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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homily for Sunday April 21

First, it is good to see everybody back.  Words to describe this past week cannot be found, neither are there words adequate to describe the pride and love I have for this community.  

As we gather in prayer this evening, we also want to be sure to pray for the victims of this past week: the 4 killed, the many injured and those terrorized in Watertown.

We also need to remember in our prayers the victims of the fire in Texas and the earthquake in China.

We should also be offering prayers of thanksgiving for the first responders, race volunteers and others who jumped in to provide assistance and first aid to those injured on Monday, as well as for those who law enforcement who worked so hard to bring all of this to a close.

Finally, please pray for Chancellor Grossman.  She is with family gathering with family at the bedside of her mother who is dying in a Florida hospital.
At our first Sunday Mass of the Fall semester I preached on two themes that the readings that day focused on: fear and community.  

I stated that fear can be paralyzing, it prevents us from loving and prevent us from being human. 

To overcome fear, I said, we need community.  A community supports one another, helps us overcome fear and allows us to live in love and friendship with one another and with God.

The stronger our bond with one another, the stronger our bond with God.  We become more connected and rooted to the One who is forever and unchanging.  

That is why it is so important for us to be back on campus.  We cannot and will not live in fear.  We cannot and will not live in hate.

We are human; we are not God and at times we will become discouraged, frightened, etc.  That is why we need to gather together.  The phrases we have heard over the last week: unity, one, Boston Strong and more locally, Corsair strong, even the chants of USA are not just feel good words or phrases or attempts to ignore the reality.  They are meant to become expressions of the reality that we are together in a bond of friendship and love.

Like the people in the first reading, we need to gather together to be encouraged as Paul and Barnabas spoke to encourage the community in Antioch.  We need to be reminded that we are not alone, that good will always overcome evil, to remind us of who we are and to live according to that identity and not fear.

As I pulled onto campus this morning, one phrase jumped into my mind.  “Victory is mine!” from Stewie Griffin.  (Hope that isn’t too irreverent, I could have expressed Big Papi’s sentiment!)

But, my friends, that phrase is more appropriate than we may realize.  We are in the season of Easter, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death (a violent death by the way).  It was not just his victory, it is ours! Victory is ours!

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.  An image that comes to mind may seem today irrelevant, soft, maybe wimpy. 

 This is the furthest from the truth.  This Good Shepherd endured the Cross.  He suffered unbelievable pain and suffering.  He suffered injustice, abandonment and betrayal of friends. He suffered excruciating death.
But, we do not live in fear and despair because we are mindful that the story of our redemption and God’s promises did not end on a cross on a hillside outside Jerusalem.  The story continued to new life, to greater glory, to victory over the worst the world could do to someone.  

We have just lived a Good Friday moment, our story doesn’t end there.  We celebrate the victory we share.  Terror, violence and fear do not have control over us, we will not be defined as victims.  We are Americans.  We are Bostonians. We are Corsairs.  We are Children of God.

Evil has once again failed.  This week as we try to return to normal, let us do so together.  Let us remember who we are and take great pride and consolation in that.

The victory is ours!  Amen! Alleluia!

Important Announcment to the UMD Community

We will have Mass at 7PM in the Reflection Room. 
The following Message was just released by the Office of Student Affairs (of which the Religious Resource Center is a part of): 
Message from Student Affairs:
Dear Students,

Welcome back to campus! The UMass Dartmouth faculty, staff, and administration want to reassure you that our campus is safe and that every precaution has been taken to ensure that you are not in danger. We appreciate the strong and sensitive manner in which you have handled yourselves throughout this crisis. We recognize that some of you might still feel ill at ease. We are here to do whatever we can to assist you in your transition back to normalcy.

We, along with your Student Government Association, invite you to join us for an ice cream social tonight at 8:00 in the Living Room of the Claire T. Carney Library. It will be an informal time to relax and provide each other support as we move into finals and the end of the semester.

We are in the process of planning a formal gathering of our community to recognize the recent events and to come together in solidarity. More information will be provided shortly.

Our Counseling Center will be open until 7:00 this evening for anyone who wishes to speak with someone in a more formal setting. Also, our religious leaders will be available at the Religious Resource Center until 7:00 for spiritual support and counsel.

