Let’s Hop on the Bus

Following sister Simone Campbell and the “Nuns on the Bus” has given me hope in our political system. I believe sister and the nuns, are our modern day Isaiah and Jeremiah, calling us to stop worshipping false idols (money, power and prestige) and to start worshiping at the one true God’s altar, the altar of love, compassion and care for all of creation. Thank you Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Give Me the Internet or Give Me Death!

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

An open letter to my Church family

In my sophomore year at the Passionist Prep in Warrenton Missouri, I won a speech contest delivering Patrick Henry’s “Call to Arms” in front of the assembled student body and faculty. The urgency Henry presented to the fledgling colonists in 1775, just six months before the death of St. Paul of the Cross by the way, is brought home with his famous last line: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Today, I believe the Church is in much the same situation the colonists found themselves, with a few fundamental differences. The colonists were at the mercy of a government that didn’t serve them. Today the church is at the mercy of outmoded ways of delivering their much needed message of hope, joy and the power of the Cross to a suffering world. Paraphrasing Patrick Henry I’d say: “Give me the Internet or give me death.”

Haley Van Dyck in the above TED Talk presents a roadmap to such a change. She tells how she along with a few others, after having successfully used the Internet to elect President Obama, were charged by President Obama to apply these same techniques to providing government services to students, the poor, veterans, immigrants, the elderly. She tells about the four-step process that is bridging that divide and beginning to deliver services in record time. The four steps are:

  1. Recruit the very best talent you can find for a short term of duty.
  2. Strategically identify the most important services the government offers
  3. Pair these incredibly talented people with the people already providing the services
  4. Give them connection to everybody in the government from the President down to the front line people delivering the services

I think St. Paul of the Cross if he were around today would be using the Internet much the way Van Dyck is doing at the Federal Government. We are not in 1775, the year St. Paul of the Cross died. We must enter the 21st Century.


To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Pope Francis is an amazing leader. Besides his staunch support of the oppressed and marginalized of the world, at the age of 79 he has a Twitter account. I have an account and follow 119 people and 50 people follow me. Pope Francis has almost 10 million followers and follows no one. I opened my account in October 2011. Pope Francis joined January 2012. Evidently getting there earlier doesn’t guarantee more followers.

Siyanda Mohutsiwa, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, a writer and a social media maven also has a Twitter account. She joined in February of 2011, has tweeted 49.2 thousand tweets, and follows 1,643 other tweeters. Like many young people she questions the world she is inheriting. She, as Pope Francis evidently does, thinks Twitter is an important media in which to express those concerns. You get a sense on how successful she is when you see that she has garnered 17.7 thousand followers and delivered the above 2015 above TED Talk. I believe she is a remarkable young lady.

So what is this social media business and do you think maybe if you are involved in sharing “Good News” it might deserve your consideration? Brian Cradle, Communications Professor at Villanova University in a September 2015 article in the Washington Post explains why the Vatican is moving into social media:

“I think they are moving from an approach that sees contemporary media as a source of contamination to an understanding that there are ways in which contemporary communications technology allow for a different way of engaging with people of faith, both within and outside the Catholic Church,” he said. “To approach it not simply as: ‘What are things that are harmful?’ but what opportunities might be there for the church to engage people, like, what is the pope doing about issues of social justice?” (Brian Cradle, Communications Professor at Villanova University September 2015 Washington Post)

If you think you might want to try Twitter, it’s easy. I suggest:

  • Open an account by going to twitter.com. It takes seconds.

  • Find some people you want to follow by typing their name in the Search field and then click “Follow”.

  • Spend 10 minutes a day opening Twitter and see what’s trending and what the people you are following are saying.

I’ll bet you’ll find it an amazing source of news, news from the people you think are real sources of news like in my case, Pope Francis.

Mom Says: Nothing is Impossible!

I’m not sure my brother Terry remembers it, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. Terry was struggling with one of the large storm windows he had just washed, trying to hang it on the hooks meant to keep it in place. Our mother was at the foot of the step ladder, encouraging and giving advice when Terry finally blurted out: “This is impossible, mom, it just won’t fit!” Mom told Terry to come down off the ladder. When he and the window were safely back on terra firma, she took the window in her hands, climbed the ladder and as she set it on the hooks said: “Nothing is impossible!”

