Saturday, June 3, 2017

"Rev. Fuller is not your average Roman Catholic Priest."

Rev. Fuller created the St. Mary Magdalene, the First Apostle Catholic Faith Community. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Rev. Fuller is not your average Roman Catholic priest

..."Rev. Fuller, who isn’t too concerned about canon law and Vatican pronouncements, remains focused on her mission: “to foster loving, supportive communities where all are welcomed at the table.” On the invitation to the inaugural mass, she describes St. Mary Magdalene as a “radically reform, inclusive parish that celebrates all sacraments and serves the community while working for gender equity and social justice for every woman, man and child.”

Rev. Fuller believes that too many people – the LGBTQ community, and divorced and remarried Catholics – have been made to feel like second-class Catholics for too long.

Jeff Doucette, pastor at Dunbarton-Fairport United Church, says his own ministry is totally aligned to Rev. Fuller’s vision of inclusiveness. “When I heard Roberta needed a place, I immediately wanted to support her. I felt confident that our board would agree, and I was right. They voted unanimously to allow her to celebrate mass here.”

Homily for Pentecost by Dick Vosko: "It's Getting Warm in Here"

Pentecost A June 4, 2017 – It’s Getting Warm in Here

Click here for today’s biblical texts

A recent issue of Sports Illustrated published a story on Jeffrey Glasbrenner who lost his leg as a young boy while working on the family farm. In the hospital, another boy, in the adjacent bed, was dying of cancer. His mother said to Jeffrey’s mother, You can “raise him to be independent, or raise him to need everyone around him for the rest of his life.” [1]

Traditionally, on the feast of Pentecost, we analyze the meanings behind the graphic images of hurricane force winds and descending tongues of fire. We imagine a group of people with overlapping questions. What’s next? How do we do it? Would their mission, to establish unity among God’s people, be an independent campaign or a movement that would depend on a partnership with others?

Let’s first look at the imagery. The driving wind described in the reading from Luke/Acts echoes God’s presence in several Hebrew scriptures — the radiant sunshine that would come after raging storms. There is the warmth of hope and a new creation emerging from frightening times.

The reference to fiery tongues suggests, in a modern day context, that we have moved away from the scattered, independent communities, described in the text as a cacophony of diverse voices, toward unification by the Spirit. [2] No one person, no one religion, no one country can survive alone on this fragile planet. Solidarity and interconnectivity fill us with blessings, gladness and new life the Spirit.

Although in John’s gospel the reception of the Spirit occurs on the day Jesus was raised from the dead, it is celebrated, as we do, fifty days after the resurrection. Pentecost is a word Christians borrowed from Greek speaking Jews and occurs at the same time our Jewish friends celebrate their second greatest feast, Shavuot, a commemoration of the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. This year these two feasts occur during Ramadan the month of fasting and prayer on the Muslim calendar.

As a trinity of religions, linked by common ancestors, we are distinct but not separate in our peace seeking efforts. Our task is to foster unity and love among all people, and even among nations. As Christians we give primary attention to what human beings have in common and what promotes unity among us. [3]

President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw our country from the Paris climate agreement presents another viewpoint on how people might work together. Two of the president’s top advisors wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the president has “a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” [4]

This executive decision is of concern for Christians and others because it contradicts the story and the spirit of Pentecost that extol working together to solve problems, to move forward, to make progress. The Spirit in that upper room did not suggest that the mission of Jesus should be kept a secret or, that it was to serve only a select few.

Ironically, tomorrow, June 5th, is World Environment Day, a United Nations initiative to raise awareness around climate justice. It could be a day when, as a Christian church birthed in the spirit of Easter and Pentecost, we recommit ourselves to the reduction of our own carbon footprints.

We can undertake the mission of Jesus alone or with the help of everyone around us. Jeffrey Glasbrenner, the subject of that sports story, grew up to become a world class athlete and the first American amputee to scale Mt. Everest. He did not do it alone.


1 Murphy, Austin. “Peak Performer” in Sports Illustrated May 8, 2017, 27

2 DeBona, Guerric. Between the Ambo and the Altar: Biblical Preaching and the Roman Missal Year A. (Collegeville: Liturgical Press) 2013, 147-48

3 The Vatican Two Ecumenical Council, “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (October 28, 1965) No. 1

4 McMaster, HR & Cohn, G. “America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone” in the Wall Street Journal. May 30, 2017

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Pentecost – June 3, 2017 Co-Presiders: Kevin Connelly, Janet Blakeley, ARCWP & Sally Brochu, ARCWP

left to right: Sally Brochu ARCWP, Kevin Connelly, Janet Blakeley ARCWP

Music Ministers: Mindy Lou Simmons & Russ Banner

Mindy Lou Simmons, Music Minister

Lectors: Pat and Bob MacMillan

GATHERING SONG : “Spirit of Life” – written by Carolyn McDade

Spirit of Life, come unto me!

Sing in my heart, all the stirrings of compassion,

blow in the wind, rise in the sea,

move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.

Roots hold me close, wings set me free,

Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
Presider: In the name of God, our Creator, of Christ, our liberator, and of the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom.

ALL: Amen.

Presider: My sisters and brothers, God is with you! ALL: And also with you.

Presider: As we celebrate the life-giving, life-changing day of Pentecost, let us pray:

Gentle Spirit, you who birthed the cosmos, ever expanding, every system in perpetual motion, breathe your life, that fire of love and being, into each of us each day. Let your life in us transform us that we can experience your love fully. Thank you for tending to your light within us and sustaining that light in our souls. Amen.

Presider: Creator God to whom all hearts are open, no desires unknown, and from whom no secrets can be hidden, cleanse our hearts by the inspiration of Holy Wisdom.

ALL: We take your Word into our minds and hearts. Open them to new understanding.

Presider: We ask for the grace to continually acknowledge our need to grow in goodness and caring for ourselves, for others and for our earth, and all the while to be Jesus for others and to meet Jesus in others.

ALL: We accept your love and understanding of the frailty of our human nature.

Presider: And we join with you, Jesus the Christ, believing the strength and insight of the Holy Spirit will lead us to deeper dedication to justice, equality and peace in our world. ALL: Amen.
(All raise hands extended in prayer)

Presider: Let us pray to the God of unchanging love for us.

ALL: Oh God, make us quick to see where and when we block your loving Spirit and thereby slow down the progress of creation to its completion in you. And when we find it hard to forgive, help our egos to step aside and allow your Spirit to flow. Amen.


ALL: (sung) Glory to God, glory, O praise and alleluia. Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (3x)

First Reading: Acts 2: 1-11 (Response: Thanks be to God)

Responsorial (#806) Psalm 104 “Send forth your Spirit, O God, and renew the face of the earth”

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13 (Response: Thanks be to God)

Gospel Acclamation: ALLELUIA! (sung)

Gospel: A reading from the Gospel according to John 20: 19-23 (Response: Glory and praise to Jesus, the Christ)

