Saturday, October 15, 2022


Today is the Feast Day of Saint Theresa of Avila

October 15, 2022

After a year and a half of dreaming, planning, praying and working, today (on the Feast Day of St. Theresa of Avila) we will dedicate our new Saint Theresa Family Life Center down in my home parish of Saint Theresa (founded in 1818). Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this old closed school will reopen and serve the whole communities of St. Theresa in Rhodelia and St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi of Payneville. 

Visit this blog on Tuesday for more pictures and a more detailed report. 

Come back here Tuesday for some exciting pictures of this historic event.


Friday, October 14, 2022


After a year and a half of planning, the official Blessing of the new Saint Theresa Family Life Center down in my home parish is scheduled for tomorrow! After overcoming one supply chain problem after another, after surmounting the assumption that we had enough funds to complete the project only to find out about a 40% inflation rate on building materials, the big day is here - ready or not!  

Our new Family Life Center will not be "operational ready" yet, but thanks to an all-out effort by our construction people, our guests will have a lot to see and celebrate. Most of the unfinished items will not be visible, but will surely be finished in the next several weeks. 

I will certainly be working in the programming of new Saint Theresa Family Life Center, but I have made a pledge that my St. Theresa project will be my last building project! Such continuous stress can't be good for an old man like me! I have a lot of friends who laugh at me when I say that, telling me that I am actually "addicted to projects!" We'll see about that!!!!!


Mr. Tim Schoenbachler has been right there with me from the beginning of this project.  Sharing our ideas back and forth, he was able to use his amazing computer design skills to turn our ideas into drawings so that the people of Prodigy Construction Company could "make them work" in reality. From there, they were able to produce construction drawings and blue prints. The whole process took hours and hours of back-and-forth corrections and refinements (often having to overcome inevitable conflicting tastes and solutions). We shopped for bargain furnishings, picked out the wall colors and chose the flooring, appliances and decorations. His amazing visual drawings (and even a video) made it possible for people to "see" where we were going and what it was going to look like! In reality, we could not have accomplished what we accomplished so soon and so inexpensively without his help and dedication. 

This was not our first project. We worked to design the renovations of the Pastoral Centre, a retreat house and a church down in the Diocese of Kingstown in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean Missions.

Before that, we worked together on the design of  several areas at St. Meinrad Seminary especially the teaching kitchen and the guests room in Bede Hall. Before that, we created the designs for Jack's in the Commons, a coffee shop in the main building.  We even worked on the original rough drawings of the new Unstable, a campus pizza and beer pub. 

We even collaborated on a cookbook for priests living alone - called DAILY BREAD: A Handbook for Priests Learning to Cook for Themselves. He has designed the covers of twenty-four of my books, laid out the texts and had them printed, published and advertised. We collaborated on starting this blog and on many printed advertising materials including the souvenir booklet that will be given out at the Blessing of our new Saint Theresa Family Life Center.  

Thursday, October 13, 2022


At age 78 and a half, I am not ready to quit altogether, but I am trying to be more selective about what I say "yes" to these days!  Saying "no" is not something I am "good at" yet, but I am slowly learning. Saying "no" without feeling guilty is new terrain for me.

Since I am still obligated under my "promise of obedience" to the Archbishop, I have actually thought about blocking the Chancery telephone number before the Priest Personnel Board calls me and tries to talk me into taking two, three or four parishes!
Maybe if I stay busy helping out at nice places like the Little Sisters of the Poor, Saint Leonard, Saint Frances of Rome and Saint Theresa, they will leave me alone? It's certainly worth a try, especially if I throw in a few appreciated hospital visits and a family funeral ever once in a while! 

Saying "no" more often does not mean you need to quite saying "yes" altogether.  It's a matter of staying engaged, without getting overwhelmed! It's about doing the things that bring you life and doing the things that lead you to do the things that brings life to others! 


Tuesday, October 11, 2022



You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart, with all your being,
with all your strength, and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:25-37

I have grown to love the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List,” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. It’s about two terminally ill old men on a road trip with a list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” 

In one of my very favorite scenes, they are both sitting on one of the pyramids in Egypt. Morgan Freeman’s character says to Jack Nicholson’s character, “You know the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven…the gods asked them two questions. Their answer determined whether they were admitted or not. “Have you found joy in your life?” “Has your life brought joy to others?” 

Because I retired seven years ago, it was serendipitous that I should stumble onto it. It occurred to me that it raised a ton of questions for reflection for my retirement. Those two questions may have been two of the most important questions facing me as I sought to create a second life with the experiences I have accumulated. “Have you found joy in your life?” “Has your life brought joy to others?” 

Many people my age, going into retirement, speak of retirement as a time to pamper themselves and finally be able to do whatever they want to do! Our culture teaches us that retirement is a time for self-indulgence. Move to Florida! Sleep in! Putter around the garden or workshop! Play golf every day! Hang out at McDonald’s and drink coffee till noon with other old men! God spare me! Thomas Merton was right when he said, “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”

My main goal in retirement is first of all to challenge the temptation, from my own mind and from the mouths of others, to think too small. I didn’t want to quit being a priest, but I wanted to be a priest in a new way. I certainly wanted to do more than keep doing what I have always done, but less of it. I certainly didn’t want a permanent vacation. I have spent my whole life as a priest dreaming bigger than what was considered wise. Some of those dreams did not materialize, but more than I could have imagined, have materialized! I wanted my retirement to be a springboard to adventure, not a hammock for my lazy side to lie in.

We have been conditioned to think small, to be happy and thankful for what we have and to expect less from life. It is very convenient to think like that, because if you do, you don’t have to do anything. It lets you out of a whole lot of work.

What does it mean to have joy in your life? The ancient Egyptians may have had their test, but Jesus has a similar test. He asks us today in the gospel, “Were you able to find joy in fully loving God by fully caring for yourself and your neighbor? Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John that he came “to bring life and life to the fullest.” God created us out of love and all he wants from us is for us to milk the life he has given us for all its worth! He wants a passionate commitment to God, self and neighbor. He wants our happiness most of all! St. Irenaeus is famous for saying “The glory of God is man fully alive.” By that he meant that the best way to love God fully is to do the most with the lives God has given us.

Jesus’ own Parable of the Talents says as much. We are all given talents to invest, some of us more and some less, but all of us are given talents to invest. To bury them and not invest them is a bigger sin than taking a risk and failing.


Sunday, October 9, 2022


Ten lepers were cleansed, but only one
of them returned to thank Jesus.
Luke 17

The opposite of “feelings of gratitude” are “feelings of entitlement.”  Over the years, many parents have resonated with this famous sad line from Shakespeare’s King Lear, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”

Some programs start out as a way to help people, but sometimes end up leaving people with a sense of entitlement, a feeling that those services are actually owed to them.  Many recent studies say that narcissism and a sense of entitlement has risen significantly higher in our country in recent years.  Even Time Magazine named the word “ME” as the “person of the year” back in 2006. Entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. People with a sense of entitlement see no need to say “thank you” because they have come to believe that they deserve to be taken care of and have things given to them.

When I worked in the seminary, I learned that even a few seminarians, after being “taken care of” throughout their seminary years, sometimes leave the seminary with attitudes of “entitlement,” feelings of deserving special treatment especially since they will be priests during a time of priest shortages. In my transition-out-of-the-seminary class, I spent one whole class teaching them to say "thank you." I reminded them to thank their seminary teachers, the many people in their dioceses who financially supported them, their vocation directors and even the seminary kitchen workers and janitors before they left. Sadly, many of them had never even thought about doing that before I mentioned it to them. I always began that specific class with a bit of cowboy wisdom, “When you get to where you are going, take care of the horse you rode in on!” One glaring symptom of our culture may be that growing sense of entitlement. When I “googled” the phrase “you deserve it,” I found no less than 322,000,000 sites!    

In the gospel today, Jesus heals ten desperate lepers, nine were Jews and one was a foreigner, but only one of the ten returned to say “thank you” and he was the foreigner!  Why?  Did the Jewish lepers think it was merely Jesus’ job, as a fellow Jew, to heal people? Did they think, “Why should I thank him for doing what he is supposed to do?”  This story reminds me that our sense of entitlement may even include God! Have we grown to believe that it’s God's job to take care of us because somehow we “deserve it?” Why are we so ready to be mad at God when things go wrong and yet never think of God when things go right, much less offer our thanks?  As a priest, I get pulled into situations all the time where people are angry at God for this or that disappointment, but I can't remember having many people call me to tell me the wonderful things God has done for them! 

Entitlement is an attitude that “life owes me something,” or “other people owe me something” or “God owes me something.” Our culture is constantly barraging us with messages that feed those feelings of entitlement starting when we are babies.  Back windows of mini-vans used to announce “baby on board.” Kindergartners were taught to sing, “I’m special.” McDonald’s built an entire campaign around the slogan “You deserve a break today.” Another company proclaimed “Pamper yourself with Calgon!” Another ad campaign told us “You owe it to yourself to buy a Mercedes Benz.”  Clairol told us to change our hair color, because “you are worth it.”

We are even conditioned by the Bill of Rights, which focuses on our entitlements. We may have a right to the pursuit of happiness, but we actually have no "rights" to happiness itself! The Ten Commandments, on the other hand, focus on our responsibilities and obligations. Demanding our rights, while shirking our responsibilities, is always a recipe for losing our so-called “rights.”  

When we feel entitled, gratitude is impossible because we believe that things are owed to us. If you’re like me and really sit down and think about it, we would probably have a whole list of things we feel entitled to, and when we don’t get them, we feel cheated.  

If we start believing that a favorable turn of events in life is owed to us, and then when things don’t turn out favorably, we feel angry, resentful or frustrated. We begin feeling we have been ripped-off and cheated out of what we deserve. In reality, entitlement is a lie, a perversion of the truth. The truth is life owes us nothing and everything is a gift.  When I was designing my tombstone, which is in place and ready, I took that reality into account. That's why it says at the top, "Simply Amazed - Forever Grateful." 

Gratitude is the only response to the realization that everything in life as gift. We deserve nothing. Ultimately, everything is a gift.  So saying thank you is more than good manners. It’s good spirituality. “Thank you” is the simplest and most powerful prayer a person can say.

Why are we Catholics, who are so blessed in so many ways, not beating down the doors of our churches to give thanks to God every weekend end? We have every reason to be grateful because we have come so far! Being Catholic wasn’t even legal in the early days of this country. Many of our great, great grandparents were uneducated, dirt-poor immigrants from equally poor Catholic countries who endured persecution. We, their ancestors, have so often forgotten to be thankful for how far we have come because of their sacrifices! 

The Church calls us together each weekend to celebrate the Eucharist. The word eucharist means to give thanks. Why is there not a rush to offer thanks within our parish communities? Could part of it be that we have come to believe that everything we have is something we earned and we are therefore entitled to it?  Could part of the drop in Mass attendance be about a sense of entitlement? Maybe if we were to discover once again that everything we have is on loan, maybe we would again be compelled to gather in great numbers with other “Eucharistic” people, people who need to express their gratitude, on a weekly basis. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” (William Arthur Ward)      

Challenged by the nine no-show lepers in the gospel today, let’s all take a good hard look at our lives and everything in them and remember that it’s all a gift! Let’s resolve today and every day to be that one cured leper who bothered to return and give thanks.

When I was in the seminary from age 14-26, I was always wanting to give my mother something but never had the money. Looking back, what I gave her was what she needed most and that was my attention and appreciation. I liked to make her laugh, be with her and dream with her about “what I was going to do for her someday when I was ordained and had some money.”

Lacking money, I gave her time and attention. During breaks from the seminary, we would stay up late at night just talking. She never complained, but I always wondered if she didn’t often feel that people were more interested in what she could do for them than what they could do for her. I have no regrets now that she is gone. I couldn't give her lavish gifts, but I am proud to say that I expressed my appreciation for her freely and often.  

That's exactly why we are here today - to say "thank you" to God the source of everything we have! As the spiritual teacher Meister Eckhart said, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough!"