Monthly Archives: July 2017

Pastor’s Notes – July 30, 2017

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An old retired couple decided to treat themselves with a new Mercedes sports car. They visited a dealership, picked out a car and informed the salesman that they had $70,000 but would need to finance $25,000 to close the deal. He promised to hold the car for them.

A month later they returned to learn that the car had just been sold to a gorgeous blond, elegantly dressed. That young woman was sitting in her new Mercedes and about to drive off. The old man, visibly upset, looked at the woman, then shouted at the salesman, “Young man, you said you would hold the car till we raised enough financing. You told me that there was no discount to this model. Yet you closed the deal with that woman over there. That was wrong!”

The salesman took a deep breath and said, “Well, what can I tell you?” She had $70,000 ready cash. She didn’t need any financing help. And, sir, just look at her, how could I resist that beautiful woman.” Just then the young woman walked over the senior couple. She handed the keys to the Mercedes to the old man and said, “There you go, dad. I told you I could get him to lower the price. See you later Mom and Dad. Happy Father’s day.”

A month ago the Redemptorist leadership team in Denver made a significant financial decision. The team chose to move the residence of the provincial and his two consultors from Denver to Chicago. For the past 21 years the provincial leadership team lived in an apartment house near downtown Denver. For the past 12 years they conducted business in a large office building.

In Chicago the provincial and his consultors will reside in St. Michael’s parish – staffed by Redemptorists. They will conduct business in the former convent at St. Michael.

Next Tuesday, August 1st, we are celebrating the feast day of St. Alphonsus. St. Alphonsus founded the religious order of men, entitled, ‘The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.’ However, throughout the world, this congregation is affectionately known as ‘Redemptorists.’ Our mission is to: “Preach the Good News to the poor.”

When the Redemptorists came to America in 1832, the Bishops asked the priests and brothers to staff immigrant parishes. Redemptorists from Austria, Bavaria and Germany arrived in America. They ministered in parishes where many of these immigrants settled. From the early days, many Redemptorists became parish priests. Yet, we were founded to preach missions in parishes. Being parish priests, the Redemptorists tried to distinguish themselves from other parishes by directing parishes as though they were conducting a continuous mission. Even to this day the Redemptorists try to give a ‘mission’ flavor to the parishes we staff.

St. Alphonsus was a man dedicated to prayers. He directed his followers to ‘pray and pray always.’ When we pray and accept God’s way, we will find happiness in our lives. They say, “If your troubles are deep-seated and of long standing, try kneeling.”

‘Good News’ which the Redemptorists preach, means eternal salation. However, there was a young boy in North Dakota who added another interpretation for good news. This young pre-school lad was suffering from a severe case of constipation. The doctor had suggested the usual remedies of prunes, mineral oil, and enemas. Nothing worked until he drank a glass of saline solution.

He quickly visited the bathroom then rushed into the kitchen shouting to his mother, “Mom, mom, I’ve got good news! I’ve got good news!” Good news became his phrase to signal a successful bowel movement. The following Sunday, during the children’s Mass, the priest asked the kids, “Does anyone know what ‘Good News’ means?” This young kid quickly raised his hand. And now you know the rest of the story.

A Philadelphia legal firm opened a new office in Baltimore. The firm contacted a florist to deliver flowers on the day that the Baltimore office opened. Through a mix-up, the ribbon on the floral piece read “Deepest Sympathy.” When the florist was informed of the mistake, he exclaimed, “Good heavens! Then the flowers that went to the funeral home said, ‘Congratulations on your new location!”

WELCOME

Welcome to the Redemptorist theology students. Welcome to your new location – San Antonio. Welcome to your new location – St. Gerard. Welcome Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming – the two priests in charge of the students. We are happy that all of you are part of our St. Gerard Family.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 23, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Ernie Banks played shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs. He was a Hall of Fame baseball player and a Hall of Fame individual.

Ernie always remembered the way his father worked and sacrificed to give him a chance to play baseball. Every day his father left the house before dawn and got home after dark. He worked so many hours, he hardly ever saw sunlight. When Ernie signed his first contract with the Cubs, he sent a three-word telegram to his dad; “We did it!”

“We did it!” Yes, we worked many hours to prepare “The Theology Residence” for the arrival of the seminarians. The list of volunteers goes on and on. The contractors did their work – painting, plumbing, electrical, plastering, carpentry, carpet and tile. Many people in the parish participated by making generous donations toward the furnishing of the rooms. We purchased all new furnishings – sheets, towels, blankets, comforters, etc.

Now we are ready for a final ‘clean up.’ On Thursday, July 27th we will have our work day. We want to make each room as attractive as we can, just like they do at the Marriott. Whether you have signed up or not, you are welcome to help us on the 27th.

Then, over the weekend of July 29-30, we will have open house.. Some of the people who have volunteered said that they never saw the inside of the house. After each Mass on the 29th and 30th folks are welcome to see what the back rooms look like, or what kind of rooms are on the second floor. Everyone who helped furnish a room with donations will be able to see how their contributions were used.

Congratulations to all who helped. Now, let’s welcome the seminarians.

Now, let’s take a look at what will be happening next spring. Surely we have all heard the Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. The Campaign is being called: !Andale! Many of us probably used that word to tell someone to “hurry up.” The Campaign is translating the word to ‘On the Way.’ We are ‘on the way’ to become a growing Archdiocese that cares about people, that reaches out to the marginalized, that is present to the young people on college campuses, that helps the disabled, and is preparing for the rapid growth of the populations. New parishes will be opened. Older parishes will be updated. Our goal for the campaign is 60 million.

The parishes in the Archdiocese have been divided into four groupings. These groupings are called ‘Waves.’ Rather than having every parish in the Archdiocese conduct their capital campaign at the same time, we are divided into four different time periods. The Pilot Wave is currently having their campaign. Then follows the first wave, followed by the second wave and finally the third wave. We at St. Gerard are listed in the second wave. We will conduct our campaign next spring.

There are many fascinating aspects to this campaign. First of all, we must be aware that the last capital campaign the Archdiocese conducted was 60 years ago. The Steier Group consultants from Omaha Nebraska will assist each parish in conducting the campaign. the Group will help each parish with the planning, printing and implementation. All the mailings will come from the Archdiocese. A portion of the money raised will go directly to the parish. If the parish has a construction project planned or in progress, 30 to 40 percent of the money raised will be returned to the parish.

St. Gerard will have a construction project. With the seminarians occupying “The Theology House,” we had to find space for our parish activities – meetings, Parish Faith Formation classes and social activities. We will be dividing the large classrooms in school to accommodate the smaller religious formation classes on Sunday morning. Getting into the school and going from floor to floor requires going up and down steps. We will be looking into the construction of an elevator so that the elderly and the disabled can get to the classrooms without climbing up steps.

There are two ways in which I want to prepare for this campaign. First of all – prayer. We will be including the campaign in our prayers at Mass. Secondly, information. I will try to keep you well informed every step of the way.

On June 26th the pilot wave was seven weeks into the campaign. At that time they have raised $12,385,583.

As we look ahead, let our minds, hearts and souls be filled with hope: Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst. Hope opens doors where despair closes them. Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot. Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature. Hope regards problems small or large, as opportunities. Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism. Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks. Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit. Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that ‘the longest journey starts with one step.’ Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others. Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 16, 2016

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly woman who lives in the country drove into the city to visit a friend in the hospital. She had not been inside a hospital for many years. She heard that medical technology had progressed over the years but had no idea what the latest instruments and gadgets might look like.

Upon arriving at the hospital she was directed to the elevator. As she stepped into the elevator a technician followed her, wheeling a large machine with tubes, wires, dials and lights.The elderly woman heard about ventilators and assumed that this machine must be a ventilator. Looking at the machine, then at the technician, she said, “My Oh My, I would hate to be hooked up to that apparatus.” “I’d hate it, too,” replied the technician. “It’s our new floor-cleaning machine.”

Week after week we come to Mass and probably never notice how clean the floor of our church is. And to think, we do not have a new floor-cleaning machine. We do it the old fashion way.

Let me tell you why our church always looks so bright and clean. Two faithful parishioners spent many hours each week dry mopping the floor, dusting the window sills and statues, cleaning the pews, and straightening the song books and missalettes. Yes, two sister-in-laws have been cleaning our church for the past 40 years. Plus, when the elementary school was in session they cleaned the school as well.

Both Marie and Lidia have an interesting history. Marie was raised as a Baptist. She became a Catholic when she got married. Lidia was not a Catholic but her husband was. They sent their children to St. Gerard School. Since their children were in the school, both Marie and Lidia got involved with the school. It was only within the last few years that Lidia became a Catholic. Now, she is present at Mass every day before she goes to work at Whataburger.

Marie and Lidia remember the days when the church floor was carpeted. It was quire a task to maneuver the vacuum cleaner between the pews. They are grateful for the new floor of ceramic wood plank. Now, after 40 years, Marie and Lidia are retiring. Marie’s daughter-in-law, Yvonne Ramirez, will carry on the Ramirez tradition of cleaning the church. However, after all these years Marie cannot totally step aside. She wants to help out in a less strenuous way.

