The Only Answer I Have

Why, Lord, do you stand afar and pay no heed in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1  Into the uncertainty of a pandemic comes the uncertainty of injustice and its aftermath. I write to you, our Catholic students at Duke, to simply say I am with you in the wide range of emotions that can come in these days. I wish I could explain the expressions of senseless violence rooted in the unjust abuse of power. The fear of being treated inhumanely (let alone unjustly) that so many people of color in our country live with on a daily basis needs our… Read More


Catholic Dukies, Lent has taken on such incredible new meaning, I can only imagine what Holy Week will bring. I will admit that I have not felt this Lent to be the opportunity to draw closer to Christ in the Church that it is intended to be. Most probably, as I reflect on the past two weeks, Lent has been dictated to me rather than me dictating what Lent will be and that is why I have found it a bit out of sync. How ironic that I am more willing to embrace penitential practice when it is what I decide it… Read More

Now more than ever

Catholic Dukies, In these days of social distancing, now more than ever we are called to celebrate our connection to Christ in the Church. We know that you may find this time unsettling with all of the rapid changes and precautions taken by Duke and perhaps your home regions. However, we are united with you and looking for multiple ways to stay connected. Due to the university’s decisions regarding public gatherings and our own concern for the health and well-being of our Duke Catholic community, DCC Mass is cancelled until further notice. However, we will live-stream a private Mass at… Read More

Is it any wonder . . .

It has been difficult of late to listen to so many statistics regarding mental health on campus. No one knows these realities as much as students themselves who struggle to deal with the stresses of a high-powered university while listening to their classmates who are similarly struggling or worse. The university has done much to try to address these issues with great outreach by CAPS and Duke Reach. But aren’t we missing an essential question? Why? Why are so many students floundering when it comes to emotional well-being? Many might suggest that it is the pressure of studies at a… Read More


It is embarrassing to witness the level to which differences can create gridlock. While not wanting to focus on the sides of the issue that have created the government shutdown in the United States in these days, I do think it is instructive to look at the process to see how we may be complicit, or worse, how this dynamic creeps into other areas of our lives. Where else have we “shut down”? Life is not easy, and often we find ourselves in situations where we differ with others – we don’t see life the same way. Whether it be… Read More

How would I be graded in my family?

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – St. John Paul II We are so used to being graded, it is hard not to put all of life on to some scale of measure. We grade our papers and our tests, we grade our lab work and our performances. We grade the food we eat, the air we breath and the water we drink. We sometimes even look at our relationships in terms of a scale, or get some sense of their importance as they relate to human relationships… Read More

“Why would you still go to that Church?”

As I continue to reflect on our Church in crisis (see my earlier column here), I am taken by how hard it is to be a public Catholic these days. Well, it is probably hard to be a public Catholic anytime, but it is probably a bit harder in these days of scandal. While most may not know you are Catholic, some do and it is as if you can hear some of your friends saying: “Why would you still go to that Church?” Even if your friends aren’t saying it, in various media you hear the voices of many… Read More

Call It What It Is – Sin

The reports these past few weeks regarding sexual abuse by Church officials and the culture of cover-up to protect the Church has hit many of us hard as we try to imagine the pain and suffering that victims and their families have experienced. I am cautious to call for prayers and outreach for the people whose lives have been so hurt, because I feel as if it seems to be such a limited response. Is this really all we can do? While looking for appropriate responses, I am also compelled to say, “Brace yourself, there is probably more that will… Read More

Recognize the Goodness – A Lenten Letter to Catholic Dukies

I wonder if you realize the difference you are making? I wonder if you appreciate how even amidst your trials and struggles, that the Holy Spirit is at work in you? I wish you could see you from my perspective. I wish you could hear and see what I see. On Ash Wednesday I asked all Duke Catholics to write down your Lenten commitment. While we have placed that stack of cards on the altar for the last 2 Sundays for Mass (and will continue to do that through Easter), I was able to first look through them and read… Read More

An Olympic Lent

It may be fortuitous that the Winter Olympics and Lent begin around the same time. Two seasons where challenge and struggle are melded together for a higher purpose give each an added bonus. Lent can take from the Olympics the evidence that practice makes perfect as well as a never give up attitude. The Olympics can take from Lent that higher purpose can motivate us to overcome adversity far more than accolades that will fade and tarnish. But it is what is unseen in preparation that really tells the tale in the success of these two seasons. We watch Olympic… Read More