Monday, June 8, 2015


On June 1, Charles, Bob and John celebrated the birthday of Edmund Rice with dinner at “Ignatius” on Magazine Street. 
On June 2 John joined other members of the executive committee of the Burning Bush group that supports programs working for a more peaceful city through Burning Bush members’ prayer, personal involvement and advocacy.  This was the final meeting for John and Sr. Regina Petersen; she leaves for Ethiopia this month.

John, Regina Peterson MSC , Kitty Bethea OP, Claire Regan, SC, Maura O'Donovan CHF
On Thursday the 4th the Touro-Bouligny Neighborhood Association Meeting was held in the Blessed Pauline Center. 

Sr. Pauline O'Reilly CHF and Br. Charles
On Saturday, June 6th the Sisters of Holy Faith celebrated Sr. Pauline O’Reilly’s Golden Jubilee.  The Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Faith was founded in Waterford, Ireland by Margaret Aylward.  There were over 30 guests celebrating Sr. Pauline’s 50 years of religious life.  Her joyful spirit, commitment to the poor, and gracious presence were celebrated by fellow religious, co-workers and friends.  Sr. Pauline lives in community with Sr. Nancy Hale whose brother Mike, and sister-in-law, Betsy attended; Sr. Pauline’s family lives in Ireland.  Sr. Pauline and Sr. Nancy were joined by the two other Holy Faith Sisters, Sr. Maura O’Donovan and Sr. Teresa Rooney, in renewing their vows.  The joyous commitment of people who give their lives to God and the People of God in a particular religious family and who have persevered is an interesting phenomenon is our current individualistic age when promises are so lightly broken if discomfort or suffering is entailed.  One author wrote: “Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed.”  Certainly on Saturday, June 6, the Jubilee was one of Joy on the Journey that Pauline, her Sisters and fellow religious are embarked upon.

Sr. Nancy:  'What a big house you have."  Br. John: "The better for big parties, my dear."  

Vow Renewal:  Sr. Maura O'Donovan, Sr. Pauline O'Reilly, Sr. Nancy Hale and Sr. Teresa Rooney





Mike and Betty Hale

T J Wain, John Petrullo, Sr. Monica Gundler, SC

REFLECTION:  A selection from the letter to all consecrated people on the Year of Consecrated Life

What in particular do I expect from this Year of grace for consecrated life?

1.       That the old saying will always be true: “Where there are religious, there is joy”. We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic sorority found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self -giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfilment.

None of us should be dour, discontented and dissatisfied, for “a gloomy disciple is a disciple of gloom”. Like everyone else, we have our troubles, our dark nights of the soul, our disappointments and infirmities, our experience of slowing down as we grow older. But in all these things we should be able to discover “perfect joy”. For it is here that we learn to recognize the face of Christ, who became like us in all things, and to rejoice in the knowledge that we are being conformed to him who, out of love of us, did not refuse the sufferings of the cross.

 In a society which exalts the cult of efficiency, fitness and success, one which ignores the poor and dismisses “losers”, we can witness by our lives to the truth of the words of Scripture: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor12:10).

 We can apply to the consecrated life the words of Benedict XVI which I cited in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium : “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but by attraction” (No. 14). The consecrated life will not flourish as a result of brilliant vocation programs, but because the young people we meet find us attractive, because they see us as men and women who are happy! Similarly, the apostolic effectiveness of consecrated life does not depend on the efficiency of its methods. It depends on the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.

From the Vatican, 21 November 2014, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

BLOG 06.08.15

Friday, May 29, 2015


The last days of May brought both torrential rains with thunder and lightning and glorious days of sun and blue skies to New Orleans; tourism is back so much that Cafe du Monde, famed for its beignets, is expanding to handle the crowds!  Sadly violence still wracks the city and bizarre stories abound.  Just today there was an article: “Central City melee leaves 1 injured, 2 arrested” in the Times Picayune about a neighborhood battle among adults, not teenagers facing off with sticks and bats.  The arrested were two women, ages 51 and 24; the injured party was 34.  No reason yet determined.  It appears training for peaceful conflict resolution is a priority.  At the same time, the city has celebrated a host of festivals, around food and music, which have gone off peacefully and joyfully.  Meanwhile, back at the Blessed Pauline Center, we are in transition.

