Thursday, October 20, 2022



St. Theresa Church established in 1818

St. Theresa Preparatory School opened in 1843

St. Theresa Academy opened in 1868

St. Theresa/Cross Roads School opened in 1952

St. Theresa/Cross Roads School closed in 1993

St. Theresa Family Life Center blessed in 2022

Last Saturday, we dedicated our new Saint Theresa Family Life Center down in my closed grade school building (St. Theresa/Cross Roads School) in Meade County, Kentucky. We were able to give this complimentary souvenir booklet out to those who attended. However, we do not want to leave anybody out. If you want a copy, a few are still available for pick-up at the St. Theresa parish office on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Otherwise, they are available for purchase at either or for a small price. 

You might want to bring your copy with you when you come to visit. Besides a history of the parish and its schools and other valuable historical information, it has a handy map of all six sections of our hallway historical picture galleries to help you identify many of the families, the priests and the Sisters who made up our long rich history. You can also read about our plans to secure a prosperous future in this renewed space on the campus of our historic St. Theresa Church.   

Order the books online - 50 pages - $10.00 per copy
go to: or

This "Heritage Partners" bumper sticker is available to parishioners, former parishioners and former students as long as they last.  
Stop by the parish office, have someone stop to pick up one for you or call the Parish Office on Tuesdays or Thursdays and ask to have one sent to you. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2022



The Newly Blessed Saint Theresa Family Life Center

'Phoenix rising from the ashes.' This is a well-known phrase originating from 19th century ancient Egypt. The phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 100 years. Near the end of its life, it settles in its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing the bird and the nest to ashes. And from those ashes, a fledgling phoenix rises – renewed and reborn.

This phrase can be metaphorically used to describe many of our lives. We go through hardships every now and then. In those moments when darkness descends, joy is bolted out, buried, seemingly non-existent. Everything weighs like a heavy burden, and our activities feel like an obligation. Eventually, the fog disappears and you realize the dark clouds have moved on. With the help of friends and family, we look with fresh eyes and a new determination. 

It’s a part of the human experience. So many people in history, at the moment and even in the future, will go through this. The setbacks that life continues to throw at you, they’ll never stop. What matters is how you react to them. Are you determined enough to keep going? Is your dream important enough that you keep working for it? In a nutshell, that is why the Saint Theresa Heritage Partners was created - so that younger parishioners can learn about their heritage and the legacy their ancestors left them from older parishioners.  

In a way, I feel that I have been prepared to take on this challenge years ago. Back in 1981, I was able to get a Doctor of Ministry degree in "Parish Revitalization" from McCormick (Presbyterian) Seminary in Chicago.  I have used what I learned in places small and large - in the country and in the city. I used what I learned in a small mission parish in the southern part of the state. I used what I learned in a wonderful small historic country parish outside Lebanon, Kentucky. I used what I learned when I was given the job of revitalizing the Cathedral Parish in downtown Louisville, I used what I learned when I created the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. I used what I learned down in the Caribbean Missions when I volunteered to help support the ministries of the Diocese of Kingstown and the people of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

COVID and an erupting volcano ended that ministry. In a dream one night, it occurred to me that now might be a good time to "go back home" in my later years and see what I could do to help energize my home parish of St. Theresa in Rhodelia, Kentucky. I dreamed of helping turn the empty closed grade school building into a new Family Life Center so that the community could have a nice place to sponsor programs that would revitalize the parish and the strengthen families of the surrounding area. Actually, it was part of a recurring dream I have had that started almost 30 years ago - long before the time was "right."  

On the Feast of St. Theresa of Avila, our patron, Archbishop Shelton blessed that new Family Life Center - October 15 of this year. It took less about eighteen months from sharing the initial dream to the (nearly) completed reality! Basically, I have been leading the renovation of the building and Father Bob Ray, fellow parishioner of Saint Theresa, has been leading the supporting organization, the St. Theresa Heritage Partners - a parish and school Alumni Association. Father Ray is also helping the parish programming committee develop appropriate programs for the new space. We hope that the visible building will be a place where much invisible personal and spiritual growth will take place. We want to help strengthen the faith of the community so as not to lose what our spiritual ancestors handed on to us. 

Here are some pictures from the celebration we had on the Feast of Saint Theresa of Avila when Archbishop Fabre visited the grave of Matilda Chisley and blessed our renovation and revitalization plans. 
Archbishop Shelton Fabre started the event by laying a wreath on Matilda Chisley's grave in the old St. Theresa Cemetery. She was one of the enslaved members of St. Theresa in early 1800s. She is the grandmother of the soon-to-be canonized Fr. Augustus Tolton, also a slave, who became the first African American priest to be ordained in the US. His mother Martha Jane, daughter of Matilda Chisley, was a member of St. Theresa Parish until she was 17 years old.  It was then that her local "owner" married and moved to Missouri. The wood cross in the background marks the spot where the second log cabin church, completed in 1826, stood.  There would have been a log rectory, where the pastor lived, next to it. 
The tombstone of Matilda Chisley, Venerable Father Augustus Tolton 's grandmother, in the old St. Theresa Cemetery 
Inside the present Saint Theresa Church (our third church) dedicated by Bishop Martin John Spalding on June 16, 1861.  The first log cabin church was  dedicated by our first bishop, Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, in 1818. The second log cabin church was dedicated by Bishop Flaget in 1826.
Archbishop Shelton Fabre celebrated Mass on the Feast of St. Theresa as part of the Dedication of the new Saint Theresa Family Life Center.
Front Row - Three Ursuline Sisters came from Mount Saint Joseph. Historically, five women joined their community from St. Theresa Parish. 
Second Row - Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 
23 Sisters of Charity of Nazareth came from St. Theresa Parish, as well as 5 Sisters of Loretto, 3 Dominican Sisters and 1 Sister of Mercy. A total of 97 Sister of Charity of Nazareth served at St. Theresa over 123 years. 
The Saint Theresa Parish Choir. Led by this choir, the congregational singing was loud and proud. 
Both Father Bob Ray and myself grew up as members of St. Theresa Parish. We both attended St. Theresa/Cross Roads School. We both celebrated our First Masses there a year part - Father Ray in 1969 and me in 1970, We are two of eight priests from St. Theresa Parish. We worked together on this project.  Our grandmothers were sisters, making us 3rd cousins. 
The Saint Theresa Family Life Center's new main entrance on the side with its new porch, sidewalk and path lights. 
The new porch (with rockers) is one of decisions that most changed the look of the old building. People can also bring tables and chairs out on the porch for outside eating, card playing, talking or using the rockers for quiet-time prayer. 
Archbishop Shelton blesses the new Saint Theresa Family Life Center at the new front entrance.
 A few of the many guests on the lawn participating and singing in the dedication ceremony. 
At the ribbon cutting, we had (left to right) representatives from the Ursulines of Mount St. Joseph and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Prodigy Construction Company (Scotty Brown), the parish (server), Fr. Ray (barely visible behind Fr. Knott), Archbishop Shelton, Fr. George (pastor) and Deacon Sears. 
The new Hallway Photo Gallery has 6 individual galleries in all. We had 3 completed for the opening. The other three are ready to be installed. The gallery above features former pastors, early missionaries and the two bishops who consecrated our three churches. Bishop Flaget consecrated the two log cabin churches and Bishop Spalding consecrated the present brick church. Many of the early pastors were immigrants from France, Belgium, Germany, England, Luxembourg, Holland and Ireland. 
This gallery features the Sisters who served at St. Theresa Parish: 5 Sisters of Loretto and 97 Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Some of the women admiring the photos actually taught in the very school in which they are standing! They were so very happy to see this transformation and re-purpose, as well as the fact that they will be remembered!  
This is the first of two galleries featuring individuals and families from the parish history. As more people bring old photos forward, they can be featured in the museum room on a TV rotating loop. 
The almost finished new kitchen. On the left, is a hand-sink and a pass-through serving counter. Looking out, there is a storage annex on the backside of the building and a view of the old convent in the distance. 
From another angle, the new kitchen without the 3-tub stainless steel sink that will be installed soon.
This is the cafe without all the furniture installed. Notice the 76 " TV at the end and the coffee and drink serving station on the left. Missing are the shades, drapes and wall pictures. When finished, it will have 10 tables and 40 chairs that can be arranged according to whether it will be used for eating or watching the TV for a live-stream presentation.  
Looking toward the kitchen and away from the TV.  There will be a roll-down shutter in the serving counter opening. There will be new shades and drapes around the windows when finished. 
Here is one of the two meeting rooms. This room will feature a large u-shape arrangement of 17 tables with 33 chairs on the outside of the u-shape for meetings and lectures.  The other  room will feature living room furniture (comfortable chairs, coffee tables, pictures, plants, lamps and drapes) for discussion groups and bookcases for a library. Old classroom blackboards in both rooms have been preserved to be turned into white boards for magic marker use.  
This is the museum room with the empty display cases where various three-dimensional artifacts will be displayed. It also has a wall TV for showing a rotating exhibit of more historic photos and for showing history videos. 
This shows one of the new restrooms. The red tape was to keep people from using them so that others could inspect them on the tours. 
The old 5th and 6th grade classroom will now contain three staff offices for the parish. This is the waiting area off the hallway and outside the three offices. 
This is the view from the parish secretary's office looking out the new main entrance. Inside the door is a small waiting room. The door inside the waiting room (on the left of the picture) is the entrance into the pastor's office. All of the furniture for the building, especially the office furniture, is on sight and ready to be assembled after it will not impede the workers who need to finish a few things.  
Looking out the main entrance doors toward the church parking lot from the Pastor and Parish Secretary offices. The podium was there for use during the Dedication and Blessing Service itself.  

Sunday, October 16, 2022



All scripture is inspired by God and useful for training in righteousness,
so that the one who belongs to God may be competent and
equipped for doing every good work.
II Timothy 3:16-17

I have here in my hands a copy of the Bible. Contrary to what most people think, this is not one book but a miniature library of 73 smaller books written over a period of 900 years. It is a record of how our spiritual ancestors experienced God and a record of those experiences that they handed down from one generation to the next, first orally and then later in written words.  Some are history books, some are books of religious poetry, some are books of prayer, some are books of sermons, some are law books.  It took over 300 years after Jesus died for the Church to collect all of these smaller books into one big book that we know as "the Bible."  The word "bible" means "book." In other words, the Bible did not fall out of the sky. Jesus did not pass out copies of the Bible before his Ascension into heaven. It was at Church Councils of the Catholic Church that the Bible was gradually agreed on as we know it. Four hundred years ago, during the Reformation, Protestants altered the number of books a bit by dropping a few minor Old Testament books from the Catholic list of official books. However, Protestants and Catholics still agree on all 27 New Testament Books. 

At Mass, we have been reading from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy. In the two letters we have, Paul is awaiting execution and wants to remind his young trainee of some important points before he dies.  Today he wants to remind Timothy to be faithful to what he has learned and believed and just who it was who taught him. Paul reminds Timothy that, as a Jew, he had been steeped in the study of Scripture since childhood, starting with his pious Jewish mother and ending with his mentor, Paul himself. This is what he says to Timothy about this collection of sacred books.    

All scripture is inspired by God and useful for training in righteousness,
so that the one who belongs to God may be competent and equipped for
doing every good work.
II Timothy 3:16-17

1. These writings are inspired by God. God may not have dictated these books word for word, but the messages that God wanted us know are woven into the words of these books.  In other words, they contain God's teachings in human words. The message behind the words are more important than the words themselves. That is why we must not only read the words, but also trust the teaching authority of the church to help us understand their true meaning.  Private interpretation of scripture has led to the multiplication of denominations, the splintering of the unity in the Body of Christ and to bizarre and sometimes dangerous cults of all sorts.  As Paul tells Timothy "Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed because you know from whom you learned it." Personally, I would rather trust the authentic teachers of our Church to tell me what the scriptures mean than trust my own understanding alone or some self-appointed prophet like Rev. Jim Jones or David Koresh.  Remember them? With no one outside themselves for guidance, one led hundreds of his followers to commit suicide in his compound in Guyana and the other to a violent death in Waco, Texas.    

2. These writings are useful for training in righteousness. Righteousness means moral goodness.   Moral goodness is something that does not just happen, it has to be something we hunger and thirst for if we want to have it. The world is full of bogus advice, outright lies and self-serving manipulation. Our culture cannot be trusted, yet many people fall for its fakery, hook, line and sinker, until it is too late - until their lives are shattered and lie in ruins.  Scripture offers a true map to live by, a solid pattern to go by, a perfect blueprint to build from, a trustworthy design to integrate into your life if you seek to be morally good. As Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away." 

3. These writings will guide those who belong to God in performing good works of all kinds.

The Bible is not just a nice story about God in history.  It contains the instructions we need to live a good life and what we need to do to help others do the same.  The question then is how can we immerse ourselves in it, come to absorb its teaching and become familiar with its wisdom!  It is a spiritual crime today not to read the Bible and try to understand it. It's like trying to find your way to California without a map. It may have been excusable years ago to be biblically illiterate when copies of scripture were rare and when people could not read or write, but today we have no excuse. "Where there is a will, there is a way."

The simplest way to learn the scriptures is to come to Mass every weekend and train yourself to listen to the readings. It helps, even more, if you have read them before you come. Here is a simple way to test yourself to see if you have really been paying attention. Tell me how many readings we had today and what books of the Bible they were taken from! (We had four readings: Exodus, Psalms, II Timothy and Luke). (Hold up a Lector's Workbook) The simplest way to train yourself to listen is to buy one of these Lector Workbooks and read it before you leave home or while you are waiting for Mass to start. They have the readings for every Sunday and Holy Day of the year with a few insights at the bottom of the page about each reading to help you to understand.  Then when you hear the readings read, you are already familiar with what is being read aloud to you!   

4. We are called to be persistent in proclaiming the word, whether convenient or inconvenient. I have been preaching the Word for fifty-two years. The church told me at my ordination that preaching would be my primary duty. I have taken that mandate seriously. I have in my garage, in my house and in my computer copies of almost all of the homilies I have given since I was ordained a deacon in 1969. I have thousands of them. I gave over 600 homilies at Bellarmine University alone. I may have an official mandate from the church to preach because of my ordination, but we all have a duty to study the Word because of our baptisms. Whether we are priests, parents, spouses or teachers - we are called to convince those who need convincing, correct those who need correcting, encourage those who need encouraging and to do it always with love and patience.

Fellow Catholics! Don't try to navigate life without a map! Don't trust the latest fad or the many untrustworthy guides! Heed the words of St. Paul today when he says,  "Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation."