Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – May 21, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Good stories deserve to be told again and again…and again. Here is one of them. And, it is recorded to be true – but almost unbelievable – story.

Larry Walters lived in Los Angeles. His lifelong dream was to pilot an airplane. He joined the Air Force hoping to fly the F-16. Unfortunately Larry had poor eyesight. His limited vision disqualified him from becoming a pilot. After he was discharged he would lounge for hours in his back yard, watching the planes take off and land from Los Angeles International Airport. Oh, how he wanted to pilot one of those planes.

One afternoon the thought came to him. There’s another way to pilot an aircraft. Why not tie balloons to a lawn chair I am laying on. Then, I would inflate the balloons with helium and casually rise above the roof tops. When I decide to come back down I will release one balloon at a time.

He shopped around for balloons. He stopped at the Army-Navy surplus store and found Army weather balloons. He bought 45 balloons and several tanks of helium. These balloons were extra heavy. He strapped the balloons to his lawn chair and tethered the chair to the bumper of his jeep. He packed a few sandwiches and a few cans of beer. He took his B-B gun so he could shoot holes into the balloons and release the helium. Then he would return to earth. He put on a parachute. When he was ready for takeoff, his ground-crew friends cut the tether.

Larry laid back in his lawn chair with his sandwiches, beer and B-B gun next to him. Larry figured he would float lazily above the roof tops. But no! When the tether was cut loose, those helium filled balloons bolted skyward. Up, up and away he went.

Larry hung on for dear life. He was rising so rapidly he couldn’t steady his gun to shoot B-Bs into the balloons. The winds carried him into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport. Two commercial pilots radioed the tower about passing a guy in a lawn chair with a gun in his hand. Word quickly spread amongst Airport Officers, The Coast Guard and the Police Officers. Law officers anxiously awaited the arrival of the lawn chair flight. After 45 minutes of drifting with the clouds, Larry shot a few holes in the balloons and slowly descended.

When Larry reached the good Earth the police welcomed him and arrested him. As he was led away in handcuffs, a television reporter asked, “Sir, why’d you do it?” Larry nonchalantly said, “A man can’t just sit around!”

In a blaze of glory, as if the sun was standing still and the moon was shining at the same time, the Lord ascends into heaven. Thursday is the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. However, the Bishops have moved the celebration of the Ascension to the following Sunday. So, next Sunday we celebrate the Ascension.

The number forty is a key number in the Old Testament. The Catholic Church has incorporated ‘forty days’ into our festive occasions. Since the Ascension of the Lord is such an important feast, and since forty days after Easter falls on a Thursday when many people are unable to attend Mass, the Bishops have agreed to transfer the feast to the following Sunday. Therefore, we have slightly altered the Old Testament numerical schedule by adding three days. Some of us ole timers remember saying “Ascnension Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday.” It is a bit difficult to say, “Forty-three days after Easter, Ascension Sunday.” But the Lord will forgive us.

And so we are commemorating the 43 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead. On that day, He gathered his apostles and disciples. He gave them a mission. Go out to all peoples. Teach all peoples. And baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. After he delivered this mission he ascended into heaven.

Since all things are possible with God, we figure that Christ just rose up to heaven like a helium filled balloon. He left the apostles and disciples gazing heavenward. There were two men watching the apostles. One of them said, “Why are you gazing up to the sky?” We could almost hear them say, “Get back to work.”

And imagine that! Those men dressed in white are saying the same to us. ‘Get back to work and bring move people to the Lord.’

We also hear the Lord saying that he will not abandon us as orphans. He will be with us all days. No matter what happens. The Lord will be with us. How comforting that is. And, so we continue the Lord’s work – to love; to forgive; to care for others. For the Lord will always be at our side.

An elderly woman was baby-sitting her three-year-old grandson. One day she decided to take him to the beach. The child began building sand castles while grandma dozed off.

Just as she awoke, a huge wave splashed onto the shore and dragged the child out to sea. Grandma was devastated. Immediately she fell to her knees, stretched her hands skyward and prayed, “Oh God, if You save my grandson, I promise I’ll make it up to You. I’ll join the Woman’s Sodality at church. I’ll bake for the bake-sale. I’ll cook for the festival. I’ll volunteer at the hospital. I’ll give to the poor. I’ll do whatever You ask of me.”

Suddenly, a huge wave rolled onto the beach and tossed the child at the feet of his grandmother. He was breathing. What a relief? Her grandson was alive!! There was even color in his cheeks.

Then she noticed something missing. She put her hands on her hips, looked skyward, and shouted, “He had a hat, You know!” Perhaps at the Ascension the apostles looked skyward and shouted, “Bring Him back!!” Yes, He is back, He is with us each day. He has not forgotten us.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – May 14, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

It was the first day of school. The kindergarten teacher asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. One kid blurted out, “When I grow up, I’m gonna be a lion tamer. I’ll have lots of lions and tigers and I’ll walk into the cage and…” He hesitated and then continued, “But of course, I’ll have my mother with me.”

We celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. We extend our love to our moms, living or deceased. Deep in our hearts most of us would like to have our moms with us. For mom is or was a ‘Real Mother.’

Real Mothers don’t eat quiche; they don’t have time to make it. Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox. Real !
Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens, and happy kids. Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn’t come our of shag carpets. Real Mothers don’t want to know what the vacuum just sucked up. Real Mothers sometimes ask, “Why me?” They get their answer when a little voice says, “because I love you best.” Real Mothers know that a child’s growth is not measured by height or years or grade…It is marked by the progression of Mama to Mommy to Mom…

The Images of Mom…
4 years of age – My mommy can do anything!
8 years of age – My mom know a lot! A whole lot!
12 years of age – My mother doesn’t really know quite everything.
14 years of age – Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either.
16 years of age – Mother? She’s hopelessly old fashioned.
18 years of age – That old woman? She’s way out of date!
25 years of age – Well. she might know a little bit about it.
35 years of age – Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.
45 years of age – Let’s go down the hallway and ask Mom what she thinks.
55 years of age – Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 years of age – Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

Real moms are the most beautiful people in the world. The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes.

Her eyes are the doorway to her heart, the place where her love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is her caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she freely shows. And the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows! ‘Doesn’t that sound like your mom?’

How often have we heard, ‘Rather than cursing the darkness light a candle or a lantern.’ Everyone is encouraged to light a lantern. There is an organization in the Catholic Church which has been lighting lanterns around the world. The organization is called the ‘Knights of Columbus.’ This organization is dedicated to Faith, Family and Fraternity.

The Knights of Columbus organization began at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1882. Father Michael McGivney called a group of men together to provide financial assistance for widows and orphans in the community. From its quiet beginnings in a Connecticut Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus grew into an international organization with over a million and a half members. Although the Knights of Columbus is a male organization, it is through the men that their families become involved.

Faith, Family and Fraternity are the three key words which identify the mission of the Knights of Columbus. The members are called to live their faith and encourage others to grow in faith. Faith within the family is vital, as well as families helping families in need. Working together as a Fraternity to assist needy people in the community is a high priority amongst the Knights.

Over the years the Knights of Columbus have done marvelous work in strengthening family life in San Antonio parishes. Here at St. Gerard our Knights are always offering to help in any way they can to strengthen the life of our parish. Next Sunday, at the end of Mass, the Knights will present a generous gift of $1000 to St. Gerard’s Church. This money is to be used in any way we deem necessary in assisting our people to grow as a Faith community.

After Mass we will also invite more men of our parish to become Knights. What a great way for St. Gerard men to live – as men of Faith; as men devoted to Family; as men expressing our love for one another in a Catholic Fraternity.

There will be brother Knights standing in front of Church after each of our Masses next Sunday. They will invite all Knights to become active. The welcome them to our monthly meetings and to get involved. They will remind them that this is all about Faith, Family and Fraternity. And the Knights will be reaching our to other men to join the Knights. Together we will stand tall in our Faith, Family and Fraternity.

A little kid was having a great time at his sister’s wedding. He whispered to his father, “When I grow up I am going to have a party just like Linda is having.” And just whom will you marry?” his father asked. “I’m going to marry Grandma,” the kid replied. “You can’t marry Grandma,” the father said. “She’s my mother.” The kid popped right back, saying, “Well, you married my mother, didn’t you?” Happy Mother’s Day!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – May 7, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Time and again mother said, “Listen, children, we are not going to have a dog in this house. And then one day he children brought home a stray dog. The kids fell in love with the dog. They wanted to keep it. They went to mom and asked, “What shall we name this dog?” Mom said, “You better name it ‘mother.’ If that dog stays, I’m leaving home!”

As we celebrate Mother’s Day next Sunday we think of the many wonderful ways in which we remember our mothers. Many of us remember our moms as they gave us their motherly advice: “Be careful! Take your coat along. Don’t forget your sweater. Don’t play in the mud.” And of course, we all remember that age old advice…’Put on clean underwear cuz you might end up in the emergency, and no telling what the nurses might think if your underwear was dirty.’ Now, can you imagine the mothers of these historical figures giving their children this advice?

PAUL REVERE’S MOTHER: “I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man. Midnight is past your curfew!”

MONA LISA’S MOTHER: “After all that money we spent on braces, Mona, is that the biggest smile you can give us?”

HUMPTY DUMPTY’S MOTHER: “Humpty, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times “Do not sit on that wall.'”

COLUMBUS’ MOTHER:¬†“I don’t care what you’ve discovered, Chris. You still could have written.”

MICHELANGELO’S MOTHER: “Mike, can’t you paint on walls like other kids? It’s hard getting that stuff off the ceiling.”

CUSTER’S MOTHER: “Now, George, remember what I told you – don’t go biting off more than you can chew!”

A mother told a little boy that it was God who made people good. The boy said, “Yes, I know that is God, but mothers help a lot.”

Looking back on his youth, a man claimed that he and his siblings had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to eat cereal, eggs and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a sweet roll for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And absolutely no pizza or hotdogs for dinner! God forbid if we would skip dinner.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. if she said, ‘be home in an hour,’ we didn’t argue. We were home in less than an hour. We knew the price we’d have to pay if we were even a minute overtime.

Mother broke the ‘Child Labor Laws.’ She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make our beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, dust the furniture, do the laundry, fold the clothes, iron the shirts, clean the refrigerator, haul out the garbage, wash the windows, sweep the garage, mow the lawn and even clean up after the dog.

She always insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. God forbid if we were caught lying. The punishment doubled!

Our mother would not allow our friends to blow the car horn, alerting us that they had arrived to pick us up. Our mother insisted that our friends come into our house. Mom had to meet them face to face. And they had better be prepared to answer a host of questions. And they had better be truthful. If they lied it would be the last time we were allowed to go out with our so called friends.

Because of our mother, we missed out on lots of fun and lots of crazy things other kids experienced. Because of mother we kids were never caught shoplifting, vandalizing property or arrested for a crime. We never got drunk nor took up smoking, nor did drugs. It was all her fault.

Sundays were reserved for church. We never missed. It it was a choice between a ball game, and going church, the answer was CHURCH! Absolutely! No discussion! We knew better than to ask to spend a Saturday night at a friend’s house. The answer was always “NO!”

All of us kids are married now. And because of our mean mom, we are all God-fearing, educated and honest adults.

Maybe mom was mean but she always told us how much she loved us and how proud she was of us. Because of our mom we learn to do the right things. Because of mom we developed a strong work ethic.

Now, we kids are doing our best to be mean parents just like mom. As we look around the world we can be thankful that we grew up with a mean mom. Many of our childhood friends are in prison, out of work, bankrupt, victims of addictions, divorced or even passed on. If the world had more mean moms like we did, our friends would no doubt be a lot better off and the world would be much different. As mean parents we hope to pass this ‘so called meanness’ on to our children.

Next Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. We remember our mothers who have done so much for us. Whether mother lives across town, in another city or in heaven, it is a time to honor her. Even if your mom was a mean mom, this is the time to tell her how much you love her.

There’s a Jewish proverb: God could not be everywhere, and therefore, he made mothers.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – April 30, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Years ago, before the age of the GPS, a man was traveling the back roads of another state. He was totally lost. He needed help. Just then he saw an elderly farmer hoeing potatoes in his garden. Our traveler decided to stop for directions. “Can you tell me how to get to route 61?” asked the traveler. “Nope,” drawled the farmer as he chewed on a piece of hay. “Well, then, do you know how far it is to the interstate?” The old man thought for a moment, then shook his head, saying, “Nope, can’t say that I do.”

So, the traveler continued his questioning by saying that he lost his sense of direction out in the country. “Which direction do I go to get to the town of Harrisonville?” Again the farmer just shook his head saying, “Sorry, sir. I never go there.”

Being totally disheartened, the traveler barked, “You are no help whatsoever!” You don’t know much of anything, do you?” The old farmer replied, “Well, sir, I have to agree with you. But there’s one thing I do know for sure. That is, ‘I’m not lost’.

As the two disciples headed down the dusty road to Emmaus, they appeared totally lost as well as disheartened. They had befriended Christ. Now Christ was dead. Their future seemed uncertain. Sadness and grief gripped their hearts. Then, along comes Jesus. Not knowing who He was, they begin retelling the events of the past few days.

Upon arriving home, the disciples followed the traditional Jewish custom of hospitality. They invited the Lord to supper. Then, at the breaking of the bread, they recognized Jesus. Immediately the sadness and grief dissolved. Their hearts leapt with joy.

We know that it was evening when the disciples invited Jesus to share supper with them. So then, we can rightly assume that it was dark outside when Jesus broke the bread. When Jesus disappeared the disciples were so excited that they raced out of the house and galloped those seven miles to tell the other disciples. Even though it was probably dark they raced back to their friends to share the good news.

We all welcome good news. We want to live in the spirit of good news. And when good news comes our way, we are excited to share it. However, our lives seem to be surrounded with bad news and sadness. We shop around for ways to escape the bleakness of life. Often times we are looking in all the wrong places.

The disciples have given us the key to happiness and good news. We will find it in the breaking of bread. We will find it in Jesus Christ. Sure, we can look elsewhere as many people do. We can look for happiness in spending our Sundays working or playing rather than going to Mass. We can search for happiness in buying more toys, or traveling to more places. We can make many excuses for not spending an hour with the Lord on Sunday. But we will never find the fullness of happiness until we make the commitment to visit the Lord. At the Eucharist, the Lord will break the bread. That’s when we will recognize the Lord. And that is when our lives will change. The choice is ours. We can be good news people or bad news people. The secret is in the breaking of the bread.

Today we celebrate the most wondrous act of God – the resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. No one in the history of the world has ever risen from the dead, except Jesus Christ. Many religious leaders have tried to present themselves as having the absolute truth. Yet, not one of them predicted their resurrection and actually rose from the dead. The empty tomb is the Christian basis for believing in Jesus Christ.

The renowned scientist, Werner Von Braun, was a man of faith. When people tried to rationalize the death and resurrection of Christ, or the afterlife of the sould, he had this to say. “Science has found nothing that can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All nature knows is transformation. If God applies this fundamental rule to the most insignificant part of this universe, surely it makes sense to assume that God applies it to the masterpiece of his creation, the human soul.

Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief that there is spiritual existence after physical death.

In 1932 Tommy Dorsey was singing in church when the pastor handed him a telegram. It read, “Your wife just died.” Tommy discovered that she had died as she was giving birth to their first born son. Later that night, the baby died too. Tommy Dorsey buried his wife and infant son in the same casket. Then he fell apart. He felt God had handed him an injustice.

But one day he sat down at the piano and started playing a new melody. The words flowed out of him. Those words became the gospel song, “Precious Lord.” “Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night lead me on to the light; Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”

SIGN AT HEALTH FOOD STORE: “Closed due to illness.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – April 23, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly woman in Florida left the grocery store with a bag of groceries in each hand. As she approached her car she spotted four men sitting in her car, about ready to drive away. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a handgun from her purse and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Get out of my car! I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of my car, and don’t ever come back you scumbags!”

The four men leapt out of the car and started running for their lives. The lady, a bit shaken, proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back seat of her car. Then, she climbed into the driver’s seat, ready to head home.

She was so upset that she could not get her key into the ignition. Again she tried with no luck. She began forcing the key. Nothing work. She shouted, “Look what those scoundrels did. They messed up my ignition.”

Just then she realized she was in the wrong car. She began the search for her car, up and down the aisles. A few minutes later she found her own car parked a few spaces down from her car. She moved her groceries into her own car and drove straight to the police station.

She reported the incident to the sergeant. The sergeant burst into laughter. He pointed to the other end of the counter where four frightened young men were reporting a carjacking by a crazed elderly woman described as white, less than 5′ tall, glasses, with curly white hair and carrying a handgun.

How easy it is to forget where we parked our car. Father Billimek was stationed at Holy Ghost parish in Houston. One day he drove his car to the barbershop located in the strip mall across from the rectory. After getting a haircut, he walked down the mall to the drug store. After purchasing toothpaste he decided to get some exercise, so he walked back to the rectory. Two days later he went to get his car in the rectory parking lot. Two days later he went to get his car in the rectory parking lot. To his surprise, the car was missing. He called the police and reported a stolen car. Three days later the police called to inform Father that his car was parked across the street in the strip mall.

Do we misplace items; or do we borrow them and forget to return them? Whatever happens it seems that keys around St. Gerard is becoming an issue. Periodically we purchase a bundle of church keys and Parish Center keys. Over time, that bundle of keys seems to disappear. I guess that some folks borrow a key and could it be that they forget to return it? Don’t know. I do know that church and office keys have disappeared.

And them the Allen wrench which we use to lock and unlock the panic bar in church has disappeared from the cabinet in the back of church. In that cabinet was the remote control for the fans. It too disappeared. Now, we await the return of keys and the remote control.

The feast of Divine Mercy, or Divine Mercy Sunday, is observed on the Sunday after Easter. This feast day celebrates the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection. His love and His mercy for his people. This Sunday we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.Father Lindsey and I are honored to be able to celebrate daily Mass at the Divine Mercy Chapel on Beethoven.

The feast was initiated by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who kept a diary in the 1930s of Christ’s private revelations, telling her of His message of mercy. She wrote that she first saw a vision of Jesus on Feb. 22, 1931. He had rays of mercy streaming from His hear. Christ told her to have an image painted to represent the vision and to write below it, “Jesus, I trust in you!”

St. Faustina died of tuberculosis in 1938 at age 33. St. John Pal II canonized her in 2000 and declared Divine Mercy Sunday a worldwide feast day.

A young employee misappropriated several thousand dollars of his business firm’s money. When he was caught he was asked to report to the company CEO. As the young walked up the stairs to the administrative office, he knew what almost certainly awaited him. Dismissal, humiliation, and legal action.

