Eurochoir 2016: Updates from Ireland

During spring break, Choir Director Brandon Ring and 42 members of the Saint Anselm College Choir will embark on a 10-day journey to Ireland for their bi-annual European Concert Tour including visits to various abbeys, churches, and cathedrals.

The tour entitled, "Turas; A Global Journey Through Music," symbolizes the Eurochoir's journey through time, cultures, and countries. In past years, the group has journeyed to Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic. This year they will travel across western Ireland through Westport, Adare, Killarney, and Cork.EuroChoir at Kylemore Abbey

Follow the #SACChoireland2016 on Twitter.

UPDATE: Friday, March 4
From Susan Gabert, Director of Campus Ministry

Throughout our travels across this beautiful country we've enjoyed it’s “40 shades of Green,” stories and visits from our leprechaun friend Murphy, lively music and pubs, great food (Irish Stew, Fish & Chips, Tea & Scones and much much more), and the sheep, which appear to be everywhere!

Thursday morning bright and early we headed out to Cork City with the EuroChoir dressed in concert attire. Arriving at Cork's City Hall, we were greeted by the Lord Mayor of Cork who explained the history of the city hall as well as the history and politics of Cork. In appreciation, the choir treated the Lord Mayor to a few songs, of which he seemed to truly enjoy.

Following a quick tour of the Lord Mayor's building and office, we headed to St. Fin Barre Church of Ireland, Cork's Anglican Cathedral–the site of the choir's final concert in Ireland. Here the group toured the Church and held a quick rehearsal. We had a lovely crowd for the concert which was a hit, even receiving a standing ovation from the audience–a fitting and appropriate way to conclude.

This particular performance also included some special moments as Director Brandon Ring invited Bobby Aldrich`01 (tour manager) to conduct “I Love You Lord” and invited all alumni traveling with us to join the EuroChoir. Sarah Fitzpatrick, Jenn Kernan, and Kate Swider '12 along with concert visitor Elizabeth (Liz) McGloin Browne '99 – joined in for this signature piece. Liz, who lives in Naas just outside of Dublin, was a member of the choir when she was on the Hilltop. She drove two hours to Cork to attend the concert but said she truly enjoyed listening to this talented group.

Since we were spending the night in Cork, the rest of our day was spent getting settled in at the hotel and exploring the city. John, our tour guide, gave us a short walking tour of Cork City so we could get a sense of direction and then folks headed off in groups for lunch, shopping, and to discover all the city had to offer.

Friday morning we headed to Blarney where we toured the famous Blarney Castle and its exquisite grounds. Many in our group climbed to the top of the castle so they could kiss the Blarney Stone.

According to the Blarney Castle literature, legend says that the Blarney Stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone,’ used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St. Columba on the Island of Iona.

Legend has it that it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny. When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent 5,000 men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland. Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.

Whatever the truth of its origin, we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys. Those who “kiss the stone” are said to gain the “gift of gab.”

The afternoon was spent at Blarney Mills enjoying lunch and shopping. The Blarney Mills are particularly famous for their wool and the group certainly supported the economy of Ireland today, purchasing items for themselves and gifts for their loved ones. We headed back to Cork City for the early evening where folks are on their own for dinner and evening activities.

Tomorrow, Friday, we had another change in plans and will be headed to Cobh, a picturesque port town where many who immigrated to the United States would have left by boat. This is also the last port where immigrants loaded the Titanic for their journey to the U.S. We look forward to the Titanic Museum, Immigration Center, and Cathedral.

We have enjoyed our time in this beautiful country and it is hard to believe that we will be headed back to the Hilltop soon.


UPDATE: Wednesday, March 2
From Robert Aldrich '01, Assistant to the Director and Susan Gabert, Director of Campus Ministry

The weather in Ireland has thrown us for a loop and we've been doing a lot of adjusting to the itinerary. Wednesday was one of those days.  The original plan was a boat tour through the Lakes of Killarney and an afternoon of either visiting the gardens at Muckross House or a hill walk up Torc Mountain. Let me tell you a little about what actually happened on Wednesday!

With high winds predicted the boat tours were cancelled.  The entire group boarded the bus and headed into Killarney National Park to see the Gap of Dunloe. This incredibly picturesque spot is named in Irish Dun Loich, meaning Loich’s stronghold. It's a narrow mountain pass between two peaks in County Kerry, Ireland.

