Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – September 10, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly Florida finished her grocery shopping. With her arms filled with groceries she returned to her car. There she found four young mend about ready to drive off…in her car. She dropped her shopping bags, screamed at the top of her voice. Then she grabbed a handgun from her purse and shouted, “I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of my car, you scumbags!” The men didn’t hesitate one bit. They bolted out of the car and ran like crazy. The lady, a bit shaken, proceeded to load her groceries into the back seat of the car. She got in, ready to drive away. She tried and tried. No luck! She glanced over at the items in the front seat and noticed that they were not hers. She checked the glove compart. Nothing in there was hers. She finally realized that she was in the wrong car.

She found her car five spaces down the line. She put her groceries in her car and drove immediately to the police station. She told the sergeant what had happened. He began laughing as he pointed to four frightened young men at the end of the counter. These lads were reporting a carjacking by a crazed elderly woman, brandishing a hand gun. ‘Happy Grandparent day.’

Monday is ‘Patriot Day.’ It is the day that the United States, and the world, remembers the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington. The day is commonly referred to as 9-11 (Nine Eleven). It is believed that 2,977 people died in the 4 attacks. President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11th Patriot Day in 2002.

On September 11th, United States flags should be flown at half-mast – both on U.S. soil and abroad. A moment of silence is held at 8:46 a.m. (EST) across the nation – commemorating the time the first plane struck the North tower of the World Trade Center. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum takes up over half of the destroyed World Trade Center site. It contains bronze parapets inscribed with the names of those killed on September 11, 2001, and those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

There is an old legend about St. Francis visiting the Sultan of Egypt. The Sultan tried to ensnare the saint in an uncompromising situation. The Sultan directed his staff to lay a carpet on the floor leading up to his throne. Crosses were weaved into the carpet. The Sultan said: “If he walks on those crosses I shall accuse him of insulting me.” As Francis approached the throne he walked on the crosses that had been weaved into the carpet. Immediately the Sultan charged him of insulting his God. But Francis answered: “Our Lord died between two thieves. The thieves also hung on crosses. We Christians have the true Cross; but the crosses of the thieves we leave to you. Without shame I walked on the crosses of thieves.”

We will be celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Thursday. The feast day is also called ‘Triumph of the Cross.’ The cross is a symbol of our Christian faith. The cross becomes significant in our lives only because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was crucified on the cross.

Early in the fourth century, St. Helena, another of the Roman Emperor Constatine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. Tradition had it that the temple of Aphrodite was built over the tomb of Jesus Christ. She ordered the temple he razed. Then, her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre over it. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus was identified when a dying woman touched it and was healed. From that time on the cross became an object of veneration.

We will be celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Friday. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was formerly known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. In 1668 the Servite Friars began a devotion to the suffering Virgin Mary. In 1814, Pius VII extended the devotion to the whole Western Church.

The Seven Sorrows (or Dolors)  are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary which are a popular devotion and are frequently depicted in art. Mary’s sorrows are:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35) or the Circumcision of Christ
  2. The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
  3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
  4. Mary’s meeting of Jesus on the way to Calvary.
  5. Jesus dying on the cross. (John 19:25)
  6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
  7. Placing of the body of Jesus in the tomb. (John 19:40-42).

The Seraphic Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows staff the Chapel of Divine Mercy on Beethoven as well as St. Francis Nursing Home on Woodlawn. We Redemptorists celebrate daily Mass at the chapel and frequently celebrate Mass at the nursing home. Happy feast day Sisters!

You can’t turn the clock back but you can wind it up again.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – September 3, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A woman hired a painter to paint all the rooms on the second floor of her home. Later in the afternoon she began to wonder if he was making any progress. She hadn’t heard a sound for hours. So, she shouted up the stairs to the painter, “Are you working hard?” “Yes, ma’am. I am,” came his reply. The woman shouted louder, “Well, I can’t hear you!” “My dear lady,” said the painter, “I want you to know that I ain’t putting it on with a hammer.!”

It is Labor Day weekend. We applaud all workers. Whether we make sounds while we are working or we work in silence; whether we work with our hands or not’ whether we work alone or with a team, we come to honor the sacred gift of work and the people who work for a living.

On day, in 1853, George Crum, head chef at a posh Saratoga Springs (New York) resort, prepared fried potatoes as part of the evening’s menu. A finicky customer kept returning his potatoes to the kitchen, complaining that they were too thick. Finally, an enraged Crum picked up his sharpest knife, sliced some potatoes wafer thin, and deep-fried them in boiling fat and served them to the cantankerous customer. Rather than be annoyed, the troublesome patron loved them. Soon other guests wanted to order the ‘Saratoga chip.’ The rest is potato chip history.

