Below is the story I wrote yesterday and could not post. When we got back to our hotel in Assisi this afternoon from a magnificent day in Loreto, my wifi issues were resolved and I therefore am able to share this with you. Teresa and Kelly and I spoke of this amazing Mass on her Monday radio program, in case you tuned in to that yesterday.

I will do what I can later this evening (or more likely tomorrow) to bring you the story of Loreto and some of the photos I took of this astonishing shrine! The church itself seems to be a shrine to house the shrine of the Holy House of Mary – much as the cathedral of Cologne was built as a stone reliquary to house the reliquary of the Three Magi.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I am writing from Assisi where I arrived only a few hours ago and, in less than an hour, will meet Teresa Tomeo, Kelly Wahlquist and the women of WINE – Women in the New Evangelization – for a get-acquainted dinner.

It has taken me well over an hour to get the computer up and working. I still cannot access wifi so have no idea of how or when I will be able to post this column. I’ve decided that prayer, not worrying, will be the only route to take in coming hours and days!

HOURS LATER…..Well, that dinner have long passed but stay tuned as I have a marvelous story to tell.


I want to tell you about a Sunday Mass I will never forget. And that’s probably true of everyone who attended the 10:30 Mass yesterday at St. Patrick’s in Rome, the new home to Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics in Rome.

I arrived at about 10:15 and met Brother Daniel Griffin, who will soon be ordained a Marianist deacon, who frequently helps out at mass as an acolyte, Eucharistic minister or lector. He was scheduled to be a lector that day and I to be Eucharistic minister but he suggested we change as he wanted to help the priest who would say 10:30 Mass – a certain Fr. Whelan from the Gregorian University whom Fr.Greg, our rector, had asked to say the 10:30 Mass in his absence from Rome.

I am usually a lector and was quite happy to oblige, and prepared accordingly, studying the readings and preparing to carry up the Book of Gospels when Mass began and we processed in.

I was near the sacristy so could greet people as they arrived – Ambassador Callista Ginrich was there, as was her husband Newt, Teresa and Kelly came to this Mass, parishioners I knew and some I did not were all in attendance.

As the minutes passed and the clock said 10:30, there was no sign of Fr.Whelan. Fr. Post, who had said the 9 am Mass, had already left for Marymount school to celebrate the 11 am Mass.

Soon it was 10:35, then 10:40 and I told Daniel we should make an announcement explaining the delay in the start of Mass. Neither of us had a phone number for Fr. Whelan and in the meantime, the parish secretary had gone to the Maryknoll house to see about the availability of a priest.

At 10:45 I went to the ambo and announced that the priest scheduled to take Fr. Greg’s place had not yet shown up and we were trying to see if another priest was available – thus the delay, I suggested we all say a few Hail Marys as we tried to remedy the situation.

As I was walking back to the sacristy, a sister whom I’ve seen on several occasions, pulled me aside to say there was a Jesuit priest in their small group – perhaps he could help. She introduced me to Fr. Nicholas and he and I then went to the sacristy where I introduced him to Bro. Daniel. I learned in the meantime that Fr. Nicholas (whose last name I do not know as I write!) was a student at the Biblicum University.

Father was a little worried as he said he was from Indonesia and spoke some English but had never said Mass in English in public. We told him not to worry, that St. Patrick’s was a wonderful, caring, welcoming community. He was also concerned about not having a prepared homily but we suggested he announce this and say we could just remain a brief time in silent prayer, reflecting on the Gospel and readings.


We then processed into the church as the music began. Everything proceeded normally, music, the readings, responsorial psalm and it was time for the Gospel when, all of a sudden, a new priest appeared on the scene, walking humbly to where Fr. Nicholas and Daniel were standing, they all spoke briefly and, in a nanosecond, we learned this was Fr. Whelan, Fr. Greg’s original replacement for Mass!

Fr. Whelan read the Gospel and gave a delightful homily, explaining his lateness and saying his homily was composed in the taxi coming to church. He spoke on what he called the theme of the day’s Gospel, about being alert to when you were called to a task, about not being late when the Lord called. He said it was the perfect Gospel for him and us – that day – a Gospel about being prepared and not being late. His Irish accent was enchanting and, of course, Fr. Whelan was forgiven on the spot by all present.

Mass proceeded normally and at the very end, Fr. Nicholas, who had stepped in so well, so immediately, so wonderfully to preside at Mass, told us again that this was only his first ever Mass in English in public – you can imagine the applause!