When he met with the CEO, he was asked about the whole affair. He answered truthfully and admitted his guilt. The CEO became silent for a few minutes, then said, “If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?” The young man brightened up and said, “Yes sir! I give my word. I have learned my lesson.”

The CEO thought some more, then said, “I won’t press charges. You can continue in your present position.” As the young man began to walk out, the CEO said, “There’s something else you should know. You are the second man in this firm who gave into temptation and was shown leniency. I was the first. What you have done, I did. The mercy you are receiving, I received. It is only the grace God that can keep us both.”

Someone said: “I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up. They have no holidays.”

Pastor’s Notes – April 16, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A four year old girl was asking her mother questions. She said, “Are we going to see Granny in heaven?” (Her grandmother had died two years earlier. Yet the young girl watched videos and browsed through photos of her granny. She felt that she knew her granny.)

Her mother replied, “Yes, honey, when we die we will see Granny in heaven.” The little girl asked, “Will we come back to our own house?” “No, honey, said the mother, “We will stay with Jesus and Granny forever.”

That little girl then stood up, put her hands on her hips and sternly stated to her mother, “You mean we’re gona stay dead?”

A couple of weeks after the Resurrection someone asked Joseph of Ariathea, “Why’d you let them bury Jesus in your brand new tomb?” Joseph shrugged his shoulders as he answered, “He only needed it for the weekend!”

During that weekend we are reminded that God weeps with us on Good Friday so that we’ll be able to laugh with him after Easter Sunday.”

For many years the southern tip of Africa was called the ‘Cape of Storms.’ The waters about the cape were dreaded by sailors. In fact, sailors shunned those turbulent waters. But one day Vasco De Gama of Portugal successfully sailed around the tip of Africa and came back. It was not so bad after all. So the name was changed from the ‘Cape of Storms’ to ‘Cape of Good Hope!’

The resurrection of Christ takes the sting out of death. It brings comfort in the moment of sorrow. It gives hope when all appears hopeless. People stand next to a grave with tears in their eyes, thinking that life will never be the same without their loved one. But the minister assures us in prayer that life is not ended. Rather it is changed. And the best is yet to come.

Werner Von Braun, an aerospace engineer and space architect, wrote: “Science has found nothing that can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All nature knows is transformation. If God applies this fundamental rule to the most insignificant part of this universe, surely it makes sense to assume that God applies it to the masterpiece of his creation. The human soul. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief that there is spiritual existence after physical death.”

George Burns and Gracie Allen were deeply in love. When Gracie died, George was devastated. One of the things that George kept close to him following her death was a love note that always encouraged him. The note said: “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

Gracie Allen reminded George and us that God’s creation is on-going. We are constantly placing periods where God has only a comma. But God is not done with us. There is more to come. In fact, ‘The best is yet to come.’

Next week, Monday thru Friday, April 24-28, the Redemptorist priests and brothers will be gathering in Tucson Arizona, for our Redemptorist Chapter. The word ‘Chapter’ is used in religious communities to mean: ‘a gathering of the members to make serious decisions about their religious lives.’

We will be examining our prayer life, our ministries and our community life. We will look at our pastoral plan. We will discuss our formation program. An integral part of the formation program will be focused on St. Gerard. It has been agreed upon by seven provincials in North America that the theology program will be in San Antonio. The students will attend the Oblate School of Theology.

The Redemptorists will lease the former convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at St. Gerard – what is now known as the ‘Parish Center.’ There are 25 vacant rooms and approximately 20 students will be living here at St. Gerard. These students will be coming from various cities in the United States, from Canada, the Caribbean and from Ireland.

So, next week Fathers Ruhnke, Phan, Lindsey, and myself, will be attending our Redemptorist Chapter. Deacon Joe Ocampo will be leading a 6:30 a.m. communion service throughout the week. Father Carr will celebrate the 9:00 a.m. daily Mass at the Shrine of Divine Mercy on Beethoven Street.

A blessed Easter to all.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – April 9, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

My mother grew up on a farm near Dotyville, Wisconsin. Now Dotyville is just a small country town. However, it proudly sported three taverns, one church which was Catholic, one general store and an electrical appliance store. Even though the town was small the people hosted a parade each year. People came in from the farms with their tractors pulling hay wagons decorated as floats. Others would show off their new combines or their restored John Deere tractors.

People came from miles around to watch the parade. One year, as the people were watching the floats pass by, they noticed an unusual float. A man driving a John Deere tractor was pulling a simple flat-bed hay wagon. Three men were riding on the wagon loaded down with lumber. One man was measuring the two by fours. Another was sawing the wood. The other was pounding nails. No one understood the significance of the float.

But then, it all became clear as the wagon passed by. The puzzled expressions on the spectators’ faces vanished. On the back side of the hay-wagon there hung a large sign which said, “We thought the parade was next week!”

