Thursday, April 30, 2015

Remembering Bishop Connolly

Bishop Thomas Connolly (1922-2015)
Today we bid Goodbye or So Long to Bishop Thomas Connolly in a Funeral Mass held in our church of St Francis of Assisi parish, in Bend. Archbishop Alexander Sample will be presiding and Bishop William Skylstad will be preaching. Yesterday Bishop Cary led a Vigil Service in the same church. Another Mass will be held tomorrow at the Cathedral in Baker City followed by the burial at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Thomas Joseph Connolly was born on July 18, 1922, in Tonopah, Nevada.  He attended St. Joseph Minor Seminary in Mt. View, California and completed his studies for the priesthood at St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park.  After ordination on April 8, 1947, Fr. Connolly served briefly as an associate pastor and a high school teacher before his appointment in 1949 as secretary to Bishop Gorman.  Studies in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and at the Lateran University in Rome prepared him for a doctorate degree in 1952.  For the next 20 years he served as pastor at the Cathedral in Reno and of churches in Elko and Carson City.  Appointed to succeed Bishop Leipzig, he was ordained the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Baker on June 20, 1971.
Bishop Connolly's greatest challenge would be the earth-shaking changes in the Church brought on by the Second Vatican Council.  The establishment of a Priests' Council, an annual Presbyteral Assembly, a Sisters' Council and a Diocesan Pastoral Council with lay participation revealed the Bishop's accord with the Council's new view of the Church.
From 1981 to 1993, church construction resumed, initiated by an extensive refurbishing of the Cathedral to bring it into accord with the liturgical directives of Vatican Council II.  Rededication ceremonies took place on April 28, 1981.  Seven new churches and halls were built within the Diocese.  Bishop Connolly left office in 1999, holding that the best mode of operation for the success of Christ's ministry is love.  He had succeeded in unifying the Diocese during a time of dire challenge and change.  It is estimated that he traveled more than a million miles by car, visiting parishes and missions.

A mural honoring Bishop Connolly at Baker City in 1996
During his tenure, he sought to solve problems through the introduction of innovative programs. Under his guidance, a major renovation of the Cathedral was accomplished, and the Chancery offices were moved to Bend on October 7, 1987.  Bishop Connolly served 29 years as the Bishop of Baker. He spent the last few years at a nursing home in Beaverton, and died last Friday, aged 93. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Horse Sense

In a quiet pasture is a fenced-in field, with two horses in it.  From a distance, each looks like every other horse.  But if one stops the car, or is walking by, one will notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.  His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.  This alone is amazing.
Listening, one will hear the sound of a bell.  Looking around for the source of the sound, one will see that it comes from another horse in the field.  Attached to her bridle is a small bell.  It lets her blind friend know where she is, so he can follow her.
As one stands and watches these two friends, one sees how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we are ill, have been injured or we have problems or challenges.
He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.
Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by God and those whom he places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others see God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Spoon

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and  said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like." The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the  large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, "I don't understand."
“It is simple" said the Lord, "it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. While the greedy think only of themselves.”
Let’s learn from this story to always be helpful to others, collaborative and ready to reach out, instead of thinking only of ourselves.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Feeling special

1. There are people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
2. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like or know you.
3. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
4. You mean the world to someone.
5. If not for you, someone may not be living.
6. You are special and unique.
7. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you trust God to do what's best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.
8. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.
9. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
10. Someone that you don't even know exists, loves you.
11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
12. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you'll both be happy.
13. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Prayer for Vocations

This 4th Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as the Good Shepherd Sunday as the readings present Jesus as our Good Shepherd. As a consequence, the church has included this day to be a day for prayers for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. 
So I share today this prayer for Vocations:

O God, Father of all Mercies, Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
send Your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor;
preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.
Open the hearts of Your children that they may discern Your Holy Will; inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ. Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers and grant Your Church's needs.
Loving and Generous God, it is You who call us by name and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love and Service of our Church as we experience it today.
Give us the energy and courage of Your Spirit to shape its future.
Grant us faith-filled leaders who will embrace Christ's Mission of love and justice.

