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Anthony Patrizio

Fathers name: Tony J. Patrizio

Mothers name: Louise S. Police

Country of Birth:

United States

Year of birth: 1954

Places of Residence:

North Braddock, Pennsylvania 15104

Brothers/sisters: Carol Bateman

Studies: Elementary Education

Profession: Teacher

Know Your Family

My fourth grade class picture
Who Am I?

Being Italian was not always an easy thing. My grand parents -- all five of them -- were immigrants from Italy. Yes, like so many others, these immigrants arrived and came through Ellis Island in New York. Since its inception, our country has been a nation of immigrants. I can only imagine what my grandparents thought when they saw the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes, we need symbols like her to remind us what life is all about. When I first saw her in real life, I was struck by her size and that lantern she held. I felt it represented that we are to be the light for one another. The bible also reminds us that, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men." (MATTHEW 5:14)
Both my parents and grandparents spoke Italian and it drove me crazy, because I didn't understand a single word. I tried to learn a few words, because my grandma wanted to teach me. My parents had other ideas about how I carried on a conversation.

My mom's father was a grocery store owner in the second ward area of North Braddock. Only 3 doors from his house on Kirkpatrick Street was his business. His name was Felice Police, but for some reason people called him Tony. Whenever I remember his white aluminum sided house, I recall good times. How could I ever forget the smell of freshly made tomato sauce cooking on the stove? I still remember granddad Police walking me down to his basement and having me get a bottle of his homemade wine. The musty smell of a damp, old coal cellar, which was now his wine cellar, lingered up the steps. Barrels of wine sat aging, some shouting out -- "please let me out. Go ahead pop the cork." Those oak barrels are now gone, but the memories of having my first sip of the latest vintage are still alive. So, every time I drink a glass of wine, I think about someone special.

My maternal grandfather's brother Frank lived across the street from his general store on the corner of Fourth Street and Copeland. His house, a simple two-story wooden frame, was on Copeland Avenue. He always gave us one piece of penny candy for free. As a young boy, I visited them often and the candy counter was my favorite part. Remember penny candy! This was all before the franchise stores were so big. Seven Eleven and Uni-Mart were not yet around. Credit cards -- forget that. Why? It was because Grandpa and Uncle Frank had a piece of paper for a tab, which showed the amount owed. Wasn't life simple back then? And, when tough times came for a family, they allowed the payment to wait until the next payday. Back then, only a handshake was necessary to form a trusting relationship. Later in life, when my sister got married, Joe and Carol bought a house on Lobinger Avenue behind my Uncle Frank's place.

My mother's name was Louise Sara Police and she had one brother and two sisters. I was told this story by my Aunt Emma. As a young teenage girl, my mom liked to hide in the attic in order to smoke cigarettes. Her father, being a quiet man, would get loud if he had to reprimand someone. The oldest of all her siblings was her brother Sam (Salvatore). Mom was the oldest of all the girls, and grand-pap must have felt that she should have known better. Mom smoked for most of her life. In 2001, after falling down the cellar steps going into our basement, she decided to quit that bad habit. She now has to wear oxygen when she walks around.

My dad's father worked for the city of Ellwood as a street sweeper. Manual labor was good for the body and soul in that generation. My father also smoked and when he quit, he took up chewing tobacco and rubbing snuff. While he was in the the assisted-living home, dad never saw tobacco touch his lips. After his death in 2010, I wondered if tobacco had anything to do with Alzheimer's because of the lack of oxygen to the brain.

When my dad was in high school (for about his last two years), he lived with his sister Santella (Alessandra) Borrelli. Their home was two blocks away from us. I used to walk up there and cut their grass. Uncle John Borrelli came from the town of Pignataro Maggiore in Caserta, which is the same place my mom's mother was born.

Notice the garden in front of the cellar door. Aunt Santella would sit on the sidewalk in the summer time. I watched Uncle John as he made homemade sausage with the meat grinder on the table. Eating up there was a feast and a joy. Like most Italian men, he took pride in growing crops in his garden. A fresh salad was a necessary thing on that dinner table.

What is Home? Where is Home?

As I did so many times before, I walked down the hill. My parochial school was about nine blocks from home, and it took about 10-15 minutes to get there. I usually passed Brinton Avenue elementary where I attended Kindergarten class. Across the street from this, today is located Carm's Pizza. Many nights supper came to my lips as a boy and a teenager on dates with Denise. There was nothing like a good old Italian lady making pizza from her own dough. Sorry Pizza Hut!!

If I remember correctly, these kids were just like me. We all had to study the same subjects, except that I had a religion class. While in kindergarten, I remember sharing crayons in the tin cans on the class tables. There was this chubby black girl, whom I didn't initially know whether to fear or to learn to like her. I forget her name but her smile was as big as the sun in the sky. Her laugh was as loud as a jumbo jet ready for take-off. She would be in the cloakroom, which was the coat room in the back of our class, sometimes with me. I think once she tried to kiss me. I guess in 1959 that would have been politically incorrect. The building was raised years ago. Today, there is a playground on that site. Someone always picked me up at the end of the day because neighborhood schools were close to home. Why did we ever get away from that idea? Schools within walking distance now that makes sense.

Once I arrived home and went out to play, I didn't care what color skin covered the boys and girls I played with in the alleys behind Wolf Avenue and Grant Avenue. The turbulence of the late 1960s had not arrived yet. At the age of 6, I used to say all too often, "What do you want to do next?" Don and Dan would always want to play baseball. I would respond with, "Is anyone up for a game of war?" World War III would have to wait, because my mother was calling me for supper. It sounded like a symphony when all of the mothers' voices rang out for their children to come home. A typical conversation follows.

"Hello mom." I said, with no enthusiasm intended.
She replied, "Is that the proper tone of voice when speaking to your mother?"
I wondered if that was a trick question, but one look from my father and I knew what to do. (Military men are way too serious.)

As I began to eat, my parents asked, "How is school going?"

"OK, I guess," was my reply. For me, school was a necessary evil. Why couldn't I just stay home and play with my matchbox cars? I often wondered why they were so concerned.

It was another brisk, autumn day. Yes, the furnace was heating up the house. The furnace was blowing off some heat just as if a person was blowing off some steam. I knew it was on because the dining room window drapes would move and sway as if they were dancing to a waltz. As you walked from our living room into the dining room, I could see my dad. He was standing in the bathroom, off of the kitchen, shaving his very coarse beard. It was so rough that he had to run the blades in 3 directions to get it as smooth as baby skin. His generation took pride in a clean, shaven face. I was about 14 when I started this sad ritual.

My dad received the bronze star while in World War II. This individual military decoration is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious achievement or service. To received this medal, the criteria was that he or she distinguished themselves while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.

