Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – March 12, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A Dublin television channel selected three young Irish kids to participate in a religious talk show. The three little kids were given one question, “Who is the greatest person who ever walked on earth.” Whichever kid answered correctly would receive a scholarship of $500. One kid was Catholic; another was Lutheran and the third Jewish.

The Catholic kid said that it was St. Patrick. The interviewing host said that was a good answer, but not the correct one. The Lutheran kid said that surely it was Martin Luther. Again the host said it was a very good answer, but not the correct one. Finally the Jewish kid said that it was Jesus Christ. The host was taken back with that answer from a Jewish kid. So the host said, “I am surprised that a young man of your religious background would say Jesus Christ and not Moses. The young boy responded, “Well, in my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business.”

‘Abstinence’ means abstaining from meat. Each Friday during Lent everyone over the age of 14 is strongly encouraged to abstain from meat. Many Americans enjoy a delicious meal with meat. The Church wants us to remember Christ who died for us on a Friday. By denying ourselves on Fridays of a favorite food, especially meat, we will be more apt to remember our Savior who gave His life out of love for us.

This year the feast day of St. Patrick falls on a Friday. Does that mean ‘no corn beef and cabbage’ on Patrick’s feast day? I guess so. When I was living in Kansas City our bishop was an F.B.I. – Foreign Born Irishman. With a little pressure coming from the Irish of Kansas City, Bishop Boland granted a dispension from meat on St. Pat’s day. So,we all enjoyed corn beef and Irish stew.

In the middle of March we celebrate the feast days of three great saints who walked the earth: St. Clement Hofbauer C.Ss.R., Wednesday, March 15th, St. Patrick – Friday, March 17th; St.Joseph – Sunday, March 19th.

Clement Hofbauer was born in Moravia which is now known as the Czech Republic. He was the 9th of 12 children. Clement wanted to be a priest. But, with so many mouths to feed, there wasn’t any money available for education. So, Clement went to work as a baker in a monastery. One day, after serving Mass in the Cathedral, Clement met two ladies. Since it was raining, the ladies were waiting for the rain to pass. Clement politely offered to call a carriage for them. While waiting for the carriage the ladies learned that Clement, along with a friend of his, wanted to be a priest but neither had money for a seminary education. The generous ladies offered to pay for his education as well as the education of his friend Thaddeus.

The two freaks went to Rome where they met the Redemptorists. Both friends were deeply interested in the Redemptorist mission. They joined the Redemptorists. Shortly after ordination the two of them were sent over the Alps to Vienna. They were met with religious opposition and persecution, so they traveled on to Warsaw Poland. There they were given the church of St. Benno.

At St. Benno they opened an orphanage for boys. The two friends had to beg for money to support the orphanage. On one occasion Clement went into a local tavern, asking the customers for a donation. One fellow, a bit intoxicated, leaned over and spat in Clement’s face. Clement took out his handkerchief, wiped the spittle off his face, turned to the culprit and said, “That was for me. Now, do you have something for my boys?” It is reported that the customer gave a donation to Clement.

Clement attracted many young people to the Redemptorist life. Over the years Clement sent Redemptorist  missionaries to Poland, Germany and Switzerland. And from Germany, the Redemptorists came to America.

On Saturday, March 17th, we will be celebrating the feast day of St. Patrick. St. Patrick is the patron said of Ireland. He is certainly one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are probably a bit farfetched. As you know, the Irish have a knack for telling stories, even exaggerating at times.

Then, in the 19th of March we celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a ‘just’ man. Being just means that Joseph was completely open to God’s will for him. He became holy by being obedient to God.

Three great saints – Clement from Moravia, Patrick from Ireland and Joseph from Israel. Each of them filled with the faith in Jesus Christ. St. Clement, St. Patrick and St. Joseph pray for us.

Last weekend I announced that we would publish the dates and places where the Penance services will be. Our church encourages us to receive the sacrament of reconciliation during Lent.

March 24 – Holy Name – 5:30 pm

March 27, Youth – Mission San Francisco (Espada) – 6:30-8 pm

March 28, Spanish-Mission San Francisco (Espada) – 6:30-8 pm

March 29, English-Mission San Francisco (Espada) – 6:30-8 pm

March 18, Spanish – Senyor Santo Nino de Cebu 9 am – 3 pm

March 18, English – Senyor Santo Nino de Cebu 9 am – 3 pm

March 18, St. Benedict 10 am

April 5 , St. Benedict 7 pm

April 4 , St. Gerard 6:30 pm

March 21, St. Michael 7 pm

April 4, St. Jerome 7 pm

April 5, St. Margaret Mary 7 pm

March 29, St. Philip of Jesus 7 pm

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – March 5, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The late George Burns tells about the time he went to Kansas State University to see a multi-lingual computer. He learned that a person could input information in any language and the computer would translate the statement into another language.

