BOSTON (CNS) — The first name released of someone killed in the April 15 explosions at the Boston Marathon was that of 8-year-old Martin Richard, whose picture in newspapers showed him grinning broadly, apparently at his first Communion.
Two bombs that exploded near the end of the marathon route, about four hours into the race, left at least three people dead and more than 170 injured. The Dorchester Reporter, the local newspaper in Martin’s hometown, said his sister, Jane, 7, suffered a “grievous injury” to her leg and their mother, Denise, was critically injured.
In a statement released April 16, Bill Richard thanked family, friends and strangers for their thoughts and prayers for his family.
“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries,” said the statement, published by the Boston Globe. “We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin.”
The Richard family was described in the Dorchester paper and other publications as well-known and very involved in their community, in children’s sports leagues, local redevelopment and their church, St. Ann Parish Neponset, in the Dorchester section of Boston.
An employee who answered the phone at the parish April 16 declined to talk to Catholic News Service about the family or how parishioners were responding.
A widely circulated photo of Martin shows him in a white suit and tie, with a gap-tooth grin, holding what apparently is a banner made for his first Communion last year. It has his name, a chalice, a loaf of bread and other symbols of the Eucharist.
As investigators pieced together clues and asked the public to send them any photos or video that might help, faith leaders reached out to a grieving, stunned city.
A second person who died in the explosions was identified by various media outlets as Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Mass. No information had been released yet about the third fatality.
The routine schedule of four daily Masses was to proceed as usual at St. Francis Chapel in the Prudential Center, a large office building close to the bombing scene. A recording on the center’s phone advised people wanting to come to pray in the chapel that, because of street closures for the investigation, access was limited to doors on Huntington Street only.
Around the region, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and interfaith organizations scheduled prayer services and vigils for the days after the bombings.
One Web listing included more than two dozen Masses and prayer services in Boston and surrounding towns.
The public was invited to attend a Mass celebrated at 12:05 p.m. April 16 at the Boston archdiocesan Pastoral Center, followed by a eucharistic prayer service and recitation of the rosary. The prayer service included intercessions for those who died and those injured as well as the first responders and all mourning the tragedy.
The later afternoon broadcast of the archdiocesan radio program “The Good Catholic Life” was to address various aspects of how the Catholic community can help all those suffering and grieving.
Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, who was returning April 16 to Boston from a retreat in the Holy Land with several dozen priests, called St. Ann in Dorchester to share his concerns and prayers for the Richard family, according to a statement from the archdiocese. It also said he offered Mass that morning for the Richard family and all who were affected by the bombings.
In a statement the day before, Cardinal O’Malley expressed deep sorrow after the “senseless acts of violence.” He said the community was “blessed by the bravery and heroism of many” who responded to help the wounded.
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If only the UK had an education minister like Ireland’s Ruairi Quinn.
Mr Quinn is, bit by bit, challenging the stranglehold that the Catholic Church has over education in the Republic.
He does it in a proper, diplomatic way, of course, but he has already begun a long-term process of taking some of the country’s schools out of Catholic control and handing them over to more ecumenical interests.
Now Mr Quinn has set the cat among the pigeons by questioning the amount of time that is spent teaching religion in Irish primary schools.
According to the Irish Department of Education’s rules, 30 minutes a day – two and a half hours a week – is devoted to religion, compared with 60 minutes for science and physical education (PE). But a recent Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) survey found over 70% of teachers were spending more than the required time on religion. The extra time usually goes on preparing children for First Communion and Confirmation.
Mr Quinn last week faced an unreceptive – bordering on hostile – annual conference of the Catholic Primary School Managers Association. He asked them: “Can we really afford to continue providing a mere 60 minutes, per week on scientific instruction or, for that matter, 60 minutes per week of PE?” He suggested that preparation for the sacraments could take place in the parish, outside school hours.
Needless to say, his speech did not go down very well with the Catholic education hierarchy, who take for granted that the nation’s schools at their disposal as a means of propagating their religion.
CPSMA vice chairperson Fr Denis McNelis, said they were happy to talk about the timing and method of the teaching of religion, but “I think there would be widespread disapproval on the part of parents and most teachers if we were to go down the road of removing entirely sacramental preparation from the school”.
Of course, the Catholic Church has always put huge emphasis on its influence in education.
It realised centuries ago that you need to get at children before they are at an age when they might be able to resist religious indoctrination. They need to be told that they are Catholics at a very early stage in their lives and the message must be reinforced relentlessly.
School – particularly primary school – is the perfect place for this brainwashing to be accomplished. For the rest of their lives they will regard themselves as “Catholic”, even if they never set foot inside a church again..
Every concordat that the Vatican manages to wangle with a state will always give them privileged access to education.
The Church will say: “If we didn’t provide it, there would be no education.” This may be true in some parts of the developing world, but the quid pro quo is that the Church then uses its schools for relentless indoctrination and evangelisation.
Ruairi Quinn hopes to challenge this, although the Catholic Church in Ireland still controls almost all the schools in the country (despite these being publicly-funded schools) and will not give them up without resistance. The minister told reporters after the conference that while he had no current plans for changes to existing arrangements, he insisted the question he was posing was not “rhetorical”. He added science was important and “it all starts in primary.”