We look forward to seeing you this evening.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

We're Back!

Dear Friends,

Our campus will be open tomorrow (Sunday, April 21).  From the

- Students are welcome to return to campus to access their cars or participate in athletics starting at 9 a.m.

-- UMass Dartmouth residence halls will re-open at noon.

-- Transportation for students staying at the Best Western Hotel will begin at 11 a.m.

-- Campus dining will re-open at noon.

-- We will have a call center open on Sunday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. to answer any questions or concerns you have about returning to campus. Please call 508-999-8000 with your questions.

Also, the Religious Resource Center and the Counseling Center will be open for students who wish to speak with somebody.  I will be there all day and Pastor Neil will be in for part of the day.  Also feel free to stop by just to say hi.  It will be great to see you and talk face to face instead of just Facebook and email communication!

The 1PM Mass will not take place due to staffing concerns for the RRC and being available for returning students.  Mass will be celebrated at 7PM.  We invite you to join us in the Reflection Room as we gather as a community to pray for our community.

Keep checking here or the Campus Ministry Facebook page throughout the week for further information and resources.

This is a very busy week for everybody without the stress of the last few days.  Please know that Sr. Madeleine and I are here to be a resource for you as well as all the faculty and staff.  We are a community, members of a community help one another, not just during the crisis but in the aftermath as well.  Please make use of this community around you in these days and weeks ahead.

Fr. David

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dear Friends...

Dear Friends,

First, thank you.  It has been a surreal, shocking, and emotionally draining day.  The support received literally from around the world has been comforting to our students, faculty and staff.  I am reminded once again of Jesus' words "...where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt. 18:20).  Social media helped us to realize that we are part of a family of faith that knows no physical boundaries. Prayer is a powerful tool and was certainly felt.

All of our students are safe.  Those students who were unable to go home have been set up in housing for the weekend.  They are in good spirits. 

I also found the words of this evening's evening prayer comforting.  From Psalm 135 we prayed, "Praise the Lord for the Lord is good."  As I begin to reflect on today, my thoughts are on the examples of Christ at work throughout the day:  in the law enforcement working so tirelessly to protect us; in the efforts of the University staff who worked so hard during the evacuation to make sure it was calm, orderly and that students felt safe throughout; in the staff and volunteers from the Town of Dartmouth who worked to make the students feel safe and welcome at Dartmouth High; and, again, the outreach of prayers and support from so many. 

My prayers continue for the students, for the victims of Monday's attack, for all those involved in the search in Boston and of course, and of course that the Gospel message of faith, hope and love will take root in our world.

As of right now, the 1PM Mass this Sunday on campus has been cancelled.  We will make a decision about the 7PM as soon as we know more about when the campus will reopen.  Students should feel free to contact me at anytime they wish to either through Facebook or my cell (774-994-7457).  As a priest assigned to UMass Dartmouth, you are my first concern and responsibility, do not hesitate to let me know how I can be of service, even just to be someone you can vent at.

I have always been humbled by this responsibility as well as very proud of UMD.  That pride was reaffirmed today.

Proud to be UMD!
Fr. David

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Homily from Tonight's Mass for Boston

While we are grateful that members of our community here at UMass Dartmouth that were in Boston yesterday are safe and sound, we are also painfully aware of so many who were injured and those who were killed.  One of those killed was possibly a student or graduate of our sister school in Boston. 

I’ve been in touch with Fr. Paul Helfrich, the Chaplain there to let him know of our prayers and support.  On that note, I’ve also expressed your prayers and concerns to Fr. Sean Connor, the pastor of St. Ann’s in Neponset where little Martin Richards and his family go to Church.  Please continue to pray for the victims who are recovering.  

The first reading today tells us of the martyrdom of St. Stephen.  The story gives us an example that human violence towards others is, sadly, nothing new. Yet, we still persevere in hope. Let me share why this is so.

