Sunday, June 16, 2019

MY COUSIN'S BIG DAY



FATHER BOB (ROBERT EARL) RAY
Celebrating 50 Years of Priesthood

Our grandmothers, on our fathers' side, were sisters. 
His  youngest brother and my youngest sister were (before her death) married to each other. 
We have three nephews in common. 
He was ordained a priest in 1969.
I was ordained a priest in 1970.  




Father Ray during his First Mass in 1969. I served as his Deacon.





At our Confirmations in 1956. 



Saint Theresa's 175 anniversary celebration



At our home parish, Saint Theresa, for its 200th anniversary celebration.


FATHER RAY AT 50 YEARS

Celebrating his 50th anniversary Mass with deacon Greg Beaven


A full church of family and freinds. 



The parish presented him with a beautiful Paschal Candle



Some of the celebrating priests, deacons and women religious.

Friday, June 14, 2019

DO YOU NEED A GOOD LAUGH?

"I laughed out loud," 
is the most recurring response from people who have read my latest book. 

You can pick up a copy at:

Tonini Church Supply in Louisville
(502) 897-7100
966  Breckenridge Lane
Louisville, KY 40217

or

you can order a copy online. by clicking on 
"MY BOOKSTORE" under "LINKS" 
over on the right of this page.


ALL OF MY BOOKS ARE LISTED THERE







Wednesday, June 12, 2019

REPORT FROM THE 2019 CROOKSTON (MINNESOTA) PRIEST RETREAT



A FEW PHOTOS FROM THE CROOKSTON PRIEST RETREAT


Getting ready for one of the  retreat conferences..



A few of the tables at dinner time


My cabin is the one on the left. There are many cabins in this resort. 


Enjoying a cigar with a few of the priests.



We are on one of the many Minnesota lakes.


An after dinner walk with a few of the priest on our retreat.  




Morning Mass in our very small make-shift cabin chapel.



Former students of mine at Saint Meinrad: Matt, Raul, Vince and Nate. 



Some of the priests relaxing after dinner. Retired Bishop Balke is in the very center, back row.
Bishop Balke is a wonderful man and beloved former bishop of Crookston. 



We were on Pelican Lake



Another group of retreat priests relaxing by the lake



Enjoying lunch on a boat ride around the lake.



A pastor and his associate enjoying the Minnesota sunshine. 



Relaxed, refreshed and ready to go back to the parish - Father Vince. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

EXCITED TO BE GOING BACK UP TODAY TO MINNESOTA....



...TO LEAD THE SPRING 2019 PRIEST RETREAT
Diocese of Crookston 




FAIR HILLS RESORT
June 9 - 13, 2019





Last time I got stuck in a late-in-the-year freak snow storm in the Minneapolis Airport. I didn't know how to handle it, but they did!  They managed to get me to Bemidji on time! This time I am flying into Fargo, North Dakota, just across the border! "It will be easier," they said! I wonder what this is going to mean? Hmmm!  


DIOCESE OF CROOKSTON

The Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, borders on North Dakota on the west and Canada on the north. 


Aerial view of Crookston, Minnesota, with the Red Lake River twisting through the town

Crookston is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is the county seat of Polk County. The population was 7,891 at the 2010 census. It is part of the "Grand Forks, NDMN Metropolitan Statistical Area" or "Greater Grand Forks".

Crookston is the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston. Since Crookston is close to the larger city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, many people who live in Crookston commute to jobs in the Grand Forks area.



They really are nice people! I enjoy them so much! 





I will be flying into the Fargo, North Dakota, Airport, just over the border. 


Of course, I will be flying into Fargo on the "official Minnesota airlines" - "Lutheran Airlines!"
Click on their official advertisement below for a  "nice" laugh!




I hope they enjoy my teasing or else they will have a week to get even with Kentucky jokes! 

Friday, June 7, 2019

WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!



I Am Not Going To Wait Till Thanksgiving Day To Say It




I have said it before, but I would like to say it again. Sometimes I am overcome with feelings of gratitude. 

I joke with people sometimes and say, "I don't have problems, I have aggravations. There's a big difference so I try not to complain too much!"
I deal with people almost every day who have problems, real problems! Maybe the fact that I get to be part of their lives is why I am often overcome with feelings of gratitude when I hear about all they have to go through: sick children, aging parents, lost faith, financial difficulty, chronic illnesses, loneliness, drug addicted children and God know what else!

