Saturday, July 1, 2023


One of my part-time ministries is to celebrate the Eucharist for the Little Sisters of the Poor one or two days each week at their St. Joseph Home for the Aged here in Louisville and celebrate Reconciliation once a month. This was a special local celebration with a few visiting Sisters from other Homes. 

A Prayer for the Elderly in Nursing Homes

“Gracious God, we ask you to bless your children who have grown old. When they can no longer care for themselves, send them loving caretakers who appreciate their wisdom and the richness of their experience.

Send your angels to keep them safe as long as they live and to lead them home to you when their work is done. Bless the families of the elderly with insight and good judgment.

Send your Holy Spirit to help them make wise decisions, and grant them the patience to care for those who once cared for them. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Thursday, June 29, 2023



One of the two bedrooms. Drapes have been installed in the bedrooms and in the dining room since these photos were taken.   

St. Theresa of Avila Church
9245 Rhodelia Road
Payneville, Kentucky 40157


Secretary Available
Tuesdays and Thursdays

Tuesday, June 27, 2023



Be on your guard and be very careful not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart as long as you live, but make them known to your children and to your children’s children.
Deuteronomy 4:9

As many of you know, I am a big fan of shows about frontier Alaska, namely Life Below Zero: First Alaskans. It focuses intently on native Alaskans doing their best to preserve their culture: language, oral history, spirituality and subsistent living skills. They almost seem obsessed about two things: losing their culture through a gradual process of Americanization and the affects of global warming on their ancient ways of life. They tend to "pass on the culture" through hands-on experiences rather than formal education from books. I thought of them recently when I noticed the Deuteronomy quote above.    

What caused me to notice that quote was the fact that I was involved in a similar mission of "passing on the culture."  I have just finished leading the process of giving my old grade school and childhood parish rectory a new mission and a complete renovation. The old school has become a Family Life Center for the whole community and the old rectory has become a Guest House for retreats, visiting priests and presenters in the Family Life Center.   

On the right, as soon as you enter the new museum room at the newly-finished St. Theresa Family Life Center in Rhodelia, there is a sign with those challenging words from Deuteronomy.  

Be on your guard and be very careful not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart as long as you live, but make them known to your children and to your children’s children.

That quote summarizes very well what my intentions were when I talked the Parish Council into turning the old no-longer-used school into a Family Life Center to serve people of all ages in the surrounding community. 

I grew up as a Catholic in Rhodelia in the 1940s and 1950s. I was a member of St. Theresa Church and attended St. Theresa Academy first, then St. Theresa School and finally Cross Roads School when it became a "public school." It was the same school with different names. Growing up, I never knew much about our history. We treated our situation like it had always been there and would always continue to be there! We didn't have much of a sense of our own history. 

Growing up, I didn't know that we had several vocations from our parish: 37 sisters, 8 priests and 1 religious Brother. I didn't know that all of our first pastors were immigrants: Germany, Ireland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and England. I didn't know that my grade school had once been a boarding school for boys and girls as well as a day school. I didn't know that 222 slaves were baptized in St. Theresa Church and attended Mass both in the second log cabin church and the present brick church. I didn't know that slaves most probably helped build the present brick church. I didn't know that some of those slaves were buried in our old St. Theresa Cemetery. I didn't know that the slave mother of America's first known black priest, a saint-to-be, was an active member of our parish until she reached age seventeen when she was forced to move to Missouri by her "owners."  I didn't know that the grandmother and step-grandmother of that same saint-to-be are actually buried in our old cemetery. I didn't know that there was yet another "slave cemetery" over the hill behind the church where others have been buried. 

My original vision was to help revitalize the parish that had been shrinking even though there are new houses on both sides of the road that were never there when I was growing up. The more I studied our history, the more I realized that there was so much I did not know. The more I discovered and uncovered, the more I knew that our path to revitalization would involve teaching the present generation about its own history and about what had been passed on to them that was gradually slipping away. During this process, I met many young adults who have no memory of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth even though 97  of them served there for 123 years! According to my view of the situation, whether this amazing history and this wonderful spiritual tradition is passed on to the next generation, is similar to the one facing many other small faith communities. In many of these small faith communities, securing a hopeful future appears to be little more than wishful thinking unless someone takes some drastic steps now to intervene. 

I am hoping that, by educating the whole community in its own amazing history, these renovations might inspire, motivate and encourage people toward a new enthusiasm for protecting its rich history and securing a prosperous future.  This situation could be yet another classic case of entropy in action. Entropy is the natural process of decay and decline unless there is a stronger force pushing against it.  Upkeep is the absolutely necessary effort for keeping any building or community from falling into ruin.  To put it in non-technical terms, "If you snooze, you lose!" I am hoping this project will be helpful to the two present communities of St. Theresa and St. Mary in their heroic efforts to stay alive going forward.  

In light of what I have said above, I would call myself "traditional." I reject the idea that "traditional" means "wanting to go back in time." To me, "traditional" means "wanting to hand it forward." It was Gustav Mahler, the Austrian conductor and composer of symphonies, who said “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” In this project, I never imagined building a museum that merely celebrated 19th century Catholic Christianity and how it used to be lived in our area. I wanted to help fire-up a two-hundred-year-old community where Catholic Christianity is well-lived today and into the future.  

Sunday, June 25, 2023



Jesus said: "Fear no one. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:26-33

We’ve got to give Jesus some credit! After calling them to follow him, he certainly did not promise his disciples a rose garden! In today’s gospel, part of a longer passage we are reading over several Sundays, Jesus tells his disciples “do not be afraid,” not once, but three times! He speaks about “killing the body,” not once, but twice! It is part of a longer instruction to them before he sends them out to preach and to heal! 

