Favorite moments

The games abound. They rage as never before. There's hysteria in the streets. A breathless hush descends on the mob awaiting the resolution of the madness with a desperate yearning for a merciful result ringing like a deep cry in the night. As the late Paul Gallico used to like to say, "Gee whiz, ain't it grand!"

Sure it is, if it's your town that's the center of the furor. If it's the other guy's bandwagon that's running wild you may consider it vaguely silly and immature and ask how come some people can't get a life. But when the circus comes rolling down your street -- as it has again this pixilated New England Spring -- it's so easy to find in the mere games the stirring mandates of a collective invincibility and the pure redemption of civic pride.

Comparable emotions are sweeping the routinely hardened burgh of Dallas and its hardscrabble environs as they celebrate their Mavericks vanquishing of the heathen Miami Heat to the apparent everlasting joy of the entire sporting universe. Have you too wondered when it all became so transcendental and pen-ultimate?

Whatever, it's been great fun watching the Bruins at the center of this season's tumult and shouting because they have been so long the back-benchers denied their just due. Moreover, at its best hockey connects with the rank and file in ways that are not only emotional and personal but intimate. The game's traditional canons and mores -- seen as so safe in the custody of its bearded warriors -- echo of simpler times, especially when the action on the ice veers into mayhem. Being at a loss to rationalize such striking phenomena we'll just leave it there, thank you.

Sweeping our town is the notion that there's never been a better place to be or better time to be alive if the games are your passion. It can seem a bit boorish to the outside world. But the belief that the new millennium anointed this region as the de facto capitol of the Kingdom of Sport, is probably harmless in the end. Where I take exception is with the implied suggestion that what came before pales by comparison. As McGreevy Himself might have said, "It ain't so." In their often quirky ways "the good old days" of New England sport had just as much merit as these alleged new halcyon times. You could look it up.

It was my pleasure to have a privileged glimpse as a regular on the sports beat from 1967-1983, an era of intense change, growth, and often spectacular melodrama for all the local teams. To have a choice seat in every press box -- where if no cheering was then allowed the conversation was always terrific -- and to get handsomely paid for being there was a fabulous lark. There was no better job in the world. Not back then.

For better or worse and while making no claims to a special relevance may I list what I deem the top dozen sporting moments I got to observe "up close and personal," as they say.

XII Pittsburgh 21 Dallas 17 in 1976 Super Bowl X. No local angle here but it remains in my book the nastiest and maybe best Soupey ever. Unloading the pass that won it, Terry Bradshaw gets pounded by the Cowboys' Cliff Harris and lies unconscious on the turf as Lynn Swann dances into the end zone. Later that night they had to carry Bradshaw out of the Orange Bowl. It was a gripping scene.

XI Marvelous Marvin Hagler gets rolled in Las Vegas in 1979. The opponent was Middleweight Champ Vito "the Mosquito" Antuofermo. The decision was a draw, thereby allowing Vito to keep his crown. The winner was "The Mob," or at least that is what Marvin charged saying he'd been "victimized" in "a betting coup." Those of us who were there entirely agreed. The entire week was a classic.

X Celtics 128 Suns 126 in 5th game of '76 NBA Finals in triple-overtime. The second best basketball game I ever saw, before or since, in the heyday of the Heinsohn era, featuring Messrs. Havlicek, Cowens and White at their finest. The OTs were as ferocious as any middleweight brawl in Vegas.

IX The Patriots get mugged in Oakland in the '76 NFL playoffs (a very good year). This was the Patriots' true coming of age under the briefly brilliant auspices of Chuck Fairbanks. They would have cake-walked through the Super Bowl had not Ben Dreith flagged Sugar Bear Hamilton for a phantom late-hit. It remains the most outrageous hosing any local team ever took.

VIII Bucky Dent levels the Red Sox in 1978. When the national press invades Fenway for the playoff of baseball's titans, Bill Crowley sticks the local media on the roof of the left field grandstands. We can practically reach over and touch Dent's pop-up as it drops into the screen. It's the high-water mark of the Yankee's fabled persecutions of the local nine. The next day I depart for Rome to cover the Papal election that produces John Paul II; an even better gig.

VII Bruins finish off Rangers in Game Six at Madison Square Garden, 1972. Best remembered for the wild ride home, riotous reception upon landing, and rollicking celebration at City Hall. It's the Big Bads' second Cup in three years but proves to be essentially their swan song.

VI Too Many Men on the Ice (1979). It happened in Montreal where such atrocities routinely occurred for 40 years and there was no question about it. There were definitely too many men on the ice. It looked like a marching band out there. It cost the Bruins a certain Cup. The post-game locker room scene was the saddest I ever saw in professional sports.

V Carlton Fisk's midnight homer off the foul pole in 1975. It resounded to the accompanying strains of the Hallelujah Chorus all across New England. But later that same day the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series.

IV Billy Buckner and the 1986 nightmare in Queens. With two outs in the 10th inning nearly all the scribes -- anxious to see the Red Sox party -- vacated the Mets press box to avoid the post-game stampede to the clubhouse. But Leigh Montville said to me, "Let's just wait a little longer." And then the parade of Mets' banjo hits began. Singles kept falling in like darts as the frenzy of the crowed rose. Finally there was that little ground ball smote by Mookie Wilson in the direction of a hobbled Billy Buckner. "Memorable" is too tame a word for it. But while the Red Sox got crucified it was really more a matter of the Mets doing something almost impossibly gallant.

III Celtics Beat Hawks in double OT to launch the dynasty in 1957. We were just kids and we walked in off the street for tickets that very morning and got a front row to History. Heinsohn was magnificent. It was just glorious.

II Big Bad Bruins claim their first cup in 1970. It was not a great game. While gutsy, the poor St. Louis Blues never once even held a lead in the Bruins four-game sweep. But what a party Bobby Orr prompted when he soared through the air after tucking the puck past a bemused Glenn Hall. This town has never had a merrier one.

I The Red Sox beat the Twins the last day of the 1967 season. You can still see Jim Lonborg dropping that bunt that sparked the five-run rally in the sixth that sealed the wonderful flight of fancy aptly called, "The Impossible Dream." To have had the '67 Red Sox as your first big sports story was to have been profoundly spoiled.

You may note that few of these moments were about the winning of titles and more had to do with ultimate heartbreak. And that is precisely the point.

Anyway, it is my list and I wouldn't trade it for anyone's.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...