Fordham Notes: January 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fordham Zen Today—and Beyond

Roshi Robert Kennedy, S.J., will speak today, January 27, as part of Fordham’s Ignatian Week about his life's work: his Zen practice and interpretation of Christianity through Zen eyes.

The interfaith discussion will be held today at 3 p.m. in The Blessed Rupert Mayer Chapel, Lowenstein Center, Room 221, at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. All are welcome.

If you can’t make Roshi Kennedy’s talk and would like to become involved in Fordham Zen, on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D., will sit with the group and speak about her recent book, Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen. Raised as an orthodox Jew in Borough Park, she has been a Zen student of the Japanese master Eido Roshi for 37 years. She will speak about how she maintains her Jewish identity and Zen practice side by side.

Fordham’s regular visiting Zen teachers, Senseis Paul Schubert and Michael Holleran, join in the practice on the first and fourth Tuesdays of each month in The Blessed Rupert Mayer Chapel from 6:10 to 7:45 p.m. Both dharma heirs of Roshi Kennedy give a talk and daisan: private interviews to discuss issues arising from practice.

Beginners are welcome, and the sittings are free and open to all. Zen is sponsored by Fordham’s Office of Campus Ministry. For a full schedule of Ignatian Week events visit their website.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Crisis Update: How to Help

Friday, Jan. 22, 2010

Humanitarian crisis experts agree that the best way to help the people of Haiti right now is to donate money to reputable organizations involved in the relief effort. Collections of goods, such as food, clothing and medicine, are well meaning, but do far less to improve conditions in the disaster area than monetary donations. Likewise, traveling to Haiti as a volunteer is probably neither possible nor helpful at this stage of the crisis. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), outlines the very limited conditions under which goods and services might be helpful in Haiti on its website:

See the information and links on Fordham's home page for ways to donate to relief efforts in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Expert Panel: Haiti: Crisis and Humanitarian Action

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., director of Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, moderates a panel on the nature and scale of the disaster in Haiti, and the humanitarian response underway there. Panelists include:
  • Paul Browne, New York City Police Department's deputy commissioner of public information and deputy director of the International Police Monitors in Haiti, where he helped establish an interim police force during the United States-led "Operation Restore Democracy" in 1994-1995.
  • Rev. Ken Gavin, S.J., national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, U.S.A.
  • Robert Nickelsberg, American photojournalist whose work often appears in Time magazine, and who was embedded with the First Marine Division in the Iraq War in 2003.
  • Ed Tsui, former longtime director of the New York office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Thursday, Jan. 21, 1 p.m. | Keating First Auditorium, Rose Hill campus
Free and open to the public

Fordham to Host Interfaith Prayer Services for Haiti

Fordham University's Campus Ministry invites all to come together for the people of Haiti who have been devastated by the earthquake.

Interfaith prayer services will take place today (Wednesday, Jan 20) on both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses.

The service on the Lincoln Center campus will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., Chapel, in Lowenstein Center. For more details, contact Pat Callaghan at (212) 636-6267.

On the Rose Hill campus, the prayer service will take place at 5 p.m. in the McGinley Ballroom in McGinley Center. For more information, contact Rev. Erika Crawford at (718) 817-1272.

-Gina Vergel

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

High Praise for a Raucous Life

Fordham’s own Matthew Maguire, director of the theatre program , is featured in Tuesday’s New York Times in a review of his latest one-man show, Wild Man, currently playing in the East village.

The review calls Maguire an “appealing, talented performer” and says the show is worth the ticket price alone just for the great anecdotes.

“This is the kind of guy you’d love to get stuck with at an airport bar,” writes the reviewer.
Besides directing the theatre program at the Lincoln center campus, Maguire authors and directs plays. He has won two Obies for his work.

You can still catch Wild Man on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Monday, Jan 25 and Tuesday, Jan. 26 at the Wild Project, 195 East Third St, East Village; (212) 352-3101,


Friday, January 15, 2010

Professor Wins Award for 'Mitzvah Girls'

In her most recent book, Ayala Fader, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, delved deep into the close knit Hasidic Jewish community of Boro Park, Brooklyn.

