Monthly Archives: September 2002

If Fraud Makes You an Unfit Parent…

…why aren’t they taking away the kids of Enron executives and lying politicians? Oh, I’m sorry. I guess that only counts if you’re a small-time criminal.

*annoyed look* The hypocrisy of Madelyne Toogood’s prosecutors just gets more and more bizarre. But what can you expect in an election year?

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Politics

People in Montreal Are Lucky

Father Frank Leo is a really neat young priest from Quebec who got sent to the University of Dayton to finish up his doctoral research over at the Marian Library. The rest of the time he was stationed over at St. Albert’s (my church). We were very lucky to have him. In this difficult year, Father Frank’s wonderfully funny (but to the point) homilies explained the Gospel in a way that made you think, and remember what had been said.

So now Father Frank is no longer ABD, and he’s going back home to Montreal. We had a huge farewell party for him, and everybody came, old and young. (It was really cute to see the little kids decide that the only way they could see what was going on was to sit on the far side of the dais. Which they did, very quietly.) We ate Italian food and sang Italian songs that were slightly rewritten to refer to Father Frank. (He was intensely embarrassed.) People gave him presents (like the Godfather movies, since Father often joked about them) and advice (our pastor, Father Manning, told him not to let his administrative duties interfere with being a good priest). But then he gave our parish a gift, which I didn’t expect — a chasuble for Ordinary Time, with a band running down the middle that was woven into pictures of little kids from all over the world. It’ll be a really nice thing to use for the school masses. It was also a typically bold but well-judged gesture, since this summer Father Frank had to help us deal with finding out that one of our priests, now taken away altogether, had been originally been assigned to our parish to keep him away from kid-related duties, as he’d done some scandalous things as a high school principal down in Cincinnati. Giving the chasuble to the parish and to Father Manning said that we were going to get over this. And in fact, at that point I didn’t even think about it; I just thought how beautiful the chasuble was and how nice it was to give the parish a present. I think everybody else thought so, too.

I do regret that I didn’t know, until people revealed (much to his embarrassment), that Father Frank plays several different instruments. (You could just see the parish musicians mentally saying, “D’oh!”) They also dug up the info that he was a big Trek fan. Well, geez. If I’d known that, I would’ve been able to talk over some stuff that was bothering me, and not had to explain everything. But…you can’t know everything about a person, can you?

Next week, Father Frank becomes pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, somewhere in Montreal. Those people don’t yet know what kind of pastor they’re getting. But by this time next week, they’ll know how lucky they are.

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Recommendations



In case anyone’s wondering, I usually use italic for headings because — for some reason — Netscape doesn’t show bolded fonts done with Blogger’s stuff. At least not in this template.


I forgot to mention that my brother Kevin joined the Knights of Columbus last week. Kev possesses a fairly decent number of the virtues of chivalry and he’s interested in the Church, so I think this is a good fit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Uncategorized


I keep seeing bloggers say that the small number of religious vocations is due to overly liberal religious and clergy. I don’t think so. They’ve also said it’s because of the sexual abuse scandals. Again, I think not.

My mother, scarcely a representative of liberal Catholicism, never badmouthed nuns and sisters for being overly liberal. I’m sure there were sisters like that in the seventies and eighties, but not in our area, as far as we knew. What I heard about, whenever my mom wanted to threaten me, was “I could do like the nuns, and make you wash steps upside down.” “I could whack your hand with a ruler, like the nuns.”

Again, when my brother Kevin went on retreat at St. Meinrad’s (and lots of people do retreats at St. Meinrad’s — it’s no big deal), my mom got convinced that Kevin was going to become a priest and panicked. (Just like she’d done when he thought about joining the Air Force, actually.) She likes priests and thinks they’re a good thing, but she doesn’t want her baby joining up.

I’ve already talked about how few kids ever get to interact one-to-one with priests or nuns, thanks to big suburban churches that only have people around on the weekend. Heck, I went to Catholic school and still didn’t really get to talk one-to-one with anybody. If a nun was talking one-to-one with you, it meant you were in trouble. Hardly the time to ask about what it was like to be a nun.

If you do ask anything, it’s a big deal. People think you’re going to become a nun or a priest if they see you checking out a book on mysticism, so of course they’re going to freak if you actually ask word one. People will either go ecstatic or horrified; there’s no middle ground to just let kids think about it. And, as we all know, once you’ve expressed the barest passing interest in a religious vocation, you’re some kind of heretic, sinner or wuss if you don’t immediately join the seminary or profess vows.

Of course, the biggest reason we don’t have more religious vocations is probably symbolized by the fact that our archdiocese’s Vocations office has no toll-free number. Sometimes orders have open houses, but they’re always orders out in Missouri or Alabama or Tennessee — somewhere hundreds or thousands of miles away. You can’t drop in; you have to register and stay the night. In other words, you have to make a big deal of it. Considering how difficult it was (before the Web) and is (since you have to know an order exists to look it up on the Web) to find out anything about becoming a priest, brother or nun, this is asking a great deal.

It’s all asking a lot. No doubt the people with unmistakable callings are able to cut through all this guff. But in the past, most people didn’t have unmistakable callings. Most people figured out that they had a religious vocation the same way they’d figure out they were suited for any other job. If that majority of people are blocked from joining up…well, there’s your vocation shortage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Family

Good Weblog

I really like Baraita. There are not too many weblogs which can ponder what kind of fanfic will result from Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus in Aramaic. There are also not many weblogs which are linked both from The Cranky Professor and Metablog: The Blog of Blogs (a general fanfic blog, but most of the members seem to be slash writers). It’s nice to see how small the world still is.

Leave a comment

Filed under fandom, Recommendations

The Innocent Unworldliness of the New York Post

I never though of the New York Post as a sweet, naive and trusting newspaper. Until today. “What kind of a mother lets a 4-year-old out of her sight?” they ask.

Based on my days in the kids’ department at Penney’s? Half the mothers in the suburbs, that’s who. Yuppies or ‘trailer trash’, it didn’t matter; people blithely let their kids wander, or trustingly left them in front of the Barney or Disney promo video playing. Part of my job, apparently, was to keep kids away from the mall exit or the escalator, and to retrieve the kids — without touching them or raising my voice — if they made a break for it. I generally tried to pre-empt this burst of excitement by doing something amazingly rare among parents — talking to the kids. Even the most hyper kidlet will generally respond to a bit of civil conversation that breaks the tedium of shopping. Many kids didn’t want to leave.

I’m sure it’s very comforting to blame it all on the Travelers “foisting a bizarre, authority-shunning life” on kids. Wave a magic wand and make people settle down? (Like the rest of America? That moves every year or two?) That might work in Fantasyland. But we don’t live in that world, and no newspaper reporter should be that innocent. Do try going shopping once in a while, dear.

In other news, the Fox News folks didn’t say boo about Travelers or a “secret clan” last night when I was watching the interview with Toogood. This shows that conservatives are less bigoted, or at least less likely to believe they can’t be sued. I am glad to see some network using its head.

Also, here’s an interesting column from Milwaukee. Here’s an interesting thread from soc.culture.african.american. And here’s a point of view you sure wouldn’t expect from alt.gathering.rainbow! Tolerance and acceptance for outsiders, suuuure. *rolls eyes*

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Politics

You’d Better Get Born in Someplace Else

I wish I didn’t have to update my blog this way. I wish I could say that the network reporting about Madelyne Gorman Toogood and her family was free from prejudice, or went to academia to understand a little-known culture. But the national reporters weren’t nearly as free of bias as the local news on WHIO.

One went to the same “expert on Irish Travelers” that the Indiana newspapers did — a local man who writes books on scams. He declared on national television that the Travelers were all “scam artists, just like the Gypsies.” Oooh, two minorities insulted for the price of one!

NBC, predictably, went back to its 1996 and 1998 coverage of Murphy’s Village, SC, for file footage. We were told that the Irish Travelers were a “secret clan”. Oh, and they speak Shelta — excuse me, “a language you and I can’t understand”. (Bzzzzt, wrong answer! Actually, I could understand the snippet they aired, because it was one of the Romani bits of Shelta, and I once read a book about the Rom.) We also learned that having more than one ID or identity is something odd, unusual and criminal. (Okay, so maybe I know more libertarians and paranoids than most people, but it’s really not that uncommon.)

People keep crawling out of the woodwork on messageboards like this one. Let’s pick some representative quotes:

Also, I am reading that she acknowledges being an “Irish Traveler” which is odd because I didn’t think that was something you would admit to. From what I know I have o respect for them and I am amazed they continue to live in luxury in a particular community despite their organized wrongdoing.

How does such uneducated trash get hold of a luxury SUV? Not by honest work that’s for sure.

If you are saying that you want to eradicate the gypsy culture/lifestyle, then I may agree with you in theory, however, you would have a long, hard battle before you.You would probably have an easier time eradicating the Catholic Church. The gypsies have been aroud for millenia, and every nation on the face of the earth since then has tried to rid themselves of them. They are going to be around, lying, theiving, stealing and conning for longer than you or I will be on this planet.

These comments are mild. To be fair, a few people here spoke up in favor of the presumption of innocence. The f** boards were worse, with some even telling the world that the Nazis knew what to do with people like the Travelers. (Obedient to Godwin’s Law, the thread had stopped there when I last saw it.)

This is what it comes down to. A woman is now getting pilloried not for her treatment of her daughter (who the hospital said was perfectly healthy and unbruised, much to the disappointment of the local prosecutors), but for being a member of an ethnic minority. A nomadic ethnic minority — how evil! Speakers of an endangered minority language — worse still!

Where the heck are the academics who are so eager to study these folks? Why aren’t they being put on television? Where are my fellow Hibernophiles? Why aren’t they protesting this prejudiced nonsense? Heck, where is the ACLU?

Greta Van Susteren is interviewing Madelyne Toogood at 10 PM. I hope and pray that a fellow conservative will respect the Constitution, and maybe even a proud people with a long tradition of getting no respect. Attack Toogood for what she did wrong; she won’t argue with you. But don’t attack the people she was born to, just for being who they are.

Seamas O Siochain is a Traveler anthropologist from Ireland. Sharon Bohn Gmelch is an anthropologist from the US studying Travelers. Interview them, not that self-proclaimed ‘expert’!

Dublin Irish Festival
in Columbus had a presentation on the Travelers this year. Talk to Mr. O’Carroll, for goodness’ sake! He lives close!

At least the Catholic Church in the US has some

Well, here’s an excerpt from “Go, Move, Shift”, another Ewan McColl song about the Scottish Travellers. Very true, I’m sorry to say.

Born at the back of a hawthorn hedge
Where the black hole frost lay on the ground.
No eastern kings came bearing gifts.
Instead the order came to shift.

The eastern sky was full of stars
And one shone brighter than the rest
The wise men came so stern and strict
And brought the orders to evict

Wagon, tent or trailer born,
Last month, last year or in far off days.
Born here or a thousand miles away
There’s always men nearby who’ll say

You’d better get born in someplace else.
So move along, get along, Move along, get along,
Go! Move! Shift!

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Politics