Back from retreat

Sorry for the long silence: I was away Friday night through Sunday morning at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, NY, on retreat with deacons from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, and the Archdiocese of New York. It’s a beautiful place—still blanketed in snow, despite the warming weather—and a good time was had [Read More...]

Super Bowl fever: just another day in New York

I found myself this morning in Times Square, which was teeming with pre-Super Bowl festivities. It seemed to have a lot more people than usual. These guys below caught my eye. It occurred to me that we work in the same business—though their idea of Christian communications and mass media is a little different from [Read More...]

“How to Build an Awesome Altar Serving Program in 10 Easy Steps”

People who visit The Bench regularly know that I never tire of gushing about my parish’s altar servers. We have about 140 of them, boys and girls, aged 9-22.  As I’ve posted pictures and sung their praises, readers have asked repeatedly, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” Well, after much prodding, the moderator [Read More...]

Flying south

I’ll be in scenic Seneca, South Carolina next week, at the kind invitation of Fr. Gregory West, giving a parish mission at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello! The theme comes from one of the dismissals of the Mass. I hope it will offer a [Read More...]

Staying power

The picture below appeared in our diocesan newspaper, The Tablet: The caption: Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Forest Hills, boasts more than 100 members of its Altar Server Society. College and high school members were among the 50 servers who joined with Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, pastor, and the parish priests and deacons at [Read More...]

How I spent Epiphany Sunday

I spent part of the day with these guys: Our 11:30 Mass included the presentation of gifts by the magi, and a lovely procession of altar servers, carrying candles and torches. Our administrator, Fr. Frank Passenant, also began the liturgy with an old tradition: blessing chalk, and then scrawling the date above the entry to [Read More...]

Snow day in Queens

It’s not the snow that’s so bad. It’s the cold—with wind chill, hovering in the single digits. One benefit: the snow covers the piles of garbage waiting to be collected at the curb. Personally, I’m grateful for the free day. On my to-do list: I have an annulment report to write, a homily to finish, [Read More...]


Went downstairs tonight to look out the front window of our building. Here is what I saw: Queens at 11 PM ET. Pretty mild so far. Major props to the building staff for shoveling the walk! [Read more...]

Where were you on New Year’s Eve 1977?

I was here: A friend sent me this shot. I was a freshman in college, attending the wedding of some classmates from high school. If you can’t pick me out, I’m the one who looks like he’s going for a job interview. Yes, those are bell bottoms. And yes, that’s a massive leather band on [Read More...]

My favorite church

It’s where my wife and I were married 27 years ago: the chapel at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Md. We paid a visit today, before heading back to New York, and had the privilege of praying during Adoration and sharing in the celebration of the mid-day Mass. There were about 70 or 80 [Read More...]