Friday, February 23, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: SOME DREAMS TAKE LONGER THAN OTHERS

The 1950’s began the next major phase in the life of the parish.  For one, the population in West Akron was growing considerably.  The number of students in the school was beginning to demand more space.  This year would see the foundation of the convent laid.  It would eventually house more nuns than their temporary quarters in the school, space that was needed since more students would require more teachers.  Their living space on the top floor of the school would now be turned into additional classroom space allowing the school to expand without having to build.

It must have been about this time that the dream of having a parochial high school had faded, though the parish still owned property on the other side of South Hawkins Avenue.  At one time the whole area west of Hawkins Avenue at the Mull intersection was envisioned by the city as a cultural center.  Already located not too far from this location was Good Park Golf Course.  Known as being among the finest municipal golf courses in the United States, the 18-hole J. Edward Good Course, designed by Bertie Way, opened in 1926, two years before the parish was founded.

The vision for the rest of the area was much different from what we see today.  The plan shows gridded streets much like the rest of West Akron. Behind Byrider Hall was to be a broad parkway.  All around the parish property was to be housing lots.  What is now Byrider Hall would have been on a city block virtually by itself.  Further, it was thought for a while that on the corner to the north, the Akron Board of Education would be built.  In the late twenties there was talk of moving the University of Akron, the art museum, and the library here.  This would make West Akron (then known as Maple Valley - which is why we still have Maple Valley Cleaners) an ideal spot for a Catholic high school.  Then the Great Depression brought all these grand plans to a screeching halt.  


By 1950 it was clear that none of this would take place.  A remnant of this one time dream can be found by taking a walk in the woods behind the former Perkins Middle School.  Hidden amongst the trees is a cement street sign marking the dreamed of intersection of Sunset View Blvd West and Good Park Avenue.  With those dreams permanently changed, new plans for use of the parish land was formulating.  It would not be until 75 years later and the closing of the public school that the possibility of creating these roads once again would be revisited.

UPDATES:

This series is focused on the history of the parish up to when the founding pastor, Msgr. Zwislwer, dies.  But there are two developments that have since taken place that seem interesting enough to put this stricture aside for the moment.

FIRST UPDATE:  Last week there was the story of the ordination of Fr. Dannemiller SS at St. Sebastian Parish.  As it turns out we still have Dannemillers in the area and thanks to some inquiries made by one of our industrious workers here we found out that Fr. Dannemiller eventually left the priesthood, got married, and was eventually a father Dannemiller of a different sort.

SECOND UPDATE:  As it ironically turns out, the land reported above which eventual became Perkins Middle School and a number of football and baseball fields is once again being re-envisioned into a developed neighborhood.  Once planned streets and housing lots are being proposed by the city to be begun sometime in the next year or two.  It won't be the cultural center once proposed but families will hopefully be moving into the dream houses thought of almost a century ago.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

GUARDS AND METAL DECTECTORS VS PRIESTS AND CONFESSIONALS

Outrage is an appropriate response to the carnage in Parkland, but it’s not an answer.”  This was written by Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune as reprinted in the Akron Beacon Journal on February 18th.  “Those demanding dramatic action accuse those who disagree of enabling murder.  But it’s no sin to reject false remedies.”  

The “cure” for which so many people are looking is various forms of gun control.  Unfortunately, at least according to this article which sited various studies including “a 2013 study of the 1994 law for the National Institute of Justice” which said, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence” and that any such ban, “is likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

But we want this so badly because it seems like an obvious and effective action item.  It seems to make sense.  We can all rally behind this and DO SOMETHING that will help rid us of these atrocious situations and sooner rather than later.

One thing we are sure we CANNOT do is hold a prayer service in the school for the various “good” reasons that such things are banned (although crosses and candles did make an appearance but I am sure that will be overlooked.)  If there is one thing that might bring comfort at all to a horrific situation like this is the idea that these kids have souls that are taken care of, that they live onion some way, and that there is hope.  But instead the will receive metal detectors, guards, safe spaces, counseling, assemblies on how to spot potential threats among their peers, and have active shooter drills.

