Thursday, September 24, 2015

Petitions/Prayer of the Faithful for September 27, 2015

Ellen McHugh wrote these for St. Mary's Painesville:

Prayer of the Faithful for September 27, 2015 

26rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Celebrant:  As we celebrate our coming together for the Eucharist, let us, dear sisters and brothers,

approach the one God to voice all our needs.

 Help us to live our lives by the example set by Pope Francis, who insists it is our duty “to

serve the common good, to promote justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace.” We

pray to the Lord.

 Help us to be inspired by the message of St. James.  We pray especially for the working poor

and for those who work to achieve economic justice for all peoples. We pray to the Lord.

 For those who govern nations and make laws: for the wisdom and courage to honor the

dignity of all human life from conception until death. We pray to the Lord.

 For a greater respect of the earth, for the courage to live simpler lives, and for a willingness

to make choices that protect the earth’s environment. We pray to the Lord

 Help us to be inspired by today’s gospel; lead us back to the way of holiness; give strength to

those who are sick in mind, body and spirit. Protect us from sin that wounds ourselves and

others.  We pray to the Lord.

 And for those for whom this Mass is offered [name them].  We pray to the Lord

 Let us pause now and silently offer to the Father our own particular intentions [allow for    

silence. . .].  We pray to the Lord.

Celebrant:  Father, we believe that you will hear and respond to our sincere prayers, asked in the

name of your Son, and in the power of your Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Petitions/Prayer of the Faithful for September 20, 2015

Ellen McHugh composed these beautiful petitions for St. Mary's Painesville:

Prayer of the Faithful for September 20, 2015 

25rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Celebrant:  As we celebrate our coming together for the Eucharist, let us, dear sisters and brothers,

approach the one God to voice all our needs.

 As we observe the UN International Day of Peace this Monday, we pray for all world leaders

to heed the message of St. James: that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those

who cultivate peace.”  We pray to the Lord.

 For those who work to counter injustice, for those who serve the Lord selflessly by giving

hope and comfort to those who feel abandoned, brokenhearted, or crushed in spirit.  We

pray to the Lord.  

 We pray for our catechists; may the Lord bless them and may the grace of the Holy Spirit

guide and uphold them to share your gospel with joy and confidence.  We pray to the


 That in celebration of Catechetical Sunday, we may all see our life in Christ anew and fully

participate in handing on the great gift of faith to the next generation.  We pray to the


 That all of us gathered here today may be inspired by today’s Gospel, to avoid rivalry and

jealousy, to put neighbor before self, to serve humbly in the same mind as Christ.  We pray

to the Lord.

 And for those for whom this Mass is offered [name them].  We pray to the Lord.

 Let us pause now and silently offer to the Father our own particular intentions [allow for    

silence. . .].  We pray to the Lord.

Celebrant:  Father, we believe that you will hear and respond to our sincere prayers, asked in the

name of your Son, and in the power of your Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

p.s. Later in the mass a prayer was added for the safety of Pope Francis during his visit to the United States.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Poem about the Meal for the Homeless at St. Mary's in Painesville

Sweet September Evening at the Homeless Meal

Under blue skies, temperature around 77,
about a hundred people in the green grove
behind St. Mary’s Church--here in Painesville, Ohio,

gather for the Thursday night meal for the homeless.
This sweet evening, the guests are calm and happy,
chattering as they line up for a fine meal:

meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green and yellow beans,
green salad, pasta salad, dessert,
coffee, iced tea . . . conversation, laughter--

gee we all know what lurks three months down the road,
(the darkness, the bitter, the difficulty)
and we know about thirty of these men, women, children, and

babies sleep in the woods behind the old power plant
or along the banks of the Grand River, or in abandoned homes,
garages, sheds, porches--

but tonight we all laugh and eat and
then just sit a while, in the 6 pm slant light
of a calm and sweet September evening.

Bob Coughlin September 18, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wonderful Hispanic Festival in Painesville--at St. Mary's

Last Sunday we had the great privilege of attending a Hispanic Festival at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio. Our parish has a lot of immigrants from Mexico and other countries (one of our parish's great strengths) and has a bilingual pastor (Fr. Steve Vallenga), a Spanish mass, and a bilingual Spanish-English mass. I've noticed in recent years that a lot of the children getting confirmed and making their First Communions are Latino. I know a few of the immigrants and really like them. I am studying Spanish so that I can communicate better with those with limited English (most are bilingual; the children are amazingly bilingual--sometimes perfectly bilingual). I have noticed that some of the moms hesitate to talk in English and are lacking in confidence about their abilities to hold a conversation in English. I understand that because that's the way I am with Irish-Gaelic, which I have studied for almost ten years now. And I was that way initially with German when I lived and studied in Austria a long time ago (when I was a sophomore in college).

