Category Archives: Father Butler

Spartan Women Care Packs

Nicole Kasdorf is a determined woman. Tall, warm and with an easy smile, she is filled with palpable sense of mission and spirit. After having spent time in the US Army, deployed in Iraq, she knows that there are special needs for the women who serve our country. Upon returning home, she and her husband started a family and a small business, The rOUgh STORE bY KASDORF’S, where they sell homemade bath and beauty products.

If you were at any of the masses at St. Edward the Confessor this weekend, you heard Nicky speak – and I don’t think that anyone was left unmoved by what she said!

While we here tend to think of the war in Iraq as over, and the Afghanistan conflict as winding down, Nicky reminds us that there are many who are still deployed. With her focus on women stationed on a remote base in Afghanistan, she began to form a vision.

After teaming up with our pastor at St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park, NY,  Father Pat Butler, “Spartan Women Care Packs” is becoming a reality. Life in the harsh world of a remote base in Afghanistan, possibly without indoor plumbing, a long walk to the shower, and no PX to procure supplies from means that there are great needs. Add to that, the message that all care packages to soldiers bring – we have not forgotten you. Life goes on for us over here, but for those who serve and protect, things are very different. As someone who did serve, Kasdorf is more than well aware of this and her passion to help fellow soldiers will not be deterred.

A Spartan Woman Care Pack – ready to go!

Fr. Pat got our Youth Minister, Sister Rosemary Casaleno CSJ involved, and things have been moving ever since. The goal is to put together these “Spartan Women Care Packs.” Each pack will include a shower caddy, flip flops and a number of bath and beauty products. Currently we are collecting the caddies, and items for inclusion.

Reaching out to Philosophy cosmetics, Sister Rose procured 100 tubes of “The Supernatural,” a tinted primer. Parishioners have been donating goods and financial support to make this a reality. At this point, cash donations start to become particularly important, because of costs associated with buying US Postal Service approved boxes, packaging materials, and to pay for postage.

Nicole Kasdorf is a woman with a vision of helping others, helping others that serve and protect. Along with the people of the parish community of St. Edward the Confessor, she is reaching out to seek help from many sources. Given what she has already accomplished, it looks like the women deployed in Afghanistan will have something to look forward to by time Christmas comes.

(Interested in helping? You can donate directly through Nicky Kasdorf’s website, The rOUgh STORE bY KASDORF’S, or by contacting Sister Rose at ymsteds@yahoo.com, or email me at stedwardsblog@gmail.com.)

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Filed under Father Butler, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Vatican II

(Beginning at the end of October, Peter Avvento will be presenting a Monday night series on Vatican II. All are welcome at what promises to be great.)

The 50th anniversary of Vatican II is upon us. I am always mystified by the extreme reactions to this event in our church, a monumental time in history. Talk is cheap, so it is easy to reflect back and either romanticize the entire event beyond any reality, or to make it into a huge “error.”

In virtus media stat,” which I believe means truth stands in the middle. The results of Vatican II have not entirely ruined our church, unless perhaps you are a follower of the Society of St. Pius X, who remain in schism with our church to this day. The results of Vatican II, were not perfect. Nothing is perfect and our journey to the perfection is what we all seek through the transformation of the Eucharist.

This essay by Robert J. Nogosek, C.S.C., published in America Magazine really caught my eye, and I present it here today for us to all muse upon today. There is no shortage of good reading material on this topic and I will try to post more about it. The website Conciliaria is a tremendous resource, so have a look at that.

Here is the link to the Vatican website resources for Vatican II documents. A quick look at that reminds me that one of the true gems of the Council was Dei Verbum. If you are Catholic and you read any Scripture today, thank this Dogmatic Constitution! No matter what you think of everything else about Vatican II, where would we be without this? (Which, by the way, make Fr. Pat Butler’s Monday night courses so enriching!)

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Filed under Adult Faith Enrichment, Father Butler, Peter Avvento, Vatican II

James Martin, SJ, Fr. Pat and Peter Avvento – all at Spring Enrichment!

