Category Archives: Southern Region

Gathering as Men

“Many of the men that attend regular meetings of parish fellowship meeting have had an
encounter with the person of Jesus Christ at some point in their lives. That encounter, as it has been told in thousands of meetings, is as varied and diverse as life itself. For many it marked a milestone event – a significant moment in which the man giving witness came
to know the reality of the living Christ as he has never before experienced. For some the encounter was the defining moment – a moment of pure grace that made faith in Jesus Christ a compelling belief. For others the encounter with Jesus was a gradual commitment, a combination of many moments of grace that joined to make an undeniable mosaic of God’s goodness.”

“Why Men Get Together” (From Catholic Men’s Fellowship Cincinnati)

Saturday, February 27, 2010 men from all over the Diocese of Syracuse will gather to share, pray and experience the fellowship of being a Catholic man. Ignite 2010 Catholic Men’s Conference will offer three nationally acclaimed speakers:  Jesse Romero, Fr. Larry Richards and Sean Forrest as well as our own Bishop Robert J. Cunningham.

Plan to attend and be part of a day-long experience geared for men, enriching our faith experiences and helping to build God’s Kingdom!

Staying in True…

“Staying in true”.  What do those three words mean?  Well, to a serious cyclist, it means well-tuned spokes, a solid wheel rim and a wheel that runs straight and true on a speedy downhill descent!  In reflecting upon the call to vocation cycling_fastexpressed in both the Hebrew Scripture reading from the prophet Amos, and also the Gospel of Mark on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I presented how we respond to that call by describing it within the context of a bicycle wheel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 was my first opportunity to serve with Fr. Ralph Bove, our newly appointed parish administrator for both St. Bartholomew the Apostle and St. Paul Churches in Norwich, N.Y.  I felt a bit apprehensive about bringing in a “prop” for my homily:  the high-tech 27″ road bike wheel from my Lemond Zurich cycle. However, the wheel was just the right touch to bring home the point to our parishioners.

Like to hear an audio recording of my homily:  “Staying in True”?  Follow the link below to the Homilies page.  And let me know what you think!
AUDIO HOMILY LINK: Staying in True

Dc. Tim McNerneysignature-fname.thumbnail

On these anniversaries…


Deacons from Left-to-Right: Garrett Kearney, Michael Gudaitis, Tim McNerney, Robert Talomie, Stephen Blabac, David Kirsch, Anthony Paparella, Timothy Downes

Yesterday’s May 17th anniversary of the Permanent Deacon Ordination of eight men in the Diocese of Syracuse passed in very different ways, I’m sure, for each of us.  Still, we have all shared both a call to vocation and ministry that has inalterably changed our lives, our families, friends, co-workers… and yes, those to whom we minister in our parishes and local communities.

Perhaps the photo from the day that captures the essence of the Diaconate for me is not the one above, but instead this vibrant photo with our wives:  true partners in a dual vocational call.

Deacons-Wives 2008In so many ways, our wives have supported us, given much of themselves to this ordained call, and helped us to understand how to live as “men of the cloth” and “of the pews”.

I hadn’t intended to post anything as this first anniversary passed us by, but the Ordo today on May 18th truly hit a responsive chord:  this is the 5th Anniversary of the Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Diocesan Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, our Bishop Designate.  Certainly for him as well, these days in May must hold a special meaning, as he approaches his Installation next Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 as the Bishop of our Diocese of Syracuse.

A special “thank you” to all who remembered the anniversary this past week. Your thoughtfulness and caring makes a world of difference.

Reflections on the shootings

A colleague at WNBF radio told me about the shooting at the American Civic Association minutes after the first police radio reports were transmitted. I’ve covered a lot of news stories over the years and yet my first reaction was, “Are you kidding?” But the brutal truth came out quite quickly. Many dead and several injured, at a place that’s offered help for immigrants and held ethnic festivals for decades. We listened to the radio reports as we prepared for a Lenten Fish dinner at Holy Family Parish. Having no answers…yet lots of speculation on everything…I offered the only advice I could. Pray. Pray for everyone. The victims, the shooter, the first responders. Pray. Deacon Ed Blaine of St. James Church in Johnson City, was on retreat with other members of the Council of Churches staff in Windsor. He soon found himself at the Catholic Charities of Broome County office, just blocks away from the shooting scene.

The Chaplain’s Corps had been activated and he was one of four who helped thethought families waiting for word on their loved ones. “It was not an easy task. Catholic Charities did a great job. The city did a great job of handling the families,” he said. “They were about as compassionate as they could be. “We grieve our own community being attacked because it was an attack on the community,” Blaine said. “And we grieve for the loss of certain types of innocence, because such tragedies never happen here.” Mary Pat Hyland, a member of St. Ambrose Church in Endicott, found out about the shootings on the internet. She has taught Irish classes and performed with Irish dance groups at the Civic Association. “The Civic Association not only has helped immigrants in terms of preparing them to become citizens here, but it has also also been a place where we’ve celebrated our ethnicity.”

Hyland narrated the Passion reading at her parish on Palm Sunday. “At the same time there were images in my mind flashing of what these people were going through. It just really got to me,” she said. “But at the same time, because of the Gospel, it brought me peace. Even though it’s a dramatic, horrible story, at the same time it brings me peace because you know God’s love is always with us.” Jesus taught us to love our neighbors. In Broome County this week, our neighbors were everyone in the community. Shocked, confused and hurting neighbors of different faiths who came together in prayer on Sunday night. Now the healing will begin.

Deacon Tom Picciano


NOTE: A Version of this article was published in the April 9-15, 2009 edition of The Catholic Sun, the weekly newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., under the headline \”Binghamton Memorial Service\” by Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer.

About a mile from where 14 people died in a shooting on Friday, April 3, more than 1,000 gathered Sunday night in their memory.

Police said 41-year old Jiverly A. Wong entered the American Civic Association office on Front Street where he killed 13 people and wounded four others before taking his own life. Most of the victims were killed in the classroom where they were learning English as they were preparing to become citizens.

The memorial service, held at West Middle School, just across the streetimage024 from St. Thomas Aquinas Church, was planned by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. “We are broken, O God. We are broken,” said the Rev. Douglas Taylor, of the Unitarian Univeralist Church. “Death and violence is the reason that brought us together in sorrow, in anger, anxious grief and in loss. Each of us has been touched. Some in a small way, others in overwhelming way.” Rev. Taylor continued in prayer: “Oh God grant us the courage to reject vengeance, the courage to choose to heal what is broken and to redeem what cannot be healed, to rebuild ourselves as a community of strength and hope that we will be known not by our loss or by the violence of a moment, but rather by our loving response.” The killings that made world news shocked Broome County and the City of Binghamton, where there was just one murder in all of last year.

“It‚ has affected us all in one or another. But all of us felt the pain and suffering,” said Mohammed Hassim. “Surely us coming together this evening is a manifestation of the unity of mankind.” Hassim noted that the memorial service set an example.” All the community coming together never before in the history of Binghamton it must not end today.” “The Earth has no pain that heaven cannot heal,” prayed Rev. Arthur Jones. “We need you in a real and desperate way. Lord we need healing. Heal us, touch us, and love us” Southern Region Vicar, Father John Putano offered one of the concluding prayers. Father Putano said, “Good and gracious God, we gather this evening a people of faith struggling to understand this senseless killing of innocent people. We look to you for courage and strength so we can support one another, to show our love for all those affected by this tragedy.

“Relieve the suffering of the wounded, of the families and friends of victims who died and those who survive. Grant them peace of mind and a renewed faith and your protection. “Protect us from the violence of others. Keep us safe from the weapons of hate and restore to us tranquility and peace.” Names of the victims were flashed on a screen during the service. They had come from seven different countries to begin a new life in the U.S. Fourteen pink and white flower arrangements stood in their memory. There was music at the service as well, including “Amazing Grace” sung by everyone present. A community choir, which practiced just an hour before the service, sang “Draw the Circle Wide”, written by Gordon Light. “Draw it wider still. Let this be our song. No one stands alone. “Standing side by side. Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.”

That circle had to draw wide hundreds of people gathered in front of the school with candles. When all had left the building, each flame was lifted high and no one stood alone.