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Walk through door of mercy
Have you walked through the door of mercy? Have you taken that big step of trust that Jesus invites all of us, as His disciples, to do, so that He can pour His divine mercy into our hearts?
Thursday, April 28, 2016

Priesthood reveals God's foolishness
Unlike priestly classes of pre-Christian cultures, the priesthood initiated by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper represents no kind of upward mobility as the world might view it. In reality, it is a humiliation.
Thursday, April 21, 2016

The gift of family
Friday, April 8, saw the arrival of Pope Francis's long-awaited apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). The first reactions have been quick and vigorous.
Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rich in mercy
On Monday evening, April 4, many of the faithful joined me at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany in a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Thursday, April 7, 2016

Made for love forever
The Easter message is much more than a clever spin or even a "faith-take" on the staggering encounters and events of Holy Week.
Thursday, March 24, 2016

The cross is all about love
Everyone knows that true love can neither be bought nor sold. In fact, it is the one thing we all want and need and can never get by paying for it, no matter how much we spend.
Thursday, March 17, 2016

Come and know God's mercy personally
By now just about everyone has heard of the all-nighter Rev. Bob Longobucco pulled last Friday. He decided to take up the challenge that Pope Francis extended for larger parishes to offer the sacrament of penance and reconciliation for 24-hour periods.
Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lift us up, o Lord!
Call it what you will -- the parable of the prodigal son or of the forgiving father -- this Sunday's Gospel is really about a prodigal God whose mercy is almost wasteful.
Thursday, March 3, 2016

Living the Way of the Cross
Lent is, above all, a journey with Jesus, an invitation to walk with Him by living the Way of the Cross.
Thursday, February 25, 2016

When mercy came to me
The story I would like to tell this week is so simple, ordinary and unspectacular that I almost hesitate to share it. It happened in a kitchen on a Saturday afternoon, if my memory serves me well, one February long ago.
Thursday, February 18, 2016

Conversion at the water cooler
The woman at the well is my favorite evangelization story. I always think about this passage at the start of Lent, because it is a real account of a conversion, a life-changing experience.
Thursday, February 11, 2016

We feed our neighbors
Each year around this time, we make an effort to heighten awareness about hunger in our community and to raise funds to replenish the shelves at our food pantries and soup kitchens.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

New episcopal vicars sow seeds of hope
Earlier this month, our new episcopal vicars spent the better part of three days praying, reflecting, brainstorming and dialoguing about their new mission.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Keeping our schools Catholic
This week's edition of the The Evangelist celebrates Catholic education and, specifically, the mission and focus of our Catholic schools. All of the research continues to find that Catholic schools, when they are true to their mission and focus, are the best means of forming our young people in the Catholic faith.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do not be afraid to answer
One of the first casualties that beset Adam and Eve after the fall was their fear of being summoned by God's voice.
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Make it happen
"History is made up of three kinds of people: those who make it happen, those to whom it happens and those who wonder what happened!"
Whoever first observed this was onto something. Each of these options is a personal choice. What will yours and mine be?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why can't every day be Christmas?
While the historical question about the actual birthdate of Christ remains unresolved, some have been intrigued by the coincidence (or perhaps not?) of that date with the arrival of the winter solstice, the time when sunlight begins to increase perceptibly.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas through Mary's heart
In the twilight of 2016, we are naturally inclined to reflect on what we've lost and what we've gained this year.
Thursday, December 17, 2015

Love is easy? Think again
I have heard it said that the standard our Lord Jesus will use to judge us in the end is how much we have loved throughout our life. It makes sense, then, for us to be sure we know what love is -- and that we are doing that loving.
Thursday, December 10, 2015

The price of mercy
We are at the dawn of a holy Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church. On Dec. 8, Pope Francis will open the symbolic bronze doors at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome as a reminder of God's extraordinary compassion for sinners, for anyone who wants to turn away from sins and sinful habits and be given a fresh start, surrounded by grace and love.
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Giving and Thanksgiving
What does God do all day long? Above any other action, it belongs to God's very nature to give.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Toward openness and healing
In the interest of transparency and openness, I have reviewed the criteria we use for releasing names to the public and have decided to make available on our diocesan website the most up-to-date information possible.
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let the spirit flow
You have many of them -- no doubt, more than you know. Jesus had all of them. You didn't earn them. God gives them to you gratuitously. They are, indeed, graces, but they are not for you; they're solely for the benefit of others.
Thursday, November 12, 2015

