Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – December 3, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

While shopping in a food store, two nuns happened to pass the beer cooler. One nun said to the other, “Wouldn’t a nice cold beer or two taste wonderful on a hot summer’s evening?”

The second nun answered “Indeed it would Sister, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying beer. I am certain that it would cause a scene at the check-out counter.”

“I can handle that without a problem” she replied as she picked up a six-pack and headed for the check-out. The cashier had a surprised look on his face when the two nuns arrived with a six-pack of beer.

“We use beer for washing our hair” the nun said, “A shampoo, of sorts, if you will.” Without blinking an eye, the cashier reached under the counter, pulled out a package of pretzel sticks and placed them in the bag with the beer. He then looked the nun straight in the eye, smiled and said, “The curlers are on the house.”

Many of us remember the days when a nun taught in every classroom. Those were the good OLE days. But were they that good? if we look closer we would discover that those nuns were unjustly treated. They were not justly salaried.

Where are those nuns today? Well, many of them have gone on to their eternal reward. Others are in nursing homes where their religious orders are caring for them. In many instances, the religious orders are struggling to provide dignified care for the ailing sisters who dedicated their lives to teaching. Unfortunately, when these nuns were active, they received no money to put aside for their old age.

The Bishops and priests across the country have owned up to the injustices which the church rendered to all those teaching nuns. In 1988 the Bishops established a Retirement Fund for Religious. Each year a collection is taken for retired religious. The money is distributed to the religious orders to care for the sick and dying. An average of 25 million dollars has been collected annually from all the parishes across the country. Today, this money is used to care for many of those nuns who taught us. Yes, the nuns gave thousands of kids a wonderful education. Because of the nuns, those kids grew up, graduated from college and launched profitable careers. Now we are asking those same people to share some of their earnings to care for the aging nuns who gave them such a wonderful start in life.

The National Religious Retirement Organization is handling the collected funds. They distribute these funds to the needy communities of religious sisters, brothers or priests who are living the consecrated life. The NRRO also has a consulting branch which helps religious orders financially plan for the future. This consulting group has annualized our Redemptorist financial status. They offered drastic suggestions. As a result the provincial government has moved its offices to St. Michael’s parish in Chicago and sold the provincial residence in Denver. The Redemptorists also decided to discontinue our Health Care Facility and merge with another, more established health care institutions.

Next weekend, December 9 – 10, we will have a second collection for Retired Religious. You will find an envelope in your contribution packets. Thank you for your goodness and generosity.

Mother Superior was on her deathbed. The other nuns gathered around her bedside. Mother Superior asked for something to drink. As they were bringing a glass of milk, one of the younger nuns suggested they spike the milk with a splash of Irish whiskey to energize their superior. After drinking the milk, color came back to Mother Superior’s face. A sparkle flashed in her eyes. Seeing Sister so chipper, one of the nuns asked, “Mother Superior, before you pass on to your eternal happiness, do you have some final words for us?” Mother Superior paused a moment, smacked her lips, then said, “For God’s sake, don’t sell that cow!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – November 26, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Monsignor Clark was the pastor of Christ the King Parish. Being slayed by the Irish curse, Monsignor found his joy in the bottled spirits. One night the archbishop decided to phone Monsignor Clark. It so happened that Monsignor had taken a few too many nips of Jamison. When the phone rang, Monsignor picked up the handset and said, “Clark the King Parish, Christ speaking.”

This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We also refer to this Sunday as the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, it the new year of our Church calendar. The message this Sunday is unchanging. We are reminded that Christ is the Lord of both heaven and earth.

Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King in 1925. The pope noticed that much of the world was becoming secular. He wanted to draw attention back to Christ, especially as we approach Christmas season. Originally this feast was assigned to the last Sunday of October to be as near as possible to Al Saints Day. The feast was later changed to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time to demonstrate how Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the union between heaven and earth.

Today, we begin our journey toward Bethlehem. We join a young husband and wife as they travel toward a stable. Wise men set out to follow a star. It is night time. We stumble though the darkness. We are filled with expectancy for we believe that the Light of the World awaits us. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Next Friday is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy day of obligation. We are obligated to attend Mass. Mass will be celebrated at 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The Immaculate Conception honors the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ. Since 1846, the Immaculate Conception has been the Patroness of the United States. Mary is the Immaculate Conception. This day does not refer to Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Ghost. Rather, it is Mary conceived without sin in the womb of her Mother, St. Anne. From the very moment of her conception, God filled her with grace. God knew in His omniscience, that she would say “yes” to the Angel Gabriel and become the Mother of the Savior. Exactly nine months from now, on September 8, we will celebrate Mary’s birthday.

Next weekend we will have an anointing service after each of the Masses. The celebrant of the Mass will invite the people who wish to be anointed, to remain in the pews. The priests will lay their hands on each person. Then, the priest will anoint each person.

The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament which brings healing graces to those who are suffering. Only Bishops and Priests are empowered to confer the Sacrament of the Anointing. We bring this sacrament to patients in hospitals, to the homebound, to those who are ailing or are aged.

Christ gave us this sacrament as He anointed those who were sick. Through the history of the Church, there has always been the Anointing of the Sick. It is a sacrament for those at the point of death as well as for those who are suffering from sickness or old age, or for those who are preparing for surgery.

On Monday, December 18th at 7:00 pm, we will have a Penance Service at St. Gerard. We will begin with a prayer service, followed by an opportunity to go to confession. Several priests will be available for confession.

The novelist Somerset Maugham said it well. “I have committed follies. I have a sensitive conscience and I have done certain things in my life that i am unable to entirely forget. If I had been fortunate enough to be a Catholic, I could have delivered myself of them at confession and after performing the penance imposed, received absolution and put them out of my mind forever.”

Imagine that, a non-Catholic has recognized the value of the Sacrament. Yet, many of us brush the Sacrament aside as if to say it is old fashion. Forgiveness is not only old fashion but it is also fashionable. It is most important in our lives. The grace of the sacrament awaits you. Let’s not neglect this Godly gift. So, we welcome you on December 18th.

An irate judge in London, disgusted with corporate crime, sentenced a convicted embezzler by saying, “Your parole officer has not been born.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – November 19, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A young man grew up in a large religious family. One day he and his sister announced to their parents that they were interested in joining the religious life. His father, a quiet, philosophical man, made this observation. “You know, if you become a nun or a priest you will never enjoy the privilege of having your own children. Like your mother, you will not be able to celebrate Mother’s Day. Nor, like me, you won’t be able to celebrate Father’s Day. However, both of you will have two days to celebrate: Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.

On Thursday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. We celebrate this day because of the perseverance of one woman, Sarah Josepha Hales. The official description of Thanksgiving Day is, “A national holiday in the United States commemorating the harvest of the Plymouth Colony in 1621, following a winter of great hardship.”

During the first harsh New England winter, over ninety people were sick. Only seven people were well enough to care for the others. Fifty one people out of 102 died that first year. Yet, on that first Thanksgiving Day, they found so much to be thankful for. ‘Thanksgiving Day,’ the day to give thanks, was born in Puritan New England in the 1630’s. It was shaped by four traditions – the Harvest, the Home, Christmas ans proclamations of civic and congregational days of thanksgiving and prayer.

Early in our history, this day was celebrated by only a few eastern states. But Sarah Josepha Hales was determined to have the entire nation celebrate this day of giving thanks to God from whom all blessing flow. She sent endless articles and letters to journals and newspapers expressing her desire to make this day a national holiday. She wrote to President Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan in the mid 1800’s. In 1852 she succeeded in uniting 29 states in marking the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

Then, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took action. He proclaimed the last Thursday of November as the day set apart for the national giving of thanks to Almighty God. The day was not to celebrate military victory but to be grateful for “a year filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” Lincoln reminded the citizens that, “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the precious gifts of the Most High God.”

It has been reported that Thanksgiving Day is the most celebrated day in the United States. The airlines tell us that air traffic is the heaviest over Thanksgiving weekend. Families will travel across the nation to be home for Thanksgiving. Already we can smell the wonderful aromas from the kitchen. The Thanksgiving meal is mom’s best.

They say that people speak about 18,000 words a day. In the course of the day, how many times do we use the word: “Thanks.” We have so much to be thankful for. And no one deserves ‘thanks’ more than our God who has given us everything. In the midst of our festivities on Thursday, let us take some time out to say “Thanks.” Our God must be on the top of our list. We can start the day by attending a Thanksgiving Day Mass at St. Gerard. At 9:00 a.m. we will gather to say, “Thank you, God.”

