Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 31, 2010

We arrived back from the Gerroa villa near Seven Mile Beach two hours south of Sydney. We planned to go to the free Opera performed at the Domain. They were producing Bernstein's Candide, but the weather was sketchy and we nixed our plans. Instead, we went to dinner in Gordon at the Gordon Grille. It was quite good food and a very lively place.

We spent this week telling our stories to one another. We are an international community and it was a good chance for us to slow down and get to know one another in a deliberate, but casual way. We did a number of activities together, but mostly we read, prayed, went for walks, and cooked for each other. Fortunately, all the meals came out well and we ate well. The tertian directors are great guys. The pace of life at the villa is very laid back. It seems like every time I tried to read a book, I fell asleep. I am a man reduced to basic functions in life.

The beach is terrific. We can stare at it for hours and it keeps changing. I am amazed at the zeal of the Australians who seem to be surfing from 5:00 in the morning until late at night. They are a very active people. When we Americans go to the beach, we brings books to read, radios, Ipods, picnic foods, etcs. We set up camp. When the Australians go, they bring their surfboards and a towel. They are in the water and when they finish, they leave the beach. And the beach is crawling with surfers. There is plenty of room for everyone.

The sunrises and sunsets are so intriguing. We watch the tides come in and go out and we marvel at the power. The soldier crabs dig out little balls of sand from their holes. They leave mounds of circles all over the place and it is quite intriguing to see the roundness of these sandballs. I also saw a two and a half foot monitor (lizard). I went looking for kangaroo (actually the meat tastes very nice), but only saw dead wombats on the road.

We went to Jumbulla on the way down to villa, which is an Aboriginal Exhibit that tells the sad story of how they were treated by the colonists. They are working hard to preserve their culture. We visited a Buddhist Temple that is relatively new.

We also took sidetrips to Cathedral Rock near Minamurra and to Kangaroo Valley. We went to a waterfall site and toured the countryside.

It was such a relaxing week. I had no idea I needed so much sleep and rest. Our prayer is good too. I'm praying for all those who I left behind to come here. I'm praying for my province because tertianship is such a gift to us.

Photos: Gerroa near Seven Mile Beach

To see photos of Gerroa, Australia, please click on the link below:

Pics of Gerroa, Australia at Seven Mile Beach

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 19, 2010

I have been taking it easy the past few days with some naps to get adjusted to the time change. I wake up each morning at 6:00 a.m., but need a nap by 9:00 a.m. I am 16 hours different from Boston/Portland.

All the tertians have arrived - the last one coming today as he was delayed in Shanghai. We opened the program with orientation days and a few festive meals. The food is quite good; the fruits are very tasty, but the Mangoes have huge seeds in them.

I drove yesterday as practice and then drove all aroud the suburbs of Sydney today. Tomorrow I will lead an expedition into the city as I am quite comfortable driving. We'll go to the domain and the Opera House. Today I managed a trip to a high-end shopping mall and cinema.

The cockatoos and the Kukaberras are the noisiest birds ever. They don't have a sweet sound and they can be quite frightening. I took a walk this evening and met many lovely people. The houses around here are very comfortable and it is a serene place for an evening stroll. As I headed back to Canisius College, I saw thousands of fruit bats flying in formation from Gordon Forest to the orchards. Their wings spans are 2.5 to 3 feet and they are very slow in flapping them around. Tomorrow I will try to take photos of them. We have a funnel spider in our front yard so I won't walk barefoot again. We have lots of spider webs around, but we have enough antidotes so that we won't get deathly ill.

I notice that whenever anyone asks about kangaroos, they laugh after asking the question.

Disappointed about the chances for Health Care as Martha Coakley went belly-up in her campaign. She just did not take it seriously.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010

I arrived in Sydney last night and was greeted by Adrian Lyons, S.J. He is a very kindly man. He brought me past the Sydney Opera House and the majestic bridge that spans the Harbor. Both are spectacular.

I enjoyed my stay in New Zealand quite a bit. David Tonks prepared a nice lamb meal for dinner (lunch) and Sr. Mary took me to the airport. I also had a nice lamb supper when I arrived at Canisius College. It seems that Hillary Clinton's schedule was similar to mine, but she cancelled her time in NZ so she could go to Haiti. Good choice for our nation. We have friendly relations between the US and NZ. Prince William arrived at the Auckland airport yesterday, but I just missed him. There were few people there, but the newspaper crew responded quickly and built up the crowds and made signs for them to wave.

Canisius College is a regular Jesuit type of community, much like our retirement center/retreat house/tertian house in Weston, Massachusetts. Eight of the 12 guys have arrived and the guys seem very pleasant. I rested well today, but I'm still tired. I did not like to know that the Jets won against the Chargers in football.

I walked into town and I marveled at the stately homes and properties that surround our campus. Three golf courses are within walking distance and there are several nice parks. I'll have no problems getting on with my 10,000 steps a day walking routine. I'm drinking more tea than I ever have before. I'm quite comfortable and in good space to begin the program. I am reading a fairly good book about developing healthy self-esteem. It is an interesting book because many retreatants and directees seek to develop a healthier level of esteem. I find it quite insightful. I next want to read a book by John Bradshaw called "Healing the Shame the Binds you."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 17, 2010


I had Confessions and Mass at the Cathedral and it was a blast. Muriella was a powerhouse sacristan who was very directive appropriately and kindly. She set me up for the sacramental ministry in no time. She is very efficient. At the end of Mass many people came up to me because they had always heard of Jesuits and wanted to have one minister to them in New Zealand. Their style of liturgy, though Roman and much like ours, made a lot of sense. They had such a reverence to the liturgy that represented the people. While they respected the rubrics, they were not too concerned about the GIRM as the Americans. It was a Mass with a lot of lay participation at all levels. After all, liturgy means “the work of the people.” The ICEL bishops who may attention to the wording of the liturgy in the English language were having their annual meeting at New Zealand. They came for Mass on Friday morning.

I walked to the Museum on New Zealand today in the large domain (park.) The Museum showed the history and culture of the people, including the colonizers, the Maori, and other newer immigrants. In 50 years, the white New Zealanders will become a minority. The public art across the city and the park is fascinating. It speaks well of the civic pride of the people. Folks seem to enjoy Auckland the life in New Zealand. They realize they are a small nation, but they contribute greatly to the world events. They pride themselves on being peacekeepers in the hot spots of the world.

Dinner with Msgr. David Tonks and Sr. Colleen was quite nice. We met Bishop Patrick Dunn, who is a very compassionate and pastoral bishop. He has a nice comfortable presence about him. We toured the Bishop’s house and the chancery offices and went out to eat at a place called GPH. It was quite good. I had a pizza with lamb sausage and Mediterranean vegetables.


I slept poorly last night because I knew I had to arise early to go on my trip. I did not have an alarm clock and my body clock is way off. I awake myself at 3 a.m. these days. I boarded a bus headed for Rotorua, which is a tourist area in the central part of the north island. It took three hours to drive there. The country is much larger than one would believe and it is a fascinating landscape. I could easily adjust to life here, as many people do. It is an immigration hotspot.

We stopped for coffee in Matamata at a place called Ronny’s. They cafĂ© was huge and loaded with meals and desserts. Apparently, they sell every last piece of food in the store each day. It is reasonably priced. We dropped a Swedish girl off at Hobbiton, where the Lord of the Rings was filmed. Peter Jackson is there filming two new movies, but he won’t let on what they are about. A statue of Golum is in the center of town.

The land is so picturesque. It is a little brown from the lack of significant rain, but it is still extremely green. This is the nation’s dairy land. It is the densest dairy producer in the world. Its exports are mainly to China and Japan. There’s lots of horsebreeding there, but there are over 30 million sheep in a country that has 4.3 million people of which 1.5 are in Auckland alone.

When we approach Rotorua, we saw the commercialization, especially with extreme sports like Bungee jumping derived sports and rolling down the hill in a Zorb, which is a large inflated ball that contains a person that is nested inside another large inflated ball. This Zorb runs down the hill with the person inside. We think we saw the backside of a 250 pound wild pig in the lush bush that leads up to the Rainbow Club where we toured some wildlife. We saw lots of rainbow trout, which grow quite large, and Kiwis, though they are nocturnal flightless birds. After that, we went to the thermal springs and geysers and watched shows about the Maori heritage. The photos tell a better story than my words so I’ll let you look at those pictures. The bus driver, Andy, was so kind and he loved telling me all about the country, especially the special relationship with the Aussies. He is a fascinating man, but sadly he lost his wife to an aneurism 14 years ago and he still mourns his loss. Bianca, from Germany, picked up to live here without knowing a soul a year ago. She has a great vibrant spirit. She took a long drive to the caves to see glow-worms on the ceiling. She thought it was nice but too much money for too long of a drive. Two girls from Korea came down for holiday. They went to a sheep shearing show that they did not care for that much. Oh, the colors of the green landscape is invigorating.

We had an uneventful ride home and it was quite a pleasant day. Then I had to update my blog, which was difficult to do as I’m on the road. Cheers!

Oh, yes, it goofs me up to know that the American SuperBowl is on Monday, February 8th. Also the daylight stays around until after 9 p.m. This is certainly an outdoor culture.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

Los Angeles

I am taking a walk on the cliff walk where some of Los Angeles’ most stately houses are located. So many people are friendly to me. Friendly people make me friendly. The dogs are also very comfortable in approaching me. Small, but perfectly landscaped recreational parks dot the village roads. The vegetation in the gardens contains unusual fauna. It seems that neighbors really take care of their property and maybe engage in some competition. Beautiful views of the Pacific are seen along the pathways. I like this because everyone can take in the beauty, not just the wealthy residents. The wealthy can manufacture beauty and all people pursue beauty. As I return to campus I notice that the neighboring streets are named for Jesuit Universities. The downside of the day was watching the Jets win. What happened to the Bengals?

Travel to Hawaii.

The flight was very satisfactory. I could not rest my head against the window to take a nap because they are scorching hot from the sun even though the outside temperature was listed as -56 Fahrenheit. I watched 500 days of Summer, which was excellent. It began by saying that it was not a love story. They told the truth. I also watched District Nine. It is not one that I recommend, but there is a decent subtext about how we treat refugees. Even the best of us treat refugees as alien life forms who are a drain on society. This is why immigration is having such a difficult public discourse. I do highly recommend Precious. It is a difficult story to see, but it makes us so much more human if we look at how some people are actually forced to live their lives.


I was given a beautiful lei as I stepped into the airport terminal and was greeted by my host, Dave Travers. Thirty LMU swimmers from the girls’ team saw my lei and asked me a provocative question. They would be scandalized if they knew I am a Jesuit. We visited the military bases and grabbed such lunch. We had dinner at Zippy’s with some parishioners from Sts. Peter and Paul Church. The next morning we ate at the Pancake House and was served by an enthusiastic waitress. I loved my pineapple pancakes and corned-beef omelette. Later that day I went to the Mauna Loa mall and looked at some rather classy Reyn Spooner shirts. I’m grateful to Al Groskopf, SJ for the shirts he gave me. He found them for a buck at goodwill. People give me directions by street names, but they are not spelled the way they sound.

I feel sad that Hawaii has no professional sports affiliation. All the television shows and games are finished by the time it is time to watch television at night. I do like how every public building is wide open. No glass windows are needed. Al fresco living is the way to go. We had dinner at a restaurant called (Anna Miller’s). It is a Dutch restaurant with a wide variety of pies – their specialty. Dave Travers, SJ was a great host. I regret that I could not get to the Arizona memorial. The small ferry boats are being painted and are out of commission for two weeks. Sad to know that the Patriots lost. The ball just did not bounce their way. They are still better than the Baltimore Ravens.

Travel to Auckland.

I had very comfortable seats with plenty of leg room. The 10 hour trip was very tolerable. My mind adjusted to the duration of the flight and I read several books – Dan Harrington’s Jesus and Prayer (2009), William Martin’s Back Bay (1979), A Child deserves Respect (1929), Dave Fleming’s To Whom Do We Belong?, and several pamphlets and articles. I wish I actually brought more to read for my flight from Sydney to Auckland. The stewards on Qantas are very beautiful. For one, this was her last flight as she leaves to get married. The stewards’ beauty from the flight from Qantas to Auckland radiates through their smiles. I sat next to a Catholic woman named Sue who promised me dinner with her two Monsignor friends. The International Date Line change does a job on your mind. This will take some adjustments.

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand is hilly, like Holy Cross, but steeper; first class city with lots of young people; saw Dunkin Donuts and felt right at home. The temperatures are great. This is a climate in which the strong sun doesn’t affect me. The air is not so humid. I could easily live here. It is 9:00 p.m. and still has some vestiges of daylight. The parks are well-kept and the residents take pride in their city. The people are very friendly to me. I just have to keep remembering to walk on the left hand side of the street. I get annoyed back home when I try to stay as far to the right as I can and someone approaching from the other direction bumps into me. People give you space here and if they bump into you, they say, “Sorry or pardon me.” I like this type of civility.

My hosts are terrific. Msgr. David Tonks is so pleasant and affable. Msgr. Bernard Kiely is also very kind. They love the Red Sox caps I bought them. Two other priests from the Philippines live here as well. They were taught by Jesuits with whom I lived in Cambridge at Weston.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Photos: More Pics of LA at LMU

To see photos of more pics of LA at LMU, please click on the link below:

More Photos of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles

January 8, 2010

I walked around Loyola Marymouth University with my camera in hand because it is such a grand campus to behold. The campus is stunning as it sits atop a bluff that overlooks the former Hughes airstrip. From my room I can see the Pacific Ocean and the metropolis of L.A. It is actually nicer than many of the photos I have previously seen of the city.

I met some old friends here. I met the incoming class of tertians for the California program. I really enjoyed our many discussions. In fact, our dinner lasted over 2 hours at table. I'm grateful that I have the time to just spend time with them. The LMU community is extremely kind and hospitable and daily Mass with them is a treat. The campus is quiet until today when students return for the spring semester. Being a visitor allows me to see the goodness and graciousness of my brothers.

I walked my 10,000 steps (five miles a day) using my pedometer. It allowed me to check out the surrounding neighborhood. So many of the houses are very comfortable and well-kept, but I can't say that I would trade my life as a Jesuit at all for those comforts. I like that our lives are about our mission for the Lord, not for ourselves. I am grateful that I am learning to be open to all that the Lord is asking of me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Photos: Loyola Marymount University - Los Angeles

To see photos of a Loyola Marymouth, please click on the link below:

Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles

I'm off

January 7, 2010

I left Portland, Maine for Los Angeles, CA yesterday. As I look back on my last weeks, I am aware of all the transitions that Iam facing: leaving my ministry, community, community house, friends, colleagues, professional relationships. I had to pack all my possessions and place them in storage. I find it amazing how much your imagination and consciousness tries to settle itself into stability and permanence. And, off I go as part of my Jesuit life and formation. I pray that God send me plenty of graces to keep me open to deepening my relationship with the Lord and with my Jesuit brothers as we learn how to serve him more freely.

The flight from Portland to Newark, NJ was fine. As I walked up the stairs from the airport gate, I was greeting by at least 20 priests at the top of the stairs. This is not a sight that is often seen. There must be a convocation in Rome as I can tell there are many other priests in mufti (in plain clothes) who are ready to board the flight to Rome.

I arrived in Los Angeles early after another steady flight and I enjoyed the warm temperatures. John Murphy, S.J. collected me and brought me to Loyola Marymouth University. After a tour of the campus in the dark, I had a beer and retired. From the bedroom balcony, I can faintly make out the horizon and I can't wait to see the landscape when I awake tomorrow morning.