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Archive for November, 2012

Thanksgiving for Sandy Relief

Twice in eleven years I have seen unimaginable tragedy strike the New York tri-state area, with Staten Island profoundly impacted, and twice I have seen an outpouring from around the nation that simply beggars the imagination.

The first was 9/11, with hundreds of Staten Islander killed. Virtually all of us lost friends and loved ones, fellow parishioners or former schoolmates in that disaster. The response of the nation in prayer and financial support for the survivors was unprecedented. Perhaps naively, I never expected that we would be laid so low ever again.

Sandy disabused me of that notion, and the response from around the nation has been even more astounding than that following 9/11. The food, clothing, blankets, cots, beds have been so plentiful that the volunteers have had quite a time keeping up with the rate of flow.

What we are doing this weekend on Staten Island is having the pastors of the various churches, Knights of Columbus, and other groups coming together to compile a collective inventory, assess what needs remain, and then formulate a plan for redistributing the remainder to other areas of need who have not enjoyed the same media coverage we have.

Absolutely no donation will go to waste, or be misdirected. The diligence and care with which the donations are being managed is noteworthy.

In a similar way, the donations from the Coming Home pro-life family have been tremendous. I’m told that the donations to Sr. Margaret Mary’s food pantry at St. Theresa’s Church now stand in the thousands of dollars, and more coming every day. Every penny will be used, and rather quickly as people return to their homes (those that were damaged but in need of repair).

At 4 PM, I’ll bee meeting a moving truck sent by native Staten Islander, Lt. Mike Kipp from Fort Benning, Georgia. It’s loaded with brand new blankets, cots, coats and clothing. It is a gift from the people of his parish and the military personnel on the base.

As Thanksgiving looms large, yes, there are thousands whose lives have been torn apart by Sandy, and they will be uppermost in our prayers. However, it is a time for giving thanks to almighty God for the love and care extended to our community by millions of people. With FEMA still largely absent, this loving support from around the nation has been literally Heaven-sent.

On behalf of all those here who have benefitted from your generosity, of those who have been inspired by your love, my deepest thanks. Please be assured that as we gather in our churches on Thanksgiving, you will all be lifted up in thanksgiving by this island. Your generosity, and the outpouring of help from those here as well best illustrate JFK’s closing admonition from his inaugural address:

With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

For those who would still wish to help, the best way at this point is donating to the food pantrys, with food being the longest-term need well into the new year. Just send your check (which is tax-deductable) made out to: St. Theresa’s Food Pantry.

Address your envelope to:

St. Theresa’s Food Pantry
Sandy Relief
c/o Sr. Margaret Mary
1634 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, New York 10314

Again, my deepest and heartfelt thanks. May the love that you have shared be returned a hundred-fold! Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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One of the most heartbreaking stories of death here on Staten Island during Superstorm Sandy is that of one Mrs. Glenda Moore who was attempting to drive her little boys to the safety of family in Brooklyn New York when her car stalled out in the rapidly rising storm surge. According to the early reports, Mrs. Moore sat the boys, 2 and 4, on the roof of the car when a wave separated the mother and sons.

Mrs. Moore and her husband are regarded by neighbors as warm and loving parents who are least deserving of the tragedy that has befallen them.

Read it here before continuing.

The emerging narrative is that Mrs. Moore went door-to-door looking for help and was refused; the entire drama occurring in the zone of mandatory evacuation. Neither she nor they should have been there.

It’s simply heartbreaking, but one needs to understand a little geography from the scene to contextualize the story. Mrs. Moore was traveling along a major road that runs right along the boardwalk, three lanes in either direction. She was on the side of the road closest to the water. The houses are all on the other side of the road, called Father Capodanno Blvd.

If one stands on the boardwalk and looks straight out, one is at the mouth of the New York Harbor, where the Atlantic Ocean is funneled in by the angled shorelines of New Jersey and Brooklyn. The full fury of the ocean was funneled precisely at Mrs. Moore’s location.

Having spoken with friends who were in the area, the water came pouring in like a wall. I’ve seen the damage, and helped in the area, which was completely devastated.

The truth is that there was nothing that could have been done. Had I been there and came out to the rapidly rising ocean surrounding my home, with transformers exploding on the telephone poles, in the inky black of night, with waters filled with debris that becomes deadly submerged projectiles in the roiling currents, with power lines coming down in the waters, with no idea of where those boys were with waves crashing against the house in 90 mile per hour winds, I wouldn’t have gone swimming about aimlessly.

The ocean is unforgiving.

This is the tragedy of a mother who drove almost a mile from one main road on higher ground to get to Father Capodanno Blvd, which is right on the beach. It was a fatal error made by a mother who loved her children passionately. However, what this is NOT is a story of is heartlessness, of callousness.

Had anyone gone into those waters, there might well have been a higher body count. The truth is that Mrs. Moore’s boys were already drowned by the time she made it to those doors and started begging for help that was already futile. That’s the cold and brutal reality of the events as reported.

Had I, or any other Staten Islander seen Mrs. Moore lose her grip on the boys, then yes, we would have risked all to dive in after them. But to look out at the ocean rising all about and not know where to begin?

All of Staten Island weeps with Mrs. Moore and her husband, but this story has gone national and international with the potential to unjustly sully the character of a community that is second to none in its shared sense of community.

There is a great, huge difference between refusing to help and refusing to commit suicide. Mrs. Moore fled in the middle of a storm that we all knew for several days was coming. She then drove to the very place where the flooding would be, in the midst of that storm, while there were safe shelters open on the island. To turn this into something that it’s not, her unimaginable grief notwithstanding, cannot be permitted.

We pray for the Moore’s healing, that these two loving parents may be comforted by the community and their Catholic faith, and that the initial bitterness surrounding that night’s events might soon be seen in its proper light.

Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let Perpetual Light shine upon them.

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What does an incumbent elected by a landslide (331-206 electoral votes if Fla. goes his way) get to do for a second term?

Anything he wants, especially with John Boehner at the helm for the Republicans in the House of Representatives. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Boehner did an about-face and declared that Obamacare is now the law of the land and that he would do nothing to slow or halt the most pro-death piece of legislation in American history. Further thoughts, from LifeSite News, by Obama’s newest, bestest buddy on the Hill:

Boehner said he “slept like a baby” on election night, knowing Barack Obama would lead the country for another four years. “I may not like the five cards that have been dealt to me, but those are the cards I’ve got in my hand.”

“My job on behalf of the American people is to find a way to vote with my Democratic colleagues,” he said, “and a Democratic president to solve America’s problems.”

Read the rest of the stunning Republican implosion here.

If John Boehner, who has received pro-life awards, truly believes in the presence of abundant atrocities in Obamacare, then as the Speaker of the House he could do all in his power to prevent the funding of this pro-death legislation. That’s part of the Constitutional system of checks and balances. But the Speaker has rolled over and surrendered. One cannot support that which is intrinsically evil. Rather than rallying with the base, the Republican leadership has just signaled their disdain for the party’s base, which is to say, the conservative and pro-life voice of the nation.

Next up, the Catholic Bishops.

The Obama contraceptive mandate now enjoys an electoral mandate. If the courts do not support the bishops, what will they do? Head for the tall grass, like Boehner, or will they risk all by standing and fighting? Indications from many bishops is that they will simply close hospitals and schools, rather than comply.

That plays into Obama’s hands by giving him exactly what he wants without a politically damaging battle. This is the bishop’s Gettysburg. This is the pivotal battle. They must stand their ground in the face of withering fire, and there will be casualties and the effusion of much financial blood; but the alternative is unthinkable.

Not only must we hold our ground, we must advance all the way into the enemy’s capital. The landslide this week was sweet news for Planned Parenthood and Cecile Richards. It was sweet news for the abortion industry. It was sweet news for a Democrat Party that refused to support legislation banning sex-selective abortions. It was sweet news for the Culture of Death.

All of this sweet news for the other side underscores the imperative for the New Evangelization, and why the bishops need to stand their ground. With all of that said, this isn’t about Obama and the bishops.

It’s about us. We the people.

We don’t need the bishops in order to evangelize, to educate, to lead and shape the nation. It’s convenient to stand by expecting the bishops to be courageous for us, to suffer the slings and arrows for us, to take the ridicule for us, to be the martyrs for us. But that’s not who we’re called to be.

The bishops have their work, and we have ours. 51% of our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers voted for Obama. That means we either didn’t do a good enough job at evangelizing them, or they simply don’t care. As for the president, he is only one man. He presides over a very different nation than that which existed a quarter-century ago, a nation that sees a very different self when it looks in the mirror.

If the specter of an Obama second term is horrifying, the fact that he won in a landslide not on the economy, but on the social issues, should be sobering to us.

Perhaps the failure isn’t the fault of the 51%, or the bishops, or the weak and tepid Republican leadership.

Perhaps it’s ours.

It’s time to look beyond the narrow time-frames and the allure of quick fixes inherent in the election cycles, and focussing instead on the long, hard work of rebuilding a Western Civilization that has finally imploded. That means developing a curriculum and doing the hard work, not of changing what people see in the mirror, but what they bring to the mirror.

I’m not at all dispirited. Tuesday was simply a confirmation.

Now the work begins.

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In Hurricane Katrina a Democrat Governor delayed in making the call that was legally necessary, the one asking the President to send in Federal troops. The Federal Government was similarly ill-prepared. CNN and FoxNews both reported that the state Homeland Security of LA refused to allow the Red Cross to go into New Orleans. Governor Blanco and President Bush assumed responsibility for their respective failures, and all vowed, ‘Never again”.

Enter Superstorm Sandy.

Government cannot prevent the destruction of property in natural disasters. It happens. By all accounts, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg did an excellent job in admonishing people to leave the areas under direct threat, and ordered the mandatory evacuations. For myriad reasons, many of my neighbors failed to heed the warning and paid with their lives.

That’s nobody’s fault but their own.

However, the catastrophe we now face can and must in large measure be laid at the feet of these men, Obama, Cuomo, Bloomberg. We had at least five day’s notice that this monster was headed our way. Why were emergency generators not assembled and pre-positioned in safe areas for rapid deployment after the storm?

Why were tents, blankets, MRE’s, etc not similarly deployed? Why were police stations, schools, churches not pre-designated as centers to apply for food, blankets, FEMA aid, etc? People without power, heat, clothing, food can’t hear the radio broadcasts of leaders telling them to go to websites (which they can’t access anyway) to find out where to obtain assistance.

Why have neighborhoods in the NYC borough of Queens descended into anarchy, with devastated residents left to fend for themselves against looters with guns, baseball bats, and even bow and arrow? This, while the Mayor swore that we could simultaneously staff a 26 mile marathon route through all 5 boroughs!

Mayor Bloomberg was shamed into canceling the NYC Marathon, when the press reported three large generators were sitting in Central Park to power a party tent. This, against the backdrop of increasingly long lines for gasoline because most stations were without power, a situation deteriorating as of last night.

Those generators could, and should have been deployed to intersections with two and three gas stations in order to ease the shortage, which we have been told is a result of the loss of electricity to power the pumps. People need the gas to power generators for heat and light.

It was Bloomberg’s Marie Antoinette moment. Let them eat cake.

Would that Bloomberg showed the same zeal for disaster logistics as he has for banning trans fats, 20 oz. soda (pop), taxing tobacco into the stratosphere, mandating the posting of calorie counts on menus, banning soda machines in schools, trampling private property rights of bar owners in outlawing smoking, handing out Plan B to children in schools, attempting to crush crisis pregnancy centers…

This failure, and his obsession with the eating habits of his citizens are his valedictory: hard won and fairly earned.

To the credit of my fellow New Yorkers, we’re not waiting for our elected officials to act. Slowly, amidst suffering that could have been attenuated by responsible advanced logistical planning, we’re climbing back.

This can’t be blamed on Republicans this time. In New York, it’s a Democrat trifecta. Of course, the spin will be that government can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to do everything. And that is true. But the scandalous truth is that they failed to do most of what it is they were supposed to do.

“Never again,” doesn’t mean no more storms. It means responsible planning. Realistic logistics. An informed citizenry. A post-disaster police/national guard presence that is clear and forceful.

“Never again,” is about leadership from in front, and leadership that is characterized by proactive needs assessment and timely follow-through.

It’s time for a change.

NOTE: For a way to help buy food for stricken Staten Islanders, where every penny donated will be used to purchase food, click here.

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Several folks have written and asked how they might help the victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York. I’m pleased to say that I’ve arranged for a way to feed the victims with EVERY PENNY going directly to the purchase of food, with NO administrative costs, whatsoever.

Saint Theresa’s Church on Staten Island has a food pantry run by a terrific religious sister, Sister Margaret Mary. I spoke with her today and the situation is dire. I’ve been to the affected areas repeatedly. No gas, electric, heat, hot water, telephone. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, et al. have been nowhere in sight.

Gas lines are a several hour ordeal.

Many supermarkets still have no power and can’t sell retail.

In short, it’s like a third world country. In similarly affected areas of Queens, New York, it has descended into anarchy. It’s a disgrace, but that’s a topic for later analysis. Right now we have fellow Americans in extreme distress.

Sister Margaret Mary can get institutional commodity suppliers to do direct deliveries as needed, and every donation made is as appreciated as it is critical. Here’s how you can help. Just send your check (which is tax-deductable) made out to: St. Theresa’s Food Pantry.

Address your envelope to:

St. Theresa’s Food Pantry
Sandy Relief
c/o Sr. Margaret Mary
1634 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, New York 10314

When you send your donation, just mention how you heard about the fund so I can get a sense of how wide a net we cast. Perhaps people’s parishes or prayer groups could adopt the food pantry.

If anyone can copy this to their own blog or Facebook account, I would be personally very grateful. When I began this blog, I made a vow that I would never seek a single red penny for myself, and as of next month when Coming Home turns three, I am proud to say that I have honored that vow. I only ask (and rarely, at that) for support for others.

This is as pro-life as it gets, folks. The cold weather is setting in now, and we have a Nor’easter on the way for next week. If you want a solid and reliable guarantee that your money will make a difference, Sister Margaret Mary and her Food Pantry are the real deal. Here’s the link to the food pantry at St. Theresa.

God Bless you all for your loving generosity!!

Update 11/4/12: Many are asking in emails if there is a paypal account. I’ll talk with Sister Margaret Mary about this, but please don’t hesitate to send a check. The devastation is so extensive, so deep and severe that the acute needs will last past Thanksgiving. The chronic needs will last well into the New Year. We need to feed multitudes for months to come. Many of these areas were impoverished to begin with, with frightful unemployment rates that were well above the national average. Snail mail will get the money here in plenty of time to do a world of good. God Bless!

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File this one under rank hypocrisy.

By Baptist Press, Wed, October 24, 2012
WASHINGTON (BP) — Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider, has spent $12 million on this year’s presidential election through its political action committees.

That is more than it has ever spent in an election, and about half of it has gone for television ads in such battleground states as Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to the Associated Press.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s president, said she has “taken a break from [her] day job” to campaign for President Obama. In a video released by the Obama campaign on Oct. 19, Richards said, “Our daughters’ and our granddaughters’ future depends on” working to re-elect the president.

Read the rest here

To put these numbers into perspective, let’s recall the savagery of Planned Parenthood’s attacks against Susan G. Komen for the Cure when they announced that they were no longer renewing their annual $600,000 in grants for breast exams because PP doesn’t do mamograms as they claimed to do. Komen wanted their money to go for actual mammograms and not the far less reliable manual breast exams PP does.

Planned Parenthood lied.

Period.

Komen wanted the best for women.

Period.

We all know what ensued, and how Komen caved to a coordinated campaign of lies and terror tactics, with PP claiming that women’s lives would be on the line without that $600,000 per year in funding for the PP cheap squeeze.

Now comes word that PP has already spent $12 million on Obama’s reelection campaign, and plans to spend another $850,000 before next week. That comes to 21.5 times the money Komen tried to withdraw.

What about all of those women who would surely die with a mere fraction of that $13 million being spent on reelecting Obama? How many more women will most certainly die with 21.5 times the loss of those dollars in PP’s account? The truth is that PP doesn’t save women’s lives nearly as frequently as they claim. As the largest abortion provider in the country they actually kill more females than any other “medical” provider. (Ditto for males as well)

The truth is that PP has NEVER performed mammograms, but even as recently as this month Obama has persisted in repeating that lie.

The truth is that MAMMOGRAMS save lives, and that lumps too deep or too small to be palpated can be missed by the PP cheap squeeze and that Komen got it right in wanting to redirect their funds.

The truth is that the birth control pills handed to teenage girls under 18 years of age by PP and others increase those girls’ risk of developing the deadliest and most aggressive form of breast cancer (Triple Negative Breast Cancer) by 540%!!!

The truth is that abortion raises women’s risk of developing breast cancer, as the peer-reviewed scientific literature has been detailed exhaustively on this blog.

Komen has no business funding the merchants of death at PP. Their noble mission is to save lives. For their efforts they were painted as callous and obtuse as regards women’s health–by the people whose very mission and activities increases the risk of breast cancer…

…By the very people who would go on to spend, according to the reports, 21.5 times Komen’s $600,000 to reelect the most rabidly pro-abortion president in US history. All in contradiction to their stated goal of protecting and saving women’s lives.

Hypocrisy yielding to unbridled contempt and thuggery.

Komen got mugged.

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