 The community is in the midst of preparing for departures and arrivals, [sounds like an airport.]  Sean Whitty spent several days with us, settled on a room, observed and participated in the ministry at Lantern Light with Br. Charles. Holy Faith Sisters Nancy and Pauline joined us one evening to welcome him.  Sean hopes to be here by late August when Bob Koppes will return to assist the volunteer community during orientation for a new year.

We had some unexpected yet very welcome visitors during the month:  Allison Maraldo and Aaron Cook were in from Houston and picked up a bike she left during Mardi Gras.  On another Saturday Caitlyn De Castro, her sister [now residing in Baton Rouge] and a cousin stopped by for a brief visit while in NOLA for the day.

Ginger, Bob, Carolyn, Charles and Donna behind Mary Ann, John and Carla
On May 19th, we had a dinner at the Nashville Convent next to shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor with the Ursuline Community: Sr. Mary Ann Holmes, Prioress, Carolyn Marie Brockland, Ginger Cirone, Carla Dolce, Regina Marie Fronmuller and Donna Hyndman.  They sent us home with a key lime pie we savored for dessert at two dinners.

On May 26, Charles and John welcomed Sr. Maria del Rosario, SCC, Superior General of the Sisters of Christian Charity, and Sisters Joanne, Mary Kim and another Joanne, for lunch at 4219 Constance, the first foundation, in 1873, of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt in the United States.  Sr. Mary Kim brought dessert, a homemade apple pie with thin slices of apple and the perfect amount of cinnamon in an exemplary crust.  Sr Maria del Rosario is from the Argentine and knows Colegio Cardinal Newman in Buenos Aires where our Brothers have been missioned for many years.
Charles, Sr. Mary Kim, Sr. Maria del Rosario, John and Sr. Joanne Ladwig
At the end of the month our second new member, Jim Mc Donald spent just two full days with us.  On his last evening we were joined by three Ursuline Sisters, one of whom, Sr. Regina Fronmuller worked with him in Chicago!  He hopes to move to NOLA in July.


Erika and new love:  Figaro.  Our Karen knows...
From Erika Enlund, [2013-14] to Br. John this month

“I had a lovely and relaxing four days off between the spring and summer semesters. I'm taking three courses this summer so that I can graduate by May of 2016. I did well this semester grades-wise but I did struggle a bit emotionally and considered not returning. . . . However, I decided that it’s best to stick it out and that there was a reason I felt pulled into the program so that has to count for something.

I can only picture the look, over the top of your glasses, ending in a smirk. Say hi to Karen for me!”

Friday, March 20, 2015


We are in transition in New Orleans; Province Leadership is exploring new ideas for the volunteer program and has appointed two new members to the community.  Two current members have accepted different assignments to fill other needs of the Province. 

The changes were published in an e-mail sent to the Brothers on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day!   Br. Charles Avendano will continue here.  Two new community members are replacing Br. Bob and Br. John.  [Br. Bob also is confident that there will be volunteers in residence next year.  Having volunteers and sharing life and mission with them is the reason for the community.] 
Joining Charles will be Br. James Raphael McDonald, who grew up in Butte, Montana and now resides in Chicago, Illinois.  He was a science teacher before becoming Vocation Promoter for the Province.  He also serves as Chair of the Office of the Edmund Rice Network which includes our mission efforts, the volunteer program and vocation promotion.  He is an intrepid traveler, which his responsibility demands and rumor has it that he is interested in golf, too!

The community will also include Br. F. Séan Whitty, a Canadian now living in New Rochelle, NY.  Séan has served as a teacher and administrator in Canada and has experience in our community at Mt. Sion in Waterford, Ireland.  A gifted cook and horticulturalist, he is a wonderful host.  He serves as Chair of the Province Office of Life and Renewal, coordinating retreat programs for the Brothers among other duties.  He brings experience and appreciation of the international brotherhood we share.
Caitlyn, Vincent and Kyle planted these Carolina jasmine our second year here.

A separate position of Director of Recruitment for our Volunteer Programs, who will be a lay person somewhat closer in age to those recruited, is being developed by the Province Leadership Team.  Br. Sean Moffett, a Province Councillor is leading the re-founding of the program and brings great energy, determination and vision to the effort.

