Intensely proud of “McQ”?

You see all kinds of bumper stickers on cars, but here in Rochester, N.Y., you’ll often see one or both of the ovals shown in the photo above left; OLM and McQ.

“OLM” stands for Our Lady of Mercy High School, while “McQ” stands for McQuaid Jesuit High School. Alumni and parents and grandparents of Mercy and McQuaid students drive around town proudly displaying the oval stickers. They’re a VERY common sight on the backs of cars here in Rochester.

Back when I was in high school in the early-1970s, there were several Catholic high schools in the area. There was McQuaid and Aquinas for boys and Mercy, St. Agnes, and Nazareth Academy for girls. Bishop Kearney (my high school*) and Cardinal Mooney were semi-coed with classes for the boys on one side of the school and classes for girls on the other side. King’s Prep was for boys contemplating the priesthood. St. Agnes, Nazareth, Cardinal Mooney, and King’s Prep have since shut down and Aquinas has switched to coed education.

McQuaid Jesuit Middle School and High School, named after the first Catholic bishop of Rochester, Bernard J. McQuaid (d. 1909), was founded in 1954 and since then has been considered Rochester’s most elite and prestigious secondary school and a launching pad to advanced education and a lucrative, professional career. Numerous doctors, lawyers, and other area professionals are alumnus of McQuaid. There are currently around 900 boys enrolled at McQuaid, 300 in the middle school and 600 in the high school. The school’s current tuition is $13,600 per year. Yes, that’s thirteen-thousand and six-hundred dollars for one year of high school! Tuition at all-girls Our Lady of Mercy is $14,200 per year.

As the scandal of priest sexual abuse began making headlines in the Rochester newspaper, many in the area were convinced that the Jesuits of McQuaid were above such sordidness. One of our grand-nephews was attending McQuaid several years ago and when my wife raised a concern to our niece, she replied emphatically, “The teachers at McQuaid are Jesuits. They don’t do that kind of thing.”

However, last January, the newspaper began publishing reports that several of the Jesuit teachers and administrators at McQuaid had been sexually abusing students. See here. Two weeks ago, allegations were brought forward that McQuaid’s most famous teacher, Jesuit priest William O’Malley, had regularly abused at least one student during his tenure there.

Catholic parents and grandparents of McQuaid students proudly drive around town with “McQ” ovals on the back of their cars, advertising that their son or grandson is attending the most prestigious and academically elite high school in Rochester. But what are those boys learning in that school? Are they learning about Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? I can guarantee you that they are NOT. Are any of McQuaid’s students going to school each day fearing the advances of predatory, celibate Jesuit priests? I don’t know if that’s the case currently, but it was surely the case in the past, as we’re only now finding out.

*I almost referred to my old Catholic high school, Bishop Kearney, as my “alma mater.” But I see that “alma mater” actually means “nourishing mother” and that phrase certainly doesn’t describe BK, where I never heard the Gospel and where predatory Irish Christian Brothers prowled the hallways.

Above: McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y. No sign of the Gospel in its classrooms.

History in my own backyard

Sometimes we get so wound up in our daily routines, that we overlook or don’t appreciate some of the amazing things around us. We’ve all heard of the scenario of tourists coming from hundreds of miles away to check out something the locals have never bothered with. Our humble home is located about 1.5 miles north of the Erie Canal where it runs through the Village of Pittsford, New York. The canal was originally built in the early-19th century, mainly for commerce, but it’s now used exclusively as a resource for recreational boaters as well as walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

The Erie Canal played a huge part in the early development of the Rochester region and New York State in general. There were discussions of a canal linking the port of New York City with the expanding western frontier as far back as the 1790s, but it was Governor DeWitt Clinton who finally made the dream a reality. Plans were drawn up to link the Hudson River with Lake Erie over a 360 mile stretch that included several very daunting engineering challenges. Construction began in 1817 and was completed in 1825. Rochester was a small, frontier village when it was first incorporated in 1817, but the Erie Canal transformed it into the nation’s very first “boom town.” The Upper Falls of the Genesee River provided an ideal location for water-powered grist mills and newly-settled farmers throughout the region hauled their grain to the mills where it was processed into flour and transported via canal to New York City. The river would later be harnessed as a power source, enabling Rochester to outpace other nearby communities and become a burgeoning manufacturing center. The village of Pittsford, located nine miles southeast of Rochester, and originally settled in 1796, was also situated along the path of the Erie Canal, but it largely remained a sleepy, agricultural hamlet compared to its industrious neighbor to the west.