Watching the tragic events unfold yesterday, I was struck that the darkness and chaos was soon overshadowed by the mystery of hope.  Within seconds, first responders, race volunteers and spectators rushed to aid the injured or to help evacuate the area. As the minutes turned into hours, residents of Boston reached out to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who had come into the city to celebrate and found themselves suddenly stranded. As we moved into the evening hours, the airwaves were filled with more and more stories of resilience and compassion.  The message sent out was loud and clear: we will not be defined by the evil in our midst or by the tragedies that occur. We will be defined by hope, compassion, love and strength.

It is Stephen’s ability to remain focused on the glory of God that allows him to persevere in faith and hope, even in the face of martyrdom.  This evening we will receive the gift of the Lord’s body and blood in the Eucharist.  This is the most intimate union possible with the Lord in our daily lives and the one that nourishes faith and keeps us hopeful.  As the author of the Letter of Hebrews wrote hope is the “anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19a).

Regardless of the attempts of evil and suffering to distract us, we remain connected to a loving God and hope in his promises for us.  Let us share this hope with others to remind ourselves that we are not alone, that we need to look out for one another and to care for one another.  Let us remind ourselves that the hope for peace is still as strong as ever and that together, we can work to make our world one where peace, justice and joy prevails.

Monday, April 15, 2013

UMD Catholic Campus Ministry Response to the Boston Marathon Bombing

April 15, 2013

Dear Friends,

Once again we are witnesses to just how cruel human beings can be towards others.  Patriots Day is a day of great celebration in our beloved Commonwealth.  We look forward to the Sox, the Boston Marathon and the Bruins. Many go to Boston to be a part of this great day first hand.  Today’s tragic events have hurt us all. We pray for those who lost their lives or who were injured.

I am mindful that as I am writing this, many of you are still awaiting word from loved ones who went to Boston today.  It will be a long evening as our family and friends finally make their way out of the city and are able to reestablish communication with us.  If you have not been able to reach somebody please be aware that cell towers in part of the city have been shut down for safety purposes.  If you know of somebody who was running the marathon, you can call (617) 635-4500 to get information.

As this event is still playing itself out, I invite you to take some time this evening to say a prayer for the victims of today’s attack, the first responders and all those who are searching for their loved ones.  Tomorrow evening (Tuesday) a special Mass will be offered at 8PM in the Reflection Room.  You are invited to join us as take some time as a family of faith to pray for the victims of today’s violence as well as for an end to such violence.

If we can be of any service to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.  The office number is 508-999-8872. You can also reach us through Facebook or by cell.  Go to 
This time of the semester is already a stressful time and today’s events can certainly make things seem overwhelming.  As Catholics, we are mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20).  In times like this we come together to support and encourage one another, to remind us that the darkness that exists at times in our lives will not have the ultimate say.  Please make use of this family of faith so that we may persevere as a people of faith and joy even in this time of darkness.

Fr. David

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We've been at it for a long time!

Today's Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, contains an excerpt from St. Justin that I always find amazing. It contains an explanation of what Christians did when they gathered each Sunday. What I find fascinating is this was written in the second century and reminds me of just how ageless the celebration of the Eucharist is. I know I have posted this before in other forums, but do yourself a favor and take some time to read and reflect on this ancient writing and be reminded what you belong to.

 (The excerpt below was taken from from

 From the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr  
The celebration of the eucharist 

 No one may share the eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

 On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

 The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 10

(Sorry for the delay in posts. Did not have access to the internet for a couple of days)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prepare! A look to Sunday's Gospel

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why a Pope?

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world yesterday when he announced that he would resign the Papacy effective 8PM on February 28, 2013.  This is the first time in over 700 years and the first in modern history that a Pope has resigned.  It is important to note that Canon Law (the Church’s code of laws) allows for this to happen.  In fact, the Holy Father, both as Pope and before has suggested that it might be appropriate and even an obligation in modern times.  The rules that guide the Church in electing a new Pope uses the language “Sede Vacante”, that is, Vacant See and suggests that there are ways besides death that that could occur.

This has renewed interest in the institution of the Roman Pontiff not only for Catholics, but people of all faiths.  This might be a good time to remind ourselves what we are talking about when we speak of the Pope.

Why a Pope?

