Sunday, April 29, 2012


 Yes, I will admit I was nervous.  Spending three days with 8th graders on a bus was not high on my list of things to I wanted to do before I died and it didn't start off well.  After getting up early and carefully - carefully packing, I went downstairs to walk over to the parking lot (timing it so that I would get there just in a nick of time) and JUST as the door to the rectory shut behind me I realized I had forgotten my keys.
 There was not a lot of time before the bus was to take off and I tried calling Fr. P on my cell but of course he was (I choose to believe) in the shower (and not still asleep) and so I had to leave a message begging him to be home when we got back so that I could get into the house.

Despite my apprehensions it was a good trip and our kids were very good for eighth graders.  The class was divided into groups and assigned a chaperon.  My share was 8 girls.
 But they were outstandingly good.  As a matter of fact I am proud to say that they caught the attention of a lady at the Vietnam Memorial and she stopped to speak with me.

 My favorite part of the trip was the stop at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  We had Mass there and the kids knew there Latin responses very well.  I was proud to be their pastor.
 When I was a kid we did not go to Washington.  We went to Philadelphia.  My parents took me to D. C. however and I had great memories of walking around and seeing the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capitol Building (in which we say John Glenn.)  So toward the end of the second day it made me wonder what these kids were finding memorable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Greetings all! There will be a lull in posts as I head to Washington D. C. with our 8th graders!  Say a prayer.  If I come back in one piece I will report on Monday Diary!


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “It used to be that everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything . . . It is not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There’s not only an emotional quality, but there’s a selfish quality.” Stephen Colbert in Charles Chaput’s, “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life” h/t to Fr. P

QUOTE II: “What a tender thing, then, is a man. How, for all his crotch hitching and swagger, a whisper can turn his soul into a cinder.” From John Cheever’s, “The Wapshot Chronicle”


Ellen mailed this great news in about one of our favorite Catholic authors!  "G. K. Chesterton's essay "The Fallacy of Success" has been chosen as an exemplary text to use in the new Common Core State Standards for grades 11-12.!! Yes, right next to "Walden" by Thoreau and Thomas Paine's Common Sense!! THIS IS AMAZINGLY BIG. Many, many schools are going to use this because it is recommended. Kids will be reading it around the USA. Textbook publishers are probably putting it into anthologies as we speak. Teachers around the country will be scratching their heads, wondering "Who is this Chesterton guy and why haven't I ever heard of him before?"   Thanks for sending that around!

One of the guys who works at St. Sebastian took this picture with his phone of one of the bushes in front of the rectory.  Thanks Chad.

Thanks to Monica Baird our organ project and a video made it on the front page of Akronist!  Check it out here.  If you would like to help us on our organ project click here.  You can purchase a pipe for which you will recieve a certificate so that you know exaclty which pipe is yours.

Fr. D. sent this in with this message:  "You're going to love this."  It is a great story especially if you like Bruce Spingsteen.  Thanks for this story.

Here's something to help those who are not aquainted with Chesterton.  It is nine and a half minutes.  The sound is not very good but the message is.

We are nearing the end (I can't believe it) of our Insanity workout here at St. Sebastian.  A gym full of hale and hardy Sebastianites meet at 5:30AM to dig deeper.  One of them, M.W. found out why Fr. P and I do it.  "You want to look like this guy celebrating Mass don't you?"  Well, maybe - except not with the hair.

This came in just before the publishing deadline:  "What incredible FREE podcast does EWTN have for you this month? Believe it or not, it’s “Historic Catholic Converts,” an 18-part mini-series (18 episodes!) that traces the lives of British, American, French and German believers who, through God’s grace, made the spiritual and intellectual journey to Rome. Hear Fr. Conner give biographical sketches of these converts as well as their conversion stories. Find it here."

Monday, April 23, 2012


Ever wonder in parishes where there is more than one priest what the other priest is doing during the weekend Masses? Between Masses is pretty easy. We are greeting people coming or leaving, setting up for Mass, performing baptisms, going to donut Sunday, visiting PSR, and things like that. But what about the hour during Mass? I hate to disappoint but little heroic or outstanding is happening.

On any given Sunday there are usually two Masses that I sit out. Almost always at one I make a cup of coffee and listen to the parochial vicar preach while catching up on the newspapers. When I first came to St. Sebastian and opened one of the cabinets and saw a speaker I thought it was to a built in stereo system and wasted a bit of time looking for it. Turns out it is a speaker from the church (which of course makes much more sense) and while the kids are marching over to the rectory for Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Sebastian and I hide in the kitchen making coffee and gathering the papers and then going to sit in one of the wing back chairs and listen to the wisdom of the youth (in priestly years.)

