Sunday, January 19, 2020


The formal process to begin investigations concerning the possible canonization of the late DR. GERTRUDE BARBER as a saint in the Catholic Church is under way. Gertrude Barber, founder of the Barber National Institute, was a renowned Erie educator and woman of faith who dedicated her life to serving children and adults with intellectual disabilities/autism and their families.

With the opening of her cause, Dr. Barber becomes the first layperson on the list of other Pennsylvanians whose causes for canonization are currently underway. They include Sister Teresa of Jesus Lindenberg, a Carmelite sister from Allentown; our friend, Father Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit priest from Allentown; Father Demetrius Gallitzin, a diocesan priest from Altoona-Johnstown; and Father William Atkinson, an Augustian priest from Philadelphia.

The only Pennsylvania native to date to earn the designation of saint within the Catholic Church is St Katharine Drexel, a sister who founded schools for Native American and African American children, who was canonized in 2000. A Philadelphia native, St. Katharine Drexel died in 1955. Additionally, Saint John Neumann, born in what is now the Czech Republic, served as bishop of Philadelphia and was canonized in 1977. Other Pennsylvania natives whose causes are opened in other states include Sister Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and a native of Philadelphia, and Fr. John Anthony Hardon, a Jesuit priest born in Midland in Beaver County.

Dr. Barber was born in Erie in 1911, the seventh of ten children. When she was seven years old, her father died during the influenza epidemic.
Gertrude is on right
Friends and family encouraged her mother, Kate,  to place her many children in an orphanage. But she was determined to keep them all at home giving them a good education, and instilling  in them the value of serving others which she had shared with her husband. All nine of the surviving Barber children graduated high school, and five earned college degrees.
Gertrude earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Penn State University, where she continued her education and earned a master’s in psychology and doctorate in educational administration. She finished post-doctoral work at Syracuse University, the University of Buffalo, and Adelphi University.
At one time Gertrude expressed a desire to be a missionary in a foreign country, but was encouraged by a superintendent to be a missionary in her home town by becoming an advocate for children with learning and physical disabilities.
In 1933, she became a special education teacher for Erie’s school district. Ten years later, she took the position of home and school visitor for the district, and in 1945 she became the district’s coordinator of special education programs.  As a home and school visitor, part of her job was telling  parents of children with disabilities that their child could not enroll in their local school, and must either be educated at home or sent to faraway institutions.
The experience solidified her convictions to help children with disabilities in a way that kept their families as involved as possible in their lives and education.
In 1952, with a small group of parents, teachers, and volunteers, she opened a classroom for children with disabilities at a local YMCA, and continued to advocate for a more permanent space for her programs. As previously mentioned, this first classroom was the foundation of what is now the Barber National Institute.
In 1958, a former hospital used to treat polio patients was given to Dr. Barber by the City of Erie as a space for both a school for children and a program for adults with disabilities, and her programs quickly expanded. In 1962, she was appointed to President John Kennedy's White House Task Force on the Education and Rehabilitation of the Mentally Retarded, where she helped bring national awareness to the needs of children and adults with disabilities.
As the years went on, the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Center sprouted satellite locations throughout the region. Legislation protecting the rights of children and adults with disabilities passed, and the Center became a hub for implementing new and improved methods of education and training for the disabled.
In the 1970s, Dr. Barber established local group homes for adults who had been institutionalized for their disabilities as children, the beginning of now more than 50 group homes for adults with disabilities operating in Erie County today. In the 1990s, Barber worked to turn the center into a national institute for the best research, education, training and care available for people with disabilities.
Dr. Barber died suddenly while on a trip to Florida in 2003 at the age of 87. She is remembered for her selfless, compassionate, personal, and groundbreaking care for children and adults with disabilities.

“Dr. Barber served as a model for all of us to become more giving and to see God in one another,” John Barber, nephew of Dr. Barber and president of the Barber National Institute, said at the announcement of the opening of his aunt’s cause for canonization.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


In  November of 2019, Jesuits were able to add another saint to their roster.  BLESSED VICTOR EMILIO MOSCOSO CARDENAS was born in 1846 in Cuenca, Ecuador,one of 14 children.

He studied law in college but felt drawn to the religious life, so abandoned his studies in order to join the Jesuits in 1864. He began his novitiate in Cuenca where the Jesuits had settled since the order was forced to leave Quito due to the anti-religious sentiment and persecution at the time. Father Moscoso studied in the San Luis college where he did his philosophical studies which he did well in.

Father Moscoso first began his duties as a priest and as a teacher in Riobamba  and would go on to teach both rhetoric and grammar. He was a noted philosopher and taught rhetoric and grammar to his students while serving as a professor. He also served as the college's rector from 1893 until his assassination. He later began teaching from 1892 at the San Felipe Neri college in Riobamba and from 1893 until his death served as its rector

He served as a teacher in the COPEM college in Riobamba since 1892 and it was there that he was slain during the Liberal Revolution which had started in 1895.

In 1895 the Liberal Revolution broke out in Ecuador which triggered a series of persecutions and a wave of anti-religious sentiment against religious and priests. His own assassination occurred in this context during an assault of liberal troopers in the Riobamba Jesuit house located near the college where he taught.

The soldiers, who were authorized to take priests as prisoners, broke down the door at 4:30am on 4 May 1897 and barged in and killed several people before coming across and breaking open the tabernacle. The men proceeded to throw the hosts to the ground and drank the wine mocking the sacraments before finding Father in a room kneeling before a Crucifix. They proceeded to kill him at point-blank range. He was shot twice.

The killers tried to transform the scene so that it appeared that the priest was armed and had been shot in combat; a rifle was placed near his corpse. His fellow Jesuits were unaware of the attack which lasted until 8:00am due to being in a separate area and therefore did not hear what was happening until much later. Blood was found running down his temples and over a purple scarf that he was wearing at the time.

Known for a  kind and generous personality, even one of his uncles said about him: “among all his brothers, he was distinguished by docility, moderation and delicacy of his character,” The Postulator to the Cause, Fr. Jose Benetiz, also commented on his character as being “serene, simple, kind, humble; he gave the impression of being shy; attentive and helpful; he always manifested true faithfulness to his obligations.”  These qualities then were his trademark throughout his life and would be evident in the difficult and tragic moments of his last days and antecedents to his martyrdom.

Saturday, January 11, 2020


I know we have written about this before, and perhaps anyone who reads these Blogs is on board, and if so it is “preaching to the choir”.  But more and more evidence  shows the psychological harm  being done to children and teens who live  on their cell phones. Early in the year Pope Francis said  we all  should  “unplug and socialize during dinner time”.

The Holy Father encouraged a return to “communicating in our families” during meals rather than being glued to cellphones.  “I ask myself if you, in your family, know how to communicate or are you like those kids at meal tables where everyone is chatting on their mobile phone.”

To my way of thinking it is down right rude!  How easy it is to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of conversation.   I can’t imagine trying to talk to a good friend or someone in a business transaction and have them chatting away to some unseen body.

And this constant texting?  More and more specialists will be needed for the present generation to treat  fingers and hands which are being used beyond what they were created for.

Pope Francis pointed to Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  "They obviously didn’t spend their time browsing Twitter and Facebook, checking their Gmail  or texting."

Without smartphone distractions, the Pope said they “prayed, worked and communicated with each other.”

Monday, January 6, 2020


The Magi

Andre Pierre was born around 1916 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His first paintings were done inside the hollowed gourds (calabash) used for ceremonial offerings.  He later began painting on board and canvas.  Andre Pierre is considered one of Haiti's greatest painters. 

AndrĂ© Pierre spent his childhood on the streets and raising himself. He was a very hardworking man. He practiced different kinds of crafts like stonebreaker, midwife and “chef de section” (literally, in English, chief of section). He was 46 when he started his painting career.

Someone said he was one of three great artists of 20th century , along with Dali and Picasso.

He died at the age of 91, and despite of the fact that he was diabetic, blind and physically weak, he kept his verve and his good mood. In colorful majesty he captured the three Kings!


Gabriela Desvaldi- Italian  21 C.

This morning after the homily Mother Prioress sang Announcement of Easter and the Movable Feasts.

The proclamation of the date of Easter and the other movable feasts on Epiphany dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date. The number of Sundays that follow Epiphany, the date of Ash Wednesday, and the number of Sundays that follow Pentecost are all computed in relation to Easter.

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year.

Each year the proper dates for Ash Wednesday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and the First Sunday of Advent must be inserted into the text.

Know, dear brethren
that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
so by leave of God's mercy
we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection,
who is our Savior.

On the twenty-sixth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday,
and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.
On the twelfth day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day,
the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[In those places where the Ascension is observed on Thursday:
On the twenty-first day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the twenty-fourth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the thirty-first day of May, the feast of Pentecost.
On the fourteenth day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On the twenty-ninth day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019


People who know me, know that as a child psychologist, I am deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of our children today.  This latest survey is distressing, and I think shows why our youth today are in such bad straits!

For decades, the share of U.S. children living with a single parent has been rising, accompanied by a decline in marriage rates and a rise in births outside of marriage. A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households.

Almost a quarter of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults (23%), more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%).

The study, which analyzed how people’s living arrangements differ by religion, also found that U.S. children from Christian and religiously unaffiliated families are about equally likely to live in this type of arrangement.

In comparison, 3% of children in China, 4% of children in Nigeria and 5% of children in India live in single-parent households. In neighboring Canada, the share is 15%.

While U.S. children are more likely than children elsewhere to live in single-parent households, they’re much less likely to live in extended families. In the U.S., 8% of children live with relatives such as aunts and grandparents, compared with 38% of children globally.

When we consider that the family (not preschool) is the place where children develop into what they will become, especially in the spiritual sense. It is where we are equipped to become what God created us to be. Children come to know who God is through their parents. In the so-called developed world, the family is increasingly an artifact of convenience at best.

In this Christmas season, we need to look to the Holy Family for inspiration and pray for guidance- which is not gotten from books or TV or the internet.