In a few weeks our city will be humming with parades – Fiesta parades. The Catholic Church is getting a head-start with parades. This Sunday we are having our own St. Gerard parade. However we call our event a procession, a Palm Sunday procession.

At all the Masses we will bless the palms on the church veranda. Then we will process into the church. At the 10:30 Mass we will process through the parking lot before entering into the church. Our procession into the church reminds us of Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey to the cheers of the people.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week – Holy Week – is known as the ‘Triduum.’ These are sacred days in which we commemorate the Lord’s last supper, his crucifixion and his death. Then, on Easter Sunday, we rise in triumph with his resurrection. Lent is officially over as we begin the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper. However, Lent moves into the Triduum within a heartbeat. So – fasting and abstinence carries on until the Vigil Mass on Saturday.

Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. I will lead us in the Mass of the Last Supper. This Mass commemorates the Lord’s Last Supper. On Friday, at 3:00 p.m. Father Lindsey will conduct the Stations of the Cross. At 7:00 p.m. Father Lindsey will lead us in the Good Friday service. On Good Friday there will be a special collection for the sacred shrines in the Holy Land, which the Franciscan Missioners are maintaining and preserving. Father Lindsey will preside at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, beginning at 8:00 p.m. During this Easter Vigil the people studying in our catechumate program during this past year will be received in the Catholic Church. on Easter Sunday I will celebrate the 8:00 and 10:30 Masses.

In addition to the Masses at St. Gerard, Father Lindsey and I have been alternating in the celebration of daily Masses at Our Lady of Czetochowa Shrine & Divine Mercy Chapel on Beethoven Street. Father Lindsey will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper at 7:00 p.m. in the Divine Mercy Chapel. I will lead the Stations of the Cross at 12:00 p.m. on Friday. If the weather permits we will pray the Stations of the Cross outdoors on the beautiful grounds of the Shrine. Then, at 3:00 p.m. I will lead the Good Friday services. On Saturday evening, at 7:00 p.m., I will celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass in the Divine Mercy Chapel. On Easter Sunday Father Lindsey will celebrate the 10:00 Mass in the Divine Mercy Chapel. In the name of the Seraphic Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, who staff the shrine, I welcome you to join us as we offer our praises to God.

How often people want to celebrate the Risen Christ only. We must remember. Before Christ rose from the dead He carried His cross to Calvary where he was crucified. We too must accompany the crucified Christ as we carry our crosses. Only then can we truly experience the rising with Christ on Easter Sunday.

There is a story told about an immigrant name Ole. He lived in Sweden and decided to come to America. His boat left Sweden in 1876. They were at sea for four days when a gigantic storm came up. The wind was blowing. The sails were shaking. People were scared. The captain was scared. So finally, Ole went up to the captain and said, “Captain, we have to do something about this.”

The captain said, “The only thing I can think of is that we hold a prayer meeting up on deck.” So, Ole got everybody on deck. The wind was whistling through the torn sails. The water was flowing over the deck. Everyone was holding onto the rails. The captain took the good book out and he turned to the heavens saying, “Oh Father, send thy Son to save us.” At that point Ole himself got up and hollered through the wind, “Father you’d better come yourself. This is no job for a kid.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – April 2, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An old man spent a weekend fishing down at the coast. As he was casting his lines upon the waters, he noticed a snake next to the boat. The snake had a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, the man reached down and snatched it from the jaws of the snake. The snake remained next to the boat with its mouth open. After a few moments the man realized that he had just deprived the snake of a meal.

Feeling a bit saddened, the man looked around for something to feed the critter. He found nothing. So he took his flask filled with bourbon and gave the snake a shot of whiskey. The snake swallowed the whiskey and swan peacefully away. The man returned to his fishing.

Ten minutes later there was a thump on the side of the boat. The old man looked over the side of the boat. He couldn’t believe what he saw. The snake had returned. But this time it had two frogs in its mouth.

We welcome Father Peter Schavitz, a Redemptorist missionary. Father Peter will be preaching our mission this week. He is well experienced in preaching missions. In fact, he has been preaching missions throughout the United States as well as overseas since the early 1990’s. We welcome Father Peter.

We are honored to have with us during the mission, the traveling icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The original icon is encased in a bullet proof container above the main altar in St. Alphonsus Church in Rome. The icon which had been traveling the country since last June is a painted replica of the original.

It was 150 years ago when Pope Pius IX entrusted the original icon to the Redemptorists. He said, “Make her known to the world.” Since that time, we Redemptorists have had a special devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help. To celebrate the 150th anniversary, the traveling icon has visited all Redemptorist communities across the central and western states of our country. How blest we are to have the icon with us during the mission – which dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

A well-known doctor, loved throughout the community, suffered a tragic death. His wife and family were devastated. At the wake the widow and children were surrounded by clergy and professional people. They tried to ease the grief. They said all the right words. Nothing helped. The widow kept saying, “You are right. I know you are right. But it doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t bring my husband back.”

Then a man walked into the mortuary. He was a big burly man in his eighties. He was somewhat of a legend in the toy and game industry. He had escaped Russia as a youth after having been arrested and tortured by the czar’s secret police. He had come to this country not knowing how to read or write. Over time had built up a successful company. He never took the time to learn how to read and write. He hired people to read his mail to him. The joke in the industry was that he could write a check for a million dollars, and the hardest part would be signing his name at the bottom.

He had been sick recently. His face was creased with worries. He relied heavily on a cane to help him walk. But he managed to walk over to the window. He stood in front of her and started to cry. She cried with him. You could feel the atmosphere in the room change. This man who had never read a book in his life spoke the language of the heart. He held the key that opened the gates of solace where learned doctors and clergy could not.

Today we hear the story of Lazarus. When Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, notified Jesus, the Lord stalled a day or two, then came to visit the grieving family. More than just sharing their grief Jesus provided a powerful sign, which strengthened their belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

A week ago this past Thursday, we saw a grand transformation of St. Gerard Parish Center. A number of generous volunteers who not only signed up to help but also arrived to help clean thirty bedrooms. This summer there will be nearly 20 Redemptorist students, who will study theology at the Oblate School of Theology and live in these rooms. This building was originally built to house the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Those sisters taught in St. Gerard Elementary and High School. I thank all the industrious parishioners who helped clean these rooms.

The parish offices will remain in the front of the building. The students and the priests in charge of the students, will live in the back part of the building. When we finish the cleaning and arrangement of the offices and rooms, we will designate a day for an ‘Open House.’

Someone provided a list of Lenten practices which could be a way to burn off calories: Tooting your own horn. Passing the buck. Throwing your weight around. Swallowing your pride. Hitting the nail on the head. Pulling out the stops. Bending over backwards. Dragging your heels. Jumping to conclusions. Adding fuel to the fire. Climbing the walls. Jumping on the bandwagon. Eating crow. Pushing your luck. Running around in circles. Wading through paperwork. Making mountains out of molehills.

Remember the mission – Sunday thru Thursday – 6:30 p.m.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – March 26, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A few years back the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a three minute story on current affairs during their “Panorama’ program. It was about the annual spaghetti harvest, filmed in a Swiss-Italian spaghetti orchard.

Since some folks believed that spaghetti grew on trees, the BBC decided to confirm their beliefs. The clip showed young girls climbing ladders with baskets in their hands. They were picking spaghetti from the branches of Laurel trees. While playing guitar music, the broadcaster said, “We have this marvelous festival. The first harvest of spaghetti. And now, we the jubilant folks of the Spaghetti Festival say goodnight on this first day of April.”

Next Saturday is April Fool day, a day for practical jokes. But, how did this day come about? Well, for centuries in the late Middle Ages, in much of Western Europe, March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was New Year’s Day. The people celebrated for eight days. When the calendar was reformed and January 1st was restored as New Year’s Day, the folks who refused to change were called “April Fools.” Since the, anyone who will not change is an “April Fool.’

As we prepare for Easter the story of Solomon, adapted from ‘Visions of Mary’ can bring comfort, solace and inspiration to believers.

Around 1830, in Bretagne, France, there lived a kind old man named Solomon. He was a bit strange. He never associated with anyone in the town. The people thought him a weak-minded individual. So they called him by the name ‘Solomon the idiot.’

As he walked through town some folks jeered at him. Others turned away. Little kids would chase after him and call him names. Yet, his only response to the kids or adults was to say “Ave Maria.”

Then Fall came and Winter followed. Every evening Solomon stood outside the church listening to hymns. Dressed in mere rags he stood on the steps of the church during blizzards or ice storms. Yet, one night Solomon was not standing in front of the church. The people searched for him. They found him buried under a pile of snow. When the people reached down to help him he looked up with glassy eyes and said, “Ave Maria.” Those were his final words as he closed his eyes and passed away.

Solomon was buried in a lonely field, near an old oak tree. No one thought his body was worthy of burial in the church graveyard, or even in some consecrated ground. No stone or cross marked the spot. In death he remained as lonely as he was in life.

When Spring came and the snows melted away, a person happened to be walking past the field where Solomon was buried. He noticed that a single snow white lily, more beautiful than could be imagined, was growing out of the grave. As this person walked closer to the grave he noticed that something was written on the lily’s petals. He bent down and saw the words, written in gold, “Ave Maria.”

New spread and soon all the towns folks gathered at the grave site. No one had a clue who might have planted the lily. And no one could explain how the words “Ave Maria” appeared on the petals.

The news spread throughout the neighboring towns. Eventually the bishop heard about the lone lily. The bishop journeyed to the town to see for himself. The bishop began by gathering the people in church as he celebrated the Mass. Then, they formed a procession to Solomon’s grave. The bishop led the people in prayer. The he instructed the people to open the grave. As they opened the casket the people saw a miracle indeed. For out of Solomon’s heart the lily grew.

In years to come the people would call upon Solomon whenever tragedy struck or whenever the folks fell upon hard times. As time went on the town’s folks raised money to build a chapel. They built the chapel directly over Solomon’s grave. The altar in the chapel was located on a spot where Solomon would nap under the old oak tree during the summer months. Nearby was a fountain. The waters of the fountain brought healing to many wounded or diseased people.

The church was known as the Chapel of Folgoat. To everyone the chapel was a reminder that no matter how humble we are in life, if we go about with “Ave Maria” on our lips, there is no telling what glories will be ours when we enter the glorified kingdom of heaven.

“He must increase. I must decrease.”

Remember the mission. Father Peter Schavitz will preach the mission at 6:30 each night. The prayer service and sermon will last one hour and fifteen minutes. Surely we all can spare 1 1/2 hours to nourish our souls with living waters of God’s grace.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – March 19, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

Fr. Janes E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The solemn feast of St. Joseph is universally celebrated on the 19th of March. However, when St. Joseph’s day fails on a Sunday, the solemnity is transferred to Monday. There is a long standing tradition of having a St. Joseph’s Table.

A minister was called to a church in a small town. The day after the minister and his family moved into the parsonage., a woman in the neighborhood welcomed them with homemade pie. The pie turned out to be a disaster. It tasted horrible. No one in the family could eat it. They tossed it into the garbage. But now, how could the minister’s wife thank the neighbor and at the same time be truthful.

After much thought, she wrote this letter: “Dear Mrs. Abernathy, I am so grateful to you for baking a pie for our family. You are so kind and thoughtful. I can assure you that a pie like yours never lasts long in our house!”

And so it is with food. Some is delicious. And then, other food won’t last long in any house. Not so with the food which graces the St. Joseph Table. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the universe. But the Italians have adopted him as they religiously turn to him in the time of dire need. In the middle ages a drought and famine devastated Sicily. They prayed to St. Joseph. Then the rains finally came and the crops prospered. Their prayers were answered. They gave credit to St. Joseph for interceding for them. In thanksgiving, the community made offerings to St. Joseph. The greatest offering they could present was food. They introduced the St. Joseph’s Altar which is also known as the St. Joseph’s Table.

Every year the Italians erect a lovely altar with three levels. The levels reflect the Holy Trinity. They drape the altar with a white altar cloth and adorn it with flowers. With the decorations they thank God for a safe return from war: health; happiness; success in studies or business and whatever blessing God sends their way. They also want to share their gifts with the less fortunate.

This custom and devotion continues unto the present day. Families spend weeks cooking and baking. They bake bread in many shapes which symbolize a wreath, a crown of thorns, a heart a chalice or a monstrance. And, of course, cookies are everyone’s favorite at the St. Joseph’s Table.

In addition to all the wheat products, there is a delightful variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses and seafood. Of course Pasta Milanese is the leading entree. The green fava bean is also served. When dried, roasted and blessed, the ¬†bean becomes the popular ‘Lucky Bean.’ Legend has it that you will never be broke as long as you carry three fava beans.

Everyone looks forward to the children playacting the holy family, coming to eat. Sometimes the angels and saints accompany them.

This sign appeared in the window of a business of London: “We have been established for over one hundred years and have been pleasing and displeasing customers ever since. We have made money and lost money. We suffered from high taxes, government control and bad payers. We have been cussed and discussed, messed about, lied to, held up, robbed, and swindled. We’re still in business just to see what happens next.”

Almost sounds like the Catholic Church. Many folks are anxious to see what happens next to our Church. But all of us know that the best is yet to come. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ came to redeem the world. He then opened the doors to heaven and invites his faithful followers to enter. it doesn’t get any better than that.

For centuries, March 25th has been celebrated by Catholics as the “Feast of the Anunciation.” Mary’s fiat – “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” – brought our Savior into the world. As the first disciple of Christ, Mary shows us that we must listen to and do God’s will.

Doing God’s will is not always easy. We usually have our own plans for our lives. It is good to have plans, but never at the expense of our growth in relationship to God. Like Mary, we must trust that God’s will is the best for us and our world. Let us follow the example of Mary and call upon her to help us open our hearts to say “yes” to God!

A dietician was addressing a number of elderly folks about harmful foods. Toward the end of his presentation he said, “There is one food which most people have eaten or will eat, that will bring pain and suffering for the rest of their lives. Does anyone know what food that might be?” An outspoken woman in back of the room shouted, “Yes! I know. Wedding cake!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.