Tuesday, September 18, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is in fact nothing short of a miracle (and we should keep this fact firmly before our eyes) that the hierarchical slave-based societies of our ancestors reorganized themselves, under the sway of an ethical/religious revelation, such that the ownership and absolute domination of another person came to be views as wrong."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "Strive for humility, because totalitarian pride manifests itself in intolerance, oppression, torture and death. Become aware of your own insufficiency - your cowardice, malevolence, resentment and hatred.  Consider the murderousness of your own spirit before you dare accuse others, and before you attempt to repair the fabric of the world.  Maybe it's not the world that's at fault.  Maybe it's you."  same source.

QUOTE III:  "First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."  from Matthew's Gospel 7:5.


Fr. Jacob Bearer of St. Francis de Sales giving last week's Theology on Tap Akron talk.
The Akron City Parks Department is currently removing about a dozen sickly and dead trees from Forest Lodge.  Believe me, when they are done, you won't even notice that there are any trees missing.
Our Annual Eucharistic Adoration continues until 8PM tonight.  Come say hello.
New banners outside of the church.
New lighting at night.
E.P. sent in this very interesting picture.
The 185th anniversary of the first official Mass in the city of Akron will be celebrated NEXT Thursday with a Mass at St. Vincent at 7PM, Bishop Amos is the celebrant.  You are invited.

There were likely other Masses celebrated before this one as priests came through the area, but this is the first well documented Mass.
The Keller Consort will be performing in Zwisler Hall this Sunday at 4PM.  Free and open to the public.  They will be performing Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments along with demonstrations of the instruments.  

I couldn't find them on line but here is some Renaissance music to give you a taste:

Monday, September 17, 2018


When you become a pastor, you become your Dad.  You have the same mindset that once drove you crazy when he displayed it when you were young.  There has not been one rectory of which I am been aware that the pastor/parochial vicar relationship does not, in some way, reflect a father son mentality at least when it comes to budgeting.
And I know that I sound and act like my Dad.  But - but - but - and I HATE to say it - it now makes sense.
That goodness for the new LED lighting.  That has cut a ton out of my worrying.  But I mean - really - after you've lived in a house for a year do you really need lights to walk around?
So I happen to like it cold.  Of course there are some things on which we are on the same side.

Friday, September 14, 2018


The dog came for his interview the following Monday morning.  He looked like a black lab save that he was a little larger, hairier, and with a longer snout.  And had a heart the size of a full moon.  On one hand this was very endearing.  On the other it made him go into an anxiety fit when it was apparent his owners were leaving without him.  He threw himself against the door with the fervor of a man who was wrongly accused of a crime being thrown into solitary confinement for the rest of his life.  The old curtains on the door windows were shredded.  It was time to replace them anyway.

It took the better part of a day to coax the dog out of a deep depression.  Not even food tempted him and at dinner I had to hold morsels of dog food up to his snout for him to mindlessly eat as he stared out the backdoor.  At some point however something clicked and he simply decided to make the best of a stressful situation.  I tried not to form a bond with the dog.  What if the staff would say that it was too difficult to have a dog in the house?  But he was extremely affectionate and turned on the charm full steam and within hours I was in love.

So we move into his first night at the rectory.  Some dog book warned against ever letting a dog sleep in your bed.  “You will come home one day and all your bedding will be chewed up!” it warned with great foreboding.  When I went to bed, the dog came rested his chin on the edge of the mattress and looked at me with his big, black, watery eyes.  I was strong however.  If we were going to do this we were going to do it right.  Besides, I had never slept with any living being in my bed and was not sure that I could start sharing it now.

The dog decided to settle for sleeping under my bed which was not a good move since he was a large dog.  As he crawled under or tried to turn over it was like being in a commercial airplane with a little kid kicking the back of my seat.  A couple of days later he settling on sleeping in the very back of the closet where there was a little private hideaway formed by my hanging cassocks.  

Over the week, the dog, whose name was Roomie, and I became inseparable.  He was a constantly glued to my side whether I was going into the office, my room, down in the basement, or anywhere for that matter.  I soon discovered that walking him with a leash was rather redundant.  Save for the occasional squirrel, he was not going anywhere without me, though I drew the line at the bathroom.

He did not come with any toys and so I dug around in one of my trunks and found old blue racquetball balls.  After dinner when the staff had gone home, we would go to one of the long hallways in the house and I would chuck the ball with the dog in hot pursuit.  Being that the ball had a lot of spring in it, it would bounce in any number of unpredictable directions and Roomie would do his best to try to subdue the thing before bringing it back for another go.  It was quickly apparent that the dog had no athletic prowess at all (and would never develop it.)  But he did have a lot of gumption and so kept at it.

The week passed quickly and the owners of the dog returned to take the dog home for the weekend and wait for a decision.  Everyone had the intervening couple of days of the weekend to decide if a dog, let alone this dog, would be a good fit for the parish.

By Tuesday morning the dog was permanently installed in the house, the staff later informing me that they knew the dog was going to be a resident fifteen minutes after his arrival.  They saw the bond fixed and made permanent that first day.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


When I was in the seminary there were guys who dreamed (with the best of intentions) of one day being a bishop.  My biggest dream was one day becoming a pastor of (what is now becoming extinct) a tiny, ethnic parish off in the corner of the diocese that most of the rest of the diocese forgot about.  Things didn’t exactly turn out that way (for which I am grateful) but I am more glad than ever not to be a bishop.  

Of course we never get the whole story, but in the paper today a bishop was accused of not removing a priest from ministry because of an accusation.  According to the diocese the cases were immediately reported to the Child Protection Service (who would not, for purposes of confidentiality, respond).  Apparently they did not substantiate the claims though.  So what is the bishop to do?  Remove the priest from service because of what the government considers a non-substantiated claim?  Or should he get in the practice of remove anybody from any position because of any report?  He will lose either way.

Maybe it is a situation that the Church brought on herself.  And undoubtedly we still have a lot of change to bring about before things become better.

However, that a does not mean that every change is always good or warranted.  Algirdas G. Nastvytis wrote in his Letter to the Editor in the August 25th Pain Dealer that “the main problem is priestly celibacy.  It’s been a festering wound for 1,000 years since it was required.”  He does not offer any clue as to what the problem is.  Does celibacy lead to pedophilia?  Really?  All we have to do is allow marriage in the Church and there will be no more cheating on vows, no more abuse of pornography, no more child abuse?  Clearly he is correct because we see none of these things in marriage (he said with a hint of irony.)

And, as a long time reader pointed out, does Mr. Nasvytis want to be the first to offer one of his daughters in marriage to man who has a tendency toward these problems to see if that would stem his desires?  I am willing to bet not.  This is not a solution and it was not well thought out - if at all.

“We also need to do away with professional clergy living in ivory towers.  A reasonably intelligent male member of the Church . . . who can read and memorize, ‘This is my body; this is my blood,’ should be ordained as a priest.”  Mr. Nasvytis has not done much work in history to find out why we make priests go to school - because of the dangerous things that can come of a man saying, proclaiming and teaching thing that cause harm and division within the Body of Christ.

“Why can’t Joe the plumber, Al the carpenter or Ed the lawyer say Mass?”  He can.  He does.  Many of the men going through the seminary are second career men.  In our diocese alone they have been accountants, artists, retailers, sportsmen, owners of businesses, teachers and in one case a widowed father and from many other backgrounds.  They didn’t come from the planet Mars or were birthed from a university.  The mystique is largely blows once someone makes a friend of a priest.  My sister just last week said she used to put priests on a pedestal until she understood that they could be baby brothers.  

We have a mess on our hands and much has been done to correct it. More can and should be done and quickly.  But it must also be well thought out and effective or it just adds to the problem. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It might even be time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who you are."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "If you cease to utter falsehoods and live according to the dictates of your conscience, you can maintain your nobility, even when facing the ultimate threat; if you abide, truthfully and courageously, by the highest of ideals, you will be provided with more security and strength than will be offered by any shortsighted concentration on your own safety; if you live properly, fully, you can discover meaning so profound that it protects you even from the fear of death."  same source.


Guess who got skunked last night!  He wasn't (isn't) happy but it was a bonding moment - well - night for the priests at St. Sebastian.  The skunk was a surprise for him when he went sniffing under the slide in the playground.  OHHHHH it was bad.  Thank goodness for baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and Dawn!

Our 8th grade day school students are heading out to Shanksville today for the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial.  Find some press coverage HERE and HERE.

