Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

What a day. I had no time to post, so I apologize. Tomorrow I'm going to write the post on "The Main Event," if you will and hopefully have it up in the evening sometime. After that, for the next week I'll be putting more small posts up about other musical acts and some stuff that we did in NY on Sunday.

But for now, I want to post a little commercial of sorts about a good Italian restaurant ran by some wonderful people. I recommend it for anyone staying in White Plains or Elmsford New York, or anyone who is staying in the city and wants to get out of it for a little while. From NY, just head over to Grand Central Station and take the Harlem Line (Metro North) up to White Plains. Its about a 35 minute ride. Then just take a cab over to Rini's Restaurant in Elmsford. This is probably the toughest part, since it will be a good $15 cab ride each way (maybe more).

The food is excellent and the people are very nice. They are all actually Italian too. With accents. After the rally ended, it took us a long time to get off property and out of Yonkers, so we missed our reservations. They were more than happy to take us whenever we got there, even though the restaurant usually closes by the time we arrived. They kept the restaurant open so we could eat and they stayed late to serve us. When we did arrived, they were proud to have 20 seminarians in the restaurant. They even comped us some wine.

Oh, and of course, the food was good too. I ordered the Gnochi and it was quite good although there were another 20 or so items that I wanted to try.

So a big thanks to the people at Rini's, and if anyone is ever looking for a good place north of NYC, look out for them. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Good Stuff

Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

Ok, let's get to the good stuff. After the Kelly Clarkson performance (I'll get to that later) many of the bishops in attendance came out to visit and speak with the seminarians and youth. Here are a few:
And here is the fairly newly appointed Cardinal DiNardo framed nicely between a seminarian and a different bishop. I'm happy these bishops siezed the opportunity to visit with those in attendance, especially the youth. It was just a nice sight.

At this point, word was spreading around that the Pope was going to be a little late. A video on the sacrament of marriage was playing and people were gathered around talking. Then, a cheer started to rise up out of the crowd and we noticed that the video screens had changed to the image of a few cars driving onto the property. The moment that Vatican Flag became visible on that Limo, everybody started going crazy. He was now on the seminary property, only a few hundred yards away.

This is about when I started to lose it. Well, I guess I never really lost it, but I was definately tearing up. To be honest, I don't even know why. I was just moved by the whole experience. We were also receiving an audio feed from inside the seminary chapel and the Organ was droning on a very low note which added to the drama very nicely. I wish I had a picture of the seminarians in attendance. All of them, including me, had this wide-eyed gaping mouthed look on their faces like a kid on Christmas morning. Everyone's attention was drawn to the screens as we watched the Pope enter the seminary Chapel.

The video can be found here.

The seminary chapel was filled with wheel chairs and mothers holding small disabled children. Watching that man walk through the chapel grabbed everyone's heartstrings as a choir sang a hymn. A couple of moments in particular drew some "aawwws" out of the crowd. One was just after the 3:30 mark when that little girl dressed in white gave the Pope a little hug as he was blessing that woman in tears. The second that I remember was right around the 6 minute mark when the same little girl went to give the Pope a hug and then helped her friend do the same. It was an incredible moment I won't ever forget and there were a lot of damp eyes in Yonkers (and around the world) that night.

But we were just getting warmed up.


Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

Depending on the day the way I finish the sentence, "If I wasn't going to be a priest I would be a..." varies greatly. Well, Saturday April 19, 2008 the answer was, "If I wasn't going to be a priest I'd be a secret service agent." These guys are awesome.

The security at the event was quite impressive. First, the nice little neighborhood in Yonkers where St. Joseph's seminary rests has never seen so many police officers/security guards. My pictures are lacking in their ability to really show how many police were on hand, but here is one: We were all searched pretty closely as we walked in. Inside the venue, the Secret Service was everywhere and there were many more officers. There were also a few of these guys scattered about: Those are snipers. I never did see a sniper rifle (which was good because that would have been a little unbecoming of the nature of the event) but they did have some huge binoculars and were watching every helicopter that cruised by. Oh, and speaking of helicopters, the police were up there as well. Although I never actually saw them, I'm guessing that there was a mess of security guards/secret service agents in the woods surrounding the venue as well.

The point of this is just to show how safe the Pontiff (and the hope of the Church of America as we were all called) were totally safe this evening.

Mo Rocca

Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

When I was a freshmen in college my roomate and I watched the Daily Show with John Stewart almost every night. One of the primary reasons we watched was that everyone besides John Stewart was really funny. Stephen Colbert was funny. Nancy Walsh was funny. Steve Carell was funny. But most especially, Mo Rocca was funny. Ever since these 4 left the show, the Daily show has been pretty bad, in my opinion. But back to the Pope... imagine my surprise when I discovered that Mo Rocca was going to be the MC of the Youth Rally. What the heck was he doing here of all places?Well apparently he's Catholic. I'm not sure how much he practices the faith, but he was educated by Jesuits and his mother seems to be very commited (She was watching the event on EWTN).

