Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pastor’s Notes – July 31, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

To please his father a freshman went out for track. He had no athletic ability. His father had been a good miler in his day. The freshman’s first race was a two-man race in which he ran against the school miler. He was badly beaten.

Not wanting to disappoint his father, the boy wrote home: “You will be happy to know that I ran against Bill Williams, the fastest miler in school. He came in next to last. And I came in second.”

Next week we will be watching the Olympic milers as well as many other track events. We will watch in admiration how young athletes compete for a gold medal. Everyone strives to be the best.

Is winning everything? Some think so. Here’s a story that puts in perspective the values of sports.

It was the most important Little League game of Eric’s life. He was 11 years old and his team, the Pirates, was playing the Giants in the championship game. It was the bottom of the sixth inning and the Pirates were ahead 2-1. But the Giants had the bases loaded with two outs and their best hitter was at bat.

He hit an easy fly ball to Bobby, the Pirate’s right fielder. Bobby circled under the ball as everyone held their breath. The ball fell into his glove and then bounced out. Bobby scrambled for the ball, but by the time he decided where to throw it, two Giants had scored; Final score: Giants 3 – Pirates 2.

The game was over. Now it was ‘wait-till next year.’ As the Pirates moped off the field, something totally unexpected happened. Their manager started yelling and screaming at Bobby. “You lost the game for us. You cost us the championship!”

Bobby heard the manager screaming at him. He started to cry. Afraid to face the manager the kid raced off into the woods behind the ball field.

After the game Eric went to meet his parents in the parking lot, but his dad wasn’t there. His mom said that he had something to do. Driving out of the parking lot Eric caught sight of his dad, out near the woods. His dad had his arm around Bobby. He was walking the kid home.

Eric never forgot the kindness his dad showed that evening. Bobby never forgot either. Whenever he saw Eric’s father, Bobby would greet him warmly and enthusiastically. He’d thank him for his kindness at a moment when the world seem to crash down upon him. ‘Winning isn’t everything. But Kindness is.’

Looking ahead: there are many significant events on the horizon.

On the weekend of August 6-7, Father Steve Wilson, a Redemptorist, will be speaking at all the Masses. Each year a Redemptorist speaks about being a Co-Redemptorist; helps us to spread the Good News. Welcome Father Steve.

September 9-10, the 15th Annual Catholic Women’s Conference will take place at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

On the weekend of October 1-2 s missionary of the Holy Family will be speaking to us regarding the foreign missions. Each year every parish is assigned a missionary to speak about the missions.

‘Together In Holiness’ is an event for married couples. On October 15, from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, there will be several speakers talking about married life. This event will be at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

November 10-13, will be the men’s ACTS retreat. Danny Reyes is the director, with James Cazares and Javier Martinez as co-directors.

December 8-11 will be the women’s ACTS retreat. Gladys Reyes is the director. with Mona Cazares and Yvonne Segovia as co-directors.

During the next few months we will be inviting men and women of our parish to participate in and ACTS retreat. We all know how powerful the Holy Spirit works with ACTS people. We want our parish to be alive in the Spirit. Yes, we all need a retreat. We need God’s life within us. God accepts no excuses. So, let’s open our hearts and sign up for an ACTS retreat.

On Saturday, October 1st, there will be barbeque fund raiser I just mentioned that God accepts no excuses. Sometimes the lack of money prevents a person from making the retreat. We’ll solve that problem. The money raised from this barbeque will provide scholarships for people who don’t have the funds to cover the weekend.

Some have noticed that on certain weekends Father Bob Lindsey or I are absent from St. Gerard. We are not taking a weekend off. Rather, we are celebrating Masses at other parishes…frequently at St. Margaret Mary or St. Catherine. Father Bob was assigned to our community with the mission to help part-time at St. Gerard and part-time at other neighboring parishes. Father Bob and I frequently switch off-at home and away. There are also times when we speak at out-of town parishes about the Co-Redemptorists, or our Redemptorist Missions, or promoting the Liguorian magazine.

We’ve heard it said, “Due to lack of interest tomorrow has been canceled.” Well, due to lack of tourists, the pilgrimage to Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland has been canceled. Perhaps people are leery about violence.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – July 24, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Abraham was about to sacrifice his 12 year son. God quickly intervened. Abraham backed off. Isaac’s life was preserved. Imagine what would have happened if Isaac was 15 years old? Do you think that Abraham might have been fed up with teenage nonsense and actually went ahead with the sacrifice?

July 26 to 31 is World Youth Day. It is being celebrated in Krakow, Poland. World Youth Day (WYD) consists of young folks around the world gathering together at Krakow. Pope Francis will be with them. WYD is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter with youth from other nations. They gather in the name of Jesus Christ.

The folks who will attend WYD in Krakow will have an opportunity to experience at first hand the universality of the Church; they will share with the whole world the hope that many young people have, who want to commit themselves to Christ and others. World Youth Day is a unique way for these young people in Krakow to deepen their faith and grow closer to Christ, by means of prayer and the sacraments. They will be together with thousands of other young people who share similar interests and ambitions.

We beam with admiration whenever the young people commit themselves to volunteer programs. Many religious orders offer a volunteer program for young people to spend a year overseas. Many work in third world countries.

There was a young woman from a very wealthy family. She attended the finest schools. Her parents had made every possible effort to ensure that she was prepared to live an appropriate life in the social circle. And then she went to Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.

When her stint in the Peace Corps was over, she notified her parents that she took their advice and married. She would be bringing her new husband to America. Her proud mother and father waited anxiously at the airport.

As the daughter walked down the concourse she was holding hands with a seven-foot tall man, lavishly adorned with feathers, beads, skulls, tigers’ teeth, and assorted pouches around his neck. He had a bone through his nose and rings in his ears. His arms were filled with tattoos. Her mother promptly fainted. Her father shouted to his daughter as he was catching his wife, “Honey, you misunderstood us. Your mother and I wanted you to marry a rich doctor; not a witch doctor.”

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom. He subtly told his father that the car would be a great graduation present.

On the morning of his graduation his father called his son into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curiously, the young man opened the box. There he found a lovely leather-bound bible. The young man’s name was engraved on it. He was shocked. A Bible when he wanted a car! Filled with anger he tossed the Bible on his father’s desk and bolted out of the office.

As the years went by the young man became very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family. However, he continually fanned the flames of anger with his father. He refused to return back home to reconcile with his father.

And then one day word arrived that his father had passed. The father had willed all his possessions to his son. The son needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. Because of his anger he had deprived himself of his father’s love. He began to search through his father’s important papers. Then he came to the Bible, still gift wrapped just as he had left it years back. With tears streaming down his face he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages.

His Father had carefully underlined a verse – Matthew 7:11: “And if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father who is in Heaven, give to those who ask him?”

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation and the words: “PAID IN FULL. Congratulations, son! Love, Dad.”

And the boy wept!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 17, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Once upon a time the government had a vast scrapyard in the middle of the desert. Congress said, “Someone may steal from it at night.” So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job. Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?” So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.

Then Congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?” So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One to do the studies and one to write the reports. Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?” So they created the following positions, a time keeper, and a payroll officer. Then they hired two people.

Then Congress said, “Who will be accountable for all these people?” So they created an Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary. Then Congress said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $25,000 over budget. We must cut back overall cost.” So they laid off the night watchman!

A little girls asked her father, “Daddy, do all Fairy Tales begin with ‘Once upon a time?'” Dad answered, “No, honey, there is a whole series of Fairy Tales that begin with, ‘If elected I promise….'” The presidential elections are rapidly approaching. Many of us are fearful of the outcome. No matter what, this is the time that we Americans must drop to our knees and call upon our God to help us face the future with hope.

There is a very real possibility that Archbishop Gustavo will decide to hold a Capital Campaign in this Archdiocese. The Steier Group from Omaha, Nebraska was hired to conduct a feasibility study. Campaign managers are interviewing all the pastors throughout the Archdiocese. They want input from us. I spent about one hour with a Steier representative. He basically wanted me, along with the other pastors, to support Archbishop Gustavo’s decision, whichever way he intends to go.

Of course, two questions arise, ‘how much does the Archdiocese intend to raise’ and ‘how will the money be spent.’ The preliminary goal is 125 million dollars. This certainly seems to be an ambitious goal. The money will go toward: 1) strengthen our parishes; 2) minister to those in need; 3) evangelize and spread the Gospel; 4) fund future parish growth; 5) invest in Catholic Schools; 6) support out priests; 7) expand campus ministry; 8) preserve San Fernando Cathedral; 9) Participate in Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy Charitable Project. Archbishop Gustavo will make the decision in September.

There is another ‘money’ matter here in our parish. Once again we are going to invite parishioners to sign up for Faith Direct. Faith Direct is the service which takes ‘Sunday offerings’ from a person’s bank account and places it in the parish bank account. (The parishioner decides the amount. The parishioner is in charge. Faith Direct follows the parishioner’s decisions.) Faith Direct has been part of our parish for six years. Each year we encourage parishioners to take advantage of this safe and convenient system for making donations to the church.

May I say, after six years of faithful, reliable, and secure service, ‘Faith Direct’ is here to stay! Over fifty people use Faith Direct. They love it. And we love it because Faith Direct eliminates hours of office work. So, we will be asking those who are not yet part of the ‘Faith Direct’ family to sign up and save us hours of work.

For one weekend in each of these three months – September, October and November – we will be inviting people to sign up for Faith Direct. People who are currently using Faith Direct will speak to all of us about their thoughts and feelings of Faith Direct. We will outline the many steps we now take to collect, count, deposit, post and give an accounting of the money given to St. Gerard. Faith Direct covers those steps and many more.

This weekend is the solemnity of the Most Holy Redeemer – the title of our Congregation. We Redemptorists beling to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. That’s what the C.Ss.R. stands for after our names. Since 1749 the Redemptorists have been celebrating the feast of the Most Holy Redeemer on the third Sunday of July.

Some interesting statistics about Redemptorists – Thoughout the world there are 11 living Archbishops and 43 Bishops. Deceased: 5 Cardinals, 20 Archbishops and 84 Bishops.

As we watch the Olympics we will surely be seeing the statue of Jesus Christ in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is entitled, ‘Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: Cristo Redentor). This statue is considered to be the largest Art Deco statue in the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms is a symbol of peace.

Peace,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R

Pastor’s Notes – July 10, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The French poet Germain Saint-Fox had a large income, but always seemed to be in debt. One day he was sitting in a barber’s chair, all lathered up, waiting to be shaved. In walked a tradesman. Immediately the tradesman recognized Germain and remembered the poet owed him a bundle of money. The tradesman angrily demanded payment on the spot.

Germain managed to calm the man down by saying, “Can you wait until I am shaved?” The tradesman, feeling quite confident that he would be paid, said, “Sure, I can wait until you get shaved.”

With that, Germain said to the barber, “Sir, did you hear the agreement we just made?” “Why, of course I did,” said the barber. Germain then took a towel, wiped the shaving cream off his face and happily left the barber shop. From then on, until his death, he wore a beard…as the tradesman waited in vain for his money.

We have come to the end of another fiscal year. We have closed the books. In a few weeks we will be publishing the annual statement.

The 2016 Archbishop’s Appeal is coming to an end. The Archdiocese gave us a goal of $11,922. We are closing in on the goal. As of this date we have pledged $10,085. We have 585 family units in our parish. As of today, 63 family units contributed to the Appeal. I am very much aware of the consequences if we do not reach our goal…the pastor has to go to ‘fundraising’ school.

A few years back we were offered the opportunity to pick up bread and bakery goods from Whole Foods at the Quarry. Since Whole Foods does not use preservatives, the shelf life is very short. Whenever an item nears the end of this shelf life, Whole Foods gives that item to charity. Each Sunday we would pick up the donation bread at the Quarry, freeze it and give it to the hungry folks on Thursday morning. About four months ago Whole Foods’ management was going through some difficult changes. As a result they only had a few loaves for donation. It wasn’t worth the trip to pick up one or two loaves of bread.

Well, things have changed. More bread is now available. Whole Foods has invited us to pick up bread, both Saturday morning and Sunday morning. Jarvis Stein has been making the trip to the Quarry to pick up the bread. I am grateful to Jarvis. But Jarvis is not always available. I would like to recruit a few others to participate on this ‘bread run.’ Hopefully several people will offer to help. Then we’d make a schedule. So, you may see me, or Jarvis or call the office. I welcome you to help feed the poor with bread from Whole Foods.

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the Redemptorists held a grand celebration in St. Louis as we honored Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon. One hundred and fifty years ago Pope Pius IX entrusted this icon to the Redemptorists with the command “Make her known.” EWTN televised the two-hour celebration. We Redemptorists re-committed ourselves to follow Pope Pius IX command.

Father Rehrauer informed us that St. Alphonsus Rock Church in St. Louis was really the launching pad for making Mary known in the United States. From the Rock Church we Redemptorists made Mary known throughout the U.S. At that celebration the Redemptorstine Sisters presented the icon, which was touched to the original, to Fr. Rehauer our provincial. Father received the icon and urged everyone present to make her known wherever they go.

The icon is now a traveling icon. It will visit all Redemptorist parishes. We have asked to have the icon visit St. Gerard Parish during our parish mission – April 1-6. Father Peter Schavitz, a Redemptorist, will preach this mission. What a wonderful and devotional week that will be with a mission in the midst of the visiting icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Redemptorists travel the nation to preach about Mary, with our missions, novenas, retreats and in the Liguorian magazine. I was asked to preach the Good News as it is published in the Liguorian magazine. So, next week I will be in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Next week at the 10:30 Mass Father Bob will commission the officers of the Knights of Columbus, Council 1027.

Looking ahead, Father Steve Wilson, a Redemptorist from our headquarters in Denver, will be speaking at all the Masses on the first weekend of August. He will invite us to be a Co-Redemptorist as we work together to build the Kingdom of God. Then, in October, a priest from the Missionaries of the Holy Family will speak about their overseas missions. Every year the Archdiocese assigns missionary orders to speak in parishes as part of the Archdiocesan Mission Co-Op plan.

The three hardest tasks in the world: to return love for hate, to include the excluded; and to say “I was wrong.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – July 3, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

One day two young engineers applied for a single position at a computer company. Both had the same qualifications. In order to determine which candidate was better adapted to handle the position, the department gave them an aptitude test.  Together, in an empty office, both candidates were given ten questions.

The manager reviewed the completed tests and informed the candidates that each of them missed one question. So the manager approached one candidate saying, “Thank you for your interest, but we’ve decided to give the job to the other applicant.”

“Wait a minute,” piped the rejected candidate, “why would you be doing that? We both got nine questions correct. Why is one incorrect answer better than the other? Why are you choosing him over me?” “Well,” said the manager, “for question #5, your fellow applicant wrote, ‘I don’t know.’ You wrote, ‘Neither do I.'”

We ask, what is happening to our nation? Are we in a mess with lying, cheating, stealing, shooting, abusing? Are we destroying our integrity? Have we disregarded morals? Are we a lost nation?

Alexander Fraser Tyler loved toward the close of the 18th century. He wrote a book entitled, ‘The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic.’ He studied ancient democracies and discovered that these democracies in time waned under the selfishness of human hearts. He said, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence.”

From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency;from dependency back to bondage.’

If Tyler’s model has validity, where would you currently place our country in this sequence? Some say that we are rapidly slipping past ‘apathy” and diving into ‘dependence.’ For some people that means we are not far from bondage where we begin all over again.

On Monday, May 30, 2016, we celebrated Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. It has been the tradition at St. Gerard that we celebrate Mass on Memorial Day.

On the weekend of May 28-29, I announced at all the Masses that we would be celebrating a Monday morning Memorial Day Mass at 9:00 am in the church. I reminded all the parishioners that we would honor all who served in the US Armed Forces, especially our loved ones. We would also remember the people who gave their lives for our country. I encouraged everyone to begin the day by celebrating a Mass of Thanks giving. What a wonderful way to show our appreciation to those who have dedicated their lives to serve our country.

Expecting to have many parishioners joining me in celebrating Mass, I was deeply saddened when only one person came to Mass that morning. Yes, one person! I do not know the reason why others did not show up. Let me not be the judge. I couldn’t help but to think, ‘Are we deeply embedded in the’apathy’ step?’

Monday is the fourth of July. A National Holiday. A day to appreciated the freedom we enjoy. A day to remember those brave men who signed the declaration of independence. There will be a 9:00 am Mass on Monday, July 4. All are invited to join me in celebrating a Mass to thank God for our freedom.

cycle-of-democracy

We would like to think that the 56 great men who signed the Declaration of Independence on that muggy day of July 4, 1776, were insightful men who casually signed this immortal document. However, these men who signed this document paid dearly for their freedom. They were caught up in a Revolutionary War. Many lost their lives. five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Nine died in the War itself. Twelve had their homes sacked, looted, burned or occupied by the enemy. Two lost their sons in battle. One had two sons captured. Their victory was costly. And, like all important decisions we make throughout  our lives Рthere is a steep price to pay.

A sweet American woman innocently asked an English friend, “Do the English have the Fourth of July?” With a perfectly straight face he replied, “No madam, we go straight from the third to the fifth.”

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