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Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, by Heidi B. Neumark; Beacon Press, 2004)

Book Review by Al Mascia, OFM

This outstanding memoir by the Rev. Heidi B. Neumark is a welcome testimony to hope and promise in the midst of global and local difficulties. Breathing Space is the story of the author’s relationship with a Hispanic and African-American Lutheran church in one of the most impoverished and violent inner-city U.S. neighborhoods, the South Bronx. There she served as pastor for 10 years with her husband and children, encountering every imaginable manifestation of urban blight. She painted over graffiti-ridden walls, dialogued with gang members and made her way through rat-infested tenements while creatively leading her congregation through the liturgical year.

Breathing Space incorporates the wisdom and insights of spiritual and theological giants such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, and others, as Neumark describes the transformation of her inner city parish from a state of decline to a state of renewal.
Bright Ideas
Smart Driving

You can save on fuel costs, lower air pollution levels, slow global warming and reduce wasteful wear and tear on your vehicle by using smart driving techniques. Avoid rapid acceleration and sudden braking. Drive sanely. Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent. Slow down. You can waste 30 percent of fuel by speeding. For every five miles you drive over 55 mph, you use six percent more fuel. Anticipate stopping by slowing down earlier, coasting longer and spending less time at the traffic light. Idling wastes a lot of gas. Every 2 minutes idling uses as much fuel as it takes to drive 1 mile. If you’ll be stopped for a while, turn the engine off. You’ll use less gas in restarting the car than in idling for a time. Avoid drive-throughs. Park and go inside, instead. The lighter your car, the better mileage you’ll get. Clean out your trunk and back seat. Keep tires inflated. Decrease use of the air conditioner if your AC runs off a gas engine. To save time and cut your fuel bill by half (or more), combine errands, invite others when shopping and consider carpooling. Keep up with regular car maintenance. For your health, the environment and your wallet, walk or ride your bicycle when you can.
Resources / Links
Ethical Eating: This booklet in the “live simply” series from Franciscan Media offers facts, encouragement and practical tips for seeking simplicity in the food we eat.  It helps with choosing more wholesome foods, appreciating the land, animals and farmers that provide it, and understanding the social, economic and environmental ties between physical and spiritual nourishment.  You can order it at
Wholly Healthy: This booklet of the “live simply” series from Franciscan Media offers tips to help you live a simpler life, and to balance your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Cost is $1.99.  Order from Franciscan Media at .
Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: In this booklet, the author, Albert Haase, OFM, reflects on each phrase of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, offering the reader ideas of what it means to truly be a peacemaker. He challenges us to look beyond ourselves and toward God and all of humanity. Published by Franciscan Media. Cost is $8.99. You can order it at .

The Holy See
National Catholic Conference of Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC)
Franciscan Media
Zenit: Catholic News from Rome
Order of Friars Minor (OFM) International Web Site
Consistent Life (formerly Seamless Garment Network)
Earth Ministry
Secular Franciscan Order’s Ecology Commission
USCCB Environmental Justice Program
Union of Concerned Scientists
Web of Creation
St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor
Franciscan Action Network (FAN)
The Franciscan Center for Social Concern at St. Bonaventure University
Franciscans International at the United Nations (Geneva and New York)
Bread for the World
Center of Concern in Washington, D.C.
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Right to Life Committee
Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Global Peace Services USA
The Institute for Peace and Justice
Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
Pax Christi USA
1,000 Years of Peace, sponsored by St. Anthony Messenger Press
Teaching Tolerance
Los Alamos Study Group