Friday, June 30, 2017


Today we begin a new series on Friday Potpourri.  Inspired by current events in Schneider Park and the upcoming nonagintennial (90th) anniversary of the Parish of St. Sebastian, this space will be a history of the Parish beginning with a general understanding of the area and its Catholic roots before the parish was founded.  If you find anything that is incorrect or could be expanded upon, please let me know!  I want to have this project finished for next year.  Thanks!

Today's installment was made possible with the help of the St. Vincent website.

There was something peculiar about the man walking down the trail.  He was not like the men that had walked this trail for hundreds of years.  His clothes were different, his face was different, and his language was different.  His name was Etienne Brule and he was the first known non-native American man to take the trek down the most historic ten mile trail in American History.  This expedition took place sometime just before 1615, historically just a fraction of a moment ago.  The Indian portage, known now as Portage Path and which today marks the eastern limit of our parish boundaries, was an important crossing for the Native Americans between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers and later became the impetus for the growth of Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley.  It was possible to travel from the Great Lakes all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico except for this small trek on which they would have to portage their canoes and gear.  Today, large bronze arrowheads roughly mark out the location of this historic path along Portage Path Road.

With the signing of the McIntosh Treaty and a few years later the Treaty of Greenville, Portage Path became part of the boundary between the United States and the Indian Nations of the Northwest.  This boundary held from about 1785 to 1805, a mere 123 years before the founding of the Parish of Saint Sebastian.  The City of Akron, founded by Simon Perkins, would be founded in 1825.

The first Catholic Church in the area was St. Vincent de Paul established in 1837 as a missionary church.  At the time this area would have been part of the diocese of Cincinnati, so the founding of St. Vincent, our mother parish, predates the Diocese of Cleveland by ten years.  The first record of a Catholic priest visiting Akron was in 1833.  The Rev. John Martin Henni who would later become the Archbishop of Milwaukee, came to say Mass in the log cabin of James McAllister, a local contractor.  From then, when a priest was able to make it to the area, Mass was held in the old Dunn home on Green Street and other private residences of the Catholics that lived in the area.  

The first permanent Catholic ecclesial structure in Akron was begun in 1844 (the year the first telegraph is sent and the University of Notre Dame received its charter.)  It was made out of timber cut and hauled by members of the parish.  Completed in 1845 (the year Florida and Texas became states) the frame structure located on Green Street served as the church for the parish until the current church was constructed.

The foundation for the structure on West Market Street, with which we are familiar today, was laid February 18th, 1864, a year before the Civil war was over.  Building was then suspended most probably due to a shortage of material and/or manpower owing to the war.   It is fascinating to ponder that the foundation of the building we drive by so quickly today was also seen by Civil War soldiers, who, during the war were probably fed on oats produced in Akron, were now coming home, either walking or riding on horseback, passing that stone foundation. Construction resumed in 1866 and finally reached its completion in 1867.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


In college I attended a Mass at which the celebrant invited us all to stand around the altar for the consecration.  There were about 30 people in attendance for this weekday Mass.  We came up around the altar and as we stood there, a toddler came over and laid down on his back next to me, wrapped his legs around the ankle of my right foot and began to shake back and forth violently much to his enjoyment, my embarrassment, and the mother’s smile of, “Isn’t he cute?”

Anyway, that was a fairly common “in” thing to do for a spell.  (Gathering around the altar, not shaking people’s legs.)  I hardly hear about it at all anymore either because it is such old news that it doesn’t make the gossip chain anymore or because it has largely been given up on.

But oddly enough, this is a way of understanding the the use of the much vilified altar rail.  The altar rail is considered an extension of the altar of sacrifice.  That is why almost always, the top of the rail is made out of the same material as the mensa or top of the high altar (and why people should not sit on it, put pamphlets on it, or in general do anything that one wouldn’t do with the altar.)  The faithful who are priests, prophets, and kings by nature of their baptism are called to this extension of the “the Table” as the disciples were gathered around the table of the Last Supper, drawn up to the sanctuary to receive the Body and Blood of Christ from the very table itself.  Understood in this way, unless one troops everybody into the sanctuary to gather around the altar, the laity have actually been pushed back further away from the altar with the removal of the rail in so many of our spaces.  

My home pastor used to say, “When everybody gets tired of the way we do Mass now, we will have some new iteration that will look strikingly like the past, but will be entirely new and the people who start it will be innovators.  Then they too will become old school and someone will come by and change that innovation again.”  From architects to laity to clergy; everyone wants everyone to be “more connected” to the Mass.  All of it depends on how one interprets and labels the symbolism.  I look forward to what comes next. . .