“How’s your tripod?” That is a slogan often said in Kinko’s stores. Sometimes you hear a worker say, “My tripod’s out of balance.” They are not talking about a paper jam in one of their copiers. They are speaking ‘Kinko-ese.’ According to Kinko’s founder and chairman, Paul Orfalea, three ingredients for the foundation of a happy life. They are: Play/Work/Love.

Paul believes that these three elements must be in balance to stay healthy. He calls it his tripod. All Kinko’s employees are introduced to the concept of the tripod early in their orientation and training. They are reminded that Kinko’s philosophy is that “We trust and care for each other.”

As such, Kinko’s coworkers are encouraged to develop and maintain all three aspects of their life, and are cautioned not to let work overwhelm their humanity. “Our life needs to be happy,” one group of new employees was advised during orientation, as they were taught about the tripod. “We need you to be healthy people. Complete people. Balanced people.”

Kinko’s managers regularly ask their employees, “How’s your tripod?” And, from time to time a coworker will go to a manager and say, “My tripod is out of of balance.” That means they need some time off to catch up on the play and love components of their tripod. They’ve got to get a life.

Work. play, love. Three pretty good basic elements of a happy life. Paul’s tripod certainly deserves merit. And that is why we set aside one special day in the year. And we call that day, ‘Labor Day.’ But let us add another ingredient and place it smack dab in the middle of the tripod – Prayer.

Labor Day is a day to restore balance to our tripods. A time to renew our energy as we rest from work. A time to spend time with family to express our love for them. And a time to play – with family and friends. Let us also add, a time to put prayer into the center of the tripod. So, to complete the tripod, Mass at 9:00 a.m. would certainly add lots of balance to the tripod.

“Made in America?” Jake Brown starts the day early, having set his alarm clock, (made in China)< for 6:30 a.m. While his coffee pot (made in China) is perking he puts his blow-dryer (made in Taiwan), to work and shaves with his electric razor (made in China). He puts on a dress shirt (made in Taiwan), his designer jeans (made in Singapore), and a pair of tennis shoes (made in Korea). After cooking up some breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in the Philippines), he sits down to figure out on his calculator (made in Mexico), how much he can spend today. After setting his watch (made in Switzerland), to the radio (made in China), he goes out and gets in his car (made in Germany). He goes looking as he has been doing for months, for a good paying American job. At the end of another discouraging and fruitless day, Jake decides to relax for a while. He puts on a pair of sandals (made in China), pours himself a glass of wine (made in France), and turns on his TV (made in Japan), and ponders again why he can’t find a good paying American job.

Elizabeth Dole was appointed secretary of transportation by President Reagan in 1985. Following the appointment many magazines covered the Dole marriage. Elizabeth as a cabinet member. Bob Dole as a powerful senator.

After a magazine photo showed Elizabeth and Bob making their bed in their apartment, a man wrote a complaining letter to Bob Dole, praising Elizabeth’s skill but adding, “You’ve got to stop doing the work around the house. You are causing problems for men across the country.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Dole wrote back. “The only reason she was helping was because they were taking pictures.”

Happy Labor Day!

Fr. Jim. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – August 27, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A kid was “acting up” at Mass. He was out of control. The parents did their best to quiet him down. Nothing worked. The folks in the nearby pews were mumbling “get him out of here.” Finally, the father grabbed that kid, threw him over his shoulder and marched down the aisle toward the front door. The kid began to cry. He knew he was in big trouble. Just as they reached the church door the kid looked back and shouted to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”

Pope Francis wrote an encyclical letter entitled ‘Laudato Si.’ He spoke about our common home – the earth. Pope Francis asked that Friday, September 1st, be devoted to ‘The World day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.’ This is the day that the Catholic Christian world will join together in pray for the preservation of our common home – the earth. As Pope Francis says, “Christians are called to ‘an ecological conversion’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”

This annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will remind us that we are all called to keep air clean and breathable, our water clean and drinkable, our rain forests protected, our swamps and everglades preserved. There is so much beauty in God’s creation that we do not want to dishonor it and destroy it. We must never forget to thank our God for the wonderful handiwork He has created and handed down to us humans. It is up to us to keep our common home looking good for generations to come.

Prayer to Protect and Heal God’s Creation

“We have come to renew our covenant with God and with one another in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have come to help protect God’s creation. We have come as followers of Jesus to commit ourselves anew to one another and to heal injustice and poverty.

We have come to stand together against all threats to life. We have come to discover some new beauty every day in God’s creation the sunrise and the sunset, birds, flowers and trees, rainbows in the sky, the stars, the many forms of life in the forest. We have come to listen to the “music of the universe” – water flowing over rocks, the wind, trees bending in the wind, raindrops pattering on the roof. We will remember always that God speaks to us through the beauty of his creation, and we will try our best to answer God’s call to reverence all that he has created. Amen.”

