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Weir takes the pulpit at St. James
By Aaron Viner | Jul 25, 2014

For those who attend St. James Catholic Church, there has been a new face by the altar in July.
For the last 10 years, Father Bernie Weir, presided over St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa, but has now come to Washington to take over ministerial duties.
Weir grew up in Albia, just an hour and a half west of Washington, but is familiar with the area, having previously lived in Muscatine and Columbus Junction.
Weir attended seminary school in Chicago, and earned a graduate degree in counseling at Western Illinois University and also attended college at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. He has been preaching for 29 years.  

What brings you to Washington?
I was sent. I was not planning on coming to Washington, because the previous pastor had not been here very long. I was not expecting it, and then the bishop called and asked if I could come here, which I was more than happy to do. It just wasn’t on my radar at all, and I’m glad to be here.

What do you think of Washington in the first month you’ve been here?
So far it’s fine. I’ve only gotten lost once, so that’s great. It’s an easy place to get around in, and I’m enjoying the parish. It’s very different than where I came from, and here they are very committed to technology, and so I have to learn a whole new skill set. I own all of the technology, I’m just not really good at it.

So you are getting a little extra training here?
Yes, the former priest was very good at those kinds of things, and this parish is very good with technology. I’m not, so I have to learn how to do all that.

What is your favorite thing about Washington so far?
I’m not sure; I’d have to think about that.

How did you get involved in being a priest?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t going to be. I knew it from the time I was very young that this is what I was going to do. It is definitely a calling. I’ve never regretted it, and I’m a happy priest. I enjoy what I do. It’s a good life.

What is the most challenging thing about being a priest?
The most challenging thing is making sure you don’t say something stupid. You are invited into lots of people’s lives in different ways, in happy times, sad times, boring times, and every time you need to make sure you don’t say stupid things at those times that aren’t helpful.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Being involved into people’s lives. I’m invited into people’s lives in many strange ways, and I find that a real honor to do that.

What is something about being a priest that people might not know about?
We work more than Sundays. There are always needs that people have for spiritual guidance and life guidance, and a lot of people forget that we do more work than on Sunday mornings.

Outside of the job, what are some things you do for fun?
I like bike riding, and I read a lot. I read spy books and science fiction books and those kinds of things. One of the things I’m really liking is that the bike trail here starts right behind my house. It makes it easy to use, and there is a good bike system here.

For books, what are your favorite series to read?
I hate reading series; I’m doing one right now with the Ender game series, but I try not to read them. You miss a book here, you miss a book there and it takes forever for them to come out. I like spy books and space books, and with it getting popular right now, I’ve read a lot of the zombie books.

What are your plans for the future in Washington?
I plan to be here for a long time, hopefully the next 10-15 years. One thing we need to do is get our attendance up in Spanish, and one thing this parish is also committed to is social justice. We are trying to develop that a little more, and they have good programs for that.

Comments (10)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 14, 2014 14:10

WASHINGTON — Western leaders pressed their governments to increase humanitarian efforts on behalf of persecuted Christians and other minorities in northern Iraq.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged President Barack Obama to heed the call of Pope Francis to do everything possible "to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities" in Iraq.

English and Canadian cardinals made similar appeals to their governments as Iraqi Christians increasingly expressed the sense that they have been deserted by the international community.

"Violence may begin against minorities, but it does not end there," Archbishop Kurtz wrote Aug. 14. "The rights of all Iraqis are at risk from the current situation."

He also noted that the U.S. bishops have designated Aug. 17 as a day of prayer for peace in Iraq and the Middle East.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 12, 2014 11:27

Chemical weapons produced at the Al Muthanna facility, which Isis today seized, are believed to have included mustard gas, Sarin, Tabun, and VX.

And now we find out, that there was in fact an entire Saddam WMD complex, seized now by the ISIS that was known about, with bunkers full of deadly WMD’s/Chemical weapons, and it’s been sitting there all along. The fact that they were still there, in 2014, just waiting for ISIS to come along and seize them, makes me wonder what the hell the US Military was doing from 2003 – 2009?  With all the resources we had in country, with all the US Dollars wasted in that country, we couldn’t decontaminate that site, and incinerate them to insure that they never fell into the wrong hands?  I thought that was the reason we went there to begin with?

