Monthly Archives: April 2016

Pastor’s Notes – April 24, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

By: Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

An elderly woman died. She was an ole maid. Having never married, she requested that there be no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote: “They wouldn’t take me out while I was alive; I don’t want them to take me out when I’m dead.”

Most of us, at one time or another, have felt the sharp pangs of rejection. Rejection comes to us, packaged in many different disguises. It could be ugly words. Maybe turning our backs on someone. Or walking out in the middle of a conversation. Maybe a pink slip at work. Or a door slammed in one’s face. It could be someone shouting, “Out! Out! Get out of here!” Or it could be hearing the words, “You are fired.” It could be a “Dear John” letter. No matter how the critter is packaged, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts to the core.

This story is told about a young soldier who served in Desert Storm. While he was overseas he received a ‘Dear John’ letter from his girlfriend back home in the States. To add insult to injury she wrote, “Will you please return my favorite photograph of myself. I will need it for my engagement picture in the local newspaper.”

The young soldier was devastated. He told his friends that his girlfriend had dumped him. His buddies came to his rescue. They went throughout the entire camp and collected pictures of all the guys’ girlfriends. They filled up an entire shoe box. The soldier then sent the box of photos to his ex-girlfriend back home. He put a note in the box saying, “Please find your picture amidst all these photos. Then, return the rest. For the life of me I can’t remember which one you were.”

During the past couple of weeks we heard a lot about Paul, preaching to the Gentiles. We also heard how the Jewish people persecuted Paul and nearly beat him to death because he was preaching Jesus Christ. The Jewish people wanted to expel him wherever he went. But Paul kept right on preaching. Paul said, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Heads up! Heads up! Look what’s coming! A new envelope in your May contribution packets, it’s called ‘Debt Reduction.’ Well, the envelope is replacing the ‘Restoration Fund’ envelope for the month of May only. The second collection envelope in May only will be for the ‘Debt Reduction’ instead of our usual ‘Restoration Fund’.

There is a reason for the ‘Debt Reduction’ envelope this year, for the month of May, and only this year. Each year we must submit to the envelope company a complete list of envelopes for the following year. So, one year in advance we submit that list. At the time we submitted the list we were falling behind in our Sunday offerings. Our operating expenses exceeded our income.

Since that time a number of things happened. We cut back on our expenses as much as we could. Then, you the parishioners have increased your contributions. I thank you kindly for your generosity. Finally, some generous gifts came to us through estates.

Summer is coming. People will be on vacation. Many will be attending other churches. As a result, our collection seems to fall off a bit. One way to prevent this ‘fall off’ is the ‘Faith Direct’ system. Faith Direct is the company that transfers donations from a person’s account to the church’s account. You the donor are in complete control of that transfer. You may increase, decrease or discontinue the amount at any time. You may contribute on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

We’ve been using Faith Direct for five years. It works wonderfully. Faith Direct eliminates many steps in our collection and accounting process. Well over 50 people in our parish are using Faith Direct. And, may I say, they are very satisfied. By using Faith Direct we don’t need to worry about the summer ‘fall off.’

Sometime in the near future I am going to give ‘Faith Direct another plug. I’ll be asking people to use this convenient way in making contributions to the church.

Last week we held a ‘summit leadership’ meeting. People from each ministry in our parish met on Sunday afternoon. Each ministry explained how they ministered to the people at St. Gerard. Each spoke about their hopes for the future. Now, the committee is taking all the suggestions and putting these ideas into a pastoral plan.

A frequently used expression by the folks at the meeting was, “We are family.” Fortunately our Church is a welcoming Church. We sing the song ‘All are welcome.’ And we have hospitable ushers who are always welcoming people at the front doors of the church. At the leadership meeting last week many folks talked about being a welcoming family. It is a wonderful trait to have. It is a trait that we all want to keep polishing week after week. No wonder people can say, ‘we are family.’

