10-14-2016 - From Sous-Chef to Cardinal

Novens, inc. was established in 1997 by dmurphy.

An interesting footnote to my last blog. On Sunday, October 9th, Pope Francis in his usual, unexpected, casual way at the weekly Sunday morning midday blessing at St. Peter’s Square, announced that he had made 17 new cardinals to the Catholic Church. http://www.americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/new-cardinals-signal-shift-away-us-culture-wars

At the same time, one of the appointed, Kevin Farrell, who had been the bishop of Dallas, Texas, for the past ten years, just arrived to Rome and was staying with his brother, Brian, in the Vatican. The two brothers were about to go out to lunch and had the local TV on to listen to the Holy Father’s weekly blessing, when all of a sudden the Pope read the names of the new Cardinals, including Kevin’s. That’s how Kevin found out he was about to become a cardinal! And we are thrilled for him.

On a personal note though, I wish the Holy Father would have apprised me of the situation prior to his announcement. I have lost my sous-chef who has cooked our Thanksgiving turkey on a grill for 25 years with me! Pope Francis got his guy! I think I may have lost mine!

8-23-2016 - Kev, BF and me

Novens, inc. was established in 1997 by dmurphy.

The news out of the Vatican in the last few days has made me think of writing something on a more personal note. On Wednesday of last week Vatican News published that Pope Francis had asked Bishop Kevin Farrell, the bishop of Dallas, to be the first head of the new Vatican Department for Laity, Family and Life.  http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/pope-appoints-bishop-kevin-farrell-dallas-tex-head-new-vatican-department-laity

Apparently up to now Francis was hearing from cardinals, bishops and priests what lay people were thinking about the Church or what they hoped to hear from the Church. He wanted to hear directly from them. He chose Bishop Farrell to head the new dicastery and appoint lay people from all over the world to participate in this new department. He wanted to hear their thoughts on the Church, the world and society in general. He wanted to listen to them. It is a wonderful and humbling honor for Bishop Farrell.

Kev, BF and I go back a long time. We are all from Dublin. BF, Kevin’s older brother, Brian, and I are  the same age. We went to the same high school in Dublin, a tough Irish Christian Brothers school in the center of Dublin, Synge Street CBS, where you were expected to do well in school or there would be a price to pay! It was arguably the toughest school in Dublin at the time. Ironically, in recent years that same school which was the bastion of Irish Catholicism now has students from more than 30 different religions, and has a prayer room for the Muslim students.

Brian always excelled in school, always top of the class. I did not. Brian was two years older than Kev. BF and I graduated from high school the same year. We entered the newly arrived to Ireland seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in June, 1961 with some other Irish fellows. Brian and I were shipped off to Salamanca, Spain, that September with 6 other Irish. A year later we were sent to Rome to study Philosophy and Theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University. After ordination BF worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State and, later, was ordained bishop by Pope John Paul II, and was made Under-Secretary at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, where he has dealt with all Christian Religions and Judaism.  After various assignments, I went to Washington, D.C. to open a Legionary of Christ family center there. BF and I were always good friends throughout the years. I left the Legion In 1972 and joined the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

At that time Kevin was serving as a chaplain in the University of Monterrey, Mexico. I was somewhat instrumental in getting him into the Archdiocese of Washington. I subsequently left the priesthood and became the executive director of the World Federation on Hemophilia in Montreal, Canada, where I lived for some years. Kev soared in the Archdiocese. He started in the Hispanic Center, went on to be head of Catholic Charities. Cardinal Hickey recognized his many talents and sent him to Notre Dame to get a master’s degree in Business and Administration. Ultimately he made him Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese. Nevertheless, in my opinion, Kev’s long time mentor was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and “Teddy” still is an extraordinary influence in Kev’s life. When there were serious problems in the Archdiocese, Teddy would often say to Kevin: “Kev, let’s go down the road for a beer and talk!” Most serious problems were resolved in an afternoon over a glass of beer!

Kev and I have cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving on a Weber grill in my home for the past 25 years. In fact, I don’t think I can cook the turkey without him!  As soon as he arrives to our home he sits down with my wife, Deborah, and together they write the schedule for the whole Thanksgiving weekend. Deborah loves him. My son and his wife love him, my granddaughters think he is funny. All our friends love to spend time with him. And Kevin gives freely of himself to everybody. Kevin is for real. There is nothing phony about him. And what you see is what you get. I have no doubt but that Pope Francis chose the right man. Kev will build the new dicastery into a powerful support for the Pope’s goals of making the Church more realistic, more human and more forgiving.

