Tuesday, March 20, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "One might think that a generation that has heard endlessly, from thier more ideological teachers, about the rights, rights, rights that belong to them, would object to being told that thy would do better to focus instead on taking responsibility.  Yet this generation, many of whom where raised in small families by hyper-protective parents, on soft-surface playgrounds, and then taught in universities with 'safe spaces' where they don't have to hear things they don't want to hear - schooled to be risk-averse - has among it, now, millions who feel stultified by this underestimation of their potential resilience . . . "  Dr. Norman Doidge

QUOTE II:  "In the West, we have been withdrawing, from our tradition-, religion- and even nation-centered cultures, partly to decrease the danger of group conflict.  But we are increasingly falling prey to the desperation of meaninglessness, and that is no improvement at all."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"


C. C. sent THIS in about a baby Jesus statue that was stolen 80 years ago.  The real sin was some of the renovations of the church.  Interestingly something similar happened at St. Sebastian.  A guy came in a few years ago and gave $30 to the parish to replace a microphone that he said he stole when he was a kid.

This starts TONIGHT at the Julie Billiart chapel in Akron!  Fr. Gearing will show experts from the movie "The Passion of the Christ" and give theological commentary.  See you there.

 Monsignor Manners says:
Even though Mass is officially completed at the Ice missa est, one should remain in their pew until after the recessional music is over before running people over in the parking lot.  (Thanks Fr. K.)

Here's 4 minutes of thought:

Monday, March 19, 2018


Let me begin by saying that I think Amber Alerts are, in general, a good thing.  This is that incredibly loud and obnoxious noise that your phone makes when you receive a notification of an emergency in which officials want the community's help.  Usually it is a look out for a car, almost always foreign made, almost always white and with uninteresting license plates.  It's never AWSUM DVR or anything memorable.  

I can't think of a good time for an Amber Alert to happen.  They have shot me out of bed yelling, "I AWAKE!  HEAD FOR SHELTER!" or scare the bejeebers out of me driving.

I've learned a number of things about Amber Alerts and phones recently.  Last Friday as a matter of fact.  For example, did you know that even if you have your sounds turned off on your phone that it may still go off full tilt on Amber Alarm?  Further, not everybody receives an Amber Alert at the exact same time?  And finally, have you ever wondered what would happen if an Amber Alert were to happen at the worst possible time with a very large group of people?  I no longer do.

It was at confirmation Mass with our brand new bishop that I discovered all of these things.  It was during his homily.  At first it was a just a couple of phones and I was mildly annoyed that someone could be so rude as to not have turned off their phone at Mass.  I thought we were beyond that by now.  But after a few moments, it became evident it was a lot of phones and all making that same horrible sound.  You could see mortified people diving into their purses and pockets trying to extinguish the alarms in their pants. 

It was so bizarre.  Slowly the alarms went off across the congregation.  It was like the final scene in The King's Men where, at the gathering inside the mountain, one by one the guests heads were blowing up.  Then there was the panic of the priests in the sanctuary:

Friday, March 16, 2018


Preliminary plans were being set out for an addition to the rectory.  A second story was to be added to the west wing of the rectory over the garages and loggia.  The wing would consist of two additional suites and a series of storage closets.  The new suites were not quite as nice or well constructed as the original building and did not contain fireplaces as most of the others suites did, but they were substantially larger.  

It wasn’t that more space was needed for priests.  The rectory already had space for five priests or four residents and two guest rooms.  It was Father Zwisler’s sister who would take up residence in these rooms.

Miss Maria Zwisler took over the running of the rectory and her stern rule over the house has become something of a legend in the diocese.  Again, as part of the class on the history of the diocese, many epic tales of her were shared as part of the collective memory of the presbyterate.  She was fiercely loyal to her brother and so strict with the other residents that she earned the moniker Major Duomo.  

The most famous story (later substantiated by the priest involved) happened on a cold winter day.  The priest, having to go on a sick call, started his car and decided to let it warm up before driving it and so left it running and ran over to the school.  When he returned he found the police waiting for him.  Maria called the authorities claiming that someone was trying to murder her by running their car in the garage under her room.

Her reign at the rectory came to a quick and sudden end one day when the bishop came for a visit.  He was in town and decided to stop by unannounced to see Fr. Zwisler.  When he rang the bell, Maria answered the door.  Asked if he had an appointment the bishop responded that he did not, at which point she sternly told him that he should not come by unannounced and slammed the door on him.  She was instructed to move out of the rectory the following day by order of the bishop.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Persons with Downs Syndrome can rest easy.  They will no longer be discriminated against in the termination of their lives.  A Columbus judge has determined that it is unconstitutional to limit abortion for the reason that parents don’t want their child because that child has Down Syndrome.  Planned Parenthood has lauded the ruling that “A woman should be able to trust her physician and have confidential conversations without worrying about government interference.”  What is left off of the end of that sentence is “concerning the death of their child that doesn’t meet up with their standards.”

