Monthly Archives: April 2015

Pastor’s Notes – April 26, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners,

He lived in a little cottage high up in the mountain ranges of Montana. He was a sheepherder.

Once a month he would drive to town to buy groceries and pick up his mail. One month there were five mail bags waiting for him at the Post Office. He couldn’t believe it. Who could be sending him so much mail?

He hurried back to his cottage with the five bags, curious to find out who had sent him all those letters. When he opened up the bags he discovered that he had received 3,500 letters from the National Geographic magazine.

It so happened that National Geographic contracted with a company to mail out renewal notices. The company had just bought a new computerized machine. On the first day the computer had a glitch. No one caught the glitch until it had sent 3,500 renewal notices to a sheepherder in Montana.

Back in his cottage the shepherd opened every envelope. Each carried the same message. Your subscription expired three months ago. this is your final notice.

The shepherd dutifully completed all the renewal forms, all 3,500. he then drive 13 miles back to the Post Office. He mailed the renewal forms along with the money, back to National Geographic. He included a letter which said: O.K. I give up. Send me your tad-blasted magazine!

The message this weekend is about Christ the Good Shepherd. Christ refers to himself saying, “I am the good shepherd”. St. John tells us that Christ frequently introduced himself with “I am”.
“I am the bread of life.”  “I am the true vine.” The 23rd psalm tells us so much about the life of teh shepherd. Fernando D. Alfonso, tells us about Psalm 23.

Fernando is a sheepherder in Nevada. He comes from twenty generations of Iberian shepherds. He explained the significance of the 23rd Psalm. THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT. Sheep instinctively know that before they have been folded down for the night, the shepherd has planned for their grazing the next day. HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES. Sheep graze from around 3:30 am to 10:00 am.

The shepherd leads them to rougher herbage early in the morning, and then he leads them to green pastures. he finally takes them to a shady place where they rest and chew their cuds.

HE LEADS ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS. Every shepherd knows that sheep will not drink gurgling water. Although there are many flowing streams in the Holy Land, the shepherd must find a pool where the water is calm. HE RESTORES MY SOUL, HE LEADS ME IN PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE. In the Holy Land each sheep takes his place in the grazing line in the morning, and keeps that place throughout the day. Once each shepherd rubs the animal’s nose and ears, scratches its chin and whispers affectionately into it ears. Then the sheep returns to its place in the feeding line.

THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL NOT FEAR EVIL; FOR YOU ARE WITH ME; YOUR ROD AND STAFF COMFORT ME. South of Jericho is a road leading to the Dead Sea. It is a narrow road leading through a mountain range. The valley is four and one half miles long. The side walls rise over 1,500 feet. In places, it is only 10 or 12 feet wide. Sheep cannot turn around in some places. It is an unwritten law amongst shephers that flocks must go up the valley in the morning hours and down toward eventide.

Last weekend was a banner weekend for St. Gerard. Over the weekend there were two retreats: the youth and the men’s ACTS retreat. The youth retreat, under the title “New Life”, began on Friday. The youth gathered in the Seelos roomin the Parish Center. Their retreat closed with the 10:30 Mass on Sunday.

The men’s ACTS retreat began on Thursday evening at the Antonian Retreat Center. It continued through Sunday morning as the men returned to St. Gerard for the 10:30 Mass.

The Holy Spirit filled the hearts of everyone in church. The youth enthusiastically sang their song during Holy Communion. The theme of the men’s ACTS retreat was “Touch me and you will see”. Gabriel Garcia wrote a song reflecting our theme. After Mass the brother retreatants sang this song.

Congratulations youth and ACTS retreatants.

Why does a small tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes April 12, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From Fr. James Shea, C.Ss.R

On the day of the move Wiener went to work. As he left the house his wife reminded him of their new address. She even gave him a piece of paper with his new address clearly written
on it. During the day Wiener happened to use that same piece of paper to work out a mathematical equation. Then he tossed the paper into the waste paper basket.

At the end of the day he automatically drove home to his previous address. He forgot all about the new house at a new address. After he arrived at the old address he walked up the steps, opened the front door and discovered that the house was empty. It was then that he remembered that he bought a new house. He was beside himself. He couldn’t remember the
address of the new house.