Dad's family was from Ellwood City, in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, which is about 1 hour from Pittsburgh. His name was Tony John IPatrizio, and I was named after him. There is a custom for naming Italian children. The first male is named after his paternal grandfather. The second male is named after his maternal grandfather. The first female is named after her paternal grandmother. The second female is named after her maternal grandmother. In my sister's case, once again my parents did not follow tradition. Her middle name was Marie for my dad's mother. I don't know how they got her first name of Carol, since my mother's name is Louise Sarah. Of course, being a Roman Catholic meant that you had to be named after a saint or someone in the Bible. I should have been named Annibale, who was my dad's grandfather. This is a rare name in Italian. My dad's father was named Pasquale Patrizio. Pasquale's wife Maria had a father named Antonio, and I guess I might have been named after him. In Italian, the name Patrizio literally means Patrick. Patrizio is also a title of nobility meaning Patrician.

What is School?

If education is about molding character, then my parents chose a great beginning for my young life. For grades 1 through 8, I went to Saint William Roman Catholic elementary school in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are about 22 kinds of rites in Catholicism and I belong to the Latin rite. This was about five blocks farther away from the Kindergarten. Saint William's was a good fit for me. I guess my parents knew that raising a child with good morals was a wise idea. The Dominican nuns taught me, and I will discuss more about the Sisters of Saint Mary of the Springs in Columbus, Ohio later. Their simplicity was a reminder that angels do exist here on earth. Even though their discipline was strict, the nuns knew how to get our attention. In order to do that, these teachers would sound like Army drill instructors giving General Patton type of instructions. Loud always worked for me. Their choice of words and their timing was all that mattered. As I see it, kids were supposed to be loud, happy, jumpy, and all of the rest. But these brides of Christ knew how to guide us with the upper hand.

For grades 9-12, I occupied space at Alexander M. Scott High School in North Braddock. I really didn't try too hard to excel in high school. All three of my schools are now torn down. My graduation year involved a school merger between Braddock, North Braddock, and Rankin. The new district, mandated by the state board of education, was called General Braddock Area for about 15 years. However, today it is called Woodland Hills Area school district, which comprises about nine local towns.

One thing I enjoyed about school was performing in concerts. My teachers said, "Demand the best for yourself." I am not so sure that is present in all school environments today. I'll never forget receiving the American Legion award in grade eight. Creating good citizens was of paramount importance to these "brides of Christ." These holy women developed every angle of our character. I realize that the seed they planted within me is still there. It blossomed into the adult I am today.

I guess by now you are wondering if any drama ever occurred in this neck of the woods. Well, this one girl up the street had a brother who became a priest and he had been investigated for molesting little boys. It was kept quiet until the news media recently brought out how many priests had been doing this.
One thing I enjoyed about school was performing in concerts. My teachers said, "Demand the best for yourself." I am not so sure that is present in all school environments today. I'll never forget receiving the American Legion award in grade eight. Creating good citizens was of paramount importance to these "brides of Christ." These holy women developed every angle of our character. I realize that the seed they planted within me is still there. It blossomed into the adult I am today.

End chapter 1


My early days as a baby
My Being Italian
Being Italian meant following traditions but also understanding those traditions. For example, there is a savory tradition celebrated over the ages and it is called Feast of the Seven Fishes. Christmas begins with la vigilia a feast on Christmas Eve (the vigil). This consists solely of fish dishes and pasta. Of course you end la vigila in time for Midnight Mass.

This feast usually consists of seven different fish/seafood dishes served before the family would go to midnight mass. Peggy Zezza of the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper said it is believed the tradition dates back to Sicily. Intriguing is the fact that you must have on the table seven fish selections. Why seven? Seven is a very important number. It stands for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The seven days of creation. In Biblical numerology, seven is a number of perfection. Some say it represents the seven- hills of Rome. In some American Italian families, this meal includes 13 fish dishes, believed to represent the 12 apostles and Jesus. No matter the number it is a lot of fish to eat. There is no set menu for this feast, however here are those found on a traditionally Italian table:
1. Calamari (squid)
2. Scungilli [skuhn-GEE-lee] (conch)
3. Baccalà [bah-kah-LAH] (dry, salt cod)
4. Shrimp
5. Clams served with pasta
6. Mussels
7. Some type of big fish usually a snapper, sea trout, tuna, or salmon
According to the Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine article by Peggy Zezza, most believe the tradition started because of the Catholic practice of abstinence, refraining from eating meat on Friday and in preparation for the holidays. Every Italian "“ American has different recipes for serving the fish. In my Grandmother Police's family, she would sometimes put the baccala in spaghetti sauce, or make a soup-like dish called pasta ceci "“ small pasta with ceci beans. Wow, those were the days. As Peggy said in her article, "No matter what your heritage and traditions, the most important part of the celebration is not the type of food, nor the quantity, it is the joy of being surrounded by family and friends on Christmas Eve when we as Catholics celebrate the miracle and birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ." Buon Natale to all.

Christmas day begins with an antipasto. Then, we would have soup, a pasta like ravioli, a meat course like ham, and salad. Of course, then came the fruits, nuts, and desserts consisting of cookies, pastries, and other goodies. One desert that is almost always present is the panettone, the famous sweet cake-like Christmas bread. This is followed b coffee with anisette. All this is accompanied with a good red table wine.

An Italian American is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship. Italian Americans are the fourth largest European ethnic group in the United States. To understand me, it is necessary to understand my grandparents. To understand my grandparents, it is necessary to know about their Southern Italian Immigration to America. Nicola Colella wrote a piece that I found on the internet titled, "Southern Italian Immigration."

Nicola works for the Heinz Regional History Center in the Strip District of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following words are from his essay.
"Most Italian immigrants never planned to stay forever in this new country of the United States. There was a special phrase for these Italians "“ Birds of Passage "“ since their intent was to be migratory laborers. About 3 out of 4 Italian immigrants were farmers in their home country, but they did not wish to farm in their new country, because this implied a permanent setting that did not figure into their plans."