For her efforts, the Jewish Book Council recently awarded Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn (Princeton University Press), with the 2009 Barbara Dobkin Award in Women’s Studies.

In the book, which is one of 18 winners in the council’s annual book awards, Fader examined language, gender, and the body from infancy to adulthood to showing how Hasidic girls in Brooklyn become women responsible for rearing the next generation of non liberal Jewish believers. To uncover how girls learn the practices of Hasidic Judaism, she looked beyond the synagogue to everyday talk in the context of homes, classrooms, and city streets.

Fader will be honored along with her fellow winners on at a gala award ceremony on March 9 at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan at 15 West 16th St. The awards ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

—Patrick Verel

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (IX): "Last Thoughts from Nigeria"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

Yesterday, I flew from Lagos to Abuja, about 500 miles by air (which was one hour), but 800 miles by road (which would have been 12 hours). Classes resumed last week at Loyola Jesuit College, so I saw a few familiar faces among the students at this six-year school, which teaches the seventh through twelfth grades. Since I left the school's presidency in 2005, I now would remember only the final year students who were in first year in 2004-05. Several now tower over me, and I am 6 feet 2 inches tall.

Today, Jan. 15, is the 44th anniversary of the coup that ended Nigeria's first republic a little over five years after independence. The current, civilian-run fourth republic (since 1999) is in trouble. The second president of this republic, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia since Nov. 23 with pericarditis, on top of continuing problems with his kidneys. When he spoke on the BBC earlier this week, he sounded very tired.

The Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremonies today in Abuja were presided over by the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan seems now to be gaining support as acting president, but his origins are in the so-called South-South oil-rich geopolitical zone of Nigeria, the polar opposite of Yar Adua's origins. That causes some unhappiness among northerners in positions of power.

I fly out of Abuja late tonight on Delta. After a crew change in Senegal, we arrive at JFK early tomorrow morning. I will be leaving hot and dry Abuja for cold and damp New York, but I am coming home to Fordham.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

FUP Book Nabs McCaffrey Prize

Judith H. Anderson’s Reading the Allegorical Intertext: Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, will be awarded the Isabel McCaffrey Prize for the best book on Spenser and Renaissance literature published in 2008-2009, a prize conferred by the International Spenser Society.

The book is published by Fordham University Press. The prize was publicly announced this past December at the Modern Language Association convention in Philadelphia.

Congratulations to Anderson, who is chancellor’s professor of English at Indiana University, and to FUP.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fordham IIHA to Sponsor Red Cross Disaster Reserve Institute

Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) is sponsoring a Red Cross Disaster Reserve Institute on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Should a major disaster strikes the New York City area, the American Red Cross will need 10,000 Disaster Reserve Volunteers ready to staff up to 100 shelters and provide thousands of city residents with basic needs. The one-day training is free and includes lunch. Upon completion, participants will become certified Disaster Reserve Volunteers.

Space is extremely limited. To reserve a spot, email Jenna Felz, program director at IIHA, at

The training takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (participants should arrive no later than 8:30 a.m.) at 520 West 49th St., New York, N.Y., 10019.

-Gina Vergel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rose Hill Campus Gets New Data Center

The Rose Hill Data Center, which hosts everything from online course catalogues to payment records and transcripts at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, has been given a major upgrade.

The center, which until recently was housed in Dealy Hall, has been augmented with several new features that will safeguard the University’s most sensitive information. The upgrade, which began in January 2009, greatly improves both redundancy and efficiency, resulting in an environmentally-friendly system with enhanced risk management capability.

“We were fortunate to take on this project at an advantageous point in time for a much needed facilities upgrade,” said Frank Sirianni, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “As a result, we now have first-rate data centers on both campuses that will ensure business continuity in our records, not to mention the day to day University operations. Additionally, it provides us with complete certitude in the unfortunate event of a catastrophe.”

For increased efficiency, the Rose Hill data center contains a hot aisle containment system that regulates temperature in each server row within the facility. This is a 30% more efficient cooling scenario than the industry in-row cooling technology standard, and replaces an outdated system that relied on computer room air conditioner cooling units to control the air temperature throughout the room.

