Thursday, July 11, 2024


 I am sure most of you know of Hurricane Beryl that ripped through the Caribbean Islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (where I made 12 trips as a volunteer Caribbean missionary) and caused damage as it made its way all the way up to Texas and beyond. 

While the damage in the islands of SVG goes far beyond this blog-post, completely destroying many homes and some churches, I want to focus mainly on two small churches on two islands where I had led an effort to provide several improvements. At least two churches were completely destroyed in the recent Hurricane Beyl and the other was destroyed in a volcano eruption on St. Vincent in 2021. Other destroyed or damaged churches, school roofs and homes we helped update are not included in this post.   

At least two churches, maybe three, were outfitted with red chairs that had come out of our Louisville Cathedral as part of a major renovation of  island churches: chairs, new ceiling fans, liturgical equipment and, in one case a new fence, gate and floor make-over.      

of our



Immaculate Conception Church on Mayreau Island is part of a three-island parish cluster called Holy Family Parish. The other two churches are Our Lady of the Assumption on Canouan Island and St. Joseph Church on Union Island. 

Notice the large ceiling fans that we installed inside that church! 

Easter Vigil 2022 with visitors and Bishop Gerard County.



New entrance, right before the new tall wrought-iron gates were installed. 
New fence to keep roaming goats out of the parish gardens. 
Thank God, none of these people, of the 50 who took refuge in the church during the hurricane, were killed! 
Parish kids with their Easter Baskets that we sent down. They are holding a sign that says "Thank You Father Ron" meant for all who donated and helped send things down to them. 

The Our Lady of the Assumption on Canouan Island with Cathedral chairs was not destroyed. Both sides of the altar have Cathedral chairs. 
The St. Joseph Church and Rectory on Union Island with some Cathedral chairs and our new ceiling fans with lights was totally destroyed. Photo of that destruction is not available at this time. The new roof and other improvements on the St. Joseph Retreat House, up the hill from the church, suffered severe damage.  
Our new roof on St. Joseph Retreat House being  installed a few years ago was totally ripped off by Hurricane Beryl. 

Our Lady Star of the Sea Church On Saint Vincent Island - Top Floor 
(Episcopal Church - Bottom Floor)

Tim Toms, part of a group from Louisville who made a trip down to the islands and who helped with this project and others, standing in front (above) and sitting in the newly renovated church (this photo) - pre-volcano. 

Notice the new ceiling fans, Stations the the Cross and Statuary and refinished floor. 

You can see the very bottom tip of the crucifix (above) in the yellow wall opening in the center of this picture. 
18 inches of volcanic ash on the roof crushed the new ceiling fans, the Cathedral's old red chairs and most of the liturgical furnishings as it fell in from the weight. It's all crushed under that volcanic ash!


People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

         Inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta.


I thought I had "retired" from work in the Caribbean Missions, but this hurricane breaks my heart. It destroyed much of our work. I feel I have to do something "anyway." If this moves you to help in "anyway," you can send a check made out to ST. BARTHOLOMEW CHURCH - SVG MISSION FUND and I will see that it is deposited in their account at a local TRUIST BANK. I still have some of their deposit slips.  Don't make checks out to me, just send them to me for deposit:

Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court
Louisville, KY 40217

Tuesday, July 9, 2024


Given to the Bishop and Priests of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa
Rev. J. Ronald Knott

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

As I put on this Roman collar, it occurred to me that it has been the source of both joy and pain. At one of the receptions following my ordination, an angry young woman confronted me in front of a circle of friends. “How long did you go to school for that,” she hissed, pointing to my collar. When I answered her, “twenty years counting grade school,” she responded, “My God, you could have been something!” I suppose she meant a doctor or lawyer, but obviously she could not imagine anyone in their right mind choosing priesthood! As a very young priest, I was kicked out of a ministerial association meeting being held in a local church, down in the southern part of the state, when I showed up in it for my first meeting. The host minister left the room when I entered and sent a note back in by his secretary that read, “I can no longer in conscience be part of this group now that it has a Catholic in it! Please leave my church!” During the worst days of the sexual abuse scandal, I caught myself, one day, putting my hand over it at a stop light here in Louisville. It takes a lot of courage to wear a Roman collar these days, so I ask you to lay aside any prejudices or already arrived at conclusions and keep an open mind.

I am a Catholic priest, yes, and very happy being one for over 46 years now. In fact, I am happier today than I was when I started. Let me be clear about one thing, however! That is not an accident. I decided, even before I was ordained, to commit to becoming happier and happier at this as the years rolled by. I decided that if I were going to be a priest, I was going to do all I could to be a happy, effective priest or I was going to get out.  I am still working my program. 

I am a Catholic priest, yes, and very happy being one for over 46 years, but that is not all I am. I like to put it this way. I am consciously Christian, deliberately Catholic and unapologetically ecumenical and interfaith in my approach to life. I have always resonated with this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” This, too, could be a personal belief. I have heard it said that heroism can be redefined for our age as the ability to tolerate paradox, to embrace seemingly opposing forces without rejecting one or the other just for the sheer relief of it, and to understand that life is the game played between two paradoxical goalposts: winning is good and so is losing; freedom is good and so is authority; having and giving; action and passivity; sex and celibacy; income and outgo; courage and fear. Both are true. They may sit on opposite sides of the table, but underneath it their legs are entwined. (Gregg Levoy in "Callings")

I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from a Catholic seminary and doctorate from a Presbyterian Seminary. My spiritual adviser in the last Catholic seminary I attended was a Disciple of Christ minister. As a Catholic seminarian, I worked as a campground minister in Crater Lake National Park for the United Church of Christ. I was a major part of founding two interfaith organizations: an interfaith campus ministry program at Somerset Community College called IF and the Cathedral Heritage Foundation (now called the Center for Interfaith Relations) when I was pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption on Fifth Street. I have attended a bar mitzvah at The Temple, prayed at the mosque on River Road and meditated at a Quaker meeting in Berea. I have taken students of various faith traditions (and none at all) on five trips to the ecumenical monastery in Taize, France. That unique monastery is made up mostly of Protestant monks and only a few Catholic and Orthodox members.) I have close friends who are agnostic and atheist. I am comfortable relating to millionaires and street people – often in the same day. I have preached in Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches. I have been honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. I admire people as diverse as Rev. Kevin Cosby, Christy Brown, Muhammad Ali, the husband and wife Rabbis Raport at The Temple, Catherine Spalding, Jerry Abramson, The Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. My ideas attracted a $2 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to study and address the issues facing priests in their first five years of ministry. Part of the grant enabled me to start a program to help international priests acclimate to American culture. They now make up 30% of all of us. As a result, I have been able to meet and interact with hundreds of these men from over twenty countries. I know people from all over the world and interact with them almost every week. I am proud that I can do all that, be a firmly committed Catholic and be at the top of my game as an effective priest at 72 years of age. I do it because I work at it. 

I love having all this variety in my life. I have always believed that those who agree with us bring us comfort, but those who disagree with us bring us growth. All this variety in life has expanded my mind. I have a high tolerance for different perspectives, but I have no tolerance for bigots, meanness, cruelty, laziness and whining. Whiny priests, especially, get on my nerves! As I tell my fellow priests and their bishops when I have spoken to them in a hundred dioceses in nine countries over the last several years: “If you are happy, speak up! If you are not happy, find a way to get happy! If you can’t find a way to get happy, then do the rest of us a favor and shut up!” (You have to blunt with priests to get their attention.) I haven’t been shot yet so I will probably keep doing it! 

I am proud of my happiness level today, yes, but I want to repeat – it is not an accident! I made a commitment many years ago, with God’s help, to be where I am today. I believe with all my heart that “change is inevitable, growth intentional.” 

One of the quotes that guides me in all this is one from George Bernard Shaw. "This is the true joy in life...the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

I was born at home, on April 28, 1944, in a very small, very rural town, along the Ohio an hour down-river from Louisville, in Meade County. Almost dead on arrival, I was delivered by my country midwife grandmother. As a result, I have been fighting for life from day one! 