A. B. sent in an article HERE that is a little more clear than average as to why young adults leave the faith.  I found it helpful.  Thanks.

Here's proof from Schneider Park that fall is on the way . . . 

Tomorrow night Fr. Jacob Bearer will be speaking at Theology on Tap Akron!

It is time for something light.  Thank you R.B.!

Sunday, September 9, 2018


So recently I was on vacation in up state New York.  We went out to dinner at a restaurant to which I have been wanting to go for YEARS.  We were hiking so I wasn't dressed as a priest.  The waitress was friends with my sister and her family and greeted us (particularly me) warmly.  Very warmly.
I kind of don't mind when a waitress calls you "sweetie" or "honey."  And as nice as she was, she was also kind of touchy.
Not "touchy" in the temperament way - touchy in that she liked to touch me a lot.
I tried to ignore it but it was becoming difficult and so my brother-in-law came to the rescue.
You would have thought that I all of sudden turned into Mr. Heatmiser.

Friday, September 7, 2018


What are you going to do with these empty rooms now?” asked the business manager about the vacated bedrooms on the top floor.

“I want to make them into nice suites and lure priests to come to St. Sebastian.”  Being alone at the parish I hoped we might find a couple of retired priests that would like to take up residence.  Or maybe one of the priests from the seminary would like to become a weekend associate and help with Masses and confessions and stay on for dinner and conversation.  Maybe a foreign priest studying at the University would need a place to stay.  In any event, if that was to happen, we would first need fitting quarters and so plans were set in motion to start creating desirable living spaces out of what had served as offices.

In general, it seems to me a good thing for parishes that can to have more than one priest to serve them.  It is certainly no secret that one size does not fit all in this world and the same holds true when it comes to priests.  Having more priests around at St. Sebastian would up the odds that someone not finding me their cup of tea would have a better matched spiritual guide and companion.  

Then there is the selfish reason of having another priest to talk to in the evenings.  My previous parishes always had at least three priests to discuss the day’s events with.  And to be quite honest, there are some things that one should only speak about with other priests.  It is also nice just to have something else alive in the house besides a fern with which to watch the game on T.V. or with whom to go to parish functions.  But after five o’clock, everybody left and the rectory, and that, which felt cramped and loud during the day, seemed expansive and lonely at night.

The first resident would show up a few weeks into my assignment.  The business manager came into my office and asked, “Father, what do you think about a dog?”  I tried to hide my eagerness and cautiously asked, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, my sister has a several dogs and cats and they are moving.  They have a new dog, a golden retriever and black lab mix that they can no longer care for.  Father, it’s a great dog and if I can’t find a home for it, they are going to take it to the pound.”

After a bit of feigned hemming and hawing I agreed to an interview.  The dog would visit for one week and then would go back home.  Then there would be a staff meeting to see how everybody felt about the dog, and if everybody was Okay with it, St. Sebastian rectory would be its new home.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


From the most faithful, faithful Catholic, to the vaguely nominal Catholic to the anti-Catholic it seems most people want to weigh in on the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.  If and when you are pulled in to one of these conversations, here some things to avoid:

Don’t equate (or allow others to) the faith with the sins of some (or all!) of its members.  There are two different things going on here.  The problem here is what happens when a person or group of persons DON’T follow the faith.  It is a failure of persons - not a failure of faith.  Whether you are a pope or student in 2nd grade at your local parish school, you still have free will, and concupiscence still effects you and from time to time we fail.  Sometimes spectacularly.  It is why we have the sacrament of confession for one.

Don’t defend the actions of those who did wrong.  It was a horrible thing and we should all be appalled.  “Well it’s worse in . . .” doesn’t help.  It was wrong and by our faith those who participated need to face the consequences of their actions.  One does not hate the United States because somebody abused their freedom. We still believe in the United States and in freedom, we know we just need to deal with the abuse.

Don’t deny that the Church has sinners in it.  There are 1.2 billion Catholics - more than half of all the Christians in the world.  We are Church of sinners.  Some are terribly rotten.  It is embarrassing that some of them call themselves Catholic.  But seriously - 1.2 billion people.  Yeah  - some of mess up big time.

Don’t let someone tell you that this is RESULT of the faith.  (“Just look at the Crusades!”)  I bet you can name more saints than another sinners, more great institutions than another wars.  And those things that they are able to name - how many were a result of persons running contradictory actions to the faith?