To this day, I still believe nothing is impossible, even when it comes to solving the problems of violence in our city, the loss of jobs despite the ever-increasing availability of goods, or the isolation so many of us feel living in our megalopolis. Kirsten Dirksen, a Harvard graduate and co-founder of faircompanies tells another story of overcoming the impossible in today’s YouTube selection. While it’s in Spanish, there are subtitles. I hope you can enjoy it.

Three Everyday Stories for Those Who Have Eyes to See and Ears to Hear.

I keep listening to TED Talks expecting to run out of inspiring stories of visionary people. I’ve been going there quite awhile and that hasn’t yet happened. TED, I believe has discovered the way to unearth greatness and I feel no need to copy them. I’ll just continue following and sharing.

This week Mia Birdsong begins by telling a secret I learned when I started teaching in 1970. If you want to solve problems, go to the source for your answers, not in a condescending or judgmental manner, but humbly seeking understanding (compassion) and learning. I believe every real teacher knows this intuitively even if they are not able to express it.

Besides teaching, I sold life insurance for sixteen years. My clientele while different in social standing, age and backgrounds, were absolutely no different in their need to solve the problems in their lives, problems, most of us think we would like to have. It’s a case of the grass is always greener… My insurance clients, like my students had to examine their own lives and resources and come up with a solution. As their agent, I did what I did as a teacher, listen, made some suggestions and encourage the journey.

If you take the time out of your busy day to watch Mia’s TED talk you will learn of Jobana, Sintia and Bertha dealing with problem of making money while trying to raise little kids. You’ll meet Brianna, a child who taught her friend who only spoke Spanish, how to speak English. Finally, you’ll get to meet Bakir, who will welcome you in to his BlackStar Cafe with “Welcome black home!” There Mia will awaken your senses with tales of Baakir’s Algiers jerk chicken and buttermilk drops which according to Mia is “several steps above a donut hole.” You’ll also discover a community center that the wealthiest of communities can only dream of.


How to Kill Your Dreams in Five Easy Steps

Somewhere along the journey of my life I’ve learned that if I want to be successful, I need to hang around successful people and maybe even more importantly, do what they do. In today’s TED selection, Bel Pesce, a successful entrepreneur, an author, founder of the school, FazINOVA, a networker (she knows the importance of collaboration), a member of Sandbox… She is an amazing young woman. I hope you enjoy her as much as I have.

I’m reminded of the song from “South Pacific”, Happy Talk: “…if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.

L’chaim, and to dreams!

Pentecost–Discovering Your Voice

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

“There are two important days in your life, the day you are born and the day you figure out why you were born.” Words from Boniface Mwangi in today’s TED Talk.

I remember the day when I realized that I was no long afraid, the day I realized why I was  born. Actually, I slipped quietly into the church doors on Belmont Avenue in Chicago hoping no one would notice. I was going to an AA meeting. That was nothing new, I’d been doing that for seven years. This meeting however, was identified as a “Gay” AA meeting. I was afraid going in wondering what would people think who saw me doing that.

I’ve learned that no one paid any attention to my going in. The only people who paid attention were the beautiful people gathered for the meeting who welcomed me accepting and loving me for who I said I was, not for the person I thought they wanted me to be. That was 25 years ago and I’m still spreading the Good News, God doesn’t make junk and by saying yes to who I am, I now truly live.

A Path, a Task and a Key

Dave O'Donnell
Dave O’Donnell

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them… (MK 9:2-10)

I believe that everything Jesus claimed about Himself, applies to each and every one of us. It seems clear to me the Father gave Jesus the task to show us the way to travel, a path back to our Father in heaven. The Transfiguration of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah show us that God provided Jesus with guides to assist Him with His task (teach us the way) on His journey to the cross.


The Father gave Jesus a Path (to journey) a task (to do) a cross (to overcome) and a key (to make it possible). The Key is Jesus’ consent—that only He can give—“Not my will but Thine be done”. (Jesus never left His source the Father)


God will never abandon us even when we abandon God. I believe God gives everyone of us a path, a task, a cross and a key and heaven is our home and destination.