The most courageous thing I did as a young man was to leave that small town in 1958 and come up here to Louisville to go the old St. Thomas Seminary out on Brownsboro Road. I knew I wanted to be a priest in the second grade and never changed my mind after that. The problem was that I could not get adults to take me seriously. My parents neither encouraged or discouraged me. They thought I was going through a phase and that I would outgrow it in time. My pastor refused to fill out the papers for me to go to the seminary until I begged. He relented after predicting I’d be home before Christmas. I was only fourteen. Even as I was leaving that little town, a couple of adults made bets in front of others that I would not finish my first year. I was almost thrown out of the seminary in my second year of high school. The Rector called me a “hopeless case” to my face and threatened to send me home. He relented only after I cried for a second-chance. His last words to me five years later, in front of the whole class, were: “Knott, you have been a ball and chain around my leg for six years!” My experience of the St. Thomas Seminary approach to seminary formation was, “We know you are a fatally flawed human being and we will eventually prove it!” 

I next went to the Benedictine run St. Meinrad Seminary over in Indiana just north of Tell City. My experience of the St. Meinrad approach to seminary formation was, “We know you have gifts and talents and we will keep digging till we find them and help you make them grow!” When I arrived there in 1964, their approach scared me even more than the St. Thomas Seminary approach because I thought if they were to dig, they would find out that I didn’t have any talents! I responded by trying to become invisible. 

Their approach obviously began to seep into my subconscious because the most courageous thing I did as a seminarian during those years was to stand up to my own cowardice. I grew up believing that "life is something that happens to you and all you can do about it is to accept it.” As a result, I arrived at St. Meinrad Seminary, twenty years old, extremely bashful, backward and scared of life. However, one day on a fire-escape, during a smoke break, I blurted out a decision I had made somewhere in the very depths of my soul to a friend of mine from Indianapolis. “Pat, I am so damned tired of being bashful, backward and scared that I am going to do something about it, even if it kills me!” 

On that fire escape that day, I decided to take charge of my own happiness and quit blaming other people for the way I experienced life. Realizing there was no recue party out looking for me, I decided to quit waiting to be rescued. I decided, to paraphrase the words of George Bernard Shaw, “to be a force of nature, rather than a feverish little clod of grievances and ailments, always complaining that the world will not get together and make me happy.” I decided to quit playing the blame game and make myself happy, no matter what pastoral assignment I got, no matter who the bishop was, no matter what ideological direction the church or country took! I started with baby steps and moved deliberately and courageously toward bigger and bigger steps. The rest is history. I have been working my program ever since and I am still working it today! I plan to keep working it till God calls me home! Thanks to that "fire escape decision" I am still making the decision daily to live deliberately, consciously and on purpose. I have soared beyond my wildest imaginations! Because of that “fire escape” decision, I went from being too bashful to read in front of my classmates to being an international public speaker! I have been the featured speaker in over 100 week-long programs in 9 countries. Because of time, I have so far turned down speaking engagements in Singapore, India, Tonga and Nigeria. Because of that “fire escape” decision, I have gone from crippling self-doubt to being honored as a recognized leader in my profession. 

I have learned that indeed change is inevitable, but growth intentional. The opposite of intentional growth is “spiritual suicide.” I would define “spiritual suicide” as the result of always saying “no” to opportunities to change, to grow and to learn. I have learned that to live deliberately, consciously and on purpose, one has to stand up to one’s own laziness and cowardice and make a passionate commitment to personal and vocational excellence – to who one is and what one does! We have to stand up to those discounting voices inside our own heads, as well as those coming out of the mouths of the people around us. 

I also believe that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I believe with all my heart that when we really commit to personal and professional growth, God shows up to help. W. H. Murray, in one of my all-time favorite and useful quotes, says this: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” 

The latest manifestation is the decision to take charge of my own retirement rather than leave it up to my diocese to take care of it for me. Actually I have been taking charge of my retirement since ordination. For one thing, I wanted to own my own home by the time I retired so I started saving for it back in 1970. That is only one of many of my goals set years ago that have been met! 

When I retired two years ago, I knew one thing for sure. I did not want to look at retirement as a time to lay back, relax and start dying. I was not interested in playing golf every day, puttering around the yard or hanging out at the local McDonald’s with other old men who gossip till noon every day on free coffee! I wanted a Dylan Thomas kind of retirement. The poet Dylan Thomas said this: “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” In the words of Shauna Niequist, “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift!”

I want retirement to be about “re-inventing myself.” I want to keep on living deliberately, consciously and on purpose. I do not want to continue hanging on to the stuff that I have always done – but just turning down the dial a bit. I want to keep serving in a new way with a renewed passion. I want to pick and choose what I want to do, but I still want to do! I want to be personally interested and interesting. I want to burn out, not rust out! Yes, I want to live what’s left of my life, deliberately, consciously and on purpose – just as I made up my mind to do, that day on the fire escape, back in college. 

So far, I am as busy as ever, but I have the luxury now of saying “yes” or saying “no.” I haven’t even waited around to be asked if I want to do this or that! I created my own plan and an organization to carry it out. I still write a weekly column for our diocesan paper. The Record, because I still enjoy it after fourteen years of doing it weekly. I am committed into 2018 to lead priests retreats in the United States, Canada and a few other countries because I am still being invited, because it is extremely interesting and because I can make some good money doing it to fund my new organization for retired people like myself. I am now volunteering down in the Caribbean, most especially the poor country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, off the coast of Venezuela. I have made four trips already and I have two more on the calendar this fall. 

My new organization is called the Catholic Second Wind Guild. Even though it has the word “Catholic” in the name because we need to be connected to some structure and organization down there, it is open to people of all faiths. or no faith at all, because we serve the poor and struggling regardless of their religious affiliation or lack of it. Remember, I consider myself as “consciously Christian, deliberately Catholic, but also unapologetically ecumenical and interfaith.” 

“Second wind” is a phenomenon in distance running whereby an athlete who is too out of breath and too tired to continue, suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance. 

Traditionally, a “guild” was a group of professional artisans and craftsmen engaged in the same occupation who would associate themselves together for protection, mutual aid and service. These guilds performed other services for their members as well as the community at large.

Fundamentally, Second Wind is different from those typical volunteer organizations who take youth to places like that to paint and fix up individual homes. It is more of a clearing house for teams of retired professionals who want to use their talent, connections and resources to strengthen the lives of people down there by strengthening existing service organizations by targeting specific projects. (Volunteering in a warm climate in the winter doesn’t hurt either.) The first team of retired professionals is gradually coming together for a possible trip down in September. Our first project is to renovate the pastoral center in Kingstown so that it will be a comfortable and clean place out of which these teams of retired professionals can operate. So far we have three professional couples, one single and myself. I am still looking for professionals from the corporate world of kitchen equipment and furniture to complete the team. If any of you would like to learn more, or have any connections along these lines, please contact me. 

What I have tried to say today is this, change is inevitable, but growth has to be intentional. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but there are still a lot of things we can. We can be one of those people who believe that life is something that happens to them or we can be one of those people who is a “force of nature,” as Shaw called them. We can be one of those people who choose to live deliberately, consciously and on purpose – not only when we are young and starting out, but also when we go into retirement. Even in sickness and times of great loss, we can still choose our response to life’s challenges. One of my heroes, Victor Frankl who survived the Nazi prison system, noted this basic truth. “The last of the human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s response to any given situation.” In retirement, I choose to keep serving other people over pampering myself. 

I don’t know how I got invited today or why, but I am honored to be here. However, I don’t believe it is an accident that I am here today. It is serendipitous that your purpose of bringing together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world dovetails with my mission in retirement. Your mottoes of "Service above self" and "One profits most who serves best" resonates deep within my own heart. Thank you!















































Sunday, July 7, 2024


Where did this man get all this? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?
Are his relatives not here with us? And they took offense at him!
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place."\
Mark 6:1-6

Let me get right to the point! I resonated right away when I read this gospel in preparation for this homily because I am very familiar with how Jesus felt in this story. It is a story about how "familiarity breeds contempt." I have been there and experienced that! Before telling you about my experience, and referring to some of your experiences, let me tell you about how this scene unfolded and then I will end with suggesting to you what we could all learn from it!

By coming home to Nazareth, Jesus surely knew that he was about to face his severest critics since everyone knew him and his family all too well! He wasn't just there to see his old hometown and visit some family members. By coming home, surrounded by his disciples, he came as a rabbi! He came, not as a carpenter, but as a teacher! His teaching was met with a kind of contempt - sort of "we know you" and "who do you think you are?" They were scandalized that a man who had come from such a humble background would speak the way he spoke and do the things he was doing! It says their response to him was this not "welcome home," but "they took offense at him!"

They would not give him a warm welcome and listen to him for two reasons. He was just a humble carpenter. He was a just simple man of the people. He was just a layman and there here he was, up in the synagogue pulpit, preaching to the very people who had known him from childhood! They were too familiar with Jesus to realize his greatness! It just went "over their heads!" 

What was Jesus's response to the response he was getting? He quoted an old saying they would have all been familiar with! "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." Their response was so crippling for Jesus that we are told that "he was not able to perform any mighty deed there," as he had done in other places. This episode ends with Jesus being "amazed at their lack of faith" and ultimately moving on to teach in the other villages of the vicinity.

I, too, came from a humble background. Rhodelia had about 27 residents when I was growing up. I was told by one of my teachers, as an altar boy, that I would "probably never be any good around the altar." As a high school seminarian, I was called a "hopeless case" by the minor seminary rector who threatened to send me home.  As an ordained priest, one of my fellow priests here in Louisville said about my list of published books, "Oh! That Knott! He has never had a thought that he didn't publish!" As a priest, I have had several amazing experiences: from a home missionary to a country pastor, from a Cathedral rector to a weekly columnist, from a vocation director to a campus minister, from a seminary staff member to a parish mission preacher, from an international priest convocation speaker to a volunteer foreign missionary in the Caribbean. I have had amazing support from lay people, from the community at large and from a variety of parishioners, but a strange silence from most of my fellow priests here at home. I have noticed it, but I never let it bother me all that much! Lay people and priests from other dioceses have given me the support I have needed! I have always understood the truism that "a prophet is not without honor except in his native place." As the world-famous Chicago priest writer, Father Andrew Greeley, once wrote about his own experience as a diocesan priest from Chicago, “To be a member of good standing, a priest must try not to be too good at anything or to express unusual views or criticize accepted practices or even to read too much. Some ideas are all right, but too many ideas are dangerous.” When he won a prestigious national award for his published writing, I wrote to congratulate him. He wrote back, believe it or not, telling me that from the 900 or so priests of Chicago, he had heard from only two priests – the Archbishop of Chicago and me!  Indeed, “a prophet is not without honor except in his native place." 

Now, what can we all learn from this gospel with its message that "familiarity breeds contempt?"

First, I am reminded of that quote from Mark Twain that every parent of a teenager can resonate with! At that age, they begin to have contempt for what has grown so familiar and begin to separate from what they know into a self-actualized person. Surely, this sounds familiar to many of the parents here today? Mark Twain wrote, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Second, during my project of turning my old parish grade school the last couple of years, I was amazed at how many people who grew up in that little community and could not wait to get out, all of a sudden got very interested in preserving their history. As they walked down its old hallways and saw their old photos displayed on new canvasses, the contempt they had for their humble backgrounds, all of a sudden, became prized nostalgic memories they wanted so badly to preserve! I learned, too, that so many of them have also made plans to be buried "back home" in the community they so long ago wanted to escape, just as I have done! I am reminded of the old country song, "The Green Grass of Home." Here are a few of the lyrics from the Tom Jones version. "The old home town looks the same as I step down from the train. It's good to touch the green, green grass of home. The old house is still standing tho' the paint is cracked and dry. And there's that old oak tree that I used to play on. Yes, they'll all come to see me in the shade of that old oak tree as they lay me 'neath the green, green grass of home."

Third, how many times have we priests been called to the hospital to anoint a non-practicing Catholic who is desperate to reconnect to the faith they had rejected and for which they had shown so much contempt! It is always a "sacred moment" to be able to assure them that they may have turned away from the church, but God had never turned away from them! I like to read them the story we call "The Prodigal Son," which should be called the story of "the Loving Father." The wayward son in that parable, who had shown such contempt for his father and his own home, is not the hero of the story simply because he came home! The hero is God who had been watching the road all along for his little boy to come home so that he could again shower him with hugs and kisses!

My friends, just as the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus because they thought they knew everything about him, and their perceptions were so low, many of us become so familiar with what we think we know about other people, what we think about familiar situations and what we think about the things of the past, that we miss the miracles and wonders right under our noses! As the famous British-Indian scientist, J.B.S. Haldane, once said, "The world shall perish, not for a lack of wonders, but from our lack of wonder!" This is why Jesus began his ministry, not with changing things, but with calling people to change the way they see things and other people– the wonders right in front of us!