These folks seem very friendly. They have close families, and they absolutely love their children (and they seem to have more kids than Anglos). In many ways they remind me of my own Irish-Catholic family when I was little: loving families (with very little money); lots of children; an atmosphere of love and care, at least at home.

The festival had great food and lots of fun entertainment. One thing I enjoyed was the old codger dance, where about 10 young people donned white hair and beards and danced around, trying to lure audience members onto the dance floor. I didn't understand what was being said, but it seemed like great fun.

There were three Catholic priests at the festival while I was there: our pastor, Fr. Steve Vallenga; a former associate pastor, Fr. Joe Callahan; and our new associate, Fr. Chris. Everyone seemed to know (and love!) Fr. Steve and Fr. Joe. And they were getting to know Fr. Chris.

Our Hispanic parishioners seem to be good and dedicated Catholics. And they are in a good parish. Hopefully this will make their lives a bit easier in the current American atmosphere of suspicion toward new immigrants.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just Thoughts: Overcoming Prejudice--Can It Be Done?

[This essay will be for the September 27, 2015 bulletin of St. Mary's Church, Painesville, Ohio.]

Just Thoughts: We Can Overcome Our Own Prejudice

Recently Fr. Daniel Ochs, from Upper Arlington’s St. Agatha parish, gave a sermon on prejudice. He began by quoting the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who said something to the extent that human prejudice is intractable even in the face of contrary evidence--it can’t be overcome. Then Fr. Ochs systematically and brilliantly dismantled Freud’s assertion and gave practical advice on overcoming our own prejudice.

The sermon reflected statements in that Sunday’s readings by St. James and St. Mark. We don’t have to go to scripture to understand the deep-down prejudice in our bones. I think of my own beloved grandfather who complained about “DP’s” and “n*****s,” though he himself had faced similar prejudice and discrimination. His parents were both “DP’s”--Displaced Persons. One came over from Ireland, escaping famine and desperate poverty; the other from Germany, escaping the constant wars and chaos in the area. They lived in the poor sections of Cleveland, with very little money or security. They were treated by some as less than human. They were excluded from many aspects of Cleveland life.

One doesn’t have to look hard to see prejudice in ourselves. Just below the surface bubbles anger, fear, and prejudice. But we don’t have to just accept that. Prejudice is stubborn, but it can be overcome. Freud was wrong; Jesus is right.

One way is to take our own personal and familial suffering and experience being discriminated against--and then turning that on its head so that prejudice becomes empathy and understanding of those excluded from our society.

To do this we need to acknowledge and gently confront prejudice when we see it, in ourselves, our family, our friends. The Gospel is about welcoming the sinner, the outcast, the stranger--whether that outsider is ourself or others. That approach is at the center of our Catholic Christianity.

Monday, September 14, 2015

My First Half Marathon (River Run Half Marathon 2015)

Well I wish I could say I ran one yesterday--say, the "River Run" from Berea, Ohio, to Rocky River. But no. What I did was watch the finish of my first half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. I watched my daughters Emily and Julia, and their husbands Brian and Ed, finish their runs. I must say that it was so beautiful, so inspiring to see this. First of all, I couldn't believe how many people finished this race. They ranged in age from teens to 80 years old (an 80 year old woman, Pauline Beatty, finished the race in about 4 hours and fifteen minutes--she was last of the finishers, but maybe the greatest champion there!). The overall winner, David Petrak, ran the race in 1:07:32, which to me is astonishing. My son-in-law Brian Homan ran in the race in 2:03:19; Ed Kleppel was not far behind at 2:10:47; and my daughters, Julia, and Emily, ran across the finish line together around 2:19:20, give or take a couple seconds.

What I didn't realize was first of all how many people could do this. I'm guessing a thousand people or more finished this half marathon. And they did it with such enthusiasm and esprit, and for the most part a spirit of cooperation. I'm sure that among the top finishers there is an intense spirit of competition, but I think most of the runners were running against the clock and their previous performances. Maybe many were just running against the distance, to see if they could do it.

