Archive for December, 2011

The radio station has been broadcasting about “changes” coming to the station and messages that “change is good.”  Apparently, whatever the change is coming is set to take place on December 31, 2011 at noon.  “New Year, new radio station is coming to 88.1 FM…”  All the songs the station is playing have “change” in the lyrics or title.  The website says nothing (at least as far as I can see) about these “changes.”  The robotic female voice that keeps repeating “Change is good” sounds so Orwellian and eerie.  Listening live now has all the charm and appeal as a message from Big Brother.  Decide for yourself.


Will the “new radio station” be student radio with a different format?  Has the frequency been taken over by a private radio licensee?  I hope the station isn’t going corporate and boring.  Not all “change is good.”


If the station is going the way of the dinosaur, I, for one, will miss it.  It’s one of the few decent stations in this area and I’ve been exposed to some great new and different artists on The Escape.


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Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church and Hellenic Cultural Center, Livonia, Michigan.

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Our baby Jesus has been stolen from the nativity scene downtown.  This is a really old prank, that happens in cities and towns all over the country.  It’s about as lame and cliche as toilet papering people’s yards.  The thieves are probably teenage boys that thought they’d really get a great laugh out of somebody by ridding the nativity scene of its centerpiece.

I hardly think this is a federal offense, but it is a bit of obnoxious to steal during Christmas, a supposed time of giving.  It’s also disrespectful to people that feel like the nativity represents the “true meaning of Christmas.”

That said, the nativity scene does have  an (oh-so-slight) humorous element without the figure.

The Nativity Scene

Where's the baby?

A surprised shepard


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Nativity scene, Plymouth, Michigan

How do you feel about a nativity scene being displayed at Kellogg Park, which is city property?  I’m looking for respectful dialog on this issue, not personal attacks, attacks against people of faith or people without faith, etc.  If you like the nativity scene and think it’s appropriate, say why.  If not, and you care to discuss it, share your reasons.

I’ll go on record as saying I’m for it.  I think this is still primarily a Christian country and Christians (observant and otherwise) pump billions and billions of dollars into the economy around the Christmas season.  We should able to be open and honest about the religious implications of the season.  I don’t think other religious displays should have to be placed in the park to balance things out, so to speak.  I am a lawyer and I understand the Supreme Court has said religious displays can be part of a larger, non-sectarian celebration.  I just happen not to care what the Supreme Court thinks on the subject.

On the other hand, I could live with all holiday displays being pulled out of the park entirely.  Why?  If society wants separation of church and state — a concept not found in the Constitution — it’s only fair to pull out everything.  I don’t think the government should honor or recognize purely secular things, especially stuff like Santa Claus and elfs and snowmen.

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With heavy hearts, my wife and I attended the Compassionate Friends Candlelight Vigil held last night in Kellogg Park.  The vigil honors and remembers those children lost too soon.  Sadly, we were there to mourn the loss our dear friends’ daughter, Abby Giamporcaro.  While it is painful to watch people you care about suffer — we suffer too in having lost this beautiful young girl from our lives — it is good to remember the one you lost, in our case Abby.  The vigil was a great reminder that our loved ones are what matter most, especially around the holidays, and that we should never take our loved ones, especially our children, for granted.  I’m grateful we had the opportunity to attend.

The Observer & Eccentric has a nice article about the vigil:


When Shelby Gunn’s name was read during the Compassionate Friends candlelight vigil Sunday in downtown Plymouth’s Kellogg Park, it shot through Ralph Hodges’ heart like an arrow.

Hodges winced, and his gaze dropped to the ground as he wiped the tears from them, the name-reading a sharp reminder of the niece he lost when she was killed by a drunk driver on I-275 in Canton 16 months ago.

Hodges was at the annual candlelight vigil, sponsored by the Livonia chapter of the Compassionate Friends, along with his wife and Shelby’s aunt, Debbie Hodges.

“She left us far, far too early … This is a way we can express our feelings,” Debbie Hodges said. “I think (Gunn) would be proud to know we’ve kept her in our hearts and in our thoughts. If it was one of us, Shelby would be out here doing the same thing.”

The vigil drew hundreds of people to Kellogg Park, all mourning a friend, family member or loved one in one way or another. Hundreds of candles were lit in honor of children lost too soon.

