From the Desk of:
Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
In a small Russian shtetl, the community decides to pay a poor Jew a ruble a week to sit at the town’s entrance and be the first to greet the Messiah when he arrives. The man’s brother comes to see him, and is puzzled why he took such a low-paying job. “It’s true, the poor man responds, the pay is low. But it’s a steady job.”
This weekend we begin the season of Advent. It is a time for waiting, waiting for the messiah. But we as Christians, unlike the Jews, believe that the messiah has already come two thousand years ago. We also believe that the messiah will come again at the end of time.
When we read the Old Testament we meet many people who are anxiously awaiting the messiah. During this time of Advent we want to experience the spirit of expectancy just like the Old Testament people did. After waiting for four weeks we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Our church has given us this season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting and preparing. During Mass the priest wears purple vestments. We do not sing the Gloria. We have special Penance services.
My brother lives in Green Lake country, Wisconsin. Many Amish people live nearby. My brother has befriended many Amish. He also has introduced me to them. The Amish religion is based on the New Testament, with an emphasis on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Amish do not have a church. Their home is their church. All worship services take place in the
home. The pastor is chosen by lot from among the men.
On the day of worship a big black. wagon full of benches is driven to the designated home. All the worshipers gather in that home. No one knows in advance who will preach the morning sermon. The leader is chosen by lot or by last minute consensus.
One wonders how a person, chosen by lot at the last minute would be prepared to lead the worshipers in prayer and with a sermon. The Amish have a very simple answer to that concern.
Everyone comes prepared.
So it is with Advent in our church. We constantly prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. When Christmas comes we hopefully will be able to say, “We are prepared.”
We encourage everyone to prepare themselves by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Many call it confession. or penance.
We use the term penance service to identify the service in which we pray, listen to scripture readings, and then go to confession. We also call it the sacrament of reconciliation. Each neighboring church has an Advent Penance Service. Our Penance Service at St. Gerard will be on December 8th. Yes, December 8th, the feast of Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. On that evening we will celebrate our Mass of obligation at 7:00 p.m. Immediately after Mass, there will be four priests hearing confession.
We often hear people say, “I don’t need to go to confession.” Hearing that, we assume that the person is perfect. To the best of my knowledge, only Jesus Christ and his mother Mary were perfect. Others say “I confess straight to God.” If that is the case then that person belongs to some other church because the Catholic Church teaches auricular confession which means
speaking to the ear of the priest.
So, plan to receive the special graces of the sacrament on December 8th. We all need to refuel our lives with those graces so that we can live the faithful life.
We just got word that three well known saints in heaven, Ignatius, Dominic and Alphonsus, were caught in a vicious argument. Each of these saints had founded a religious order while on earth. And now they were fighting it out, tooth and nail, over which religious order is the best in the business.
St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits. The Jesuits dedicate their lives to teaching. All the members of the Jesuits carry the initials S.J. after their names. S.J. means Society of Jesus. St. Dominic founded the Dominicans. Dominicans dedicate their lives to preaching the Word of God. Members of the Dominican order carry the initials of 0.P after their names. O.P, means Order of Preachers. Then there was St. Alphonsus who founded the Redemptorists. Redemptorists are best known as missionaries preaching the Good News to the poor. Redemptorists have the initials C.Ss.R after their names which stands for Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Ignatius, Dominic and Alphonsus argued for days. Each claimed to be the greatest. They finally decided to find out what God thought of their religious orders. The three of them had a meeting with God. God listened intently. Then God told the three saints that He wanted to pray over the matter would email each of them with an answer.
After a period of time God emailed each of them, saying, I applaud each of you for the fine work you accomplished on earth. Each of you founded a notable religious order. I am proud of the Jesuits, Dominicans and Redemptorists. You are all number one in my books. May your men continue the good ‘works you began! And I bless you and them. Love, God C.Ss.R.
We’d almost expect God to say that the Jesuits were best since our Pope is a Jesuit. Or, perhaps the Dominicans were best since over the years there were four Dominicans who became a pope. No Redemptorist was ever elected as pope.
Religious orders, there are many of them. The people in these religious communities are men and women who are living The Consecrated Life. Jesuits, Dominicans and Redemptorists are
just a few. Religious orders begin when a man or woman with a vision is called to address a need in our Catholic Church. They gather people who are interested in serving that specific need.
Pope Francis is a Jesuit. He is a man who is living the consecrated life. When he spoke to all the superior generals of religious communities he announced that 2015 will be a year of
the consecrated life. The year of consecrated life would begin on the first Sunday of Advent, 2014 and conclude February 2. 2016.
