Saturday, July 18, 2020



Priest donates kidney to help mom lead life she imagines for her family

Catholic News Service | John Shaughnessy | July 13, 2020 | 

Father Christopher Wadelton of Indianapolis poses for a photo with Rebeca Barcenas, right, and her family in this undated photo. Father Wadelton donated his kidney to Rebeca May 14, 2020. Also pictured are Rebeca’s husband, Rafael Ventura and the couple’s two daughters, Jennifer and Carmen. CNS photo/D. Todd Moore, courtesy The Criterion

Like many parents, Rebeca Barcenas had this one overwhelming prayer that she continually shared with God.

She longed to be the best mother she could be to her children, to have the normal family life that her kidney failure had taken away from her.

After being on dialysis for seven years, Barcenas knew that her best chance of having her prayer answered was to receive a kidney transplant. So she was touched when her parish priest at the time, Father Christopher Wadelton, told her he was pursuing the possibility of being an organ donor for her, and encouraging others at St. Philip Neri Parish in Indianapolis to do the same.

She also was stunned and thrilled when the extensive testing showed that Father Wadelton was a compatible match for her, beating long-shot odds.

So on the morning of May 14, the 37-year-old Barcenas and the 54-year-old Father Wadelton prepared for transplant surgeries that would change their lives, connect them forever and show the depth of their faith.

“I think he is an angel of God that God sent to me and my family — to heal so much pain and suffering that we had been through,” she said. “To sacrifice an organ, in this case a kidney, to another person, I think it’s beautiful.”

Father Wadelton, now the pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, Indiana, had his own prayer in donating a kidney to Barcenas.

The priest’s connection with Barcenas, her husband, Rafael Ventura, and their two daughters began when he was pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish from 2013 to 2019.

“I’ve known the family a little over six years. They were active members of the Spanish community in Masses, and they were a family at Holy Cross Central School. I really cared for their entire family,” he said.

Father Wadelton knew that Barcenas’ kidney failure was so severe that she was on dialysis for about five hours a day for three days a week. He also knew that schedule robbed her of the energy she wanted to devote to her children, 16-year-old Jennifer and 9-year-old Carmen.

“One of my main motivations for helping Rebeca was her two daughters,” he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. “I knew that Rebeca’s illness and dialysis added a lot of stress to their family, and occupied a lot of time for Rebeca each week. I prayed that I could do something to help alleviate some stress and give her more time with her children.”

So he looked into becoming a living donor when Barcenas went on the transplant list in 2018.

“A transplant is one of those rare times in surgery when you can cure somebody,” said Dr. William Goggins, director of adult and pediatric kidney transplantation at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. He has 20 years of experience performing such surgeries. “Through the gift of transplants, you basically restore people to being fully healthy.”

He noted that “an average of 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant a year. And only 16,000 kidney transplants are done a year in this country.”

On the morning of May 14, Father Wadelton and Barcenas both awaited their surgeries.

For Barcenas, it was a morning of mixed emotions. Goggins recalled her having “a lot of apprehension” coming into the surgery. There also was the sense of overwhelming gratitude for Father Wadelton.

That feeling had never left her since the day of Jennifer’s 2018 graduation from Holy Cross Central School, the day when the priest told her he would try to donate a kidney to her.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Father Chris is an amazing person and a very good priest that worries for his people and his community and for all human rights. He always tries to help in whatever way he can without wanting anything in return.”

For Father Wadelton, it was another time in his life when he believed God had led him to this moment. And still he was amazed that it was happening.

“The odds that we were compatible in both blood type and tissue type were a very small percentage,” he said. “There were four different stages of testing along the way. It took close to one and a half years of testing for everything to go forward.”

Then when the transplant was scheduled to take place earlier this year, it was delayed because of the coronavirus crisis.

Even with all the testing and the setbacks, Father Wadelton kept increasing his efforts to be in prime physical shape for the surgery.

“I’m a runner and a biker,” said the priest, noting that he runs about four miles two to three times a week and bikes about 12 to 15 miles once a week. “I thought I was in good shape, and I worked even harder in the past six months to get ready for this.”

His surgery at IU Health’s University Hospital began first, an operation to remove one of his two kidneys that lasted about three and a half hours. The transplant of his kidney into Barcenas’ body followed, lasting about three and a half hours for her.

Goggins said Father Wadelton is “an example of truly the kind of person who donates a kidney — completely unselfish. Just the giving of self to help someone else is truly remarkable. Donors are such exceptional people.”

