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Trinita Retreat Center – Family Development Program

Trinita had a birthday recently – 99 years it has been in the Missionary Cenacle Family’s hands, thanks to a donation to Fr. Judge.

I am not sure how long the Family Development Program has been going – run by the Sisters’ branch, with help from Missionary Cenacle Volunteers, some of whom are MCA, and the STs and BTMI as well, but I have been coming since 2007 and it was going strong for 30 years before that, at least!

We had to pause because of Covid, but we had groups this year and the volunteers were terrific! I was here for the last two weeks, as usual, but have some energy problems, so wasn’t as much help as I should have been. The other volunteers took up my slack with no complaining, and the families were so delighted to be there (about half new and half those who had been here before) and loved becoming (or strengthening their bond) part of the Trinita Family.

We invite families from urban areas who work with the Sisters to come for a week, where the whole family is involved in activities – peer group, family blanket, arts and crafts, pool time, Mass or Communion service daily and family gatherings to explain the theme of the next day, not to mention outdoor activities and cooperative games, snacks and fun in the lodge at night. We go hiking on the property, too, one of the best things, but we have to wear long pants and long sleeves and closed shoes and socks, as the ticks are very bad this year. The volunteers assist with everything, and the families help with dishes and participate in the peer group and all activities, growing and learning in a fun atmosphere.

It is one of my favorite things to do, gives me energy for the whole year, teaches me over and over to be present in the present moment and trust in God to carry me through. I can’t wait for the 100th celebration next year – I am hoping my energy will be more stable by then! Heading back home tomorrow, the families left today and we cleaned all morning – it is a good energy day for me, so no problem.

Happy 4th of July!

My 35th church wedding anniversary is today, what would have been the 45th wedding anniversary for my sister and her beloved Raymond, gone since just before their 42nd anniversary.

My husband chooses to celebrate only on our City Hall anniversary – up until we got married, we celebrated on the 25th of every month, as my sister and her husband did on every 4th until he passed away. We got cards for each other on that day, and on the 25th of September, the anniversary of when we first realized we were the ones for each other, we did something special. On the 25th of December, 1986, Daver proposed that we get married at City Hall that New Year’s Eve, since my sister and her husband would be in NYC visiting us and able to be present. (The next New Year’s Eve, Daver asked that we just celebrate one of the dates, trying to get cards on the 4th, 25th and 31st was very trying!) I sent out notes to all my friends and family nearby, and those who could, joined us at City Hall. Daver’s Mom, who lived in Poughkeepsie at the time, was able to be there, along with Tim, my youngest brother, who lived in Staten Island, and a few other good friends made it to City Hall and the celebration afterwards along with Ray and Mary Kay and Jacob and Patrick. The Lands stayed at our apartment the night of the wedding, and gave their hotel room to us for the honeymoon. They missed the ball dropping because they tried to get a taxi across town at 11:30pm, not realizing they’d be stuck in traffic. Jacob was upset, but Ray showed them all how long it took to pick up all the confetti, and the kids were fascinated. I never asked Tim how they got home to my apartment, but I guess they made it all right from Times Square, it was just the ball dropping that they missed.

The following summer, we (Mary Kay and I, and Daver agreed!) decided to do a church wedding on Mary Kay and Ray’s 10th anniversary, so all our Ohio friends and any family who wanted to could come as well. They had an anniversary Mass that morning, after which we did a wedding rehearsal. During that Mass, Daver leaned over and said “Don’t even think about it.” He was gracious enough to have two weddings in less than a year, so I didn’t want to push my luck! No 10th anniversary Mass for us – no big party for any of our anniversaries so far, but we are still together, so no complaints from me! Both his parents were able to come, his dad from Florida and his grandmother came all the way from Wisconsin! My brother Mike and his wife and children came from Maryland, the brothers in Ohio were there, as well as Tim, and Ray’s children from his first wife, Eric and Amy Land were able to be there, too. Many Furcolow and Flanagan uncles, aunts, and cousins were there, and Mama was there, as well.

Mary Kay and Ray always had a big 4th of July party, and this one was the biggest! Not fancy, but tons of fun, I was thrilled that I got to show off my handsome husband and wear Mama’s wedding dress, too!

