Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Flash Mob

Another amazing Christmas flash mob. This one may bring a tear to your eyes. May the peace of the season be in your heart and may you remember the One we are about to celebrate...

Simple question sparks vocation

Here's a beautiful article on my deacon brother Frank DiGirolamo.  Frank is a marvelous servant, a great family man and a true icon of Christ in his Church community.


Republished courtesy Mercer Island Reporter


By Mary L. Grady
Mercer Island Reporter Editor
November 27, 2012


     On Oct. 27, Islander and former Starbucks employee, Frank DiGirolamo, recited vows and allegiance to the faith of the Roman Catholic Church beneath the splendor of the soaring Italian Renaissance ceilings of the 105-year-old St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Amid the pomp of the ancient rites of ordination, DiGirolamo, a married man, became an ordained member of the Catholic Church clergy.
     The role of a deacon in the Catholic Church is to assist the priest in the administration of a parish. He does not hold the sacred authority of an ordained priest. He cannot consecrate the offerings that are at the heart of the mass. He can marry couples and baptize babies, but most importantly offers needed help to priests who must manage the large parishes, such as St. Monica on Mercer Island, on their own.
     Permanent deacons (who are distinct from seminarians on their way to final priestly vows) assist the local priest by visiting the sick, teaching the faith, counseling couples and individuals, and working on parish committees and councils. For DiGirolamo, a commitment to serving the poor is a special part of his vocation and duties.
     It was a process and a journey, he told the Reporter last week, of his path to the church.
     DiGirolamo, now 45, first considered a more formal role in the church about 10 years ago, he said.    
     “For me, it was a more recent awakening than a lifelong goal.”
     “It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It was something I had been moving toward,” he explained.
     “After I married, I started to think, ‘What am I called to do?’” he said.
     It was at Starbucks, ironically, when he finally gave voice to what he had begun to feel about a possible vocation with his church.
    “My supervisor asked each of us who were working for him what we would be doing if we were not in our [present] job,” he said. “I answered that I would probably be working for the Catholic Church.”
     It was an answer that he had neither prepared nor imagined he would say. Yet it was prophetic. Within 18 months, he had left the corporate world and was employed at St. Monica.
     DiGirolamo remains grateful for that question.
     The formal formation process for his new role took more than four years. He has been working for the church, here, for seven years.
     He does not believe that his new title makes him terribly special. “I am just a reflection of what this parish has given me,” he said.
     Deacons remain somewhat rare. On and off over the past couple of decades, deacons have been added to the church clergy. The number of priests, who must take a vow of celibacy, has dwindled dramatically. Active priests are getting older and retiring. Far fewer men are entering the priesthood. According to data on the Archdiocese of Seattle website, there were 485 ordained priests in Seattle in 1966. In 2010, that number has fallen by a third. The number of deacons has grown from 24 in 1976 to 140 now.
     The addition of more deacons helps priests manage parishes and brings an element of the congregation itself into the mass.
     It all seems natural to DiGirolamo.
      “Having lay people leading the liturgy is how the church began,” he said. “It has always been part of the mass.”
     DiGirolamo will serve as a deacon for St. Monica Parish. St. Monica has about 1,450 families, or about 4,000 parishioners.
     As he stood on the altar at St. James with the 21 other applicants for the deaconate, DiGirolamo said he thought of all the people who helped him on his journey to that moment.
     “I thought, we would not be standing there if we had not been invited,” he said.
DiGirolamo and his wife, Shelley, live on Mercer Island with their daughter, Mary, who attends Holy Names Academy on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ordination + One Month

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo - Mary Kelly - Deacon Dennis Kelly - Archbishop J. Peter Sartain

Ordination was officially one month ago today.  Where does time go? 

Mary, the boys and our many family and friends have been so supportive these past five years of formation.  I am forever grateful for their love and encouragement.  I love you all.

I also feel blessed to be part of a beautiful community of deacon brothers and sisters throughout the challenging days of formation.  I cherish these friendships and look forward to reuniting regularly.

The real work in the vineyard has begun.  As one chapter closes another opens. 

I feel so blessed to be assigned by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to our home parish to serve the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish communities in Everett, Washington.  I am spending Mondays at the parish offices (9a-3p) working on outreach initiatives at the direction of my pastoral mentor Fr. Bryan Hersey and will be preaching monthly at all five Masses.

We just got our ordination photos from the chancery staff.  Thought I would share some of the special moments from that special day.

The scripture that has followed me these past five years comes from St. Paul to the Romans 12:1-2:

"I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."