George was interested in the Portuguese to English – English to Portuguese. He wanted to see how well the computer could handle this scripture passage: “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

The electronic brain in this marvelous computer immediately delivered an answer: “The whiskey is good, but the meat is spoiled.”

This is the weekend when we hear about temptation. Christ was out in the desert. He was spending time in prayer. Along comes Satan. Now Satan is a clever creature. He attacks the weakness of a person.

Christ was fasting. He was probably famished. So the devil tempted Christ’s appetite with bread, saying “make these stones turn into bread.” Then the devil tempted the Lord with Adventure by telling Christ to “throw himself down and trust God.” Finally the Devil appealed to Ambition – “Worship me, and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.”

Temptation to sin always appears in many different guises. It has a way of persuading us that the sinful behavior will bring about an abundance of happiness. It will quiet our nerves. It will soothe our anxieties. it will bring pleasure to our bodies. The devil is a clever motivator. He promises the world. The he delivers the worst. And then, look what follows: guilt pervades our minds. Our conscience becomes raw. We are restless. We hope no one discovers what we did. We want to go into hiding. We end up being miserable.

When temptation attacks, there are two ways to get rid of it. We can give in or we can counter-attack. Christ counter-attacked the temptations. He drove Satan away. Christ used the power from God to dispel these temptations. We too have that power. It comes to us in prayer. Whenever temptation surfaces, we can turn to prayer. In prayer we discover a new energy and a new power. With that grace we can say “no” to Satan. “Get behind me Satan.”

When Satan tempted Christ there were no witnesses to tell the story. So, Christ himself must have reported the story to his apostles. For some reason he must have felt obliged to disclose to his disciples this moment of struggle and personal weakness. The same tempter who had found a fatal spot of vulnerability in Adam and Eve aimed his thrust against Jesus with deadly accuracy. But Christ rejected that evil and sinful spear.

One Sunday a preacher was expounding on the evils of watching T.V. He encouraged his parishioners to do what he and his family did for Lent. He said, “We put your T.V. in the closet throughout Lent.” The pastor’s wife leaned over and whispered to her best friend, “My husband is right. And I want you to know that it gets awfully crowded and hot in there!”

Last month I wrote to Archbishop Gustavo. Since the Archbishop owns the former convent I wanted him to know that seminarians would be living in the building which was formerly used as the convent. I also asked for his permission to begin exploring possibilities for the relocation of the parish offices.

I received a letter from Archbishop Gustavo. He gave us permission to begin looking at possible locations for our parish offices. He reminded us that we must follow protocol of going through the various departments in the chancery office. When all departs stamp their approval on our project, Archbishop Gustavo will give his permission.

We have gathered the restoration building committee to identify and explore the various options. Throughout this process I will give you weekly updates.

On a mountain climbing expedition the Swiss guide warned an American tourist, “Be especially careful not to fall – it’s a dangerous place. But if you do fall,” he added nonchalantly, “remember to look to the right – the view is breathtaking.”

A blessed Lent to all

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 26, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An American journalist was assigned to the Jerusalem bureau of his newspaper. He rented an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. Every day there would be a Jewish man facing the wall and praying vigorously.

Sine the Jewish man appeared every day at the Wall, the journalist figured there might be an interesting story about this man. So, the journalist went down to the Wall and introduced hiself to the Jewish man. The journalist said, “Sir, I see that every day you come to the Wall and pray. What are you praying for?”

The old man replied, “Well, early in the morning I pray for world peace. Then before noon I pray for the brotherhood of man. Early in the afternoon I take a break. I go home and enjoy a cup of tea. Later in the afternoon I return to the Wall to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.”

The journalist, being quite impressed, asked, “How long have you been coming to the Wall and praying for these intentions?” The old Jewish man said, “Well, about twenty or twenty-five years.” The journalist was amazed. He asked, “How does it feel to come to this Wall for twenty years and pray for these intentions?” “How does it feel?” the old man replied. “It feels like I’m talking to a wall.”

