I returned to Rome Friday after a wonderful visit with family, including a First Communion celebration for my great-niece Cece, a visit to the 4th grade classroom of my great-nephew Emory, 10, at St. Monica’s school in Whitefish Bay near Milwaukee, a birthday party for his 12-year old brother Cole, a touch of pre-graduation celebrations for soon-to-be 14-year old Brogan and a May crowning ceremony.

St. Monica’s is one of the most vibrant parishes and schools I’ve ever encountered. I keep up with news and events through my niece Christie and, when I’m at their home, by talking to the kids or visiting the school. Mass is the first order of the day every Tuesday but on the Tuesday after a First Communion celebration, there is the annual May crowning ceremony.

Did I mention sports – soccer and baseball games and track and field! The four kids are on the go every waking moment or so it seems. Never a dull moment during my Wisconsin stay!

Stay right here as I’ll have a really wonderful story for you tomorrow about St. Monica’s 4th grade class and a special assignment they were given!

My time in Fox Point and Whitefish Bay was a mini family reunion with my niece Christie and her husband Bryan, Christie’s two sisters, their husbands and children (I have 23 great-nieces and -nephews and No. 24 is due June 11), Bryan’s folks and several of his sisters and my own sister Gail and her husband Paul who were in town from California.

A few photos of the countless happy moments with all the generations present –

I start with this beautiful description of his family by Brogan –

And then – let the celebrations begin!


I am sure most of you have seen images of the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Hawaiian island of Hawaii, called the Big Island by residents. I’ve been following the news because of my many friends in the islands, though almost all of them are on Oahu or Molokai. However, one good friend, Maryknoll Father Clyde Phillips lives on the Big Island and I wrote to ask about the situation.

If his name seems familiar to some of you, Fr. Clyde was in Rome for many years and often could be found saying Mass at Santa Susanna in the years before that church closed and Americans moved to St. Patrick’s.

Father Clyde answered yesterday just before leaving California where he had been on assignment. He wrote: “My brother has been keeping me abreast of the situation with the volcanic eruptions. I feel sad for those who lost their homes, now over 2 dozen and counting, as well as those displaced by the lava flows. As for me, I live about 45 miles from the eruptions and our area is considered safe as we are along the Hamakua Coast. But of recent days, the Volcano National Park is closed as they expect a catastrophic eruption to happen. Again, I am safe but others living the area are not. The 6.9 earthquake did no damage to the house as it is made of wood as it weathered the quake. But things were moved around in the house and no breakage.”

Even since that email, more fissures have been noted in the volcano and continual evacuation alerts are going out. We must remember these people in our prayers. One friend told me that a volcanic eruption is far worse than a hurricane or tornado that destroys a home because volcanic eruptions and lava flows destroy more than homes – they destroy the land – there is therefore no land on which to rebuild.