A "short" walk into the national park, most of the group walked right up to the mountain gap (approximately 3 miles each way). We walked a few miles to the “wishing bridge” and stopped for a group photo with the Gap in the background. With the sun starting to peak through we thought we would enjoy the views and the fresh air – until the heavy rains, wind, and hail started to come down!  Despite getting soaked the group pressed on (without any complaining). It's hard to be upset with anything when surrounded my such beauty.

We returned to Killarney and had an opportunity to dry off, get a hot shower, find a quick bite to eat in town, and then boarded the bus in the afternoon to go out to Muckross House. Although the weather was still far from ideal the group had an opportunity to walk along the lakeside, see the gardens, and go through the house. The evening was free for the group to enjoy Killarney, and enjoy it they did!


UPDATE: Tuesday, March 1
From Robert Aldrich '01, Assistant to the Director

The group woke up on Tuesday morning and left Adare and headed to Glenstal Abbey, which is an abbey founded by a group of Benedictine monks who run a school on the property (sound familiar?). The monks were forced to leave Belgium in the 1920s, and their Abbot, who was Irish, found the property in County Limerick. They were embraced by the community and in the early years were cared for by the locals and in return started to educate the kids. Now, over the last 80+ years the school has grown into an all-boys boarding school for more than 225 students from all over the world.

With true Benedictine hospitality, we were welcomed by Brother Padraig. After coffee, tea, and scones we were given a tour of the Abbey Church and had the opportunity to watch a brief DVD on the history of the famous Glenstal Icon Chapel. We had a chance to visit the chapel, located in a crypt underneath the Church (sorry, no pictures allowed) and then went to daily Mass with the monks. Glenstal is famous for the musicality of their monks (CD's available for purchase) and the Choir had a chance to hear the Gregorian Chant used in the Abbey Church. Following Mass the choir performed a 30-minute recital for the monastic community and about 50 local parishioners, including members of a local choir. We were then treated to lunch at the school, a tour of the gardens and monastic cemetery, and finally hot chocolate before boarding the bus and heading south to Killarney.

A real treat to weave in the Benedictine connections on our tour of Ireland!

Following our visit to Glenstal Abbey we continued south to Killarney, in Ireland's County Kerry. Upon arriving in Killarney we unloaded the bus, changes into our concert attire and headed to St. Mary's Church in the center of town to rehearse for our evening concert. A benefit concert for the church restoration fund, our's was the first concert in their spring concert series. We had a small (but very appreciative) audience of about 50 people. The kids really enjoyed performing in the space and even did a "flash mob" type performance in the city center prior to the concert to advertise for the event.  Following the concert we had a group dinner to celebrate!

PS: It didn't rain today!

UPDATE: Monday, Feb. 29
From Susan Gabert, Director of Campus Ministry

Sunday we journeyed to a Benedictine Abbey called Kylemore Abbey – just stunning!  The Abbess and sisters were so gracious to our students.  We toured the beautiful grounds, attended the monastic community's Mass (where the choir provided the music) and then we headed to the Gothic Cathedral (also on the grounds) for rehearsal and a 1:15 concert to a very full church. The choir performed a variety of songs which were truly impressive and senior Billy Endicott conducted one of the pieces.

We had lunch in the abbey's café, and enjoyed wondering throughout the walled gardens, Castle, gift shop, and rest of the grounds before heading back to Westport and our hotel. Many groups headed into town for dinner and to have experience the lively music in traditional Irish pubs. Some of our students even got to sing for the patrons!

Monday we left Westport and journeyed to Adare. It was a full day of travel as we made several stops along the way. While we had enjoyed a beautiful, dry day on Sunday, we were not so lucky on Monday. When we arrived at the Cliffs of Mohr it was raining quite hard and it was very windy. This did not deter our students one bit; they spent a good amount of time outside enjoying the magnificent sights of the Cliffs. Completely soaked, they warmed up inside where they checked out the gift shop and enjoyed lunch and the exhibit in the visitor center.  They said it was worth it–a once in a life time experience. While I did not spend as much time outside I certainly concur that seeing the Cliffs of Mohr was a once in a lifetime experience. And after all it was just rain!

Next we headed to Bunratty Castle where we traveled back in time to this formidable castle built in the 15th century. It has been preserved just as it would have looked in the 1500s. Our tour of the castle included the great hall, main guard and south solar. Then we visited the Folk Park, an authentic re-creation of life in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century.

Finally we headed back on the road to Adare, a beautiful, little town; we are staying in a lovely hotel just outside downtown. We have a very short stay here, but headed into town for dinner.  Most of our group went to Collins on the recommendation of our bus driver Bill.  It was a great call – delicious food, wonderful service, and very reasonable prices. Thanks Bill!

Throughout our stay we are blessed to have John as our tour guide from World Strides. He shares wonderful stories and history of this incredible country and it's people. He is taking very good care of us.

Tuesday we head to Glenstal Abbey (I’m so excited to be at another Benedictine Monastery!) where we attend Mass and the choir performs an informal concert.  The monks have planned a schedule that truly demonstrates Benedictine hospitality with tea, lunch, and an afternoon snack. BTW – I am loving all the tea and scones. Then we head to Killarney where we will spend the next two nights. This evening the students will perform a formal concert which I am certain will impress this community.


Members of the Saint Anselm College choir have arrived in Ireland and have already sang at Mass and performed a concert.

The group of 42 students and several members of the college staff arrived in Shannon, Ireland bright and early on Saturday morning. They boarded a bus to Galway and then another to Knock where they visited a special Holy Site: the Shrine and Museum at the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.

The story goes, in 1879, an apparition of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared at an altar on the south gable of the church and was witnessed for more than two hours. The tour of the Shrine grounds included the Apparition Chapel and original Gable Wall, the Papal Cross, the Basilica, and the Chapel of Reconciliation.

After an eventful bus trip and several hours exploring Knock, they continued on their way to Westport where they'd spend a couple nights.

On Sunday morning, the group explored Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery and walled garden in Galway. After viewing the gardens and abbey, the choir sang at Mass for the Nuns of the Monastic Church of Kylemore. An informal concert followed.

Tomorrow the group will explore the Adare area traveling to the Cliffs of Moher.

Lifeguard: First-Hand Account of the Boston Marathon Bombings

Ally Doyle '13 (left) holds an American flag during the Sunday vigil held on campus following the Boston Marathon bombings. Photo courtesy of Jay Reiter and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

On April 15, a number of Saint Anselm runners and "lifeguards" found themselves stuck in Boston not knowing what to do. The following is a first-hand account from Allyn Doyle '13, as she describes the moments leading up to the bombings and the role she played in getting everyone home safely.

As the first of our Anselmian runners powered up Heartbreak Hill, us “lifeguards” (a bandana-wearing group of cross country runners who jump in at Mile 20 if Saint Anselm marathoners are struggling) began to wonder if were even necessary on such a beautiful day. Everyone seemed to have a running buddy and everyone seemed to be doing great. But, as runners, our eagerness to move got the best of us and we jumped in one-by-one. We are runners after all. I watched as my teammates excitedly weaved in with the marathoners and waited until I thought I could be useful. Eventually, I jumped in with Jimmy Doogan, a fellow senior whose stride was still strong and whose determination to finish could be felt by anyone within a fifty-yard parameter. Jimmy didn’t need me but I was getting antsy and decided to go anyway. By Mile 25, I was glad I joined him and quickly discovered how fitting my title as a lifeguard really was.

As we jogged along, we slowly started to get the feeling that something wasn’t right. When we approached  Mile 24, I recall seeing a man frantically trying to call his son who he said was at the finish line. At the time, I had no idea why that was important. So we ran. At Mile 24, we had heard a rumor of bombs going off, but no one was stopping us. As a line of 10 police cruisers flew by us, phone calls and text messages started pouring in. Just before cell service was cut, my brother managed to get through and told me what had happened. At that moment, I was sure of two things: first, that my role as a lifeguard just became very real, and second, that I needed to get in touch with my dad, the Chief of Police in Merrimack, New Hampshire as soon as possible. He would have the information and emergency response training I would need to help me guide these runners home.

Jimmy and I were stopped with the rest of the runners about a half mile away from the finish line and were told, well…nothing.  At this point, cell phone service had been cut and I had no way of communicating with anyone. As I jumped on one barrier and Jimmy on another (yes, after having run 25 miles…I’m still in shock), we flagged down and grouped together as many Saint Anselm runners as we could. We managed to gather a group of about 8 or 9 and I looked again to my phone as my dad, via iMessage, directed me to stay in the middle of the road, avoid trash cans, and that the men he knew on the Boston police force told him that I needed to get out of Boston immediately. I had no idea why I was supposed to be away from the edges of the road because we still weren’t sure what had happened at the finish line. With these instructions to guide us and with no other information, we began walking.