Please pray for me as I pray for you.  Peace...

Deacon Dennis


Monday, November 26, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Seminarian

This YouTube video comes from the Archdiocese of Washington DC.  Please share if you know of a young man discerning a call to the priesthood. 

One of my deacon brothers (Jim Fish) has a son (Matt) in formation in DC and I hear great things about his experience (Of course, not all seminarians get an audience with the Pope... this one thanks to Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and his predecessor Alexander Brunett). 

I also hear seminarians from the Seattle Archdiocese are having similar experiences in formation as are found on this video.   This is just a snapshot of their life discerning God's call.  Peace...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bono Thanks Vatican

It is no surprise to readers of this blog the affection the author has for the ministry of a loud, Irish rocker name Bono.  So, I had to share this story.  Enjoy...

Reprinted courtesty of Catholic News Agency and EWTN

by CNA/EWTN NEWS11/19/2012


VATICAN CITY — The famous U2 vocalist Bono traveled to the Vatican Nov. 16 to thank the
Church for its work to free the world's least developed countries from their foreign debt, enabling them to invest in education.

On Friday, Bono spent nearly an hour speaking with Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, according to Vatican Radio.

In 2000, the Church was an important backer of the “Drop the Debt” campaign, which coincided with the Church's Jubilee Year. Bono was one of the leading figures in the campaign, and he is known for his activism on behalf of the world’s poorest people.

Drop the Debt was an effort to persuade first-world nations to forgive the debt owed them by the poorest countries. The success of that effort has made possible “an extra 52 million children going to school,” Bono told Vatican Radio, since governments were able to use the money they would have had to pay back for investment in schools.

Bono said the Church deserves “incredible credit” for its role in securing debt forgiveness and that Catholics should be made aware of how their faith was central in the efforts.

Jubilee years are celebrations of God's mercy, the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation, and they are rooted in Jewish tradition.

The Jewish tradition of jubilee years was that in every 50th year slaves and prisoners were freed. Debts were also forgiven, which is why the Great Jubilee of 2000 was an opportune time for the Church to advocate forgiveness of foreign debt.

Pope John Paul II met with Bono on the eve of the Jubilee Year to discuss the debt campaign, and, shortly after his death, Bono recalled that “we would never have gotten the debts of 23 countries completely canceled without him.”

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace promotes the Church's social teaching to advance justice and harmony the world over. Bono and Cardinal Turkson were looking forward to further collaboration on development and foreign aid.

Bono told Vatican Radio, “I just think the Church hasn’t done a good job yet of telling people what they’ve achieved, and we were just trying to figure out how best to do that.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homily - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Times (The Paddleball Story)

Mass Readings
Daniel 12: 1-3
Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18
Mark 13: 24-32


When I was a boy there was a toy I got just about every Christmas that was both a joy and a terror.

Remember these things?  In my stocking every year, I got a paddleball.
For five minutes of pure joy I would hit the ball, it would return, I would hit the ball again and it would return again and again and again.  Until the rubber band broke and the ball would go sailing off.

For weeks and months after my moment of pure joy, the paddle became a device for corporal punishment, something I feared greatly. 

Now you see I was a bit of a troublesome lad.  So, I found myself over a knee quite often with my backside at the receiving end of “the paddle.”

So, where am I going with this you might ask? 

As I reflect on today’s scripture readings, I see a strong correlation between my paddleball experience and what God is trying to share with us with His Gospel message.

Please bear with me on this.  To me, the paddleball reflects our relationship with God.  The paddle is God or Jesus Christ, the rubber band is the Holy Spirit that links us to God, and the ball is us. 

We long to soar, to bounce through life with much joy, but still want to be connected to God. 

Sometimes the connection gets severed and we go flying off in unknown directions and down unknown paths.

Occasionally the paddle gets put into the hands of someone who wants to use it in a way it was not designed (Sorry, mom). 

In other words, the Word of God can get corrupted or abused by humans and be used to strike terror into our hearts where there should be an abundance of joy.
At the time of Christ there was this thing called the apocalyptic tradition.  Mark 13 is one of the main passages in the four Gospels reflecting this tradition. 

In fact, some people call Mark 13 the “Little Apocalypse” and the book of Revelation the “Big Apocalypse.”  But Christ is trying to say something more here than just scaring the bejeebers out of us. 

In fact, some scholars say Christ is trying to infuse hope into the fear found in the apocalyptic tradition. 

Mark’s Gospel was written at a time when followers of Christ thought the end was near.  The second coming was about to happen.  “They” were living in End Times.
          But by infusing hope within a mindset of fear, Jesus is throwing us all a lifeline, a rubber band to tether ourselves to God, so we won’t be afraid as we fly through life. 

 Sure, the end will come eventually.  But fear not.

When the apocalyptic paddle is placed in the wrong human hands it can create much anxiety and fear.  Placed in Christ’s loving hands it is used to help us to soar to new heights and be not afraid.  It is a joy-filled life versus one living in fear of “the paddle.”

More than a decade ago, I heard these readings at the end of each liturgical year and they would always strike deep fear in my heart.

 What is our Church trying to tell us?  What horrible thing was about to happen?    Instead, I should have been looking at it the right way, what great thing is about to happen? 

We should all know:  Advent and the Birth of Christ our savior.

But I used to be afraid when I heard these readings.  They reinforced what some of my fundamentalist and evangelical Christian friends were saying about “End of Days.”

I remember hearing these readings a few months before scud missiles flew toward Jerusalem during the first Gulf War, just a few weeks after our first son was born.  I thought, “Dear Lord, why did we bring this child into this world?”

I remember hearing these readings weeks before the new millennium and thinking, maybe God is sending us a message about pending disaster.

I remember hearing these readings a few months after 9-11 and being so afraid for our future.
You’re hearing these readings at the end of 2012.  And we all know what some people say about 2012: the End of the Mayan calendar and all that.  There’s even a popular apocalyptic movie called "2012."

But that is not what our Church is teaching us here.  That is not what Jesus is saying here.

Instead of being afraid of the days where the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the skies and the powers of heaven are shaken, Jesus is telling us, it is then we will see the “Son of Man coming in the clouds” with great power and glory to gather his elect.  There’s the hope.  That’s what Jesus wants us focused on.

Perhaps you remember the book The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey in the 70s.  His theory stirred up many Christians to think we’re living in “End Times.”  We all know about the wacky preachers who predict dates on which the world will end.  Perhaps you’ve even read one of the Left Behind books and bought into this thinking. 

No matter how much fear is present in our current culture about the “End Times,” no one, not even our Church, knows when the End will happen.

“But of that day, or hour, no one knows, neither angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Jesus is telling you.  Jesus is telling me.  Jesus is telling all humankind not to worry about the end.  Be focused instead on the joy of the resurrection and the life eternal Jesus opened up for us all when he died on the cross.  This is the offering he “made perfect forever.”

And those of us who believe are the “wise (who) shall shine brightly…and those who (will) lead many to justice.”

Jesus is rebuking all those who would use the paddle to spank his elect or strike fear into our hearts.  Jesus is reminding us that as long as we remain connected to God, tethered to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can soar without fear and have much joy in our lives.   For Jesus Christ reigns forever and invites each and every one of us into His promise of eternal life.

Now I know, even with the promise, there are times in our lives when we fear the end; maybe it’s a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one, or times when our hearts are hurting with sorrow, our pain too heavy to bear, our lives filled with woe and fear. 

Jesus knows we have moments like these in our lives and uses this scripture to reassure us to fear not, but believe in eternal life as one of His “elect” who will be gathered up.

So, may you live with a joy-filled heart.  And may you understand that Jesus Christ promises you eternal life.  May you soar through life without any fear even in your darkest hours.  May you live with peace and joy all the days of your life.

That’s what our Catholic Church is preparing us for.  That is what Jesus Christ lovingly reminds us all today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Good Works - ‘Day of Caring’ Experience Still Lingers

  + A newsletter about the good works being done by members of the IC-OLPH community

November 16, 2012                                                        Editor:  Deacon Dennis Kelly         
2012 Volume – Edition 2      Please send story ideas to:

When you give a little, you usually get a lot back in return.  That’s exactly what happened to 59 IC-OLPH parishioners who took part in this year’s annual Day of Caring in September. 

And while the experience happened a few of months ago, the memories of the experience still linger in the minds and hearts of all who participated.

The idea came from Ralph Quass, a member of the IC-OLPH Social Action Committee.  The group then partnered with Catholic Community Services to deploy groups of people to assist dozens of low income Everett area residents with a variety of clean-up and assistance needs.  CCS says IC-OLPH was the only parish in Western Washington to participate in Day of Caring in this way.

Judy and Tim McNamara chair the Social Action Committee. “I remember at our initial meeting thinking if we get 10 people (to participate) that we’ll be happy,” said Tim McNamara, but the actual number of people who volunteered was a big surprise, “people want to do this.”

“We had people from all three parish communities.  We had Vietnamese, Hispanic and (English language parishioners),” added Judy McNamara.  In fact, when the large group gathered in St. Mary’s Hall to prepare for their day they prayed the Our Father in all three languages before venturing out.                                              
St. Theresa Nguyen was instrumental to involving the Vietnamese community.  Parishioner, committee member and Spanish teacher Cara Hazelbrook shared the idea with the Hispanic community, but also helped two teenage girls from the Spanish language community on the Day of Caring to make sure they participated in a meaningful way.
Tim McNamara was moved by the project he worked on.  He and several others served a man who lived right next to the Everett Country Club in apartments for the some of the poorest people in the area.
There were no lights in the upper floor apartment.  The man’s lights had been turned off some time ago.  And there was no hot water either.  “I cleaned up the kitchen.  It was pretty messy with stuff laying all around from weeks-worth of cooking.  And it smelled,” said McNamara.
He said the man’s refrigerator was filled with spoiled food, “Everything in the refrigerator moldy or thawed out.”  The job for his team was to clean it all up.  The project took them several hours and they made eight or ten of trips to the dumpster.
But McNamara says the experience made the Gospel come to life for him as they lived out the call in Matthew 25 to help the “least of these brothers and sisters” to see the face of Christ.  “It’s more real.  It brings the Gospel alive.  That’s the reason we went,” McNamara shared.
The McNamaras recounted the experience of three teenage girls from our parish who served an elderly woman by changing the sheets and making her bed, and cleaning up the woman’s place.  “This woman was very, very appreciative,” said Tim.
“It’s not necessarily about the poorest of living circumstances, poor can be people unable to care for their (basic) needs,” said Judy.
The group plans to do another Day of Caring early in the Lenten season.  Stay tuned for more details.
To volunteer with Catholic Community Services, contact Jeanita Nelson at 425.374.6319

Monday, November 5, 2012

Special Needs Ministry Website (DEV)

"All persons with disabilities have the capacity to proclaim the Gospel and to be living witnesses to its truth within the community of faith and offer valuable gifts. Their involvement enriches every aspect of Church life."
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - 2005

Open Doors Though Accessability

Open Minds Through Awareness

Open Hearts Through Ministry

Parish Advocates

Activities & Events


More Information

Sacramental Preparation

Individual Religious Education Plan

Ten Commandments of Communication with People with Disabilities

People First Language

Disabilities-Related Definitions

Courtesy Rules Upon Meeting A Disabled Person

Including Teenagers with Disabilities in Youth Ministry

Some Strategies for Catechetical Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some Strategic Components for Successfully Working with Individuals with ASD

The Religious Education/Faith Formation Parent Interview

USCCB Guidelines for Catholic School Children with Disabilities

Inclusive Catechesis

Catholic Community Services - Seniors with Disabilities

Wounded Warrior Project

Other Governement Services for Wounded Warrior Veterans

Special Olympics Washington

Mental Health Advance Directives Information - Washington DSHS

For the Priest or Deacon:

Scripture Reflections to Introduce and Sustain Special Needs Ministry

Save The Date

Archdiocese of Seattle

Special Needs Mass
"All persons with disabilities have the capacity to proclaim the Gospel and to be living witnesses to its truth within the community of faith and offer valuable gifts. Their involvement enriches every aspect of Church life."
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - 2005

  Archbishop J. Peter Sartain invites us to celebrate a Mass for our special needs community, including families, friends and our faith communities.  “Everyone is welcome!"    

March 23, 2013


St. James Cathedral – Seattle

Reception to follow in the Isaac Orr Conference Room

QR Code generator

For more information, please contact:

Erica Cohen Moore – (206) 382-4852 –

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints Day - Homily (Homeboy Industries)

         When Jesus lays down the law, do we hear it, do we share it, do we live it?

This is what all the saints did and still do today. 

They understand the wisdom of Jesus, his law of love, and put it into action in their lives.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “Some people come in our life as blessings.  Some come as lessons.”

Nobody knows this better or shows this better than a modern day saint who has taken a seemingly hopeless culture of lawbreakers in his hometown of Los Angeles and lovingly shaped them into law lovers, law livers and law givers.

Buy the Book from
I’m talking about Gregory Boyle.  Ever heard of him?  Perhaps not.   He’s not famous.  His efforts are only known by people who have read his works or heard him speak.

Gregory Boyle is the Founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries.  Gregory Boyle is also Fr. Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest.
I’m currently reading his book “Tattoos on the Heart:  The Power of Boundless Compassion.” 

It’s a story about his experiences in ministry on the tough streets of the City of Angels.  Boyle Heights is the gang capital of the world.  I think it is no coincidence Fr. Boyle has run the nation’s largest gang-intervention program there for 21-years.

He encounters about 12-thousand people a year at Homeboy Industries. Eight-thousand are current gang members, “hailing from 700 different gangs in L.A. County.”

“It’s a rehab center where gang members seek to redirect their lives.”  It’s an oasis in the desert.  It’s the Kingdom embodied here on earth. 

His ministry has been described as impacting “the human life-cycle of fall / grace / redemption / repeat -- again and again.” 

His greatest gift is sharing God’s unconditional love with what many call the most unlovable people on the planet:  street gang members.   

Every day he meets with and ministers to new, young men and women, slowly rescuing them from the clutches of deadly gang life with the promise of a job and a community.
Fr. Greg calls this a “particularly disparaged sub-grouping of the poor whom (he has) been privileged to walk.”

Homeboy Industries has built into its logo a slogan:  “Jobs Not Jail” and uses it as its motto, its clarion call, its promise.

He’s in the business of justice and mercy.  And he’s peddling hope on the hopeless streets of L.A.

These are the "poor in spirit" Matthew’s Gospel speaks of today. 
Father Boyle is meek, merciful, comforts those who mourn (he’s buried nearly 150 gang members), is clean of heart, hungers and thirsts for righteousness, but most of all, Father Boyle is a peacemaker.  He is truly Blessed.

            Father Boyle describes his life on the streets as snapshots of personal stories where “you discover the shape of God’s heart and you discover a common sense of humanity.”

            He strives to “create a sense of community of kinship so that God might recognize it.”

Father Boyle thinks our culture spends too much time demonizing the gang world instead of helping gang members to realize “we belong to each other” and help them to climb out of the pits of hell on earth.  He says there’s no such thing as “us and them, only us.”

This is what the Beatitudes call us all to do, each in our own unique way.  Be a saint peddling Jesus’ law is love. 

            Social scientists say young people join gangs “because they feel hopeless, because they are running from something, because they want a family, because they want someone to belong to and something to be a part of.”   
           Poverty and family dysfunction are the catalysts for gang life.  As Fr. Greg puts it so bluntly, kids in his community “plan for their funerals and not their futures.”  It is a heartbreakingly sad life.

            Yet, Father Boyle takes a hopeless life and turns it into a hope-filled life, with amazing results.

            What does Homeboy Industries do?  For starters, it’s perhaps best known for its tattoo-removal service for gang members.  But Homeboy Industries also make and sell logoed clothing, run a bakery and catering business, offer creative writing classes to teach tough-talking gang members to look deep inside their lives and become poets to the community, they run a job referral service, drug and alcohol counseling – the list goes on at Homeboy Industries.

            Father Greg told recent UCLA graduates:  they should “be concerned less with the bottom-line and more (concerned) with those who line the bottom.  Inch yourself out to the very edges and the margins … dismantle barriers that exclude and … widen the circle of compassion so that the poor and the powerless and voiceless might find themselves included.  And so you stand with those whose dignity has been denied and you stand with those whose burdens are more than they can bear and you stand on great and fortunate days with the easily despised and the readily left out.  You stand even with the demonized so the demonizing will stop and with the disposable so the day will come when we stop throwing people away.”

            I’ve posted this entire commencement speech, along with an interview with Father Greg Boyle from the Dr. Phil show and other videos on my website:     

UCLA School of Nursing Commencement Address - 2011

Dr. Phil Interview

Homeboy Industries interviews
Part One
Part Two

I encourage you to see what a modern day saint looks like.

I’m sure there are current gang members out there who insult Fr. Greg and persecute him and utter every kind of evil against him.  But rejoice and be glad, because great is his reward.

He’s saving men and women from an early, violent death on the mean streets of L.A.  He’s helping them to put God in the center of their lives.  He’s saving souls one kid at a time.

            It has been written, “The Beatitudes ask everything of us.  But they also comfort those who sorrow and infuse the weary with hope.  They inspire the downtrodden and offer visions of a world where our hunger for justice is satisfied and mercy reigns.”
            Father Gregory Boyle and his Homeboy Industries ministry are a living embodiment of the Beatitudes right here on earth in our present time.  He is truly Blessed. 

And Father Greg is both a blessing in our world today and a lesson in our lives.  He opens our eyes to a wider reality where Jesus reigns and we live in peace and harmony with each other.  No matter our race, no matter our social status, no matter any false distinction society might use to separate us.

Indeed rejoice and be glad.

Go to Homeboy Industries website