A photographic year in review

As the Catholic Review goes to press each month, I’ve taken it upon myself to post an Instagram photo of “The Wall” at the Catholic Review – an approximately 20-foot bulletin board that displays every page of the magazine.

“The Wall” is helpful in our final editing process, allowing reporters, editors and production staff the opportunity to look for typos or other mistakes that may have slipped through earlier proofing stages.

I share photos of “The Wall” to let friends and readers know the next issue of the Catholic Review will arrive shortly.

One friend commented that our production wall is “old school.”

I agree.

It wasn’t a jab; just an observation. Old school methods can outlast modern technology.

My monthly post, unfortunately, also marks how fast time flies.

Here’s a look back at 2018 with some of the photos and stories that moved me, made me smile, and reminded me how precious life can be.


The Gift of Leo

The D’Orazio children , from left, Stella, 8; Luca, 2, and Anna, 4, embrace their 11-month-old brother, Leo. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Brandie and Dan D’Orazio were told their newborn son Leo would not thrive due to life-threatening genetic disorder that limits brain development. The Federal Hill family made the excruciatingly painful decision to remove him from life support less than two weeks after Leo’s Jan. 5, 2017 birth.

With funeral arrangements in place for them to say goodbye, the family waited for Leo to take his last breath. Minutes turned into hours, days and weeks. A little more than a year later, the family of six cherish each day, as they work as a team to care for their miracle son and brother.

Emily Rosenthal, Catholic Review staff writer, recently contacted Leo’s family for an update. He  is getting ready to celebrate his second birthday.

Brandi D’Orazio cares for her son, Leo. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

After falling ill with a cold in November, Leo’s parents, Brandie and Dan, were unsure if he would pull through. Respiratory infections are less-than-ideal for little Leo, who is unable to cough up his secretion and is unable to move, see or hear. He needs chest physical therapy and round-the-clock respiratory treatments for his lungs.

He recovered, and is doing well.

“We thought we would never get to see another Thanksgiving,” his mother said. “We are truly blessed with this awesome miracle of Leo.”


Humanity front and center 

Thousands of pro-life supporters walk down Madison Avenue towards the March for Life rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Jan. 19. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

An unusually warmer January day started the year for hundreds of thousands of pro-life supporters who attended the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. While the March for Life traditionally supports protecting the unborn, the event unofficially expanded to include immigrants wanting to enter the United States.


“Big” high school wins

There was no shortage of emotion in high school sports again this year. For Mercy High School and the Institute of Notre Dame, the Big Game tradition continued at Towson University (feature photo at top of the page).

Archbishop Curley High School head baseball coach Brooks Norris gets a water cooler shower following his team’s MIAA A Conference title over the Gilman School at Harford Community College May 21. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

A few months later, Archbishop Curley High School players dowsed their head coach with water following the school’s first A Conference baseball title since 2001.


Victims make their voices heard at Bishops’ national conference in Baltimore

Sarah Pearson, from Milwauke, Wis., holds photos of alleged abuse victims Nov. 12 outside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is hosting its fall assembly. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

A Pennsylvania grand jury sent shockwaves throughout the nation with its release of a report in August on clergy sexual abuse. A small yet vocal gathering of victims courageously gave a dose of their personal reality to local and national media during the U.S. bishops’ fall meeting in Baltimore. The groups demanded accountability and reform in the Catholic Church. You couldn’t help but feel the betrayal they felt by those who were most trusted.


High-tech play and learn

St. Michael-St. Clement School fourth-graders Skylar Spencer, from left, John Nwokoroku and Ben Fugate use an augmented-reality sandbox to study science at the Overlea school. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Students at St. Michael-St. Clement School in Overlea took their merger in stride as they learned science using a responsive augmented-reality sandbox showing the environmental impact on water drainage as sand is moved into different positions.


In sickness and in health: A love story of dedication

Married 44 years this summer, Jerry and Renee Buettner sit in the family room of their
Baltimore home Feb. 14. Renee was diagnosed in 2011 with Alzheimer’s disease. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Jerry and Renee Buettner have spent 43-years together making memories any couple would cherish, including raising four daughters. As life would have it, Renee was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. Having spent about an hour with the couple, I found Jerry to be a model of dedication to the needs of his wife, while knowing those memories are slowly fading. Jerry has made it his goal to do all he can to keep those memories alive for his wife.


A “Moo-ving” dedication in Howard County

Conventual Franciscan Father Michael Heine blesses three acres of land with holy water that will be farmed at the Shrine of St. Anthony by the Franciscan Center in Baltimore during a special prayer services at the Ellicott City campus April 12. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

If you were to tell me cows would grace the cover of the Catholic Review, I would have laughed. And laughed we did. It’s the reason why this story made my Year in Review list. A story originally planned for the cover was pulled last minute forcing us to scramble for an idea, which pushed the bovine inspiration to the top. And yes, there were guests at the dedication of the farm land making “moo” sounds at the cattle through the fence. We’re all kids at heart.


Graduation fun

Proud parents and relieved student gathered once again this graduation season, and the Catholic Review made the rounds to capture some of the joyous occasions around the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Loyola Blakefield continued its streak of outdoor festivities, only to have heavy rains come upon the gathering as the last diploma was presented.  Visit our digital print edition for a double-page spread that appeared in the July issue.

Two family’s worst nightmare

Barbra Swann holds a photo of her son, Brian Christopher Pope, outside her Randallstown home. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Barbra Swann and Alex and Mary Kay Wroblewski lost a son to senseless violence that has plagued Baltimore City for years. While Swann’s child was killed a decade ago, her pain was as fresh as the day she got the news of her son’s death.

Mary Kay and Alex Wroblewski hold a photo of their son, Alex III, on the stoop of their Locust Point home. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Reliving the nightmare for the Wroblewskis is a daily occurrence, as they watch the trial date for their son’s killer be pushed back by the courts.

Having never met anyone who has endured such trauma, all I could do was listen to their stories and pray one day they will have peace. Faith is what allows the Swanns and Wroblewskis to live each day.




Forward, march!

The Calvert Hall College High School Marching Band includes, from left, sophomores Toroian Neblett and Jason Walter, senior Sam Little, junior Emerson Clay and senior Jack Little. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Unlike most high school students who chill on summer break, members of the Calvert Hall College High School marching band heat up for their band camp and 4th of July parades. Their hard work and dedication paid off as national champions from USBands and grand champions at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.


A community rocked to the core

Stacey Esposito, center, picks up her sons Ashton and Pearce from dismissal at St. Joseph School in Fullerton May 29. The school was placed on lockdown a week earlier, while Baltimore County Police searched for those responsible for the line-of-duty death of Officer Amy Caprio in Perry Hall May 21. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

I spent my formidable years growing up in Perry Hall, attending St. Joseph, Fullerton, School and Church. Just a stone’s throw from my childhood home, a Baltimore County police officer was killed in May while investigating suspicious activity in the otherwise quiet community. Administrators and teachers placed the school in lockdown. Archdiocesan leaders and the church pastor were kept in the communication loop at all times. A few days later, I paid a visit to the school and police station impacted by this tragic event.


Works of art a family business

Roberto Terraza came to this country from Argentina, and eventually opened a stained glass business. Eleven-years later, Terraza Stained Glass in Brooklyn is a multi-continent business, as his daughter, who still lives in South America, is the company’s designer. Plans are sent to the Baltimore studio where a talented staff creates them by hand, and Terraza completes the installation himself. Check out these wonderful stained glass images recently installed at New All Saints in Liberty Heights.

Kevin J. Parks

Kevin J. Parks

Kevin J. Parks joined the Catholic Review in 2016 as its visual journalist following a lengthy career at Mercy Medical Center, where he shot photography and video for internal communications, marketing and media relations for local and national media.

Kevin has been honored by the Maryland Delaware D.C. (MDDC) Press Association, The Catholic Press Association and the Associated Church Press for his work. One of his career highlights is documenting a medical mission in Peru, which received two national awards.

A Baltimore native, Kevin is graduate of Archbishop Curley High School and the University of Baltimore. He is a parishioner of St. Francis de Sales, Abingdon.