Colella goes on to say, "Instead, they headed for cities where labor was needed and wages were relatively high. Many Italian men left their wives and children behind because they expected to return home and many did. In any event, for many immigrants, their migration could not be interpreted as a rejection of Italy." Nicola claims, "In fact, it was a defense of the Italian way of life, for the money sent home helped to preserve the traditional order." Mr. Colella also states, "Rather than seeking permanent homes, they desired an opportunity to work for relatively high wages in order to save enough money to return to a better life in Italy. Very commendable considering the difficult conditions that characterized life in Southern Italy in those times. These conditions were a result of many different factors." Keep in mind that before 1900 seventy-five percent of the Italian immigrants were men. What is known is that between 1880 and the First World War, many of the inhabitants of provinces such as Abruzzi, Campania, and Calabria did come to Pennsylvania to work. Italian immigration to Pennsylvania largely reflected the patterns of Italian immigrations to the United States as a whole," claims Mr. Nicola Colella. He also wrote, "Poverty, overpopulation and natural disaster all spurred Italians to emigrate or leave their mother land. Unlike Irish Catholics, Southern Italians suffered from exploitation by people of the same nationality and religion. Rather than leading to group solidarity, this situation led to a reliance on family, kin, and village ties. The Italian government was dominated by northerners, and southerners were hurt by high taxes and high protective tariffs on northern industrial goods. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ( from Abruzzi to Sicily) National Treasury was robbed by invaders. Even machines from Neapolitan factories were moved to the North. Extreme economic depression occurred. Additionally, much of Southern Italy's problems can be attributed to the lack of coal and iron necessary for industry. The situation was indeed severe in the South of Italy."

To America they came with high hopes for a better future. They found that not only were the streets not paved with gold, but that they were expected to pave them. They soon discovered that they were meant to do the dirty work. These immigrants were treated as less than equal. They were regarded as low class and considered stupid and inferior. So, in Italian neighborhoods, Italian shops and businesses came about. Italians made it a habit to buy from other Italians. By keeping the money in the community that is how these Italians prospered. I can now understand why these Little Italy communities existed all over Pittsburgh.

About 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the U.S. from 1820 to 2004. The greatest surge of immigration, which occurred in the period between 1880 and 1920, alone brought more than 4 million Italians to America. About 80% of the Italian immigrants came from Southern Italy, especially from Sicily and Campania. This region was overpopulated and largely agricultural, and much of its populace had been impoverished by two centuries of misrule by the Bourbons, a foreign European occupying power. After Italian unification, the Italian government initially encouraged emigration of landless peasants ("contadini") to relieve economic pressures in the South. In the U.S., most Italians began their new lives as unskilled, manual workers. Italian Americans gradually moved from the lower rungs of the economic scale in the early 1900s to a level comparable to the national average by 1970. By 1990, more than 65% of Italian Americans were managerial, professional, or white-collar workers.[4] The Italian-American communities have often been characterized by strong ties with family, the Catholic Church, fraternal organizations and political parties. Today, over 17.8 million Americans claim Italian ancestry.

My First Friend

My first friend in elementary school was a guy named Larry. He was a descendant of Scotch/Irish and German blood. He and I were both choir boys. Even though he lived in the next town over called East Pittsburgh, we were still sons of working class, middle-income parents. Whenever we got together the conversation was usually about school and music. Yes, girls came up too. His father would take us either bowling or golfing. Once we started driving and had our own cars, the conversations were always about our private lives. For example, I can remember once when I caught him looking at a girl's buttocks. I said something like, "Did you see those nice pancakes?" I recall Larry's serious response, "Are you going to confess that impure thought?" Then, his funny response was, "Since we didn't touch those pancakes, how can we be guilty of any wrong?" "We didn't pour any Aunt Jemima syrup on them?" Our derogatory comments must have been the nature of every teenage boy. I was once told that being sinful means you are being human.

As I reflect on the comment about Aunt Jemima, I realize it would not be politically correct today. I also struck me that Larry's mom had a maid that was a black woman. This jovial somewhat obese lady always had a smile on her face. When I would go after school, she would always ask us what we learned in that building. I didn't know at the time she was not Catholic. But I did sense that she had a heart of gold. I knew she was of another Christian religion, but why would that matter to me?

Larry and I both wondered if marriage was in our future. He never did receive this sacrament. He took his faith very seriously because it was a deep issue for his father too. Was the son always like the father? Hard to say the correct answer since I was not related. How we lived our lives was simple. Even though Larry had brain cancer for over 5 years, his humor never dried up. Something allowed him to keep that great sense of humor. Maybe it made the sickness more bearable.

Once I wrote a brief play about a homeless man and his encounter with a bus stop businessman. Larry's formal training in drama made him the perfect candidate to play the part of the average- Joe downtown bum. His every move was delicately orchestrated. When he picked the cracker out of my hand and munched on it, he constantly stared at me as if I was almighty God. His silent "thank-you" was a pity cry for a deeper conversation. A few of the beginning lines went like this.
At a Bus station booth the bum and businessman make eye contact:
Bum "“ Hey mister. Can you answer a question?
Businessman "“ I guess so.
Bum "“ Can you spare a dime?
Businessman "“ No, Maybe you need to get a job! And I need to get home now.
(Notes: The first businessman walks away. So, the bum walks over to the second business man)
Bum "“ Hey mister. Are you going home?
Businessman "“ Well of course I am. Why do you bother to ask?
Bum "“ I am trying to get supper at the Light of Life Kitchen.
Bum - And, would you loan me some cash, maybe a quarter, so I can get a hot coffee?
Businessman "“ Look, take these crackers I still have from lunch. Wait"¦. better yet
Businessman "“ how about walking to McDonald's with me and we can talk over a sandwich??
Bum - "But why would you want to be seen with me?
(This was the end of act one.) Act two picked up with their conversation on a bench near the restaurant.
Business Man2 - Are you cold? I notice that you're shaking a little.
Bum - You better get going home, because it is getting late.
Business Man2 "“ I wonder if we will ever see each other again.
Bum "“ Does it matter?

The play went on and the subject of God came up of course.
Larry told me that he felt the kids were grateful for the simple enjoyment of entertainment. On another note, Larry said the kids got the fact that "we are what we say." I was so grateful to him for telling me that. A person will change if the right questions are asked of themselves, and also if others demand the questions to be stimulating in setting goals.

The questions I used to ask my classes were plain and simple. For example, who was more of a friend to this homeless man? Was it Businessman one or Businessman two? My goal was to get the kids discussing why talking to some strangers is a life lesson in disguise. Sometimes the unplanned moments are the teachable moments.
Recently, I saw a piece on the TV show 60-MINUTES titled "Homeless Children: The Hard-Times Generation." Correspondent Scott Pelley looked at the crisis in the Orlando area that is affecting the youngest victims in our society. How did we get to this in a country like ours?

Larry once asked me why I never entered the seminary to pursue studying for the priesthood. I told him I just put that idea aside, and my parents wanted me see the common side of life first. That is why I did not attend Saint Thomas high school. I think some older adults felt that priests were high class, maybe because of all their education. Why was it a big deal? Remember the saying that many are called but few are chosen. In the 1950s and 60s, the church did not experience the vocation crisis.

Even until this day, I wonder what my life would have been like if I studied to be a celibate priest As I saw them dressed in their commanding black suit and white roman collar, I knew the had the respect of their parish members. On Sunday, wearing their ornate robes and vestments, the priest gave thought-provoking sermons. These lessons were meant to keep me on the right path for another week.
So, what is a Catholic priest? This man fulfills the role of mediator between God and man. The priest is believed to be "another Christ" who is consecrated by a bishop in order to assist in serving the church in the dispensing of sacraments. The priest must celebrate Holy Mass, teaching the ways of God and His Church. It is understood to have begun at the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist in the presence of the Twelve Apostles, commanding them to "do this in memory of me." The Catholic priesthood, therefore, is a share in the priesthood of Christ and traces its historical origins to the Twelve Apostles appointed by Christ.
End chapter 2


Father Paul at my first communion
Where My Heart Feels At Home

(This is Father Paul and I at my first communion)
Faith is defined as an allegiance to duty or a person. A synonym is loyalty. Faith also means fidelity to one's promise. It is a belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Faith is also the belief in the traditional doctrines of religion. A simple sentence using this word might be: "His supporters accepted his claims with blind faith."

The meaning of the word "faithfulness"
In the Bible's Old Testament, the Hebrew means essentially steadfastness, where it is used to describe the strengthening of Moses' hands; hence it comes to mean faithfulness, whether of God towards man (Deuteronomy 32:4) or of man towards God (Psalm 118:30). As signifying man's attitude towards God it means trustfulness or fiducia. It would, however, be illogical to conclude that the word cannot, and does not, mean belief or faith in the Old Testament for it is clear that we cannot put trust in a person's promises without previously assenting to or believing in that person's claim to such confidence. Hence even if it could be proved that the Hebrew does not in itself contain the notion of belief, it must necessarily presuppose it. But that the word does itself contain the notion of belief

