Saturday, December 23, 2017


Paul and Wilhelmine King

Practically parents, they were a significant part of my life for the last fifty plus years. To understand our relationship, I have attached what I said at the funeral home for both of them. He was a Baptist who attended a United Church of Christ church near his house later in life. She was a Lutheran from birth, but they were equal opportunity church goers when they did go. They attended a lot of my Masses when I had a special occasion - ordination, twenty-fifth anniversary or whatever came up, like parents would do. This photo was a gift  I gave them of their 50th wedding anniversary. I took them to a professional photographer - something they would never have done for themselves. To understand them, I will start with her funeral first. 

July 22, 1999
Rev. Ronald Knott

Wilhelmine!  Mrs.  King!  Monica!  Mama King!  Monie!  Wifey!  We called her by many names, but whatever name we called her by, we knew her as “one of a kind.”  She was a unique woman, if there ever was one!  To meet her was to remember her! She was German to the core and proud of it!  She was Paul’s beloved wife for 51 years.  She was friend to Inge and Lori even longer.  She was friend to Jack for over 40 years. She was my friend and substitute mother for 34 years!  She was a special friend to Connie for the last few years.  She was sister-in-law to Linda and Elwanda.  She was sister to Ludwig. She was friend to hundreds of others too numerous to mention 

We are here today to celebrate her life here on earth with Paul, her family and her friends.  But we are also here to celebrate her entry into eternal life with the God, the God  who made her and sustained her for almost 81 years!  Before we talk about her life, let me say a few things about the God who gave her, not only this life, but eternal life as well.

(1) Who is this God who created such an interesting woman?  Who is this God who has created us and sustains us, even as we speak?  Wilhelimine was a character and looking out over this room, she had an interesting assortment of characters for her friends as well.  The Bible tells us that when God looked at everything he had created, he saw that “it was very good.”  There is a built-in goodness in each one of us: not matter what we think of ourselves or what others may think of us, no matter what we have done or failed to do.  In fact, the Bible says that we are all “created in the very image and likeness of God.”  I have imagined God laughing to himself the day Wilhelmine was born.  I imagine God saying to the angels: “this ought to be interesting!” And so she was----a very interesting woman indeed.

(2) What about the life that Wilhelmine is now enjoying?  St. Paul said to right when he once wrote that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, the great things that God has is store for those who love him.”  People have struggled for centuries in attempts to describe what heaven might be like: more poetry than in prose  No one knows for sure, of course, but the Bible gives us images, metaphors and word pictures that at least try to give us a sense of the wonderful things that await us on the other side.  One of the most common images of heaven in the Bible is that of a “great banquet” to which  all those who love God are invited to share.  I chose our first reading from Isaiah the prophet for that very reason.  Isaiah speaks of heaven as a mountaintop feast of “juicy rich food and choice wine.”  As a woman who loved food, especially sweets, I have no doubt that Wilhelmine could appreciate that image!  She could not have described heaven any better herself:  free food and plenty of it!  I guess it goes back to growing up during the second world war! I learned a long time ago that the best way to her heart was through her stomach.  Her idea of an appropriate Christmas present was a box of food. Very seldom did many of us  visit her without taking some food in hand.  If we didn’t, we lived to regret it! 

(3) And how do we get to heaven?  The gospel I chose today gives us the clue.  I didn’t wear this Roman collar too much when I was with her: more often it was blue jeans and shorts.  But when I did,  she always told me I “looked good” in my “uni-form.” She thought it looked good, but it did not impress her.  She helped me realize long ago that not all spiritual people are church goers and not all church goers are spiritual people.  She was not a church goer, but she was a deeply spiritual person.  She had a soft spot in her heart for the hungry, the orphaned and the hurting: be it taking-in a bashful, backward 21 year old from the country like myself or Edd Roe or giving a bag of stale doughnuts and a slightly old sandwich to a hungry young lifeguard at the spa or bag of trinkets for the lady in the camera department at K Mart.  Her compassion extended even to the birds and squirrels that she fed every day or some mangy dog she found on the street.  She literally talked to the animals! That’s why we will pray the Prayer of St. Francis today in her memory.  He is always pictured feeding and blessing the animals. As tough as she was on the outside, she could be moved to tears by a sad story on TV.    She may not have been a church goer, but in the words of Jesus “as long as she did it to the least of these, she did it for me.”

And so, as we gather to say goodbye to her today, we thank God for all the goodness he has shown her over 80 years.  We thank God for all the blessings that came to us through her.  I believe that even now she is “chowing down” at the heavenly banquet table and this time she won’t have to sweat for hours in the sauna before she get weighed in by her TOPS group at the church behind her house.

