Who Believes in Santa Anymore?
Dear Editor: I continue to believe and teach my kids to believe. St. Nicholas (15 March 270–6 December 343) lived and loved and died.
But St. Nick spread his spirit all over and in abundance, and on the lives. Every parent, every celebrant that gives anybody any gift in the spirit of the Christmas season is a true bit of evidence that the belief is well-founded. With every gift, St. Nick’s spirit grows. That’s what I believe.
Not a popular belief, though, because of an aversion to reflect on what beliefs St. Nick held. He believed in God, the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. And yes, all those beliefs mean that you have to act like you have free will and the capacity for evil, and the responsibility for everyone around you.
Faith is a wild thing, my father used to say. I pray for it.
Nothing else matters. To believe a thing is so in the absence of fact, and to act on that belief. Whew. Radio waves, electrical energy, Santa Claus, spirituality.
And my church carries on. Not slouching towards Bethlehem, but continuing to exist and influence and spread love. I love her because the church was a gift from Christ. And Christ, a gift from God. The first Christmas gift.
If my friends and I stop believing in the base reasons for Christmas, stop believing any of it, the rest will slip away, generation by generation. That’s what I believe.
I sure hope the Pope’s Christmas Message will be more upbeat than mine.
Daniel D. Maher
The Martyrdom of Four Women Doing God’s Work
Dear Editor: Thank you to the congregation of St. Michael’s, to Msgr. John Vesey, and to Bishop Raymond Chappetto for keeping alive the memory of these four courageous and saintly women — Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford M.M. and Maura Clarke M.M., Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. and lay missionary Jean Donovan (“Murdered Missionaries: No Justice 40 Years Later,” Dec. 12).
The martyrdom of women doing God’s work of helping the poor and working for justice is horrifying enough, but the government-sanctioned brutal rape and murder of these true Christians, following the murder of Archbishop Romero, continues to reverberate in El Salvador, and among all communities who believe in peace and justice. The Church honors them by carrying on their work.
Patricia Egan Hardy
We Need to Be More Like My Neighbor Henry Herte
Dear Editor: We are now in the Christmas season and the rest of the holiday season, and it’s time to help our fellow neighbors.
We live in the most difficult times with this pandemic that is making many sick and many who are dying and yet we must help our neighbors. An old neighbor of mine, Henry Herte, recently died at the age of 96. I just got the news from his son. This I found very sad. I knew his father when I lived in Queens Village in the 50s and the 60s and had fond memories of Henry.
Henry was a good neighbor to my family. My mother had just died in 1963 and I was 14 years old and my father was 72 years old and had health issues. Henry came over and told me I was the man of the house and he showed me what to do to keep the house clean and the property in good order and in good repair.
He also said he would go food shopping for us because we did not have a car and he could go places where he would get things on sale and therefore save us money.
Now when my mother died we had friends and relatives who said, “If you need anything, feel free to call.” But Henry was different—he actually came over to help.
I think he imbued in me a deep sense of responsibility that has stayed with me all of my life. I served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and I dedicated myself to serving in the community and am now the grand knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus in Douglaston.
I feel we need to be more like Henry Herte, willing to go the extra mile and to help our fellow neighbors who are hurting during this pandemic.
I would like to say to Henry, “Thanks for being a good neighbor, mentor and a friend, for you were truly very special indeed, and for that, I say thank you very much.”
Here was a man that was dedicated to the church, family, community, and those in need of kindness. For all that, he is deeply missed by family, friends, and the community.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
The Love and Kindness Shown by the Readers of The Tablet
Dear Editor: How difficult it is to grasp the profound changes that have occurred in our world since this time last year! The emergency of the pandemic has brought hardship, sorrow, pain, and death; yet, we hold fast to the hope that we are held in the hands of a loving and provident God, and that together, we will get through these difficult times.
The last 12 months have brought great changes to Hour Children in the way we do our work. However, the commitment to our mission remains the same — to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives.
Through the introduction of remote programming and mental health support, our mothers and children remain engaged in learning and enrichment, and stay socially connected. We are thrilled to note that in the weeks ahead thirteen of our families will be moving into beautiful, affordable, permanent apartments in Jamaica, Queens. Having done the hard work of re-entry and re-unification, our hope is that they will be able to spend the Christmas holiday together in their new homes.
Although our child care programs for infants and school-aged children were placed on a temporary pause for several months, we were happy to reopen in July. To meet the needs of families whose children receive remote and hybrid education in our public schools, we now provide a full-day academic and enrichment program to nearly 20 children.
In the past year, our food pantry served more people than ever. In past years, it averaged 9,600 individuals over 12 months. To date, in 2020 we have served over 12,000.
Our work in prisons has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Children were not able to visit their mothers for over six months, and have only recently been allowed in on a very limited basis. Since March, our efforts have focused on preparing and delivering care packages to these children and their caregivers.
The changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic prevent us from celebrating our annual Christmas party, an Hour Children tradition since 1986. However, we very much want this holiday to be a time of joy for our mothers and children. It is my hope that the readers of The Tablet, through the Bright Christmas Fund, will help us to purchase clothing, toys, household items, and toiletries for mothers and children who have little and need much. These will be shared with families in our communal homes, children in our child care programs, children across the NYC-metro area whose mothers remain incarcerated, and our neighbors here in Queens.
We wait and pray for better times. We also remember with gracefulness the great love and kindness shown to Hour Children by the readers of The Tablet and hope that your generosity will continue to touch the lives of the women and children we are privileged to serve.
Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, C.S.J.
Long Island City, Queens
Editor’s note: Sister Tesa is the founder and executive director of Hour Children.
Donald Trump Has Kept His Promises
Dear Editor: Steve Trani wrote that Trump has moved “us closer to a dictatorship and a dystopia” (“Moving Closer to a Dictatorship,” Readers’ Forum, Dec. 19). According to Trani, Trump has encouraged chaos wherein we don’t trust media, all the branches of government, people of different races, and political beliefs.
Is this not the same approach as “using evil to fight evil”? My thinking is that Mr. Trani doesn’t watch most liberal media like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC at all. If he did he would have heard almost every single day for four years that Trump is a racist, xenophobic, a white supremacist, a Nazi, Hitler, etc. Almost every single show was devoted to taking him down and the lies were unbelievable. Granted, Trump is not afraid to attack people, but only when they attack him, and he isn’t subtle or refined when he speaks. He is not afraid to speak the truth.
And as for the Democrats creating “a world that will make abortion unthinkable because the economy will be more equitable, the environment will be more hospitable, and different races will feel more respected,” why do they promote and expand abortions and even fight those who try to put restrictions on it?
Who has done more for the economy than Trump, especially for the middle class and poor? As for minorities, let’s not forget opportunity zones, prison reform, school choice (which Democrats fight fearlessly). It is my belief that actions speak louder than words and Trump has certainly kept his promises.