Rochester was once known as the center of the “Burned Over District” as numerous itinerant ministers traveled from town to town along the canal, preaching the Gospel and planting churches. Charles G. Finney,* a Wesleyan Arminian and Pelagian who popularized the “anxious bench” (precursor to today’s altar call), gained his notoriety with his well-attended Rochester revivals in 1830-31. The religious fervor in the area was part of what American historians refer to as the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840).

Railroads began to compete with the canal for commerce in the 1830s, but the Erie Canal, with its lower costs and ongoing expansions, remained competitive until after the Civil War. The canal underwent a major reconstruction and enlargement in 1918 in order to accommodate large barges and the new route entirely bypassed the old canal pathway that ran directly through Rochester. In 1927, innovative city leaders authorized the construction of a trolley line in the bed of the former canal path. The old canal aqueduct over the Genesee River and the 1.5-mile-long canal bed that ran through the city center were roofed-over by Broad Street and the trolley line became known as the Rochester Subway, which was utilized until 1956. Interstates 590 and 490 now traverse the former canal and trolley path from Monroe Avenue in Brighton (near Tom Wahl’s restaurant) to the east bank of the Genesee River. Careful observers can still spot vestiges of the old canal and subway system as they drive along the 490 interstate through the east side of the city.

The enlarged Erie Canal runs through Pittsford Village along the same route as the original 1825 canal. It’s such a nice resource. My wife and I have taken many walks along the peaceful canal over the years. There are several shops, restaurants, and small parks along the canal at Schoen Place. One would think there would be even more “gentle” development and public accessibility along such a great resource, but short-sighted planning is a consistent characteristic among civic leaders in Rochester and Monroe County. The vast majority of property that abuts the canal is privately owned.

The Phoenix Hotel (c. 1820) in Pittsford was originally built as a stagecoach inn, but subsequently also served those traveling on the nearby Erie Canal. Anti-Mason activist, William Morgan, was fed a meal here before he was spirited away and murdered. The Marquis de Lafayette spent the night as a hotel guest.
Old Lock 62, abandoned after the Erie Canal was rerouted in 1918, sits silently behind the Pittsford Plaza shopping center.
A portion of old Lock 65 along Interstate 490 attests to the route having once been the path of the Erie Canal through the city of Rochester.
The Genesee Aqueduct once carried the Erie Canal and, later, the trolley cars of the Rochester Subway over the Genesee River in Downtown Rochester. The “roof” over the 1.5-mile underground portion of the subway system became Broad Street.
The “Sam Patch,” a tour boat designed to resemble an old canal packet boat, navigates the Erie Canal at night at the Port of Pittsford.

*For more on revivalist, Charles G. Finney, see “The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney” here.

Play ball, hang up the skates, and put away the basketball

Yup, I know it’s Throwback Thursday and I’ve already re-published a post from the past, but today is also Opening Day, so let’s shout out a loud…

Play ball!!!

Yes, today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball as the San Diego Padres begin a four-game homestand at Petco Park against their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. This is a special year for the Padres as they will be celebrating their 50th season. Over the last decade, the Opening Day hopes of realistic Padres fans centered around a .500 season finish, but with the acquisition of 3rd base slugger, Manny Machado (photo left), on February 19th, the team and the fans are beginning to set their sights higher. But let’s not get carried away. Although the Padres have the best farm system in the Majors, it will take some time for the young blue chippers to mature. Look for the Padres to start competing for the NL West next season. But this year we can all cheer the slugging “El Ministro de Defensa”!

Below are the Padres’ expected Opening Day starters:

  • C – Austin Hedges or Francisco Mejia
  • 1B – Eric Hosmer
  • 2B – Ian Kinsler
  • 3B – Manny Machado
  • SS – Fernando Tatis, Jr. – a 20-year-old, blue chipper who has improbably been promoted from Double-A straight to the Majors based upon his outstanding Spring Training
  • LF – Wil Meyers
  • CF – Manuel Margot or Franchy Cordero
  • RF – Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes
  • P – Eric Lauer

While the season ends for another team…

I had no interest in ice hockey for fifty-three years, although the sport is very popular here in Rochester. However, nine years ago on a whim I started following the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater) Men’s Hockey Team. It’s the only Division I college team in Rochester and home games are broadcast on cable TV. This past season, Coach Wayne Wilson led the club to 15-14-4 overall and 13-11-4 Atlantic Conference records, certainly not a great year, but good enough for the #5 seed in the conference’s postseason tournament. Two weekends ago, the Tigers took the postseason quarterfinal series 2 games to 1 against #4 seed, Sacred Heart (Argh, what a name!). However, this past Friday night in the semi-finals, RIT lost to #6 seed, Niagara, 1-0, in overtime. Season over. Shout-out to graduating seniors, Abbot Girduckis, Mark Logan, Christian Short, Gabe Valenzuela, and Erik Brown (photo right), RIT’s all-time leading scorer at the Division I level.