Irish primary pupils spend 40% of their time on science – half the international average – and 10% on religion, more than double the global norm.
The recommended minimum one hour a week for PE is the lowest of 30 EU countries.
Mr Quinn is an astute politician. He won’t have a face-to-face confrontation with the Church but they must now be aware that he’s got them in his sights.
I repeat, somewhat ruefully, where is the UK’s Ruairi Quinn?
Alice, Sweet Alice remake plans have moved forward in a big way with Cold Case star Kathryn Morris taking on the lead role of Catherine Spages, mother to a little girl, who may or may not be a psycho killer.
Morris’ production company Revival House and Mosaic Media Group will co-produce this “re-imagining” of the 1976 classic, Tomaselli said.
In the original film, Catherine’s youngest daughter (Brooke Shields) is butchered on the day of her first communion. Older sister Alice (Paula Sheppard) is the prime suspect.
While Alice certainly has “issues,” however, her parents can’t believe she would be capable of murder. Meanwhile, a ghastly knife-wielding figure in yellow raincoat and translucent mask is offing people one-by-one.
Are the crimes related? And if Alice isn’t the killer, then who is?
For those of us familiar with the film, director Dante Tomaselli promises surprises aplenty. In other words, don’t think you’ve got this one figured out just because you’ve seen the original 100 times.
Tomaselli recently agreed to an interview with The Inquisitr in which he discusses plans for his Alice, Sweet Alice remake, and what it’s like to follow in the footsteps of the original director — Castle production designer and cousin — Alfred Sole.
He also discusses the new script, working with a larger budget, where the project’s at in development, and whether we can expect Sheppard or Brooke Shields in cameos.
THE INQUISITR. Anyone who knows me knows Alice, Sweet Alice is one of my favorite horror films. I’m almost obnoxious about it. How do you take this story and make it fresh for people like me who’ve seen the original 100 times?
DANTE TOMASELLI: I understand your obsession. As you probably know, the director of the original, Alfred Sole, is my cousin. Communion, as it was first titled, was shot in Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up. I remember its World Premiere. I was seven. Many of my relatives were extras, my father, who owned a bridal shop, provided all the white gloves and veils. We were all very proud of Alfred. As a little kid, I used to stalk around my house wearing a yellow raincoat and replica of the famous translucent mask. Back then, I thought that I was the only person who knew of Communion or … Alice, Sweet Alice. I had no idea there were so many fans of the film. It’s a staple of my childhood.
How to penetrate those who already saw the original a zillion times? That was really the biggest challenge while conceptualizing the screenplay. We see so many remakes and know exactly what’s coming because the original is so engrained in our DNA. I don’t want to stray too far from the original’s main ingredients, that’s what fills me with passion. This is a faithful remake, but there are definitely new twists in the script. The original is a disorienting mystery and I aim to retain its mysteriousness, even for those who know the original by heart. There’s an elusive, ethereal quality to the original. You never know what’s around the corner. I’ve created four low budget independent feature films that are mostly about family dysfunction, religious fanaticism and disorientation. I believe all my films so far have been leading up to the re-imagining of Alice, Sweet Alice. A line straight to this.
THE INQUISITR: The idea for a remake has been brewing for several years, and from everything we can tell, you’ve been the driving force. In what ways has the project evolved since you first started discussing it, and why is now the right time? Also, why a remake and not a sequel?
TOMASELLI: Well, I wouldn’t want to continue the story of Alice, Sweet Alice. It ended on just the right ambiguous note. Mainly, there are all these remakes of horror classics these days. And Alfred was getting offers. He sent me some of the scripts and they were awful. He said, “Dante, you direct it, you create this.” I was so happy and relieved to hear it from his lips because I’m fiercely protective of the film. I started to write a script, but never finished. Years passed and I directed my recent film, Torture Chamber.
Once that was completed I started dreaming of Alice again. Alfred contacted me and said there was a possible investor. This turned out to be a false alarm but I’m glad it happened because it got me to finally work on the script. It put a fire under me. I knew I needed a co-writer so I immediately thought of Michael Gingold, managing editor of Fangoria Magazine.
We wrote a screenplay in the past together and it was a terrific experience. So he came on as co-writer and that’s when the script was created. Mike brought so much to the table, a natural communicator, a wordsmith — an expert on horror cinema. Needless to say, he was a huge help. I’m more of a visual storyteller and score composer than anything else. I gave him top billing as one of the writers. Once the script was finally finished, there was little doubt that we made the right decision to write the screenplay.
I knew that the financing was not going to come from my world — the low budget indie horror realm. It would likely come from Alfred’s west coast camp. Soon Alfred called me again with positive news. He put me in contact with his friend, actress Kathryn Morris. I was told by Alfred that she’s executive producing and that she read the screenplay and enjoyed it very much. Kathryn and I started communicating through email and then on the phone about getting it off the ground. She told me about the company that manages her, Mosaic Media Group. They produce lots of high quality movies (Bad Teacher, Step Brothers, The Bank Job, according to IMDb).
Dave Fleming of Mosaic spoke to us on the phone and we all had a magic meeting. He came on board and it was pretty instantaneous. So now Kathryn Morris’ production company, Revival House, is producing Alice, Sweet Alice with Mosaic Media Group.