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "In American politics, the line that divides 'prophetic witness' from 'violating the separation of church and state' usually depends on who draws the line, who gets offended - and by what issue.  The line wanders conveniently.  But Catholics, in seeking to live their faith, can't follow convenience."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"


Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC visited St. Sebastian this past weekend.  What a great priest!  There was a reception of about 40 priests and seminarians here.  He was the latest inductee to the Bell Tower Hall of Fame
 Some others that braved the climb:
 Keep the guy in the orange shirt in your prayers.  He is thinking of the seminary.
 I just like this picture for some reason.  Kinda looks like an album cover.
 This is in reference to yesterday's Monday Diary.  This was the project:
Mary sent in THIS article about the Avalas in the Diocese of Cleveland.  Thanks.

She also sent THIS link in if you want to know where all of the priests are.  Cleveland looks great!  We are certainly blessed.

Cindy sent in THIS article about the rise of radical nuns.  Thanks.

Pat sent in THIS great pro-life article.  Thanks.

Generous donations of items continue to come in for the supplying of our new chapel at the JBSS.  I have virtually no budget for this so your help is both extremely beneficial and appreciated.  It is amazing what is sitting around in attics and basements!  This past month we received a remarkable processional cross (reported here recently), a statue of the Blessed Virgin, most of the candlesticks that we will need for the altar, weekday lectionaries (II & III), and a very generous donation of $1,000.  Thank you.  Here is list of things still needed:  Altar linens, corporals, purificators, hand towels, cruets, lavabo bowl, stations of the cross, candle followers, altar cross, candles, a large corpus for the cross, 1 ciborium, glass globe for the sanctuary lamp, 5 holy water fonts, and a Lectionary IV.  Please keep our schools in your prayers.

In honor of our special guest this past week, here is a short video about one of his books.  (Most of Youtubes are over an hour!)

Monday, June 26, 2017


A very generous couple donated an industrial grill to the rectory this past weekend.  They knew that there was a priest and seminarian gathering coming up over the weekend with about 40 people and that our current gas grill only had room for about 2 burgers at a time.  So on Friday afternoon there appeared a crate under the walkway between the rectory and the school about the size of a garage for a Mini Cooper.

Inside that box was one hundred little boxes and set of moderately intelligible instructions.  I thought a grill would have two pieces - the bottom and the lid (and maybe some legs.)  Nay nay!  I think we were about two pieces short of being able to build a space shuttle.    

So I snagged Fr. Anthony into the tangled web of misery and we went at it.  I grabbed the instructions and barked orders:  "Tighten that screw!  Get this piece!  Out of my way!"

I should have known better.  As a priest I know things such as hanging wall paper and putting Ikea furniture together has led to more divorces than the first three cardinal sins combined.  Then this happened:
*sigh*  It was true.  My Dad liked to have us help him but it largely consisted of holding the flashlight and just watching.  And he kind of liked keeping any process solely in his mind too so often we hadn't a clue what was going on.  So it was time to change tactics and so assembling the grill became a team sport.  A THREE HOUR TEAM SPORT.

But the results were worth it.

Friday, June 23, 2017


Years ago there was a Biosphere experiment.  Scientists constructed a completely sealed and very large ecosystem whose purpose was to see if we could maintain life on another planet that does not have the same atmosphere as we do here.  There were a number of problems with the experiment but in particular that is a fitting analogy for our culture today.

One of the obvious ways to create oxygen in the sealed ecosystem was to have a tree.  There was a very large tree that grew unencumbered inside the biosphere.  It grew very large.  Then a strange thing began to happen.  It began to drop branches.  Very large branches.  Dangerous branches.  The problem was that the tree never experienced any stress particularly from forces such as wind.

Normally wind would sway a tree back and forth.  As a tree is forced to bend back and forth, it makes the whole tree stronger (not much unlike stressing our muscles make them stronger.)  The tree in the biosphere, never having been exposed to such forces, grew to the point where it was unable to hold up its own branches and they would break off and crash to the ground.

So now we have universities constructing “safe spaces.”  These are places where you can go and not experience any stresses outside of your comfort zone.  I am all for such places.  In past ages we called these spaces Mom, or friends, or ministers, or councilors, or any other number of people.  Universities and colleges (and seminaries for that matter) were places to challenge your ideas and concepts and to have them tested against the cultural storm that rages.  It was intended to make you stronger whether that means it makes you reaffirm your conviction or change - not to be a cultural ghetto were one could wallow safely in myopic self absorption.  

Early in my seminary years I had a professor that I respected greatly.  One day he taught a class in which he stated that “the Church” is moving away from understanding the Eucharist as Jesus fully present.  This struck me hard.  I was passionate in asking questions and after had a major meltdown. 

Embarrassingly enough I ran to the chapel and threw my books and notes across the pews, fell prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary and balled my eyes out - not something I am prone to do - and questioned my faith and my vocation.  Apparently someone witnessed this because when I was done I found all of my things neatly stacked at the back of the chapel.

Oh . . . it goes on from there but I will spare you all of that.  The point is, I was given the opportunity to deal with this (not be protected from it.)  I found my "safe space” in the solace of friends, in doing research, speaking with other professors, clarifying, sharpening my understanding, and developing constructive ways of speaking with someone who hold opposing views about this topic.  All of this serves me to this day.

Do we need better safety for some of our young persons?  Most likely.  Thus it always is and always will be in a fallen world.  But to create a biosphere where people can “grow” unencumbered by any challenges leaves us vulnerable to stresses that can tear us apart once we are no longer surrounded by those who can help make us stronger.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


You are right.  You are probably not loved enough by someone very close to you.

It might be your spouse, your sibling, or your close friend.  Your girl/boy friend does not love you with all of the dignity, honor, attention that you are meant to have.  Perhaps your priest/minister does not have the level of respect and love that you deserve.

You are a good person (mostly.)  You try to treat others with love and respect.  You have your faults but they don’t make you any less of a person.  Is it really that much to ask?

It is a terrible thing.  It is a problem that has been with us since day one when Adam and Eve chose selfishness over love.  Immediately, seeking to be loved over loving became the norm.  By the time we get to their children we read about fratricide over jealousy.  

Sacramental marriage is supposed to be the start of a cure for this.  Think about the vows that are given: They say nothing about what each person expects.  They are a promise to minister to the other person all the days that we are both living.  

Now, of course, if both are true to their vows, they also will experience love.  That is the way human culture is supposed to be.  That is the way being Catholic is supposed to be: 1.2 billion people looking to love and serve each other rather than 1.2 billion people looking to suck love and ministry out of each other.  Jesus says to us, “I have come to serve, not be served,” and he was crucified.  


But we are called to follow Him - to begin the healing of our human nature.

It seems rather bleak doesn’t it?  This fallen and hurt world licking its wounds and trying desperately to be respected, honored, and loved?  Yet the path to it is not so much focusing on sucking such things out of other people as though it were a right (even if, in a way it is) but to offer it.  All those bodies of need you see walking around are just as unloved, hurting and seeking to have the hole in themselves filled.  If we saw this clearly, how different the world might be.

That is not to say to let yourself to be bled dry.  Nobody takes care of the care giver.  Take care of yourself.  That is not selfish.  Nobody benefits if you crash and burn.  But do remember that all of the emptiness that you might feel, that terrible hole in the center of you chest - your have a God that will more than fill it.  Maybe - and most likely - not in this world for many - but He will.  And for those who suffer the most, His healing will be all the more sweeter.  Know that your Father knows your state and has every intention of making it up to you.  In the meantime: Love.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan."  C. S. Lewis quoted in Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "We can choose our side.  We can't choose not to choose.  Not choosing is a choice."  from the same book.


The new Fr. Simone is safely installed in the rectory at St. Sebastian.  Here he is on his first day of duty (which was this past Tuesday.  He is almost a full week here now.)
On the first weekend he was in charge of the Corpus Christi procession.  The kid did well AND he got done in under an hour.  It is his first miracle. 
I abandoned him on his first weekend here.  He had a 2 o'clock wedding at St. Sebastian and I had a 2 o'clock parishioner wedding in Cleveland at St. Steven - one of my favorite pieces of architecture in the diocese.  One of the altar servers gave me a nooks and crannies tour.  This is a shot of the groom and the bride's mother from somewhere high in the high altar.  Cool right?
Last night Fr. Jeremy Merzwieler spoke for our Theology on the Rocks.  I honestly did not think the crowds would continue but we had nearly 100 persons from St. Hilary, St. Paul, St. Vincent, St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Bernard and St. Sebastian.  Perhaps we should contemplate a larger venue.  Any ideas?
 And of course, Fr. Jeremy from St. Gabriel.  Special note:  New sound system on the way!
Why not have a wedding outside?  5 minutes.

Monday, June 19, 2017


I've heard numerous horror stories of people complaining about how difficult it is to live in their homes when they are having major work done on it such as having a kitchen or bathroom redone, a common in our neighborhood where the housing stock tends to be vintage.  I will admit to thinking that they are a bit overdramatic.  I was wrong, WRONG, WRONG!

There were a number of things that needed to be done to this 80 year old rectory.  The target was to have it done before one parochial vicar cycled out and the new one moved in.  Of course, the contractors all arrived late and on the same day.