Each year our diocese hosts a large scale catechetical event, Spring Enrichment. This year’s theme is the Heart of Christ. I remember the first time that I attended Spring Enrichment in 2008, I could not believe it! There was (and is!) such a wide breadth of courses, seminars and speakers to choose from. Since that time, I have not missed a year, and I have been privileged to be an instructor, as well as involved with the planning of events.

This year we have a very major keynote speaker, Father James Martin, SJ. Father Jim has written numerous books, is often seen on television, has a pronounced presence on the internet and is also an editor at America magazine, the national Catholic weekly. A great list of Martin’s books has been compiled by my friend, Brother Daniel Horan, OFM and can be seen here.

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Fr. Jim and I spent a little time on the phone recently and I wrote this column about him in today’s Times Union. (No subscription or registration required.) If you attend the evening event, you can support a wonderful charity, The Sister Maureen Joyce Center, which will benefit from ticket sales proceeds.

By the way, courses are being offered by our own Fr. Patrick Butler and Peter Avvento. Details are available here. Consider signing up for some of the great courses!

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Filed under Albany Times Union, Father Butler, Peter Avvento, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Spring Enrichment

Holy Thursday at St Edward’s

Each year, this service gets more beautiful. We had so many people and the combined choirs… fantastic. The power of community, the rich gifts of faith make this a great and beautiful place to find God and one another.

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Filed under Father Butler, Holy Thursday, Holy Week 2012

Palm Sunday, Part 2 – Silence, Suffering, Service, with photos

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Like any good Catholic, I tend to go to the same mass. And yes- I do sit in the same place. Actually, about 6 months ago, I did change seats for practical reasons. (Helping with mass has me getting up an down a lot!) So if you are looking for me, please come to the 4pm mass on Saturday and I will be on the right hand side, first row of the second section of pews. Yes, the one who is getting up and down all the time – that’s me!

Palm Sunday mass at 4pm on Saturday was where I was at, as usual. However, Fr. Pat had asked me to take photos of the church during Lent and I have done a little of that during the 4pm mass. Given that I had the time, I thought I would return to the 11am mass on Sunday and just be there to take photos.

Today I saw Christ all over the Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor. It was remarkable.  Anyone who thinks that our large suburban parishes are not diverse should come by one day. Yes, we are primarily white and middle and upper middle class; it is Clifton Park. That said – we are diverse in ways I had not always given thought to. Until today, that is.

Christ was in the throngs of people that poured in for this liturgy. Christ was present in the very young and the very old, the very well dressed and proper and those who might have been less so.  Christ was present in friends that I had not seen in a long time and present in people that I had never seen before. Christ was very readily apparent in the enormous group of kids that gathered to head off to Children’s Liturgy of the Word.

Christ was present in the combined choirs whose voices rang out with such clarity and grace, filling the entire sanctuary with amazing talent, shared so freely. At one point I, can’t even remember exactly when, I could hear Mary Jo playing the piano and it went straight to my heart; so beautiful and redolent with the presence of God.

Among the most moving visions of Christ that I experienced, were the numerous people who were in wheelchairs. Some were young, some were old, some were in the middle. Some were in ordinary wheelchairs and some were in very sophisticated ones that met their unique needs. There were also many people with canes and mostly elderly people with walkers.

And Christ was very present in the number of developmentally disabled people who were present, of all ages. Our altar server, Donny, is the most reverent server that I know – he was there. And so many others, along with him. The most touching thing I saw, Christ embodied, was the young boy with Down Syndrome, leaning against his dad’s shoulder, his dad had one arm around him and had his other arm around his front. He was Christ before me, rubbing his son’s hand in soft, gentle and rhythmic motion.

What about the rest of us, the ones who looked OK? Well we too are as wounded, we wear our wounds on the inside and Christ was present and around all of us and in us today. That is always the case, today the church was like a thin place; liminal space where we encounter God.

Fr. Pat’s homily hit upon all these things as he spoke to us about silence, suffering and service; the places where we meet Jesus. We need silence in order to hear God; we suffer and we are one with Christ if we surrender and allow it. Ultimately we meet Christ and we are Christ in and through service of all sorts.

