Thursday, March 3, 2016



On 9-12-15 I posted a story about the old St. Theresa Literary Institution, or commonly known as St. Theresa Academy, down in my home town of Rhodelia where I attended first and second grade in 1950-1951, after which it was torn down. Well, since then, I have been given some additional old pictures by Father Bob Ray who also attended the academy for his first, second and third grade. It was originally operated by the Sisters or Loretto as a boarding and day school from its opening in 1867-1869, but was taken over by the Sisters of Charity 1870 when it reopened with 45 day students and 18 girl boarders. Several additions were added as it grew quickly. Boys under the age of 14 were admitted as boarders in 1885. This arrangement lasted till 1927 when the boarding was again restricted to girls. The last Sister of Charity retired from teaching at St. Theresa in 1990. They served our community for 120 years.     

Old St. Theresa Academy from the rear across the field. The Academy ran a farm to support the Sisters of Charity and their "day" and "boarding" students. My father bought the farm when the academy was closed. I grew up working on the farm right where the photographer was standing to take this picture.

Over the hill, to the right of this picture, was "St. Patrick Spring" where milk and other perishable items were stored in large pools of naturally cool spring water bubbling up out of the ground. It served as a large outdoor refrigerator in hot weather. I could take you there today, I believe, where we could probably find traces of its tank-like walls.

These are "boarders" at the Old St. Theresa Academy when it was a "boarding school" for orphans from Louisville mostly. That is the pastor, Father Odendahl, supervising the boys. They were called "boarder boys" by the parish. This photo was taken sometime in the 1920s. 

From right to left, an unknown Sister of Charity, two unknown women, 
Sister Luigi and Father Odendahl.

Sixth, Seventh and Eight Grades at the Old St. Theresa Academy with our church in the background.

Father Joseph Odendahl's Silver Anniversary on June 27, 1922. After serving in western Kentucky for several year and a short stint in Raywick, he arrived as pastor of St. Theresa in Rhodelia in January 1922. This photo was taken in front of the old St. Theresa Academy. He had a nice turn out of priests and an even bigger turn out of First Communicants. (That is my first and second grade classroom window on the right.)

First graders at the Academy in 1949. That's my sister, Brenda, dead center in the back row with the vertical line coming out of her hair. Notice how popular "bibbed overalls" were back then - long before they were trendy.

He was quite the musician. He could play the piano, the drums and the harmonica at the same time. He supposedly once called out to the choir during Mass, "Would Alice or Elizabeth eliminate that voice that is off?"

Apparently, he was stationed at the Cathedral one time. He would hear alley cats screeching in the night. So he wrote a musical setting to the Mass, in which he included the screech of the cats into one of the Mass parts.

The other story is that Fr. Odendahl and Fr. Hooiveld (both former pastors at St. Theresa) were in the same retirement home and detested each other. One of them kept a tub of water in his room so as to be ready to drown the other if he entered the room.


Sister Mary Ancilla Meyer, SCN, (top row, second from the left) taught me two grades in the old academy.

She taught at my parish from 1948-1965. Born in 1913, he taught at two parish schools before that, starting in 1933, when she was a twenty year old nun. This photo was taken October 3, 1950.

Here I am giving her two dozen rose on her 70th year of profession as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth a few years ago at Nazareth Retirement Home. She had perfect penmanship to the very end. In the early 1950s, she was in charge of training the altar boys of our parish. When I flunked for the third time, she said to me in exasperation, "Ronnie, you are a good kid, but I don't think you will ever be any good around the altar!" For her punishment, I made her sit in the front pew at my First Mass! Still looked amazingly young for her age, she died April 19, 2006. I loved her all those years and stayed in touch till the end. One of the last times I saw her, she showed me what she was going to be buried in - baby blue in honor of Mary, of course! "Ancilla" means "handmaid" in Latin. She took her name from Mary's response to the Archangel, Gabriel, at the Annunciation. "Behold I am the (ancilla) handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to me according to your word." 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Things Priest Secretly Think To Themselves?


This has been the type of therapy most of us have always secretly wanted to use on occasion! 

Yes, you have to be able to handle a lot of controversy - a lot of it!

Can too much examination of conscience drive one to drink?

It is both life giving and life draining. You have to pace yourself. 

Often, you just have to fake it till you make it! 

This is actually what many parishioners think.

The Saint Paul Syndrome? 

Does so many books published mean I had one hell of of bad childhood? 

A typical rectory living room with a pastor and his associate. 

