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It was impressive last week to watch the funeral procession of Muhammad Ali through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky and also to hear the tributes offered to him. He was a major figure when I was growing up and an Ali fight was always a big event. At Ali’s funeral, the comedian Billy Crystal spoke. He described a time in which Ali invited him to join him for a run at Ali’s country club. Crystal said that he could not because that club excluded Jews. Ali’s response: “I’m a black Muslim and they let me run.” Crystal later found out that Ali never ran in that club again.

Billy Crystal went on to say that even in Ali’s later years, when he was not able to speak, he continued to be a powerful force for humanitarian missions. Crystal said, “Ultimately, he became a silent messenger for peace, who taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, not walls.”

This weekend, I am in Philadelphia and early this coming week, I will be attending a Pastor/Guardian meeting in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Once a year, the pastors and guardians of Holy Name Province (the province of which we friars are part of – based in New York City) meet to talk over different aspects of our Franciscan life together. My role here at St. Francis is both pastor of the parish and guardian of the local house of friars. I am driving up and back, and looking forward to a few days in Philly ahead of the meetings.

This weekend and next St. Francis hosts a Justice Theater Project production of “Ragtime.” I looked in on one of the performances last weekend and it’s an impressive show, highly recommended! I believe tickets are still available for most shows. This week, Fr. David will be having surgery on his right knee. He will need several weeks to recover from the surgery so you will not be seeing him until later in the summer.

We ask that you keep him in your prayers.

Blessings on your week!

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