Bless the Church of the Baker Diocese by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers. As we appreciate the selfless dedication of our many missionary priests and sisters serving in our Diocese, inspire us to know You better and open our hearts to hear Your call. We ask this prayer through Christ our Lord, AMEN.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saint Mark

The feast of St Mark is celebrated today, one of the 4 evangelists. The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes called John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother's house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there. St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.
The Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice, Italy
St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D.; he wrote it in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition tells us that St. Mark was requested by the Romans to set down the teachings of St. Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in this Gospel. In this way the second Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles.  Mark the Evangelist is most often depicted writing or holding his gospel. In Christian tradition, Mark the Evangelist, the author of the second gospel is symbolized by a lion – a figure of courage and monarchy. Some Christian legends refer to Saint Mark as "Saint Mark The Lionhearted". These legends say that he was thrown to the Lions and the animals refused to attack or eat him. Instead the Lions slept at his feet, while he petted them. When the Romans saw this, they released him impressed by this sight. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains. He is the patron saint of notaries.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Horse

A group of Clydesdale horses I encountered in Idaho a few years ago.
Ever since I came to Oregon, I fell in love with horses, especially through visiting families who own horses. I learned a lot about equine biology, breeding and everything related to the care of horses. A beautiful, elegant animal indeed, I also learned about different breeds and categories of well as the description of various stages in the life of horses.
A newborn horse named Julian, unfortunately becoming a gelding to my disappointment.
The following terminology is used to describe horses of various ages:
  • Colt: a male horse under the age of four.
  • Filly: a female horse under the age of four.
  • Foal: a horse of either sex less than one year old. A nursing foal is sometimes called a suckling and a foal that has been weaned is called a weanling. Most domesticated foals are weaned at five to seven months of age, although foals can be weaned at four months with no adverse physical effects.
  • Gelding: a castrated male horse of any age.
  • Mare: a female horse four years old and older.
  • Stallion: a non-castrated male horse four years old and older. The term "horse" is sometimes used colloquially to refer specifically to a stallion.
  • Yearling: a horse of either sex that is between one and two years old.
    The Magnificent 7 - Clark quarter horses from Mount Vernon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saint George

Saint George, was born in around 275 AD in Lydda, Syria Palestine, was a soldier in the Roman army and was later venerated as a Christian martyr. His father was Gerontius, a Greek Christian from Cappadocia, and an official in the Roman army; his mother Polychronia was a Christian from Lydda. Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of the Emperor Diocletian, who ordered his death for failing to repudiate his Christian faith. St George died on April 23 in 303 AD. Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to rescue a beautiful lady. The dragon stands for wickedness. The lady stands for God's holy truth. St. George was a brave martyr who was victorious over the devil.
Novgorod polyptych of St George
He was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and he was one of the Emperor's favorite soldiers. Now Diocletian was a pagan and a bitter enemy to the Christians. He put to death every Christian he could find. George was a brave Christian, a real soldier of Christ. Without fear, he went to the Emperor and sternly scolded him for being so cruel. Then he gave up his position in the Roman army. For this he was tortured in many terrible ways and finally beheaded. So boldly daring and so cheerful was St. George in declaring his Faith and in dying for it that Christians felt courage when they heard about it. Many songs and poems were written about this martyr. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him.
We all have some "dragon" we have to conquer. It might be pride, or anger, or laziness, or greediness, or something else. Let us make sure we fight against these "dragons", with God's help. Then we can call ourselves real soldiers of Christ. In hagiography, Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic Church, Anglican, Orthodox, and East Syrian. He is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints. Many patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including countries and cities as well as the Scout Movement, in addition to a wide range of professions, organizations, and disease sufferers. Most prominently, he is the patron saint of England.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tulip Farm

My last post relating to my Retreat at Mount Angel concerns a tulip farm that is located in the town of Monitor, known as the Wooden Shoe tulip farm. These photos speak for themselves - and there is absolutely nothing I can add - just enjoy these colorful pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Blue Birds

Stellar's Jay eying his next meal
Besides all the other birds I photographed at the Mount Angel Retreat House, the ones that attracted my attention the most were the blue jays, which were very active and very mobile, which made it very hard to photograph. They would stay in one place for a few seconds, and I had to be extra quick to focus and get a fairly good photo. But I was lucky that my patience rewarded me with some good shots, as you can see from these seen here. 
Another Stellar's Jay, checking the photographer
The one with the black head is known as the Stellar's Jay, while the others are known as the Gray-breasted Jay. Tomorrow we'll visit the nearby Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Monitor, in a very colorful post.
A Gray-breasted Jay in 4 different postures

Monday, April 20, 2015


Grosbeaks fight for the best perch around the feeder
With plenty of bird-feeders, a peaceful atmosphere, no hunters or bird-trappers around, and a pleasant weather all around, birds frolic and dance around at Mount Angel Retreat House, as is evident from these photos I took last week. 
House finch waiting for an empty feeder
Among the birds were plenty of sparrows, some golden-crowned sparrows, chipping sparrows, grosbeaks, finches, as well as hummingbirds, who relished on the nectar as they buzzed around with their wings fluttering at incredible speed. 

