The Working Title Is…Hope Does Not Disappoint

I like being Catholic.

Just yesterday, a friend who inspires me through his deep faith asked if I ever study the day’s scriptures before going to mass. My answer came quickly, “Nope. I like to be surprised.”

In retrospect, my answer was pretty juvenile. But it’s true. I genuinely approach my faith and life in the church thinking, “Okey dokey, God, what nugget have you got for me today? Because I could really use something.”

Invariably, the message is received.

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates All Souls Day, a holy day set aside for honoring the dead.

With the rain falling on this gloomy Michigan day, I found myself very, very sad. I know far too many dead people. And I miss them terribly. And, almost as much, I miss who I was when I was with them.

People speak of feeling a “hole in your heart” that comes from suffering the loss of a loved one. On this All Souls Day, the hole can feel cavernous.

Cue the nugget.

Today’s scripture readings offer us the greatest solace in referring to those who have died by saying ”they are in peace.” (Wisdom 3:3)

What more could we ask for those we love?

And then those of us who remain are offered comfort and inspiration; “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” (Romans 5:5)

Peace. Hope. Love.

What more could we ask for our world today? They each seem in short supply.

Disturbing reports of violence continue. Political attacks, by candidates and their supporters, reach epic levels of ignorance. And ripped from this morning’s headline, “Washington parents accused of injecting children with heroin.”

Sure makes living life with a cup half-full almost impossible.

A rabbi recently defined the difference between optimism and hope for me by saying, “Optimism is thinking everything will work out fine; whereas hope is believing we have the capacity to change for the better.” Couple that with “hope does not disappoint,” and I think we have the blueprint we need to inspire us moving forward.

We need to seek out reasons to have hope. We need to make an individual effort toward building peace around us. We need to share the love of God that has been poured into our hearts.

And I know this as the far, far, far from perfect Catholic that I am. And when I say far…I mean far. I can swear like a sailor, and I secretly delight in the bible story where Noah got super drunk after the flood. It’s nice to know even biblical people rise to the occasion, survive a challenge and then feel compelled to order another round.

Hope is not static. The capacity to change for the better is fed by those around us.

My sense of hope…my renewed sense of faith in humanity…was ignited late this summer. I decided I needed a change of scenery from my newly emptied nest, and took my book to sit and read at our club’s pool. After walking through the gate, my eyes were drawn to a little girl of about three giggling and bobbing in the shallow-end, buoyed by puffy arm floaties.

At just about the time I became aware that my staring was coming dangerously close to stalking, an ambulance came roaring down the four-lane street that runs adjacent to the pool.

I watched as this little brunette bathing beauty…. bowed her head toward the water and made the Sign of the Cross.

Upon hearing the siren, she paused to pray.

I have hope. I know love. We need peace.

We have the capacity to change our world for the better. Let’s keep searching for the things that renew our faith in humanity, comforted by the belief that hope does not disappoint.




The Working Title Is…And Where Should You Be Right Now?

“And where should you be right now?”

The words echo in my head. Delivered by a deep, definitive voice. A voice that made my heart race and my sixteen-year-old palms start to sweat. Even if I hadn’t done anything wrong.

It’s been years since I’ve seen the man who spoke those words. I remember him having a solid frame, a head that sat right on his shoulders and an icy glare that did most of his talking for him.

Jerry Wilcox was the assistant principal of my high school and the very successful head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball team. My interaction with him was pretty much limited to the seven words that began this essay. And every time it was asked of me, I would reply timidly; fully aware that the extent to which my neck was turning red and blotchy was directly proportionate to how much trouble I could be facing.

Was I afraid of him? Yup. But what I felt more strongly than fear, was respect. I respected him for the principles of order, civility and good manners that served as his foundation. I respected that he demanded personal accountability, encouraged leadership skills and acknowledged effort.

All of this entered my mind because a close friend from high school made me aware of a scholarship fund that was recently established in Mr. Wilcox’s honor. The scholarship fund will support a student committed to Catholic education who embodies the qualities of leadership, service and life-long learning.  (Scroll to the bottom for more information on the Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund.)

Transported by memories, I’ve been lost in reverie for the last couple of days. Reminded, again, how much I loved my Catholic school education and how it helped define me. I’ve been feeling wistful for a world that celebrated civility and good manners. I’ve been pining for a place that demanded personal accountability. And I’ve been repeatedly asking myself, “Where should you be right now?”

Up until this point in time, the outline of my life’s narrative was pretty clear; set by unwritten tradition and my own personal desire: get an education, get a job, fall in love, get married, have kids, raise kids, send kids to college, retire, travel the world.

Sadly, other life events disrupted that narrative leaving me to wonder where should I be right now?   And inexplicably, over the last year, I have felt my inner voice return to the timidity of my sixteen-year-old self with the sweaty palms and the blotchy neck.

My teenage self benefitted from a talented English department that taught me how to construct a valid argument and from a Speech Club that taught me how to debate. My adult self lives in a world where debate has been reduced to personal attacks, ridicule and talking over one another.

My teenage self felt safe in a world that seemed civil and fair, compassionate and open minded. Naïve? Maybe, I was. But my adult self refuses to become jaded by the traditional and social media depictions of a world that is anything but civil or fair. My adult self refuses to be dragged down into the nadir of social, political and personal discourse that prefers attacks over facts, that is paralyzed by close-mindedness and that is fueled by narcissism.

Now, as a new empty nester, I have all the time in the world to find my voice, rewrite my narrative and maybe answer the question, “And where should you be right now?”




Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund

A newly created scholarship fund has been established by generous benefactors in the Bishop Ludden community.

Benefitting a rising freshman, the Coach Jerry Wilcox Scholarship Fund supports a student committed to Catholic education with a strong B+ GPA, demonstrates a financial need, and embodies the qualities of leadership, service and life-long learning.

Establishing a scholarship fund in honor of Coach Wilcox was one way for Chair, Patrick Driscoll ’85 to help other give back to the community and leave a lasting impact on education; much like Coach Wilcox did for his students. “In speaking with alumni, many of whom were student-athletes at Bishop Ludden, we felt it was imperative to honor the legacy of a gentleman who led by example to ensure the success of students at Bishop Ludden Jr. Sr. High School. The lessons we learned from him some years ago are the same lessons we have applied in our daily lives,” said Patrick Driscoll.

Since his early days at St. Brigid’s, graduating from Cathedral Academy, and later Niagara University, it was only fitting that Coach Wilcox would begin his career at Bishop Ludden High School. Starting out as a Business Teacher, Dean of Men and Junior Varsity Men’s Basketball Coach, it was clear Wilcox had found his niche. For the next 17 years Wilcox developed strong ties and built lasting relationships with the Ludden community. Wilcox later went on to pursue a degree in administrative education and became Associate Principal and Dean of Student Services; and an award winning 14 years as Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach.

“Coach served as both a successful administrator and coach at Bishop Ludden, serving the needs of many families who entrusted their children to Bishop Ludden High School. He emphasized the importance of hard work, respectfulness and leadership both in the classroom and on and off the courts and fields,” said Driscoll.

To date, over 15 memorial and honorary scholarship funds have been established at Bishop Ludden through families and benefactors looking to assist future Gaelic Knights.

To discuss setting up a fund that meets your charitable interests, or to contribute to an existing fund, please contact Andrea Marshall, Director of Development, 315.468.0053 or amarshall@syrdio.org