Xavier Society for the Blind


Vol. 10   No. 1
  January   2016

What's New at XSB

Mr. Gainor
In January we were deeply engaged in preparation for the annual audit, and - remember this - we even had a snow day! In March, we lost Victor Gainor, a Board member and a long-time friend. 

We were interviewed to be included in a book about specialty libraries, and we were able to announce the re-printing of the large-print Bible, thanks to a generous gift from the American Bible Society. Dr. VIncent Baratta and the Children's Rosary worked with us to help promote this special prayer to Our Lady, and during the year, Father John did a number of radio interviews. 

Caption: Staff and Board member Rick Kenney gather before the award presentation
Cardinal Dolan presented a special recognition award to staff member Terrence McCafferty and to one of our Board, Charles Vadala. 

In June we hosted Rudy Ruettiger, the original inspiration for the movie, at the NY Athletic Club, and Fr. John was presented with the Monsignor Gregory Schaffer Award for dedication to community service. Father John also went to the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind, where he spoke about XSB and celebrated Mass for the convention. 

We continue to provide the latest news in both braille and audio recordings, including the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si, and after his visit to the States, we transcribed and recorded all of his talks and homilies. (Our resident certified braillist won an extra star in his crown in heaven for the extra work he put it to get all of that done!) One of our clients left us a bequest of $240,000, and another announced to his friends that for his 40th birthday, he wanted people to give presents to XSB. (And they did!)

Caption: Fr. Hilton, SJ
We welcomed Fr. Hilton as a new Board member, and confirmed that on the feast of St. Lucy, there would be a special recognition of the community of blind and visually-impaired worshippers at St. Patrick's Cathedral. We also announced that we would be sponsoring a pilgrimage to Ireland in April of 2016. 

Mr. Vadala retired from the Board, and Fr. Schineller moved to Jordan. Fr. Sheehan announced that he would be leaving the Xavier Society before the end of 2016; the exact date will depend on when his successor (still to be identified) might be available. XSB was represented at state conventions of both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind. 

The Pope came to visit, and several of our staff and our clients were able to be
Ms. Redican
present at different events. One staff member left us, and we added Aisling Redican, who in short order has proved to be a wonderful addition to the XSB family. 

Caption: Robert White reading 
              at the Cathedral
In December we had a wonderful
celebration at the Cathedral with Cardinal Dolan. All the readings were done by blind lectors, and the gifts were brought up by blind worshippers, including one couple who came from California just for this event. The print calendar was mailed, and we received a gift of blue wristbands, with the
 "Xavier Society for the Blind" in braille on the outside and our contact information on the inside. (See below)

2015 was quite a year!!!

APRIL 7 to 15, 2016

We still have a few seats left - but if you were thinking about coming with us, NOW IS THE TIME!!!

All reservations, deposits and confirmations have to be received no later than February 7. Don't miss out on this exciting adventure by waiting too long to sign up. We have a varied itinerary, some terrific people who have already signed up - some sighted, some blind, some with limited vision. It's a beautiful time of the year in Ireland, besides Father John there will be an experienced local guide, and the private coach is ours for the whole time we will be in the country. 

The itinerary is available at this link (Itinerary for Ireland Pilgrimage) and includes the Titanic Museum in Belfast, the tomb of St. Patrick, the Shrine at Knock, a feast at Bunratty Castle, touring two different distilleries, Mass each day, Irish music, and free time to shop and browse on your own. A braille itinerary is also available, and for those who sign up, braille information about the various stops on the tour will be provided in braille prior to departure. 

If you have any questions, or would like a printed copy of the brochure with the full itinerary, feel free to write or email Father John at     Fatherjohn@xaviersocietyfortheblind.org   or call the office (212 473-7800). 

The Titanic Museum in Belfast
A typical Irish breakfast

As we have done in the past, we are having a raffle in conjunction with the Pilgrimage. Only 300 tickets are being sold, and the cost is $50 per ticket.
FIRST PRIZE - Two (2) tickets on the pilgrimage, including air fare, hotels, entry fees and all other items covered by a paid ticket. 
You may buy tickets using your credit card by calling our office, or online at 
Raffle Tickets (click here)
or buy tickets through the link on our web page. 

