Monthly Archives: September 2016

Pastor’s Notes – September 25, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited New York. His advisors warned him that the media in America has a way of zeroing in on a word or phrase, taking it out of context and publishing it in a glitzy headline. They suggested that he use great caution in selecting his words whenever a reporter asks a question.

During the visit one of the tabloid reporters interviewed the Pope. The reporter asked Pope John Paul what he thought about the ‘go-go-girls’ in New York. Remembering that his advisor warned him to be cautious, Pope John Paul tried to sidestep the question by asking a question. So, Pope John Paul asked, “Are there go-go-girls in New York?”

The next day the tabloid headlines read, “Upon arriving in New York, the first thing the Pope asked was, ‘Are there go-go-girls in New York?”

There are times when we are misquoted. There are times when we are misunderstood. There are times when they twist our words. There are times when they use words which mislead. And that is what happened last week. On Monday, September 12 an organization called ‘Catholics for Choice’ published a full page ad, falsely announcing that one could have an ‘abortion in good faith.’

Our Catholic Church teaches that God creates life and God takes life. Live begins at the moment of conception and ends at the moment of natural death. No human being has been given the right to terminate the life of a fetus in the mother’s womb. Catholics for Choice try to claim that a woman has a right to decide whether the fetus lives or is terminated. Advocates for abortion call it pro-choice. Yes, it is outrageous to think that a mother has the right to determine whether her unborn child lives or dies.

As Catholics, we believe that life begins at the moment of conception. We believe that God has created the life of a fetus. We believe that a mother protects the life of the fetus. We do not accept the pro-choice of women who subscribe to Catholics for Choice. Rather, we who believe that it is God who gives life, subscribe to the Roman Catholic teachings of Pro-Life.

We applaud the prelates in Texas who refuted the full page ad of Catholics for Choice with their own full page pro-life ad, honoring God’s gift of life.

Next weekend Father Ignatius Himawan MSF will be preaching at all the Masses. Father Ignatius is a missionary of the Holy Family. The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Holy Family was founded in 1895. The missionaries bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people in Argentina, Austria, Belarus, and many other countries. We welcome Father Ignatius.

How often have we heard people say, “Welcome back.” Or “Welcome home…stranger.” Father Bob and I have heard those greetings many a time. Let me explain what is happening. Yes, there are times we are not present at a Sunday Mass. Where are we?

Surely you are aware of the priest shortage. There are not enough priests to cover all the needs of this Archdiocese. So, often times we priests ‘help out’ one another. Amongst us priests we frequently us that phrase – ‘Help Out.’ Father Bob and I have been helping out at St. Margaret Mary. Father Jimmy Drennan, the pastor, has encountered some serious health issues during this past year. Although he is recovering well, the work load at St. Margaret Mary is overwhelming. Not only does he have six masses on a weekend, there are also many weddings and funerals throughout the week. So he asked us to ‘help out.’

Father Bob and I basically alternate on saying weekend Masses at St. Gerard. And so, we also alternate on saying Masses at St. Margaret Mary. During the week there could be four or five funerals. So, we ‘help out’ in taking those funerals.

Then, Sister Emelia, a sister of Our Lady of Sorrows on Beethoven Street informed us that their chaplain has returned to his community up north. She asked us to celebrate daily Mass at the Divine Mercy chapel. So, Father Bob and I alternate in celebrating with the Sisters and many others. On week days the Mass is at 9:00 a.m. and on Sundays, at 10:00 a.m. For several hours every day a priest hears confessions at San Fernando Cathedral. Priests from around the diocese switch off in hearing confessions. Father Bob hears confessions every Monday afternoon.

So, if you don’t see us at St. Gerard, know that we are not out vacationing, but rather praising God at a nearby church.

Looking ahead, the Knights of Columbus Silver Rose will arrive at St. Gerard on October 15, 2016, on time for the 5:00 p.m. Mass. Over the years people brought roses to Mary. Years back a group of young men, known as Columbian Squires, and belonging to the Knights of Columbus, decided to relay a rose to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Monterrey Mexico. they introduced ‘The Running of the Rose.’ These squires were so enthused that they invited the Knights from the United States to run a rose through the United States to the International Bridge in Laredo, where Mexican Knights would then carry the rose to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Monterrey.

We are honored to have the Silver Rose come to St. Gerard. Last year it arrived by motorcycle. Who knows how it will arrive this year. Nevertheless, let’s look forward to its arrival.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 18, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Every week a young mother would visit the patients in nursing homes. She frequently took her four year old daughter with her.

One day, while her mother was visiting with a bed-bound resident, the little girl began looking around the room. She was intrigued when she saw the walking cane, a walker and a wheelchair. Then she noticed something strange on the night stand. A glass with a set of false teeth soaking in the water. The little girl picked up the glass. She rushed over to her mother and said, “Mom, Mom, the tooth fairy will never believe this.”

An elderly man died. The funeral service was being held in the funeral home. Just before the funeral services began, the undertaker came up to the man’s widow and asked, “How old was you husband?” “98,” she replied. “Two years older than me.”

“So you are 96,” the undertaker commented. With a sheepish grin the widow responded, “Hardly worth going home, is it?”

In the September 2nd issue of ‘Today’s Catholic’ there was a story of a great grandmother celebrating ‘Grandparents’ Day.’ This woman, Anna Burket, was born in Schulenberg, Texas, nearly 105 years ago.

Joann Hopkins, our parishioner and an Editorial Assistant for Today’s Catholic, reminded us that Anna, at one time was a parishioner at St. Gerard.

Five years ago St. Gerard parishioners began using the services of ‘Faith Direct’. ‘Faith Direct’ is a service which electronically withdraws money from a parishioner’s account and deposits that money in St. Gerard’s account. ‘Faith Direct’ handles the posting of this money, the accounting and the statements. In short, ‘Faith Direct’ handles most of the secretarial work.

Currently there are 54 parishioners using the services of Faith Direct. Last week we met with a number of parishioners who are using Faith Direct for their contributions to the church. All of them were very satisfied with Faith Direct. Here are some of their comments. “Using Faith Direct is a convenient way to contribute to the church.” “I am in complete control of my contributions.” “Faith Direct is secure, safe and reliable.” “I don’t have to remember every week to write a check to the church. Faith Direct handles it.” “I can change the amount of my contributions any time I want. I just make the change on-line or I make a phone call.”

The people in our office who handle the secretarial work appreciate Faith Direct because it eliminates much of our office work. When we compare the envelope system with Faith Direct we immediately notice that the envelope system is labor intensive and Faith Direct is convenient. With the envelope system someone has to open the envelope, take out the money, unfold the check or bill (how often people fold their money for whatever reason), put the money in the appropriate denominations, count the money, prepare a deposit, take the money to the bank, give credit to the donor by posting the amount, and finally, send a statement at the end of the year. ‘Faith Direct’ handles all of these steps.

Statistics show that on average, parishioners will not be in attendance in their home parish 10 to 15 weekends a year. For the most part, whenever they are absent they do not make a ‘catch-up’ contribution. Faith Direct makes automatic transfers 52 weeks of the year. It is much easier to budget when we know the amount of money being given on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly ¬†basis.

Next weekend one of our parishioners will be speaking at each Mass about Faith Direct. We are encouraging more parishioners to use ‘Faith Direct.’ There will be parishioners at the table outside the church. You may sign up at the table or your may take the form home and return the completed form on the following Sunday.

We know there are some folks who do not want to be a registered parishioner but they want to contribute. it is possible for those folks to use Faith Direct. All you need is our parish I.D. number.

And, there are some folks who have never gotten around to registering in our parish. You may register next Sunday, or you may take the form home with you.

We all know there are no free lunches. Faith Direct is not a free service, However, we have a generous benefactor who covers the expense of Faith Direct.

The formula for being eternally young will work once they iron out a few wrinkles.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 11, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

An American manufacturer is showing his machine factory to a potential customer from Albania. At noon, when the lunch whistle blows, two thousand men and women immediately stop work and leave the building.

“Your workers, they’re escaping!” cries the visitor. “You’ve got to stop them.” “Don’t worry,” the American says, “They’ll be back.” And indeed, at exactly one o’ clock the whistle blows again, and all the workers return from their break.

When the tour is over, the manufacturer turns to his guest and says, “Well, now, which of these machines would you like to order?” “Forget the machines,” says the visitor. “How much do you want for that whistle?”

Another whistle has blown. It has sounded from the chancery office. A financial whistle. All the pastors received word that over fifty parishes failed to reach their goal for the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. St. Gerard was on that shortfall list. Our goal was $11,922. Presently, we have raised $10,455.

The Bishops throughout the United States have asked all parishes to take up a collection for the victims of flooding in Louisiana. Many of them lost everything. Next Sunday we will take a second collection to help the folks in Louisiana get back on their feet.

A few weeks ago I officiated at Lauren Orozco and Marin Guillen’s wedding. When I went into the sacristy to vest for the occasion I laid my suit coat upon the counter. After the wedding I reached for my suit coat. It was gone.

I asked a number of people if they happened to see a black suit coat. No Luck. Well, I’m not too attached to the suit coat. It was old. The sleeves were frayed. But in one pocket was a rosary. It is a strong durable rosary. When I made my novitiate in 1960 I made the rosary. I always carried it in my suitcoat.

So if you happen to know the person who needed that suitcoat, kindly tell that person to keep the coat but kindly return the rosary. You can return it anonymously in the confessional or just mail it to me. Then, I’ll say a rosary for that person.

It reminds me of the story of the young girl, Sally, who found a golden bracelet in the back seat of a taxi. Many diamonds glistened on that bracelet. The clasp was broken. She thought to herself, ‘I can fix the clasp. Then I’ll have lovely jewelry to wear to the engagement party.

She told her mother about her discovery, and what she had planned to do. Her mother said, “I’m shocked. Shocked and very disappointed. I thought I passed onto you a sense of honesty and integrity.”

Sally and her mother argued. Her mother insisted that Sally return that bracelet. Finally, Sally relented and brought the bracelet to the Taxi Company, hoping that it would find its way to its rightful owner.

Sally went to the engagement party on Saturday night. Oh how she wished she still had the bracelet. She would have worn it to the party. She regretted telling her mom.

Then, to her amazement, she happened to notice her good friend’s mother wearing a similar bracelet. As Sally looked more closely she realized it was the very bracelet which she had returned to the taxi company. Sally went over to her friend and said, “Judy, that’s a gorgeous bracelet your mother is wearing.”

Her friend said, “Yes, it’s a one-of-a-kind creation. It was especially designed for my mother. It’s my mother’s favorite piece of jewelry. She lost it earlier this week in a cab. She was utterly devastated. She thought she would never get it back. Thank God, an honest citizen found it and brought it into the Taxi and Limousine Commission.”

Sally smiled sheepishly. She finally realized how sound her own mother’s advice had been, and how close she had come to both losing a valued friend and being publicly humiliated. She was grateful for the lesson.

The Public Works road crew had been out patching up the highway. On their last stop, a worker noticed the foreman swing his shovel and crush a snail crawling along the road. “Why did you kill that little snail?” the worker demanded. “Because,” said the foreman, “He’s been following us all day.”

Walking into noisy classroom, the teacher slapped her hand on the desk and ordered sharply: “I demand pandemonium!” The class quieted down immediately. “It isn’t what you demand,” explained teacher, “but the way you demanded it.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.



Pastor’s Notes – September 4, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The little kid was eating an apple in the back seat of the car. He asked his father, “Daddy, why is my apple turning brown?”

His dad explained, “Because after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came into contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure and turning it into a different color.”

There was a long silent pause. Then the son asked softly, “Daddy, are you talking to me?”

When Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, he spoke at the National Press Club. He told his audience that he regretted he was not more of an orator. “It reminds me of my boyhood days on a Kansas farm,” he said. “An old farmer had a cow we wanted to buy. We went over to visit him. We asked about the cow’s pedigree. The farmer didn’t have a clue what pedigree meant. We asked about the cow’s butterfat production. The farmer had no idea. We asked how many pounds of milk the cow produced each year. The farmer shook his head.

Finally, the farmer said, “I don’t know much about that animal. But I do know that she’s an honest old cow and she’ll give you all the milk she has!”

On this Labor Day our prayer is that we can look back at our year’s work and say with Ike, “I gave it everything I had.” We always admire the people who give everything they have. As the sports analysts say about some athletes, “They give 110 percent.”

This Sunday, September 4, Pope Francis will canonize a woman who gave it everything she had…Blessed Mother Teresa. Not only will Pope Francis be raising Mother Teresa to the altars at a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square but during this past week Rome was abuzz with celebrations honoring the Albanian religious sister who became known as the “angel of the slums.”

Mother Teresa has offered many reflections on the gospel values. In 1968 I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Mother Teresa speak at the International Priests Retreat in Rome. What a humble person she was. Her message to us priests was to love God and love one another, and pray and pray and pray.

Throughout Saint Mother Teresa’s life she offered many Christian pieces of advice for everyday living. Someone gathered her words of encouragement and put them into ‘Saint Mother Teresa’s ABCs‘ of Christian Living.

‘A’ – Always have the courage to say “I’m sorry.”
‘B’ – Be kind, be compassionate.
‘C’ – Control your judgments.
‘D’ – Don’t let yourself get discouraged.
‘E’ – Every minute is precious.
‘F’ – Find out what is nice in each other.
‘G’ – Give until it hurts.
‘H’ – Have a deep respect for each other.
‘I’ – If you really love God, love one another.
‘J’ – Just do small things with great love.
‘K’ – Keep your heart clean.
‘L’ – Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often.
‘M’ – Make time for each other in your family.
‘N’ – Never tell lies.
‘O’ – Only believe – you are precious to Him (God).
‘P’ – Put love in whatever you do.
‘Q’ – Quite a lot of people have forgotten what love is…so begin to give the joy of loving.
‘R’ – Refrain from prejudice.
‘S’ – Smile at each other.
‘T’ – Take the trouble to listen.
‘U’ – Use your talents for the glory of God.
‘V’ – Very often, we look but we don’t see. Let us look AND see.
‘W’ – When humiliation comes, accept it and offer it.
‘X’ – Excuse rather than accuse.
‘Y’ – You must learn to forgive.
‘Z’ – Zeal is a second name for love. Do not lose that zeal!

In the world of athletics the coaches encourage their players to ‘give it their best.’ During his tenure as the athletic director of Carlisle University, ‘Pop’ Warner accepted an invitation from nearby Lafayette College for a track and field competition.

When Warner arrived with only five athletes for the event, the Lafayette coach asked, “Where’s the rest of your team?” To which Warner replied, “Right here.” “But I have forty six men on my team,” the Lafayette coach said, “There are seven events. Your team won’t stand a chance.”

Despite what seemed like a huge disadvantage, Warner’s team took first and second place in the two mile, and half-mile races. Another Carlisle runner fan the quarter-mile race, and yet another won the high hurdles. Carlisle’s Jim Thorpe – how would go on to compete in the Olympics – won the broad jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, and low hurdles. He also placed second in the 100 meter race. Carlisle won the match 71-31.

Workmen used to bring their own tools to the job. When a workman was let go, he was given his final paycheck – and a sack for his tools. Thus he was “sacked.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.