Life is a bumpy road. Laughter is your best shock absorber.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – April 17, 2016

By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

He emigrated from Italy. He saved his money and bought a small grocery store in Brooklyn. Many other Italian emigrants would shop at his grocery store. Being poor emigrants the proprietor allowed his fellow emigrants to buy on credit. Over the years it happened that many emigrants never paid the grocer the money they owed.

One day the grocer suffered a heart attack and died. When he arrived at the pearly gates Peter said to him, “Come right in. I checked your record. You are one of the most generous men ever to appear at these gates.” The grocer said, “Thank you St. Peter. But, would it be possible for me to take a detour through hell.” Peter said, “Surely. I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”

The grocer knocks on hell’s door. Satan answers. The grocer said, “I’d like to speak to all those people who owed me money back on earth.” Satan asks, “How do you know they are here in hell?” The grocer said, “Well, every time I tried to collect the money they owed me, this is where they told me to go.!”

I received a letter from Archbishop Gustavo regarding the ‘Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.’ He thanks everyone who contributed to the Appeal. And he tells us that he will be sending a second letter to those who have not had an opportunity to give or pledge to the Appeal. In our April 1st report, there were 52 family units who contributed, out ot 589 parishioners. Our goal is $11, 922. As of April 2, the pledged amount: $8,540. The total given: $6,540.

We are reminded of the many ministries within the Archdiocese. As committed Christians we reach out to people who are less fortunate, left behind or cast out. It is within our Christian blood to minister to those most in need and sometimes abandoned.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a song which is actually a motto for Boys Town. Boys Town is a community in Omaha, Nebraska, for troubled or homeless boys. Father Edward Flanagan founded the home in 1917. Father happened to see this phrase in a magazine with a picture of one boy carrying another on his back. Father received permission to use that phrase as a motto for the boys’ home which he called ‘Boys Town.’

There are many of our brothers and sisters throughout the Archdiocese who cannot carry themselves. They need the help of others. In the gospel we read of the four men who carried the paralytic man. They lowered him through the roof and placed him at the feet of Jesus. We too can be like the four friends as we help our brothers and sisters. If we cannot physically carry them, we can make contributions for others to carry.

With your financial help, many good Samaritans in our Archdiocese will minister to the most abandoned. We are privileged to carry them. They are not heavy. They are our brothers and sisters.

There are Good Samaritans in San Antonio who are ‘carrying our brothers and sisters’ in other countries. ‘Mi Casa’ is an organization that recruits ministers to minister to the needy in Mexico. These missioners are volunteers, who are filled with compassion and are driven by the Spirit to reach out to hurting people.

Rick Jones, our parishioner and husband of Shirley Jones, is the Executive Director of ‘Mi Casa.’ Rick is inviting people who are interested in seeing a mission to accompany him on a weeklong Mission Work Trip to Mexico. The weeklong Mission Work Trip will take place June 12-18.

Rick is also looking for vounteers who want to serve on the mission for one year. If anyone is interested in making the weeklong tip, or serving as a yearlong volunteer missioner, you may call toll free: 866-545-4083 or check our the website: www.MiCasaMexico.org. Reservation deadline for the weeklong trip is May 20, 2016.

And while we are talking about a foreign country, I want to remind you of the opportunity to join me on a pilgrimage to Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland, September 10-22, 2016. They are still accepting applications to experience this historic and memorable pilgrimage.

Save the date April 26, 2016 – 7:00 pm

We are celebrating 150 years of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help being given to the Redemptorists. This icon was painted by an unknown artist well over 700 years ago. We have no record of its origin. We do know that in 1499, the Icon was enshrined in St. Matteo’s Church in Rome.

However, in 1990 the technical department at the Vatican Museum restored the icon. The restoration process involved X-ray, infra-red scanning, technical analysis of the paint and ultra-violet testing along with Carbon -14-test which place the icon between the years 1325-1480.

We Redemptorists feel honored to have received this icon. It is a precious work of art. On this anniversary year we want to share the honor with our many friends who revere this sacred ‘Icon that works miracles.’ I plan to see you at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 26.

Steven Levine said, “If there was no pain in the world, there would be no compassion in the world.”

Pastor’s Notes -April 10, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

By: Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Many parishioners were arguing and fighting amongst themselves. There wasn’t a kind word against them. The tension was so heavy that an old man couldn’t even speak. So he went to his doctor. The doctor gave him some tranquilizers. Two days later he went back to the doctor and asked, “Doctor, what did you give me?” The doctor replied, “I gave you some tranquilizers.” “Well, Doc,” said the man, “I don’t want any more of them.” “Why not,” asks the doctor. Our man firmly replied, “Because they make me act friendly with people I don’t like at church.”

Sunday, April 10, is a very special day at St. Gerard. We have meeting of parishioners. We are calling this meeting a ‘Parish Leadership Meeting.’ At this meeting there will be parishioners who are peacemakers, collaborators and friends. They will be working together. There will be no need for tranquilizers.

Archbishop Gustavo has asked each parish to establish a set of pastoral goals. About three years ago we began a process to establish goals. I selected eight people to help identify our goals. We met on a monthly basis, with Bob Gonzales guiding us. We examined each of our ministries; we established four goals. 1) To be a strong faith/sacrament community. 2) To provide religious education and Spiritual Development to people of all ages. 3) To provide training for current ministries and develop new ministries. 4) To minister in partnership as we promote and are actively involved in social justice.

Abraham Lincoln once told of a farmer who was trying to teach his son how to plow a straight furrow. He told the boy to keep his eyes glued on some object at the other end of the field and plow straight for it. The boy started plowing and the farmer went about his chores.

The father returned after several hours. He was shocked to discover a furrow in the shape of a question mark. The farmer couldn’t believe his eyes. So he said to his son, “Son, didn’t I tell you to fix your eyes on some object?” “Yes, dad, you did.” “Well, what happened?” Your furrow is like a question mark.” “Dad, when I started, I looked at the far end of the field. There I saw a cow and I followed it.”

We will not follow the cow as we pursue our goals. We want to establish clear and concrete goals which will embrace all our ministries in our parish. At our Parish Leadership Summit meeting we have invited people from every ministry or organization in our parish. Each ministry/organization will share what they are doing. We will see how all of us will be embracing our goals.

April 26th is another important date on our calendar. And I ask everyone in the parish to ‘save the date.’ At 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26th we are going to have a special novena service in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We do not worship Mary. We worship God and God alone. We will reverence and honor Mary.

One hundred and fifty years ago Pope Pius IX presented the Redemptorist in Rome with the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. In presenting the icon the Pope said, “Make her known throughout the world.” Since that time the Redemptorists worldwide have been honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of ‘Our Mother of Perpetua Help.’ Wherever we go we pray the novena to our Mother of Perpetual Help. For many years our churches were filled when we prayed the novena. In recent years the crowds dwindled. With this anniversary year we are anxious to bring Mary to many more people, welcoming them to Mary’s novena.

On April 26th we will talk about the origin of the icon. For the most part the origin is hidden in mystery. We do not know who painted the icon or when it was painted. However, some information has been handed down to us regarding the transfer of the icon from the island of Rhodes to Rome.

Mary was invited to a wedding at Cana of Galilee. It happened that the wine ran out. Mary informed Jesus a bout the embarrassing situation. As it turned out, Jesus changed water into wine. It happened because of Mary’s intercession. Mary has interceded for many people. Through her intercession miracles happen. Perhaps you or someone you know has experienced a miracle because of Mary’s intercession. I would like to invite you to share that experience with your personal testimony on the evening of April 26th. Kindly let me know ahead of time so I can include you in our program that evening. Gandhi perhaps understood Jesus as well as any modern person. He found Jesus’ Beatitudes to be the fullest expression of spiritual life. Someone asked him, “Then why don’t you become a Christian?” He answered, “I don’t find Christians living these beatitudes – being meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, being clean of heart, being peacemakers. As soon as they do, ” said Gandhi, ” I will be the first to be a Christian.”

Fr. Jim Shea

 

Pastor’s Notes – April 3, 2016

By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

During their vacation to the Holy Land George’s mother-in-law suffered a heart attack and died. George and his mother-in-law never did get along with each other. Well, with her death certificate in hand, George went to the American Consulate Office to make arrangements to bring her body back to the states for proper burial.

The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, informed George that it would be quite costly to send the body back to the states. It could cost as much as $50,000. The Consul noted that most Americans decide to bury their loved ones in the Holy Land, rather than facing the expense of sending them back home. He said, “If you bury her in the Holy Land it would cost you approximately $8,000.”

“Send her back! Send her Back!” demanded George. “Two thousand years ago you buried a man in the Holy Land. Three days later He rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”

The agony of Christ’s passion has passed. The tomb is empty. Christ has risen. Now it’s time to rejoice.

The Easter season is upon us. It is time to rejoice. We are rejoicing and applauding the many people who volunteered to make our Easter so beautiful. The church was wonderfully decorated. Gorgeous flowers adorned the sanctuary and altar. Many folks spent many hours arranging the flowers, hanging the banners, installing the water fountain, cleaning the church and trimming the garden area in front of the church. We also want to thank the many people who participated in the Holy Week and Easter Sunday Masses and services – the choir, the altar servers and the many ministers.

And we applaud the people who were baptized into our Catholic faith, and the people who were confirmed. Congratulations and welcome.

One year, when I was in Kansas City, we celebrated the Easter Vigil with an empty tomb next to the altar. We placed a statue of the Risen Christ next to the tomb. Sometime in the middle of Easter Sunday night someone entered the church and removed the statue. I guess we could say that someone permanently borrowed the statue. We didn’t have a clue who took it. It was never returned. I guess somebody wanted Ascension Thursday to come early that year.

One day, a mom, with her small son, visited our parish office. The kid happened to stare at my black clerical shirt which I was wearing. To my surprise the kid asked, “Why do you dress funny?” I explained that priests always wear black. It is our uniform. Then the kid pointed to the white plastic collar tab on the neck of my clerical shirt. He asked, “Do you have an ‘owie’?” I quickly realized that the kid thought that the white tab on my clerical shirt was a band aid. So I flipped out the tab and handed it to the boy. On the back of the tab in raised letters, is the name of the manufacturer. The little fellow rubbed his fingers across the raised words. I asked him, “Do you know what those words say?” The lad quickly responded, “Ya!” Looking closely at the words he said, “Kills fleas and ticks up to six months!”

Kids have a way of bringing a smile to our lips and joy to our hearts. This is the season of joy. We hear in our liturgies these days the words of Christ, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it and be glad.”

Winston Churchill was buried from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Winston had planned his own funeral. He included may of the great hymns. At his direction, a bugler was positioned high in the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

After the benediction the bugler intoned “Taps,” the universal signal that says the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: Upon Winston Churchill’s instructions, as soon as “Taps” was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of “Reveille” – “It’s time to get up. It’s time to get up. It’s time to get up in the morning.”

That was Churchill’s testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be “Taps.” It will be “Reveille.” The resurrection of Christ tells us that ‘it’s time to get up.’

Let’s rejoice during this Easter Season.

Fr. Jim Shea

Join me on my trip with Proximo Travel, a Catholic Travel agency, who has invited me to be the chaplain on a pilgrimage to famous cities in Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland.

This twelve day pilgrimage begins on September 10, 2016. The All-Inclusive cost – including airfare from any city in the U.S. – is $4,899. I welcome you to join us on this pilgrimage. More information is available in our parish office.