Regarding “Stops on My Way to the Altar” (July 21-27):

I join your other readers in wishing all of God's blessings on his newly ordained disciple, Father Raymond J. de Souza. In addition to being an asset to your newspaper as a fine writer, he is also a beautiful example of why the Catholic priesthood is not only intact, but flourishing.

I had the privilege of meeting Father de Souza while my husband and I were vacationing in Rome in March 2001. He was then a seminarian at the North American College (known as “the NAC”). It was a Lenten Friday and the NAC seminarians had the custom of leading pilgrims on the Stations of the Cross on the Ponte Sant'Angelo. We joined his group and listened to his beautifully written, prayerful script composed not on the traditional Stations but on those portrayed by the Bernini angels on the bridge. His reverence and piety were evident as was his skill in crafting words into thoughtful contemplation on the passion of Our Lord.

We spoke to him for a few minutes following the Stations and I asked him for a copy of the prayers, which he subsequently sent to me. We have remained in occasional contact ever since. It was not until returning home that I learned he was a correspondent for the Register. Naturally, I subscribed immediately!

In the future I see Father de Souza as a writer and a scholar, but first and foremost as a faithful, holy priest. He is one of God's shining servants.


Virginia Beach, Virginia

Single No More

I wanted to thank you for your story on Web sites for Catholic singles (“Single Catholics Find Each Other, and Fall in Love, Via the Web,” July 21-27). I think that it is important to let Catholic singles know that these sites can be used by God in discovering vocations.

Last year I heard about, but I figured I wouldn't want to meet my future spouse on a Web site. However, my curiosity got the best of me and I created a profile.

For two months I enjoyed the e-mails shared while meeting new people. It was only two months before I was swept off my feet by an amazing and holy Catholic man.

We courted six months through the Internet and frequent visits before he proposed.

We will be married in October. While we both still laugh about how we met, we can't deny the divine intercession that came from that chance we both took.


Staten Island, New York

Diagnosis: Normal

Thanks, Dr. Ray Guarendi, for your recent Family Matters column TITLEd “Disordered Diagnoses” (July 21-27). As I read your answer to the question about kids being diagnosed with all kinds of disorders, I realized that I had found a professional who has finally said what I've believed all along.

I was so excited about this item that I had to share it with my friends and family — especially those who have kids. And they, too, realized that what you say is sad but true.

We live in a society that wants a quick fix for everything, one whose members don't want to take responsibility for their actions. And we have many parents who would rather let the teacher, babysitter or extracurricular activity raise their children. Then when they get in trouble with drugs or commit a violent act, these same parents ask: How could this have happened to my child?

Our society needs to wake up and take charge and responsibility for those who are not only our future, but also are most precious to our Lord. We need to teach and show our kids love, respect, manners, responsibility. And, above all, we need to raise them in the Church and share with them God's love for them so they can learn to share that love with others.


Glendora, California

Under God's Wings

Regarding “Rethinking Environmentalism” (July 7-13):

The forest fires bring to mind an article I saw in National Geographic several years ago that provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After fighting a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek home. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.

When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and though the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life. Remember the one who loves you and then be different because of it.


Cleveland, Ohio

‘Fidelity, Fidelity, Fidelity’

Thanks for your good paper. Your interview with Franciscan Father Benedict Groeschel (“Father Groeschel on the Scandals: Where to Go From Here,” June 24-30) was very helpful. I heard Father Groeschel say the laity ought to do something to get things turned around spiritually on EWTN's “The World Over” a while back, same as in your interview.

The first thing to do is publish a list of solid Catholic magazines and newspapers — like yours, along with First Things, Crisis and New Oxford Review. There are others as well. Tell people to start educating themselves about what's going on in the Church and in the world through the eyes of Catholic teaching. Stop supporting feel-good spirituality and go for the deeper thoughts of faith.

Next, maybe the Serra Club, which is in the business of promoting vocations, might be approached to help push the bishops to reform the seminaries. This would be a prime organization to begin a movement by the laity. The Knights of Columbus also might be helpful.

If people really want “this, too” to pass, they need to realize this might be a time when the situation is so grave it might not simply “pass.” When even our bishops don't seem to be aware of what to do, for goodness’ sakes, how in the world would you expect the dumbed-down version of the laity out there to know how to help?

So the laity should “do something”? I really would love to march on some bishops’ chanceries with banners or whatever else I thought would do any good in a respectful but attention-getting way. If you can get some buses lined up, sign me up! But for now, I plan to pray, pray, pray, as Our Lady told us to do. And practice fidelity, fidelity, fidelity — to put it in words of the editor of First Things (Father Richard John Neuhaus).

God bless all you are trying to do and have already accomplished over the years!


Reno, Nevada

Another Posthumous Honor

Regarding “Medal of Honor Given Posthumously to Green Beret,” about the late Capt. Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace (July 21-27):

The article referred to that most excellent book, Five Years to Freedom, by the late Col. James “Nick” Rowe. I read Col. Rowe's book while I served with the Naval Advisory Group in Vietnam in 1973.

What the article omitted to say was that Col. Rowe was captured as a result of a similar combat action against the Viet Cong in 1963. He entered captivity as a 1st lieutenant and is the only American POW known to have escaped from imprisonment by the Viet Cong. He was a major by the time of his successful escape!

Maj. Rowe eventually left the U.S. Army for a number of years before joining again. Tragically, Col. Rowe was subsequently murdered by communist insurgents while on active duty in the Philippines.

The article showcased the immense courage exhibited by Capt. Versace. Col. Nick Rowe was also an extraordinary hero himself as his book so wonderfully testifies. He maintained his humanity throughout the brutal conditions of his imprisonment. He may not have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, but his personal courage deserves to be publicized.


Albuquerque, New Mexico