Monday, December 8, 2014

Remembering Deacon Peter Joseph

December 8, 2014 - Remembering Deacon Peter- St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in the City of Waterville, Maine experienced a loss that cannot be easily expressed by words. This man known as Deacon Peter, Uncle Peter, Dad, Rabi, and friend and community leader passed from this world to eternal life in Christ.   In that moment he was reunited with his beloved wife and sweetheart, Pat.  Peter was born and raised in Waterville, the youngest of seven children of John R. and Lena (Ferris) Joseph. As a young boy, Peter helped his father lay the foundation of St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, the church in which he spent his life serving, as an altar boy, parishioner, lector, council member, Sub-Deacon and Deacon. He left a legacy that all will remember and his spirit will live in his family and all who knew him forever.       Joseph spent a lifetime helping people from the time he was a child handing out food to homeless people who stopped at the family market on Front Street,.  Joseph came from a large Lebanese family that owned not only the market, but also Joseph Motor Co. His father, John R. Joseph Sr., came to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1900 and married Lena Ferris, who also was from Lebanon. Peter’s daughter Lea Williams said his deeds imparted a lesson that can only be taught through example — giving of yourself to others.     I remember him always telling me that his favorite saying, the one that he identified with most, was the following: ‘I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’ I think most people would agree that he lived up to this creed.    Another parishioner, Paul Ferris, wrote on Facebook:"  Peter had too many achievements to recount but what I remember most is the fact that he was one of the first people after Vatican II to serve in the role as permanent Deacon. He pioneered that ministry which had been dormant for hundreds of years. He had no map or example to follow so he made his own path with great humility and distinction. He once related a conversation he had with Father Paul. He said to him, “I am a Christian, a Catholic, and a Maronite.”
My father in law, Deeb Ferris, was ordained with Peter as  Subdeacon, which led me to answer the call as well.
Rest in peace Deacon Peter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving for Dale Ferris

I am not sure when I first met Dale, but I am sure she was with her sister, Judy, as they were never very far from each other.  It may have been at our wedding, 1975 when we received a plaque of an American Indian Marriage Ceremony from Dale and Judy, which continues to hang on our wall and reminds me of Dale’s acceptance of the diversity of cultures. Or it may have been at one of the family gatherings that seemed to happen so often when all the children were younger.   If you ever saw the movie Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you know the ethnic family experience, although my experience might be called the Lebanese version of that movie.   Meeting Dale and the rest of the family was quite an experience for a WASP from Philadelphia.    Dale was one of Allison’s most colorful relatives. She was honest and straight forward and a deep spiritual thinker.   She enjoyed providing honest feedback regarding those who strayed from what she believed was the truth. 
I loved her for her frank and honest discussion of the most controversial of topics and will miss her terribly.  I am sure many here today will also miss her. 

When I was preparing this I called Fr Jim to get some ideas.  He was one of her favorite people, I am sure she is smiling from heaven upon Fr Jim here today with us to honor and celebrate Dale and her life.   Fr Jim said they first met at the Blessed Sacrament, was just before he was scheduled to go to Africa. They invited him to the Holy Childhood Nursery School and they became the best of friends for the next 40 years. They corresponded often between Africa and America.

Their First airplane trip was to Africa to visit Fr Jim 1980. They made a lot of friends in Africa.  Dale Loved to talk about her travels like going to Africa, Rome, Bar Harbor and Cadillac Mountain.
She had a great love for the Eucharist and like serving as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister. She was very interested in the Peace and Justice Activities in the Church and her model was Dorothy Day

Whenever I saw Dale I always  felt “ at home”.  AT PEACE. She always smiled and gave me a big hug and kiss.  On a few occasions we visited them on a Sunday afternoon at the Nursery School before they moved to Seton Village and she would sometimes get out some wonderful cheese, maybe a bottle of wine or some beer and always some zytoon, bread and whatever else she might find when she went downstairs to the basement of her home where she kept her treasures of the pallet. I think she and Judy bought a barrels of various Lebanese food from a middle eastern grocery story in Brooklyn, NY or Lawrence Mass to be sure she always had something special to share with their guests.  During these visits, we would talk about politics, the Catholic Church, the days social problems. She always asked about family.  She usually had a strong opinion about something and could back up her opinions with facts she had read or learned in her research as she had a real thirst
for knowledge.  On one of these visits she and Judy gave me a copy of Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton. This book inspired me and I am sure began my path to serving God and the Church.   I found a quote from that book that provides a perspective from Dale AND her impact on my faith in God.

“I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain

Dale Ferris was a remarkable women.  She was loved by all who knew her including her family, many friends and people in this community.   She loved the children she taught for 28 years at the Holy Childhood Nursery School.  She loved the parents of those children. She loved spending time with the adult children who so often would return to visit her and Miss Judy.  She loved visiting the sick and infirmed. She loved justice.  Most of all she loved Jesus like no one I will ever know. 
She was a model Christian.  She encouraged and promoted Jesus Christ as our savior and bridge to eternal life.   Her faith in Jesus Christ our savior was an inspiration me and to all who knew her. 
  Thank you Dale for your gift to us all.  I believe you encouraged GOD’s grace to be present to us all as a result of knowing you. My thoughts and prayers go to Aunt Judy, who with Dale, became the book ends of the early childhood catholic education for this city.  We are all grateful for her gift and service to this community.

WE need not be sad for Dale. Dale is very happy . She is with the LORD She is with her family members who have gone before her. She will live in eternal life with and in the Most Holy Trinity - Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever.  AMEN 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Basketball and God...

I first learned about basketball at my grandfather's basketball camp in Etna, Maine called Camp Katahdin.  I started playing basketball there. Check out the picture below, I am the little tanned guy with his arms hanging down  to the left of the coach.
Then then I played as a young person in South Jersey,  where I was on a junior high school intramural team and a good friend of mine recruited me to join the CYO Catholic Youth Organization basketball league.  I played in High School.  Then coached both my son's at the YMCA and was a Freshman Coach at Waterville High School for one year.

The wonderful thing about basketball is that is an equalizer.  Good players are good players no matter their ethic or socio-economic background.  Later in life I met and married a Lebanese women and soon was introduced to the 1944 New England Championship team that was comprised of Lebanese men.  My cousin Ray Edelman played at Kentucky and his Dad, Ray Edelman SR. was a coach at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lots of basketball in my history.  I love the game. Seems two things have been part of my life.  Basketball and God.

 Then recently I saw this video and it touched my soul.  And I knew.  There must be a court in heaven.  Playing the game of basketball has had an impact on the lives of many young people including some wonder seminary students featured in the video.  The game taught me to be a team player, to get back up when I fell down and to keep on even in the light of a terribly mismatched game.   What a great game.   Watch this.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Changes, Changes, Changes

Transformation occurs when you surrender your life to the will of God.  Unfortunately, you do not always have a map, nor can you call or text God on your smart phone for directions. Praying to God, then listening is the way. Sometimes you can't hear the response due to the multiple distractions that bombard us each moment of every day.

 I am learning this as I continue balancing my faith with my work in the world.  Mitigating this challenge is becoming a priority in my life.  I am happy to say that God, the Source of Life,  is winning.  Whenever my work poses any conflict with my Faith I begin to get dysfunctional. I have struggled because this seems to start before I am fully aware of it.    It is not even a choice any more.  I simple can no longer give energy or do things that violate my faith.  Sometimes throughout my career I was able to express this and that was enough, my supervisor or manager would permit me to adjust the process I was using so it would fit my conscience.  But that has not always been the case.

So here is my challenge.  How can I live my faith and make a living that supports my family at the same time?  How can I remain authentic, living as a whole hearted, God loving, human being, and still work in an imperfect world that seems at every step to be working against the True self I am becoming.  It seems the only way I can do this is to work in ministry or be in a professional position where I can control the work I accept or reject.  Seems I have two career choices going forward.

The first and my preference is to get a job doing the work God wants me to do that will provide for my family.  As a certified rehabilitation counselor, for the last 28 years, I have always believed I was doing the work of God by helping individuals with disabilities find livable employment.      So I continue to look for a job that will permit me to do this work.  I have not found the right job yet, but believe there is one out there.  I still have a few opportunities I am waiting for the next steps.  I remain hopeful. In the meantime I have started offering my professional services. Since I was in the business for more that 15 years ago, I am getting cases assigned and remain hopeful.  

So I continue day by day to do the work assigned, look for the full time job with benefits and pray that the right job will come along. God willing it will all in good time. 

Instrumentum Laboris... a good read for searching Catholics...

Stacking out at 73 pages and released at Roman Noon, the all-important Instrumentum Laboris for October's Synod on the Family is available as both html and pdf.

Don't let somebody else be your brain, folks – do yourself a favor and actually read it

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Anger is OK... but...

Great article by Rekha Shrivastava, M.S., CH, CRC, CASAC at     This article has some good information.

I know that for men who grew up in the Western social/cultural norm where expressed anger is seen as "manly" or "strong" or "powerful". the new social values may be difficult.  Strongly expressed anger or some might even call it "verbal violence" is unacceptable in most social settings. It appears only to be acceptable by a Staff Sargent in basic training and that may not even be true today.

Our world is so much smaller now and we as human beings are more than our family or even nationality of origin's expressed norms. So anger expressed in an emotional way simply does no good even though it may be cathartic for the individual speaking.   I have recently become aware that I sometimes have been perceived in that way and never really knew it.  So.... learning to express anger in an acceptable way is critical for me and for others (males and females) in our society. 

So for all the times I have lost my temper in a meeting or social setting or other public place I ask for forgiveness from friends, professional colleagues, clients, parishioners and any others who I may have hurt by this expressed anger.  My intention was never to harm anyone.  I know the way to Hell is paved with good intentions.  So I guess as my Mother would say, " Steve there is no excuse, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it.  She was proper Bostonian and I miss her dearly. 

 Namaste  #PBTGA

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So what have we learned in 2 millennia?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."  

                                                          Cicero - 55 BC

Evidently  nothing.....

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pope Francis Sends Prayers and a message to Evangelical Christians in the US

This is a remarkable and historical event and the beginning of a new unity in the universal catholic church.  We can respect our diversity but remain unified. #PBTGA.

I just sent an email to K Love radio that I was praying this would occur in the near future. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Holy Spirit moving amongst all Christians for Unity in the Faith.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Pontifical interpretation of Economics. Ethics matter.

I got a great email recently from an graduate school contact that presented economics in a way that makes sense, but proposes a new focus on ethics with an moral framework in our free-market economy.

A new Friend at Wellspring  I recently discovered another quiet contemplative who expresses beauty and Divine intention like an angel.  I appreciate her creative and spiritual presence in her work. Thank you Laura