From the Desk of
Fr. James E. Shea, C. Ss. R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
A middle aged man suffered a heart attack and died. His brother was distraught. He called his parish priest. informing Father of his brother’s death and asking if the funeral Mass
could be at the parish church. Father knew the dead man’s reputation around town. He was a miserable husband, an abusive father, a cutthroat businessman and a mean boss. In
fact, both brothers lived a life of scandal throughout the community. Father was a bit taken aback, wondering how he could celebrate a funeral Mass for such a disreputable man.
The brother then added, “Father, l would like to have you mention at the funeral Mass that my brother was a saint.” Now, Father was in a real quandary. Everyone knew this man was
more like the devil. Father thought for a moment. If he called this man a saint, he’d be telling a flat out lie.
Realizing that Father was hesitant, the brother tried to persuade the priest with a financial gift. The brother said, “Father, if you call my brother a saint during the funeral Mass. I will give you
$5,000 toward the new banquet hall you are building.” Father thought a moment and accepted the deal. The brother wrote the check. The priest rushed to the bank to make sure that. the
At the funeral the priest said, “Everyone knows that this man was a ruthless cutthroat and a callous scab head. However, compared to his brother. he was a saint!”
Next Saturday we celebrate the feast of All Saints. Normally, All Saints day is a holyday of obligation. Bishops have the authority to dispense with a holyday. Since the feast falls on a
Saturday this year, the bishops declared that it is not a holyday of obligation. We still celebrate the feast of All Saints but we are not obligated to attend Mass. The following day is the feast
of All Souls. All Souls feast day has never been a holy day of obligation. Since the feast day falls on a Sunday this year, we will remember our loved ones who have gone home to Our
Father in heaven.
The eve of All Saints is known as Halloween. Did you know that Halloween has a capital? Anoka, Minnesota, calls itself the ‘Halloween Capital of the World.’ Anoka was the first city in
the United Slates to put on a Halloween celebration that discourages people from playing tricks or causing trouble. ln1920, a weeklong celebration was started in Anoka in an effort
to take the trick out of trick-or-treat. Whether the ‘trick’ has been removed from ‘treat or treat’ we all know that the kids love the candy treats as they move from house to house.
This Sunday is known as Priesthood Sunday. in 2002 St. John Paul II initiated this day. Speaking to priests he extended a challenge to us. He said. “Do not be afraid…to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the. Good News of
salvation in the squares of cities. towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:16). It is the time to preach it from the. rooftops (cf. Mt 10:27).Do not be
afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern “metropolis”. It is you who must “go out into the byroads” (Mt 22:9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:15-16).” On this Priesthood Sunday, let us hold all priests in prayer as they bring Christ to the marketplace.
A young man went to the flower shop to buy roses for his girlfriend. For a long time he just stared at the roses. The clerk finally asked if she could help. “Well,” he said, “my
girlfriend is celebrating her 19th birthday. I’m wondering if I should give her a dozen roses or 19 roses, one for each year of her life.” The clerk said, “Look at it this way. She might
be your 19 year old girlfriend now. But someday she could be your 50-year-old wife.” The young man quickly decided to give his girlfriend a dozen roses.
‘The greatest law is the law of love.“ This weekend our gospel message speaks about love. Our Lord reminds us to love one another as He has loved us. Death notices normally
speak about the qualities of the deceased and the love he or she had for family and friends. Death notices frequently encourage family and friends to make a donation to a favorite
charity in memory of the deceased. Here is a unique request, written at the end of a woman’s death notice. “Respecting the wishes of the deceased, in lieu of flowers or contributions, the family suggests you do a random act of kindness for a stranger.” Surely. this woman taught her
family the true meaning of love and kindness.
Last weekend was a historic weekend for St. Gerard parish…the first women’s A.C.T.S. retreat in our parish. Twenty nine women, most of them who are. parishioners of St. Gerard. attended the retreat at Antonian Retreat House. A team of 26 women led the retreat. Mitzy Clark was the
director with JoAnn Orozco and Linda Enriquez as co-directors. Team members came from St. Gerard parish. Our Lady of Grace parish, St. Benedict’s parish and St. Helena‘s
parish. The women on retreat came from many parishes and even from other cities.