'The harvest is abundant, but...'
It's harvest time. Thanksgiving is three weeks away. But I would like to go out on a limb and say, why not start working on that Thanksgiving list right now?
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Never hurts to ask
Many people today describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious" -- at least, that is how they respond in surveys that ask about their religious affiliation.
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our wit's end
It happens to everyone: We come to the end of certain stage in our life....
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catholic schools form tomorrow's leaders
Long before the advent of the Common Core academic standards, Catholic schools have identified the source of their phenomenal success in consistently delivering academic excellence.
Thursday, October 8, 2015

The peaceful presence of God
If there is one thing that I suspect I will always remember about the days of Pope Francis among us, it is the deep peace I felt in his presence.
Thursday, October 1, 2015

God pays attention
It's tough enough, in our busy, often multi-tasking lives, to pay the best attention all the time to what we are doing. But when a loved one like a teenage daughter or son comes to us with words like this, it melts our heart. Deep down we know (and they know) that what they are really saying is that they feel "nobody loves me."
Thursday, September 24, 2015

What will the pope say?
So many people are asking me, "What do you think Pope Francis is going to say when he comes to the United States? What will he talk about?"
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Make Jesus number one
In his remarkable book on evangelization, "Reclaim the Fire: A Parish Guide to Evangelization," Rev. Martin Pable hits the nail right on the head. He writes: "The purpose of the Church is not to increase its membership rolls. The purpose of the Church is to make known the person and message of Jesus Christ."
Thursday, September 10, 2015

The evangelizing moment
What does "the new evangelization" look like? Doing it can be much simpler than one might at first think.
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jesus heals the deepest wound
At the most intimate core of the human soul churns an unsettled, yearning, burning sea of...incompleteness. It's a longing or desire for something more that is never quite quenched by anything that life on this earth can fulfill.
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our Church
What if "the" Church really became "our" Church?
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Women do not need Planned Parenthood
Much of the cachet that Planned Parenthood has cultivated over the years -- including its increasingly tenuous claim to be worthy of the half-billion dollars of taxpayer money doled out to it each year -- has been based on the astounding pretext of its being an essential and indispensable provider of women's health services in the United States.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Proclaiming the Gospel means living in Jesus
Each and every disciple of Jesus is tasked both to live the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel. Like the title of the newspaper in which this column is published, every disciple of Jesus -- or Christian -- is called to be an evangelist.
Thursday, August 6, 2015

The main subject of Catholic education
What is the main subject of Catholic education? A correct response might be, "Religion;" or, more specifically, "The Catholic faith." But is that really the best answer?
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Driving out demons
As summer sets in and temperatures rise, there is nothing like a few political hot potatoes on the grill to add to the heat.
The meaning of marriage, immigration policy dysfunction, climate change, voting rights, drones and espionage -- matters about which few feel indifferent -- are all smack at picnic-table discussion before the charcoal is even out of the bag.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Real friends
Everything we do affects others in some way. If you think about it, there is no such thing as a "private" sin. Our every thought, word, deed -- even every click on a web browser or social media site -- is like a stone cast into a lake, creating ripples as far as the eye can see.
Thursday, July 9, 2015

'Who am I to judge?'
One of the most applauded and most often quoted statements of Pope Francis has been his, "Who am I to judge," response to a question posed to him aboard the plane as he was returning to the Vatican from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lord, teach us how to pray
Prayer is not in time; time is in prayer. It is the language of God, the music of heaven.
Thursday, June 25, 2015

A time to rest
Summer is here. We may well find ourselves tempted to let our thoughts wander toward dreams and fantasies of things that were, could have been or might yet be.
Thursday, June 18, 2015

