Monthly Archives: October 2017

Pastor’s Notes – October 29, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Once there was an old priest who lived out in the country. He was the shepherd of a poor parish. His people could hardly pay his salary. One year he decided to raise watermelons, and hopefully sell them to supplement his salary. His watermelon enterprise became quite successful. People came from great distances to buy watermelons. The priest was making a great profit. However, he was disturbed by some local kids who would sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons. He had to put a stop to this thievery. He finally came up with a novel idea.

He posted sign at the entrance of the field. The next day, when the kids showed up, they saw the sign which read, “Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with poisonous cyanide.” The kids didn’t dare pick a watermelon that night. The priest was delighted. He finally scared the rascals off. However, the next night the kids returned. They brought their own sign which they posted next to the priest’s sign. The next morning the priest checked the watermelon patch and noticed the new sign next to his. He stepped close to read what was written. To his dismay, the sign said: “Now there are two.”

Now we have two special days this week. Tuesday is All Saints Day and Wednesday is All Souls day.

In ancient times two men were arrested and convicted for stealing sheep. The magistrate sent both of them to prison for several years. To warn every one of the crimes they committed the magistrate decreed that the letter “S” be branded on their foreheads.

After the men served their prison terms one of them left the area, never to be heard of again. The other man was deeply sorrowful for the crime he committed. He remained in the community and dedicated his life to serve his God and the people. As the years passed, this man had touched everyone. He helped the poor. He visited the sick. He found work for the unemployed. The people grew to love this man. Soon, no one remembered his crime of stealing sheep.

Many years later two small boys were sitting on the front steps of their home when this man passed by. The boys never heard about the crime this man committed. But they noticed the ‘S’ on this forehead. One boy asked the other, “Why do you think he has an ‘S’ on his forehead?” The other boys replied, “I’m not sure but from what my mom says about him, I think it must mean ‘Saint’.”

In the early history of our Church many Christians were martyred for their faith. Rome was the site for Christians to be thrown to the lions. So, the Church set aside two special days to honor these people – All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

In the year 607 Emperor Phocas turned the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple over to the Pope. The Pope quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to all the saints who died from Roman persecutions during the first three centuries. The bones of the martyrs were exhumed from various graves and places in the Pantheon church.

In the 8th century Pope Gragory III decreed that November 1st would be ‘All Saints’ Day. In the 10th century Abbot Ordela of the Cluny monastery declared that November 2nd would be ‘All Souls Day’ to honor all Christians who have died.

The conversion of the soul is the miracle of the moment; the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime. – Alan Redpath

We are not saints because of what we do; we are ‘saints’ because we belong to God.

-Nathaniel Howe said, “The way the world is today, we praise dead saints and we persecute living ones.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – October 22, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He had been out of a job for months. Then he got an unexpected call from an employment agency in Florida. The agent said, “We think we have found a job for you. But there is one question. Can you pick lemons?”

“Can I pick lemons?” stated our man. “Boy oh boy, can I pick lemons. I’ve been married five times!”

Today we celebrate ‘World Mission Sunday.’ We bring the Good News to the poor and the most abandoned. Yes, we bring the truth, even the truth about marriage in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has written to us about World Mission Day:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, this year, World Mission Day gathers us around the person of Jesus, “the very first and greatest evangelizer” (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 7), who continually sends us forth to proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. This Day invites us to reflect anew on the mission at the heart of the Christian faith. The Church is missionary by nature; otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away. So it is important to ask ourselves certain questions about our Christian identity and our responsibility as believers in a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent. What is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission? What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying our our mission?

We Redemptorists are missionaries. We have heard much about being missionary disciples. German Redemptorist priests and brothers came from Germany to be missionary disciples. They came to the United States to bring the Good News to the poor. In 1828 they heard about the need for priests and brothers in the United States from Mgr. Rese, Vicar-General of Cincinnati. He visited Europe in search of priests. While at Vienna he secured three priests and three lay brothers; they arrived in New York on 20 June 1832 and began working amongst the people of northern Michigan. In 1839 they were called to Pittsburgh to assume charge of the German congregation and from this time the care of German congregations became a prominent element of the Redemptorists in North America.

Last week I attended a three day meeting in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. We call the meeting a ‘Superiors’ Meeting.’ The superiors who attended the meeting were pastors of parishes as well as superior of a community. Since I am the pastor of St. Gerard and also the superior of our community of priests and brother, I wore two hats. The superiors came from across the United States. About 2 of us. Superiors are appointed by Father Provincial. As one Redemptorist told me, “You are superior by appointment only.” I was asked to give a presentation on ‘Superior as Animator.’ In our book of Constitutions and Statutes, and from our ‘Pastoral Guide for Superiors’ we hear about the type of person who is elected a superior. He must be a shepherd to the men living in the community as well as to the parishioners. He must develop healthy relationships with the members of the community. He must be a man of prayer, dedicated to Jesus Christ and serving his community. “I have come to serve and not be served.”

During our meetings we heard about ‘downsizing’ as the business world would call it. We call it ‘solidarity.’ Realizing that our numbers are dwindling, and many elderly Redemptorists are in need of health care,  we have been encouraged to share our resources with Redemptorists beyond our provinces and even with Redemptorists from other countries. We are encouraged to live in solidarity with one another. In the past the individual provinces, or geographical areas, were pretty much independent as far as our finances and personnel were concerned. Now, we are beginning to share. The word that we are using to embrace many provinces is ‘Conference.’ We remain provinces. Each province has its own government. But in our mission to the poor we turn to one another and figure out the best way to minister to them.

A wonderful example of how this Conference works is taking place here at St. Gerard. All seven provincials have been meeting at the Conference level for the past few years. The provincials decided to send all the Redemptorist students, studying theology, to San Antonio where they would attend the Oblate School of Theology. The students had been studying theology in Toronto, Boston and Chicago. We certainly welcome these young men. This program is a ‘Conference’ experiment and is working well. The Conference will continue exploring programs in which Redemptorists from many units will be working together to bring the Good News to the poor.

We also discussed ‘financial stability’ within our Denver Province. Some serious decisions have already been made. More will come. Since 1996 the headquarters has moved to Chicago. Each year our parish as well as parishes across the nation takes up a second collection for ‘Retired Religious.’ The central office is called ‘The National Religious Retirement Office.’ It is located in Washington D.C, One arm of the NRRO provides consultation for religious orders. Consultants approach religious orders to evaluate their personnel and financial resources. The consultants have a pretty good idea how long the religious order will survive with their limited resources.

This consultant firm studied our resources in the Denver Province. They concluded that the Redemptorists in the Denver province will go bankrupt nine years from now unless some drastic decisions are made immediately. Moving the provincial office to Chicago was the first drastic decision. The provincial residence in Denver was an apartment house. The offices are in a separate building. As soon as the provincial office moved to Chicago, the apartment house went on the market. It sold immediately. The office building is currently up for sale. In January we should close on the old seminary property in Oakland, CA.

Many decisions are being made, But the biggest one of all was to close our nursing facility in Ligouri, Missouri. Because of the cost of health care, we can no longer afford our own nursing home for our sick and elderly. So, the Redemptorists who do not need skilled nursing and who are ambulatory will be assigned to rectories in our parishes. We will hire a nurse to check in on them, daily or at least on a frequent basis. Those who need skilled nursing will be placed in a nursing home which is owned to and operated by another entity. Eventually, we hope to be able to rent a wing at this nursing institution. There are some other decisions hanging in the balance. With the decisions that have been made, we hope that we will establish financial stability in our province.

“We will go before God to be judged, and God will ask us: ‘Where are your wounds?’ And we will say, ‘We have no wounds.’ And God will ask, “Was nothing worth fighting for…?”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 15, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A small business owner held a staff meeting. He felt that his employees were not showing him enough respect. The next morning he carried a sign from home and hung it on his office door. The sign read, “I AM THE BOSS.” When he came back from lunch his secretary informed him that his wife called. She wants the sign back.

Monday is National Boss’s Day. I wish all those in positions of authority a “Happy Boss Day!”

I happen to be the boss of St. Gerard but I am also the boss of my Redemptorist community. During this past week I attended our Redemptorist Superiors meeting. In that meeting I was asked to give a presentation of ‘Superior as Animator.’ I used the image of the Good Shepherd. Jesus used that image himself. It became a symbol to describe the work of leaders.

A shepherd leads the sheep to nourishment. A shepherd lives with his sheep. A shepherd protects the sheep from predators. A shepherd gathers his sheep into the sheepfold. A shepherd checks daily on the health of his sheep. A shepherd anoints the wounds of the injured sheep. A shepherd reaches out to the lost sheep and brings them back into the fold. A shepherd knows his sheep and keeps them united. A shepherd loves each of his sheep.

A Redemptorist superior is a shepherd who enjoys a healthy relationship with each confrere in his community. He lives with them, he protects them, he gathers them together for meetings and prayer, he checks on his fellow brothers’ health, he helps in bandaging the wounds, he brings lost brothers united especially in their sacred mission he knows each brother as he is in the here and now, and he loves each one.

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. ” I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Peter, was there that day and he like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, for weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Peter told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be hones about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed; a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Peter just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!” All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”  When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Peter told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Peter. He looked at Peter, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Peter!”  Peter couldn’t believe it. Peter couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; The were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Peter, have brought me trees and plants, and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Peter was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 8, 2017

Father Shea

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


Early in the morning he awakened his wife. He complained of severe abdominal pains. His wife rushed him to the emergency room. This man worked at a funeral home. So he told his wife to hold off from calling the funeral home until the test results came back.

Later that morning the nurse informed them that the x-rays showed a kidney stone. His wife then asked her husband, “Would you like me to call the funeral home now?” The nurse looked bewildered. She snapped back, “Honey, honey, slow down. He is sick but not that sick.”

You’d almost think I had a kidney stone last week when I typed up the announcements. I don’t know where my head was when I wrote up that the T.V. program ‘Discovering your faith’ which was filmed at St. Gerard, would be televised on June 10th. To make matters worse, Father Peter Hill celebrated the 5:00 p.m. Mass. He read the announcement as I wrote it. Fortunately, he made light of the matter when he encouraged the congregation to remember June 10th…8 months from now.

Thank God we caught the mistake. The date and time were correctly announced at the Sunday Masses. Here is the correct date and time. Tuesday, October 10th at 7:00 p.m.

During the past year we prepared for the feast days of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, with a novena. A novena (from the Latin: ‘novem’ meaning ‘nine’) is a tradition of praying for nine consecutive days or weeks or months. The novena is an age old Christian practice of preparing for a special feast.

Each week, on Tuesday morning we pray the novena prayers of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We call this a novena. But, we con’t stop after the ninth week of prayer. Instead, we keep right on going, week after week. So, it becomes an everlasting novena.

However, on Tuesday, October 10th, yes, October 10th  – the same day of the T.V. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’ we will begin a ‘nine week’ novena. We will be preparing for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Friday, December 8th.

Bob Gonzales conducts this novena. WE begin at 6:00 p.m. We pray the rosary together. Then we celebrate Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The rosary and Benediction will take about 40 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time to drive home to watch the 7:00 p.m. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’

On October 14th we will formally welcome the fourteen seminarians. We will begin Mass at 5:00 p.m. Father Jack Kingsbury C.Ss.R., the man who arranged for the seminarians to come to San Antonio, will preside at the Mass. The seminarians will be responsible for all the ministries during Mass: the music – cantor and accompaniment – lector, ushers, gift bearers and ministers of the Eucharist. After Mass we will head over to the cafeteria to enjoy food and drink as we meet and greet and mingle.

Several years ago we conducted a financial campaign as we prepared for our centennial celebration. At that time some people contributed money toward a presider’s chair – the chair which the celebrant of the Mass occupies. I contacted Walter Lyssy, a man who builds chairs. he agreed to build this chair.

Before he began working on the chair he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He took some time off while being treated for the disease. When he returned he worked on the chair. He built a prototype our of cherry wood. A number of parishioners viewed the prototype and suggested changes. Then Walter began building the chair out of mesquite wood.

On October 14th we will debut and bless this chair and the two adjoining chairs, all made out of mesquite. Walter also built two small book stands between the chairs. Father Jack Kingsbury will bless these chairs…since he will be the first to use them.

Monday is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We wish our Canadian brothers in the Theology Residence a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Bill Peterson, former football coach for Florida State, was well known for the mistakes he made in speech. Once he said, “The greatest thing just happened. I got indicted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and they gave me a standing observation.” He also said, “I’m the football coach and don’t you remember it!” Another time he said, “We can beat this team. All we have to do is capitalize on our mistakes.”

Remember Tuesday, October 10th. Novena at 6:00 p.m. and televising ‘Discovering your Faith’ at 7:00 p.m.

Remember Saturday, October 14th. Welcome our Seminarians at 5:00 Mass, followed with food and drink.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Kevin Clark Celebrates 40th Anniversary serving as a Lector

Kevin Clark and Fr. SheaDeacon Jose OcampoKevinKevinKevin and his wife Mitzi Clark

Kevin Clark a life long parishioner has served the parish in many capacities over the years.  Yesterday Kevin celebrated and marked his 40th Anniversary serving as a Lector for our parish.

Photography by Genny Kraus

Volunteers Recognized for 40 Years Of Service

L to R Marie Ramirez and Lidia Ramirez.
Father Shea recognized Marie and Lidia after a Mass with these beautiful plaques for their 40 years of service. They have volunteered by keeping the entire church cleaned for all of the worship services over the years. They have done a fabulous job. They started this ministry back when time their children attended St. Gerard School. They provided a beautifully cleaned church for all of our worship services.

Photography by Genny Kraus

Pastor’s Notes – October 1, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The fish weren’t biting. But that didn’t matter. Our friend, an atheist, was enjoying a quiet day our on the water. Suddenly something hit his boat. He looked over the side of the boat. It was the Loch Ness monster. The atheist hung on for dear life. The monster swam under the boat, raised its head and flipped the boat high in the air.  The monster opened its mouth waiting for the atheist and boat to come back down. As the atheist and boat was approaching the monster’s open wide jaws, everything froze in place. There hung the atheist staring into the jaws of the Loch Ness monster. Without thinking the atheist shouted, “Oh God! Oh God! Help me!”

A moment later a resounding voice came out of the heavens, saying, “I thought you didn’t believe in me!” “Come on, God, give me some slack,” the man pleaded. “I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”

In the month of October we are reminded of the most precious gift given to human beings. It is the gift of life. It is a gift from God. Every human being has a right to this gift. We believe that no one has the authority to deprive a human being of life. For it is God who gives and God who takes away. Bless the name of God. With October being the Respect Life month, we must ask ourselves if we are a nation of believers or atheists. If atheists deny that there is a God then they also must deny that life comes from God. We don’t know where they think life comes from. As believers, we hold that the gift of life and the inalienable right to life comes from God.

There are many ways that humans usurp the power of God by preventing or destroying human life. Our government has legalized abortion. Many states use capital punishment. Euthanasia is becoming more popular, or as Dr. Kevorkian called it, ‘assisted suicide.’ Then there is in vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, in IVF, children are engendered though a technical process, subjected to “quality control,” and eliminated if found “defective.” We destroy life in many ways.

Scriptural tradition, Christian tradition and Catholic tradition all make sacred the gift of life. We do not subscribe to abortion, euthanasia or capital punishment. We subscribe to LIFE. Not only is the month of October Respect life month, but it is also a month dedicated to the rosary. Next Saturday we celebrate the memorial of the most holy rosary. We call up Mary, the mother of Christ, to intercede for us as we say the rosary.

On Saturday, October 7th we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The title of Our Lady of the Rosary can be traced to an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic. According to Dominican tradition, in 1208, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France, attempting to convert the heretical Albigensians. Dominic was meeting little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against the heretics. This feast was originally entitled ‘Our Lady of Victory’ as a reminder of The Battle of Lepanto. The Catholic Holy League defeated the Ottoman Empire in this battle on October 7, 1571. The faithful were praying the rosary during the five hour battle. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the feast to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Pope Pius X declared that the date of the Holy Rosary would be October 7th. When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Monday we celebrate the memorial of the holy Guardian Angels. Then, on Tuesday we honor Saint Francis of Assisi.

And let’s not forget the guardian angels. We honor them on Monday. A minister was visiting the homes of his parishioners. He did not bother calling ahead to set up an appointment. His style was to ring the doorbell unannounced. He came upon the home of a newly married couple. He rang the doorbell. There was a slight pause. Then he heard a woman’s voice shouting, “Is that you, angel?” The minister shouted back, “No, but I’m from the same department.”

No one had ever seen an angel. No one has ever heard an angel speak. No one knows for sure whether angels have wings. So, what do angels look like? The look like the little old lady who returned your wallet yesterday. Like the clerk who told you that your eyes light up the world when you smile. Like the small child who showed you the wonder of creation in simple things. Like the poor man who offered to share his lunch with a stranger. Like the motorist who just happened to come along when your tire went flat. Like the friend who embraced you when you heard about the death of your mother.

They are hard to find when your eyes are closed. Yet angels are everywhere you look, when you chose to look for them. An angel could be standing in line with you at the grocery store. Or perhaps an angel is sitting next to you in the theatre. Or in that car which speeds by you on the highway.

Saint Francis of Assisi founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4th. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.

On 13 March 2013, upon his election of Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He chose the name because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. Before being elected pope Cardinal Claudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor,” which had made Bergoglio think of Saint Francis. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time.”

A tourist is a person who travels to see things that are different and then complains when things aren’t the same.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.