When the women returned from the retreat, we celebrated a Mass at St. Gerard. Well. the Holy Spirit was alive and well. The church was filled; standing room only. All voices were
singing praises to God. We shook the foundation as we shouted out “God is good’ and sang “How great is our God.” Congratulations to the women on team who met for two and a
half hours every Tuesday for 13 weeks preparing themselves for this eventful weekend. That’s a lot of preparation time. And that’s what makes the A.C.T.S. retreats so successful – people
working together out of love for God and one another. Congratulations to the 29 women who completed the retreat.
A little boy was peering into a store window. He was barefooted and dirty. his clothes quite tattered and worn. A young woman happened by. Her heart melted as she looked at
the boy. She said, “Come with me.” She escorted him into the store where she bought him a pair of shoes. a pair of jeans and a new shirt.
When they stepped outside the boy asked, “Ma’m, are you God?” “No,” the woman said, “just one oi’ his children.” The little boy responded, “I knew you had to be some relation.”
Fr. Jim Shea CSsR
A candidate for city council was campaigning from door to door. He happened to visit a house of a grouchy-looking fellow. After the candidate’s short speech, the fellow said. “Vote for you!!!
Why, I’d rather vote for the devil.”
“I understand,” said the candidate. “But in case your friend is not running, may I count on your support?”
We could always count on his support. Yes, Loyd LeBlanc was always available to play the organ or piano for Sunday liturgies, novenas. weddings or funerals. Loyd always said, “Yes. I’ll help.”
French are great cyclists. The Tour de France is the greatest race of all. While watching the French team you will notice the domestique also known as the servant riding behind the main
rider. The domestique will not win the race. Yet, mile after weary mile he pedals on. His job is to shield the top cyclist who will win the race. The domestique will receive no trophy, no medal or no credit. The one whom he enabled throughout the race will receive the crown.
“Holy Service” is all about becoming a domestique for Christ and our fellow travelers. We serve the Lord, expecting no credit in return.
The year was 1969. Father Joe Greenwell was pastor at St. ‘Gerard. On April 27 Father published this notice in the bulletin:
‘If any parishioner would like to help out our organist now and then by playing for various services please contact Marlene Clemmons or the rectory. Loyd LeBlanc, a faithful bulletin reader, saw the notice and offered his services. Loyd began to fill in for Marlene at Sunday Masses. When his mother was seriously ill he didn’t play the organ because he wanted to devote his time to his mother. After his mother went home to the Father, Loyd began
playing the organ, and then piano, on a regular basis. Loyd became a member of St. Gerard parish when he was a young boy in first grade. Loyd attended St. Gerard elementary school for
eight years. He then attended St. Gerard high school for two years before attending Central Catholic where he graduated. Following high school Loyd attended St. Mary’s University for five years, earning two degrees – music and education.
For a very brief period of time, like two months, Loyd applied himself as an elementary school teacher, Then he was offered a fulltime job as an accountant with the company which is now
known as Vulcan Material Company. Loyd worked for this company for 39 years, taking early retirement so he could devote more time in caring for his aging mom.
After his mother passed Loyd was available on a regular basis to play the organ or piano at St. Gerard. Occasionally he would play the organ at O,L.P.H. Loyd felt that he did not need to be
compensated for his services since he received a generous retirement plan from his company. So, for many years, Loyd donated his services to St. Gerard and O.LP.H.
Many athletes dream about retiring as a winner. Loyd said, that tendonitis and arthritis were finding a home in his shoulder, arm and fingers. It was becoming more and more difficult to play those instruments. So, as Loyd said, “I decided to retire on a winning note.”
We have no idea how many times Loyd has played the organ/piano at St. Gerard. However, every time he played it was ‘Holy Service’ as he became a domestique for Christ. We at St.
