St. Theresa Heritage Partners NEWSLETTERS

ISSUE #4  •  DECEMBER 2021



The painting below is entitled: St. Theresa, Meade County, Mooleyville, Ky. Christmas 1925. The artist is F. Lamar Egart, a great grandson of George Jean Egart and Frances Brown Egart. This artwork is another example of the affection for St. Theresa Church Community, that so many members and alumni have.


With the change of seasons, I’m reminded of the quote from Thomas Merton, deceased monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Ky. “It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place. No one will ever be able to say how essential how truly part of a genuine life this is.” 
 
All of us who grew up in the Community of St. Theresa Church and attended school at Cross Roads, can identify with this quote from Merton. Our lives cycled through the seasons, from birth, through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. We lived in this one good place surrounded by family, relatives and friends. We remember the woods coming alive in the Kentucky Spring, and the smell of the soil when first plowed. We are people who love the earth. Summer came and the fields filled up with fat cattle and crops; gardens gave us food for the table that no “store- bought” vegetables could equal in taste. Autumn, was a time of full barns, full canning jars, and enough meat in the freezer to feed an army. Winter slowed things down, and blessed us with scenes of stark beauty that imprinted permanently in our minds. 

Not all was sunshine and roses. We suffered losses and deaths with our neighbors. There is sweet remembrance in walking through the Church cemetery, where the people who walked faithfully by our side, now rest in this place that we love.

Sr. Margaret Mary Vessels wrote this to me in a letter dated October 13, 1971. She and Sr. Samuel O’Bryan are two of the parish daughters who became Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. “As far as Sister Samuel and me are concerned, St. Theresa’s is the finest place on earth.”
 
In this newsletter, we have some first installments of what we hope will be an ongoing project of gathering the stories and memories of the St. Theresa community, past and present. Many of us share that same bias, which you will find expressed so well in the family memories of this edition. Enjoy! Keep the tradition of story-telling alive.

Fr. Bud Ray, editor

Christmas tidbit: The present log stable that houses the nativity figures for St. Theresa was made in 1962 by Louis Ray, while Fr. Gee (Art Grottenthaler) was pastor. Louis Ray, was the maintenance man and grounds keeper. Louis and Rita and their family lived in the old rectory.

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For the Love of St. Theresa Parish
Dayle (Heavrin) Riley, daughter of Herman and Ella Heavrin

I was baptized, made my first Holy Communion, confirmed and married at St. Theresa Church in Rhodelia, Ky. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out my DNA is made up of large pieces of St. Theresa. So much of my youth included connections with this church and Cross Roads School. It seemed that so many activities included one or both, they were interchangeable. Same families, same friends, same neighbors—all working together to raise funds and help one another.

My Mom helped clean the church, as did so many other women of the parish. All my five brothers probably served as altar boys; we sang in the choir, contributed to and worked at parish picnics and school programs. We attended parish missions during the week. If the church doors were open, we Heavrin kids joked, that Mom made sure we were usually there. If Dad was working, we’d catch a ride with Mr. Lee Burch, since Mom didn’t drive.

The good people of St. Theresa Church and Cross Roads School raised and taught us all well. We were blessed and all my memories are good.
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Mary Elaine (Barr) Miller, daughter of Fred and Celestine Barr

Actually, my story about why I love my beloved St. Theresa so much, in part, started way before me. Many years before, in fact. My great-grandfather, with his uncle, came to America from France at the age of 10. He later learned the trade of cabinet maker, worked four years helping to build the Abbey Church at Gethsemani and later was asked by the architect, William Kelly (whom I think designed the Cathedral in Louisville) to help with the completion of St. Theresa, Rhodelia and our beautiful altars. My grandmother was one of his nine children. 

I cannot imagine living any place else but the St. Theresa Community. I was born and raised here, married and raised our family here. We all received our sacraments at this Church. Our parishioners are more than friends and neighbors, they are family. There is so much love and support among the people.

We feel very blessed to have our priests and have our parish still active. We mourn the loss of having our Sisters of Charity actually living among us, after so many wonderful years but we still have great connections with them and they give us so much support.

Sometimes I wonder where things will be years down the road, but I think our parish has “good bones” which will hopefully keep us strong and faithful for many years to come. And I pray we never forget or take for granted what our ancestors have handed down to us.

