Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – February 18, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An Irish dignitary once shared a railway compartment with two prim-looking spinsters. A few moments before reaching his destination the train passed through a tunnel. In the utter darkness of the tunnel the Irishman repeatedly kissed the back of his hand with noisy smacks. As the train drew into the station, he rose, lifted his hat, and in a gentlemanly way said to the women: “May I thank whichever one of you two lovely ladies I am indebted to for the charming incident in the tunnel.” He quickly turned and stepped off the train leaving  the two ladies glaring at each other.

They tell me a sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life.’

According to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, ‘Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.’

‘Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells seem to live forever,’ Maybe the Church encourages us to fast during Lent to shorten the life span of fat cells. However, according to church Lenten regulations, there are only two days of Fast and Abstinence – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (I hope you remembered to fast and abstain last week).

If we only fast for two days, those fat cells will certainly live forever. ‘Fast’ means that those 18 to 59 years of age must eat one full meal a day, and two smaller meals to maintain one’s energy. Perhaps we can make an extra sacrifice by fasting an extra day each week. As many folks know, a second day of fasting might sharpen our awareness of God, as well as shortening the live span of our fat cells.

A young girl in our parish asked about those smaller lunches. How much food consists of a small meal? So I asked her what she usually eats for breakfast. She said, “Two waffles.” I asked her if she could get by with one waffle. She smiled and said, “Yes.” That would be fasting.

‘Abstinence’ means abstaining from meat. In addition to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday everyone over the age of 14 is obliged to abstain from meat. Many Americans enjoy a delicious T-bone steak. The Church wants us to remember Christ who died for us on a Friday. by denying ourselves of that steak or some other favorite foods on Lenten Fridays, we will be more apt to remember our Savior who gave His life out of love for us.

A teacher was giving a lesson to the third graders on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, “Now, Class, if I stood on my head, the blood would run down into my head, turning my face red. That’s right, isn’t it?” “Yes,” the class shouted. “Then, why is it,” the teacher asked, “that while I am standing upright in this ordinary position the blood doesn’t run into my feet, turning my feet red?” The class thought for a few minutes. Then a little boy spoke up, “Cuz your feet ain’t empty.”

Just in case our heads seem to be a bit empty, Lent is a time to fill them with spiritual thoughts and practices. We can relate to a young kid’s response when the pediatric nurse allowed him to listen to his own heartbeat. The kid gently tucked the stethoscope in his ears and placed the disk over his heart. “Listen,” she said, “what do you suppose that is?” He drew his eyebrows together with a puzzled expression on his face as he listened to the strange tap-tap-tapping deep in his chest. Then his face broke out in a wondrous grin and said, “It’s Jesus knocking!” Jesus is knocking at our hearts. During Lent, we can open the doors to our hearts and welcome Jesus with a few extra spiritual practices.

Here are some suggestions. Attend Mass each day. Pray the way of the cross at 4:30 each Friday. Read a spiritual message on your email after you registered – BestLentEver.com. Say the rosary each day. Read a chapter of the Bible each day.

St. John Vianney was the pastor of the church in the little village of Ars, France. He is known as the Cure of Ars. One day a wealthy woman, who was quite portly, asked him what she needed in order to reduce her weight. With a twinkle in his eye, the Cure of Ars said, “About three Lents, Madam.”

A blessed Lenten Season to all,
In the Redeeming Christ,
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 11, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The Bishop drove out to a small town on the edge of his Diocese. He was visiting the parish to confer the sacrament of Confirmation upon the young adults. The pastor of the parish had diligently prepared these folks for Confirmation. Wanting to impress the Bishop in front of the congregation the pastor asked the class a few questions before presenting the young folks to the Bishop.

The pastor turned to a young nervous girl and asked, “What is matrimony. The girl quickly responded, “It’s a state of terrible torment which those who enter are compelled to undergo for a period of time as they prepare themselves for a better world.”

“No, no, no, said the pastor, “that’s not matrimony. That’s the definition of Purgatory.” With that, the Bishop chimed in and said, “Leave her alone, Father. Perhaps the child has seen the light.” This year, World Marriage Day (celebrated on the second Sunday of February-February 11th) coincides with the World Day of the Sick (Feb. 11). The liturgical readings this Sunday are appropriate for both occasions as they provide an opportunity to reflect on the forgiveness and compassion of God who stretches out His hand to heal our wounds when we approach Him with confidence. Marriage and sexuality are gifts that often need redemption and healing.

