Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Decline of the big American Catholic family

The New York Times has a warmhearted story, reminscing about the big American Catholic families of fifty years ago, when people used to listen to the Church teaching on contraception.

"The smaller Irish-American family has been attributed to many factors, but the one most often cited is a decline in willingness to defer to the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. “The church’s guidance on all kinds of things, including family planning, doesn’t carry the weight it used to carry,” said Terry Golway, a writer who teaches American history at Kean University in New Jersey.
In New York, the migration of the Irish middle class from the city to the suburbs contributed to the decline of the double-digit family, he said. “Their world was not defined by the parish as it once was, when they lived in the Bronx,” Professor Golway said. “They moved to the suburbs, where it really was a melting pot. Not everybody on your block was Irish anymore.”'

This is the type of family my father grew up in in Flushing Queens; six kids in bunk beds in bedrooms arranged around a huge kitchen. During the Depression both parents worked to keep a roof over their heads, and the kids banded together to run the home. The boys had baseball games in Grandpa's tomato garden ("Pop, if you see any tomatoes with seed in 'em; DON'T eat 'em!).
Saturday morning battles between the boys and bossy big sisters in charge of the housecleaning over a quarter to see the double feature. Jam-packed family car driving over the bridge to Granpa's farm in Jersey. And the legacy has continued, as the family is aging and 19 grandchildren are raising their own children. Weddings and funerals are reunions but the contstant contact by phone maintains the closeness born around the kitchen table on homemade benches where Nana's homemade tomato sauce was served twice a week; Sundays and Thursdays. I grew up enjoying the boisterous closeness at Christmas and Easter, the happy chaos of gangs of boys who had to be keep under control in the basement, where my cousin Liz and I were told "don't let anyone get hurt". We'd hide under the stairs and share secrets while the boys wrestled and made mayhem around us. Soon it wouild be time for dessert and we'd come upstairs to a table covered with dozens of pies, cakes, pudding and, best of all, expensive Italian pastries.
I'd sit at the adult table eating a cannoli and listen to Uncle Al's stories, complete with dialogue in various New York ethnic accents. He had stories of Old New York and he made them come alive, reliving the events as he made us roll with laughter. My favorite was when he and his brother left Queens on Good Friday by horse cart to get pizza in Manhattan on Good Friday. The horse wasn't tied, and took off down the street, with the cart swinging back and forth wildly, smashing the window of Harvey the Jewish tailor, who came outside yelling in Yiddish.

Big Catholic families, whether Irish, Italian, German or Polish are wonderful. and I wanted one myself. I still hope that one of my girls has a dozen children so I can sit around the Christmas table and tell stories of when I was a kid at my Italian family gatherings, hiding under the table and guessing whose feet was whose. Or when my ugly mutt of a dog, Skippy used to chase cars and recovered every time he got too close and got hit. We will brag about how Granpa Crafa was born ten years after Padre Pio in Pietrelcine, Italy, and baptized in the same Church. We were so proud the day he was canonized and bought a brick in the family name around his shrine in our church.
Two generations later, we still carry some of the closeness of my dad's big Italian family with us; it' is Granpa's gift to us.

Read the entire story here.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Audio of my Eduardo Verastegui interview

Listen here for the press conference with Eduardo Verastegui before his appearance at Eastern CT State University in Willimantic on August 11. Here are some photos of the event, including one with my daughter Gabbi.
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Will Obamacare be dangerous for Christina?

I think so.
Sarah Palin thinks so.
The family of Terri Schindler Schiavo think so.
Read the follow from the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation and see if you agree that the disabled may find themselves denied access to health care once cost-cutting becomes necessary.

"Was President Obama Subtly Promoting Euthanasia . . .?
Who is going to decide whether or not “you're better off” with or without the surgery? What about “additional tests” or “extra care”? Will it be your physician or will it be President Obama?