THE INQUISITR: Where is the remake at right now in the production process — casting, filming, editing, finished script, etc. — and do you have a date for the final cut? Also, is there a firm or general release date on the horizon, and if so when?
TOMASELLI: Alice, Sweet Alice is in development … The screenplay, co-written by Michael Gingold and myself is completed. I’m attached to direct and score. The screenplay is a scary, suspenseful mystery horror tale that honors the integrity of the original.
THE INQUISITR: Who has signed on to star in the remake, and what character information can you provide at this time?
TOMASELLI: Kathryn Morris will star as Catherine Spages, Alice’s mother. Kathryn was the lead in the CBS series Cold Case and had a role as Tom Cruise’s wife in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. She’s like a chameleon — totally versatile. Slips right into a role. Her character in Alice is modeled after the original Catherine Spages, played by Linda Miller. In keeping with the spirit of the original, Kathryn’s character will look and feel similar, strikingly beautiful, perfectly sculpted dark hair, fiercely protective of her children and plagued by deep Catholic guilt.
The next important casting step is to confirm her husband’s character, Dominic Spages. We have some actors on our radar. Once we have her husband in place, then, the rest of the family — namely Alice — crystallizes. Finding the right Alice will be a mission.
THE INQUISITR: Can we expect any cameos from actors who were in the original film, and what talent from the 1976 version, behind or in front of the camera, is returning to help out on the production? I don’t think I speak for myself when I say it would be awesome to see Paula Sheppard or Brooke Shields back even in a small capacity. Has there been any communications with them on the project?
TOMASELLI: Alfred has a direct line to Brooke Shields. I hope there’s the possibility of a cameo. The original was her very first feature film. Paula Sheppard, the original Alice in a cameo? That’s something I’d love to make happen to please fans of the original, if it’s possible. How old is she now? She’s a bit of an enigma. I was also thinking of Mildred Clinton but sadly she passed away a few years ago.
Female villains are always among the scariest. Piper Laurie in Carrie, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me, the old slaughtering women in House of Laughing Windows.
I would place Mildred Clinton’s performance in Alice, Sweet Alice alongside those. An out-of-this-world portrayal of psychosis. Paula Sheppard, too, of course. Her performance as the complex, misunderstood Alice in the original is classic.
THE INQUISITR: Spotty distribution of the original has often been cited as a reason the film didn’t find its audience sooner. It seems like the popularity of Alice, Sweet Alice has grown stronger in the years since its release than it was at the time. Do you have a distributor / distribution plan for the remake? Do you see it as a limited or national theater release, or would you rather take it directly to fans through Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD/digital download?
TOMASELLI: Alice, Sweet Alice was sixth in the Variety 50 Top-Grossing Films for the week ending May 17, 1978. Kathryn Morris’ production company, Revival House and Mosaic Media Group, are definitely planning for theatrical distribution. This will have a higher budget than any of my pictures. We’re all on the same page about how we envision the end result.
For me, I’ll have a larger canvas, a much better budget, script and level of actors. Some directors go from a short film that makes a splash to a feature length decent budgeted movie. I’ve directed four features and I’ve had some great distributors like Anchor Bay and Image Entertainment.
The Alice, Sweet Alice remake, the re-imagining of my cousin’s independent horror film. What could ever inspire me more? It feels like a natural progression. This won’t be a soulless remake. I aim to really deliver and frighten and entertain fans of the original because I am one of those fans.
I also plan to create a film that stands on its own. Already, at its foundation level, the project is marinated in love. As Kathryn, Alfred and Dave Fleming know, I’ve been grooming myself for this movie. All of my four independent feature films are in some way influenced or inspired by Alice, Sweet Alice. And through trial and error — growing, experimentation — I’ve developed a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
THE INQUISITR: I wouldn’t call the 1976 film tame. It certainly kept me up at nights when I was younger and the bloodletting was significant for the time period. But as time moves on, it takes a different approach to shock audiences as their tastes evolve. Has that been a concern for you through the development of this project, and what elements do you feel the new film should have that maybe weren’t present in the original?
TOMASELLI: The original is close to perfect, for me. It puts you in a time capsule. I can say the pacing on the remake will be faster. Also, I’ll be toning down Catherine Spages’ hysterics. The screaming was always a bit over the top. As far as music — how could I resist that spine-tingling whispery lullaby theme by Stephen Lawrence?
I will be incorporating and re-mastering different key compositions and soundscapes from the original feature. I love the music from the original and can get lost in it. I’m working on connective tissue music right now. I like to do that before filming. Then I have soundscapes in my head while I’m shooting. I may not always use them but they help me, like, storyboards. I want the viewer to taste color and touch sound. Music and sound design is all-important in a horror film and this remake will have a very similar mood and tone as the original.
THE INQUISITR: On setting and characters: what changes can you reveal between the coming remake and the 1976 version? Definitely understand keeping some things under wraps, but will this be set in modern day? Any new characters? That sort of thing.
TOMASELLI: All of the same characters for the most part. Similar situations, though sometimes different outcomes. Wouldn’t it be boring to know what’s coming next? Definitely some new surprises, but I can’t reveal. You won’t know where it’s going. As far as locations, it’s working-class Italian Catholic Paterson, New Jersey. The main difference is whereas the original was set in the 60s, the new one will be in the 70s.
THE INQUISITR: I believe the human element of the original makes this an extraordinary work. Rather than the horror movie stuff, which is definitely effective, the film really becomes a classic based on its human insight and characterization. A single mom as the main character. Societal taboos of the time period — the divorced parents. Religious fanaticism. The idea a child could be capable of murder. Are there any modern day hot-button issues that could turn up in this remake?
TOMASELLI: It’s true. It’s the human element in Alice, Sweet Alice that really draws you in. And all its layers. It’s an emotionally-charged horror film that deals with family love, sickness, jealousy, guilt and murder. I believe everything here is totally relatable for modern audiences.
Even though this is a 70s period piece, there are still religious families with their religious rituals. And religious fanaticism. Evil cloaked in religion. It’s happening everywhere in the world. Here is a microcosm.
A divorced, devout Catholic lady like Catherine could still easily be living in Paterson, New Jersey, with her two young daughters. Certain Italian-American neighborhoods stand completely still in time. This woman’s beloved daughter could have been tragically murdered on her first Holy Communion by a masked killer. It could happen. I could see it in the newspaper. How does a family cope?
THE INQUISITR: One thing immediately noticeable about Alice, Sweet Alice: it’s a beautifully designed, artistic, and colorful horror film despite the subject matter. How will this film look different and / or the same than the original? And other than the influence of the original film, are there any other horror films — your own or others — that are serving as a guide for creating the world of the Alice, Sweet Alice remake?
TOMASELLI: Alfred will be creating the sets so you know the director of the original has a hand in every visual. Purists of the original can feel safe. And there’s my dream language horror cinema that I’ve been developing over the span of four features. My films speak in dream language. Together, our styles will blend. I worship my cousin Alfred’s art, he knows that. His films and his production design — I want to make him happy and feel at peace.
The remake will be painterly. Misty, rainy. European-looking, very Italian giallo-like with its gothic Paterson, New Jersey, settings and masked-murderer-on-the-loose ambience. I aim to imbue it all with a spine-tingling atmosphere of dread — stained-glass windows, priests, nuns, abandoned buildings, black wrought iron gates, jars of cockroaches, children’s dolls. Beauty and horror. Different sides of the same coin. Of course I’m keeping the landmark translucent china doll-like mask. It’s unforgettable and ghastly. Growing up, the creepy clownish mask gave me many nightmares. And the yellow raincoat, and knife. Brrrr. Heart-stopping horror. The original Alice, Sweet Alice is made up entirely of day scenes. I love the irony because the tagline says, “If You Survive This Night Nothing Will Scare You Again.”
In case you didn’t see the original, here’s the trailer under Holy Terror, another of the film’s alternate titles:
Are you pumped for the Alice, Sweet Alice remake? What do you think about Kathryn Morris in the lead role, and who do you think should play Alice?
The little white church dress is the first of many fashion milestones for young girls.
When the little angel is grinning from ear to ear, that’s when Carol Harvey knows her pint-sized client has found the first of many special dresses to come.
Whether it is silk, satin or cotton, sprinkled with rhinestones, pearls or lace, the First Communion dress might be the last garment she wears that truly embodies her innocence and purity. A series of dress-up dates will follow: Sweet Sixteen, Prom, Graduation and the Grand Poobah of white-dress occasions: The Wedding.
For Catholics, the milestones of Holy Communion and Holy Matrimony — sacraments in the church — often are uttered in the same breath. Not surprisingly, bridal company Mon Cheri also dabbles in Communion dresses.
“Unless a little girl says yes to the dress, she’s not happy,” says Harvey, who owns Hansel and Gretel Children’s Boutique in Wilmington, Del.
“She knows it’s her day.”
And so do a slew of gown and accessories manufacturers, who appreciate the parents (and grandparents and godparents and aunts and siblings) who arrive like clockwork every January to scour the racks for cap sleeve or sleeveless, ballet flat or strappy sandal, tiara or double veil.
The only decision left out of their hands is the color. It’s always diamond white.
The Communion ritual is celebrated in other Christian denominations, but the parade of white dresses with tiny hands folded in prayer is Roman Catholic Church territory.
Typically, Catholic children ages 7 to 8 make First Communion in May, which, according to their faith, involves receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ through bread and wine to symbolize their union with the church.
Like another coming-of-age ceremony, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah for Jewish preteens, First Communion celebrations have evolved into elaborate affairs, particularly among smaller families with more disposable income. Replacing the backyard barbecue and sheet cake are custom-made dresses, tuxedo rentals, catering halls, limousine rides and manicures — much to the church’s chagrin.
Attire also has changed with the times. Some shops keep meticulous records of all the dresses purchased by members of the same church to avoid duplicates. What’s out in finery: socks, crowns, knee-length dresses, hand-sewn cotton smock dresses or anything screaming pageant.
In the old days, the only choice was puffy or puffier and pearls. Today, cashmere sweaters and rhinestone-encrusted boleros cover bare shoulders, while glittery stockings and sleek satin purses complete the look.
