Xavier Society for the Blind

Vol. 10   No. 2
  February   2016

What's New at XSB

Meet Deacon Jamie Dennis
Caption: Deacon Jamie standing next to a locomotive.

Each month we add new members to our roster at the Xavier Society for the Blind, and from time to time, we like to introduce you to one of them. 

Jamie Dennis is a blind seminarian who has been ordained a deacon, and will be ordained a priest in May of this year. While there are a number of blind priests around the country, in almost every instance they were ordained when they were sighted and then lost their sight later in life. 

Jamie is from Kentucky, and among other things, is a serious train buff. He is a member of the Kentucky Train Association, and even has his own train with two miles of track on his family's farm. He is on Facebook (Deacon Jamie Dennis), and has a video about his calling as a priest (http://lolekproductions.com/trailer-unseen-dcn-jamie-dennis/). 

He will be ordained at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Owensboro, Ky, and will celebrate his First Mass at his home parish the next morning. We will be providing him with a set of liturgical books in braille to help him in his ministry. If you would like to contribute to help provide support for his ordination present, send your gift with a note indicating that it is for Deacon Jamie. 

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 catalogue, 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.  

Caption: Staff from both organizations sitting around the conference table for lunch. 

For many years, the tradition at the Xavier Society for the Blind has been grilled cheese sandwiches on Ash Wednesday. This year we invited the staff at the American Foundation for the Blind to join us, and we had a great community celebration. One of the AFB staff made a delicious soup, which added to the table of sandwiches and salads. 

Several months ago we shared the news about a visit we had from a man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has started a group to support blind individuals there. He has just let us know that the group has launched a new website, and the address is     

If you have a translation function on your computer, you might need to set it to French, since the website is in French. But it gives you a good sense of what they are doing. 

APRIL 7 to 15, 2016
The registration has closed, the winners of the three prizes in the raffle have been drawn and notified, and if you had meant to sign up and never quite got around to it, you missed out on what promises to be a terrific trip. We will have the full story of our time in Ireland, and photos, in the April issue, which will be a little late coming out. 


And it did. Dumping as much snow on New York in one day as we normally get in one year. I'm sure you've seen the pictures before - but imagine you're blind, using a long white cane to help guide you. What must it be like dealing with this kind of weather. 

Caption: A cane is not as helpful when there are many inches on the ground

Caption: People waiting in line for a Broadway show - that was cancelled because of the weather. 

Caption: One of my favorite pictures from the blizzard weekend, from a town in southern New Jersey. Ice and water flooded the street as far as the eye can see. 

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. 


If you are not a regular visitor to our web site, or to our page on Facebook, during Lent we are posting a short reflection each day to help you with your prayer during the Lenten season.

And we also will be posting the daily prayer and reflection for the Novena to St. Francis Xavier in the same two locations. The novena goes from March 4 to 12.  

I do hope you will take the time to follow the link, and watch the short video about Deacon Jamie. It is only about three minutes long, but you will get a good sense of this extraordinary and inspiring young man. Like many of us who became priests, as a child he "celebrated" Mass. He had the animals on his farm for his congregation, I used it as a training tool for the altar boys I was supposed to whip into shape. But we had a feeling that this was somehow right, somehow what we were being called to. 

Throughout his studies, no one quite knew what to do about a blind seminarian, so Jamie has been teaching along the way as much as he has been learning. He has taught his teachers what a blind student can accomplish, he has taught his classmates what help he needs (and does not need) to get his work done, and he has shown many people that there are no limits as to what he can accomplish. We will keep you posted as he moves to ordination and the wonderful celebration of his first Mass. 

As you may or may not know, the Xavier Society for the Blind has a small outreach program for our veterans who have lost or are losing their sight. In cooperation with members of the Catholic War Veterans and the American Legion, we get notified of vets who might want or need our services, and we try to reach out to them. Helping our veterans is a personal priority of mine, and in May, I will be joining a bunch of talented performers at 54 Below in Manhattan to put on a special performance "Salute the Troops." The ad mentions a discount which has already expired, but put the date on your calendar anyway - it should be a great show! There will be more information as the date gets closer. 

Thank you for all you have done for us in the past, please remember us in your will, or if you win a major prize in the Lottery, and thank you as well 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 - Last call on these delightful wristbands, with Xavier Society for the Blind in braille on the outside, and our contact information on the inside. 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. 

Many thanks. 


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. 


March 4 to 12
Novena to St. Francis Xavier

March 13
Daylight Savings Time Begins

March 17
Office Closed - St. Patrick's Day

March 24
Holy Thursday - XSB Offices close at 2 PM

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

May 22-26
NCCL Conference in Jacksonville, FL

May 28
Ordination of James Dennis

May 29
First Mass of Fr. James Dennis

May 30
Fr. John appears in 
at Feinstein's 54 Below

June 23
XSB Board of Directors Meeting

June 30 - July 5
National Federation of the Blind
National Convention - Orlando, FL

July 1-9
American Council of the Blind
National Convention - Minneapolis, MN

August 18-28
World Union of the Blind International Meeting
Orlando, FL

October 21
Father John's Farewell Bash
The NY Athletic Club
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.)