I want to say “Thank you” to all parishioners of St. Gerard, for your goodness and generosity. Thank you for the wonderful spirit. For your friendship; for your sharing and caring. For the many gifts of volunteering your time and expertise to this faith community.

One week after Thanksgiving St. Gerard Men’s ACTS retreat will be held at the Moye Retreat House in Castroville. About 25 men are serving on team with Daniel Thatcher as the Director. James Cazares and Peter Caliendo are the co-directors. All these men have been meeting once a week for the past three months, to prepare themselves for the retreat weekend. Let us keep these men in prayer as we ask the Holy Spirit to come upon them. We are looking forward to a spiritually dynamic weekend with the team and first time retreatants.

King Frederick the Great visited the jail of Potsdam. He had a special audience with the inmates. Surprisingly, each inmate informed the King that he was totally innocent of the charges against them. Near the end of the King’s visit, one of the inmates said to the King “Your excellency, I am guilty and deserve the punishment I am receiving.”

The King immediately ordered that man to be released. Totally surprised, the inmate thanked the King as he was escorted out of the prison. With a smile, the king said, “After all young man, I don’t want you to corrupt all the innocent people in here.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – November 11, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A religious order of nuns staffed a small hospital in a quaint country town. A young doctor on staff happened to be an avid golfer. Everyone teased him about his golf addiction, especially the nuns in charge. It so happened that his doctor’s wife was expecting a baby. One day she unexpectedly experienced labor pains. The doctor rushed his wife to the hospital. They didn’t quite make it in time. She gave birth to a baby boy on the grassy lawn in front of the emergency room. Thanks be to God, all went well!

When the doctor received a bill for the emergency room services, he objected. With tongue in cheek he argued with the bookkeeper. He claimed that there should be no emergency room fees since his wife gave birth to his son on the lawn. Mother Superior happened to overhear the doctor’s argument. She quickly approached the doctor, snatched the bill from his hand, scratched out ‘Emergency Room Services,’ and scrawled across the page in large letters ‘GREEN FEES.’

Let me begin with the original rectory – the second building east of Gevers. Six Redemptorists live in this rectory. The rectory is owned by the Redemptorist Fathers of San Antonio. Those living in the rectory are: Father Alton Carr, Father Rob Ruhnke, Brother Charlie Fucik, Father Francis Pham, Father Bob Lindsey, and Fr. Jim Shea.

The building east of the church was originally known as the Notre Dame Convent. Now it has two names – the front of the building is called ‘The Parish Center and Offices.’ The back of the building and the second floor is known as ‘The Theology Residence.’ Fourteen Redemtorists, studying theology at the Oblate School of Theology, and two directors live in this building. These men are vowed Redemptorists who come from across the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada and Ireland. The Redemptorist Provincials from seven different units, known as ‘The Conference,’ jointly subsidize this program.

The Archdiocese owns the church, the school and the Theology Residence. St. Gerard Parish manages these buildings. The Conference – is leasing The Theology Residence from the Archdiocese for $4,000 a month, plus 3/4 of the utility bills. Since the parish manages the building, the lease goes to the parish, not the Archdiocese.

There are three Corporations associated with St. Gerard. All the parishes of this Archdiocese, which includes St. Gerard Parish, are listed under the corporation ‘Archdiocese of San Antonio.’ We Redemptorist Priests and Brother have our corporation. “The Redemptorist Priests of San Antonio.” Finally, the Theology Residence has recently been incorporated, ‘North American Redemptorist Theology Residence.’ Our parishioner, John Rothermel, handled the legal work.

Over the summer months many people worked on the Theology Residence, preparing it for the arrival of the students. Since rooms had been vacant for nearly 20 years, they required painting, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, carpeting/tiling and plastering. Many folks cleaned the rooms. Each room was fitted with new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters and rugs. The Redemptorist Conference paid for all the trade work. Many parishioners, along with the Conference, paid for the outfitting of the rooms. No money was taken from St. Gerard Parish coffers to update these rooms.

In the months to come we will be speaking about money. We will publish our financial report and budget. We also want to remind everyone about the Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. Every parish is the Archdiocese is involved in this campaign and is given a goal. Our goal over three years is $334,000.

