Saturday, March 19, 2016


All About Managing Successful Transitions
One of the things that I have been able to share with others, especially seminarians and priests, is some valuable information about change and how to embrace it successfully. For several years, I taught a course at St. Meinrad Seminary on managing the transition seminarians go through when they leave seminary and enter priesthood. I even wrote a little book on the subject. 
In my last years at St. Meinrad Seminary, I developed a program for senior priests as they go through the transition from regular full time ministry into sometimes full time retirement ministry, called Encore Priests. Soon I will be able to announce my latest effort in that same area called The Catholic Second Wind Guild which will offer "retired" priests and lay persons exciting opportunities to offer their gifts and talents in the church of the Caribbean and maybe beyond. 
During my years of teaching about-to-be-ordained seminarians, I was lucky to be assisted many times by my friend, Karen Dahlem, who owns her own consulting business helping people make successful transition. 
If you need help in making a successful transition at any stage of life, check out what Karen has available in the way of help. You will find her both very personable and extremely helpful. "Take a small step in the right direction." Click on her website listed at the bottom and see what she has to offer.

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I have a couple of openings remaining in my next group coaching class. For more information, or to sign up for a complimentary strategy session to explore further, please contact me via the contact page of my website: 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

"The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree"

PASSING ON THE KNOTT GENES ... without me, of course!


From England to Maryland to Kentucky

  • JOHN KNOTT (dates unknown) born in Yorkshire, England.
  • FRANCIS KNOTT (1649-1705) (Eleanor Cole) born in Middlesex, England, died in Maryland
  • IGNATIUS KNOTT (1686-1765) (Elizabeth ?) born in Maryland
  • RICHARD BASIL BAPTIST KNOTT (1745-1817) (Mary Drury) born in Maryland
  • CLEMENT KNOTT ((1784-1870) (Ann Nancy Hardesty) born in Maryland, moved to Washington County, Kentucky, moved to Breckenridge County, Kentucky. He was the first in the area from which my immediate family comes. He later moved to Perry County, Missouri, where he is buried. His son Raphael stayed behind.
  • RAPHAEL KNOTT (1832-1914) (Abigail Basham) born in Marion County, Kentucky, died in Breckinridge County.

FRANCIS MARION KNOTT (1865-1950) (Ida Hardesty) born in Breckinridge County, died in Louisville, buried in Meade County, Kentucky. He and Ida divorced, rare in those days, but she is buried in a separate grave several feet away as if they never knew each other.

  • LEO FRANCIS KNOTT (1892-1973) (Lillie Mills) born in Meade County. Lillie delivered me! 
  • JAMES WILLIAM KNOTT (1918-1991) (Mary Ethel Mattingly) born in Meade County
  • WILLIAM GARY KNOTT (1945- MY BROTHER born in Meade County
  • WESLEY KNOTT - MY NEPHEW born in Meade County
  • WESLEY KNOTT, JR - MY GREAT NEPHEW born in Meade County
  • CORY KNOTT  - MY GREAT NEPHEW born in Meade County  
My great nephews, Wesley Jr and Cory, Knott came over for dinner recently. As I sat there looking at them. it amazed how much they look like my brother Gary and my grandfather and great grandfather and so unlike me, my brother Mark and my Dad.

I look more like my father, my youngest brother, Mark, and one of my uncles, Lamar.

My uncle Bob (Robert) Knott and my nephew Mike (Michael) Knott, all have the same look and temperament - dark hair, laid back and relaxed. My Dad, myself and my brother Mark all have the same look and temperament - light hair, anxious and often frantic.

My great nephews, Wesley Jr. (right) and Cory Knott (left).
Wesley has the high energy of myself and my brother Mark. 
Cory has the relaxed and calm demeanor of his father and great grandfather.

My nephew, Wesley Knott, has the calm and relaxed demeanor of his father, 
great grandfather and great great grandfather (below). 

My younger brother, (William) Gary Knott

My grandfather, Leo (Francis) Knott, kept his black hair until he died in his nineties. 

My great grandfather, Francis (Marion) Knott

The name "Francis" runs through the family tree, not only in Kentucky, but also in Maryland. Another interesting fact that runs through family history is that so many of the family members were, and still are, involved in the construction and lumber businesses. My great grandfather's hobby was wood working. My grandfather owned a saw mill. My father had a sawmill in my very early years, but in later years started a successful building material business. My youngest brother Mark took over, and has greatly expanded, my father's building material business. Several Knotts in Maryland and Oregon, even today, are in the construction business. Last year, I ran into some Knotts in Newfoundland, Canada, who were operating a construction company. 
One of the things that I always noticed as a child, working in my father's building material business, was the fact that people rejected lumber that had a "knot" in it! "I'm not taking that! It has a knot in it!" I took it personally!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016



Coming across this old photo recently, I was reminded of my first real moral dilemma. 

Look closely at this old interior shot of St. Theresa Church! At the foot of the Mary statue and under the Sacred Heart statue is a heart-shaped votive stand - a place where people could drop coins, light a candle and pray for a special intention. I could not afford a candle, so I never used it. I had to pray without the help of a candle. Maybe that is why so few of my childhood prayers were answered? I digress!

About 1953, this old votive stand was thrown into the dump behind the church. I guess it was too far gone to repair. The dump was a great place for my brother, Gary, and I to go "treasure hunting." I was 9 years old and he was 8. One day we came across this discarded votive candle stand. I had a big stick in my hand so I gave it a big whack. All of a sudden, coins started flowing out of it like some kind of heavenly slot machine. There was so many coins in it that it didn't rattle when it was thrown out, so nobody bothered to check its contents.

When we regained our composure, we gathered it all up a bag or box, took it home and hid it till we could process this moral dilemma.

After a day obsessing over it, and knowing we would get caught if people saw us spending a lot of suspicious cash in that small town, we decided that we would take our chances and take it to Father Johnson in hopes that he would let us keep it.

Bad idea! He gave us a quarter each and sent us home!

Childhood lesson learned! Crime may not pay, but sometimes honesty doesn't pay much either! 
As much as it hurt, Father Johnson was right, the money did not belong to him or us, but to the parish!

My brother Gary at a slightly earlier age - about four.

Me at a slightly earlier age - about five years old.

I am the altar boy on the right at this Latin Mass wedding at 7 or 8 years old.
The old votive stand might, or might not, be in this picture, on the left, but out of sight.
It was about this time that it was removed and dumped. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

HOMILY 3-13-16

President Joseph J. McGowan, Jr.


Thanks for a wonderful sixteen-year experience 
as a Bellarmine University Chaplain!



Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.
John 11:1-45

Jesus had a large circle of friends, both men and women. Today we get an inside glimpse at three of those friends: Martha, her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus from the little town of Bethany, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It was that special place in the life of Jesus where he and his disciples could stop in, get some rest, enjoy a hot meal and then go on their way! If you pay attention to the details of John’s gospel story about Martha, Mary and Lazarus, you soon realize just how close Jesus was to these people. This is a story about intimate friends, affectionate friends. 
First of all, we know that this Mary was the Mary who kissed Jesus’ feet in public, washing them with her tears, drying them with her hair, and rubbing them with perfumed oil. (When was the last time anybody kissed your feet? You have to be pretty close to do that, not to mention in public!) Read down the text and you see that John underlines again and again just how intimate these people were with Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus very much.” “See how much he loved him!” They are even so close that these two women can “chew him out” and get away with it: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died.” And finally, seeing Mary weep, we are told that “Jesus began to weep,” too. 
One usually thinks of this story as the “raising of Lazarus,” but Jesus’ raising of Lazarus actually occupies a very small part of this story. Of the forty-four verses that constitute this story, only seven of them take place at Lazarus’ tomb. The miracle of the raising of Lazarus is the climax of this story; it is not the center. This is a dialogue between Jesus and the two women about God’s power in our lives. 
In his gospel, John’s stories always have two levels: one on the surface which is true and another below the surface which is truer still. This intimate story is meant to reveal to us not only the depth of their friendship, but also how intimate is God’s relationship with us! The pain of this family is the pain of God for his people. By listening in to the dialogue, we are also taught what they were taught: about the depth of God’s love for us, about God’s willingness to give us new life, and about God’s power over our worst enemy – death. 
(1) We are taught about the depths of God’s love for us. One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a priest is to convince people of God’s unconditional love for them. Why is it that so many of us have been trained by people who have dismissed these intimate stories of God’s love and have combed through the Scriptures, piecing together condemning, judging, and damning messages that they turn into a religion? Why did they, and why do we, find those negative messages more believable? I have received more letters questioning my “too lenient notions of God’s love” than any other critical letters since I became a priest. Jesus revealed the “true God,” not this “false mean god” that people have created since Adam and Eve. Even in that story, God says to Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). In other words, “Who told you that you were bad, separated from me, and defective? I certainly didn’t!” Jesus came to talk us out of the mean God we keep creating in our own minds. I can’t imagine trying to live my religion without being in love with God! I can’t imagine practicing a religion based on fear and dread! 
(2) By listening in on the conversation between Jesus, Martha and Mary, we are taught also about God’s willingness to give us new life. This eternal life is on both sides of death. Death does not have the last word. Eternal life is not just some promise for the future; it is available to us right now. We are in it, as we speak! Through Jesus and in Jesus, those of us who are “dead on our feet” can be resurrected now. We can be born again. For that very reason, I am naming the new program for retired priests and professional lay people that I hope to announce soon, publicly, "Catholic Second Wind Guild." It is for those of us who believe we can have "another life" in our senior years. I believe that we can act boldly on our own behalf to live purposeful lives, to help others, and to claim the powers that lie dormant within us. One of my favorite old movies is Harold and Maude. This is Maude’s message to Harold throughout the movie: “Oh, how the world dearly loves a cage! There are a lot of people who enjoy being dead.” Jesus came, not just to bring a wonderful life after we are dead, but right now! 
(3) And, as this gospel teaches us, God has power over our worst enemy – death. We live in a death-denying culture. Some of our expensive funeral practices would leave outsiders with the impression that we believe that we are going to come up with a cure for death someday! That makes about as much sense as leaving the runway lights on for Amelia Earhart. We don’t even know how to die. Modern medical technology robs us of the spiritual experience of “letting go” of this part of our life. Through Jesus and in Jesus, we are able to see in death that “life is changed, not ended.” I feel sorry for those who are conscious at death’s door without this faith. 
Over the years, I have had the awesome privilege of talking to some very conscious people getting ready to die: especially those with AIDS and with cancer. Some were not pious people, but most were deeply spiritual. Some were able to tell me that they accepted their approaching deaths and they wanted to “do it well.” Some were extremely thankful for the “eternal life” they had experienced in this world. Some looked with “joyful hope” for the “eternal life” ahead of them. You know, if you’re facing death, it doesn’t get any better than that! I hope I can do half as well. I pray for the ability to be conscious, filled with gratitude and ready to go when the time comes! Yes, I want to be conscious! I want to choose to let go and leap into that great unknown, to leap into the arms of God! 
The message is this: God loves you very, very much. He wants you to enjoy the eternal life that you experience right now, and he wants you to know that death does not have the last word. You can enjoy “eternal life” forever, starting right now!