Friday, December 15, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: 1943 WAS THERE EVER "ENOUGH" PRIESTS?

This year hailed the beginning of Scouting at St. Sebastian, a relationship that has been intact to the present day.  40 boys joined the Boy Scouts (Troop 96) and a healthy 70 girls made up the Girl Scouts.  An additional 45 boys were signed up for the Cub Scouts and 35 girls joined the Brownies.

Due to the war, the parish was also down to two priests again.  One of the priests left the parish with the bishop’s permission to become a chaplain in the war raging overseas.  Apparently, the previous April of 1942, Bishop McFadden made a promise to Fr. Zwisler that one of the newly ordained priests would be assigned to St. Sebastian to take his place.  Father was taking no chances.  He wrote to the Bishop to make sure that he remembered his promise.

In a letter dated January 6th, 1943, Father took no pains to hide the fact that he was upset a new priest had not already been assigned to him.  During the war years, ordinations were taking place twice a year instead of the customary once at the end of the school year.  This was done to move men more quickly through the system.  Being that an ordination was right around the corner, a newly ordained should be assigned to St. Sebastian.  “This is as it should be,” wrote Father, “In fact, in anticipation of giving of one of my assistants for the Service, I should have been assigned one of the newly ordained last year.


“The amount of work I have engaged in this parish would warrant three assistants.  Working twenty four hours of the day I could not do the work adequately with only one assistant.  Two assistants are indispensable.”

Father pulled no punches in his letter.  “There are glaring inequalities in the Diocese, which we know are not a fault of yours.  The Cathedral and St. Thomas’ have a superabundance of priests and choose and dismiss whom they please.  The priests of the Diocese all know the reason why.

“Here, in our own neighborhood, St. Peter’s (Akron) with only about a hundred and fifty families, has as much help as St. Sebastian, an organized and complete city parish.”  The letter goes on to explain the difficulty of obtaining Sunday Mass help and then mentions, “Besides, this parish is always the first in the Diocese in it’s support of the Diocese and Diocesan institutions.  This should merit consideration.

“. . . Having waited nearly a year thus far, I want to wait the remaining weeks, with the assurance that St. Sebastian will obtain one of the efficient and zealous young priests about to be ordained.


“With most fervent wishes and a prayer for your health and happiness during the New Year, I remain, Respectfully Yours, Hilary Zwisler.  Pastor.  Feast of the Epiphany.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

GET RID OF "THEM"

A few years ago it was obvious that the Catholic Church should get rid of celibacy because it led to sexual abuse.  With the latest round of sexual abuse in news, sports, entertainment, and politics (and there are some other major areas that have yet to be tapped,) to what should we attribute it now?  Should we get rid of politics and entertainment?  Should we get rid of men?  Most of these people are married, should we rid ourselves of the obvious scourge of marriage?  Maybe we should level the playing field so that nobody has power.  (But of course, then who would have the power to enforce that?)  On to what bandwagon should we all jump this time?

May I suggest one?  How about the bandwagon that says all humans have inherent dignity, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.  It is when we start chipping away at the eternal worth of any human soul that all people’s worth is damaged.  If I am willing to put the child in the womb, the criminal, the sick and elderly to death, then I too have decreased in value as the bar for the worthy has been raised against me - I come closer to being the person to be used by others for their own end.

We need heroes and role models; saints and stars.  But we cannot place them on so high a pedestal (and the rest of us so low to the ground) that they can use that glory to dazzle the eyes of those who gaze up that them, blinding them of their own dignity and allowing themselves to be mistreated.


There is no lifestyle (married, single, divorced, celibate, etc) that causes someone to be an abuser.  There are people with power who are abusers regardless of their lifestyle.  These abuse scandals are an alarm that we all need help in becoming a healthier culture, not a bunch of irate and blind finger pointers.  It is the sin we will not tolerate from anyone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXIV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "When people have Messianic expectations of the state, when they ask politics to deliver more than they can, the story ends badly."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render Unto Caesar"

IN OTHER NEWS:

You probably heard that Pope Francis made a comment about changing a line in the Our Father.  One of our parishioners, Mr. Matthew Heinle was interviewed about it on channel 19 yesterday.  See more HERE.