After the kiddies march back to Church I might say hello to the counters and get my Liturgy of the Hours in. If there is an event going on that day I might go check it out to see how it is coming. It is also the day to water the plants and wind the clocks. Fr. P occasionally has an away Mass to help out others, or he hears PSR confessions. During the one o’clock Mass Sebastian gets his quick walk. Sometimes there are other things to do. This week I had to head to the funeral home during the Mass.  If we have to go to the hospital this is a great time to go.  There is invariably some little projects that need taking care involving paper – usually the writing of a check or signing a certificate or some such thing.

Assuming there are no parish activities the day will wind up around 3 o’clock with the locking of the church doors. Generally a nap is in order about then.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Today's sacred vessel is the Fr. Joseph Medin chalice.  Fr. Medin was a man of Slovenian descent that served at Sacred Heart Parish in Barberton, Ohio.  It was a nationality parish that served the immigrants that moved to the "Magic City" looking for work in the early 20th century.

My mother was young when Fr. Medin served at my home parish.  Apparently he came from some sort of aristocratic family in Europe.  He served in Barberton during the depression and was very helpful to struggling parishioners.  Mom tells the story of the huge car he used to drive and that he would go about the neighborhood picking up all the kids and bringing them to the church for the catechism classes.  Apparently he also helped many people who were experiencing difficulties out of his own resources.

He was very well loved and remembered.  Apparently he enjoyed his stay in the Magic City and had this chalice made and gifted to the parish as a parting gift.  (A rather unusual occurrence and pays tribute to his generosity.) 

Unfortunately the parish no longer exists.  It was suppressed and merged with St. Mary Polish Parish, given boundaries and is now named Prince of Peace Parish.  The new entity seems to be thriving.  As a matter of fact they just completed and expansion of the church.  The chalice was replated and given into my care at my ordination to carry on the memory of the Slovenian people that once made up Sacred Heart.

Here is a picture of the chalice.  Thanks to Mr. Mike Palko (and the person who recommended him) for the higher quality photos.  There's a lot going on and it is still difficult to see but I'll try to walk you through it.

Set in the golden cup is a silver band with enamel inlay lettering and design.  In Latin in says "Accipiam calicem salutaris" or "I will take the chalice of salvation" from Psalm 116 "I will take up the chalice of salvation and call on the name of the Lord."  The points above the silver band are grape leaves and the there is a grape and grape leaf design toward the bottom of the cup.

All down the stem there is a grape leaf design.  Both the main node and the minor node below are "lace work."  Some sort of red minor gem stones are set in the middle of six flowers that decorate the minor node.

The base is really the show piece of this vessel.  The base flowers out into six peddles.  Three of the peddles are a grape and grape leaf design and three are scenes from the life of Christ.  I am told that what makes this chalice so special is that these scenes would have been tapped out by hand by an artist unlike modern chalices that would most likely have a machine stamp them out.  The scene pictured below is what would face the celebrant during the Mass.  It is of the crucifixion of Christ.  There are four other figures in the scene; St. John, St. Mary, and the two other Marys.  It appears to be the moment when Christ was entrusting His Mother to St. John

This is a scene of the Annunciation.  St. Mary kneeling in prayer has her head turned over shoulder as if taken by surprise by the angel who, holding lilies in one hand and extended a blessing with the other, is presenting her with the possibility of becoming the Mother of God.  The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, sends His rays down upon her.

The final scene (not pictured) is of the Ascension.  Six disciples look on as Jesus ascends into the heavens.

This is the bottom of the patten (a little worse for wear.)  It has been dropped by servers and sacristans (not at St. Sebastian!) that the last time it was repaired they smith said that it was probably the last time that it could be repaired.  The ornate scene at the center is of the Last Supper.  The engraved lettering which is becoming almost unreadable states, "Presented to the people of Sacred Heart Church of Barberton, Ohio - by Father Joseph Medin in appreciation of his pastorate - January 1931 to July 1940 - GOD BLESS YOU ALL"  The bottom of the chalice has a very crude scratching in it that states, "Joseph Medin 1924"
The people of St. Sebastian Parish will see this chalice in use for weddings and on other celebratory days on which the St. Sebastian chalice is not in use.  It will be my Sunday chalice of use for the rest of the Easter season.

For more information on this chalice go here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


So Bishop Richard Lennon announced Tuesday last that he will not involve the diocese in an appeal of the Vatican’s ruling that 12 parishes in the diocese are to reopen. It would have been a very expensive and time consuming endeavor and bring more hardship to the diocese. His decision seems to be the wisest considering the circumstances.

That being said it will not be as easy as just opening the doors, turning on a light switch, and dusting off the pews. The whole process will be terribly complicated and have far reaching consequences throughout the diocese. Here are some of the challenges to face:

Let us take a local example to St. Sebastian. St. Mary parish is on the list for reopening. In my humble opinion it is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in our diocese and so I am pleased that it has a second chance. But it is exactly that: a chance, not something assured. With the parish itself there will be the task of getting the parish started. There have been no employees, no staff, no parishioners, and no income for a couple of years. It is one thing to start a parish meeting in a gym and building up to something great; it is another to start with the heavy burden of significant buildings that need lots of attention.

