Everything wears out – including electronic pagers. The one which served me faithfully for five years, went berserk last week while at my brother’s place on Camano. Upon returning to Holy Family, I called the company, which sent a replacement. Of course it was a new model with more features. Noticing that it had three buttons instead of two, I knew I was in trouble. I am a klutz when it comes to electronic gadgets. When punching buttons got me nowhere, I reluctantly started reading the instruction booklet. It explained things like how to “set up a message folder” and “turn private time on.” (The latter sounded intriguing but I decided not to pursue it.) My old one could only keep track of public time and vibrate when a message came – which seemed quite enough. Anyway, after a frustrating hour of trial and error, I finally got the new one to do what the old one did. So if you have an emergency (for example, if a loved one dies and you wish to set the time for the funeral) you can “beep” me at 206-994-7118.
I should say a few things about how I treat beeper messages. I am not always able to respond immediately. For example, if I am driving on the freeway, I will either wait until arriving at my destination or exit and look for a public phone. If it is long distance, I will call collect. On some occasions I am out of the pager’s range. For example this week I will be going halibut fishing at Neah Bay with my brothers and nephews. If someone calls, the pager will store the numeric message and I will call back at the earliest convenient opportunity.
Deacon Ted Wiese also has a pager. His number, which you can find on our parish calendar, is: 206-748-2458. The pagers will only take numeric messages. After dialing you will hear a brief recorded message, which prompts you to punch in the numbers of your phone. Within about fifteen seconds those numbers are transmitted to the pager.
Recently I took part in a couple of wonderful archdiocesan events. The first was the Catholic Physicians’ Conference last weekend at Providence Hospital. Archbishop Brunett celebrated the opening Mass on Saturday morning. Dr. Daniel P. Sulmasy, M.D., gave excellent presentations on issues of medical ethics. Dr. Sulmasy is a young Franciscan friar who directs the Bioethics Institute of the New York Medical College. Also Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., spoke on Life Principles and how they apply in the practice of medicine. He particularly focused on the question of euthanasia and quality of life which today confronts older people. All of us must ask where our value comes from: From our productivity or from our relationships – especially our relationship with God?
About 170 doctors and medical professionals attended the Conference. It was inspiring to see their desire to struggle with these basic ethical issues – as well as wanting to live out the Catholic faith in the context of their medical practices. At the end of the Conference, four physicians were installed as the directors of the new archdiocesan Catholic Physicians’ Guild. Dr. Jan Hemstad was elected as president. As you may know, Dr. Hemstad and his wife Darcy have helped out at Holy Family in giving classes on Natural Family Planning. This is an area where we need medical support if our young couples are going to live Jesus’ teaching as expressed in the Catechism.
Another beautiful event was the 25th Anniversary celebration of Bishop George Thomas. Even though it was a hot Tuesday afternoon, a huge throng of people came to St. James’ Cathedral to celebrate the event. Around one hundred priests from the Archdiocese concelebrated the Mass. Bishop Thomas is held in great esteem both by the people he has served and his brother priests who feel a great pride that he was named bishop a year and a half ago.
In the midst of the joyful celebration there was a poignant moment when Bishop Thomas shared with us that his family has just placed his father in hospice care. His mom and siblings were present at the Mass. My heart went out to them, especially since I had gone through a similar time with the deaths of my own parents in recent years.
A couple of parish notes: We are rapidly approaching the conclusion of our school year. This Tuesday we will have the Spring Concert. You are cordially invited to attend. June 12 is graduation. Coincidentally that is the 40th anniversary of the consecration of Holy Family Church. We will mark that event by lighting the consecration candles. We have been entrusted noble and sturdy buildings. Part of our responsibility is to keep them in good repair. This year’s Annual Appeal rebate has been designated for that purpose, especially the seismic upgrade of our school building. A couple weeks ago we finished securing the bricks on the façade of the school. This summer we will replace the temporary wood canopy with a permanent translucent one. That work will begin July 16.