During the Redemptorist convocation a few years back a suggestion was made that we Redemptorists ought to have some kind of a renewal program. We were looking for a way to energize ourselves. We were expecting to add a new spirit amongst us; and to build a stronger bond between us. One might say that we would be putting new wine into new wineskins.

A group of Redemptorists were asked to put together a program. They did. They called it ‘Renewed Hope, Renewed Hearts, Renewed Structure for Mission.’ This program was scheduled to be repeated at four different times and locations to accommodate all the Redemptorists of our province. Those who attended the program raved about it, so much so that those in charge added a fifth session for those who were hesitant to register early.

Communication is vital in this experience. Each day there is a presentation regarding our spiritual and community life. Then, a great part of each day is devoted to round table discussions of sharing: Sharing ones experience. Sharing one’s faith. Sharing ones hopes and dreams. Of course this means lots of listening to one another. ‘Shared Spirituality is the Heart of Change.’ So, we hope to bring that faith sharing experience into our conversations in our communities.

Everyone in our province was expected to attend. Fathers Carr, Ruhnke, Francis and Bob have already experienced the program. I am the last in line to attend. I will be attending this program at the Redemptorist Picture Rocks Renewal Center in Tuscon, Arizona from September 4th to September 18th. I look forward to the renewal program and hope to return spiritually refreshed.

Father Bob Lindsey will be handling the day to day duties. Father Lamar Patin, our Redemptorist vocation director, who is well known in our parish, will be helping with Masses and other duties. And of course Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming will also be helping with Masses as they continue their responsibilities as formators for the theology students.

Without sunscreen the hot summer sun can burn and blister human skin. The sun can also burn and blister our church doors that face to the south. Stan Guza built those doors. He applied the best sunscreen sealant available. The time has come to re-seal those doors. Stan asked his wife Beata and his sister Binaca – who is on vacation from Poland – to clean and re-seal those doors. Great job! Thanks Beata and Binaca.

A religion teacher asked her students to memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters one month to learn the Psalm. Little Rick was excited about the task – but he had difficulty remembering the words. He practiced and practiced. He simply could not remember all the words. On the day when Ricky was scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, he was a bundle of nerves. He stepped up to the microphone and shouted: “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R,

Pastor’s Notes – August 20, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Two elderly women were enjoying the warm breeze in the park. Their conversation eventually focused upon their husband. They began fussing about them. One woman said, “I do wish my Harry would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!”

“Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing,” the other woman commented. “But I broke him of that habit real quick.”

“Tell me,” said the other woman, “what did you do?” With a sheepish grin she said, “I hid his false teeth.”

The older we get the more we realize that the people who want to help themselves can only do so by helping others. It’s a basic law of success. This law comes to us right out of the bible, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.” “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” “I’ve come to serve, not to be served.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

One of the most successful businessmen who has used this principle was James Cash Penney. Mr. Penney started with a small general merchandise store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. From that store he built a multibillion-dollar business empire on one simple principle: The Golden Rule.

For years the Penney stores were called ‘The Golden Rule Stores.’ And it was Mr. Penney’s faith in the Golden Rule principle – always treating a customer as he himself would want to be treated – that made him grow and prosper.

But perhaps even more importantly was Mr. Penney’s attitude toward his employees. In the first place he did not like the word ’employee.’ He treated everyone as a partner. Rather than referring to his hired helpers as ’employees’ he referred to them as ‘associates.’ And he devoted himself to treating them as he would want to be treated. Most of all he knew that by helping them make money, his own success would be assured.

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Yet, so many of us still fear the loss of self through serving others. Actually, serving others is the only way to find oneself.

In our scripture readings today we hear God inviting us to break down the boundaries that separate us from others. God wishes that all His children enter into community with each other and with God. J.C. Penney was promoting the same principle. It was his profound Golden Rule principle.

During World War I, a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit. As the war progressed this chaplain was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted.

But the priest ran into a problem with the chancery office. The bishop was sympathetic, but he said that he would not approve the burial of a non-Catholic chaplain in a Catholic cemetery. So, the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence.

Years later, a war veteran who knew the story of the Bishop and the Pastor, returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The visiting veteran asked the priest to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.

“Oh,” he said, “I see that you got permission to move the body.” “No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”

I wonder what God thinks when he watches us humans making laws and establishing policies that separate us from one another. Jesus had but two laws – love God and love neighbor…whether you are boss, employee, partner or associate,…or whether you are inside the fence or outside…we are all one in Jesus Christ. It is up to us to live the ‘Golden Rule.’