Just then he spotted a little girl riding her bike down the street. He called out to her, “Excuse me young lady, I’m Professor Norbert Wiener and I’ve just bought a new house. Would you by any chance happen to know my new address?” The young girl smiled and said, “Hi Daddy! Mom said that you’d probably forget!”

It is so easy to forget. It seems to happen to all of us. It is easy to overlook important people and details Sometimes I do it so well. At the Easter Vigil I recognized many people who used
their talents to enhance our Masses and services during the Paschal Triduum. I recognized the catechumens as they were baptized and confirmed, and welcomed into body of the faithful. I acknowledged the candidates who were confirmed at the Vigil. and now are blessed in the fullness of our faith.

On Easter Sunday I welcomed the parishioners and visitors. Then I acknowledged all the people who participated in the Easter liturgy. I also told the congregation about the people who were baptized and confirmed the night before.

Amidst all these thanks I failed to thank one group of people who made it possible for new folks to be baptized, confirmed and welcomed into our church. Those are the people who teach,
guide and counsel in our Catholic Faith Formation program.

Shirley Jones coordinates and oversees our Catholic Faith Formation program. At one time we called this program C.C.D. We also called it Catechism, or just plain Religion Class. Now it’s Catholic Faith Formation.

Normally the small children spend a few years to prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. When they reach high school age they normally receive the sacrament
of Confirmation. It happens at times that some children will depart from Catholic Faith Formation after receiving Holy Communion and return in preparation for Confirmation. Many
times people have the false notion that between Holy Communion and Confirmation they do not need to attend Catholic Faith Formation classes. That’s not right. We continue our Faith Formation classes week after week and year after year, just like we attend school. Catholic Faith Formation is a life time project. We are always growing in our relationship with God and Jesus Christ. We offer religion classes for school age children. We offer adult education for adults. We offer bible classes to learn about the bible. We welcome experts to speak about spiritual life.

Now, getting back to the folks who teach and oversee those Faith Formation Classes. Shirley Jones is the person who oversees the entire Catholic Faith Formation program, from small children to the elderly. She has been in Faith Formation for many years. She has been our Religious Education Director for 14 years. During those years she has recruited many people
to teach in our Catholic Faith Formation program.

I would like to thank Shirley for moving our parish forward in our Faith Formation. And now I want to thank all the people who have volunteered to help pass on our faith in St. Gerard
Catholic Faith Formation.

Next week we will include the names of all the people who have volunteered on Sunday mornings to teach religion. This week I want to thank the people who participate in the RCIA –
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program every Monday evening. These are the people who teach our Catholic faith and prepare the adults for baptism and confirmation.

Nick Flores is the director of the RCIA program. There are some people on his staff who present a topics. Others reflect on those topics presented. These are the people associated with the
RCIA program: Elida Lara, Tom and Charlotte Magott, Joe and Maribel Paz, Lupe Ramirez and Mary Ann Toney. Thanks to all of you.

As spring and summer arrive we will be making a few improvements around our parish. First of all we will be finishing the work in front of the church. We will be planting a few more shrubs. Anna Zamora continues to dress the area in front of the marquee with beautiful flowers. We will be erecting the stone with our street number – 1523 – and place it next to Anna’s flowerbed. We will also be replacing the cracked sidewalk which runs from the wrought iron fence that Clarence Elley built to the street.

For many months, perhaps even years, there has been a pothole at the west entrance of our parking lot. I liked that pothole because it slowed down the traffic. I was afraid someone would
speed down Dilworth Street, fly into the parking lot and hit a car, or worse yet, a child from Smith School. With all the rain the pothole has become a deep pit. So, we are going to fix it. Instead of a pothole to slow down traffic, it will be a speed bump.

Finally. we are going to do something about the sound system. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Chrism Mass with Archbishop Gustavo. The Cathedral installed a new computerized sound system. I listened closely. The sound was crispy clear. My hearing is a bit on the weak side but I could hear every word the Archbishop said as well as all the other readers. So, I contacted Southwest Sound. Next week they will be installing the new system. An anonymous benefactor made a substantial contribution toward our sound system. We at St. Gerard, are deeply indebted to our generous benefactor.

Incidentally, one of our parishioners was selected to read at the Cathedral during the Chrism Mass. Raquel Rubio, the chairperson for our mission during Lent, explained the use of the Oils for the sick as her husband presented the oils to Archbishop Gustavo. Raquel was clearly heard throughout the church.