God's work, too!
It is time to make some structural changes in order to serve the needs of our pastors, parish leaders and parishioners even better.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Numbers don't lie
The heat has been rising in Albany the last couple of weeks, and it's not just because the calendar has turned to June. The issue of parental choice in education has turned up the temperature in and around the State Capitol as the legislative session winds to a close.
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Graduation or commencement?
Spring is a time of growth and transition. In the natural order, we are seeing (finally) greenery and flowering things emerge from the brown earth and around the edges of the gray pavement along our streets. It has been a long winter and we welcome these beautiful gifts of God's ever-renewing creation.
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seeking truth in friendship
It matters who or what your "God" is.
By "God," in this writing, I mean the one, ultimate ground that constitutes the center of one's entire existence: what one lives for, that without which one's life itself has no meaning.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thanksgiving in May
Nothing brings more joy to the human heart than words or actions that bespeak "thank you."
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why a 'Rosary Walk?'
Last year, on Tuesday, June 17, nearly 1,000 lay faithful and clergy joined me for a peaceful "Rosary Walk."
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Getting holy
"Are you feeling better?"

When we visit or call a friend who is recuperating from a bout with the flu or surgery, we naturally care if they are getting better. It matters to us and them. We want them to be well and we are willing to take the time, even at great personal sacrifice, to let them know that and to help them in any way we can.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The wound of love
Without exception, the spiritual masters, saints and sinners alike, tell us that the more we turn to the Lord, the more imbued we become with His presence, the deeper our trust in Him becomes - and the more we will feel unworthy.
Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mercy on the way
It's easy to feel lost in a crowd. It even seems natural. No one knows anyone else. No one knows why anyone else is here or where anyone else is going. It's almost a feeling of isolation.
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peter's eyewitness report
Jesus did not shed His humanity when He breathed His last. Eyewitnesses testify that the risen Christ was "visible," that they "ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" and that He "commissioned" them to preach and testify so that "everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins in His name."
Thursday, April 9, 2015

The whole truth
If you were trying to make up a story, you would probably not do it the way the Bible does.

Take the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, for example. Here, we see a disheartened, scattered band of followers, totally freaked out over what has happened to their leader over the course of just a few days.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Discovering Jesus
How often have we struggled to reach a friend who is feeling that God is somehow just not present!
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dying to death
It is told that, during the brutal reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, a missionary worker was hauled in for interrogation by a high official of the military whose commission was to intimidate him and put an end to his works -- by whatever means necessary.
Thursday, March 19, 2015

The real Church
Which of the statements below best describes, in your view, the real Church?
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Don't do Lent alone
Have you made a resolution for Lent yet? Ash Wednesday has passed, but it's not too late to start today, as we approach the third Sunday of Lent.
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mass as family visit
"Well, I don't always go to Mass...but I do pray."

Whenever I hear that with the ears of a pastor, it makes me wonder: What have I done or not done that my spiritual son or daughter would think it makes me feel good to hear the equivalent of, "Well, dad, you won't always have me home with you for dinner, but I assure you that I do eat"?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Churches and malls
Malls and churches are a lot alike. More often frequented because we need them than because we want them, both of them attract us because we are hungering or thirsting for something.
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feeding our neighbors
Some 15 years ago, a friend of mine asked me to accompany him on a long-awaited visit to his birth father and wife, who happened to be living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thursday, February 5, 2015

Renewing a culture of life
As Christians around the world gather to honor a century-long tradition of prayer for visible unity among us (the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25), we are marking the 42nd year since Roe v. Wade canonized the anti-sacrament of abortion, still thought by some to be the pinnacle of liberation for women.
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ordinary time
We're back to the wearing of the green. No, it's not St. Patrick's Day yet, but the liturgical color of "Ordinary Time" is green, the color of hope.
Thursday, January 15, 2015

