and white, he made certain everything was right for his formal six-course meal. The shrimp cocktail was perfect, the seasoned encrusted pork roast was tantalizing, but there was one thing that bothered him and one guest that made him nervous.

"My 95-year-old mom, Dorothy Cremer, is going to be my guest," he said. "I am using her famous German potato salad recipe and I have never made it before; she is known all over for this and I hope I got it right."

Sitting at the corner of the table, Dorothy offered little empathy.

"I hope he gets it right," she said matter-of-factly.

As chief assistant, 8-year-old Jacob Fell carried a note pad and walked from chair to chair, reporting to his dad, chef Bill Fell.

"My dad is making chicken cordon bleu and he is a really great cook," he said. "I am here to help him and to serve all the people."

In addition to the cordon bleu, Fell prepared cream of broccoli soup, wild rice, corn, and grasshopper pie. While each parent cooks in the home, Jacob said he couldn't decide who is the better culinary talent.

"Well, I like my dad's chicken cordon bleu the best and I like my mom's peanut butter and jelly the best," he said.

Assisting chef Judley Wyant with an unusual feast of caribou stroganoff with fresh green beans, Vladimir Mocan, 22, cooked Moldovan chicken soup with homemade noodles.

"Vladimir lives with us; he was my daughter's student when she was in the Peace Corps. He is from Moldova and now he attends UW - Parkside," Wyant said. "He is a great kid and a good sport to do this."

The caribou came from hunting buddy, Don Bufton, who shot the animal in Quebec and offered the meat to Wyant because, he said, "He is a better cook than I am."

"Well, I don't know about that," Wyant said. "I can only cook about five things; I just volunteered to do this because Fr. Ron is such a great guy."

As new parishioner Sandra Villarreal sliced into a crispy potato pancake, she seemed impressed with chefs Timothy Dyksinski and Adam Olearczyk's efforts to create a traditional Polish dinner.

"This is very good, and they did a wonderful job decorating for the event," she said. "I hope they do this every year; it's a good way for me to meet new people."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008



Office/Sewing room/Chatty Cathy room




Videos for you Loretta


So Long Brett

Well the Brett Favre Era has come to a close--there are a lot of people in mourning around here. While my family (meaning my husband and son) are Bears Fans, Blaise does say that Brett is the greatest quarterback that there ever was--and he will miss watching him play. Here are a couple of great Favre photos--thanks to my good friend and amazing photographer Al Frederickson

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Why NOT to vote for Obama

These are not my words, but I wish they were--however, they bear reading and action. We cannot allow this man to lead our country--please, we are bad enough shape already.

Clueless in Obama Nation
By Robert Knight Commentary
March 04, 2008

What if a presidential candidate claimed that his view on an issue drew its power from the Sermon on the Mount, which was delivered by no less an authority than Jesus Christ? What if that view contradicted 2,000 years of church moral teaching? Wouldn't this be a major news story?

It would if it involved a Republican. Or even another Democrat. But when it comes to Barack Obama, the media continue to ignore newsworthy topics and refuse to give the public substantive details about the senator's views on many key issues.

On Sunday, at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Sen. Obama promoted homosexual legal civil unions in answer to a question posed by a pastor, and then threw out this challenge: "If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans."

Not one major network covered this, nor did the wire services, nor did the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times or other major newspapers. The Post and Los Angeles Times had brief references on their blogs., by contrast, carried a comprehensive story, which was picked up by World Magazine and the Baptist Press. A couple of papers had a brief mention of Obama proclaiming that he is a Christian, not a Muslim, but that was it.

As far as the senator's unspecified interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and his equally shocking dismissal of a key passage in the first chapter of the Book of Romans, talk about the politics of audacity.

The senator was right about Jesus reminding us of the inherent dignity of all human beings. We are supposed to love without measure. But this should include discouraging people from engaging in behaviors with known moral, social and health risks, not using government power to tempt them into error.

Can you imagine what the media reaction would be if, say, John McCain stated that he thought adultery ought to get special legal protection and that if anyone found it controversial, he or she should look up the Sermon on the Mount?

By the way, as of this writing, Sen. McCain has said no such thing. But I haven't yet checked tomorrow's New York Times, which might be running a front page story to this effect next to the article about the wisdom of wearing tinfoil hats when sunspots are active. The Times , if you recall, did find space on the front page recently for unsourced allegations about Sen. McCain and a lobbyist.

Well, there's always tomorrow. If the media want to look into the wisdom of Obama's remarks concerning homosexual legal unions and the Biblical foundations for such, they might want to know that the Bible is quite specific in several places, starting in Genesis, about what God thinks is the appropriate place for sex, which is marriage between a man and a woman.

Even the patriarchs who fooled around with more than one wife paid a price, and the men who took a fancy to other men did so as well, as indicated not only in Romans but in the less obscure passage in Genesis about the cities of the plain being destroyed with fire and brimstone after a mob of men tried to have their way with two male angels at Lot's house.

And lest reporters buy the current "gay theology" fad of attributing Sodom's sin to mere "inhospitality," here's an obscure passage from the Book of Jude: "Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 7)

Obama pulled the classic straw man dodge of attacking the one passage in Romans as if this were the only thing the Bible had to say about homosexuality. He also cited the Sermon on the Mount, of course, which the senator has discovered is a handy gay-rights manual.

Think about this for a minute. This is about a lot more than the homosexual issue, as serious as that is. If Obama is right, it means that Moses, plus all Christian leaders over the last 20 centuries until very recently, have all been wrong, as are all the world's other major religions. Now that's news.

The media may be unwilling to cover this, however, for one of two reasons.

They don't think it's a story because, they, too, have had a special revelation from God that everybody until today has been wrong. Or,
They know that most Americans believe in God and that information like Obama's officially promoting sin as a civil right might be a little too interesting to some of them.

Either way, it's unlikely that we'll see some space or airtime for this story instead of the latest pictures of women fainting and grown men getting goose bumps at Obama rallies.

The Times , like Katie Couric and company, ain't a changing. At least, not over some obscure Bible passages.

(Robert Knight is director of the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of