Since his return to St. Bartholomew Parish, Father Wadelton has been keeping a full schedule and continues to feel “very good,” he said. “My energy level is almost back to 100 percent. The parish staff has been great. They have been taking care of things around the parish and ‘mothering’ me.”

As a mother, Barcenas said Father Wadelton’s gift to her also is a gift to her family. She now has hopes of being the mom she’s always wanted to be for her girls.

The girls have high praise for Father Wadelton.

“I think of Father Chris as a friend and as family,” Jennifer said. “As a priest, he has helped me understand more of God.”

Carmen said, “He is kind and very brave. He’s like a superhero.”

Said their dad and Barcenas’ husband, Rafael: “He has given us the example to be more humble and to support other people and families whenever they need it, without receiving anything in return.”

Father Wadelton has a different perspective.

“I just feel I’ve done what God has put before me. It’s a minor miracle that we worked out to be compatible. I really felt God’s presence through the whole thing,” he said. “I felt he was driving it. I was just saying yes to what was sitting in front of me.”

Thursday, July 16, 2020


This is the seventeenth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


God, I believe, is responsible for calling me to one of the "helping professions." After fifty years into it, I have learned one very important lesson - one I tend to forget every once in a while and have to be slapped awake again.  Wanting to help people is one thing. People wanting to be helped is another. 

Just recently, I was sitting on my deck with a friend, sharing my frustrations of trying to help people down in the islands. At the end of my litany of woes, he looked me in the eye and said, "You can't change those people!" While I am not ready to give up, it was another one of those reality slaps across my consciousness.  I have never set out to change the whole country, but if I can change one life it will have been worth it! I'm still processing his words. I need to admit that I was causing my own problem by maybe wanting to fix too much too fast.  Obviously, I will need more patience. 

What made it so jolting was the fact that I had just come from a funeral of an old friend whose wife had reached the end of her rope trying to reach out to his children from a previous marriage. No matter what she did, it was not working. Every outreach had been rejected, but she was still trying. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get her to let go and take "no" for an answer. She was causing her own problem by wanting too much to be accepted by them. I am confident that, in time, she will learn to accept their "no," let them go and move on with her life. 

Years ago, when I was a young priest, I was assigned to work with a religious Sister. No matter what I did to try to work amicably with her, it was rejected. I assumed that I had just not come up with the right approach so I tried and tried again. I took my situation to a group counseling session. After presenting the stalemate to the group, I kept saying to them, "Maybe if I tried this? Maybe if I tried that?" The more I talked, the more they laughed. Finally, one of them shouted forcefully, "When are you going to take "no" for an answer? She doesn't want to work with you!" I had to realize that I was causing my own problem by wanting her to work with me too much! I had to accept "no" for an answer, let her go her own way and move on with my life!

Most of my life, I wanted a problematic acquaintance to be different from the way he was! It wasn't till I was thirty-seven years old that I finally accepted the fact that he was not going to change and that I was going to have to live without the change I wanted! I was stuck in one of those situations where I believed that if I did not like something long enough, it would go away. I had to realize that I was causing my own problem. I had to finally accept "no," "let it go" and move on with my life. 

Behind each one of those predicaments is a situation that the one who wants to help did not cause and cannot fix from the outside. The door knob of change is on the other side of the door and no matter how much one begs them to open the door, if they don't want to open the door or see a need to open the door, they won't! That leaves one with two options. You can wait till they are ready or you can just move on and let them be! Either way, you need to quite knocking on the door demanding they open it for you! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020



 Your skeleton is so out of sight, out of mind that you probably don’t give it much thought. But get this — the entire thing regenerates about every 10 years. Composed of bone marrow, cortical bone, and cancellous bone, the skeleton doesn’t just grow into its adult size and remain the same; it remodels constantly in order to replace old or fractured bones with new ones while maintaining healthy cells and providing calcium to the rest of the body. Bones are made up living tissue encased in a hard outer shell, so although they appear completely solid, the cells within are functioning and responding to their environment. For instance, bones strengthen to combat fractures when exposed to stress (such as weightlifting) and weaken when there is a lack of stress (such as bed rest). But, make no bones about it, each year approximately 10% of your skeleton renews itself.
Source: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons | Date Updated: 
June 24, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


A Baltimore, Maryland, Lawyer

(My grandfather was Leo. He had a brother Aloysius. Notice how many times the names "James" and "Francis" also appear.) 


NATHANIEL JAMES KNOTT (Elinora Collins) 1550-1620) (England)
BERNARD KNOTT (1570-1603) (Alice Longe) England)
JAMES KNOTT 1594-1653) (Eleanor Butler) (England to Virginia)
FRANCIS KNOTT (1620-1651) Rebecca Gill (1629-1663)
FRANCIS KNOTT Jr. (1649-1705) Eleanor Cole (1650-1705)
IGNATIUS KNOTT (1686-1765) Elizabeth Skeen (1720-
RICHARD BASIL KNOTT (1745-1817) Mary Drury (1750-1780)
CLEMENT KNOTT ((1784-1870) born in Maryland, moved to Marion County, Kentucky, died in Breckenridge County, Kentucky Ann Nancy Hardesty (1800-1860)
RAPHAEL KNOTT (1832-1914) born in Marion County, Kentucky, died in Breckinridge County. Abigail Basham (1826-1915) 
FRANCIS MARION KNOTT (1865-1950) born in Breckinridge County, died in Louisville, buried in Meade County, Kentucky Ida Hardesty (1866-1953)
LEO FRANCIS KNOTT (1892-1973) born in Meade County Lillian Deliah Mills (1890-1971)
JAMES WILLIAM KNOTT (1918-1991) born Meade County M. Ethel Mattingly (1917-1976)
JAMES RONALD KNOTT (1944-        )
WILLIAM GARY KNOTT (1945-      ) Linda Pollock (1945-            )
       -WESLEY KNOTT                       
              - WESLEY KNOTT, JR         
               - CORY KNOTT                     
MARK ANTHONY KNOTT (1961-      )

Monday, July 13, 2020


This is the twenty-second in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I 
will leave to the young an example of how to die 
willingly and generously for the revered and holy law. 
II Maccabees 6:28 

It occurred to me the other day that during this pandemic, I have thought about, and wrote about, death quite often! Yes, more often than any other time in my life. With death in the headline news everyday, with having reached the age of seventy-six, it has become a point of reflection that I embrace. In my reflections, I have thought often of old Eleazar in the Old Testament.  

Eleazar was a very old Jewish man who was given the choice of eating pork against the teachings of his sacred faith or be killed.  He could have saved his life by “going along.” His friends even tried to help him devise a scheme where he merely “appeared” to eat pork. He made up his mind to remain loyal to the holy laws of God. 

His reasons are worth quoting directly. “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young men would think the ninety-year old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus dissimulate for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I bring shame and dishonor on my old age.” 

“Even if for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” (II Maccabees 6:24-28) 

In my reflections, the word “legacy” came to mind. A legacy is something that a person leaves behind by which they can be remembered. When you don’t have children, an established charitable foundation or a public monument dedicated in your honor, what can your legacy be? 

As for my own legacy, the words of Shannon Alder might be a good place to start. “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” The only part of that sentiment that really scares me to death is the part “the stories they share about you!” However, Oscar Wilde may have been right when he said, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

The legacy I wish to leave behind may be outlined in one line of an old prayer that I say almost every week when I visit the nursing home. It is called “Learning Christ.” It is a prayer that a dear friend, Marea Gardner, introduced me to in her final days. “May no one be less good for having come within my influence.” Yes, that’s it! I want my legacy to be the fact that the people who crossed my path left better off! 

My prayer, then, going forward can be summed up in the words of that prominent Quaker missionary from the early 1800s, Stephen Grellet. “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

“What will you leave behind?” Since I don’t have children, probably not much! However, I do like to think that some of my “encouraging words” might continue to live on for a while after I am gone because I took the time to publish them in little spiritual reading books. In my home, I have a wall of framed book covers that I have been calling my “baby pictures.” I have thirty-one “babies” in all! 

It’s not the number of books that count, however, it is the “encouraging words” in them that really count! The words of Maya Angelou come to mind. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is the legacy I want. “He made me feel good about myself.” “He always offered me an “encouraging word.” “I was better off from knowing him.” 

Today I want to offer an encouraging word to all men and women, my age and older as regards our “legacies,” the examples we set and leave behind for the young. For many of you, it is for your children and grandchildren. For me, it is my twenty nieces and nephews, as well as the parishioners, seminarians, friends and college students with whom I have done my ministry. 

I often ask myself these days, “What will my many parishioners, nieces, nephews, seminarians, college students  and friends remember about me? Have I been kind, encouraging, generous, magnanimous and affirming toward them? Will they remember me as a credible example of fidelity and practicing what I have preached?” I truly hope so because I have certainly tried! 

What will your "legacy" be? What do you want it to be? You may still have time to build it up - or even repair it if necessary! 