God awareness
Atheists are often thought to be terrible people by those who say they believe in God - self-proclaimed atheists, especially: People who unabashedly announce that they do not or cannot believe in "God."
Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jesus comes to everyone
Of the 12 holy days in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, we generally celebrate only six through required Mass attendance. The Epiphany of the Lord (traditionally, Jan. 6) is now celebrated on the first or second Sunday in January - this year, on Jan. 4.
Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bishop's Christmas message
Every gift is, more or less, a part or extension of ourselves. One cannot give what one does not have. Thus, unless there is also a certain "giving up" or "giving away," it seems the gift is less than complete - even a theft. Giving "with strings attached" is always felt to be an incomplete or even insincere gift, like baking cookies for a friend and eating half of them on the way to her house.
Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dawn of a new holy day
"We run the risk of concealing Christmas behind bourgeois customs and sentimentality, behind all those traditions that make this holiday dear and precious to us," wrote Rev. Alfred Delp, SJ, from his cell in a Nazi concentration camp. "Yet perhaps the deep meaning is still hiding behind all those things.
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Am I ready for God?
A friend recently texted me: "I don't know if I really know how to phrase this question: How do you find new meaning in something that happens every year? How is Advent any different this year than last?"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We need a little Advent
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fostering our family of faith
More than any other day of the year, Thanksgiving represents a moment when a weekday suddenly becomes what Sunday is supposed to be: a time to take a break, pause for a breath and reflect on our blessings. Prime among them are the gifts of being alive, being together with family and knowing the origin of our hope and joy: the God of all life and love.
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Who is worthy?
If there is something that might be called, with a certain measure of ironic humor, a Catholic "heresy" - something that can really separate us from the communion of faith in which we are united with God and one another - it is none of the hot-button issues which are typically all over the media, like the recent debate over reception of holy communion by those in civil or "common-law" unions.
Thursday, November 13, 2014

The joy of following the call
We are in the midst of celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week (November 2-8). Fostering vocations is the duty and mission of every disciple of Jesus Christ. It is a foundational drive of every community of faith to solicit vocations to the priesthood and religious life passionately and strategically.
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gospel mercy: a gift and a call to conversion
Reports from the ongoing Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family at the Vatican are generating serious concerns, vigorous discussion and even surprise that may be - at least for the moment - encouraging to some, while disillusioning to others.
Thursday, October 23, 2014

The virtue of freedom
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17b). Freedom, faith, family and friendship: four pillars to ground our vision as a Church in a time of change. Recently, I shared a reflection with a group of pastors and parish life directors on these foundational principles for our stability and growth in the Diocese of Albany. In the months ahead, I will return to these themes in the light of concerns I am hearing from folks around the Diocese.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If you've got Jesus, who needs church?
Many persons who do not go to a place of worship regularly will insist that they are deeply "spiritual" and pray "privately" to someone they would call their God. Among those who call themselves Christians, they may even be convinced that they have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rome, sweet home
It's great to be back! I'm so happy to be home again for autumn in Albany, though I must admit that, even being out of town for so long, I did not really feel that far away. In a way, it was more like leaving home to go home!
Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rekindling dialogue
Much has been said and written, in recent years, about the Church's loss of credibility, the so-called "inroads" of the evangelical movements and of fundamentalist sects into traditionally Catholic areas and the alienation of youth from any religion that seems out of touch with the 21st century.
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back to our roots
Back in February, I had the great pleasure of saying my first "hello" to my new family, the people of the Diocese of Albany. I was not a bishop yet, and most of what I knew of Albany had to do with things I would read in the paper about political personalities and Legislature battles.
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spiritual, but not religious
What is your religion? While most readers, no doubt, would have little hesitation checking off "Catholic" on a survey from the usual series of options presented, it is becoming more and more common these days to reject any particular religious affiliation, including "non-denominational."
Thursday, September 11, 2014

Faith: an invitation to be God's friend
Just think of all the things that one would want from a friend. What is a true friend like? I suppose that all of us have a sense of what we most value in friendship: trust, honesty, generosity, faithfulness - and forgiveness. Above all, a friend is someone we can count on just to be there when we are most in need.
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Religion: for love or power?
Many of our more secular contemporaries despair of finding any hope for peace from religion, arguing that all religionists at some time or another become oppressors and murderers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014

We must get grounded
What we hear each day about atrocities committed by radical militants affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is so shocking and vile that it seems almost impossible to find in the insurgents any remnants of humanity.
Thursday, August 21, 2014