There is not much more that I need or even want. The only thing that I really crave at this point in my life is continued good health. My car is a few years old, but it runs just fine. I don't need or even want a new car. My condo in the Germantown area of Louisville is comfortable and is located in convenient spot. I neither need nor crave a bigger or better house. I buy clothes and shoes "on sale" on the internet and from places like Penny's and Target. I neither need nor crave fancy name-brands.  I have enough income to keep my bills paid, enough to give some to charity and enough saved to take care of myself in my old age. I travel for free to wonderful places leading priest convocations and even get paid for it. I have had the honor of meeting hundreds and hundreds of priests, bishops and even cardinals from at least fifty different countries. People loved my 15-year weekly column in The Record, still buy my books and respond positively to what I have to say when I preach or write.  

My family loves me and I love them. We get along extremely well. 
I am so happy to be invited back to the Cathedral to help out. I am honored to keep being asked by Bishops in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean to lead priest retreats. I am passionate about my volunteer work in the Caribbean missions and I am constantly amazed at people's generosity.  
I have a wide circle of interesting friends from various countries, walks of life, diverse religious convictions and economic levels. These friends stay in touch and are extremely supportive. If I ever really needed anything, they tell me they would be there in a flash.
 I have the ability to put the scandals of the Church in perspective. I know that the validity of the Church's message has never depended on the goodness of its messengers - certainly not mine!  Therefore, I remain hopeful. 
I am not itching to go just yet, but if I do I have the consolation of realizing that I went a whole lot further in life than I ever imagined growing up in Rhodelia. I will hopefully be at peace and, filled with gratitude, embrace my own death when the time comes. 

There is nothing I really crave here that I don't already have! 
I have been blessed and I certainly know it! 
At age 75, for all the above, I find myself so very, very grateful! 


Thursday, June 6, 2019

GOODBYE IRELAND! HELLO GERMANY!


MY IRISH FRIEND JUST LEFT!  

MY GERMANS FRIENDS WILL BE RETURNING SOON! 







The Schroth Sisters, Birgit and Inge, Are Coming to Visit Again

August 1 - August 13, 2019 

Inge and I met in Taize, France, at a world-wide youth  gathering back around 1976.  Inge and her parents, Helmut and Anny, used to visit quite often when they were alive. Birgit's first visit was last summer. I am happy to have them come back again this summer! They both speak fluent English which makes it possible for us to have a great time laughing and sharing stories. Inge is a retired teacher and Birgit is a supervisor of social workers. They are from the Stuttgart area of Germany.  


Here they are on a recent vacation in southern Italy.
Birgit is on the left and Inge is on the right.  




LAST SUMMER IN LOUISVILLE



Here they are relaxing on the deck of my condo last summer.
Birgit ( on the left) looks like their father, Helmut! Inge (on the right) looks like their mother Anny. 



Phyllis, me, Birgit and Jan



Inge and me

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

HELLO FROM PARADISE




I travel to some beautiful places all year long, but "paradise" for me is my old Kentucky  home! 
1271 Parkway Gardens Court



Hello from Paradise! 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO BE MISSIONARIES




You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes
upon you, and you will be my witnesses to the ends 
of the earth.
Acts 1:1-11


The feast of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven has been transferred from last Thursday to today in most US dioceses so that more people can celebrate it as a community of faith.

What we celebrate today is Jesus "handing over" his ministry to be carried out by his disciples, with a promise to "be with" them always, "even to the end of the world." Before he leaves them, he tells them to "take my message out to the whole world."

That small band of disciples did go out and as we look at the world today, 2,000 years later, we can see the results of their efforts. Even they would be shocked by their own success. Christianity today is the largest religious group on the planet - about 2.1 billion believers in every country in the world. Half of all the Christians in the world are Roman Catholics who make up about one-sixth of the world population.

In this country, the Christian faith was brought by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries. After it was established here, Americans sent missionaries to places like China, Korea, Japan, India, Africa and all over central and south America in the 20th century. Guess what? Those missionaries were successful. Many of those places where we sent missionaries are now sending missionaries back to us. Almost one third of all priests now working in this country were born outside this country and a majority of the US ordinations taking places this spring are the ordinations of young men born overseas. This year, for example, the Archdiocese of Newark ordained six priests from five countries: United States, Canada, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Last year, two out of the five ordained for Louisville were born in Vietnam. We presently have several priests from various countries serving our parishes. In the future, your pastor could come from about anywhere in the world. We are indeed becoming more "catholic" as a church, meaning more "universal."

You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Even within the parish, the Church says, in Canon 528, that it is the job of the pastor "to see that the word of God is announced to all those living in the parish....and with the help of the Christian faithful to bring the gospel message to those who have ceased practicing the faith or those who do not profess the true faith." 

The first thing to note here is that the responsibility of announcing the word of God to all falls not just on priests, but all the Christian faithful. We were all baptized to be missionaries!

The second thing to note here is that the we have a responsibility to announce the word of God to everyone living within the parish boundaries: faithful Catholics, inactive Catholics, other believers and those who profess no religion!

Most priests and parishioners spend a majority of their time ministering to faithful Catholics - those who show up on Sunday and volunteer within parish programs.  In fact, one of the saddest things about the priest shortage is that there is less and less time to reach out to the other groups that are part of our responsibility. In fact, it is impossible with the priests we have to reach out to these other groups without the help of the Christian faithful – without your help!

Personally, I have specialized with one group or another depending on my assignment. When I arrived in Monticello and Whitley City in 1975, as a home missionary, I had less than ten Catholics in those two missions combined. I spent most of my time reaching out to those with no church and to people of other faiths.

While stationed in Calvary, outside Lebanon, which was almost 100% Catholic, I spent my time strengthening the faith of life-time Catholics.

During my time as pastor of this Cathedral from 1983-1997, initially I spent most of my time reaching out to "fallen away" and "disaffected" Catholics.  I am still doing that in my Parish Missions. I offered two of those Parish Missions just this year. I have even been invited by the bishop of Lexington to do one there this October. Some left because they had been hurt, some left because of church teaching, some left because they felt ignored and some left because they were simply flat out bored by what was being offered. When I was here between 1983 and 1997, hundreds returned to the Church because of our outreach. I am reminded every week that many of you are still here! Through our major interfaith program, thousands more became more familiar with what we as Catholics believe and thousands of Catholics became more familiar with what their neighbors believe.

I guess, “once a missionary, always a missionary!” In my retirement I decided to again “go to the ends of the earth” with the gospel message. As I have mentioned several times, I volunteer in the poor country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a small country of 32 islands off the coast of South America. I am beginning my fifth year. With only 7 active priests in a country of 32 islands and lots of poverty, the needs of the church down there are many.  

I just returned from my 12th trip a few weeks ago. A fellow volunteer from Ireland, Fergal, was here visiting me again last week. We started at the same time. Volunteering full-time since his wife died, he needed a break. I have 5 lay missionary volunteers going down from here in Louisville in July. While at home, besides helping out here, I do priest retreat and parish missions all over the US and Canada to raise funds for my ministry down there. With the US recruiting so many international priests to work here, many from countries with less priests than we do, I thought it would be good for me to give some ministry back to the struggling Caribbean church in Saint Vincent. I was happy to hear just last week that three American Redemptorist missionaries will be joining us in December. 

Now that I have a foothold and now that I have renovated a place for volunteers to stay, I hope to recruit more retired priests and lay professionals in the years to come to do a bit of volunteer mission work with me.  Not everyone can go, but you can help those of us who do go. We can go in your name as well as ours! Some of you may not know it, but 160 of your old red chairs and kneelers are on their way down there as I speak! They will be divided between three small churches. They are part of a shipping container with 7 tons of surplus medical supplies out of our regional hospitals and donated church furnishings that convents and churches gave me. Thank you!

On this feast of the ascension of our Lord into heaven, we are reminded once again that "just as Jesus was sent by his Father to preach the gospel, so now are we went to do the same," not just some of us, but all of us!  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that through our baptisms all of us are missionaries. It goes on to say that those who are ordained and those who are married have an added obligation in this matter.  Marriage partners have a special obligation to lead each other and their children to holiness. In fact, parents are the primary evangelizers of their children. Priests have a special obligation to empower all the baptized of the parish to be evangelizers to the world!  
  

JUST A FEW OF OUR LOCAL MISSIONARIES TO SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES


Beth Kolodey, Childrens' Computer Teacher
Bill Kolodey, Master Bargain Hunter
Beth will be going down for a second time in July.


Susan Sherman, RN, Dr. Paul Sherman MD, myself, Karen Crook SOS, Tim Tomes, Master Organizer
Susan, Paul, Karen and Tim will be going down in July with Beth (above). 
I have made 12 trips.


Bob Owings, Master of Special Packaging for Shipping
Michelle Owings, Master Bargain Hunter of School Supplies


Dr. Paul Kelty, Multi-Front Helper


WATCH THIS BLOG AS WE FEATURE OTHERS OF OUR  MISSIONARIES

Thursday, May 30, 2019

THE GOOD AND THE BAD ALIKE ARE INVITED TO THE FEAST


THE GIFT OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE


A Panel From the Holy Doors of Saint Peter Basilica in Rome


Notice that the blood of Jesus in this bronze panel drips down on the good thief and the bad thief. The only difference is that the bad thief turns away from Jesus while the good thief looks toward him.
       This is also the story of Peter and Judas. Both betrayed Jesus, but Peter repented and came back. Judas gave up in despair.  

Paul's Letter to the Romans, 5:6-10 
For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.


The Good News

We may reject God's love for us, but God never quits loving us no matter what! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A THANK YOU FROM FERGAL, FELLOW ISLAND VOLUNTEER



TO ALL MY KENTUCKY FRIENDS

5-17-19

Fr Ron and friends,

What a pleasure it was to renew acquaintances once again with so many wonderful people acquainted with our mission here on St Vincent and the Grenadines. To have met them at such a memorable event as the celebration of your 75th birthday party was truly special. I felt privileged to have been numbered among such august company and to have received a personal invitation from Mrs Brown - what a delightful and charming lady. Tim Tomes’ organizational ability certainly made it all go smoothly.

From start to finish, my visit was unforgettable from my aspects. Although only my second visit to Louisville, I was conscious as we drove to the Cathedral on Sunday that I would likely meet many familiar faces encountered in my previous trip. I was not disappointed. Sharing brunch afterwards with the Owings family, along with Dr Kelty and yourself, was the perfect start to my mini-break. Meeting the Burch family that evening was an outstanding delight. Not only did it embrace the hospitality and the cuisine extended by Greg and Teri, but it also included the captivating canine reception offered by two lovably pets.

To have shared time with Fr Gray and Pat Patterson was a bonus. To be in their company and to be regaled with stories and reminiscences was a pleasure indeed. I look forward to the next encounter knowing it will be a genuine delight to share in further laughter.

To know that an afternoon at Churchill Downs has already been scheduled for the next visit is indeed appealing after the experience there last Friday. Bishop Gerard is thrilled to know that he is included to accompany Fr. Clark, Dr Kelty, yourself and myself next year. Perhaps on our next attendance there, we can pool our ‘talents’, down a few mint juleps and enjoy the experience irrespective of whether we win, place or show!

Without doubt, and as inferred above, the highlight of the visit was to have attended your party. To have listened to so many in attendance relate incidents and anecdotes about you was revealing. It is obvious that you have earned the heartfelt respect and warm appreciation of so many of your community and supporters. I have no doubt that their shared narrations were a wholesome and unambiguous response to what they have both witnessed as well as experienced from their encounters with you over the years as both a priest and a friend. It is easy for me to identify with all of this as I have run into similar sentiments about you and your magnanimous involvement here on St Vincent.

After another whirlwind visit to Louisville, I was quickly thrown into the thick of things on my arrival back in St Vincent. I drove straight to the old orphanage to discuss with the builder, the quotation for its renovation as a home for the upcoming arrival of the Redemptorist missionary priests. He is reviewing some of the costs and will revert shortly. With the Papal Nuncio visit finishing on Thursday, I hope to have some indication later in the week of our requirements net of possible international grant aid assistance. Aware that we joked about our ages having exceeded the three quarter century mark and its possible knock-on debilitating consequences, I have every confidence that with your involvement in part of this significant renovation project, it can be achieved long before we are classified as two old timers heading over the hill !

Let me conclude by thanking you again for opening your apartment to me during my stay - I have been made so welcome to the extent that it’s like I am coming to visit family. In the name of Bishop County and the people of the Diocese of Kingstown, SVG, let me thank you for the generous donations to our struggling island church that were given so generously on the occasion of your 75th birthday.

With much gratitude,

Fergal

Sunday, May 26, 2019

F-E-A-R = FANTASY EVENTS APPEARING REAL




Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
John 14:23-29

Fear has been a very powerful force in my life, such a powerful force that I was driven to write a book about how I have dealt with it so I could lay it all out once and for all and take a good look at it. It was published last September. It was entitled Between Courage and Cowardice: Choosing to Hard Things for Your Own Good. It is an autobiography that traces the personal battle that I have waged against the fears that have dominated my life from age six to the present time and how I have, or have not, chosen to stand up to them.  It is a book that I had always wanted to write, but one I was actually afraid to write.  I almost gave up on it several times in the process. It was like getting lost in tall weeds. To get it done, I had to once again stand up to my own fear and cowardice and not let them talk me out of it.  

Looking back over my life in such an intense way, I realize that even today I am still battling my fears.  Finding myself standing between courage and cowardice all the time, I still need to push myself to choose doing the hard thing, rather than the easy thing, for my own good. It still happens after all these years. I get on a plane by myself heading out to some far-flung diocese to face hundreds of priests and bishops and realize that I am overcome with fear and doubt – fear of rejection and doubt about my capabilities.

Even though I haven’t had a disaster yet, on the contrary appreciative acceptance, I have the need to talk myself up and my demons down every time I take off on another speaking trip.  I can still remember being paralyzed by the same fear and doubt before opening the box my first published book arrived in – fear of rejection and doubt about my ability.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

I have come to believe that many people never become all they can be because of two things. (1) They are intimidated by the judging voices of others. (2) They are intimidated by their own self-doubting voice.  Both voices say basically the same thing. “Who are you to do such and such? Who do you think you are, anyway?   If these demons are not slain, we will end up “settling” for a life marked by dullness. Angelina Jolie said this, "If you ask people what they've always wanted to do, most people haven't done it. That breaks my heart."

I have learned the hard way that the secret to a rich and full life is to face your fears, stand up to your own cowardice and do hard things for your own good. What I have learned from years of doing that is that you end up amazed at the great things that can happen to you, if you do!

Another thing I have learned is that it takes an amazing amount of concentration of the will to overcome embedded negative messages from childhood, but with dedicated practice it is indeed possible to overcome even emotional abuse and psychological neglect.  I believe I am where I am today because of my determination to not allow fear and doubt control me. I am very happy that, with God’s grace and the help of good friends, I have been somewhat successful! 

The third thing I have learned is that there is wisdom out there about overcoming fear and self-doubt that others can share with us. As you know, I collect motivational quotes and I regularly share some of my favorites on this subject on my blog and in my homilies in hopes that you can learn from them as well.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

Fear probably defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. I once read that F-E-A-R stands for “fantasy events appearing real.” I read somewhere that, statistically, about 90% of the things we worry about never happen, so Jesus was right, “fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” How we handle fear determines whether we experience adventure or whether we are limited by the fear of it. Without scary, we don’t get to be brave!

I would say that my life has been enriched every time I have gotten up the guts to look fear in the face and say “No, you are not going to run my life! I may fail, I may get hurt, I may be laughed at, but again I might not, so be gone!”

Fellow believers! These words are spoken to all of us today by Jesus himself. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” So I say to you, “Do not listen to the discounting voices of those who do not believe in you! Do not listen to that discounting voice in your own head that does not believe in you! Tell them both to shut up and listen instead to God’s encouraging voice in your own heart – that tiny whispering voice that gets drowned out by the noise of the world – that tiny whispering voice that you may not be able to hear because of the noisy, negative self-talk that goes on in your own head – that tiny whispering voice of God who is telling you not to fear, but to be strong! Take it from one who has been there! God has great plans for you – he wants to take you to places you cannot even imagine for yourself! Do not let fear hold you back from becoming who you really are and all that you can be!”

Henry Ford may have said it so well when he said, “Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right!”


Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.


     
                          



Saturday, May 25, 2019

FELLOW ISLAND VOLUNTEER, FERGAL - Part Two


TUESDAY 
On Tuesday, Fergal accompanied me to the polls to see how Americans vote. 




WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

Father Bob Gray (left) stopped in to have coffee with Fergal (right)  and myself. Father Gray lives in the same condo complex as myself and he is a great supporter of the SVG missions. 



THURSDAY 
LUNCH

We had lunch with my good friend, "Pat" Patterson, at the August Moon restaurant.  Pat and I meet there regularly, and I do mean regularly! Same place, same time, same table and same entres! 


DINNER
Tim Tomes took Fergal and me out for dinner to discuss the great birthday party on Wednesday night and do some planning for his upcoming visit to the islands in July.  Here is a photo of Tim who was the on-site detail organizer of the fabulous birthday party on Wednesday at Christy Brown's house. 





FRIDAY

Last year, Fergal, Dr. Paul Kelty, Father Tom Clark and myself went to Gethsemani, Bardstown and the surrounding area. Here we are with Brother Luke in the monastery cemetery. 



 Here we are having lunch in Bardstown after the tour. Where else would you meet a spotted cow in a restaurant? 




This year, Dr. Kelty took Fergal, myself and Father Clark to Churchill Downs for a day at the track! We won't tell you how much we won or lost, but we did have a great time again this year! 




















FERGAL LEFT FOR THE ISLANDS EARLY THIS MORNING TO CONTINUE HIS VOLUNTEER WORK



We Hope You Had A Great Visit! We believe you did!