Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Since 1990 every year I send out a Christmas letter to my friends and parishioners.  It's done "the old fashioned way," that is, printed words on a paper, inserted in an envelope, mailed by the U.S. Postal Service to a mailbox.  I suspect in the very near future, my letter will go out like this, that is, electronically.  Here's the 2013 version.

December 17, 2013

Dear friends,

Merry Christmas!

Just when you think you've "seen it all," the God of Surprises strikes.  On Monday, February 11, as I was preparing to drive to the Byzantine Catholic Seminary to teach a class on moral theology, I was astounded to hear that Pope Benedict XVI had resigned the papacy, the first since 1415.  Wow!  After a month of frenzied papabile-searching (yes, our gang of friends had a "new pope party" compete with betting on candidates) the world was again shocked by the election on March 13 of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  A pope of many firsts--first Jesuit, first from the Americas, first from the Southern Hemisphere, and first to take the beautiful name and patron of St. Francis of Assisi.

Today is Pope Francis's 77th birthday, and in the mail came his smiling visage as TIME's Man of the Year.  Our church and our world have been blessed by his deeds, his words and his smile.  May we all learn how to follow Christ more deeply in the 21st century from this humble, holy man.  I suspect that Pope Francis is not finished surprising us with his ministry as bishop of Rome.

Life and ministry for me in 2013 was undramatic but satisfying.  The four parishes I pastor continue to work together with us three priests.  The pastoral councils and finance councils meet as one body monthly.  We've had many meetings of ministers for greater cooperation and collaboration.  The first week of 2014 will bring a roll-out of one bulletin for the four parishes, and a new "portal" website, .  St. Vincent de Paul and St. Vitus parishes completed their participation in the $125 million diocesan "Our Campaign for the Church Alive" by exceeding their targets.  Mary Mother of Hope and St. Joseph the Worker parishes will begin their campaigns after Christmas.  Our four parishes were blessed by two seminarian interns this summer, Chris Mannerino for his second year, and Zach Galiyas.  God willing, and the bishop wanting, both will be ordained deacons next June.  I felt both the weight of my years and the accumulated wisdom of 35 years in the priesthood as I mentored these fine young men.

One highlight of the year was a pilgrimage to Italy in October.  My associate, Father Nick Vaskov, and I led 50 delightful parishioners from New Castle on tours of the Vatican, Rome, Assisi, Verona, Siena and Venice.  We were privileged to see Pope Francis twice, in the square outside St. Peter's Basilica at his usual Wednesday audience, and in Assisi two days later, on October, 4, the feast day of his patron.  We celebrated Mass at the tomb of a future saint (Blessed John Paul II), an evangelist (St. Mark, Venice), an apostle (St. Paul Outside the Walls), a miracle-worker (St. Anthony, Padua), and an African fisherman-bishop (St. Zeno, Verona).  I also learned the best locations for gelato in Rome from a gustatory expert!

The other highlight was facing the "big 6-0."  Instead of crying, my friend Rosanne Saunders and I decided to have some fun.  Rosanne and I are only 11 days apart in age, and on October 25 we hosted a "60s for 60" party to benefit Sisters Place, a ministry of Catholic sisters in Clairton which offers supportive housing to single parents and their children.  We challenged friends and neighbors to pony up a donation, and boy did they come through--over $12,500 for Sisters Place.  Most of the guests took our suggestion and come in costumes of the 1960s.  What a blast! Rosanne and I brought our own surprise as an accordion duo covering the Beatles' "With a Little Help from our Friends."  Let's just say the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame won't be calling us.

Here's my prayer that the God of Surprises will bless you with grace, peace, mercy and love in abundance in the birth of our Savior, and throughout the new year of grace 2014.

Prophets of Advent: Mary

The Sacred Scriptures have very little information on Mary, the mother of the Christ Child and wife of Joseph.  Luke has the most:  the angel Gabriel's appearance to announce to Mary that she will conceive a boy, not through her intended husband but by "the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit"; the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; her purification after childbirth; and the finding of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem when he was 12 years old.  In Luke's Acts of the Apostles Mary joins the twelve apostles in prayer.  Matthew adds the worship of Jesus by the magi, with Mary looking on.  There are two appearance of Mary in the gospel of John, though not by her given name but only by title:  at the wedding in Cana and at the foot of the cross as Jesus is dying.