(My communion party at my home on Grant Street)
Religion is not the best topic to talk about, nor is it the easiest to develop a consensus about. Yet, it has formed me probably for the better. What is the definition of the word religion? Wikipedia states, "The service and worship of God or the supernatural; respect for what is sacred." It goes with the second definition as, "A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." defines religion as, "A system of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of superhuman agency, usually involving devotional and ritual observances and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."
I am a Latin-rite or Roman Catholic Christian, which means we follow the Pope who sits in the Vatican in Rome. Being 100% of Italian roots that means something to me. Let me share some history and some contemporary experiences of mine. Many times I was asked "“ why do you Catholics do those strange things? For example, I was taught every time I pass a catholic church that I must bless myself with the sign of the cross. Another thing I remember is my teacher stating that every time I see an ambulance rushing by say a Hail Mary for the person inside, because they just might meet the Lord today. Prayer is a concept I hope to touch upon a little later.
"There are 60 million Catholics in America today," claims Newsweek religion editor Ken Woodward, "and the notion that they all think the same or act the same is pretty much gone." Those 60 million Catholics are a diverse group for which the word "Catholic" can have different meanings. For some of us, being Catholic is what defines us. For others, it is not about giving meaning to their lives, but rather merely recalls images of school kids in uniforms and nuns in habits. For still others, it means deep hurt and anger over personal experiences with the church. On the conservative side, we have groups such as Catholics United for the Faith and for those mistreated by the media, we have The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
While the history of this American Catholic Church is filled with drama, her story today is no less compelling. Many Catholic friends of mine have become Protestant or joined a non-denominational church. These mega-trend churches as some call them pull in thousands of worshipers every week. Even President Obama visited Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. If you haven't heard of this man, he wrote the book title THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. What we really need to ask is what are these churches teaching and following.
Our Catholic church in America goes back to our founding fathers. After all, Christopher Columbus was a Roman Catholic. Some people would say it began with the immigrants in the 1800s. Between 1820 and 1920, tens of millions of immigrants, most of them Catholic, came to the New World seeking a better life. Waves of immigrants throughout the 19th century brought their unique Catholic traditions to the city of Pittsburgh, as they sought work in the steel mills. In the process, they helped to shape what Pittsburgh would become.
Every Ash Wednesday, Pittsburghers take long lunches or leave work early to get ready for Lent. The lines outside St. Mary of Mercy Church overflow and wind around the block. Soon, people are walking the streets with smudged foreheads. Why do we do this at the beginning of the season of Lent? It is a simple reminder that we are dust and unto dust we shall return, so that is why ashes are on our forehead.
One of the things people often miss about my hometown is its Catholic heritage. Pittsburgh is a Catholic town, though different from other cities like Boston or Baltimore. Drive through the towns and there is a good chance you will see one of the many Roman Catholic elementary and secondary schools in our diocese. Today the 8,000 Catholic schools across the United States are regarded as a gift to the church and a gift to the nation. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, there are about 80 elementary schools today. Can any other religion state that they have that many elementary schools as we have here in Pittsburgh? I don't think so. The roots of Catholicism go deep into the history of this country, as you will see in the next few paragraphs.
The Catholic school began in this country thanks to Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton. It is clear that Catholic education goes back deep into U.S. history- to at least 1606. That year, expressing their desire "to teach children Christian doctrine, reading, and writing," the Franciscans opened a school in what's now St. Augustine Florida. Further north and a bit later, Jesuits instructed such dedicated Native American students as Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), who eventually became a Catholic in New York.
By the latter 1600's, English colonists had set up their own, publicly supported schools. But since all the colonies were overwhelmingly Protestant, the rudimentary education often had a heavily fundamentalist Protestant (if not blatantly anti-Catholic) cast. Even in Maryland, Catholics were a minority, although with a bit more freedom, and in 1677, in Newtown, the Jesuits established a preparatory school, mostly to instruct boys considered candidates for later seminary study in Europe. The Newtown school eventually closed, but the Jesuits opened another in the 1740's at Bohemia Manor, Md. Well into the 18th Century, however, more-affluent parents often chose overseas schools for their children, including girls dispatched to European convent schools. Meanwhile the Catholic population continued to expand, reaching approximately 25,000 in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York State alone by about 1776. During the same period, Catholic education progressed in non-British America: In New Orleans, the Franciscans opened a school for boys in 1718. The Ursulines opened one for girls in 1727.
The American Revolution brought revolutionary changes, with the participation in the war by such patriots as Charles, Daniel and John Carroll helping erode anti-Catholic bigotry. Catholics in Philadelphia in 1782 opened St. Mary's School, considered the first parochial school in the United States. Not long after the Revolution ended, John Carroll saw his dream of a Catholic "college" take root with the establishment in 1789 of Georgetown, albeit mostly as an "academy" or upper-elementary-high school preparatory institution for boys aged 10 to 16. Ten years later, a short distance away Alice Lalor and her companions founded Georgetown Visitation Preparatory for girls, establishing a new convent of the Sisters of the Visitation as well.
Across the continent in the 1770's, Junipero Serra and his Franciscans were busy establishing the California mission system, whose ministry included the education of Native Americans in farming, Christian belief, skilled crafts, and other fields.
Ratification in 1791 of the Bill of Rights, with the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom, helped Catholics further cement their place in post-Revolutionary America, and the new 19th Century brought a spate of developments in education. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton set up a school for poor children in Emmitsburg, Md., in 1809, founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, and made the creation of parochial schools a lifetime cause. Visionaries in the wilderness displayed a similar energy and dedication. In 1812, in rural Kentucky, a trio of intrepid women -- Mary Rhodes, Christina Stuart, and Nancy Havern -- aided by a Belgium immigrant, Father Charles Nerinckx, formed the Friends of Mary (later the Sisters of Loretto) and began to teach the poor children. They had company in Kentucky: The same year, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth organized, with Sister Catherine Spalding as superior, and took up a ministry of education. And in 1822, nine young women answered a Dominican friar's call for teachers for pioneer children in Springfield. They set up their school, St. Magdalene Academy, in a former still, and when four became Dominican nuns transformed a borrowed log cabin into a convent. If Catholic education flourished, however, so did anti-Catholic bias. Thus even ex-President John Adams, writing to Thomas Jefferson in 1816, bemoaned the "late resurrection of the Jesuits."
Not long afterward, another crusader fought against bigotry against blacks, women and Catholics. Elizabeth Lange, the late Mother Mary Elizabeth, the grand-daughter of a Haitian plantation owner, established a school in Baltimore for poor children. In 1831, she established the Oblate Sisters of Providence, devoted to African American education at the time when slavery held sway in the southern states. (source is the NCEA website.)
The middle of the 19th Century saw increasing Catholic interest in education in tandem with increasing Catholic immigration. To serve their growing communities, American Catholics first tried to reform American public schools to rid them of blatantly fundamentalist Protestant overtones. Failing, they began opening their own schools, ably aided by such religious orders as the Sisters of Mercy, who arrived from Ireland, under Sister Frances Warde, in 1843, and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, organized in 1845 by Sister Theresa (Almaide) Duchemin, originally an Oblate Sister of Providence, to teach in Michigan. But such successes sparked a bigoted backlash, fomented by such groups as the Know-Nothing Society, committed to wiping out "foreign influence, Popery, Jesuitism, and Catholicism." Mobs burnt a convent and murdered a nun in Massachusetts in 1834, destroyed two churches in New England in 1854, and, that same year, tarred-and-feathered, and nearly killed Father John Bapst, a Swiss-born Jesuit teaching in Maine and ministering to the Passamaquoddy Indians and Irish immigrants, as well as to other Catholics, including former Protestants who'd converted under his influence.
Such attacks notwithstanding, the First Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1852 urged every Catholic parish in the nation to establish a school.
The Civil War divided American Catholics into North and South but also helped to further dilute religious prejudices, with Catholics fighting alongside Protestants on both sides. The post-war period brought continued growth in Catholic education, with the Second Baltimore Council in 1866 repeating the call for parochial schools and the Third Baltimore Council in 1884 turning the plea into a demand that all Catholic parishes open schools within two years.
The late 19th-Century also saw the continued development of religious orders, including the founding by rich heiress Katherine Drexel of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to meet the educational needs of blacks and Native Americans.
By 1900, the school system was up and running with remarkable vigor, to such an extent that in 1904 Catholic educators formed a new organization, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
In 1900, an estimated 3,500 parochial schools existed in the United States. Within 20 years, the number of elementary schools had reached 6,551, enrolling 1,759, 673 pupils taught by 41, 581 teachers. Secondary education likewise boomed. In 1900, Catholics could boast of approximately 100 Catholic high schools, but by 1920 more than 1,500 existed. For more than two generations, enrollment continued to climb. By the mid-1960's, it had reached an all-time high of 4.5 million elementary school pupils, with about 1 million students in Catholic high schools. Four decades later, total elementary and secondary enrollment is 2.6 million. Although the strong commitment by church and lay leaders alike to Catholic education remains constant, changing demographics have had a major impact on enrollment. The waiting list for Catholic schools is over 40 per cent. The challenge is there are many school buildings in urban areas without a nearby Catholic population to support them. And there are thousands of potential students in suburban areas where schools have yet to be built.
For much of the 20th Century, the church in America, like the nation itself experienced challenge and change. Despite national solidarity in World War I, Ku Klux Klan bigotry targeted Catholics and anti-immigrant legislation discouraged newcomers after the war. At the same time, Catholic social justice teaching became deeply rooted, reflected in the founding of the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic labor activism, establishment of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) and participation by the Maryknoll community and other religious orders in missionary work around the globe. Catholic families, parishes and schools suffered alongside their neighbors during the Depression and proved their valor and patriotism again in World War II. Then came the Cold War, election and assassination of John F. Kennedy, reforms of Vatican II, and Catholic support for the civil rights and pro-life movements. As the late 20th-Century ended and the 21st dawned, U.S. Catholics faced the ongoing crisis of religious vocations, welcomed the invigorating contributions of Hispanics and other new arrivals, celebrated 2000 years of Christianity at the Millennium and reeled at the horrors of 9/11. Nearly 400 years after that first known Catholic school opened in Florida, they continue to be a gift to the church and a gift to the nation.
Maria Shriver, a fellow Catholic, once said, "Ask yourself, "˜Who do I want to be?' It's the most important question of your life." As First Lady of California, Kennedy family member, TV journalist, and bestselling author, Maria has had her share of fame. When she heard that today's kids have as their main goal "being famous," Maria Shriver had to give her take on this. The following words are from a speech she delivered at a high school graduation, and is included in her new book, JUST WHO WILL YOU BE.

"Famous people always seem to look happy. They always look rich. They always look thin. If they're fat, they'll be thin next week. But for whatever it's worth (and since I'm kind of famous, it might be worth something), fame isn't a worthy goal. Fame can't make you happy, in and of itself. It can't give you a life of meaning and joy. That, I've learned, is strictly an inside job. The only way you can come to feel good about yourself and to find a life of meaning and joy is to find your own path. Live your own life, not an imitation of someone else's."

"We live in a world that seems to put a premium on the trappings of fame. But figuring out who you are and fulfilling your own dreams-that's a worthy goal. The people I've met who are happiest in their lives, famous or not, have done just that."
"So ask yourself what you want to be famous for. And set your sights high "“ because you can be famous for doing something great in this world, something that matters, something that makes life better. We need famous people with integrity, character, and visions, people who want to lead, who want to make the world a more peaceful and compassionate place-where people feel accepted and valued for who they are."
I found this in the Readers Digest, May 2008 edition.
Wow! These are down to earth words. It is people like her that I want to look up to. Maria is just one of my many heroes. This leads me to my next topic since she came from a powerful Roman Catholic Family. It is the traditions of my church. The church has them, but the family also has them. Unfortunately, all too often we do not appreciate them at the time.

What Is Prayer?

The simple explanation is prayer is when we lift up our voices to the Almighty and Everlasting God. The official definition of prayer might be "“
"It is an inner longing to connect with someone who can identify with our circumstances and share in our day-to-day life. It is just that- a personal experience and intimate connection with our Heavenly Almighty Father."
Mahatma Gandhi, father of modern India, described prayer as follows:
"Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. There is no peace without the grace of God, and there is no grace of God without prayer." By this Mahatma meant that prayer is not something we do just as idle amusement to kill time. He goes on to say, "Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action. Undoubtedly, prayer requires a living faith in God." He concludes by stating, "Heartfelt prayer steadies one's nerves, humbles one and clearly shows one the next step."
Another unique thing about being Roman Catholic is that we have seven sacraments. Our Sunday Service, called the Mass, is a prayer in and of itself. The Mass consists of two major parts: Liturgy of the Word, and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The first part consists of various prayers and readings from the Bible. The Liturgy of the Word ends with the general intercessions/prayers of the faithful, which is where we ask for specific things every week. The second part prepares us for receiving Holy Communion. Why do I speak of it as being holy? As Catholics around the world believe, the host or wafer is the body of Christ while the wine is the blood of Christ. In other words, Roman Catholics believe in the "real presence" and not just a symbol. So, to us Roman Catholics the process of "transubstantiation" occurs, where the bread and wine becomes the Lord really present to us on the Altar of God. In order to be worthy to receive communion a believer must not be in a state of mortal sin. These are grave and serious sins, such as murder, adultery or things against the ten commandments. During the Liturgy of the Word we recite the Nicene Creed, which is a summary of the Catholic Faith. There is also the Apostle's Creed, which has 12 articles belonging to it because of the 12 men who are attributed to writing it. The first article is "“ I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. You can find all of them at

The mass can only be said /performed by a priest who happens to be a male person who received the sacrament of Holy Orders. Originally, the Mass was spoken in Latin, however, since Vatican Council II (1962-1965) it is now heard in our own tongue, which is English for me. The Vatican Council II was necessary according to Pope John XXIII because changes were needed.
I attended a Spanish Mass while in Mexico on vacation, and I knew exactly what was going on up at the altar. Why? It is because of tradition. Even though my Spanish is not very good, I knew when to kneel and when to stand. So, the basic parts of the service are the same anywhere in the world.
My mother stopped going to church after a bad experience with confession. Recently while in the hospital, she talked to Father Boyd and went to confession and communion. She said it was good to get that off of her chest. By any other name, that is what I call holiness.
Father Demetrius Dumm of Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe once said, "Holiness equals wholeness." According to Father McClain, Diocese of Pittsburgh Director of Vocations, "holiness means undividedness. This is what my parents have shown me throughout my whole life." For me, it is different now because for the last four years(2006-2010) my parents have been living apart. Dad was in the assisted-living home called Juniper Village before passing away from a stroke.
As I get older, I see that life is merely eat, work, eat, sleep, entertain, pray and love. These are not in any specific order. Did I leave out going to the bathroom to take a shower? Did I forget about shaving, and brushing teeth, and washing the clothes and ironing the clothes? How about cutting the grass? Or, washing the windows and getting the car wash blues? What about going to a job that you really don't enjoy? When does it ever end? Where is my life going? Why am I trying to just exist? These may sound like deep philosophical questions. However, the answer lies in each and every heart. If I know that I am doing the best that I can, then I should be happy.

Beside us here on this earth, angels are among us. This heavenly creature has saved a few of us and we may not even know it. If I would ask people about angels, they would refer to either their guardian angel or one of the famous, well-known archangels like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. When I took the time to investigate the history of these angelic beings, I discovered how they play a role in different religions of the world.
In Catholicism, the belief is that angels provide the only link between the human race and God. The angels were created by God to serve him and be his messengers. The Catholic faith describes angels as being 'pure spirits' who don't speak to you with words, but through you; therefore connecting with your inner spirituality. These pure spirits have never incarnated (never been of the flesh).
It's also quite common for Catholics to pray to their angels; and it's their belief that each person is assigned a guardian angel who will help guide them in their lifetime.

St. Thomas Roman Catholic parish was the realization of the plans formulated by the little colony of Irish-Catholics who erected their small chapel on Tara Hill on the south side of the Monongahela River in 1854. This mission site was donated by Mr. Thomas J. Kinney, and building material was presented by Mr. West. The steady increase of parishioners augmented the demand for a larger church, on a more convenient site, and resulted in the purchasing of the present church property, by Rev. F. Tracey. In the year 1859 Martin Dowling secured the deed for the land, and April 22, 1860, Father O'Farrell laid the corner stone.
The first Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church, October 14, 1860. Owing to a financial deficit, caused by the War, the parish was threatened with ruin, but was permanently saved by the noble self sacrifice of Mr. Kinney, who paid the mortgage at the risk of personal bankruptcy. This congregation's pride in their parish was evidenced by an attendance so large that Father Hughes deemed it obligatory to extend the church thirty feet. Expenses were defrayed by the gratuitous services of the coal miners. More prosperous times enabled Father Hickey to formulate plans for a larger church. Foremost among those who were eager to cooperate in the good work, were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Schwab, who generously offered to build the edifice in A. D. 1902. The work was carried on under the admirable direction of Mr. L. F. Holtzman, whose business sagacity secured most satisfactory results to the parish. The structure, Romanesque in architecture, with its exquisite equipments, is a fitting memorial to its donors. The property held by this parish is valued at $200,000. It ministers to 500 families and has 650 in the Sunday School.
The educational advantages afforded by St. Thomas' School have attained their excellence after years of labor. The primitive school under lay supervision was supplanted by the present one during the pastorate of Father Hickey. Rev. Robert McDonald has succeeded in realizing for the parish, not only a thorough grammar grade course, but also a High School, efficiently equipped for a complete scientific and classical course. With true scholarly instincts he has introduced the latest and most complete text books, free of charge, to the parish children. It is with commendable pride that the people of St. Thomas' parish review the history of their church and school, the present prestige of which they attribute to loyal and earnest cooperation.
Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, Braddock, Pa., was organized September 1, 1877, by Rev. Anthony Fischer. The first Mass was held for the newly formed parish of St. Joseph, by the above named Pastor in Sewald's Hall, Cor. Braddock Avenue and Ninth Street, Braddock's Field, as it was then called. The frame church which was in course of construction on George Street, was dedicated by Bishop John Tuigg of Pittsburgh. in August, 1880, and used as a church for thirteen years, and as a school for sixteen more. It was taken down, to make room for the present Parish School, erected in 1909, during the pastorate of Father May.
There were about sixty families at the time of organization and Father Fischer was succeeded by Rev. Jacob M. Wertz on February 3rd, 1888, who, on December 10th of the same year, was followed by Rev. August A. Wertenbach. It was in his pastorate that the congregation purchased the lot adjoining the parish house on George Street frown A. J. Spigelmire, and erected thereon the present permanent Church of brick with stone trimming, covering the whole space, after removing the Spigelmire dwelling across the alley to the lot on Verona Street, where it serves for a convent for the Sisters of Divine Providence who teach the Parish schools.
The Church, which cost about fifty thousand dollars, and took two years to build, was solemnly dedicated on Sunday, December 17th, 1893, by the Right Rev. Richard Phelan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, assisted by eighteen priests: the Rev. P. Kaufmann, C. Coyne, Very Rev. M. Decker, P. Molyneaux, John Faughnan, Geo. Allman, J. Murphy, now Bishop; J. Nolan, Vincent Hubert, now Abbot; Father Francis, O. S. B., D. Devlin, R. Wieder, F. J. Eger, S. Schramm, Father Michael, O. S. B., Very Rev. A. A. Lambing, and Very Rev. W. Cunningham, and the Rev. Pastor, Father Wertenbach, to whose untiring energy the generous cooperation of his faithful people, and the blessing of God through it all, the success of such a great undertaking for such a small congregation, is due. In the winter of 1898-99 Father Wertenbach's health failed, and during his sojourn in the South and Southwest, the parish was attended by the Benedictine Fathers from St. Vincent's and the Capuchines from Pittsburgh. He resigned in April, 1899. Rev. Peter May was appointed Pastor April 8th, 1899. During the pastorate of Father May the congregation kept growing to such an extent that he asked the Bishop for an assistant, and the Rev. William Fromme came in July, 1907. The need of the parish was a school, sufficiently large to accommodate the increasing number of pupils. The present school building three stories, of brick, commodious, well lighted, heated, ventilated, and fire proof, containing, besides the school rooms, a large hall, a reading room, a recreation room, a society room, and a gymnasium for the use of the St. Joseph's Young Men's Club, was accordingly erected on the full lot, formerly occupied by the first Church, at a cost of thirty-three thousand dollars.
After the death of Father May on November 9th, 1911, Rev. F. J. Eger, the present pastor, was appointed on December 21, 1911. The school attendance averages two hundred and eighty pupils, who are in charge of the Sisters of Divine Providence, the Choir of sixteen (male choir) is in charge of Adolph Propheter, Organist. The present Church Committee, elected triennially by the congregation, appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese, consists of the following gentlemen: Lucas J. Walter, Joseph Netter, Edward Striebich, Philip Escher, Andrew Fischer, Henry Gelm and Henry Wells.
Saint's Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church was formally organized May 18, 1896. There were seven charter members and Rev. Nicholas Steczovich was the first Pastor. This Church had its beginning when a number of Greek rite Catholic immigrants from Hungary founded the Greek Catholic Union, a Sick and Death Benefit fraternal organization. The property of the old First Presbyterian Church on George Street was purchased for $10,000. The parish has been extended until now a mermbership of two thousand is reported and three hundred Sunday School Children. The present value of the real estate and buildings is about $100,000.
The Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Polish Church was organized in the month of March, 1897, and was attended by a non-resident pastor from Duquesne, Rev. Anthony Smelsz. The membership grew rapidly and soon lots were purchased at Talbot Avenue and Sixth Street, where the church was erected, the work of building started in 1904 and was completed and dedicated with impressive ceremonies the next year. In May, 1906 the present Pastor, J. A. Rykaczewski was appointed to the parish, and under his administration the present school building was erected, where about 450 children in all the eight grades are taught by the Felician Sisters. The rectory on Sixth Street was also built in 1914. Today, it is part of the Good Shepherd parish and the new building is located on Brinton Road in Braddock Hills.
St. Michael's Greek Catholic Church, Third and Mound Streets, Rankin, was organized in 1900, and in 1907, on April 12, all Greek Catholics in Rankin decided to withdraw from the St. Peter and Paul's Church in Braddock, to which they belonged. The basement of the Church was built first, and for about five years the congregation worshipped there. The entire Church was completed in 1911 and the parish home was built in 1916. Rev. John Szabo was the first Pastor and the present Pastor, Rev. Constantine Roskovics, ministers to 130 families, or about 500 souls.
In 1916, April 23, the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of the Holy Resurrection was organized by Rev. Joseph K. Antonoff. The building was purchased from the Hibernian Society on Washington Avenue, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, and was re-constructed for Church purposes. This building, together with the Pastor's home, is valued at $18,000. A membership of about 1,500 is reported.
St. Mary of Mt. Carmel was established in 1901 as an Italian parish. The origin of the parish can be traced to the rise of industry in the area, particularly the steel industry, and its need for workers. This need fueled the immigration from a number of European countries, including Italy. In 1901, the assistant pastor of St. Aloysius, Wilmerding began celebrating a weekly Mass for the Italian community in St. Joseph Church. Before the end of the year, that priest was named the pastor of a new Italian parish in Braddock. In 1904, the congregation purchased a Methodist church, renovated it and dedicated the new church on October 16, 1904.
The church was remodeled in the early 1960's and the mid 1970's. Of greater import to the parish, however, were the events that were taking place in the larger Braddock community. Since World War II, the population of Braddock began a steady decline as the people of the community started moving to the suburbs. This trend was accelerated by the closing of the mills in the area. Then in 1983, St. Thomas Church burned down.
Normally, another parish losing its church would not affect neighboring parishes. Because of the devastating population loss in the area, the diocese decided against automatically rebuilding the church. Instead, a study was commissioned to determine the future structure of parish life in the Braddock area. This study began in January of 1984. A year later, on January 19, 1985, the results of the study were announced. Based on this study, the diocese decided to merge all of the existing parishes in Braddock into one parish called Good Shepherd. As part of this consolidation, St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Church was scheduled to be closed. The final Mass in the parish was celebrated on April 26, 1985. After the merger, the church was closed and eventually sold.
So, at its heyday there were these Catholic churches in Braddock:
Founded in- Name-
1854 Saint Thomas - Irish
1877 Saint Joseph - German
1891 Saint Michael the Archangel - Slovak
1891 Saint Brendan - Irish
1896 Saint Peter and Paul - Greek
1897 Sacred Heart - Polish
1901 St. Mary of Mount Carmel - Italian
1916 Saint Isidore - Lithuanian