As a mother was tucking her son into bed one night, she said, “Troy, I love you.” Troy replied, “I love you, too mom.” The mother teasingly said, “No you don’t.” He said, “Yes, Mommy, I do.” So the mother asked, “How do you know it’s love?” The little boy’s response was, “I’m not really sure what love is, bu you make my heart smile.”

What a beautiful definition of love, “You make my heart smile!” Imagine how the hearts of many married people are smiling at the time of their marriage. Oh how we pray that those same hearts are shining brightly with smiles after 10, 30, 50 years of marriage. On this day we uphold the sacred institution of marriage. We congratulate all married couples. We ask God’s blessings upon you as you take each other’s hands and reflect upon-

‘The Hands of Matrimony.’

Beloved wife, take your husband’s hands and look at them” These are the hands, young and vibrant with love, that held yours on your wedding day, as he promised to love you all the days of his life. These are the hands that you placed with expectant joy against your stomach, until he, too, felt his child stir within your womb. These are the hands that looked so large and clumsy, yet they were so gentle as he held your baby for the first time. These are the hands that have wiped tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that have comforted you in distress, and held you when fear or grief racked your mind. These are the hands that caressed your heart throughout the years, to make the wonder of love come alive for you. These are the hands that tenderly lifted your chin and brushed your cheek as they raised your face to look into his eyes; eyes that were filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

Beloved husband, take your wife’s hands and look at them: These are the hands that held yours as she gave you her pledge to love you, and accepted your ring on your wedding day.These are the hands that were smooth and young and carefree then, but lined and rougher now from thousands of dishes washed, tons of laundry cleaned, and hundreds of meals prepared. These are the hands that are nicked and burned from irons, hot skillets and pans. These are the hands that held you in joy and excitement each time she said you were to have another child; that together you created new life. These are the hands that have held each child in tender love, soothing them through illness, disciplining them, diapering them, and sewing for them, baking for them and wringing themselves in worry when trouble came. These are the hands that massage tension from your neck and back after you’ve had a hard day. These are the hands that through the years have caressed you in the passion of love. These are the hands that held your face and wiped tears from your eyes, in wonder and awe that you would cry for her.

Beloved couple: These are the hands of the Sacrament of Matrimony. These four hands are your armor and shield against the evils of the world. These four hands are God’s plan for renewing His Church. These are the hands that will reach our to the teenager, bring hope to the lonely, teach the engaged the wonders of married love, heal the abused and hurting children of the world. These hands are the hope of a troubled humanity. These are the hands that will change the world. Amen.

A husband and wife lost their six month old baby while they were missionaries in a third world country. An old Punjabi woman came to comfort the mother. She said, ” A tragedy like this is similar to being plunged into boiling water. If you are an egg your affliction will make you hard boiled and unresponsive. If you are a potato, you will emerge soft and pliable, resilient and adaptable.” The missionary concluded, “It may sound funny to God, but there have been many times when I have prayed, “O Lord, Make me a potato.”

When I fall, He lifts me up! When I fail, He forgives! When I am weak, He is strong! When I am lost, He is the ?’way! When I am afraid, He is my courage! When I stumble, He steadies me! When I am hurt, He heals me! When I am broken, He mends me! When I am blind, He leads me! When I am hungry, He feeds me! When I face trials, He is with me!

During their wedding the bride and groom took two smaller candles and together lit the Unity Candle. A non-Catholic friend of the groom asked his buddy what it meant. “Could it mean, ‘No more old flames?'”

In the Redeeming Christ,
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – February 4, 2018

Father Shea

By: Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A ten year old boy returned home from religious class. His mother asked him what he learned. “Well,” he said, “the teacher told us about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. They were being held captive by the Egyptians, so God sent Moses behind the enemy lines to rescue them. When they got to the Red Sea, Moses ordered the engineers to build a pontoon bridge. Then, after they crossed over, they looked back and saw the Egyptian tanks coming. Quick-as-a-flash, Moses picked up his walkie-talkie and asked the Air Force to send bombers to blow up the bridge so the Egyptians couldn’t catch up.” At this point the boy’s mother exclaimed, “Wait, wait, Bobby, is that really the way the teacher told the story?” “Well, not exactly,” Bobby admitted, “but if I told it her way, you’d never believe it.”

Within ten days, Lent will be upon us. We will be hearing the Old Testament stories. There might be times that we would chime in with Bobby…” You’ll never believe what was written about Noah and Moses!”

