Saturday, September 17, 2011

Urgent Action Alert

In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the new health care reform law), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a rule requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as "preventive services" for women. The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.

The rule includes a religious exemption so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. It covers only a "religious employer" that has the "inculcation of religious values" as its purpose, primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. A great many religious organizations -- including Catholic colleges and universities, as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the public -- will be ineligible. Individuals and religiously affiliated health insurers will not qualify for the exemption.

The new rule would force insurance plans to cover "
all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage. The FDA-approved "emergency contraception" (EC) drugs that are covered by this mandate can work by interfering with implantation of a newly conceived human being. Also, the drug the FDA most recently approved for EC, "Ella," a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486, has been shown in animal tests to cause abortion. Thus, the mandate includes drugs that may cause an abortion both before and after implantation.

The public comment period on this interim final rule ends September 30.

ACTION: Please send an e-mail message to HHS by visiting Once you send your comments to HHS, you will be automatically invited to send a message to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that such federal mandates do not violate Americans’ moral and religious convictions.

MESSAGE TO HHS: "Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase. Please remove sterilization and prescription contraceptives from the list of ‘preventive services’ the federal government is mandating in private health plans. It is especially important to exclude any drug that may cause an early abortion, and to fully respect religious freedom as other federal laws do. The narrow religious exemption in HHS’s new rule protects almost no one. I urge you to allow all organizations and individuals to offer, sponsor and obtain health coverage that does not violate their moral and religious convictions."

WHEN: Please send your comments to HHS by the September 30 deadline. Thanks! 9/9/11

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is my body

Someone shared this with me today

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Philadelphia Horror

This is an absolutely chilling Grand Jury Report that the following from summarizes. Read the whole report and you will be sick.

"IN HIS SQUALID West Philadelphia abortion clinic, Kermit Gosnell had a surefire way of dealing with the unwelcome complication of a live birth: He'd allegedly plunge scissors into the squirming newborn's neck, killing it by severing the spinal cord.

Sometimes, the elderly physician didn't do this right away. Often, he allegedly gave the chore to his unlicensed office staff. One premature infant wiggled around on a counter for 20 minutes before an untrained worker slit his neck - after first playing with him.

Those allegations were among countless bombshells in a 261-page grand-jury report that District Attorney Seth Williams released yesterday."

Monday, February 7, 2011

"I want to be a priest."

It is 1957 and my first week of school at St. Teresa School in Woodside. I had turned six in June and so was probably the oldest in the first grade. Sometime during the week Sister Margaret Agnes had asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and I had responded, “I want to be a priest.” Sister made it her business to tell my mother immediately. Mom told Dad and their quiet encouragement and support began that day and continued for the rest of their lives until I was ordained and beyond.

It is the spring of 1958 and the school and parish were busy preparing children to receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion for the first time. The date was set for June 8, a Saturday morning, at the 8.00am Mass. I don’t remember if I ever knew, but either the pastor, principal, or Sister Margaret Agnes, realized that I would be seven years old by that date. Pope St. Pius X, in 1910 taught that once a child had reached the Age of Reason (7 years of age), she/he should not be deprived of the Holy Eucharist for any significant amount of time, and in fact, should be encouraged to receive Communion frequently, even daily if possible. So, I was the only child in First Grade who received Penance and Holy Communion that year. That meant that every Sunday thereafter, during the rest of June and all through Second Grade I received Holy Communion while the other boys and girls had to just sit there. I also received every week on Sunday with my parents and every day when we were on vacation. I credit my vocation to the priesthood to a full year more of receiving Our Eucharistic Lord with frequency. I remember learning that only a priest could change ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If only a priest could do that, then I wanted to be a priest!

Over the course of time, I thought about doing other things, but none too seriously, and always I came back to the priesthood. I went to the high school and college seminary and to the major seminary at Huntington. I was ordained a deacon in January 1977 and assigned to St. Pius V in South Jamaica. One year later, on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, I was ordained a priest. I stayed at St. Pius until June 1981 when I was assigned by Bishop Francis Mugavero to the Education Office of the Diocese. I worked in the education apostolate until 1993 when Bishop Thomas Daily appointed me Director of the Seventh Synod of the Diocese. In 1997 I was assigned as the Director of the Immaculate Conception Center and, in 2002, I was named pastor of St. Sebastian parish in Woodside. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appointed me Vicar for Education in 2004 while continuing my work in Woodside. When my four year term as Vicar was over, I was appointed as the Executive Director of the Futures in Education Endowment for Brooklyn and Queens and now I am happy just to be here at St. Sebastian.

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences as a priest over the years and I can honestly say that I have not had an unhappy day as a priest and January 28, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, was my 33rd anniversary!

There Be Dragons

It looks like it will be a wonderful film! And a trailer from the website

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Homily

One of my parishioners, Patrick Sweeney, videotaped last night's homily at Midnight Mass. My prayers for a Blessed Christmas for you all! God bless.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Corpus Christi in 2009

Someone suggested that the 2009 Corpus Christi Procession video should also be posted here

Woodside Memories

The profile of St. Sebastian Parish on You Tube brought me this e-mail.


My sister just sent the YouTube video for the City of Churches profile of St. Sebastian’s. It brought back a lot of memories.

As a 1961 graduate of St. Sebastian’s School, I’m from the generation of the wooden church and iron parishioners… no AC on a crowded Sunday morning.

I don’t know if you’re collecting “living history,” but the message I forwarded to my kids with the video is below,

Wow! That sure brings back some memories!

Back in the day… in the early mid-50’s… I went to Sunday mass in the old wooden church with nanny Gleason… no AC in the summer… it was the 1950’s version of a steam bath; when I started fidgeting, nanny pinched me ‘til I settled down… I had my first communion either in the wooden church or the school chapel because the big church wasn’t ready. Nanny never liked the new church because she felt like she was going to mass in a movie theater. I think my class was one of the first to be confirmed in the big church… that would have been 1958.

Nance! You may remember this… every Wednesday we got out of school early, at 2PM, for Novena in the school chapel… the nun’s taught catechism to the Catholic kids who were in PS 11. When the new church was almost done, I remember Fr. Moran waving down at us kids lined up along 58th street & Woodside avenue from one of the church towers.

The side chapel was where I went to the 6:30 mass every morning… I had those stained glass windows memorized.

Where the parish center is now, was the school yard. It was segregated by gender… the boys were in the front near 57th street and the girls were in the back by 56th street… heaven help the boy whom the nun’s caught on the girls’ side… the girls spend a lot of time jumping rope and the boys just hung out… there was a little, separate school yard in the front on 57th street where the first graders went… when it was time to go into school, one of the nuns rang a hand bell… we all shut our mouths, lined up in double file, and our nun would lead us into school… showing up late—after the bell—or talking in line was usually good for a noogie or a dope slap.

Of the many gifts given to me by the church, which for me is St. Sebastian’s and Maryknoll, two are a love of learning and psychically surviving two years in Viet Nam. I feel blessed not to have been one of the names on Ed Fowley’s Vietnam Monument on 57th & Woodside, but I knew a lot of those guys from the school yard. I was told that originally the monument was supposed to go into Doughboy Park, but the city objected to the reference to God in the inscription; so, the parish allowed it to be set up on its present site… you got to love secular progressives.

Best wishes from a Woodsider exiled in the hinterlands!

Ray Gleason