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Fall/Winter 2005 Vol. II
Vol. I

Welcome Friends,

The recent hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast was like a spotlight bearing down on America. Newscasters from around the world showed us as a divided and socially indifferent country. Sadly, many people I spoke with said for the first time in their lives they felt embarrassed to call themselves an American.

Granted, the lack of immediate response of our leaders was appalling, but nothing could cancel out the incredible outpouring of love and compassion expressed by folks from every state in the union. Never have I witnessed such a groundswell of support.

As soon as the message got out that huge numbers of people were in need, our small community rallied to the cause. By that Wednesday, the local high school had set up a car wash. The Baptist church ran a cake sale. The clergy took up numerous collections and I'm proud to say that St. Anthony of Padua here in Litchfield raised over $18,000.

Our fire department sent men and the gift of an ambulance. Firefighters also manned the intersection, hats in hands to collect money from passing motorist. Local families volunteered to open their homes to the displaced, and businesses promised to find them jobs once they got here. I'm certain that similar acts of generosity and compassion were played out in every small town across America.

When we think of the devastation left by Katrina, let us not focus on our leaders' failures, but on the citizens who are America and who quickly rallied to the cause. In doing so, we stand proud.

Blessings and prayers to all those affected by Katrina,


On A Wing and A Prayer now in bookstores

There is nothing quite so rewarding for an author then to hold a finished book in hand. Once again, the talented artist, Robert Crawford has outdone himself with the cover. Can't you just picture yourself, casserole in hand, joining those women? Thanks, Bob!

On a Wing and a Prayer is the fourth in the Dorsetville series. (Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday when these wonderful characters just magically appeared at my computer.) This installment opens as the Gallagher twins fall through the ice at Fern's Pond and are feared drowned. As I wrote the story, my focus was on the power of intercessory prayer and how God uses it to lift those in trouble above life's turbulent seas. Here's an excerpt...

It was as though someone had blocked out the sun as a dark pall settled over the town. Suddenly everyday greetings such as "Do you think spring will ever come?" or "Have you started your seeds yet?" had been replaced with "Have you heard?"

Those who walked the streets that day seemed a little more hunched over, the weight of the tragedy bearing down heavily on each and every Dorsetville citizen. Parents and grandparents wept openly. Even Sheriff Bromley, a hardened professional, found his eyes misted over whenever someone asked, "Any news yet?"

Dorsetville folks thought of themselves as a family. Now, two of their children had slipped through the icy pond's surface. One was suffering from hypothermia and en route to Mercy Hospital; the other still lay buried beneath the pond's frozen depths.

Betty Olsen, Dorsetville's police department dispatcher, had been reading an article on Oprah when Sam made the first call. It took her under a minute to track the sheriff down. He was having a cup of coffee with the town's fire chief, Bill Halstead. Bill immediately issued the alarms. Seconds later, the sound of ice dripping off the roofs and winter sludge being shoveled off the sidewalks were drowned beneath the ear-piercing blast of sirens.

Timothy McGee had been seated inside Walt's Barbershop, getting a trim, when the siren blasted. The barbershop was directly across the street from the firehouse, providing a bird's-eye view as volunteers rushed to the station. Minutes later, the fire trucks and ambulance rolled out with horns blasting.

Mark Stone was lifting a thirty-pound bag of dog food into Ethel's car when they charged past.

"I wonder what's happened," he said to Ethel, who was trying to soothe Honey. Loud noises always made the dog nervous.

Shop owners and customers tumbled out onto the sidewalk. Speculation ran high. Could it be a fire? they asked, checking the sky for a sign of smoke. Or perhaps a car accident, which incited folks to ask, "Has anyone see Deputy Hill?"

But news travels faster than the speed of light in the small town, and before the icing was dry on the petit fours that Loti Peterson had prepared for the Garden Club's monthly meeting, everyone knew that the Gallagher boys had had an accident and that Dexter was still trapped beneath the ice.

St. Cecilia's Church bulletin is often filled with bloopers even when Father James works feverishly to carefully edit each addition. Here are some that got away from him.

  • Remember in prayer many who are sick and tired of our church and community.
  • Potluck supper after Saturday Vigil. Prayer and medication to follow.
  • Father Dennis is starting a three-part teaching series entitled: "Don't let worry kill you off. Let the Church help."
  • Allen Dambrowki asks that all choir members meet at his house after practice for fun and sinning.
  • Ladies don't forget the rummage sale. It's a good time to get rid of all the things you don't want that are laying around the house. Bring your husbands.
  • Father James wishes to remind his flock to remember the needs of those less fortunate this winter by donating food and warm blankets to the Granby Soup Kitchen and Shelter. As Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirty and you gave me something to drink."

Readers Ask:

Dogs seem to play an important role in your books. I wondered if that was because you're a pet lover, or if they had some kind of spiritual significance.

Actually... both.

We've always had dogs, mostly German shepherds. My dad brought a pure black one back from Germany after the war. His name was Rex and I loved him from the minute I set eyes on him. About five years later, my father lost his job and things were really tough. My dad was forced to sell Rex to help keep food on the table. A sheep farmer bought him who lived several hundred miles away. He was looking for a guard dog to help keep predators away. I cried so hard the day Rex left that I thought my heart would break.

