August 26, 2022 Vol. 7 No. 17
August 26, 2022
Vol. 7 • No. 17
3424 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241
(213) 637-7360 • FAX (213) 637-6360
Published by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese
of Los Angeles by The Tidings
(a corporation), established 1895.
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
Vice Chancellor for Communications
RICHARD G. BEEMER
ANGELUS is published biweekly by The
Tidings (a corporation), established 1895.
Periodicals postage paid at Los Angeles,
California. One-year subscriptions (26
issues), $30.00; single copies, $3.00
© 2021 ANGELUS (2473-2699). No part of this
publication may be reproduced without the written
permission of the publisher. Events and products
advertised in ANGELUS do not carry the implicit
endorsement of The Tidings Corporation or the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:
ANGELUS, PO Box 306, Congers, NY 10920-0306.
For Subscription and Delivery information, please
call (844) 245-6630 (Mon - Fri, 7 am-4 pm PT).
Sign up for our free, daily e-newsletter
Always Forward - newsletter.angelusnews.com
ON THE COVER
The legendary voice of Vin Scully, who passed away on Aug. 2,
sustained Dodgers fans for more than six decades, beginning
in Brooklyn and then Los Angeles. But as Angelenos mourn his
passing, his fellow Catholics can take comfort in knowing that
that same voice spoke to God — and often. Beginning on Page
10, Tom Hoffarth has a deeply reported tribute to Vin’s “greatest
inheritance,” a faith that accompanied him along his remarkable
rise to fame and through both triumph and tragedy.
A woman places roses inside Incarnation
Church in Glendale before a special Aug. 6
“celebration of life” memorial Mass for Office
of Ethnic Ministry members and their families
who passed away during the pandemic,
shootings, war, and those who died in their
own countries. The Mass was celebrated by
Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan.
Pope Watch............................................... 2
Archbishop Gomez................................. 3
World, Nation, and Local News...... 4-6
In Other Words........................................ 7
Father Rolheiser....................................... 8
Scott Hahn.............................................. 32
Events Calendar..................................... 33
The story of St. Bernadette’s providential ‘last stop’ in LA
John Allen: History repeats itself in new flare-up over ‘Humanae Vitae’
Why a new book about secrets needs to go to confession
The founder of the Claretians is getting a day (or two) at the movies
Robert Brennan on Vin Scully: One LA Irish Catholic salutes another
Echoes of salvation history in cave rescue drama ‘Thirteen Lives’
Heather King on a generation trapped in their screens
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 1
The apprenticeship of life
The following is adapted from Pope
Francis’ reflection on old age given
during his weekly General Audience address
in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican
on Aug. 8.
Old age is the fitting time for the
moving and joyful witness of
expectation. The elderly man
and woman are waiting, waiting for
an encounter. In old age the works of
faith, which bring us and others closer
to the kingdom of God, are by now
beyond the power of the energy, words,
and impulses of youth and maturity.
But precisely in this way they make
the promise of the true destination of
life even more transpar-ent. And what
is the true destination of life? A place
at the table with God, in the world of
An old age that is consumed in the
dejection of missed opportunities
brings despondency to oneself and
to others. Instead, old age lived with
gentleness, lived with respect for real
life, definitively dissolves the miscon-ception
of a Church that adapts to
the worldly condition, thinking that by
so doing it can definitively govern its
perfection and fulfillment. When we
free ourselves from this presumption,
the time of aging that God grants us is
already in itself one of those “greater”
works Jesus speaks of.
Our life is not made to be wrapped
up in itself, in an imaginary earthly
perfection. It is destined to go beyond,
through the passage of death — because
death is a passage. Indeed, our
stable place, our destination is not
here, it is beside the Lord, where he
Here, on earth, the process of our
“novitiate” begins. We are apprentices
of life, who — amid a thousand
dif-ficulties — learn to appreciate
God’s gift, honoring the responsibility
of sharing it and making it bear fruit for
everyone. The time of life on earth is
the grace of this passage. The conceit
of stopping time — of wanting eternal
youth, unlimited well-being, absolute
power — is not only impossible, it is
Our existence on earth is the time of
the initiation of life. It is life, but one
that leads you toward a fuller life, the
initiation of the fuller one;
a life which finds fulfillment only in
God. We are imperfect from the very
beginning, and we remain imperfect
up to the end.
In the fulfillment of God’s promise,
the relationship is inverted. The space
of God, which Jesus prepares for us
with the utmost care, is superior to the
time of our mortal life. Hence, old age
brings closer the hope of this ful-fillment
… [old age] is credible when it
invites us to rejoice in the passing of
time. It is not a threat, it is a promise.
Old age, lived in the expectation of
the Lord, can become the fulfilled
“apologia” of faith, which gives
grounds, for everyone, for our hope
for all (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). Because old
age renders Jesus’ promise transparent,
projecting toward the Holy City of
which the Book of Revelation speaks
(chapters 21-22). Old age is the phase
in life most suited to spreading the
joyful news that life is the initiation to a
Papal Prayer Intentions for August: We pray for small- and
medium-sized businesses; in the midst of economic and
social crisis, may they find ways to continue operating, and
serving their communities.
2 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
NEW WORLD OF FAITH
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
Jesus, who is here
(On Aug. 13, some 3,000 people
gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady
of the Angels for a daylong Eucharistic
Congress. The following is adapted
from Archbishop Gomez’s remarks and
homily. We will have full coverage of the
congress in our next issue of Angelus.)
One of our newest saints is St.
Charles de Foucauld. He has
one of the great conversion
stories in the 20th century, like the
The turning point in his life was going
to Nazareth to live and pray as a hermit
and to imitate the “hidden life” of
In one letter he wrote: “I am in the
house of Nazareth with Mary and
Joseph, like a younger brother sitting
opposite my elder brother Jesus, who
is here night and day in the Sacred
I love that passage. There is such a
beautiful intimacy, such a beautiful
sense of friendship in those words.
The point is this: Jesus wants to have
that same beautiful and intimate personal
relationship with each and every
one of us in the holy Eucharist.
Since the beginning, God has wanted
to be in communion with the men and
women he created.
He spoke to Adam and Eve in the
first garden, in the cool of the evening.
He spoke to Moses in the burning
bush, and led his people out of Egypt,
going before them as a pillar of fire. He
spoke to the prophets, and through the
prophets. And finally he has spoken to
us, in his word made flesh.
You and I are a part of this great mystery,
this beautiful history of salvation.
The Letter to Hebrews tells us: “We
are surrounded by so great a cloud of
This is true. If we could lift the veil,
we would realize that we are in the
company of angels and saints, that they
are everywhere, all around us; if we
had ears to hear, we would hear the
songs of heaven.
The truth is that as we walk the paths
of our ordinary daily lives, we go in
the presence of the living God, and
in the presence of this great cloud of
The Eucharist opens our eyes to see
this reality, it gives us our worldview as
At the altar in every Mass, heaven and
earth meet! Heaven is opened and the
earth is lifted up, as we offer the gifts of
creation to our Creator.
At that moment in every Mass, you
and I are also offering our own hearts,
our own lives. We are praying with the
angels, singing their song with them:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!”
This is the ordinary miracle that we
experience in every Mass. Our Creator
comes to meet us, he comes to feed us
with the bread of life, to nourish us on
our pilgrimage through this world.
We should be living every day with
In giving us the Eucharist, Jesus gives
us a vision for seeing the world and our
place in it. And in giving us the Eucharist,
Jesus gives our lives a mission.
Every celebration of the Eucharist
ends with a commission: Go forth, the
Mass is ended! Go and announce the
Gospel! Go, and glorify God by your
What begins within the church walls
is meant to continue outside those
walls. The gift that we receive at the
holy table, we are called to share with
Jesus promised that he would be truly
present in the bread and wine of the
Eucharist. But he also promised that
he would be present in the flesh and
blood of our neighbors, especially the
poor and the suffering. “As you did it to
one of the least of these my brethren,
What begins within the church walls is meant
to continue outside those walls. The gift that
we receive at the holy table, we are called to
share with our neighbors.
you did it to me,” he told us.
The vision that Jesus gives us in
the Eucharist calls us to serve our
neighbors as we would him.
Jesus used to say to his disciples,
“Come and see!” Let’s make that same
invitation to people:
Come again, and see the miracle of
the Mass! Come again, and see how
much Jesus loves you!
Jesus is here now, with us, as truly
present as when he was walking with
his apostles in Galilee.
Let us give our lives to him, as he
gave his life for us. And as he changes
bread and wine into his body and
blood, let us allow him to change our
hearts, to make us a new creation in
the fire of his love!
May holy Mary, in whose womb Our
Lord took flesh, awaken in all of us —
a new wonder at the mystery of his love
in the holy Eucharist.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 3
■ Nicaraguan government tightens grip on the Church
Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of Matagalpa in a
screenshot from a video at his residence in Matagalpa as
riot police block the door. | YOUTUBE
■ Drought and war lead to African hunger
The Nicaraguan government placed a
bishop under house arrest and is effectively
criminalizing public expressions
of Catholic faith.
Police in riot gear were filmed preventing
Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of
Matagalpa — together with six priests
and six laypeople — from leaving his
residence earlier this month. The
government accuses Bishop Alvarez
of “organizing violent groups,” but the
move is largely seen as related to the
closure of a Catholic radio network the
bishop had overseen. It was shut down
People fleeing their homes due to drought wait in line at a camp near Dolow, Somalia, in April. | CNS/MIRIAM
A food emergency in Africa is worsening due to climate change and Russia’s
invasion of Ukraine.
“The different countries in the Horn of Africa have a combined population of
more than 160 million people, and 45% of this population will be affected by
food insecurity,” Aloysius John, secretary general for Caritas Internationalis, told
Forty-four percent of the wheat imported to the continent came from Russia or
Ukraine between 2018 to 2020, but the war and embargoes have curtailed food
transportation. John noted that “Africa has been the dumping site for the surplus
of the large-scale industrial production of food in the north.”
“It has not only destroyed the local food supply chain, but it has also destroyed
local traditional farming, which needs immediate and quick attention,” he told
In Somalia, 1 million people have been displaced due to the drought.
“Famine is now haunting the entire country,” Norwegian Refugee Council
Somalia director Mohamed Abdi told Vatican News. “We are seeing more and
more families forced to leave everything because there is literally no water or
food in their villages.”
Aug. 1 for its criticism of Nicaraguan
President Daniel Ortega and his wife,
Vice President Rosario Murillo.
The government also forced the
Archdiocese of Managua to cancel
a planned Marian procession in the
capital city one day before it was set to
take place on Aug. 13
“We want to tell you, brothers and
sisters, that our hearts are full of love,
and we’re at peace,” Bishop Álvarez
said in a video on Aug. 11. “Our hearts
are full of forgiveness. That’s why we’re
■ India: A cardinal fights
to clear his name
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop
of Bombay, had to rebut accusations
that he assisted a bishop accused
of secretly fathering a child.