As we recognize the Golden Rule of J.C. Penney, let me share with you a current ‘J.C. Penney incident.’ Before the Redemptorist Students arrived at St. Gerard, the parish as a whole decided to purchase new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters and towels for each student. Cliff and Eileen Padalecki shopped around and found the best deal at J.C. Penney. The saleswomen graciously welcomed us. They gave us a discount you couldn’t beat. It was a combination of ‘4th of July discount;’ ‘bulk discount;’ and ‘opening a new account discount.’ All toll, it was a ‘mammoth’ discount. These saleswomen followed the Golden Rule. Thank you J.C. Penney.

Save the date! Save the date!…and then we change the date! Yes, that’s what happened. San Antonio Catholic Television wanted to film a one hour program called ‘Discovering Your Faith’ in St. Gerard Church on Tuesday, September 22th. The date has been changed to Tuesday, September 26th.

‘Discovering Our Faith’ is a one hour program during which a moderator – Father Pat O’ Brien and Archbishop Gustavo speak about world-wide Catholic issues, Archdiocesan events ad St. Gerard ministries.

You are invited to attend. Let’s fill the church with parishioners. Let’s show the T.V. audience how we vibrant we are as a parish. So – Save the date! September 26 – 7:00 p.m.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – August 13, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Many years ago an ambitious young man emigrated from Italy to America. He opened up a grocery store in Brooklyn. He had a big heart for other emigrants. When some Italians visited his store he often sold them groceries on credit. Unfortunately, only a handful of emigrants ever paid their credit.

Over the years that store owner continued to allow young emigrants to buy food on credit. These emigrants still did not pay their credit. And then, the store owner had a heart attack and died. He arrived before St. Peter. St. Peter read his record of generosity and immediately invited him into heaven. The grocer asked St. Peter if he could take a detour through hell before entering heaven. Peter agreed and said, “I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”

When the grocer arrived in hell he knocked on the door. Satan answered. The grocer said, “I want to see all those people who owed me money in my grocery store back in Brooklyn.” Satan asked, “How do you know they are here in hell?” “Well,” said the grocer, “Whenever I tried to collect from them, this is where they told me to go.”

On Tuesday, August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Normally, the feast of the Assumption is a holy day of obligation. However, in the United States and other countries, the bishops have received permission from the Vatican to abrogate (temporarily waive) the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on certain Holy Days of Obligation, when those Holy Days fall on either Saturday or Monday. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!! Since the Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Tuesday, WE ARE OBLIGATED to attend Mass in honor of the Assumption. Yes, this year, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on the vigil – Monday evening, or on the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity of the Assumption: Monday – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday: 6:30 a.m.; 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the first of the disciples, the one who brought the Son of God into the world, is honored today in this feast of the Assumption. We believe that her bodily assumption into heaven is a sign to us of the future that awaits all who believe in her Son, Jesus.

The scriptures tell us nothing about Mary in her later life. We do not know exactly where she lived. We do not know for sure how long she lived. We don’t know for sure where she was when she died.

There are many stories which were passed down through the centuries about Mary. These stories tell us that Mary lived in an area near Ephesus, called Meryem Ana. Tradition tells us that, at the age of 64, she fell asleep and was taken body and soul into heaven. In 1967 Pope Paul VI paid a visit to the house of Mary at Meryem Ana. Later Pope John Paul II visited the house and confirmed again the significance of the house. Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to Mary’s home when he visited Turkey.

Two years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, where we stopped to visit Mary’s home.

It is said that St. John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her to Ephesus. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled near Ephesus. Some lived in caves, others in fragile huts or tents. They came to escape violent persecution. Tradition says that Mary’s house was built with stone.

There was a woman by the name of Katharina Emmerick who was born on September 8th, 1774, in a small down in Westfalia (northern Germany). She grew up to be a prayerful woman. She was blessed to have many visions. At a relatively young age she became bedbound. From her bed she would talk about the visions she had in regards to the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She never visited the home. But in her visions she was able to describe the exact location. Many church authorities questioned Katharina. Katharina was able to exactly describe the location and house. To the best of their knowledge, Katharina was describing the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And now, thousands of pilgrims and tourists annually visit Mary’s home.

The preacher carried a hand held mic which was attached to a cord. He moved briskly up and down the middle aisle, twisting and turning as he preached. After several twists and turns, the cord got wrapped around his legs. The preacher pulled and jerked on the cord, trying to free himself. A little girl up front saw what was happening. She leaned over to her mother and said, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – August 6, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:.

An elderly woman took her little grandson to the zoo. That little boy’s face was filled with brightly shining freckles. Grandma and the boy got in line with other children, waiting to have tiger paws painted on their cheeks.

A little girl took one look at the little boy and said, “You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint tiger paws!” The little boy was embarrassed. He dropped his head and began to whimper. Grandma noticed how her grandson was offended. She knelt down next to him and said, “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles.” While tracing her finger across the child’s cheek, she said, “Freckles are beautiful.”

The boy looked up and said, “Really! Is that for real? You really like freckles?” With a smile on her face grandma said, “Of course I do. Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.” The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”

Did Jesus have freckles? We really don’t know. But those of us who have freckles would like to think that Jesus had freckles. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration today. Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain top. There he was transfigured before them. St. Matthew said that ‘Jesus’ face shone like the sun.’ As we all know, a face that shines like the sun must be filled with freckles.

As we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration we imagine Jesus glowing with light. His clothes became white as light. How often we refer to Jesus as coming to us as the light of the world. On the walls of an ancient Scottish castle are engraved these words: “When Jesus comes the shadows depart.” The earliest Christians had this saying of Jesus: “He has turned our midnight into morning.”

On Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 ‘CTSA 17,’ the Catholic Television of San Antonio, will be coming to St. Gerard. At 7:00 pm they will be televising a program in which they will speak about current Catholic issues in the world and the Catholic issues in our Archdiocese. The last segment of the program will be about our parish. They want to hear about the many ministries in our parish. They have asked me to invite the entire parish to be present for the filming. So, mark your calendars. Let’s fill the church and let people throughout San Antonio what a great parish we have.

The week after Thanksgiving the men of our parish will be conducting an ACTS retreat. Daniel Thatcher is the director. He is putting together his team. Between now and the ACTS retreat I will be encouraging the men of the parish to sign up for the weekend. We have a great parish. When the men make an ACTS retreat we will have a greater parish.

The Archdiocese is currently involved in a Capital Campaign. Fifty years ago was the last time the Archdiocese had a Capital Campaign. The name of the Campaign is: !On the Way! !Andale! The Steier Group, from Omaha Nebraska, is the consultant for the Campaign. The parishes throughout the Archdiocese have been assigned to one of four waves: Pilot Wave; Wave 1; Wave 2; Wave 3. St. Gerard has been assigned to Wave 2 which will take place next March-August.

The Steier Group will come to our parish and help us in conducting the campaign. They will provide the brochures and handle all the mailing. The Steier Group has developed a formula to establish a parish goal. Our goal is $133,600 will remain in our parish.

The money from the Campaign will be used to strengthen our existing parishes, especially the older ones which are struggling; to establish new parishes; to help Catholic Charities Outreach; for Lay Ministry; Assumption Seminary; Campus Ministry and Catholic Schools.

Finally, I want to thank the many people who have helped in various ways to welcome our Theology students. So many pitched in to turn bedrooms, unused for 20 years, into attractive homes for the students. And so I say to you all: Thank You. Father Stephen Rehrauer, our Provincial, also sends his heartfelt thanks.

Many, many years ago Thelma Goldstein treated herself to her first vacation. She drove from Chicago to Florida. She stopped at a decent looking hotel in North Miami. Little did she know that the hotel was restricted.

She walked up to the registration desk and said to the manager, “My name is Mrs. Goldstein. I’d like a small room for two weeks” “I am awfully sorry,” the manager replied, “but all of our rooms are occupied.” Just at that moment a man stepped up to the desk announcing that he was checking out.

“How lucky I am,” exclaimed Mrs. Goldstein. “Now there’s a room.” “Not so fast, Madam,” said the manager. “I’m sorry, but this hotel is restricted. No Jews are allowed to occupy our rooms.” “Jewish? Who’s Jewish? I happen to be Catholic,” shouted Mrs. Goldstein.

“With a name like Goldstein, I find that hard to believe,” said the manager. Let me ask you, who was the Son of God?” “Why, it was Jesus, the Son of Mary,” answered the woman. “Where was he born?” asked the manager. “In a stable,” said the woman. “And why was he born in a stable?” asked the manager. With a stern look on her face, the woman said, “Because a schmuck like you wouldn’t let a Jew rent a room in his hotel!”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – July 30, 2017

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An old retired couple decided to treat themselves with a new Mercedes sports car. They visited a dealership, picked out a car and informed the salesman that they had $70,000 but would need to finance $25,000 to close the deal. He promised to hold the car for them.

A month later they returned to learn that the car had just been sold to a gorgeous blond, elegantly dressed. That young woman was sitting in her new Mercedes and about to drive off. The old man, visibly upset, looked at the woman, then shouted at the salesman, “Young man, you said you would hold the car till we raised enough financing. You told me that there was no discount to this model. Yet you closed the deal with that woman over there. That was wrong!”

The salesman took a deep breath and said, “Well, what can I tell you?” She had $70,000 ready cash. She didn’t need any financing help. And, sir, just look at her, how could I resist that beautiful woman.” Just then the young woman walked over the senior couple. She handed the keys to the Mercedes to the old man and said, “There you go, dad. I told you I could get him to lower the price. See you later Mom and Dad. Happy Father’s day.”

A month ago the Redemptorist leadership team in Denver made a significant financial decision. The team chose to move the residence of the provincial and his two consultors from Denver to Chicago. For the past 21 years the provincial leadership team lived in an apartment house near downtown Denver. For the past 12 years they conducted business in a large office building.

In Chicago the provincial and his consultors will reside in St. Michael’s parish – staffed by Redemptorists. They will conduct business in the former convent at St. Michael.

Next Tuesday, August 1st, we are celebrating the feast day of St. Alphonsus. St. Alphonsus founded the religious order of men, entitled, ‘The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.’ However, throughout the world, this congregation is affectionately known as ‘Redemptorists.’ Our mission is to: “Preach the Good News to the poor.”

When the Redemptorists came to America in 1832, the Bishops asked the priests and brothers to staff immigrant parishes. Redemptorists from Austria, Bavaria and Germany arrived in America. They ministered in parishes where many of these immigrants settled. From the early days, many Redemptorists became parish priests. Yet, we were founded to preach missions in parishes. Being parish priests, the Redemptorists tried to distinguish themselves from other parishes by directing parishes as though they were conducting a continuous mission. Even to this day the Redemptorists try to give a ‘mission’ flavor to the parishes we staff.

St. Alphonsus was a man dedicated to prayers. He directed his followers to ‘pray and pray always.’ When we pray and accept God’s way, we will find happiness in our lives. They say, “If your troubles are deep-seated and of long standing, try kneeling.”

‘Good News’ which the Redemptorists preach, means eternal salation. However, there was a young boy in North Dakota who added another interpretation for good news. This young pre-school lad was suffering from a severe case of constipation. The doctor had suggested the usual remedies of prunes, mineral oil, and enemas. Nothing worked until he drank a glass of saline solution.

He quickly visited the bathroom then rushed into the kitchen shouting to his mother, “Mom, mom, I’ve got good news! I’ve got good news!” Good news became his phrase to signal a successful bowel movement. The following Sunday, during the children’s Mass, the priest asked the kids, “Does anyone know what ‘Good News’ means?” This young kid quickly raised his hand. And now you know the rest of the story.

A Philadelphia legal firm opened a new office in Baltimore. The firm contacted a florist to deliver flowers on the day that the Baltimore office opened. Through a mix-up, the ribbon on the floral piece read “Deepest Sympathy.” When the florist was informed of the mistake, he exclaimed, “Good heavens! Then the flowers that went to the funeral home said, ‘Congratulations on your new location!”


Welcome to the Redemptorist theology students. Welcome to your new location – San Antonio. Welcome to your new location – St. Gerard. Welcome Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming – the two priests in charge of the students. We are happy that all of you are part of our St. Gerard Family.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 23, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Ernie Banks played shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs. He was a Hall of Fame baseball player and a Hall of Fame individual.

Ernie always remembered the way his father worked and sacrificed to give him a chance to play baseball. Every day his father left the house before dawn and got home after dark. He worked so many hours, he hardly ever saw sunlight. When Ernie signed his first contract with the Cubs, he sent a three-word telegram to his dad; “We did it!”

“We did it!” Yes, we worked many hours to prepare “The Theology Residence” for the arrival of the seminarians. The list of volunteers goes on and on. The contractors did their work – painting, plumbing, electrical, plastering, carpentry, carpet and tile. Many people in the parish participated by making generous donations toward the furnishing of the rooms. We purchased all new furnishings – sheets, towels, blankets, comforters, etc.

Now we are ready for a final ‘clean up.’ On Thursday, July 27th we will have our work day. We want to make each room as attractive as we can, just like they do at the Marriott. Whether you have signed up or not, you are welcome to help us on the 27th.

Then, over the weekend of July 29-30, we will have open house.. Some of the people who have volunteered said that they never saw the inside of the house. After each Mass on the 29th and 30th folks are welcome to see what the back rooms look like, or what kind of rooms are on the second floor. Everyone who helped furnish a room with donations will be able to see how their contributions were used.

Congratulations to all who helped. Now, let’s welcome the seminarians.

Now, let’s take a look at what will be happening next spring. Surely we have all heard the Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. The Campaign is being called: !Andale! Many of us probably used that word to tell someone to “hurry up.” The Campaign is translating the word to ‘On the Way.’ We are ‘on the way’ to become a growing Archdiocese that cares about people, that reaches out to the marginalized, that is present to the young people on college campuses, that helps the disabled, and is preparing for the rapid growth of the populations. New parishes will be opened. Older parishes will be updated. Our goal for the campaign is 60 million.

The parishes in the Archdiocese have been divided into four groupings. These groupings are called ‘Waves.’ Rather than having every parish in the Archdiocese conduct their capital campaign at the same time, we are divided into four different time periods. The Pilot Wave is currently having their campaign. Then follows the first wave, followed by the second wave and finally the third wave. We at St. Gerard are listed in the second wave. We will conduct our campaign next spring.

There are many fascinating aspects to this campaign. First of all, we must be aware that the last capital campaign the Archdiocese conducted was 60 years ago. The Steier Group consultants from Omaha Nebraska will assist each parish in conducting the campaign. the Group will help each parish with the planning, printing and implementation. All the mailings will come from the Archdiocese. A portion of the money raised will go directly to the parish. If the parish has a construction project planned or in progress, 30 to 40 percent of the money raised will be returned to the parish.

St. Gerard will have a construction project. With the seminarians occupying “The Theology House,” we had to find space for our parish activities – meetings, Parish Faith Formation classes and social activities. We will be dividing the large classrooms in school to accommodate the smaller religious formation classes on Sunday morning. Getting into the school and going from floor to floor requires going up and down steps. We will be looking into the construction of an elevator so that the elderly and the disabled can get to the classrooms without climbing up steps.

There are two ways in which I want to prepare for this campaign. First of all – prayer. We will be including the campaign in our prayers at Mass. Secondly, information. I will try to keep you well informed every step of the way.

On June 26th the pilot wave was seven weeks into the campaign. At that time they have raised $12,385,583.

As we look ahead, let our minds, hearts and souls be filled with hope: Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst. Hope opens doors where despair closes them. Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot. Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature. Hope regards problems small or large, as opportunities. Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism. Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks. Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit. Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that ‘the longest journey starts with one step.’ Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others. Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 16, 2016

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly woman who lives in the country drove into the city to visit a friend in the hospital. She had not been inside a hospital for many years. She heard that medical technology had progressed over the years but had no idea what the latest instruments and gadgets might look like.

Upon arriving at the hospital she was directed to the elevator. As she stepped into the elevator a technician followed her, wheeling a large machine with tubes, wires, dials and lights.The elderly woman heard about ventilators and assumed that this machine must be a ventilator. Looking at the machine, then at the technician, she said, “My Oh My, I would hate to be hooked up to that apparatus.” “I’d hate it, too,” replied the technician. “It’s our new floor-cleaning machine.”

Week after week we come to Mass and probably never notice how clean the floor of our church is. And to think, we do not have a new floor-cleaning machine. We do it the old fashion way.

Let me tell you why our church always looks so bright and clean. Two faithful parishioners spent many hours each week dry mopping the floor, dusting the window sills and statues, cleaning the pews, and straightening the song books and missalettes. Yes, two sister-in-laws have been cleaning our church for the past 40 years. Plus, when the elementary school was in session they cleaned the school as well.

Both Marie and Lidia have an interesting history. Marie was raised as a Baptist. She became a Catholic when she got married. Lidia was not a Catholic but her husband was. They sent their children to St. Gerard School. Since their children were in the school, both Marie and Lidia got involved with the school. It was only within the last few years that Lidia became a Catholic. Now, she is present at Mass every day before she goes to work at Whataburger.

Marie and Lidia remember the days when the church floor was carpeted. It was quire a task to maneuver the vacuum cleaner between the pews. They are grateful for the new floor of ceramic wood plank. Now, after 40 years, Marie and Lidia are retiring. Marie’s daughter-in-law, Yvonne Ramirez, will carry on the Ramirez tradition of cleaning the church. However, after all these years Marie cannot totally step aside. She wants to help out in a less strenuous way.

Next Sunday evening Marie and Lidia will be at the 5:00 Mass. We as a faith community want to thank them for their 40 years of providing for us a beautifully cleaned church where we can proudly worship our God.

At a country fair, the townspeople held a horse-pulling contest. The first-place horse ended up moving a sled weighing 4,500 pounds. The owners of the two horses decided to see what these horses could pull together. They hitched them up and found that the team could move 12,000 pounds.

By working separately, the two horses were good for only 8,500 pounds. When coupled together, their synergism produced an added 3,500 pounds. It’s a hard lesson for us, but unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. “Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.”

In Jesus’ time, plow animals always worked in pairs. The yokes they used were custom fitted to each animal. If the yoke was too small or too big, or if the yoke awkwardly rubbed against the animal’s neck, the animal would lose some of its strength. So, the yokes were not interchangeable. Each animal had its personal yoke. With custom fitted yokes, the animals work harder and longer. As we saw above, when animals work together, the output is nearly doubled.

So, when Jesus says to ‘take my yoke upon you,’ he is offering to share our burdens, to help carry our load as a partner on the journey of life.

Last Tuesday we celebrated the memorial of St. Benedict. The Benedictine monks have been known for their great hospitality. The following bit of welcome and caution comes from the rule of St. Benedict in the sixth Century.

‘If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with a wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbott shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he had been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also, it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.’

Johnny’s mother always warned him that he would never amount to much because he always procrastinated. Whenever she said this, Johnny would always reply, “You just wait!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 9, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.

Father Rob Ruhnke lives in our Redemptorist house. Father Rob had dedicated his ministry in helping couples prepare for marriage. He is the author of a marriage preparation program entitled ‘For Better and Forever.’ In 1980 Father Rob published the first edition of ‘For Better and Forever.’ Recently the ‘National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers’ has selected Father Rob to receive an reward for his dedication to serve families, especially through his marriage preparation program, ‘For Better and Forever.’ On Monday, July 24th the Association will present the award to Father Rob at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

NACFLM applauds Fr. Rob as a long-time NACFLM member who has supported the national conference as a trainer, exhibitor, and sponsor. He first published the sponsor couple marriage preparation program ‘For Better and For Ever’ in 1980 and continues to expand the reach of the program through translations and updates. It has become the most widely used program of its kind in the Americas. It exemplifies the mission of NACFLM by: His commitment to the sponsor couple method of marriage preparation and awareness of its diversity enables family life ministry to provide accompaniment to couples and families.

Congratulations Father Rob Ruhnke!

Many unincorporated communities dot the countryside in Tennessee. One little community is named Amqui. In the olden days many trains stopped at Amqui. Those days are long gone. At one time the late Johnny Cash purchased the quaint railway station and moved it to his estate. Amongst the unusual names for a town, ‘Amqui’ surely ranks high on the list. Some of the local inhabitants of Amqui explain how their town received its name. When Amqui was settled by railroaders, their foreman told them to pick out a name for the place, and do it “damn quick.” So, they named the town Damquik, spelling it D-a-m-q-u-i-k.

Over the years some of the upper class ladies in town became infuriated with the name. They felt that their town was named after a vulgar statement. So they held a town hall meeting. After a heated discussion, they reached a compromise. They agreed to eliminate the first and last letters of the town’s name. And now you know the rest of the story.

Well, the convent at St. Gerard has gone through a few name changes. Originally it was built to be the home of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The sisters taught in the elementary school and high school. Some say that at one time nearly thirty nuns lived in the building. As time went on there were fewer and fewer nuns teaching in St. Gerard Schools. Those who were teaching moved to other residences. At that time, the Redemptorists rented the convent for college seminarians, studying at local colleges. These students were discerning their vocation to the priesthood. The name of the building changed to ‘Liguori House.’

When the decision was made to send the college seminarians to universities in New York the building became available for parish ministries. And so we referred to the building as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ And when we were lost for a name for this building, we simply referred to it as the ‘Former Convent.’ But now – The parish offices will remain in the south end of the building so we will continue refer to the south end as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ However, the Redemptorist theology students will occupy the north end, west end and second floor of the building. And now we will also refer to the building as ‘The Theology Residence.’ It might be confusing but we’ll get used to it.

Many people have asked: “What can I do to help?” There are many things to do before the seminarians arrived. But first, let me extend a “thank you” to the many people who have worked in ‘The Theology Residence’ over the past weeks. There were contractors bringing the building up to date. There were painters, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, carpenters and carpet layers. Many volunteers cleaned the kitchens and meeting rooms. In the next two weeks the contractors will be finishing their work. On July 27th there will be a final ‘clean up’ work day. We will need many people to prepare the bedrooms for occupancy.

The Redemptorists of the Denver Province have paid for all the contracted work that has been done to the building. The parish has not paid for the construction work. Now, many people have offered to buy items for the rooms. First let me thank the Altar Society/Holy Name. This organization bought a commercial washer and dryer for The Theology Residence. Thanks much!

We are also inviting people to sponsor, or co-sponsor a bedroom. We have 22 bedrooms. The sponsor and/or co-sponsor will provide bedding, towels, blanket, comforter/bed spread. We ask that the sponsors deliver these items to the parish office no later than July 25th. Then, on July 29th, the final ‘clean up’ day, we will clean the rooms and make the beds. On August 1st, or soon after, we will welcome the seminarians.

A New Yorker driving through Texas stopped in a small town for a bite to eat. As he was crossing the street, a powerful gust of wind from the West almost knocked him over. Staggering inside, he asked the restaurant owner. “Does the wind blow that way all the time?”

“No,” said the owner, “Sometimes it comes from the other direction.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss,R.