Homily Starter: Janet Blakeley
Janet Blakeley, homily

If we were asked to describe Pentecost, it would probably be in terms of these strange phenomena that happened – the loud wind, an ability to speak in other languages, and of course the flames of fire that came to rest on the disciples’ heads. Don’t forget that Jesus must have walked through a wall in order to be in their midst.  And of course the holy Spirit was received that day.
So it was surprising and odd to read the familiar Gospel and come to the last sentence of Jesus
“If you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven.  If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”
What was that doing there?!  A little research showed that the sentence was there from the earliest texts, so although it seems like an add on, it must belong there.
My prayer was to know what of this Gospel God would like to highlight and, by the way, what was that last sentence doing there?
God has an efficient way of communicating with me.  A picture is worth a thousand words, I see pictures.  In this case, I was shown Jesus, who is recognizable by his rather full, brown robe, seen from the side looking at a man – only this man was smaller than Jesus and shrinking fast!  He was twisting and turning, trying to avoid the gaze of Jesus because clearly he felt guilty about something.  Jesus just stood there, unmoving, but his eyes sent out love, and his stance was welcoming.  The little man continued to avoid looking at Jesus, and yet it seemed he had put himself there on purpose.  The man twisted and Jesus stood there, his robe puffing up as he seemed to fill even more with love.
How or when it happened I don’t know, but suddenly the man was being embraced by Jesus who was nearly bursting with love, and the man was full-sized again and happy!  It seemed as if they hadn’t seen each other for a long, long time, and were thrilled to be together again!
Where was the guilt?  Where was the sin that caused this man to be afraid?  It was gone from one instant to the next!  It no longer existed!  In fact, it seemed that for Jesus it never existed!
Then I understood that God’s love for people is the totality of what God offers us. We may hesitate to approach God… but GOD IS unchanging love toward us.  In fact, when we allow ourselves to receive God’s embrace, there is no sin or sorrow remaining.  It vanishes the instant we fall into God’s arms and receive the love. That’s what Jesus is offering on Pentecost.  His desire is that we receive it and administer it – pass it on.
I do not believe for one minute that, with these words, Jesus is ordaining the disciples and empowering them and later disciples to hear confessions and give absolution.  And I do not believe that when one person refuses to forgive another for all eternity that the person is condemned to remain unforgiven.  What I do believe is that Jesus is telling the disciples and us – that we may either forgive people and allow God’s love to flow freely through us, or refuse to forgive and block the flow of God’s love.
The impact of this is not only on the individuals involved – its impact reaches into eternity.  If God’s long-range plan is for a kin-dom, and this is the way it is to be built, then we put up a roadblock to the progress of God’s plan.  With these last words of today’s Gospel, Jesus is giving us the means to make the kin-dom come – or not.
Now – having seen the sadness of a penitent vanish the moment he fell into the arms of Jesus, I wonder if it’s even correct to say that God forgives.  Because at no time is there a pause in love us.  God never withholds, love or sets requirements.  Those are human maneuvers, not godly, because by nature, God is merciful – all the time.
Even though Jesus knew that human egos have the power to withhold love, he entrusted us with his own loving Spirit. This was the paramount gift Jesus gave us. It has raised us to a new level of being.  It has included us in the work of God.  It is gift and responsibility.
Now we see that all the happenings of Pentecost were attention-getters.  Like the blast of trumpets announcing the arrival of a dignitary, they heralded the coming of the Spirit.  Now we see that the last sentence of the Gospel was not just an add-on: It was the whole point of Pentecost!  Forgive and the world will grow and evolve in God’s love.  Withhold forgiveness and the world will remain bogged down in its own unhappiness.
Oh God – make us quick to see where, when and why we block your loving spirit and thereby slow down the progress of creation to its completion in you.  When we find it hard to forgive, help our egos to step aside and allow your spirit to do the forgiving from within us.
We are the cup.
You are the wine.

Profession of Faith:

ALL: We believe in God, the Creator of the Universe, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to love and serve without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all circles of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world. We believe we are light to the world.

Presider: We are people of faith. We believe in the power of prayer. Some of us struggle to understand why there is so much suffering in our world, often caused by one person’s inhumanity to another. Yet, we believe that we send blessings to those who are struggling and who need to experience hope, to those who are grieving and need to be comforted in their loss, to those who are facing medical challenges that they be granted hope and healing. We bring the needs of people throughout our world to our gracious God.

After each intercession, the response is: Loving God, hear our prayer.