And the Vatican is just going to have to learn to deal with the two Irish brothers from Dublin! But those fellas will give the Church their best. And they are my longest and dearest friends

9-13-2013 - Remembering Arthur Ashe

Novens, inc. was established in 1997 by dmurphy.

The United States Tennis Open is now history. Rafa Nadal and Serena were worthy champions. Djokovic and Azarenka gave it their best. The Arthur Ashe Stadium delivered some of its finest tennis. But it was a short article in the New York Times that made me reminisce about a man who touched me deeply many years ago.

This year the attendees at the U.S. Open could also drop by and visit “The Arthur Ashe Inspirational Tour”, which was put together lovingly by Arthur’s widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, which was a collection of his books, quotes, causes he was involved in and memorabilia.

I had the pleasure of meeting Arthur Ashe in 1993 when I was the Executive Director of the World Federation of Hemophilia. It was a time when AIDS still was a word with a questionable, prejudicial meaning and connotation. Ashe had gone public with the fact that he had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion while he was in hospital with heart problems.

The Federation had organized a lecture series in conjunction with McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Arthur Ashe had agreed to be the key speaker. As always, in his quiet voice, he delivered a very moving presentation regarding the need to shed our prejudices, treat everybody with respect, and get rid of our anger regarding AIDS.

When his speech was over, he quietly approached me and asked whether it would be alright if he did not stay for dinner. He was hoping to get the last flight out of Montreal to La Guardia. He explained that he tried as much as he could to get home every night to tuck his little daughter in her bed and kiss her goodnight. He made it home that night to tuck her in. Two weeks later I was shocked to read that he had died.

I am reminded today of the words of the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney: “The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life”. Arthur Ashe had his priorities right. He lived his life boldly.

1-8-2013 - Rising Star in the US Democratic Party

Novens, inc. was established in 1997 by dmurphy.

Last week my wife, Deborah, and I had the honor of being invited to Washington, D.C. to attend the Swearing-In of the new Senator from the State of Connecticut, Chris Murphy (no relation). He is the youngest Senator serving in the Senate. He is 39 years of age and married.  He and his wife, Cathy, have two handsome boys. Owen is 4 years old, Rider is almost 2.  I love this charming video of the “family” being sworn in.

At times we can be cynical about politics and our politicians. And at times they deserve it.  However I have had the privilege of knowing one who is a committed public servant.  Some in our industry may remember meeting Chris at the PPTA Forum in Washington, D.C. in 2009. He was our keynote speaker. He spoke about Healthcare issues.

We have supported Chris from his first race for the House of Representatives six years ago. He is intelligent, thoughtful, moderate, and a good family man. For him to be a politician is an honor and a service, a service to the people of his State and, now, to the country.

On Thursday, January 3, we were honored to be in the Senate Gallery when Chris was officially sworn in by Vice-President Joe Biden. For me it was the first time being in the Senate Chamber. The room was so much smaller than I imagined it. And yet that room exuded power, prestige, responsibility. Right in front of me was an extraordinary group of men and women who have served this country with exceptional courage and commitment, albeit with their human frailties, people such as John Kerry, John McCain, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, Barbara Mikulski, Diane Feinstein, and many others. It was an extraordinary honor to be there.

That evening Chris was kind enough to invite us to join him and his family with a few close friends for a private dinner in a restaurant in Washington. I watched Chris hold one of the boys on his lap and feed him, later he was taking a video of the two boys on his iPhone rolling on the floor playing in the corner of the room. Still later he had to get under a table to pull Rider out, who was insisting on cleaning people’s shoes!

At the end he walked out of the restaurant carrying Owen in his arms while Cathy carried Rider. The first day in the life of a Senator. And I thought: As long as he remains this grounded, Chris Murphy will be a great senator. He has already been assigned to serve on the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), as well as the Joint Economic Committee. Our senator is on the move.

12-1-2012 - World’s AIDS Day

Novens, inc. was established in 1997 by dmurphy.
Today is a quiet day of remembrance of friends, relatives and acquaintances who suffered terribly and died of a word that entered our vocabulary in 1984: Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. I think of extraordinary people whom I had the privilege to know and work with during that time: Mathilde Krim, Elizabeth Taylor, Arthur Ashe, Kenneth Cole, Manuel Carballo, Jonathan Mann, Pier Mannucci, Miguel Tezanos Pinto, Charlie Carman, Jose Alonso Gomez and so many wonderful hemophilia patients whom I served. Recently I was interviewed about my work for the Litchfield County Times. I realize how much that period of time influenced my life. Here’s the article.