Recently, during a nationally televised event at the White House, President Obama said that families need better information so they don't unthinkingly approve, “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care.” He added: “Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”
Do we need any more evidence how this President and his administration feel about the equality and dignity of human life? It seems to be becoming more and more clear that if the quality of your life has reached the point where – by the judgment of a government official – your condition will no longer improve, the Obama health care plan will no longer allow any means of help. However, even more alarming is the real possibility of an Obama health care system that would seemingly put into practice an aggressive agenda to either hasten death or, worse yet, impose death on our cognitively disabled, chronically sick and frail."

I fear for my daughter Christina who has Down syndrome. I fear for her under Obamacare, once I am gone, some death panel will decide that her life is not of sufficient 'quality' to merit medical treatment. Tomorrow I will join pro-life activists Rev Pat Mahoney and Chris Slattery on Martha's Vineyard to tell President Obama about my concerns for my daughter.
I will update you on news coverage here.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My interview with Day Gardner of National Pro-life Radio

The show will air on NPLR today at 5p.m. and Thursday -Sunday so spread the word!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Be careful which museum you take your children to

Read this scary experience a father had in a Manhattan museum on MercatorNet.
"A writer complains in the New York Times about taking his twin boys, aged 7, to one of his favourite galleries and running into an exhibition with “graphic images”. The name, “And/Or”, provided no clue to the genitalia displayed; the warning sign at the entrance was in very small print. "
I had a similar experience in the Museums at Stony Brook which are allegedy about local history. On my birthday one hot summer day, I took all three girls to the museum to see a display of wedding gowns. The girls naturally enjoyed the gowns, replete with letters from the brides and photography. What we didn't anticipate was the gay marriage display at the end. When I complained to the curator, about the inappropriatness of the display, I got a lecture on political correctness. I will not be taking the girls back to this museum.
Maybe the art galleries at Woodstock Vermont are on the right track. In this post, I describe how we saw signs in the windows saying, "no children; dogs allowed".
We are seeing the inroads of the Culture of Death where people who want to protect the innocence of their children are being denied access to the arts.
Remember it was the Catholic Church who first developed fine arts. Now we have to filter what our children see, as those who would corrupt them use our tax dollars to fund pornography and blasphemy.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are you being called to help spread prolife medical care for women?

From the Gospel of Life Society in Norwalk, CT
September 12 Napro-Technology Training -- for Practitioners & Doctors (in Connecticut)

If you are planning to participate in the Training Program, Sept 12 - 19, please sign up now. Last minute decisions are fun! The next program will be March 2010.

To sign up, call the instructor directly: Kathy Rivet, BS, CFCE

Naturally, it will be held at our favorite place - Villa Maria
Guadalupe, 159 Sky Meadow Dr., Stamford, CT 06903.

I took the first course EPI and will be coming back to take the second course EPII given during the same timeframe. EPI is wonderful -- about the basic technology which is now being
expanded to address the typical health issues of teens and young women . EPII offers more about the differences between secular surgery and NaPro surgery. A course curriculum and brochure are attached together with application and tuition fees are attached.

If you need a loan, with excellent rates, please contact Dorothy Dugandzic -- work is 914/ 476-4858 and cell is 718/ 893-5078. Some take this course to reinforce their understanding and abilities to converse with doctors and loved ones – it is an investment in woman’s health.

FYI, most treatments do not involve surgery. However, if surgery is required, Dr. Anne Mielnik, of the JPII Center due to open (see below), says that doctors can work with Dr. Kyle Beiter of the JPII Center who is a surgeon. Dr. Mielnik’s vision is that the JPII Center become a surgical center or hub that will service other medical centers.

When We Have 4 NaPRO Dr’s in CT…We will start a clinic!

Here is the information about the new Napro-Technology Clinic in Manhattan. This wonderful clinic is the pro-life answer to the Culture of Death which surrounds it!

Reminder: John Paul II Center – Opening Aug 17!