In the Year of Consecrated Life Pope Francis encourages all religious to wake the world with their witness. Steven Warner was commissioned to write a song in honor of the Year of
Consecrated Life. The title of the song is: Wake the world with dawning joy.
Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life:
O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who Iives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spint, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I never met a good listener I didn’t like.
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.
Download the St. Gerard Bulletin for November 23, 2014.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
An Englishman and an American were deep in discussion about the accomplishments in their countries. The American proudly said. “We in America single out the last Thursday of November
to give thanks to God for the many blessings we have received.” The Englishman said, “We too celebrate a thanksgiving. But we celebrate September the 6th.” “Why September 6th?” asked
the American. The Englishman sharply quipped, “Cuz that’s the day the pilgrims left England and we were delightfully grateful to see them go.”
It was President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who proclaimed the last Thursday of November as the day set apart for the national giving of thanks to our God. Lincoln said that the day of giving
thanks was not in response to military victory but in gratitude for a year filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. He said, “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the precious gifts of
the Most High God.”
Long before Lincoln introduced the national holiday, the pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony celebrated a day of thanks. The Mayflower landed in New England in December, in the cold of
winter. During that first harsh New England winter, ninety were sick at one time and only seven were well enough to move around and care for the others. One by one they died: wives, husbands, and children, and they laid them in the frozen earth. Fifty one out of 102 died that first year. Yet, on that first Thanksgiving Day, they found so much to be thankful for.
In the midst of our own worries and fears. we too can follow the example of the early pilgrims by returning thanks to God for the many blessings in our lives. On Thanksgiving Day we will
celebrate one Mass at 9:00 a.m. What a wonderful way to place God up front before we delve into our turkey dinners and football games. Can you join us for one hour as we praise our God and give thanks?
On this Thanksgiving I want to say “Thank You” to all our parishioners. You. have used your talents to bring a grand spirit to our parish. You have welcomed others to our parish. You have
served each other well in liturgical ministries, in meetings, in prayer, in song, in retreats, in teaching, in decorating and maintaining church environment, in laundering altar linens, in
landscaping and especially in celebrating together the greatest of all thanks, The Holy Euchanst. Thanks to everyone.
Many years ago two young men were working their way through Stanford University. To help pay their tuition they decided to sponsor a piano recital. They Invlted fellow students at discount ticket prices to attend. They booked the famous pianist from Poland, Ignacy Paderewski. Paderewski’s fee was $2,000. Unfortunately the young men only managed $1,600 in gross income from the recital.
They gave Mr. Paderewski the $1,600 along with a promissory note for the balance. Mr. Paderewski tore up the promissory note and returned the money to the young men. He said,
“Cover your expenses from the $1,600, then take 10% for each of you and send the balance to me.” How grateful they were for Mr. Paderewski’s understanding and generosity.
Years went by. World War I came and went. Paderewski became the premier of Poland. Now he was faced with thousands of polish people starving to death. How was he going to feed them? Paderewski realized that only one person could help. That was Herbert Hoover who was in charge of the Food and Relief Bureau in the United States. He contacted Herbert Hoover and Hoover graciously sent tons of food to Poland.
Sometime later Hoover was attending a meeting in Paris. .Paderewski flew to Paris to thank Hoover for the food. Hoover then replied, “That’s all right. Mr. Paderewski` . Besides you
probably don’t remember but you helped me when I was in trouble as a student at Stanford University” (A sincere thanks will go around and come around).
It was the day after Thanksgiving. The shoppers were out in full force. As many folks scurried throughout the department store, a young boy stood next to an escalator, staring at the
moving handrail, Noticing that the boy was motionless for several minutes, a saleswoman asked him, “Little boy, are you feeling sick?” Without taking his eyes off the moving handrail,
the boy said. “Oh, no, madam. I am just waiting for my bubble gum to come back.”
Our parishioner Effie Williams has spent a good portion of her life working with the elderly, especially the home-bound. During the Christmas seasons she noticed how many homes had
no Christmas tree or Christmas decorations. She realized that the elderly were unable to decorate a tree or hang Christmas lights.
Effie wants to bring Christmas joy to the homes of the home-bound. She knows that many people are anxious to help others during this Christmas season. So she is introducing a program called: Bringing Christmas joy to the home-bound.
This is how the program will work. First, if you are a home-bound person. or if you know of a home-bound person who could use help in decorating the home, then please call Effie.
