Friday, June 2, 2023


 Come One! Come all! 

"about a 75 minute drive from Louisville"

10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Saturday June 10, 2023


St. Theresa Church
9245 Rhodelia Road
Payneville, Kentucky

Drop in and take a tour of our new facilities. Check out the 150 historic photo hallway gallery. Visit the new museum room with historic objects and memorabilia including the story of our connection to a soon-to-be American saint and our 123 year association with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 
Inspect the new geo-thermal/solar panel HVAC system. 
Enjoy a drink and a snack in our coffeeshop/lecture hall/kitchen.  
See the library meeting room and the large meeting room with a podium. 
Take a look at the five offices for pastor, deacon, secretary and two staff members.
Sit on the porch in one of the twenty new rocking chairs on the full length porch and enjoy the view.  

Saint Theresa Family Life Center

Father MacNicholas Guest House   

*Private Retreats: Priests, Sisters, Deacons and Lay People
*Overnight Guest Speakers at the Family Life Center
* Visiting Fill-In Priests
* Rest Area for the Pastor and Deacon Between Masses and Before Meetings 
* A Quiet Space for Writers, Artists and Historians

Thursday, June 1, 2023



A wound can be bandaged and an insult forgiven.
Sirach 27:21

I read that lists 160,510 books on the topic of forgiveness. That’s 31,629 more than on sexuality. What does that tell us about the human heart and what it hungers for most?

You haven’t experienced freedom unless you have experienced the freedom that comes when you let go of resentments that sear your soul, preoccupy your thoughts and drain your strength. Yet, there are so many people who hug their hurts and nurse their wounds in an all-consuming preoccupation because they cannot “let go.”

When they refuse to forgive, they choose to be “right” over being free. Catherine Ponder said it best when she said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to forgiveness is to believe that it is a favor one does for the one who has wronged them. It was Suzanne Somers who said it best when she said, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”

Lewis B. Smedes said it this way: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Alan Paton pointed out, “When deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.”

Another mistake people make when it comes to forgiveness is to believe that forgiveness is a sign of weakness and spine[1]lessness if you don’t “stand up for yourself.” Actually, as Mohandas Gandhi pointed out, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

 The refusal to forgive keeps one imprisoned in the past. Paul Boese put it this way: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said, “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” Forgiveness is basically a choice to have a future over a past.

The biggest obstacle of all to forgiveness is the belief that the one who wrongs you needs to apologize, make amends and show evidence of change. While that is certainly part of justice, it is not essential.

Forgiveness is most powerful when it is unilateral and unconditional. Unilateral and unconditional forgiveness is a sign of ultimate strength, because when you forgive unilaterally, you take charge of your situation and refuse to be someone else’s victim any longer.

I have been a priest for 43 years. I can honestly say that the most spiritual experience of my life was not the day I was ordained, not the day I said my first Mass, baptized my first baby, married my first couple, anointed my own mother before she died or presided at my first funeral. The most spiritual experience of my life was the day I decided consciously to forgive and seek forgiveness. I finally realized that taking offense is just as toxic as giving offense.

A Reprint From My For the Record Column
July 21, 2011

Tuesday, May 30, 2023



May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be 
gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Book of Numbers 6:24-26 

I live on a busy street. You can see the world from my front porch. It walks by, drives by and shuffles by like a marvelous circus parade. It is some of the cheapest entertainment available.

Some passers-by are regulars. Some pass by only once. There is the middle-aged woman with a distended belly who walks like she has had one shock treatment too many. There is the scruffy drunk carrying a beat-up, old guitar who likes to aggravate cars with a few in-your-face chords from an old Elvis tune. There is the screaming married couple, with windows rolled down, who decide to have it out with each other while waiting for the traffic light to change. There is the elderly couple, shuffling hand in hand, savoring every squirrel, baby and flower they pass.

There are the U of L athletes, tanned, lean and rippled with muscle, strutting their stuff, proud as peacocks. There is the African-American nurse’s aide from the local hospital with grocery bags in each hand, waiting in the rain for a bus to take her to another day’s work at home. Too tired to stand, she sits on a wet set of steps. There is the overweight, well-intentioned, if not short-lived, jogger who huffs and puffs his way to that leaner and trimmer waistline in his mind’s eye.