Next Sunday evening Marie and Lidia will be at the 5:00 Mass. We as a faith community want to thank them for their 40 years of providing for us a beautifully cleaned church where we can proudly worship our God.

At a country fair, the townspeople held a horse-pulling contest. The first-place horse ended up moving a sled weighing 4,500 pounds. The owners of the two horses decided to see what these horses could pull together. They hitched them up and found that the team could move 12,000 pounds.

By working separately, the two horses were good for only 8,500 pounds. When coupled together, their synergism produced an added 3,500 pounds. It’s a hard lesson for us, but unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. “Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.”

In Jesus’ time, plow animals always worked in pairs. The yokes they used were custom fitted to each animal. If the yoke was too small or too big, or if the yoke awkwardly rubbed against the animal’s neck, the animal would lose some of its strength. So, the yokes were not interchangeable. Each animal had its personal yoke. With custom fitted yokes, the animals work harder and longer. As we saw above, when animals work together, the output is nearly doubled.

So, when Jesus says to ‘take my yoke upon you,’ he is offering to share our burdens, to help carry our load as a partner on the journey of life.

Last Tuesday we celebrated the memorial of St. Benedict. The Benedictine monks have been known for their great hospitality. The following bit of welcome and caution comes from the rule of St. Benedict in the sixth Century.

‘If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with a wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbott shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he had been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also, it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.’

Johnny’s mother always warned him that he would never amount to much because he always procrastinated. Whenever she said this, Johnny would always reply, “You just wait!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 9, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.

Father Rob Ruhnke lives in our Redemptorist house. Father Rob had dedicated his ministry in helping couples prepare for marriage. He is the author of a marriage preparation program entitled ‘For Better and Forever.’ In 1980 Father Rob published the first edition of ‘For Better and Forever.’ Recently the ‘National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers’ has selected Father Rob to receive an reward for his dedication to serve families, especially through his marriage preparation program, ‘For Better and Forever.’ On Monday, July 24th the Association will present the award to Father Rob at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

NACFLM applauds Fr. Rob as a long-time NACFLM member who has supported the national conference as a trainer, exhibitor, and sponsor. He first published the sponsor couple marriage preparation program ‘For Better and For Ever’ in 1980 and continues to expand the reach of the program through translations and updates. It has become the most widely used program of its kind in the Americas. It exemplifies the mission of NACFLM by: His commitment to the sponsor couple method of marriage preparation and awareness of its diversity enables family life ministry to provide accompaniment to couples and families.

Congratulations Father Rob Ruhnke!

Many unincorporated communities dot the countryside in Tennessee. One little community is named Amqui. In the olden days many trains stopped at Amqui. Those days are long gone. At one time the late Johnny Cash purchased the quaint railway station and moved it to his estate. Amongst the unusual names for a town, ‘Amqui’ surely ranks high on the list. Some of the local inhabitants of Amqui explain how their town received its name. When Amqui was settled by railroaders, their foreman told them to pick out a name for the place, and do it “damn quick.” So, they named the town Damquik, spelling it D-a-m-q-u-i-k.

Over the years some of the upper class ladies in town became infuriated with the name. They felt that their town was named after a vulgar statement. So they held a town hall meeting. After a heated discussion, they reached a compromise. They agreed to eliminate the first and last letters of the town’s name. And now you know the rest of the story.

Well, the convent at St. Gerard has gone through a few name changes. Originally it was built to be the home of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The sisters taught in the elementary school and high school. Some say that at one time nearly thirty nuns lived in the building. As time went on there were fewer and fewer nuns teaching in St. Gerard Schools. Those who were teaching moved to other residences. At that time, the Redemptorists rented the convent for college seminarians, studying at local colleges. These students were discerning their vocation to the priesthood. The name of the building changed to ‘Liguori House.’

When the decision was made to send the college seminarians to universities in New York the building became available for parish ministries. And so we referred to the building as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ And when we were lost for a name for this building, we simply referred to it as the ‘Former Convent.’ But now – The parish offices will remain in the south end of the building so we will continue refer to the south end as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ However, the Redemptorist theology students will occupy the north end, west end and second floor of the building. And now we will also refer to the building as ‘The Theology Residence.’ It might be confusing but we’ll get used to it.

Many people have asked: “What can I do to help?” There are many things to do before the seminarians arrived. But first, let me extend a “thank you” to the many people who have worked in ‘The Theology Residence’ over the past weeks. There were contractors bringing the building up to date. There were painters, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, carpenters and carpet layers. Many volunteers cleaned the kitchens and meeting rooms. In the next two weeks the contractors will be finishing their work. On July 27th there will be a final ‘clean up’ work day. We will need many people to prepare the bedrooms for occupancy.