See how good and pleasant it is when brothers live in harmony?

Father Patrick Anderson is speaking at Theology on Tap Akron tomorrow night!  Read more HERE.

C. T. sent this in:

Monday, December 11, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: PONDEROUS PONDERINGS

This isn't exactly a comic Monday, just something that has been tickling my brain lately.  It occurred to me that Christmas doesn't hold up to the light very well.  During the day you plainly see the DNR yard inflatables laying slain in people's front yards, the wires and extension cords of Christmas lights clearly running through trees, and stakes and ropes holding fake reindeer to the ground.

At night it is quite beautiful however - even magical.  All the mechanics disappear and only the pretty aspects shine through.

The religious aspect is exactly the opposite.  It seems silly and gaudy to those "in the dark" if you will allow me the use of that phrase for the sake of analogy, but in the Light, it is beautiful, inspiring, and healing.

All that being said, if you are going to dump Christ out of Christmas (Christ's Mass Day,) it seems to me we could come up something a little better.  Christmas without Christ is just senseless gong banging, bother, and bad music.
It certainly in does not conform to our evolving popular culture, which tries to scrape all of the icing off of the Christian holiday while throwing out the cake.  Unfortunately the icing doesn't make sense without the cake - all the flowers, writing, and decoration just turn into a colorful menagerie.  
The Church has been accused of taking a pagan holiday and "baptizing" it into the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  It was a natural progression of belief to something higher.  There was an idea in paganism that grew to its limit and needed to be transformed into the thing toward which it was pointing.  It blossomed into a belief in the One True God Who would be the Savior of the World (otherwise Christianity would never have taken off.)  Now our Western culture, ever on the lookout for the new and sheik, wants to back out of this development by gutting out of it that which gave it meaning in the first place.
Now, I know those who are on this path do not see it this way in much the same way as I don't see faith in the same way that such persons might suppose Christians must think.  But it seems to me that I am on a much surer path.  Culturally it seems that we are trying to remove the deepest meaning of everything in order to bring equality to all - holidays, the meaning of marriage, the humanity of persons in the womb just to name a few.  It seems to me, however, that the less dignity and worth and awe and belief we have in something greater and more beautiful and truer than ourselves we have, the less we value anything outside of ourselves, and our wants and desires.  
But there is reason for hope here.  This is the EXACT culture in which the faith first took root.  The faith began in a culture of sexual excess and confusion, abortion, war, power hungry politicians, capitol punishment, neglect of the poor and ill and persecution of those who called themselves Christian.  But the faith still grew and rose until even the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire felt he needed to become Christian in order to hold his power.  All that was needed - and all that is needed - is for individual men and women to boldly live their faith well.  So Happy Advent!

Friday, December 8, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: RCC AND THE FBI

But the brick lot was not the only place for the children to play.  1940 also marked the first playground being built for the children of the parish.

At some point during this period the adults had their own fun.  The men did anyway.  There was a “Turkey Raffle” during which time, in a back room, there was a high stakes poker game.  Mr. Yahner and Mr. Martucci were working in the kitchen providing dinners for the players.  Apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigations caught wind of it and prepared to raid the parish game.  The two men sensed that something was up and casually walked out the back door and mingled with the people in the parking lot missing out on the actual raid.


It was quite the sensation appearing in the Akron Beacon Journal.  And thus ended the annual “Turkey Raffle.” 

1941

The war in Europe raged on and America’s effort to stay out of the entanglements of the old country were weakening.  Then came the bombing of Pearl Harbor and on December 7th and the United States entered into World War II.  The effect on the parish would be great.  Three hundred and twenty two of her men and women would go to fight in the war.  Fr. Murphy became an army chaplain in the South Pacific.  There was a collective holding of breath to see who would come home.  


