Monthly Archives: January 2017

Pastor’s Notes – January 22, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The school principal stepped into the fifth grade classroom. She began testing the students on their biblical history. Looking at a bright eyed boy she asked, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” That boy froze. He began to tremble. He took a defensive stance and blurted out: “I didn’t do it!” The principal was astounded at such a pathetic answer.

Later in the day, the principal happened to see the boy’s mother at H-E-B. She recounted what happened in the classroom. She said, “I was flabbergasted when I asked your son, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho and your son said, “I didn’t do it!” Protecting her son’s innocence, the mother firmly stated, “If my son said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it.”

The next day the boy’s father met with the principal. The principal shared with him what had happened the previous day. “I asked your son who knocked down the walls of Jericho. And your son adamantly exclaimed, “I didn’t do it!” Then I say your wife at H-E-B. I told her what happened and she said, “If my son said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it!” The father calmly said, “Listen, madam, I ain’t much for making trouble around this here school. So tell me, how much did those walls cost?”

Beginning next Sunday, the Catholic Church will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week. Although St. Gerard Catholic elementary school closed its doors in 2001, it is important that we support Catholic education. And so we ask, ‘What is National Catholic Schools Week’? Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week this year is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Shortly after St. Gerard became a parish, plans were put in motion to have a Catholic Elementary School. In 1912, the Sisters of Notre Dame open the doors of St. Gerard Elementary School. Two years later, the Sisters began a St. Gerard High School.

St. Gerard Elementary served the people until 2001, at which time financial straits forced the school to close. St. Gerard High School continues to educate students in the Catholic tradition. Originally, St. Gerard was a parish high school. In 1988 the Archdiocese of San Antonio assumed the responsibility of providing a Catholic education to students on the East side.

The 2017 Archdiocese’s Appeal has begun. Our theme this year is ‘Disciples, Sent by the Spirit.’ The goal for the Archdiocese is $4,500,000. St. Gerard Parish goal this year is $12,121. Last year our parish did not meet this goal. We came up $1, 900 short. So, let’s change things this year.

Your gift to the Appeal will be used exclusively to support the ministries and programs that serve the homeless, provide education and spiritual formation for seminarians and deacons, and provide evangelization and education initiative for youth, young adults, and families in the Archdiocese. Your generous gift to the Appeal is essential in serving Christ’s people in our archdiocesan community.

Looking ahead – March 1st is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. One month later, April 1st we will be celebrating our parish Mission. Father Pete Schavitz will preach the mission. We have a committee preparing for this wonderful event in our parish. Mitzi Clark, Irma Segovia and Bob Gonzales are the point people in preparing for the mission. They will recruit others to handle every aspect in celebrating a successful mission.

On June 27th, 2016, Redemptorists from around the country gathered in St. Louis to celebrate the 150 Anniversary of receiving the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It was Pope Pius IX who entrusted the icon with the Redemptorists. He missioned the Redemptorists to “Make her known throughout the world.”  During the celebration, the Redemptorists were presented with a special painting of the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This icon is a traveling icon. It is visiting every Redemptorist parish, Retreat House or community. We are please to announce that the icon will arrive at St. Gerard this spring.

The icon will be present during our mission. Each night a parishioner, carrying the icon, will lead the procession down the aisle to the sanctuary. Each night the sermon will embrace Mary:

Sunday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Word made Flesh;
Monday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Redeemer;
Tuesday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Great Healer;
Wednesday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Bread of Life;
Thursday-Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Mother of the Church.

Seven years ago a mid-night raider helped himself to valuable items within our offices. He ransacked our desks. He strewed papers throughout the offices. He found some valuables. Since then we locked our offices. Our safety consultants informed us that there’s no foolproof protection. At best, we can slow them down.

Since most thieves prefer the darkness of night, the best deterrent is light. So, we installed lights in the front and rear of our Parish Center and Offices. For the past seven years, we have had no incident…until…

Friday the 13th. We discovered that light is not foolproof. In the middle of the night on Friday, January 13th someone entered the Parish Center and took Father Francis’ lap top computer. Then, on Sunday night, January 15th a thief returned. This time the thief turned Fr. Francis’ office upside down, taking his ipad, hard drive, monitor and other valuables. He also rifled through Deacon Joe’s office. He took a projector from his office as well as another projector from the Seelos room. Fortunately, our parish offices were locked and untouched.

There was no evidence of a break in. There was no physical damage to the windows or doors. How did the thief enter? Don’t know. Perhaps a door was left unlocked. Perhaps someone was hiding in one of the many rooms. With many keys having been distributed, perhaps someone found a key to open the Center’s door. So, we must safeguard the keys to the Parish Center. We need to assure the doors are locked when leaving the building. We must do our best to deter another mid-night intruder. Thank you!