Now, I want to state that we in the parish office along with the Finance Committee are trying our best to be good stewards. A steward is a person who manages the affairs of a household or an estate for the owner. At St. Gerard we are managing the affairs of God on earth. Everything we have is given to us by God. As God’s people we are also called to share these gifts with others. The bible refers to sacrificial giving. It means that God comes first, rather than giving God whatever is left over. The Jews were asked to thank God with a ‘tithe’ – the first 10% of the fruits of the harvest. They were promised a payoff of one hundred fold in return. How close do you come to what was expected of early Christians?

WEEKLY INCOME

                    3%          5%          8%          10%

$200           6.00        10.00      16.00      20.00
$300           9.00        15.00      24.00      30.00
$400           12.00      20.00      32.00      40.00
$500           15.00      25.00      40.00      50.00
$700           21.00      35.00      56.00      70.00
$1,000        30.00      50.00      80.00      100.00

In the ‘Pontius Puddle’ cartoon, Pontius asks God, “How should a materialistic Christian dress for eternity?” A voice comes from the clouds, “Start with flame retardant underwear.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – November 5, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Two young women were about to profess their vows as religious sisters. Just before the ceremony began, the presiding Bishop noticed two Rabbis entering the church, insisting on the right side of the center aisle. Of course, the Bishop was curious why two Jewish Rappis were attending a Catholic profession of vows for these women.

After communion, the Bishop publicly welcomed the two Rabbis. He then asked them why they were present at this occasion when the young women were to become the “Brides of Christ.” The elder Rabbi slowly rose to his feet and explained, “We’re representing the family of the groom.”

Thursday, November 9th, is a significant day for the Redemptorist Priests and Brothers as we celebrate another family. It is the birth date of our religious congregation. In 1732 St. Alphonsus founded the Redemptorists in a little Italian town called Scala. This town stands high above the Amalfi Bay, near Naples, Italy. Alphonsus discovered that the shepherds in this area had never heard of Jesus Christ. Alphonsus was determined to bring the Word of God to these abandoned shepherds. Alphonsus founded the Redemptorists to specifically minister to the poor. Today, we are carrying out the dream of Alphonsus.

On Thursday we will also celebrate another special ‘Church’ day. We will celebrate another special ‘Church’ day. We will celebrate The Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. Now, why would we single out one church throughout the world and dedicate a Sunday to this building? Well, it is reported to be one of the oldest churches in Rome. But more importantly, it is the Cathedral of Rome. Since Pope Francis is the Bishop of Rome, St. John Lateran is his Cathedral. Since the Pope is the Shepherd of the Catholic flock worldwide, St. John Lateran is the principal church for all Catholics. Therefore, we devote Sunday to our Church which is a part of all of us.

All of us belong to ‘The Church.’ Our home office is the Vatican. Our Cathedral is not St. Peter’s in the Vatican, but St. John Lateran. But the Church is much more than a building. It is the people, united together in Christ, loving and serving one another.

All of us are connected with one another and together we are connected with St. John Lateran. For most of us, it is a misty connection. We feel much more connected with our localchurch and fellow parishioners. And so it should be. For the Catholic Church is geographically divided into thousands of dioceses, all flowing out of the principal diocese of Rome. In each diocese there are parishes. Within the parish, there is a parish church. Although all Catholics are united with the diocese and the Church in Rome, we feel much more connected with our local diocese and local church.

Sometimes it is difficult to realize that we truly are bigger than our local church. However, in God’s plan, we do belong to a bigger church. We belong to the worldwide diocese and we belong to our local diocese. Because we belong, we are called to help support the works of the Lord in our local church. Each year we have a collection for the worldwide church. It is called ‘Peter’s Pence.’ and each year we have a Fund Drive for our diocesan church. It is called ‘Bishop’s Annual Appeal.’

Now, every 55 years – or so it seems – our diocese conducts an Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. Yes, it was 55 years ago since the last Capital Campaign in San Antonio. The Archdiocese invites all of us to make a three year pledge. The money helps all the ministries in the Archdiocese. The money helps all the ministries in the Archdiocese. The money also helps to restore the older buildings of our parishes. The Archdiocese set the goal for us – $334,000.

If a parish submits a ‘construction or restoration’ plan to the Archdiocese then that parish is entitled to a 40% rebate of the money contributed by that parish to the campaign. We are putting together a restoration plan. The pan includes repairing the roof of the school, replacing the windows in the school and encapsulating the asbestos in the school. The asbestos is in the floor tile. Since we will be under construction we anticipate a 40% rebate.

The parishes throughout the Archdiocese are divided into four groupings or ‘waves.’ Each wave is scheduled to begin the campaign at a different time. For instance, St. Gerard is listed in the second wave and will actively begin the campaign in March, 2018. During the next few months we will be talking about the campaign.

Silence is golden, unless you have kids, then silence is just plain suspicious.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 29, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Once there was an old priest who lived out in the country. He was the shepherd of a poor parish. His people could hardly pay his salary. One year he decided to raise watermelons, and hopefully sell them to supplement his salary. His watermelon enterprise became quite successful. People came from great distances to buy watermelons. The priest was making a great profit. However, he was disturbed by some local kids who would sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons. He had to put a stop to this thievery. He finally came up with a novel idea.

He posted sign at the entrance of the field. The next day, when the kids showed up, they saw the sign which read, “Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with poisonous cyanide.” The kids didn’t dare pick a watermelon that night. The priest was delighted. He finally scared the rascals off. However, the next night the kids returned. They brought their own sign which they posted next to the priest’s sign. The next morning the priest checked the watermelon patch and noticed the new sign next to his. He stepped close to read what was written. To his dismay, the sign said: “Now there are two.”

Now we have two special days this week. Tuesday is All Saints Day and Wednesday is All Souls day.

In ancient times two men were arrested and convicted for stealing sheep. The magistrate sent both of them to prison for several years. To warn every one of the crimes they committed the magistrate decreed that the letter “S” be branded on their foreheads.

After the men served their prison terms one of them left the area, never to be heard of again. The other man was deeply sorrowful for the crime he committed. He remained in the community and dedicated his life to serve his God and the people. As the years passed, this man had touched everyone. He helped the poor. He visited the sick. He found work for the unemployed. The people grew to love this man. Soon, no one remembered his crime of stealing sheep.

Many years later two small boys were sitting on the front steps of their home when this man passed by. The boys never heard about the crime this man committed. But they noticed the ‘S’ on this forehead. One boy asked the other, “Why do you think he has an ‘S’ on his forehead?” The other boys replied, “I’m not sure but from what my mom says about him, I think it must mean ‘Saint’.”

In the early history of our Church many Christians were martyred for their faith. Rome was the site for Christians to be thrown to the lions. So, the Church set aside two special days to honor these people – All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

In the year 607 Emperor Phocas turned the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple over to the Pope. The Pope quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to all the saints who died from Roman persecutions during the first three centuries. The bones of the martyrs were exhumed from various graves and places in the Pantheon church.

In the 8th century Pope Gragory III decreed that November 1st would be ‘All Saints’ Day. In the 10th century Abbot Ordela of the Cluny monastery declared that November 2nd would be ‘All Souls Day’ to honor all Christians who have died.

The conversion of the soul is the miracle of the moment; the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime. – Alan Redpath

We are not saints because of what we do; we are ‘saints’ because we belong to God.

-Nathaniel Howe said, “The way the world is today, we praise dead saints and we persecute living ones.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – October 22, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He had been out of a job for months. Then he got an unexpected call from an employment agency in Florida. The agent said, “We think we have found a job for you. But there is one question. Can you pick lemons?”

“Can I pick lemons?” stated our man. “Boy oh boy, can I pick lemons. I’ve been married five times!”

Today we celebrate ‘World Mission Sunday.’ We bring the Good News to the poor and the most abandoned. Yes, we bring the truth, even the truth about marriage in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has written to us about World Mission Day:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, this year, World Mission Day gathers us around the person of Jesus, “the very first and greatest evangelizer” (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 7), who continually sends us forth to proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. This Day invites us to reflect anew on the mission at the heart of the Christian faith. The Church is missionary by nature; otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away. So it is important to ask ourselves certain questions about our Christian identity and our responsibility as believers in a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent. What is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission? What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying our our mission?

We Redemptorists are missionaries. We have heard much about being missionary disciples. German Redemptorist priests and brothers came from Germany to be missionary disciples. They came to the United States to bring the Good News to the poor. In 1828 they heard about the need for priests and brothers in the United States from Mgr. Rese, Vicar-General of Cincinnati. He visited Europe in search of priests. While at Vienna he secured three priests and three lay brothers; they arrived in New York on 20 June 1832 and began working amongst the people of northern Michigan. In 1839 they were called to Pittsburgh to assume charge of the German congregation and from this time the care of German congregations became a prominent element of the Redemptorists in North America.

Last week I attended a three day meeting in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. We call the meeting a ‘Superiors’ Meeting.’ The superiors who attended the meeting were pastors of parishes as well as superior of a community. Since I am the pastor of St. Gerard and also the superior of our community of priests and brother, I wore two hats. The superiors came from across the United States. About 2 of us. Superiors are appointed by Father Provincial. As one Redemptorist told me, “You are superior by appointment only.” I was asked to give a presentation on ‘Superior as Animator.’ In our book of Constitutions and Statutes, and from our ‘Pastoral Guide for Superiors’ we hear about the type of person who is elected a superior. He must be a shepherd to the men living in the community as well as to the parishioners. He must develop healthy relationships with the members of the community. He must be a man of prayer, dedicated to Jesus Christ and serving his community. “I have come to serve and not be served.”

During our meetings we heard about ‘downsizing’ as the business world would call it. We call it ‘solidarity.’ Realizing that our numbers are dwindling, and many elderly Redemptorists are in need of health care,  we have been encouraged to share our resources with Redemptorists beyond our provinces and even with Redemptorists from other countries. We are encouraged to live in solidarity with one another. In the past the individual provinces, or geographical areas, were pretty much independent as far as our finances and personnel were concerned. Now, we are beginning to share. The word that we are using to embrace many provinces is ‘Conference.’ We remain provinces. Each province has its own government. But in our mission to the poor we turn to one another and figure out the best way to minister to them.

A wonderful example of how this Conference works is taking place here at St. Gerard. All seven provincials have been meeting at the Conference level for the past few years. The provincials decided to send all the Redemptorist students, studying theology, to San Antonio where they would attend the Oblate School of Theology. The students had been studying theology in Toronto, Boston and Chicago. We certainly welcome these young men. This program is a ‘Conference’ experiment and is working well. The Conference will continue exploring programs in which Redemptorists from many units will be working together to bring the Good News to the poor.

We also discussed ‘financial stability’ within our Denver Province. Some serious decisions have already been made. More will come. Since 1996 the headquarters has moved to Chicago. Each year our parish as well as parishes across the nation takes up a second collection for ‘Retired Religious.’ The central office is called ‘The National Religious Retirement Office.’ It is located in Washington D.C, One arm of the NRRO provides consultation for religious orders. Consultants approach religious orders to evaluate their personnel and financial resources. The consultants have a pretty good idea how long the religious order will survive with their limited resources.

This consultant firm studied our resources in the Denver Province. They concluded that the Redemptorists in the Denver province will go bankrupt nine years from now unless some drastic decisions are made immediately. Moving the provincial office to Chicago was the first drastic decision. The provincial residence in Denver was an apartment house. The offices are in a separate building. As soon as the provincial office moved to Chicago, the apartment house went on the market. It sold immediately. The office building is currently up for sale. In January we should close on the old seminary property in Oakland, CA.

Many decisions are being made, But the biggest one of all was to close our nursing facility in Ligouri, Missouri. Because of the cost of health care, we can no longer afford our own nursing home for our sick and elderly. So, the Redemptorists who do not need skilled nursing and who are ambulatory will be assigned to rectories in our parishes. We will hire a nurse to check in on them, daily or at least on a frequent basis. Those who need skilled nursing will be placed in a nursing home which is owned to and operated by another entity. Eventually, we hope to be able to rent a wing at this nursing institution. There are some other decisions hanging in the balance. With the decisions that have been made, we hope that we will establish financial stability in our province.

“We will go before God to be judged, and God will ask us: ‘Where are your wounds?’ And we will say, ‘We have no wounds.’ And God will ask, “Was nothing worth fighting for…?”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 15, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A small business owner held a staff meeting. He felt that his employees were not showing him enough respect. The next morning he carried a sign from home and hung it on his office door. The sign read, “I AM THE BOSS.” When he came back from lunch his secretary informed him that his wife called. She wants the sign back.

Monday is National Boss’s Day. I wish all those in positions of authority a “Happy Boss Day!”

I happen to be the boss of St. Gerard but I am also the boss of my Redemptorist community. During this past week I attended our Redemptorist Superiors meeting. In that meeting I was asked to give a presentation of ‘Superior as Animator.’ I used the image of the Good Shepherd. Jesus used that image himself. It became a symbol to describe the work of leaders.

A shepherd leads the sheep to nourishment. A shepherd lives with his sheep. A shepherd protects the sheep from predators. A shepherd gathers his sheep into the sheepfold. A shepherd checks daily on the health of his sheep. A shepherd anoints the wounds of the injured sheep. A shepherd reaches out to the lost sheep and brings them back into the fold. A shepherd knows his sheep and keeps them united. A shepherd loves each of his sheep.

A Redemptorist superior is a shepherd who enjoys a healthy relationship with each confrere in his community. He lives with them, he protects them, he gathers them together for meetings and prayer, he checks on his fellow brothers’ health, he helps in bandaging the wounds, he brings lost brothers united especially in their sacred mission he knows each brother as he is in the here and now, and he loves each one.

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. ” I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Peter, was there that day and he like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, for weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Peter told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be hones about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed; a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Peter just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!” All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”  When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Peter told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Peter. He looked at Peter, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Peter!”  Peter couldn’t believe it. Peter couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; The were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Peter, have brought me trees and plants, and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Peter was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 8, 2017

Father Shea

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

 

Early in the morning he awakened his wife. He complained of severe abdominal pains. His wife rushed him to the emergency room. This man worked at a funeral home. So he told his wife to hold off from calling the funeral home until the test results came back.

Later that morning the nurse informed them that the x-rays showed a kidney stone. His wife then asked her husband, “Would you like me to call the funeral home now?” The nurse looked bewildered. She snapped back, “Honey, honey, slow down. He is sick but not that sick.”

You’d almost think I had a kidney stone last week when I typed up the announcements. I don’t know where my head was when I wrote up that the T.V. program ‘Discovering your faith’ which was filmed at St. Gerard, would be televised on June 10th. To make matters worse, Father Peter Hill celebrated the 5:00 p.m. Mass. He read the announcement as I wrote it. Fortunately, he made light of the matter when he encouraged the congregation to remember June 10th…8 months from now.

Thank God we caught the mistake. The date and time were correctly announced at the Sunday Masses. Here is the correct date and time. Tuesday, October 10th at 7:00 p.m.

During the past year we prepared for the feast days of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, with a novena. A novena (from the Latin: ‘novem’ meaning ‘nine’) is a tradition of praying for nine consecutive days or weeks or months. The novena is an age old Christian practice of preparing for a special feast.

Each week, on Tuesday morning we pray the novena prayers of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We call this a novena. But, we con’t stop after the ninth week of prayer. Instead, we keep right on going, week after week. So, it becomes an everlasting novena.

However, on Tuesday, October 10th, yes, October 10th  – the same day of the T.V. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’ we will begin a ‘nine week’ novena. We will be preparing for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Friday, December 8th.

Bob Gonzales conducts this novena. WE begin at 6:00 p.m. We pray the rosary together. Then we celebrate Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The rosary and Benediction will take about 40 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time to drive home to watch the 7:00 p.m. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’

On October 14th we will formally welcome the fourteen seminarians. We will begin Mass at 5:00 p.m. Father Jack Kingsbury C.Ss.R., the man who arranged for the seminarians to come to San Antonio, will preside at the Mass. The seminarians will be responsible for all the ministries during Mass: the music – cantor and accompaniment – lector, ushers, gift bearers and ministers of the Eucharist. After Mass we will head over to the cafeteria to enjoy food and drink as we meet and greet and mingle.

Several years ago we conducted a financial campaign as we prepared for our centennial celebration. At that time some people contributed money toward a presider’s chair – the chair which the celebrant of the Mass occupies. I contacted Walter Lyssy, a man who builds chairs. he agreed to build this chair.

Before he began working on the chair he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He took some time off while being treated for the disease. When he returned he worked on the chair. He built a prototype our of cherry wood. A number of parishioners viewed the prototype and suggested changes. Then Walter began building the chair out of mesquite wood.

On October 14th we will debut and bless this chair and the two adjoining chairs, all made out of mesquite. Walter also built two small book stands between the chairs. Father Jack Kingsbury will bless these chairs…since he will be the first to use them.

Monday is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We wish our Canadian brothers in the Theology Residence a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Bill Peterson, former football coach for Florida State, was well known for the mistakes he made in speech. Once he said, “The greatest thing just happened. I got indicted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and they gave me a standing observation.” He also said, “I’m the football coach and don’t you remember it!” Another time he said, “We can beat this team. All we have to do is capitalize on our mistakes.”

Remember Tuesday, October 10th. Novena at 6:00 p.m. and televising ‘Discovering your Faith’ at 7:00 p.m.

Remember Saturday, October 14th. Welcome our Seminarians at 5:00 Mass, followed with food and drink.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 1, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The fish weren’t biting. But that didn’t matter. Our friend, an atheist, was enjoying a quiet day our on the water. Suddenly something hit his boat. He looked over the side of the boat. It was the Loch Ness monster. The atheist hung on for dear life. The monster swam under the boat, raised its head and flipped the boat high in the air.  The monster opened its mouth waiting for the atheist and boat to come back down. As the atheist and boat was approaching the monster’s open wide jaws, everything froze in place. There hung the atheist staring into the jaws of the Loch Ness monster. Without thinking the atheist shouted, “Oh God! Oh God! Help me!”

A moment later a resounding voice came out of the heavens, saying, “I thought you didn’t believe in me!” “Come on, God, give me some slack,” the man pleaded. “I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”

In the month of October we are reminded of the most precious gift given to human beings. It is the gift of life. It is a gift from God. Every human being has a right to this gift. We believe that no one has the authority to deprive a human being of life. For it is God who gives and God who takes away. Bless the name of God. With October being the Respect Life month, we must ask ourselves if we are a nation of believers or atheists. If atheists deny that there is a God then they also must deny that life comes from God. We don’t know where they think life comes from. As believers, we hold that the gift of life and the inalienable right to life comes from God.

There are many ways that humans usurp the power of God by preventing or destroying human life. Our government has legalized abortion. Many states use capital punishment. Euthanasia is becoming more popular, or as Dr. Kevorkian called it, ‘assisted suicide.’ Then there is in vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, in IVF, children are engendered though a technical process, subjected to “quality control,” and eliminated if found “defective.” We destroy life in many ways.

Scriptural tradition, Christian tradition and Catholic tradition all make sacred the gift of life. We do not subscribe to abortion, euthanasia or capital punishment. We subscribe to LIFE. Not only is the month of October Respect life month, but it is also a month dedicated to the rosary. Next Saturday we celebrate the memorial of the most holy rosary. We call up Mary, the mother of Christ, to intercede for us as we say the rosary.

On Saturday, October 7th we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The title of Our Lady of the Rosary can be traced to an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic. According to Dominican tradition, in 1208, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France, attempting to convert the heretical Albigensians. Dominic was meeting little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against the heretics. This feast was originally entitled ‘Our Lady of Victory’ as a reminder of The Battle of Lepanto. The Catholic Holy League defeated the Ottoman Empire in this battle on October 7, 1571. The faithful were praying the rosary during the five hour battle. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the feast to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Pope Pius X declared that the date of the Holy Rosary would be October 7th. When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Monday we celebrate the memorial of the holy Guardian Angels. Then, on Tuesday we honor Saint Francis of Assisi.

And let’s not forget the guardian angels. We honor them on Monday. A minister was visiting the homes of his parishioners. He did not bother calling ahead to set up an appointment. His style was to ring the doorbell unannounced. He came upon the home of a newly married couple. He rang the doorbell. There was a slight pause. Then he heard a woman’s voice shouting, “Is that you, angel?” The minister shouted back, “No, but I’m from the same department.”

No one had ever seen an angel. No one has ever heard an angel speak. No one knows for sure whether angels have wings. So, what do angels look like? The look like the little old lady who returned your wallet yesterday. Like the clerk who told you that your eyes light up the world when you smile. Like the small child who showed you the wonder of creation in simple things. Like the poor man who offered to share his lunch with a stranger. Like the motorist who just happened to come along when your tire went flat. Like the friend who embraced you when you heard about the death of your mother.

They are hard to find when your eyes are closed. Yet angels are everywhere you look, when you chose to look for them. An angel could be standing in line with you at the grocery store. Or perhaps an angel is sitting next to you in the theatre. Or in that car which speeds by you on the highway.

Saint Francis of Assisi founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4th. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.

On 13 March 2013, upon his election of Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He chose the name because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. Before being elected pope Cardinal Claudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor,” which had made Bergoglio think of Saint Francis. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time.”

A tourist is a person who travels to see things that are different and then complains when things aren’t the same.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.