And, yes, she could be a tough old lady.  I would describe her as a tough woman with a big heart.  She could be blunt, gruff, demanding and unyielding.  She described herself as “open schpoken” and didn’t particularly care whether you liked it or not.  There are several of us who have hung up the phone on her more than once, right Inge, Lori, Jack, Connie?  But the things is we could never stay mad for very long, could we?   There was something about her that made us know she did not mean it, so we forgave her and she forgave us seventy-times seventy times.

As most of you know, she was born and raised in southern Germany, in the Alps, not far from the Austrian border.  Two of her favorite movies were the Sound of Music and Heidi.  God only knows how many times she watched those movies.  It was her way of revisiting her beloved Alps and remembering her home in Bavaria.  She loved schmaltz.  So we will sing “Edelweiss,” from the Sound of Music, at the end of this service as a final send-off!  “Edelweiss” are small white flowers that grow in the Alps. She had some real ones, dried and framed, on her kitchen wall.

Another song from the Sound of Music was “A Few Of My Favorite Things.” I sat down this week and tried to remember some of her favorite things.  Let me share them with you.  She loved Christmas and Christmas presents.  She has enough Christmas decorations in her basement to decorate New York!  She loved sweets, especially chocolate, if it was German chocolate, all the better!  She loved food in general, but in particular she loved spaetzele, weiner schnitzel, swartzewalder kirsch torte, sauerbraten, a beer once in a while, coffee and kuchen in any shape or size. She loved her junk.  I believe she must have the world’s largest collection of plastic beads.  She loved her car, her daily shopping trips and nice lunches out, especially if she could get somebody else to pay for them!   She was Queen of the Discount!  As a matter of principle, she never paid ticket price for anything.  She knew where the senior citizen discount coffee deals were.  She knew the restaurants where they gave out small free birthday cakes.  She had a coupon for everything.  She could get salespeople in any store to take back anything, no matter how many years ago she bought it.  She loved photos.  She has boxes and boxes of them.  She hated beards.  She told me to shave this off, at least once a week for 30 years!  She didn’t get jokes, no matter how hard Paul and I laughed. She loved her friends and loved interacting with them.  Finally, and most of all, she loved her “Paulie,” the perfect partner for such a unique woman.  Paul, there has never been a man who has treated his wife as well as you have yours!  You are so lucky because you have nothing to regret. I am sure that all of you could add a hundred other things to this list.  In short, she loved her life, her Germany, her husband and home and her friends in a million small ways. 

Finally, allow me to be even a little more personal. The first time I met her was the day I showed up 34 years ago to rent her basement apartment.  She was sitting in a plastic “kiddy pool” in her back yard.  She could not understand why I would not take off my clothes and get in there with her!  Many nights she would call, just to say “goodnight.” I wished I had saved some of her messages on my answering machine.  They were a riot! The last meal we had together was at my house on the Fourth of July.  I made her a German chocolate cake.  The last time I saw her well was waving at me from her back porch.  No matter which way I left, she always came out onto the back porch and waved till I got out of sight! The last time she spoke to me was last week when she first got to the hospital.  I leaned over and asked her she if she knew who I was.  She cocked her one good eye up at me and whispered, “You’re my baby!” She always said that when we would have a little falling out.  She’s call and say, “You’re still my baby!” Man, am I going to miss her!

Paul, we are all here to support you!  Thanks for everything, Wilhelmine!  It’s been a wonderful adventure!

DECEMBER 21, 2017

Rev. Ronald Knott

I met Paul King a little over 50 years ago. I started renting his basement apartment first, along with other “orphan children” like Edd Roe. Once we were “taken in” by Paul and Wilhelmine, some of us have been involved in his life, to one degree or another, ever since. Even when I quit renting the basement, I basically had a “home away from home” upstairs. I would stay with them when I came to Louisville, like they were my family, when I was first ordained and living in Somerset and Monticello. I think one of my main roles was to “take Wilhelmine off Paul’s hands” so he could have a few hours of peace watching TV in the other room. More than 50 years! Wow! Edd, we were all young back then – even Paul and Wilhelmine were in their early 40s!

I am going to read a Scripture, talk about it a bit and then invite you to share a few comments, but first I want to say a few words to his sister, Linda. I want to start there.