How often we heard our parents say to us as we were heading off to bed, “Don’t forget to say your prayers!” As we begin the season of Lent we will hear about the three suggested practices for lent: prayer, almsgiving and sacrifice. We will be hearing about these practices many times. It is the beginning of Lent. It is a time to go that extra mile in service to the Lord. We must not forget to increase our prayer life and our good deeds, for the Lord is calling us to come closer to Him through prayer and have a compassionate heart for those who are hurting.

We begin Lent with ashes on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular days in our church calendar. People seem to come out of the woodwork to receive ashes. Yes, ashes are important to people. But ashes are only a reminder to fill their days of Lent with prayer, almsgiving and sacrifice.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest or deacon applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Or the priest or deacon will say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Also, we are following the example of the Ninevites. When Jonah said that the Lord would destroy their city unless they changed their ways, they put on sackloth and ashes. Our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts. Ashes reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told, “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that
God is gracious and merciful to those who call oh Him with repentant hearts. His Divine Mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

And the question is – who did the counting? There are 46 days, not 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. What kind of math is that??!! Well, the church has always considered Sunday as ‘little Easter.’ The code of Canon Law states: “Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation.” So, Sundays are not counted as part of our Lenten journey.

Abstinence binds all those over the age of 14. On a day of abstinence no meat is allowed. “No one should lightly be excused” from the laudatory practice of fast and abstinence during the Lenten season.

Ash Wednesday = fast and abstinence. Good Friday – fast and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent – abstinence is strongly encouraged. Throughout the other day during Lent everyone is encouraged to fast now and then – even though it is not obligatory. We are also encouraged to energize our spiritual lives with additional prayers and almsgiving.

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

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 19, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

There was a janitor in a big city bank who was sweeping up the floor of the president’s office after banking hours. A telephone rang and he answered it. The excited voice at the other end of the line demanded, “I want to know what the Federal Reserve Bank discount is, what the prime-paper rate is, and if all these presidential executive orders will be upsetting our currency.” “Mister,” the janitor replied, “I told you all I know about banking when I said, ‘hello.'”

On Wednesday we will be celebrating an unusual feast in the Catholic Church. Most of the time we celebrate the feast days of Jesus, Mary, the apostles or other saints. Occasionally we celebrate the dedication of a basilica. The feast on Tuesday calls our attention to a chair, the ‘Chair of St. Peter.’ Imagine that. A chair. Why would the church give attention to a chair?

Well, down through the centuries popes would give official announcements from a chair. Today, we  speak of endowing ‘chairs’ in universities.

There are three significant pieces of furniture in every church. First, there is the ambo. Some call it the podium or lectern. In church language it is the ambo where the Word of God is proclaimed.

Then there is the altar upon which the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ takes place. In church language it is called ‘transubstantiation.’

The third article in the sanctuary is the chair where the priest sits. In church language it is the ‘Presider’s Chair.’

Speaking of chairs – when we had our last capital campaign there were some folks who donated money toward a new presider’s chair. I heard about a reputable chair builder. So I contacted Walter Lyssy. He was delighted to build us a presider’s chair.

But then he came down with prostate cancer. Well, I waited. After a year of treatments Walter returned to work. I invited some folks to join Walter and myself at St. Jerome’s to look at their presider’s chair. We gave Walter enough ideas. He wanted to build a prototype. After Walter had built the prototype we visited his shop to approve the prototype. We made minor changes. And we decided to have him build the presider’s chair out of mesquite wood.

Archbishop Gustavo has extended his welcome to our Redemptorist theologians. Since Archbishop owns the building I asked him to give his approval of the theologians living in the former nun’s convent. Archbishop also gave our committees permission to begin exploring possible locations for our parish offices. In years to come we hope that the number of theologians will increase. At that time we assume that they would be using the entire building. So, our committees will be hard at work. We will be welcoming ideas.

At the Southern Vermont Art Center, the meadow next to the parking lot was used by a local farmer to pasture cows. The cows were kept in the pasture with a thin, barely visible electric fence. One day some tourists arrived at the Center. They had spent many hours traveling so the wife opened the door of their car to give the dog a breath of fresh air. As soon as the dog saw the cows, the dog immediately gave chase. He hit the electric fence at full gait. He bounced off those wire and went howling into the woods. After an hour of hot pursuit, the owner stuffed his unhappy dog into the car. Just as he was about to leave the owner of the cows drove in. The dog’s owner angrily demanded to know why the farmer hadn’t put up a warning sign on the fence. The Vermonter’s response: “Well, I would have – had I known your dog could read.”

