December 2016 Newsletter

We hope this season of Advent finds you well. From client visits to the St. Lucy Mass, we have had a very busy December leading up to Christmas, and we have a lot of exciting news to share. From all of us here at the Xavier Society for the Blind, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and peaceful New Year. Please remember us as you make your Christmas contributions to charity. Your tax deductible offering will help us to continue our mission of providing religious reading material to the blind and visually impaired, just as we have done since 1900.

Message From Our Executive Director

Over the past two months I have received many phone calls and notes from our clients and their family members praising the work of Xavier Society of the Blind and emphasizing how important our books, articles, and the Mass Propers in particular are to our clients. This was never more evident than at our annual St. Lucy Mass. It was inspiring to me to witness how our clients overcome many obstacles and challenges to actively practice their faith. I am very grateful to be part of an organization that helps to make this happen. I'm looking forward to hearing more of our clients' stories and learning how Xavier Society for the Blind can do even more to assist them with learning about, developing, and practicing their faith in the future.

Malachy Fallon
Executive Director

Father Jamie Dennis Visits XSB

Father Jamie with friends Charlie, Anna, & Chris
Caption: Fr. Jamie with friends (from left) Charlie, Anna, and Chris

Leading up to St. Lucy's feast day Mass, Xavier Society for the Blind's office was buzzing with excitement and visitors. Father Jamie Dennis, a newly ordained blind priest from Owensboro, Kentucky traveled to the Big Apple by train and made the most of his few days in the city. Early Tuesday afternoon, Fr. Jamie and his merry band of friends joined us for lunch. Accompanying Father Jamie, on what he described as a pilgrimage, were several parishioners including Anna and her brother Charlie, and seminarian Chris who even served at the Mass later that night. After lunch, the Kentucky group headed further afield to check out some New York City landmarks. Apart from his priestly duties, Fr. Jamie is a train aficionado so Grand Central in particular was a real treat. Prior to meeting him in New York, we asked him a few questions to get to know a little more about him:

At what age did you feel the calling to be a priest?
"I felt the calling to be a priest probably as early as 8 years old, since I used to play Mass outside on a hay bale, using a dog dish and a coffee can.  Interestingly enough, the only words that I had memorized from Mass were the words of consecration from the Eucharistic Prayer. I did not have the move to answer the call until I began college at Brescia University.  It was at Brescia that I was able to go to daily Mass...on my own, so that's what I did." 

What services do you get from Xavier Society for the Blind? Does it help you with your ministry?
"The services that I use from XSB are the Sunday Propers for the Mass.  I prefer to use braille, so these publications of the readings and Mass prayers enables me to use braille exclusively when I celebrate Sunday Masses and higher feast days.  I also have the basic book which has the prayers from the old Latin Mass, which eventually I plan on learning how to do as a priest." 

Do you have any siblings? If so, are they sighted?
"I have two siblings, a brother and sister, who are 18 years older than me.  I am the only blind person in my family."

What's your favorite part about being a priest? What has been the most rewarding part?
"My favorite part of being a priest is celebrating Mass and giving Jesus to his people in the Eucharist.  I love giving people the comfort of Jesus that he gives me in the Sacraments and in his Gospel.  Sometimes it takes a wounded healer to bring healing."

What has been the most challenging part about being a priest?
"Before I was ordained, I feared that there would be difficulties because of my blindness, and that was what I was continuously told by the seminary, but that has proven to not be true.  To the people that I serve, blindness is not an issue.  The only slight issue I have experienced is from those who frown on traditional practices and this is an issue that several priests and young people of my generation are having.  Some view our love of traditional practices as an unhealthy love of the nostalgic.  What some people forget is that my generation and the ones behind mine are in a world of broken families and chaotic times.  Traditional practices in the Church give us a feeling of stability and sacredness that the world does not have.  I am not saying that I think Mass should be in Latin only, much to the contrary, but I am for celebrating the current Mass in a style of what was considered the norm before Vatican II.  Needless to say, I chant most of the Mass parts, not just because I prefer chant, but when I am reading braille, which is a second language to me, the chant helps me to flow and not stumble.  Those who don't understand us who like traditional practices forget, it's not about being nostalgic, but this is how we pray." 

Who is the greatest influence in your life?
"I would say my mom and dad have been the greatest influence in my life.  They have always supported me and been there for me.  They did not hand me over to a school for the blind to raise, but they made the sacrifices to keep me in regular school and fought for my right to do so.  My mom and dad, James and Ain Dennis are my biggest fans." 

If you could spend an hour one-on-one with anyone in history, who would it be and why? What would you ask him or her?
"Someone who I admire is St. Harvey, who was a monk of the 500's.  He was born blind in Europe and was known to be a great teacher and healer.  He was approached by a bishop who wanted to ordain him, but he refused.  I would have liked to ask him why he did not want to be ordained.  He was also known to be a singer and had a wolf as a companion."