Another event that year would later effect the parish, but nobody would have known it then.  Father Charles Byrider, who would later become the second pastor of the parish, was ordained to the priesthood.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"ONE OF THE WORSE CASES WE'VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME"

When a woman wants to marry a man, she should check out to see how he treats his mother.  That should give her some clue as to his character.  At least that is the theory.

If that is true, it might be divined that you might be able to tell how a country treats it’s most vulnerable citizens by how it treats its animals.  And recently a young Akron man was sentenced under a new Ohio law that makes cruelty an to an animal a felony.  A pet cat relieved himself on him and scratched him and then he threw the cat against a wall so seriously injuring the animal that it later died.  Since it was his first offense, he avoided serving six to twelve months in jail.  The judge gave him a suspended 9 month prison sentence with two years probation during which time he, “must stay away from and not possess pets . . . undergo assessments for anger management, mental illness, and drug dependency, remain drug and alcohol free, and have no contact with his former roommate.”



All this sends a clear signal that we will not tolerate cruel treatment of our animals.  The judge said that the defendant’s actions, “led to a death in one of our most vulnerable populations.”  These are lives entrusted to us, who are dependent upon us, who have no voice, no vote, few rights, and who are almost completely dependent upon the beneficence of humankind.  It is unconscionable that we should have been given such a great responsibility and then to be the agent pain and death.  So we have legislated morality to make sure that careless, thoughtless human beings will stand up to the task of caring for vulnerable animal life while at the same time having protected rights and even government assistance when needed to do away with their own children in the womb.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "A young woman friend of mine complained recently that many of her age-cohort peers don't have romances, passions, or lovers.  They have relationships.  Lewis's devil Screwtape would have probably felt her pain.  He yearned for the taste of a really great adulterer - a Renaissance libertine of character and sprit, capable of sinning heroically - instead of the cramped souls of the modern age, almost too insubstantial and pathetic to be worth damning."  from Archbishop Chaput's "Strangers in a Strange Land"

QUOTE II  "And what about chastity?  It's a basic truth of Christian discipleship.  And it does not mean, 'Sorry, no sex for you.'  Rather, God asks us to live our sexuality virtuously according to our calling."  same source


IN OTHER NEWS:

L. G. sent in THIS article written by a religious education teacher about why she thinks that her students won't be Catholic when they grow up.

"Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Manger Scene"  Read more HERE.

Here's something you don't see everyday.  Fr. Pfeiffer serenading his parents at the Fa La Lollies last weekend.

There have been a number of discussions with local priests as to whether attending a late Mass this Fourth Sunday of Advent would constitute attending Mass also on Christmas (or visa versa.)  The answer is, "No."  HERE is one article and MW sent THIS ONE in yesterday.

MW sent in the 5 and a half minute video on Gregorian Chant at an seminary in the United States.

Monday, December 4, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: ARE YOU PUTTING ON SOME WEIGHT?

One of things to which a newly ordained priest must become accustomed is that complete strangers (and not strangers) will come up to you and say things that they would not say to anybody else for fear of being perceived as rude.
I remember not knowing what to do with such comments at first.  Only over time do you come to realize that many people see you as family and so say things that they might only otherwise say to their intimates, which, I suppose, is more of a compliment.
And it isn't all bad.

Friday, December 1, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: THE BRICK PARKING LOT

The paved streets in Akron at the time were largely done so in brick as exemplified by Mull Avenue today.  When roads were laid there were inevitably bricks left over and Father Zwisler would buy the bricks from the city and have them delivered to the parish.  The surface of the original parking lot was cinders that the janitor would take from the incinerator, spreading them on the field.  It was on top of this that the bricks were placed in order to create a parking surface.  Eventually this surface would take up over an acre.  

The lot had a certain charm and looms heavily when recalling the lore of the parish.  “I heard it on the brick parking lot,” came to be to a St. Sebastianite what others would mean when they said, “I heard it through the grapevine.”

The lot was not square and though useful, because of its odd shape, it did not lend itself to sensible parking patterns.  And while charming from ground level, a view from the sky showed a patchwork of bricks giving testimony to the different roads from which they came.  There were approximately eight different road bricks to be found in the lot in colors ranging from yellow to dark red.  But its irregularities aside, it served the parish for almost three quarters of a century requiring virtually no structural maintenance.  

At some point, a parcel of land was purchased directly across the street from the parking lot and a small house erected on the corner of Elmdale and Orlando.  The house, served as the residence of the parish maintenance man.  It is easily recognizable by looking at its driveway.  As of 2018, it was still paved in the same bricks that once made up the brick surface of the brick parking lot.


The lot was also used as a playground for the school.  Many an adult man proudly recalled “losing a lot of skin off of my knees on those bricks when I went to school here.”  At some point, lighting was added.  To accomplish this, underground wires were run across the lot and then covered over by a twelve inch wide strip of concrete.  The line made a handy divider between the boy’s side and the girl’s side of the play ground.  Micki Trenta reminisces about how the girls used to play jacks on the cement strip, the uneven nature of the bricks it making too difficult a surface on which to play.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A COMPLIMENT THAT NEEDS TO BE MINED

If your pastor has not thanked you or complimented you on your ministry lately, it is probably a compliment.  

I was thinking about how, when I arrived at St. Sebastian, how wonderful it was with everybody doing their various ministries and jobs.  It was easy to remember to thank everybody for all of the good things they were up to that I was discovering on a daily basis.  Realizing that they had things well in hand, I moved on to other projects, responsibilities, and problems.  It is like cooking a meal, that which is simmering nicely on the stove can be left alone while something that need attention (the potatoes that need peeling or the grease fire that needs extinguished) can be dealt with.  

The problem is that even the simmering pot needs stirred every once in a while.  It’s easy to forget because it is doing what it is supposed to be doing and in better condition than the other tasks that need immediate attention, but left on the burner too long without some kind of recognition, even the best simmering pot can turn into an emergency.

So at my last holy hour it occurred to me to try to treat a day as though it was one of my first days at the parish and to be appreciative of all the wonderful things that people are doing around here - all of the simmering pots - let the potatoes and grease fires take care of themselves for a moment and give the pot one good stir.

But man!  Is it difficult to remember to do!  Grease fires seem steal attention so easily!  (The squeaky wheel syndrome.)  To see everything for the first time!  And remember to say “Thanks for all you do!”  I challenge you to give it a try with your family, work mates, neighbors, friends . . . all the wonderful things they do for you that you have come to rely on.


And so I thank you for reading this blog and giving me this opportunity to share some of the ways it seems to be God is acting.  Sending out a prayer to you today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXII

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  "We are repeatedly told not to talk about sex, even though the rule-makers talk of little else."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land"

QUOTE:  "The Catholic faith, more than any of its Protestant cousins, is a religion not just of the mind and will but also of the bodily senses.  And while the senses can make mistakes, when it comes to sexuality, they ground us firmly in the real."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

Some friends and I went to visit our friend and artist Mother Mary Thomas PCPA at the Conversion of Saint Paul Shrine in Cleveland.
You might remember her painting that has been covered extensively here:
It is finally finished and on its way to its new home which, when I know more, I'll tell you about.

But she is not done!  She is working on new projects!  More recently she delving into stained-glass windows.  We got to see the life-size drawing of one destined for Florida. 
Here is a color rendering of the window which is being produced in cooperation with Azure Studio of Cleveland.
If you would like a reminder of who she is, HERE is a video:



Monday, November 27, 2017

ST. SEBASTIAN IN THE NEWS

St. Sebastian Parishioners were in the news this past week.  I thought I would share some of the news with you.