Girls generally prefer slim lines to tutu styles, favoring tea-length over floor-length, according to Ashley Murphy, manager of Two Sisters in Greenville, Del. When a special touch is desired, Murphy calls in the bling, such as beading on the neckline or waist.
The tween and teen boutique carries a dozen different Communion dress styles (from $156 to $180) and four different veils. Girls twirl around the “runway” and marvel at their beauty. For many, it’s their first time wearing heels, albeit only 1 inch off the ground.
“Some of them aren’t even getting Communion,” says Murphy. “They’re just trying the dresses on.”
Harvey has encountered “Mom Bridezillas” who insist that their daughters model all 30 different dress styles in the store or pile on crinoline after crinoline. More often than not, this results in a dressing room meltdown.
Most moms, however, let the girl pick the dress, while subtly exercising their veto power.
After all, grandma is usually the one holding the purse strings.
“This is almost a 100 percent grandma market,” Harvey says.
The process is more streamlined for boys. They simply choose from a white suit, navy suit or a combination of the two. Their biggest accessory dilemma is Holy Eucharist pin or tie tack.
Communion and flower girls help Hansel and Gretel stay in business. Part of a dying breed of independent special occasion kids’ boutiques — there is also Sara’s Children’s Boutique in Rutherford, Del., and A Star is Born in South Philadelphia — the one-stop shop has catered to three generations.
Major chains, from Neiman Marcus to Wal-Mart, also carry Communion dresses but their selection is limited, says Harvey, who only carries brands under $200.
After selecting their dresses, Hansel and Gretel girls receive a free charm bracelet and choose their first charm in the shape of a heart, cupcake or Ugg boots.
“When they put the veil on, the mom starts crying,” she says. “They’re just a vision.”
Occasionally, dad shares in the moment. Harvey recalls that one father was the deciding vote between a flashier dress favored by his daughter and a more classic look selected by his wife. The wife won.
Maria Rapucci bought her eldest daughter’s Communion dress at Hansel and Gretel last year and returned this year to outfit her second oldest. The mother of four girls makes a day of it with the kids’ grandmother and aunt, treating them to lunch.
All of Rapucci’s children wore their mom’s christening gown, monogrammed with each of their names. It is now preserved in a shadow box.
But for Communion, Rapucci encouraged her second-oldest Carina to express her individuality. Carina’s older sister selected a Grace Kelly-inspired lace dress that was similar to her mother’s wedding gown. Even after her Communion, the child asked to wear it around the house.
“She said, ‘If I’m ever sad or in a bad mood, I can put on my Communion dress,’ ” Rapucci remembered.
But Carina preferred a more playful dress covered in silk flowers, after trying on nearly 10 others. Once they added a sweater, shoes, veil and crystal cross bracelet, the total cost came to about $300.
“Her little face lit up,” Rapucci said. She just said, ‘Mom, I love it.’ “
Vyjack, the multiple graded stakes winning 3-year-old and Kentucky Derby candidate, has been based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland for several days, in part to take advantage of that facility’s hyperbaric chamber to aid with the gelding’s respiratory issues.
The original plan called for Vyjack to return to New York in time to catch a Sunday flight to Kentucky along with Wood Memorial 1-2 finishers Verrazano and Normandy Invasion.
[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]
But, Rudy Rodriguez does not yet have a license to train in Kentucky and therefore his horses are not allowed on the grounds until he gets one. Rodriguez is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which requested he appear before it in light of two medication positives for which he has served a suspension and the report of a third one pending.
On Sunday, Rodriguez attempted to enter the 3-year-old filly Kelli Got Frosty in Thursday’s $100,000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland. According to Rodriguez, the entry was initially accepted by the Keeneland racing office. However, 30 minutes later, Rodriguez said he received a call that the entry was rejected. Keeneland officials confirmed Rodriguez’s story.
Rodriguez said a van taking Kelli Got Frosty had already left Aqueduct and he had to call the driver to tell him to return.
“That was kind of disappointing,” Rodriguez said Sunday afternoon from Fair Hill. “They said no trainer could go on the grounds if they don’t have a license.”
Meanwhile, if and when Rodriguez can ship Vyjack to Kentucky won’t be decided until Tuesday when Rodriguez meets with Kentucky racing officials.
Vyjack, winner of the Grade 2 Jerome and Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct, came out of his third-place finish in the April 6 Wood Memorial with a respiratory issue. A couple of days later he was vanned to Fair Hill, where he has spent about an hour a day for several days in a hyperbaric chamber.
Horses in a hyperbaric chamber breathe pure oxygen under pressure and it gets delivered to any damaged cells to help heal and repair the diseased or injured tissues.
Vyjack has also been training over the dirt surface at Fair Hill and will likely have a workout there late in the week or next weekend, Rodriguez said.
“The horse is doing very good,” Rodriguez said.
As for himself, Rodriguez has been driving back and forth from New York to Fair Hill constantly. He had a family member’s First Communion on Saturday and he was back at Fair Hill on Sunday morning to get on Vyjack. He was to get on Vyjack Monday morning and drive to New York for his own daughter’s First Communion before driving back to Fair Hill on Monday night so he could get on Vyjack early Tuesday morning. Later Tuesday morning he has to fly to Kentucky.
“I think I’ll be okay. I don’t think I got that big of a problem,” Rodriguez said when asked if he feared not getting a license. “This is what I’ve been doing all my life.