It is a blessing indeed to remain calm in the midst of potential danger. Take for instance the oriental bee keeper. He seldom wears a veil over his face while attending the bees. He remains remarkably calm. He is very deliberate in moving from hive to hive. Even though a bee comes directly toward him, and even lands on his nose he makes no effort to protect himself. Most of us westerners become nervous and combative around bees. Instead of being quiet we make noises. Sometimes we run away, frantically waving our arms. Because of our actions we often times get stung.

Today, we become serious about making a donation to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. Across the Archdiocese the faithful are being invited to make a pledge or donation. Let us surpass our goal this year of 12,210.

In Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 12, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The parishioners were excited. The children were well prepared and dressed in their finest. The Archbishop was coming to their small country parish for Confirmation. During the Confirmation ceremony, the Archbishop asked the children questions. He approached one fidgety girl, asking ‘what is matrimony?’

A bit nervous, the girl rattled off what she memorized from her catechism. “It is a state of terrible torment which those who enter are compelled to undergo for a time to prepare them for a brighter and better world!” The pastor quickly interrupted, exclaiming, “No! No! That isn’t matrimony. That’s the definition of purgatory!”

“Leave her alone,” said the Archbishop. “Maybe she is right. Besides, what do you and I know about marriage?”

Today, February 12th, is ‘World Wide Marriage Day’ I congratulate all couples. I thank you for showing us the gift of love you have for each other. Below is a passage known as: ‘The Hands of Matrimony.’ As you take each other’s hands, you may say this prayer.

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

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

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

An old man got on a bus one February 14, carrying a dozen red roses. He sat beside a young man. The young man looked at the roses and said, “Somebody’s going to get a beautiful Valentine’s Day gift.” “Yes,” said the old man. “My wife.”

A few minutes went by and the old man noticed that his young companion was staring at the roses. “Do you have a girlfriend?” the old man asked. “I do,” said the young man. “I’m going to see her now. I’m bringing her this Valentine’s Day card.”

They rode along in silence. Then the old man rose to get off the bus. As he stepped our into the aisle, he carefully placed the roses on the young man’s lap and said, “I think my wife would want you to have these. I’ll tell her that I gave them to you.”

The old man quietly stepped off the bus. As the bus pulled away, the young man turned to see the old man enter the gates of a cemetery.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 5, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

By  Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A young man stood at the counter of a flower shop. He looked a but confused. The clerk asked if she could help. The young man said, “My girlfriend is turning 19. I can’t decide whether to give her a dozen roses or 19 roses – one for each year of her life.”

The clerk set aside her business judgement and offered the young man some practical advice. She said, “She may be your 19 year-old girlfriend now, but some day she could be your 50-year old wife.” The young man bought a dozen roses.

Next Sunday – February 12th – we celebrate ‘World Marriage Day.’ This coming Saturday = February 11th – we celebrate ‘World Day of the Sick.’ This coming Thursday the whole world has set the day aside for ‘The International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.’

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: Human trafficking is a horrific crime against the basic dignity and rights of the human person. All efforts must be expended to end it. In the end, we must work together – Church, state, and community – to eliminate the root causes and markets that permit traffickers to flourish; to make whole the survivors of this crime; and to ensure that, one day soon, trafficking in human persons vanishes from the face of the earth.

During the past decade, greater attention had been paid to this contemporary form of human slavery which is a global, national and local evil. In 2009, The International Labor Office in Geneva estimated that 12.3 million people live in forced labor, bonded labor and sexual exploitation conditions worldwide, including in the United States. It is estimated that every year 100,000 U.S. children are commercially sexually exploited. Ending contemporary human slavery is a human rights issue which everyone must address.

We could easily overlook this atrocious crime, thinking that it only happens in foreign countries, or in the ghettos. Human trafficking is happening all around us. So, we not only need to become aware of this crime. We also need to show respect to every person, for we are all children of God, created in the image and likeness of God. And above all, we need to pray; pray that the victims of human trafficking will experience the healing love of God.

An elderly couple woke up one morning. The husband reaches for his wife’s hand. She shouts, “Don’t touch me! I;m dead!” The husband barks back, “What are you talking about! Both of us are lying in bed talking. What in the world makes you think that you are dead?” The wife responds, “I know I’m dead because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts.”

We dedicate one day, this coming Saturday, to remember those people who are hurting. Those who are suffering from terminal diseases. Those who have chronic conditions. We remember all of them in prayer.

“Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope love remain, these three remain; but the greatest of these is love.”

An engaged couple applied for their marriage license at City Hall. After they filled out their papers the clerk said, “This license is good for 30 days. “Oh, no, Madam” replied the nervous groom. “We want one that’s ’til death do us part.”

