“The Way” Special screening and panel UCLA May 31, 2012

Retreat for Women January 28 & March 3, 2012

 

 

 

Tree of Life screening in 35mm + panel Jan. 14, 2012, UCLA

Stay Awake! Advent readings inspire Occupy LA arrest

Last Sunday night at the launch for Jeff Dietrich’s book “Broken and Shared” he ended the readings with an Advent reflection he had just written a few days before. It is very moving and gives a whole different view of the “occupy” movement.

COMMENTARY

They came just before dawn; they came with fire trucks and ambulances and sirens blaring; they came in helicopters with rotary blades flapping; they came marching in lock step with helmets and visors and steel batons at “port arms.” They came and came and came. They came to disperse, to clean up, and to clear out Occupy LA. The morning air was cold and I was shivering not from the cold but from fear. Small drops of sweat trickled down my armpits. This was the last place I wanted to be. At age 65 I was in the distinct minority of this ragtag assembly of youthful rabble-rousers, an alien in this collection of seemingly disorganized children.

For the rest of the reflection, click here: http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/advent-readings-inspire-occupy-la-arrest

Cardinal John P. Foley, first President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, dies at 76

Here is the article in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/us/cardinal-john-p-foley-american-voice-of-the-vatican-dies-at-76.html?_r=1

Cardinal Foley had a wonderful sense of humor that served him well as a member of the Vatican curia for so many years. He was a terrific representative of the church in the US and an ambassador for authentic communication and communicators wherever he found them.

A dinner with Cardinal Foley was always a joy.

I asked him one time about the requirements for a priest or religious to work in communication and he said two things: prayer and community. Yes, one had to love communication and media, but passion was not enough.

Here is what Frank Morock, President of the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals sent to the members today:

Dear Catholic Academy Colleagues,

It is with a sad heart that I write to inform you that our beloved Cardinal John P. Foley died today (Sunday) in Darby, PA. Cardinal Foley was 76.  As we know he was suffering from leukemia, which forced him to announce his retirement earlier this year after more than 20 years of service at the Vatican. Ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1962, he had the opportunity to work in the field of communications as the assistant editor of the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times, and was its editor in chief from 1970 to 1984.  That year, Blessed Pope John Paul II elevated him to Archbishop and appointed him President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He held that post until 2007, when Pope Benedict named him the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and elevated him to the rank of Cardinal.

In 2005, the Catholic Academy presented Cardinal Foley with its President’s Medallion. In June, 2011, at the annual CMC gathering, the Catholic Academy Board of Directors presented him with a special Gabriel Award for Lifetime Achievement.  It was the first Lifetime Achievement honor ever given in the more than 45 years of the Gabriel Award. As always, he was most gracious in his acceptance, sharing with the gathering of CA and CPA members humorous stories as only Cardinal Foley can tell. Please join me in a special prayer for a holy man who loved Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and did so very much for Church communications and its relationship with the secular media.

The Catholic Academy website will have a more complete story on Cardinal Foley. http://catholicacademy.org

The Way with Martin Sheen – don’t miss it!

The panel for the special screening of THE WAY last Saturday night in Los Angeles; photo by Frederic Charpentier

On Nov. 5, Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in collaboration with Mt. St. Mary’s College Chalon Campus, hosted a screening and panel discussion of Emilio Estevez’s new film “The Way.”

 The main attraction, besides the film, was the participation of the film’s star, Martin Sheen, his eldest son writer/director, Emilio Estevez, and producer David Alexanian. The panel was moderated by communications professor Dr. Craig Detweiller of Pepperdine University. Other panelists were Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, president of Loyola Productions and chaplain to CIMA, the Rev. Scott Young, executive director of the University Religious Conference at UCLA, and me.

I had the honor of interviewing Sheen about the film for NCR, so being part of this event was an added grace. I can’t think of another way to put it.

“The Way” is the story of California widowed father and ophthalmologist, Tom, who goes to France to bring home the body of his son, who died in an accident just as he was to embark on the famous Camino to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He finds three companions along the way, a pilgrimage that changed him from choosing a life to living it, opened up his view of the world from his small little golf course to countries and people he never thought about, that healed a father-son relationship, even in death, and celebrates the divine hope of reconciliation, even in a church that can be, as the character Jack says, a “temple of tears.”

For more click here for Sr. Rose’s blog on NCR

I took this photo with my iPhone; a little blurry but you can see how much we laughed!

