By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
William Allen White, famed editor of Emporia Gazette, was a staunch member of the Convention of the Gazette. At the opening session, the presiding officer discovered that the man assigned to give the invocation was absent. The officer happened to see Mr. White in the audience. The officer asked him to give the invocation. William Allen White emphatically replied, “No! I will not pray in this place for two reasons. First of all, I am not trained in the fine art of public prayer. Secondly, I don’t want the Lord to know that I am attending a Republican Convention.”
We are in the homestretch of our presidential elections. We’ve heard the debates of the two candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency. We’ve heard each of them speak about the values they treasure and the issues they endorse. We’ve followed them on their campaign trails. In a few weeks all registered voters will be heading to the polls to cast their votes for one or the other candidate. My advice to you…The Bishop’s advice to you…The Church’s advice to you…vote your conscience on Election Day, November 8, 2016.
A few days before Election Day, the Catholic Church of San Antonio will be gathering together at ‘Assembly 2016.’ On Saturday, November 5, all parishioners of all parishes will gather at St. Mary’s University. The theme of our gathering is, “United As Church.”
There will be many presentations to inspire us and to renew out personal commitments as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. in the morning. Last year the Eucharist was late in the afternoon. Many priests had to cancel their Saturday evening Mass in order to attend the Assembly Mass. The priests encouraged Archbishop Gustavo to schedule the Mass at another time.
Everyone is invited to the 10:30 Mass. Last year the Mass was a grand celebration of praise to God as well as honoring the many people who are building the Kingdom of God here on earth.
So, we need you to register. Come for an hour. Come for a couple of hours. Visit the booths which promote vocations. Learn about the ministries in the Archdiocese. Visit the vendors. But most of all, come and celebrate the Mass with us. And if you stay all day, you may participate in Evening Prayer and Final Benediction at 4:45. Archbishop Gustavo asks us to register on line. Go to the website www.assemblysa.org .
On Monday, October 10th my mother Joe passed away. The cause of his death was listed as a heart attack. It was a silent heart attack. He simply took a nap, or a ‘power nap’ as he would call it and never woke up.
Joe went to the Packer football game on Sunday night, Oct. 9th. He and a friend left the game a bit early to beat the traffic. On the way home-which was a 1 1/2 hour drive- Joe took a nap. His friend thought he was napping. Upon arriving home his friend tried to wake him. But Joe had already gone home to the Lord.
Joe was married to Holly. They have two daughters, Sheri and Kim, both married. Joe and Holly built a house on Green Lake in Wisconsin. After Joe retired, Joe and Holly lived year-round at the lake. Nearly every summer I would spend a week with them at Green Lake. Then, in the winter Joe and Holly would rent, for two months, a condo on Marco Island in Florida. Every year I would join them for a week in Marco.
Joe owned gasoline stations and automotive repair shops for many years. he owned these businesses in Fond du Lac and Oshkosh Wisconsin. Being in business opened the door for him to meet many people. Joe was a very hospitable person. He remembered everyone’s name and everyone seemed to know Joe.
Joe’s wake reflected how much people loved and respected him. The undertaker estimated more than 600 people came to the wake. Then, before the funeral Mass there was a viewing for two hours, with another large group of people coming to pay their respects.
Joe and I have been very close all these years. Joe was my younger brother. We loved each other and respected each other and shared many things together. We went in different directions – priesthood – businessman, but we still kept in touch. Even though I knew it was going to be difficult to stand above his casket and celebrate the Mass, and even though I was risking the possibility of breaking down, I felt compelled to preside and preach at my brother’s funeral. So I called upon the Holy Spirit to see me through the Mass. Joe was always there for me. One last time I needed to be there for my brother, as I said, ‘farewell’ to Joe.
Three scripture passages capture Joe’s life. Those three passages can be reduced to three words: Faith. Generosity. Happiness.
Joe was a man who believed. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live.” ‘John 11:25’ Joe who believed, now lives. Someone asked him, “To what do you attribute your success in business?” Joe pointed across town to St. Joe’s steeple and said, “Every SundayI am in church.”
Joe was a generous man, always available to help. ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do for me.” ‘Matthew 25:31’ How often I heard from his friends during the wake, “I called Joe for help; I asked Joe what he thought; I stopped at Joe’s and chatted. Joe was always there to help.” I remember talking with Joe about generosity. He said, “I try to be generous” and he was.
Joe was a happy man. Many a person said, “We always had a good time when Joe was there.” Wherever he went he brought cheer. Every photo showed him smiling. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ‘John 5:11’ Friends felt that joy in the presence of Joe.
Sometimes there is a premonition of death. Sometimes we say things which give a slight hint of what might happen. Whether Joe was giving us a message or not we don’t know. Here is what happened and what was said.
About a month and a half ago my 97 year old aunt died. Before her death she announced that she wanted an ‘open bar’ after her funeral Mass. Joe was quite impressed with the ‘open bar’ idea. On a few occasions before his death he said, “When I die, I want an ‘open bar’ and I am going to pay for it.” After Joe’s funeral Mass, we went to the Holiday Inn for drinks and a meal. The ‘open bar’ was open from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Yes, Joe had many drinking friends.
Joe, may you rest in peace. Thank you for your love and good times. May God reward you.
Your brother James.