Today Christ was clearly present at our parish and I am most grateful to have been there to meet him, in all these different ways.

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Filed under Community, Father Butler, Grace, Holy Week 2012, Lent 2012, Lenten Parish Reflections, Music, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Lenten Reflections – Saturday March 17 by John Koubek

All Things work together for Good According to God’s Purpose (today’s reflection by parishioner John Koubek is not date specific)

A scripture that has really helped me over the years is Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose.” Living this scripture is not easy for me because there are times that I want my will be done, not God’s, and I want results right away. I have to be more aware that it is in God’s time and according to God’s purpose, not mine.

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I recognize that God’s ways are much better than mine and he wants the best for me as I go through the trials of life. The important thing for me to remember is that God is with me as I go through tough times just as it is expressed in the beautiful story of “Footprints in the Sand.” Knowing this, I know that I am not alone and that God is in control and I will have the peace that only comes from God. With this as background I would like to give the following example of how all things worked together for good according to God’s purpose for me.

In my senior year in college as an engineering student I signed up for an interview with General Electric because of its worldwide reputation as a leader in electric power generation particularly in the design, manufacturing and applications of steam turbines and gas turbines. This fit in with my favorite courses in college as well as the experience I had in summer jobs. I prayed hard and was confident that God would answer my prayers and that I would be offered a job with GE. A week after the interview I received a letter of rejection from GE. Devastating!! All I could think of is that God did not answer my prayers so why should I trust him anymore. This lack of trust actually turned me away from God for quite some time.

As it turns out, after graduation, I accepted a job with another company in the power generation industry and within five years developed experience in areas of power generation that turned out to be just what GE was looking for at the time. I found out about this through a friend and applied for a job in a newly formed department in Schenectady and within days I received a job offer. Elaine and I and our children left New Jersey for a new life in upstate New York. We eventually ended up in Clifton Park and became members of St. Edward’s.

After a while I started to go back to the Church by attending mass on Sundays at St. Edward’s – actually I did this mostly for our children. Initially that is all that I did without much time for prayer or ministry. Gradually, with the power of the Holy Spirit and Elaine, I discovered the importance of the two greatest commandments, i.e. loving God, my neighbor and myself and more importantly knowing that God loves me “no matter whatness” and wants the best for me.

I also discovered the love of God through common union (as Father Pat keeps reminding us) recognizing this common union of God and me and God and the people I come in contact with whether it’s at daily mass, the Hosanna prayer group, being part of the Coxsackie Prison ministry, soup kitchens or bumping into people at Price Chopper. Through all this I feel the presence and peace of God in my life and know that I can give all my burdens to the Lord.

I also learned that when I share God’s gift of love with others that I feel even closer to God. Over the last ten years I have been a member of a prison ministry team at the maximum security prison at Coxsackie. We have weekly bible study meetings and semiannual weekend retreats. Whenever I am at Coxsackie I feel like I am on “holy ground.” I see the inmates just thirsting to know more about Jesus and sharing their trust in God despite what they are going through. I also see many of them reaching out to one another by bringing a brother to mass, to bible study, praying for each other, and being able to surrender and give their anxieties to Jesus.
When I compare all of these gifts from God I wonder what my and family’s life would be if I received a job offer from General Electric when I graduated college. I am convinced that God knows best and that “all things worked together for good according to God’s purpose.”

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Filed under Common Union, Father Butler, John Koubek, Lent 2012, Lenten Parish Reflections

Lenten Reflections – Trust in the Slow Work of God, a Homily by Father Patrick J. Butler

(This homily was offered by Fr. Pat on the Second Sunday of Lent and has been republished here to share with the parish and others. Complete Scripture texts can be found here.)

Second Sunday of Lent Trust in the Slow Work of God

The Church places before us today the story of the binding of Isaac. Read by itself, it is a brutal tale. Both God and Abraham can appear to be appalling. It is tempting for us to condemn Abraham for his actions. The story however, is only a piece of the puzzle that is Abraham’s life, and one that comes near the end of his journey of faith. If we dismiss him, we risk missing the lessons that the author is trying to teach us; lessons that can uphold us at the end of our own life’s journey, which, by the way, none of us asked to be on.