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Wolfgang von Johann Goethe

Sunday, July 12, 2020


A sower went out to sow.
As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold.
Matthew 13

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I find it hard to believe that I left here as pastor of this Cathedral twenty-three years ago this summer. Twenty-three years ago! Those who were here then know that after I left here, I was the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese and the chaplain at Bellarmine University. I then became a staff member at Saint Meinrad Seminary, conducted over one hundred and fifty Priest convocations and retreats in ten countries and wrote a weekly column for diocesan newspaper for fifteen years. 

I retired five years ago, and in my retirement, I continued leading priest convocations, especially in Canada and the United States and I have been volunteering in the Caribbean missions in a small, poor thirty-two island country, off the coast of  South American, called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. I completed twelve trips to the island missions. However, I had to cancel my last trip, trip thirteen, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though I have not been able to travel down there like I had hoped, I have continued to work for them from here, through my computer, skype, whats-app and my cell phone. It is not easy work. In fact, it can be very frustrating at times because of the poverty, the poor communication and some major cultural differences. 

When I saw what the gospel reading was for today, I thought of a discussion I had with a friend of mine recently. I was telling him about some of the frustrations I am having with working down in the Caribbean missions. Thinking back, I guess I had mentioned some of my frustrations in earlier discussions because he said to me, “Look, you might as well accept it! You cannot change those people, so why do you bother?” I was hoping for some encouragement. What I got was a short lecture on hopelessness! I was aggravated by his evaluation and assessment of something that I was pouring my heart and soul into! I recoiled a bit because I am certainly not ready to quit! 

I knew working down in the Caribbean missions would not be easy, but I certainly do not consider it hopeless! If I wanted an easy retirement, I would have learned to play golf rather than putting myself in a place known for its poverty, its heat and its potholes! Besides, since we are pulling priests from mission countries all over the world to work full-time in our U.S. parishes, I thought it would be good for some of us retired priests to help out part-time in some of those mission dioceses. 

Like the sower of seed in the gospel, some of what I have done has not been successful. Some of it appeared successful, at first, but did not last. However, some of it has produced some amazing results. Through all the ups and downs of my mission work, I have been inspired, when I get discouraged, by the words of Mother Teresa when she was asked about why she bothered to care about the “hopeless” situations in which she worked. She answers the “why bother” question for me.

        People are often unreasonable, illogical and self -centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa was right. Like the sower of seed in today’s gospel, some of what I do will go nowhere. Some of what I do will not last. However, some of what I do will, no doubt, have lasting effect. It will produce a harvest. It will help in ways I cannot predict. When Mother Teresa was questioned about working so hard and not making a dent in the depressing situations she worked in, she famously said, “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.”

When Jesus first spoke this parable about the sower and the seed, he was speaking from his own experience. Some of his teaching fell on deaf ears and was totally rejected. Some of his teaching showed promise of taking root in some of those who heard it, but it did not survive long-term especially in face of hard times. However, some of his teaching was taken in. It was fed and watered and ended up producing some amazing results.All these years later, we are part of that successful harvest.  

When Jesus first spoke this parable about the sower and the seed, he was no doubt thinking as well of those who would follow him, taking his teaching to the ends of the earth. He knew they would sometimes face failure and rejection. He knew that sometimes, they would see promising signs of success, only to watch things die on the vine. He knew that sometimes they would see their preaching take root and produce abundant results. He was teaching them that their job was to liberally sow the good seeds of his gospel and leave the results to God!

The big question I get from the gospel today is this, “Why bother?”  It is the question I ask myself as a volunteer in the missions when the results of my efforts are not obvious, even after all my good efforts. It is the question I ask myself as a priest when the results of my efforts are not always obvious, even after all my good efforts. It is the question you parents and teachers ask yourselves when the results of your efforts seem to be a complete failure, when the results of your efforts are disappointing and when the results of your efforts are swallowed up by other voices and stronger cultural influences. 

All of us who have given our lives in service of others, sooner or later, are forced to answer the same question. “Why bother?”  It is Jesus, the teacher, and Mother Teresa, the patron saint of those who work in situations that appear almost hopeless, who answer that question best. In the parable Jesus teaches us to keep on sowing good seed, to sow them far and wide and to leave the harvest to God! Mother Teresa taught us to “Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God."

Friends, when you give yourself to helping others, be it people in foreign lands, your own kids, your elderly parents, your students as a teacher, your patients as a doctor, you wife or husband as a spouse, you are like the sower of seed in today’s parable. You will often come away feeling disappointed, hurt or feeling like a failure. Give the best you have, anyway! Sow the best seeds you can find, and realize the results are up to God because “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.”