Monday, June 15, 2015

Celebrating Community

Celebrating Community

The Salesian Rule of Life commands that every year the provincial and local communities gather around their respective superiors (the provincial, the director) and celebrate a "community feast day as a sign of fraternal communion and an expression of [their] gratitude" (Reg. 42).  The Salesian Sisters have a similar rule; in fact, they call their celebration "gratitude day."  (In days of old, the day was called "the provincial's feast day" or "the director's feast day.)

The custom probably is rooted in a tradition going back to Don Bosco's time, when some of the alumni of the Oratory organized themselves for a big celebration of their beloved father's name's day--which they mistakenly thought was June 24, the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist. (Don Bosco in fact was named for St. John the Evangelist.)  Ever since, June 24 has been celebrated as the feast of Don Bosco and then of his successors.
Most of our merry provincial house crew
with Spirit of New York behind us
Meanwhile, back at the ranch--or, more correctly, on the shores of Echo Bay--we held our Community Day celebration this year on May 22, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and the beginning or the 2d day of Fleet Week in New York.  We elected to take a tour of New York Harbor aboard the Spirit of New York, sailing (motoring, actually) from Chelsea Piers briefly up and all the way down the Hudson into Upper New York Bay as far as Liberty Island, and then up toward the East River, abreast Governors Island, along the Battery, and back to the pier.  All told, it took about 2.5 hours, and it included a terrific buffet lunch.

The weather was as perfect as one could wish for--sunny, clear, mild, a slight breeze (more than slight on the top deck of the ship).  Several hundred people were aboard, including one large family celebrating their matriarch's 100th birthday and a bunch of high school musicians from Pennsylvania.
Some of the above-mentioned high schoolers on the top deck
with Lower Manhattan in the distance ahead of us.
We got to the pier about an hour before boarding time and so had time to enjoy part of the park along the Hudson,

Just 3 of the many people enjoying the park

Part of Hudson River Park
and during that time we got an unexpected treat: 3 or 4 passes in each direction of the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds (= the Navy's Blue Angels).  Waiting for a video that I shot to be clipped a bit (I'm still learning how to use that camera feature) is the main reason it took me so long to get to posting this.
A tiny sampling of what we saw... 
Lower Manhattan with two sailboats behind us
One of almost 2 dozen shots I took of Lady Liberty.
Liberty Island was crowded, it appears.
Another great way to see New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty is on the Staten Island Ferry.  Unlike our jaunt on Spirit of New York, the ferry's free (altho some tourists recently have been bilked into purchasing "tickets" for as much as $200).  Here you see the Brooklyn skyline in the background.
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn (left) with Staten Island (right), is 51 years old.  The Narrows separates Upper New York Harbor from the lower harbor and the open ocean.
Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants entered the U.S. between 1892 and 1954. It was by far the busiest port of entry (but far from being the only one) into America in those years.  Now it's a magnificent museum of American immigration, part of the National Park System.  The same ferry that takes tourists to and from Liberty Island stops at Ellis Island.  Hoboken, N.J., is visible a few hundred yards beyond the island.
The tip of Manhattan was guarded by a fort from Dutch colonial days; hence the tip's name of "the Battery."  The most recent fortification, called Castle Clinton, dates from the War of 1812 (it didn't see any action).  Under the name Castle Garden, it was the immigrant receiving station for New York from 1855 to 1890.  Now it's a national historic site and one of 2 places where you can get the ferry (not free) to Liberty and Ellis islands.  The other place is at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
The Brooklyn Bridge (1883), one of the engineering marvels of the 19th century--and still a marvel--spans the East River, connecting Lower Manhattan with Brooklyn.  It made possible Brooklyn's incorporation into New York City in 1898 to form the 5-borough city that we know today (altho the diocese of Brooklyn, which also includes the borough of Queens, remains distinct from the archdiocese of New York).


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