As we walked, our frustration grew. We were frustrated that we had no information, that we had no cell service, and that we had no way of knowing if our friends were okay. I had never felt more disconnected and more unsure of what to do. I knew I wanted to get the marathoners someplace warm where they could sit down and maybe get something to eat. I wanted to get them away but I truly didn’t know how far away was far enough. I looked back at my group of marathoners and felt sick as they shivered in the trash bags so many generous Bostonians offered them from out of their houses. I just wanted to make sure they were safe and I just wanted to have some idea about where to go. Thankfully, we crossed paths with another group of Saint Anselm runners, one of whom knew Boston well and led us to the student center at Northeastern where I was finally able to write down who I had with me, coordinate with the group that was stuck at Boston College, and get a call through to our own Coach Paul Finn. From Northeastern, we were able to catch our bus, pick up the group at BC and head back to campus.

The bus carrying Saint Anselm College runners and lifeguards arrives back on campus late into the night on April 15.

The bus ride back was filled with a mixture of emotions. Some people were clearly exhausted but relieved while others still looked like they were on edge and shaky.  Undoubtedly, however, there was not one person on that bus who wanted anything more than to be back on campus at Saint Anselm College. All day, we knew how worried everyone was on campus and it killed us that were unable to contact the school to let them know we were okay. As hard as it was in Boston, I cannot imagine having been on campus feeling completely helpless as the day unfolded.

When the bus pulled into campus and we saw the crowd, I was reminded of why I came here and why it is going to be so hard to leave. This campus is my home and these people are my family. The love and support in that crowd is something I will never forget.  As I embraced classmates, professors, and administrators, I couldn’t even conjure up the words I needed to express how grateful I was to be home and to have such incredible people in my life. All of us in Boston were comforted by the fact that this school responded with such compassion and concern for our well-being. The day was a tragedy, but the response of the greater Boston community and Saint Anselm in particular embody exactly what it means to be an Anselmian: to care for each other as we care for our family, to let love outshine hate, and to continue to run because only then can anger be left behind.

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The Process of Criminal Justice

As I sat glued to the television in my South Boston home watching one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history come to an end, all I could think was, ‘Okay, now what?’ Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive and as far as we knew the immediate threat to public safety had been addressed. While this was a moment of great exuberance for so many people that had been affected by the events that had taken place over the prior five days, the only thought going through my mind was that so much more was about to begin.

This is not to say that I wasn't ecstatic that he was caught, but my mind automatically began thinking about "The Process." How is this guy going to get a fair trial? All of those people dancing, cheering, and shooting off fireworks, well…they're all potential jurors. Who hasn't heard about this? What about his Miranda warnings? Wait a minute, slow down, I thought to myself, why do I care about this guy's rights at this point? After all that he had supposedly done and all of the terror, pain, and fear that he had created, why did I care how he was treated?

The answer I came up with is that we're all part of something larger here. We bond together after events like this only to come out stronger, right? BostonStrong was originally a Twitter hashtag that has become an international rally cry for strength in time of need, for unity in a time of fear and trepidation, and for being bigger and better than those who try to intimidate us and change our way of life. And this is exactly where I found the answer to my question of why I care about this guy's rights.

It is because we are part of something larger here, we're part of an advancing, evolving society. As citizens of the United States, we have entered into a social contract with others in which we give up the right to personal vengeance (as well as other freedoms and liberties) in order to allow the state to better protect us, and more importantly mete out punishments when necessary. And while I can't say that I wouldn't like to see Tsarnaev released without guard to the entire city of Boston, I also understand that whether or not we like it (especially at times like this), we are all part of something greater and as much as it pains us, we must trust in the system to uphold its side of the contract. So however long it may take and however much it may cost (not only in dollars but in additional tears…and angst…and pain…and hatred) for The Process to do its job, we as citizens don't need to sit idly by, believing that we have no say in what's taking place because we have already done and continue to do our part in upholding our end of the bargain. We are being strong…BostonStrong!!

This blog was submitted by Dr. Christopher Bruell, an instructor in the Criminal Justice Department at Saint Anselm College.

