Saturday, June 4, 2022


Wilderness Edge, Manitoba

Archbishop James Weisgerber (red shirt - third row) and the priests of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 

It's hard to believe that I led this priest retreat eleven years ago, but I have very fond memories of this retreat in the middle of nowhere in northern Manitoba in the town of Wilderness Edge. It earned its name! It was in a small town where a former nuclear power plant was once located. The "hotel" was a former residence for former nuclear power plant workers. I can remember moose walking around the village as if they owned the place. I guess they did!
At the end of the retreat, Archbishop Weisgerber asked if he could personally drive me the two hours down to the Winnipeg airport. We had a marvelous conversation that afternoon. 
One of the gifts he gave me was a copy of the Canadian Lectionary because I had mentioned in one of my presentations on preaching that I wanted to be buried with a lectionary in my hands when I died. 
I keep that Lectionary with my funeral plans. I hope to be laid out in my casket clutching it.
Here is the inscription the archbishop wrote on one of the front pages: 

May 28, 2010
To Ron:

In gratitude for the inspiring retreat.
You've really made a difference. 
Keep us in your prayers so that we may rise to the challenge. 
+ Jim Weisgerber
Archbishop of Winnipeg

Thursday, June 2, 2022


One of the greatest benefits of priest retirement is to be able to look in the rear view mirror to see where you have been, what you have done, who you have met and what you have experienced. To be able to do that in comfort, you have to be able to look back with confidence and pride. Otherwise, it would trigger a nightmare of regret, disappointment and grief. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in his classic piece, Maud Muller, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'”

I've written about it before, a few years ago when I was turning 75, and it occurred to me then that so far I had spent my whole life focusing on looking ahead. At that age, it occurred to me that it might be a good to time to start looking back, assessing how far I had come, patting myself on the back a little and celebrating a few successes before plowing ahead with some more ambitious projects.

The occasion came when the diocese asked us priests to update our funeral plans. This involved not only my funeral Mass plans, but also the updating of my Last Will and Testament and my legal "end of life" wishes. As part of this work, I decided to go ahead and put my tombstone in place and have that task out of the way.

I probably spent most of the time on my simple tombstone. I spent hours and hours trying to come up with a few word that would summarize my life as I looked back and reflected on it. When I got to where I was satisfied, I realized that I could summarize my first 75 years in just four words - "simply amazed - forever grateful."

When I looked back over my first 75 years, I found myself "simply amazed" at the opportunities that God had placed in front of me and "simply amazed" at the grace he gave me to embrace those opportunities. When I look back in "amazement," I realize that I am certainly not the origin of the blessings that I have experienced over those many years, so the only response that would be appropriate would be to be forever overcome with gratitude.

Oh, yes, one of the greatest benefits of priest retirement so far is to be able to find myself "simply amazed - forever grateful" for what I have seen, heard and experienced while expecting even more blessings in whatever time I have left! Whoever I meet and whatever happens next will simply be "icing on the cake!"

Tuesday, May 31, 2022


In June of 2008, I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at the annual convention of the PRIEST COUNCILS OF ENGLAND AND WALES in Leeds, north of London, England. It was a gathering of the priest representatives of all the dioceses of England and Wales. My topic was building stronger presbyterates in unity with their bishops. We met at the Catholic affiliated Leeds Trinity University in Leeds. 

This was such a good experience that it led to an invitation to lead the annual Priest Retreat in the Archdiocese of  Cardiff in Wales in 2010 - another powerful experience. 

After my visit to England in 2008, I sent every Catholic Bishop in England and Wales a free copy of my book A BISHOP AND HIS PRIESTS TOGETHER: Resources For Building a More Intentional Presbyterate  published in 2011. (I also sent free copies to all the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United States.) 

Leeds, by the way, is a Sister City to Louisville, Kentucky. In 2006, Leeds officially became Louisville’s 8th Sister City, however there has been a longstanding and valuable exchange relationship between both cities’ law schools that dates back to the 1950s.

Each year professors from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville participate in faculty exchanges with law professors from the University of Leeds. These exchanges have led to joint research, seminars, and publications that take place on both sides of the ocean. The former UK Secretary of State for Defense Geoffrey Hoon is among those from Leeds who lectured at Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law.

In 2010 an art exchange began, sponsored by the Frazier History Museum, when local photographer Michael Brohm traveled to Leeds; In Sept 2011 Leeds Photographer Jon Eland travelled to Louisville as part of the reciprocal agreement.

The SCL Leeds Committee has worked with Leeds Trinity University and Bellarmine University on establishing reciprocal exchange and internship programs.

In Spring 2017, Kentucky Country Day and Woodhouse Grove School started exploring a Sister-School relationship. They began their trial twinning with a student visit to Leeds in October 2017. KCD expected a reciprocal visit from WGS.




Rev. J. Ronald Knott

Keep guard over yourselves and the flock the Holy Spirit has given you to guard.

Acts 20:28



“Ordained ministry has a radical communitarian dimension and can only be carried out as collective work.” (JP II, PDV)  In this talk, Father Knott will address the fact that priests do not carry out their own ministry, but have been given a share of the bishop’s ministry. Priests may indeed be leaders in the forefront of the Church, but they are still not the only leaders in the Church. This talk places the ministry of priests within the context of others’ ministries and addresses some of the collaborative efforts these relationships will require.


The fact that ordained ministry has a radical communitarian dimension that can only be carried out as collective work in true in another sense.  Priests are not priests one by one, but serve the mission of the Church is a presbyterate under a bishop. Presbyterates will never be able to deliver excellent, unified and coherent ministry to the People of God if the priests who make up that presbyterate are all “doing their own thing” or, worse, working against each other. In this talk, Father Knott will outline the personal asceticism each priest must adopt to make the presbyterate an intentional, unified ministry team. 




Any priest who is serious about spiritual leadership must claim his pulpit, claim his ritual books and claim his role as spiritual leader in the community. In this talk, Father Knott will explore the world between the mere observance of the laws governing valid and licit celebration of the rites of the Church and engaging in intrusive spectacle, personal taste and endless experimentation. He will suggest some ways to ensure that the faithful will be engaged knowingly, actively and fruitfully in their own spiritual growth because of the skill of the priest.     


Being a pastor is a call within a call. Pastors have a special responsibility for the common good. As such, he oversees the preaching, sanctifying and governing ministry of the parish in cooperation with others presbyters, deacons and the lay faithful of the parish.

Besides his ministry to the faithful, he is obligated to bring the gospel message to those who have ceased practicing the faith and those who do not profess the faith. All priests, but especially the pastor, are called not only to be personally good, but also good at it pastoring.   

Sunday, May 29, 2022




May the eyes of your hearts be opened that you may see the value of
your hope, your inheritance and your power as believers.
Ephesians 1:18-21

Laura Young, a Texas antiques dealer, thought she had found a steal when she came across a stunning statue at a Goodwill store in 2018 for just under $35. And while she suspected she had come across something “very special,” little did she know the piece would turn out to be a priceless Roman bust dating back to 2,000 years.

When she first came across the bust, scouring for antique treasures in the Goodwill store, one of Young’s first thoughts was: “He looked Roman. He looked old.” Once she purchased the statue, she said “in the sunlight, it looked like something that could be very, very special.”

Special, indeed! A Sotheby’s consultant eventually determined that the $35 sculpture was in fact a priceless marble Roman bust.

It seems to be a human trait to misjudge the value of things, even very important things. This phenomenon is repeated regularly on “Antique Road Show.” What they think is worth something, turns out to be junk, while something they consider junk often turns out to be a priceless artifact!

Every Christmas, we read a story about some child somewhere getting a very expensive toy, only to throw it aside and focus on playing with the box that it came in!

St. Paul tells us that we do that to what Jesus left us – a great treasure handed to us in a humble earthenware crock. He tells us that people don’t seem to realize what a great treasure we have, but instead focus most of their attention on the crudeness of the crock. We undervalue the treasure of Christ saving message to us because it is handed to us in an imperfect Church.

We see this phenomenon played out every day on TV. Even though there are many good things going on in the world and in our country, we are constantly bombarded through our 24-hour-a-day news cycle with stories of how more and more people seem to be out of control: drug addiction, mass killings, infidelity and violence in marriages, child abuse and neglect of the elderly, grand theft, mean and nasty public behaviors --- you name it!

We are also bombarded daily with the sins of the Church and seldom hear about the great heroism of our many saints still doing heroic ministry among us. The famous baseball player Johnny Sain was so on target when he said, “People don’t want to hear about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby!” Can you imagine a proud mother standing in front of you with a beautiful baby in her arms, never mentioning the baby’s name or whether it is a girl or a boy, but instead rattles on about how much pain she was in during the delivery? Well, we all tend to do that sometime. Instead of focusing on the wonderful treasure we have, we go on and on about the limitations of the box that it came in! Instead of being optimists who can see the wonderful things the heroes of the church are doing, we end up being droning pessimists who can see nothing but problems, failures and limitations. John Lubbock was right on target when he said, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” When it comes to our faith, so often we don’t even know how to look! We need to a new way of seeing, what Jesus called in New Testament Greek, metanoia! We need to have the “eyes of our hearts opened,” not just the eyes in front of our heads! We need to be able to distinguish the priceless treasure we have been given from the humble crock that holds it.

May the eyes of your hearts be opened that you may see the value of
your hope, your inheritance and your power as believers.

I think that we have gotten lost spiritually because we have forgotten where the Church came from originally! In its beginning, many ordinary men and women answered the call of Jesus to radical inner conversion. They dropped everything they knew and let themselves be taught and guided by the teaching of Jesus. (Can you imagine what St. Peter’s wife said when he got home to tell her he had sold the boat and was going to follow, full-time, some preacher he had met on the beach?) From these initial conversions, a small community, infused with a new way of living, came into being. Christianity as an inner path was born.

Something, however, happened to Christianity as an inner path about 350 A.D. The horrible persecution of Christians officially ended in the Roman Empire with the conversion of the Emperor, Constantine. With Constantine, Christianity as a world religion takes form and decisively branches away from what might be called Christianity as an inner path. When that happened, Christianity was on its way to becoming a complicated world-wide religious organization. We need to remember the fundamental difference between Christianity as “a way of living” and Christianity as a “world-wide religious institution.” Today, we have more people making the external institution of Christianity more important than walking the inner path of Christianity. We need to remember this - the institution of Christianity serves the inner path of Christianity and can never ever be allowed to smother it. Sadly, for many believers, the weight of an overly complicated institutional Church is smothering its vital and needed message that is the basis for walking the inner path.

Something has happened, as well, to Christianity in our time. It has been reduced to a synonym for “being nice to people.” What martyrs died for, what countless saints lived for, has been “domesticated” into a mere synonym for civility, summed up in the popular idea that you can do anything you want “as long as you don't hurt anybody.” It has been cheapened to the point of boredom by people who claim the name, but don’t walk the talk. As the English Catholic writer, G. K. Chesterton famously said, "“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

Sadly, there are millions of people today who claim the name “Christian” without knowing “diddly squat” about what Jesus Christ taught and the power that comes from the daily living out his powerful message. They don't even know enough about Jesus to make an informed decision to reject him, much less make a decision to walk the inner path that he taught! For millions of “Christians,” the questions “Who was Jesus?” and “What did Jesus want from us?” have never been answered! That's why so many Christian churches, Roman Catholic included, are in crisis.

It is past time for us to be brutally honest about our situation. (1) Why is it that life-time Catholics, with years and years and years of religious formation, end up becoming members of the local 60 year old mega church after only a couple of visits? That church has many good things going for it, but personally, I don't believe that our loss is about their strength as much as it is about our weakness! (2) Why is it that so many of the graduates of our expensive Catholic Schools leave the church as soon as they graduate? Because of that good education, they end up getting fine jobs, yes, but end up knowing so little about the Catholic faith and about making a commitment to serious discipleship! (3) Good preaching in the Catholic Church is so rare that most Catholics are surprised when they experience it. One of the most interesting comments I have heard from at least three people since I started working here in these two parishes is this. "Father, it is so rare and yet we are so very lucky to have three good preachers to listen to each weekend! Three of them!" Fellow Catholics, we have got to quit using our pulpits mainly for fund raising, for expressing the pet peeves of the preacher, for pushing political agendas and for sharing stories about the preachers' last vacation trip. I believe that our people are leaving us because of what is not happening in our pulpits. All this talk about "reviving the Eucharist" will fail if we don't start by focusing on our pulpits. Because of what's not happening in our pulpits, people don't even know what's happening on our altars! Because of what is not happening in our pulpits, they have no problem with walking away from the Eucharist! They don't even understand what they are walking away from! Our people need to be seriously fed on the Word of God so they can live the inner path of Christianity and become passionate disciples of the Lord Jesus! If we don't start building a fire in our pulpits, we are going to lose even more of our people! By that, I mean a "fire" of affirmation, not a "fire" of condemnation! 

May the eyes of your hearts be opened that you may see the value of your hope, your inheritance and your power as believers.