This morning the Holy Father had a number of private audiences and he also met with several groups, addressing members of the John Paul II Foundation as well as the participants in an international meeting of the pastoral ministry for vocations promoted by the Congregation for Clergy

Francis’ private audiences included a meeting with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a separate one with Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of APSA, the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

While no communiqués are given about the content of these private meetings, Cardinal Calcagno’s office, APSA, which handles real estate holdings, has been under fire from seven fellow cardinals who live in a Vatican-owned building, part of which, according reports, will soon be leased out by the Vatican to McDonald’s for €30,000 a month. It seems that several of the cardinals have written to the Pope about the matter. In addition, there has been general consternation about this potential tenant in this much-trafficked neighborhood, filled with souvenir stores, coffee bars and restaurants.

Today, Friday we saw the start of the three-day Jubilee of Choirs and Liturgical Animators that has brought together liturgical directors, choir directors, musicians, choirs, organists, schools of sacred music, and musical bands that serve liturgy. They met today on the theme “Music in Liturgy for Evangelization.” Tomorrow there will be a celebration with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, and later that afternoon a concert in the Paul VI Hall with the participation of all the choirs. Sunday participants will attend a Jubilee Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica that will be presided over by Abp. Rino Fisichella. That will be followed by the recitation of the Angelus by Pope Francis.


My special guest this weekend and next on Vatican Insider is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu. We met on my very first visit to the islands in 2008 and now have an almost annual reunion, usually including a meal, during my summer vacation stays in Honolulu. We also met in Rome in 2009 when Fr. Damien was canonized and again in 2012 when the Pope declared Blessed Marianne Cope a saint.



This time Bishop Larry and I talk about two big anniversaries coming up in the diocese in 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the death of St. Marianne Cope and the 175th anniversary of the cathedral. Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, in fact, is closely associated with the lives of Hawaii’s two saints – Fr. Damien and St. Marianne  – and also with Bishop Larry’s family! Our Lady of Peace needs a fair amount of restoration and updating and the bishop explains the plans to accomplish that by the 2018 anniversary. Renovations will include building a side chapel to enshrine the remains of St. Marianne and the relics of St. Damien.


By the way, we talk about a possible third saint for Hawaii – Brother Joseph Dutton!

I took the pictures shown here in Bishop Silva’s office. Next weekend, I’ll post some great photos of the cathedral that I took during an evening visit after dinner with the bishop and a visiting priest friend from the mainland.

Bishop Silva told me that this statue of Our Lady of Fatima is one of four that the Portuguese sculptor, Jose Ferreira Thedim, made: The well-known original is in the chapel at Fatima:


As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives:



This weekend and next I have a fascinating guest on Vatican Insider – Fr. Bill Petrie, pastor of St. Damien parish on the Hawaiian island of Molokai’i. We have been friends for a number of years and usually meet on Kalaupapa, a peninsula of Molokai’i, to talk about St. Damien or St. Marianne Cope and their work there with victims of leprosy. A week ago we met in Honolulu to talk about his 25 years of work with Mother Teresa! 25 years! Tons of insight and remarkable stories about this holy woman who will be declared a saint in two weeks!

Here we are on the lanai of our friends, the McKinneys. As you will hear me say in Part 2 of the interview, a rainbow graced a nearby hill just as we finished our conversation– you can see it over Fr. Bill’s shoulder.



You will hear this little fellow (or another member of his family) in the background of our conversation. One of these little creatures started singing every morning at sunrise, usually about 5:40 am and often on the lanai right outside my bedroom. There also was a rooster somewhere in the hills but a certain point he became quiet while the birds continued to sing (so to speak).


As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives:


(Vatican Radio) Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas, said he was “humbled” when Pope Francis asked him to be the new prefect of the new dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

“I was obviously humbled by the fact that the Holy Father would ask me to go and do such an important work,” Bishop Farrell told Vatican Radio.

“I have always considered myself to be just a bishop of the diocese and at service to the people here, so when you get a call from the Holy Father asking you to do something like this you cannot but be amazed and humbled at the same time by the whole venture,” he said.

He takes up his new position in just a matter of weeks: The new dicastery has a start date of September 1, when it takes over the duties of the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for the Laity (when they cease to exist as councils).

“I look forward to it,” Bishop Farrell said.

“It seems to me to be a great challenge, especially given the fact that the Holy Father’s letter Amoris laetitia is so important and so well-received by the whole world; and being in charge of what was the Council for the Family, obviously that is going to be my number one agenda,” he continued. “And obviously to promote lay ministry, and to ensure that the lay people take their rightful place in the Church, and to promote the apostolate of the laity in the world. I see it as a challenge. I didn’t expect this at this stage in my life, but that’s where we are!”

When Bishop Farrell arrives in Rome, he will become the second Bishop Farrell at the Vatican: His older brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“Yes, I do have a brother there that works there in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity,” Bishop Kevin Farrell said.

“I am looking forward to it,” – he explained. – “We have been priests for many, many years, but we have never worked together in the same city, so it will be unique, it will be change.”


On August 26, 2016, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See will launch an online tribute to Mother Teresa. Check the home page on that date:

Saint Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was often a guest in the United States. An adamant pro-life advocate and opponent of the death penalty, she opened her first American-based house of charity in New York in 1971. She was a frequent guest at the White House, met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the World Food Resolution, addressed the United Nations in New York, and became an honorary American citizen in 1996. Although the Nobel Peace Prize winner was often the attention of the powerful and the media, she never forgot her true calling to care for the poor and sick.

With materials collected from her past collaborators in organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, our tribute will feature original speeches, congressional records, and rare photographs, all of which speak to her tireless efforts to rid the world of poverty, homelessness, and hunger.




I just got back to the Eternal City after a truly incredible vacation with many family members and friends in two beautiful places, Southern California and enchanting Hawaii. I literally traveled half way around the world – 12 time zones from Hawaii to Italy! – leaving on a redeye Sunday night for San Francisco and traveling on to Chicago Monday morning and then from Chicago to Rome last night.

Travellers in either Business or First Class almost always receive what is called an “amenity kit” and, while these vary from airline to airline, they usually include a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, eye shades, socks, some type of hand or face cream, etc. A few airlines even offer First Class passengers sleepwear! The kits usually bear the airline logo or perhaps the designer of the amenities (very often they are name brands) and can often be reused as cosmetic bags or shaving kits on future trips.

I traveled on United Airlines and had upgraded to Business Class so had a terrific flight. Those of us in Business received a very special gift, offered only during the Olympics by United as they are the official carrier for Team USA Olympic athletes. Here is our amenity kit ( I love the socks and eye shades!):


The case  – like the fuselage of an airplane –


When we arrived in Rome I felt like it was my first time ever as I saw a section of the airport I had never seen before – a new arrivals hall, new booths for passport control officials, etc. Another first: no wait at all for my bag! Fiumicino Airport has been notorious for years for very long waits for bags. In fact, I usually take out my iPad or a good book and sit down for what I know will be a long wait. But not today!

This morning I got my new suitcase immediately but I can’t open it! I have been using TSA locks with a key instead of a numerical keypad (I have three of those and all are broken), and I cannot find the key. It was not in the one pocket of my purse where I always put it and I am guessing that means it fell out when I opened that pocket for the Euro to pay the taxi driver or it is on my bed in Hawaii where I laid the plastic bag with the key and a second lock after closing the suitcase.

Today is August 16, one day after the biggest holiday of the year – the feast of the Assumption, when just about everything in this country except restaurants and resorts closes. No other keys I have worked on this lock and the stores I needed today were closed – “Gone on Vacation.” I have a tool kit and nothing there worked either. I need a mini saw and will have to wait until tomorrow to see if our doorman Carlo has one – he is off for the Vatican holidays of August 15 and 16. The neighborhood hardware store is closed until August 24 and obviously I cannot wait that long.

Yes, I did pray to St. Anthony but still have not found the key.

My friends Trip and Jan McKinney, with whom I stayed in Aeia, traditionally offer a massive brunch on one of the Sundays I am in Honolulu for all of our mutual friends. This year was no exception and Sunday was no exception as friends came by after morning Mass, with a few more dropping by in early afternoon.

Here are Trip and Jan as Trip prepares his very special omelets –


Maria DeVera and her award-winning dog –


Enjoying a cup of Kona coffee!


With Sr. Davilyn – a Sister of St. Francis, the Order of St. Marianne Cope. Sr. Davilyn is a true authority on St. Marianne, and is the principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help school. She gave me the lei I am wearing that I wore back to Rome and now have in a special place. I cannot remember the names of the flowers but they are very long lasting.


Enjoying our omelets: In red is Audrey Toguchi, a remarkable woman whose cure of lung cancer through the intercession of St. Damien of Molokai’i led to his canonization in 2009.


With Sisters Malia Dominica and Marykutty Kottuppalil (she gave me this beautifully perfumed lei made with, among other flowers, tuber roses. I wore both on the plane later that night.


I will miss my loving, talented, amazing Hawaii friends so very much, and I will also miss these views from the lanai of my guest quarters, including Pearl Harbor!


A close up of the Arizona monument (white) in Pearl Harbor –


….and the “Golf Ball,” a giant satellite unit




I have been with my friends Trip and Jan McKinney at their home in Aiea    since August 5th. The view from my lanai is rather spectacular and I’ll post some photos in a day or two, including several of Pearl Harbor.

Sunday Jan and I attended Mass at Honolulu’s Our Lady of Peace cathedral after which I spent several hours signing books in the gift store next to the church. As people came in before or after a Mass, I met quite a number of fans, in addition to making new ones here in Honolulu.


As you can see in these photos, I received two magnificnt leis Sunday morning when my name was announced at Mass as the “star” of EWTN television and radio!

Jan and I share a Kodak moment during the signing.


One of my friends here is Alika Cullen, general administrator of the diocese of Honolulu: We became friends a few years ago and see each other at least once during my Hawaii vacations when I visit the diocesan offices.. Alika is a valuable assistant to Bishop Larry Silva, a friend since 2008 whom I will see tonight. He recently returned from Krakow and World Youth Day and I am anxious to hear all about it.

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Jan and I walked through part of the Hyatt Regency lobby on our way to lunch at the Moana Surfrider.


We enjoy lunch at the Beach Bar terrace restaurant at the Moana Surfrider.


A Sunday afternoon ride along the coast outside of Waikiki –

My favorite tree, the monkey pod tree –

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Look at this crater –


Now look at this path that people are walking on to reach the top

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A beach made famous in the movie “From Here to Eternity” –


Surf crashing against the lava rock –



A blow hole in the lava rocks –



AUGUST 9: We ask for respect for indigenous peoples whose very identity and existence are threatened.

AUGUST 8: When there is dialogue in the family, tensions are easily resolved.

AUGUST 7: We oppose hatred and destruction with goodness. We live in societies of different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and sisters.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his condolences after the attack on the hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, which killed over 70 people.

The majority of the victims were lawyers who had gathered to mourn the assassination of the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi, who was killed earlier in the day.

The telegram sent by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin reads:

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life following the attack on a hospital in Quetta, His Holiness Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased, to the authorities and to the entire nation, as he offers the assurance of his prayers for the many injured victims of this senseless and brutal act of violence.  Upon all who mourn and upon all who have been affected by this tragedy, His Holiness invokes the divine gifts of consolation and strength.


Earlier the Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad, Arshad Joseph who’s also the President of the Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace, condemned the bombing calling it “an inhuman gesture that cannot be tolerated.”  Bishop Joseph urged the government to take action, saying “it has a duty to improve security measures” in order to guarantee the right to life of its citizens. The Bishop noted that the province of Balochistan where the attack occurred has suffered more than 14 hundred violent incidents during the past 15 years.

Pakistani lawyers were taking part in rallies across the nation on Tuesday and are also boycotting court proceedings to protest the violence.





I’m still on vacation and have not written a blog since July 18 but today I’m posting some photos of Waikiki, thus the “Life’s a Beach” title. By the way, Waikiki means “spouting water,” in a reference to the rivers and springs that richly flowed into the area.

Although I’ve not written on these pages, I have posted a number of stories, photos, etc. on Facebook so you can catch up on some Vatican news, my travels, etc by going to

In the meantime, life’s a beach….

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On my bucket list….




Although he is on a working vacation, Pope Francis does preside on Sundays in July at the Angelus from his study in the Apostolic Palace. Yesterday he reflected on the day’s Gospel story of Jesus who is welcomed by Martha and Mary into their home. They each offer their hospitality in different ways. Martha scurries around and is busy preparing things whereas Mary is content to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen to his words. When Martha asks Jesus if he is not upset that she is doing everything alone and Mary isn’t helping, he reminds her, as Pope Francis said, “that in order to welcome him many things are not necessary; indeed, only one thing is necessary, to listen to Jesus.”

Thus, the Holy Father was stressing two essential points: “the importance of hospitality, a real Christian virtue, but one which at times the world neglects,” and “the importance of dedicating more time to listening because the root of peace is in the capacity to listen.”


With those words in mind, I want to tell you that I start my vacation tomorrow, and will be enjoying the hospitality of family in California and dear friends in Hawaii. I hope I can be Mary to their Martha while on vacation.

I’m always excited about visiting family because I’m part of such a terrific family! I have 9 nieces and nephews and 21 great-nieces and -nephews, a number of whom I will see in California, while others live in Arizona, Oregon, Illinois and Wisconsin (my next visits!)

Hawaii is a vacation unlike any other! It is beautiful beyond description – I don’t feel like a wordsmith when I am there, in fact, I lack for words. Even photos don’t seem to do justice but I will be posting a number on Facebook as I travel.

I could write an entire blog about each of my very special friends, from Jan and Trip, retired Navy (at least two blogs about this amazing couple), to Maria, a doctor at Tripler Medical Center who works with veterans returning from war zones, to Sister Davilyn ah Chick, OSF, principal of Our Lady of Pepetual Help school who wears about a dozen other hats, to Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP, adjunct professor at Chaminade University in Honolulu, who also wears numerous hats (and both nuns are prolific writers), to Sister Marykutty Kottuppallil, a Missionary Sister of Mary Help of Christians (an order founded in 1942 in Guwahati northeast India in 1942, as part of the family of Salesian orders (superior of a small group of these sisters in Honolulu), to Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu.

In a category all by herself is Audrey Toguchi, our mutual friend, the person who “connects the dots” (her favorite saying), that is, brings people together. I was introduced to Audrey and her story in July of 2008 when I flew to Honolulu on a very quick “reconnaissance” mission. I had been alerted by Linda Cacpal, a fellow member of Audrey’s parish, St. Elizabeth in Aiea, that Audrey was the person whose miraculous cure of lung cancer was due to the intercesssion of Damien of Molokai and led to his canonization in October 2009.

I was in California in July 2008 for a nephew’s wedding. Linda and I had been emailing back and forth about the news from Rome days earlier about a miraculous cure leading to Damien’s canonization. She told me about Audrey and said, “you really should come to Hawaii and meet her.” Well, I did just that. I got on the Internet on Saturday, found airfare and a hotel and was on a plane for Honolulu Monday.

Audrey was the first person I met of what is now this circle of friends – my Hawaiian ohana or family. I interviewed her for my radio show and we struck up a friendship that has lasted and deepened to this day.

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Audrey and her husband Yuki (a magical gardener – I think he could grow orchids from stone)

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Linda also told Bishop Larry I was in town and his office called and we met for a visit and have seen each other every summer since. We’ve also met in Rome with Hawaii pilgrims for the 2009 Damien canonization and the 2012 St. Marianne Cope canonization.

Linda was fascinated by my blog and what she could learn about Rome, the Pope, the Vatican, etc. We had become pen pals not long after my first column appeared in 2006. She gave me my first ever orchid lei when I arrived in Honolulu in 2008 and we saw each other at least on most of my visits. Our last visit was the summer of 2014. She died in December of that year.

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As the local Catholic paper wrote: Linda Cacpal was a lay person, a retired state employee, a convert, a parish minister with a love for the church so total that the bishop was moved to preside at her funeral. “This dear sister of ours dedicated her life to God completely,” Bishop Larry Silva told those who came to say goodbye to their friend in Christ, Jan. 12, at St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea. Eight priests concelebrated. Three deacons assisted.

Cacpal died on the day after Christmas in the home of her godchild and caregiver Leila Tee after suffering through a number of illnesses. She was 62. She worked in a variety of parish and diocesan ministries. She was a Secular Franciscan. And several years ago, Bishop Silva put her on the Diocesan Pastoral Council, his mostly lay advisory panel.

Now you have an inkling of why I get so excited when I plan my Hawaii trip. I love to see and do the Shaka, aka “Hang loose,” a Hawaiian hand gesture meaning take it easy, relax, chill out. It can also be shown to someone as a sign of approval, welcome or goodbye – aloha.

Make a fist, then extend your thumb and little finger, and lightly shake your hand in an up nand down, see-saw motion with your thumb and finger.

Now, “hang loose” on your vacation!

As I re-read what I’ve written, I began to mentally list the names of family and friends I will see and I think I have enough to make five decades of the rosary, each bead a beloved relative or friend.


Throughout the year, but especially during the Easter season and in the summer, I get avalanches of emails asking for travel tips. People want suggestions on sites to see in Rome and throughout Italy. I am asked for guides, how to procure tickets to events (or train tickets), for help with hotels and convents and rental cars or private drivers. I am asked for all kinds of shopping tips.

I could probably answer any or all of those questions if I was a full time travel agent but I am not – not do I have time to explore a lot of areas that, I admit, I wish I had time for!

But this is why I prepared the link on my blog: CLICK HERE FOR PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON VISITING THE VATICAN

Not every single question will be answered but a lot will. I write about convents. I explain why I cannot advise people on hotels. I DO, however, list some great restaurants!

Do you need a ticket to a papal Mass or weekly audience (the Angelus does not require a ticket)? Go to: Prefectrure of the Papal Household:

Want to avoid the long lines and reserve tickets to the Vatican Museums? Click here:

Often just a simple search on the Internet to sites beyond what I have listed will provide you with all the information you need.

Pass this information on to friends and family members who will be travelling to Rome – you will help me and you will help them!


What a terrific event this will be once again. I’ve been to a number of WYDs and always come home the richer person. Krakow will be immensely meaningful in the grand scheme of youth days because it was the diocese led for many years by Pope John Paul, who instituted WYD, and is now led by the late Pope’s secretary and confidante for 40 years. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

St. John Paul and St. Faustina Kowalksa are the co-patrons of this special World Youth Day.

To track what is happening and what awaits you if you are about to leave for Poland, visit the official website:

And, of course, EWTN will have enormous coverage – television, radio, our website, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.