Thursday, May 6, 2021

50+1 PRIESTHOOD ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION - NOTICE #3


Being Ordained by Archbishop Thomas J. McDonough
May 16, 1970 
photo from The Record


"First Mass"
Saint Theresa Church - Rhodelia, KY
May 17, 1970

I wanted to celebrate fifty years of ministry as a priest last May, but because of COVID raging, I felt that it was better to cancel and postpone any celebration to see how things would be this year. While we are still not completely in the clear with COVID, many more people could have their vaccinations by then. So I think it might be OK to schedule a simple celebration at the Cathedral here in Louisville and a simple celebration at my home parish of Saint Theresa down in Rhodelia. We will follow the COVID safety guidelines. I am hoping that "outside" options will be available for any receptions - if the weather cooperates. At that, they will be simple.

YOU ARE INVITED TO EITHER CELEBRATION


Let's celebrate the ministry we have carried out together all these years! 


MASS AT THE CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUMPTION

May 16, 2021

9:30 am   

or

MASS AT SAINT THERESA CHURCH IN RHODELIA

May 23, 2021

10:30 am

 

NO PERSONAL GIFTS PLEASE

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

THE BLESSINGS OF KNOWING PEOPLE OF OTHER CULTURES


Over the Easter holidays, I got a call from a monk friend in Togo, Africa. I had a long WHATS APP face-time call with my friends in Germany. I used SKYPE to have a face-to-face catch-up session with my friend in Ireland. I received greetings from friends in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Mexico, Trinidad, Nigeria, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

I am reminded all the time of my five week-long trips from 1971 -1976 to the ecumenical monastery in Taize, France, where I met people from more than fifty countries and engaged many of them in long discussions. I am reminded almost daily of my 150 plus priest convocations in nine countries (including England, Ireland, Wales and Canada) when I spoke to hundreds of bishops and priests for a week at a time and engaged them in lengthy discussions up into the evenings. How can I forget the fourteen years I worked in Saint Meinrad Seminary where I had the opportunity to teach, and be taught by, young men from many of the world's countries? I certainly cannot forget my twelve speaking trips to the Caribbean nations of The Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where I met bishops from several other Caribbean nations. Thank God I never gave into the fear of "going places!"  

As I read Pope Francis' recent Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, I resonated with his inciteful words. "The arrival of those who are different, coming from other ways of life and cultures, can be a gift.... Indeed, when we open our hearts to those who are different, this enables them, while continuing to be themselves, to develop in new ways. At the same time, those cultures should be encouraged to be open to new experiences through their encounter with other realities, for the risk of succumbing to cultural sclerosis is always present. That is why we need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect. Patience and trust are called for in such dialogue, permitting individual families and communities to hand on the values of their own culture and welcome the good that comes from others' experiences."

Growing up in a small rural Kentucky town of twenty-seven people. I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to "meet the world." I am proud of myself for welcoming and embracing those opportunities instead of running away from them. I realize that I am blessed to have been able to experience what it means to belong to a "catholic" church, a "universal" church, a church where "all are welcome."  

Looking back over the years, I am simply amazed and forever grateful to have met so many people from so many cultures and backgrounds! Reflecting on the words of Pope Francis, I know for sure that I have learned many things from being around them. I can only pray that they have learned a few things from being around me!  Fear of immigrants, I have come to believe, is basically a fear of change, a fear of loss and a fear of embracing anything new. When one gives into that fear, one cuts oneself out of the joy of receiving and the joy of giving.  



Sunday, May 2, 2021

NOT DEPENDENT, NOT INDEPENDENT, BUT INTERDEPENDENT

I am the vine, you are the branches.

without me you can do nothing.

John 15


Am I imagining it, or am I just a cranky old man? (Don’t answer that!) Is there a growing attitude of people who think and act as if they live on this planet by themselves, displaying a total disregard of how their behaviors affect other people, displaying an attitude of “I am going to do what I want and I don’t give a hoot how it affects you or anybody else”?

Recently, I am finding my anger level hitting the boiling point when I see people throw garbage out of car windows, roll down their car windows and turn their car speakers up so loud it that it rattles the windows of my house, carrying on loud cell phone conversations in public places, trashing public facilities and vandalizing public art, just to name a few.

This excessive individualism is, no doubt, a reaction to an over-emphasis on the common good, when individuals felt crushed and controlled.  It’s the age old story of running off both sides of the road, trying to balance the good of the community with the good of the individual. I am praying that we manage to get the car back on the road and find a balance between common good and individual good.

This is a very old problem. It goes all the way back to the story of Adam and Eve.  According to that story, at the end of creation God, humans and the animals lived in harmony – interconnected and interdependent. As a colorful Baptist preacher said at one of my graduations, “In the beginning, God was happy being God. The animals were happy being animals. Human beings, however, were not happy being human beings. They want to be God one day and animals the next!”  Adam and Eve were tempted to believe they could do fine without God. Their children, Cain and Abel, were tempted to believe that they could do fine without each other. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

In this ancient story, we see the sin of denying our interdependence begin, a sin that has been repeated in a myriad of ways ever since. Interdependence is the recognition that we are responsible to, and dependent on, others. To deny that we cannot make it alone and that we need each other is a sin. Interdependence recognizes the truth of our dependence and independence and weaves them together in a delicate balance.

The scriptures are full of stories emphasizing our interdependence.  Today’s gospel presents us with one of many. In the gospel today, Jesus gives us the parable of the vine and the branches. The Father is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  Just as Jesus and the Father are one, we are one with Jesus.  “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  We are interconnected, whether we want to recognize it or not. As Celie, in the movie “The Color Purple” put it, “It ain’t easy trying to do without God. Even if you know he ain’t there, trying to do without him is a strain.”

Saint Paul has many more examples of our interdependence. In one place he says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.”  In another place he says, “Everything is lawful, but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor.” In still another place he says, “Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but rather that of the many, that they may be saved.”  In still another place he says, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, through many, are one body. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

The Kentucky motto is “United we stand. Divided we fall.” This could be the motto of our country, our church, our parishes, our schools, our marriages, our families and our neighborhoods. It is the message of our scripture passage today, as well as all of Scripture.  Some people advocate personal freedom as the ultimate good; others advocate communal responsibility as the ultimate good. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together. We are both independent and dependent in a delicate balance. We are interdependent! We are interconnected and we need each other. No man is an island, but part of the main. As John Muir, the famous conservationist put it, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  

This is a timely message for our country and our church. In both worlds, there is a ever-growing meanness and a “them versus us” kind of attitude that make enemies, winners and losers, rather than partners of each other.  We have even found out recently that we cannot even do without the “illegal immigrants” who pick our vegetables, clean our hotel rooms, roof our houses, landscape our lawns, nanny our children and dig our ditches. We have found out that we cannot do without Middle Eastern oil or clothes from China. We have found out that we cannot do without people in places like India when we try to get our credit card bills straightened out or our computers fixed. We are finding out that we cannot even keep our parishes going without priests from Africa, Poland, Philippines, Vietnam and Central America. No, we are not as independent as we like to think we are. In fact, we are becoming more interdependent than ever, thanks to modern communication and travel. The bottom line is this: we are in this together! We always have been, and we will always be, in this together!

“A branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine.” This is true spiritually as well as socially.

 

  






Thursday, April 29, 2021

I HAVE UNTIL OCTOBER TO DECIDE

 SHOULD I GO? SHOULD I STAY?  

I have led well over 160 priest retreats and convocations in nine countries in the last 17 years, even after turning down invitations to Singapore, Tonga, Nigeria and India because of their distances. I had to cancel three invitations to Canada just last year because of COVID. After missing a whole year, I thought that my days of long-distance travels, especially to lead priest retreats, were over. Just when I had adjusted to that thought, I got an invitation to lead another priest convocation May 16 - May 20, 2022 for the Bishop and @100 priests of the Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii.  I was told that the convocation would be held at the Turtle Bay Resort on the north shore of Oahu. 

I had turned them down a few years ago because of a scheduling conflict, but they are back again and really hoping I can come this time. I was recommended by one of their priests who had attended my convocation in the Archdiocese of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, a few years ago. 

Since it is more than a year away, I told them I would give them a tentative "yes" that I would confirm or cancel by October of this year. On one hand, who knows what traveling will be like by next year? Who knows what condition I will be in by next year? On the  other hand, who would turn down such an offer - all expenses paid and a nice speakers stipend to boot? It certainly has given me something to consider between now and October! 

I have a lot of thinking to do.......and you think you have problems!  Retirement can bring on a lot  of stresses! I am sure I can probably find a way to handle this one too! Besides, it presents me with another opportunity to raise a little more money for my charities! 







Wednesday, April 28, 2021

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, OLD MAN!


Born at Home
Delivered and Baptized by My Country Midwife Grandmother
April 28, 1944


AT SEVENTY-SEVEN, I HOPE THIS IS NOT ME! 



AT SEVENTY-SEVEN, I HOPE THIS IS MORE LIKE ME!



 

GROWING OLDER

by 

St. Theresa of Avila

 

Lord, You know better than I myself

that I am growing older and will someday be old.

Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking

I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

 

Release me from craving to

straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Make me thoughtful, but not moody;

helpful but not bossy.

 

With my vast store of wisdom,

it seems a pity not to use it all;

but You know, Lord,

that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;

give me wings to get to the point.

 

Seal my lips on my aches and pains;

they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them

is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

 

I dare not ask for improved memory,

but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness

when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

 

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person

is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places

and talents in unexpected people;

and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.

 



Thank you, Karen, Dylan, Jordan, Melissa and Tim for the surprise!