Tomorrow I will share some great photos of  steller's blue jays and gray-breasted jays.

Three hummingbirds splurging on nectar
Four golden-crowned sparrows

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mount Angel Iconography

Icon of the Crucifixion at Mount Angel Abbey refectory
One of the most conspicuous aspect of Mount Angel Abbey is the number of Icons displayed in different places. Most of these were done by Brother Claude Lane OSB, one of the monks, who spends hours designing, crafting, praying over, and painting these beautiful Icons. His most recent one is found in the Refectory of the Abbey with a crucifix and the Emmaus disciples on both sides, recollecting the meal they shared with Jesus after His Resurrection. 

Other statues of Mary and Joseph are displayed in the Abbey church and in the Refectory.
The Retreat House where we stayed is a very quiet and peaceful place, and this attracts a lot of different birds, and to see some of my photos of our feathered friends, you have to wait till tomorrow.
An Icon of St Benedict in a private chapel at the Retreat House
Statue of St Joseph in the Refectory

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More from Mount Angel Abbey

Inside the Abbey church
Mount Angel Abbey is a community of Benedictine monks near the city of Mount Angel, OREGON. It was established in 1882 from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. The abbey, located on the top of Mount Angel, a 485-foot high butte, has its own post office separate from the city of Mt. Angel's, Saint Benedict. The library at the abbey was designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.
 Mount Angel Seminary, which was originally part of the now defunct Mount Angel College, serves numerous western diocese and currently has approximately 200 students. The make up of the seminary population is 40% Anglo-American and 60% minorities, primarily Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Filipino. Students and seminarians come from the western states of Oregon, Utah, Montana, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Alaska, as well as Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific islands.The Seminary's main church has a tower that contains the largest free-swinging bells on the west coast.
The bell tower constructed in 2008
The seminary has undergraduate and graduate programs. The undergraduate program is devoted towards a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Students may choose a double degree by studying one of two additional fields—religious studies or literature. Many of the students from the undergraduate degree program continue on to study in Rome, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C and other universities in Europe.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Retreat at Mount Angel

Mount Angel Church with the recently constructed bell-tower
All the priests with Bishop Cary gathered at Mount Angel Abbey this past week for their annual Retreat, led by Auxiliary Bishop Michael Byrnes of Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately there was no WiFi or Internet access, and so I could not post anything from there. 
The priests during one of our talks
However I will make up for it over the next few days, sharing some photos of the place and other interesting photos I took, especially of birds, tulips, and other interesting photos which you will certainly enjoy.

Abbey church in the evening

Monday, April 13, 2015

The One and Only

Jesus Christ is
- the noblest One to know.....
- the wisest One to follow.....
- the truest One to trust......
- the humblest One to serve.....
- the highest One to love!

This coming week, all the priests of the Diocese of Baker will be on Retreat at Mount Angel Abbey. I may not be able to post any material, reflections or photos. But I will do my best to give you a daily update or some food from thought, especially some stories that I can share with you as inspiration. It is unlikely that any post will be placed on the parish Facebook page. You are all in my prayers and thoughts.
Mount Angel Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery, Seminary and Retreat House

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Sunday after Easter will always be known as Divine Mercy Sunday, as people pray the novena handed down to us by St Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun and visionary, who was pushed away by many church authorities in her time and after her death. But Pope St John Paul, a Polish himself, re-opened her case and authenticated her visions, and even canonized her in the year 2000, precisely on Divine Mercy Sunday. The faithful pray the novena by reciting 50 times "For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
At a stadium celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy in the Philippines, thousands in prayer, witnessed a very special grace, confirming the message of St Faustina: “Jesus, I trust in You”. The Glory of God’s Promise of his faithfulness to His people long ago in the Old Testament made clear again in His Rainbow on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013. The Rainbow spanned the sky above the largest Divine Mercy Shrine in the world, the shrine towering at 75 feet; the Divine Mercy statue at 50-feet. The shrine is located at Divine Mercy Hills in El Salvador City of Misamis Oriental on the island of Mindanao.
The Philippines is on fire for Divine Mercy, and it all started with simple prayer cards printed by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. U.S. servicemen brought these Divine Mercy prayer cards with them to the Pacific Theater during World War II. The message and devotion found a beachhead in the Philippines, and the rest is history!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Painted Hands

Some artists are really clever and inventive, as are those who used hands to create almost life-like images of animals. Enjoy these fascinating photos, and observe how the hands were contorted or twisted to create the respective animals.