…while this team limps to the finish line.

The hapless New York Knicks are at the tail-end of their season with a 14-60 record and 8 games left to play. The Knicks have a very good chance of beating the franchise record of least amount of wins in a season; 17. With tons of cap space after jettisoning Porzingis and Hardaway, can the lowly Knicks lure free agents, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, in the offseason?

UPDATE: “Jesus Saves” billboard changed to advertisement for fish fry in time for Lent

Back on February 21st, I posted about the mammoth “Jesus Saves” billboard (photo left) that sat along Route 490, the busiest interstate highway in Greater Rochester, New York. See the post here.

While I was driving to work two weeks ago, I noticed that the billboard had been changed. What new advertisement had gone up in place of “Jesus Saves”? I’ll give you a clue: Rochester has a large Catholic population and Lent began last week. That’s right, a new billboard went up advertising local fast-food restaurant chain, Bill Grays, and its self-proclaimed “Rochester’s Best Fish Fry” (photo right).

Fish fries on Fridays are hugely popular here in Rochester because of the large Catholic population. Prior to 1966, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays throughout the entire year under threat of soul-damning mortal sin. But after 1966, the obligatory abstention was lifted by the U.S. Catholic bishops EXCEPT for Fridays during Lent. For more historical background, see my post on the subject here.

Isn’t it quite ironic that a billboard proclaiming that “Jesus Saves” with a reference to John 3:16 is followed by an advertisement seeking to profit off of Catholic legalism? It reminds me of how the simple Gospel of the early church was gradually institutionalized into sacramental ritualism and legalism.

Postscript: I had taken the photo of the “Jesus Saves” billboard one-handed with my iPhone through the windshield as I was driving my car at 60 mph. Very dumb. For the photo of the Bill Gray’s fish fry billboard, I exited the expressway, drove through the city neighborhood to as close to the billboard as possible, parked the car and took the photo. Much safer that way and much better quality.

A photo of Bill Gray’s fish fry plate, which includes a piece of fried haddock, french fries, a roll, and cole slaw for $13.69. Haddock ain’t cheap, folks.

Weekend Roundup Update – Bad faith: Rochester diocese reneges on victim compensation process

I don’t normally publish posts on Sundays, but this news update is important.

Back in June of 2018, the Catholic diocese of Rochester, N.Y. (I live in a suburb of Rochester) had retained retired judge, Robert Lunn, to review the claims of victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests and recommend cash settlements if warranted. It was stated that Lunn’s deliberations would be independent of diocesan interference. To date, Justice Lunn has reviewed and deemed as credible the claims of six victims, recommending the diocese pay out cash settlements ranging from $75,000 to $125,000.

According to the news story below, the Rochester diocese has now requested that the process be changed mid-stream. The diocese has asked to meet with Lunn to review each additional claim prior to an assessment and settlement recommendation.

I propose that, with the recent passing of state legislation that expands recourse for victims of childhood sexual abuse, the diocese anticipates a larger-than-expected number of claims and, with bankruptcy a real possibility, is seeking to limit its exposure.

This change certainly does not reflect well on the diocese, but as the article states, victims can reject the diocese’s process altogether and sue the church in civil court.

Discord in diocese’s settlement program for sex abuse survivors

Tens of thousands of Rochesterian commuters are confronted by “Jesus Saves” billboard every day.

I took the above enlarged photo with my iPhone through the windshield of my car as I was driving home from work last week. I was driving around 60 mph at the time and took the photo with one hand. Definitely don’t try this at home! Forgive the poor quality.  Yes, I even photoshopped it as best I could.

Okay, so what about that “Jesus Saves” billboard in the photo?

Rochester, New York sits smack dab in the middle of the anti-Bible Belt. Ninety-five percent of the people here are either Roman Catholics, mainline (modernist) “Protestants,” or atheists/agnostics. We certainly don’t see a lot of “Jesus Saves” signs around here.

The huge “Jesus Saves” billboard sits aside Route 490 eastbound near the city center. It’s been there for a couple of months. Route 490 is the major east-west expressway in our county. Average daily traffic (ADT) on 490 at this location is about 100,000 cars per day. That’s A LOT of people reading “Jesus Saves” each day.

