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Beauty of Mass transforms the most unlikely places

My August Life Lines column, inspired by the renovations at St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Delmar:

My parish church in upstate New York is undergoing major renovations and reconstruction this summer. And so last weekend we filed into the school gymnasium for Sunday Mass, where metal folding chairs and raised basketball hoops brought back fond memories of my childhood Mass experiences at St. Aedan’s parish in Pearl River. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Holy Year of Mercy pilgrimage UPDATED

Buongiorno a tutti! That greeting can mean only one thing: I am heading back to Italy on a Holy Year of Mercy pilgrimage for another fantastic combination of great food, beautiful scenery, and spiritual inspiration, and this time our chaplain will be my good friend and vicar general for the Diocese of Albany, Father David Berberian. Bonus: Our beloved tour guide from last October, Isabella, has signed on for this pilgrimage, so we will be in the very best hands.

We’ll be hitting some of the highlights from my last pilgrimage, with the addition of some must-see cities we missed the first time around. Here’s the brief run-down of where our Holy Year of Mercy Food & Faith in Italy tour will take us between May 15-26, 2016: Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Orvieto, Assisi, Siena, Bologna, the Emilia Romagna region, Padua, and Venice. Read more

New job, new office, new chapter

Big news on the work front for me. On Friday, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany appointed me Director of Communications for the Diocese of Albany. I am so honored — and so thrilled. It’s funny how things come to us when we are ready for them, when we need them or want them but don’t necessarily expect them. If you had told me last year at this time that I would be here today, I would have looked at you funny, and yet here I am and it all seems to make perfect sense. It’s as though my entire career was training for this particular job. I couldn’t imagine a better fit. Over the 30 past years I have served in diocesan communications offices, as a reporter and editor at diocesan and national Catholic newspapers, as a guest and host on Catholic radio and TV shows. I have immersed myself in writing books about spirituality, Church teaching and all things Catholic. And now it all comes together in one job. Read more

Miscarriage: Love and loss 17 years later

My annual post in remembrance of the baby I never got to meet:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 17 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy. Read more

Way of Sorrow: Seeing an old path with new eyes

It’s amazing how different something can look when we are willing to see with new eyes, when we cast aside our preconceived ideas and our human need for “progress.”

When I was on retreat at St. Mary’s on the Lake earlier this month, my retreat leader, Paulist Father Tom Ryan, took a few of us on a hike across the beautiful property along stunning Lake George, including a long-abandoned outdoor Stations of the Cross path cut into the woods behind the chapel. I hadn’t even noticed it on my first two trips down to the lake, but there it was — overgrown, falling down, forgotten, sad. At least that’s how it seemed to me at first. And all I could see was potential. Read more

Disconnect, settle in, and just listen

If you missed my latest interview on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio, you can catch up by clicking the link below. I’m first up so just hit play. I’m talking about my five-day retreat and the need to disconnect from our devices and just listen to the silence and the Spirit.

What are your favorite retreat spots? How do you feel about sitting in silence for a few hours, or a few days? Some day I’ll do a weeklong silent retreat. For now, it’s bit by bit. Peace.

Give Us This Day: Always Room at the Table

My Gospel reflection from today’s Give Us This Day:

I come from a big Irish-Italian family, one where the food was always delicious and plentiful. On any given night, an entire extra family could show up for dinner at our house unannounced, and no one would go hungry. There would be chicken cutlets or pasta in abundance, and probably a batch of freshly made chocolate chip cookies. My mother wanted everyone to feel welcomed and loved. It didn’t matter whether you had an invitation, whether you were a close relative or the high school boyfriend of the resident teenager, whether you wanted a cup of tea or a three-course meal, she would smile and put out another place setting. Or five. Read more

Summer vacation for the soul

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of my fabulous five-day retreat and the Life Lines column I wrote about making sure you take time apart to recharge your spiritual life this summer. I’ll be back in the days ahead with some reflections — and photos — from my stay at St. Mary’s on the Lake in gorgeous Lake George, N.Y. So here’s my column, which is running in the current issue of Catholic New York. Let me know in the comment section what you’ll be doing this summer to recharge. (That photo to the left was taken from my favorite prayer/journaling spot on a cliff overlooking Lake George.) Read more

What are the cravings that throw you off course?

This week I had a great conversation about food, self-acceptance, and spirituality when I hung out on-air with Allison Gingras, host of Reconciled to You. It was such a fun interview, and I loved getting the chance to revisit my book Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God. After talking with Allison for an hour, I think I need to re-read my own book! And make a date to visit with her in person because I think we were separated at birth, even if I’m way ahead of her on the age trajectory.

If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast here:

Why do I stay in this Church?

“Why do you remain a Catholic?” That was the challenge issued by Elizabeth Scalia (aka The Anchoress) via Facebook this week, calling me (among many other Catholic writers) out by name. Never one to refuse a good challenge, I started to ponder that question as I headed out to meet Dennis for date night at The City Beer Hall in Albany. As we sat at the bar, sipping our Chatham Maple Amber, Dennis reminded me that I had already written my own blog post on this very topic more than a year ago. (I’m glad someone remembers what I write!) Sure enough. I went back and found my own take: “Why Am I Still Here? In this Church, that is.” Read more