It is always heart warming to see former parishioners and friends return to worship with us and give us their support. May God continue to bless us all.
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Mary Ann Rhodes Miller, daughter of Edwin Lee and Dorothy Rhodes

So many wonderful memories that I hold in my heart and have for all the years behind me and I pray more years ahead. I go back to my grade school young years when I was a student in the old Academy and recall the wonderful teachers—the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth—and all the lifelong friends. St. Theresa’s was THE place for our education, get togethers for fun times Sunday night movies (in Johnson Hall with my “Pa” grandfather Carlisle Manning operating the movie projector), pie suppers and annual picnic dinners serving ice tea, embroidering pillow cases for the Country Story stand, and as I grew older, helping in the bingo stand where corn was used to cover the numbers with Robert Riggle calling. Not to forget the weekly choir practices with Sister James Anthony directing the singing of the Mass and hymns in Latin, Mary Jean Mattingly playing the organ, and the older choir members, to name a few—Rose Manning, Florence and Geraldine Rhodes, and many others we looked up to.

To this day, I cherish growing up in St. Theresa’s Parish where attendance at Church was of utmost importance, thanks to our parents and grandparents, who also attended school there. I still enjoy going back home for all the picnics and other celebrations. Beautiful memories; how blessed I am!
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The Speaks Family and St. Theresa/Cross Roads School

Molly Speaks Fackler, daughter of Corbett and Leta Speaks, summarized the reflections of her siblings. This is an abbreviated version.

Corbett and Leta Speaks grew up near Mooleyville, Ky. and knew each other all their lives, though they attended different schools, but the same church, St. Theresa of Avila. Dad served in the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) as a 16 year- old to support his family during the Depression. He worked in the western U.S., was clothed, fed and sheltered and in return, money was sent home to his family.

After serving in WWII in the infamous Battle of the Bulge, Joseph Corbett Speaks and Leta Lucille Pike wed May 15, 1946 at St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky. Mom had graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy and worked in Louisville during the war. Ma (Grandmother Speaks) had a Mass said for Dad often and prayed the Rosary throughout the day for his safe return from the war. I believe, as a sign of her faithfulness, the war in the European Theater ended on May 7, the day before her birthday. My parents’ courtship began with letters during the war.

All of us eleven children were baptized, made their first Confessions and Communion and Confirmed at St. Theresa of Avila Church. We all attended Cross Road School where there were two grades per classroom with each Sister of Charity teacher. Dad worked at Olin Chemical Co. and farmed. Mom had the Post Office in our home at Mooleyville. 

Mom never had strict post office hours. She realized that in a community of farmers, people worked long hours; she would always accommodate those who came to the office after cark on a summer evening. 

All of us children remembered and appreciated the lunchroom ladies who cooked our daily school lunches from scratch. And the food was wonderful!!!From Catherine Redmon’s oatmeal cake to Reba Nevitt, Sally Mary Nevitt and Ruth Speaks’ vegetable beef soup and chili. Not one child ever refused the lunches, both nutritious and delicious. 
 
We also fondly remember the time that all four nuns came to Mooleyville right after a snow storm. Mom and Dad had gone for our sister Ginny’s birth at the hospital in Elizabethtown, instead of the Clinic run by Drs. Naser and Cole. Ma And Pa Speaks lived next to our home to care for us. Mariam recalls looking out the window and saw the nuns parked at the corner, trudging through the snow and wanting to go sleigh riding on the hill. We only had car hoods with which to sleigh ride. The nuns wore their long black habits with rosary beads hanging from the waist and veils on their heads. They rode the car hoods with our family and all the kids in the neighborhood. The Shelmans, Heavrins, Nevitts, Swinks came for the fun, with the boy having to pull that heavy old car hood up the hill after each ride. Sister David Clare, at her ninetieth party, remembered that day to Mariam who said she would give anything to have a video of the nuns’ veils flapping in the wind as the sailed down the steep hill on the car hood! It was probably the first time any of their students had ever seen the humanity of the nuns wanting to have fun!

When our youngest sibling, Ginny began first grade, she suddenly did not want to return to school. When Mom questioned her reason, Ginny replied that Sister was mean to her friend and it hurt her to witness it. 

Mom assured her, that if she returned to school, Mom would discuss with Sister and correct the situation. The situation was corrected and Mom was happy that her youngest child could recognize bullying, and even at her age, trusted Mom to correct her dilemma. Ginny and all of us learned to defend those who needed it. It was a life lesson!