This year, Daver’s parents are gone, as well as Ray and my mom, 3 of my brothers and all the aunts and uncles from both of our families, but we are still together and will be loving each other for many moons to come.

Pentecost celebration

We had a lovely day, the Saturday of Pentecost weekend, and travelled from the Bronx and Manhattan to Stirling, NJ for our retreat day. Sr. Mary Kay Macdonald and Sr. Sara Butler came up from Philly to facilitate the day, we were so grateful!

One of our people who has been exploring our charism was able to join us and declare her candidacy and her friend, who we have been inviting to explore as well, was able to come for the retreat day, as well. Gladys Miranda, from Sagrada Familia, the Spanish Cenacle, came as well and was delighted there were more Spanish speakers there. Philip, a brother discerning his vocation, who was there in November for our Christ the king celebration where Keaton Douglas and Melinda Papaccio were pinned, was able to join us, along with Fr. Jesse and Fr. Luis de la Cuadra and Keaton. Mary Kay did a great presentation on Mother Mary of the Incarnate Word, the first assistant General Custodian and first General Custodian after mother Boniface – who helped the whole Cenacle Family stay together after the deaths of Mother Boniface and Fr. Judge.

We look forward to our weekend retreat in Philly in October! Winter Wheat Cenacle, who hosted us at Trinity house, invited us to come back again – we hope to be able to do that soon as well.

We closed with the regularly scheduled healing Mass at the Shrine of St. Joseph, where Fr. Raul Ventura asked us to stand up so all could see the MCA and friends who were there for the day. We enjoyed walking the grounds and visiting the newly finished Pilgrim Shrine with the beautiful mosaic of St. Joseph.

Working the Primary

I have been working the elections as a poll worker since Doris Marchica, of loving memory, was the Coordinator at Village View and asked me to come help. I have since taken the classes each year and worked the elections, including Sept. 11, 2001 and all its consequences.

I have been asked to be a Coordinator by a district leader, but at the time I didn’t feel I could commit to that responsibility. I have since had trouble with other Coordinators who thought my general helpfulness was a challenge to their authority.

Recently, I have had conflicts and haven’t worked. They now have early voting, and that is working for me, but I haven’t been asked to work those days yet. We will see. The hours are long, which makes it impossible for me if I am on a low energy day. Hopefully, something will work out soon.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

My parents got married on Dec. 28th, celebrated in the church as the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which we as adult children of our parents found whimsical – our parents really were innocents when they got married. It took them almost 5 years to have their first child, my brother Mike. When Mama finally got pregnant, she was earning $25 an hour doing drafting, which meant she had to sit on a tall stool (she was 5’2″) and was afraid she was going to fall off and lose the baby. She couldn’t afford to quit (this was during the war and she never got hired back after the ‘boys’ came home, though she didn’t try, having her hands full raising the children) but found it hard to be calm about it. Papa had lost part of his trigger finger working nights on the printing press of the paper, so he couldn’t serve, but worked several jobs to make sure he was the breadwinner. I never knew what a good artist she was until after they both died and we found some letters she had written to Papa, including drawings of the room she wanted to change to accommodate more children arriving.

Pax Christi Metro New York used to have a special service to remember the Innocents of our time on Dec. 28th, but it was always hard to get an audience. We now do a service on Dec. 10th that combines those with Human Rights Day, but I miss the Dec. 28 one, as it was my parents’ anniversary.

I went to a Zoom Mass this morning and the priest, my friend John Edmunds, ST, who serves at St. James Church on Wabash in Chicago, mentioned all the feast days this week after Christmas, designed to have us remember it is not a time of feel good for everyone – with the Feast of St. John, today, using the gospel of the looking for Jesus in the empty tomb, the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, being stoned by Saul, among others, and the Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering all the infants under 3 years of age, who were killed by Herod’s soldiers looking to destroy Jesus in his infancy. Jesus was born in a stable, not a cozy place, because they had no other choice. The first who were told were shepherds, not known for their wealth or good smells either, and after the Kings came, the angel warned Joseph to escape so Herod wouldn’t kill Jesus, but they knew what that meant for all the families in the Bethlehem area.