Don’t let someone tell you something that sounds fishy without backing it up.  An editorial recently (it may be blog fodder next week) stated that this is a sign that we need to get rid of priestly celibacy, as if that somehow caused it.  There was no citation, no reasoning why this move would solve all or even some of the crisis problems.  If it did, there would be none of these problems in marriages.

Don’t clump broad swaths of people into a group, “Those bishops!  Those priests!” as if they were all the same - it perpetuates what we would call in other circles prejudice or guilt by association.  It ruins the reputations of good people.

Don’t take on the sins as if they belong to the whole Catholic Church.  They belong to those who sinned.

Don’t make those who sin “the others.”  In exactly the opposite of the last point, when part of the Body of Christ is effected, the whole body is effected.  The Church needs to examine herself, make amends, do penance.  We are not islands unto ourselves.  We are one.  We take on each others victories and faults and work together as a body to both build up and purify the Church.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The Catholic Church is such a large, fascinating, complex and storied institution, and Catholic life is so focused on institutions like parishes, schools and hospitals, that it's easy for serious Catholics to lose sight of something quite basic: Catholics aren't - or shouldn't be - at Mass on Sunday because they admire the pope of the day, or their local bishop, or their pastor.  Catholics come to Mass on Sunday to hear what we believe to be the Word of God in Scripture and to enter into what we believe to be communion with God because of Jesus Christ."  from George Weigel's column of 1 September in the Wall Street Journal.

QUOTE II:  "Yet much as I share the anger and disgust of my fellow Catholics over what has surfaced these past months, I'd suggest to those imagining themselves in a crisis of faith that they're experiencing something different: a challenge to understanding what the Church really is . . . it is important to refocus on the basis of Catholic faith, which is trust in Jesus Christ."  same source.


E. F. sent this latest Chesterton news inUpdate on the investigation into an opening of a Cause for GKChesterton: the initial paperwork file is completed, 120 pages plus footnotes. This has been handed to the Bishop of Northampton, and a small committee has been assigned to read and advise. We trust the work of the Holy Spirit to guide us now and as this proceeds either to open or not open. We trust in God’s plan.

A. B. sent in THIS interesting article to think about.

Here are some events coming up:

This is from Sunday's "An Evening with G. K. Chesterton" with Mr. Chuck Chalberg sponsored by the St. Sebastian Chesterton Society to help celebrate the parish's 90th anniversary.  Thank you to everybody who helped make it a great night.

Here is where I was last week and why I was not posting:
This is the new "Garden House" at my sister's.  It's no bigger than a postage stamp but I want to live in it.
Bishop Barron has a number of video's on the Church crisis.  Here is just one of them (8 mins.):

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Having had a recent birthday, I was struck by how things you loved as a kid are not so great as an adult and visa versa.  Take this birthday treat for example:
Even one's views on certain presents changes between being a younger person and an older one:

And then there is this - said over the course of three notes to express embarrassment:
Just a note - I will not be posting the rest of the week.  I will be back the following week!

Friday, August 24, 2018


The next part of the project was that of changing the copy room into an office in order to get all of the offices off of the bedroom floor.  Thee is just something creepy and inappropriate about taking a shower and getting dressed in your bedroom while in the very next room someone is meeting with a bereft parishioner.  

The first move would need to be the evicting of the copy machine out of its own office in order to free up some space.  It turns out that if the copy machine were a person it would be appreciated for its efficiency and hard work, but nobody would want to partner with him because he took up  lot of space and was smelly and noisy.  Conversely, nobody wanted to be too far away from him.  Put him in the secretary’s office?  He was too noisy and it was already too packed in there.  The basement?  Too far away and too damp.  The hallway?  Too small and there were no available outlets.  The volunteer office?  Move over and make room for your large, smelly, loud new partner.

With this space and some other creative adjustments in the house, all of the offices were moved out of the bedroom hallway.  A little ground had been claimed for house!  That would not be the end game for the little office in the front of the house.  Before things really settled there would be a few more moves but by and large the staff was amiable about their relocations.  It turns out they were uncomfortable having offices amongst the bedrooms also.