To be put on a list to be called for an appointment, go to and select tab on right. This New York City practice will become a wonderful asset to us! It is just 3 blocks from Grand Central Station, and will include two physicians:

- Anne Mielnik, MD - Founder and Director of the JPII Center for Women & Gianna Healthcare; Family Medicine Physician; NaProTechnology Medical Consultant

- Kyle Beiter, MD - OB/GYN, NaProTechnology Medical Consultant and Surgeon

Local NaPro doctors (internists, family doctors and GPs), who will handle all the non-surgical treatments (about 85-95%), are invited to coordinate with Kyle Beiter, M.D., of the JPII Center to do the surgery.
Again, Dr. Mielnik’s vision is that the JPII Center become a surgical center or hub that will service other medical centers.

Please spread the word on this marvelous opportunity. With a surgeon, we can aggressively begin now to court doctors. Doctors in Ct who are NaPro, but are not OB/GYNs, can refer to Dr. Kyle Beiter.

Nov 14 - NaPro Day in CT!!! Plan to Hear Dr. Anne Mielnik Speak About Her New Practice

Dr. Anne Mielnik will be the speaker at the Gospel of Life Society on November 14, 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon, after the Pro-life Mass. Please do plan to attend and bring friends; all are welcome – doctors, nurses, practitioners, pediatricians, moms, grandparents, etc. We are planning our next Tri-state Medical Group meeting for the same day from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. It will be an open agenda - a wonderful chance for those who attended the seminar in Stamford on Jan 17 (which included 31 nurses, doctors and moms), to view the DVD’s we made, see each other again, meet new people, network, and enjoy a time to exchange information, share, and inspire – all over lunch. $5 for a lite but lunch. Please RSVP.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Message from Mary Ellen Barrett

When a tragedy hits, sometimes the newspapers get it wrong. This happened when my friend, Mary Ellen Barrett's 14 year old autistic son Ryan was found dead at a family campout this Friday.
I have her permission to share her side of the story with you. Ryan will be buried in a Mass concelebrated with Mary Ellen's uncle Msgr Robert Brennan and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, whom Ryan had hoped to join this Wednesday.
Please keep the Barretts in your prayers.

"Ryan was a light in our lives and now that he is forever at the feetof Christ his light will shine even brighter for us.I know it’s been difficult for everyone, getting information piecemeal.
Here are some details, please feel free to share them or any part of this email.

Ryan was playing in a little stream a few yard from the campsite. His father and the others knew where he was and he was in view. Other kids were near him but after a bit they spread out. They were all very excited to be in the campsite, they had only just arrived. When theyc alled the kids for prayers Ryan didn’t come and after a very short time the rangers were called and then the state police and firemarshals.
They searched with dogs (my poor Ryan so terrified of them). Dave called me at 11:30pm and then every hour until our dear friend,who was scheduled to go up there Sat with his four boys, drove me upat 4:30am. I arrived there at about 8:00 and they were searching with a helicopter and infrared radar as well as divers. He was found atabout 10:30.
In the five minutes between the other kids being thereand his being called Ryan had a grand mal seizure and slipped into the stream, his body was found a few feet away in a drain in a culvert.
It is believed the seizure is what killed him although we don’t have confirmation of that yet. When Dave and I saw him, he looked very peaceful and that was of great comfort to us. Ryan received last rites at the campsite, two priests against all odds showed up in the middle of the woods at exactly the right time toadminister the sacrament. Only Ryan could have arranged that.
It was reported that Ryan wandered off and some reports were quite cruel in their tone. It just is not true. We did a brief interview with Newsday to try to correct that and have since had my brother dealing with turning away all of the news agencies. They have been like barbarians at the gate.
In the last 48 hours we have been so blessed by all of the prayers and love that we have received. My friend Chris has completely taken overand has made it possible for us to not have to think.
The Knights ofColumbus and Squires have also been incredible. I know all of the people on IHM and MO have been contacting Chris and lining up to help and we are just so grateful. The pain that David and I are in is too unbearable to speak about. I ask for your prayers for us and our children. Katie and Erin inparticular are old enough to understand and are completely devastated. Every time I look at them my heart breaks all over again. The little ones are sad and confused, not really understanding.
We are very mindful of how sad this is going to be for all of Ryan’ s friends in IHM. For many it will be there first experience with losinga friend and Dave and I are offering up some of our sorrow for their comfort. They have lost a dear friend but gained a mighty intercessor. In the coming weeks we will read all of the emails and posts and doour best to respond to everyone, in the meantime please be assured ofour gratitude and love for you all. "

How typical of Mary Ellen to offer up her sufferings for Ryan's friends! I hope to attend his funeral Wednesday.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009 re-opened

Blessed Solemnity of the Assumption!
In honor of this great feast, Chris Cash of The Catholic Company has announced the re-opening of Since the Rosary is one of my favorite prayers I am thriled!