Mary's prayer to God, spoken after the praise of her family relative Elizabeth, is one of the most revered in the New Testament, or throughout the history of the Catholic Church.  Luke 1:46-55 is usually called the "Magnificat," after the Latin word for praise.  It is really a classically Jewish prayer, modeled after the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10) and other Old Testament texts.  Mary affirms the power of God, especially for the lowly, hungry and humble.  This payer is one of the components of evening prayer (vespers) in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The two basic Christian beliefs concerning Mary, that she gives birth to the son of God, and the virginal conception of Jesus, are clearly stated in the Gospels.  Other beliefs are developed from these two basic beliefs, or flow from the reflection and theology of the church over the centuries.

Mary's gift to God and to the church was her saying "yes" to the angel's announcement that she will conceive (by the Holy Spirit) and give birth to a son.  After getting over her shock, she affirms God's will for her.  "I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word."  Her "yes" continued through her marriage to Joesph, as the two of them raised Jesus in Nazareth.  She said "yes" when Jesus left her to begin his public ministry of preaching, teaching and healing.  The early church saw her as a disciple of Jesus, not because of biology as his mother but because of faith and saying "yes" to his Paschal Mystery.

Each year the celebration of the birth of Christ gives us the opportunity to imitate Mary, saying "yes" to the Christ child and "yes" to all he teaches and is.  Our "yes" is begun in baptism, and repeated when we come to Mass, receive Holy Communion, pray daily, support our parish community, care for the poor in our midst, and try to live justly and lovingly as Christ taught.  May we revere Mary for her continual and prophetic "yes" to Christ her son.

Prophets of Advent: Joseph

Joseph, husband of Mary, is not usually thought of as a prophet.  He is also the most overlooked figure in the stories of Advent and Christmas.  His wife Mary, the newborn Christ Child, the angel Gabriel, the shepherds, the magi, even the oxen and asses in the stable at Bethlehem get more attention that Joseph.   Why?

Joseph is quiet.  He is not quoted in either Matthew or Luke's gospels, and does not appear in Mark or John, or anywhere else in the New Testament.

Joseph is just.  When he learns that his wife-to-be Mary is pregnant, and he knows he is not responsible, he decided to to embarrass her and just divorce her without public notice.  But in a dream the angel of the Lord instructs him to go ahead with the planned wedding even though Mary is pregnant, and take Mary (and baby) into his family.

Joseph loved Mary, his wife.  His love was that of service and unassuming care.  He provided for her and Jesus's material needs, and their spiritual needs.

Joseph is the faithful head of household.  Joseph does as the Lord says, and by naming the first-born baby and assuming paternity, becomes the devoted foster-father of Jesus in Nazareth.  

Joseph is a hard worker.  He was a wood-worker, or carpenter.  Some speculate that he made objects for the home, as well as caskets.  So that Jesus would have a trade with which to feed himself as an adult, like generations of fathers Joseph taught Jesus his wood-working skills.  I often think of Joseph and Jesus as having heavily callused hands, from their laboring with wood.

Joseph was a teacher of prayers.  Joseph and Mary were faithful Jews.  It was the responsibility of the father to teach his children the ways of faith, to believe in the Lord God.  Joseph, like most Jews of his time, probably could not read or write.  But he undoubtedly memorized the prayers and psalms, and taught what he prayed to Jesus.

Joseph was humble.  Only a truly humble man could do all that Joesph did, without fanfare, or complaint, or argument with God.

What does St. Joseph teach us about Advent.  The virtues of Joseph are the virtues of the followers of the Christ Child.  These are:  to be quiet (let others speak); be listeners to the will of God for us; just; dedicated family members; hard workers; faithful members of our religious community; devoted pray-ers; teachers of prayers to others; humble of heart; and lovers of Mary, the mother of God.  These virtues imitate the ways and teachings of Jesus, who was raised so well by his foster-father Joseph.

Prophets of Advent: John the Baptizer

When most Christians think about Advent, the figure of St. John the Baptist comes to mind.  It is John who "prepares the way for the Lord."  What do we know about him?

John was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who had him in their old age.  Luke's gospel says that Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were "kinswomen," that is, had some kind of family relationship.  As an adult John lived in the desert in the manner of ancient prophets.  He denounced sin, called his fellow Jews to repentance by baptism with water, and announced the coming of the Messiah as judge, who will "baptize with fire."  He denies that he is the Messiah, and point the way to Jesus as one for whom "I am not worthy to carry his sandals."  He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, and called him "the lamb of God."

Later John was imprisoned by King Herod for publicly rebuking him over his incestuous marriage.  John was beheaded as a result of a foolish pledge made by Herod at a banquet when he was half-drunk.  The New Testament presents John the Baptist as the last of the prophets, the precursor of the Messiah.  Jesus called John a prophet, and the greatest of those born of women.