“I don’t have any regrets. Everything is good. Everything is beautiful. I’m not afraid to work. I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully my horses keep running good,” he concluded.
LABOUR’S Joan Burton yesterday axed a €112 handout for poor kids, then moved
to save her €184K-a-year boss.
The Social Protection Minister confirmed that grants to help cover the cost of
First Communion outfits are to cease.
The Emergency Needs payment for religious events had already been halved from
its 2011 level of €224.
But last year the reduced €1.5million fund was still being used as a lifeline
by 12,500 hard-up families — as figures showed how we are spending almost a
€100 MORE on kid’s Holy Communion celebrations than in 2010.
Defending the scrapping of the grant, Minister Burton rubbished suggestions
that it would force parents into the grasp of loan sharks.
She said: “You don’t need a very expensive dress to celebrate Holy Communion.
“There are absolutely beautiful clothes available at very attractive prices.”
Unpopular cutbacks have been blamed for Labour’s recent slump to single-figure
Last month’s disastrous fifth place finish in the Meath East by-election,
coupled with MEP Nessa Childers’ decision to quit the parliamentary group,
has heightened speculation of a heave against party leader Eamon Gilmore.
But yesterday Burton, tipped as a possible challenger, insisted the Tanaiste
had her full backing.
She said: “Eamon Gilmore is very committed to his job as leader of the Labour
Party and he has my support. I’m happy and privileged to be doing the job
that I’m doing, and that’s really what I’m focusing on.”
According to a survey conducted by the Bertelsmann Religion Foundation Monitor, the United States is the most religious nation in the industrialized world. The Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 88 percent of the Americans it surveyed are fairly or absolutely certain that God exists, and that more than half of them say religion is “very important” in their lives.
Personally, I’ve always had a tenuous relationship with organized religion, especially Christianity. As it was for most African Americans of my generation, the church was a powerful force in my childhood. I grew up in Alexandria, Va., in the late 1950s and ’60s before it became a hip tourist destination. And although I lived only 10 miles from the White House, my early life was governed by policies created by the crazies 100 miles south in Richmond, who had peculiar ideas about people who looked like me. It was hard not to think God was playing favorites.
Access to many of the pleasures other children took for granted — swimming pools, schools, parks, ice cream parlors, movie theaters — were off limits to me because of the color of my skin. That helped ensure that the church was our “community center,” the connective tissue linking the community. It was a one-stop provider of news, social events, activism and faith. It was also one of the few places in my world where disenfranchised people were in charge. Each Sunday, folks who were forced to move through their lives heads down, eyes averted six days a week, were given the opportunity to stand up, clear-eyed, leading and controlling an institution on their own terms. Seeing that transformation each week gave me hope and faith, not so much in a God I couldn’t see, but in the power of men and women inhaling a taste of freedom.
Still, Christianity and I never recovered from our first significant encounter: my baptism on a cold Christmas morning when I was 8, way too young to know for certain that I wanted or needed to be saved from my sins. But my mother was determined to provide her two black girls, my 10-year-old sister, Vickie, and me, every opportunity she could to help us thrive in an unfriendly world. Washing away our sins was part of that plan.
Southern Baptists go overboard with their rituals. Just a sprinkling of water would never do. We were to be totally submerged in an above-ground baptismal pool in the church basement. Later, after a change of clothes, we would be invited to the upstairs sanctuary to have our first communion of stale crackers and warm grape juice. Santa’s presents would have to wait.
I was terrified. Vickie and I were dressed in all-white gowns, and each of us also wore two large puffy shower caps. Saved or not, my mother had her priorities; she was not going to have her girls walking around on Christmas Day with nappy hair.
The basement was packed. The church had been promoting the Belk girls’ baptism for weeks, and it seemed as though the entire neighborhood had turned out for the event. As Vickie and I walked in with our mother, the crowd parted, making a path directly to the pool. The Rev. Mills was waiting for us there in a black robe and hip-high black waders, looking more like a fly fisherman than a man preparing to save two souls.
As we made our way down the aisle, my mother smiled with pride as she greeted well-wishers. There was a chorus of amens, and Miss Elizabeth, our Sunday school teacher, started humming as folks joined in singing:
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He told Catholic primary school managers that it was time for a public discussion on the issue.
Although it is not the first time the minister has expressed strong views on the subject, it is the first time he has raised it formally.
Department of Education rules require primary schools to devote 30 minutes a day – twoand- a-half-hours a week – to religion, compared with 60 minutes a week for science and PE.
Sacraments A recent Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) survey found over 70pc of teachers were spending more than the required time on religion.
The extra time usually goes on preparing children for sacraments such as First Communion and Confirmation.
But Mr Quinn asked: “Can we really afford to continue providing a mere 60 minutes, per week on scientific instruction or, for that matter, 60 minutes per week of PE?” He suggested that preparation for the sacraments could take place in the parish, outside school hours.
The minister was speaking at the Catholic Primary School Managers Association (CPSMA) annual conference, where the suggestion was not wellreceived.
CPSMA vice chairperson Fr Denis McNelis, said they were happy to talk about the timing and method of the teaching of religion, but “I think there would be widespread disapproval on the part of parents and most teachers if we were to go down the road of removing entirely sacramental preparation from the school”.