What I just wrote is very divisive.  It would be difficult for a person who feels that such a child is not a human being to have a civil conversation with me I would imagine.  But A) such persons tend not to read my blog and B) it truly is a horrific path we are on and so many people are terribly blind to it.

Yesterday students from across the country walked out of their schools to protest guns and the death of students due to mass shootings.  “Are we next?” was one of the signs in the Akron Beacon Journal this morning.  The last time I encountered a sign that asked that question was from a person in a wheelchair in Washington D.C. protesting abortions.  What if that person could have been diagnosed in the womb of having some condition that would land her in a wheelchair?  Who could face her and say, “I would have protected the right for your parents to terminate your life for the simple reason that you would end up in a wheelchair”?

Is the problem really guns?  Maybe in part.  But could the bigger problem be that we keep chipping away at a general respect for life?  As we sanitize our culture of the dignity of the human person, cultural laws, turning inwardly as a humanity, thinking that there is no meaning beyond what men invent and falling deeper into nihilism, could it be that we are simply just losing the idea that life is inviolable?  Once one determines Jack can be done away with, is it much of a step to say that Jill could be also?  It is a slippery slope.

It is the difference between the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” and “Love they neighbor.”  Not killing is controlling outward behavior.  Loving is changing hearts and minds.  Go ahead and ban every last gun, but if you are not going to change hearts and minds toward the dignity of all human life, then you also better ban knives, nail clippers, razors, any liquids over 3 oz. . .

Oh wait.  We already do that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  ". . . their professors chose to devalue thousands of years of human knowledge about how to acquire virtue, dismissing it as passe, 'not relevant' or even 'oppressive.'"  Norman Dodge in "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "So, right alongside relativism, we find the spread of nihilism and despair, and also the opposite of moral relativism: the blind certainty offered by ideologies that claim to have an answer for everything."  same source


Here are some faith centered things to do yet in lent:

 E.P. sent in THIS ARTICLE concerning Bishop Thomas, healthcare, and abortion.  Thanks.
Here's a two minute shot in the arm:

Sunday, March 11, 2018


There is a terrible personality type, which I sometimes exhibit, known as The Topper.  Anything bad thing you say that happened to you, The Topper can come up with one worst that happened to him.
It is annoying.  The other day our seminarian was home for (ironically) spring break (more like lingering winter break) and we went for a walk.  He was telling me about life and I found myself exhibiting this terrible trait.
Unfortunately, I couldn't completely give it up as he made the hapless mistake of talking about his rough day on the very same day I had my colonoscopy.

Friday, March 9, 2018


With the post war baby boom, the number of children in the school exploded.  Originally built to handle about 250 students, the retrofitted school now boasted an enrollment of 650.  It was time to utilize the property across Hawkins Avenue.  Ground for a recreation building that would include additional classroom space was broken in 1952.  Work continued through the Jubilee Year of the parish.

A grand party was planned for that Jubilee Year.  It would take place in the new recreation center at 3PM on Sunday, November 8th, 1953.  Archbishop Hoban would be in attendance and officiate the blessing of the new building.

The program began with selections from the choir.  Emitte Spiritum Tuum by Schuetky, the Sanctus from Gounod’s Mass of St. Cecelia, and the Recessional Jubilate Deo by Mozart.  Representatives from the parish spoke as well as the mayor of Akron, the Honorable Russell M. Bird.  There were also presentations and solos.  The day ended with solemn benediction in the church.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Parishes need to do more in order to attract and keep today’s people.”  The answer is always more programs and more ministries.  There is some truth to this and so many parishes have a full week’s worth of activities and special events to make sure that people are involved.

The danger of this is that many people mean that the priest and (usually his staff of about 3 full time paid people) are supposed to put all these things on.  Parishes become like your club membership, one “joins” in order to enjoy all the benefits offered.  But no matter how talented the staff may be, they can only do so much.

If you agree that your parish should do “more,”  maybe you are being called to do something about it.  It takes two of course.  In many cases a pastor must at least allow it to take place especially if you need space and a bulletin announcement.  But supposing that is there, if you see a hole, offer to fill it.

I’ve been heartened by the number of lay run ministries in our area some associated directly with a parish and some not.  Things that with our staffs and budgets we could never have enough to do.  West Side Catholic Couples incorporates a number of people from 5 parishes and they just put on a retreat for 600 people.  The ITE project is going strong.  (See more HERE.)  Theology on Tap Akron and Theology on the Rocks, The Young Adult Book Group, Bible Studies, Social Justice, and a number of other groups thrive in the Akron area with different levels of lay leadership and connections to parishes.  