This will possibly keep them alive longer.  But it is not the one thing that will give them hope forever; the one thing that gives them hope even in the very teeth of death.  It is the knowledge that there is hope even in death.  It is this hope that give a person the power to be stronger than their fears.  Bravery gives way to courage.  Courage allows us to crawl out from behind our walls and out of our safe spaces and reach out in charity.  And charity alone will bring about the healing we need to bring about the long term, peaceful solutions we need to foster sanity in our culture.  Granted, it may only bring healing to the individual at first.  Then maybe to those around him.  If they are lucky, they will bring healing to their small community. It may take most of their lives to accomplish this but better to take a long time than waste our time doing things that only work marginally at best.  And kept up, it could eventually change the very culture in which we live, which historically we see can happen.

Have you ever noticed that none of these shootings take place at a Catholic school?  There has been one Catholic school campus shooting since at least the 1920s and that was in 1979 when a 21 year old man shot and wounded 4 people at Gonzaga University.  That is not to say that it could not happen.  Every pastor who has a school prays daily that this will not happen at his school.  But even if there 20 in the next month, it would not remotely come close to the number of schools that have had them.  

There are a lot of factors to give reason for this, but not the least of which is we are allowed to say from a Divine standpoint that killing is wrong, bullying is wrong, shutting out the world is wrong, not caring for others is wrong, and not forgiving and being forgiven is wrong.


A guard and a metal detector or a priest and confessional box?  If you had to take a wild guess, which of these would you say might bring about a longer lasting, more positive change to our nation’s problems?a

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXXII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Ideologies are simple ides, disguised as science or philosophy, that purports to explain the complexity of the world and offer remedies that will perfect it.  Ideologues are people who pretend they know how to 'make the world a better place' before they've taken care of their own chaos within . . . Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge and ideologies are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 

QUOTE II:  "Ideologies retool the very religious stories they purport to have supplanted, but eliminate the narrative psychological richness."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

Last night we celebrated ONE YEAR of Theology on the Rocks!  It has been an incredible year.  We tackled many topics - sometimes challenging - sometimes fun.  Hundreds have been through the doors of D'Agnese's and enjoyed food, fellowship and faith.  Thank you to all the pastors and bulletin editors out there for helping get the word out!  Of course you can always see what's happening on the Facebook Page

The next speaker is Lannie Davis-Frecker, president of Julie Billiart schools and advocate for Catholic education for children with special learning needs.

Here are some pictures from last night's event - Mr. Bernie Smith, retired Federal Prosecutor, speaking on the death penalty.


Video of the week:

Monday, February 19, 2018

ST. SEBASTIANITES ON T.V.

Just in case you would like to know, two members of St. Sebastian Parish will be on the Journey Home program on EWTN this week.  Matthew and Elizabeth Akers can be seen TONIGHT (Monday) at 8PM and Tuesday and Friday at 1PM!

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: REMEMBER YOU ARE DUSTY

This last week there were a couple of priests visiting at St. Sebastian and we started talking about our techniques for distributing ashes.  You may think that it's just sticking your thumb in some burned palms and smearing them on a person's forehead - but for practiced ash distributors, there is a developed method.  From that night's discussion, this seems to be the most common:
Ashes, as it is well known, are made from the previous year's blessed palm branches.  Did you know you that a parish can buy these from a religious goods distributor instead of making their own?  I don't know WHAT they do to them, but like wine, the store bought brand is always better than the home made.  They stick better, have better consistency, last longer . . . How do they do it?  Homemade always seem to be just a little chunkier no matter what and you really have to grind them in to get them to stick!  (Sorry St. Sebastianites.)

So, as you well know, this day is a very solemn and dignified celebration requiring the utmost gravitas.  The dangerous mix of homemade ashes, an emotionally charged atmosphere and communal expectation makes occurrences that would otherwise not be humorous in the least outrageously hilarious.   Such as this:
I think after almost 20 years of doing this, I have FINALLY grown rather immune to this occurrence. But not all priests.  The way to determine if the person in front of you had a pile of ashes collect on their nose is to look into the face of a young priest and check for these signs:

Friday, February 16, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: FIRST FOR SEBASTIAN - SECOND FOR AKRON

1949

This year, the 20th anniversary of the parish coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Cleveland.

1950

There had already been three vocations to the priesthood from the parish.  The fourth however was an ordination that took place at St. Sebastian Parish.  According to a full page article into Sunday, June 4th Akron Beacon Journal, the Rev. J. Lawrence Dannemiller became the second priest ever ordained within the city limits.  Normally, priests are ordained at the cathedral in Cleveland.  The other priest so ordained was in 1847, just a little more than a century earlier.  