Irish primary pupils spend 4pc of their time on science – half the international average – and 10pc on religion, more than double the global norm.
The recommended minimum one hour a week for PE is the lowest of 30 EU countries.
The minister told reporters later that while he had no current plans for changes to existing arrangements, he insisted the question he was posing was not “rhetorical”. He added science was important and “it all starts in primary”.
Sam Chambers, left, plays a fishing game while Keegan Burns and CARE and Worship teacher Kristin Brokaw complete a puzzle as they get ready for their Sunday morning class to start at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
Faith needs of some very special kids at heart of parish program
Story by Jessica Langdon
LEAWOOD — Gerry Boeckmann marvels at how far his 11-year-old son Noah has come in just a few years every time he receives Communion at St. Michael the Archangel Parish here.
“He comes back and he kneels and he points up to the mural with the eye of God,” Boeckmann said of Noah, who has Down syndrome. “It’s incredible.”
He gives a lot of credit for Noah’s blossoming Catholic faith to the people behind a special Sunday-morning class at the parish.
Noah has attended the CARE and Worship program, which takes place during the 10:30 a.m. Mass, since it was created.
CARE and Worship — in which CARE stands for Catholic Alternative Religious Education — is teaching the basics of the faith each week to five students with special needs and preparing some of them for receiving the sacraments.
As it happens, all of the current students are boys and range from kindergarten through sixth grade in school.
Under the direction of parishioner Cari Hillyer and her devoted staff of teachers and helpers, the program delivers the liturgy in concrete ways that are individually tailored to each child’s abilities and needs.
“It turned into so much more than we thought it was going to be,” said Nancy Tjaden, mother of nine-year-old Luke, who has autism and has also attended CARE and Worship since it began.
Before this class was created, Luke’s family had a hard time taking him to Mass, which he had difficulty understanding, as well as sitting through. At the same time, he was aging out of the church’s Our Little Ones Worship program.
As a result, Tjaden and her husband Greg felt they were kept from fully participating in Mass as well, and that meant going separately — one of them taking Luke’s older brother Harry with them.
Hillyer sympathized with their situation.
An active parishioner and a mother herself of a young daughter with special needs, Hillyer was invited several years ago to serve on a special needs committee at St. Michael the Archangel.
When committee members learned of the need for some sort of program for children with special needs, the idea for CARE and Worship took off — with a lot of support from pastor Father Bill Porter and Denise Ogilvie, director of religious education and liturgy.
Instead of simply providing someone to watch the children while their families went to Mass, “we said this should be a meaningful experience for them at whatever level they are,” said Hillyer.
And it has turned into what Tjaden thinks of as a liturgy experience designed especially for Luke and his classmates — and she feels this has finally given Luke his own place in his church.
Each class combines cognitive and physical activities that engage the children in learning about their faith.
Since the program is organized around the liturgical year, Hillyer explained, “they’re hearing the same things that Mom and Dad are hearing in the Mass.
“And then we’re pulling out one little nugget for them to focus on, so then when Mom and Dad see them again, they can talk about the same thing.”
When families first approach Hillyer about enrolling their children in the class, she often asks such technical questions that many people ask if she’s a nurse.
“No,” she answers, “I have a daughter with significant needs.”
Hillyer’s daughter Hannah died at age 10 in 2009, but many people in the parish still remember her bright smile and welcoming spirit, said Father Porter.
Hannah loved music and cherished going to Mass with her mom, her dad Chris and her brother William.
“People felt this connection with her,” Father Porter said.
And families find it easy to connect with Hillyer, as well.
Many friends see Hillyer’s presence every Sunday and dedication to this program as a way to honor Hannah.
Often, families hear her story and feel that she understands their experiences and concerns.
“They have a sense of ‘you’ve heard it all,’” said Hillyer. “There’s not anything new that’s going to surprise me or frighten me.”
She and one of the other teachers of the class, Kristin Brokaw, an occupational therapist, meet with new families first at home, so they can get to know the child and his or her abilities in a comfortable setting.
Each teacher and helper brings his or her own unique perspective and expertise to the classroom, and they maintain constant contact with the families to teach the children in the best ways they can. Prepare ye the way
And it’s paying off.
“You say, ‘You’re going to church school,’ and once we hit those front doors, he’s gone,” said Heidi Burns of her seven-year-old son Keegan, who can’t wait to get to CARE and Worship. His two-year-old twin siblings tear after him, knowing he has fun there.
Keegan has a rare genetic condition called Angelman syndrome, which results in global delays; he is also a very happy child, another characteristic of the syndrome.
He “absolutely loves” music, said Burns, so the songs interspersed throughout the class are a hit.
“The very first thing we do is music,” explained Hillyer. “They all love music and that sort of gets the wiggles out.”
The group then settles down for prayer at the table, with teachers and adult and youth helpers working one-on-one with each student.
The class sings an alleluia, and then the leaders share a reading, which is usually the week’s Gospel, but sometimes might be the first or second reading if the Gospel is too abstract.
“We typically paraphrase it into a way that would engage them, that they would understand, and then we have some reflection questions that we ask,” said Hillyer.
