Thursday, May 20, 2021


Geese So Loud

Geese are dirty and noisy animals! They do their "business" everywhere on the grass and they wake me up with their honking so early in the morning. I prefer the ducks, who hang out in the pond right off my condo deck, much better. As much as geese get on my nerves all year, I tend to forgive them in the spring when they bring their little hatchlings out to forage for food. I am weakened to the point of throwing them bread to help them out! They may think I am a cranky old man all year, but they know I am a sucker, with a soft spot in my heart, for their hungry children in the spring! 

A Crane So Quiet

I like the crane who visits my pond every week or two much better. They travel in "singles," they are absolutely quiet and tiptoe, if they move at all! They can stand silently for a very long time, waiting for the precise moment to pounce on their prey, usually a small fish swimming by. I guess they have children, but you never see them. They keep them well hidden, unlike geese who like to parade them around for all to see.  

Birds So Fast 

The cardinals, both male and female, visit my deck overlooking the pond quite often, but they never stay long enough for me to get a photo so I had to depend on the internet for a picture. They are like me - always in a hurry to get somewhere or to get something done! I don't know what attracts them to my deck, but I have a hunch. It is probably that bird feeder that hangs there empty! If I want them to stay, maybe I should go buy some birdseed. No wonder they don't stay. It has been empty for several years. I am sure they think, if birds think, that I should be arrested for "false advertising?"  

Sunday, May 16, 2021



May 16, 1970  @ 9:50 am 

Homily For My Fifty Plus One Anniversary
Cathedral of the Assumption
Rev. Ronald Knott
May 16, 2021

Live Stream from the Cathedral of the Assumption

On this day and on this very spot, May 16th 1970, I was ordained a priest. At that time, I was twenty-six years old. I had just completed twelve years of seminary that started when I was fourteen years old! That means, when I was ordained, I had spent almost half of my life in the seminary. Thinking back to that day when Archbishop McDonough laid his hands on my head and anointed my hands with oil in ordination, it never occurred to me, even in my wildest imagination, that I would someday be pastor of this sacred and historic congregation for fourteen years. It certainly never crossed my mind that I would be standing here in front of you, on the very same spot fifty-one years later, celebrating that ordination! To be honest with you, I am a little surprised myself that I survive this long!

When I read the gospel for today, I realized that its words have indeed been at the very heart of my vocation these past fifty-two years, counting my one year as a deacon.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” “They went
forth and preached everywhere.”

My earliest memory of being attracted to preaching took place when I was seven years old, way down-river in the Cloverport Baptist Church, at the funeral of my maternal grandmother’s brother, Napoleon Chappell. At that time, I had never before stepped foot in a Protestant church, but even at seven years old, I was absolutely fascinated by that Baptist preacher’s dynamic preaching style. I was both enthralled and hooked! I knew that I wasn’t supposed to like it, but I knew I did anyway!

“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Growing up, our parish priest was a good man, but I do not remember him ever being any good at preaching. I think he actually avoided it as much as possible! In the spring, he would say that it was too hot for a sermon. In the fall, he would say that it was too cold for a sermon. I do, however, remember being fascinated by the preaching of the priests who would come through every few years or so to conduct a Parish Mission. A bit scary, they would shout and walk down into the congregation waving a Bible or a big crucifix! They kept me on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what they would say next! It was obvious that they were there to challenge us to become better Christians and better Catholics!

“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

The next time I remember being attracted to preaching was at Saint Meinrad Seminary. When I arrived there in 1965 as a Junior in college, Vatican Council II was going on and I remember taking to heart these words from that Council. “Priests have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.” Not only did I hear that challenge, but I was privileged to hear monks, who took preaching very seriously, preach engaging homilies every day in the seminary chapel.

As much as I was attracted to preaching, I had a problem. I was so bashful that I was terrorized by even having to read in the seminary chapel. I slowly began to realize that I needed to overcome this handicap if I wanted to fulfill the “primary duty” of a priest after I was ordained. I resolved, then and there, to do whatever I could to conquer my crippling bashfulness.

That resolve eventually led me to sign up for a summer program for seminary students offered by the United Church of Christ. Their program was called a “A Christian Ministry in the National Parks.” I was the first Catholic seminarian to sign up for their summer ministry program. After my orientation in Chicago, I was assigned to preach in the campgrounds of Crater Lake National Park in the state of Oregon. In the summer of 1968, I preached in the park campgrounds twice every weekend all summer long. When I got back to Saint Meinrad Seminary for my final year of seminary, when we were offered our very first preaching class, I went into that course with more preaching experience than anyone else in my class. During that final year of seminary, I was ordained a deacon and was given opportunities to preach at Saint John Vianney Church and Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital here in Louisville where I had been assigned.

“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Two weeks after being ordained a priest here in this Cathedral, on this very day, I found out I was being assigned to the “home missions” down along the Tennessee border, to a parish the size of the state of Delaware where the Catholic population was only 1/10 of 1%. I was not happy, but I had no choice but to go. For ten years, preaching in a crowded sea of Protestant preachers became my main ministry. For a while, I even had my own Sunday morning radio program called Morning Has Broken. It lasted till a bunch of ministers stormed the radio station while I was on vacation and had me thrown off the air. I was even invited to preach four years in a row by the graduating students at a public high school that had no Catholics in it after I had been invited to answer their questions about Canterbury Tales in their English Literature class. I also had the opportunity to teach Sociology and be an interfaith campus minister at Somerset Community College. Oddly enough it was during that time that I earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in “Parish Revitalization” from McCormick Presbyterian in Chicago that led to me becoming pastor here in 1983.

“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

After ten years in the “home missions,” I was sent to central Kentucky to a 225 year old Catholic parish in Calvary, right outside of Lebanon, Kentucky. I went from an area with almost no Catholics to an area that was almost 100% Catholic! From there, after only 3 ½ years, I was suddenly sent here to a dying parish that was on the list of parishes being considered for closing. You heard me! You were on a list of parishes being considered for closure. Some pushed the idea of making Holy Spirit Church our Cathedral. Parish membership had dropped to only 110 members. By focusing mainly on preaching for fourteen years, we grew to over 2,100 members.

“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

After leaving here, I went to preach to college students at Bellarmine University and to seminarians from around the world who were studying to be priests at Saint Meinrad. During fourteen of those years, I published a weekly column in The Record that contained summaries of many homilies. In the last 20 years, I conducted over 80 Parish Missions and published quite a few books of homilies, starting with two while I was here. Finally, until last month I was volunteering in the foreign missions of the Caribbean during the last six years. I preached in their Cathedral of the Assumption many times, in the Pastoral Centre Chapel and several of their parishes.

During all those years, I learned the truth of what St. Gregory Nazianzus said, “One and the same exhortation does not fit all. According to the quality of the hearer ought the discourse of the teachers to be fashioned,” I learned early the truth that when it comes to preaching, one size does not fit all. A preacher must change his style to fit the hearers in front of him. One style does not fit all audiences and yet many priests do not get it! Let me list the groups I have preached to over the years in all those many places and the various ways in which I have tried to tailor my message depending on who was listening to me. All of them required a different approach and a different style. Here are some of those groups:


These individuals rarely miss Mass, are present at most parish functions, take advantage of opportunities for faith formation, participate in the social ministries of the parish and support the parish financially. Oddly, this may be the smallest of the groups to whom I have preached. This was my main focus when I preached in Calvary and as a seminary staff member at Saint Meinrad. My fellow Catholics, we priests must stop the routine of preaching to the choir and start paying attention to who are NOT here – stop the routine of giving 90% of our attention to 20% of the flock just because they show up on Sundays. When will we get it through our thick heads that the numbers of those who show up are shrinking right in front of our eyes and the “warmed-over. in-house church-chat” we are dishing out from our pulpits is not that appetizing to most people? This brings me to the next group we are called to feed.


This group has been called “the second largest denomination in the country.” They may still be registered members of a parish, but they attend Mass infrequently. Some of them may even send their children to sacramental preparation or religious education. When asked, they may identify themselves as “Catholics,” having been “raised Catholic,” “former Catholics” or “recovering Catholics.” This was my main focus when I preached here between 1983 and 1997, in my Parish Missions, in my Record column and at Bellarmine University. Not all non-practicing Catholics are alike! I can list four different kinds of non-practicing Catholics and each require a different preaching style:

THE MAD — those who describe themselves as having been hurt, abused, or neglected by clergy or other church workers.

THE SAD — those “separated” from the Church because of marriage, divorce, sexual orientation or doctrinal issues. Typically, these people feel a sense of loss.

THE IGNORED — those who stay away because they do not feel accepted, do not feel that they fit in or do not see other minorities like themselves. Many are immigrants or people of color.

THE BORED — those who have no particular complaint with the Church, but who have grown weaker in the practice of the faith over the years, may not have been strong to begin with or who do not identify with much that any religion has to say. They are just flat out bored with what the Church offers. This could be the largest group of fallen-away Catholics. 


Those in this group are believers who identify with another faith tradition. Their attitudes toward Catholics vary from outright hostility and suspicion to that of interest and respect. This group is especially important because of the number of inter-religious marriages. This was my focus when I preached in Crater Lake National Park, down in southern Kentucky, the Caribbean missions and here, especially in my work with the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.


These people do not identify with any organized religion. They describe themselves as “not interested in religion,” “spiritual, but not religious,” or “agnostics.” I have always found this group especially honest and fascinating. This group was my main focus here and in southern Kentucky, especially in Monticello.

Each of those groups require a different approach and a different style of preaching, so we priests and deacons must move beyond a “one style” “take it or leave it” attitude.

In preaching to all these groups, I have tried my best over the last 50 plus years to carry out the words of Vatican Council II, “Priests have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.” Because I consider preaching to have been my “primary duty” all these years, in my own funeral plans, I have asked to be laid out in my free Saint Meinrad casket, holding a copy of the Lectionary in my hands rather than a chalice that most priest are laid out with, holding in their hands. It is a gift given to me by the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Canada, after a couple of days of talking to him and his priests about their “primary duty” of preaching.

In all those years of preaching to such a wide-range of audiences, I have tried to heed the words of Saint Gregory the Great who said “The preacher must dip his pen into the blood of his heart; then he will be able to reach his neighbor’s ears!” In other words, I have tried to share my own doubts, my own failures, my own sins and my own setbacks to show you that I am with you, not above you! I have tried to do it, not as a way to get sympathy, but as a way to show you the path to your own freedom. To remind me of that, I have always tried to remember the words of the famous baseball player, Johnny Sain, who said, “People don’t want to hear about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby.” When sharing my breakdowns, I have understood that people don’t want to hear about how bad I had it, they just want to know how to overcome their own setbacks and sins!

Leading up to my fiftieth anniversary last year, I decided to put my tombstone in place. In preparation, I tried to think of a few words to summarize my life as a priest as I have experienced it so far. I finally settled on four words: SIMPLY AMAZED – FOREVER GRATEFUL. As I look out at you today and think of all the congregations to whom I have preached, let me say it again and again! I am SIMPLY AMAZED – FOREVER GRATEFUL! I have always known that you have certainly been better to me than I deserve. Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Yes, indeed! Today, I am SIMPLY AMAZED - FOREVER GRATEFUL!