Caption: Father Jamie and Chris with XSB staff (from left) Donald Salvato, Aisling Redican, Margaret O'Brien, Christine Moore, and Executive Director Malachy Fallon

St. Lucy Mass 2016
Caption: Father Jamie celebrating Mass in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick's Cathedral

Father Jamie along with our former Executive Director, Father John Sheehan, SJ, celebrated the feast of St. Lucy in a beautiful ceremony in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick's Cathedral on Tuesday evening, December 13th. Many clients also participated in the Mass with us: Marie did the first reading, Joan read the Responsorial Psalm, Maureen did the Prayers of the Faithful, and our clients who brought up the gifts were Carmen, Richie, and Zerline. Many tourists were fascinated by Fr. Jamie and our clients reading from their braille orders of the Mass. Prior to the celebration, many clients sent in their special intentions, and they were brought to the altar on the night of the Mass by Father Jamie. One of the highlights for our organization was meeting our two newest clients, brothers Antonio and Giuseppe. Antonio and Giuseppe were accompanied by their parents and they were delighted to be part of a Mass for the blind. A big thank you to all who came to celebrate our patron's feast day, and to our host St. Patrick's Cathedral for letting us celebrate in the Lady Chap el during one of the busiest times of year. 

Caption: Our client Marie did the 1st reading

Caption: Our client Maureen read the Prayers of the Faithful

Caption: The two boys are our newest clients. They were delighted to meet Fr. Jamie

Caption: Many people unaware of the Mass prior to the ceremony, stopped to pray with us.
Dick & Mimi Come For a Visit
We love when our clients pop in to see us! Our client Dick and his wife Mimi were in town and decided to drop by to meet our new Executive Director. We were delighted to have them here, and look forward to seeing them again. If Dick looks familiar to anyone, he was the client who was pictured on the Pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few years back floating in the Dead Sea while reading the braille edition of the New York Times. 

Our client Dick (r.) poses for a photo with his wife Mimi and Malachy

The Cecilia Chorus of NY Concert in Carnegie Hall
We were delighted to treat a number of our clients to the Cecilia Chorus of NY concert in Carnegie Hall on Saturday December 10th, 2016. The music was incredible as always, and our clients truly had an amazing time. It was great to experience the concert with our blind/visually impaired clients, as their enjoyment highlighted a different perspective on the concert as a solely auditory experience. Thank you to Carnegie Hall and to the Educational Outreach program of the Cecilia Chours of NY for providing us the tickets and opportunity to bring our clients to the wonderful performance. It was an unforgettable night for all.

Caption: Our clients Carmen and Richie

Caption: Our clients before the show having a chat

Caption: Richie, John, and Zerline enjoyed the music

Caption: Malachy got to meet some new faces

Print Calendars
Our 2017 print calendars are here! If you would like one, or wish to have another to give to family and friends, please feel free to get in touch. The calendar includes information about our organization and mission, examples of our free services, and lots of pictures of all the great happenings over the last year. They make nice Christmas gifts and help spread the word of our mission! To get your calendar please call (212) 473-7800 or (800) 637-9193. You can also e-mail 
If you are a client, or would like to become one, we also offer a pocket calendar and a Saints' Feast Days calendar in braille.  

Print Calendar 2017
Caption: Our 2017 print calendar is now available for anyone who would like one

Father John 
We would like to thank our former Executive Director for concelebrating the St. Lucy Mass on Tuesday December 13th. Before he leaves for Amman, Jordan he will be performing at his Farewell Concert on Tuesday January 17th, 2017 at the Scandinavia House. If you would like more information please visit .

Assorted Items and Ways You Can Help
Masses may be said at your request not only when someone dies but also to celebrate a special event. And the stipend for the Mass card helps support the work of the Xavier Society for the Blind. If you are a client or would like to send one to someone who reads braille, we can also do a braille overlay on the Mass card. Call us at (212) 473-7800 or email us at for more information.

To make a secure donation through our website, please click here, or you can always call our office and donate over the phone at (212) 473-7800 or (800) 637-9193.

If you use for any of your purchases, help out Xavier Society for the Blind at the same time. Go to and sign up. Or use the direct link:

There is no charge to you, and when they ask you what charity you wish to support, type in Xavier Society for the Blind. Any time after that, if you go to Amazon through the smile entry, a percentage of whatever you spend comes to us.

Follow Us!
To keep up to date on all that is new and going on with Xavier Society for the Blind, please follow us on twitter  @XavierSociety and like our  facebook page by searching Xavier Society for the Blind. Help us to spread the word about our mission!

Please Note Our Hours:
Our phone lines are open from 8:30 to 4:00 PM each working day, Eastern Time. If you call before or after those hours, or if staff is busy outside of the office, you will get our answering machine. Please leave a message, with your phone number, your name, and what you are calling about. If you are requesting a specific book or item from the catalog, we will only return your call if there is a problem. Otherwise we will return your call as quickly as we can. Thank you for understanding.  

Calendar of Upcoming Events

December 22
XSB Offices Closed
December 23
XSB Offices Closed
December 24
Christmas Eve
December 25
Christmas Day
December 26
XSB Offices Closed
December 30
XSB Offices Closed
December 31
New Year's Eve
January 1
New Year's Day
January 4
Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious
January 6
Three Kings' Day/Little Christmas
January 8
The Epiphany of the Lord
January 9
The Baptism of the Lord
January 16
XSB Offices Closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January 17
Father John's Farewell concert in the Scandinavia House
January 21
Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
January 23
Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
January 25
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle 
January 28 
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
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