Secondly, if you are a Good Samaritan who would like to decorate a tree, hang Christmas lights or even send a Christmas card for a home-bound person, then please call Effie. Effie Williams will match two of you together.
Terry Fox was a Canadian distance runner. He lost a leg to cancer. He continue mulling with a prosthesis. He decided to run across Canada to raise money for the Cancer Society.
He began his cross country jaunt at St. John’s Newfoundland. Each day he nearly ran the distance of a marathon. He frequently met with businessmen and athletes to raise money.
When he reached the city of Thunder Bay, after running for 143 days, he was forced to stop. His cancer had reached his lung. The reporters who had followed him would frequently asked how
he was doing. Terry would always respond by saying, “I am thankful to God for giving me another day.” On June 28, 1981 Terry died. (God has given each of us another day. So, thank
God and Make Today Count).
You men can make another day count by attending the Catholic Men’s Conference on Saturday, February 21, 2015, at the Norris Conference Center. Four prominent speakers will challenge us to become the man God created.
This conference sold out the last two years. Here’s a chance to sign up early. Call with credit card ($45 Off)) 210-521~ 3377. Or fill out the flier in back of church and mall in your registration.
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.
From the Desk of:
Fr. Gary Ziuraitis, C.Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
The Scripture readings this week, extol the gifts that women and wives bring to the Church, the awareness that all of us should have in being ready to give account of our gifts…and the exhortation of Jesus’ parable to not bury our gifts and use them to earn “interest” and multiply goodness in the world. Most of the time I bet we use this parable to judge ourselves as to whether we are using our talents to give light to all and for the benefit of others. But I would suggest a further interpretation. I would propose that we also have to sometimes overcome long held perceptions of one another. Especially within parish groups. Because of our long association with each other, sometimes going all the way back to grade school, we can
pigeon-hole people and be a roadblock to their using and manifesting their talents. In effect, we are the ones hiding or suppressing their light under a bushel basket – not them!
I am writing this the morning after our Turkey Dinner Celebration. What a wonderful manifestation of gifts and parish spirit! A lot of hard work by a lot of people went into the
preparation for the dinner itself, as well as the gathering of prizes and the promotion of them. It all came together wondrously as everyone in the hall, filled to capacity with parishioners, alumni of our schools, relatives and friends enJoyed a bountiful meal, recreation and fellowship with one another. It appeared to me that everyone left happy and feeling blessed to have spent such a beautiful day together. This, to me, is a manifestation of the many individual gifts of our
parishioners allowed to be expressed and nourish in harmony and acceptance of one another for the benefit of the whole community.
In this same spirit the call has gone out for nominations to our parish council. Names are being sought to fill the six outgoing spots. It is your privilege to nominate people to the parish council. But be sure to check with them first that they are willing to accept the nomination before submitting their name.
Thanksgiving Day is rapidly approaching. In some ways, Thanksgiving Day has become a “grass roots” holy day. People are naturally drawn to church to give thanks for all their blessings. Thls is not only “natural,” but it is also in our spiritual nature to do because the Eucharist (The Mass) is an act of thanksgiving to God in itself. We will celebrate our Thanksgiving Mass at 9:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. We hope to see you there. We also want to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. For this purpose, we are going to put containers in the back of Church for the next two weekends and Thanksgiving Day that we ask you to fill with canned goods of all types to stock our food pantry. If every family and person of our parish brings one canned good during the next couple of weeks, we will be able to help the many people who come to our door for assistance. Whatsoever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Christ.
Thank you for considering becoming or renewing your membership as a Co-Redemptorist too! If you haven’t acted on the envelope given to you last Sunday in Church, Father Shea and I ask you to consider doing what you can, to help educate and train our seminarians. A small donation, even less than the recommendations given on the envelope, would be welcome. Your generosity will not go unrewarded as God never allows any of us to outdo Him in generosity. You can return the envelope in the collection basket or mail it directly to our Provincial Offices in Denver at the address on the envelope. In return you will have a share and remembrance in
the Masses and prayers of all Redemptorists, and also receive a monthly letter of spiritual encouragement and news about our seminarians.
