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The Permanent Diaconate

Can you hear me now?

People have asked me how did I come to be a deacon? Being a deacon is a vocation — a call from God. Becoming a deacon has been an amazing journey. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20. As I look back, I really can see how the Lord has prepared me to serve His people as a deacon. And this goes way back, almost 50 years. 

That was when I met my wife-to-be,Carol. The seed to learn and grow in my faith started to grow. …

Sharing each other’s pain 
A brief reflection of my (nearly) 10 years as a deacon

This is part of an ongoing series providing information and personal reflections about the permanent diaconate in anticipation of accepting applications for the 10th diaconate class this fall.

In the film, “Diethrich Bonhoeffer — Agent of Grace,” there is a very moving scene where, in a bombed out church in the German countryside, the great Lutheran clergyman, theologian and writer is ruminating aloud, in front of a small group of prisoners of war, about the future of Christianity in a world that had apparently rejected God. …


Living Our Lady’s Message

God’s plan of Salvation through the first apparition of the Angel of Peace


Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, begins a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.


Now in the year 2017, during the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, we can survey the balance sheet of the past century. On the dark side, we have lived through the havoc caused by the hatred of a world estranged from God as seen by more than 50 wars in that short period. …

God’s plan of Salvation in the light of the second apparition of the Angel of Peace

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the second in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

In Sacred Scripture Jesus tells us, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3). If we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then of course we need to be obedient and submissive children of God. …

Eucharistic reparation through the third apparition of the Angel of Peace

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the third in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The consecutive apparitions of the Angel of Peace had the effect of forming the three shepherd children to live the words and example of the Angel more fully. After the three little shepherds had brought their flock to the place where the Angel had previously appeared, Lucia states in her memoirs, “As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the Angel.” 

The May apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the fourth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Church traditionally devotes the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the month when children receive their First Holy Communion and crown Our Blessed Mother with garlands of roses. …

The June apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the fifth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Our Lady’s Apparition of June 13, 1917 came on the feast of St. Anthony. As one of Catholicism’s most beloved saints, he is often portrayed as carrying the Child Jesus in his arms. …

The July 13 apparition of Mary

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the sixth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on July 13 is one of the most notable of the apparitions. In this third apparition, we see the Blessed Virgin who showed hell to the three children: Lucia, 10, Francisco, nine, and Jacinta, seven. …

The August apparition and the passion of the children of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the seventh in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The account of the August Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima came after the shepherd children had undergone much suffering. Perhaps in this month, the theme of the mystery of redemptive suffering and strength shines more vividly in the experiences of the three children. …

The September apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the eighth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Days prior to the September Apparition of Our Lady, the three shepherd children offered to the united Hearts of Jesus and Mary a multitude of sacrifices done with zealous love to obtain the conversion of sinners and to save them from Hell. …

The October apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the ninth and final installment in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Apparition on the 13th of October was the sixth apparition of Our Lady. It was the most anticipated Marian apparition by believers and skeptics. …


Guest Columns

Immigration, Church teaching and political calculus

I am writing in this space a guest column, instead of on the editorial page (although I did write this week’s editorial, as you can tell from the ample use of quotes and tangential asides), so that I can specify that what I am writing here is my own opinion, although I hope that it is informed by my appreciation of the Church’s teachings.

In the ‘meantime,’ let’s keep Advent!

Advent ,when approached as more than the weeks prior to Christmas and thus merely as preparation for it, can function as an annual reminder to us of just where we are in the great plan of God that we call Salvation History. We might rightly call our time “the meantime” because we live in the time after the first coming of Christ in the land of Palestine in the first third of the first century and His second coming in glory at some unknown moment in an unforeseeable future. 

When and where is Advent?

On November 16 as a group of pilgrims who had accompanied me to the Holy Land arrived home and exited customs in Logan’s Terminal E, we were greeted by the sight of two Christmas trees: one merely decorated in the lower lobby but another decorated and already lit up in the upper lobby. 

Cardinal John Henry Newman and our times

After the intolerance, bigotry and hatred on the part of xenophobic groups at the recent demonstrations in Charlottesville we must turn to the lives of the saints who teach us that it is possible to overcome such egregious behavior. …

Nazi idealism, slavery and ME

Nazi idealism, slavery and ME

In the first half of the 20th century, the theory of eugenics brought visions of Utopia, and realities of horror here and abroad. A workable definition of eugenics could be given as “good genes for social change.” With criminals, people of extremely low I.Q., and others deemed to be unfit for contributing to the gene pool of the United States being sterilized with legal approval, the practice was eagerly picked up and expanded by Nazi Germany. …

Superheroes and the power of love

Superman has his red power cape. Elijah wore a cape to manifest his Divine authority. Most famously, the Virgin Mary is usually portrayed wearing a cape-like garment known as a mantle, often blue and sometimes adorned with stars, to highlight her extraordinary role in history. …

Who is ready to stand up for religious liberty?

