Join me again this weekend when I continue my conversation with three members of an American apostolate, Lourdes Volunteers. I talk to Marlene Watkins who founded the volunteers in the Jubilee Year 2000 – she’s a wonderful storyteller! Joining Marlene is Fr. Rob Hyde of St. Margaret’s Church in Syracuse, NY, spiritual advisor to the Volunteers and Deacon Dan Revetto of Los Angeles vice president of the Lourdes Volunteers. Wait until you hear how they bring Lourdes – a virtual Lourdes – to prisoners! Great stuff!

Are you still laughing at what Deacon Dan told us last week about his very first encounter in Lourdes with a patient entrusted to his care! I laugh just typing these words!

Please go their website ( if you have a medical background and wish to help them in Lourdes. You’ll hear who and what they need in our conversation this week.


Pope Francis this morning welcomed members of the American Jewish Committee, noting that they have “had close contacts with the successors of Peter since the beginning of the official dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism.” He said, “your commitment to Jewish-Catholic dialogue goes back to the Declaration Nostra Aetate, a milestone in our journey of fraternal rediscovery.” (photo vaticannews)

He then told a story about what he called “cultivating good fraternal relations”:

“In this context, I would like to share with you an event that occurred in your part of the world. A young Catholic was sent to the front-line and experienced first-hand the horrors of the Second World War. On returning to the United States, he began to start a family. After much work, he was finally able to buy a bigger house. He bought it from a Jewish family. At the entrance was the mezuzah and this father did not want it removed during the renovations of the house: it had to remain exactly there, at the entrance. He passed on to his children the importance of that sign. He told them, one of whom was a priest, that this little “box” beside the door should be looked at each time when entering and leaving the house, because it held the secret for making a family strong and making humanity a family.

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. The Pope said, “I would also like to say a few words about the irreplaceable contribution of women in building a world that can be a home for all. Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive. They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion, and the courage to give of oneself. Peace, then, is born of women, it arises and is rekindled by the tenderness of mothers. Thus the dream of peace becomes a reality when we look towards women.”

He then underscored “a source of great concern for him, … the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root. I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries.”

He reiterated “it is necessary to be vigilant about such a phenomenon” as “History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: ‘the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated’. I stress that for a Christian any form of anti-semitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction.”

Francis stressed that, “In the fight against hatred and anti-semitism, an important tool is inter-religious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom, and the care of creation. Jews and Christians, moreover, share a rich spiritual heritage, which allows us to do much good together. At a time when the West is exposed to a de-personalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference.”

The Holy Father, in closing remarks, noted that, “In serving humanity, as in our dialogue, young people are waiting to be involved more fully; they want to dream and are open to discovering new ideals. I want to emphasize, therefore, the importance of the formation of future generations in Jewish-Christian dialogue.”