The public ministries of John and Jesus overlapped.  Some scholars theorize that for a short time Jesus was a listener to the message of John in the desert, and one of his followers.  Then after his baptism by John, and John's arrest and imprisonment, Jesus set out on his own ministry to accomplish his Father's will.  Jesus gathered his own disciples around him, some of whom came over from the Baptist.  In Matthew's gospel Jesus calls attention to the contrast between the austere life of John and his own ordinary manner of life, "eating and drinking."

What does John the Baptist tell us about Advent?  John points to Jesus as the Messiah, the chosen one of the Father.  At John's baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the spirit of God descended on Jesus.  A voice was heard from the heavens, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."  In Advent, we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah.  We prepare by affirming who Jesus is, and by recommitting to follow Jesus, on December 25 and every day thereafter.

And not just any Jesus.  To John the Baptist and to us, Jesus is not just another fine, imaginative teacher or charismatic miracle worker.  He is the son of God and our savior.  He is the promised One of the Father.  He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.  He embraces his humanity, even to the point of death.  Jesus is poor and humble, and calls his followers (like John the Baptist) to similar poverty of spirit and humility in action.

The Advent song says it well:  

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh
Awake and hearken for he brings
Glad tidings of the King of Kings.

Prophets of Advent: Isaiah

On each of the four Sundays in Advent we listen to passages from the prophet Isaiah.  One scholar says this about prophets:  "The prophet is a messenger for God.  The function of a prophet is to convey to people God's desire for them.  This task involves two kinds of persuasion:  criticizing and energizing."  The readings we hear in Isaiah are energizing passages.  They are also imaginative.  Some of the most familiar images of Advent come from Isaiah:  "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain."  "The people shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks."  The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the calf and young lion shall browse together."  "The desert and the parched land shall exult." "The virgin shall conceive and bear a son."

These images were picture of the "kingdom of God" as God desired the Jewish people to live, in the 7th century before Christ when Isaiah preached.  But over time, these sayings and many more were saved, and repeated to other generations.  After the death and resurrection of Christ, the early Christians looked back at Isaiah, and other Jewish prophets, and saw in their writings a kind of prediction of the coming of the Messiah.  They saw that it was Jesus of whom Isaiah was speaking when he wrote:  "The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him; a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD."

In Luke's gospel, the adult Jesus comes out of the desert after forth days of prayer, goes to the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, and quotes Isaiah:  "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the LORD."  Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down [the ancient position of a teacher], and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.  He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."  

What does Isaiah tell us about the season of Advent? In the days before the feast of Christmas we renew our complete trust in God's presence among us.  At the same time, we don't just let God do all the work.  We carry out those activities to make a "peaceable kingdom" possible, by being peacemakers and reconcilers in our families and communities.  We are willing to accept criticism that we may forget the poor.  This may mean we have to change our ways to care for God's least, last and lost.  And we see in Isaiah and all the Old Testament prophets, that the promised Messiah does come.  Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and son of God, is the fulfillment of God's plan.

In these days before and after Christmas, it is good to open the bible to the book of Isaiah, and read and be energized by some of the most stirring and imaginative passages in the entire biblical tradition.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Men Don't Cry, Do They?

Sirius XM satellite radio offers six channels of Christmas music during December.  It's a delight to listen to the commercial-free songs while driving around, whether old-timey ones or more recent efforts.  

One of those songs which I've heard several times this month is Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne."  It's not really a Christmas song, as it has nothing to do with the birth of Christ or the Advent/Christmas season.  But it's usually played on the radio in December, among the "Silver Bells" and "Jingle Bells" and "Little Drummer Boy" because the setting for the story-line happens on Christmas Eve.  

And for some unknown reason, I almost always cry when I hear the song.

It's a deceptively simple story.    The songwriter bumps into a former girlfriend, they talk, they part.  The performance is spare too, with a haunting intro, Fogelberg's gentle singing voice, and a mournful sax solo to conclude.  Here are the lyrics (and where you can listen to his performance):

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And touched her on the sleeve

She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried.

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And drank it in her car.

Refrain:  We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness 
But neither one knew how.

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie.

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw
Doubt or gratitude.

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly 
But the traveling it was hell.

Refrain:  We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

Refrain:  We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another "auld lang syne"

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away.

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain.

As the calendar gets changed, you look back at the past year, and all the years passing by so quickly, and wonder...what if.  Fogelberg's lyrics touch something in me as I think about the losses in my life.   Themes of regret, and wistfulness, and loss, and hurt, and moving on, waft through my mind and heart.

This is not the only song which inevitably moves my tear ducts to get a workout.  Stephen Sondheim's "Children and Art" and "Move On" from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Sunday in the Park with George, also do this.  In those classy songs, especially as sung by Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin, the themes are creativity and fear, possibility and hope.  