Next weekend many men from our parish will attend St. Gerard Men’s ACTS retreat. I am calling upon all of our parishioners to support these men in your prayers. There are a few openings
left. Now is the time to make your decision and sign up. Treat yourself to a welcomed transformation in your life. You’II be forever grateful.

The only difference between try and triumph is the UMPH.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss R.

Pastor’s Notes – April 5, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From Fr. James Shea, C.Ss.R

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The Lutheran pastor concluded the services and stood at the church entrance greeting parishioners as they were leaving. A well-dressed man approached the pastor. The pastor noticed his silk suit and classy tie, and said, “Wow, that’s a great tie!” The man smiled, thanked him and immediately, right in front of many parishioners, took off his tie and gave it to the pastor. Everyone seemed a little shocked by such a blatant and spontaneous act of generosity. Later, the associate pastor remarked, “Why didn’t you compliment him on his new car?”

Happy Easter to all! May I compliment all the people who were involved in the Holy Week Masses and services? What a wonderful way for all of us to give praise to our God.

George Hunter tells a story about a Methodist Church in Prague. The communists had imposed more than 100 laws upon churches in the Czech republic, declaring what they could and could not do. They could not witness, evangelize or even put up a sign in front of their churches. Then came the day when communism collapsed. All the anti-church laws were repealed at once. The elders of the Methodist Church in Prague decided to erect a sign. After many discussions about the text that would appear on the sign, they finally decided: “The Lamb Wins.”

On the roof of a Catholic Church in Werden Germany, one can see the stone carving of a lamb. There is a story behind that stone. A man was working on the roof of this church when his safety rope broke. He fell headlong into the churchyard below. Many blocks of stone were scattered around the churchyard. A lamb was nibbling grass between two blocks. The man fell on the lamb, crushing the animal to death. but the lamb broke the man’s fall and he survived. “The Lamb saves.”

In gratitude the workman carved a lamb out of one of the blocks of stone and placed it on the roof. It was a gracious way of expressing his thanks to the animal that had unknowingly saved his life.

The poinsettia plant is the symbol for Christmas. The lily is the symbol for Easter. The lily is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. One of the most famous Biblical references is in the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil, nor do they spin; and yet…Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Lilies are often called the “white robed apostles of hope.” Lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of agony. Churches continue this tradition at Easter time by decorating the altars with beautiful Easter Lilies. The lilies commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting.

A priest explained the Paschal Mystery – the suffering, the dying and the resurrection of Christ to the second graders. He described the crucifixion in gory detail. The students were aghast. Then he told the rest of the story. The Resurrection.

When he came to the empty tomb, he asked the class if they knew the first words that Jesus said when he stepped out of the tomb and took his first breath of fresh air. No one knew what Jesus said. Then a little girl bashfully raised her hand. “Well,” said the priest, “would you stand before the class and tell your classmates what Jesus said as he came out of the tomb?” The little girl stepped to the front of the classroom, turned to her classmates, threw both arms heavenward and shouted in a loud voice, “TA-DA!!” (That’s not exactly what Jesus said. but the little girl had the right spirit of the resurrection.)

The first full week of April!! A significant week in the world of Christianity and in the world of sports. We enter into the Easter season. It begins with Easter Sunday, the Sunday of the Resurrection, and continues to Pentecost Sunday. St. Athanasius tells us that these fifty days ought to be celebrated in joy and exultation. He suggested that we celebrate these days as one long and great festive Sunday.

Then, on Monday night, in the world of college basketball, we will be crowning a national champ for 2015. Next Sunday, in Chicago, Major League Baseball will celebrate opening night with the Cubs and Cardinals. Finally, all golfers will be looking ahead to next week’s Masters in Augusta Georgia.

A tourist from Russia asked a young American boy what baseball is all about. The kid explained it this way. ‘You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s on the side that’s in goes out and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When three men are out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out. When both sides have been in and out nine times, including the not outs, that’s the end of the game.’ The tourist shook his head and returned to Russia.

And it is Mark Twain who explained the game of golf by saying: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Now that we have the game of baseball and the game of golf clearly explained, it’s time for all of us to live as Easter people filled with hopeful joy.

Happy Easter Season,
Fr. Jim Shea