Fr.  Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration Procession of Roses

Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession of RosesFr. Shea holding a picture of Our Lady taken from the actual tilma of Juan DiegoFather Shea preparing the rose procession for the Our Lady of Guadalupe feast dayThe team and retreatants of St. Gerard's 2016 Womens ACTS Retreat group singing their final retreat day together at the 10:30 MassOur Lady of Guadalupe altar decorated for Her feast day celebration

Photographs by Genny Kraus

Pastor’s Notes – January 15, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Children and Elders! Two amusing groups of people! The things they do, the things they say will keep us smiling.

A nine year old boy stood next to the alarm clocks at a check-out counter. he was waiting to pay for his candy bars. The clerk overlooked the kid. She waited on all the adult customers first. Finally, she got around to the youngster. The kid paid for his candy and hustled out to the parking lot where his dad was anxiously waiting. “What took you so long, son?” he asked. The kid said, “The sales clerk waited on everybody in the store before me. But I got even with her.”

“You got even! How’d you do that?” his father asked. With a satisfying grin on his face, the kid said, “While I was waiting next to those alarm clocks, I wound them up and set them. At 4:30 this afternoon, that store will explode with noise.”

While enjoying a cup of tea, two elderly women were fussing about their husbands. The first one said, “I do wish my Leroy would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!” The second woman commented, “Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing. But I broke him of that habit real quick.”

“Broke him of the habit,” exclaimed Leroy’s wife. “How’d you do that?” Elmer’s wife smiled and said, “I simply hid his teeth.”

The children and the elder! How interesting they are! God created every human being. God gave dignity to every person. It is astounding how many people are deprived of their dignity. It happens so frequently amongst the elderly and the children.

Below is an interesting passage from the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bald eagle is a symbol of our national freedom. The bird has protection by law from those who would kill or harm it. In the United States we have a stringent federal law, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, passed in 1940, that protects not only the national bird, the bald eagle, but also that bird’s eggs. If you chanced upon some of those eggs in a nest our in the wilderness, it would be illegal for you to destroy them. If you did so, you would suffer the same penalties and sanctions as if you had shot the adult bird out of the air. By the force of law, we acknowledge the scientific truth that the eagle’s egg (that is to say, the embryonic eagle inside that egg) is the same creature as the beautiful bird that we witness flying overhead. Therefore we pass laws to safeguard not only the adult but also the very youngest member of that species.

Even atheists can see how a bald eagle’s eggs ought to be protected; it’s not a religious question at all. If bald eagles are valuable (in this case, for pragmatic reasons of conservation), then it is right and fitting to protect them at all stages of their existence. The same logic holds for humans, who are valuable not for pragmatic but for intrinsic reasons. It is rather striking how we are able to understand the importance of protecting the earliest stages of various forms of animal life, but when it comes to our own human life, we go through deceptive mental gymnastics to dissociate ourselves from our own very humble embryonic origins. It is indeed a sad commentary on the moral confusion of our times that we readily protect embryonic animals, but are eager to offer up our own human embryonic brothers and sisters for dismemberment on the altar of stem cell sacrifice.

Next Sunday is the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, which legalized abortion. Since the anniversary falls on a Sunday, next Monday, January 23rd, shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” will be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day. This would be a good day to attend Mass as we pray for an end to abortion and to embryonic stem cell research.

Redemptorists priests and brothers life a community life. We take the vow of poverty which means we as individuals do not own material things- like an automobile, a bicycle or golf clubs. All these items belong to the community. But, as members of a community we have an ‘Ad Usum’ agreement. This means that we have permission to use the necessary things in life. For example, the title to the car I drive is under the Redemptorist name, not mine. However, the Redemptorist community allows me to drive this car for my use ‘Ad usum.’ We often say ‘my car, my bike, my golf clubs’ even though in reality they belong to the community.

Redemptorists are located in over 75 countries throughout the world. We are divided into provinces, vice-provinces and regions. A few years ago the Redemptorists added another category to our organizational chart. Where there are several provinces or vice-provinces in one country they will now come under one umbrella which we call ‘Conference.’

The North American Conference has decided to send all Redemptorists students, studying theology to the Oblate School of Theology. That means that these will be 20-25 young Redemptorists coming to San Antonio in August 2017. All the provincials in the Conference have asked to use our Parish Center, the former School Sisters of Notre Dame convent for their residence. So what will happen to our offices and meeting rooms? Well, for the time being we will co-habit. The offices will remain where they are until we create another place to locate them. For the time being we will schedule around each other in the use of meeting rooms.