Catholics believe that Jesus established the Church, the Communion of believers, to continue his work of proclaiming the Gospel to all people. It is the mechanism through which He continues to make himself known in the world and to His people.  In Matthew 18:20, Christ is quoted as saying, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

It is from this community that some are called to roles of leadership.  The Evangelist Luke writes in 6:13 that Jesus called some from His disciples to be Apostles.  After Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, the apostles carried on the work of evangelization by founding and serving as the heads of local Churches.  As time went on and the apostles began dying, bishops were appointed to take their place.  Priests and deacons assist the bishop in his ministry to a particular church (what we would call a diocese). The bishop has authority only when in union with his brother bishops and the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

Peter founded the Church in Rome and it is where he was martyred for the faith.  He was an apostle like the others, but considered the leader of the Twelve. In Matthew, we hear Jesus confirm this in his words to Peter: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Mt. 16:18).

The successor of Peter, the following bishops of Rome, assume the leadership position that Peter had over the early Church.  It is important to realize that he functions within the confines of Catholic doctrine and Canon Law.  This may seem a bit institutional, but it is a mechanism to protect the Tradition of the Church.  Papal infallibility does not mean the Pope can’t make mistakes.

The Papacy (as it has come to be called) is a visible unity of the Churches as the Body of Christ on earth.

What does the Pope do?

The Pope serves as the Bishop of Rome and has similar responsibilities in that capacity as any bishop.  In addition, he is also responsible for the Pastoral Care of all the faithful.  He accomplishes this by daily praying for the people of the world, maintaining relations with the countries of the world, appointing bishops, overseeing various Vatican councils, committees and offices, teaches through letters, homilies and speeches, and visits the faithful around the world.  In addition, he also serves as the Head of State of the Vatican, which is a sovereign country.

What happens now?

On February 28, 2013 at 8PM (Roman Time), Benedict XVI’s reign as pope ends.  The protocol is for the Cardinal Chamberlain (Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) to destroy the Pope’s ring (so no fraudulent documents may be issued) and the Papal Apartments sealed.  He will then call the world’s cardinals to Rome and being preparations for the Conclave to elect a new pope.

According to current regulations, the Conclave cannot open until 15 full days after the vacancy has occurred and must begin within 20 days.  In this case, that means the Conclave would begin sometime between March 15 and March 20.  There are some wondering whether Benedict XVI will adjust the rules to allow the conclave to occur earlier as the funeral rites and period of mourning following the death of a Pope aren’t necessary.  However, according to the regulations the purpose of the 15 days isn’t for the funeral rites, but to give the Cardinals adequate time to arrive.

Once the Conclave begins, the Cardinals will be locked in the Sistine Chapel for their deliberations and votes.  After each vote, the ballots are burned, generating the black smoke, a signal to the world that a vote has occurred but no successor elected.  When someone receives a 2/3 majority and then accepts the election result, the ballots are burned with a chemical that creates white smoke.

This is an exciting time for the Church.  Please pray for Benedict, for the Cardinal-electors and for the whole Church during this time of transition.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome Back (Soon)!

Can you believe that the winter break is just a few days from ending? Sr. Madeleine and I hope you have had a restful break and are ready to get back into the swing of things.  It has been very quiet on campus--it will be nice to have you all back!

A couple of things to note:

On Friday, January 25 there will be a Movie Night at the Newman House (359 Old Westport Road) at 8PM.  The house will be open at 6PM.  If you would like a ride, just give us a call at the Religious Resource Office by 3PM (or call Fr. David on his cell).

Masses will resume the week of January 27.

Also be aware of the public health concerns with the flu.  It is highly recommended that you get the flu shot if you can.  The university is taking some precautions and will be contacting you (if they haven't already) on things you can do to protect yourself.  It may seem a little like overkill, but this is the perfect setting for the flu to quickly spread.  In regards to that, for the next couple of months we will refrain from offering the Cup at Mass.  Those who are unable to receive the host, just let Fr. David or Sr. Madeleine know before Mass and we can make arrangements for you to receive from the cup.  Also, if you are sick or coming down with something, please refrain from shaking hands during the sign of peace.  A simple smile and "peace be with you" is sufficient.

We have a lot of things that will be happening this semester and hope you will all join us!