 

New York, New York

This is the view from the back of the Staten island ferry on its way to the island. But the view from Victory and Forest was magical; you felt like you could reach out and touch it on a clear day

I grew up in San Diego listening to my Connecticut born-and-bred mother praising the wonders of New York City. Her parents took her and her siblings there often to visit an aunt who lived and prospered there. For some reason the Museum of Natural History was the place she most often described for us kids.

After three years in the convent in Boston, we novices went by car to New York in November, 1970, to have an experience of our apostolate of evangelization with the media and to see what convent life was like in a smaller community than that of the provincial-novitiate house.

We drove in our van down the Hudson Parkway and under the George Washington Bridge, with the Cloisters to our left, and the shrine of Mother Cabrini, Sister Anthony, our driver, told us.  Born in Everett, MA, Sr. Anthony’s family returned to Italy when she was seven years old; then as a young nun she returned to the U.S., to New York, where her name became synonymous in our community with the place and its people. But I fell into something that must be like ecstasy as Manhattan was revealed via the view from the then elevated West Side Highway.  It wouldn’t be closed until 1973 and completely closed and demolished until 1989. Sr. Anthony also told us that the Sixth Avenue El (elevated) train that used to go up and down the middle of Manhattan was dismantled and the iron sold to the Japanese as scrap and they gave it back in bullets. Learning history from our older nuns was always an eye-opener (this allegation has been always denied by city officials but myths live long and die hard.)

Manhattan took my breath away. It looked old and dirty, yes, but the Empire State Building was a visual magnet of promise and wonder. I loved the sense of history that came from the worn and torn look of old buildings and streets. The West Side Highway alone was scary to the first-timer; it was old and narrow and rickety. How many people, from every country on earth, how many cars, had run this road?

On the right, the piers, though dilapidated, were still working, and the nose from one of the passenger ships from the Italian Line seemed too close to the highway. I wanted to touch it.

As we neared the tip of Manhattan to take the ferry to Staten Island, Sister Anthony explained that there, on the left, where there lay an over grown field, several blocks large,  with one or two produce companies stood, was where the World Trade Center would be built. What was that? Two big office buildings, the biggest in the world.  Aren’t there other produce companies than those two over there? Yes, they just built a new market at Hunts Point in the Bronx. These are going away, too, she said. I don’t recall Sister Anthony mentioning Mother Seton’s house on the battery; even if she had, it would have just added to my sense of awe.

Although ground had been broken for the WTC in the late 1960s for what would become a seven building complex, that chilly Sunday afternoon, there was no hint of what was to come.

Over the next three years, though, construction started in earnest; first they dug very deep and then for the next two Christmases construction workers put Christmas trees on top of the twin towers, marking their ascent to heaven.  The North Tower was topped off in December, 1972 and the South Tower in July, 1973. I was in New York for both.

I lived and carried out our apostolate in New York for almost thirteen continuous years, from 1970 – 1980 and then from 1990 – 1993. I cannot tell you how many times I went to the World Trade towers for mission or convent business, to the Customs House (WTC 6) to clear cargo imports, to take the PATH train to New Jersey, and to take visitors to the top. In 1992, my ten-year-old niece dropped a glass bottle of some sticky colored beverage on the floor of one of the buildings where the airlines had their counters. Do you have any idea how far 16 ounces can splash and glass shatter on a terrazzo floor?

Up in the towers it always seemed like there were a thousand secretaries typing, but the tap-tap-tap was from the buildings swaying with the earth and wind.

I was at home in Staten Island the day the bomb went off under the North Tower on February 26, 1993. It was shocking, but things went back to normal so soon. The incident made me recall the story one of our older Italian nuns, Sister Sira, used to tell about a wayward B-25 bomber that crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building at 9:49am, July 28, 1945 – right into the War Relief Offices of the Catholic Welfare Conference.  Eleven office workers were killed and three crewmen.

After my assignment in New York ended in 1993, I went to Guam and then to London to study for a graduate degree until late 1995. Then Boston was my home until 2002, so I was working in our media studies center on 9/11/01. I was taping the film “Restoration” from television to use a clip in a workshop I would be giving in Toronto, departing on September 12. I have no memory of what that clip was or how I was going to use it. Sister Marie came in and told me to turn on the news, a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I didn’t want to interrupt the taping so I went across the hall to check the television there.  I thought this had to be like the plane Sister Sira told us about; I stayed for a while and went back to work.

Not long after, Sr. Marie came racing back in, yelling “You have to turn on the television; a plane hit the other tower!” Then I knew. This was not wayward plane; this was an attack. I turned off the video recorder, and turned on the news. I knew the borders would be closed between the US and Canada and flights would stop. There would be no trip to Toronto, long planned a year ago.

A group of our sisters were at our General Chapter in Rome so for weeks I became a correspondent, watching CNN and other outlets and simultaneously typing reports into my computer to send email, including local reactions, and news from our sisters in Staten Island. The sisters at the Chapter had some television access, but they could not glue themselves to the television so email and Internet was best.

Somewhere, I have two big red binders of all the emails I sent and received from all kinds of people in the weeks following 9/11.

That Sunday after 9/11, day five after the attacks, I went to our local Barnes and Noble bookstore at Chestnut Hill and found the friendly server at the coffee bar. His usual cheerful demeanor was toned down and when he handed me my coffee, he said, “Sister Rose, the FBI was here. Three terrorists stayed at that motel there; they found their car there – see?” and he nodded toward the window. “Parked right there, and they thought we might have seen them, or that they might have come in here. They questioned all of us. We saw nothing – the FBI doesn’t even want us talking about it. Now people are coming in and asking me, ‘So, did you serve coffee to a terrorist?’ How can they be so cruel? We were just doing our jobs and how would we have known anything?” I thought I saw tears in his gentle eyes.

As the investigations began and blame assigned, I remembered something that happened often at Logan International Airport since carry-on baggage scanners were installed. Whenever I took the shuttle to New York from Terminal A (the old one; it has now been rebuilt), I would put my carry on through the scanner, but the people running it were always laughing and talking. Maybe five or six months before 9/11, I was waiting at the new and comfortable U.S. Airways gates at another terminal, going I don’t remember where, when a very nice lady approached me and asked if I would fill our an airport survey. Sure, I said. I always have an opinion.  I don’t recall if there were security questions on the form, but when she came back, I gave her an earful about how the nuns at the convent often talk about how safe Logan is when the people at the scanners never look at the baggage; they are just laughing and talking to each other. She looked rather surprised at my concern, thanked me, and took my survey.  I wonder whatever happened to that survey or if that nice lady passed on my observation. Guess not.

There’s a magical place on Staten Island, where Victory Blvd. and Forest Avenue meet. It’s not always there; it comes and goes depending on the winds. So often I would drive home, taking Victory Blvd and stopping at the traffic light, or turn left slowly from Forest Avenue so as to take in the view. It was there, but only on a rare crystal clear day, that Manhattan; that New York, New York, tattooed itself on my soul over and over again. The Twin Towers articulating its place in the history and culture of the world, like an optical illusion that I could reach out and touch. Oz. The Emerald City. New York, New York.

I don’t think I ever took a photo of this view, but artist Sarah Yuster painted, what I now find so deeply moving, a pre-dawn image of it

Kindness of (c) Sarah Yuster http://sarahyuster.com (with gratitude)

New York is a tough place to live and work. It’s hot, smelly, and freezing cold. Everyone is in a hurry. The ferry schedule dictates your life. Our house was the revolving door for the province; we were always at the airport. I remember telling sisters newly assigned to our community in New York: “It’s hard work here, and you’ll be exhausted most of the time. But if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” I thought that was an original insight. Ha! I must have heard it from Liza Minelli – still, it is so true..  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgusCINe260

Our nuns told me that on September 11, 2001, that they left our convent in St. George (near the ferry) as usual to go by car to our bookstore in Edison, NJ. But they were turned back at the Outerbridge Crossing; the bridge was closed. They turned on the radio and learned that one plane, then another, had crashed into the towers.  They were stopped at the light at the corner of Victory and Forest just as the first tower fell at 9:58am.  It took their breath away.

I have not been back to Manhattan, to the World Trade Center site, since 9/11. A month after the attacks, one of our older nuns in the Staten Island community died suddenly (she lost a good friend in one of the towers, and had been an adolescent in northern Italy during World War II; her heart could not bear it all), and I took the train to Newark for the funeral where a relative of one of the sisters picked me up. You get into Staten Island the back way through New Jersey. That’s as close as I have gotten to the World Trade Center in ten years.

Ever since I first set eyes on Manhattan all those years ago, I have considered myself a spiritual New Yorker. I love New York, the people, the crazy but brilliant drivers, the way New Yorkers share a special language, an understanding of humanity that lets them do great things, incredibly bad things (sometimes at the same time) and ordinary things with such gusto for life. I don’t know why I do not wish to go back; that I avoid every opportunity.

I think I am still waiting to get my breath back that you took away, New York, the minute I laid eyes on you.

 

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