Our lives began through no decision of our own, but the ultimate meaning and purpose of our lives, while influenced by others, must, in the end, be discerned individually. Patience and maturity are needed to unveil the wisdom faith can offer.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. wrote:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God…your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow…shape themselves without undue haste. Do not try to force them on as though you could be today what time…grace and circumstances…will make you tomorrow…give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete. Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”

Teilhard appreciated the unfolding nature of one’s life, Continue reading

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Advent Reflections – Come Join Us! Saturday December 3, 2011 Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

These photos were taken last week at the Saturday 4pm liturgy here at St. Edward the Confessor. It was the First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year and the first Sunday of using the New Roman Missal.

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This post serves as an invitation to come join us at St. Edward the Confessor. We have a vibrant parish, alive with faith. In these photos you will see how we process in with our Advent candle (singular for week one, but two for week 2 and so forth) and you will see our Advent banner.

The Advent banner really speaks to me. Look at how Mary has her hands open in a gesture of both giving and receiving. This posture and this dynamic are at the heart of our faith. We are all invited to live this way, alive in generosity and reception, alive in Christ the Lord, the One for whom we wait, yet the One we know in our hearts.

At St. Edward the Confessor, all are welcome! We have a diverse and warm community, we have wonderful music ministry, we have great liturgy, we have a great faith formation program and adult faith enrichment, we have so many ways in which you can… Well, you can give and receive – and to live in that same spirit of generosity and reception.

Come join us this Advent and come join us always.

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Filed under Advent, Advent 2011, Advent Reflections, Evangelization, Father Butler, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

The Digital Nativity

Fr. Pat referenced the Digital Nativity in his Christmas homily. I present it here for those who did not get to see it elsewhere!  Christmas joy to one and all!

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Christmas Reflection for Saturday December 25 – Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Recently I was at the home of a good friend. The purpose of my visit was to meet her new grandson for the first time. As soon as I got there, her daughter-in-law asked if I wanted to hold the baby, which of course I did. Baby Noah was placed into my arms and I gazed down at his precious face, marveled at the warmth of this small bundle in my arms. The beautiful baby scent emanating from him was intoxicating. His tiny hands, each finger so small yet so elegant, reached out before me.

I was a bit overwhelmed.

While I am blessed with a remarkable step-daughter and with many nieces and nephews, as well as the numerous children of my friends, I have never had a baby of my own.  It was at a practical level that I felt this but also at the level of awe and amazement.

Today is Christmas and I am struck with awe once again by how God came to us as a child! Earlier I was reading something over at Inward/Outward. Writer John Buchanan recounts some words via John Updike. He writes:

The birth of Jesus contradicts the idea of a God who ‘lay above the earth like a layer of icy cirrus’ (John Updike, Bech is Back). The birth means that we encounter God, not only in elegant theology but in work and in our enjoyment of beauty, friendship and love–in love particularly.”

This God above the earth, “a layer of icy cirrus” is in some ways easier to conjure, isn’t it? Or if not that, a stern judge who really wants the best for us, but in a towering and looming and sometimes-more-than-slightly threatening way, kind of God.

God as a baby turns everything on its ear, doesn’t it? Unlikely, improbable and exactly what happened.

Like baby Noah in my own arms, Jesus came as the smallest and most vulnerable of creatures. We celebrate Christmas – well, I often do anyway – with faith, but still at some superficial level.

God. As. Baby.

I am reminded of a quote that Father Pat has been struck with lately and one that he used in his own Christmas homily; “Christianity is the attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human person.”

The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. God as a baby – both a source of awe and amazement and a symbol of need, vulnerability, and the vastness of the tiniest person.

I can barely fathom a God who would love us so much to do this very thing.

Once again, through the manifestation of Jesus, we are called to the unlikely, the unexpected and the extraordinary this Christmas and always. As the carol, O Holy Night proclaims, “the soul found its worth.”

Amen and amen and amen.

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Filed under Christmas Reflections 2010, Father Butler