Linda, we can’t thank you enough – me, Edd and Vicki, Jack, Inge and Lori – for all you have done to help Paul at the end of his life. We all know that it was not easy. Paul was beginning not to be Paul about the time you took him to Hopkinsville. You had your own losses and your own health problems, but you gave him a good ending and we appreciate it. He deserved it. None of us wanted Paul to suffer in any way. You did a good job under very difficult circumstances. God will bless you for it and we thank you for it.

The Scripture I have chosen is the call of the apostles from John’s Gospel. I want to focus on one of them – a disciple named Nathaniel, called “Bartholomew” in the other three gospels.  When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he said, “Behold a true Israelite (a true man of God)! There is no duplicity in him!”

This was Paul King, as we knew him! (1) He was a man of God. (2.) There was no guile – no duplicity – in him.

Paul King was a man of God. I heard many times from Wilhelmine that he would kneel beside his bed every night and say his prayers. He was a Baptist at heart, but went to the United Church of Christ right down from his house on Eastern Parkway out of convenience.

As a Baptist, a profession of faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and adult baptism were important to him. He told me in the early 1980s that he had never been baptized, but would love to be baptized. That was before he joined the United Church of Christ near his house, so he did not have a church home. I told him that I would baptize him, not in a Catholic Church, but the way that meant something to him. I baptized him in my hot tub down at the lake. I filled it with fresh water. With Wilhelmine  looking on with pride and a good amount of disbelief, I ask him to profess his faith in Jesus Christ. Then I immersed him under the water three times – in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Besides being a man of God, a “saved" Christian, there was absolutely no guile– no duplicity in him. He was almost childlike – not childish, but childlike! Did Jesus not say, “Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God?” Unless you become trusting and innocent, you cannot really know God.

Of course, the other side of being without duplicity, being childlike, is that you can be naïve. I can remember the story of him working for that post-depression work program out west somewhere when he was a young man. He had made several gold coins, I believe, when someone stole them or cheated him out of them on the way home! He sent money to probably some suspicious charities and worst of all, he got into that scam toward the end that none of us could talk him out of!   He was convinced he was on the verge of millions of dollars. It aggravated us, and probably scared Linda, but we need to remember that it came from that “good place” inside him, a place of innocence, childlikeness and no duplicity!

Before I open this up for a little sharing, let me say thank you to Linda again. Let me say thank you to Edd and Vickie who were so faithful. Jack cannot be here because of his health, but send his good wishes. Jack was so good to Wilhelmine and Paul. He was so faithful for many years, so helpful taking him to appointments during his last years. Inge and Lori were there for him in a thousand ways – being his friend, playing cards, going to the German-American Club activities, taking him food and visiting him.  Thank you, especially, for being patient with him when he began “losing it.” Not one of us wanted to do anything to hurt Paul or see Paul hurt. I know I am going to miss some things, so that’s why I thought I’d ask you each to share your favorite PAUL KING STORY before we close with a prayer.  Remember, he was a Baptist so we are not listing things so that we can prove that he earned salvation. Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned. The good that he did was always a response to that free gift of salvation. By the way, despite what people say about us, we Catholics believe that too! Good deeds are a RESPONSE to free salvation!

(Now, let's hear from some of you here today! Some shared stories.)

(Front row) Inge Holl of Louisville, friend from their days in Germany when Paul was a US soldier in World War II. (Gray sweater) Paul's sister, Linda, from Hopkinsville. (Black sweater) Paul's neice, Jackie. (Man in gray coat and tie) Mr Daniels, son of Inge. Jack Anderson, very close friend and helper, could not be there. He resides at Nazareth Home. Neither could his good friend and neighbor, Lori, who lives in Florida. Edd and Vickie Roe of Paducah are in the picture below. 

Friday, December 22, 2017



 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin named Mary.        
                                                                     Luke 1:26-38

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has been so honored by the church for so long, with layers and layers of titles and honors that sometimes we forget what she was really like when she lived here on this earth.

Her real Jewish name was Miriam. Mary is the English translation of Miriam. She was named after Miriam, the sister of Moses. Mary was probably born in Nazareth, a town of about 1600 people. She spoke Aramaic with a Galilean accent. She would have known at least a few words in Latin, the language of the occupying Roman soldiers who were everywhere. They were the foreign occupiers of their country. She would have known a few words in Greek, the language of business and the educated classes. She would have known Hebrew, the language used in the readings of the synagogue, their church services.

She belonged to the peasant class who squeezed out a living from farming or small trades like carpentry. Carpenters made even less than farmers. Joseph and Jesus were carpenters. They would have been among the poorest of the poor.

Life was grinding enough as it was, but they were also tripled taxed, taxed to death to put it simply. They had to pay taxes to Rome, Herod and the Temple, their version of federal, state and local taxes.

Mary probably lived in a two-room house in a family compound shared by cousins, uncles, aunts and parents. The small home faced out onto a central courtyard shared by the other houses and the animals. It would have been very noisy. In the courtyard was a shared cistern, an outdoor oven for bread baking and a millstone for grinding.

Mary would have worked, on average, ten hours a day carrying water, gathering wood, cooking, washing dishes and doing laundry.

Mary was probably thirteen when she got married. They did this for two reasons: to protect her virginity and to have as many babies as possible. Having lots of children was something you were very proud of and was seen as a blessing from God. Not to have children was a disgrace.

Her marriage would have been nothing like our American marriages. “Falling in love,” “getting engaged” and then “getting married” would have sounded very strange to them. Mary and Joseph would have been engaged while they were children. This would have been arranged, not by them, but by their parents, often with the help of a professional match-maker. This arrangement could have been made without Mary and Joseph ever having met each other. Marriage in those days was far too serious to be left to the emotions of romantic love. A good marriage was more about the financial security of the family unit.

When Mary and Joseph were teenagers would have made the second step toward marriage called betrothal which would last for a year. Mary could have backed out at this point, but once entered into, was considered binding, broken only by divorce. They were considered man and wife without living together. It was during this betrothal period that Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, knowing that he was not the father, decided to divorce her quietly, that is without going public. If he had gone public, Mary would have been stoned to death for adultery.

The marriage, itself, would have been the third and final step. Joseph, because of a dream he had where an angel told him the truth about Mary, decided to go ahead and marry her.

Mary was not fragile like the holy cards paint her up to be – a blond, fair skinned Cover Girl model in a blue dress! She was a tough peasant woman, capable of walking the hill country of Judea while pregnant, of giving birth in a stable, of walking four of five days on foot to Jerusalem once or twice a year. She was capable of sleeping in the open country and doing long hours of hard work. She was tough. She was nothing like most holy cards. She had dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair. She, most probably, could not read or write.

Joseph seems to have died before Jesus left home to begin his preaching. Some believe that he might have been much older than Mary. It had to be painful for Mary when Jesus left her to begin preaching. Mark says that she and some of the family actually went after him, thinking he had lost his mind.

Mary was probably about 50 when Jesus was crucified, well beyond the age when most women died back then. She was there when the Holy Spirit came down on the early church, but then disappears. Some believed that she died in Ephesus, in Greece, with John to whom Jesus had commended her to on the cross.

What is obvious from all we know about Mary is the fact that she WASN’T special. In many ways, she was just another good woman from a small Jewish town, trying to get by through hard times, living the way other women had lived for generations. What is so amazing is not Mary’s specialness, but the fact that God chose someone so ordinary to be the mother of the Savior. The only thing extraordinary about her was her extraordinary openness to whatever God wanted from her. She experienced poverty, oppression, violence and the execution of her son, yet she continued to trust God. Most of what we associate with Mary is honors heaped on her after her death.

That is her challenge to us, seeing God in the ordinary times of life, even in times of loss, disappointment and even death. Personally, I can’t always see God’s hand in my life as I go along, but I certainly can when I look back!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017




When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, 
but before they lived together, 
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband decided to divorce her quietly.
But behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
“Joseph, son of David, 
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit 
that this child has been conceived in her.
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him 
and took his wife into his home.
MATTHEW 1:18-25

It’s amazing, but sometimes something is repeated so often that we really quit paying attention! This is certainly true of the Christmas story! We have tended to sentimentalize it and make it sweet and charming, when in reality the details are shockingly disastrous – from an out-of-wedlock pregnancy to an on-the-road delivery in a smelly barn. God is God, but his idea of how to send a beloved son into the world is nothing short of bizarre. If you read the story carefully, it’s really one tragic disaster after another.

If the beginning is not bad enough, the end is worse. This baby boy grows up and dies in the prime of his life – sadistically executed along with two common criminals! God’s ways are not man’s ways! The message tonight is surely this! To understand the “disasters” of our own lives, we have to look at them through the eyes of God, not our own!

In the summer of 1959, I was barely 15 years old. It was my second summer home from high school seminary. In a town of 27 people, there wasn’t much to do on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon, except go swimming in a pond on one of my father’s farms. There were four of us boys about the same age: me, my brother Gary, John Paul Manning and his brother Joe-Joe. We walked about three miles to the pond. None of us knew how to swim, all that well, so we had agreed just to play together a few feet from the shore.

For some unknown reason, Joe-Joe decided to swim across the pond alone. Distracted by each other, the rest of us didn’t even realize that he had done this, until we heard his cries for help from across the pond. We tried our best to get to him, but the short of it was, he drowned right in front of our eyes. I can still feel the tiredness in my arms, the struggle to keep from drowning myself, his panic stricken eyes staring right at me and our inability to reach him before he went down for the last time.

He was thrashing about, wildly, trying to keep from drowning. The sad thing was, if he had done the opposite, if he had only relaxed and let himself float, we could have grabbed him and pulled him, or he could have floated, to safety. The more he tried to save his life by thrashing about wildly, the closer to death he came. If he had just quit trying to save his life, he might have saved it. The message was: there are times to hold on and there are times to let go.

As a young priest, I worked with an angry nun who had been hurt by a convent chaplain when she was a novice. Because of his recommendation, she was dismissed from her order as “unsuitable” for final vows. She carried her resentment against him for years, even though she was later readmitted and went on to become a nun.

The more I tried to work with her, the more determined she was to rebuff me. I knew nothing of her bad experience with the convent chaplain, but to her I was “that priest” with another face. The more she rejected my efforts to reach out to her, the harder I tried to win her over. The more she rebuffed my efforts, the more I re-doubled them until I was so frustrated that I had to go for counseling. In counseling, I kept coming up with more ideas about how I could win her over. This went on for over an hour, until the counselor was practically screaming in my face, “When are you going to take “no” for an answer? She doesn’t want to work with you!” Shocked by his bluntness, I feel back into my chair as my mind finally “got it.” The interesting thing was, once I quit trying to work with her, did my own thing and let her do her own thing, we got along fine. The message was: there are times to hold on and times to let go.

I usually preach on the Midnight Mass readings that tell us about the birth itself, about the angels and about the shepherds, but this year I want to talk about the gospel that tells us all the things that led up to the birth of Jesus. I want to talk about St. Joseph, the man who could change his mind when faced with unwanted realities.

Some of us are proud of the fact that we made up our minds about something years and years ago and that we are not about to change them now. We may even think that our inflexibility is a virtue. St. Joseph teaches us that, to follow the will of God, we sometimes have to be able to change our minds.

Here's the short version of how St. Joseph was able to change his mind. Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married. Mary became pregnant before the wedding and told Joseph that she had conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph refused to believe it at first. He may have even showered Mary with some harsh words. In response to this unwanted news, he made up his mind to divorce Mary quietly when an angel appeared to him in a dream, confirming Mary's explanation and telling him not to be afraid to proceed with the wedding. Joseph woke up with a changed mind, proceeded with the wedding and accepted his new family.

Changing one’s mind is so important in our relationships to God that "change your mind" is the very first challenge that came out of Jesus’ mouth when he began his ministry. We read about it every first Sunday of Lent. The word he used is “metanoiete” in the Greek text of Scripture. It means, “Change the way you look at things! Change the way you see! To see what God is up to, it takes a radical change in the way you look out at things.” By being able to change his mind and look at the Mary's pregnancy with new eyes, Joseph was able to see that he was actually part of a great plan that God had formed long ago - not being duped by an unfaithful fiancée as the situation first appeared to be!

St. Joseph teaches us this Christmas that we sometimes have to “let go and let God” and find a way to embrace some very painful unwanted realities if we are to move forward in life. St. Joseph teaches us that letting go in life can be very hard, but trying to hold onto to an idea we love can sometimes makes life even harder.

( If parents want their children to grow into healthy adults, they have to “give them up” over and over again. They have to put them on the school bus that first day, even though they cry and resist and every bone in their body wants to hold onto them and keep them home. They have to “let go” when they learn to swim, when they go off to camp, when they learn gymnastics, when they learn to drive, when they leave home for college and when they walk down the aisle to begin their own life. If they “let go,” new life is possible for those children. If they try to hang on to them and cling to their childhoods, they will retard any possible growth into self-sufficient adults.

I If someone is addicted and wants to be free, old patterns and old friendships and old thinking have to die and be buried before a new way of living is possible. You cannot hold onto past behaviors and take on new ones at the same time. The old way of living must die, before a new way of living can be born.

If someone is in a relationship that is not healthy and life-giving, letting go of it is very much like a death that one must go through before a new life and a new beginning and a new relationship can come to life. One must be willing to let go of familiar territory to reach new lands. The in between time is what scares people. That’s why abused spouses often return to their abusers: this in-between time is so scary that they return to what is familiar. By holding on to the past, they actually kill any possibility of moving into a new way of living.

Sometimes we have no choice: we are forced into change. Sometimes it takes a heart attack, a terrible loss, an eye-opening accident or a terrible diagnosis, a death of sorts, before we are motivated to bury our old way of living so we can make room for a new way of living.

Sometimes the church has to go through a great scandal, a purging, a death of sorts, to really renew itself. We are going through one of those deaths, right now. The seed of this renewal is in the ground sprouting as we speak. The old church is dying and a new church is being born. Many find that so scary and painful that they would attempt to go back to escape the pain of this dying, but we cannot go back. We must embrace this life-giving process yet again in our history.

The church has always grown, not during the times it is most comfortable and respected, but when we have people being martyred for the faith. There is even an old saying that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” The church cannot be said to be strong until there are enough people who believe it is important enough to die for.

In my own personal life, I have noticed that times of greatest life and blessing have always been preceded by tough times, times of loss and disappointment. It was when I was forced to let go of some dream, idea, a so-called need or even a beloved mother, that I witnessed unimaginable breakthroughs. It has happened so often that I can sometimes monitor where I am in the process. Here, I am reminded of a favorite saying, “Breakdown is a sure sign of a breakthrough.”

Monday, December 18, 2017



A trip to the towns of Sandy Bay and Georgetown with Bishop County and Des. 

The Guarifuna Bakery
Sandy Bay

The Diocese of Kingstown actually runs a bakery cooperative in the town of Georgetown on the northeast side of the island. It provides some jobs, provides some of the rural communities access to fresh bread and brings in a little support for the diocese.

Bishop County wanted to drop by the bakery and thank each worker and give them a small present - a bottle of wine. 

We also took food for a little Christmas lunch party. 

Both women are bakers, but the woman on the left has been running the bakery for many years. 

That oven is VERY hot in a VERY hot country. The smell of fresh bread baking was wonderful. 

St. Benedict Home for Children
Carmelite Sister Nyra Ann

We stopped in to give Sister Nyra Ann her gift (we gave gifts to all 8 Sisters working on the island) and explain to her about the toy delay and to tell her all about what was coming in the boxes. I hope they can get some good photos.

Bread of Life Home for Children
Carmelite Sister Zita

Each of the boxes were sent with the names of each orphanage marked clearly on the sides. These two orphanages are located side by side, but specialize in different children's needs. Each Sister was given back a list of the names they supplied to us with our assigned gifts for each child. Again, I am hoping for some good photos when the kids do get their gifts.

I get upset every time I look at these boxes of toys that have been delayed somewhere getting to the islands!

Neither Sister Nyra Ann nor Sister Zita were home yet when we got there. Rather than wait, I had Sister Carmen write down my instructions about the toys. A young man by the name of Kurt, who works for the local parish, was with us. He is going to coordinate with the Sisters,  when the toys are given out, to take some good photos of the children receiving their toys. 

As an incentive, I told him he will be paid on the quality of the photos. I emphasized the the fact that I need good ones for the donors. He has an iphone and seems to know how to use it. 


The painter, Fred, and the janitor, Neil, take a deserved post-lunch siesta on another very hot day. The floor is hard, but cool because it is stone. Smart guys! 

Notice some of our Pastoral Centre renovation in the background. 

Bernadette Patrick
Bernadette Patrick is a finance and development consultant with the Diocese of Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Bernadette is assisting in fiscal management & planning and fundraising & development proposals. Bernadette is the former Financial Administrator of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad. She has studied at the MBA level in Economics, Accounting and Finance. She is also trained in Diocesan Stewardship & Development and Finance by participation in the International Catholic Stewardship and the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conferences and is a member of the US Leadership Roundtable. She also participated in the recent Convocation on the Joy of the Gospel hosted by the USCCB in July 2017. She has also lived and done active pastoral ministry for one year in Canouan, in the Grenadines.

Bernadette lives in Trinidad and is also actively involved in Catholic Women’s ministries. She in the Caribbean Regional Representative for two US based apostolates; Magnificat, a ministry to catholic women and Women of Grace.

More of our Pastoral Centre renovation in the background.

Yohance Gibson 

Mr. Yohance P. Gibson is an educator by profession with an academic background in Computer Science.  He currently works at St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua, where he serves as the Head of the Social Sciences Department and a Dean of Discipline for the last 12 years.  He also works part time with the Division of Adult and Continuing Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to manage and facilitate continuing education courses for adults who did not complete their secondary schooling or who desire additional professional development courses in order for them to find jobs and provide for their families.  Additionally, he has been particularly involved in Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Kingstown serving as the Assistant Youth Coordinator and is now part of the newly formed development committee. 

Besides teaching, he has also worked as the Program Development Manager for Youth Business St. Vincent and the Grenadines and was responsible for developing programs and acquiring funding to support Youth Entrepreneurship in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Mr. Gibson also serves on the Cluny Subsidiary Board of Management as the faculty representative for two Catholic High Schools managed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny.  He is a member of the Caribbean Examinations Council’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Social Studies examining team as well as works as an External Examiner for CSEC Theatre Arts.  He describes himself as an all-rounder and likes interacting with people and coming up with new and innovating ways of doing things.      

Msgr. George Bardowell
88 years old and loved by all, retired and living at the Cathedral, he is still very active. He spent the day going to neighboring Bequia Island by ferry to conduct a funeral. He even dropped by the youth group party after the Saturday night Mass. 


On my final night, Des and I hosted a small party for the workers who did the renovation of the Pastoral Centre. At the party, I was able to give each family represented a gift certificate for a Kentucky Fried Chicken "Ten Piece Family Feast Meal" and a pocket knife with the logo of the Catholic Second Wind Guild. 

You can imagine Sts. James and John, Peter and Andrew fishing in that sea. 

September 18 was to be the original dedication day. It was transferred to December 14 because of the hurricanes. September 18 was the first Mass in the chapel. 
The Bishop prays for all our donors every day. 

December 19, 2017

If all goes well, I'll be home around midnight. 

I am hot and tired, but pleased with the trip. 
I believe some good was done. 

(Phyllis, don't forget to bring my coat to the airport when you come)  

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Diocese of Kingstown
St. Vincent and the Grenadines

December 16 and 17, 2017



Bishop County and I standing ready in the Sacristy for the bell to ring. 

The Entrance Procession comes through the door. 

Bishop County presided and I preached under the watchful eye of the statue of St. Vincent the Deacon and under the St. Vincent and the Grenadines blue, green and yellow flag. (See homily below)

Concelebrating Mass with Bishop County.

The Cathedral youth took a leadership role during Mass

The younger youth did an Advent skit after communion. 
You can see the great musicians in the very back of the photo. 

up at the Pastoral Centre after the Saturday Night Mass

Some of the youth waiting for the food to be served at the party.

Since it was his birthday yesterday, the youth sang "Happy Birthday" to Bishop County and crowned him with some "reindeer antlers." 


In the morning I presided at the 9:00 am Mass at the Cathedral where I had the great honor and privilege of baptizing six beautiful babies. I don't think one of them cried, even though the church was very hot and the Mass was long! I did OK, but I went into it totally unprepared. They tend to prefer to "play it by ear" and "let it happen as it happens" down here. 



Communion to the Sick

Bishop County, Desmond and I took communion to Aneke Soulade (originally from Nigeria) in her home at the top of the mountain. She, until this health situation came up, has been volunteering in social service projects with Martin, a full-time volunteer from Ireland.  


The family of Elna Howard had quite a birthday party for her at her home. She and her husband, Ronnie, have been married for 70 years. They lived in the US for thirty some years, when he worked as an attorney. They have been back living and working on St. Vincent for the last thirty plus years. Some of their family from the US were visiting. Some could not make it because of it being so close to Christmas. 

Here they are at the head table. You can see the grand buffet in the background. He began by saying, "This is not a time for
speeches," but ended up giving several long ones himself. He obviously loved her very much! 

Two of the three beautifully decorated tables under the white tent. 

I got to sit with a lovely family. He is a pilot for SVG AIRLINES. His young son's name is Luke. That is Luke's grandmother, I believe, looking over his head and his mother and father across from him. 

Even the Governor General, Sir Fredrick Nathaniel Ballantyne, of SVG was in attendance.  He represents the Queen of England and he is a local surgeon.

“Clearing the Path”
Rev. Ronald Knott

Make straight  a highway for our God.
Fill in the valleys. Level the mountains.
Smooth out the rough spots. Flatten the

Roads are vitally important. We take them for granted. For the last several years I travel down the street in front of my house. It is a four-lane parkway that makes it easy to get from one side of the city to the other. However, for the last year, they have been digging it up replacing the old sewer system. There are aggravating delays and gridlock traffic every day. Down here, twice I have witnessed a road block. Once going up to St. John, there was a land slide covering the whole road!  Another time, on our way to Corpus Christi, which should have been an easy drive, was a maddening circling around and back and around again for what seemed like hours because of some road repairs. They have been digging up the street in front of my condo up home for a year, with another year to go. 