For what else shall we pray?
Presider: Healing God, you faithfully listen to our prayers. Strengthen us as we strive to respond to the needs of your people and work for justice and positive change in our world. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.
Offertory Song: “Gather Me Under Your Wings” – by Kathryn Christian

Gather me under your wings,

Shelter me from the rain,

Mother me, comfort me, hold me,

Here is my heart, O God.
PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS – (Please join us around the altar)

Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Pray my friends that as we celebrate this breaking of bread and blessing of wine we accept more fully the mission of our Church by actively living our response to God’s call.

ALL: May our gracious God accept these gifts for the praise and glory of God’s name, for our good, and for the good of all our Church.
Presider: God is always with you. ALL: And also with you.

Presider: Together, we lift up our hearts. ALL: Together, we lift them up to God.

Presider: Together, we give thanks to our gracious God. ALL: Indeed it is right to constantly give thanks and praise.
Voice 1: Gracious God, source and sustenance of life, redeeming presence to the pain and brokenness of our world, Holy Spirit who enlivens all that exists, we beseech your healing power to come upon us and all for whom we pray today. We join together with our community, with all creation everywhere, with all those who have gone before us and live in the eternal now (Names of our loved ones…………)

Let us sing:

ALL: We are holy, holy, holy (x3), we are whole. (You, I, We) By Karen Drucker
Voice 2: We ask you to enliven anew in our hearts the empowering grace of your abundant Spirit, who infuses for us these gifts of bread and wine with the transforming energy of life, to nourish and sustain us in all times and especially in times of need.

(Please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together.)

ALL: Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, Jesus took bread and gave you thanks. He broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and said: take this, all of you, and eat it; this is my body which will be given up for you.
ALL: When supper was ended, Jesus took the cup. Again he gave You thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said, take this all of you, and drink it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.

Presider: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:

ALL: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Voice 3: (Please place your hand on the shoulder of the person to your right)

As we gather around this Eucharistic table, we recall God’s blessing and love from ages past, and we celebrate anew the gift we share among us at this Eucharistic feast. May the Spirit of life and wholeness, who transforms the gifts we present, transform us too, that we may be refreshed in our inner being and be empowered to bring mercy, love and healing to those whose lives we touch and who are Jesus to us.
Voice 4: Remember gracious God, your Church throughout the world; make us open to receive all believers. We join with all God’s people, with our community, with Bridget Mary our Bishop, and with Francis our Pope.
Voice 5: Grant that, in union with all peoples living and dead, we may strive to create a world where suffering and pain are diminished, where justice and peace are restored, and where all people can live without fear, in health and wholeness. May we all be united in acclaiming the God of Life, whose abundance is offered to each and to all, ‘til the Kin-dom arrives in the fullness of time.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, gracious God, forever and ever. Amen (sung).

Presider: Let us join hands and raise our voices as we say the Prayer Jesus taught us:

ALL: Our Father and Mother…….

Presider: Deliver us, God, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us holy in your sight and protect us from all anxiety and fear. We watch and wait, discerning signs that You are continually with us.

ALL: Amen.


Presider: Jesus, You said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you. My peace I give you.” Look on the faith of all and grant us the peace and unity of your kin-dom where you live forever and ever. ALL: Amen.
Presider: May the peace of our gracious and loving God be always with you. ALL: And also with you. Let us offer each other a sign of peace.


Presider: Loving God,

ALL: You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.

Presider: Loving God,

ALL: You call us to be the presence of Jesus in the world. We will love tenderly.

Presider: Loving God,

ALL: You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presiders: This is Jesus, who through the power of the Spirit, liberates, heals and transforms our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. ALL: We are the Body of Christ.
Communion: Instrumental by Mindy

After Communion Reflection – “Linger Lovingly” by Carmel Boyle (Words are on last page)

Presider: May wonder, gratitude and thanksgiving fill us, may compassion fully fill our hearts, that you may heal the numbness that continues because of our society’s injustices. May we each know that we are loved and may we continue to be the face of God to each other. Amen.

Prayers of Gratitude, Introductions, Announcements

Presider: May God be with you. ALL: And also with you.