Whether they’re still fully potent and viable is not the issue; what is the issue is that they are still dangerous and deadly….. to someone.
And ISIS has them.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 12, 2014 11:03

Saddam era WMDs captured in Iraq by ISIS

The British newspaper, The Telegraph reported this stunning little nugget yesterday, on June 19th:

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 12, 2014 10:24

Democrats before Iraq War started

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 04, 2014 18:47

Saving Food, Feeding People

Students talking to diners while serving food

More than 3,350 pounds of food — about the weight of a Ford Mustang — was donated to families in the Grinnell community during the 2013­–14 school year.

This intensive effort was led by Dylan Bondy ’16, who started the Grinnell College chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN) in May 2013. FRN is a national organization that works with college students to fight food waste and hunger.

Bondy, who serves as the Grinnell chapter president of FRN, works with the College dining hall to recover leftovers to feed local people in need.

College dining hall staff members pack leftover food from the kitchen and the line — where food is served to students — into large, single-use aluminum trays.

After each meal, a student volunteer picks up the food, weighs it — to record in FRN’s national database — and puts it into the student organization’s refrigerator in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

The next day, three students drive that food a few blocks to the First Presbyterian Church. With the help of church volunteers, especially Dave and Linda Cranston, the food is distributed to people who need it. This happens five days a week during the school year.

Another important partner is Mid-Iowa Community Action, which verifies that people are eligible for food assistance and provides vouchers for their weekly food pickups.

This smoothly operating partnership and distribution network didn’t exist a year ago. Thanks to the help of many people in the community and on campus, including the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, the project is going strong.

Bondy says, “The work we’re doing in the community is substantive. We are out there in the field, meeting people in the community, putting food in their hands. FRN volunteers (or FRNds) get to form meaningful bonds with the people of Grinnell and help support their livelihood.”

The program is expanding for 2014–15. The Hy-Vee grocery store in Grinnell is a confirmed new partner, Bondy says. Hy-Vee will donate food that is past its sell-by date, but is still good.

When Bondy was a first-year student, he saw students loading trays with way more food than they could eat. The uneaten food — full slices of pizza, burgers, chicken breasts, whole salads — was composted or thrown out.

Bondy wanted to do something about the waste. He was talking to his mom about it one day. She told him about an interview she’d seen with a guy named Ben Simon from the Food Recovery Network, who spoke about of his efforts to start a national student movement for food recovery and waste reduction. She urged Bondy to get Grinnell involved.

“As soon as I found out about Food Recovery Network, I knew I had to bring it to our campus,” Bondy says. He worked with Mary Zheng ’15 to get the project going.

About 30 students volunteer their time and effort each semester. Additionally, more than 200 students subscribe to the College’s FRN email list.

One of the group’s early and ongoing efforts is to educate students about food waste. Chapter volunteers weigh and evaluate food from student trays, which can’t be recovered for use.

This activity is paired with a “Take what you’ll eat” campaign. Bondy even took a documentary film short course and made a film about tray waste at Grinnell.

Bondy says, “For a while, I definitely spent more time on FRN than academics because I could see the tangible impact, that students were making really valuable changes and connections in the greater community. As a sociology major, I often get sick of just seeing social change in the textbook — it’s all about the real world application, making a concrete change.”

Five members of Grinnell’s FRN chapter attended the Food Waste & Hunger Summit in April 2014, the first of its kind. Students from all over the U.S. discussed strategies for reducing hunger and food waste in their communities. “We got to see a new national movement that’s making a substantive difference around the U.S.,” Bondy says.

Because Grinnell College has the first successful rural food recovery model in the Food Recovery Network, Bondy led a session entitled “Innovative Solutions to Rural Hunger,” in which he shared the chapter’s story and provided a sort of road map to rural food recovery.

“Through student food recovery efforts,” Bondy says, “our generation is going to make the change this nation needs, and we’re going to see hunger in the U.S. be greatly alleviated.”


Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 31, 2014 03:57

You know that you have something important to say when you start being censored.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 31, 2014 03:30
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 29, 2014 02:56
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 28, 2014 16:14

To all of those who said the War in Iraq was about oil, it is becoming more apparent that the struggle is really about a world view and a philosophy of ideas and religion.

Lights out for Christians in Mosul

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 25, 2014 16:37
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