Matthew and Elisabeth Akers were interviewed in the Coming Home Network Magazine.  You can read their story of the conversion to the Catholic faith HERE.

IN OTHER NEWS

Parishioners have seen (and heard) Master Daniel Colaner any number of times playing the organ and piano at Masses and services at St. Sebastian.  Lynn Steward, our director of music and instructor of organ in the Academy of Culture and Arts at St. Sebastian has been teaching him how to play.  Daniel has soared in his musical abilities to the point of playing at Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick Cathedral this past weekend garnering for himself national attention.  Here are some links to news coverage of the event:

On November 23rd, a front page, above the fold article appeared about him in the Akron Beacon Journal (which, coincidentally, was also written by a St. Sebastian parishioner.)  Read more HERE.

Channel 5 picked up the story and it went national.  HERE is a link to one of the television news segments.  (The video for which was done by parishioner Joe McGee)

HERE is the local channel 5 segment.

Sunday night he was on World News Tonight.  See it HERE.

He appeared on Good Morning America according to THIS article.  

Recently there has been set up at the St. Sebastian Parish Foundation a fund to help young organists defray the cost of organ lessons.  As colleges across the country close their organ departments, we are trying to help make sure that there are organists to handle these beautiful instruments in the future.  If you would like to make a donation, HERE is the website where you may find how to contact the parish Foundation.  Or contact the Foundation development director, Kathy Holaday at 330.836.2233 extension 113 or holadayk@stsebastian.org.

Some of our teachers appeared in the West Side Leader and the Akron Beacon Journal.  Scroll down after going HERE to read the story.

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: MADE YOU LOOK YOU DIRTY CROOK

It seems no matter where you are or what you are doing, there is something trying its best to distract you away, usually from human contact to trying to get you to buy something.  I hate that so many restaurants have installed televisions.  I try so hard not to look at them but the flashing and movement lure me back against my will every few minutes.  I'm in the middle of a conversation and suddenly find myself staring at someone in a gorilla suit wearing a bikini on the Price Is Right (which I could really not care less about.)
It's not much better surfing the internet.  There are as many advertisements on it than on NPR.  Those of us of a certain age remember the promise of cable T.V.  "You pay for it, therefore there will NEVER be advertising on it!  Escape regular television with all of those horrible commercials."  That lasted all of ten minutes.

The newspaper isn't much better.  I'm not talking about all the advertisements (for we buy them too.)  I'm talking about those tricky ones.  (I hate being tricked.)  For example, the half page advertisement that covers the front page.  I try to close my eyes and rip it off without reading it.

Lately they have taken to putting stick 'em notes with advertisements on the front page so that you have to peel them off in order to read the paper.  Ooooooooooh!  That gets under my skin as bad as people not picking up their dog dodo.  I try to peel that off without reading it also but they get me as those things end up everywhere.

It seems even God tries to get in on the mania.  Just when you are content and thinking life is grand, he sends an advertisement to remind you of the important things in life:

Of course, some reminders are more pleasant than others . . . especially after Thanksgiving:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Modern technology tends to cause deep changes in our relationship with nature.  Creation is no longer a sacrament.  In fact, the word 'creation' is seen as misleading since it implies a Creator.  Rather, nature is just there - dead material waiting for the human will to give it meaning."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land."

IN OTHER NEWS:

PV sent in an article about the Galileo Affair that you can read HERE.

The First Friday Club of Greater Akron will host John Allen again this month!  See more HERE.

