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.