The center, whose exact location is being withheld by request of the Fordham Information Technology Department, also features 2N redundancy, which means there is a backup for every critical piece of power and cooling control within the structure.

In the event that there is a loss of public utility power in the surrounding area that results in an outage on campus, an on site generator will ensures that the data center continues to operate at full capacity. The redundancy extends to the data stored there and at a counterpart at the Lincoln Center campus as well.

All data and related systems will be transferred from Dealy Hall to the new location in advance of the Spring 2010 semester.

—Patrick Verel

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (VIII): "Winding Up in Ghana"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

Since last Saturday, Jan. 9, I have been meeting with old friends whom I originally knew at the University of Ghana. The Reverend Joyce Kodade, a Presbyterian minister (a man, like Joyce Kilmer and Joyce Cary), was my student in his final year (1975-76). He eventually did a master's degree at Fordham's Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (1985-87). He is now a major administrator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana.

I celebrated mass on Sunday morning in an "out-station" I began with 12 adults and about 30 children in December 1974. We started in a classroom, but now the parishioners (about 1,000 in number) worship in a church they have built and dedicated to my patron saint, St. Patrick. As soon as they build a presbytery, it will become a full parish. The offertory procession, involving all in church, was conducted to an African beat and brought up not only cash donations but also foodstuffs, candles, bottled water, toilet paper and soap. This helps their pastor, Father Agbattey, to survive. Like most masses in Africa, it began a bit late but (happily, given the heat) only lasted 90 minutes.

On Monday, I had lunch with another friend from those days, Professor John Pobee, once my head of department. Late in life, he was ordained to the Anglican priesthood and is now the Vicar General of the Diocese of Accra. He also worked for 19 years in Geneva for the World Council of Churches's program for ecumenical theological education.

Today I had lunch with a former registrar of the University of Ghana (who also worked as a registrar later on In Rwanda), Ebow Daniel. I have a particularly poignant bond with him and his wife, Theresa. On my 40th birthday, I had the sad duty of burying their eldest son, a 12-year-old, who had died suddenly of an asthma attack.

I return to Nigeria tomorrow, Jan. 13, and to New York on Jan. 16. Alas, I will miss the Jan. 14 funeral of my friend and former Provincial, Father Joe Novak. May he rest in peace.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

Monday, January 11, 2010

IPED Alumni News: Jason Gehrig

Jason Gehrig, IPED Class of 2009, presented the results of his book, Water and Conflict, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2010.

Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, introduced Gehrig to an overflow audience. The session was filmed by C-SPAN for later broadcast (video here). Commenting on Gehrig's work were Tjip Walker, Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, U.S. Agency for International Development, Professor William E. Hall, from the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University, and Geoff Dabelko, Ph.D., director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The moderator of the panel was Dennis Warner of Catholic Relief Services.

Gehrig's book, Water and Conflict, was written with Mark M. Rogers and explores water’s complex role in development and conflict. It finds that water scarcity, access to water supplies, pollution of water sources and transboundary water management increasingly play a role in disputes, political manipulation and, in worst cases, outright conflict. In the course of these disputes, traditional community practices and human rights often are ignored and the natural environment may become degraded. The report challenges the development community to ensure that peacebuilding principles of equity, justice and reconciliation are applied to water conflicts to prevent and, if necessary, mitigate these situations.

During the question and answer period, the World Bank's policy of promoting the privatization of water in Bolivia was discussed. This privatization effort led to the outbreak of violence. Gehrig suggested, that from his experience in Bolivia, community cooperatives might prove more effective in mitigating violence and in providing water to the poor.

Catholic Relief Services published the book and major funding for the research was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development. While writing the book, Mr. Gehrig was a student in Fordham's Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) and the holder of an Arrupe Fellowship.

Jason Gehrig with Mark R. Rogers. Water and Conflict: Incorporating Peacebuiliding into Water Development (Catholic Relief Services—United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Baltimore, 2009).

Photo: Jason Gehrig (L) with Henry Schwalbenberg at book launch.

—Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., Director
Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (VII): "Planning Ahead"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

I am still in Ghana, as I have been since Dec. 28, but will return to Nigeria on Jan. 13 and fly out of Nigeria to New York on the night of Jan. 15. I expect that the search at the airport in Abuja will be more extensive than it was for my flight from Lagos to Accra.

I am reading ahead for next semester, just having finished a book on the ethical and political problems involved in humanitarian assistance. During the spring break I am scheduled to give a course for Fordham's Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs on this topic.

In 1983, various relief agencies flew in supplies to Ghana for half a million Ghanaians deported from Nigeria in January of that year. Among other things, huge army field tents were sent in on the mistaken notion that these deportees would be shelterless. Nobody lacked a relative on whose floor, at least, he or she could sleep, so the huge tents were finally used by solitary night watchmen standing guard at places like the Catholic Secretariat in Accra.

Some of the supplies flown in proved very useful in Ghanaian hospitals, such as baby formula, which was in short supply. On the presumption that I knew Italian (at the time I did not, but have since learned it in Rome), I was asked to come to the staff and student hospital of the University of Ghana to translate the directions on cans. With Latin and French, I managed to figure them out. No one died as a result.

I am also re-reading Lamin Sanneh's fascinating study of the impact of mission on culture, "Translating the Message." The book is assigned for a course I am teaching in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education this spring. Lamin, together with his wife Sandra, have been close friends since 1975 when we were colleagues at the University of Ghana. He and she both teach at Yale now.

I offered mass yesterday evening for Fr. McShane's brother, Jack, who died suddenly on Jan 6. May he rest in peace.

—Pat Ryan, S.J.

Theatre Director Goes Wild

Wild Man, written and performed by Matthew Maguire, director of Fordham's theatre program, debuts on Monday, January 11, 2010, at The Wild Project, in Manhattan.

The show, which "probes ecstasy, runaway horses, the Book of Esdras, smuggling watermelons, and cheatin' death," was produced by The Wild Project in association with Creation Production Company, and has been made possible in part by the New York Foundation for the Arts, which awarded a grant to Matthew Maguire for its creation.

The Wild Project
195 East 3rd Street
(between Avenues A & B)
Mondays and Tuesdays, January 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26 | 8 p.m.
For tickets go to Ovationtix or call (212) 352-3101

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Monsignor Quinn on The Debrief with David Ushery

Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L., vice president for University mission and ministry at Fordham, on the NBC show The Debrief with David Ushery. Monsignor Quinn's co-panelists are Imam Shamsi Ali, head of The Islamic Cultural Center of New York, and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights. The show aired Sunday, Dec. 27 at noon on WNBC Channel 4.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fordham’s EMBA Program Gains Another Cohort

Fordham’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) is hot.

For the first time in the history of the Graduate School of Business Administration, there will be four EMBA cohorts running concurrently this spring semester. There are 106 students enrolled in the program, a figure that represents a 135 percent increase since the first EMBA cohort graduated in 2005.

"The strong growth can be attributed to a variety of factors including our strategic recruitment efforts, a yearly increase in student and alumni referrals to our program as well as our rankings in The Wall Street Journal,” said Francis Petit, Ed.D., assistant dean and director of executive programs at GBA. In 2008, the Journal ranked the program 25th in overall excellence compared to similar programs around the world. The newspaper also ranked the program in the top 20 with respect to return on investment among American programs.

The EMBA is an intensive 22-month program that continues to grow in popularity.

“Prospective students are very attracted to Fordham's EMBA Program and our EMBA community," Petit added. “We have been told that we offer a unique, hands-on and personable admissions experience compared to our competitors. We get to know our candidates and the journeys' they have traveled and they get to know what we and our program are all about," he added.

The newest class of 2011 is the second cohort for Fordham Westchester. They are a diverse bunch consisting of 22 students with backgrounds in areas such as finance, pharmaceuticals, real estate, health care, higher education and government.

