Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pastor’s Notes July 27, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Three men were arguing over whose profession was first established on earth. “Mine was,” said the surgeon. “The Bible says that Eve was made by carving a rib out of Adam.” “Not at all,” said the engineer. “An engineering job came before that. In six days the earth was created out of chaos. And that was an engineering job.” “Yes,” said the politician. “but who created the chaos?”

This week I am including two statements. The first comes from Archbishop Gustavo as he offers his concern over the immigration issue, especially with the thousands of children at Lackland. The second statement comes from the Feasibility Committee which was studying the possibility of establishing a Cristo Rey High School in San Antonio. There appears to be chaos in both departments.

Statement for the Archdiocese of San Antonio: A Compassionate Response to a Humanitarian Crisis
An international humanitarian crisis requires a thoughtful, comprehensive solution lest hasty or piecemeal actions have serious unintended or even perverse consequences. The surge of undocumented immigrants on our Southwest border from Central America is such a crisis. This is especially true of the unaccompanied minors. Most have fled their homelands because they suffered or faced serious harms. including death, from violence by organized armed criminal actors (local gangs and international drug cartels) and domestic abuse.

We urge the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration to guarantee the human rights of these vulnerable children by continuing to implement the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims
Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. We support only amendments to this law that would truly ensure due process, justice, and humane treatment of these children. Merely sending them back to the violent context from which they have fled is a shameful action.

Recently, Pope Francis sent a message to a Mexican-Vatican Colloquium on Migration and Development held in Mexico City. He said that “a change of attitude towards migrants and
refugees is needed on the part of everyone.” He called upon us to move “away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a “throwaway culture.” Instead, the Holy Father challenged us to foster “attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

These immigrants are people like ourselves, not mere problems or statistics or irritants.  They are our sisters and brothers.  Let us embrace them with traditional American compassion.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller
July 21, 2014

(The Cristo Rey Feasibility Committee sent the following statement to all the people associated in any way with Cristo Rey. Since I wrote about Cristo Rey in the past, I wanted you to be aware that we have terminated the feasibility study.)

Over a year ago the Cristo Rey San Antonio Feasibility Study Committee was formed to assess the need and interest within our community for a Cristo Rey High School. Since then a committed core of individuals has researched and evaluated a variety of requirements including demographics, site availability and selection, corporate-work study partners,
transportation and finances. The Committee made great progress in various aspects of the replication process. We discovered significant interest from the San Antonio business
community. We also identified several local financial backers that remain tremendous in their support and we received the verbal commitment of a religious sponsor – a requirement to open a local Cristo Rey High School.

At this time. however. the Committee has concluded the establishment of a Cristo Rey San Antonio High School is not feasible within the guidelines and timeframes under which we were working. Therefore, we must inform you that effective with this correspondence plans to establish a Cristo Rey San Antonio in 2016 have been terminated. We remain hopeful that a Cristo Rey San Antonio High School will someday join the network family of 26 college
preparatory high schools in major cities throughout the United States. With 20 years of planning and operating experience, the Cristo Rey Network has an outstanding reputation for integrating excellent academics with its unique entrepreneurial work study program which develops its students’ skills, habits and dispositions – attributes necessary
for long term success. We pray that future interests will provide the opportunity to open a Cristo Rey college preparatory Catholic high school to educate children of poverty level families in this community.

We are very appreciative of your support and interest in Cristo Rey. Viva Cristo Rey!

Years after the Civil War, General Lee stopped at a farm in the Shenandoah Valley. A widow pointed to a dead tree near the house. She bitterly stated that the Northern troops
camped out in her yard and killed that majestic tree. She refused to cut the tree down. It stood as a reminder and symbol of her hatred and resentment.

The widow expected General Lee to sympathize with her and talk about the injustices he suffered in the war.  Instead he said, “Cut It sown madam; Just cut It sown today. Don’t let such bitterness take root to poison and contaminate the rest of your life.”