Mo Rocca was a wonderful MC of this event. We were all laughing every time he spoke. He was obviously improvising quite a bit in between acts to try and keep us entertained and he did very very well. There is no video out there of him, but if it ever comes out, you should watch it. One of his hidden talents that he used was naming the capital of any country that anyone shouted out.

This post isn't nearly as funny as I envisioned it, since I can't really remember anything specific, so I'm just going to stop.

More later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Messengers of Christ

Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

Before the Pope arrived there was a concert that began at 10:30 and ended around 4. I feel as though it might be worth while to give an account of some of the performances, and I'd like to start out with one of my favorites: Messengers of Christ (MOC).

I'm quite honest when I say that I don't really like rap and that when Christians try to rap it is usually a disaster that is (deservedly) made fun of. It simply isn't impressive to me (or anyone) unless its done as a satire, like you know you're a dork trying to rap. Well, I was shown otherwise a little before noon the day of the rally. The Messengers of Christ are for real. They are talented and I think almost everyone enjoyed what they had to offer. As the lead singer, a priest from the Bronx named Fr. Espaillat*, came out in his Cassock I knew these guys were at least going to entertain. And boy did they. Here is a short clip:
After this song Fr. Espaillat* went out to the edge of the stage and rather effectively preached the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He urged everyone to go and from what I hear, confessional lines were fairly long. I would have loved to have gotten more with my camera but I had to save space for pictures of the Pope. Then they sang another song which was my favorite of their (sadly short) set. I think its called Forgive Me, but the spanish name might be Perdoname.The video, of course, doesn't do anything justice but the quality of music was excellent. The band was good. The lyrics (as far as I could tell) were good. The showmanship was good. I'm looking forward to good things out of this group, and I think they need to come to Los Angeles really really soon. Seriously, these guys (and girls) need to be taken seriously.

UPDATE: I found an article on Fr. Espaillat online that is worth reading. And it turns out I have another video from the song mentioned above. Yes, he's doing an Examination of Conscience. Unfortunately, its really tough to pick up the lyrics from the song in the video but its still pretty good.

*I think Fr. Espaillat might be one of the priests in the Vocations video Fishers of Men put together by Grassroots films. I'm pretty sure he's the guy that says, "You have to be a real Man if you want to be a priest."

My trip to see Pope Benedict (part 1)

Due to the generosity of my bishop, I was able to attend the Youth Rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers NY during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA. This is one small part of a series of posts about my experience. Please check back for more updates.

Well I guess I'll start by saying laying out the first few hours of the day. We got up around 6 (3 am West Coast time) and cleaned up/ had some breakfast and around 7:30 we were in our cabs to head over to the Yonkers Raceway where we were to be bussed over to St. Joseph Seminary. There were already a lot of youth groups gathered. We were among the first seminarians.

We were put on the first bus and then bussed over to the beautiful campus. We got off the bus and went through the impressive security system fairly quickly. After posing for a quick group picture, I went straight down to the field. This was about 9:30am. There were two sections for seminarians. One was filling up, the other had nobody there. I, of course, went straight for the vacant one, taking the best seat in the house (well, there was one other seat that was as good, but none better).

Here is a diagram to 1) give you a better idea of where I was and 2) put my stellar paintbrush skills on display. The yellow part is the buffer zone between the crowd and the Pope (there was actually Gold carpeting laid down here. The white at the top is the stage, and the white at the bottom is the gathering space. So it was 9:30 and it was already hot. But I didn't want to give up that spot. So I stayed there. I didn't eat. I simply drank a small bottle of water that I was given. It's a good thing that I saw that episode of Man vs. Wild when he goes into the Sahara with only one canteen full of water and learned that you have to only use enough to wet your mouth, rather than drink large quantities. So thanks Man... Versus Wild.

With the Pope not due to arrive until 4:30, this was going to be at least 7 hours...

Here is a picture of me and some people hanging out before the entertainment started:More later...


Hey all. I'm back after one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I have to run to class, but please check back for updates frequently. Here is a preview:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Final Countdown

All my work for the week is finally done. Final Countdown is underway. More details this evening.Good Night.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can't.... Study......

I'm so ready for this trip. I can barely think about school. I have a homily to give tomorrow, an entire liturgy that I'm supposed to plan thats due wednesday, and a 20 minute presentation on Thursday. Its crazy. Only this is really the last surge of the year. After this, I'm relatively out of the woods. This has probably been the toughest semester so far, and the most difficult part is almost over.

4 days.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I'd better start consuming some serious liquids. Its warming up in NY. Friday's forecast is 76 degrees and sunny, which means if Saturday is at all the same, I'll be sitting or standing around in hot weather in all black for like 8 or 9 hours. That won't be fun.

But seeing the Pope will be fun, so I guess it balances out.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New York

Today at the Seminary we're having our annual Field Education Supervisor Appreciation Dinner. As has been mentioned, I've been working at a homeless services center in Santa Monica and Venice. It has been a GREAT experience and I can't think of a better way to spend my fridays.