However, eventually they would like to occupy the entire building. So, we would either restore the school building- with an elevator – for our offices, meeting rooms and classrooms or we would build an office. The Redemptorists in the Conference have indicated that they would help us financially. The Archdiocese has mentioned that there is money in the Texas coffers to preserve and restore historic buildings.

I will be putting a committee together to begin exploring these options. So, stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Martin Luther King said, “I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.”

Fr. JIm Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – January 8, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Back in the early 1900’s a young man from Mexico Jorge Rodriguez, would frequently slip across the Rio Grande to rob banks in Texas. The Texas Rangers pursued him but could never capture him.

One day a Ranger spotted Jorge crossing the Rio Grande. The Ranger followed the thief to his home where he mingled amongst the folks in the town square. Then, Jorge stepped into the town’s cantina. The Ranger followed. Putting a pistol to Jorge’s head the Ranger shouted, “Jorge, hand over the money you stole or I’ll blow your brains out.”

Not knowing English, Jorge did not understand the Ranger’s command. And the Ranger could not speak Spanish. Both were stymied. Just then, an enthusiastic young man stepped forward and said, “I am bi-lingual. I’ll be happy to translate?”

The interpreter explained to Jorge that he must surrender the money or the ranger would blow his brains out. A trembling Jorge told the interpreter that the money is hidden in the bell tower in the town square. Eight rows up on the north side of the tower, there is a loose brick. The money is behind the brick.

With an enterprising expression on his face, and knowing that no one within earshot was bi-lingual, the interpreter said to the Ranger in perfect English, “Jorge Rodriguez is a brave man. He says that he is ready to die.”

Over the years many folks have crossed the Rio Grande. There are those who came legally and others, illegally. And over the years immigrants came to the U.S. from countries around the globe. For most of us, our parents or our ancestors were immigrants. Some were legal. Others were not. There are laws that control the flow of migration. The Bishops of the U.S. and Mexico, Religious Orders of Men and Women, and various Christian Denominations have addressed the issue of migration. There is no easy solution. One thing we know for sure, ‘building a wall is not the solution.’

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. The Wise Men came from different countries to honor the new born babe before the Holy Family migrated to Egypt. And today we begin to celebrate National Migration Week. This is a week during which we will hear, ‘Lord, when did we see you  a stranger…and not minister to your needs?’ And He will answer, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you do for the least of my people you do for me.’

Scripture is filled with stories of God’s migrant people. In the Old Testament, we witness the Israelites facing famine by crossing into Egypt. Once again in the New Testament,Egypt serves as a place of refuge and safety for the Holy Family as they flee to escape King Herod’s death wish for the Christ Child. We are reminded repeatedly by Jesus, as well as by the prophets, to welcome strangers as we would welcome him. To Jesus, the unity of his people has Eucharistic significance. He teaches us that just as many grains become one bread – His Sacred Body, so too many people become one family of God, the mystical Body of Christ on earth.

Yes, we must learn more about the realities of migration. We must discover what treasures immigrants bring to our country. We must learn how to cooperate and trust. And finally, we must work to reform our current immigration laws that have a way of destroying family unity and creating strife in our communities.

Only a generous and compassionate immigration policy based on a sound system of laws and safeguards will keep our nation strong. Only then will we continue a long tradition of being a beacon of hope for those who come bearing gifts.

Pope John Paul II said, “None are so poor that hey have nothing to give…and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive.”

I once heard of a woman who decided to read the New Testament. She wanted to learn about the redemptive love which Jesus brought to His people. Several months later she was baptized. After baptism she told a friend, “When the priest poured water over my forehead I could feel the Holy Spirit descended on me. I’m glad that I finally got religion. I can see things differently now.Like that brother-in-law of mine whom I hated with a passion. Before baptism I vowed I would never go to his funeral. Now, I’ll be happy to go to his funeral anytime.”

Monday we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist poured water over Jesus. Jesus then came out of the water. The skies opened. The Spirit descended like a dove over them. Then a voice from the heavens was heard to say: “This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him.”

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

Pastor’s Notes – January 1, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

When Noah planted the grapevine, Satan asked,
Hey! Bud! What-cha doing?” “I;m planting a grapevine,” said Noah. “A grapevine!” exclaimed Satan, “What good is a grapevine?”

“it’s the fruit,” said Noah. “The fruit is pleasing to the eye, delicious to the taste and when the grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented, it makes happy the hearts of humans.”

