Sunday, January 31, 2010

End of Notre Dame's Innsbruck Program

I just heard the news that the University of Notre Dame will soon end its study-abroad program in Innsbruck, Austria. To me and my Notre Dame/Innsbruck friends, this is astonishing news indeed! This program began in 1964 and was the college's first study-abroad program. I participated in the fourth year of the program, with 35 Notre Dame Sophomore colleagues, under the directorship of Fr. Larry Broestl. What a tremednous year it was for all of us! [more coming very soon]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Death of Daniel Ryan Kloos in Haiti Earthquake

This week I noticed an obituary in the News-Herald and Plain Dealer for a 24-year-old boy with ties to the Greater Cleveland area (he also had ties to San Diego, where he had attended college, and to Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been living). The boy is Daniel Ryan Kloos, and he was killed in the collapse of a building in Petionville, just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Daniel Ryan had been visiting his sister Erin, where they volunteered at the Father Wasson Center (connected to the international volunteer group, Friends of the Orphans). Erin Kloos was injured, but her life was spared. A memorial for Daniel Ryan Kloos was to take place tomorrow, I believe, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Gates Mills, Ohio.

I was struck by the last name "Kloos" because I had known a Bob Kloos when I was in St. Joseph High School in 1962-63. Bob later left St. Joe's for Borromeo Seminary, and became a much-beloved priest in the Cleveland Diocese. If memory serves, Bob's family was from Willowick, and Bob at one time served as a priest at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Willowick. Bob left the priesthood some time in the early 1990's, and I've seen his name lately in news articles about the campaign to save St. Peter's Church in Cleveland (the bishop has ordered St. Pete's and about 50 other parishes closed). Well it turns out that Bob Kloos is indeed the uncle of Daniel Ryan Kloos.

The Kloos family must be an amazing family to produce the likes of Bob Kloos and Daniel Ryan and Erin Kloos. Our love and sympathy go out to Daniel Ryan and Erin's parents, John Kloos and Kathy Shannon, and to Ryan and Erin's sister Katie, and to grandparents Tom and Dolores Shannon, and to all their families and friends.

Daniel Ryan lost his life in service to the "least brethren." He will never be a physician as he had planned. But his life was not in vain, and his life will yield great fruit in Haiti and throughout the world. I'm always amazed how martyrdom doesn't discourage human beings. Indeed, Daniel Ryan's death will cause other people to rise up and help the orphans and poor of the world! Thank God for human compassion and human courage!

For the story on Daniel Ryan and Erin Kloos (from "Friends of the Orphans" website), click on this link or cut and paste the URL into a web browser:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Star Football Player at St. William's in Euclid, 1957

That's me, second row from the bottom, second from the left--star halfback on a St. William's touch football team made up of 4th and 5th graders. I'll try to identify the coach and teammates soon.

Well, here are my guesses as to the boys and coach in this old photo, taken at St. William's in the fall of 1957:

Front row, left to right: Greg Sattler?, John Rossa, Frank Bowser, Larry Whelan (?)
Second row: Tim Kraft, Bob Coughlin, ??, Bill Walsh
Third row: I'm drawing a blank on these boys
Coach Rossa in back

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mass Graves In Haiti and in Ireland

Nobody knows how many people have died in the past 8 days in Haiti. We know neither how many or even the names of all the dead. Estimates vary widely, the latest I heard being from 100,000 to 200,000. I even heard that it's possible that more Americans have died in the Haiti earthquake than in the 9-11 attacks in America. Every night we see on television the unburied bodies in the streets of Port-au-Prince and the mass graves, where countless unidentified bodies are being buried.

My first thought is that we must try to help--to bring food, water, healthcare, and shelter to the living; and to bury the dead. And when this part of the emergency is over, we must help rebuild a better-functioning Haiti. These are our neighbors, our brothers and our sisters. I think every single American should help, even if it means contributing only a dollar. Some of us who are able should contribute much, much more. I heard this morning that Sandra Bullock has contributed a million dollars. And Lebron James has given $100,000.

My second thought travels across the Atlantic Ocean to the Irish town of Sligo, where I attended the William Butler Yeats Conference a few years back .

Just outside Sligo town is a cemetery for the dead of An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger, the Irish Famine of the late 1840's. No one knows exactly how many died or were forced to emigrate from Ireland (to America, England, Australia, and elsewhere) because of the famine. It is thought that perhaps a million people died in the Irish famine, with maybe another million fleeing the country. My ancestors survived the famine, barely, and left Ireland for America in the 1850's. This same story holds true for probably 25% of Greater Clevelanders. Anyway, right outside Sligo there is the resting place of those who died of hunger or hunger-related disease. They were buried in mass graves--and their names are not known.

Disaster is part of the DNA of all humans. I know that the Irish don't forget how close we are to disaster. This is why we must feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, comfort those in sorrow, bury the dead. We are called on to perform the Works of Mercy, a lesson I first learned at St. William's School in Euclid and then at St. Joseph High School in Cleveland.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lamentation for Haiti

I wish I had the musical skills of Grey Larsen or Malcolm Dalglish. If I did, I would write a mournful tune, "Lamentation for Haiti," expressing my shock and grief at the earthquake tragedy that happened (and is still unfolding!) in that country.

It is time for prayer and for action. Few of us can actually go to Haiti, though I hope those with rescuing skills, medical skills, and organizational skills go there directly to help. Most Americans can give money. If you are very poor, give the "widow's mite," the little bit that you can. If you are blessed with money and resources, give all you can. I would give money to trusted sources, like Food for the Poor, Catholic Relief Services, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Mennonite Central Committee, the American Red Cross, and similar organizations. You want most of that money to get to the the needy in Haiti.

Remember: the Lord blesses and loves those rescued and safe; He also blesses and loves those injured and dead. Let's not allow bad theology (Pat Robertson?) to get in the way of our help. This is an emergency. Weep for Haiti, and for God's sake, help the suffering in that country.

Monday, January 11, 2010

John Connell, Rest in Peace

Today I was terribly shocked and saddened by the news that John Connell, my colleague and friend at Lakeland Community College, has passed away after his struggle with cancer. John was also known as John McConnell, and emigrated from County Cavan, Ireland to the Akron/Greater Cleveland area some 20 years ago. At Lakeland, John taught math courses and staffed the Math Lab. I guess I met him some time in the past 5 years or so. John probably noticed all the poems and photos of Ireland on my office door--and introduced himself to me. We had great fun talking about Irish history, culture, and music over the years. One time I got to meet his dear wife Marlene at Lakeland. I think Marlene is Slovenian. Whatever she is, she's the most Irish Slovenian in the history of the world! She loves Irish culture and music as much or more than native-born Irish.

John was an accomplished buttonbox musician, and could also handle a guitar with great skill. Besides his skill with instruments, John was a tremendous singer, with a sweet, sweet voice. I heard him and his band, Akron-based "Fergie and the Bog Dogs" play many times (

Here is a link to John's obituary:

What a sad day for John's family and friends! Let the gates of Heaven open for John!

Slán Abhaile agus Beannachtái, John!