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Boston Marathon Bombings: Saint Anselm Community Responds

The effects of the bombing at the Boston Marathon continue to reverberate. Saint Anselm College students, staff, faculty and alumni ran, assisted or watched the marathon.They helped students assemble and return safely to campus. They witnessed the carnage caused by the two bombs. They participated in the pursuit and investigation that ensued. They followed the events closely through social media and television. And they worried until their loved ones were found to be safe.

A number of Anselmians have reached out to us with stories or reflections, and we decided to present them in this blog. It is a space where all Anselmians can share stories, offer and seek wisdom, and find pastoral guidance as we come to terms with the events that we experienced either first hand or from afar. We hope you will participate.

Blogs | Videos | Photos

Lifeguard: First-Hand Account

On April 15, a number of Saint Anselm runners and "lifeguards" found themselves stuck in Boston not knowing what to do. Allyn Doyle '13, recounts how she helped get everyone home safely.

Fr. Jonathan's Sunday Vigil Address

On Sunday, April 21, members of the community came together for a vigil and memorial walk around the new campus quad. Read remarks by Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B.

In Praise of the First Responders

Many of the first responders risked their lives to protect civilians and law enforcement. Peter DelRose Jr. '06 pays tribute Tim Menton '06, and his brother Patrick.

A Tighter Sense of Community

There are many ways in which this tragedy has helped bring us all closer together. Elizabeth P. Ossoff, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Psychology, explains.

The Process of Criminal Justice

So, why should we care about the way in which the bombing suspect is treated? Christopher Bruell, PhD., an instructor in the Criminal Justice Department explains.

How to Recover from Traumatic Exposure

Recovering from tragic events can take some time and effort. Loretta Brady, PhD., Associate Professor of Psychology, explains the ways in which you can bolster your own resilience.

Video: Sunday Vigil Memorial Walk

Paul Finn, PhD., Cross Country and Track Head Coach and Professor of Psychology, gave a brief talk to his runners just prior to the start of the Sunday Vigil event. Watch the video.

Photos: Sunday Vigil Memorial Walk

The first two laps were for the marathoners and lifeguards who were in Boston on Monday. The second two honored those who died or were injured. Photos by Cory True '09.

In Praise of the First Responders

Tim Menton, Class of '06, and his brother Patrick Menton are first responders from my town, Watertown.

After the week this city, state and country have had, I figured people wouldn’t mind hearing a story about just how great our first responders really are.

Growing up with Tim and Pat, I am not shocked at all that they turned out to be the heroes that they are today. While I am sure they appreciate the well wishes, I can tell you they both wish it had never happened. To be honest it blows my mind that that this story shows the two complete opposite ends of the spectrum of good and evil. Those terrorist brothers represent the pure evil in this world that we can only hope is defeated by the heroes that protect and serve this great country, like these amazing brothers Tim and Pat Menton.

Tim, a cop, was one of the guys in the first group of officers to arrive at the scene. His older brother, a firefighter, arrived shortly after. What I can tell you is they both described it as terrifying. I want to make sure I credit the fact that not only did Watertown have officers on scene, but there was also another MBTA officer, as well as Boston officers and Mass. State Troopers. The description of what went down is straight out of a movie. Bullets were flying overhead and explosives were being tossed at them. Basically what they described sounded like a war zone. The officers obviously had to return fire, and at one point that second terrorist drove at them. While other officers were in pursuit or securing the area Tim turned his attention to the wounded MBTA officer, Richard Donahue. His brother, who is also an EMT, was in an ambulance on the way to the scene not knowing if the officer down was his younger brother or one of the many officers he knows. As he arrived on scene with his fellow EMT responder, they pulled up to the fallen officer and his brother covered in blood. Tim had decided to keep the pressure on the wound of the officer’s leg. The EMTs jumped into action and began to work on officer Donahue. Keep in mind these men are not armed or protected and they still had the courage to do their job, but they needed a driver. Tim jumped in and drove to the hospital as the two EMTs and a Mass. State Trooper were trying to save the life of officer Donahue.

Obviously, there will be more information of what actually happened at the scene and for the remaining 23 hour standoff but I wanted to recognize some of the guys who were there, most of whom I don’t even know. These guys sacrificed their lives to protect the people of this now very proud little town which unfortunately is now known worldwide. While I know all of the other law enforcement agencies and our military personnel deserve just as much credit in bringing those terrorists to justice, I wanted to make sure our guys from Watertown understand that we very proudly support their efforts.