“I’ll give you a hand,” said Satan. “I’ll make sure that the grapevine is well irrigated.” So Satan rounded up four animals – a lamb, a lion, a monkey, and a pig. He killed them all and poured their blood over the roots of the grapevine.

Since that time, whenever the people drink a little wine they become sweet and pleasant as a lamb. If they increase the dosage, they become strong and rough as a lion. It they continue drinking, they become as foolish as a monkey. If they don’t know when to quit, they end up resembling a pig.

This is the week when we say, ‘Goodbye’ to last year and ‘Hello’ to the coming year. We welcome the month of January which is named after the Roman god of doors, Janus. Janus has two heads. He looks forward and backward. On New Year’s Eve, we look forward and back. In doing so, we find ourselves toasting the New Year. May we be like lambs as we give a toast to 2017.

New Years is also a time to begin again with a New Year’s resolution. Here are a few ‘resolution’ gifts:

First- THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION: The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind cheery word to someone. It’s really not so hard to say, “Hello” or “Thank you.”

Second-THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT: We can really brighten someone’s day with a simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “That was a terrific dinner,” or “You did  a super job.”

Third-THE GIFT OF LISTENING: To be a good listener we must REALLY listen. We can listen to another person with no interrupting, no daydreaming and no disrespectful statement like – “I have a better story.”

Fourth-THE GIFT OF APPRECIATION: We can be generous with APPROPRIATE hugs, kisses, and pats on the back. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

Fifth-THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER: We can share our laughter and humor by clipping cartoons, jokes, articles and funny stories. Our gift will say, “I love to laugh with you!”

Sixth-THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE: We can send someone a simple note that says, “Thanks for the help,” or a poem, story, or any kind of upbeat message. The most brief, handwritten note can be remembered for a lifetime, and even change a life. We just never know.

Seventh-THE GIFT OF A FAVOR: Every day, we can go out of your way to do something kind for someone else. There are plenty of opportunities for us to do something nice for a friend, relative, or co-worker on a daily basis. Show the love of Christ with our acts of kindness to others. We can let them see Jesus in us.

Eight-THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE: There are times when we all want nothing better than to be left alone. We can be sensitive to family or friends who need that gift of solitude. Most especially, we can give that gift of solitude to ourselves.

On Thursday, January 5th, we celebrate the feast day of a famous Redemptorist Saint, – St. John Nepomucene Neumann. He was the first American male saint. (Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native born American saint. We celebrate her feast day this coming Wednesday. Once again, a woman outshines a man.)  St. John Neumann was born in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) on March 28, 1811. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 5, 1860 and was canonized in 1977.

St. John Neumann came to the U.S. and was ordained in New York as a diocesan priest. While ministering to the German immigrants in upstate New York, he discovered his need for living within a religious community. He joined the Redemptorists and preached missions in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He became the provincial superior of the Redemptorists in America. Later he was appointed the 4th bishop of Philadelphia.

He always maintained his spirit of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, by caring for the materially and spiritually impoverished as well as living a simple life style himself. On one occasion when he was caught in a rain storm someone suggested that he change his shoes before he caught a cold. John Neumann responded, “The only way I could change my shoes is by putting the left one on the right food and the right one on the left foot and right one on the left foot. This is the only pair I own.”

St. John Neumann was versed in six languages. He learned Gaelic to hear the confessions of teh Irish immigrants. One Irish immigrant commented after hearing John Neumann speak “Isn’t it grand that we have an Irish bishop.”

We begin the New Year with words of thanks to so many people at St. Gerard. To the many people who have done so much at St. Gerard, I say, “Thank You.” To all the people who painted and decorated the cafeteria for our Christmas party, I say, “Thank you.” To all our catechists I say “Thank You.” To all the people who contributed to St. Gerard throughout the year, I say, “Thank you.” To all our volunteers I say, “Thank You.” To all our office help, I say, “Thank You.” To all the people who brought gifts for the less fortunate folks, I say, “Thank you.” For all the Christmas cards, I say, “Thank you.” Two little words. Words filled with mercy and love: THANK YOU.

Clowns have a delightful prayer: “Lord, as I stumble through this life, help me create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that I am a clown, that my work is to cheer people up, make them happy, make them laugh,and make them forget momentarily all the unpleasant things in their lives. Never let me acquire financial success to the point where I will fail to call upon my Creator in the hour of need, or thank him in the hour of plenty.

And in my final moment, O Lord, may I hear you whisper in my ear: ‘When you made MY people smile, you made ME smile.”

Happy New Year,

Father Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.