So, while Fr. Simone was moving in, the painters (it's been a long time since parts of the house have been painted,) the carpet cleaners (they haven't been cleaned since before I moved here,) and the plasterers (for both water damage and dry rot) all arrived to work at the same time.  This made finding a place to be for hours on end very difficult.  No matter what room you were in (including THAT one,) someone was occupying or needing to occupy it in order to work.

At one point I thought I found a closet sized room to "be" in, but I was quickly released of that illusion.
 It is that time of year to clean and paint the school so that was out.  Somebody was using the gym (somebody is ALWAYS using the gym) and so I thought I would go sit in the choir loft:
 So obviously that didn't work out.  It was 90 degrees out but I found a bench under a tree in one of our gardens.
 I promise not to doubt anyone anymore if they complain about the difficulty of living in a house that is being worked on.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


If you would have asked my Mom, the breakdown of everything is directly attributable to the loss of real front porches on houses and that we drive everywhere.  People do not walk as much in their neighborhood because now they zip around in their cars.  And even if they did walk, nobody is sitting out on their front porch that no longer exist to offer a howdy do and hand on the latest neighborhood talk.

When I was growing up (Oh, here we go - I am getting old) everybody in my neighborhood went to the same parish, worked in the same places, belonged to the same social clubs, hung out in the same parks, bowling alleys and like places.  So when you went to Mass, you didn’t need a gathering space to gab and have coffee, you did that all the rest of the week - sometimes to the point of desiring to get to Mass to not have to do that anymore.  Now we don’t see each other as much (or so it seems to me) and so when we get to Mass, there is a constant hum of chatter - not in praise to God, but about what Mable did last week and how the kids are and can you believe the price of bananas.

Older churches (like St. Sebastian) have gathering spaces about the size of a broom closet.  More modern spaces (St. Hilary) have gather spaces that rival the size of the church building in which you could throw an inaugural ball (or at least a rocking donut Sunday.)  It seems the reality is, that church is now also a social center - no longer just the spiritual center of a community, but the all encompassing source of the Christian Catholic community itself.  

Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters have this idea down in spades.  Often drawing from a huge geographical area, they know they must create a community when they have their congregants.  Catholics parishes (particularly in this area) have boundaries.  Our draw is much smaller (in theory.)  We are the parish of the neighborhood or town.  But now we feel we have to be the social center also which has it’s upside and its downside.

If we want to keep people, particularly younger people, we have to provide opportunities to form community in a way that was once (again in my limited experience) almost automatic.  Yesterday we had an example of this which is very popular in many places: we had Theology on Tap, Akron, an event and place for persons (primary in their 20s and 30s) to come and socialize and hear a great Catholic talk (thank you Mr. Brownfield!)  I’ve heard some criticism about meeting in a bar but please remember that my parish, in the 40’s, ran its own bar with the preaching from the pulpit, “Remember, if you are going to drink, drink at your parish!”

Anyway, here are some shots from our modern front porch:

Ladies and gentlemen, our MC for the evening:  Rocco
Lots more space and parking here!

 Our speaker Mr. Brownfield:
And making a surprise appearance, the newly ordained Fr. Anthony Simone, parochial vicar at St. Sebastian.

For more information about Theology on Tap, Akron go HERE.  Next event: July 12th
For more information about Theology on the Rocks go HERE.  Next event: June 19th

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Man does not live by insight alone; he is in need of a creed, of a way of living.  Insights are not a secure possession; they are vague and sporadic.  They are like divine sparks, flashing up before us and becoming obscure again, and we fall back into a darkness, 'almost as black as that in which we were before.'"  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"

IN OTHER NEWS (in no particular order):

Last night was Fr. Leonard's final evening at St. Sebastian.  Following his final duty having the nursing home Mass and breaking bread with me and our seminarian in residence David Stavarz, he officially took off for the land of Parma and became a Columnkillite.

Meanwhile, today we are making preparations to welcome our new parochial vicar, Fr. Anthony Simone, recently ordained to the presbyterate!  Even Sebastian is excited!

And Fr. ANTHONY Simone is beginning his stint as a Sebastianite on . . . wait for it . . . St. ANTHONY Day!  Happy St. Anthony day to all of you Anthonys out there.  (It's my middle name too.)  To you too Fr. K.
And this is how I feel at the moment:
 (Though the hair part is purely imaginary.)

Here are a couple of events coming up!  The FIRST is TOMORROW!

And then there is this:

My classmates and I are celebrating 19 years of our priesthood.  There were only five of us compared to this years crop of 8!

A parishioner who is a composer has just released his album!  Find out more about it HERE.
We were out airing out the dog one evening when David said, "Look how awesome the sky looks tonight.  So here is a picture so you too can see how how awesome the sky looked that night.
Today's video: