Monthly Archives: June 2015

From Fr. Gary Ziuraitis, C.Ss.R.

Father Gary Ziuraitis

Father Gary Ziuraitis

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Once upon a time, in a far-away place, the religion teacher, a religious Sister, wanted to teach her class about Jesus. She began her class on Jesus by saying to the children:

“Class, today I want to tell you about someone whom you all must meet. He’s a person who loves you and cares for you even more than your own family and friends. He’s a person who’s kinder than the kindest person you know. He’s a person who forgives you no matter hwo often you do wrong.”

The teacher noticed a little boy getting more and more fidgety and excited as she spoke. Suddenly, the little fellow couldn’t  contain himself any longer. He raised his arm into the air, waving his hand frantically and blurted out:

“Ster, Ster, (‘Ster’ is a child’s shortened vocalization of ‘Sister’) I know the man you’re talking about! He lives across the parking lot! He’s Father Shea!”

This weekend we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Father Jim Shea who has FAITHFULLY SPENT HIS PRIESTLY LIFE EMBODYING JESUS CHRIST to others.

When a person encounters the power of the Good News, as Father Jim has in his life, he is swept up by it and impelled to preach it by his life. The ministry of priesthood is neither to force people to follow Jesus nor to “lord it over them.” To paraphrase the First letter of John, “We only want to show you what we have seen, to tell you what we have heard” (1 Jn 1:3). We must proclaim the Good News, but let the power of truth do its gentle urging.

This weekend we not only celebrate one man’s vision and self-gift, we celebrate the whole of God’s family, because priesthood exists for the Church. At times in the past one could mistakenly feel that the Church existed for the priesthood. That only the priest had the vision or was in touch with God. Today we know we are all touched by god and have our ministries to fulfill in our daily lives.

The Church sees all of us as called to building up the Kingdom of God –  co-creators of a redeemed but unfinished world. god has offered new life to us all and ask us to fulfill the ministries of our daily lives. To each person reading this today, the Church urgently proclaims: Your life matters. It makes a difference in God’s plan for his Kingdom.

Yet, in this daily working out of our lives, must there not me someone who tells us this over and over again? Must there not be someone who reminds us of God’s unconditional and endless love for us – who speaks to us words of challenge and hope – who moves among us with Bread and Wine for nourishment, oil for stregth, and with healing words of forgiveness? Must there not be someone who facilitates the blending of all our gifts and all our work – who leads us in the celebration of God’s love for us and our identity as His people? This is the life of the priest.

We as the Church community have entrusted to the priest our two most sacred words: Eucharist and forgiveness. For fifty years, and in particular for this community of St. Gerard the past six years, Father Jim has moved among you to free you, to remind you of god and your new life, and to help you celebrate it.

As Father Jim experimented fifty years ago, as part of the ordination ceremeony, a stole is placed over the head and shoulders of the new priest. It can be likened to a yoke, as Father Jim knows all about because of his farming background. But the stole of priestly office is precisely symbolic of Christ’s yoke. And as Father Jim can attest to also because of his 50 years of priestly experience, it is a yoke that is easy and a burden that is sweet. Despite its sweetness, there is indeed a burden to priesthood as with any life well lived. When we priests ask for your prayers, it is not merely a pious phase. We need them.

As Father Jim well knows, some to whom we are sent don’t want to hear the Good News. Sometimes we ourselves are too weary or too sinful to preach it well. We need to be reminded that to stand at the altar and offer Mass authentically, – not just validly – our daily lives as priests must be lived in a way that makes our own the words of Jesus: This is my Body, which is given up for you. This is my Blood poured out. When we speak Christ’s words they must resound from a heart that lives them, mot just echoes them in emptiness.

Let us rejoice at the witness we are given today. Father Jim is such a man and such a priest who faithfully and humbly embodies the life of Christ in his own priesthood. We the people of St. Gerard Church have a great priest among us. After fifty years of service he still believes that the power of the Gospel unbinds people from the slavery of selfishness; that the power of the Gospel unbinds people from the slavery of fear – and lets them go free!

After fifty years, Father Jim still believes that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life! It is in accepting Jesus Christ that we become fully human and fully alive.

We join today with Father Jim, members of his family, his classmate Father Tim Franciscus, and a wide representation of the People of God of San Antonio in offering thanksgiving and praise for the gift of fifty years of service as a priest. I personally thank Father Jim for over 40 years of friendship and mentoring, being a Provincial Superior who believed in me, and a shining example of what it means to be a Pastor of people.

If you’ve ever called Father Jim’s cell phone and had to leave a message, you’ll recognize these final words of fatherly encouragement spoken in an American-Irish, Wisconsin lilt:

“Let’s enjoy the day!”

On behalf of the Redemptorist Community, the People of God of Saint Gerard, and the wider Church of San Antonio, Happy Anniversary, Father Jim!  Ad muntos annos!

Father Gary C.Ss.R.



From Fr. Gary Ziuraitis, C.Ss.R.

Father Gary Ziuraitis

Father Gary Ziuraitis

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

While Father Shea is away, he’s asked me to write the weekly bulletin message. I have a special app on my smartphone – Father Shea tracker – that’s going to help me keep track of where he is. I’ll be sharing his adventures with you over the next few weeks.

If you are reading this bulletin before Mass, the ushers handed you a prayer card and made you aware that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration on the altar. Look up to the altar. You will see the Blessed Sacrament displayed in the vessel called a Monstrance. That is because today (this weekend) is Corpus Christi Sunday – The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. We We commonly refer to the Body and Blood of Christ as the Eucharist or Holy Communion. For this reason please ovserve respectful silence in Church beofre Mass this Sunday while the Blessed Sacrament is displayed for adoration.

Before Mass begins, we will honor the Blessed Sacrament with song (on the paryer card) and a short procession (those who cannot process may stay)  out of Church, and back in. Our procession will be a reflection of the traditional Corpus Christi procession held around the world. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing quite a few of the Rome processions during my time there. It is quite extraordinary to see the hundreds of clergy, religious and people of Rome, decked out in their Catholic societies’ uniforms and robes, processing up Via Merulana from St. John Lateran Basilica, past our Redemptorist Residence, to St. Mary Major Basilica, where the Holy Father leads the faithful in prayer before the Eucharist. You might want to “google” or “You Tube” “Corpus Christi Procession in Rome” to see examples.

The feast of Corpus Christi is to remind us Catholics that we believe that the bread and wine presented as gifts at Mass become the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus Christ. All of you who have had the opportunity to bring up the gifts of bread and wine to the altar at Mass should be proud of that participation and its significance.

Through the words of institution that Jesus proclaimed at the Last Supper and told his apostles to DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME, the priest says at Mass: “Take this and eat of it. THIS IS MY BODY; Take this all of you and drink of it. FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD” This is the SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST, one of the seven sacraments that Jesus left us to recognize Him and experience Him in this life. WE belive this is NOT A SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION OR JUST A REENACTMENT of Jesus’ words. We truly believe THAT THROUGH THESE WORDS SPOKEN BY THE PRIEST that Jesus’ body and blood, humanity and divinity becomes truly and really with us. The priest elevates the Body and Blood of Christ at this point for purposeful recognitioin and adoration of Jesus among us.

Mass and Holy Communion each week is our ACTIVE role in participating in the life of Christ. But there is a DEVOTIONAL way also. That is ADORATION of the Blessed Sacrament. After communion, the Body of Christ not consumed in Communion is RESERVED in the TABERNACLE. A candle – much like an “eternal flame,” – is kept burning there to remind us that Jesus is present. Devotion to the Eucharist reserved in the Tabernacle began in the Middle Ages and continues to this day. Many of you have made ACTS retreats. The “A” in ACTS stands for Adoration. This is quiet contemplation and prayer before the REAL PRESENCE either in the Tabernacle or publicly displayed in the large gold vessel called a MONSTRANCE. Older parishioners will remember back in their Catholic childhood attending BENEDICTION. Here at St. Gerard we have an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament each Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. in our daily Mass chapel, concluding with Benediction. It is open to the public. This was a request of our Men’s ACTS group to keep alive the ADORATION part of Adoration-Community- Theology-Service. All are welcome.

The Mass, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, different names reflecting the same reality, is the central belief and apex of our Catholic faith. Over the past 200 years, teh Church has eased some of the disciplines of former times in preparing to receive Holy Communion and allowing for more frequent reception fo the Holy Communion. This is because reception of Holy Communion is not a “badge” of perfection, but is a REMEDY for our sinfulness – and we need to receive Jesus and have Him come into our beings in order to help us overcome our weakness and sinfulness.

That is why, especially this time of year, we are excited to see so many children make First Holy Communion and see adults come into the Church by Baptism and receive Holy Communion for the first time. There may be some of you who do not receive Holy Communion. Most of the circumstances that keep people away from Holy Communion can be resolved. It’s always good to speak to one of us priests to see if any roadblocks you think exist are really roadblocks. I know many times people are under the impression that they cannot receive for reasons that date back many years and they think are insurmountable. It’s food to inquire about those so that you are not unnecessarily depriving yourself of Holy Communion.

And parents need to be reminded to enroll any child 7 years of age or older who has not received their First Communion into religious instruction classes so they can be prepared to take part in this Sacrament and build their relationship with Jesus Christ. No baptized child over the age of 7 should be deprived. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”

Remember, we need Holy Communion and Jesus tells us that we need him and not to stay away from Him. It’s nice to come forward for a blessing in the Communion line. It is better to receive Holy Communion. JESUS IS OUR STRENGTH, OUR REMEDY AND OUR COMPANION. TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD!

Happy Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Father Gary C.Ss.R.