In college I grew in my Catholic faith and had a strong experience of religious pluralism. I was involved in the Newman Center daily, but I also had many non-Catholic friends and even frequented Hillel House, the Jewish student center. 

The greatest mission for parents

Last month we watched Pope Francis travel to Fatima for the centenary of Our Lady’s apparitions to the three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Much has been said and written about Fatima this year. …

Other persons are a gift

A few days ago I met a very little girl who made a big impression on me. Grace and her older brother Benedict suffer from a rare genetic disorder that has resulted in serious hearing impairment and limited physical growth. The two come to our home for the elderly each week with their mother to pray the Rosary with our residents. …

Secrets of the fourth Gospel: A new approach

Secrets of the fourth Gospel: A new approach

For a period of time in the early years of the Church, it was felt necessary not to speak, or write openly about some of the beliefs of Christians. This was the age of the disciplina arcani, the discipline of the secret. While the three synoptic Gospels preceded that period of time, the fourth Gospel was subject to it.

The sick, our everyday heroes

Over Christmas, two of my family members were talking about a mutual friend who, though chronically ill, routinely does heroic acts of kindness for others. Though they get exasperated with her when she overextends herself, they realize that caring for others is what makes life meaningful. …

The Culture of Life begins in our hearts and our hands

Each October we observe Respect Life Month in dioceses throughout the United States. Although ending abortion remains a priority of the utmost importance, threats to the disabled and those at the end of life deserve our attention as well. …

Young people, talk to your grandparents!

For many young Catholics the defining moment of the summer took place in Poland, where Pope Francis joined more than a million teens and young adults for World Youth Day. Although we Little Sisters of the Poor spend our lives in the service of the elderly rather than the young, we followed the festivities in Krakow with great interest. …

Detour to Brooklyn, lesson in kindness

Working my first black tie dinner as a very junior public relations person, I learned virtually nothing about my chosen profession. The scale, pace and glitz of the fund-raising dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City during the early 1980s overwhelmed me. …

Dare to be of good cheer!

In May I was asked to offer a Spiritual reflection at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. I used my moment in the spotlight to share three pieces of advice that helped carry me through the weeks surrounding our appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court: Dare to be of good cheer; see Christ in each person, whether friend or foe; and believe that nothing is impossible with God.

Seasons of the journey

St. Pope John Paul II described the unique essence of woman in these words: “The moral and Spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way” (Mulieris Dignitatem). Her strength is measured by the order of love. …

From the ‘pond’ to the ‘ocean,’ and back again: Consecrated virginity lived in the world

People sometimes wonder about the Spirituality that marks my journey as a consecrated virgin living in the world. I describe my life metaphorically as undulating between a “quiet pond” and the tumultuous “ocean.” 

Each day begins at the “pond.” …

Vocations: What can I do?

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Since getting involved in vocations work earlier this year, I occasionally get asked the question, “What can I do to help?” phrased in one way or another. I love this question because it means someone is motivated and willing to be of assistance to the cause of vocations promotion. …

The intersection of charism and apostolate

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“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary .…”

I was perched on the arm of an empty recliner when I heard those words. Glancing across the room, I discovered their origin in a seemingly unlikely pair: a youthful, pastel-clad nurse and Betsey, an elderly woman who was confined to a wheelchair and whose dementia often left her feeling anxious and distressed. …

The treatment of offenders and the challenge of mass incarceration

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Reflections offered to His Holiness Pope Francis

Your Holiness,

It is both an honor and a privilege to come before you and to share some reflections that I offer as president of the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation. The IPPF is headquartered in Switzerland and promotes studies in the fields of crime prevention and the treatment of offenders and it is with that focus that I offer the following remarks. …

The Fresh Bread of our existence

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One of the most satisfying smells that I have memory of was walking by the Continental Bakery on a Sunday morning on our way to Mass at St. Michael’s Church in Ocean Grove and all of a sudden getting a sniff of fresh bread. What a distraction! …

The many branches of consecrated life

Pope Francis recently declared 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life. What is consecrated life? It is a gift conferred by Christ when He calls a person individually to respond to His great love in a focused and permanent state of life recognized by the Church. …

God in the schools

God in the schools

When I went to elementary school nearly 50 years ago, it was a great feeling to be told by my teacher that it was time to pray. Every morning, the class went silent for several moments while we took the time to pray for ourselves, our family and our friends. …

The government and Marriage

The government and Marriage

When two people decide to get married, where at least one of the spouses is on federal subsidy because of a disability, the government has a tendency to cut benefits from the married couple based on income. Yet, if these same people decide to cohabitate, they get to keep all their money. …


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© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts