Thursday, June 14, 2018


June 20 - June 28

It's Going to Be a Very Busy Visit 

- get there through four airports
- lead a Permanent Deacon Retreat
- preside at Sunday Masses in three parishes
- meet with Bishop County
- assess progress so far and review future goals
- visit the two orphanages I sponsor to assess needs
- meet with the country's Minister of Health
 - finalize plans for the July kids computer camp
- get back through four airports



Four of the eleven boxes already sent down for this trip - things collected mostly for kids. 

If you are in the mood, there's still time to help me help the Caribbean missions! 

Bishop County, flanked by two of his Deacons. 

Some of the religious Sisters greeting Bishop County on the day of his installation as bishop of the Diocese of Kingstown, SVG. The Mass was held at a pavilion at a local Community College. 

That's me baptizing six babies last December.


Tripped over a concrete barrier in a dimly lit Barbados Airport parking lot going to the car with Bishop Gordon.

Tripped on a defective stairwell step in a Toronto Hotel when both elevators were
"down." I was leading a priest retreat to raise money for the missions. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018



This is me when I met Inge in Taize (France) @ 1973 when I was a newly ordained priest stationed in Somerset. 
We were in the same prayer group at Taize with her future husband, Bernd.  
Oh, the ravages of age! 

Doug and his mother, Bea Beard, from Columbia, Kentucky, came up for a visit. Doug's father knew Inge and Birgit's mother and father, when he was stationed in Germany during the Second World War.  They brought old pictures of visits to Germany in the past.  Such a small world! 


Our Lady of the Woods Chapel at Bellarmine University where I used to be chaplain for fourteen years!


All gassed-up and ready to drive to Nashville to visit the grave of Johnny Cash in their ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR! Now all they have to do is meet up with my friends, Phyllis and Jan. 

Seeing them off on their road trip to Nashville. 
Phyllis, Birgit and Jan (Inge was taking the picture). 

Birgit is a fan of Johnny Cash. Here she stands at the foot of his grave in Hendersonville, Tennessee, on their way to Nashville. 
His wife, June Carter Cash, is buried next to him. 

A Johnny Cash and his fan from Germany, Birgit, finally meet. 

"Thelma, Louise and Company" find a free lunch at a music festival somewhere in Nashville.  They are all seasoned tourists for sure! 

I knew I should not have let them go to Nashville alone. Now they will never want to go home! 
They had a great time! 


I took Inge and Birgit to meet my friend, Patricia (Tafel) Kirchdorfer, at the Episcopal Home. Patricia invited us to a nice lunch where we talked about places in Germany they both knew about. 

After lunch, we stopped in to see Anne and Tim Schoenbachler, old friends of Inge, Birgit  and their parents. They have visited several times here in the States and once in Germany. 

In the evening, we stopped at Daniel and Nell (on the left) Allgeier's house to watch the Triple Crown horse race from New York.  Donna, a neighbor, is on the right. Nell is the daughter of Phyllis who belongs to our "coffee shop group." Pictured below are Mark, Jan and Gary who also meet up regularly at Sunergos Coffee Shop on Preston. Phyllis put the pizza party together for us after the horse race. 

Sunday morning, I presided at Mass with Inge and Birgit in the front row. 

At Elaine Winebrenner's condo on Tuesday night. 

At Sunergos Coffee Shop with Mark and Phyllis.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


By the power of the prince of demons, he drives out demons.
Luke 11:15

Today, Jesus seems to be getting it from both sides - from his family and from organized religion! His family thinks he has lost his mind and the religious authorities thinks he is possessed. 

One of the things about Mark's Gospel, the first to be written down, is that it is so blunt and straightforward. He tells it like it is. Those who write later, when the apostles were rising in admiration by the Church, clean up a bunch of stories so that his family and disciples don't look so rude and crude.  

First we read about the family of Jesus showing up to take Jesus away because they feel he has lost his mind!  Here is what it said: 

Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them to even eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind." 

It sort of shakes our usual ideas about Jesus and his family. To have them show up to "seize" him, thinking that he is "out of his  mind" really is something else indeed! 

Second the religious authorities show up - and they think he is possessed. Here it what it says about them.

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, 
"He is possessed by Beelzebul."    
and by the prince of demons he drives out demons." 

What we have here, with the religious authorities, is an example of pettiness and jealousy in ministry that has been around since the beginning. This gives me a chance to tell you about one of the things I address in the retreats for priests I give around the world - over 100 of them in 10 countries so far!  Pettiness and jealousy in ministry, unfortunately, is not restricted to the clergy. Anyone of you who has ever been involved in lay ministry knows that it can happen there as well. So what I have to say about priests can apply to lay ministers as well. 

There was one thing the religious enemies of Jesus could not stand and that was his success in ministry. Since it was obvious that he was doing good things, the only tactics they had left to fall back on was to discredit his success by attributing that success to the fact that he was in cahoots with the devil. Since it was obvious to all that he had power to cast out demons, they attributed his power, not to God, but to the devil. Jealous of his power to do good, they slander him by telling people that his power to do good came from evil itself.
Jealousy and competitiveness have been the dark side of clerical culture for a very long time and is alive and well today. When the apostles, James and John, were caught making a move to grab the best seats in Jesus’ new kingdom, they had to face the jealous indignation of the other ten apostles as well as a stern reprimand from Jesus. We may remember the story about John trying to put a stop to someone who was driving out demons in the name of Jesus because he was not “a member of the inner circle.” Then there is the story about Joshua doing pretty much the same when he complained to Moses that Medad and Eldad were prophesying even though they had not been “in the tent” with the others when the spirit came to rest on the other prophets. Snubbed by some Samaritans while on their way to Jerusalem, James and John asked Jesus if it would be OK to call down fire from heaven and burn them up! 
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests dedicates quite a bit of space to the subject of clerical envy and competition. Whether you like his work or not, the late Father Andrew Greeley made a similar point in one of his books. He talks about the leveling that goes on among priests, whereby they are reluctant to applaud the work of other priests for fear that it will take away something from themselves.
He says that, in the clerical culture, “to be a member of good standing, a priest must try not to be too good at anything or to express unusual views or criticize accepted practices or even to read too much. Some ideas are all right, but too many ideas are dangerous.” “When a layman mentions that Father X is a good preacher, the leveler priest’s response might likely be, ‘Yes, he preaches well, but he doesn’t get along with kids.’” Or, “He’s really good, but all he does during the week is prepare his sermon.” Or, “Everyone says that, and it’s probably true, but he’s not an easy man to live with.”  One famous Protestant minister once said, “The meanest, most contemptible form of praise is to first speak well of a man and then end it with a “but.”   
In my August transition class with the deacons, I always end with a class on the spiritual practice of blessing people. Blessing people is not about waving crosses over them, but looking for goodness in them to affirm. For some reason, this does not seem to come naturally to ordained ministers. It is a spiritual discipline that must be intentionally cultivated.
As I prepared for my last class before I retired, I came across my notes for former student, Jorge Gomez of the  class of 2011. Fr. Jorge from Mexico and his diocesan seminarian brother, Stanley, from Kenya, were killed in a car wreck in Tulsa a few weeks after Father Jorge's ordination. Here are the last words I said to Deacon Jorge to bless him on his way out of here. “You have not forgotten that you do not have a vocation to the seminary, but to serve the People of God. You have a deep love and respect for your country, your family, your people and your community. You are very dedicated to “the people.” You seem to know instinctively that, as priests, we are “called from the people, to live among the people, to serve the people.” I also told them which saint they reminded me of. For him I selected St. Luke, whose heroes are always the underdog, the foreigner, the disaffected and the left out.  I am very happy I took the time to bless him with these words while he was still alive!
Brothers and sisters, our sin may not be so much about “what we have done,” even the mean and nasty things we say about each other, but “what we have failed to do,” our withholding of clear and unconditional compliments when we have the chance!
St. Cyprian, in the Office of Readings for the feast of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, put it this way. His words could be applied to religious women and lay ministers as well.  “Why should a priest not take pride in the praise given to a fellow priest as though it were given to him?  What brotherhood fails to rejoice in the happenings of its brothers wherever they are?”
One famous American Protestant preacher described our sin best when he said, “The meanest, most contemptible form of praise is to first speak well of a man and then end it with a “but!” We need to get off our "buts" and give each other compliments!