The paper ran many pictures of the day including one of the procession to the church in which it stated, “The procession preceding the ceremony wends through the picturesque grounds of St. Sebastian.”  More than 600 person were reported to be in attendance.


Fr. Dannemiller was the first son of the parish to be ordained whose entire elementary school education was at St. Sebastian Parish School.  He was ordained into the Sulpician order which is perhaps why the ordination was in Akron and only for him.  He most likely served teaching in a seminary, the training of priests being a charism of the Sulpician charism.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXXI

FINDING TRUTH WHEVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Don't let the bad be the friend of the worst."  Matthew Wyszinski

QUOTE II:  "Men seek sins or more startling obscenities as stimulants to their jaded sense.  They seek after oriental religions for the same reason.  They try to stab their nerves to life, if it were with the knives of the priests of Baal.  They are walking in their sleep and try to wake themselves up with nightmares."  from G. K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man"

IN OTHER NEWS:

HAPPY ST. ASHLENTINE/CYRIL & METHODIUS WEDNESDAY.

Why don't we try to confuse things even more by throwing in Mr. Mastromatteo's painting, "The Sweet Suffering of St. Sebastian."

So I went to throw that pair of shoes away today.  It was more difficult than I thought it would be.  They are unwearable.  I wouldn't even dream of giving them to a St. Vincent de Paul Shop.  But there I was thinking, "What if I need them some day?"  Ridiculous.  So I said my goodbyes, "You were a great pair of shoes.  One of my favorites.  Thank you," dropped them in the trash and walked away.  There's still time to go back and dig them out.

 Fr. K sent this in:

When people ask me how things are at the parish I always answer, "They seem fine but I never like to say definitively because God is ironic and you never know what's under the ice getting ready to break through and cause problems."  As it turns out our school book company that served us so well for so long is sending home book lists with children that cover topics that are severely controversial.  (I have not seen the books, just heard, so I can't really say much more about them.  Yet.)  Our school is going through the process of choosing a new company.  HERE is one article, sent in by CC explaining the concerns.

Here's you video for Ash Wednesday:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PENANCE AND LOVE

This is year can be one of the most enthralling, memorable and love enhancing St. Valentine’s Day in 70 years.  That is the last time that St. Valentine and Ash Wednesday had to share the same day.  If we are smart, we will use it for all that it is worth.



SOME PEOPLE (certainly not you) will see this as a mighty inconvenience.  Decisions have to be made: Do I show traditional forms of love to the object of my affections OR do I show my respect to my faith and love of God by following the disciplines of the Church that He founded.  The answer is: neither!  It is a chance to shine in both arenas.

First a quick note:  One of the reasons that couples who do not live together or engage in sexual activity before marriage is that they are forced to find more creative and often very subtle ways of expressing to the other their deep love, respect, and admiration when sexual congress is not an option.  Once sexuality enters into a relationship, many of these more subtle yet foundational ways of expressing love gets left at home while its wilder twin parties every night.  

For most couples, there will be a time or period in there life when marital relations are not an option.  How do you express and understand both how to love and how to recognize and BE loved?  If you haven’t had practice at some point in your life at this, it can be difficult to trust and to start.


Well here is a day to find a new, creative, fun, challenging, unique way to show the person you love just how much you love him or her.  Step one: put away your credit card.  It is a day of fast and abstinence so no chocolate and no big fancy dinner.  Corporate America is going to be very disappointed in you.  So what can you do that is different on this day than all of the others that will make it clear to the person that you love that they are more special to you than could ever know?  What can you do besides just buying the traditional Valentine’s junk that will go on sale for half price the day after Valentines - being pushed aside as the bring the St. Patrick Day stuff out?  What will be cherished by the person you love AND show reverence for the faith that you practice AT THE VERY SAME TIME?  This is your day and your year to shine!

Monday, February 12, 2018

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: THE IMAGINATION IS WILLING

Due to the severe winter weather we have been experiencing combined with the flu that has been running about and staying at people's homes, this has become a rather regular event at the parish.
Which occasionally leads to a free night without appointments.
But, which in reality and not unexpectedly leads to this:

Friday, February 9, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: 1947

This was the year a young Ellen Martucci began playing the organ.  Mrs. McDonald was the only organist at the time and wanted someone to help so that she could take a vacation.  So she went to the nuns and asked who played the piano.  “Ellen plays well,” she was informed and so she asked Ellen if she would like to play.  She did and Mrs. McDonald was able to get away.