Now there is only Good Shepherd founded in 1985. I recently (Nov. 2009) asked the pastor, Rev. Thomas Burke, to share with me some of his thoughts about being assigned to Braddock. Here are his words "“ "As Pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Parish, I am honored to be living in Braddock. With such a wonderful history, Braddock has many wonderful memories. Though a lot changed the past several years, Braddock still is alive! Though we do not know what the future will entail, let us appreciate what we have now. Braddock is someplace special." In the Pittsburgh Catholic - the Friday , December 18, 2009 edition "“ Father Burke stated, "We are a community of good hard-working, down-to-earth Pittsburgh people, and we're alive and growing as a parish." "We are a beacon of hope," he said.
End chapter 3


The American Dream

For me the American dream means "to create something better." The term was first used by James Truslow Adams in his book THE EPIC OF AMERICA, which was written in 1931. He states: "The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

Adams also wrote: "The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class. "Some say, that the American Dream has become the pursuit of material prosperity - that people work more hours to get bigger cars, fancier homes, the fruits of prosperity for their families - but have less time to enjoy their prosperity. Others say that the American Dream is beyond the grasp of the working poor who must work two jobs to insure their family's survival. Yet others look toward a new American Dream with less focus on financial gain and more emphasis on living a simple, fulfilling life.

Thomas Wolfe said, ""¦to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity "¦.the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him."
One person may place monetary gain as their highest goal, and thus strive for this in a very American way, gaining through ability rather than social status. For another, the American Dream could consist in achieving a state of freedom from money and social structure. These two examples of the American Dream are only drops in an ever-expanding spectrum of possibilities.

What makes a man a 'hero' in the modern world? Way back in 1984, Bonnie Tyler had a hit song titled "˜Holding Out For a Hero' with lyrics including the lines, "Where have all the good men gone"¦where's the street-wise Hercules"¦isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?"

The word 'hero' tends to conjure up images of caped crusaders or Hollywood style 'all man' characters who have muscular physiques and square jaw lines and spend their days rescuing women from burning buildings or sinking ships. In the dictionary, a hero is defined as a man who is admired for his courage or for outstanding achievements. So, what does that mean in the real world? What does it mean to be courageous in today's world and what makes an achievement outstanding to the point of being "˜heroic'?

Heroes Past
Heroes are often associated with battle and conflict. In recent history, heroes of war are the men who displayed bravery "˜above and beyond the call of duty', having selflessly risked their own lives in an effort to save the lives of others. Andy Rooney, now an old man at 92 years of age, recently spoke on the 60 Minutes program and said, "There aren't many heroes these days and there isn't much opportunity to be heroic when we are at peace." He makes the point that soldiers face daily opportunities to be heroic in times of war and they so often willingly risk their own lives to protect others. He then questions whether the same soldiers would display the same bravery, courage and outright care for others in times of peace. It's certainly food for thought, and what he's really questioning is why war historically reveals heroes, yet relatively few are ever revealed (or noticed) in everyday life.

Heroes in the traditional sense may be uncommon today, but the term hero is still commonly used. Movie stars are hailed as heroes, sportsmen are hailed as heroes, and even the electricity-line repair man is hailed a hero if you've been without power for a few hours! Yet, are any of those men courageous and are any of their achievements outstanding to the point of being heroic? You could argue that winning an Oscar or an Olympic gold medal is a pretty outstanding achievement, but no matter how heroic they may seem to us lesser mortals, they are professional people who earn a living by doing what they do and in that sense, their achievements are no more outstanding than those of the repair man who has fixed your electricity line. It's not what you do in your everyday job that makes you a hero, it's what you do 'above and beyond' your normally duties in times of struggle or pressure that marks the distinction.

In 2009, Captain Chesley "˜Sully' Sullenberger became the 'Hero of the Hudson' when he safely ditched his stricken US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers on board. To all those who survived the ordeal and to the viewing public who watched the event unfold on their TV screens, Sully's actions were nothing short of heroic. Yet, he sees what he did that day as nothing more than doing what he was trained to do "“ he was just doing his job. It's true that he was doing what any trained pilot with over 40 years of experience would have tried to do, but it's the way he did it that makes him an undeniable hero. Additionally, the way he did it warmed the hearts of women the world over. Women absolutely crave to have a man who can handle himself under pressure and take care of a situation.

His remarkably cool head and quick thinking under extreme pressure not only led to him being able to ditch his plane successfully without the loss of any lives, he was also able to ditch it in the best location he could to maximize the potential for rescue from the freezing water. He later authored a book about the experience titled The Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters, which sold and has continue to sell very well. He turned the simple occurrence of a plane crash (there are about 120 plane crashes a year worldwide) into history that people want to know about and be associated with.


End chapter 4

To Withdraw Within - Dare To Dream

As I look over 33 years of marriage, I saw things that I did wrong, but I also noticed that I did some things right. It takes a lifetime to understand some words. For example, love is one of those words, because linked to that are so many fruitful benefits. Linked to "love" is the word faithfulness. I mention these simply because they have affected all of us at one point in our lives. As a young boy, I was fascinated by the black and white habits worn by those Dominican nuns. As I discovered mini-skirts then the religious sisters took a back seat.

I met some people who have helped to keep me grounded. Surely, those elementary teachers who loved us as if we were their own children. It took a lifetime for me to have realized that fact. Of all the mentors that crossed my path, I truly want to give thanks to those Dominican Sisters in Ohio. These angelic ladies recently underwent some change. With a chapter vote on April 12, 2007, te Dominican Sistrs of Saint Mary of the Springs elected to petition Rome, along with other Dominican communities. These religious women asked to form a new congregation of Dominican Sisters. Exactly two years later, on April 12, 2009, the Dominican Sisters of Peace was officially founded, with St. Mary of the Springs as one of the seven original founding congregation. (see Many of those sisters have now gone on to see the Lord. So, what is the most appropriate way to thank them? Well, I'll let you ponder over that one.

First, the teachers who imparted more than just knowledge were kind and gracious.
These people were great because they had "core fundamental" beliefs that were unchanging. Teachers back then knew they had a mission to accomplish. Tough love was invented inthe 1960s.

Second, the parents God blessed me with are unsung heroes.

End chapter 5

Do dreams ever die?

I have been haunted by the fact that dreams come and go. Yes, they might be able to leave our earthly existence as fast as they entered our life. My theory is that maybe some dreams can't handle reality.

I also had wondered if some dreams are sent to us by God. Sort of like divine intervention. I heard that if you wake up at 3 AM then the spirit would is trying to contact you.
End chapter 6