We pray that all married couples will live by the ideals given to us from St. Paul: Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This week let us pray for the victims of human trafficking, all the people who are sick and hurting, and all married couples.

May God bless you all.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 22, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The school principal stepped into the fifth grade classroom. She began testing the students on their biblical history. Looking at a bright eyed boy she asked, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” That boy froze. He began to tremble. He took a defensive stance and blurted out: “I didn’t do it!” The principal was astounded at such a pathetic answer.

Later in the day, the principal happened to see the boy’s mother at H-E-B. She recounted what happened in the classroom. She said, “I was flabbergasted when I asked your son, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho and your son said, “I didn’t do it!” Protecting her son’s innocence, the mother firmly stated, “If my son said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it.”

The next day the boy’s father met with the principal. The principal shared with him what had happened the previous day. “I asked your son who knocked down the walls of Jericho. And your son adamantly exclaimed, “I didn’t do it!” Then I say your wife at H-E-B. I told her what happened and she said, “If my son said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it!” The father calmly said, “Listen, madam, I ain’t much for making trouble around this here school. So tell me, how much did those walls cost?”

Beginning next Sunday, the Catholic Church will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week. Although St. Gerard Catholic elementary school closed its doors in 2001, it is important that we support Catholic education. And so we ask, ‘What is National Catholic Schools Week’? Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week this year is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Shortly after St. Gerard became a parish, plans were put in motion to have a Catholic Elementary School. In 1912, the Sisters of Notre Dame open the doors of St. Gerard Elementary School. Two years later, the Sisters began a St. Gerard High School.

St. Gerard Elementary served the people until 2001, at which time financial straits forced the school to close. St. Gerard High School continues to educate students in the Catholic tradition. Originally, St. Gerard was a parish high school. In 1988 the Archdiocese of San Antonio assumed the responsibility of providing a Catholic education to students on the East side.

The 2017 Archdiocese’s Appeal has begun. Our theme this year is ‘Disciples, Sent by the Spirit.’ The goal for the Archdiocese is $4,500,000. St. Gerard Parish goal this year is $12,121. Last year our parish did not meet this goal. We came up $1, 900 short. So, let’s change things this year.

Your gift to the Appeal will be used exclusively to support the ministries and programs that serve the homeless, provide education and spiritual formation for seminarians and deacons, and provide evangelization and education initiative for youth, young adults, and families in the Archdiocese. Your generous gift to the Appeal is essential in serving Christ’s people in our archdiocesan community.

Looking ahead – March 1st is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. One month later, April 1st we will be celebrating our parish Mission. Father Pete Schavitz will preach the mission. We have a committee preparing for this wonderful event in our parish. Mitzi Clark, Irma Segovia and Bob Gonzales are the point people in preparing for the mission. They will recruit others to handle every aspect in celebrating a successful mission.

On June 27th, 2016, Redemptorists from around the country gathered in St. Louis to celebrate the 150 Anniversary of receiving the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It was Pope Pius IX who entrusted the icon with the Redemptorists. He missioned the Redemptorists to “Make her known throughout the world.”  During the celebration, the Redemptorists were presented with a special painting of the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This icon is a traveling icon. It is visiting every Redemptorist parish, Retreat House or community. We are please to announce that the icon will arrive at St. Gerard this spring.

The icon will be present during our mission. Each night a parishioner, carrying the icon, will lead the procession down the aisle to the sanctuary. Each night the sermon will embrace Mary:

Sunday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Word made Flesh;
Monday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Redeemer;
Tuesday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Great Healer;
Wednesday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Bread of Life;
Thursday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Church.

Seven years ago a mid-night raider helped himself to valuable items within our offices. He ransacked our desks. He strewed papers throughout the offices. He found some valuables. Since then we locked our offices. Our safety consultants informed us that there’s no foolproof protection. At best, we can slow them down.

Since most thieves prefer the darkness of night, the best deterrent is light. So, we installed lights in the front and rear of our Parish Center and Offices. For the past seven years, we have had no incident…until…

Friday the 13th. We discovered that light is not foolproof. In the middle of the night on Friday, January 13th someone entered the Parish Center and took Father Francis’ lap top computer. Then, on Sunday night, January 15th a thief returned. This time the thief turned Fr. Francis’ office upside down, taking his ipad, hard drive, monitor and other valuables. He also rifled through Deacon Joe’s office. He took a projector from his office as well as another projector from the Seelos room. Fortunately, our parish offices were locked and untouched.