Cohort Statistics
Number of Executives in Cohort: 22
Mean Age: 33
Mean Years of Work Experience: 11
Percent Male: 68
Percent Female: 32
Percent Full Financial Sponsorship: 20
Percent Partial Financial Sponsorship: 35
Percent Self Sponsored: 45
Mean Salary: $115,000

Titles Represented in Cohort: senior vice president, senior environmental specialist, senior auditor, assistant vice president, operations analyst.

Organizations Represented in Cohort: Credit Suisse, GAMCO Asset Management, Inc., Thomson Reuters, Toll Brothers, Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities, Con Edison, Yeshiva University and the Westchester County Medical Center.

Academic Institutions Represented in Cohort: Cornell, Brandeis, Lafayette, Villanova, Fordham, LaSalle, Binghamton, Lehman, University of Connecticut and Oklahoma. One student in the cohort was a member of the UCONN Men’s Division I NCAA Basketball Championship Squad.

Eighteen percent of the students in this new cohort were born outside of the United States and hail from Albania, Honduras, Peru and Sweden.

-Gina Vergel

Fordham U. Press E-lated About Ebook Launch

Fordham University Press has launched its first ebook with Barnes & Noble and is planning a total of 100 ebook titles in the near future, press director Fredric Nachbaur has said.

Now available on ebook is one of the Press’ most recent titles, The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir (Fordham University Press, 2009).

FUP is working with an outside company, codeMantra, to convert additional book files and to deliver them to the Press’ trading partners, which include B&N and Sony. Other initiatives are in the planning to deliver ebooks to libraries, Nachbaur said.

Sales of ebooks in the marketplace still only represent about 1/2 to 1 percent of the U.S. book industry, but that figure is growing rapidly, according to the International Digital Publishing Forum. Most university presses, said Nachbaur, are predicting sales of approximately 2 percent per year, and FUP is hoping for about the same in 2010.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

GSE Poet Interviewed on Cable Arts Show

Donna Marie Reale has a lot of irons in the fire. The master’s degree candidate in Fordham’s Graduate School of Education is a teacher, a former businesswoman, a longtime Minister of the Word at St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Elmhurst, N.Y., and a poet. Tonight she’ll be a television star.

Reale will be interviewed by Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan, poet laureate of Suffolk County, on tonight’s TNSPS's Arts Forum, on Cablevision's Channel 20, at 5 p.m. Reale will read from and discuss her poetry on the show, broadcast live from Riverhead, N.Y.

An instructor at Kingsborough Community College, Reale teaches English as a Second Language to adult immigrant students, and is enrolled in The Graduate School of Education’s master of science program in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), where she is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She has a strong interest in linguistics and in preserving languages which are in danger of extinction, and is a member of Arba Sicula (“Sicilian Dawn”) which seeks to preserve the language and culture of Sicily.

Reale has been writing poetry since she was a child, and began reading her work aloud several years ago at the Italian American Poets and Writers Piazza, an annual event at Hofstra University. Much of her work is Christian spiritual in nature.

“We cannot deny the presence and interaction of the Divine in our daily lives and need to share that with others,” she says.

Her poems “The Camper” and “The Message” have been published in The Gospel magazine as well as on the website of Hudson Valley Catholics. Reale has a bachelor of science degree in marketing from St. John’s University.

Departmental Collection Finds a New Home

Fordham’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology is sharing some rare educational material with a Ghanian University.

Working through the Friends of Ghana, a non-profit organization, the department donated a collection of vintage science books and magazines, including the Journal of Science, to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). KNUST services 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students in Agriculture And Natural Resources, Architecture & Planning, Arts And Social Sciences, Engineering, Health Sciences and Science.

The Journal of Science is one of the nation’s longest-running journals covering developments in earth science. The collection will help strengthen the university’s science curriculum and research, according to Friends of Ghana CEO Joseph Johnson.

The donation was arranged with the help of student Kojo Amphah and the department’s chair Allen S. Gilbert, Ph.D., professor of sociology and anthropology. Much of the material comes from Gilbert's personal collection of science publications.

“This is a sizeable collection,” said Gilbert. “Now that everything is digital in the west, this top U.S. science journal is on JSTOR and on line. But in a developing country, institutions often don’t have the instrumentation or the subscription money to access this material digitally. Bound, hard copies are the cheapest and easiest for them.”