The Lord uses many people and things to draw souls to Him. I pray He uses this billboard on 490 to get people thinking about salvation in Christ. The smaller print on the billboard references John 3:16 and says it’s sponsored by The Shepherds Fold Church in Scottsville, New York. I checked the church’s website and I see it’s Pentecostal and teaches the prosperity gospel. Argh! Definitely not a church I would recommend. But I do pray the Lord uses the mammoth sign to get passing motorists to think about Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Postscript: I remember before I accepted Jesus that I used to scoff at any “Jesus Saves” signs that I saw. My buddies and I would always be tempted to append “…Green Stamps” to any “Jesus Saves” signs or posters we encountered. If you’re younger than, say, fifty, I’m confident you have no idea what S&H Green Stamps were.

…What? Say it ain’t so! My very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce!

There’s a little bit of a back story to this tragic news.

Back in the early-1980s, we were living in our first house, which was located in the Greater Rochester suburb of Henrietta, New York. The town was notoriously known for its strip malls (and strip clubs) and very haphazard and underregulated zoning. On the corner of Calkins Road and West Henrietta Road was Al’s Meadows Motel, one of those flea-bitten establishments from a previous era that begged every passerby to wonder who would actually choose to spend a night there of their own accord? On the same property was the Al’s Meadows Lounge and Grill, an old-school bar and burger joint. The best thing you could say about the establishment was that it was “unpretentious.” Oh, yeah, and there was the chicken wing sauce!

A friend from work who lived close by and I were taking some night classes together back then, and several times on the way home we stopped at Al’s for chicken wings. The wings themself were nothing to write home about. They were actually on the small side and regularly overcooked, but the sauce was absolutely delicious with a noticeable tang of celery salt and unlike any wing sauce I had ever tasted (my mouth is watering as I type). The lounge/restaurant also sold the sauce in bottles and I became a regular customer. It was especially good on any kind of chicken and on Zweigles white hot dogs (see here). Our two boys grew up on the sauce and the youngest one, especially, took a shine to it.

The years went by and we eventually moved out of Henrietta. Maybe about twelve years ago, Al’s Meadows Motel and the adjoining lounge/restaurant were torn down and to make way for a gas station. However, Al’s sons owned the Southtown Beverages Drive-Thru business, which was a bit farther north on West Henrietta Road, and they carried on the Meadows Lounge and Grill legacy by bottling and selling Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Year after year, I made the trek back to Henrietta to buy a couple of bottles of the hot sauce.

This past October, our youngest son came up from Texas for our family trip to the Big Apple and of course he took a solo drive to Southtown Beverages to buy a couple of bottles of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce to take back home with him. But when he returned to our house, he broke the bad news: Southtown had stopped making the sauce because of low demand. Argh! If I had known, I would have stocked up.

So here I am in the photo above with my very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Ach! When it’s gone, I’m going to rinse out the bottle and display it on the mantle down in my man cave as another reminder that this world has its temporal pleasures, but it’s all passing away.



The former Al’s Meadows Motel and Meadows Lounge and Grill were located at 4200 West Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY. The proprietor was Alphonse “Papa Al” Alaimo.

Just in time for summer – New England Clam Dip!

Yes, blogging friends, summer is here, and I’m thrilled to be able to once again pass along the recipe for that summertime culinary delight, delicious New England Clam Dip! Break out the wavy potato chips and enjoy!


Thank you, Lord, for delicious food, all in moderation of course!

An accoutrement staple of backyard summer dining is potato chips and dip. One of my family’s favorite chip dips used to be a New England clam dip manufactured by a local cheese company named “Heluva Good” of all things. For some reason, Heluva Good stopped making its clam dip in the early aughts (2000s). Some said it was because of new FDA regulations.

My hankering for clam dip grew and grew until I finally started searching online for a clam dip recipe that was similar to Heluva Good’s. I found the one below several years ago. It’s a pretty close facsimile and very easy to make. Any time we serve it to guests they always rave about it. I could eat a whole bowl of clam dip with wavy chips in a single sitting all by myself, but my…

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Rochester, N.Y. may be just a shadow of its former self, but we still have the best hot dogs in the U.S.A.!

Some cities are known nation-wide for their distinctive food items; Buffalo has its chicken wings, Philadelphia has its cheese steak sandwich, Boston its baked beans, New Orleans its jambalaya, etc., etc.

Here in humble Rochester, New York, the former “World’s Imaging Center,” we’re noted for two culinary delights; the world famous Garbage Plate, which I previously posted about here, and Zweigle’s hot dogs.

Hot dogs? Yup, Rochester is known throughout the nation for having the very best hot dog; Zweigle’s pop-open, red and white hot dogs.

C. Wilhelm and Josephine Zweigle opened their Rochester butcher shop in 1880. The company they founded eventually cornered the local hot dog market. Although Zweigle’s also offers hots without natural casing (i.e., “skinless”), it’s pop-open variety are the best-selling. The company makes both red and white hots, with the cured reds having a more traditional, smoked flavor and the uncured whites having a milder flavor (they were originally inspired by German Weisswurst). The quintessential whites were first introduced by the company in 1925. See the Wiki article here.

Rochester may be the only city in the U.S. where a customer ordering a generic “hot dog” at a food stand will be asked with a tinge of annoyance whether they want a red or white, thanks to Zweigle’s. I preferred the traditional reds growing up, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I crave the milder whites. A Zweigle’s pop-open white with some chopped onion and Rochester meat hot sauce. Wow! My mouth is watering as I type.

But whether it’s a red or a white, a perfectly-spiced, Zweigle’s pop-open hot cooked on the grill is delicious beyond description. Keep your surf and turf, prime rib and lobster tail dinner and give me a grilled Zweigle’s dog every time.

We’re so spoiled up here in Rochester when it comes to hot dogs that we won’t even eat one unless it’s a Zweigle’s. Rochesterians who move out-of-state because of the sky-high taxes and lack of jobs are notorious for asking their relatives and friends to ship them a box of Zweigle’s. But you can order some for yourself to be shipped anywhere in the U.S. from Calabresella’s New York Style Deli (see here).

Three for Thursday: Chick-fil-A, Hybels, and revision of book list

Chick-fil-A in Rochester

For months, the media here in Rochester, N.Y. was buzzing about the opening of the area’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant and today is the big day! The fast-food franchise heightened the buzz by offering fifty-two Chick-fil-A dinners spread out over one year to the first 100 customers. People began lining up yesterday despite the light sprinkles and chilly, forty-degree temperatures. The restaurant benevolently opened their doors to the “queuers” during the day yesterday, but required that they stay outside all last night (photo above). When the restaurant finally opened its doors this morning at 6:30 a.m., the 100 weary folks received their digital card pre-loaded with one year’s worth (52) of meals. Chick-fil-A will be doing extremely brisk business until Rochesterians get a chance to satisfy their curiosity. A few thoughts:

  • Chick-fil-A, was founded by Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy, in Hapeville, Georgia in 1946 and has grown to over 2200 locations. The restaurants are very unusual in that they are closed on Sundays, reflecting the religious convictions of Cathy. The company became embroiled in controversy in 2011 and 2012 when corporate officers publicly supported opposition to proposed same-sex marriage legislation. In 2012, the company reversed its position and decided not to actively oppose same-sex marriage.
  • The fact that the opening of a fast food franchise was such a HUGE media sensation in our town speaks about the otherwise very dismal economic conditions here in Western New York, where a remarkably long list of businesses have either shut down or migrated to the South over the last thirty years.
  • It’s amazing that 100 adults would camp in line in the elements for over 24 hours for a chance at 52 chicken sandwiches. Jesus Christ offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with Almighty God, but most people – lost and blinded souls – could not care less.

Bill Hybels


I heard on the news yesterday that Bill Hybels just resigned as influential pastor of the Chicago-area Willow Creek Community megachurch after allegations of sexual misconduct were brought forward by multiple women. Hybels, along with Rick Warren (and with input from marketing guru, Peter Drucker), pioneered the “seeker sensitive,” church-growth movement beginning way back in the 1980s. The idea was to attract unbelievers to church service by turning it into an entertainment experience. Doctrinal teaching was toned WAY down in favor of Christian rock music, light shows, and feel-good sermons. I’m all for keeping up with the times in some respects, otherwise we’d all be driving buggies to church like the Amish, but as we saw with Hybels and Warren, sometimes the push to be “culturally relevant” leads to becoming spiritually irrelevant and even spiritually dangerous. Spurred on by the #Me Too movement, many women across the nation are now coming forward with allegations of abuse. Prior to his resignation, Hybels claimed the allegations against him were “flat-out lies.”

Book titles linked to reviews


At the suggestion of brother blogger, Slim Jim, I’ve revised my long list of books which compare Roman Catholicism with Scripture by hyperlinking book titles to the reviews that I’ve written over the past three years. If you go to the “Books” tab (see here), you’ll find that 97 of the 346 titles are in bold face. If you click on those 97 titles, you’ll be directed to my corresponding review. Thanks for the suggestion, Jimmy!