There is a small wooded bird called the ‘Floogie Bird.’ Perhaps you have seen that bird. If so, you would notice that around the Floogie Bird’s neck is a label reading, “I fly backwards. I don’t care where I am going. I just want to see where I’ve been.” Well, we’ve spent enough time looking backwards to where we have been. Now, we want to look forward to discover the many opportunities that await us.

About three weeks ago five energetic folks, three women and two men, approached us at St. Gerard, telling us that they were interested in working with young people. They asked if we would be interested in having them become involved with the youth of St. Gerard.

Well, we took a quick look backwards like the Floogie Bird did and saw years of struggle trying to get something going with the youth. Nothing materialized. Then, along come fie people saying, “Can we help?” Was this a ‘God Send,’ having five people approach us, wanting to help us look into the future to see what can happen with the youth of the parish?

We checked with the Archdiocese. We conducted a background check. All was positive. We invited them to attend the mission where they met a number of people. Last Sunday Shirley invited them to visit the CFF classrooms where the young folks welcomed them. We have asked them to gradually make themselves known around the parish at different functions. On March 4th there will be a ‘meet and greet’ event. During the Mass we will introduce them to the parish. After Mass our parishioners will have an opportunity to chat with them.

At this time they are volunteering themselves as they get involved with the parishioners, especially the youth. Between now and this summer we will observe their relationship with the youth and with the parish at large. This summer we will evaluate what is happening and determine what the future holds.

The names of the five people are Anna Martinez, Veronica Montez, Marisa Garza, Samuel Ruiz and Estevan Ruiz. They have gainful employment. But in their free time they want to minister to the youth. Their ages range from early twenties to early forties. In the past they have been involved with youth retreats, ACTS retreats and days of recollection.

Back in 1981 Mother Teresa spoke at a cathedral in a very poor neighborhood in Washington, D.C. All the politicians and press turned out to see her. Reporters surrounded Mother Teresa after she talked, to ask about the reason for her visit. To the question, “What do you hope to accomplish here?” Mother Teresa replied, “The Joy of loving and being loved.” To a cynical press, this answer sounded suspicious. She must have some kind of political agenda. The next question was, “That takes a lot of money, doesn’t it?” Mother Teresa answered directly, “No, it takes a lot of sacrifice.”

Sally explained why she married Tom instead of Bill. “When I was with Bill I thought he was one of the most charming, witty and delightful people I’d ever met.”

“Then why didn’t you marry him?” she was asked.

“Because when I’m with Tom, he makes me feel like I’m the most charming, witty and delightful person he’s ever met”

A group of researchers went door to door requesting donations for the American Cancer Society. They introduced themselves and then asked, “Would you be willing to help by giving us a donation?”

Half the time they stopped there, the rest of the time they added this additional thought, “Even a penny will help.”

Analyzing the results, the researchers found that residents who were asked to donate ‘even if it’s just a penny’ were more likely to make a donation and the size of the donation was significantly larger than the donors in the first group.

So – ask what you need – on a small scale. You might be pleasantly surprised.

In the Redeeming Christ,
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 28, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Back in the early 1980’s Tommy Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers while John McNamara managed the Cincinnati Reds. Tommy was a faithful Catholic. Weekly Mass was important to him. Even when he was traveling with the team he managed to attend Mass each Sunday.

One weekend the Cincinnati Reds were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers for a weekend series. On this particular Sunday Tommy managed to attend Mass at a church in downtown Cincinnati. Tommy was sitting in a pew in the front of church when John McNamara, the Cincinnati Reds’ manager, happened to enter the church. John immediately spotted Tommy up front. John stayed in a pew near the back, but he kept an eye on Tommy. When Mass was over, all the parishioners headed toward the exits. Tommy took a detour to the shrine of the Blessed Virgin. He paused for a few private prayers, then lit a candle and walked out. The Reds manager, lurking in the shadows behind a pillar, watched every move that Lasorda made. When Tommy lit the candle, the Reds manager became a bit uneasy. He assumed that Tommy was trying to take advantage of some divine power in regards to the crucial game they were going to play that afternoon. As soon as Tommy left the church the Reds manager casually walked up to the votive light stand and blew out the candle that Tommy had just lit.

Why do people light candles in church? In nearly every church, there are candles for people to light. Shrines around the world have countless candles burning. Have you ever noticed how children love to light candles? There is something fascinating about candles. A burning candle is so warm, so comforting and so consoling. Any burning light is a reminder of Christ, the Light of the World. As the candle burns itself out and is consumed in giving its light and service to people, it is a sign of sacrifice and sacrificial love.

When Archbishop Gustavo became the Archbishop of San Antonio he introduced a ceremony called ‘Lumen Gentium.’ It is the Latin for ‘Light of Nations.’ In the ceremony Archbishop Gustavo presents a small plaque to one or two people from every parish. The plaque represents the good work and ministry that person given to his or hers parish.

Each year Archbishop Gustavo asks the pastors to name one or two parishioners who have ministered well in the parish. Then, during a prayer service Archbishop thanks the people for their ministry, presents the plaque and gives the recipient one of Archbishop’s famous hugs.

We at St. Gerard have selected Kevin and Mitzi Clark to receive the ‘Lumen Genium’ award. On Thursday, February 1, 2018 Kevin and Mitzi will gather at St. Dominic church with people from all parishes across the Archdiocese to receive the Lumen Gentium award. Congratulations Kevin and Mitzi!

A wealthy banker died. Of course everyone in his family was anxious to find out how the banker’s money would be distributed. The family gathered in the lawyer’s office for the reading of the will. He left $50,000 to his wife, $75,000 to each of his children and $10,000 to each of his brothers and sisters. The the will read, “and to my nephew Ralph, who has not worked a day in his life and who always wanted to be mentioned in my will, I say, ‘HELLO RALPH.'”

Those people who keep statistics tell us that only 40 percent of the people who die have wills. That leaves 60 percent of the people without wills.  The government is quite happy about this percentage. If a person dies without a will, a generous portion of the estate goes to the government.

Over the years parishioners of St. Gerard have been very thoughtful, to not only mention our parish in their wills, but also leave a generous legacy to the church. These folks are part of the 40% who have wills. To which category do you belong – 40% or 60%? And when you make your will may I suggest that you remember St. Gerard.

I received a nice letter from Archbishop Gustavo telling us that we, the parishioners of St. Gerard have exceeded our 2017 Archbishops Annual Appeal goal. In fact, we have received a rebate in the amount of $882.00. One half of the money in excess of our goal is returned to the parish. Thank you congratulations parishioners! Now we are into the 2018 appeal. We thank Viola Martinez for taking leadership of the appeal this year.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk I have a workstation. Well, work has not stopped regarding the rebuilding of the sacristy. We are nearing the end. Not only are we nearly completed, but as best that I know, all the invoices have gone to the insurance company. I have not seen an invoice…not yet!!!

March is only a month away. In March our parish has been scheduled to participate in the Archbishop’s Capital Campaign. The Consulting Firm will be coming to our parish as we kick off this campaign. Remember, 40% of the money given to the campaign is returned back to the parish. I have submitted a plan to restore our school building for multiple uses to the Archdiocese. I await some kind of response from them.

A teacher asked a highly intelligent but rebellious student: “Timothy, what is the difference between ignorance and indifference?” Timothy shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

In the Redeeming Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 20, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Up north we called them ‘Snow Days.’ In  San Antonio those days are called ‘Ice Days.’ No matter what you call those inclement days, they are translated into “No School!” Hurrah! Oh how we loved those days…until the ‘make-up’ days cut into our summer vacation.

It had been snowing for hours when an announcement came over the intercom: “Will the students parked on University Drive please move their cars so we can begin plowing?” Twenty minutes later another announcement came over the intercom: “Will the 1,299 students who went to move 26 cars please return to class!”

Somewhere Paul Harvey wrote this passage. He entitled it, “If I were the Devil.”

“I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world. I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings. I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people. I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue. I would convince people that character is not an issue when ti comes to leadership. I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies. I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient. I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings. I would take God our of the schools, where even the mention of His Name was grounds for a law suit. I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them. I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda. I would attack the family, the backbone of my nation. I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation. I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art. I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled at. I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct. I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive. I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional.

Oh well, I guess I would leave things pretty much they way they are.”

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. When that decision came down we knew that it would be catastrophic. Little did we know how detrimental it would be? Little did we know how this decision would morally decay so much of our society? Apparently, the devil knew as Paul Harvey captured the moral degeneration of family and society in, “If I were the devil.”

Our liturgy this weekend is filled with the message of ‘Repent and Believe’ along with the promise of new life. Life follows sincere repentance and conversion. The prophet Jonah warns the city of Nineveh to turn from their evil ways or face dire consequences. The people listened. Even the king listened. They changed their ways. But it seems that we Americans have turned a deaf ear to the Word of God. We have listened to false prophets who are promising us the good life filled with comfort, pleasure and convenience. Have we been duped? It seems that we bought into the good life. We are also facing the consequences.

Scottish philosopher Alexander  Tyler of the University of Edinburgh noted eight stages in the rise and fall of society.

From bondage to spiritual growth
From spiritual growth to great courage
From courage to liberty
From liberty to abundance
From abundance to complacency
From complacency to apathy
From apathy to dependence
From dependence back to bondage

Where do you think we fit into Tyler’s stages??

Six transit gloria mundi!

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 14, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

After spending many hours in the Riley’s Irish Riverside Pub, a young man decided to head home. As soon as he stepped outside he noticed a group of people gathering down at the river. The young man was curious. So, he inched his way toward the river to see what was happening. A preacher was standing in the middle of the river. He was inviting people to be baptized by immersion.

After baptizing the last person the preacher looked around. He saw the young man and invited him to be baptized. So the lad waded to the center of the river. The preacher gripped the man’s shoulders, pushing him  down under the water, holding him there for 15 seconds. He pulled the man up and asked, “Did you see Jesus?” The young man shook his head and said, “No!” So the preacher held him underwater for a second time. He pulled him up and asked, “Did you see Jesus?” Again the lad said, “No!”

Finally, the preacher held the young lad under the water for one whole minute. When the preacher pulled him up he asked, “Now, did you see Jesus?” Gagging and gasping for air, the lad said, “Preacher, are you sure this is where he fell in?”

Last Sunday we celebrated the manifestation of Christ in the Epiphany. Monday we celebrated the memorial of Jesus’ baptism. We were reminded of our own baptism. With the baptism of Christ, we closed the Christmas season and began ordinary time in our liturgical calendar.

Christ Lutes interviewed Jimmie Lee Sloas and Gordon Kennedy, the two rockers who call themselves ‘Dogs of Peace.’ Chris asked them, “Who had the greatest influence on your Christian life?”

Gordon looked up and said softly, “Chris Bonds. I went to school with Chris from the third grade through my senior year. He had muscular dystrophy and was in a wheel chair. All of us kids took turns pushing him around the playground. We were told that he wouldn’t live much beyond 18. We knew we were watching a guy who might die just when the rest of us were getting ready to graduate.

You know, all the time I knew Chris, I don’t remember seeing him frown. He was so positive and upbeat. Chris lived longer than expected. After his death, his mother found a poem which Chris wrote. Part of the poem says:

“I come to the conclusion! When the envying is tilled!
That the post to which God sent me! Is the post He
wanted filled.”

Gordon continued, “As I think about these lines, I think about Chris on the sidelines, wishing he could get in the game and play with the other kids. But then, as the poem tells it, he came to grips with his role in life…”

A favorite passage in scripture for many people is the first reading today from Samuel. A name called in the night-and life is changed irrevocably. The Lord called Samuel under the cover of night. After checking with his teacher, Samuel responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Centuries later another teacher spoke. His disciples responded and their lives were irrevocable changed. That same teacher is calling today. The question is, will our lives be changed!!! Will we be able to say,

“Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.”

Being a disciple of Christ is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be. It means carrying a cross, living with inconveniences and making sacrifices. It means, as the famous woman in scripture, Ruth, says, “Wherever you go, I will go.”

Next week we begin our mission. We hear the call to come. Come to the mission. Come and hear the gospel of Luke being translated down to earth language. Come and hear the beatitudes being infused into our lives. Come and hear how we can keep our balance in a world where the media is rocking our Catholic Christian boat. Fran Runyeon will be challenging us to live Christian lives as Christ meant us to live. All are expected to be present at our mission. I will be looking forward to seeing you.

And here’s a ‘wish’ list.

I wish you enough sun to keep your altitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in live may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough success to keep you eager,
I wish you enough failure to keep you humble,
I wish you enough joy to share with others,
I wish you enough trials to keep you strong,
I wish you enough hope to keep you happy,
I wish you enough faith to banish depression,
I wish you enough friends to give you comfort,
I wish you enough friends to give you comfort,
I wish you enough determinations to make each day better than yesterday.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

In the Redeeming Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 7, 2018

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

I heard about a Protestant congregation where the pastor and the song leader were at odds with each other. They could never agree on anything, especially when it came to selecting songs for their worship services. Normally there would never be a song after the sermon. But the music director would purposely insert a song, just to antagonize the pastor.

One week the pastor preached about commitment. The music director immediately responded with the song, “I Shall Not be Moved.” The following week the pastor preached about the value of giving. The music director jumped in with the song, “Jesus Paid it all.” The third week the pastor preached on gossiping. The music director led the song, “I love to Tell the Story.”

With all this nonsense going on the pastor felt that he lost control in his parish. He was fully disgusted. The following Sunday he told the congregation that he was thinking about resigning sometime in the future. The song leader joyfully jumped up and began signing, “Oh Why Not Tonight?” As it came to pass, the pastor did decide to resign. In announcing his resignation he said, “The same Jesus Christ who led me to be pastor of this church is now leading me away>” The song leader gleefully leapt to his feet and belted out, “What a Friend We have in Jesus.”

Let me tell you about another music director who has been most supportive and cooperative. I had the wonderful opportunity of working with him during the past nine years. We know him well. He is Rick McLaughlin. Rick has served our faith community for the past 15 years. Rick decided to relocate to the Dallas area. It was a difficult decision for him. He loved being the music director for the Cathedral and the Archdiocese as well as being ‘St. Gerard’s Music Director. But his children and grandchildren live in the Dallas area. Family is very important to him. It is important for Rick to be near to his family.

Rick and his deceased wife have been an inspiration to all of us. I have been honored to have worked with Rick during the past years. he always made himself available to lead the music not only at weekend liturgies but also at weddings and funerals. Rick, thank you for being part of our lives. May God bless you. We all admired Rick’s professional work at St. Gerard. We are grateful for his leadership over the years. Now, Rick will be with his family in Dallas. He also has been offered the role of Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Jude in Mansfield. He begins in that capacity on January 22. Therefore his final weekend here at St. Gerard will be January 20-21.

Today we celebrate the epiphany of Christ. It is known as the first epiphany or manifestation. Early Christians celebrated three epiphanies. The first was the visit of the Magi at Bethlehem. The second was the baptism of Christ. The third was the wedding feast of Cana when Christ worked his first miracle.  In each of these three events, Christ was manifested amongst the people.

The feast of the Epiphany is a feast of welcoming strangers who come to us. Matthew’s gospel presents foreigners who were bringing gifts to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. We know nothing of their origins other than they came from far off lands carrying the best gift they had. How different the world would be if everyone received the foreigner as “gift” rather than as a “threat.”

This week, January 7 – 13, 2018, we celebrate ‘National Migration Week.’ We are reminded of the many people who are immigrants, migrants, foreigners or refugees. Our theme this year is ‘Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.’

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2018, “Many Journeys, One Family,” draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.

If Christ manifested himself today He’d probably be arrested. For he would be wanted by the FDA for turning water into wine without a license; by the EPA for killing fig trees; by the AMA for practicing medicine without a license; by the Department of Health for asking people to open graves; then for raising the dead; for feeding 5,000 people in the wilderness; by the NEA for teaching without a certificate; by OSHA for walking on water without a life-jacket and for flying without an airplane; by SPCA for driving hogs into the sea; by the National Board of Psychiatrists for giving advice on how to live a guilt-free life; by NOW for not choosing a woman apostle; by the ABORTION RIGHTS LEAGUE for saying that whoever harms children, it is better that they had never been born; by the INTER-FAITH MOVEMENT for condemning all other religions; and by the ZONING DEPARTMENT for building mansions without a permit.

We thank God that Christ came amongst us two thousand years ago. He barely survived the laws of His day. Today, our laws would have imprisoned him before he launched His ministry.

Remember the mission!!! Frank Runyeon will talk about our journey of faith. All reports tell us that he is not only a great speaker who holds an audience spellbound but he is also a deeply faith filled person.

In the Redeeming Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – December 30, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Bob Hope said, “I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance, as I waited to get into the bathroom.”

There’ll be a lot of dancing and well-wishing as we welcome the new year. As we begin 2018 we have much to be thankful for. We thank so many people who have helped us in many different ways to be a vibrant parish.

I am thankful for Charlene’s 911 phone call to report a church fire. I am thankful for Sunday night as we returned to our worship space, the church, to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass. And we can be thankful for one another.

Let us hear the story of a thankful mother. She writes about her GOLD, COMMON SENSE, AND FUR experience.

My husband and I had been happily (most of the time) married for five years, but hadn’t been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my hear, and raise it with His word as my guide.

God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, he blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.

My husband thought we’d been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, “If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella.”

I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn’t want to disappoint Him.

I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.

When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess.

In spite of changing over 25 thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn’t keep my promise to be a perfect mother – I didn’t even come close – I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to “wash up” Jesus too.

Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his “last wife.”

My product moment came during the Children’s Christmas Pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds, and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine.

My five year old shepherd has practiced his line, “We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” But he was nervous and said, “The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.”

My four year old “Mary” said “That’s not ‘wrinkled clothes,’ silly. That’s dirty rotten clothes.”

A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying “Mamma-mamma.” Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.”

The congregation dissolved into laughter and the pageant got a standing ovation. “I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one.” Father Brian laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. “For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense, and fur.”

“My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing.” I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.

Have a happy and a blessed New Year.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – December 24, 2017

Father Shea

By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Below is my Christmas greeting to family and friends. It is not a card. It is a letter. A letter which tells of two significant events that took place at St. Gerard this past year. At the end of my letter I turn to God to remind us all that God is watching over us, even in the midst of tragedy. God has a bigger plan. We are part of that plan. It might seem to be bump in the road now, but wait, something greater is going to happen. So, let us prepare ourselves for God’s surprise. In the meantime, we believe that God is revealing Himself through our human experiences.

In 2017, we welcomed seminarians and fire ravished St. Gerard Church.

Early in August, fourteen Redemptorist seminarians came to San Antonio to study at the Oblate School of Theology. They have taken up residence in the former nuns’ convent at St. Gerard. “Welcome Redemptorist Seminarians.”

About 2:00 am Thanksgiving morning vandals entered St. Gerard Church. With burning candles lighting their way, they ransacked the church, smashed open and emptied the chalice cabinet. They happened to drop a burning candle amid church decorations on the second floor of the sacristy. It ignited.

About the same time a pregnant woman across the street had a craving for a cinnamon roll. She and her husband were heading to Whataburger when they saw flames in the window. They called 911-“The Church is on fire!”

The sirens woke up a Redemptorist student. He saw the fire trucks and quickly opened the church for the fire fighters. They extinguished the fire but not before the second floor was totally destroyed. The flames never reached the body of the church. Only smoke and soot. Apparently, when the vandals heard the sirens,, they fled, leaving behind the baskets of chalices.

St. Gerard is the patron of our church and also the patron of pregnant women. The student is a Redemptorist Brother following in the footsteps of St. Gerard who was a Redemptorist Brother. Some people say it was a coincidence. I say it was St. Gerard interceding before God who then touched the right people at the right time. They responded quickly to save our church.

Praise God! No one was hurt. Our church stands. A blessed Christmas to all.

Last Saturday evening we celebrated our parish Christmas party. Our parish threw this party to express our appreciation for all that our parishioners do at St. Gerard. My thanks goes our to the Social Events Committee. The cafeteria was attractively decorated. The d’oerves were delightful. The drinks were refreshing. The dinner was delicious. The desserts were tasty. The entertainment was rejuvenating. What a great evening! And thanks to generous benefactors who provided the food which was delectable. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

A little girl decided to make her own Christmas cards. When her father inspected the drawings, he pointed to the image of Mary. He asked his daughter why she had drawn Mary standing on one leg, while the other leg was bent at the knee. The little girl answered: “That’s Mary stomping her foot. She wanted a girl!”

We will be celebrating Christmas on a week from Monday. During this week the postal employees will be hustling to deliver all the Christmas cards, gifts and goodies. During my 12 years at Our Mother of Perpetual Help parish in Kansas City, Bishop Boland was our bishop. He has since gone home to heaven. He wrote a prayer for this season. He used the language of the postal department.

“God, Our Father, may everything we do be first-class. Imprint your own loving Zip Code upon our hearts so that we may never go astray.

Provide in your gracious Providence, special handling for those of us who are fragile and keep us in one piece. We have been signed, sealed, stamped and delivered in your image and likeness. We beg you to keep us in your care as we go about our appointed rounds.

And when our days draw to a close and we are marked ‘Return to Sender,’ may you be there to greet us at Heaven’s door so that nobody may ever say, ‘Unknown at this Address.'” Amen.

Christmas is a time when memories return. We remember the loved ones of Christmases past. We remember those who were with us last Christmas but will not be with us this Christmas. We remember the good times. With the loss of loved ones, in death, in separation or in divorce, a weight hangs from our hearts. Sadness has replaced that joy. The holidays stir up the sorrow within us.

But Christmas was made for such times as these. For a Child is born to us. God has come to live with us. Christ has become a human like us. He has taken on the pain and suffering of humanity. He has also filled our hearts with hope and happiness. Through Christ the blind see, the deaf hear, the crippled walk, dead people rise and the Good News is preached to them. Christ has reached deep into our hearts to lift us from the depths of sorrow to the heights of eternal joy.

As faith filled people, burdened with sorrows and pains, we rejoice with the shepherds and sing with the angels – “Glory to God in the Highest.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – December 10, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

“THE CHURCH IS ON FIRE”

Early Thanksgiving morning, Father Mick Fleming raced through the rectory pounding on doors and desperately shouting: “The church is on fire, the church is on fire.”

I leapt out of bed, quickly got dressed and rushed outside. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles surrounded the church. Their bright lights lit the surrounding area. I arrived just after the fire fighters had extinguished the fire. As I stood next to the church I could see dense smoke filling the back sacristy and the nave of the church. When the smoke cleared, I entered the sacristy. There before me was the locked chalice cabinet. Only now, the door was smashed and the chalices were gone. Then I went upstairs to the second floor of the sacristy. There laid the twisted and charred remains of church decorations.

Then the questions came. How did the fire start? Who started it? Who called 911? What happened to the chalices? Did someone set the church on fire? Was it an electrical fire? On and on came the questions…with no answers.

We know that the fire started and was contained in the west end of the second floor of the sacristy. i will tell the story as I think things happened.

About 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning one or two people, maybe more, entered the church. I will refer to them as ‘vandals.’ We have no idea how the vandals entered. No doors or windows showed any signs of forced entry. The doors of the church were all locked. I walked through the church around 6:00 p.m. the night before, locking the doors behind me. Perhaps the vandals had a key. It could be that I failed to secure a door. Perhaps the vandals were hiding in the church.

The vandals did not turn the lights on in the church. Instead they found the stubs of burn out candles. These stubs were in a box on the bottom shelf of the candle cabinet.We saved them for recycling. They took the candle stubs, lit them and placed them around the sacristy, upstairs and down. It seems that they also roamed around the church. We found spilt wax here and there. One of the seminarians as well as a neighbor reported the ringing of church bells at 2:00 a.m. The church bell switch is close to the light switch. Perhaps they hit the wrong switch.

In front of the main altar we had placed large baskets to collect Thanksiving food for the poor. The vandals took two baskets, went into the sacristy, smashed open the door of the chalice cabinet and raked all the sacred vessels into the baskets. They dumped the contents of all the drawers into the baskets. They carried the overloaded baskets and placed them on the main altar.

The tabernacle key was locked in the chalice cabinet. They took the key, opened the tabernacle, took the luna and ciborium filled with consecrated hosts and placed them in the basket on the altar. As they were loading the baskets, one of the candles upstairs probably melted down, fell over and started burning the decorations. Perhaps the vandals did not realize the fire was burning. And if they did, they probably fled leaving the two baskets behind.

A young couple, Lee and Charlene, live directly across the street. Charlene is five months pregnant. Around 2:15 a.m., she had a craving for a cinnamon roll. She and her husband stepped out of their house heading to Whataburger. Charlene looked up, saw flames in the sacristy window. She told her husband to call 911. Moments later the emergency sirens pierced the silence of the night. If the vandals did not flee when they saw the fire, they certainly fled when they heard the sirens. They left behind the baskets on the altar. The vandals might have taken a few items. An elaborate ciborium and a chalice is missing. The tabernacle key is also missing. There might be other items missing as well.

Brother Mark, our seminarian, woke up to the sound of the sirens, saw the emergency vehicles in front of the church, had the presence of mind to grab a church key and open the church for the fire fighters. The police took fingerprints – still under investigation. The arson officer could find no evidence of intentionally starting the fire. The origin of the fire was determined to be the careless use of lighten candles.

A thick plaster wall separates the upper room from the sanctuary of the church. The fire lapped against the heavy plaster but did not penetrate the wall. Therefore, the sanctuary and nave suffered no physical damage, only smoke damage. The second floor of the sacristy had to be gutted. The cleaning crew had to wash down the walls of the church and wipe every surface in the sanctuary and nave.

We are most grateful for Charlene and Lee calling 911, for the quick response of the fire fighters; and for Brother Mark who opened the church door. St. Gerard is the patron of women bearing a child. Perhaps St. Gerard was at work creating a taste for a cinnamon roll, waking people at the proper time, grabbing a church key and containing the fire in the upper room.

We give praise and thanks to God.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.