We all remembered playing on the playground and when the Angelus bells rang at noon, we were taught to immediately stop and pray the Angelus prayer. And woe to the person who failed to follow the rule. Our cue to return to play was the cessation of the bellringing.


On November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was shot, Sister Mary Clement sent an eighth- grade boy (Ike Knott) to all the classrooms to advise the teachers of the event. The Sisters asked the students to kneel and pray for the President. Shortly, Ike Knott returned to advise the Sisters of the President’s demise. We all remember that day, where we were, and how our teachers from elementary to high school reacted. All were sad, though no one really knew the ramifications of that fateful day.

We all remembered the school plays, choir practice, singing at funeral masses, one hour per week for religious education. Sr. Peter Edward ran the track program. Sr. David Clare began the roller skating parties in the Meade Breck Center. Some of our siblings played basketball, others were cheerleaders for the Crossroads Demons.

St. Theresa parish sponsored a Vietnamese family around 1975, placing a mobile home next to the rectory. The children attended our school. Their mother was here, but their father remained in Vietnam, not be allowed to accompany his family to the U.S. The mother was an excellent seamstress.

As teens, we had a teen club and special dances in the parish hall. As a seminarian, Fr. Bud helped us all summer to organize and decorate for these themed dances. In those days we had a live band to play for us. Money was collected as members of the teen club paid their dues. Many of the parents chaperoned the dances which usually ended at midnight. 
 
These are just a few memories of growing up in Mooleyville, Ky. and attending St. Theresa Church and Crossroads School. We were always safe, had plenty to eat, friends and siblings to play with, and we knew our boundaries. Those were innocent times that gave us a great start to our lives before we went in many directions toward adulthood.
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Memories from a descendent of George Jean Egart
Sister Naomi Elder, SCN, daughter of John Elder and Viola Elder.
Great-granddaughter of George Jean Egart
Granddaughter of Edwin F. Egart
Dated October 18, 2021


(Below) Sister Naomi, age 94, is the last living daughter of St. Theresa Church who became a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. She lives at the Motherhouse in Nazareth, Ky.


Sister Naomi gives us her brief genealogy. So many St. Theresa families and St. Mary Magdalene families as well, branch out of these two ancestral families.

“My family roots on both sides are deeply grounded in St. Theresa Parish. I am the eighth generation in direct line to the first Elder to come to St. Theresa area from Charles County Maryland. William Elder, (William Elder, first; William Elder, second; William Elder, third; Pius Lily Elder, fourth; Creighton Elder, fifth; Thomas Edward Elder, sixth; John Russell Elder, seventh (my daddy); and my generation eighth. My mother’s mother was Melissa Hilarian O’Bryan; she had sisters Nell and Bess; brothers Robert and Junius.”

The Egart family came to St. Theresa’s through George Jean Egart, from Alsace, Lorraine. His father was a tanner. His mother’s name was Margaret Esselgrot. He came to the USA with his uncle to avoid conscription, at age eleven. They came through the port of New Orleans. In Louisville he worked for a furniture company where the architect who built the Cathedral in Louisville and the Abbey Church at Gethsemani, probably got to know him.”

Sister Naomi’s Christmas Memories

The physical preparation for Christmas at the John Elder family home always began December 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day. The weather would be cold; we would dress warmly; go into the woods to find a young sapling cedar for our St. Nicholas tree. Arriving back home, we planted the small tree in the window flower box outside the living room window. Under this little tree we secured our letters to St. Nicholas. After dark, we began the watch for signs of activity from St. Nicholas. 
 
Anxiety began mounting; mother would counsel us to be quiet so as not to scare St. Nichols away. Light from the burning lamp in the living room gave us a good view of the tree. Right at bedtime, after hours of watching, a gloved hand would reach out of the darkness and quickly pick up our letters to St. Nicholas. With that, we knew St. Nicholas had found our house and would surely bring us presents. The next morning there would be a generous bag of candy alongside the little St. Nicholas tree. From then on, we were careful to behave as good children do before Christmas.

The real preparation for Christmas at our house began with the first Sunday of Advent and culminated with the eve of December 25th, when the whole family decorated the living Christmas tree. Presets were not placed under the tree as Santa Claus had not yet come down the chimney. We knew that would happen after we were all asleep in slumber land. The next morning, December 25th the first child to awaken was the first to find presents under the tree. However, no presents were opened until we had celebrated Mass at St. Theresa Church, came home from Mass, had a hurried breakfast followed by opening of gifts from Santa Claus.