What a wonderful inspiration this was. Makes me want to participate in walks and runs. Not sure if my 67-year-old legs could run any great distance, but I certainly could walk  a 5K, 10K, or even 13.1 mile event. And I plan on doing that soon!

Some photos:

Julia and Ed at the finish line

Brian, Emily, Julia, Ed

Emily and Brian

Julia with Colin, Emily

Em and Julia, running pretty hard toward the finish line

The last stretch of the race, through Rocky River Reservation.

Ed flashed by me before I could get the camera ready. He's in a dark gray shirt.

Linda, with Colin, watching the race.

Friday, September 11, 2015

One Last 9-11 Remembrance--Billy Collins Reading "The Names"

Former US poet laureate Billy Collins wrote a brilliant poem to honor the victims of 9-11.
Click to view Billy Collins reading his poem.

A Poem for Fr. Mychal Judge, 9-11 Hero

Fr. Mychal Judge, FDNY, Requiescat in Pace

Blunt force facts smack us in the face,

proclaim this martyrdom,
raise up this simple priest—

68-year-old Franciscan, Father Mychal Judge,
at an age when he should be easing into retirement,
maybe visiting hospitals twice a week
saying a couple masses on Sundays
taking long vacations to Killarney and Lago di Como . . .

rushes from St. Francis of Assisi Church
in the shadow of Madison Square Garden,
across the street from Engine Co. 1/ Ladder 24,
to the World Trade Center Towers and Armageddon:

Fr. Mike removes his helmet to whisper prayers,
anoints a dying brother fireman with the oils of the Last Rites,
the final comfort . . .


whacked by flying debris, bodies,
steel, glass, paper,
hopes, dreams,

breath punched out, life snuffed.

When his brothers in the Department
see the lifeless body, recognize Fr. Mike,
their chaplain,

Five of them lift him up on their shoulders,
carry him to a nearby church,
place him at the altar.

They cover him with a white cloth and his stole,
lay his helmet and FDNY chaplain’s badge
on his chest
kneel down and

Thank God for Fr. Mike’s life.

Then they hurry back to the Pile, the rubble, the Disaster,
Ground Zero,
the End of the World.

* * *

Life and love will overcome
the furious hatred and darkness

Fr. Mike will not be forgotten:

“His light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness will not overcome it.”

Robert M. Coughlin
September 25, 2001

Poem for My Mother on September 11th

My Mother on September 11th

We didn’t know if we would live
Beyond that Tuesday.

I rushed from my teaching duties
Thinking not with my brain
But my frightened heart.

Filled the car with gas (what if
the stations ran dry?)

Took $200 out from the ATM (what if
the banks close?)

And drove my car like a maniac
Over the backroads to Euclid (what if
the freeways get jammed?)

To be with my Mother,
Aged, blind, living alone, maybe scared . . . .

When I got there, she was fine,
I was the one terrified.

She had lived through 12 years of the Great Depression,
Four years of The War-To-End-All-Wars,
Followed by The-War-After-That (Korea), and
The War-After-That (Vietnam), and
All the little wars,
All the little and huge deaths.

She was peaceful, strong, hopeful,
Helped her scared oldest son --me--
Face that terrible day
Gave me an idea of what to do


Robert M. Coughlin
September 11, 2003

A Hero/Saint for 9-11: Fr. Mychal Judge FDNY

[This is a piece I wrote some years ago--about a Franciscan priest and FDNY chaplain, Fr. Mychal Judge.]

There were many heroes and saints on September 11, 2001--many whose names will never be widely known. One only has to think of the policemen, firefighters, and other official and non-official rescuers and helpers on that day and the days that followed.

One great hero, really a great saint and martyr of that day, was Fr. Mychal F. Judge OFM, a Franciscan priest and chaplain of the FDNY. When the WTC was struck, Fr. Mychal immediately rushed to the building, where he offered last rights to the dying. When the South Tower began collapsing at 9:59 AM, Fr. Mychal was killed by blunt-force trauma to the head. His colleagues and friends in the fire department carried his body from the WTC site to a nearby church. The NYC coroner determined he was the first victim of the disaster, Victim #0001. A famous photograph captured the image of the firefighters and rescue workers carrying the lifeless body of the saint from the wreckage. To see this photo and to see the many articles, books, movies, and other related materials on Fr. Mychal can click on the following link:

St. Mychal Judge, Pray For Us!

Here is the homily from Fr. Mychal Judge's funeral:

Fr. Michael Duffy's Homily For Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM
September 15, 2001
by: Fr. Michael Duffy, OFM.