In the ancient world, roads were rare, often no more than animal paths, and generally not well kept. When a king wanted to visit part of his kingdom, he had to send messengers ahead to tell the people to prepare the roads so that he could get to them in a timely fashion, without a lot of obstacles in the way. When people out in the country got the news that the king was coming for a visit, they got to work grading the rough spots, filling in the pot holes, leveling the hills and smoothing out the bumps so that the king could have a safe and comfortable trip.

John the Baptist refers to this kind of road-work when he quotes from Isaiah the Prophet, but he isn’t talking about actual road repairs. He is a messenger, not for an earthly king, but a heavenly king. The clearing, leveling, smoothing and filling that he talks about is spiritual. He tells people to prepare themselves to welcome God into their hearts and to do that they must remove all those invisible, inner obstacles that prevent them from seeing, recognizing and welcoming God. He calls people to “clean house,” spiritually, so that God can easily get to them, where they live, into their hearts and minds.

When Jesus left his private life and began his public ministry, the first word out of his mouth was “metanoia,” “change the way you think, the way you look at things, the priorities that you now hold” so that you can see God right in front of you! He said, “you do not have to go looking for God “out there” somewhere, all you have to do is remove the scales from your eyes, take the plugs out of your ears and get out of your old-thinking rut and you will realize that God is there in front of you!  The kingdom of God is at hand!  It’s right here, right now!

My friends, Advent is about preparing ourselves to welcome God’s Son at Christmas, to allow God to change us. To be changed by God, all we have to do is remove obstacles that keep God at a distance. We don’t have to go looking for God. God has already been looking for us. He is at hand! How close is God?  Isaiah, the prophet, puts it quite tenderly. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart, leading the ewes with care.” That’s intimate! That’s close! The problem, then, is not that God doesn’t want to get close to us, it’s that we are uncomfortable having God that close. We put up barriers, roadblocks and hindrances because a God, too close, makes us nervous.

Without this inner leveling, clearing, flattening and filling in that Advent calls us to do, there is no way we will really get what Christmas is all about. Without the inner work of Advent, Christmas will end up being no more than a gaudy orgy of excess that will leave us empty once again. Advent is a spiritual retreat, a time to think and pray, a time to rid ourselves of any of those things in our minds and hearts that keep God at a distance.

Poor Advent! It doesn’t have a chance in hell. It’s not about doing more, but doing less. We are invited to empty our lives so as to make room for God.  When we hear the words “get ready for Christmas,” most people think in terms of shopping, buying gifts, decorating, baking and other frantic activities. Advent is about something else. Advent is about “getting ready for Christmas,” not in some external way, but internally. Advent is a time of retreat, spiritual renewal and a house-cleaning of the soul. The “feel good” of Christmas is a “feel good of the heart,” not of the senses. Advent is not about adding more to our lives, but about adding by taking more away. This is very hard to do in the frenzy of excess that we know as “the Christmas holidays.” It is so telling that depression and suicide spike dramatically right after Christmas in countries like mine. Expectations are raised and then not met. It’s too much for some people.

Now before you kick me out the door as a guilt-inflicting party pooper, let me tell you that I love Christmas. I have always loved it. I love it more every year. I love it more because I try harder every year to simplify my life and enjoy the invisible things more.  One of the biggest stressors was the annual gift giving nightmare.  I have four sisters, two brothers, four brother-in-laws and twenty nieces and nephews. There are five in my support group.  Trying to get something substantial, with a limited amount of money, for that many people made the weeks before Christmas aggravating and stressful. A few years ago, my brothers and sisters chose not to exchange gifts, but get together for a wonderful meal at my sister's house, have Mass together in her home and simply enjoy each other. It has been amazing. We love it so much better. The gift giving ritual actually created tensions among us. My support group gave up the practice years ago. We get together, eat and enjoy each other’s company. This gives me more time to prepare blog posts, take old people to breakfast and visit people I haven’t seen for a while. I do give one nice gift or two. I look around among the people back home who I have met over the year who are really in a financial pinch and surprise them with a small check: a single mother, an elderly widow or a struggling student. This is my second year to support your diocesan Christmas program for kids.  This year I have added Bequia, Canauan, Mayreau and Union. This year I have put a special emphasis on the kids up at the St. Benedict and Bread of Life Homes for Children.  

When I get to Christmas Day Mass, I am relaxed and rested, feeling good from the inside out. That’s what Advent and Christmas is all about: feeling good from the inside out!  That gift cannot be bought. God gives it away for free. All we need to do is clear the path and straighten the road!