And when I do cry, I also remember John 11: 33-35, where Jesus is "moved by the deepest emotions" at the death of his friend Lazarus, and weeps.

Do you have any songs which move "the depths of your being" and make you cry?

A Serving of Sports Deli

When I moved from one rectory to another 17 months ago, I realized I was drowning in Pittsburgh Steelers stuff.  Here's a short list of what I have:

  • Jacket for fall
  • Leather jacket with all 6 Super Bowl win logos
  • Authentic Hines Ward game jersey
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Socks
  • Blanket
  • Many tee shirts 
  • Many tossle caps
  • Many baseball hats
  • Key rings
  • Sweatshirt
  • Sweatpants
  • Watch
  • Post-it notes
  • Pair of Crocs
  • Waffle iron
  • Replica of Super Bowl XLIII ring
I don't think such possessions fit with Pope Francis's call for the clergy to forsake clericalism and live simple lives.  Oh well.  He too has a favorite football ("soccer") team.  He just received their red and blue championship shirt.

My cupboard of Penguins and Pirates stuff is much smaller.  But the playoffs beckon for both...

When I do need to feed my sports affiliation addiction, I go to the Sports Deli in Greentree.  This store is crammed with an incredible accumulation of current and past clothing, memorabilia, knickknacks, souvenirs and tchotchkes for local and national pro sports teams.  They also have a smaller selection of Pitt, Penn State and other college teams.

I wanted to buy my brother Martin a tossle cap with a Pirate logo as a Christmas present.  I couldn't find one anywhere.   I went to the Sports Deli.  And they had one (actually two)!  (I can say this on line, since my brother Martin does not have internet access, and is not a "friend.")

And Sports Deli is running sales.  20% off all merchandise, 60% of selected stuff.  Can't beat the price or the selection.

The store used to be in the Parkway Center mall.  When that sad mall closed, Sports Deli moved to a former Blockbuster shop across the access road, which leads to the Greentree Giant Eagle.  Easy access off the Parkway West.

Let me say that my blog is "commercial free."  I don't know the owner of the Sports Deli, and have received no compensation for this post.  But it's a quintessential unassuming 'Burg place, and deserves all the customer support it can get.

Sports Deli.  1157 McKinney Lane, 15220.  412-922-8480. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Gravity" Rising

While on vacation a few weeks ago, I managed to see two arresting movies.  Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.  I have little doubt that both will be up for Best Picture of the Year when the Academy Award nominations are announced.

Let me offer just one comment about Gravity.  Beyond it's visually stunning photography, and excellent performance by Bullock, there was an underlying theme of the uplifting nature of the human heart.  In other words, there was rich spirituality in director Alfonso Cuaron's work.

I was going to try to express this in a blog, but upon returning home, I stumbled across a review of the movie by Father Robert Barron, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and noted commentator on all things Catholic.  I'll let him express the spirituality of Gravity so much better.  See his own written review or the video commentary.  (Both have spoilers revealed, if you haven't seen the movie.)

And by all accounts, go see both movies.  Gravity is best seen in 3-D, if you can find it at this late date.  

Thanksgiving Boycott

Though Thanksgiving is not an official feast of the Catholic Church, I think it is one of the loveliest "holy days" of the entire year.  During this season of giving thanks, you see much generosity in meals for the homebound, elderly, homeless.  Over the years Thanksgiving Day has been blessedly free of commerce -- until now.  Creeping commercialism is threatening this more-or-less "stores closed" zone of one 24 hour day.  

News reports over the past two weeks tell us that many major retail stores (including Macy's, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Sears, Penney's, Kohl's, and a host of smaller shops) are planning to be open on Thanksgiving Day in the evening.  "Black Friday" openings have been drawing closer to Thanksgiving Day (first 6:00 a.m., then 4:00 a.m., then midnight).  Now many malls and shopping centers will be open on Thanksgiving Day itself.  

I think this commercialism of a day our country devotes to family, food, faith (and a little football) is atrocious.  At Masses this past Sunday I appealed to parishioners to pledge not to shop anywhere on Thanksgiving Day.  I was amazed to get applause at two of my four Masses, and many came up to me after Masses to thank me for mentioning this appeal.  

The only way to oppose this is by doing nothing.  Shop on Wednesday.  Shop on Black Friday (even at 4:00 a.m., if you are crazy enough to awaken then).  Shop on-line.  Plan ahead to have what you need for cooking and enjoying the turkey and trimmings.  But boycott any and every store (including food stores, convenience stores and gas stations) on Thanksgiving Day itself.