Your Eminence, Mr. President, our provincial Father John, family and friends of Mychal Judge, good morning everyone and welcome to this celebration. And it is a celebration. My first thought would be for Michael’s sisters, Dympna and Erin. Our hearts are with you all these days and in the days to come.
After all that has been written about Father Mychal Judge in the newspapers, after all that has been spoken about him on television, the compliments, the accolades, the great tribute that was given to him last night at the Wake Service, I stand in front of you and honestly feel that the homilist at Mother Teresa’s funeral had it easier than I do. [LAUGHTER]
We Franciscans have very many traditions. You, who know us, know that some are odd, some are good. I don't know what category this one fills. [LAUGHTER]
One of our traditions is that we’re all given a sheet of paper. The title on the top says, "On the Occasion of Your Death." Notice, it doesn’t say, in case you die. [LAUGHTER] We all know that it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. But on that sheet of paper lists categories that each one of us is to fill out, where we want our funeral celebrated, what readings we’d like, what music we’d like, where we’d like to be buried.
Mychal Judge filled out, next to the word homilist, my name, Mike Duffy. I didn’t know this until Wednesday morning. I was shaken and shocked … for one thing, as you know from this gathering, Mychal Judge knew thousands of people. He knew, he seemed to know everybody in the world. And if he didn’t then, they know him now, I’m sure. Certainly he had friends that were more intellectual than I, certainly more holy than I, people more well known. And so I sat with that thought, why me … and I came down to the conclusion that I was simply and solely his friend … and I’m honored to be called that.
I always tell my volunteers in Philadelphia that through life, you’re lucky if you have four or five people whom you can truly call a friend. And you can share any thought you have, enjoy their company, be parted and separated, come back together again and pick up right where you left off. They’ll forgive your faults and affirm your virtues. Mychal Judge was one of those people for me. And I believe and hope I was for him …
We as a nation have been through a terrible four days and it doesn’t look like it’s ending. Pope John Paul called Tuesday a dark day in the history of humanity. He said it was a terrible affront to human dignity. In our collective emotions, in our collective consciousness, all went through the same thing on Tuesday morning.
I was driving a van in Philadelphia picking up food for our soup kitchen, when I began to hear the news, one after another after another. You all share that with me. We all felt the same … It was at 2 o’clock in the afternoon that I came back to the soup kitchen, feeling very heavy with the day’s events. At 4:30, I received a call from Father Ron Pecci, my good friend. I was, we were serving the meal to the homeless. And I was called to the phone. And he said, "It’s happened." And I said, "What?" And he said, "Mychal Judge is dead."
At that moment, my already strained emotions did spiritually what the World Trade towers had done physically just hours before. And I felt inside … my whole spirit crumble to the ground and … turn into a pile of rubble at the bottom of my heart. I sat down on the stairs to the cellar, with the phone still to my ear and we cried for 15 minutes.
Later that day, I was in my room. I had my head in my hands, on my desk, and a very holy friar, whom I have the privilege to live with, Father Charlie Finnegan, just gently slipped a piece of paper in front of me and whispered, "This was written thousands of years ago in the midst of a national tragedy. It’s a quote from the Book of Lamentations." "The favors of the Lord are not exhausted. His mercies are not spent. Every morning, they are renewed. Great is his faithfulness. I will always trust in him." I read that quote and I pondered and listened, contemplated. I thought of other passages in the Gospel that said, evil will not triumph, that in the darkest hour when Jesus lay dying on the cross, that suffering led to the resurrection.
I read and thought that the light is better than darkness, hope better than despair. And in thinking of my faith and the faith of Mychal Judge and all he taught me and from scripture … I spiritually began to lift up my head and once again see the stars. And so, I had the courage today to stand in front of you to celebrate Mychal’s life. For it is his life that speaks, not his death. It is his courage that he showed on Tuesday that speaks, not my fear. And it is his hope and belief in the goodness of all people that speaks, not my despair. And so I am here to talk about my friend.
Because so much has been written about him, I’m sure you know his history. He was a New Yorker through and through. As you know, he was born in Brooklyn … He was born, well, some of you may not know this, he was a twin. Dympna is his twin … He was born May 11th, she was born May 13th. [LAUGHTER] Even in birth, Mychal had to have a story. [LAUGHTER] He just did nothing normally, no. [LAUGHTER]
He grew up in Brooklyn playing stickball and riding his bike like all the little kids then. Then, as you’ve heard the story so many times, he put the shoe polish, the rags in a bag and took his bicycle over here, and in front of the Flatiron building, he shined shoes for extra money, when he was a little kid. But very early on in his life, when he was a teenager, and this is a little unusual, because of the faith that he believed, that his mother and his sisters passed on to him, because of his love for God and Jesus, he thought he would like to be a Franciscan for the rest of his life. And so, as a teenager, he joined the friars. And he never left. He never left because his spirit was truly, purely Franciscan, simple, joyful, life loving and laughter. He was ordained in 1961 and spent many years as a parish priest in New Jersey, East Rutherford, Rochelle Park, West Milford. Spent some time at Siena College, one year I believe in Boston.