I want to personally thank, and on behalf of my family and I am sure my town, state and country all of the men and women who worked tirelessly to bring peace back to our area.

A thank you and condolences to the family and friends of fallen MIT officer Sean Collier.

A thank you and well wishes of a speedy recovery to MBTA officer Richard Donahue.

A thank you to all of the MBTA, Boston and State police officers who chased those two terrorist down.

With a sense of pride and relief, a big thank you to the following Watertown Police officers who were at that horrific scene:

Patrolmen Reynolds, Zengo, Colon, and Comick as well as Sergeants MacLellan and Pugliese.

A big thank you the other EMT James Caruso, who responded and bravely went to work to help save officer Donahue’s life, at a terrifying scene.

And finally, to my two friends, who I couldn’t be more proud of and relieved that they have come out of this situation ok,

Thank You

God Bless America!

This blog was submitted by Peter DelRose Jr. '06

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The Pastoral Reaction

The following is a transcript of the speech Father Jonathan gave to at the Sunday Vigil on campus on April 21.

On Monday, April 14, we all heard the shocking news of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Even with the disbelief that something so awful could occur so near to us, my heart was terrified at the thought that some harm could have come to any of our many students, faculty, alumni, or friends. We knew that many students were present at the Marathon either as participants, assistants, or spectators — but we did not know the names of all there and for hours we lived with an awful uncertainty about their well being. For me, it brought back the feelings I had on 9/11: the pain of not knowing and having to wait; the sorrow for those lost and injured who had no direct connection to us; and the terrifying thought that one of our precious students could be harmed or worse. We had some very, very tense hours but God had mercy on us as we had prayed that day and all came home safely.

I’m pleading with you tonight. When God says love one another, He’s not kidding, he means it. When God says forgive, he’s not kidding, he means it.

What we saw that day was an example of the very best of the human spirit, moved by God's grace, to help those who were affected, who were suffering, who had died. And we saw that goodness immediately after witnessing the very worst that the human spirit can do — to injure and kill the innocent: a human spirit closed to God's invitation and grace.

We look at that and we say: "How could this happen?"or "How could other human beings be so coldly cruel?" And we have every right to ask that, but we must also realize that we might do likewise if separated from the real and authentic love of God. We need to take this moment to look into our own hearts and see if there is anything there that keeps us from living as we should: are there prejudices, hatreds, suspicions, in our hearts and minds that keep us from becoming what God has intended us to be?

We must listen to God’s voice in our heart. When God says, "love your neighbor," He means it. He's not kidding. When God says love one another, He means it, He's not kidding. When God says forgive, He means it. He is not kidding.

Today we remember those lost and hurt, all those families and fellow citizens affected forever by what happened. We mourn with them and we pray for them. But today we give thanks with all our hearts and souls for the goodness shown by so many, especially by our law enforcement and health care professionals, by all those who selflessly came to the aid of others. I give thanks especially, that all of you are here safe and sound. And I pray that you will continue to stay close to God, to be of support to one another.

Thank you and God love you all.

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The Psychological Reaction to the Boston Marathon Bombings

The bombing of this past Boston Marathon has left many of us shaken, anxious, unsure of the future and just plain angry. Something many of our community members here at Saint Anselm hold dear as a joyous event was marred with tragedy. Certainly our own students who participated in this race, either by cheering on their colleagues or acting as a “lifeguard” for some, have sometimes struggled to make sense of it all.

But I believe there is something else that has come out of this. Yes, the horror is there and we will heal, but what will help us heal is what we have seen in the aftermath of these events. The many stories of unselfish acts of kindness and community remind us that we are not here going through this alone. Reading the newspapers this past week we see incident after incident of people reaching out and connecting with strangers to help them in their distress and helping the first responders, be that on the day of the tragedy or in these days after as we heal.

Stanley Milgram, the social psychologist best known for his studies on obedience, once lamented the rise of cities as entities that would isolate us and disconnect us from our neighbors. He relates how people in a city only reciprocated to the outstretched hand of students instructed to shake hands with strangers 38.5% of the time, but those in small towns reciprocated 66.7% of the time. What we saw in the aftermath of 9/11 and most recently in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon were people in and around Boston and even across the country coming together in a type of solidarity. It was as if the tragic events reminded people that even though they were in an impersonal place like a city, what they—what we—have gone through has been intensely personal. We are reminded of our interconnectedness in a profound way. We saw the good in each other in the face of evil and chose to overcome that evil by reaching out and helping each other.