I don’t know about you, but if I had been there, I would have smelled a rat, big time! Who needs to get involved in that kind of bad news? I hate to admit it, but I probably would have run like hell! However, in spite of all the mistreatment that Jesus warns them about, he also tells them that they will be taken care of! “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. So don’t worry; you are worth more than many sparrows.” He sums up his instruction by telling them to be sure to acknowledge God before others during the best of times and the worst of times!

Faithful Catholics, as a member of his church, Jesus sends us out as well and asks us to acknowledge our faith in the best and worst of times. For the church today, these are some of the most unsettling of times we have seen for a long time, which makes acknowledging our faith very difficult on some days! These are rough times, yes, but one of the good things that has come out of this time of trial is that it has forced every Catholic to reevaluate his or her faith! 

Embarrassed, some Catholics have no doubt, thrown in the towel on the church! Even though I find that tragic, I can understand their response and I don't find it surprising. What really surprises me is the fact that many of you are staying and are working through all of this uncertainty! You are the people who keep me going! I have said more than once, I can see that your faith is well placed. Your faith is not, nor has it ever been, in the church's messengers!  The church has always referred to you as “the faithful,” and so you are!  You have loved your priests, no matter how quirky and weak they have been, and I believe that most of you still do! That’s what makes this so painful for you: the realization that someone that you have loved so much could, in their sickness, do harm to children!  The revelation of these events has no doubt shaken your faith, but not destroyed it. Your faith is built on solid rock! It will stand! Jesus asks you today to acknowledge your faith to others in the best and worst of times just like he asked his original followers to do!

Jesus has sent me out as well and has asked me to acknowledge my call in the best and worst of times! I can still remember the days right after the sexual abuse scandal broke in to the open. I caught myself one day putting my hand over my Roman collar at a stop light so nobody could see it. I was embarrassed to be a priest! It still saddens me to remember it! 

In my 52 years of priestly ministry, I have also seen some great times. As a priest, I have experienced some incredibly marvelous things, things I could not have imagined being part of when I was growing up! Yes, I have a few set-backs that I thought I would not live through, but they have been so few compared to the numerous wonderful things, even incredible things! As I trudged through that sexual abuse scandal a few years ago, everything went through my mind. For the very first time, I caught myself imagining what I would do if I were not a priest! It was only momentary, but still it is significant that my mind even went there to begin with! What was shocking, even to me, is that I had even felt a twisted kind of envy, yes envy, of those who were forced out! I knew that some of my brother priests who had lost everything because of their twisted behaviors and were dismissed also experienced a great freedom: with their whole lives exposed, they were finally free of the heavy burden of other people’s expectations, something that those of you who have never been in our shoes as a public person, may not understand.  In spite of those painful days, when all was said and done and when I came to the end of a day’s worrying, I always returned to the fact that that pain was good pain! Children must be protected! Priests must be trusted and those of us who remain must, as St. Paul puts it: “Preach the gospel in season and out of season, whether convenient or inconvenient!” As for me, I am hopefully here to stay, even though I cannot say that I have always been without fear. I am trying to carry on and not be afraid. With God’s help and with the finish line in sight, fear will hopefully not overwhelm me the rest of the trip!

I served the archdiocese as the Vocation Director during the height of the scandal. When I was the local Vocation Director, what did I say to those who might feel called to priesthood? To them, I simply said this. "The church needs you now more than ever!"  To any would-be-priest, in all honesty, I would say this even today! "If you fold in face of every crisis and you collapse every time you face a set-back, you probably should think twice before get into this way of life!" It has always taken some kind of courage to be a priest. I believe that it will take even more courage in the future. As scripture says, “My son, if you seek to serve the Lord, be ready for a battle!” As one-about-to-be-ordained seminarian was quoted in NEWSWEEK magazine a few years ago when a reporter asked him if he was hesitant about going into the priesthood, he said this. "This is the priesthood today - to suffer for things you did not do!" If he was ordained, that young man is no doubt making a fine priest somewhere! Going into it, he was obviously aware of the warning Jesus gave the first group of disciples that he sent out in today's gospel! 

I learned a long time ago that priesthood, whether it is your baptismal priesthood or my ordained priesthood, is actually healthiest when it isn’t a bed of roses! As the old saying goes, “Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!” For me, priesthood has seldom been a bed of roses, but in my book, it has definitely been worth it! Many of you could say the same thing about being a parent. It may not have been a bed of roses every day, but it has certainly been worth it!

My friends, we live in trying times when it comes to remaining faithful Catholics. Many have simply walked away from the church. Being faithful Catholics, we are sometimes attacked and ridiculed for our fidelity. There are indeed many thorny issues dividing us, but in spite of our fear I have met so many fellow Catholics who are trying their best to hang on! They inspire me to hang in there with them! 

I once heard a great preacher compare the church today to being a gigantic egg. I have shared that story with you many times before. He said that some days we wake up and that egg is covered with small cracks - ever widening cracks! Many simply run away for the ensuing mess. Others are running around with tape and string and ladders yelling that it is falling apart and we must do something to hold it together.

That great Catholic preacher suggested, on the other hand, that when the egg starts cracking like that, we need to stand back and let it hatch! We are not dying! We are giving birth! I grew up on a farm and I know that he was right. I know that the dumbest thing you can do when an egg is about to hatch is to try to prevent it! In trying to prevent it from cracking, you can actually smother the new life that is struggling to get out!  

Jesus said to his apostles: "Fear no one! Do not be afraid!