There was no evidence of a break in. There was no physical damage to the windows or doors. How did the thief enter? Don’t know. Perhaps a door was left unlocked. Perhaps someone was hiding in one of the many rooms. With many keys having been distributed, perhaps someone found a key to open the Center’s door. So, we must safeguard the keys to the Parish Center. We need to assure the doors are locked when leaving the building. We must do our best to deter another mid-night intruder. Thank you!

Fr.  Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 15, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Children and Elders! Two amusing groups of people! The things they do, the things they say will keep us smiling.

A nine year old boy stood next to the alarm clocks at a check-out counter. he was waiting to pay for his candy bars. The clerk overlooked the kid. She waited on all the adult customers first. Finally, she got around to the youngster. The kid paid for his candy and hustled out to the parking lot where his dad was anxiously waiting. “What took you so long, son?” he asked. The kid said, “The sales clerk waited on everybody in the store before me. But I got even with her.”

“You got even! How’d you do that?” his father asked. With a satisfying grin on his face, the kid said, “While I was waiting next to those alarm clocks, I wound them up and set them. At 4:30 this afternoon, that store will explode with noise.”

While enjoying a cup of tea, two elderly women were fussing about their husbands. The first one said, “I do wish my Leroy would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!” The second woman commented, “Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing. But I broke him of that habit real quick.”

“Broke him of the habit,” exclaimed Leroy’s wife. “How’d you do that?” Elmer’s wife smiled and said, “I simply hid his teeth.”

The children and the elder! How interesting they are! God created every human being. God gave dignity to every person. It is astounding how many people are deprived of their dignity. It happens so frequently amongst the elderly and the children.

Below is an interesting passage from the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bald eagle is a symbol of our national freedom. The bird has protection by law from those who would kill or harm it. In the United States we have a stringent federal law, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, passed in 1940, that protects not only the national bird, the bald eagle, but also that bird’s eggs. If you chanced upon some of those eggs in a nest our in the wilderness, it would be illegal for you to destroy them. If you did so, you would suffer the same penalties and sanctions as if you had shot the adult bird out of the air. By the force of law, we acknowledge the scientific truth that the eagle’s egg (that is to say, the embryonic eagle inside that egg) is the same creature as the beautiful bird that we witness flying overhead. Therefore we pass laws to safeguard not only the adult but also the very youngest member of that species.

Even atheists can see how a bald eagle’s eggs ought to be protected; it’s not a religious question at all. If bald eagles are valuable (in this case, for pragmatic reasons of conservation), then it is right and fitting to protect them at all stages of their existence. The same logic holds for humans, who are valuable not for pragmatic but for intrinsic reasons. It is rather striking how we are able to understand the importance of protecting the earliest stages of various forms of animal life, but when it comes to our own human life, we go through deceptive mental gymnastics to dissociate ourselves from our own very humble embryonic origins. It is indeed a sad commentary on the moral confusion of our times that we readily protect embryonic animals, but are eager to offer up our own human embryonic brothers and sisters for dismemberment on the altar of stem cell sacrifice.

Next Sunday is the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, which legalized abortion. Since the anniversary falls on a Sunday, next Monday, January 23rd, shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” will be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day. This would be a good day to attend Mass as we pray for an end to abortion and to embryonic stem cell research.

Redemptorists priests and brothers life a community life. We take the vow of poverty which means we as individuals do not own material things- like an automobile, a bicycle or golf clubs. All these items belong to the community. But, as members of a community we have an ‘Ad Usum’ agreement. This means that we have permission to use the necessary things in life. For example, the title to the car I drive is under the Redemptorist name, not mine. However, the Redemptorist community allows me to drive this car for my use ‘Ad usum.’ We often say ‘my car, my bike, my golf clubs’ even though in reality they belong to the community.

Redemptorists are located in over 75 countries throughout the world. We are divided into provinces, vice-provinces and regions. A few years ago the Redemptorists added another category to our organizational chart. Where there are several provinces or vice-provinces in one country they will now come under one umbrella which we call ‘Conference.’

The North American Conference has decided to send all Redemptorists students, studying theology to the Oblate School of Theology. That means that these will be 20-25 young Redemptorists coming to San Antonio in August 2017. All the provincials in the Conference have asked to use our Parish Center, the former School Sisters of Notre Dame convent for their residence. So what will happen to our offices and meeting rooms? Well, for the time being we will co-habit. The offices will remain where they are until we create another place to locate them. For the time being we will schedule around each other in the use of meeting rooms.