Christmas was not over yet. My maternal great-grandfather came to America when he was an eleven- year- old boy. After some years learning and earning his way in the United States from his birth home in Alsace Lorraine he came to Kentucky with the architect to build St. Theresa brick church. His name was George Jean Egart. He spoke German though both French and German were spoken in Alsace Lorraine. Christmas for hi as a child was the arrival of Kris Kringle. To continue the tradition of Kris Kringle in our family it was celebrated on New Year’s Day when my grandfather gave us small German gifts.
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Sr. Mary Ancilla gave this Christmas card to St. Theresa’s First and Second Grade children around 1949-50. Glad to share my 71 year-old Christmas card with you.


From Fr. George Illikkal and all the staff at St.Theresa, from Fr. Ron Knott and myself, to the St. Theresa and St. Mary Magdalene communities, and the St. Theresa Heritage Partners, we wish you a Happy and Holy Christmas.

Fr. Bud Ray

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ISSUE #3  •  OCTOBER 2021

Phase 1: Building Exterior Completed

Help Needed to Complete Phase 2: the Interior



PRELIMINARY DESIGNS OF THE INTERIOR


ENTRY
CAFE/KITCHEN/LECTURE HALL
STAFF OFFICE
HALL GALLERY
SMALL GROUP MEETING ROOM
MEETING/EDUCATION ROOM

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GIVING OPPORTUNITIES

Saint Theresa Family Life Center 

The following project areas might be “adopted” by individuals, one family or several related families pooling their gifts together. These figures do not reflect actual costs. They are simply reflections of parts of the overall costs covering expenses for electrical, plumbing, lighting, finishes (flooring and painting) and furnishings.

Kitchen and Cafe/Lecture Hall - $20,000.00 -ADOPTED 
Hallway Photo Gallery - $10,000.00 - ADOPTED 
New flagpole - $1,000 - ADOPTED
7th and 8th Grade Classroom (Museum Space) - $10,000 - ADOPTED 

1st and 2nd Grade Classroom (Meeting Room) - $10,000 
3rd and 4th Grade Classroom (Meeting Room) - $10,000 
5th and 6th Grade Classroom (Staff Offices 1, 2, 3 ) - $5,000 each
 
Men’s Restroom - $10,000 
Women’s Restroom - $10,000 
Remodel of Storage and Supply Annex - $1,000 

Pastor’s Office and Furnishings - $10,000 
Parish Secretary’s Office and Furnishings - $8,000 
Entry Reception-Waiting Area - $1,000 

Large Flat Screen TV for the Café/Lecture Hall - $2,000 
Audio-Visual Equipment for 3 Classroom - $1,500 each 
Assortment of small kitchen appliances - $1,500 
Assortment of commercial pots and pans - $1,500 
Assortment of commercial dishes, glassware and flatware - $1,500 

New Family Life Center Sign - $1,000 
5 Porch Planter Boxes - $300 each 
6 Sidewalk Path Lights - $200 each 
10 Porch rockers - $200 each

GENERAL CONSTRUCTION AND FURNISHING EXPENSES 
Gifts can be as small or large as one is capable. 

OPERATIONAL ENDOWMENT AFTER COMPLETION 
Gifts can be as small or large as one is capable.

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To Get the Job Done We Need All Hands on Deck

Our new Saint Theresa Family Life Center is about to go into a critical stage. Phase One (the outside) is basically finished and paid for and the plans for Phase Two (the inside) will be ready to go to construction soon, but we do not have all the funds needed. The Archdiocese will not give its approval to proceed until we have the funds in hand.

We need some large, medium and small donors. Consider donating personally and, if you cannot donate much, ask others you know with, or without, connections to St. Theresa to help us out. Try pooling your gifts with your extended family to “adopt” part of the project as a group. If your family is not that big, partner with other families to whom you are related. Usually, all it takes is for a couple of people to lead the process of contacting and asking the others.

I have done, and will continue to do, my part. Help us out here by doing your part in talking it up and doing as much asking as you can until we reach our goal. We have had a marvelous start. The families of this community need what our new Family Life Center will be offering. Let’s all get behind protecting our rich history and securing its future. Yes, we can do this!

Make checks payable to St. Theresa Church and send to:
Rev. Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court #106
Louisville, KY 40217

jrknott@bellsouth.net / 502-303-4571

 
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ISSUE #2  •  AUGUST 2021


THE OLD SAINT THERESA - CROSS ROADS SCHOOL

On June 26, construction began on the new Saint Theresa Heritage Partners’ first project – turning the old school into a new Saint Theresa Family Life Center to house programs serving all ages in the families of the whole community. Excitement is building as it slowly evolves. 

THE NEW SAINT THERESA FAMILY LIFE CENTER

Construction Progress
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SAINT THERESA FAMILY LIFE CENTER
MUSEUM OF HISTORICAL PHOTOS

With a $10,000.00 grant from the Sisters of Charity, the walls of the hallway of the new Family Life Center will feature a historic photo museum of early missionaries, pastors, Sisters, parishioners and students, as well as some of the religious Sisters, priests and a Brother who came from Saint Theresa Church. Father Knott has been working hard to gather old photos and will continue to do so over the next year. He is interested in seeing some of your old parish photos – the older the better. Call him (502-303-4571) before you send them to be copied so that a determination can be made as to their possible usefulness. Below is a sample.

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SAINT THERESA HERITAGE PARTNERS
We Are Going to Need Your Help Very Soon


Thanks to a major gift from Father Ronald Knott and a few of his friends outside the parish, Phase One of the school renovation has been underwritten! With those funds secured, the Archdiocese of Louisville gave us permission to begin Phase One (the outside) of our project. It started on June 26, 2021.

Phase Two (the inside) of our project is in the planning phase. We will need some generous gifts from our Saint Theresa Heritage Partners soon, especially a few major gifts. We need to have the funds in hand before the Archdiocese will approve our moving into Phase Two. We are on a roll! Let’s get it done!

If you can help, please call Fr. Ronald Knott (1-502-303-4571 jrknott@bellsouth.net) or Fr. Robert Ray
(1-502-216-9290 rray@twc.com).

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ISSUE #1  •  MAY 2021

A TWENTY-EIGHT YEAR OLD DREAM

Given at the 175th Anniversary Celebration of St. Theresa Church, September 26, 1993 

Rev. Ronald Knott


Introduction

I am always deeply honored to be invited back home to preach, but especially this time; the 175th anniversary of the founding of our parish! This is truly an historic occasion! This is indeed holy ground! A special welcome to my famous “roommate,” Archbishop Kelly, and to my fellow priests also from this parish, as well as to any of the Sisters who came from here or served here. 

Every time I stand in this pulpit, I am reminded of the gospel that I just read. I realize that it is pretty nervy to compare oneself to Jesus, but there are some obvious similarities here. Jesus is back in his home town of Nazareth. He is invited to read the Scriptures and give the homily. As he began his homily, “all present spoke favorably of him; they marveled at the appealing discourse that came from his lips.” They also asked, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” But in the second half of the homily, Jesus stepped on some toes. He said some things they did not want to hear. “At these words the whole audience in the synagogue was filled with indignation. They rose up and expelled him from the town, leading him to the brow of the hill on which it was built and intending to hurl him over the edge.” 

Today, I want to do two things. I want to talk about the past and I want to talk about the future. You may “marvel at the appealing discourse that comes from my lips” as I review our glorious past. You may even ask yourselves, “Is this not Jim and Ethel’s boy?” But you may not marvel at some of the things I am about to say about your future. You may even want to drag me to the hill behind Joe Ray’s place and throw me into the river! So I left my truck running in the parking lot, just in case! 

I. The Past

I come to you today as both a son of the parish and as somewhat of a specialist in reviving old churches. I am up to my eyeballs in trying not only to restore an old cathedral building, but also trying to revive a congregation that almost died out. The similarities between these two places are many. Fr. Badin, the first U.S. priest, gathered both congregations: St. Theresa in 1805 and St. Louis (our original name) in 1806. St. Theresa Parish has had three churches, the first of which was built in 1818. The Cathedral Parish has had three churches, the first of which was built in 1811. Bishop Flaget, our first bishop, consecrated both of our second churches: St. Theresa in 1827 and St. Louis in 1831. He is buried in the Cathedral undercroft. Bishop Spalding consecrated both of our third churches: St. Theresa in 1861 and the Cathedral in 1852. The famous architect William Keely designed both St. Theresa Church and the Cathedral. (By the way, I was pastor of Bishop Spalding’s home parish in Calvary from 1980-1983. Father Henry Vessels of this parish was pastor of that same church for a short while before me.) The Sisters of Loretto opened St. Theresa Academy in 1866 and stayed till 1869. Like some of you, I went to the first and second grades in that old Academy building. The first colony of Sisters of Charity arrived in 1870 and will leave this year. The same Sisters of Charity opened Presentation Academy in what is now the Cathedral basement in 1832. 

Both of these parishes have long, proud and parallel histories that must be preserved. But both of us are facing uncertain futures. Just because we have been around for almost 200 years does not automatically insure that we will have a future. When I came to the Cathedral in 1983 it was celebrating its 172nd anniversary as a parish. It had shrunk to 200 registered members. The school had already closed in 1952. The old Office of Planning was suggesting that the parish be closed and merged with another parish and that one of the big suburban churches be designated as the cathedral of the archdiocese. People had been sitting around for years, watching it decline and waiting for it to fix itself. But we have grown from 200 people to 2,000 people in the last ten years. All I have done in these last ten years is to rally the troops, talk people into believing in the future and to spiritually renew the people who worship there. A miracle is taking place up there as we speak. 

You face a similar crisis here at old St. Theresa. With the priest crisis upon us, you too will surely be hearing more suggestions about mergings and closings. The next time it won’t be the school, it could be the rectory. I hope not, but folks the handwriting is on the wall! Wake up and smell the coffee! We may run out of priests, but this place does not have to die! You must do more than be proud of your history; you must have a vision. You must know where you want to go, be willing to sacrifice to get there and quit waiting for somebody to rescue you. “Without a vision, the people perish!” (Proverbs) Do you have a clear idea of where you want to go from here? Who is going to rally the troops? Are you willing to put your blood, sweat and tears into having a future? These are the pertinent questions facing you on your 175th anniversary. You do not need permission from the chancery to save yourselves! But if you don’t have a plan for yourselves, don’t be surprised if someone develops a plan for you! 

II. The Future

Well, my truck is still running and I haven’t been dragged out of the pulpit yet, so let me skate out on thin ice a little further. Let me make some practical suggestions from what I have learned at the Cathedral. This is not a plan, but merely some rough ideas. They need not be taken word for word. They are simply meant to get the juices flowing. 

(1)  Refuse to accept the pessimism and despair about the future of our churches. I am sick to death of all that! When I arrived at every parish I have served as pastor, I was told by the people who preceded me: “Don’t get your hopes up. Nothing much can be done here! We’re too small, too poor, too far away, too this and too that!” The best cure for the death of one institution that has outlived its usefulness is to give birth to a new, more useful one! Get over your inferiority complex! Think big! If your only goal is mere survival, you might as well go ahead and dig the grave. Why not start a ST. THERESA 2000 PROJECT? Decide what you want your future to be in the year 2000 and go for it!

(2)  Good ideas attract money. If you have a good, sound idea, you will be surprised where money can be found to accomplish those dreams. The average family around here still has a lot more money than the people who built the church, the academy, the school, the convent and the rectory. The Cathedral parish did something nobody thought was possible a few years ago: they pledged $1.5 million dollars in one day. Nobody has any money for an unneeded project. If it is a good and needed project that everybody is behind, the money will be there! Most of the money for the revitalization of the Cathedral is coming from the community around us; about 75% of it from non-Catholics! We started the Cathedral Heritage Foundation. Why not start an Alumni of St. Theresa Organization? They are all over the country and they carry a deep love for this place with them. Your plans must be good, serious, clear and well presented. You may have to hire a competent parish staff person to organize and run it. You only get one shot at something like this: no tacky, half-baked effort will do! With this kind of organization, your “homecoming picnic” could expand and attract people from everywhere. It could be an occasion not only to celebrate your history, but also the progress you are making in accomplishing your new dream!

(3)  Any plan must flow from getting back in touch with your fundamental mission and purpose. The Sisters of Charity have given you a seed gift. They have given you the school and the convent. It would be a tragedy if all you did with it was rent it out for a few measly bucks just to maintain the status quo! Before you decide what to do with these buildings, go back and take a good, hard look at your mission and purpose as a parish. Start with Sunday worship. It has to be good. It has to be of the highest quality: music, preaching and environment. Secondly, you surely know that today adults as well as children need good religious education. Regular education is now being taken care of by the County. Thirdly, look around at the needs that are not being met. The elderly are living longer and retiring earlier. You may need a Senior Citizen Center. More and more mothers are working than ever before. You may need a Child Care Center. You could even employ some of your retired people to help staff it. Government money is available for such projects. Whatever you do, develop your plan by looking at the Gospel and then looking not at the needs of the past, but the needs of the present.  The parish hall could become a Senior Citizens Center. The school could become a first-class Family Life and Education Center for adults as well as children. Rent it out when you’re not using it. People in Louisville are always looking for quiet, peaceful spots for youth retreats, cursillo, marriage encounters. The convent could become a day care center for children of working parents. The Meade-Breck Center could still meet the recreational needs of the community! This beautiful old church could continue being the spiritual heart of the whole operation! Get a master plan. Call it ST. THERESA 2000. If you can’t implement all your dreams at once, do it in phases! But have a plan - have something to work toward!

(4)  One of the problems of the church today is that we have young people with no memory and old people with no vision. Teach the young the facts about their religious heritage. Why not designate one room for a nice little museum? Collect and preserve your history before it is lost or destroyed. If it’s good enough, people will come to this historic spot from everywhere to see it!  One exhibit could be your master plan for the future: sketches, blueprints, charts and, of course, a box for donations. This will ensure that you keep your eyes fixed on the future, as well as the past! Such a museum could move some to remember the parish in their wills. It might move some visitor to make a bequest! It will make you proud of yourselves! It might even generate some of that old-fashioned energy that created this parish to begin with!

(5)  This parish has produced 8 priests, 38 sisters and 1 religious brother. We could use some more - right away if you don’t mind!

Conclusion

Your future really depends on you and nobody but you! What you do in the next few years will make you or break you. When we began our revitalization project at the Cathedral, I adopted this quote from St. Francis and gave it to everybody I could: “Trust God. Believe in yourself. Dare to dream!” Maybe a better one for you is a quote from St. Theresa herself: “Anyone who realizes that he or she is favored by God will have the courage necessary for doing great things.” Print it up and stick it on everything! 

The people who started St. Theresa had a vision. Times have changed. Needs are different. St. Theresa is at a crossroads. With the school closing and the priest shortage, St. Theresa needs to renew its vision. the problem with a long history is that people tend to start taking it for granted, tend to think it will go on forever by itself. It never has gone on by itself. It has been kept alive by dedicated, faith-filled, generous and imaginative people. My hope is that another generation will step forward and look forward, preserving the old dream by creating new traditions that will last for another 175 years. Thank you! 

BELOW: The old school, St. Teresa Academy


FATHER KNOTT ANNOUNCES MAJOR GIFT

At His 50th Priesthood Celebration at St. Theresa

May 23, 2021

Two years ago, around the time of my 75th birthday, I started updating my “end of life” plans as mandated by the Archbishop and started to think of the things I should do to “get my house in order” so I could file them away and get on with living what’s left of my life. 

I knew I could be buried in the priest section of Calvary Cemetery in Louisville with fellow priests, with Archbishop Kelly with whom I lived, with Archbishop McDonough who ordained me and with Bishop Maloney who confirmed me. However, I had already decided that I would much rather “come home” and be buried with you! 

With the help of my brother, Mark, we had my tombstone designed and installed next to Father Johnson and Father Buren. At the top, summarizing what I think of my 50 years as a priest, I put these words. SIMPLY AMAZED – FOREVER GRATEFUL. They summarize exactly how I feel today - SIMPLY AMAZED – FOREVER GRATEFUL! At the bottom, summarizing the big circle back home that I will have made when all of this is over, I put the words. HOME AT LAST!

Being a year late, I have had a lot of time to think about this celebration. I kept remembering what I did at the celebrations I have had when I have left my parish assignments in the past. I have always tried to resist taking gifts from the parishes I leave and have tried to embrace the practice of giving them gifts of gratitude! Today, I want to continue that tradition. I want to tell you about the gifts I brought you today – one of which I have been working on, and saving toward, for the last twenty years. In my spare time during those years, I have taken on extra work so that I could give most of what I made to charities. Besides my full-time jobs, in my spare time, I have presented over 75 parish missions in three states, published 37 books and given well over 150 priest retreats and convocations in 9 countries. Being quite a bit obsessive/compulsive by nature, my motto has been “Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.” 

From all these Parish Missions, priest convocations, book publications, second jobs and not taking vacations, I have made some extra money - most of which I have donated to projects at Saint Meinrad Seminary and projects down in the Caribbean Missions. I am happy to tell you today that I have not given it all away. I have saved some of it for you. 

So today, in the name of myself and Father Bud, in honor of both of our 50th priesthood ordinations, I would like to offer you one check representing some of the money I made speaking and writing and another check that I took out of my retirement savings. If I continue to live simply, with my nursing care policy, Social Security check and diocesan pension, I will have enough left to take care of myself. I have always had Saint Theresa in my Will, but I realized recently that I wanted to give it to you now - while I am alive.  There is no joy, for me, in holding it in the bank! As Cardinal George of Chicago said before he died, “The only things we will take with us when we die, is that which we have given away.” I am praying that my gift will inspire two or three more people, with roots here and who love this place as much as I do, who are able and willing to join me in making a major gift to this project! 

I shared some of these project ideas when I preached at Saint Theresa’s 175th Anniversary Celebration 28 years ago, I shared them with the Saint Theresa-Saint Mary Magdalen’s Men’s Club 16 years ago. Recently, I invited Father Bud to join me in this dream because we both love you, and feel loved by you, and we want to give something back in our senior years.

I met with Father George and Deacons Beavin and Sears several weeks ago. Father Ray and I made a presentation to the Parish Council on May 6. In a nutshell, here is what we proposed to them and I would like to reveal today.

I asked Father Ray, who is so good in his attention to individuals and details, to lead us in establishing the SAINT THERESA HERITAGE PARTNERS, We hope these “alumni” from everywhere will offer you, who are doing such a good job of keeping the parish going, some additional help in preserving, caring for and expanding the spiritual heritage of Saint Theresa Church.

Using the funds that I am offering you, using my doctorate degree in “parish revitalization” and using my experience in several church renovation projects, I am offering to lead you in the restoration of our old school building and turning it into a new SAINT THERESA FAMILY LIFE CENTER to serve all the age groups of this parish and the wider community. My hope is that we can provide you with some first-class programing spaces to do that.


Now the Parish Council will, of course, need to get final approval from the Archdiocese for our renovation plans.  Friends, no matter what, I want to remind you that there is no rescue party out looking for you!  To save this place, you are going to have to do something to save yourselves! Surely, you already realize, and COVID has made it worse, that we are about to lose the next generation if we do not try to do something like this to intervene pretty soon.

As evangelist Joyce Meyer said, “You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you can’t be both!” I used to ask to the people of the Cathedral almost every Sunday when I started their $22,000,000.00 revitalization process, “Who said we only get one “golden age?” We ended up creating a second “golden age” at a time when most people thought revitalizing that parish was hopeless! To help that struggling Cathedral parish with such an ambitious project, we started the Cathedral Heritage Foundation to secure the help of the surrounding community. Since we were revitalizing our role in serving the whole community, not just Catholics, they ended up donating 67% of that $22,000,000.00!

The similarities between these two places are many. I am proud to have had a foot in both! Father Badin, the first priest ordained in the US, gathered both congregations: St. Theresa in 1805 and St. Louis (the original name for the Cathedral Parish) in 1806. St. Theresa Parish has had three churches, the first of which was built in 1818. The Cathedral Parish has had three churches, the first of which was built in 1811. Bishop Flaget, our very first bishop, consecrated both of our second churches: St. Theresa in 1827 and St. Louis in 1831. Bishop Spalding consecrated both of our third churches: Cathedral in 1852 and St. Theresa in 1861. The famous frontier architect, William Keely, designed both St. Theresa Church and the Cathedral

My friends, let us start today creating that new “golden age” here at Saint Theresa! We cannot go back and reclaim the past,” but we can go forward and claim the future!  An infusion of money can help, but that alone will not work unless we all believe and work as if we believe that this renewal is possible. In this new partnership between present and former parishioners, I believe, with faith and effort, our future can be at least as bright as our past, maybe even more so, even during times like these!  Personally, I am interested in the revitalization of the faith in this community, more than just a restoration of its buildings. I want to see a revival of the Catholic faith today, not a just museum to the faith as it used to be! Know that Father Ray and I are making our gifts and talents available to you as we walk into that future together! We are excited about all this, but this dream will not happen unless you become excited about it too!

Fr. Bob Ray and Fr. Ron Knott

For more information, contact:
Fr. Knott, jrknott@bellsouth.net or 1-502-303-4571.
Fr. Bob Ray: 502-216-9290 or  rray@twc.com

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