Christmas in Forest Hills

Shortly before Midnight Mass—which actually took place at midnight!— from my parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills, NY. The liturgy was breathtaking: 40 altar servers, five priests, one deacon, full choir, a trumpet, and an eloquent homiletic meditation on “O Holy Night” by our pastor, Bishop Paul Sanchez—who reflected on the phrase [Read More...]

Ladies and gentlemen: Baby Jesus

Scenes from our parish Christmas pageant, held during tonight’s 5 p.m. Mass. Kudos to little Madison James, who portrayed the Baby Jesus with subtlety, nuance, humility and panache—and no crying. [Read more...]

Hitting the road: The Bench and CNEWA visit Long Island

The past couple of days I found myself on a rare weekend away from my home parish, giving talks at Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, New York.  I was there with two of my colleagues from CNEWA, Norma Intriago and Chris Kennedy, to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians and enlist support [Read More...]

Hello, Long Island

If you’re in the neighborhood this weekend: I’ll be visiting Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, Long Island and preaching at all the Masses. The topic: persecuted Christians. Four months after ISIS began its purge, so many Iraqis are still homeless and in need of basic necessities. I’ll be there on behalf of CNEWA, along with [Read More...]

Together at last: Jimmy Fallon, Thomas Merton and me

I’m pleased to report that my blog neighbor (and fellow Queens resident) Pat McNamara has just published a new book, “New York Catholics,” with Orbis Books. It’s available today on Amazon.  Check it out.  From the publisher: The historical and spiritual legacy of New York City’s largest denomination comes alive in these biographies of 76 [Read More...]

Holy Toledo

I spent part of last week in Ohio, and in four days visited three dioceses: Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo. A highlight was having a chance to meet some of the deacons of Toledo, where I gave a talk to them and their wives about my own vocation and my career in the media. We all [Read More...]

The deacons got ashes

With Deacon Bill McNamara, my classmate and the DRE at my parish.   [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...]

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...]

“What is a parish?”: a homily for September 15, 2013

Today, traditionally the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, is also my parish’s feast day. Late yesterday, the parish administrator said, “You wanna throw together a few words for the 11:30 Mass?”  Okay, I said.  Here they are.  Yesterday, as I do every month, I met with families to schedule baptisms. And I’m always surprised [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X