May 9, 2016: Jesus, ascended into heaven, is now in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us.

May 10, 2016: May today’s challenges become forces for unity to overcome our fears and build together a better future for Europe and the world.

After very memorable days in New York City, I am now in Washington, D.C. for some big events for my book, culminating this Sunday morning, starting at 10, with a book-signing at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

One of the highlights of my entire U.S. visit will take place tonight at a restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland where I will have a “class reunion” with a sizeable group of students to whom I taught French five decades ago! I was new as a teacher at 24 and they were 14 and 15, freshman and sophomores at the Academy of the Holy Names in Silver Spring, Md.

AHN no longer exists but there is a wesbite for alumnae, two of whom, Anne Quinn and Monica Knudsen, “discovered” me on EWTN two years ago, got in touch with my through Facebook and we had our own reunion in Rome in March. I did write about that and posted some photos.

Since that time we have stayed in touch and Anne has organized the dinner that will take place at the Positano restaurant in Bethesda. I’ve also been in the AHN Facebook page an been in touch with a lot of former students. I’ll take photos and share those with you right here! And maybe a few of me signing my books – we have a shipment just for AHN!

In the meantime, today I want to share some of the photos of the newly restored and stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. And also a great story about Jordan and its aid to refugees and ties with the Vatican. Caritas is doing magnificent work in Jordan and I’ve been privileged to spend some quality time with them in Amman.


I have to say that I was absolutely dazzled when I visited St. Patrick’s cathedral twice last week, not having seen it since its recent restoration. The beauty of every square inch of this massive church was beyond description – everything gleamed and glittered, the stained glass windows, after years of hiding their true colors, are now sublime, the statues beckon to you, as if coming to life.

Here, in Part One, are some of the photos I took during those two visits. I had taken photos in 2009 during Cardinal Dolan’s installation and will have to go back and review those pre-restoration pictures. In the meantime, click here to see ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the exterior!

This beautiful floral arrangement greeted me upon my arrival in New York and I was delightfully surprised to see they were a welcome gift from Cardinal Dolan, a longtime friend.

Some FYI trivia (but not trivial!), interspersed by photos:

Including the St. Patrick’s Cathedral staff, the architecture team, the construction management team, the owner’s representatives and the Archdiocesan team, more than 200 people a day worked on this project.


The Bronze Doors: Meticulously restored by G & L Popian, these 9, 200 pound doors had seen the wear and tear of more than 50 years of overlooking 5th Avenue. Walk out front now and see saints depicted on the fully-restored doors, shining for all to see.



Narthex ceiling: When you walk in look up. Darkened by soot, pollution and years of heavy traffic, the ceiling had turned black in some places and the plaster had cracked. It shimmers and gleams majestically with the restoration.


Exterior: Outside the Cathedral, check the spires as they now gleam as they first did when they were finished in 1888. Srones were cleaned and re-cut to return them to their original glory.



St. Patrick’s mighty pipe organ has been refurbished and its roughly 9,000 pipes play in perfect tune. The interior pews, murals and religious statues have all been restored, as were all the stained glass windows that now allow much greater light to filter into the cathedral.


Links to media stories about the restoration:


(Vatican Radio) A new project providing work for Iraqi refugees in Jordan will be inaugurated in the capital, Amman, on Thursday May 12th by the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’, Mgr Segundo Tejado Munoz.

The project will be funded by money raised by the Holy See’s pavilion at the Milan Expo which took place from May 1st to October 31st 2015. Pope Francis personally requested that the 150.000 dollars, collected through visitors’ donations, should go directly to the development scheme entitled ‘Promoting job opportunities for displaced Iraqis in Jordan’. Philippa Hitchen reports:

Caritas Jordan will oversee the launch of the project which guarantees a regular income for 15 Iraqi refugees and their families, employed in making preserves, as well as the production and sale of oil and vegetables.

A further 200 refugees will be offered professional training in carpentry, agriculture and food technology, while another 500 will be given temporary employment throughout the year.

After the first six months of funding by the initial donation, the project is expected to support itself through income from the sale of the produce.

The project was presented and approved by ‘Cor Unum’ as a direct response to the Pope’s desire to help the most vulnerable people suffering from the effects of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Jordan currently hosts around 130.000 Iraqi refugees and over 1.3 million Syrians who have fled from the fighting in their country – and those are just the numbers who’ve been registered by the United Nations.

The director of Caritas Jordan, Wael Suleiman, noted that despite the efforts of the local Church and of various government authorities, it remains extremely hard for refugees to find regular work.