I feel for the workers who do have to work on Thanksgiving Day (such as police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, nurses and aides and doctors in hospitals and nursing homes, folks at airports and hotels).  There is no need for other stores to be open on Thanksgiving Day.  You would think that 363 days of availability (excepting Thanksgiving and Christmas) would be enough for these  companies.  

If you agree with this idea, pass it on to your family members and friends.  Do not shop on Thanksgiving Day.  Give thanks to God for your blessings, and have a wonderful time with your loved ones that day.


An embarrassing post-script.  I wrote this blog post on Wednesday, November 20, but somehow failed to publish it on the blog BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Oh well.  Nobody listens to me anyhow.  Black Friday sales (with Thanksgiving Day openings) increased 1.3% over 2012.  

60s for 60 Party

We didn't make  The New York Times society page, Vanity Fair, the Seen column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, or even the Aspinwall Herald, but the party of the year was held on Friday, October 25, at the John Paul I Pastoral Center, St. Juan Diego Parish in beautiful downtown Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania.

I'm referring of course to the "60s for 60" party which celebrated the 60th birthday of Rosanne Saunders and myself.  About 130 wacky friends joined us to celebrate both the 1960s and our milestone birthday way back in 1953, and raise money for Sisters Place, too.  Sisters Place is a supporting housing community committed to assisting single families who are homeless in Southwest Pennsylvania.  Sisters Place's mission is to assist families toward self-sufficiency by providing housing and supportive services.  For more information, or to donate, check out their website.

Both Rosanne and I are former board members of Sisters Place, and have supported Sisters Place for years.

Let's get the boring part out of the way.  Our very generous guests and friends exceeded Rosanne and my personal goal of $10,000, and raised over $12,500 for Sisters Place.  Give yourself a hand!

Now to the fun.  To my amazement, most of our guests took up the invitation to come in costume to the party.  And what costumes!!!!

We engaged Pics and Poses Photo Booth to bring their travelling studio to our party, and the photos on this post are from their collection.  To see all the crazy photos yourself, go to their website and click on "Photo Gallery" and then on "10/25/2013 Sisters Place."  

Yes, we had fake nuns and real nuns, fake hippies and real hippies, bobbie soxers and cheerleaders, and just about every other nutcase from the 1960s.

Food was provided by the great people of  Bistro to Go from the North Side of Pittsburgh.  The 1960s themed menu included appetizers of Buggles with onion dip, Tang, celery sticks filled with peanut butter and cheese.   The main menu included Swedish meatballs, Mrs. Paul's fish sticks, mac and cheese, sliders, broccoli surprise, and fried chicken .  Salad was two kinds of jello.  Dessert was a massive Pittsburgh-style cookie tray.  

Father Dan Whalen did his best MC imitation, failing miserably to get the crowd to stop laughing.  The children of St. Vitus School produced a dynamite five minute video tribute to me. 

Connie Vaskov and her art students at Penn-Trafford High School did their best Andy Warhol impression with wild 60s themed posters.  Father Nick Vaskov used photos from the personal photographic archives of Rosanne and myself to offer a revealing rolling slide show, interspersed with some of the iconic photos and events of the 1960s.

Alice Kulikowski edited a delightful commemorative program.  Sister Mary Parks (a real nun who came dressed as a hippie), who in real life is the energetic executive director of Sisters Place, thanks the gathered assembly on behalf of the moms and children of Sisters Place.  Jeff Anderson and his ever-helpful wife Sue made the dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies appear.  

Sister Liguori Rossner, also a real nun, came dressed in the garb of a 1960s vintage Sister.  (As Rosanne noted, Sister Liguori touched both of our lives.  She was a teacher of Rosanne at the Bishop Boyle High School, Homestead, in the 1960s, and worked with myself and several others to found the Jubilee Soup Kitchen in 1979.)  Father Jim Garvey, a real priest, walked in with more hair on his head than he had in the 1960s.

What would a party be without a surprise?  Rosanne and I secretly practiced playing our childhood musical instrument, the accordion, and appeared to the tune of "You Are My Sunshine," with a duo of "With a Little Help from My Friends" by the Beatles.  Let's just say that the video of this travesty was rejected even by the spying NSA file-grabbers, and that we accordionists quit while we were ahead.

The staff of St. Juan Diego Parish couldn't have been more helpful, including pastor Father Mike Decewicz, and Rose, Rosie, Mary Ann, Scott and Jerry.  Kudos to long-suffering Martin Saunders, Rosanne's real life husband, who had to put up not only with six months of planning, but also six weeks of horrific accordion practice.  

And a great time was had by all!

MC Dan Whalen and myself imitating a nerd.

Newly 60 Rosanne and loving husband Martin.