Ellen later joined the choir.  Coming to the practice one day, Fr. Zwisler asked to speak with her.  “Tomorrow there is Mass at 6:00, 7:15 and 8:00.  Be there (at the organ) and then meet me in the rectory for breakfast.”

Ellen worked for her Father at the time at a job she did not particularly enjoy.  When her Father said he expected her at the job the next day she responded, “I can’t!  Father wants me to work for him playing the organ!” much to his delight and hers.

Ellen served as the official parish organist until her retirement in 2011 although she continues to play for daily Masses.  When asked how she was able to work with Fr. Zwisler all those years she said, “I knew what he wanted and how he wanted it done!  If you don’t you quit!”


The organ in the original church was Conrad Prestly Organ and was removed in the late 1970s due to disuse and neglect.  After the original church had been turned into a hall where children ate their school lunches, Fr. McCann reports, the students would try to throw apples up into the pipes.  The organ was then sold.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I'M GIVING UP THIS OLD PAIR OF SHOES FOR LENT

I've had these shoes forever.  The leather tops are splitting, there is a hole in one of the soles.  The backs are broken down from slipping them on and off without bothering with the shoes strings and the heels are worn to a terrible slant.  So I am giving them up for lent.  (My sister will be so glad.)

I've been holding on to them thinking that I might need them.  You never know.  I MIGHT need to be both semi-dressed up AND need to do something dirty at the same time - like dig a hole as part of a as of yet un-rediscovered Catholic ceremony not unlike Arbor Day.  So they sit there at the bottom of the shoe hierarchy awaiting their big day.  Which has not come for two years save for one time I wanted to make the point that I COULD still wear them walking the dog.

My life is full of this stuff.  I MIGHT need something.  Some day.  For Some thing.  And sometimes that is great.  "I've got one of those that has been sitting around for a long time!" is a wonderfully rewarding thing to be able to say.  Unfortunately it is usually followed by, "Now where did I see it last?"  And truthfully, it only happens about once a year.  The occasion to junk space allocation is not good.

So here is one of my Lenten resolves.  (Why isn't lent capitalized?)  Every day in lent I will give away one thing and discard one thing.  First on the list is this ratty pair of shoes (trash) and a pair of cufflinks (give away.)  I recommend this as part of your lenten practice.  It serves many purposes: un-cluttering your life - discerning what you really need - being aware of what you have - giving to others (charity) - becoming detached from things.

I have been chomping at the bit to get started but learned my lesson a few years ago when I tried this last.  The first 20 days - EASY.  The next 10 one had to be a little more discerning.  The last ten . . . OUCH!  (That's about 80 items!)  Now two things make it a little easier for me.  1st - we have a Good will truck on our property.  2nd - I am allowed to cheat a couple of times and walk over to the church a make a donation to the Poor Box as part of the give away.  But to do that too often is cheating and infringing on others works of charity for lent.

So I offer this to you as something to do for lent - give up your old shoes for lent.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our own passions - and there's nothing freeing about that."  Norman Doidge in "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  ". . . left to our own untutored judgement, we are quick to aim low and worship qualities that are beneath us."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

THANK YOU! to the anonymous reader who reminded me that Adam's Ale is celebrating 
TWELVE YEARS!  
(Easy to remember because my dog Sebastian is the same age.)

Here is my annual thanks to Dawn Eden who chided me with, "What?!  You don't have a blog?  Shame on you!" Thus beginning my twelve year run with you.

Here are some quick details (interesting to nobody perhaps but me):
In twelve years there have 2,642 posts.  
The all time most read post was "How Come I Don't Remember?"  HERE
The UNITED STATES has the largest number of readers followed by
RUSSIAN, GERMANY, CHINA, and FRANCE
(although I do know I have some very loyal readers in Rome and Slovenia)
TOTAL PAGE VIEWS: 926,549
THANK YOU to the 75 of you who are followers.

Want to see from where Adam's Ale is sent out?  Here is a great 5 minute video:

D. S. sent this in:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: THE LION'S DEN

If you want to hear the full story, listen to my homily from the 5th Sunday in ordinary time.  It should be posted soon.  But here is an excerpt:

I went on vacation about 10 days ago to Florida.  When I arrived at the airport at 5AM it was eerily dark.  To make a very long story short (too late) it turns out that there had been a giant storm that night which I COMPLETELY missed and it somehow blew out the power at the airport.  The only lights that were on were on generators.  Everybody's flights were cancelled.  There were people everywhere.  

