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Today's message is from
reader Dan Vrooman

My encounters with Ted Kennedy


I had two personal encounters with Ted Kennedy. The first was in Saigon in 1967 when I met him for dinner. We talked about war refugees. The second was almost 15 years later. We met in Washington. We talked about nuclear war and global poverty.

During the Vietnam War, I was a volunteer working for a nonprofit organization called International Voluntary Services in the province town of Tuy Hoa in central Vietnam. I had been in Vietnam for less than a year and had been working, as the only American, in the Dong Tac refugee camp. It was a god-forsaken place, home to some 20,000 refugees, mostly the elderly, women and children. Their homes had been destroyed in the fighting; their men were warriors for one side or the other. These refugees had been “resettled” on the sandy beaches along the coast and were living in unimaginable poverty in tin huts, with almost nothing to eat and no means of earning money for food. The war was creative a living hell for the peasants farmers of Vietnam.

Senator Kennedy went in peace


"It was a total surprise to me to see another world he was involved in -- the spiritual world," said Rev. Patrick Tarrant of Our Lady of Victory Church.

Tarrant, who was called to Kennedy's bedside late Tuesday as the senator was dying, said it was clear that Kennedy was ready for the journey that awaited him. He described the senator as "a man of quiet prayer" in his last hours.

"I think the whole world knows certain parts very well, but I think there's another part of his life that very few people know, and that's his deep faith. His very deep faith in God and his love for his family," Tarrant said.

Driven to extremes


I woke up a six o’clock this morning, because today is the first day of school for my 15-year old daughter. She will be sixteen next month and by then should be able to drive legally in the state of California – but she won’t. I’ll get to that in a second.

Cardinal O'Malley on Sen. Kennedy


Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap, the Archbishop of Boston, has issued the following statement upon the death of Senator Ted. Kennedy.

"Today we mourn the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and we extend our heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to his wife Victoria and their children, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran and Caroline. Senator Kennedy was blessed with a dedicated and loving family who stood by his side, particularly during the past year as he faced his illness with courage, dignity and strength.

Remembering Senator Kennedy


No one gave a speech like Ted Kennedy. He could speak without notes and bring a room full of people, from the most educated Harvard alums to a room full of union workers, to their feet. His themes did not need to be on the page. They were in his life’s work.

In 2004, I was working on the congressional campaign of Jim Sullivan who was running in Connecticut. Two weeks before the election, Sen. Kennedy came to do an event for our campaign at a union hall near the Electric Boat shipyards in Groton. I had the unenviable task of writing a speech for my candidate, who is a great public speaker, but what do you do for an encore after Sen. Kennedy?

Dominican Fr. Cletus Wessels


Dominican Fr. Cletus Wessels died on Aug. 13. He was a pastor, theologian, author, college professor and seminary president. He made his profession as a Dominican friar in 1951, followed by his ordination as a priest in 1957. He held a doctorate in systematic theology from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario.

He served for 18 years as professor of theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology in Dubuque, Iowa, and became the third president of the Institute (which is now located in St. Louis). He also taught for a time at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids as well as other centers of learning, including the Quixote Center in Hyattsville, Md., and the Weber Center in Adrian, Mich.

Wessels died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Wednesday at Providence Health Care Center in Minneapolis. He was 79.

He devoted the last years of his life to preaching and writing about the “new universe story” and its implications for Catholic theology and spirituality. He wrote two books on this subject: The Holy Web: Church and the New Universe Story (2000) and Jesus in the New Universe Story (2003).

Good books: inoculations against despair and cynicism


When life has become too complicated, when things are just too much, go borrow a good book from the nearest child. Or, better, revive that fine old custom of sitting down of an evening to read to children. Know for a short time once again the astonishment of being.

"Childhood is not something which dies within us and dries up as soon as it has completed its cycle," philosopher Franz Hellens wrote. "It is not a memory. It is the most living of treasures and it continues to enrich us without our knowing it." Adults need to curl up with a good tale as much as any child. Good reading can foster and restore in us and in our children a hope-filled approach to living. The encounter of one imagination with another can "purge from our inward sight," says the poet Shelley, "the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being." Good books remind us of the riches we already possess: the ability to see beauty everywhere, the capacity for awe and for compassion, for taking joy and delight in the simplest things.


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