Saturday, September 26, 2020


Father Rayappa Pasala
(Father Ray) 

"Father Ray" was the pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Chappell, Nebraska, in the Diocese of Grand Island. He also served St. Gall Church in Lisco and Saint Elizabeth Church in Oshkosh. 

I met Father Ray when I led the Priest Convocation last year. After mentioning my work in the Caribbean Missions of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, he became interested. He moved on his interest, Bishop County welcomed him and he became the first Catholic Second Wind Guild long-term priest volunteer. 

Father Ray arrived in the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, on February 3, 2015 on a religious worker visa. He will complete five years this coming June. It is a visa requirement that he leave the US for a while before he can re-enter the US to keep serving in the Diocese of Grand Island. He will serve his time outside the US in the Diocese of Kingstown in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

On his return to Nebraska, the Bishop of Grand Island wants him to study Spanish in Mexico for a few months so he can minister to the Spanish speaking communities. 

In this blog, you will see some shots of Father Roy in action. So far, he reports having a wonderful experience meeting people, walking everywhere and celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Kingstown where he will start residing in October.


Father Roy is a  master of  his home country's Indian cuisine. He has been making dinner at the Pastoral Centre in the evenings while he is staying there. Here he is cooking one of his fresh goat meat, rice and curry dishes for the evening meal in the renovated kitchen that the Catholic Second Wind Guild completed a few years ago.   

Here he is enjoying his creation with Martin, a volunteer from Ireland, and Bishop Gerard County. It surely beats the "just heat up something" that is often the case. 

Here he is celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Kingstown where he will soon be in residence. 

Here he is, wearing his mask, distributing communion at a Cathedral Mass. 

Compassionate Father Roy went to visit the sick and pray over a man who needed prayer. 

Father Roy is an avid walker and explorer of the island of Saint Vincent on foot. 

I am happy that he is happy and having a wonderful experience! 



Thursday, September 24, 2020


This is the thirty-fourth 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 haste 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.



The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."
II Corinthians 5:17

Many of us might remember the old TV commercial from the 1980s that asked "Is it real or is it Memorex?" The brand of audio recording tapes known as Memorex claimed to offer such an authentic capture, representation, and playback experience that the listener would not be able to tell if they were listening to the actual conversation or performance or if it was simply being played back for them on audio tape.

During this pandemic, I find myself wondering whether this "new normal" is actually real or whether I am in a dream from which I can't seem to wake up. It's only been been a little over six months, but I find myself stopping and trying to remember what "normal" felt like. 

If I let myself think about it, I can remember other events that are similar when things have radically changed in such a short time leaving people confused about what's real and what isn't. 

I still remember sitting on the deck of my nieces's house after we had just buried her husband. She said something I keep coming back to from time to time. "I knew who I was yesterday, but I don't know who I am today!" Her mind had not caught up to the reality that she was in the same house as she was in yesterday, but she was no longer a "wife," but a "widow." It happened so quickly that she was struggling with what was real and what wasn't. 

I remember going into the house after my last parent died. What used to be "home" for me was all of a sudden just a "house."  It happened so quickly that I was struggling with what was real and what wasn't. 

Many soldiers come home seriously wounded after a war, many people come home after a cancer diagnosis, many workers have come home after being told that their jobs have been eliminated and find themselves struggling with what is real and what isn't. 

I remember the days after my retirement became a fact. I knew I had been a very active priest for forty-five years, but as I let go of that identity I struggled with what was real and what wasn't. 

We are entering a period of grieving. We are struggling with what's real and what isn't. As much as I yearn for "the way things were" and wish that "things would get back to normal," I know in my heart of hearts that we are already in a "new reality" and, no matter how I miss it, there is no way to "go back" really. A stark choice awaits me sooner or later. "Will you choose to stay stuck with your mind in the past and your body in the present or will you reinvent yourself and find a way to adjust and be happy in this "new reality." 



We need relief from this nightmare. We need a new hope, a new beginning and a fresh start. I am reminded of President Gerald Ford's speech in 1974. at the beginning of his presidency.  


Tuesday, September 22, 2020




My heart and prayers go out to parents and their children during this very difficult time. The worries and stresses must be overwhelming most of the time - something I can only imagine! 

Raising children is surely hard enough during good times, but even more so now during these days with its fear of loss of income, fear of loss of health insurance, fear of getting sick, fear of falling behind in school, fear of what's next and the constant anxiety that comes from a lack of normal life rhythms.  

I cannot imagine the stress that parents feel with the 24-hour-a-day duty of trying to entertain, teach, bathe, protect, clothe and feed their children, while often trying to work outside the home and take care of themselves as well.  The extra burden of knowing that it may get worse before it gets better has to be maddening at times.  

May God bless you, protect you and give you patience! May God keep your children safe and secure! May God give you wisdom, endurance and freedom from fear as you "handle" the important work to which you have been called! 



Sunday, September 20, 2020


…each one of them received a full day’s pay. 
Matthew 20 

The parable of the “Vineyard Workers” is enough to make wine growers all over the world cringe! This parable is not an instruction on to operate a successful vineyard. If you followed this example, you would surely be bankrupt in no time! No, it’s a story about how God treats us, a story about God’s stunning generosity! The whole purpose of this parable is to shock in order to instruct! This parable is insane, according to human thinking, but that’s the whole point of the parable! That’s its genius! It tells of God’s unexpected, almost insane, love for us, no matter when we started loving him back! That’s why it is called “the gospel” and “gospel” means “good news!” 

Those who had “worked all day in the sun” were the religious authorities. Those “hour before quitting time” workers were the “tax collectors and sinners,” those who felt unworthy in God’s eyes, the simple people who followed Jesus! You can imagine how both groups reacted when they heard the punch line, “Give them all a full days pay!” It’s very close to the message of another parable, the father who loves both his sons, the one who stayed, as well as the one who strayed! The message is simple: God loves all his children, not matter what they have done or failed to do back for God! The tax collectors, sinners and rejects were delirious with joy when they heard that message! The Scribes and Pharisees, who taught that God’s love depended on people’s behaviors, were outraged. In the words of Jesus, they were “envious because I am generous.” They made the mistake that there is not enough love to go around! 

One of the worst things to happen to the church was when it started to “conditionalize” the “good news: God will love you if you do this and God won’t love you if you do that!” It is not uncommon to hear some religious people tone down the “good news” because it is “too dangerous.” Their worst nightmare is that if people really believed the message of this parable and the church really taught it, all hell would break loose! People would start doing any damned thing they want! That is exactly what worried the Scribes and Pharisees. In reality, the opposite was true in Jesus’ day, as it is in ours! I have come to know, from 50 years of preaching, that it is the message of unconditional love (I love you no matter what) that attracts people to Jesus, while the message of conditional love (I’ll love you back if you love me first) repels people from Jesus. It's not that what we do is not important. Our behaviors have consequences and we have to live with those consequences, but God does not withhold his love from us because of those behaviors. 

What do you believe? Are you one of those people who still believes that God’s pays us back with love depending on how many hours we have loved him? Are you one of those people who still believes that God turns his love on and off, depending on what we do or fail to do? If you are, really listen to the message of this parable. If it sounds too good to be true, then you got the message! God’s incredible unconditional love does sound too good to be true, but the fact of the matter is, it is true!