The fact is, we are a mission people sent out from Mass to do Catholic, Christian stuff.  The rising movement of lay ministry is way to see to it that our parishes are as lively as they can be while not depending on “someone official” to bear the whole of the burden.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself by what he is willing to do, by what he might have said or might have done - a judgement that is necessarily hampered, not only by the scope and limits of his imaginations, but by the ever-changing measure of his doubt and self-esteem." from  Eleanor Catton's, "The Luminaries"


K. S. took this picture this previous Friday on the parish grounds.  It was a beautiful snowfall.  Thanks!
This past Saturday The Passion and Purpose for Marriage retreat was at St. Sebastian.  I was not prepared for this turn out.  There were people from five states that I know of.
Fr. Damian Ference is giving our parish Mission currently.  Here is a picture of him climbing our bell tower a number of years ago.
It has been great so far.  Thanks to everybody who turned out!  Tonight from 7 to 8PM is the final night!  If you can stop by!

The Academy of Culture and Arts at St. Sebastian has started a Community Steel Drum Band.  Fr. Simone and I want a few more people to join us!  The cost is $60 a month.  To contact the ACASS and sign up for classes go HERE.  On my Facebook page, if you scroll down a little bit, you can hear our first rehearsal HERE.

Here is your laugh for the week thanks to Fr. K.

Friday, March 2, 2018



On January 1st, 1951, the convent was completed.  The cost of the building and furnishings including the chapel, was $110,000.  Today that would be over a million dollars.  What a joy it must have been for the nuns to move out of the school with its communal lodging for 12 nuns and in to their own beautiful building for although the nuns would have been working during the hours the school was in session, living in a school building must have come with its own unique challenges

Thursday, March 1, 2018


In the dome of our nation’s capital is a painting entitled, “The Apotheosis of Washington.”  You can read more about it HERE.  This is the Wikipedia description of it:  “The Apotheosis of Washington depicts George Washington sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god (apotheosis).”  There is a tendency somewhere in man that makes us want to make our great ones god-like.  Think of movie stars.  Think of the Beetles coming to America.  Think of Super Bowl winners.  

This was even more literal for pre-Christian rulers.  The emperor was not like a god, he was a god and demanding of worship.  That is how he kept his rule and his people in check.  

Then comes along Jesus from some back water town with a unique message: the emperors, kings, supreme rulers?  They are not gods.  They are men.  God is God and these men are just as much under the same rule of the Heavenly Father as the lowliest of their enemies.  They do not have the right to do as their will pleases any more than you do.  Their “powers” (if you will) are held in check by the One True God Who is the true ruler over all the earth.

At the same time Jesus was saying this, He was saying other radical things such as, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the lonely, care for the sick, welcome the stranger, for when you do these things, you do them for me.

What is amazing about this?  It is just this:  While there are a few ways this line can be interpreted, I think one of the most amazing interpretations of this particular line from Mary’s Magnificat is so incredibly powerful because it is literally literal.  (HA!)  Bearing in mind what said above, how cool is it to say, “You have cast down the mighty from their thrones, and have lifted up the lowly.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The truth is that only men to whom the family is sacred will ever have a standard or a status by which to criticize the state."  from G. K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man"

QUOTE II:  "It is said truly in a sense that Pan died because Christ was born.  It is almost as true in anther sense that men knew that Christ was born because Pan died."  same source


Some events coming up you might like to go to:

 Fr. Trenta in Rome!  Clever.
 Fr. K is starting a new series staring none other than Monsignor Manners:

PV sent in THIS article about Forest Lodge that was in the BJ recently.

J & BD sent in THIS article about the school of nursing that many of you were commenting on.

MJ sent this in:  In response to ongoing viewer demand, EWTN will premiere a brand new weekly Catholic Bible Study entitled, “Scripture and Tradition.” The series, hosted by Scripture Scholar Fr. Mitch Pacwa SJ, kicks off at 2 p.m. ET, Tuesday, March 6, with encores at 10 p.m. ET, Tuesdays, and 9 a.m. ET, Wednesdays.  Here is a sneak preview:

Sunday, February 25, 2018


My sister called today to tell me that she has just THREE MORE DAYS until she retires.  My other sister is already retired and entering that phase where she is more busy now than when she was working.  They want to know when I will be able to play.  I have a feeling my retirement will be pushed back a little later than theirs.  
Tip of the biretta to S. S.

Friday, February 23, 2018


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.


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


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