Bob Koppes, having completed five years here, is investigating ministry on the West Coast of Florida where we have a community at Bonita Springs.  John Casey, having completed eight years in New Orleans, is going to East Harlem to help explore ministerial opportunities for Brothers in Harlem where the Brothers served for over 100 years before withdrawing in 2010 with the closing of Rice High School. 

The changes take effect during the summer—still plenty of time for gumbo and shrimp boils!

K of C room redone by Glenn Lirette--fancy but great for a small meeting


 “A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother: the poor, the sick, those in need of help, a brother in difficulty, is a sterile and incomplete prayer. But, in the same way . . . When time is not set aside for dialogue with Jesus in prayer, we risk serving ourselves and not God present in our needy brother and sister.   St Benedict sums up the kind of life that indicated for his monks in two words:ora et labora, pray and work. It is from contemplation, from a strong friendship with the Lord that the capacity is born in us to live and to bring the love of God, his mercy, his tenderness, to others. And also our work with brothers in need, our charitable works of mercy, lead us to the Lord, because it is in the needy brother and sister that we see the Lord himself.”   

Pope Francis  (7/21/13)

Monday, March 2, 2015


The last fling of winter is over ...  The earth, the soil itself, has a dreaming quality about it.  It is warm now to the touch; it has come alive; it hides secrets that in a moment, in a little while, it will tell.”
-  Donald Culross Peattie 

Early in February, Bob and John met with a number of folks involved with volunteer programs at Duchense House.  Sr. Anne Byrne, RSCJ and the Religious of the Sacred Heart hosted the meeting.  The House of Charity, representatives of the St. Bernard Project and the Notre Dame Americorps Volunteers and others gathered to get to know each other and to see the scope of their plans.  We will meet again in April to update each other.  We are particularly interested in folks who are open to life in community while giving service.

An article by Peter Finney in the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Clarion Herald, centered on Charles Avendano and his ministry.

During the second week of February, John visited Pope John Paul II High School for the Discovery Walk Program.

Bacchus Sunday, the last weekend of Mardi Gras parades, saw a goodly sized group, ladders and children in tow, arrive for the usual Bacchus Sunday Open House, now held at the Blessed Pauline Center.  Allison Maraldo visited us over that weekend; Molly Sherry brought ‘Hunter” along for a visit on Monday.

On the 21st of February Archbishop Aymond and a large group of religious women, and a few men, celebrated the Year of Consecrated Life with a Mass at the recently restored shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. This was followed by a delicious buffet and time to preview a brief video on religious life.  Both Br. Charles and John can be seen on the video!

While we have had unseasonably cool weather, it is quite relative when one sees how the rest of the nation is fairing.

Sr. Mary Lou explains a fine point to John--as usual he is amazed.
On February 28th we hosted a gathering of religious called the “Newcomers.”  We are folks who have come to NOLA since Hurricane Katrina and we meet to pray and share experiences and then have a meal together.  This session we welcomed several Daughters of Charity of advanced years whose convents recently closed and who are now assigned to New Orleans. 
 Sr. Mary Lou Specha, PBVM, a long standing friend of the Brothers’ community shared with us news about a new venture, Hotel Hope which will provide transitional housing for homeless single mothers with children.  They are converting a convent in the Broadmoor area with the support of the parish, Pastor and a host of donors as well as FEMA funding.
Sr. Claire Regan, SC with Brs. Charles and Sean

Br. Sean Moffett, who is on our Province Leadership Team, was able to join in the day.  He is here on visitation, an annual occurrence with the Brothers.  Sean and our Province Leadership Team have been discussing a renewed vision for the Volunteer Program here in New Orleans; change is in the air.
Br. Sean Moffett and Sr. Claire and some of our 'Newcomers'

The energy of March
“With vision there is no room to be frightened, no reason for intimidation. It's time to march forward! Let's be confident and positive!” 
-  Charles R. Swindoll 

[The energy of the month of march may be related to a second meaning of 'march' as in walking, long trek, walking in a military campaign, marching in a coordinated manner in a group.]

“God plays upon the harp of the Spirit.
Sounding the strings strongest in love:
And to this mystical music
Humanity is beckoned to sing.”
Mechtild of Hefta [13th century] quoted in A LENTEN SOURCEBOOK from Liturgy Training Publications

BLOG 03.01.15