Interestingly enough, the change in status of the rooms altered our taxes.  Every square foot of the house needs to be accounted for.  Having offices turned back into living space means a slight loss of a tax break for the Church.  But hopefully the investment in sanity and appropriateness would be worth it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Attending a party as a seminarian and being in a Roman collar, a lady came up to me to talk and she started telling me all kinds of things that I doubt she really wanted just any old person to know.  I interrupted her and said, “I’m not a priest.  I am only a seminarian.  I don’t think you should tell me these things.”  She waved my comment away and said, “You’re close enough,” and continued with her story.

I told one of professors about this and asked him what he thought.  He said that it was because of the good reputation set up for us by priests who have gone before and so we are often automatically given the benefit of the doubt.  We should be grateful and work diligently to keep that reputation in tact for future priests.

Well, you know the muck we are in (again) right now.  Just when it seemed we were gaining traction again . . . well, you get it.

So what is a priest to do at the parish?  Pennsylvania is the elephant in the room.  The readings for this weekend are so beautiful, challenging and dynamic but, because of the actions of some, we will have to deal with the scandal.  Trust has been gravely damaged.

Trust is not a boomerang.  When it is thrown away it doesn’t just come back.  Like a marriage in which on of the spouses has broken the trust of the other, saying, “Sorry” doesn’t cut it.  It takes a long time because the trust needs to be rebuilt.

Sin always leaves its mark.  There is no such thing as private sin.  It always leaves a stain because one of the very definitions of sin is that it brings harm into the world spiritually, mentally or physically.  This sin exploded in a such a dramatic way that it not only harmed those directly involved, but it brought damage to the greater Church.  (Hw grotesquely powerful the sin is!)

I imagine almost every Catholic knows now what it is to be guilty by association.  Yet that is there to say?  What happened was wrong.  It was indefensible.  It was terribly damning. 

As one priest put it, the Church is on fire.  What are we to do?  What does Christ call us to do?  Run away or hide until there is no more need for fire fighters?  Or does He call us to run in and help put out the fire especially where souls are most at risk?  

Do not grow tired or discouraged.  It is a terrible day.  But it is the terrible days that call for saints.  

At the very least, pray for all embroiled in this sad situation, especially those at ground zero.  But also the many people whose faith journey will be tested (or even derailed) because of the selfish desires of some.  Could a bomb do any more damage? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  (On theologians)  "The image you should have in mind is not the professor with a tweed jacket, but rather the disciple who dropped everything to follow Jesus.  Becoming a theologian means following God's Word where it leads with all one's mind, heart, and strength."  from Kevin Vanhoozer's, "Letter ti ab Aspiring Theologian" in "First Things."

QUOTE II:  "Theology is the study of how to speak truly of God and of all things in relation to God.  But theologians can't approach the object of their study the way biologists study living creatures or geologists the earth.  God cannot be imperially examined.  God is the creator of all things, not to be identified with any part of the universe or even with the universe as a whole.  Speaking of God thus poses unique challenges.  If God had not considered to commute to creatures something of His light, we would be in the dark."  same source


Here are some upcoming events to which you are invited sponsored by St. Sebastian Parish:

        2 September 7PM  “An Evening with G. K. Chesterton” at Pub Bricco
8 September 5:30  90th Anniversary Spaghetti Dinner
12 September 7:30 Theology on Tap at the Harbor Front
17 September 7:30PM Theology on the Rocks at Diagnese’s
30 September 4PM  Concert: Keller Consort

Fr. Peter Kovacina gave a great talk on Pope Benedict last night at D'Agnese's for Theology on the Rocks.   For more information go HERE.  I will be the next speaker and the topic will be about reading liturgical statues, paintings and a little bit on church heraldry.  

 Thank you to our awesome hosts!

N. S. sent THIS in.  The real thing to see is the link at the bottom to a video of a three-year-old singing the Salve Regina.  I will think of this the next time someone asks (after hearing their child rap an entire song) if their child can call me Fr. V because Valencheck is way too difficult for a young person.

P. V. sent in THIS article about a nun throwing the first pitch at a White Sox game.

Go HERE to see the Akron First Friday Club schedule or listen to their podcast.

Here is a video of the play, "An Evening with G. K. Chesterton which will be performed here in Akron on September 2nd at Club Bricco as part of St. Sebastian's 90th anniversary celebrations.  It might seem odd putting the play online but it is here to give you a taste because there is nothing like seeing it live.  Tickets available by calling or stopping by the St. Sebastian rectory or in the lobby of the church after Masses this weekend.