Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
John 1:46

Even at age four in 1948, I was "outstanding in my field!" 

My official First Communion picture in front of neighbor Mrs.Georgia Vessels's house - 1951. I was seven years old in 1951, the year I first announced I wanted to be a priest. I announced it in response to a question Sister Mary Ancilla (below) asked - "What do you want to be when you grow up?" However, I proceeded to flunk the altar boy test three times which caused her to say, "Ronnie, you are a good kid, but I don't think you will ever be any good around the altar." We were friends till she died. 
Sister Mary Ancilla Meyer, SCN

This was my first year of high school seminary (1958) Latin book. It symbolizes everything difficult about my 12 years in the seminary. It has no good memories attached to it, but it does symbolize triumph over difficulties. 

This is my Le Nouveau Testament (New Testament).
We read Scripture in French every day in the chapel at noon. 

Sophomore of High School - St.Thomas Seminary - 1959 

Science Lab - First Year of College - St.Thomas Seminary - 1963 

Third Year of College - St. Meinrad Seminary - 1965
(Second back on the right - the really holy looking one!) 

College Graduation - St. Meinrad Seminary - 1966

I still have my original copy of the first translation of the Documents of Vatican II printed in January 1966. The Council ended in December 8, 1965. I still use it!
First Year of Theology - St. Meinrad Seminary - 1967 

Subdeacon Ordination - St. Meinrad Seminary - 1968

In the summer of 1968, I signed up for a program sponsored by the United Church of Christ called "A Christian Ministry in the National Park." It was a seminarian-based experiential program for seminarians of various Christian denominations. I was the first Catholic seminarian to sign up. I was trained at St. Richard's Episcopal Church in Chicago and was assigned to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. I served Catholic Mass on Saturday night and led two generic Protestant services on Sunday morning in the campgrounds.
Besides preaching in the campgrounds on the weekends, all the students working in the park during the summer had jobs and lived in the lodge. I drove a garbage truck for a couple of weeks. My main job was night desk clerk. I also served as a fill-in bartender and wine steward in the dining room. I was also the MC for the student Miss Crater Lake Beauty Pageant. Each department entered a candidate and their dress had to cost less than $2.00. "Miss Garbage Truck" won that year in a dress made from garbage bags.
In 1969, I was ordained a deacon and was assigned to St. John Vianney Church and Sts.
Mary and Elizabeth Hospital. 
I was ordained a priest in 1970. 

First Mass - St.Theresa Church - May 17,1970 

Associate pastor of St.Mildred Church in Somerset, Kentucky, 1970-1975, under Fathers Thomas Buren and Gerald Timmel. St.Mildred is now in the Lexington Diocese. 

While in Somerset from 1970-1975, I volunteered to work in campus ministry at the University of Kentucky's Somerset Community College. Because there were so few Catholics on campus, named my program IF (interfaith). While there, I taught a class in the sociology department called "Modern Social Problems" and led five student trips to Taize, France, where 3500 college students from 70 countries met for a week of religious retreat. Taize is an ecumenical monastery dedicated to Christian unity. There are Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox brothers in the community. 


The church had been built by Louisville Archdiocese Mission Promoters, LAMP, a few years before I arrived. It was being used only during the "tourist season" at  nearby Lake Cumberland. 

I started serving St. Peter Church in Monticello as its very first pastor and Good Shepherd Chapel in Whitley City in 1975. We started with 12 members in 1975. Five years later we had actually grown a bit. Archbishop Thomas McDonough came down from Louisville to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time.

While pastor of St.Peter Church in Monticello, I completed my Doctor of Ministry degree in Parish Revitalization at McCormick Presbyterian Seminary in Chicago. My thesis title was "How One Roman Catholic Mission Church Dealt Assertively With Its Environments." This graduation ceremony was held at the Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago down the street from McCormick Seminary. The Presbyterian Church USA gave me a full scholarship on two grounds because of being pastor of a small church: poverty income and minority religion.
Father Stephen Badin was my predecessor at the Cathedral parish. He was the first priest ordained in the United States (1793). He founded the first Catholic church in Louisville, St. Louis Church at 10th and Main Streets. The second St. Louis Church, at the present location of the Cathedral of the Assumption succeeded that church and was designated as St. Louis Cathedral when the diocesan see was moved from Bardstown. Later it was torn down to build the present Cathedral. 

I have never met a Pope, never had my picture taken with a Pope, 
but I met the Dala Lama inside the Cathedral in the 1980s. 

One of the greatest honors I received was this editorial (below) in the Courier-Journal the week I left.
I had the honor of laying the last brick on the wall that cracked and had to be taken down 
and put back up on June 28, 1994

Dedication Mass of the renovated Cathedral, the view I had on many wonderful Sundays.

Funeral of beloved Archbishop Kelly, OP, who called me to the Cathedral in 1983 and with whom I lived for 14 years. We were partners in reviving the Cathedral parish and restoring the Cathedral complex. 
I served as Vocation Director from 1998-2003
As always, I published a couple of books about it - one for diocesan priests and one for religious communities of priests, sisters and brothers serving in the archdiocese (with the assistance of Sister Anita Lowe, OSB, Ms. Linda Banker and Mr. Ian Massey). The first book was DIOCESAN PRIESTS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LOUISVILLE. The other book was called RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LOUISVILLE. 

Some made it and some didn't!


Our Lady of the Woods Chapel is where it happens! 

Sunday Mass at 6:00 PM is where I have spent many a Sunday evening. 

I have given many, many invocations and benedictions at Bellarmine University Commencements. 

A recent Convocation Mass at St.Agnes Church with my Franciscan helpers. Because of the large crowds, we use St.Agnes, across the street from the university, for convocations and baccalaureates. 

A collection of twelve baccalaureate homilies published in 2015.

Started writing a weekly column in September 2002. Just finished Volume XIII, 
and I am well into Volume XIV. 

Institute for Priests and Presbyterates

We held several listening sessions with bishops from around the country. 

I led over 100 priest convocations, retreats and study days
in 7 countries and I am scheduled into 2017. 

Arriving there too early on Monday mornings from Louisville and breakfast is not ready!
What was I thinking? Did I forget about the twice a year time change....again? 

I taught a practical course to the Deacon Class called "Transition Out of Seminary 
and Into Ministry" for the last ten years and I am still going. 

One of the things about teaching the practicalities of pastoral ministry was the 
lack of good resources.This gave me an opportunity publish a few texts. 

One of my favorite things to do is helping international seminarians 
and priests adjust to American culture. 
In 2008, I won the National Federation of Priest Council's Touchstone Award for
my work in building more unified presbyterates in the United States and abroad. 

In 2010, I was honored with a Saint Meinrad Alumnus of the Year Award. 

Fortieth Anniversary Mass - St.Theresa Church - May 16, 2010 

On March 18, 2015, I was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award
from the Catholic Education Foundation

One of the most interesting things I did at Saint Meinrad Archabbey was to lead the 2014 monastic retreat right before I retired. It is interesting that a day of reflection that I was asked to give in that very room in 1999 is actually what led to my being hired a few years later to implement those ideas that I presented in that room a few years earlier. 
Official Retirement - June 30, 2014 

This little priest statue was given to me 45 years ago on my ordination by my friend Jack Anderson. I have carried him to every assignment. He symbolizes all I have been through - my hat is chipped and cracked and glued. I have one eye knocked out, but I am still standing.
"Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened."

"It ain't over till it's over!"



I started out in the "home missions" of southeast Kentucky. In retirement, I am volunteering in the "foreign  missions" in the Diocese of Kingstown in the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
summarized in an anonymous poem


Some folks ride the train of life
Looking out the rear, Watching miles of life roll by,
And marking every year.

They sit in sad remembrance,
Of wasted days gone by,
And curse their life for what it was,
And hang their head and cry.

But I don't concern myself with that,
I took a different vent,
I look forward to what life holds,
And not what has been spent.

So strap me to the engine,
As securely as I can be,
I want to be out on the front,
To see what I can see.

I want to see what's coming up,
Not looking at the past,
Life's too short for yesterdays,
It moves along too fast.

It's all right to remember,
That's part of history,
But up front's where it's happening,
There's so much mystery.

The enjoyment of living,
Is not where we have been,
It's looking ever forward,
To another year and ten.

It’s searching all the byways,
Never should you refrain,
For if you want to live your life,
You gotta drive the train.


"When you are through changing, you are through."
Bruce Barton

....and finally.....
So, there is a Holy Spirit after all?
I know! I was shocked too!
Who knows where this parade is going, but I want to be around a little longer to see where it does go!

The last parade! No comment! 

Pope Francis, thanks for restoring the joy of my youth in my old age! You have a tough job! I am praying for you! May you live long and well! 
Thanks to you, my free Saint Meinrad employee casket can just wait a while longer! Yes, I want to stay around a bit longer to see what happens!

I will be buried between the Immaculate Conception statue and Father Felix Johnson, my childhood pastor. Notice that the the Immaculate Conception (and St. Joseph the Worker statue on the right out of camera range) has the date of 1958. That was the year I went to the seminary. Father Johnson's last words to me were, "You won't make it till Christmas!" Just for the heck of it, I am thinking about adding these words to my tombstone, "Move over Father Johnson! Never tell a Knott he can't do something!"
My parents are immediately to the left of the Mary statue. - my grandparents are behind Father Thomas Thomas Buren and Father Henry Vessels (out of camera range in the right hand side of the picture) as well as several uncles and aunts.