The Redemptorists of the Denver Province have paid for all the contracted work that has been done to the building. The parish has not paid for the construction work. Now, many people have offered to buy items for the rooms. First let me thank the Altar Society/Holy Name. This organization bought a commercial washer and dryer for The Theology Residence. Thanks much!

We are also inviting people to sponsor, or co-sponsor a bedroom. We have 22 bedrooms. The sponsor and/or co-sponsor will provide bedding, towels, blanket, comforter/bed spread. We ask that the sponsors deliver these items to the parish office no later than July 25th. Then, on July 29th, the final ‘clean up’ day, we will clean the rooms and make the beds. On August 1st, or soon after, we will welcome the seminarians.

A New Yorker driving through Texas stopped in a small town for a bite to eat. As he was crossing the street, a powerful gust of wind from the West almost knocked him over. Staggering inside, he asked the restaurant owner. “Does the wind blow that way all the time?”

“No,” said the owner, “Sometimes it comes from the other direction.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss,R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 2, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Many years ago when communism had a stranglehold on the Russian citizens, two dogs happened to meet on the streets of Paris. The French dog asked, “Where do you come from?” The visiting dog said, “Russia.” The French dog asked, “What’s a dog’s life like in Russia?” The Russian dog responded, “Well, we live in a well-insulated and heated dog house. They feed us caviar every day. We never have anything to do but lounge around.” “With living conditions like that, why would you want to come to France,” asked the French dog. “Well,” said the Russian dog, “sometimes I just like to bark.”

Freedom is a sacred gift, given to us from God. Freedom of speech is a precious privilege which we have in America. And sometimes we do like to bark.

This week we celebrate the freedom of our country with the Fourth of July. Our ancestors fought for freedom. Our flag, our National Anthem and our Declaration of Independence proclaim to the world that we are a free country.

In 1812 America was at war with Great Britain. The British were confident that they could whip this upstart nation. As the war dragged on, victory eluded them. One night in 1814 the British initiated a three-pronged attack on American strongholds. One point was Fort McHenry in Baltimore. If the British took the fort, it would be defeat for the Americans.

In one of the attacking ships were two Americans, William Beanes and Francis Scott Key. The British had taken Beanes as a prisoner. His friend Key was there to beg the British to set him free. From their tiny window on the ship, the two captives waited through the night, hoping for victory and fearing defeat. If the American flag was still flying over the fort in the morning, they knew that the Americans had protected the fort, and victory would be in sight. If the British flag was flying high over the fort. Inspired by what he saw, Key wrote a poem commemorating the moment. He called the poem, ‘the Defence of Fort McHenry.’ Today, we know it as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The flag which inspired Francis Scott Key now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Where did it come from? A year before Key wrote his poem the commandant at Fort McHenry commission Mary Young Pickersgill to create a flag ‘so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing from a distance.’ Pickersgill had learned the craft from her mother, who made the first flag of the American Revolution. After six weeks of work, she presented a massive flag – thirty-six feet high and forty-two feet wide. By Proclamation of Harry S. Truman on July 2, 1948, Fort McHenry was proclaimed to be one of only two sites in the world over which the flag of the United States of America may be displayed at all times, day and night. The other site is the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. As we stand to salute the flag on this Fourth of July, and as we sing our National Anthem, we applaud two brave people, Pickersgill and Key.

Then, on the evening of July 4, 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. A copy of the original document was found in 1989. A man bought a painting for $4.00 at a flea market. He didn’t care for the painting. He wanted the picture frame. When he took the picture apart a copy of the Declaration of Independence fell out. He thought it was a 19th century printing. So he kept it as a conversation piece.

A few years later, a friend saw it. The friend suggested that he investigate the origin of the document. He learned that only hours after the Declaration was completed, the Continental Congress had delivered the handwritten draft to a printer with orders to send copies to Assemblies, Conventions and Committees. This was one of those original copies. It is unknown how many copies were printed, but 24 survive today. Most are in poor condition. But the one in the picture frame was in mint condition. In 1991 it sold at auction for $2.4 million dollars.

Through blood, sweat, tears and death, our country became a free nation. Each year thousands of people immigrate to the United States to enjoy freedom. We natives often take our freedom for granted. For those who had been deprived of their God given right of freedom, Fourth of July is a sacred holiday. Let us thank our God for the gift of freedom.

How often we have heard the phrase, “Enjoy the moment.” Ralph Sockman said, “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and by borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.” Let us enjoy each day during the summer.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.