And then he came back to his beloved New York, whose heart really never left the city. But I came to know him ten years after he was ordained. I was ordained and this is a little ironic … My 30th anniversary of ordination was Tuesday, September 11th . This always was a happy day for me, and I think from now, it’s going to be mixed. But my first assignment was very happy. I was sent to East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Mychal was there working in parochial work. And of course, if you know in the seminary, we learned a lot of theory. We learn a lot of knowledge but you really have to get out with people to know how to deal and how to really minister. So, I arrived there with my eyes wide open, my ears wide open. And my model turned out to be Mychal Judge. He was, without knowing it, my mentor and I was his pupil. I watched how he dealt with people. He really was a people person. While the rest of us were running around organizing altar boys and choirs and liturgies and decorations, he was in his office listening. His heart was open. His ears were open and especially he listened to people with problems.
He carried around with him an appointment book. He had appointments to see people four and five weeks in advance. He would come to the rec room at night at 11:30, having just finished his last appointment, because when he related to a person, and you all know this, they felt like he was their best friend. When he was talking with you, you were the only person on the face of the earth. And he loved people and that showed and that makes all the difference. You can serve people but unless you love them, it’s not really ministry. In fact, a description that St. Bonaventure wrote of St. Francis once, I think is very apt for Michael. St. Bonaventure said that St. Francis had a bent for compassion. And certainly Mychal Judge did. The other thing about Mychal Judge is he loved to be where the action was. If he heard … a fire engine or a police car, any news, in the car he’d go and away he’d be off. He loved to be where people were active, where there was a crisis, so he could insert God in what was going on. That was his way of doing things.
I remember once I came back to the friary and the secretary told me, "There’s a hostage situation in Carlstadt and Mychal Judge is up there." So, I said, "Oh, gosh." Well, I got in the car … drove up there. There was a house and there was a man on the second floor with a gun pointed to his wife’s head and the baby in her arms. And he was threatening to kill her. When I got there, there were several people around, lights, policemen and a fire truck. And where was Mychal Judge? Up on the ladder in his habit, on the top of the ladder, talking to the man through the window of the second floor. I nearly died because in one hand he had his habit out like this, because he didn’t want to trip. So, he was hanging on the ladder with one hand. He wasn’t very dexterous, anyway. [LAUGHTER] I was fearful and he was, you know, his head bobbing like, "Well, you know, John, maybe we can work this out. You know, this really isn’t the way to do it. Why don’t you come downstairs, and we’ll have a cup of coffee and talk this thing over?" I was there, we’re all there, saying, "He’s going to fall off the ladder. There’s going to be a gunplay." Not one ounce of fear did he show. But he was telling him, "You know, you’re a good man, John. You don’t need to do this." I don’t know what happened, but he put the gun down and the wife and the baby’s lives were saved. But, of course, there were cameras there. [LAUGHTER] Where … wherever there was a photographer within a mile, you could be sure the lens was pointed at Mychal Judge. [LAUGHTER] In fact, we used to accuse him of paying The Bergen Record’s reporter to follow him around just to … [LAUGHTER]
Another aspect, a lesson that I learned from him, his way of life, is his simplicity. He lived very simply. He didn’t have many clothes. They were always pressed, of course, and clean but he didn’t have much, no clutter in his room, very simple room.
And he would say to me once in a while, "Michael Duffy," he always called me by my full name, "Michael Duffy, you know what I need?" And I would get excited because it was hard to buy him a present or anything. I said, "No, what?" "You know what I really need?" "No, what Mike?" "Absolutely nothing. [MURMURING] I don’t need a thing in the world. I am the happiest man on the face of the earth." And then he would go on for ten minutes, telling me how blessed he felt. "I have beautiful sisters. I have nieces and nephews. I have my health. I’m a Franciscan priest. I love my work. I love my ministry." And he would go on, and he would always conclude it by looking up to heaven and saying, "Why am I so blessed? I don’t deserve it. Why am I so blessed?" But that’s how he felt all his life.
Another characteristic of Mychal Judge, he loved to bless people, and I mean physically. Even if they didn’t ask … [LAUGHTER] A little old lady would come up to him and he’d talk to them, you know, as if they were the only person on the face of the earth. Then, he’d say, "Let me give you a blessing." He put his big thick Irish hands and pressed her head till I think the poor woman would be crushed, and he’d look up to heaven and he’d ask God to bless her, give her health and give her peace and so forth. A young couple would come up to him and say, "We just found out we’re going to have a baby." "Oh, that’s wonderful! That’s great!" He’d put his hand on the woman’s stomach, and call to God to bless the unborn child. When I used to take teenagers on bus trips, he would always be around when we left. He’d jump in the bus, lead the teenagers in prayer, and then bless them all for a safe and a happy time, wherever I was taking them. If a family were in crisis, the husband and wife, he would go up to them … and sometimes take both their hands at the same time, and put them right next to his and whisper a blessing that the crisis would be over.
He loved to bring Christ to people. He was the bridge between people and God and he loved to do that. And many times over the past few days, there’s been several people who have come up and said, Father Mychal did my wedding, Father Mychal baptized my child. Father Mychal came to us when we were in crisis. There are so many things that Father Mychal Judge did for people. I think there’s not one registry in a rectory in this diocese that doesn’t have his name in it for something, a baptism, a marriage or whatever.
But what you may not know, and I’d like to tell you today because this may console you a little, it really was a two-way street. You people think he did so much for you. But you didn’t see it from our side, we that lived with him. He would come home and be energized and nourished and thrilled and be full of life because of you.