What do you see when you see people like these? Do you judge them or bless them? I am embarrassed to admit that I found myself judging some of these people one day as I sat and watched them go by. I was reminded of a line from the movie “On Golden Pond.” Katherine Hepburn says to Jane Fonda when she was terribly frustrated with her aggravating, old father, “If you look closely enough, you will realize that he is doing the best he can.” Remembering that line, I decided to bless those who walked by my house and pray for them. Who knows how lonely, scared, abused or stressed they are? “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Prayer has the power to help those who don’t even know you are praying for them. Why break the “bruised reed?” Why quench the “smoldering candle?” Jesus says, “Do not judge and you will not be judged.” St. Paul says, “The member who hurts the most needs the most attention.”

Judging others, especially those we do not know, is a bad habit that says as much about us as the people we judge. This bad habit can be replaced with the good habit of blessing others. All we have to do is monitor our own thinking, check it and replace it with new thinking. A new world is often only a changed thought away.

A Reprint From My For The Record Column
October 31, 2002

Sunday, May 28, 2023



To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, 
though many, are one body, so also Christ.
I Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

St. Paul is famous for his comparison of the church to a human body! Understanding how the human body works is certainly an effective way to understand the church. Jesus is the head of the body and together we members of the church make up the various other parts. Jesus is the head so we follow him, listen to him, and let him guide our steps, just as own heads do for our own bodies. Likewise, this analogy to a human body acknowledges how good diversity is for the church. The body needs its many parts working together to function properly just as we believers need to work together to accomplish the mission Jesus handed over to us. Rather than expecting everyone to be alike and do the same thing, each of us can contribute to the health of community by using whatever individual gift or talent God has bestowed on us in particular.

St. Paul goes on to explain our diversity this way, “If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Each believer is valuable to the church and each of us is a needed part of the body of Christ. This diversity is something to be celebrated and recognized as part of God’s great design for the church. We have all heard the expression "It runs like a well-oiled machine." That's what St. Paul is trying to tell us about the church today, that just like a healthy body the church needs all its members working together in harmony - like a "well-oiled machine." A disciplined group with a goal, like a “well-oiled machine,” can take on any action it chooses. Through hard work and allegiance to each other, this church can grow and accomplish great things, but only if we support one another and only if we work together as a team.

I just had my annual physical a few weeks ago. The doctor checked out my blood, my heart, my lungs, my joints, my balance, my ears, my eyes and my reflexes and more. He gave me a list of tune-up ideas to help my body continue to function smoothly. He told me that “to get to my goal" I needed to watch my "sugar intake" and to “engage in more vigorous exercise.” These days, because I am headed toward 80, I get maintenance physicals "twice a year" to make sure there are no damaged parts in need of attention.

If healthy parishes are like human bodies, then every member must be active and doing his or her part to serve the rest of the body. One of the things that I have heard over and over again during the Family Life Center project is this: "You can't get anybody to do anything for the parish anymore!" If that were actually true, it would be tragic indeed! If that were actually true, these two parishes would be sick indeed - so sick that they could both be dead in a few more years! Let me be perfectly clear! I do not believe that opinion to be true at all! I believe that what many small parishes have these days is a spiritual leadership crisis. I am not taking about a management crisis. Spiritual leadership is about “doing the right things.” Management is about “doing things right.” As hard as it is, building a parish hall has always been easier than leading a congregation into a deeper level of discipleship. 

Effective spiritual leaders have the ability to influence people to move from where they are to where God wants them to be – the ability to inspire them to become people who willingly serve others. This means that if parishioners are not inspired by their leaders to use their gifts, have their gifts recognized and appreciated, parishioners quickly get used to not offering them. They shut down like any unhealthy organ in the human body putting the rest of the body at risk. Just think how long we would last if our hearts stopped, our digestive systems failed, our lungs no longer functioned, our kidneys quit working? That's exactly what happens when most of the members of the parish are not pulling their weight, playing their part and sharing their gifts to build a community where people can grow closer to God.    

I do not believe that "you can't get anybody to do anything for the parish anymore." I do believe, however, that people will not step up until they are asked to step up and shown that their help has been used, appreciated and found helpful. Managers help do the “right things” right. They organize and manage human resources! I know from 53 years of experience that people will help if the goals are clear and they have committed leaders to guide them! When it is up and running smoothly, the Family Life Center will need a capable manager if its potential is to be unleashed. If people volunteer and no one is in charge, no one is around to answer the phone and they are never trained or shown appreciation, they will soon lose heart, engage in turf wars and finally give up. In a spiritual leadership vacuum, nobody knows what the goals of the parish are! In a management vacuum, the “crazies always take over the asylum” and the situation usually sinks into chaos! 

Friends! I didn't give my life to serve the Catholics of this diocese to see our small faith communities dwindle, shrink and wither away. I have spent time in ten different countries promoting parish revitalization. I have taught the basics of parish revitalization to Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, thousands of priests, hundreds of seminarians quite a few deacons and an unknown number of lay people. I have published books about parish revitalization. I cannot believe that the last fifty-three of my life doing all that has been a waste! What I learned, when I got my doctorate degree in Parish Revitalization from a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago, can be boiled down to this! The bishop doesn't close parishes. Parishes starve to death and then the bishop is forced to close them! The bishop, of course, is always blamed when the real blame should be directed to the parishioners who were absent and withheld their gifts. "Where were you when we needed you?" 

Parishes are like marriages. If both partners do not feed their marriage, it too will die of starvation. Then there is nothing left but divorce. Parishes are like pot luck dinners. If everybody contributes something, the meal is absolutely fabulous, but if most of the parishioners show up only when they are hungry for something (a baptism, a wedding or a funeral), expecting somebody else to have brought enough to feed them then everyone goes hungry, even those who did their part and brought something to the community meal! People who don't do their part tend to treat the parish like an in-and-out fast-food restaurant where quick, easy and cheap is the name of the game! Not too long after that, people stop showing up saying, "I don't go anymore, because I don't get anything out of it!" The real reason they didn't get anything out of it is probably because they never put anything in to it. (I know I am talking to the wrong crowd here because many of you are obviously very involved. The parish owes you its deepest gratitude! I realize that what I am saying should be addressed to the people who are not here!) The death of a starving parish is more like a slow-growing cancer than a quick heart attack!

Let me list a few practical suggestions. (1) Everybody can surely do a little something to strengthen the parish, but if you feel you can't do anything, at least thank those who are doing something and tell them you appreciate what they do for the community! When I restored and revitalized our Cathedral, raising over $22,000,000 (67% from non-Catholics) and helped to grow the parish from 110 members to 2100 members, the work was hard and long which I was happy to lead. What hurt was the fact that out of 120 priests in our diocese only 6 said anything positive to me about it! Thanking those who are doing something motivates them to do more. Withholding gratitude makes the "doers" want to give up and quit! 

(2) “No one has ever become poor by giving.” That is a quote from Anne Frank who gave her life helping hide Jews during the Holocaust. I remember the day when one of the street people that we fed daily at the Cathedral rang the rectory door bell. I assumed he was begging. When I opened the door, he opened his hand with a few coins in it! "Here, Father! I want to donate this to the Cathedral restoration project!" I took it, because I did not want to rob him of the opportunity to be generous too, but I felt ashamed of myself for assuming he was a beggar instead of a donor. I was so moved by his generosity that I actually wanted to cry! 

Give some of your time. Offer some of your talent. Share some of your treasure. Think about leaving something to your parish in your will. Personally, I have already given what I had previously designated in my will to Family Life Center. I wanted to give it to you before I died so I can see some of the good that it will do. When my niece Terry Stull sent me photos of your Confirmation Retreat in the new Family Life Center, I knew that I had done the right thing! There are tax laws that can help you do that without taking anything away from your kids! Talk to a professional! Wouldn't you rather invest in the future of your parish than give it to the tax collectors?

(3) This end of Meade County needs these two parishes! We need everyone to be involved in standing up to the worst tendencies of our culture. Selfishness, laziness and me-me-me are epidemic! We have got to show the next generation how to care for these communities, rather than join the "every dog for himself" way of life that is so very popular right now. Selfishness is not something the government can fix! This epidemic of selfishness, laziness and me-me-me is a serious spiritual disease! Building two thriving parishes, seriously committed to building stronger Christians, is the most effective way I can think of to fight the spiritual diseases that are now infecting even small communities like ours!