Next, they bring out the “Bible bag,” which always holds some familiar object that relates to the main concept.
“We try to employ some visual and tactile elements into what we’re doing because it means more to them when they can touch it, feel it, see it,” said Hillyer.
When the kids studied St. John the Baptist announcing the coming of Jesus, for example, they used a megaphone.
Brokaw got chills seeing that lesson really click with Luke.
“He would take the megaphone and he was going around the room saying, ‘Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!’” Brokaw said. “It’s neat. It makes your heart feel good.”
The kids know about the Old Testament and the New Testament, and about the four Gospel writers.
Most importantly, Brokaw said, they know God loves them.
Each class also gives the youngsters something to do — whether it’s making a craft or embarking on a scavenger hunt for crosses in the hallways.
Circle time emphasizes elements they would find on the altar — complete with a plush Mass kit. Soft, stuffed versions of the thurible (the censer in which incense is burned), a chalice and other elements of the Mass help the kids match the words with the objects.
And at the end, they say a five-finger prayer, with each finger representing people like family, friends, doctors, leaders and others for whom the children want to pray.
Preparing for sacraments
Two CARE and Worship students have now received the sacrament of reconciliation and have made their first Communion, and the program is working with more who are interested in sacramental preparation.
Teachers work with the kids on Sundays, and families do a lot of preparation at home, with the help of sacrament kits.
Noah insisted he wanted to receive both the body and the blood at his first Communion, so his dad — a fourth- degree Knight of Columbus at the parish — researched the wine the church uses. Noah touched the cup to his lips at home ahead of time so he would be prepared for what he would taste at church.
It’s important, Hillyer said, for the kids who are preparing for the Eucharist to practice with unconsecrated hosts just like the hosts they will receive during Mass.
There weren’t many dry eyes when the big day arrived.
“I was bawling, of course,” said Hillyer.
Boeckmann’s mother watched as her grandson received his first Communion. It was an opportunity her brother, who had Down syndrome, didn’t have years ago, Boeckmann said. Noah waved to her as he walked back to his seat.
And soon he will start preparing for confirmation.
“It brings tears,” said Boeckmann. “It’s so enriching.”
Noah now attends the first half of CARE and Worship and then rejoins his family for the rest of Mass.
Noah’s mother, Kim Talbot, loves peeking in and seeing Noah helping his younger classmates.
“I think he’s very much more aware of what goes on in church,” Talbot said. “Cari’s just been a blessing for us because she wants everybody to get as much out of everything as they can.”
“They’re just fabulous people — so giving and loving,” she said.
“Cari” is Luke’s favorite word.
The young volunteers — like 13-year-old Chloe Kallsen and 14-year-old Grace Gearon, who both worked with the class on a recent Sunday with their mothers — get as much from working with this program as they give to it.
And Father Porter sees the program truly filling a need in the parish.
“[The instructors] really, I think, understand how to teach in a way these children understand,” he said.
He knows from his own years in the priesthood that people who have special needs truly grasp the faith they’re learning. He has seen that in the confessional, and even during an emotional moment when Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann knelt in the aisle to confirm a young man. He sees God at work there.
“It’s also a nice thing,” he said, “for the parents to know they aren’t alone — that the church cares for them and there is opportunity for their children to be prepared for the sacraments.”
Every parish, he feels, could benefit from having a program like CARE and Worship — and St. Michael’s is happy to help where it can.
“My files are open to them if they want to take the lesson plans that we’ve done,” said Hillyer, noting that the parish has a curriculum for all three liturgical years.
“You could adapt these for whatever your specific needs are,” she added. “It’s an open door.”
It’s a door that parents of St. Michael’s CARE and Worship kids encourage others to walk through.
“I just feel like all children need the opportunity to experience God, regardless of what their abilities are,” agreed Burns. “And any way that we can reach them is only going to make us, as parents and educators, better people.”
The decision to scrap Government grants to assist parents with the cost of Holy Communions this year has been slammed by a Cork charity. The Department of Social Protection confirmed that once-off payments for religious ceremonies will cease following a review that recommended Exceptional Needs Payments (ENPs) be paid in response to financial need and not occasions, including First Holy Communions and Confirmations.
Regional president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, David Holden said that the excesses people see in the media are not a true reflection of the sacrament. “I was talking to a woman yesterday, and she didn’t have any money to buy a few cocktails sausages and crisps to have back at the house for her child’s special day. All she needed was €50,” he said. “Those who make the headlines have the €700 dress, limousines and fake tan but actually, 90% of the families that we traditionally deal with, don’t have an excessive day.”
Mr Holden stated: “The less you have, the more these occasions become special, and more significant.” He described the Government’s decision to cut ENPs for religious occasions, as an “easy opt out”.
Regional vice president of St Vincent de Paul, Brendan Dempsey said he fears cash strapped families will approach moneylenders to finance their child’s day. “This puts families under enormous pressure. What’s happening at the moment, with families being so impacted, is something we have never seen before. It is dreadful and people are stretched.” he said.
In a statement the Department of Social Protection stated that while it is recommended that payment of the allowance specifically in respect of religious ceremonies will cease for 2013, applications can continue to be made under the scheme for assistance with child clothing. “Persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an ENP under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme should contact the local officials administering the scheme.” it read.