Friends of Ghana is sponsoring the shipping and delivery of the books and magazines to the university, located in Kumasi.

Alan Alda Searches for the Human Spark

Few people are as passionate about science education as Alan Alda, FCRH ’56. This month, the Emmy Award-winning actor, writer and director returns to PBS to host a three-part documentary called The Human Spark.

The project grew out of Alda’s longtime involvement with the PBS series Scientific American Frontiers, which he hosted with ample curiosity, wit and good humor from 1993 until the show was canceled—much to the disappointment of its loyal viewers—in 2005.

In the new documentary, Alda travels to three continents to interview leading archeologists, primatologists and neuroscientists in an attempt to discover what makes humans unique among species, how a tiny difference in our genes, for example, makes a huge difference in who we are and what we can do.

“I don’t try to explain their work to anyone,” Alda recently told The New York Times, “I just try to understand it.”

He also participates in the research; in one episode, for example, he submits to a highly detailed scan of his brain, which, we’re pleased to know, “is in remarkably good shape for a man in his early 70s.”

The series airs at 8 p.m. on three consecutive Wednesdays: Jan. 6, 13 and 20.

“We can’t promise we’ll find the human spark,” Alda says in a video introduction posted on the project’s website. “But we can promise that looking for it will be fascinating. And it may change the way you think about who you are.”

—Ryan Stellabotte, Editor
FORDHAM Magazine

Monday, January 4, 2010

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (VI): "New Year and Funerals"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

I arrived in Ghana where I lived for 15 years (1974-83 at the University of Ghana, Legon; 1990-96 at the University of Cape Coast) on the evening of Dec. 28. Friends from those days met me at the airport and I stayed in Accra until New Year's Day. I always take any opportunity when I am in Accra to visit Stella Ansah, the widow of a good friend, the late Professor Paul Ansah (who died at the age of 55 in 1993). Paul was both a professor of journalism as well as a talented and acerbic political commentator. Several different military dictatorships in Ghana hated him as a result, and they were not entirely unhappy when he died of complications from diabetes nearly 17 years ago.

During the first four years I was in Ghana, I was the only Jesuit in the country, and my best friends were Paul and Stella. I did not own a television at the time but I would come to their house on certain evenings to watch the news with Paul and get his live commentary on what was going on. Together with Paul and a few others, I was an editorial consultant during those years for the weekly Catholic newspaper, the Standard. It was the only newspaper that would tell the truth about what was going on under the military dictatorship of Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and his colleagues (1972-79) and the so-called "revolutionary" governance of Jerry John Rawlings (15 weeks in 1979 and the whole of 1982-1992), and Rawlings's subsequent elected civilian administration (1992-2000). When fewer restrictions were placed on journalism in Ghana--after a period when the Standard had been suppressed by the government--other newspapers took up the truth-telling function of the Standard and it went back to reporting weddings, funerals and confirmations.

I had hoped to travel 500 miles north for the "final funeral" of an old man who died last February, the aged father of my former student, Samuel Atarah, who is now a professor in the University of the West of Scotland. But transportation within Ghana at this dry, dusty and hot time of the year is difficult, and I am reluctantly reaching the conclusion that I will not be able to travel to the village of Kongo in the Upper East Region of Ghana for the final funeral on Jan. 9. Meanwhile, the lecturer in chemistry at the University of Cape Coast, who is a good friend of mine and of Sam Atarah's since their student days, John Prosper Adotey, with whom I had hoped to travel to Kongo, has lost his own wife, Felicia (aged 43) of a sudden heart attack on Dec 29. I went and sat in condolence with him and some of his relatives and friends on Saturday, Jan. 2. Felicia and John Prosper have two bright children, a 12-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. Arrangements for Felicia's funeral are not finalized, as yet, but it seems likely to be on Feb. 5. Why the long delay? Many Ghanaian funerals take place a month or more after death. For better or for worse, funerals are the most important social events in Ghana, and there are many complications to be ironed out with Felicia's family, given the unexpected nature of her death.

So the New Year has begun on a solemn and sad note.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.