However, eventually they would like to occupy the entire building. So, we would either restore the school building- with an elevator – for our offices, meeting rooms and classrooms or we would build an office. The Redemptorists in the Conference have indicated that they would help us financially. The Archdiocese has mentioned that there is money in the Texas coffers to preserve and restore historic buildings.

I will be putting a committee together to begin exploring these options. So, stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Martin Luther King said, “I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.”

Fr. JIm Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 8, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Back in the early 1900’s a young man from Mexico Jorge Rodriguez, would frequently slip across the Rio Grande to rob banks in Texas. The Texas Rangers pursued him but could never capture him.

One day a Ranger spotted Jorge crossing the Rio Grande. The Ranger followed the thief to his home where he mingled amongst the folks in the town square. Then, Jorge stepped into the town’s cantina. The Ranger followed. Putting a pistol to Jorge’s head the Ranger shouted, “Jorge, hand over the money you stole or I’ll blow your brains out.”

Not knowing English, Jorge did not understand the Ranger’s command. And the Ranger could not speak Spanish. Both were stymied. Just then, an enthusiastic young man stepped forward and said, “I am bi-lingual. I’ll be happy to translate?”

The interpreter explained to Jorge that he must surrender the money or the ranger would blow his brains out. A trembling Jorge told the interpreter that the money is hidden in the bell tower in the town square. Eight rows up on the north side of the tower, there is a loose brick. The money is behind the brick.

With an enterprising expression on his face, and knowing that no one within earshot was bi-lingual, the interpreter said to the Ranger in perfect English, “Jorge Rodriguez is a brave man. He says that he is ready to die.”

Over the years many folks have crossed the Rio Grande. There are those who came legally and others, illegally. And over the years immigrants came to the U.S. from countries around the globe. For most of us, our parents or our ancestors were immigrants. Some were legal. Others were not. There are laws that control the flow of migration. The Bishops of the U.S. and Mexico, Religious Orders of Men and Women, and various Christian Denominations have addressed the issue of migration. There is no easy solution. One thing we know for sure, ‘building a wall is not the solution.’

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. The Wise Men came from different countries to honor the new born babe before the Holy Family migrated to Egypt. And today we begin to celebrate National Migration Week. This is a week during which we will hear, ‘Lord, when did we see you  a stranger…and not minister to your needs?’ And He will answer, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you do for the least of my people you do for me.’

Scripture is filled with stories of God’s migrant people. In the Old Testament, we witness the Israelites facing famine by crossing into Egypt. Once again in the New Testament,Egypt serves as a place of refuge and safety for the Holy Family as they flee to escape King Herod’s death wish for the Christ Child. We are reminded repeatedly by Jesus, as well as by the prophets, to welcome strangers as we would welcome him. To Jesus, the unity of his people has Eucharistic significance. He teaches us that just as many grains become one bread – His Sacred Body, so too many people become one family of God, the mystical Body of Christ on earth.

Yes, we must learn more about the realities of migration. We must discover what treasures immigrants bring to our country. We must learn how to cooperate and trust. And finally, we must work to reform our current immigration laws that have a way of destroying family unity and creating strife in our communities.

Only a generous and compassionate immigration policy based on a sound system of laws and safeguards will keep our nation strong. Only then will we continue a long tradition of being a beacon of hope for those who come bearing gifts.

Pope John Paul II said, “None are so poor that hey have nothing to give…and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive.”

I once heard of a woman who decided to read the New Testament. She wanted to learn about the redemptive love which Jesus brought to His people. Several months later she was baptized. After baptism she told a friend, “When the priest poured water over my forehead I could feel the Holy Spirit descended on me. I’m glad that I finally got religion. I can see things differently now.Like that brother-in-law of mine whom I hated with a passion. Before baptism I vowed I would never go to his funeral. Now, I’ll be happy to go to his funeral anytime.”

Monday we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist poured water over Jesus. Jesus then came out of the water. The skies opened. The Spirit descended like a dove over them. Then a voice from the heavens was heard to say: “This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him.”

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

Pastor’s Notes – January 1, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

When Noah planted the grapevine, Satan asked,
Hey! Bud! What-cha doing?” “I;m planting a grapevine,” said Noah. “A grapevine!” exclaimed Satan, “What good is a grapevine?”

“it’s the fruit,” said Noah. “The fruit is pleasing to the eye, delicious to the taste and when the grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented, it makes happy the hearts of humans.”