Helping reconnects us with our sense of self as a positive thing. It reminds us that we have good in us and suggests that the good is the stronger part of our nature and can endure. The acts of kindness reinforce each other and a contagion of sociability extends beyond the isolated one. Will this behavior last?  When the reminders are there, it will to some extent. The immediacy of the tragedy leads to acts of heroism, but the reminders of the aftermath prompt us to reconnect to that kindness and help us to “pay it forward.”

Elizabeth P. Ossoff, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Saint Anselm College.

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How to Recover from Traumatic Exposure

When I left for 5 months in Cyprus, with 5 small children along for the journey, everyone told us to "be safe". For most people in New England the thought of being mere miles from Syria, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, conveys a sense of insecurity. I can say that even with the much-publicized financial issues effecting Cyprus we have been blessed to feel completely safe during our stay there. It was upsetting to be in the midst of that safe feeling and encounter the affects of the Boston Marathon bombing as it was happening 5,000 miles away. Within minutes I was messaging my dear friend and mentor Paul Finn to see if there was anything I could do.

See how funny our brains are? I was 5,000 miles away, sending a message on Facebook as the bombings were unfolding, and trying to be of use in whatever way I could. While I am sure Paul appreciated it later on, it was not the most useful way to be of service during a crisis- I know, I have taken several disaster preparedness trainings and am a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma, conflict, and recovery. When I couldn't reach him I hit my other social media to get a sense of when and what the last messages posted were from people I knew were at the Marathon. I checked news outlets, twitter, and the college page to see updates. In short I sought information to obtain a sense of control over the uncontrollable events unfolding. As I learned that loved ones were physically safe I began to read more to try and understand when it would be "over" (suspects identified, apprehended, etc.). Once it was "over", I read stories, looked at memorials, changed profile pictures to honor those lost. I did small things that made me feel connected to the event, connected to those affected, and connected to what is good and true about our world. Because I was actually feeling angry and disconnected from all those things.

Sound familiar yet? Should I mention the tears, bad dreams, and frequent iphone checking I engaged in all week as well? If this sounds familiar, you probably had a normal set of reactions to an unfortunately normative event. Normative in that every day, everywhere, people are exposed to unspeakable violence and horror. Some of that violence and horror affects us personally, and some of it is experienced in highly public ways. Whatever the event, there are typical reactions to it that relate to our basic human needs of safety, control, and connection. If you found, or find yourself even 12 days later, feeling the things I described here it doesn't mean you are going crazy or have PTSD; in fact PTSD is something we reserve for a least a month after the event, and only when the responses are interfering with regular daily life. Feeling sad, angry, and tearful for months after the event is a normal human reaction. We do know some people are more sensitive to traumatic exposure and there are things you can do to bolster your own resilience as you, and the community, recover.

Pay attention to routines, and get back to them. It is okay to be changed by an awful event, some of that change will feel negative, but some of it may in time feel like a positive thing, even though there was tragedy.

Get good sleep. Meaning, set a bed time and stick to it.

Limit the amount and timing of your media exposure; checking the article to read more before bed is not going to help you put thoughts out of your mind, or give you any real answers.

Engage in something bigger than yourself. It will help you see the big picture, feel less helpless, and feel more connected to others. If you have seen a counselor in the past, you might want to check in. If you haven't but feel it is hard to stop thinking about it, or hard to hear others talk about it, you may want to touch base with a counselor, spiritual advisor, or mentor. Get a "gut check" and help yourself find balance in the midst of the chaos.

Celebrate small joys. It can feel like you are not taking things seriously if you are enjoying yourself, but life is not just about pain, it is also about joy. Being joyful increases our resilience.

Eat well, drink smart, and pay attention to substance use and other "bad habits." Trauma and problem behaviors like drug addiction, shopping and gambling often go hand-in-hand. Notice if you are doing too much of something to try and control how you feel and check in with those that love you about what they are noticing.

Talking about the event can help, but it isn't always helpful. Sometimes living your "regular" life is more helpful. Being gentle and patient with yourself and others around you will be the most help, since resilience needs a soft place to land and take root.


Loretta Brady, PhD., is an associate professor of psychology at Saint Anselm College and was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant in Cyprus from January to June 2013.

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