When the calendar turned from 2007 into 2008 a year ago, how many would have been able to envision so many of the events that would transpire in the new year. Pretty much everyone knew that there was going to be a tough, divisive political race in the Presidential election campaign. But how many just one year ago would have given Barack Obama much of a chance against Hillary Clinton? Not many. Clinton had been the ‘presumptive nominee’ of the Democratic Party for a couple of years leading into 2008. And how many of you had ever heard of Sarah Palin, let alone knew that she was the governor of Alaska? The media-driven Obamamania of the past year showed that the man can campaign. But can he lead a nation? We will begin to find that out as certainly one of the biggest stories of the year unfolds. In just a couple of weeks Obama will be sworn in as the first half African-American President in U.S. history. That will indeed be one of the biggest moments of 2009, but the real stories will be how the new Obama administration handles domestic and world events during the year. From Iraq to Israel, Afghanistan to India, Pakistan to Iran, the Middle East will remain a cauldron bubbling with potential Islamism-inspired disasters. The U.S. economy continues to struggle thanks to the short-sightedness of government bailouts of failing businesses, a situation that is only likely to worsen in the new year. The new President may need to make a Supreme Court nomination in 2009. SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens will turn 89 years old in April, and likely only held on to his court seat hoping to be replaced by a similarly liberal thinker, now more likely with the Obama election. Who will be among the famous deaths in 2009? In the last year we lost silver screen legend Charlton Heston, director Sydney Pollack, politician Jesse Helms, and musicians Bo Diddley & Levi Stubbs among many others. Closer to home our Philadelphia police department had lost officer Chuck Cassidy at Halloween in 2007, that coming on the heels of having lost officer Gary Skerski who was similarly shot and killed by a robber in spring of 2006. Who could have imagined that 2008, rather than offering a quiet respite from those tragedies, would heep on even more with the murders of four officers in the line of duty: Steve Liczbinski, Isabel Nazario, Pat McDonald, and Tim Simpson. We can only hope and pray that 2009 is a quiet, safe year for our police officers and fire fighters in Philly. We certainly deserve that much. On a lighter, brighter note, who could have foreseen the stunning, thrilling rise of the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series championship. The antics of Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, Brett Myers, Shane Victorino and company brought sports excitement that the city had not seen for a long time, and finally ended our quarter-century title drought. Can any other Philly team step up and take us on a similar ride in 2009? Across the country, around the world, and right at home in our own families 2009 will likely prove to be a year of changes, challenges, and highlights. There is no such thing as a true crystal ball. There is no one who can foresee the events of the coming year. We just have to let them play out while working them to the best for ourselves and our families when possible. Remember that through it all, God has a plan, both for humanity overall and for you in particular. Stay strong, keep a positive attitude, and always remember to turn to Him for help in times of struggle and in thanks during the good times.