Posts Tagged ‘Frank Murphy’


Monday, March 19th, 2012

Former CRS president Ken Hackett. Photo courtesy of Catholic Relief Services.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent each year marks the occasion for the annual collection for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) throughout our country. Our church takes justifiable pride in this highly acclaimed and recognized organ of the Catholic Church in the United States which responds quickly and effectively to major disasters throughout the world and leads development efforts in many underdeveloped or at risk countries. While US Catholics contribute about 15 million each year to the CRS collection, the agency’s program expenses and outreach will this year for the first time exceed one billion dollars. The balance comes from agency fund-raising efforts and grants from the US government and other international agencies. CRS serves all of humankind, without favor to religion, race or sex. What makes its so highly effective are two things: its low cost administration (less than $10 for every $100 is spent on fundraising and administrative costs and when I left the Board chairmanship four years ago, the actual cost audited and accounted for was in the neighborhood of $7.00 for the one hundred given) and its partners throughout the world. What other organization has the network of Catholic Charities and parish structures for the delivery of services?

But yesterday’s major gift to Catholic Relief Services was the announcement that the University of Notre Dame had chosen its recently retired (three months ago) President and CEO, Kenneth Hackett for its prestigious “Laetare Medal” at the 2012 commencement ceremony. I would say that given the incredibly distinguished history of its recipients over the years, all Catholics I believe, this award is without parallel for its selectivity and recognition of service to the Church and to the Gospel. I was on the Search Committee, which recommended to the bishops’ only (at that time) Board of Directors that Hackett be appointed its CEO. When chosen, CRS had a program budget of about 200 million a year and, as I noted above, it now should exceed one billion in service to the poor of the world. Still, the administrative costs remain low. Much of this growth and much of its rise in prestige is due to Ken Hackett. He would rightly say that a tremendous staff at CRS backed him up and that is indeed true. But he was the right man at the right time to lead an organization in search of a mission and identity.

In his twenty plus years as CEO, Ken Hackett protected and enhanced its Catholic identity. When USAID balked at giving grants to CRS for anti-HIV retroviral medicines in nine nations in Africa and in Haiti because we did not distribute condoms (our government’s principal answer to stopping the pandemic), he never flinched from Catholic teaching and Catholic identity. And he led the agency in establishing a greater mission than disaster relief and the Thanksgiving Clothing Drive (older Catholics remember that one well) to remain and serve in countries by assisting them in self-help development work (like digging wells and providing for sanitation).

I can’t think of a more worthy recipient than Kenneth Hackett with whom I was privileged both to work side by side with and at the same time learn from about serving the poor. My commitment to and love for Pinellas Hope can be traced to two laymen who have taught me everything: Ken Hackett and Frank Murphy. Congratulations Notre Dame on an outstanding selection and congratulations Ken Hackett on winning this award, which is even more affirming than the honorary doctorate, conferred on you by the same institution a few years ago. And thanks, Notre Dame, for letting CRS woo your Dean of the Mendoza School of Business to succeed Ken Hackett as the person at the helm of the premier relief and development agency in the world.



Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Christmas eve is now less than twenty four hours away and I have just finished the first draft of my homily for Christmas. Tomorrow my public day begins at 1230pm with the official Blessing and Opening of PINELLAS HOPE II, eighty new very low cost ($300 per month) transitional apartments for homeless who have found jobs but do not yet have the money for their own totally independent living arrangement. Built with money from a grant from the State of Florida and furnished mostly by the great people of Anona Methodist Church through donations of furniture, cookware, glass and table ware, sheets and towels, etc., the amazing one room efficiency apartments are just steps from the former resident’s tents on the property of PINELLAS HOPE. The certificate of occupancy has been given and the first several people who qualified are ready to move in. What a great day to open a new form of shelter ministry – on the day before the Holy Family was told thousands of years ago, “I’m sorry, Joseph, there is no room at the Inn.”

In a few hours, at four precisely, I will offer my first Mass of Christmas at St. Rita parish in Dade City. Usually and today likely also to be a Mass for Children and Families, the first Mass on Christmas Eve has become the most attended Mass of Christmas in almost all of our parishes. This is a big change since my childhood when Midnight was the earliest one could offer and/or attend Mass on Christmas Day. Now there is a tendency in many places, including St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, to move even the Mass at Midnight to earlier, 10:00 pm. After the Mass it is a quick drive back to Pinellas Hope to serve dinner with the Frank Murphy family to all the residents. This year after a two year absence (more about that in a moment), I will be back at St. Jude’s Cathedral for Midnight Mass which means home and in bed around two o’clock in the morning, depending on how long I preach.