It is a struggle to maintain holiday spirits in the face of Covid and the news from around the world, where refugees are struggling, prisoners are tortured and racism runs rampant. Those who have lost loved ones recently need our support, and I find it hard to say anything – though just being there is probably a good start.

Since 1978, when my father passed away, this feast day is bittersweet – my mother didn’t seem to want much of a remembrance, but we always made sure to contact her on the day. Since 1990 when she passed away, we reach out to each other and find hope in my sister’s poetry, reaching out to the innocents of today through Pax Christi and other peace and justice organizations, and celebrating in community wherever I find it.

My Christmas letter is still in the mail, I am not late until Jan. 6th!!! Wishing you much joy and peace.

I have an editing eye

My father was a newspaper man. He wanted to be a writer of novels, but had to earn a living to raise his family (there were seven of us children) and there was no time for him to do that. He wrote jokes for a radio talk show host, Eddie Fisher?, I forget his name. Papa would find funny things in the newspaper and copy them out, formatting them for him and sending them to his friend, who would pay Papa something for each page or joke, I am not sure, but we loved it when he would announce ‘I sent that to him!’ and we had just finished laughing about it. He wrote the introduction notes to his high school anniversary yearbook, my sister Mary Kay Land bought several copies so we would all have it. He wrote letters to each of us when we were away from home, I started saving them when I moved to New York and they are a treasure trove. I wish I had saved them from the first one I got, they are each a work of art.

He worked on various desks on the paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (and before that, the Cleveland News), and when I was 7 he was asked to work for the Akron Bureau for a while, so we moved from Cleveland Hts. in a house we rented, to Bedford Hts., in a house they bought. Bedford is halfway between Akron and Cleveland, so they hoped never to have to move again. When he worked on the TV and entertainment desk we loved it, because he got to interview famous people (Robert Vaughn during The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was most memorable for me and my brother Tim, he got us autographed pictures – though Papa had him put to Margaret Ann and Timothy Paul, how embarrassing!). He also wrote reviews in the TV guide the paper put out. He got taken off that because he gave some movies R for Rotten! But they were – we had seen most of them!

Papa was assigned to the City Desk and worked as assistant city editor for many years. He was offered the position of City Editor, the only non college educated person who was offered that position! – but preferred to write – he asked to be taken off that desk eventually because he found he had trouble writing, he just kept editing himself and was never pleased with the result. He was on obits for years, and to this day we sometimes find some of his phrases in famous people’s obits – they would update famous people’s files over the years, so they wouldn’t be rushed to do a good one when someone famous passed away.

I have realized that I have that editor’s eye, too. When I read anything, I catch typos and things that are phrased uncomfortably. It can be very helpful when assisting in publishing Kerux, Pax Christi Metro New York’s quarterly newspaper (you can find it online at nypaxchristi.org) or writing letters that we hope to get published in pursuit of peace and justice.

Occasionally I have offended friends who are writers, who self published their novel and to whom I sent a note offering to fix the typos. I probably should get a job working for a small publishing firm, so I can put the skill to good use. But if I do it for a living, it may take the joy out of reading for me. Maybe if I can do it part time, I won’t get too tired of it – especially if I find the right fit and work for a publishing firm that publishes murder mysteries or science fiction that I like!

Low energy days or a physical or mental problem?

I have been experiencing low energy days, every other day, since roughly November of 2019. It has gotten much worse during the pandemic and though it lightened up after my radiation and surgery for a time, it is back to being very marked again since the end of July.

My husband and my sister, who have struggled with depression of one kind or another most of their lives, are urging me to get evaluated by a psychiatrist, as my primary care doctor doesn’t find a physiological solution and doesn’t really know where else to turn. It might be chronic fatigue, but getting the evaluation from a mental health professional will clarify that, she thinks.

Finding one who takes new patients and my insurance is the problem. Everyone has been overwhelmed, especially mental health professionals, so I want to get a recommendation from someone I know, but can’t afford to go anywhere without insurance coverage. The appointment I got with the nearby clinic in September was for the end of October, best they could do. Recently, they called to say that had to be postponed until December.

The concern from my husband and sister intensifies with my procrastination, so I am going to call my insurance company and see what they can do for me. Today is a good day, so I will get off the computer and get to work on this!

Be seeing you!

Visiting my sister in Ohio

I was delighted to be able to come to Ohio for almost a week to celebrate my middle grandchild’s ninth birthday. J. J. Flanagan lives with their siblings (one older, Brianna, 11 on Feb. 25, and one younger, Isaiah, 7 on July 15) and parents Patrick and Brenda and my sister in her house in Mentor. I get to stay with them, so I don’t have to pay for a hotel or anything, and can visit the whole time with them.

The only bad thing is I don’t own a car (never have owned one – went to NYC when I was 20 and have been there ever since), so I have to hitch a ride with folk willing to pick me up at the airport and drop me off at my sister’s place. My son and his wife are willing, but they have so many other responsibilities that I hate to make them do it. My sister is not comfortable driving anymore, so she doesn’t have a car she uses to drive – when I used to come, she would let me use her car, so I was pretty independent once I got there. The good thing is I have lots of friends and family who live in Ohio and live near the airports, so they are willing to pick me up and drop me off, so I get to spend time with them as well!

My sister, Mary Kay Land, decided to have a family reunion type party on the 19th, so invited friends and family to come over, with the guest of honor being J. J., as it is their birthday today, September 20th! I am still having low energy days every other day, but yesterday was not too low, so I enjoyed the party, but didn’t do too much running around with the grandkids. They were disappointed, but they had other friends to run with, so they had a good time, too. My nephew Jacob and his wife Holly came over with Jaxon Ray, my grandnephew who is 9 months old, and Holly’s mom and brothers, too. Brenda’s parents came, and Jennifer Blough and two of her children (all of whom are godchildren to Mary Kay and her husband, now gone but not forgotten, Dr. Ray Land) – Skyler (who is 17) and Chloe (who is 10-both of them have birthdays in December) were able to join us, too. Her other 3 siblings were busy elsewhere, and Jennifer’s mom, my sister’s best friend from college days, has surgery on Tuesday for skin cancer (even my friends have mohs surgery all the time, argh!), so she didn’t want to risk catching Covid, in case someone at the party accidentally exposed us to it, so she called, but didn’t come.

Our brother Matthew, the only one of our siblings who is still alive, was in the hospital with tachycardia, so he called but couldn’t be there in person. He is feeling better, which is great, but couldn’t be there in person, so he missed playing with his great nephews and great nieces, which made him sad. His son, Bart, was hoping to come, too, but a coworker (who is vaccinated, as he is) tested positive for Covid, so all his coworkers have had to get tested. So far he is testing negative, but he wasn’t sure it was safe to come, so he called in, too. Better safe than sorry!

Her other best friend since high school at Hoban Dominican has not been feeling well since July, but it isn’t something they can pin down, so she is just miserable and keeps trying to do things and ends up not feeling well enough to go out. She called too, and ended up crying because she wanted to be there to see Jaxon in person, finally. She still has Christmas and birthday presents for all the kids, that’s how long she has been sick! We are going to call her later so she can talk to J. J. on their birthday.

My best friend Janet Jones called to say she was okay, but wouldn’t be coming to join us, as her granddaughter Akira caught Covid at school, so everyone had to quarantine (all the adults are vaccinated, but she is not yet 12, so she and several of her classmates have come in with Covid before they realized they had it, and spread it). They weren’t going to come to our party, because it is Akira’s birthday this weekend and they were going to have their own party, but now that will have to be postponed.

Today is a good day, so I can participate in all the actual birthday celebrations, then I go to Rocky River and stay overnight with Jacob and Holly and Jaxon, then Jacob will drop me off at the airport (and noone will have to drive across Cleveland during rush hour).

Getting to see my granddaughter’s drawings right after she completes them, and watching J. J. put their new leggo stuff together, and even helping Isaiah with his schoolwork for a minute or two are just a few of the joys of being in Ohio this week. Not to mention talking with Patrick and Brenda and my sister!!! I am blessed.

Working during Covid

It is August 24, 2021, and we thought we would be done with Covid by now, but oh, no. Between the variants that are immune to the vaccine and the people who refuse to be vaccinated, numbers are going up in many places and we have to keep wearing masks and will soon have to have a booster shot, which hopefully will do better on protecting us from this worldwide mess we are in.