I also remember it as being the first time I was conscious of a God who didn't always act as I thought He should. I was furious with Him. Hadn't I stormed the heavens with requests to save my beloved Rex. What went wrong? Why had God turned a deaf ear to my heartfelt request? As I watched my father's truck disappear around the corner with Rex seated in the back, I swore I'd never to talk to Him again.

Six months later, I was seated in the kitchen helping my mother prepare supper, when there was this strange whimpering sound outside the back door. I got up to check and could hardly believe my eyes. There was Rex. He was bloody and bruised and nothing but skin and bones but to me, he looked like a million dollars. It had taken him nearly two months to find his way back home. I wrapped my arms around that dog and told my father that if he tried to give him back, I was going with him.

My dad did call the man he had sold him to but he said we could keep the dog and the cash. Apparently, Rex had a habit of biting his sheep.

On another note... I find it amusing that DOG spelt backwards spells GOD. I think of that often when I nurse the abused shepherds whom we give shelter to in our home. Many of the poor dears have been beaten and starved, yet they refuse to give up on mankind. A kind word, a loving embrace and gentle assurances, and soon all is forgiven. It reminds me of God's unlimited love.

Has your faith always played a large role in your life?

Sadly, no. Like many young people of my Catholic faith, I left the Church when I was in my late teens and didn't return until my thirties when I was diagnosed with cancer. There is an old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. I suspect there are no non-believers when confronting a devastating illness.

My experience taught me the power inherent in suffering. Funny, how we mortals will do anything to avoid the valleys, yet it is the very place where our relationship with God is strengthened. Having no resources of our own, we are forced to go within and there we meet Jesus. Not the pale faced, meek and mild Jesus depicted by the artists, but the Jesus who walked through the dusty streets of Galilee, His big carpenter hands reaching out to grab people in the crowd, to offer a warm embrace, or share a cup of wine. Who was never too busy to join a stranger for a meal, or offer a word of encouragement to the downtrodden. The Jesus who appears shocked when a man asks if God might want to heal him. Want to???!!. Of course, He wants to heal you, Jesus replies His voice registering shock at the people's disbelief of the Father's love.

When the world runs out of remedies or options or other resources. When we're left alone to face the unfathomable. That's when we meet the Jesus whom the Apostles knew and were willing to die the most gruesome of deaths rather than denounce what they knew to be true. Jesus lives and because of His sacrifice, no matter what life may throw our way... so will we.

"God doesn't ask us to reason. He asks us to trust."
Father James


St. Francis Xavier Church Hookers... and The Case of the Haunted Rectory.

No... it isn't a misprint. In case you're wondering that's "rug hookers."

I'm proud to announce a new series starting Summer, 2006 that will take my readers on a new journey filled with mystery, exorcisms and the power of friendships.

In the small New England town of Bend Oaks something evil has been unleashed within the walls of St. Francis Xavier's rectory. Can a group of rug hookers and a reluctant exorcist's joint friendship save one of their own from an ancient demonic curse?

From the unearthing of an ancient Biblical curse, to an exorcism in Rome, to the bowels of decaying insane asylum, readers should prepare for a wild ride. Set against the familiar backdrop of a quaint, small-town New England, St. Francis Xavier's Church Hookers is filled with exciting suspense and the deeply moving story of the power of faith that I hope my readers will enjoy.

Readers write...

Recently, we had a power outage and the family was getting restless, so I offered to read them a story. The older children rolled their eyes like this was the dumbest thing they have ever heard and my husband wasn't looking too thrilled either. I pulled out my worn copy of Grace Will Lead Me Home and before the end of the first chapter, everyone was settled in, listening quietly to the story of restoration of a church and a life. When the lights came on halfway through the second chapter, a spontaneous, "ohhhhh..." of disappointment went out. My dear, husband walked over and turned out the lights so we could continue. It was a magical moment.

Charlotte, Needleton, Mass.

A friend loaned me a copy of your first book, A Miracle for St. Cecilia's and I've been hooked ever since. The characters have become like dear friends. I can hardly wait to open each new installment to find out what they've all been doing since we last met.

Ellen, Lake Squam, New Hampshire

Recently, I was browsing through our local bookstore. I had just left my doctor's office and discovered that I had miscarried. I had been seven weeks pregnant. I didn't want to go home and face the nursery that we had just painted or the sympathy of friends and family. We have been trying to have a baby for several years without success. We had felt that finally God had heard our prayers, so the loss of this child was especially devastating. Our faith was in shambles. I had no idea what your book was about, but something drew me towards it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the characters miscarries. Her feelings of confusion and anger mirrored mine. It was very healing.

Britney, Rutherfordton, North Carolina

My mother turned me on to Dorsetville and the going-ons of its beleaguered priest. It's so refreshing to read a story that doesn't try to "Saint-ify" the clergy, but rather, represents the ups and downs, the doubts and failings that we all go through. After all, priests are just plain people too.

Father Phillip, Allentown, PA

The Dorsetville series can be purchased in large print and on audio cassettes. Contact your local bookstore for details.

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