Last Sunday we celebrated the dedication of the “mother and head of all the churches of the city (Rome) and the world” – St. John Lateran. I noticed on the liturgical calendar that this
Tuesday is the feast of the dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter’s and St. Paul outside the Walls. You know well about St. Peter’s Basilica. My overall favorite Basilica. however, is
St. Paul outside the Walls. It is a spacious church, with a beautiful green and peaceful courtyard, magnificent bronze doors, inspiring mosaics and frescoes, alabaster windows, the
tomb of St. Paul, and the well-known feature of portraits of every Pope encircling the whole inside of the Basilica high above. Some years ago there was a fear that spaces for the
portraits of the Popes were running out. There was only about two or three left. There was a legend that when the last space would be filled, that would signal the end of time. Well, the
Vatican took care of that. They added a few more spaces! Not everyone can go on pilgrimage to Rome to see these places. But the Vatican has a wonderful website where you can take “virtual tours”. These are sometimes even better than being there in person because care has been taken to light up the features and present them in a way that is impossible to see in natural light. Here is the link you can use with your computer or tablet to take the tours:
Enjoy your virtual trip! Have a nice tour and see you back at
St. Gerard’s soon!
On Main Street, in a little old town down south, there stood three stores side by side. The merchandise in each store was practically same. Realizing the other two stores were cutting into his sales, the owner of the store at the south end decided to put up a sign over the front door which read: ROCK BOTTOM”PRICES. Well, the proprietor at the north end decided to install his own sign over the front door of his store. His sign read: LOWEST PRICES IN TOWN.
The owner in the center store feared that he would be squeezed out of business by his competitors on either side of him. So he came up with a brilliant idea. He hung a sign above the front door which read: MAIN ENTRANCE. Suddenly, the proprietor of the middle store enjoyed a booming business.
We are not going to hang a sign over the front entrance of our church, but we are trying to improve the appearance. We are trying to give the entrance a south Texas ambiance. There is a
flower bed in front of the marquee. Anna Zamora keeps this area looking beautiful with flowers. There is crushed granite on either side of the approach to the church. There is a thin sheet
of material between the crushed granite and the soil which prevents the weeds from growing through. Eventually there will be shrubs and other plants in the crushed granite areas.
The flag stone, which we used to build the path came from Tommy Pawly’s ranch in Bianco. The large stones that are spotted around the area also came from Tommy’s ranch. However, the river stones on either side of the paths were bought. The address of the church will be etched into a large stone which will rest in front of the palm tree.
The pathway which circles behind the marquee has a spur which leads to a pedestal. At this time there is nothing atop the pedestal. We’d like to.place a statue on that pedestal. We are
still in discussion regarding the statue. Some say the statue should be St. Gerard. Others say the Blessed Virgin, or St. Joseph. StiII others say it should be the Sacred Heart Jesus statue. What is your suggestion?
Last week Father Gary and I attended the Redemptorist Convocation in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Over 100 Redemptorists were present to elect a new administration for
the Redemptorists of the Denver Province. Father Stephen Rehrauer was elected Provincial Superior. Fr. Stephen spent the last 22 years in Rome where he earned a doctorate in moral
theology and then taught moral theology in the Redemptorist Institute of Moral Theology in Rome. On January 1, 2015 he will assume the duties of Provincial Superior.
We also elected Father Matthew Kessler as first consultor and vicar. Father Mathew was the past president of Liguori Publications. Father John Fahey was elected second consultor. He was the director of our moral theologian students in Chicago. All three men will be residing in Denver.
A freshman, returning home from college, asked his father, Do you think it’s better to be healthy or wealthy? His father replied, “Son, when you have good health, you have
everything. My health means more to me, more than any money or material possession.” Hearing that, his son said, “Well, in that case, can I borrow $50 and the car tonight?”
Perhaps that freshman, like us, needs a little guidance.
Whenever we meditate on the word guidance, we kept seeing “dance” at the end of the word. Doing God’s will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It’s as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance requires surrender, willingness and attentiveness from one person, and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
Whenever we take a closer look at the word guidance we see the letter “G,” and think of God. Then we see the letters “u” and “i” and think of you and I. “God, “U” and ” I.” God,
You and I dancing.
Three powerful words are also needed when it comes to dancing with God: surrender, willingness and attentiveness. Surrender to accept the will of God; Willingness to
recognize the gentle guidance of God; Attentiveness to follow God’s lead. We as a parish acknowledge that God is in charge. We are His instruments. So, we reach out for
guidance God, you, and I dancing with God trusting that God will take care of us.
Chauncey Depew and Mark Twain were scheduled to speak at a banquet. Depew played a trick on Twain. Mark Twain spoke first for 20 minutes. The audience enthusiastically
applauded. Then Depew stood up. He said, Mr. Toastmaster, Ladies and Gentlemen, before this dinner Mark and I made an agreement to trade speeches. He has just delivered mine and I am grateful for your kind reception. I regret that I have lost his speech and cannot remember a thing he had to say. Depew sat down to a thunderous applause.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R
The president of a fast.-growing company called his vice president of public relations to his office one day. He said to her, “Somebody is trying to buy our company. If they succeed, you and I will be out on our ears. Now, I want you to do something that will get the price of our stock up so that it’ll be too expensive for them to buy us out. I don’t care what you have to do to bring this about; whatever it is, just do it!”