I have been lucky enough to get some work in the last few months, but I have to get a Covid test (to make sure I am still negative), especially if I am working on a set, or show my vaccination card, and still wear a mask when off camera or near other people. The subways and most businesses are asking people to wear a mask when near other people, which makes sense, since even vaccinated people can be carriers of the disease.

There are more and more concerts being done, and they plan to have the Christmas show this season, so we have been working at Radio City Music Hall and the other venues run by Madison Square Garden. One of our jobs is checking people’s vaccination cards. We continue to wear masks, though we are all required to be vaccinated, so it is safer for us, in case someone is carrying the disease. Ushering, we get in close contact with people, and can’t always wash our hands, so we do our best to stay safe.

I really enjoyed getting some background work in early August on Law and Order SVU – it is set next spring, so we aren’t wearing masks in the shot, hoping that we won’t have to be doing so in real life by the spring. In March, I had another day, but there we had to wear our masks, as it was set just a few weeks later and everyone was still wearing masks everywhere. It was set in spring also, but we shot it on March 19 and it was bitter cold, so we all had long underwear on underneath our spring outfits. The fun details of film work!

Since being unable to work for a year and a half, I am out of the routine of working daily. For film and theatre I am sure I can do it, but for my various straight jobs, I get so tired after a day of work, I need a day off to recover. Not sure how that will work once the Christmas show is up and running. Hearing other people’s stories of how they survived helps me get through with no complaints. One friend has lost 8 people to Covid, another 6. It is harrowing!

I got to visit my sister and most of my Ohio family for almost 3 weeks in July, and go on a retreat, so I am blessed. I hope to make it to my middle grandchild’s 9th birthday in September, but just a short visit, as work is starting to happen.

One talent I see growing in everyone is recognizing when someone is smiling behind their mask. I will be happy when it is safe to go without, but in the meantime, we practice being good, doing good and being a power for good every day and everywhere.

My Aunt Kate’s birthday is December 1st

My mom’s older sister was 8 years older than my mother, a divorced woman (legally – annulled via the church) but always there for my mom. I think she might have been trying to make up for leaving the family home as soon as she could after their mom died when she was about to turn 15 and my mom was 7 years old. 10 years later on Nov. 26, the same day, their father passed away. In the meantime, Mama had taken care of the rest of the children, especially her younger sister and brother, who were 5 and 3 years old when their mom died.

Aunt Kate was the one in our family that every family has, a real tough customer, didn’t take any guff, an independent woman in a time before that was socially acceptable. She joined the Navy as a nurse, but her personality was not the good bedside manner nurse, more the one who gave you an enema, whether you needed it or not. When reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I could picture her as Nurse Ratchit.

I did love her. She took the time to take one or two of us out for a day or a weekend, to give Mom a break from all 7 of us. I really enjoyed that. She took me with her when she visited her brother, my Uncle Leo, and his family, when they lived in Kansas. She drove and gave me the job as navigator, using a map on which she had highlighted the routes she wanted us to use. My cousin Connie was around my age, and they took us to a farm where I could have ridden a horse, if I had the courage – though I decided not to do it after the horse stepped on Uncle Leo’s foot while he was trying to hold it still for me to climb on board. Papa even wrote me a letter, which I was able to read right after we arrived. They had dinner ready for us, and Uncle Leo presented me with the letter, so I got to read it to them – Papa was of Irish descent, and they were all Italian, so his palate didn’t deal well with spicy things, and he warned me in the letter not to eat the green peppers Uncle Leo might tell me were okay. Uncle Leo’s eyes lit up, and he offered me a bowl of jalapenos, assuring me they were, indeed, green peppers. Though I had never seen them before, I trusted Papa and didn’t take a big bite out of them. All of us laughed at that!

Some of our visits didn’t go as well. One time Tim and I went with Aunt Kate, who lived in Canton in a lovely apartment building. She walked us down a couple blocks to a playground and left us to play by ourselves. I got tired before my little brother, but couldn’t leave him alone, as I wasn’t sure I could find her apartment by myself, and I wasn’t about to leave him and go back alone. I was positive she was going to come and get us soon. Eventually, we realized she wasn’t coming, so I put a good face on and told Tim it was time to go, and we headed back. I was so relieved when we found her building on our own. I never wanted to go to that playground again!

