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My journey this time took me to Shamokin, Pennsylvania to a coal township where the remnants

of strip-mining fueled an industrial age had exhausted its esteemed purpose. There they were: the

blackened hills silent of activity, an activity which had seen it's heyday and had done it well at the

expense of environment and the hearts of miner's women. It propelled America to even greater

heights on the backs of countless calloused hands and blackened lungs. I had been born some miles

north in a suburb of Scranton, Pennsylvania, called Dickson (formerly Priceburg). As I looked

at the mountains, the remnants of strip mining, I thought of my father, whose calloused hands had

shoveled coal, machine-less for the most part of thirty years and survived. But finally, his heart and

lungs did not give him the privilege of retirement and at sixty-two his heart rebelled and he had died

of coronary thrombosis" leaving a wife whose memories lingered on until she reached a hundred

years of age.

Fr. Robert drove me about town…....about the places that were.......the places which served the

cry of the unrich - their hopes, worries, anticipations. We saw the cemeteries where friars were

laid to rest, where tombstones marched their remembrance way from this parish to that parish and

whose view of the mountains was the best; I hoped that the Great Mountain would be theirs.

God loved them All.


The friary was on Race Street; the Church of Cabrini on Shamokin Street. The Office building had been

once a stagecoach stop. The Church was visually stunned with coal altars encased in wooden carving,

speaking of a place that held the sacrifices of many. I twas a hill town. "Has anybody seen a pretty up-town?,

if I may borrow from Cummings.

OFFICE BUILDING                   MOTHER CABRINI CHURCH                       FRIARY: SHAMOKIN

I had long talks with my brother. He had paid his dues in more than one way and was of service to many

communities in the Eastern United States. We watched the crises on TV.....Mid-eastern this time; Catholic

Priesthood; and the Media Moguls who did not explain as best they could what the problem was not.

The garden near the church had Stations of the Cross underneathwhich burgeoned the delightful colors

of spring: jonquils and tulips and a tribute stoneto Phillip, a friar who had left to meet his Father too early.

April dictated ninety degree temperatures at midmonth...records unheard

of. After three days, I bid farewell to my brother. Another brother I had promised to visit was three hours

away, near where three thousand had given their lives in a flood and where a plane, destined for a infamous

deed had cut it’s mission short because of Brave Hearts. It had buried all in the earth.I took the

Pennsylvania Pike and drove to Hooversville. Hoover’s name was “Jonah”... but we couldn’t find him

in the cemetery because there were too many Hoovers many without first names. I thought: To find his stone,

we need an “Edgar”. When I first arrived, Jean was cutting the spring lawn in front of this beautiful church.

She instinctively knew that I was lost and helped orient me tothe appropriate entrance. Secretaries have

that gift.

I was welcomed by fr. Romulus, a student of mine (English) from ages past, a pastor of The Holy Family Church

in Hooverville. Arriving in mid-afternoon, he took me through a memorable tour of the town. I met some of the

folks of the town, down by the creek, where the walkin’ bridge swayed and was rebuiltafter the water had

washed it away. The Lion’s Club marshaled the effort and the town chipped in. We swayed for a while

on the footbridge as Romulus explained the role of water in these nestled towns. I met Ted Oaks, the Poultry

Man from up on Folly Lane, and Ed Berkible who could take a dozen wrecks and bring a motor car to life.

We visited Bonny and Verdine Terlingo who were quite established Hooversvilleans, veritable institutions

of the town. They greeted us warmly. I felt some dedicated lives.



The next day we concelebrated Mass, sitting with the community and participating in the rosary that so

holds communities together but is unsung and unnoticed. But Mary is always that wonderful helping hand.

We visited Frank, a visionary, down a block or so from the church. The creative woodworking blew my mind.


Frank retold his encounter with Mary in his conversion path. I thought: Make me an instrument of your Love.

The Johnstown flood: I had heardof it. History burst it into mind. Fr. Romulus took me to the site and we

watched a documentary on the hill above where the dam burst. I felt the film. We walked out quietly.

We later viewed the area from on top of “the incline”. Up on the escarpment, we looked over the mountains and valleys.

Johnstown: the water now flows peacefully. Some of the unknown dead from the flood.

We saw where the water came from, where the debris hit the bridge at Johnstown. We had an ice cream.....

I had maple walnut. The ice cream lady fed a raccoon  on the cliff below by throwing over some

scraps. A grandfather showed his grandson the scene below and introduced him  to the raccoon We rode past hundreds of homes, each with a porch. Pennsylvanians are Porch people, even without

porches I thought. I wondered if the mountains had something to do with it.

Chicken wings and stout were a hearty fare at an Irish Pub.


We went to Davidsville where fr. Michael had returned from AuthorityTalk and fr. Martin spoke

of “the sound of perfection” and “ the price of a pleasurable ear-ful”.Martin had also discovered an

inimitable pretzel. We shared.

The next day, I prayed with my brothers in a chapel adjoining the main altar at St.Anne’s.

When we went to fr. Romulus’s parish, we sat in the morning a s the rosary was recited and

prayed with the people… I celebrated Mass with Romulus...was grateful to see the cleaning

crew in the church….even one who helped other churches in the community and was helping

“The Holy Family”. She was difficult to photograph. I met her husbandin the midst of plowing

later in the day. I instinctively liked them both.  I was happy. God loves us all.

fr. Romulus went to the “flight site”...where September 11th had seen some very courageous

souls prevent a disaste in giving up their lives. All that was left was a hole in the ground.

A shrine poked its symbols and began to emerge.

I saw a husband hug his wife in comfort and glimpsed a tear in his eye. I was sad. I said a prayer

Romulus and I explored more of the area. Jean, the secretary, was kind enough to get some

ingredients for breakfast scones and omelets. My brother shared some recipes with me

for which I was grateful and even more so after I would prove them worthy….lol..I thought I had

garnered some of the down-to-earth energy that made my brother Romulus who he was.

Steven came. We had lunch. I left for Mary-land.