Christmas morning finds me continuing a practice I began when I first came of offering Christmas Mass in one of the jails or prisons located in the five counties of the diocese. Saturday morning will find me offering Christmas Mass, hearing confessions, and also confirming one inmate, at the Hillsborough Correctional Women’s Prison which carries a Riverview address but is closer to Sun City. It is a privilege to offer Mass for these women and to join them in prayer for their children and families who will be unable to be present to them on this special day.

The only thing different about this year from my past practice is that I used to faithfully offer a third Mass on Christmas eve, starting in Citrus County with the first, and then coming down to Hernando or Pasco or Hillsborough for the second around 800pm and often in Spanish before winding up at the Cathedral a little before midnight. When he was working outside of the diocese, I was accompanied and driven on these rounds by Father David Toups but he now has his own parish so I am alone again – thus one less Mass. Next year I will return to Citrus County. It is my love and privilege to serve five counties and I have always thought that on Christmas the bishop should imitate Santa and be everywhere (well, permit me a slight hyperbole).

My final thought is that last year on Christmas eve I was in St. Anthony Hospital. I attended Christmas eve Mass literally wrapped in swaddling clothes (blankets) and while not lying in a manger, I was in a wheelchair at the back of the chapel. Just before Mass my nephrologist had visited my room and said that my kidneys were of great concern and that dialysis was looking more likely. He ordered two tests for right after Mass, neither of which was pleasant. I cried throughout Mass, missing being among my people, angry that I was not getting better, afraid of the immediate future, scared that I would have one of my uncontrollable bowel movements right in the chapel, feeling very alone though surrounded by loving people. By the end of Mass, a certain peace had settled in, resignation had taken the place of resentment, and when being wheeled by the front entrance of the hospital on the way to the elevators, I could see the homeless gathering against the cold night air, ready to bed down near St. Vincent de Paul’s Sampson Center and an inner voice said, “stop complaining”. The tests were negative and I was discharged the day after Christmas. Dear people of God, there is always hope; we abandon it, it never abandons us. Even a bishop can be humbled and learn a lesson from time to time.

Still to come, my Christmas homily posted tomorrow on Christmas Day and some reflections on what it takes today to be a “holy family” on Sunday. Enjoy these final hours of the run-up to the annual memory of when the Word Became Flesh and dwelt amongst us.



Thursday, February 18th, 2010

One month after the devastating earth quake in neighboring Haiti, the people of this diocese have beautifully responded to my urgent plea for donations and help for this tragic nation. As of this morning, we have collected and forwarded more than $1,356,700 to CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES for their use in alleviating the suffering of the Haitian people with water, food and clothing. Additionally, and I am here guessing, many of our parishes “twin” with parishes in Haiti and have sent what they collected right to those same parishes so my guess is that at least another “$250,000” has been collected and forwarded to parishes. Such generosity in a time of need must be pleasing to God. I know that I am proud of your generosity.

Also, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg has been asked by the U.S. government to handle all of the sick and wounded from that country who have been airlifted to Florida. The government chooses the hospitals for the care of the sick, but each patient is allowed to bring two people with them and it is now our duty to find them places to stay and to support them while their loved ones are in the hospitals of the area.

It is beginning to seem like my dream of being the first responder to urgent needs in our area and world is coming true thanks to the vision of Catholic Charities Director Frank Murphy and his colleagues. Another reason to be proud of your Church as we begin this Lenten season of prayer and sacrifice.



Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

1. That I am still alive to celebrate Thanksgiving 2009 with both my brothers still alive, my niece and nephew and their spouses all who were at my side even though I was unaware of it, my friends from everywhere I have lived and worked. Special thanks to Drs. Reilly, Williams, Boulay, Abel and Rizzo, CPICU staff and especially JD and Jim, Therapy persons like Kathy, Jed, my special PT person at St. Anthony whose first name I am unable to remember due to a senior moment  Marcelo, Jennifer, Hermine, Anne Marie, Adela, Kathy B., Ann, Debbie, Beverly, Walter, Lori, Jeri and to Father John Tapp and Father Bob Morris who stood vigil through what had to be one of the longest days and nights of their life. All of you made this Thanksgiving possible and may God bless you all.

2. That thousands of people, most of whom I do not know, have been praying for me since July 27th raising my spirits and helping my recovery.

3. That I have been attended to by the finest surgeon, doctors and nurses and nurses-aids since becoming so sick.

4. That I have a group of priests who have been patient with me, supportive of my enduring the challenges of serious illness and whom I love and think the world of. Now I just need to be more patient with them and perhaps even more supportive in return.

5. That I live in the United States and enjoy so many of the blessings God has bestowed on this nation.

6. That late in life I have been “gifted” with an experience of suffering and uncertainty which I hope as I get stronger I can share with many who also carry the same burdens. Our Gospel is a message of hope.

7. During this time of my long road to recovery that our local Church has been led by Father Bob Morris, our Vicar General, and Elizabeth Deptula, Joan Morgan, Frank Murphy and the wonderful, committed people of our diocesan staff in seeing that the work of the Church continues successfully.

8. Apropos of number 7 above, that I have finally learned that it is not all about me, and that none of us are irreplaceable. It is one of the Lord’s gifts to His Church.

9. That I was baptized into the Catholic faith and am taking more seriously than ever before what it means to be “gathered, nourished and sent”, looking forward to our final convocation in May 2010 and more convinced than ever that the Lord has left me here to proclaim His presence in the sacraments of the Church.

10. This list of things to be thankful for could go on and on but I finish with the thought that I am so gifted to have been planted in this Church of St. Petersburg with its priests, deacons, religious women and men, and active, committed laity for whom faith is more than an obligation but rather a gift. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Bishop Lynch


Friday, December 19th, 2008

One of the traditional aspects of the season are office parties. At the diocese, we decided in light of the economy and budget short-falls that we would forego the big dinner we sometimes have and cook and serve the homeless at Pinellas Hope instead (see blog entry below Light Shining in the Darkness). Nonetheless, various offices have been getting together for smaller seasonal gatherings and tonight I had my personal staff at my house for a “Honeybaked Ham” dinner. I consider myself to be a very lucky person in many ways, one of which is the competence, dedication, loyalty and patience of my own staff.

Father Bob Morris is a wonderful Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. He misses parish work and particularly pastoring very much but makes the sacrifice to assist me and the diocesan Church. Joan Morgan, the Chancellor, keeps the records, statistics, requests for faculties, etc. all the while being a real “mother” to the priests. No one hangs up the phone after speaking with Joan without thinking, what a great woman she is to them. Elizabeth “Betty” Deptula has been with me for about ten of my years as Secretary for Administration. She oversees the work of the Finance and Accounting offices, Human Resources, Construction and Real Property offices, Information Technology, and has built  the new addition of the Bishop Larkin Pastoral Center, as well as Bishop McLaughlin High School, the Bethany Center, the additions to the three existing high schools and assisted all the parishes in completing and paying for their building projects. Frank Murphy is Secretary for Pastoral Programs and at the same time President of Catholic Charities of the diocese. He is a man of indefatigable energy and provides the energy as well as insight for Pinellas Hope.  At the Pastoral Center Frank would supervise the offices of Faith Formation, Education, Pro-Life, etc. and also serves as the Diocesan Communication spokesman.

Supporting us are only three wonderful women; Cecilia Svab, Vivi Iglesias, and Andrea McSorley. You keep them busy with your phone calls and we keep them busy with the usual and sometimes the unusual demands of a very busy office. Stress is not a stranger to our operation.  Come to think of it, I personally might just be a source for some of it.

I have a housekeeper at my residence who comes a day and a half a week and a very occasional cook who helps me when I have guests for meals which amounts to about one night a month, except during this season of the year. For food the rest of the time, well, there’s McDonalds.

Anyway, the Advent/Christmas season provides an annual opportunity to express thanks to those who help in the triple ministry of teaching, governing and sanctifying and that is what I and others did tonight. Thought you might wish to see what the women and men in my life look like so I am attaching two photos taken this evening.

Left to right, Andrea McSorley, Joan Morgan, Betty Deptula, Vivi Iglesias, Father Bob Morris, Frank Murphy (Cecilia Svab was unable to join us tonight and is missing from this group picture)

Jerry Toth (housekeeper) and Lori Foynes (cooking)

Jerry Toth (housekeeper) and Lori Foynes (cooking)