Another time, when it was just me with her, Aunt Kate announced we were going to go sun bathing. She told me to put on my bathing suit and grab a towel and a beach chair, and we went down to the alley between her building and the next one, and she laid down on a towel on one beach chair and told me to do the same. I was astounded – I had never heard of sun bathing, and didn’t realize you kept your suit on, so I was terrified she was asking me to go and lay down naked in public! But I was so scared of her making fun of me I didn’t question what she meant.

Mama died in 1990, and Aunt Kate lived a few years after that, so I would visit her when I visited Ohio, and we would go to the little house all 8 of them grew up in, which was in Louisville or Alliance, two very small farming towns where Uncle Fran, her brother, and his wife, Aunt Mary still lived. Poor Aunt Mary got stuck driving us to that little house all the time, as Aunt Kate could no longer drive but wanted to show it off to us. I loved seeing it, but heard Aunt Mary say, under her breath, ‘if I never see that house again, it will be too soon!’ I then realized not everyone enjoyed seeing houses other people grew up in – my husband is probably grateful to her, as I loved going to my old neighborhoods showing off the houses I lived in as a kid, and he had no interest in that, so he was spared that bit of torture.

When Grandpa Flanagan died, Aunt Kate came over to watch over the little ones, so Mama and Papa could go to the funeral without having to take care of all of us there. When she came in, that was the first I had heard of Grandpa’s death, so ran to the back of the house to tell the older siblings that Aunt Kate was there and Grandpa had died. I loved it that Kate was there, so I had a big smile on my face, and my brother Brian said ‘Didn’t you like Grandpa? Why are you smiling!’ I didn’t know how to answer, it was my first death. Mama’s parents had died before she even met Papa, so we never knew them, and Papa’s mother died in 1957, the same year my baby sister Regina was born, so I was only 5 and don’t remember anything about that. They figured I was too young, so Tim and Reggie and I stayed home with Aunt Kate and the rest went to the wake and funeral.

Later that year, Reggie got pneumonia for the third time in her life, and was crying all night long, then it got quiet. At first, I sighed and was about to go to sleep, when I realized there was something wrong. It was too quiet. I came out of my bedroom and Mama said, ‘she’s gone.’ This time all of us went to the wake and funeral. My sister had entered the convent that September, so she was only able to come to the funeral Mass, escorted by a couple nuns. All the aunts and uncles came, from both sides of the family. My father’s youngest brother brought soap on a rope and a fake shaver for Tim and myself. I remember discovering static electricity. We didn’t have rugs at home, and the funeral parlor had several levels, with metal staircases, so my brothers and I would race up and down, dragging our feet, then try to touch each other and give them the spark instead of shocking ourselves on the metal hand rails of the staircases. We also experienced the neighbors bringing over casseroles and freshly baked bread for the bereaved family. My best friend’s mom had made the bread, and I remember marveling that she could do that but wasn’t nearly as good at taking care of her kids as my mom was with us. Of course, she was 16 when she had Patricia, who was the oldest of her 5 kids (and my age). I was the third youngest, and my mom was 35 when I was born, so she had a lot more experience than my friend’s mom.

I was living in New York when Aunt Helen and her sister Kate died, so wasn’t able to go to their funerals. Kate had tried to make sure the priest who presided at Helen’s funeral had some details of her life, but he ignored her notes and she got so angry that she insisted there be no big Mass for herself. I felt badly, but have Mass said for her every year on her birthday. She would have been 111 today.

My cousin Jim, Uncle Fran’s youngest from his first marriage, shares some stories with me now when we chat, as he is 10 years older than me, and is grateful to her for keeping in contact with his branch of the family. Uncle Fran remarried and had two more children with his second wife, Aunt Mary, and most of Mama’s family only talked to them, but Kate insisted on keeping in touch with all my cousins. She was a wonderful, unique person, and we miss her. Happy Birthday in heaven! You and all your siblings and parents must be having a great time!