When it comes to weddings, sometimes it is just better not to ask too many questions. 

As I said, sometimes it's just better to wait to get back to the rectory to start screaming. 

Don't think the fun stops at weddings either!


-  I called the bride by the old girl friend's name at the wedding vows! 
- I had a bride to fall on me, push me into an altar, which sent me, altar and bride crashing down one step! The ushers had to untangle us.
- I visited the wrong family at a funeral home and carried on a five minute conversation with some people who did not know who the hell I was or why I was there! I didn't even realize anything was wrong until I was leaving the funeral home and saw the right name on another room.   
- In praying for the Adams family sitting right in front of me in church, I said, "Let us pray for all the families of the parish except the Adams family, when I meant to say especially. I did not know till Mass was over.  
- I dragged a screaming woman with a Bible in her hands down the isle of the Cathedral during Mass when she took over the altar platform reading from the Book of Revelations during the middle of Mass.  
- While making the case during a homily for the need to renovate the Cathedral, a huge chunk of the plaster ceiling fell on the floor right in front of me barely missing my head. 
- I got to my first anointing at the hospital only to find out that someone had put ashes in the oil stock last Lent and did not remove them. Ashes went all over the poor woman's face and pillow. No Catholics were present and I had no oil, so to cover my mistake I concluded the prayers with "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return." None of the good Baptist nurses standing around noticed anything wrong.    
- I couldn't remember what someone asked me to pray for as I was going up the isle. When I started the prayer, I prayed "... for Mr. Jones who died." The family started shaking their heads, so I prayed "... for Mr. Jones who is sick." Again the family shook their heads. I prayed on ".... for Mr. Jones who is unemployed." Again the family shook their heads. I finally called them up for a head to head meeting. It was Mrs. Jones who had died!    
- One of the students at Somerset Community College where I volunteered as a campus minister back in the seventies came to the door of the rectory. Father Buren answered the door. The kid panicked and could not remember that my name was Father Knott. After stammering a few minutes I heard him ask, "Is ... uh ... uh ... uh, Father Bump at home?" 
- One day the phone rang in my basement apartment in St. Peter Church in Monticello. We were one of the only churches in town offering social service help to people needing help. Someone even called one day and asked, "Is this the church that helps people?"  That day, however, the man on the phone asked if he could borrow some money. I answered that, yes, we tried to help people when we could. When I asked him what he needed, he answered that he wanted to build a car port. I answered quite shocked, "A carport? We only have about seventy dollars in our account!" He answered back quite shocked, "Seventy dollars? Who is this?" When I said, "Father Knott, pastor of St. Peter Church." He yelled back, "Hell, I thought I was talking to the Monticello Bank!"    
- Many times we were broken into at the Cathedral rectory by a man we could not catch. One day, he broke into my room, took a few things and left a note that read "Cleanliness is next to godliness!"  
- When we had to move out of the Cathedral rectory to begin its renovation, I lived at my house on Eastern Parkway and the archbishop lived at the Galt House. Well, I was robbed at my house. When I told the archbishop that I had been robbed, but they had only taken a little change, he responded, "Now isn't that pathetic? They broke into your house and didn't see a thing they wanted!" 

Sometimes I just go home and shake my head in amazement that no one got hurt that day!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

HOMILY - 2-28-16

Even though it is spring break at Bellarmine University, here is a homily for this weekend anyway.


We  no  longer  believe  because of  your word,
for we have heard for ourselves, and we know
that this is truly the savior of the world.
John 4: 4-42
Things are going well for me right now. I have been a priest for almost forty-six years and this last couple of years have been some of the best. I may have more energy for what I am doing now than I did when I was a new priest.
I was privileged to work as a home missionary down in southern Kentucky for ten years after I was ordained. I was even a campus minister at Somerset Community College. After that I was a country pastor for three and a half years in the “Holy Land” central Kentucky in the small town of Calvary. After that I got to be pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption during a time of tremendous growth and a total renovation of the buildings. I got to be a Vocation Director, recruiting and overseeing the training of our seminarians.

I got to use my imagination and skill to develop a new program for training new young priests around the country to be better pastors and all of the priests of a particular diocese to work together more effectively. I dreamed about doing those things for a long time. Because of my ideas, the seminary where I used to teach was given a large grant by the Lilly Endowment to implement my ideas for helping young pastors to be more effective and to help priests of various dioceses to work together as teams so that they can offer better service to you in the pews. I started working here 16 years ago. Almost two years ago, I officially retired, but I continue to write my column for The Record in my 14th year. I still travel all the US and Canada presenting priest retreats. Like icing on the cake, I am now volunteering in the foreign mission down in the Caribbean. I just got back from my third trip last week. I am often overcome with gratitude for my forty-six years of priesthood!