Presider: Let us call upon our gracious God as we share blessings with each other. We bless one another and pledge to live the Gospel of Christ. ALL: Amen.


(Everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing.)

ALL: May our gracious God, bless us all gathered here, in the name of God our Creator, in the name of Jesus our strength, in the name of the Holy Spirit our Wisdom, as we care and minister to one another in love, for we are the Body of Christ and the face of God to the world. Amen.

Presider: Go in the peace of Christ. Let our Spirit-filled service continue!

ALL: Thanks be to God.

CLOSING HYMN: “Take the Word of God With You As You Go” – Christopher Walker
Take the word (peace, joy, love) of God with you as you go,

Take the seeds of God’s word (peace, joy love) and make them grow.

Go in peace to serve the world, in peace to serve the world,

Take the love of God, the love of God, with you as you go.
Linger Lovingly

by Carmel Boyle
Linger lovingly, a little longer,

touch this moment, breath this now,

Linger lovingly, a little longer,

let the Spirit breath in you now.
Repeat refrain
Veni Sancte Spiritus,

Touch our hearts, touch our minds.

Veni Sancte Spiritus,

With gentle breeze, lead our way.
Refrain x2
Veni Sancte Spiritus,

Be in our hearts, be in our words,

Veni Sancte Spiritus,

With tongues of fire, light our way.
Refrain x2
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Veni Sancte Spiritus

"Linger Lovingly" by Carmel Boyle, Beautiful Pentecost Hymn, Rejoice and May the Love of the Holy Spirit Within You Fill Your Hearts With Joy and Peace!

Spain ATE: The Day Has Arrived: Women and the Diaconate

Pope Francis' Prayer: Stop the "Merchants of Death"

"The 10 countries with the highest military spending accounted for nearly 73 percent of the total, and five are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: The United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom. The others are Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.
The U.S. military’s bill last year rose to $611 billion, almost three times as much as China’s, which was the second highest at $215 billion. America’s military spending is larger than the next 8 biggest military spenders combined, and President Donald Trump has promised to increase the budget even further..."
“There are so many dark strategic, industrial, and political interests that result in the death of so many innocent victims around the world,” he (Pope Francis) said. “Do we know which industries in our countries benefit from the arms trade?”

Profiles on Social Media Will be Considered When Applying for Visa to the U.S. by Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP

"Where I Sit is Holy" by Shaina Noll

"The Frenzied Adventures of the Frozen Yogurt Fiend (and Felonious Faithful)" by Katie Meehan April 18, 2012, Enjoy! this fun story by my niece!

Bridget Mary Meehan enjoying her favorite soft ice cream at McDonald's
(Note: I was an Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister- Immaculata, PA. in 1995 I transferred to Sisters for Christian Community)