Theology on the Rocks returned to D'Agnese's with newly ordained Fr. Jim Cosgrove, parochial vicar at St. Christopher speaking on the Theology of the Face.
 He is classmate to this guy:

 The Feast of Christ the King is coming!
6 minutes:

Friday, November 17, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: THE MAN, THE LEGEND, THE MONSIGNOR

There is no doubt that Fr. Zwisler loved the parish and its people.  And it is important to point out that Fr. Zwisler, though a determined man, was well loved by most in the parish.  There are plenty of stories about his generosity and kindness.  While in the seminary, writing a report for the History of the Diocese class, Fr. Christopher Trenta, who grew up in the parish, wrote, “Children were of special concern for Fr. Zwisler and he made determined efforts to care for them.  He insisted on Catholic education for each child of the parish and worked to make this possible for as many families as he could . . . He wanted children to attend daily Mass, especially during Lent, and be exposed to Catholic hymns and devotional prayers” and always included the children in the devotional life of the parish.  

“He also had a knack for creative pastoral care.  He had several personal touches in his pastoral care for children on special days.  For Christmas he would give little Cracker-Jack boxes and hold an annual Lenten essay contest, announcing the topic on Ash Wednesday which would send all the students scrambling to check books out of the library.  He would distribute a blessed Easter egg to each child at the Monday morning Mass of Easter Week and would give them the rest of the day off for school.  On the feast of St. Hilary, he would hand out a small chocolate candy and on the Feast of St. Sebastian, each child would receive a peppermint arrow to honor the martyr.

There is also the story of an unusual gift that Father gave a child in the school.  The parish once owned two Pattarino desk statues of St. Sebastian.  One still exists in the rectory.  The other was given away by Father to a girl in the school who won a spelling bee.  Upon bringing it home, her father, convinced that there was no way Fr. Zwisler would just give away such a valuable statue, demanded that she return the statue and apologize.  Fortunately Father Zwisler cleared the matter up quickly.

There are also stories of Father Zwisler visiting parishioners who had not been to Mass in awhile and of becoming great friends with the tepid Catholics, regularly enjoying their company and coaxing them back to the practice of the faith.  Often told are reports of his compassion for those who found themselves in hard times during the depression.  One example was his paying for two girls to attend summer camp.  Their mother was widowed during the depression and could ill afford to send them.

Fr. Wendelken, son of the parish, telling of how Fr. Zwisler cared for those in need, was able to witness to this by personal experience.  His father had gone to the hospital for a simple tonsillectomy and unexpectedly died in surgery.  Fr. Zwisler presided at the funeral and later sent his mother a bound leather booklet with a typed copy of his funeral sermon and a page of dedication addressed to each of her four boys describing their father.  He wanted them to know how valued their father was when they were older.  “And this was common,” Fr. Wendelken said. 

But his head strong ways that proved so beneficial in founding and building a parish from scratch could also, in other areas, cause problems.  Again, from Fr. Trenta’s report, “Probably owing much to his early formation in Rome and his years of military chaplain service, Fr. Zwisler was known to be a stickler for ritual, order and cleanliness.  He insisted on good behavior by all, children and adults alike.  He would wait during homilies until crying or noisy children stopped or were taken out of the nave by parents.” 

Although Father Zwisler and Fr. Murphy got along famously, such was not the case for other parochial vicars.  The parish was singularly pointed out in the History of the Diocese class at our diocesan seminary taught by The Rev. Thomas Tifft, then historian for the diocese.  Legends abound about the parish that was known by many, and not jokingly, as a penal colony for priests.  His expectations were high, his micromanaging intense, and his manner gruff.  At night the refrigerator would be padlocked shut to prevent hungry curates from snacking.  There was a strict curfew after which the doors to the rectory would be dead bolted and the late priest forced to find other accommodations for the night.

One legend tells of the parochial vicars discoving that Father Zwisler was out past the prescribed curfew time.  They dead bolted the doors and pretended to be asleep when he came home and began pounding to be let in.


There was certainly a lot of work to do at the quickly growing parish but it appears that none of the succeeding parochial vicars could meet Father’s expectations the way Fr. Murphy had.  This was a cause of constant tension among the priests.  There were a number of investigations into this friction from the diocese spurred by letters from Father Zwisler and by the vicars.  The letters outlined accusations and disappointments from both sides.