The difference is you!
Are you good news or bad news? That is the key question of the so-called "new evangelization." We have heard that phrase countless times before. It may often hit us as a challenge, unsettlingly confrontational like a demand: something we have to do or do more of.
Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Thomas question
"Doubting Thomas," as tradition so remembers the Apostle, would not believe the others who said they had seen the Lord three days after He died. It was not enough for him to hear they had seen someone who looked like Jesus; he needed proof that the Lord they saw really was the same Jesus who had died.
Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are you changing?
One of the surest signs that one is growing spiritually is an awareness that one is changing as a person.
Thursday, July 24, 2014

God loves summer
Summer is here and we find ourselves tempted to let our thoughts wander a little toward dreams and fantasies of things that were, could have been or might yet be.
Thursday, July 17, 2014

God is not boring
Before I write a column such as this, I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to help me offer something useful to whoever might take the time (or make the sacrifice!) to wade through it.
Thursday, July 10, 2014

The power of forgiveness
Nothing is more godly than the gift of forgiveness.
Thursday, July 3, 2014

The trouble with Christianity is that it's never been tried: So quipped G.K. Chesterton. More precisely, he wrote, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vocations for the asking
First of all, we need to thank God for the wonderful gift our Diocese received last Saturday: the ordination of our two newest priests, Rev. Jim Davis and Rev. Brian Slezak. We can also be grateful for all those who prayed for, counseled and encouraged them over the years of preparation - many of whom may never know the impact they had on their vocations.
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jesus' peace
As he prepares His disciples for His return to the Father, Jesus keeps offering them peace - not just any peace, but His peace: "My peace I give to you" (Jn 14:27).
Thursday, June 12, 2014

Living the Word with love
Did you know that you are a missionary - or, if you feel you are not so sure of this, that you are being called to be one?
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Keeping it personal
Catholic social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom for navigating through treacherous partisan shoals that make constructive dialogue so difficult these days. Yes, "dialogue" - a blast from the past. This word was very popular in the aftermath of Vatican II and signified a sense of hope that people could find common ground in shared values, even as they discussed, debated or disagreed over different strategies.
Thursday, May 22, 2014

The rest of the Gospel
A maxim attributed to St. Francis of Assisi - "Preach the Gospel always; use words if necessary" - remains relevant. Is it another way of saying that actions speak louder than words?
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let Jesus be Jesus!
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The joy of letting (sin) go
A priest friend of mine once complained that talk about evangelization left a bad taste in his mouth. I said, okay, but what did he think evangelization means? He said it reminded him of his fundamentalist past (he's a convert): the Bible-thumping, fire-and-brimstone stuff.
Thursday, May 1, 2014

Resist the throwaway culture
Pope Francis had good reason recently to describe abortion as "horrific" and iconic of a new "throwaway culture." In prophetically incisive language, he said the "victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings - the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people...who are in danger of being 'thrown out,' expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Final column: chrism Mass and my time as Bishop
A week from Tuesday, following his episcopal ordination and installation on April 10, our new shepherd, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, will celebrate the chrism liturgy for the first time. It is one of the most meaningful and powerful rituals in our Church, and has implications for all of us.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

For Lent, take steps to end world hunger
On Dec. 10, 2013, Caritas Internationalis - a coalition of 164 charitable organizations, including Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, operating in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe - launched a campaign to end the "global scandal" of hunger by the year 2025.
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Catholic schools use Common Core Standards
Last month, we observed our annual Catholic Schools Week celebration, which began with a Mass at our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, honoring people who have made outstanding contributions to our schools, and was followed by an art show and musical performance by our students at the Empire State Plaza. Throughout the week, there were events in our Catholic grammar and high schools.
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Healing a wounded economy
Last month, Pope Francis was named person of the year by Time magazine. The editor, Nancy Gibbs, stated that Pope Francis was selected because, in a noisy year, a surprising new voice emerged on the world stage to remind us - quoting the pope himself - that the "culture of the temporary" is the road to ruin and that "it is the culture of prosperity that deadens us."
Thursday, January 2, 2014


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