Maybe it is something about northerners. The tree next to our church was fully alive when I arrived six years ago. I camped out next to the tree. This spring the tree died. Unlike the
woman in Shenandoah, we cut it down.

Six men carefully cut the limbs, chunk by chunk and lowered them to the ground. SAFETY FIRST was our top priority. It was a dangerous job as they roped the limbs to the ground
without crashing into the fence, air conditioners or Crape Myrtle Trees. Thank God no one was hurt. Hats off to the tree crew: Daniel Thatcher, Danny Reyes, D.J. Reyes, B.J. Klar,
Larry Klar, James Cazares and Cliff Padalecki.

A slip of the foot you may soon recover from, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes July 20, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A young social studies teacher was applying for a job in a small rural community. He was asked by one of the board members whether he thought the world was round or flat.  Eager to get the job, he replied, “Sir, I can teach it either way.”

There are many ways to achieve a goal. There are many roads that lead to Rome. There are many ideas and suggestions that surface amongst a group of people. In a church. those ideas abound. Here is one.

During our church restoration some questions were raised, “Why do we have the tabernacle sitting on the side altar and the statue of St. Gerard, our patron saint, standing in the alcove
where hardly anyone can see him?” Well, someone made those decisions. At that time, it made sense. But now, I want to
suggest a change.

There is an insightful remark which is bandied amongst the clergy. It is `what one pastor builds another tears down.’ In some cases, that is true. However, after Vatican II many pastors tried to re-arrange their churches in a way that would express the spirit of the Council Fathers. Some churches can easily be re-arranged. The architectural beauty of other churches is destroyed when major changes are introduced. How often we hear people say, “It doesn’t look like a church anymore.” Or, “They destroyed our church.”

It has been our intention to preserve the original glory of St. Gerard Church throughout restoration. All the work that has been accomplished has added to the beauty of the church. We want to continue adding to the beauty.

During the celebration of the Mass, there are three focal points in the sanctuary – the altar. the ambo and the presider’s chair.  Outside of Mass the focal point is the tabernacle where we place the consecrated hosts – the body of Christ. Many months ago we replaced the carpeting with vinyl wood plank. The wood plank in the center aisle flows toward the sanctuary. In the sanctuary, the travertine stone highlights the sacred area of the church where Mass is celebrated. So, the question came up, “If everything in our church points to the sanctuary, should we not place the tabernacle in the sanctuary?”

Some thought that Vatican II required that the tabernacle be placed off to the side, or away from the main altar. We checked with The General Instruction of the Roman Missal.  It reads:
In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.  With those guidelines in mind, it was suggested that we build an ornate enthronement unit between the altar and the back wall. There are three marble pillars on each side of the altar. The umt would be between the last two pillars. On that enthronement unity we could enthrone the tabernacle and the book of the gospels. And, to make that unit truly noble, prominent and conspicuous~ we build the unit out of mesquite and place it high enough so that anyone, from any point in the church, can see it.

Some time ago I mentioned how a man is building a presider’s chair and two smaller chairs next to the presider’s chair. To round out the furniture, I suggested that we design an ambo, or lectern which will match the other furniture in the sanctuary.

So, I asked Stan – the man who built the pews – to design a unit on which we can enthrone the tabernacle and the book of the gospels, and also to design an ambo. Below are the
designs. Before we proceed further, I would like your thoughts and reactions.


A unit to be placed behind the altar


An ambo









Our landscaping committee has met and decided upon the garden area on either side of the concrete approach to the church.  There will be an area for our parishioners to plant flowers.  Shrubs will be planted against the foundation of the church – where the old ones died.  Part of the area will be grass.  Also, through the generosity of Tommy Pawly, we will install a flag stone path through the garden area to the side walk.  There will be a flag stone spur which leads from the path to a concrete stand.  In other churches we often see a statue of the patron saint, or the Sacred Heart, or the Blessed Virgin.  Our parishioners can decide on which statue they’d like to see on that stand.  There’ll be a large stone next to the path so people can sit down and reflect in front of the statue.