More than just a Rosary store, it also will offer resources and articles on the Rosary.
Go over and visit today in honor of Our Lady's Assumption.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Urgent prayer request for the Barrett family

My friend MaryEllen Barrett's son Ryan, age 14 who was autistic, has drowned in a father-son campout North-South Lake upstate New York.

Here is her blog post.

Please pray for the Barrett family in this unspeakably tragic time.

Jesus, enfold Ryan and his family in your loving arms.
Sorrowful Mother, pray for them, you lost your son, help this family heal their broken hearts.
Update: here's a news article about Ryan.
Ryan's wake will be:
Lindenhurst Funeral Home
242 S. Wellwood Ave.
Lindenhurst, NY 11757
Monday and Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-10

Funeral mass (Wednesday) to be concelebrated by Msgr. Robert Brennan and
Franciscan Friars of the Renwal

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish
210 S. Wellwood Ave.
Lindenhurst, NY 11757

Ryan wanted to be a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, so donations to the Friars would be welcome.
Contact: Charlie Moran
Evergreen Florist
583 S. 7th St.
Lindenhurst, NY 11757
The Lindenhurst Knights of Columbus are offering their hall for a luncheon after the funeral mass. It is potluck, so those coming should bring food to share.
The autopsy revealed that Ryan had a gran mal seizure which may be why he died in the water and his body drifted downstream. Here is the story in Newsday.

Catholic author Regina Doman lost her son Joshua Michael and compiled this list of helpful suggestions based upon her experience of loss.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eduardo Verastegui to speak in CT this week

Just a reminder; Eduardo Verastegui star of the film Bella, will be appearing August 11 at 7PM at Eastern Connectictut State College in Willimantic CT.
All are welcome. Eduardo will be speaking in English and Spanish. Click here to view his slideshow on his various charitable activities, including a mission trip to the Sudan.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Founder of Special Olympics: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

The Kennedy and Shriver families have gathered at the bedside of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Let's pray for this beautiful woman who began the Special Olympics in her back yard.
Let's also pray for her family to follow her noble example, especially Teddy who is approaching death as well.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

The glory of a short life well lived

I was enjoying (at last) the movie "The Ultimate Gift" last night, and the injustice of a child dying before her mother was a central theme in the film. I can only imagine the pain which parents feel at the passing of a child. But much good can come from such a tragedy, as happened in the short happy life of the little saint from Seattle. Never underestimate what God can accomplish with a soul which is open to His grace.

Gloria is a little girl whose life has made a big impact across the country. Here is a quote about her father who asked her if she had "Quality of Life" something Princeton ethicist Peter Singer has made into a formul here. What rubbish! Life cannot be made into an equation, unless it is made into a commodity first. Its a gift of God. Gloria puts Princeton professors to shame in her response to her father's question.
"He heard a voice say, “quality of life.” He was confused, but went to Gloria the next day and asked if she’s had quality of life. He didn’t expect her to understand, but she immediately responded, “yes daddy!” She excitedly added that so many people have started praying because of her illness.
Doug explained that Gloria had a beautiful gift, she was able to draw people to Christ through her cancer. “She taught us all how to carry a cross. Her gift to us was her living example of her commitment to a relationship with God through constant prayer. She always said, “yes.”

Lord, please help me to remember that each day is a gift to be given back to You. Help me to say "yes" each day and speak to You often in grateful prayer.
Gloria, pray for us.

Read the entire story at CNA.
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