As promised by the weatherman, it snowed today, Easter Monday, in New York City – beautiful but not lasting or treacherous. The temp really dropped overnight for this to happen but it seems we have been promised slightly warmer days ahead, though probably some rain. I have been here since Holy Thursday and we’ve had everything except a heat wave! Maybe I should be careful what I write!

My days have been filled with liturgies of the Easter Triduum at St. Patrick’s cathedral, as well as lovely visits and shared meals with a handful of the many friends I have in NYC.

Easter Mass at St, Patrick’s was splendid, as the Mass of the Resurrection should be! Two of my best friends, Peter and Blanche, had tickets for the 10:15 Mass with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a man we have all known for a number of years. Sitting in the front row was quiet special, as was being welcomed into the cardinal’s home with a number of other close friends after the Eucharistic celebration.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral –

I was very privileged later to share Easter lunch with Cardinal Dolan, five priests from the archdiocese, including his secretary (another longtime friend) Sr. Rosaria, a delightful Irish nun and luncheon companion who has known the cardinal for decades, Fr. Jonathan Morris (whom many of you might know from his appearances on FoxNews) and Bill Hemmer of FoxNews. A scrumptious meal but the best food was that for the soul – the conversation and gales of laughter!

Easter Sunday Mass –

Note that the ushers wear tails (on special days, I presume) –

AFTER MASS – So, Your Eminence, I have a question….


By Robin Gomes (vaticannews.va)

Pope Francis on Monday urged Christians to build fraternity, saying only fraternity can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and eradicate corruption and crime. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the noon Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope said fraternity lived by the first Christians is also needed today.

“He is risen” – shocking

Easter Monday, which is celebrated as ‘Pasquetta’ or ‘Little Easter’ holiday in Italy, is also called “Monday of the Angel,” after the Gospel episode of the angel in the empty tomb of Jesus. The Pope said that the words “He is risen,” spoken by the angel to the women, could be uttered only by “a superior being to communicate a reality so shocking, so incredible, that perhaps no man would dare to pronounce it.” The community of disciples later began to repeat it.

Fraternity builds common good, social justice

Pope Francis noted that after Easter, on Monday of the Angel, we feel the need to reunite and celebrate with our loved ones and friends. By rising again from death, the Pope explained, Jesus broke down the wall of division between men, restored peace, and began weaving the fabric of a new fraternity. The Holy Father underscored the importance of rediscovering fraternity in our time, just as it was lived in the early Christian communities.

The Pope said, “There cannot be a true communion and a commitment to the common good and social justice without fraternity and sharing.” “Without fraternal sharing, an authentic ecclesial or civil community cannot be created: there can only be a group of individuals motivated by their own interests,” the Pope warned.

Dialogue and relationship

The Resurrection of Christ, the Pope said, has made the novelty of dialogue and of the relationship explode in the world, a novelty that has become “a responsibility for Christians”. He recalled Jesus telling that the world would come know they were his disciples from their love for one another.

This is why, the Pope explained, we cannot close ourselves in our privacy, in our group, but we are called to take care of the common good, to take care of our brothers, especially the weakest and most marginalized. Only fraternity, the Pope stressed, can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and can eradicate corruption and crime.

The Pope concluded urging all to implore the Virgin Mary help all make fraternity and communion their lifestyle and the soul of their relationships.

Witnesses of peace

After reciting the Regina Coeli prayer and imparting his blessing, Pope Francis greeted various groups from Italy and around the world present in the square. He exhorted them to be witnesses of the peace of the risen Lord especially to the “most fragile and disadvantaged” people. In this regard, he reminded them about the World Autism Awareness Day observed on April 2.

The Holy Father also invoked peace on the entire world, especially on populations suffering because of ongoing conflicts. He renewed his appeal for those kidnapped or unjustly denied their liberty, that they be released and be allowed to return to their homes.


The Easter prayer Regina Coeli (“Queen of Heaven” in Latin) is a tribute to the Lord’s resurrection and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Authorship of the prayer is unknown but it can be traced back to the 12th century and was used by Franciscans after Compline (night prayer) in the first half of the 13th century. The prayer is one of four antiphons (short liturgical texts sung or chanted dedicated to the Mother of the Lord. It is often sung as a hymn and has had numerous musical settings in its original Latin text, including several by Mozart. Traditionally, it is prayed standing, often at noon, in place of the Angelus during the Easter Season from Holy Saturday until Pentecost. For that reason, the Pope’s window addresses during the Easter Season are referred to as “Regina Coeli” Addresses.

Latin Text:

℣. Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia:
℟. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
℣. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
℟. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
℣. Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
℟. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

℣. Oremus:
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi,
mundum lætificare dignatus es:
præsta, quæsumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam,
perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.

English version:

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech you,
that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother,
we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Pope Francis tweeted today: Loving and forgiving are tangible and visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts.


A story and photo from Vatican Radio’s web page notes that Wednesday at the general audience, Pope Francis was given a marzipan cart in the shape of a migrant boat by a delegation from the archdiocese of Agrigento on the southern coast of Sicily. Countless migrants have arrived here from northern Africa.


Marzipan is an almond and sugar paste which is often used in Sicilian sweets, and the cart was created by students of a pastry school in Agrigento. The delegation was led by Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, archbishop of Agrigento, and included Mayor Lillo Firetto who said the gift was “a sign of Agrigento, the Mediterranean port.”


As I wrote on May 10 in Part One of this story about the multi-year renovation of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I was absolutely dazzled when I visited the cathedral, 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.

Following are more photos of some of the glorious altars and the magificent stained glass windows, all cleane to perfection. Several people told me that the newly-cleaned windows made a huge difference in allowing far more light to enter the church than when they were almost black with decades of dust, dirt, smog particles, etc. Some said the windows were now so luminous that it was the first thing they noticed when entering St. Patrick’s.


Vatican Radio reports that the British charity Halo Trust, after reaching an agreement with all Christian denominations in the area, has embarked on a project to clear mines and unexploded ordinance from one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world, where Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan. The one square kilometer site that contains 7 churches and monasteries has been a no-go area for almost 50 years after thousands of mines and booby traps were laid during the 1967 war. Halo Trust’s CEO, Major General James Cowan, told Susy Hodges about this landmark project.

Cowan said the Halo Trust is “very excited” about this important and hugely symbolic project to clear thousands of mines and unexploded ordinance from Jesus’ baptism site along the western bank of the River Jordan. He explained how access to this sacred site, known as Qasr Al-Yahud, with its 7 churches and monasteries, “has been denied to Christians” ever since the 6-day war Arab-Israeli war when the area was heavily mined and booby traps were planted around the churches.

Cowan explained that the Trust has been working “very hard” with both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities and all the Christian denominations that have churches on the sacred site to acquire permission for the de-mining operation to go-ahead.  Among the 7 churches and monasteries on the mined site is a Franciscan Catholic church. He  pointed out that in 2000, ahead of Pope Saint John Paul’s visit to the River Jordan, a very small area of the mined site was cleared to allow a narrow access to the river enabling pilgrims to come and visit but said “the vast majority (of the site) remains mined.”

Describing the project as an example of a “great ecumenical cooperative spirit,, Cowan said it’s “very uplifting” that this sacred site (where churches were first constructed in 400 AD)  is being “returned to its proper use.” He acknowledged that the negotiations with the various parties were a delicate operation as they are “all aware of how sensitive politics are on the West Bank.” One problem that still remains, said Cowan, is raising the 3 million dollars needed to complete the de-mining operations and he is appealing to all Christians to help fund this project.


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! http://saintpatrickscathedral.org/restore-st-patricks-cathedral

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.