Gerard have been very blessed to have received Loyd’s special musical talent f’or all these years. And now, he retires on a winning note.
So. it is time to celebrate. On Saturday. November 1. which is All Saints Day, we will honor Loyd at the 5:00 p.m. Mass, then we’II move over to the cafeteria for some drinks and a delicious
meal. Thank you Loyd and many blessings to you.
It has been said that Christopher Columbus was definitely the world’s most amazing salesman. He started out not knowing where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where
he was, so when he got back, he couldn’t say where he had been. And he did it all on a big cash advance. And to top it off, he got a repeat order.
Columbus .Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. This day has been unofficially celebrated in a number of
cities and states as early as the 18th century but did not become a federal holiday until 1937. We always celebrate Columbus on the second Monday of October. This year, it will be on
Monday, October 13th.
On Thursday, October 16, we celebrate ’Bosses Day.’ Boss’s Day is dedicated to all employers. It is a day to remind us that we must improve the relationship between employers and staff. The idea for National Boss Day began in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, registered the holiday with the United States Chamber of Commerce. She designated October 16 as the special day because it was her father’s birthday. Haroski’s purpose was to designate a day to show appreciation for her boss and other bosses.
Thursday is also the feast day of St. Gerard Majella. He was born in Muro, Italy, the youngest of five children. He was the son of a tailor who died when Gerard was twelve, leaving the
family in poverty. His mother then sent Gerard to her brother so that he could teach Gerard to sew and follow in his father’s footsteps. After four years apprenticeship, he took a job as a servant to work for the local Bishop. Upon the bishop’s death Gerard returned to his trade, working first as a journeyman and then on his own. His earnings he divided between his mother and the poor, and in offerings for the souls in purgatory. He tried to join the Capuchin Order. but his health prevented it. He joined the Redemptorists, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1749. He professed his vows, becoming a Redemptorist Brother.
During his life, St. Gerard was very close to the peasants and other outsiders who lived in the Neapolitan countryside. In his work with the Redemptorist community he was gardener,
sacristan, tailor, porter, cook and carpenter.
At age of 27, St. Gerard became the subject of a malicious rumor. An acquaintance named Neria accused him of having had relations with a young woman. When confronted by Alphonsus
Liguori, the founder, regarding the accusations, the young lay brother remained silent. The girl later recanted and cleared his name.
Some of the miracles attributed to St. Gerard include: restoring life to a boy who had fallen from a high cliff; he blessed the scanty supply of wheat belonging to a poor family, and it lasted
until the next harvest; several times he multiplied the bread that he was distributing to the poor. One day he walked across the water to lead a boatload of fishermen through stormy waves to the safety of the shore. He was reputed to have had the gift of bilocation and
the ability to read consciences. He prayed that women would have a healthy childbirth. He is known as the patron of pregnant women.
St. Gerard’s last will consisted of a small note on the door of his cell saying, “Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills.” He died on October 16, 1755 of tuberculosis, at the age of 29.
On Thursday, October 16th, 29 women will go to Antonian for their ACTS retreat. On that evening we will celebrate a Mass at 7:00 p.m to honor St. Gerard and to ask for God’s blessing upon the women’s ACTS retreat.
Fr. Jim Shea. C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
While visiting Athens, Greece, on a hot afternoon, an American tourist was confused with the flow of traffic. Cars, motor coaches and trucks were jumping from lane to lane. Motor scooters squeezed between the lanes of vehicles. Everyone was in a hurry. It appeared to the tourist that total chaos reigned on the streets of Athens. Where did these people learn to drive! So, our American friend asked a police officer, why Athens’ traffic was so
disorderly? “Well,” the officer said, “in some countries they drive on the right side of the road; in others they drive on the left. Here, we drive in the shade!”
Returning from a pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey, I can vouch
for disorderly traffic. It seems that everyone is in a hurry; they jump lanes; they squeeze into tight spaces and the scooters slip between cars. Then they park the motor scooters on the side walk.