“I’ll give you a hand,” said Satan. “I’ll make sure that the grapevine is well irrigated.” So Satan rounded up four animals – a lamb, a lion, a monkey, and a pig. He killed them all and poured their blood over the roots of the grapevine.

Since that time, whenever the people drink a little wine they become sweet and pleasant as a lamb. If they increase the dosage, they become strong and rough as a lion. It they continue drinking, they become as foolish as a monkey. If they don’t know when to quit, they end up resembling a pig.

This is the week when we say, ‘Goodbye’ to last year and ‘Hello’ to the coming year. We welcome the month of January which is named after the Roman god of doors, Janus. Janus has two heads. He looks forward and backward. On New Year’s Eve, we look forward and back. In doing so, we find ourselves toasting the New Year. May we be like lambs as we give a toast to 2017.

New Years is also a time to begin again with a New Year’s resolution. Here are a few ‘resolution’ gifts:

First- THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION: The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind cheery word to someone. It’s really not so hard to say, “Hello” or “Thank you.”

Second-THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT: We can really brighten someone’s day with a simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “That was a terrific dinner,” or “You did  a super job.”

Third-THE GIFT OF LISTENING: To be a good listener we must REALLY listen. We can listen to another person with no interrupting, no daydreaming and no disrespectful statement like – “I have a better story.”

Fourth-THE GIFT OF APPRECIATION: We can be generous with APPROPRIATE hugs, kisses, and pats on the back. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

Fifth-THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER: We can share our laughter and humor by clipping cartoons, jokes, articles and funny stories. Our gift will say, “I love to laugh with you!”

Sixth-THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE: We can send someone a simple note that says, “Thanks for the help,” or a poem, story, or any kind of upbeat message. The most brief, handwritten note can be remembered for a lifetime, and even change a life. We just never know.

Seventh-THE GIFT OF A FAVOR: Every day, we can go out of your way to do something kind for someone else. There are plenty of opportunities for us to do something nice for a friend, relative, or co-worker on a daily basis. Show the love of Christ with our acts of kindness to others. We can let them see Jesus in us.

Eight-THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE: There are times when we all want nothing better than to be left alone. We can be sensitive to family or friends who need that gift of solitude. Most especially, we can give that gift of solitude to ourselves.

On Thursday, January 5th, we celebrate the feast day of a famous Redemptorist Saint, – St. John Nepomucene Neumann. He was the first American male saint. (Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native born American saint. We celebrate her feast day this coming Wednesday. Once again, a woman outshines a man.)  St. John Neumann was born in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) on March 28, 1811. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 5, 1860 and was canonized in 1977.

St. John Neumann came to the U.S. and was ordained in New York as a diocesan priest. While ministering to the German immigrants in upstate New York, he discovered his need for living within a religious community. He joined the Redemptorists and preached missions in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He became the provincial superior of the Redemptorists in America. Later he was appointed the 4th bishop of Philadelphia.

He always maintained his spirit of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, by caring for the materially and spiritually impoverished as well as living a simple life style himself. On one occasion when he was caught in a rain storm someone suggested that he change his shoes before he caught a cold. John Neumann responded, “The only way I could change my shoes is by putting the left one on the right food and the right one on the left foot and right one on the left foot. This is the only pair I own.”

St. John Neumann was versed in six languages. He learned Gaelic to hear the confessions of teh Irish immigrants. One Irish immigrant commented after hearing John Neumann speak “Isn’t it grand that we have an Irish bishop.”

We begin the New Year with words of thanks to so many people at St. Gerard. To the many people who have done so much at St. Gerard, I say, “Thank You.” To all the people who painted and decorated the cafeteria for our Christmas party, I say, “Thank you.” To all our catechists I say “Thank You.” To all the people who contributed to St. Gerard throughout the year, I say, “Thank you.” To all our volunteers I say, “Thank You.” To all our office help, I say, “Thank You.” To all the people who brought gifts for the less fortunate folks, I say, “Thank you.” For all the Christmas cards, I say, “Thank you.” Two little words. Words filled with mercy and love: THANK YOU.

Clowns have a delightful prayer: “Lord, as I stumble through this life, help me create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that I am a clown, that my work is to cheer people up, make them happy, make them laugh,and make them forget momentarily all the unpleasant things in their lives. Never let me acquire financial success to the point where I will fail to call upon my Creator in the hour of need, or thank him in the hour of plenty.

And in my final moment, O Lord, may I hear you whisper in my ear: ‘When you made MY people smile, you made ME smile.”

Happy New Year,

Father Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.