You have a 3 in 300 chance that you will win something, and those who have won and gone on pilgrimages in the past have had a wonderful time. 

We will visit the Shrine at Knock, celebrate Mass at the Shrine Church, and have a chance to visit the museum and perhaps even have lunch on the premises. 

This is a fascinating book about special libraries in New York City, and the Xavier Society for the Blind, as a registered library affiliated with National Library Services, Library of Congress, is included. 

It is available for early ordering through Amazon, at

And when you go to order, remember to use Amazon Smile, so the Xavier Society for the Blind can receive a small part of what you spend. 
and ways you can help
Caption: A yellow smiley face with dark glasses. 

Use Amazon smile. If you use Amazon.com for any of your purchases, help out Xavier Society for the Blind at the same time. Go to www.smile.amazon.com 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.

*   *   *   *  
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. 

Call us at (212) 473-7800 or email us at info@xaviersocietyfortheblind.org for more information. 


As I write this I am on retreat, taking a little time away from my prayer and reflection to make sure you get this. (So if there are any errors, mis-spellings, they are all my fault.) The most important thing we do is providing the Word of God to our clients all over the United States. The second most important is trying to let more people know about who we are and what we are doing. Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends. If you would like extra copies of our print calendar to share, drop us an email or give us a call, and we will send them out. There is no charge for our calendars, or for anything that we provide. 

2016 will be an exciting year. As you know I will be leaving, and that means I have to clean my office, organize my files, write up notes and prepare for someone new to lead this organization. I am taking a group to Ireland in April, the XSB will be represented at the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership national conference, the ordination of a blind deacon (more about him in our next issue), the national conference of the American Council of the Blind, the international conference of the World Blind Union, and the state conferences for both the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. 

We will shortly be announcing the addition of at least one new Board member, and in October, Father John's Farewell Bash, an evening of music and dancing and fun - no speeches, no awards, no tears. When we make the announcement, if you're in the New York area, think about coming. I'd love to see you, and it will be a truly epic party. 

We have reserved the Lady Chapel at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a special Mass in honor of St. Lucy on her feast day, December 13, at 6:30 PM. And of course, at some point, we will be introducing the person who will be the next Director of the Xavier Society for the Blind. 

Thank you for all you have done for us in the past, and for whatever God might inspire you to do with us and for our clients in the future. 

Caption: A photo of 
 Fr. John Sheehan, SJ 

Fr. John R. Sheehan, SJ  
Xavier Society for the Blind
Two Penn Plaza, Suite 1102      
New York, NY 10121
Phone: (212) 473-7800 

(If you would like to donate directly online, you can go to

PS - We recently received some delightful wristbands, with Xavier Society for the Blind in braille on the outside, and our contact information on the inside. Since we got them for free, I don't feel that we should charge for them - and I would love to share them - but mailing them to people costs us money we really should be using for other things. So if you would like one or more, drop us a note and let us know how many you would like (up to 5) but please include a contribution to cover the cost of mailing. 


The 2016 Calendars have been mailed, and you should have received yours by the time you receive this Newsletter. If you have not received yours, or if you are not on our regular list but would like a calendar, drop us a note, an email or a phone call, and we'll get one out to you. 


January 12-22
Fr. John on Retreat

January 18
 Office Closed - Martin Luther King, Jr Day

February 7
Deadline for registering for the Pilgrimage

February 9
Office Closed - Staff Meeting

February 10

February 15
Presidents Day

March 13
Daylight Savings Time Begins

March 17
Office Closed - St. Patrick's Day
March 25

March 27

March 28
Easter Monday - XSB Offices Closed

March 31
XSB Board of Directors Meeting

April 7-15
XSB Pilgrimage to Ireland

Secure Server
On our web site, we have a secure server connection. This means you can contribute money to the Xavier Society using your credit card in perfect safety. When you get to the web site, there is a button "Donate." If you click on that, you will be taken to the Secure Server area where you can make any contribution in complete safety. (If the server is not working, please call our office at 212 473-7800 and ask for Donald.)