Within two days the stock rose 14 points, and the president was delighted. He asked the vice president of public relations, “What in the world did you do?” “Simple.” she said. “I started a
rumor, and Wall Street liked it ”
“Rumor!! What was the rumor?” asked the president. With a smirk on her face, she said, “I told them you were leaving the company.
On January 1st the provincial superior of the Redemptorists in the Denver Province will be leaving his office. but not the company. On that date Father Harry Grile will be completing
his four year term as Provincial Superior. A newly elected Redemptorist will take over for the next four years. (As I write this column. the new man has not yet been elected.)
In our provincial administration of the Denver Province, there is a Provincial Superior, and two full time consultors, one of whom normally is elected as a vicar. (The vicar is in charge when the provincial is out of the country or is unavailable.) These three men are known as the Ordinary Provincial Council (OPC).
In addition to the OPC there are four other part time Redemptorists who are elected to the Extraordinary Provincial Council (EPC). These consultors are called in for a meeting approximately four times a year, or whenever a major decision needs to be made.
Next Sunday, November 9th, we Redemptorists celebrate the birth date of our founding. St. Alphonsus founded the congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer on November 9th, 1732, at Scala, near Amalfi, Italy. The Congregation was formally approved in 1749 by Pope Benedict XIV.
At first, only a handful of men made up the Redemptorists. But over time the Congregation began to expand. In 1785 St. Clement Hofbauer joined the Congregation, and the next year he was the first to take the Congregation beyond Italy, returning to his home country of Austria.
From there the Congregation expanded to other European countries, and in 1832 six Redemptorists (three priests and three brothers) traveled to the United States to establish the first Redemptorist mission outside of Europe. Since then the Congregation has expanded throughout the world, and today its members number over 5000.
All Redemptorists use the initials C.Ss.R. after their last names. These four letters are an abbreviation for “Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris,” the Latin for “Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.” The worldwide Congregation is sub..divided into provinces. In the United
States we have two provinces – the Baltimore Province which ministers to the eastern part of our nation and the Denver Province which ministers to the western portion. Nearly 250
Redemptorist priests, brothers, and seminarians make up the Denver Province.
Next Saturday. November 8th, Mary McLaughlin, the daughter of Rick McLaughlin our music director, will be entering into marriage with Jim, her fiance. Rick and his family lived in Kansas City for a period of time. Mary is currently living in Kansas City. Mary and Jim will be exchanging their wedding vows at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, which happens to be the church where I was pastor for twelve years. I was honored when Mary and Jim asked me to preside at their wedding.
So, I’II be heading to Kansas City for the weekend. While there I will also be attending ‘Founders Day’ for Cristo Rey Kansas City High School. In 2003 a group of folks began a study to determine whether Kansas City would be a feasible site for a Cristo Rey High School. I happened to be part of that study. The committee was responsible for finding a location for the school. At one time there was a grade school and a high school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish. Of course everyone in the city referred to the church and schools as ‘Redemptorist Church,’ ‘Redemptorist Grade School’ and ‘Redemptorist High School.’ The feasibility committee selected Redemptorist school as the site because it was centrally located with convenient bus transportation.
However, the building was presently used as a regional Catholic elementary school. Originally there were five Catholic elementary schools in the area. Those five schools eventually consolidated and used Redemptorist as the location for the regional school. But. the school was only using part of the building. So, we had a number of ‘town hall’ meetings to allow people to express their ideas. In the end, we moved the elementary school to a neighboring parish and
leased the entire Redemptorist building to Cristo Rey.
While Christo Rey was renovating the building to fit thelr needs the parish was building a new banquet hall which connected the church and school. In 2006, the building and renovation was
complete and Christo Rey opened its doors to the freshman class. Today the school is filled to capacity with a waiting list.
On Friday, November 7th, Kansas City Christo Rey will be honoring all those people who were involved with the founding of their high school. I will happily attend the ceremony.
A medical student spent his summer working as a butcher in the daytime and a hospital orderly in the evenings. Both jobs involved the wearing of a white smock.
One evening he was instructed to wheel a patient on a stretcher into surgery. The patient looked up at the student and let out a piercing scream. He cried out, “My God! It’s my butcher!”
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R