By the way, we discovered to everyone’s great amazement and amusement that Fr. Whelan was one of Fr. Nicholas’ professors! I can imagine the conversation in coming days and weeks!

The two priests were in the vestibule after Mass and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many handshakes or hugs or words of thanks as I saw yesterday by the parishioners and visitors who attend St. Patrick’s.

It was a God-given moment Sunday. A lesson the Lord wanted us all to learn – that we must trust in Him – always!

I was worried before Mass about how to help people if we did not find a priest. Could we have a liturgy of the Word and use previously consecrated hosts for communion! I had no idea what to do – I only knew I wanted to help.  I should have just said, “Lord, as usual, things are in Your hands!”

Things were in His hands yesterday, they are as I write these words and they will be tomorrow, for each and every one of us!



I have once again been dealing with Internet problems – meaning that Internet is out and, according to the phone company, it is a neighborhood issue and they are working on it. I’ve written and recorded the news segment for my weekend radio program, “Vatican Insider” but cannot at the moment get that to my colleagues in Alabama as they are the ones who put the whole show together. I did transmit the interview with Fr. Apparcel yesterday so they have that.

I have already posted to Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) the very important Vatican radio and TV interview with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin after his four-day visit to Russia. I was able to do that via my cell phone, but posting this column via my phone is not possible.

It is 5:40 pm here. Unless things clear up in the next 90 minutes, my only possibility is to go to La Vittoria restaurant with my computer and hope their Internet is working so that I can post this column and send the news audio segment to EWTN. If time allows I will add some photos and post the link to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Parolin.

If you are reading these lines, you’ll know my Internet returned OR I am having dinner and working at La Vittoria!

In case I cannot post photos, here’s a link to St. Patrick’s! https://stpatricksamericanrome.org/

Here’s the link to Cardinal Parolin’s intervew after his four-day Russia trip! Fascinating  information! http://www.news.va/en/news/exclusive-pope-francis-pleased-with-card-parolins


My guest in the intervew segment this week is Paulist Fr. Greg Apparcel, rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Rome, the new home iu the Eternal City for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics after 95 years at the historic church of Santa Susanna. That move is a long story but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Father Greg tells the story very well – who we are as a faith commmunity, our programs and outreach and where the church actually is. If you have plans to come to Rome, St. Patrick’s and your fellow American Catholics should be on your itinerary.

I have some great photo os Fr. Greg that he sent 2 days ago in an email and for reasons beyond my ken, I cannot find them – so check the St. Patrick’s link until I do find them (am transmitting this column from La Vittoria): https://stpatricksamericanrome.org/

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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 9:00am (ET). 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 YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=


I believe I have mentioned in the past that I am on the Board of HIRF, the Healey International Relief Foundation, an organization dedicated solely, as its website says, to improving the quality of life of vulnerable individuals and families in Sierra Leone who have long ben affected by civil way and adverse socioeconomic conditions. The Healey motto is “Turning Scars into Stars.”

We have all been following events since the terrible mudslide that killed an estimated 400 people and I wanted you to know how people have been helping. Injust got this letter from HIRF:


 Thank you to all those who continue to support Sierra Leone and the victims of the massive mudslide and flooding in Freetown.  Thus far, your donations have provided healthcare services and food to those in need.  Without your help, immediate aid relief would not have been possible. We have detailed our efforts below and continue on with determination during the weeks to come.  Again, a very heartfelt thank you. Tenki, Tenki!

To view pictures of our work on the ground click here for mobile devices and click here for laptops or computers.


Great loss and suffering brings countless worry.  With so many troubles to be concerned with, where one is going to get their next meal, or how one will feed their family should NOT be one of them. nding provided through our appeal is going directly to supply meals. With our partners Caritas-Freetown and the Tzu Chi Foundation we are providing lunch daily to survivors of the flooding in the Culvert area of Freetown.  The team has also provided dinners to those taking up temporary residence at the Mudslide Shelter Site in Regent.


After the massive flooding and mudslide in Freetown, it was critical to go into the affected communities and provide healthcare services.  Not only for individual health but also to protect against the outbreak of any communicable diseases.  The fear of disease is high, especially cholera.

Our mobile health clinic was onsite immediately following the mudslide in the Regent area and has been deployed in other critical areas every day since.  To date, over 850 patients have been treated and clinic visits are ongoing throughout the Freetown area.  Funding provided though our appeal was used to purchase the needed medicines and supplies to treat the patients, many of whom are women and children.