Cardinal Gracias, a member of the
pope’s council of cardinals, has denied
arranging a fake paternity test for
Bishop Kannikass William Antony of
A 2020 telephone conversation
recording released by far-right news
website Church Militant purports to
show that the cardinal was telling the
bishop that he will arrange for the paternity
test to be conducted at a Catholic
hospital “so we can control the
media, control the doctors, control the
publicity given to the whole thing.”
Cardinal Gracias acknowledged the
telephone call, but says it had been
“mischievously edited” to suggest
collusion for a cover-up. He later
released an unedited version of the
recording in which he pressed Bishop
Antony to get the paternity test at a
In an Aug. 7 video, Cardinal Gracias
said that “at no time did I suggest that
we can control the outcome of the
test” and that he suggested a Catholic
hospital to give the test more “credibility.”
The Vatican is currently investigating
Bishop Antony for possible financial
misconduct and abuse cover-up in his
4 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
A border scene in the capital — Migrants who arrived on a bus from Arizona step into the parish hall at St.
Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5. The local church, partnering with SAMU First Response,
began offering hospitality in late July to migrants arriving on buses sent to Washington by the governors
of Texas and Arizona. | CNS/ANDREW BIRAJ, CATHOLIC STANDARD
■ Kansas fails to ‘Value Them Both’
Kansas voters chose not to pass a pro-life amendment to the state’s constitution in a
59-41 Aug. 2 vote following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The failed “Value Them Both” amendment would have reversed a state supreme
court ruling that its constitution protects a right to abortion, allowing state lawmakers
to regulate or restrict the practice.
Abortions in the state could increase by more than 1,000%, according to the Guttmacher
Institute, as neighboring states restrict or ban the practice.
“The pro-life movement’s call to politics and policy did not end with the Dobbs
decision,” Mallory Carroll, spokeswoman for SBA Pro-Life America, said in an Aug.
2 statement. “Rather, because of that victory we must work exponentially harder to
achieve and maintain protections for unborn children and their mothers.”
■ A radical proposal to
slow our kids’ social
Amid rising concern over social media
use among teenagers, a new survey
from the Pew Research Center says it
has doubled in less than a decade.
Almost half of U.S. teens reported
being on social media “almost
constantly,” up from only 24% who
reported the same in a 2015 Pew
study. YouTube is the most popular
platform, with 95% of 13- to 17-yearolds
using the service, followed by
TikTok and Instagram.
Since a 2021 Wall Street Journal report
that Instagram’s parent-company,
Meta, knew that their product could
be harmful for its young users, some
are calling for an age limit for social
“If Instagram and TikTok were brickand-mortar
spaces in your neighborhood,
you probably would never let
even your teenager go to them alone,”
wrote Yuval Levin in an Aug. 5 New
York Times op-ed titled “It Was a Mistake
to Let Kids Onto Social Media
Sites. Here’s What to Do Now.”
“[B]y providing for effective age verification
and meaningful penalties for
the platforms,” he continued, “Congress
could offer parents a powerful
tool to push back against the pressure
to use social media.”
■ Vatican tags Catholic influencers for synod help
Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez joins young people during a synodal listening
session at La Salle University in April. The Vatican’s new outreach aims to hear from
people “who may not have been included in diocesan listening sessions,” according to
radio host Jimmy Akin. | CNS/SARAH WEBB, CATHOLICPHILLY.COM
If Jimmy Akin has asked you to submit a report to the
Vatican’s upcoming Synod on Synodality, you shouldn’t be
The U.S-based Catholic apologist and host of Catholic
Answers Live was one of the Catholic “influencers” the
Vatican has tasked to engage Catholics who did not attend
synodal listening sessions.
“Someone at the Vatican clearly understood that they
would not be getting the views of people who don’t go to
Mass from the diocesan surveys,” Akin told Catholic News
Agency. “They want to hear from people of goodwill who
are willing to engage with the Church in some form, even
if some do not presently practice the Faith.”
Akin has shared a survey developed by the Vatican on his
show and social media. Similar efforts were employed in
Spain and France, and survey responses were closed on
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 5
■ What’s goating
on at the cemetery?
Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver
City deployed a strange-looking
team of landscapers on its grounds
For a few days, the cemetery
imported some 250 goats and sheep
— reportedly last used in Malibu —
to help “clear bushes and naturally
invasive plants,” the Culver City
News reported on Aug. 4.
Use of the animals for such purposes
is not uncommon in California,
since by grazing on brush they help
clear fire lines.
Adrian Marquez Alarcon, director
of Media Relations at the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles, said the use
of the animals to clear the hillsides
of overgrowth was “being done as a
“The mix of sheep and goats is
used because they eat different
things and together they are very
effective at keeping the growth of
brush and grasses at the proper
level,” she said.
■ Making Catholic leaders out of middle-schoolers
More than 225
41 Catholic schools
around the archdiocese
a special leadership
by The Association
of Catholic Student
were held at Loyola
TACSC student staff snapped a selfie with Archbishop José H. Gomez after Mass
at LMU on June 26. | TACSC
took part in activities aimed at developing “moral leaders to positively impact
our world” and forming “real world strategic planners, effective communicators,
lifelong mentors and servant leaders.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated Mass for students and their families at the
close of the first session. TACSC is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Oct. 21.
“Students learn who they can become from our incredible college and high
school staff and where they will go, being on a college campus,” said TACSC executive
director Heidi Johnson. “It is a life-changing experience for our delegates.”
TACSC has served more than 2,500 students this year, including through its
high school Core Leadership Team Program and Student Leadership Days.
Starting the school year strong — Seminarians of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
pray during Mass at this year’s Annual Seminarian Gathering at the Cathedral
of Our Lady of the Angels on Aug. 12. Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated
Mass with the young men from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo at St. Vibiana
Chapel before sharing lunch with them. | VICTOR ALEMÁN
■ All-star lineup of LA Catholics
to receive papal honors
Nineteen LA Catholics will be honored at a special vespers
prayer service on Sunday, Aug. 28, at the Cathedral of
Our Lady of the Angels at 3:30 p.m.
Archbishop José H. Gomez will confer papal honors of
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and Benemerenti on 15 lay men
and women and four religious sisters in the Archdiocese of
Los Angeles, in recognition for their service to the Church,
family, and community.
The honorees receiving Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awards
are Sister Angela Hallahan, CHF, and Sylvia Mendivil
The late Richard Grant and his wife, Maria Grant, are
among those to be honored with Benemerenti awards.
The others are: Ana Marie Aguilera, Judy Lynn Fernandes,
Sister Mary Elizabeth Galt, BVM, Suzanne Healy, Patricia
Louise Hendricks-Whisnant, Robert Martinez, Donna
May McKennon, Robert Auguste McKennon, Margaret
Oberon, Sister Maryanne O’Neill, CSC, Sister Edith
Prendergast, RSC, Juanita Rios, Kathleen Sue Tonsich,
William “Bill” George Williams, and Jerry Cornelis Van
6 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
IN OTHER WORDS...
Letters to the Editor
Can solutions-based journalism save Catholic media?
I appreciated Greg Erlandson’s column “Is Catholic journalism yesterday’s
news?” in the Aug, 12 issue.
I wrote full time for a diocesan Catholic paper from 1988 to 2006, and have
freelanced (including for Angelus) for other publications since. For one, I believe
Church leadership underestimated how much of a negative impact the abuse
scandals had on the Church’s image. How many people want to trust their youngsters
to an institution that ignored their abuse? There are now literally millions of
people who will never take the Church’s pronouncements on ANY issue seriously
because of what happened.
I also think the Church wasted ample opportunities to build bridges with
progressives over too many issues. The fact that certain Catholic hospitals, for
example, have stymied labor organizing has done a tremendous damage to the
Church, and I have repeatedly found people are shocked to know Catholicism
actually preaches that workers have a right to organize to collectively bargain. St.
Pope John Paul II was positively radical compared to even a lot of liberal Catholics
on this issue, but you’d never know it by reading how some people perceive
I agree that a solutions-based journalism is the way to go. When I was writing full
time, I’d try to outline a problem, say the plight of migrant workers, note what the
Church’s official teaching was, and then outline how church folks were practically
addressing it. This approach seemed to garner the most positive response from
readers and also let “conservative” and “liberal” Catholics know they had more in
common than they realized.
— Rob Cullivan, Portland, Oregon
Correction from the editor
The news brief in the July 29 issue “Indian Catholics call for saint’s return to
history books,” incorrectly referred to India’s government as “communist.” Though
the ruling parliamentary alliance for the state of Kerala, where the story occurred,
is communist in ideology, India’s political system is democratic.
Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit AngelusNews.com/Letters-To-The-Editor
and use our online form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please limit to 300 words. Letters
may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.
The saint of Lourdes
takes Los Angeles
St. Bernadette’s relics made a stop in Los Angeles
from July 31 to Aug. 3 at the end of a monthslong
U.S. tour. Hundreds of LA Catholics came out to local
parishes and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
to venerate the French saint. | VICTOR ALEMÁN
View more photos
from this gallery at
Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d
like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.
“There’s not a problem
in the world that three
Hail Marys can’t fix.”
~ Walter Pearce, co-host of the podcast “Wet Brain,”
in a controversial Aug. 9 New York Times essay
“New York’s Hottest Club is the Catholic Church.”
with the masking policy
should not be a prerequisite
to obtain in-person
~ John W. Ayers, Ph.D., a computational
epidemiologist, in a July 29 op-ed in the San Diego
Union-Tribune on why local school masking
mandates won’t work.
“We had the love of
our grandparents, but
it’s not the same as that
of your mother.”
~ Gabriela Rivas, a 29-year-old mother whose
mother left her in the care of grandparents when
she left El Salvador for the U.S. 16 years ago.
“Mother Nature has no
obligation to wait for us.”
~ Michael Anderson, California’s state climatologist,
in an Aug. 12 New York Times article “The Coming
California Megastorm” describing a climate changeinduced,
catastrophic rainstorm expected to hit the
state sometime this century.
“Alan was basically
put to death.”
— Gary Nichols, brother of Alan Nichols, who
applied for euthanasia during a bout of depression,
against his family’s wishes, and was killed under
Canada’s permissive euthanasia laws, in an Aug.
11 AP article, “ ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by
Canada’s euthanasia laws.”
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 7
FATHER RONALD ROLHEISER, OMI
Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father
Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual
Making a recessive journey
In a particularly poignant passage
in her poem, “The Leaf and the
Cloud,” Mary Oliver pictures
herself standing at the gravesite of her
mother and father, reflecting on their
lives. They were far from perfect and
she doesn’t sugarcoat their faults. She
openly names her mother’s heaviness
of soul and her father’s immature
faith. She knows that many of her own
struggles have roots there.
However, she isn’t visiting their
graves to lay blame on them. She’s
there to kiss them an honest goodbye,
at peace finally with both their
less-than-perfect lives and their
influence on her. She thanks them
for everything, the good and the bad,
wishes them well in the deep earth,
and then says, “But I will not give
them the kiss of complicity. I will not
give them the responsibility for my
All of us might do well to make this
kind of recessive journey in terms of
revisiting our early religious training.
An interesting gravesite. Unfortunately,
many of us don’t ever tarry there
long enough to truly sort out what
blessed us and what wounded us when
some very fallible human agents introduced
God to us. Today it is common
(almost fashionable) for people to look
back only negatively on their early religious
training. Indeed many speak of
being “in recovery” from it and often
blame every kind of unhappiness and
neurosis in their lives on their early
No doubt, some of this is valid, early
religious training does leave a permanent
mark on us. However, we owe
it to ourselves, our parents, our early
teachers, and to honesty to sort out
the positives and negatives of our early
religious background and, like Mary
Oliver, make peace with it, even if we
cannot give it the kiss of complicity.
What’s my own story? For me, awakening
to consciousness and awakening
to God and Church were inextricably
linked. The Roman Catholicism of
the time was the air I breathed as a
child and this was Roman Catholicism
prior to Vatican II, a Catholicism
replete with both positives and
The spirituality of my childhood was
one of absolute truths, of non-negotiable
rules, of strong demands, of tribalism,
and of narrow inclusivity. We,
and we alone were the one true faith.
Moreover, all of this was underwritten
by a God who kept a scrupulous watch
on your every action, didn’t easily give
you permission to make a mistake,
held the sixth commandment above
all others, used shame as a weapon,
and was frowning a lot of the time.
But, that was far from all of it. There
was a whole other side. The family,
community, and church that christened
me had communal bonds that
most communities today can only
envy. You truly were part of a body, a
family, and a community that incarnated
a sense of transcendence that
made faith something natural, and
community part of your very identity.
You knew you were a child of God
and you knew too that you were a
moral creature with real responsibilities
to others and to God. You knew
your eternal significance, your essential
dignity, and the moral responsibility
that came with that and you
couldn’t exempt yourself from it.
What all of this did was ground you
existentially in a very fundamental,
non-negotiable human, moral, and
religious truth, namely, that your life
was not simply your own to do with
whatever you wished. You knew in a
way that you could not ignore, except
by way of infidelity, that you were
constitutively social, interdependent,
ecclesial, and that God put you on
this earth not just to make a good life
for yourself. You had a vocation, a
certain duty to serve, and God, family,
community, and Church could ask
you to give your life over. Today, I see
this particular brand on my soul as
one of the most precious of all gifts
that I received from the spirituality
of my childhood. Whatever demons
came along with that were worth it.
Besides, demons can be cast out and
most of those buried inside the catechesis
of my childhood have slowly
been exorcized through the years.
What did it? Lots of things: years
of studying and teaching theology,
reading good literature, having good
spiritual directors, seeing a robust and
joyous health in women and men of
faith, persevering in my own dogged
(and far-from-perfect) attempt to be
faithful to prayer, the Eucharist, and
church community through seven
decades, and, not least, the grace of
Today I look back on my early
religious training in a way wherein the
negatives are eclipsed by the positives.
I am thankful for it all, even its initial
rigidity, timidity, tribalism, fearfulness,
and false fears of God, because
something inside all of that grounded
me and taught me what is ultimately
important. Indeed, rigidity, timidity,
tribalism, and excess caution aren’t a
bad place to start from because after
they loosen their grip, you are free for
the rest of your life. No small gift!
8 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
Vin Scully at the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day in 1999.
| © JON SOOHOO/LOS ANGELES DODGERS 1999
faith helped him see
life — and death —
through God’s eyes.
BY TOM HOFFARTH
Taking turns offering memories
and sharing stories, Vin Scully’s
children gathered at the altar
at the end of the funeral Mass for
the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers
broadcaster on Monday, Aug. 8, at St.
Jude the Apostle Church in Westlake
Scully’s daughter, Erin, said she had
searched his office to find something
that would comfort her. She came
across a famous prayer written by St.
Cardinal John Henry Newman.
“God has created me to do Him
some definite service,” read the first
line. Another: “Therefore, I will trust
Him. ... If I am in sorrow, my sorrow
may serve Him. … He may make me
feel desolate, make my spirits sink,
hide my future from me. Still, He
knows what He is about.”
For Father Jim Stehly, pastor of
St. Jude, the prayer was a “perfect”
glimpse of his most famous parishioner’s
“This wasn’t just a celebration of life,
or Vin’s life, but really a celebration
of that life he’s being ushered into its
fullness right now,” he told Angelus.
“To me, that was the real sense of
Vin’s vocation as he was living his
Christian life in this most public way.”
Father Steve Davoren, who presided
the Mass and burial service, said that
10 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
“in the context of everything, it was
all so beautiful that showed how Vin
was a man of deep abiding faith in our
Lord Jesus and had a tremendous love
of his family.”
The faces of Dodgers history —
Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson, Clayton
Kershaw, Jaime Jarrin, Steve Garvey,
Dave Roberts — were among those in
the pews at St. Jude’s that day. After
hearing the readings picked by Vin’s
family (Proverbs 3:1–18, Psalm 23,
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Matthew
5:13–16) as well as a version of “The
Prayer” song made famous by Josh
Groban, the 600 people in attendance
may have felt more uplifted than
sorrowful that he had lived 94 years
until his Aug. 2 passing at his Hidden
“No matter how many famous people
may have been there in attendance,
it was still about the ordinary
person that Vin was, and the extraordinary
friend he was to all,” said Father
Vin is survived by five children —
Kevin, Todd, Erin, Kelly, and Catherine
— as well as 21 grandchildren
and six great-grandchildren. He was
preceded in death by his first wife,
Joan, and his second wife, Sandi, as
well as his oldest son, Michael.
Far from the lights of Dodger
Stadium, church seemed to be
Vin’s other natural habitat.
Father Stehly said it “was a lovely
thing to discover 11 years ago that Vin
Scully is exactly the guy we want to
think he is.” But he was also impressed
at how Vin “wasn’t shy about
putting voice to his faith.”
Yet for someone who made a career
talking, his actions also found surprising
ways to speak to LA baseball fans.
In a 2016 cover story for Sports Illustrated,
writer Tom Verducci wrote that
the “benevolence of Vin was rooted in
his [Catholic] faith. He emphasized
‘the most essential thing’ he learned
from his Faith and the Church was
‘the importance of continual commu-
The Scully family at Dodger Stadium. Pictured From
left to right: Todd, Erin, Catherine, Vin and Sandra
Scully, Kelly, and Kevin. | © JON SOOHOO/LOS
nication with God.’ ”
Born in the Bronx, New York, on
Nov. 29, 1927, Vincent Edward
Scully grew up in uptown Manhattan
attending the Church of the Incarnation.
He was taught by the Jesuits at
Fordham Prep School, spent two years
in the Navy, and later graduated from
Fordham University in 1949.
At age 8, he recalled the time his
Flowers and candles are
displayed at a memorial
honoring Vin Scully at
Dodger Stadium in Los
Angeles on Aug. 3.
“All the boys
wanted to be
girls were about
nursing or ballet dancers or becoming
mothers, but I wrote about being a
radio sports announcer,” he said. “It
wasn’t what Sister Virginia expected
to read about. There was no TV and
just a few things on the radio, maybe
a Saturday afternoon football game
between Ohio State and Notre Dame.
So when I said what I wanted to be,
that was way out in left field. When
I eventually got that job with the
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 11
Dodgers, in December of 1950, when
I was 23, it really was the fulfillment
of a dream just 15 years later. That’s
rather remarkable in itself. I have a
great deal to be thankful for.”
Through his involvement in the
Catholic Youth Organization (CYO),
Scully would get tickets to games at
the Polo Grounds to see his favorite
team, the New York Giants.
Starting with the Brooklyn Dodgers
and hired by the legendary Branch
Rickey, as well as bonding with
generations of the O’Malley family
as it assumed team ownership, Vin
rejoiced in calling the franchise’s oneand-only
championship in 1955. He
took a leap of faith in leaving behind
his home base to follow the franchise
to Los Angeles in 1958.
In bringing the game to Southern
California through the advent of the
transistor radio, Vin’s voice captioned
six Dodgers World Series runs. He
The cover of the October 18, 2019, issue of Angelus featuring a special interview with
Vin by Tom Hoffarth. “You know, this isn’t the only stop on the train,” he said at the
time. “There’s one big one we’re still waiting for.”
also lent his voice to coverage of golf
and NFL football during his 67 years
with the Dodgers, which ended with
his retirement in 2016.
“I’ve always admired Vin’s faith and
he often gave credit to the nuns from
Ireland who taught him and influenced
his life starting in grammar
school,” Peter O’Malley, the Dodgers
team owner from 1979 to 1998, told
Angelus. “He appreciated his faith
and didn’t take it for granted. “
On mornings before Sunday home
games, Vin found a home attending
Mass at the
stadium, a Major
tradition at ballparks
U.S. organized by
(CAC). Vin and
Sandi would join
at a makeshift
chapel inside the
bowels of Dodger
DeLury died at
81 in 2015, Vin
jacket over an
empty chair next
death, the Scully
family has suggested
be made in his
honor to CAC,
Heart Radio to
record a two-CD set of Vin praying
CAC ministry coordinator Kevin
O’Malley said Vin typified “the best
of what we are hoping to bring out
with our pro athletes — the virtue of
humility, offering time, talents, and
“Death is a constant companion in our religion.
You live with it easily; it is not a morbid thought.
That has given me the perspective that whatever
I have can disappear in 30 seconds.”
treasure, and preaching without reading
“It’s interesting: I had always wanted
to be a baseball play-by-play man,”
O’Malley told Angelus. “The first half
of my life, I wanted to be Vin Scully,
the broadcaster. But as I learned more
and worked with him, I really wanted
to be more like Vin Scully, the man,
the Catholic, the gentleman, the
husband and father.”
As an added treat for those in attendance,
Vin would often lector at those
ballpark Masses. Former Dodgers outfielder
Andre Ethier said his favorite
memory from his 12 years with the
Dodgers remains listening to Scully
proclaiming the word of God.
“There was something probably not
many got a chance to hear — Vin
reading from the Bible, in his typical
voice and presentation,” Ethier told a
SportsNet L.A. tribute to Vin. “It kind
of would always perk me up when you
hear Vin say something out of context
from what we were used to hearing.”
Father Stehly said Vin often arrived
very early before Mass to allow for
enough silent prayer time before
anyone would be around to recognize
At one point, Vin decided he might
need to be more proactive in asking
writers to avoid including where he
“There will be autograph seekers
standing out on the church steps as
I am going in, and I will try to be
polite,” Vin once said. “I would often
tell them, ‘I’m going into church
right now. If you want to come and
12 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
join me, I’ll be happy to sign the ball
afterward.’ It became almost a way to
Father Davoren recalled the time
when, after a national appearance on
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in October
2016, Vin mentioned he would be
speaking at a career day event at St.
Mel School in Woodland Hills, the
Catholic elementary school where his
daughter Erin enrolled her children.
On the Wednesday after Vin’s passing,
a 97-year-old parishioner at St.
Mel approached Father Davoren and
wanted him to know she and Vin were
“The thing is, she has never met
him,” said Father Davoren. “She said
that after her husband of 65 years
passed away, she was feeling lonely
and one day her phone rang. It was
Vin. Someone had connected them.
For a half-hour they spoke. It was just
what Vin did — like Christ did —
making us all feel like we matter.”
The passing of family members
and close friends is when Vin
leaned into his Catholic faith
Vin was only 4 when the father he
was named after, Vincent Aloysius
Scully, died of pneumonia. His
mother, Bridget, who lived to be 97,
remarried English merchant sailor
Allan Reeve, whom Vin embraced as
Vin remembered a time when his
mother took him back to her native
Ireland to mourn her husband’s loss.
In 1932, he recalled attending the
International Eucharistic Congress
at Dublin’s Phoenix Park with some
200,000 people for a Mass.
In January 1972, Vin said he heard
his dog barking at 3:30 a.m. and
turned in bed to check on his wife,
Joan. She had died at age 35. The
mother of his three children had been
taking medications prescribed for a
severe cold and bronchitis. They had
been married almost 16 years, wed
in February of 1958, right after the
Dodgers moved to LA.
Michael Scully, the oldest of those
three, died in 1994 at age 33 in a
helicopter crash in the San Fernando
Valley while inspecting pipelines after
In January 2021, Vin’s second wife,
Sandi, died at 76 from complications
brought upon by the neuromuscular
One of Vin’s last public statements was a video
message delivered to the Catholic Charities of Los
Angeles’ annual gala in October 2021. Vin paid tribute
to Dodgers player Justin Turner and to the Order of
Malta for receiving the Sister Peg Dolan Spirit of Giving
Award at the event. | CATHOLIC CHARITIES LA
disease ALS (better known as Lou
Gehrig’s Disease) after a long struggle.
Vin had called her “a true saint if
there ever was one. … Her faith is
extremely important and I think that’s
a major reason she’s held up.”
Sandi, who was part of the Calvary
Community Church of Conejo Valley
in Westlake Village, had brought two
of her children into the Scully marriage
in 1973. During their 48 years of
marriage, they had their last daughter,
Catherine, together. Sandi died just
days before the passing of Vin’s longtime
friend and fellow Dodgers icon
“Being Irish, being Catholic, from
the first day I can remember, I was
told about death,” Vin said in a 1986
interview with The Sporting News.
“Death is a constant companion in
our religion. You live with it easily;
it is not a morbid thought. That has
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 13
Vin’s ‘definite service’
The prayer read at Vin Scully’s funeral Mass by St. John
Henry Newman is from the English cardinal’s “Meditations
on Christian Doctrine” (1848). Here is the full text
of the prayer.
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission — I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments
and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am,
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me —
still He knows what He is about.…
Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see —
I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.
given me the perspective that whatever
I have can disappear in 30 seconds.
And being out on the road as much as
I am, I realize I am killing the most
precious thing that I have — time.
You never know how much of it you
That wisdom spoke for itself when
Vin had to interrupt a televised
Dodgers-Expos game in Montreal
to announce the passing of former
Dodgers great and fellow broadcaster
“Never have I been asked to make an
announcement that hurts me as much
as this one,” Vin said. “And I say to
you as best I can with a broken heart.”
In later interviews, Vin seemed to
sense a greater need to speak from
experience about his faith.
“The worst thing you can do in times
of trial is to stop praying,” he told the
National Catholic Register in 2013.
“The tough moments are when you
need God the most. There are so
many good things about the Church,
but that might be the most essential
thing I’ve learned from it: The importance
of continual communication
with God. That’s what all the kneelers,
candles, incense, stained-glass
windows, holy water, and other things
are about: directing our minds and
hearts to God.”
Vin received just about every
award possible over the years
for his talent as a professional
wordsmith, including a spot in the
broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball
Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New
York, that was intended as a lifetime
achievement award. That was in 1982
— and he would go on to call games
for 34 more years.
Vin was grateful to live long enough
to see the induction of one of his favorite
Dodgers and Catholic cohorts,
Gil Hodges, into the Baseball Hall of
Fame this July. Through CAC, Vin
participated in a documentary, “Soul
of a Champion: The Gil Hodges Story,”
an open letter to voters asking for
support of Hodges’ cause based on his
character and Catholic faith.
His professional career is dotted
with milestones he witnessed and
described: Don Larsen’s perfect game
for the New York Yankees against
14 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
Vin’s “spectacular rise” as a baseball announcer
following his Catholic education
by the Jesuits at Fordham was noted in this
1950 newspaper clipping, years before his
move from Brooklyn to LA in 1958.
the Dodgers in 1955, Henry Aaron’s
record-breaking 715th home run in
Atlanta against the Dodgers in 1974,
and Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series
Game 1 walk-off home run that lifted
the Dodgers to a championship,
where, as Vin said, “in a year that has
been so improbable, the impossible
A star on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame also came in 1982, and in 2016
a Presidential Medal of Freedom from
President Barack Obama. His microphone
was retired and put among
the Dodger Stadium’s list of retired
numbers. The Dodger Stadium street
address and press box have both been
renamed in his honor.
But Vin’s Catholic accolades were
probably a better reflection of the
legacy Vin hoped to leave behind.
In 2009, he was one of the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles’ Cardinal’s Awards
recipients. One of the archdiocesan
representatives assisting him and his
family that night was Ellen Loretta,
the mother of then-Dodgers second
baseman Mark Loretta, a graduate of
St. Francis High School in La Cañada
A member of the Knights of Columbus,
Vin was also recognized by
Catholic Charities of Los Angeles for
his commitment to the community
— outreach that included work for
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
In 2000, Vin returned to his alma
mater for a commencement address
and received an honorary doctorate
degree. Fordham often called him
“the patron saint” of the campus radio
station, WFUV, which launched
when he was there in 1947.
Vin asked the graduates to follow the
Ten Commandments and “build a
better moral climate,” in his first visit
to the campus in the 50 years since
he’d graduated. “Don’t let the winds
blow your dreams away or steal you of
your faith in God.”
In June of 2016, the summer leading
up to his retirement from the Dodgers,
Vin was recognized with the Gabriel
Award by the Catholic Academy
of Communication Professionals for
his accomplishments as well as being
a person of faith.
Unable to attend their ceremony in
St. Louis, Vin recorded a five-minute
video acceptance speech. It gave him
an opportunity to recall the time in
1956 when he was with a group that
got to meet Pope Pius XII in Rome.
As he explained it, he was on the
way back from a trip to Japan with the
Dodgers for some exhibition games
when Vin decided to join pitcher
Ralph Branca and his wife, Ann, and
divert through Europe for an audience
with the pope. Ann’s father, James,
part owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers,
was a member of the Order of Malta
and arranged it.
Vin relayed how he tried to stay calm
as “my knees were trembling,” trying
to keep a promise to his mother to
remember every detail — including
describing the pope as “somewhat
gaunt, with black olive eyes, wearing
After the pope greeted the Branca
couple, he turned to Vin and asked,
“Are you with them?” Scully said,
The pope then walked over to the
“How would you like to tell that to
your mother?” Vin asked.
But Vin took that line to heart as
only he could do.
“As I’ve gotten older I realized that
those couple of words ‘Are you with
them?’ really sums up why I’m here,”
he said. “Oh yes. ‘Are you with them’
for the thousands of baseball games
that I saw, the hundreds and hundreds
of home runs to end exciting games,
the no-hitters — I was with them.
“The more I think about it now I
realize not all of us can be heroes,” he
continued. “Certainly for me, a hero
goes by and I’m standing on the curb
applauding, as I was with them.
“I remember: To whom much is given,
a great deal is required. And I pray
that I will be able to fill the definition
of what was required before I leave
this mortal coil.
“And one last thought, if you don’t
mind,” he told his audience. “Could
I have a picture of all the great priests
and nuns [from the organization]. I’d
like to have that so when I am finally
called upon Judgment Day, I will go
up and I will hold that picture and I
will say, ‘I’m with them.’ God bless
and good night.”
Tom Hoffarth is an award-winning
journalist based in Los Angeles.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 15
A lifeline from Lourdes
Members of the Ladies Auxiliary Division of the Knights of Peter
Claver process into St. Bernadette Church in Baldwin Hills
during the welcome Mass for the relics on Monday, Aug. 1.
The last stop of
a US tour of St.
brought a muchneeded
‘spark’ to her
namesake parish in
BY PABLO KAY /
After years of steadily declining
attendance and a pandemic
that kept even its most faithful
parishioners away for months, St.
Bernadette Church in Baldwin Hills
was in need of a jumpstart.
And it just got one, courtesy of some
rare relics of its patron saint.
For three days at the start of August,
relics belonging to St. Bernadette
Soubirous visited Los Angeles, the
final stop of a four-month U.S. tour
that passed through 28 dioceses. The
ornate golden reliquary containing a
fragment of the 19th-century French
saint’s ribs spent the most time at her
namesake parish in LA, which also
happens to be celebrating its 75th
anniversary this year.
“This happened not accidentally, but
just at the right time,” said Deacon
Jim Carper, parish life director at St.
Among those who made the pilgrimage
to St. Bernadette was Archbishop
José H. Gomez, who celebrated a
special evening Mass there on Aug.
1. More than 300 people turned out,
including members of the Order of
Malta, which helped organize the U.S
tour, as well as Catholics from around
the archdiocese. There were also veterans
of past pilgrimages to Lourdes
— where the Virgin Mary is said to
have appeared to St. Bernadette in a
rock cave in 1859 — who took the op-
16 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
portunity to reconnect with the saint.
For longtime parishioners, the relic
pilgrimage was a moving spiritual moment.
In the words of Deacon Carper,
the parish “has had a rough time over
the years, with a variety of different
Deacon Carper’s role comes with
most of the responsibilities of a pastor.
As a deacon, he can baptize children,
officiate weddings, and lead Communion
For confessions and
Mass, he counts on
the help of a network
of retired priests.
Just as the community
has changed, so
has St. Bernadette.
Over the last few
decades, many of
the older families of
Creole and African
who helped build
the parish have
retired, moved, or
passed away. Home
prices have soared,
making it harder for
young families to
move into the area.
struck, St. Bernadette
was forced for
months to resort to
Sunday Mass. The
church was only
able to reopen its
doors for indoor,
in the summer of
2021. The parish
maintains a thriving food kitchen for
the homeless, a prison ministry that
connects children with their incarcerated
parents, and hosts a program that
offers free vision care and glasses for
families in need.
But the process of filling the pews on
Sundays again has been slow.
“Our parish is an old parish,”
explained Barbara Evans, who has
belonged to St. Bernadette with her
husband, Amos, since 1976. “Most of
our parishioners are ‘mature,’ and so
a lot of them haven’t come back yet
from the pandemic.”
For the Evans’, the Mass with Archbishop
Gomez was an opportunity
to seek St. Bernadette’s intercession
for their health as well as to pray for
fellow parishioners who are seriously
ill or homebound.
Others traveled from further away to
venerate the relics.
Nelson and Teri Taylan came from
St. Finbar in Burbank. For them the
Mass brought back vivid memories of
their 2013 pilgrimage to Lourdes with
their daughter Trinity and son Noah,
who suffers from Duchenne muscular
dystrophy, a debilitating genetic
disease that has confined him to a
Visiting Lourdes, Nelson recalled,
“was like heaven on earth.”
“Our whole faith changed,” Teri
agreed. “Internally, we’re so much
better off today than we were before.”
The Taylans traveled to Baldwin
Hills with their children out of gratitude,
and to invoke St. Bernadette’s
intercession for the conversion of
hearts, including one seriously ill
relative who has stopped practicing
Every year, millions of pilgrims like
the Taylans visit the site in southwestern
France where the Virgin Mary
is said to have visited St. Bernadette.
The waters of Lourdes, drawn from
a spring discovered by St. Bernadette
near the grotto, are known for their
healing properties. St. Bernadette,
who became a
religious sister and
eventually died from
tuberculosis at 35,
the importance of
prayer and faith.
“The water will
have no virtue
without faith,” she
was known to say.
She was canonized
But for a few midsummer
sense of healing that
in Lourdes was in
the air at St. Bernadette.
who grew up going
to St. Bernadette,
the Mass with the
relics inspired a
“renewed sense of
hope” that parishioners
will soon be
returning to church,
especially her fellow
Parish life director
Deacon Jim Carper
presents an image
of St. Bernadette
blessed by Archbishop
the Aug. 1 Mass
to St. Bernadette
“I went to Catholic
school my whole
life and most people
my age don’t go to
church,” she told
Angelus. “None of
my friends go to
church. So I was
just really praying
[to St. Bernadette]
for people to turn
back to the Lord.”
Accompanying the relics was Bishop
Jean-Marc Micas, the newly ordained
head of the Diocese of Tarbes-
Lourdes. He flew from France for the
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 17
last leg of the U.S. tour, which also
included stops at the Cathedral of
Our Lady of the Angels and St. John
Baptiste de la Salle in Granada Hills.
He took part in a candlelight vigil
outside St. Bernadette on July 31, and
concelebrated the Mass with Archbishop
Gomez at St. Bernadette, and
presided another evening Mass at the
cathedral on Aug. 2, where hundreds
waited in line to pray with the relics
throughout the day.
For Bishop Micas, the message of
Lourdes is one of divine mercy. He
said that inspired the motto he adopted
for his ordination as a bishop just
more than two months ago: “God’s
mercy will extend from age to age.”
“Lourdes is a very, very important
place of grace, where any kind of
sinner can come and receive the sign
of God’s mercy,” Bishop Micas told
“Either people can come to Lourdes
to get this sign of God’s mercy, or it
can reach people wherever they are,
which is what this tour is about,” he
Bishop Micas said the relics’ American
journey was an overwhelming
success, having reached more than
200,000 people around the country.
Several U.S. dioceses, he said, have
already inquired about hosting the
relics the next time around.
But for Deacon Carper, numbers
don’t tell the whole story. St. Bernadette’s
trademark charism of “the little
way,” he believes, is a call to do things
“You hear this constantly from her:
‘I’m not a big deal, I just do what God
puts in front of me,’ ” said Deacon
Carper. “That’s so important for us as
parishioners, is that what we accomplish,
we accomplish by following the
Archbishop Gomez struck a similar
theme in his homily at St. Bernadette,
noting the saint’s humility.
“She spoke from her heart in simple
language, just telling people what she
saw, and what she heard,” said Archbishop
Gomez. “She talked of the
power of God’s love in her life.”
witness, he told
is “a beautiful
reminder of the
mission that we
all have, in our
families, in the
we work, in our
in a candlelight
procession and vigil to
welcome the relic of
St. Bernadette on July
31. At left are Deacon
Carper and Bishop
At their church, parishioners hope
their patroness’ visit has opened a new
chapter. Several noted the influx of
new residents in the area, together
with the appearance of new faces at
Hundreds of Catholics
from around Southern
parish] is much
California venerated the
relics of St. Bernadette
than it was
at the Cathedral of Our
before, and that’s
Lady of the Angels on
a good thing,”
Aug. 2. The relics also
visited St. John Baptiste
de la Salle in Granada
Hills during the threeday
stay in LA.
Amos, hopes that
the relics have
brought a “spark”
to the parish.
“We’ll start anew,” said Amos. “So
we’re looking forward to a rebirth of
the church, if you will.”
Pablo Kay is the editor-in-chief
18 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
A good friend
Farewell to Richard Grant, an
unassuming ‘driving force’ behind
Catholic education — and so
much more — in LA
BY PABLO KAY
Richard Grant, longtime Daniel Murphy Foundation
president and renowned figure in Catholic philanthropy
in LA and nationally, died Aug. 10 after a long
illness. He was 82.
Known for his unassuming character and kindness, Grant
served the Daniel Murphy Foundation in several key leadership
capacities for 50 years until his retirement in 2020.
Under his direction as president, the foundation increasingly
turned its attention toward supporting Catholic education in
Los Angeles, with a special focus on inner-city schools.
“Through his work in leading the Dan Murphy Foundation
and other philanthropic organizations, he devoted his life to
ameliorate the suffering of the poor, sick, and vulnerable in
the most humble of manners,” said David Fuhrman, who
succeeded Grant as president of the foundation in 2020.
Following his retirement, Archbishop José H. Gomez told
Angelus that “for decades now, Richard has been the driving
force behind so much of what is good and hopeful and beautiful
in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
On Aug. 2, just a week before his death, Archbishop
Gomez joined local members of the Order of Malta in a
prayer service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
organized to pay tribute to Richard and his wife, Maria.
The service included veneration of the relics of St. Bernadette,
recognizing Richard’s deep devotion to Our Lady of
Lourdes, who appeared to the saint in 1858.
In a video message delivered at the service, the archbishop
Friends of Richard Grant, including members of the Order of Malta, held a special
prayer service with St. Bernadette’s relics at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on
Aug. 2, one week before Grant’s death. The service was livestreamed so that Richard
and Maria could participate. | SCOTT VICK
Richard Grant during an interview at his home in late 2021. | VICTOR ALEMÁN
expressed his gratitude for the couple’s “kindness and love
for all these years.”
“I am grateful every day, more than you can know, for your
wisdom and guidance. And most of all, for your friendship,”
Although the Grants were unable to attend the service, it
was livestreamed so they could participate from home. Maria
said the relic’s visit and the prayer service were touching
to Richard, who had made 15 pilgrimages to the shrine of
Our Lady of Lourdes in France during his lifetime.
The Daniel Murphy Foundation was founded in 1957 by
Daniel and Bernadine Donohue. Grant’s father was the
foundation’s first treasurer, and when Bernardine died in
1968, Grant came on as a board member. He eventually
succeeded his father as treasurer before becoming executive
director and, in 2008, president.
Fuhrman noted Grant was the last of the foundation’s employees
and trustees with direct family ties to Daniel Murphy
In his final interview with Angelus, Grant described his
father as “my best teacher.”
“He looked at things, saw what there was to do and then
would say, ‘Let’s do it.’ He was a wonderful example to pitch
in and do things. That was always part of my life growing
Furhman told Angelus that Grant will be remembered,
among other things, for shaping the foundation’s mission
and building “a sustainable enterprise devoted to a vibrant
Catholic community in the Archdiocese of LA.”
“People who observe Richard and who have experienced
his powerful combination of grace and modesty often proclaim
that he is a ‘modern day saint,’ ” he said.
Pablo Kay is the editor-in-chief of Angelus.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 19
IMAGES VIA CNS,
Settling some Twitter trouble
A Vatican academy’s strange foray into a debate about Church
teaching on contraception is a new act in an old story.
BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
ROME — Never let it be said
that Father Charles Curran, the
now 88-year-old doyen of liberal
American Catholic theologians, was
ever late to a party.
In April 1967, more than a year
before St. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical
“Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”)
would be published reaffirming the
Church’s traditional ban on birth
control, Father Curran was fired by
the Catholic University of America,
among other things for his liberal
views on contraception. Faculty and
students went on strike in protest, and
Father Curran quickly was reinstated.
He would go on to be fired again in
1986, under St. Pope John Paul II,
and that time it stuck. Father Curran
relocated to Southern Methodist University,
where he retired from full-time
teaching in 2014.
In many ways, the uprising at
Catholic University was a harbinger
of things to come when “Humanae
Vitae” finally came out. Not only
were individual theologians such as
20 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
Father Curran critical, but, perhaps
for the first time in Church history,
whole bishops’ conferences openly
questioned the authoritativeness of a
papal teaching. In Austria, Germany,
Switzerland, Holland, and Canada,
bishops’ conferences publicly suggested
that Catholics in good conscience
could draw different conclusions.
That history comes to mind this
week in light of a dust-up involving
the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for
Life, once the unquestioned stronghold
of the Church’s most robust
pro-life and anti-contraception forces
during the Pope John Paul and Pope
Benedict XVI years, but now under
new management in the Pope Francis
Last month, the academy published
a collection of papers from a conference
it held last year in which some
theologians argued that there’s a
difference between universal moral
norms, such as the birth control ban,
and the pastoral application of those
norms in concrete personal circumstances.
The volume brought a fusillade of
criticism from conservative-oriented
news platforms and on social media,
from people objecting that a Vatican
department would publish material
that appears to call into question
official Church teaching.
Whether ill-advised or not, the
academy has chosen to enter the
fray, actively dispatching tweets and
other social media posts in response.
On Aug. 6, one such tweet cited a
1968 press conference to present
“Humanae Vitae” in which a moral
theologian in Rome said it wasn’t an
exercise of papal infallibility, with the
suggestion being that it’s therefore
subject to change.
Naturally, that tweet inspired a
new and even more acerbic cycle of
outrage. Before we all get too carried
away, however, there are at least three
points worth recalling.
First of all, a pontifical academy has
no authority to proclaim definitive
Church teaching, let alone a mere
tweet from that academy. Neither, for
that matter, does a moral theologian
who was randomly tapped to speak
at a press conference 54 years ago,
nor do the operators of conservative
media sites or individuals on Twitter,
who often seem to compete with one
another to see who comes off as more
“Catholic” than the rest.
In the Catholic system, defining
official Church teaching pertains to
the pope and the bishops in communion
with him, and no one else. To
get overly upset about anybody else’s
views, therefore, is often a bit disproportionate.
Second, the Father Curran background
is a reminder that ever since
“Humanae Vitae” appeared, there’s
been an active controversy over exactly
what level of authority it enjoys.
In general, conservatives — such as
theologians Father John Ford, SJ, and
Germain Grisez, in their celebrated
“Theological Studies” essay in 1978
— argue that “Humanae Vitae” is de
facto infallible. They point out that
just because it hasn’t been formally
declared as such doesn’t mean it isn’t.
Historically, such formal declarations
have been reserved to matters of faith,
not morals, and anyway, no pope ever
declared prohibitions against lying,
cheating, and stealing infallible either,
but that doesn’t mean it’s anything
Liberals — such as Father Francis
Sullivan, SJ, in his equally celebrated
1983 response to Father Ford and
Grisez — insist that “Humanae Vitae”
does not meet the test for infallibility,
in part because no specific
moral norm can be taught infallibly.
Moreover, liberals often say, if either
Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict had
thought the birth control ban was
infallible, they could have said so, but
neither ever did.
In other words, this week’s fracas
with the Pontifical Academy for Life is
simply another twist in a long-running
story, and probably not among the
most important ones at that.
Third, for popes and bishops to
effectively discharge what tradition
calls the “munus docendi,” meaning
“the duty to teach,” they need to
be informed by a robust and open
theological debate, and that can’t be
If anyone’s scandalized that it’s been
54 years since “Humanae Vitae” and
we’re still fussing over it, it’s worth
recalling that the earliest references
to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
date to the second century,
yet it wasn’t formally proclaimed until
1854, and that came only after Pope
Pius IX had written to all the bishops
of the world five years before to ask
If 16 centuries can pass before settling
such a core matter in a way that’s
beyond all question, maybe a bit of
patience is in order now.
As a final thought, while a robust
theological debate certainly is a
service to the Church’s magisterium,
one might profitably ask whether
Twitter, or social media in general, is
the right venue for it. Granted, it may
be unrealistic to expect outfits and
individuals whose income depends
on keeping people angry to exercise
much restraint, especially in the use of
technologies whose very purpose often
seems to be to provoke mass hysteria.
Perhaps, however, more could be
expected from the adults in the room,
including the pontifical academies of
John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 21
More than feelings
A new pop psychology book focuses on the emotional toll of
the secrets we keep. But what about the spiritual toll?
BY MSGR. RICHARD ANTALL
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY MIKE CRUPI VIA CNS
review in the Wall Street Journal
earlier this summer led me to a
pop psychology book titled “The
Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner
Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships,
and Who We Are” (Crown, $28)
by Michael Slepian.
As someone whose profession involves
dealing with people’s secrets, I had expected
a more philosophical approach
than what the author provided.
Slepian comes at the topic with both
personal and professional interest. He
teaches at the prestigious Columbia
Business School in New York, but
perhaps more critically, he learned as
an adult that he was the product of an
artificial insemination by an anonymous
Despite the topic’s potential for
tackling such an important topic, this
book is quintessentially feel-good pop
psychology — Slepian is only worried
about how concealing secrets produces
negative emotions. Not once did he
mention the word “conscience.”
One of his asides — that secrets can
cause “shame, isolation, and uncertainty”
— touched on something I am
particularly interested in as a priest.
“When we keep a wrongdoing secret,”
he mused at one point, “we escape
our justly deserved punishment, and
22 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
therefore miss out on an opportunity to
restore our sense of moral worth. Outside
of something like a Catholic confessional,
how could you hold yourself
accountable for a secret wrongdoing?”
His conclusion is that these very real
bad consequences of secrets are about
the feelings of the secret keeper more
than questions of right and wrong. His
emphasis on shame seems to cloud the
distinction between shame and guilt.
Confession of guilt is about ownership:
I did this wrong, so I go to God about
Shame is about the opinions of others,
and distracts a person from remembering
his or her worth given by our
Creator. I never tire of telling people,
“God made you for better things.” That
idea is the source of self-respect, which
is more important than self-esteem.
Despite his reference to the confessional,
the book’s treatment of secrets is
godless. The author gives an example
of a young unwed mother who
inadvertently suffocated her baby with
a pillow while trying to stop his crying.
Fifty-two years later, she confessed
to her responsibility and said she felt
“guilty” all her life, but there is no
mention of God in the story. She just
wanted to “correct the record” — not
ask forgiveness, just accept punishment.
Our psychologist, like many guilty
parties, is more interested in breaking
down people’s experience of isolation
than helping them to live more upright
lives. He does not want to be rigid
Reading a psychological study of
secrets made me recall a masterful
story by Alice Munroe, the Canadian
Nobel Laureate in Literature. At the
beginning of the narrative, an old
friend asks a woman to get her a priest.
The friend is in the hospital and the
woman, although she is not herself
Catholic, calls various parishes to find
a priest in haste. Then we are shown
why the friend is desperate for a priest
to attend her.
We are taken back to the time when
the two women are teenagers. At a
summer camp, they are bothered by
a girl with disabilities who seems to
hang on them and whom they mock
This girl comes up to them where
they are swimming, and what begins
as a prank ends in a drowning. No one
ever found out that the two friends
were responsible. Now the woman was
dying, and her friend figures out why
she wants to see the priest. The secret
had to be confessed.
I won’t reveal any more spoilers, but
the story has significance at a time
“A sacramental confession is not a search for a
confidante, but a way out of a spiritual cul de sac.”
when many people have forgotten
about the sacrament of penance. Our
belief in the forgiveness of sins is connected
with the crucial confession of
them. Since I work with many people
fighting addictions, I still hear a good
many people confess their sins and
failures — more in my office than in
Many people in Alcoholics Anonymous
repeat the proverb, “You are as
sick as your secrets.” I think Slepian
could learn something from hearing
someone’s “Fifth Step,” when an
alcoholic tells God and another person
about the failures and resentments
of a lifetime. It is not just the therapy
of “getting things off your chest.” It is
about a change of direction in life and
a handing over of one’s will to God.
“The Secret Life of Secrets” says
confessing your secrets is good for your
emotional life. But more importantly,
I would say, it is necessary for your
spiritual life. As Catholics, we believe
that confession is primarily good for
I say to my penitents/counselees, “The
devil doesn’t like daylight.” When you
put your weakness, your temptations,
and your sins in the daylight, the
demons skip away like cockroaches in
a spotlight. Being completely honest
about our sins and secrets is absolutely
A good book would describe how
confession of sins not only avoids the
problem of whom to confide in but
also is the source of healing. A sacramental
confession is not a search for a
confidante, but a way out of a spiritual
cul de sac.
Confession is not the same as therapy,
although sometimes it’s compared to
it. Woody Allen has a character say in
a movie something about being in therapy
for 12 years without results and,
“I’m giving it another year and then
I’m going to Lourdes.” Self-knowledge
is important but cannot be a substitute
for a remedy — the action of God’s
The confessional is not about the secret
life of secrets but about life — true
spiritual life — after secrets.
Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of Holy
Name Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and
the author of several books. His latest
novel is “The X-mas Files” (Atmosphere
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 23
Restoring a saint
The makers of ‘Slaves & Kings’ see their new biopic on the
founder of the Claretians as an alternative kind of hero movie.
BY EVAN HOLGUIN
Like many hagiographies, “Slaves
& Kings” is a story told through a
series of foils.
The film, which is set for a two-day
U.S. theatrical release on Aug. 22 and
23, tells the life of St. Anthony Mary
Claret, who founded the Missionary
Sons of the Immaculate Heart (better
known as the Claretians) and was the
confessor to Queen Isabella II of Spain.
At times, it’s a life that can almost
As a young man, he is shown having
pious devotions to the Virgin Mary, a
stark contrast from his business partner’s
gambling vice. As a young priest,
he is seen rejecting Mass stipends
while one of his fledgling followers
rejects the Claretians, upset at such an
act of poverty. As he moves up in the
Church hierarchy, he rejects his fellow
bishops’ attempts to steer his office for
political or material gain.
Then, as the title suggests, there is the
contrast between living among slaves
or members of the royalty. St. Claret’s
life, we see, suggests the former is
preferable to the later.
But St. Claret’s story is much more
complicated than these simple series of
contrasts, and “Slaves & Kings” seeks
a deeper look into the life of a saint
whose legacy was, in the words of the
filmmakers, “adulterated” after his
death. The result is a serious reflection
on how we should view Christian
“During the production process, we
were thinking about the superhero
movie,” said director Pablo Moreno,
originally from Salamanca, Spain,
near where much of the film was shot.
“Why do people consume so many superhero
movies? Because people need
‘references,’ they need figures of hope,
people who fight for justice.”
A significant portion of the film is set
in Cuba, where St. Claret served as a
missionary archbishop — and where
he is at his most heroic. The film depicts
his stand for truth and justice, and
against the American way of slavery
that permeated the island against the
laws of Spain.
But “Slaves & Kings” is far from the
latest installment of a cinematic universe.
Whereas we expect superheroes
to reach the credits in total victory, St.
Claret seems to leave Cuba a failure,
run out by the slavers and a status quo
that rejects the gospel of freedom and
But throughout the film, a practical
optimism is demonstrated by the
numerous conversions effected at the
hands of St. Claret. Optimistic because
it demonstrates the efficacy of Christ’s
message and mercy, and practical
because it depicts the worldly reality
that not all who hear the Gospel will
take it to heart.
St. Claret did not convert the island of
Cuba. And only 60 years following his
death, his native country was thrown
into a civil war marked by the kind of
anti-clericalism that St. Claret suffered
Instead, we see St. Claret as he wel-
24 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
comes a Black slave into the Church;
as he leads a wealthy woman to recognize
the human dignity; and even as
he guides Queen Isabella through sin,
scandal, and excommunication. He
grows congregations and forms priests.
And though not all are brought to
communion by St. Claret’s actions, all
are given the opportunity to repent.
These were not trivial successes.
No, St. Claret did not cause systemic
change or a social revolution. Rather,
these are the successes of a missionary
who doesn’t consider himself a messiah,
but rather a voice in the wilderness
may have never been known. When
the archbishop followed Queen Isabella
into exile, he left a vacuum in Spain
for his enemies to spread disinformation.
His biographies were altered to
include stories of infidelity to priestly
celibacy, and his prolific writings were
edited to be filled with errors and political
For decades, this disinformation campaign
succeeded through repetition
in the streets and by intellectual elites
— including Azorín himself, who only
began to right the record after coming
across original copies of St. Claret’s life
founder Lucia González-Barandiarán,
has resulted in approximately 1,000
theaters around the country to screen
“Slaves & Kings” this month. It will
screen in English on Monday, Aug. 22,
and in Spanish on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
González-Barandiarán says both
films aim to accomplish what she calls
the “Three Es”: elevate, educate, and
“After a while, you may not remember
everything that was said in the movie,”
she said. “But you remember the sensation
it caused in you. That’s what keeps
the movie alive in you. That’s the kind
of cinema we want to bring.”
“Slaves & Kings” is a hero movie for
Christians, one that reminds us to find
joy in every soul even when the powers
of this world seem to conspire against
us. St. Claret saw his role as that of a
missionary, not a politician, and while
his ministry involved providing for the
material needs of the poor, the persecuted,
and the enslaved, his primary
role is the salvation of souls.
Interestingly, much of the film is
based on the work of Azorín, the pseudonym
of a 20th-century novelist and
Without Azorín, St. Claret’s true story
“We found his narrative, and found
it very interesting,” Moreno said. “He
discovered a lot of things.”
Now, the Spanish production company
behind “Slaves & Kings,” Bosco
Films, hopes it will be part of a cultural
revival of a Catholic film industry. In
April, Bosco organized a one-day release
of “Alive,” a documentary about
the Eucharist that screened in some
750 theaters around the U.S. on April
25. It was the seventh-most watched in
the U.S. that day, no small feat for an
upstart team of Catholic filmmakers.
That success, according to Bosco
“We want to keep telling these kinds
of stories, and we ask for help,” she
added. “So we need small drops, small
ambassadors to go see this movie.”
For screening times and more information
about “Slaves & Kings,” visit
Evan Holguin is a writer originally
from Santa Clarita now living in Connecticut.
Editor-in-Chief Pablo Kay also contributed
to this article.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 25
A hero who didn’t let us down
Left to right: J.P. Kaser, Kevin Brennan, Vin Scully, Amy Brennan, Bishop Joseph V. Brennan, at a Dodgers game in 2016.
| COURTESY OF ROBERT BRENNAN
We are never to meet our
heroes, for to do so opens a
window to disappointment.
With so many public figures having
different faces when cameras and
microphones are turned off, it is a rare
thing indeed when someone of note
and distinction is who he appeared to
That was Vin Scully.
When the Dodgers came to LA in
the 1950s, Irish Catholic bubbles still
dotted the American landscape from
sea to shining sea. They were reminders
of the recent past when the words
“Irish” and “Catholic” were mostly
pejoratives. Like most immigrants, the
Irish at first stuck together. It was bad
because it gave the Irish an inflated
sense of themselves. It was good
because it tied us to the democracy
of the dead and a faith that went back
before the Emerald Isle was a gleam in
a Druid’s eye.
The Dodgers’ move west created
some instant Irish Catholic role
models. The team was owned by the
O’Malley family and their young
announcer was a redheaded Irish guy
from New York. That was all our dad
needed to know. We were all going to
be Dodgers fans.
Our dad clung to famous Irish and
Catholic celebrities and sports figures
as symbols of hope with a dash of
triumphalism. But so many times those
very public figures disappointed him,
when their public personas would be
punctured one way or another, and he
would learn that their faith, integrity,
or commitment to their families were
not as advertised.
Our dad never had that kind of
moment with Vin, who remained in
his Catholic Hall of Fame for baseball
heroes, alongside Gil Hodges and
Stan Musial. They were all men who
never missed Mass, took care of their
families, and, if they did not wear their
faith on their sleeve, they certainly had
it tattooed on their hearts.
Hodges and Musial were before my
time, but Vin was the bridge for me
and my dad that went beyond baseball,
veering into a bond about what
it means to be a good Catholic man.
Vin represented all the best Catholic
virtues, according to my dad: He had
integrity, empathy, and a wit, quick as
it was, that never cut like a knife, but
blanketed its objects with joy.
Though I never met Vin in person,
I am Vin-adjacent enough to have
been close to some of those virtues.
About eight years ago, I was planning a
media event for a major nonprofit that
required me to find someone of high
standards to honor. Lots of names were
bandied about when it dawned on me
that Vin was the perfect honoree. I
mentioned it to no one because I did
not know Vin, knew of no reasonable
way to contact him, and I did not want
to overpromise and underdeliver.
I found two possible addresses and
wrote letters to each of them, inviting
Mr. Scully to our event. I realized it
was a total long shot with little hope of
I know exactly where I was when my
cellphone rang several weeks later. It
was another holiday planning meeting.
I did not recognize the number, and
my usual modus operandi for unknown
numbers was to let it go to voicemail.
For a reason I cannot explain, I answered.
On the other line was the most
recognizable voice of my childhood
asking if this was “Mr. Brennan.”
I immediately regressed to that
26 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
Robert Brennan writes from Los Angeles, where
he has worked in the entertainment industry,
Catholic journalism, and the nonprofit sector.
10-year-old boy, lying awake on a war
surplus bunk bed on a hot summer
night, listening on a small transistor
radio to Vin Scully.
He had indeed gotten my invitation
and was calling to personally decline.
He took great pains letting me down
easy, telling me he always supported
the organization I was representing
but was not comfortable being singled
out as anything special. It was pure
Vin Scully, and the best “bad news”
phone call I will ever receive. I sent an
unsolicited letter to him asking him to
do my organization a big favor. At best
I expected a form letter from his secretary.
He gave me his time, his concern,
and ended the conversation with a
“God bless” I knew he meant.
Six years ago was Vin’s last season
as the Dodgers’ announcer. My then
auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles brother
had been invited to throw out the first
pitch at a Dodgers game. I suggested
on a whim that he should go up to the
press box along with my young adult
son and daughter and see if they could
say hello to Vin.
They got into the press box (being a
bishop is good for some things). Vin
was gracious, welcoming, and called
them each by name after introductions.
This was the year everyone and
their brother (bishop or not) was trying
to get in a last farewell. He treated
these interlopers like they were long
lost friends and the smiles on their
faces took days to dissipate.
Vin posed for tens of thousands of
photographs like the one he took with
my family. You could probably get tens
of thousands of responses from other
strangers who would still be marveling
at feeling the grace he emanated.
Years ago, I was listening to a Dodgers’
game when Vin informed us of a
player who was on the injured reserve
list. I have long forgotten who the
player was, but I have never forgotten
how Vin relayed the information.
The player’s injury status was listed as
“day to day,” which Vin tagged with a
perfectly timed quip, “But then, aren’t
To a man who seemed to live every
day of his life like that, I can only say
“Requiescat in pace.”
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 27
NOW PLAYING THIRTEEN LIVES
SENT BY A SAVIOR
Amazon’s new true-story thriller evokes
memories of a more divine rescue mission.
A scene from Amazon’s
“Thirteen Lives.” | IMDB
BY STEFANO REBEGGIANI
The story, if any of us remember
it, goes like this: On June 23,
2018, 13 boys in Northern
Thailand bicycled to a nearby cave
system before a sudden monsoon-induced
flood blocked their way out.
The 12 soccer players, ages 11 to 16,
and their coach were trapped on a
ledge several miles deep inside the
labyrinth of flooded tunnels.
It took 10 days just to locate the
boys, and several more to rescue them
through a concerted effort involving
more than 10,000 volunteers from all
over the world.
Of course, such an uplifting story
was always destined for Hollywood.
This month, “Thirteen Lives” was
released on Amazon Prime Video.
Directed by Ron Howard, the result is
a film that succeeds largely because of
what it doesn’t do.
For example: Disaster movies based
on real events often overplay their
hand when it comes to conveying
pathos. Instead, Howard opts for a
narrative that is fast, sober, almost
documentary-like: “I wanted to be as
journalistic about the story as I possibly
could be,” said Howard ahead of
the film’s Aug. 5 release.
“Thirteen Lives” doesn’t spend time
giving background on the kids or their
families. There is minimal information
about the rescuers, and the
film’s characters don’t develop much.
Drama is kept to a minimum: There
is no dwelling on the anguish of the
trapped kids or their parents. There
are no long emotional speeches, no
sentimental side plots. The story’s
emotional climax, the reunion of the
28 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
children with their parents, is dealt
with in 15 seconds.
This makes for extremely effective
storytelling. A lesser artist would have
played up and lingered on the story’s
emotional turning points. In “Thirteen
Lives,” things just happen and
they happen more quickly than one
The film’s creators made another
important creative decision: to not
idealize the story’s heroes.
“There is a certain ‘non-heroic-ness’
to the rescuers,” said actor Paul Gleeson,
who plays rescuer Jason Mallinson.
“If you met Harry or John or
Rick on the street, you likely wouldn’t
say, ‘Oh, those guys saved children
from an underwater cave.’ ”
Viggo Mortensen plays Rick Stanton,
the gruff, no-nonsense British cave
diver who first finds the kids and later
comes up with the bold plan that
saves them. Rick is not a hero by vocation:
he is a man, with a specific set of
skills, who responds to a call.
They are creative decisions that
make the story beautiful, and even
greater than its subject matter. A story
is “true” not because it is a faithful
account of something that really
happened, but because its artistic
coherence turns it into a distillate of
That belief was shared by the great
Catholic writer J.R.R. Tolkien, who
wrote to his friend W.H. Auden in
1955 that “if one makes a good choice
in what is ‘good narrative’ … at a
given point, it will also be found to be
the case that the event described will
be the most ‘significant.’ ”
Paradoxically, Tolkien also believed
the more factual and accurate a welltold
story is, the more it lends itself to
becoming a symbol, or an allegory.
What is the allegory of “Thirteen
Lives”? For me, it is that of the only,
ever recurring true story: the story of
God’s intervention in history through
his Son and through his Church.
Many of us will have felt like the kids
portrayed in “Thirteen Lives” at least
once in our lives. Like Dante at the
beginning of “The Divine Comedy,”
we have also wandered into a dark
place. We found ourselves trapped on
a narrow ledge, suffocating and unable
to get back to light, joy, meaning.
The oxygen level drops a little every
day, and the water level rises.
Yet when all hope seems lost, a
rescuer arrives. A savior descends into
the cave to save us, motivated only
by love. As the governor says of the
volunteers who collaborated in the
rescue in the film, “You asked nothing
in return. You did all this for one
reason, for love of the boys.”
It’s the kind of rescue operation one
can experience in the Church, which,
like the rescuers in the movie, is composed
of men and women who look
nothing like heroes. The reluctant
savior, the grumpy, ordinary messenger
whom an invisible hand put in
charge of descending into the depth to
save us: is not this a perfect image of
“Thirteen Lives” reminded me of
the time I found myself at the bottom
of such an existential cave. It was the
winter of 2005, and I still perfectly
remember the face of the unassuming
hero who came to look for me, the
man who emerged out of the water,
the one whom God tasked with the
salvific mission of Christ. He was a
real human being, and he dragged me
along a narrow tunnel, a path marked
by a red line, a way that led me back
to life and to love.
This is how I experienced the
Church; it is this experience that
made me a Christian. I lived it again
as I watched “Thirteen Lives.”
Stefano Rebeggiani is an associate
professor of classics at the University
of Southern California.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 29
Fight the (screen) power
Alex Lee Moyer’s 2020 documentary
“TFW No GF” — shorthand
for “That feel when no
girlfriend” — profiles several disaffected
young men desperately searching
to connect on the dark corners of the
Though the film has its share of crude
language, and a couple of violent
images, its real subject is the souls of
a generation of males who have been
nursed, weaned, and raised in cyberspace.
What happens to young men when
there are no role models, no authority
figures, and no meaningful,
flesh-and-blood human contact? And
when at their fingertips they have a
reality that rewards the outrageous, the
violent, the unhinged?
Two years after its release, the subject
is as relevant as ever.
4Chan, an internet subculture where,
as one user puts it, “there are basically
no rules,” is one favorite hangout.
As Sean, an angelic-looking youth
from Thornton, Colorado, observes:
“Twelve-year-olds probably shouldn’t
be exposed to a steady onslaught of
porn and gore.”
“The internet is like a river;” he adds.
“It just does what it wants with you.”
Kyle, from El Paso, Texas, has had
three friends commit suicide in the
last couple of years. “I really have …
nobody any more,” he realizes.
A pasty-skinned fellow named
Egg White sucks on a cigarette and
explains, “You’re trying to be someone
and you’ve already lost, you’ve already
These are young men with no point,
no purpose, no outlet for their testosterone,
their procreative urge, their desire
to prove themselves, belong, and do
good in the world.
Viddy from Kent, Washington, sports
a ski cap, a badge on his jacket reading
“Don’t Talk to Me” and a license plate
bracketed by the slogans “I Want to
Die” and “I Hate Myself.”
He and his buddy Charels more or
less raised each other (“our parents are
30 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
Heather King is an award-winning
author, speaker, and workshop leader.
alcoholics,” Viddy explains) and own
several guns, including assault weapons.
When Charels posted a selfie with
two AK-47s and expressed a crude
desire to do violence to women (he
was only kidding, he maintained), the
cops came and confiscated the pair’s
weapons for a year.
Twitter and 4Chan trollers think,
“Okay, what do people hate most?”
Viddy offers. “And then they just become
that, because it gets the reaction
every time. Then some of them forget
that they’re playing the character. Next
thing you know, they end up at a place
“Obviously there are people that are
so disenfranchised, so alienated, so
demonized in whatever way, that they
feel like their only choice is to lash out
in whatever way they can.”
“I’m not excusing that or anything,”
he continues, “but, what [gun massacres]
happens for no reason? Do
people, like, really think that?”
Alex Lee Moyer (left) during the making of “TFW No GF.” | IMDB
For all their solipsism, these young
men are not self-pitying so much as
they’re bewildered: by the state of the
world, the culture, and the fact that as
young males they’re unseen, unwanted,
unremarked upon. As Sean points
out, “People get angry if you say you
have your own trials and tribulations as
Interestingly, their (supposedly ironic)
response is a kind of reverse machismo:
like St. Paul, they boast of their weakness.
None of them refer to themselves
as “incels” (a portmanteau of “involuntary
celibate”), a group comprising
another dark, rage-fueled corner of the
But that they’re so willing to mention
their inability to attract and keep
a woman, to draw attention to their
station in life, and even to define themselves
by it shows the depths of their
longing and emptiness.
Viddy: “I don’t want to blame my parents
but it’s really hard for a kid to have
interests and not, like, have anybody
be a caretaker sort of figure that will
express interest in what you’re into. It’s
the elephant in the room, right? The
failings of the broader educational system
and just general authority figures
in people’s lives, specifically children’s
We human beings need someone
to see us, just as Jesus “saw” Philip
under the fig tree. That used to be the
province of a unit called the family.
Moyer — who’s female — has seen
these young men, and for that alone,
she deserves kudos.
Last month she launched another
film, “Alex’s War,” a profile of Infowars
fabulist Alex Jones. As with “TFW No
GF,” she presents the subject with no
commentary, inviting viewers to judge
Predictably, she’s been skewered by
the woke left. And though to my mind
Jones is way less compelling a subject
than the 4Chan guys, the mere attempt
to portray figures who are so neatly
stereotyped and deeply reviled by the
mainstream media deserves kudos as
For all its darkness, the film ends on
a note of hope. People are away from
their screens. Kyle’s walking along
a reservoir. Charels and Viddy are
hanging out beneath a bridge. Sean is
employed, has taken up powerlifting,
and sits gazing out at the ocean.
“It’s a full-time job to fight the effects
of modernity,” he observes.
Amen. You want to say to these guys:
Take everything you have learned
about supporting your brothers, about
sharing your pain, your irony, your
jokes, your loneliness and alienation,
and pent-up energy, and bring that out
to the world.
Because the world needs you — now
more than ever.
Or as someone else put it, “Lift up
your heads; your redemption is at
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 31
LETTER AND SPIRIT
Scott Hahn is founder of the
St. Paul Center for Biblical
Second in a series on the Book of Psalms.
What is the “Psalter”? What is a psalm? These
words appear odd to readers of English, and
they would appear just as strange to the ancient
Hebrews who wrote the psalms. Both “psalm” and “Psalter”
are English renderings of the words applied to the poems
in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Psalterion is
Greek for a stringed instrument, a sort of harp; a psalmos is
a song sung to the accompaniment of strings.
The Israelites, however, called these lyrics “Tehillim,” or
praises. The earliest Hebrew witnesses to the Psalter call it
“Sefer Tehillim,” the “Book of Praises.”
It’s clear from the texts themselves that the psalms were
meant to be sung or chanted in a formal, cultic setting.
Some include instructions “For the choirmaster”; and
some specify the musical instruments to be used in accompaniment.
Many of the psalms were integral to the liturgical
worship of the Jerusalem Temple. Indeed, the “Psalter”
has often been called the “Hymnal of the Second Temple,”
for it was during the period of the Second Temple that the
book probably reached its final form.
The First Temple, built by Solomon, the son of David, in
the 10th century B.C., had been destroyed by the Babylonian
invaders in 587 B.C. (see 2 Kings: 24–25). In 539
B.C., however, a decree of King Cyrus of Persia permitted
the people of Judea to return to the land and rebuild the
Temple. This structure, much diminished from Solomon’s
original, was called the Second Temple; it would be renovated
and expanded on a grand scale during the reign of
the Herods (first century B.C. and first century A.D.). Thus
the period of the Second Temple stretched from 515 B.C.
until the utter destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in
The Temple was the natural habitat of most of the psalms.
The rabbis record in the “Mishnah”
“Psalm 24, Initial A,” author
unknown, 12th century.
| WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
that each day the Levites sang
certain appointed psalms: Psalm 24
on Sunday; 48 on Monday; 82 on
Tuesday; 94 on Wednesday; 81 on
Thursday; 93 on Friday; and 92 on
Saturday, the Sabbath. Other psalms
accompanied the liturgies and sacrifices that renewed the
covenant God had made with Israel, with Moses, and with
the house of David. Some scholars hold that as many as
half of the psalms were integral to the Temple liturgies.
Others were associated with the liturgies of the synagogue,
where they were probably read rather than sung. Still others
found their place in the liturgies of the home, such as
the Passover Seder meal, which culminated in the recitation
of the Hallel Psalms (112-117 and 135).
So we see that the “Psalter” was integral to Israel’s religion,
as religion was integral to Israel’s life. The psalms
suffused the experience of God’s Chosen People from day
to day. They defined the significant events of a lifetime,
and they gave significance to otherwise minor events in
the most ordinary days. Lines remained in memory, arose
spontaneously as prayer, and sanctified time.
32 • ANGELUS • August 26, 2022
■ SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
Trevor Thomson Benefit Concert. Holy Name of Mary
Church, 724 E. Bonita Ave., San Dimas. Suggested donation:
$20. Proceeds will benefit the Sacred Hearts Secular
Branch, Inc. For more information, email sacredheartssb@
ymail.com, call Stephany at 909-260-2033 or Terri at 909-
St. Barnabas Parish Rummage Sale. 3955 Orange Ave.,
Long Beach, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Hosted by Knights of Columbus
#3449. Books, clothing, appliances, etc., no large items.
Drop off items at the rear parking lot basketball courts.
For more information, call James Teahan at 562-221-3296
or visit stbarnabaslb.org.
■ SUNDAY, AUGUST 21
International Thomas Merton Society Chapter Meeting.
Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 2-4 p.m.
Hosted by Sister Chris Machado, SSS. For more information,
visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-784-4515.
■ MONDAY, AUGUST 22
Opus Angelorum/Mission on the Angel. Sacred Heart
Chapel, 381 W. Center St., Covina, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Event
runs Aug. 22-24, and includes rosary, conferences, confessions,
and Mass. On Wednesday, participants will have the
opportunity to apply for consecration to one’s guardian
angel next year. For more information, contact Trish at
■ THURSDAY, AUGUST 25
Virtual Centering Prayer. Zoom, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. with
Sister Linda Snow, CSJ, Marilyn Nobori and the Contemplative
Outreach Team, or 7-8 p.m. with Pippa Currey,
CSD. Meets every Thursday. For more information, visit
hsrcenter.com or call 818-815-4480.
■ FRIDAY, AUGUST 26
The Art and Soul of Journaling. Holy Spirit Retreat Center,
4316 Lanai Road, Encino. Weekend retreat with Ella Weiss,
MFT, runs Friday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. through Sunday,
Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com
or call 818-784-4515.
Prayer, Protest, and Power. Holy Spirit Retreat Center,
4316 Lanai Road, Encino. Weekend retreat on “The Spirituality
of St. Julie Billiart” with Father Stephen Coffey, OSB,
Cam, runs Friday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. through Sunday,
Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com
or call 818-784-4515.
■ SATURDAY, AUGUST 27
One Mother, Many Peoples: Mass and Procession in
honor of Our Lady of the Angels. Cathedral of Our Lady
of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 2:30 p.m.
entrance procession, 3 p.m. Mass with Archbishop José H.
Gomez, 4 pm. Marian procession. For more information,
■ WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
“What Catholics Believe” weekly series. St. Dorothy
Church, 241 S. Valley Center Ave., Glendora, 7-8:30 p.m.
Series runs Wednesdays through April 26, 2023. Deepen
your understanding of the Catholic faith through dynamic
DVD presentations by Bishop Robert Barron, Dr. Edward
Sri, Dr. Brant Pitre, and Dr. Michael Barber. Free event, no
reservations required. Call 626-335-2811 or visit the Adult
Faith Development ministry page at www.stdorothy.org for
Good Grief 6-week Bereavement Support Group. St.
Bede the Venerable Church. 215 Foothill Blvd., La Canada
Flintridge, 6:30-8 p.m. Free support group begins Sept. 7
and runs for 6 weeks. For more information, call
■ FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
Beginning Experience of Los Angeles Weekend for
Separated, Divorced, and Widowed Catholics. Holy
Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino. Retreat runs
Sept. 9-11 and will help participants move from the darkness
of grief to the light of a new beginning. Cost: $325/
single room, $275/shared room. $75 deposit required
in advance. For more information, call Maria (English or
Spanish) at 909-592-0009 or Brenda at 818-352-5265.
■ SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
Closing Mass for Forward in Mission Jubilee Year.
Mission San Gabriel, 428 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel, 10
a.m. Archbishop Gomez will celebrate a special Mass of
Thanksgiving in the Mission Church (reserved seating).
Mass will be livestreamed. Visit forwardinmission.com.
Autumn Silent Saturday Centering Prayer. Holy Spirit
Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
With Marilyn Nobori and the Contemplative Outreach
Team. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com or call
■ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
Memorial Mass. San Fernando Mission, 15151 San
Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, 11 a.m. Mass is
virtual and not open to the public. Livestream available at
CatholicCM.org or Facebook.com/lacatholics.
Women at the Well. Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316
Lanai Rd., Encino, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. With Sister Chris
Machado, SSS. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com
or call 818-784-4515.
■ THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
Children’s Bureau: Foster Care Zoom Orientation.Children’s
Bureau is now offering two virtual ways for individuals
and couples to learn how to help children in foster care
while reunifying with birth families or how to provide legal
permanency by adoption, 4-5 p.m. A live Zoom orientation
will be hosted by a Children’s Bureau team member and
a foster parent. For those who want to learn at their own
pace about becoming a foster and/or fost-adopt parent, an
online orientation presentation is available. To RSVP for
the live orientation or to request the online orientation,
■ SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Day in Recognition of All Immigrants Procession and
Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W.
Temple St., Los Angeles, 3 p.m. Archbishop José H. Gomez
will celebrate a special Mass at 3:30 p.m., which will be in
person and livestreamed via Facebook.com/lacatholics
International Thomas Merton Society Chapter Meeting.
Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 2-4
p.m. Hosted by Sister Chris Machado, SSS. For more information,
visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-784-4515.
■ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Cathedral of
Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles,
Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to email@example.com.
All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.
August 26, 2022 • ANGELUS • 33