But it does slow everything while we get ready, so I have a few minutes and I thought I'd write a little bit about my upcoming trip to New York to see Pope Benedict. I'll depart from LA Friday Morning and arrive at JFK airport around 5pm NY time. At this point I have no idea what my brethren from other dioceses will be up to, but I assume I'll be meeting up with them at the airport and we'll travel together to our hotel which is like 10 minutes away from Yonkers. We'll get to bed nice and early so we can get up early and head over to the venue, at the seminary in Yonkers(i'm hoping our West Coast time schedule works in our favor and gets us up earlier than everyone else). I'm an idiot. Hopefully between 9am and 10am we'll get inside and then we'll basically wait around for a really long time.

At noon there is a concert. I only know of one performer, and I've got to wonder if somebody is up to something. When I think of Kelly Clarkson, I don't think of American Idol. I also don't think of any of her songs (although they aren't bad). I think of Steve Carell in a certain movie yelling her name because he's in pain. If you know the movie I'm talking about you might get what I mean.* Something about a bunch of seminarians screaming her name at the top of their lungs is, well... I will applaud each song she sings, but I will not be screaming her name. That would just be unfortunate.

At 4 this concert apparently ends, and then we basically go ballistic chanting "BEN-NE-DETTO." until finally at 4:30, the man shows up. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm guessing there will be Vespers and an address. Anything else that happens is great with me.

Not sure what will happen afterwards. I don't leave until late Sunday, so I'm guessing I'll probably travel around NYC for a while with some of my fellow seminarians.

So coverage will be on EWTN starting around 4, I'm guessing, (channel 233 in western washington). You can also stream coverage off of the internet.


Sunday, April 06, 2008


Missed this the other day.

Update: Here is another good link.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

21 Grams

I've been sitting on this Movie Review for like two months. I'll just lay it right out there:

This movie was awesome. I cannot recommend it highly enough. However, it is NOT for everyone. It is one of the 'heaviest' films I have ever seen, and if you aren't in the mood to be emotianally jerked around a little bit, you shouldn't watch this one. And do NOT show it to kids.

Prior to this one, the most intense (and even "stressful") movie I have seen was Babel, and guess what. They are by the same director, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. (There are a few Accents and whatnot over his names that I'm not able to use in Blogger too lazy to figure out. Inarritu is also a Catholic, which is cool. To me anyways.

But back to the movie... The story in 21 grams is not told in a linear fashion. Rather, it is pieced together in an order that properly develops the characters and leads you, the viewer, into utter shock over what happens to them. For example, the very first scene of the movie shows Naomi Watts and Sean Penn together in a way that suggests they have a romantic relationship (if you've seen the movie you might understand why I'm being opaque). A few minutes later, you realize they are both married to other people. You will then find yourself wondering how in the world these two found themselves in this situation. Are they having an affair? Were they together before they were married? Where are their spouses? The curiosity you feel is only possible because the story is not told in chronological order. Inarritu and whoever else helped him do this simply did an incredible job of telling this story. It is pure Genious.

Need another good reason to watch the movie? Naomi Watts and the absolutely outstanding job she did in her role as Cristina Peck. It's been 2 months since I've seen the film and I'm still getting chills from her performance. I didn't know it was possible to act as well as she did. Naomi lost out on the academy award to Charlize Theron and her role in Monster in the 2003 Academy Awards. I've only seen clips here and there of Monster, and while I can attest Theron does a remarkable job, Watts probably deserved the award in my book. The emotions she displayed in the movie was like nothing I've ever seen on film.

Oh, and Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro weren't bad either in the acting department.

You should be aware that there are some rather intense nude scenes in the film, so viewer discretion is obviously advised. Also, if your spouse or friends or whatever are in the mood for a comedy or something, do NOT pick this one up at the video store. Watch it with maybe one or two other people. Here is the trailer:

And I hope I didn't build this thing up so much that you're gonna watch it and be disapointed. That would be lame.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Canon Law

This is fun. I'm in a total 'fight' with two of my classmates right now about our case study in Canon law. I'm not going to state it specifically, but its a question of whether or not we can preside over a certain wedding. I'm arguing that as a Catholic priest, I cannot witness the marriage. Another classmate thinks we can. Still, another thinks we can only with a dispensation. We're pretty much deadlocked and have to present our case tomorrow. But, you'll be happy to know, we are reading the Canon's over and over again and learning them pretty well.

Seriously, before I entered seminary I thought I knew Canon Law pretty well for a lay person, but when you actually have to draft cases and prove your point, its a bit difficult. That being said, I'm totally right on this one!

I am going to add Ed Peters' Canon Law Blog to the tool bar when I get a chance and make a real effort to keep visiting.

Oh, and as soon as I find the announcement for the new Pastoral Assignments in my home diocese, I'll post the link. I know one or two of you are interested in that and have probably heard rumors that a couple well knowns are on the move.