Monthly Archives: August 2017

Pastor’s Notes – August 27, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A kid was “acting up” at Mass. He was out of control. The parents did their best to quiet him down. Nothing worked. The folks in the nearby pews were mumbling “get him out of here.” Finally, the father grabbed that kid, threw him over his shoulder and marched down the aisle toward the front door. The kid began to cry. He knew he was in big trouble. Just as they reached the church door the kid looked back and shouted to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”

Pope Francis wrote an encyclical letter entitled ‘Laudato Si.’ He spoke about our common home – the earth. Pope Francis asked that Friday, September 1st, be devoted to ‘The World day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.’ This is the day that the Catholic Christian world will join together in pray for the preservation of our common home – the earth. As Pope Francis says, “Christians are called to ‘an ecological conversion’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”

This annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will remind us that we are all called to keep air clean and breathable, our water clean and drinkable, our rain forests protected, our swamps and everglades preserved. There is so much beauty in God’s creation that we do not want to dishonor it and destroy it. We must never forget to thank our God for the wonderful handiwork He has created and handed down to us humans. It is up to us to keep our common home looking good for generations to come.

Prayer to Protect and Heal God’s Creation

“We have come to renew our covenant with God and with one another in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have come to help protect God’s creation. We have come as followers of Jesus to commit ourselves anew to one another and to heal injustice and poverty.

We have come to stand together against all threats to life. We have come to discover some new beauty every day in God’s creation the sunrise and the sunset, birds, flowers and trees, rainbows in the sky, the stars, the many forms of life in the forest. We have come to listen to the “music of the universe” – water flowing over rocks, the wind, trees bending in the wind, raindrops pattering on the roof. We will remember always that God speaks to us through the beauty of his creation, and we will try our best to answer God’s call to reverence all that he has created. Amen.”

During the Redemptorist convocation a few years back a suggestion was made that we Redemptorists ought to have some kind of a renewal program. We were looking for a way to energize ourselves. We were expecting to add a new spirit amongst us; and to build a stronger bond between us. One might say that we would be putting new wine into new wineskins.

A group of Redemptorists were asked to put together a program. They did. They called it ‘Renewed Hope, Renewed Hearts, Renewed Structure for Mission.’ This program was scheduled to be repeated at four different times and locations to accommodate all the Redemptorists of our province. Those who attended the program raved about it, so much so that those in charge added a fifth session for those who were hesitant to register early.

Communication is vital in this experience. Each day there is a presentation regarding our spiritual and community life. Then, a great part of each day is devoted to round table discussions of sharing: Sharing ones experience. Sharing one’s faith. Sharing ones hopes and dreams. Of course this means lots of listening to one another. ‘Shared Spirituality is the Heart of Change.’ So, we hope to bring that faith sharing experience into our conversations in our communities.

Everyone in our province was expected to attend. Fathers Carr, Ruhnke, Francis and Bob have already experienced the program. I am the last in line to attend. I will be attending this program at the Redemptorist Picture Rocks Renewal Center in Tuscon, Arizona from September 4th to September 18th. I look forward to the renewal program and hope to return spiritually refreshed.

Father Bob Lindsey will be handling the day to day duties. Father Lamar Patin, our Redemptorist vocation director, who is well known in our parish, will be helping with Masses and other duties. And of course Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming will also be helping with Masses as they continue their responsibilities as formators for the theology students.

Without sunscreen the hot summer sun can burn and blister human skin. The sun can also burn and blister our church doors that face to the south. Stan Guza built those doors. He applied the best sunscreen sealant available. The time has come to re-seal those doors. Stan asked his wife Beata and his sister Binaca – who is on vacation from Poland – to clean and re-seal those doors. Great job! Thanks Beata and Binaca.

A religion teacher asked her students to memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters one month to learn the Psalm. Little Rick was excited about the task – but he had difficulty remembering the words. He practiced and practiced. He simply could not remember all the words. On the day when Ricky was scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, he was a bundle of nerves. He stepped up to the microphone and shouted: “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R,

Pastor’s Notes – August 20, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Two elderly women were enjoying the warm breeze in the park. Their conversation eventually focused upon their husband. They began fussing about them. One woman said, “I do wish my Harry would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!”

“Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing,” the other woman commented. “But I broke him of that habit real quick.”

“Tell me,” said the other woman, “what did you do?” With a sheepish grin she said, “I hid his false teeth.”

The older we get the more we realize that the people who want to help themselves can only do so by helping others. It’s a basic law of success. This law comes to us right out of the bible, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.” “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” “I’ve come to serve, not to be served.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

One of the most successful businessmen who has used this principle was James Cash Penney. Mr. Penney started with a small general merchandise store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. From that store he built a multibillion-dollar business empire on one simple principle: The Golden Rule.

For years the Penney stores were called ‘The Golden Rule Stores.’ And it was Mr. Penney’s faith in the Golden Rule principle – always treating a customer as he himself would want to be treated – that made him grow and prosper.

But perhaps even more importantly was Mr. Penney’s attitude toward his employees. In the first place he did not like the word ’employee.’ He treated everyone as a partner. Rather than referring to his hired helpers as ’employees’ he referred to them as ‘associates.’ And he devoted himself to treating them as he would want to be treated. Most of all he knew that by helping them make money, his own success would be assured.

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Yet, so many of us still fear the loss of self through serving others. Actually, serving others is the only way to find oneself.

In our scripture readings today we hear God inviting us to break down the boundaries that separate us from others. God wishes that all His children enter into community with each other and with God. J.C. Penney was promoting the same principle. It was his profound Golden Rule principle.

During World War I, a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit. As the war progressed this chaplain was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted.

But the priest ran into a problem with the chancery office. The bishop was sympathetic, but he said that he would not approve the burial of a non-Catholic chaplain in a Catholic cemetery. So, the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence.

Years later, a war veteran who knew the story of the Bishop and the Pastor, returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The visiting veteran asked the priest to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.

“Oh,” he said, “I see that you got permission to move the body.” “No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”

I wonder what God thinks when he watches us humans making laws and establishing policies that separate us from one another. Jesus had but two laws – love God and love neighbor…whether you are boss, employee, partner or associate,…or whether you are inside the fence or outside…we are all one in Jesus Christ. It is up to us to live the ‘Golden Rule.’

As we recognize the Golden Rule of J.C. Penney, let me share with you a current ‘J.C. Penney incident.’ Before the Redemptorist Students arrived at St. Gerard, the parish as a whole decided to purchase new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters and towels for each student. Cliff and Eileen Padalecki shopped around and found the best deal at J.C. Penney. The saleswomen graciously welcomed us. They gave us a discount you couldn’t beat. It was a combination of ‘4th of July discount;’ ‘bulk discount;’ and ‘opening a new account discount.’ All toll, it was a ‘mammoth’ discount. These saleswomen followed the Golden Rule. Thank you J.C. Penney.

Save the date! Save the date!…and then we change the date! Yes, that’s what happened. San Antonio Catholic Television wanted to film a one hour program called ‘Discovering Your Faith’ in St. Gerard Church on Tuesday, September 22th. The date has been changed to Tuesday, September 26th.

‘Discovering Our Faith’ is a one hour program during which a moderator – Father Pat O’ Brien and Archbishop Gustavo speak about world-wide Catholic issues, Archdiocesan events ad St. Gerard ministries.

You are invited to attend. Let’s fill the church with parishioners. Let’s show the T.V. audience how we vibrant we are as a parish. So – Save the date! September 26 – 7:00 p.m.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – August 13, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Many years ago an ambitious young man emigrated from Italy to America. He opened up a grocery store in Brooklyn. He had a big heart for other emigrants. When some Italians visited his store he often sold them groceries on credit. Unfortunately, only a handful of emigrants ever paid their credit.

Over the years that store owner continued to allow young emigrants to buy food on credit. These emigrants still did not pay their credit. And then, the store owner had a heart attack and died. He arrived before St. Peter. St. Peter read his record of generosity and immediately invited him into heaven. The grocer asked St. Peter if he could take a detour through hell before entering heaven. Peter agreed and said, “I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”

When the grocer arrived in hell he knocked on the door. Satan answered. The grocer said, “I want to see all those people who owed me money in my grocery store back in Brooklyn.” Satan asked, “How do you know they are here in hell?” “Well,” said the grocer, “Whenever I tried to collect from them, this is where they told me to go.”

On Tuesday, August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Normally, the feast of the Assumption is a holy day of obligation. However, in the United States and other countries, the bishops have received permission from the Vatican to abrogate (temporarily waive) the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on certain Holy Days of Obligation, when those Holy Days fall on either Saturday or Monday. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!! Since the Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Tuesday, WE ARE OBLIGATED to attend Mass in honor of the Assumption. Yes, this year, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on the vigil – Monday evening, or on the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity of the Assumption: Monday – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday: 6:30 a.m.; 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the first of the disciples, the one who brought the Son of God into the world, is honored today in this feast of the Assumption. We believe that her bodily assumption into heaven is a sign to us of the future that awaits all who believe in her Son, Jesus.

The scriptures tell us nothing about Mary in her later life. We do not know exactly where she lived. We do not know for sure how long she lived. We don’t know for sure where she was when she died.

There are many stories which were passed down through the centuries about Mary. These stories tell us that Mary lived in an area near Ephesus, called Meryem Ana. Tradition tells us that, at the age of 64, she fell asleep and was taken body and soul into heaven. In 1967 Pope Paul VI paid a visit to the house of Mary at Meryem Ana. Later Pope John Paul II visited the house and confirmed again the significance of the house. Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to Mary’s home when he visited Turkey.

Two years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, where we stopped to visit Mary’s home.

It is said that St. John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her to Ephesus. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled near Ephesus. Some lived in caves, others in fragile huts or tents. They came to escape violent persecution. Tradition says that Mary’s house was built with stone.

There was a woman by the name of Katharina Emmerick who was born on September 8th, 1774, in a small down in Westfalia (northern Germany). She grew up to be a prayerful woman. She was blessed to have many visions. At a relatively young age she became bedbound. From her bed she would talk about the visions she had in regards to the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She never visited the home. But in her visions she was able to describe the exact location. Many church authorities questioned Katharina. Katharina was able to exactly describe the location and house. To the best of their knowledge, Katharina was describing the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And now, thousands of pilgrims and tourists annually visit Mary’s home.

The preacher carried a hand held mic which was attached to a cord. He moved briskly up and down the middle aisle, twisting and turning as he preached. After several twists and turns, the cord got wrapped around his legs. The preacher pulled and jerked on the cord, trying to free himself. A little girl up front saw what was happening. She leaned over to her mother and said, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – August 6, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:.

An elderly woman took her little grandson to the zoo. That little boy’s face was filled with brightly shining freckles. Grandma and the boy got in line with other children, waiting to have tiger paws painted on their cheeks.

A little girl took one look at the little boy and said, “You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint tiger paws!” The little boy was embarrassed. He dropped his head and began to whimper. Grandma noticed how her grandson was offended. She knelt down next to him and said, “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles.” While tracing her finger across the child’s cheek, she said, “Freckles are beautiful.”

The boy looked up and said, “Really! Is that for real? You really like freckles?” With a smile on her face grandma said, “Of course I do. Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.” The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”

Did Jesus have freckles? We really don’t know. But those of us who have freckles would like to think that Jesus had freckles. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration today. Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain top. There he was transfigured before them. St. Matthew said that ‘Jesus’ face shone like the sun.’ As we all know, a face that shines like the sun must be filled with freckles.

As we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration we imagine Jesus glowing with light. His clothes became white as light. How often we refer to Jesus as coming to us as the light of the world. On the walls of an ancient Scottish castle are engraved these words: “When Jesus comes the shadows depart.” The earliest Christians had this saying of Jesus: “He has turned our midnight into morning.”

On Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 ‘CTSA 17,’ the Catholic Television of San Antonio, will be coming to St. Gerard. At 7:00 pm they will be televising a program in which they will speak about current Catholic issues in the world and the Catholic issues in our Archdiocese. The last segment of the program will be about our parish. They want to hear about the many ministries in our parish. They have asked me to invite the entire parish to be present for the filming. So, mark your calendars. Let’s fill the church and let people throughout San Antonio what a great parish we have.

The week after Thanksgiving the men of our parish will be conducting an ACTS retreat. Daniel Thatcher is the director. He is putting together his team. Between now and the ACTS retreat I will be encouraging the men of the parish to sign up for the weekend. We have a great parish. When the men make an ACTS retreat we will have a greater parish.

The Archdiocese is currently involved in a Capital Campaign. Fifty years ago was the last time the Archdiocese had a Capital Campaign. The name of the Campaign is: !On the Way! !Andale! The Steier Group, from Omaha Nebraska, is the consultant for the Campaign. The parishes throughout the Archdiocese have been assigned to one of four waves: Pilot Wave; Wave 1; Wave 2; Wave 3. St. Gerard has been assigned to Wave 2 which will take place next March-August.

The Steier Group will come to our parish and help us in conducting the campaign. They will provide the brochures and handle all the mailing. The Steier Group has developed a formula to establish a parish goal. Our goal is $133,600 will remain in our parish.

The money from the Campaign will be used to strengthen our existing parishes, especially the older ones which are struggling; to establish new parishes; to help Catholic Charities Outreach; for Lay Ministry; Assumption Seminary; Campus Ministry and Catholic Schools.

Finally, I want to thank the many people who have helped in various ways to welcome our Theology students. So many pitched in to turn bedrooms, unused for 20 years, into attractive homes for the students. And so I say to you all: Thank You. Father Stephen Rehrauer, our Provincial, also sends his heartfelt thanks.

Many, many years ago Thelma Goldstein treated herself to her first vacation. She drove from Chicago to Florida. She stopped at a decent looking hotel in North Miami. Little did she know that the hotel was restricted.

She walked up to the registration desk and said to the manager, “My name is Mrs. Goldstein. I’d like a small room for two weeks” “I am awfully sorry,” the manager replied, “but all of our rooms are occupied.” Just at that moment a man stepped up to the desk announcing that he was checking out.

“How lucky I am,” exclaimed Mrs. Goldstein. “Now there’s a room.” “Not so fast, Madam,” said the manager. “I’m sorry, but this hotel is restricted. No Jews are allowed to occupy our rooms.” “Jewish? Who’s Jewish? I happen to be Catholic,” shouted Mrs. Goldstein.

“With a name like Goldstein, I find that hard to believe,” said the manager. Let me ask you, who was the Son of God?” “Why, it was Jesus, the Son of Mary,” answered the woman. “Where was he born?” asked the manager. “In a stable,” said the woman. “And why was he born in a stable?” asked the manager. With a stern look on her face, the woman said, “Because a schmuck like you wouldn’t let a Jew rent a room in his hotel!”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.