“Lame duck” is a term that I have been thinking about a good deal since last week. It’s a phrase, especially used in politics, that denotes a person or thing that isn’t properly able to function. Originally used in the world of finance, in our governmental system where there is often a long gap between a candidate’s winning an office and his or her taking possession of it, an officeholder who has lost or retired from a position will have weeks or months of coasting to the end. I guess it is that sense of “coasting” that caused someone to think of an injured bird … one that can’t fly much … thus a lame duck.
Maybe it’ just a coincidence with it being May and the end of our programming year, but with my announcement that Bishop Callahan had reassigned me to St. Michael and Church of the Resurrection Parishes in Wausau things have, well, seemed awfully quiet this week. I have been in such spots before, of course, but never for so long … I have almost eight full weeks of “lame duckdum” (from Friday, May 5th, through Wednesday June 28). Eventually it will provide time to pack … but first it will provide a space to get the office and files in order, so the next fellow doesn’t inherit a mess. It should allow me time to get Fr. Jesse Burish over here before June 29 to spend a day here so I can show him the lay of the land and answer some questions and dispel any anxiety. If he is able to come, it will likely be a weekday, but I will show him off to those who are around. As I said when I made the announcement last weekend, from the start he offers three things I could never give: he is young, he is good looking, and he’s fresh. By the way, I will also ask Fr. Jesse to write a paragraph or two for this space in the next couple of weeks where he can say something in his own defense.
You likely have noticed that near the northwest entrance to the church (opposite the men’s room) a sign on the wall with the letters “AED” in black over a bright red heart. The initials stand for Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a device used when someone suffers a cardiac arrest. Most public buildings, theatres, and schools generally have them. What we aren’t sure we have at Notre Dame is a wide variety of parishioners who would feel comfortable using the device if called upon to do so. I think our corps of ushers is a logical place to start, so they have already been invited to attend either of a pair of opportunities on Wednesday, May 24, to give them the experience they need to assist others to provide such a lifesaving intervention. Now you don’t need to be an usher to save a life, so we are throwing the invitation open to parishioners at large … but you do need to let us know when you plan to attend. If you are interested, call the rectory, give the volunteer your name, and let us know which training session (10:00 am or 6:00 pm) you will make. If you are reading this and you already have AED certification, you could call in and let us know that as well .
If you have been to Washington, DC, and had more than a single day to see the big stuff around the National Mall, you may have found yourself taking in a couple of the great churches of the city. The National Cathedral is northwest of the government area, a great neo-gothic Episcopal Church build in the 1890’s. It is often the site of the funerals of presidents (whether they are Episcopalian or not). To the north and east of the capital is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, sort of the Catholic response to the National Cathedral. It was begun in the 1920’s in the Neo-Byzantine style, and was opened in 1959 unfinished. It is an immense building, filled with some seventy chapels dedicated to our Blessed Mother and, would you believe, remains unfinished. The building’s centennial is just a few years away, and the bishops of the nation are asking if the Catholics of the United States might make a contribution to help complete the mosaics in the great dome. Now that we have our great church nearly completed, maybe you have a heart with me to complete this great project? Please see the attached envelope for a one-time request in behalf of this great project, to complete this great church in time for its centennial to honor our Catholic heritage and our Lady as the patroness of our nation. Thank you for considering it.