He would come back and say to me, for instance, "I met this young man today. He’s such a good person. He has more faith in his little finger than I do in my own body. Oh, he’s such good people. Oh, they’re so great." Or, "I baptized a baby today." And just to see the new life, he’d be enthused and enthused. I want just to let you know, and I think he’d want me to let you know, how much you did for him. You made his life happy. You made him the kind of person that he was for all of us.
It reminds me of that very well known Picasso sketch of two hands holding a bouquet of flowers. You know the one I mean that there’s one bouquet, a small bouquet, it’s colorful and there’s a hand coming from the left side and a hand coming from the right side. Both of them are holding on to the bouquet. But the artist was clever enough to draw the hands in the exact same angle. So, you don’t know who’s receiving and who is giving. And it’s the same way that Mychal related to people. You should know how much you gave to him, and it was that love that he had for people, and that way of relating to him, that led him back to New York City and to become part of the fire department …
He loved his fire department and all the men in it. He’d call me late at night and tell me all the experiences that he had with them, how wonderful they were, how good they were. It was never so obvious that he loved a group of people so much as his New York firefighters. And that’s the way he was when he died.
On Tuesday, one of our friars, Brian Carroll, was walking down Sixth Avenue and actually saw the airplane go overhead at a low altitude. And then a little further, he saw smoke coming from one of the trade towers. He ran into the friary. He ran into Mychal Judge’s room and he says, "Mychal, I think they’re going to need you. I think the World Trade tower is on fire." Mychal was in his habit. So, he jumped up, took off his habit, got his uniform on, and I have to say this, in case you really think he’s perfect, he did take time to comb and spray his hair. [LAUGHTER]
But just for a second, I’m sure … He ran down the stairs and he got in his car and with some firemen, he went to the World Trade towers … While he was down there, one of the first people he met was the mayor, Mayor Giuliani, and he, the mayor last night, said, Mychal Judge ran by him and he, the mayor, just put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Mychal, please pray for us." And Mychal turned and with that big Irish smile said, "I always do." And then kept on running with the firefighters into the building. While he was ministering to dying firemen, administering the Sacrament of the Sick and Last Rites, Mychal Judge died. The firemen scooped him up to get him out of the rubble and carried him out of the building and wouldn’t you know it? There was a photographer there. That picture appeared in The New York Times, The New York Daily News and USA Today on Wednesday, and someone told me last night that People magazine has that same picture in it. I bet he planned it that way. [LAUGHTER]
But you know when you step back and see how my friend Mychal died, I’m sure that when we finish grieving, when all this is over and we can put things in perspective, look how that man died. He was right where the action was, where he always wanted to be. He was praying, because in the ritual for anointing, we’re always saying, Jesus come, Jesus forgive, Jesus save. He was talking to God, and he was helping someone. Can you honestly think of a better way to die? I think it was beautiful.
The firemen took his body and because they respected and loved him so much, they didn’t want to leave it in the street. So, they quickly carried it into a church and not just left it in the vestibule, they went up the center aisle. They put the body in front of the altar. They covered it with a sheet. And on the sheet, they placed his stole and his fire badge. And then they knelt down and they thanked God. And then they rushed back to continue their work.
And so, in my mind … I picture Mychal Judge’s body there in that church in the sanctuary, realizing that the firefighters brought him back to the Father in the Father’s house. And the words that come to me, "I am the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep ... Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends. And I call you my friends." …
And so I make this statement to you this morning that Mychal Judge has always been my friend. And now he is also my hero.
Mychal Judge’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero. His death certificate has the number one on the top … and I meditated on that fact of the thousands of people that we are going to find out who perished in that terrible holocaust … Why was Mychal Judge number one? And I think I know the reason. I hope you’ll agree with me. Mychal’s goal and purpose in life at that time was to bring the firemen to the point of death, so they would be ready to meet their maker. There are between two and three hundred firemen buried there, the commissioner told us last night.
Mychal Judge could not have ministered to them all. It was physically impossible in this life but not in the next. And I think that if he were given his choice, he would prefer to have happened what actually happened. He passed through the other side of life, and now he can continue doing what he wanted to do with all his heart. And the next few weeks, we’re going to have names added, name after name of people, who are being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal Judge is going to be on the other side of death … to greet them instead of sending them there. And he’s going to greet them with that big Irish smile … he’s going to take them by the arm and the hand and say, "Welcome, I want to take you to my Father." … And so, he can continue doing in death what he couldn’t do in life …
And so, this morning … we come to bury Mike Judge’s body but not his spirit. We come to bury his mind but not his dreams. We come to bury his voice but not his message. We come to bury his hands but not his good works. We come to bury his heart but not his love. Never his love.
And so, I think … we his family, friends and those who loved him should return the favor that he so often did to us. All of us have felt his big hands at a blessing that he would give to us. I think right now, it would be so appropriate if we called on what the liturgy tells us we are, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. And we … give Mychal a blessing as he returns to the Father.
So, I’d ask you now could you all please stand. And could you raise your right hand and extend it towards my friend Mychal and repeat after me.