In her former life, she was a nun. Now, she’s an outlaw. More importantly, she has loved and will always love ice cream.
She’s the eternal optimist. My father and uncle, her only siblings, are quintessential pessimists. They try their best to bring down my aunt at any possible chance.
“Dear Heart.” Uh-oh. That phrase is a red flag. Except, of course, Aunt Mary never really gets mad or annoyed- at least not enough to admit it.
The full-length sundress twirls through the kitchen. She doesn’t cook, just prepares. She sets out her father’s dinner then goes about dropping his pills into the opaque medicine box. Sixteen for each day… six after breakfast, three after lunch, three after dinner, and three before bedtime. She hums as she works.
Her car is small… a regular piece of shit, nicknamed by my father, the Jap Trap. The soothing sounds of the spiritual soul plays softly on her radio. It’s literally torture. Danny and I roll our eyes a hundred times over. We look over at her and giggle. She has to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel.
A heretic, really. She’s committed crimes against the Catholic faith with her social justice programs and community outreach projects. She’s an imposter. The impersonator of priests.
She backed into a wall once while parking on an empty street in Ireland. Afterwards, my best friend and I convinced her to drink with us. One Guinness later, she bid us adieu but not before leaving us twenty euros and sashaying out of the dingy pub with a crooked smile. At the door, she spun around and gave us a mischievous wink. We nodded knowingly and turned back to our Bulmers at the bar.
Her diet consists of power bars, diet coke, and McDonald’s frozen yogurt. She’ll walk for miles to get Mickey D’s frozen yogurt.
There are stuffed bears along the aisles. Her parishioners are smiling and waving me over. Dreading more social interaction, I slink over and nod as they all tell me, “your aunt is a saint.” I smile obligingly.
She was excommunicated the day I graduated from very same high school she attended two decades earlier. The ceremony was held in the National Shrine and she sat patiently, beatifically in the fourth row. I can’t imagine how she felt sitting within the very building at the heart of her faith and the enemy to her cause.
Dick, her friend, came to Thanksgiving a few years ago. His dyed black hair, his gray beard, and white soul patch were a real sight to see. He smiled longingly at my aunt as my Uncle Pat mimicked the look behind him. Aunt Mary never noticed and denied the crush. “He’s a dear, sweet man. You know, his wife died three years ago. She had an amazing soul.”
I splash-kicked water into her face, accidentally, of course. She had already given up on keeping her hair dry. Danny, my younger brother, laughs and cries, “Let’s play cops and robbers!” We scream “Not it!,” and rush to opposite sides of the pool as my aunt wades out towards us.
She’s a dancing fool. Every wedding, every wake, all parties… She’ll dance by herself or whoever she finds. She doesn’t care. The Irish jigs really get her going.
She is short, about 4’9. Her platinum blonde bob frames a pair of soft blue eyes. She wears long, flowing dresses, chunky sandals, and an oversized floppy hat during the summer. In colder weather, she opts for bulky sweaters and tights under long skirts and wool dresses. 
We packed up the whole family one Friday and drove up to Pittsburgh. We made a weekend of the ordination. That Saturday and a few loopholes later, my aunt was ordained a woman priest in the Roman Catholic Church. We took her out to dinner and my dad bought her roses.
I set up her Facebook for her. She bought me a Starbucks card for it and offered twenty days worth of praise for my social networking skills. She updates about ten times a day with articles or Bible verses that inspire her. Giddy with her technological abilities, she posts videos of my grandfather playing trumpet every week.
When I was eight, she made me teach her moves from my Irish dancing class. We’d spend hours perfecting the reels, hops, and lead backs on the cool, tiled floor of the darkened basement.
They knew the regulars at McDonald’s. (They were regulars at McDonald’s). Laura was a nice little old lady. We saw her at 6 pm every time we visited until one day, we didn’t see her. Intercessions went up to God and we dedicated our mealtime prayers to Laura. Aunt Mary bought an extra cone for old time’s sake.
Her voice is soft but her laugh is shrill. What’s worse is that she can’t carry a tune to save her life. She’s utterly hopeless. But still, she insists on singing.
She swims every day she can. My grandfather plays the trumpet for her on the sidelines in his baseball cap and baggy Hawaiian shirt as she splices through the water in their cheerful pool. The chestnut tree casts a shadow the length of the pool but she reapplies her SPF 75 four times every hour.
When we were younger, we’d play all sorts of games. Cinderella involved a pair of tattered old heels and many attempts to jam it onto all of our feet. For awhile, when I was very young, Mother Eagle was my favorite game. We’d race around the yard to protect and feed our baby birds. We’d coax our sometimes-willing beautiful black, brown, and white mutt, Belle, into a nest of pool tubes, old towels, and flower petals as we threw sticks and wiffle balls to her. Belle just lay down and sighed. She was a good sport, though.
The first time she drank, my aunt was 18 and at the convent. The nuns were watching some godawful John Wayne movie. She thought the cheap wine would taste like ice cream. By the next morning, she realized that she had been sorely mistaken, as she nursed her killer hangover.
Belle knew two words: “walk” and “McDonalds.” Aunt Mary was relentless in providing her already bulging frame with juicy double cheeseburgers. Whenever my dad and mom would grumble about it, she would reply: “Well, she likes them. And she wants them. I can’t help that she expects them now.”
She introduced Danny and me to Starbucks. Enough said.
She’d rather speak to me than my father who jumps down her throat every time they talk about this. She doesn’t want to put her father, my grandfather, in a nursing home. She just couldn’t. I understand
When Danny was younger, she’d trick him into holding her ice cream cone as she licked up the drips. Danny watched, dumbfounded, perplexed, as his cone was gingerly handed back to him, half eaten.
She cried once… on the phone. The next day, I had convinced my father to fly down to Florida with me to see him one last time. He recovered that time but I know the cycle will continue. When we arrived, haggard and wide-eyed, she hugged me, held me for a minute and refused to let go. I waited awkwardly, but patiently.
Turquoise, teal, navy, seafoam, robin’s egg, periwinkle, royal… Blue is her signature color. Occasionally, some green and purple pop out like a black squirrel.
She wears necklaces with bejeweled and rhinestone crosses the size of a fist. They rest above her pale breastbone.
She loves the Beatles.
She prayed fervently when her favorite president died… the Irish-American one. One wall in the basement is devoted to him: it bears a framed portrait of a young Jack Kennedy. A wooden crucifix is placed tenderly above it.
Years ago, she attended a St. Patrick’s Day dinner with Grandpa. She was invited to the White House by her idol. That night, my grandfather was kissed by an angel (Roma Downey) and she met and laughed with her feminist partner in crime, Hilary Rodham Clinton. I can guarantee from that framed picture in her bedroom that they laughed a little too hysterically for me.
The stock market arguments waft into the dining room where I’m trying to read. They never agree but my dad and aunt will spend hours nitpicking stock and bond choices the other has made. Afterwards, they stand a little closer and smile more.

After our near-death experience on the Irish Sea, we lost our appetites (and our lunch). I was squeezed in between my grandmother and mom, both stridently vomiting into the bags that the sailor had passed out earlier. When my father asked if they’d ever experienced such bad turbulence, the sailor answered that he’d been on a boat ride like this… but never with passengers. He promptly ran to the side of the ship and puked into the gray water. I looked over at my brother, nestled comfortably beside my aunt and grandfather. He glanced up from his Gameboy at all the hung-over college kids struggling a few rows in front of him and smirked. He went right back to playing his game. My grandfather was panicking and my aunt calmed him by swiftly pulling out about ten rosaries and handing them to all the passengers near her. My dad looked over and rolled his eyes. He had taken the incapacitated sailor’s job of passing out bags to the sick. He was currently instructing one aforementioned college kid to open his unconscious friend’s mouth so that she wouldn’t choke to death on her own vomit. My aunt settled in, crossed herself, and started the rosary. Her little voice chirped, rattling off the Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, and the first three Hail Mary’s. Each word got louder and several strangers joined in. My aunt offered a few words of solace… something about dying together. My father whipped around, nostrils flaring. “Shut up, Mary! We’re not going to die! I’m not dying without Pat!” A Midwestern woman who my aunt had befriended was appalled and spoke up, “You can’t speak that way to a nun!” My dad glared at the lady and yelled, “I can say whatever I want to her… She’s my Goddamn sister!,” before storming out of the little cabin into the miserable rain. My aunt turned to the lady and smiled, oblivious to my father’s recent outburst; she said, “Oh no. Now, I’m a priest.” Three hours later, we arrived at the dirty port and stumbled onto dry land. My aunt said her goodbyes to her newfound friends and exchanged contact information. She walked over to the van and slid back the door. “They were lovely people. Sean, do you think we could stop at a McDonald’s? I could really go for some frozen yogurt.”