Two years ago, Father Anthony Nachef invited me to be a chaplain on a Greece/Turkey Pilgrimage. The pilgrims would visit the places where St. Paul preached during his missionary journeys. I welcomed the invitation St. Paul preached in many cities and villages. Paul would enter the town square, step into the Temple which was dedicated to a god, and begin preaching about
the one true God who sent His son, Jesus Christ to redeem the people. The local citizens took offense as they heard Paul speak about the real God rather than their temple god. So they drove him out of the temple area; they stoned him. They threw him into prison. They called him ugly names, but Paul kept coming back. With the grace of God he walked from temple to temple
preaching. What courage that man had! Nothing would stop him from preaching the good news.
I had the opportunity to visit those cities and villages where Paul
preached. I, along with three other priests and ten lay people,
traveled to Thessalonika, Philippi, Corinth and Ephesus. In Paul’s
time, those were thriving cities.
Today, those cities, as Paul knew them, have been reduced to ruins. Those cities were built by Roman slaves. The slaves quarried stone out of the nearby mountains to build their temples, gymnasiums, theaters, shops and homes. Over the years, earthquakes, battles, fires or vandalisms has destroyed the cities. Oftentimes, the people would rebuild over the ruins. Today. all we
see is stone ruins. Those ruins tell the story of life in Paul’s days.
Because of excavations we are able to see the foundation outlines of the temples, shops and homes. all were built with stone.
Because the people built all buildings out of stone, we can still see the foundations of buildings where people lived thousands of years ago. There were many high lights on the trip. We visited the Orthodox monasteries built high up on volcanic formations. Some say that these monasteries are suspended in mid-air. We visited the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many believe she spent her last days in this home overlooking the town of Ephesus in Turkey. We stood in the presumed arenas and theaters where Paul preached. Most of all, I now have a picture in my mind, of St. Paul, daring to speak to the people about the true God while the town folks believe in their temple gods. Paul was indeed an amazing man. And I thank Fr. Anthony and others who invited me to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul.
While I was on pilgrimage, Southwest Sound demonstrated a new microphone system. I’ve asked people for feedback. I want to know if it is feasible to invest in this system. So, I ask all those who attended the demonstration to tell me – “Is it worth it or not”.
The garden area in front of the church entrance is slowly taking shape. The flagstone walk way is finished. Shrubs, brushes and flowers will be planted in the grassless areas. Sod will be laid next to the river rock areas. We built a stone pedestal. Now we need to decide which statue should be placed on the pedestal. Will it be the Sacred Heart, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Joseph,
or some other saint? Again, I welcome feedback. Our parishioner Tommy Pawly donated a good portion of this project. Thank you, Tommy.
One day a young Jewish boy asked God, “Lord, is it true that we are your chosen people?” The Lord answered, “Of course. That is true” The boy then asked, “Is it true that we have suffered more than any other people in the world?” The Lord paused, and then said, “Yes, that is true!” After thinking for a
moment, the boy said, “Lord, couldn’t you possibly have chosen somebody else?”
We Redemptorist have entered into a ’season of choosing’. We will be choosing a new provincial government which consists of a provincial, two full time consulters and four part time consulters.
We begin this process by having regional meetings throughout the western half of the U.S. We have chosen five candidates for Provincial and many other candidates for consulters. Last week many Redemptorists met at Oblate. This week others will meet in Wisconsin. Late in October we will meet in Wisconsin to elect our Provincial Government which will serve us for the next four years. For the most part, the candidates are not anxious to serve in administration. They accept these positions because of obedience and their willingness to serve even though they mumble under their breath, “Lord, couldn’t you possibly have chosen somebody else?”
A man had a wonderful idea. Every night when he went to bed he would put his keys in one of his shoes. The next morning. when he put on his shoes, his toes would hit those keys. He would take out his keys and say this little prayer: “Lord, I know there is a key to every situation. May I not give up this day until I have found the keys that I need.”
Fr. Jim Shea, C.SS.R.