FR. DUFFY Mychal, may the Lord bless you. CONGREGATION Mychal, may the Lord bless you. FR. DUFFY May the angels lead you to your Savior. CONGREGATION May the angels lead you to your Savior. FR. DUFFY You are a sign of his presence to us. CONGREGATION You are a sign of his presence to us. FR. DUFFY May the Lord now embrace you. CONGREGATION May the Lord now embrace you. FR. DUFFY And hold you in his love forever. CONGREGATION And hold you in his love forever. FR. DUFFY Rest in peace. Amen. CONGREGATION Rest in peace. Amen. FR. DUFFY Thank you.

*—Delivered by Fr. Michael A. Duffy, O.F.M., Director of St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia, Pa., at the Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Mychal F. Judge, O.F.M., 10:30 a.m., Saturday, September 15, 2001, St. Francis of Assisi Church, 135 West 31st Street, New York, N.Y. Edward Cardinal Egan, Presider. Vested concelebrants: Fr. John M. Felice, O.F.M, Provincial Minister, Holy Name Province; Fr. Peter V. Brophy, O.F.M., Pastor; Fr. Myles P. Murphy, St. Gabriel Church, Bronx, N.Y. (cousin).

Reposting a 9-11 Memory

[This piece was posted 8 years ago today.]

September 11, 2001—A Memory

How I taught that 10 AM class I don’t know. I did mention the tragedy to the class, as if they didn’t know already, and we all prayed in class before the lesson started. Then amazingly, I proceeded with the lesson.

As the class progressed, I grew more and more anxious, until the end, when I practically busted out of the room and ran back to my office. “I have to see if Mom is all right!” I yelled to myself, racing down the hallways from T Building. I was also worried about my wife Linda and my 3 daughters. Julia was away at college, Miami University. Carolan was at Chardon High School. Em was at St. Mary’s School, where Linda worked. But Mom was 77 years old, blind, and alone at home in Euclid--Dad four years in the grave. I had to go to her right away!