Next week I will write about the sound system in church. We need feedback. It is absolutely necessary to hear the Word of God. If people cannot hear. then we must take action to correct the matter.

A preacher said to the kids. “If all the good people in the world ‘were red and all the bad people were green, what color would you be.” Little Linda Jean thought for a moment and said, “Reverend, I’d be streaky.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R

Pastor’s Notes July 13, 2014

Father Jim Shea

Father Jim Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Years back Pepper Rodgers coached the U.C.L.A football team.  One season was a disaster.  Game after game the team lost.  Pepper felt terrible.  He seemed to be in a downcast mood day after day.

One evening he came home from the office deeply depressed.
He said to his wife, “Everyone seems to be against me, even
you. I feel that I have only one friend – my dog. Every man
ought to have at least two friends.” His wife agreed. She went
out and bought Pepper another dog.

We are approaching the dog days of summer. That’s an
unusual title for those hot, sultry and muggy days in the middle
of summer. But why call them dog days? Well. Webster
dictionary defines ’dog days’ as…’the period between early
July and early September when the hot sultry weather of
summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere. It is a
period of stagnation or inactivity.’

During July and August it happens that the brightest of the stars
is shining at the same time as the sun shines. Some ancients
believed that the star added heat to the sun, thus causing sultry
and muggy weather on earth.

That star which appears in the sky during July and August is
called Sirius, named after the ancient god Osirus. Osirus’ head
resembled a dog. So, the ancient Egyptians called Sirius “dog

Since we are approaching the dog days of summer, let’s reflect
on a few characteristics of dogs. Sir Walter Scott once threw a
rock at a stray dog. hoping to chase it away. His throw was
stronger than he intended. He hit the dog and broke his leg.
Instead of running away, the dog limped up to him and licked
his hand. Scott said, “That day I truly understood the words of
Jesus as that dog preached the Sermon on the Mount to me.”
Rob Gilbert wrote the following: “On a fall afternoon, I was
walking in a residential section of lower Manhattan. I passed
by a man walking his dog. I noticed that the dog was wearing

I asked, “Why is your dog wearing shoes?” The elderly man
said, “Oh, the dog is so old that all the padding on his paws
have been worn off. The shoes give him the padding he needs.”
I asked the man, “How old is your dog?” The man smiled and
said, “He is fifteen and one half. I have had him since he was a
pup.” Knowing the short life time of a dog I was amazed at his
age. So, I said, “What is your secret? You ought to write a
book how to add years to a dog’s life.”

And the elderly man said, “That book would be very short.
I have only one secret. I really love my dog.”

Doctor James Dobson read the following poem on his
radio program Focus on the Family:

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy
to give you any time,
If you can forgive your friends for their lack of
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on
you when, through no fault of your own, something goes
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never
correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have
no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,
Then, my friend, you’re almost as good as your dog.

This is what Ann Landers said that ‘dogs do for us’
They: catch Frisbees; keep a night alone from being truly
lonely; get us outside on beautiful fall days, rainy days,
and snowy winter days; listen to our singing; treat us like
celebrities when we come home; warm up our beds on
cold nights; make our hearts more vigorous; alert us to
the arrival of the mail; help us live a little longer; make
us smile; agree with everything we say; warm our knees
with their chins; provide a use for old tennis balls; signal
when a thunderstorm is coming; pull sleds; help lower
our blood pressure; test how fast we can run; keep the
squirrels from overtaking our yards; teach us the meaning
of unconditional love.

The African Impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet
and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these
magnificent animals can be kept in an enclosure in any
zoo with a 3 foot wall. The animals will not jump if they
cannot see where their feet will fall.
Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with
faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that
only fear allows to entrap us.

Fr. Jim Shea