Francis X. Ford, Priest, Bishop and Martyr
Dear Editor: I am writing to thank you for the wonderful coverage of Bishop Francis X. Ford, MM, the wonderful Religious Order priest, bishop, and martyr (“The Heroic Life and Death of Bishop Francis Xavier Ford,” Jan. 16).
For many years my campus ministry predecessor at Bishop Ford CCHS, Brother Damian Novello, had as the themes of his student retreats for freshmen the values of St. Francis and for the sophomores Bishop Ford as a role model. I was able to continue these retreats for the last six years of BFCCHS’s existence. Literally, several thousand students heard of and prayed with these sainted men.
The photos were delightful and captured many aspects of the Maryknoll Evangelization in China. I am especially thrilled that in one photo there was a Maryknoll Sister. Bishop Ford himself said that the Maryknoll Sisters were a key factor in their evangelization endeavors.
To prepare for the 50th jubilee anniversary of this Catholic high school, the principal of Bishop Ford, Frank Brancato and I went to the Maryknoll Sisters’ Motherhouse. There we interviewed two of the sisters who had been with him in China. Sister Pauline Hoffman, MM, was in her middle 90s then, and the other sister whose name I do not recall was actually under house arrest with him at the time of their incarceration. Both sisters are now deceased.
As the interview progressed we understood that that day was actually the 60th anniversary of their release from jail and their expulsion from China. Both Sisters were adamant in telling us that Sister Joan would not leave the incarceration site until she saw the exact place where Bishop Ford had been buried.
These sisters had a deep love for the Chinese people and were grateful to God for their new Religious Order of Maryknoll and their personal vocations.
Father Raymond Finch, MM, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and a graduate of Bishop Ford DHS, told us at the 50th-anniversary Eucharistic celebration that there was now a new school in Hong Kong named after him. We Franciscan Brothers and all Falcons are grateful for that.
Again, thank you for the coverage, and also for recommending the Bishop Ford Guild to your readers.
Brother Tom Barton, OSF
He Treated Everyone With Kindness and Humor
Dear Editor: I would like to say a few words about Father James Fraser, who passed away recently (“Final Farewell to Brooklyn Priest Remembered as ‘Kind, Compassionate,’ ” Obituaries, Feb. 6).
I had the privilege of meeting Father Jim when I became principal of Holy Trinity School in Whitestone in 1997. He was a sweet and gentle priest, who treated everyone with kindness and humor.
He was always available to listen and guide anyone who was experiencing challenges and difficulties. He enjoyed talking about good old Brooklyn along with his love of sports, the Mets and the songs of the ’50s. He treated everyone with respect and made me feel very welcomed to the Holy Trinity community.
The students, teachers, and parents loved him for his gentleness of spirit. We kept our friendship after each of us left our positions at Holy Trinity. I am only sorry I did not get to visit him during this past year. May he rest in peace in heaven.
I Applaud and Support Pro-lifers’ Efforts
Dear Editor: In his letter to the editor (“Only With God’s Help Will Our Country Regain Unity,” Readers’ Forum, Feb. 20), Mr. Haggerty uses the phrase, “God-given right to life … ” to evoke all the metaphorical meanings of life: love, joy, laughter, family, and fulfillment.
It was enough to put a tear in the eye of a jaundiced cynic. But, realistically, life itself, a heartbeat, and brain functioning are not enough. Life must have meaning! All the metaphors we attach to the concept of life are due to relationships: other people are what give meaning to life.
Prior to birth, Mr. Haggerty, and an entire community, fueled by the metaphors that are attached to life, fight for the birth of every child. They feel that every child is a gift from God. I applaud and support their effort.
But after birth society says, “Sorry, we only promised you a heartbeat and brain functioning. If you want love, joy, laughter, family, and fulfillment then that is your responsibility. You should have read the fine print!”
So human beings are shot, poisoned by the environment, live in poverty, and oppressed due to gender, race, politics, and economic status. People from South and Central America who come here for an opportunity to give their lives meaning beyond fear and violence are told to go home.
The tragedy of abortion is that human beings have no opportunity to give meaning to their lives. The tragedy of the born is that their relationships and the meaning of their lives are secondary or tertiary to politics, economics, and culture. There are few opportunities for love, joy, laughter, family, and fulfillment that are not framed or influenced by fear.
A heartbeat and brain functioning are not enough. Life must have meaning!
Stephen J. Trani