I ran to the faculty-staff lot and cranked up my car—it was almost empty of gas. A thought streaked across my mind: What if the gas pumps go out? What if gigantic lines form at the gas stations? Are the ATM machines working? As usual I had almost no cash in my wallet.

My first step was to get to the Bank One money machine. The machine worked and I withdrew a hundred dollars, a huge amount for me to carry around. Then I headed to Kirtland Road, the back way to Mom’s. I thought maybe the freeways would get jammed up with cars, people fleeing . . . to somewhere, anywhere. We had no idea what was going on yet. So far we knew that both towers of the World Trade Center had been hit; by this time one of the buildings had actually collapsed to the ground, something unheard of! There was a story about a jet crashing into a field southeast of Pittsburgh. The Pentagon had been hit. There were rumors galore flying around. One claimed that Dayton had been hit. My oldest daughter Julia was a freshman at Miami University, not far from Dayton. What was going on? Are we all in danger?

Down Kirtland Road I drove like a maniac, coming to Rt. 20 in Willoughby. West on 20 to Vine Street. Down Vine to Lakeshore Boulevard. There near the corner of Lakeshore and Vine was a gas station without big lines. I pulled in and filled my tank. Would this be my last chance to get gas?

I zipped out on Vine, then left on Lakeshore down to Lloyd. Down Lloyd to Forestview. Then to E. 272, then Farringdon, then E.266 and into Mom’s driveway. I pushed open my car door, one knock on Mom's door, then inside.

There Mom calmly sat on the davenport, drinking a cup of coffee, smoking a cigarette, and watching the television’s grim news. Mom was OK; I was the one who was frantic, anxious, frightened to death. I hugged her. She comforted me like I was a scared 5-year-old again.

Robert M. Coughlin
September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jackson Browne in Concert in the Cleveland Flats (with Set List)

Last evening we had the good fortune to see Jackson Browne in concert at the Jacobs Nautica Pavilion in the Flats. It was a magnificent concert, in an amazing venue. The Cuyahoga River was the backdrop, with pleasure boats, skulling crews, and freighters sailing up and down the river during the concert (including a 900 foot lake freighter!).

Jackson Browne is one of our greatest troubadours and singer-songwriters. His work spans almost 50 years, and he is still full of creativity and energy. His voice was terrific and his band is the best. I can't imagine a better lead guitarist than the fellow playing last night. Browne was accompanied by 2 guitarists, a bass player, an organist, a pedal-steel player, a drummer, and a backup singer. He himself played several different kinds of guitars, including a National Steel or Dobro. He also played the piano beautifully. I found this paragraph on the internet mentioning the names of his band members:
"Accompanying Browne on both the album and tour will be his longtime band consisting of Val McCallum on guitar, bassist Bob Glaub, drummer Mauricio Lewak and keyboardist Jeff Young. Joining them will be Greg Leisz on guitar, lap steel and pedal steel."

Read More: Jackson Browne Announces New Album and Fall 2014 Tour |

Here are some photos from the evening:

Linda by the Crooked River before the concert.

Cleveland's skyline, as seen from the west bank of the river.

The Nautica tent, with one of our old bridges in the air.

Skulling crews on the river.

"Doctor My Eyes"

Gigantic lake freighter moves toward Collision Bend during the concert.
Here is the set list from last night's concert:

  1. Set 1
  2. Set 2
  3. Encore:
  4. Our Lady of the Well

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jackson Browne in Concert in Cleveland Tonight!

The great troubadour, singer, and songwriter Jackson Browne is in concert tonight at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, in the Cleveland Flats-and we get to see him!

Below is a sample of his artistry with his heartbreaking song "My Opening Farewell," sung with Bonnie Raitt. There are many great versions of this song; my favorite is by Alison Krauss. Jackson Browne wrote this song when he was a very young man--it appears on his first album, issued in January of 1972.

Poem for Colin on the First Day of School

First Day of School . . .

(for Colin Jude)

is always a bit tense
and at times terrifying

and often wonderful,
the opening up of new life.

How do you explain that to a five year old?
You say it in just a few words,

a kiss on the cheek, a hug,
a pat on the back,

then send them forth to face
the terror and the wonder,

this new world,
in the labor of being born.

[Bob Coughlin / September 8, 2015]

[I remember! I remember!]