Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Monsignor Albacete and Grief

Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete died a little over a week ago on Friday, October 24th.  His funeral Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Sean O'Malley last Tuesday at Saint Mary's on Grand Street, where some of Our Lady of Vilnius' chalices reside.  I like to think that one of them was raised at that Mass.

I wondered throughout the week why a figure of Msgr. Albacete's merit did not rate a N.Y. Times obit.  Today the suspense ended with the publication of Paul Vitello's fine slice of Albacete's life: "Lorenzo Albacete, Theologian and Confidante of Popes, Dies at 73."

This past Sunday the Archdiocese of New York announced that many parishes, too, would die.  Monsignor Albacete leaves us this piece on grief, which appeared in The New York Times Magazine on August 27, 2000: Good Grief and Bad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pay Respects to Another "Last of Its Kind" while he is in NYC

If Roman Catholics believed in bush souls, Lonesome George would be mine and perhaps that of Our Lady of Vilnius Parish.  I read about him extensively. His  uncompromising personality and solitary nature qualifies him to participate in the eternal kavine in the basement hall.that lives in our hearts.

As Our Lady of Vilnius stands forlorn on Broome Street, its red doors fading like its life blood, Lonesome George is lying in state uptown in the Museum of Natural History, where he will remain until January 4, 2015.

Species of New Yorkers, are facing extinction due to destruction of habitat.  Maybe someone will stuff us and send us to the Galapagos, where we can stand beside him before a slow procession of tourists and the inscrutable gazes of giant tortoises who will escape our fate.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Columbus Day to all the paisanos of Our Lady of Vilnius

There was never a strong partition between the living and the dead of Our Lady of Vilnius, so on this Columbus Day we honor the Italians and Italian-Americans, among us and gone home to God, that contributed to  the parish, among them Frankie Pretzels and his buddy, Provolone, Tony Zaggarino,  Gerard DeSapio and his son,  Carmine DeSapio, who donated the painting of St. Anthony of Padua over the West Altar, pictured above.  We offer special prayers and remembrance for Joe Zaccaria, who devoted so much time, energy and emotion to the effort to save our parish.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Me too, Father Groeschel

Paul Vitello's obituary of Father Groeschel, "Benedict Groeschel, 81, Dies; Priest Aided Poor and Drew a TV Flock" appeared in today's New York Times print edition.  The final quote:

 “I used to be a liberal, if liberal means concern for the other guy,” he said. “Now I consider myself a conservative-liberal-traditional-radical-confused person.” 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Increased Offertory Campaign Week 3 "Blurb" from

"Week 3

 As a result of the “Sharing God’s Gifts” program, the parish has received many commitments from faithful parishioners to increase their weekly contributions.  Overwhelmingly most of our congregation has given us good feedback. As usual, there were those who were slightly critical of the parish request.  For most, after more was explained to them about the needs of our parish, they were quite satisfied with the clarifications.  One way to contribute is to use the automated pay method-the PARISHPAY Program.  Once you sign up for this program, ParishPay will collect monthly contributions from your checking, savings or credit card account and then send it to the parish. There is no cost to you to participate in the program.  You may log on to or you may call 1-866-727-4741 ext. 1. Let us pray that our Stewardship of our parish is successful."

This is an excerpt from a document called "Increased Offertory Campaign Blurbs" that I found by Googling "Increased Offertory".  

RIP Father Benedict Groeschel

After Our Lady of Vilnius was closed Rita decided that we needed to seek the counsel of Father Groeschel in our endeavor to save the church and our parish community.  She had seen him on EWTN speaking about 9/11 and was impressed that he didn't come out with the usual content.  So we made a pilgrimage to a talk that he was giving on positive psychology at the Church of the Holy Innocents.  We enjoyed the lecture, stayed for the Mass and then stood on line to share our concerns.  Most of the people on the queue in front of us were waiting to express praise and gratitude or to request his autograph.  We were last.  Rita deferred to me because she thought I, as a native speaker, spoke better English.  "We are from Our Lady of Vilnius and we would like to talk to you about our parish," I declaimed formally, as I was somewhat starstruck.  Father showed his familiarity with the case by reiterating some of the reasons for closing OLV outlined in the archdiocesan press release:  poor attendance and broken roof.  When I challenged, he listened.  I told him that there would be no Lithuanian presence in the archdiocese when Our Lady of Vilnius closed: no hymns, no Our Lady of Siluva, no Rupintojelis.  He said that, if that is the case, it would be the Lithuanians' own fault.  He then made some good suggestions for approaching the archdiocese in order to integrate these things.  Rita was flabbergasted at his brusqueness and one of the young Franciscans tending to him explained that it had been a long day for Father and that he was always in pain.

I was disappointed at first, but the more I engaged in the effort to save OLV, the more I saw that he was right:  if we wanted to have a place at the archdiocesan table as a culture, we had to make it happen and in a highly specific way.

Though this is my most significant memory of Father Groeschel, I have others:  hearing him speak about the Eucharist at Dunwoodie, seeing him on the altar at major liturgies at St. Patricks, seeing him as a lone, hooded figure praying outside the Womens' Center in Dobbs Ferry.  I remember praying for him at the time of his accident, marveling at his recovery and enjoying him on Sunday Night Live.

He was a singular intellect with a no B.S. tone, his mixture of erudition and working class smarts bracing and funny.  He spoke and lived his truth.  May all of us who feel his loss carry him with us by becoming more like him.