As the current semester drew to a close at St. John’s University, green grass bloomed under blue skies on the Great Lawn of the school’s Jamaica, N.Y. campus. All that seemed to be missing were the typical throngs of students enjoying that kind of day.
“Where will you be in 10 years?” That is the question I asked those making the Bishop’s Vocation Retreat last month. Of course, there is no way of knowing where we will be in 10 years; in fact, there is no way of knowing where we will be in 10 days. However, this retreat was all about being open to wherever our path could lead.
Almost one year ago, as I was watching the news on television with my parochial vicar, havoc was arising in the city of Minneapolis. Reports were coming in that an unarmed Black man had been killed by a Minneapolis police officer. I watched as protests and riots began to take place.
Every morning, as we wait in the drop-off line at school, my daughter Rose and I share a pack of Belvita breakfast cookies. It’s usually my breakfast, half of it siphoned off by an already fed (but quickly growing) 3-year-old who is about to have quite a full day in her pre-K classroom. I usually don’t mind sharing.
According to legend, this latter goldfinch witnessed Jesus carrying the cross on the path to Golgotha to be crucified. Moved by the intense suffering of the man, the goldfinch alighted atop of Jesus’ head and began to gently pull the thorns out of his head in an effort to ease his suffering.
Msgr. Quinn was a prime example of seeing the goodness in everyone. As a priest, he witnessed many local parishes not ministering to black Catholics, which caused him to have an examination of conscience. This examination of conscience led him to minister to the black Catholic community, ultimately establishing two churches that still stand today.
Over the course of my almost 11 years of priesthood, I can honestly say that Easter Sunday has to be one of my favorite liturgies. There’s something about Easter Sunday that brings about a spirit of welcome and community.
These three gentle men — a doctor, a man with special needs, and a parish priest — reflect the nobility of soul so needed in our world. I say thank you, thank you, thank you. Your lights will shine forever.
It was a year ago on March 14 when the first death from COVID-19 was confirmed in New York City. It was that same date that the Diocese of Brooklyn suspended public Masses and our parishes ceased public worship in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus, deadly to so many.
If there is one thing that humanity has learned to do over the last year, it is to wait. Wait while in quarantine. Wait until we “flatten the curve.” Wait for a vaccine. Wait for an appointment to get vaccinated. Wait to see your loved ones again. Wait for the economy to open again.