Gunn’s name was one of more than 700 read by Compassionate Friends Gail Lafferty and Pat O’Donnell. Lafferty, a Livonia resident who lost her 18-year-old son son, Max, in a 1995 car accident, said the 700-plus names read were the most in the event’s 15-year history.

“Christmas is hard on parents who’ve lost their children,” Lafferty said. “It helps me get through the holidays. It’s a very special night.”

Kassi Gilbert of Canton attended Sunday’s vigil nursing perhaps the freshest pain. Her 14-year-old daughter, Abigail Giamporcaro, died suddenly Sept. 29. Gilbert said her counselor referred her to the Compassionate Friends organization, and she read about the vigil on the group’s website.

Gilbert said Abigail was “very energetic, full of bounce and spirit,” with “some attitude” not uncommon in teenagers.

“It was really hard to hear her name,” said Gilbert, choking back tears. “This is something you have to do to acknowledge she was here, and she was important. It helps us remember her and affirm how much we love her, and that that will continue, even though she’s not here.”

It was the second year attending the vigil for Teri Gunn, Shelby’s mother, a Westland resident who attended her first Compassionate Friends vigil last year just months after her daughter’s tragic death.

She said this year’s event was a bit tougher to take.

“I think last year I was pretty numb,” Gunn said. “The numbness has worn off.”


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The Plymouth Observer & Eccentric has an interesting article about changes coming to the Roman Catholic parishes in Plymouth and our sister community, Canton.  It appears that the Canton parishes will see more drastic changes than in Plymouth.  All this is based on a well-publicized report of the Archdiocese of Detroit, that essentially indicates a number of churches in the diocese will have to be merged or closed in the coming years.  One of the problems, apparently, is the decrease in young priests.  A number of older priests will be retiring soon and there aren’t the young men behind them to fill their slots.


Parishioners at St. Kenneth Catholic Church and Our Lady of Good Counsel could notice some differences as a result of a report released by the Archdiocese of Detroit last week, but any changes aren’t likely to be major.

While the report calls for the two Plymouth churches to “partner” for at least some services, neither parish is slated to close or merge, and any changes are likely three to five years away.

The changes will be more dramatic in Canton, where St. John Neumann, Resurrection and St. Thomas a’Becket likely will merge into one parish with three worship sites.

Mark Curtis, who serves as chair of the OLGC Parish Council and represented the church on the planning committee that forged the archdiocese report, said no impact will likely be felt in Plymouth parishes, at least at first.

“We don’t really expect any impact initially,” Curtis said. “The entire process is trying to get out in front of a statistical reality that there is going to be a dramatic reduction in the number of priests available in the next 10-15 years. As the archdiocese did about six years ago, we went through the process of identifying where are the Catholics now, and where should they worship?”

Curtis said the strength of the Catholic presence in the Plymouth-Canton area (OLGC has some 8,900 parishioners) left the area unscathed in terms of closings. While at least nine churches are set to be closed under the plan, none of them are in Plymouth or Canton.

“What the archdiocese directed every parish to do is identify a partner,” Curtis said. “What it’s not going to mean is any sort of closure. (St. Kenneth and OLGC) will both continue to be independent parishes, have their own pastors. We’ll look to see where we can share resources where it might make sense, but members won’t notice a difference (in services), certainly not for the foreseeable future.”

What Curtis said is more important, perhaps, than paring down the number of parishes is shoring up the number of priests. According to

the report, 39 (13 percent) of the 293 priests currently serving in the archdiocese are 70 years old or older, and another 21 are eligible for retirement in the next three years. The average age of priests is 62.

Curtis said a key component of the archdiocese plan is to foster vocational choices that draw more young people into the seminary. One of the priorities put forward by Archbishop Allen Vigneron was to “get creative” and figure out how to foster vocations.

Church officials, Curtis said, need to start talking about the priesthood in church, with the young people, in order to at least make them consider the possibility of serving God.

“God hasn’t stopped calling men to the priesthood, men have stopped answering,” Curtis said. “The idea would be to get men to start answering the call. If we’re not talking about it in the parish, and more specifically in our families, we can’t expect young men to hear that call and answer it.”


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