Here, I get to work with you, a group of young people who are energetic and full of hope, at Bellarmine University here in my hometown of Louisville! What I do here at Bellarmine is not required of me. I volunteered for this work. What I want to do here is to encourage you as young adults to choose God, not because your parents have told you to, not because other people have said you should, but because you have gotten to know God and want to know more about God. I am here to encourage you to choose, on your own, to be a serious disciple of Jesus. I can’t give you the gift of faith, only God can do that, but I think I can be of help, simply by sharing what I know about the scriptures and from walking the spiritual path myself for the last 72 years. I challenge you today, to say, like the people of Samaria said to the woman at the well, “No longer do I believe because of someone else’s word. I have heard for myself and now I believe.”

In this wonderful story, after one of his many hot walking trip around Galilee, Jesus runs into a woman, while looking for a drink of water at the communal cistern. Even though it was illegal for a man to speak to a woman in public, even his wife and daughters, Jesus breaks the rules and engages this woman in a conversation, a conversation that leads to her conversion.

As the story unfolds, the whole town comes to believe in Jesus, at first because of her story, but later because of their own experience - after engaging Jesus in a conversation themselves. “No longer do we believe because of your word. We have heard for ourselves and have come to believe on our own.”

Students and guests! I stand here today to encourage you to engage Jesus in a conversation this Lent, a conversation that will lead you to a deeper belief, you own belief, not someone else’s belief. The question this reading asks us is this: “Do you believe in God because you know God or simply because of somebody else‘s word?” In today’s culture, I believe that you are here because you already know and love God. I know that you don’t have to be here! Many Catholics do not go to Sunday Mass. We all know that we have to go against the culture to be a believer these days. The main reason I am a priest to help people make that transition from an inherited faith to a personal faith. I am here, secondly, because your faith strengthens mine. I always get something out of being with other believers.

The biggest problem facing the church today is that it is filled with people who are living on borrowed faith. They have not engaged Jesus in a personal conversation and have not stayed in conversation with him as they go through life. They are still waiting for other people to be faithful, get it right and live the faith perfectly, before they will commit. One of the saddest things about the sexual abuse scandal is that so many Catholics walked away from the church because “those people” are hypocrites. Sadly, none of us ever lives our faith perfectly, so people who wants others to live the faith for them will always have an excuse not to believe. Even more amazing, I think, are people like you and me who have stayed, whose faith was not in church structures, but whose faith is solidly placed in Jesus Christ, who promised to be with us always, in spite of persecution from the outside and sin and weakness on the inside!

Lent is about engaging Jesus in an intimate conversation that will lead to personal faith, a personal faith that must be lived out in a faith community, a faith community that is always an imperfect and messy. Christianity is not about “me and Jesus,” but “we and Jesus.” In Christianity, we are responsible to, and for, each other.

The so-called “new age movement” has accomplished some good, but it has one fatal glaring flaw – it is individualistic to the extreme. It’s all about “me,” “my insights,” “my spiritual needs,” “how I see things.” In the “new age” religion, “I” am the highest authority. There is no higher truth than “my truth” and what I think truth is! Right is I think is right, is right. God is whoever I feel he is, sin is whatever I feel it is and my personal happiness is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life. There is no teaching authority other than me.

Christianity, like Judaism, is a “we” religion. We are the “body of Christ.” We are “one body with many parts,” “one family with many members,” just as God himself is a “community” of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

With all that said, there comes a day, even in a community of faith, for each member to be able to say, “No longer does my faith depend on your word. I have seen for myself and I believe, too.” That is precisely why I am here! I am here to encourage you to have an intimate dialogue with Jesus, so that you can have a personal faith that is lived out in a community of believers, so that you too can say, “We no longer believe because of your word, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that Jesus truly is the savior of the world!”

The Church often seems like it is one big mess these days! That gives some people all the excuse they need to drift away. On the other hand, this is a great time for the Church. The motives behind our faith are being purified like never before. We can no longer be carried along by other people’s faith. We have to come to our own faith, not a faith in the institution, but in the person of Jesus Christ. When it comes to faith these days, we have to learn to stand our own two feet! We have to be able to say with the people of Samaria, “We have heard for ourselves and we know that Jesus is the Savior of the world!”