One of the things that kept operating was the giant revolving door.  Just I was about to enter the terminal I caught sight of another man about to enter.  I stepped back so he could go first . . .


Friday, January 26, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: A CATHOLIC AND A SCOUT

The Boy Scouts was a relatively new organization at this time having been founded in 1910. But
even more recent was the institution of a Boy Scout badge specifically for Catholic scouts.  Sensing a need for more spiritual development in the Scouting program, the Rev. James E. Dolan created the Ad Altare Dei program in 1926.   The aim of the first program Fr. Dolan developed was to recognize those First Class Scouts who had served "with loyalty and fidelity" as altar boys during their tenure as Scouts. He named the program Ad Altare Dei and created the Ad Altare Dei Cross as it's emblem. The English translation of the name means: "to the Altar of God."  The first emblems were presented nationwide in 1941.  The aim of the program was "an attempt to teach and inculcate a Catholic way of living through the Scouting program." The first set of requirements stated the Scout had to be at least First Class, a member of a registered Troop of the Boy Scouts of America, a resident within the diocese, and had served at the altar in any capacity for 250 hours. To be eligible for the emblem, the Scout had to demonstrate his ability to make all responses in Latin. The Scout's Pastor had to certify also that the Scout was worthy to receive the emblem because of his punctuality, fitness, decorum on the altar, and devotion.
1946 would mark the first time any Scout in Akron would receive this medal.  Across the city, twelve scouts earned this medal.  Of the the twelve, six were from St. Sebastian.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

THOSE WHO IGNOR THE PAST ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO MANIPULATION

Before you read this I want to make very clear that I am proud of my seminary, recommend it, and have great faith in what is happening there.  These events clearly happened in the past and were limited and are only used as an example.


When I was in the seminary, our entire, official exposure to the Mass as it was celebrated before Vatican II was a videotape played in fast forward by a professor who spent the entire three minutes making fun of the Mass with witticisms such as, “Look how funny they look taking off and putting on their hats.”  The clear message was, “Old is bad, only the new is good.”  I seethed with anger.  This was the Mass my parents, my grandparents, well . . . all of my historical family (and the majority of saints) celebrated and grew in sanctity through.  But we stayed silent.  Even attendance at one of these Masses were possible grounds to be removed from the seminary.

Fortunately things have changed.  The problem with this is the ignorance and error that it promotes.  By removing history and our connection to the past, the sole authority becomes the person in power.  As proof of this, even the Vatican II documents were called into question.  If there were something that directly opposed what a particular professor was saying, the answer was not in debating what was said but a justification was made that the portion of the document in question was clearly a “compromise” (RE: the Holy Spirit was definitely not present in this part of the document) and so it could be ignored - not dealt with - ignored.  From there, a person with power can lead you in all kinds of directions in line with or not in line with the Church and their position would be valid until someone with more power would take their place.

However, a Catholic steeped in history, mired in Church teaching, braced by the hermeneutic continuity can only be set adrift so far before the disharmony of his spiritual life and that of the Democracy of the Dead (as G. K. Lewis spoke our 2,000 year shared history of the practice of the faith) helps correct his course.


This concept is not just handy, it is of vital importance and here are two reasons why:  Say a set of parents has a child and they have decided not to “force” any religion on their child but rather let them decide for themselves what faith they want to be.  Statistically they will choose either nothing or a hodgepodge of convenient things.  This is because they have no ground on which to stand in order to judge all other positions.  It is all just soup.  There is no traction.  But as Archimedes said, “Give me a firm place on which to stand and I will move the earth.”

The same thing could be said of a study of Western culture.  It is vital that we hand on the culture that has been given to us to the next generation.  As much as it may need “fixing” it has gotten us somewhere.  It is not a marble statue to be handed on and preserved exactly.  It is rather like a clay statue to be improved by every generation.  If it is not handed on, then every generation must start from scratch.  Instead of being handed a clay statue, they are given a formless lump of clay.  This leaves them vulnerable to persons of unchallenged and perhaps unproven power to come along and shape their clay for them and not having anything to which they might compare it, allows for manipulation in the extreme.


History and culture are not weights to be discarded so that we might be free to have a better future, they ARE the very tools we need to create a better future.