Very few Catholics live in the parish boundaries since the highway came through and so bringing people back will not be so easy – which also means surrounding parishes may start losing people. Nobody living outside the parish boundaries can be forced to return (and since in this diocese we are very lax about where people attend anyway, those who have moved on to other places who do live in the boundaries will not be forced to return if they choose not to.) When the Akron parishes were first formed, you would be refused membership in a parish in which boundaries you did not reside. That made it easier to start something.

Much of the portables from each of the parishes are in an undisclosed warehouse in Cleveland for safe keeping. (Knowing how abandoned churches have been vandalized and robbed in the past, this was a wise decision.) But all that has to be shipped back (at some expense from some place) and then organized once again.

There is nothing at the parish for Mass. No wine, no bread, no bulletins, no copy machine contracts, no soap, no toilet paper, no cleaning contracts, no extra light bulbs, no pest control, no one working on the grounds, no missalettes, no up to date books with the new translation of the Mass, no secretaries, not maintenance men, no musicians, no repairs have been made to pianos or pipe organs, so forth and so on . . . There is not so much as a Mass schedule or a confession schedule . . . How does one get the word out?

Then are those things that one does not think about. Since the current entities will be dissolved, in this case the parish known as St. Bernard-St. Mary, insurance records must be changed, bank records must be change, utilities, so forth and so on. Then there is the matter of sacramental records: Where will those who were baptized, married, confirmed, etc, be recorded if the combined entity is dissolved and reestablished as two parishes?

The parish will also be saddled with the responsibility of funding itself as well as making sure that it is a vibrant parish. There will be significant repairs that will have to be made to the buildings. Grand though they may be, they needed sky rocketing repairs before the closure, they will need even more now after being left mostly vacant for two years. That will probably be the biggest hurdle of all. Please pray for these parishes that they can see through this hump. There is no money coming from anywhere else . . . those funds simply do not exist. The monies raised from the diocesan capitol campaign are already designated and legally obligated in other areas. And despite what people might think, the diocese is definitely NOT sitting on bags of money without anyplace to spend it.

There will be changes for surrounding parishes also. Will the pastor at St. Bernard/St. Mary be able to remain? How will the cluster be re-designated? Where will 12 additional priests come from? Will smaller parishes that have parochial vicars (such as St. Sebastian, St. Francis, St. Augustine) no longer have that luxury? It will of course mean that the surrounding parishes that enjoyed an increase of persons as well as resources may now see a reduction. What if the new (or rather old) St. Mary Parish decided to start an extraordinary form Mass? Can this city support two such Masses? Would people at St. Sebastian return to their former parish or would we drain from St. Mary? If Fr. P. is pulled from this parish to cover all of the extra posts available would there be enough priests who know the extraordinary form to cover both parishes?

It may seem so, but this is not to discourage the potential good that may come of all of this. It is offered in the same way that one might talk to a teenager who wants his own car. There’s more to driving than driving – there’s insurance, there’s maintenance, there’s the cost of gas, there’s keeping the car clean . . . And re-opening a parish it is more than just throwing open the doors (as some have said. I must say I laughed with the city of Cleveland passed a resolution to have Bishop Lennon reopen Catholic parishes by Easter. 1) Not so easy. 2) So much for separation of Church and state.) It will be a challenging process – will require prayer, patience, understanding and sacrifice on everybody’s part – even those not directly involved - if this project is going to be successful.

So let’s to it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


About a week ago I got an Email from an eager and sincere young man who was writing me about his enthusiasm for our current president and how he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that he is reelected. I wrote back with some concerns that I had about the current administration’s policies.

In a counter Email he asked what I thought about Fr. Helmut and he was supposing that we were on opposite sides. Admitting that I did not know the priest he sent me a link at which I could get up to speed.

For those of you who do not know Fr. Helmut is head of an Austrian organization of priests named, “Call to Disobedience.” Among other things they demand that the Church change (else they fear that the 300 priests who signed a petition plus others might have no choice but to break away from the Church) was the call to a married priesthood, a female priesthood, communion for those even non-Catholic persons who are divorced and remarried to a Catholic without a declaration for nullity, rejecting the notion that a priest should be the one to preach at Mass, and a host of other topics along the same lines. In other words, the Catholic Church should do what just about every other Christian Church has already done. We see how well that has worked out.

You can read more about this movement here and here.

The gentleman that sent me the article was correct, we probably are not on the same page concerning these issues. The Church has spoken definitively on these issues and quite frankly I am Okay with them. Even the title, “Call to Disobedience” causes me to step back and pause. Direct disobedience has never been a recipe for sainthood. One might find someone standing up to something unjust, but not against a teaching of the Church. (It gets a little confusing since some of these practices are theological in nature and some are disciplinary.) After all, how did Jesus win for us our salvation? By being perfectly obedient – something we were incapable of doing. If we want to follow in His footsteps how do we do it? In some areas there may be very legitimate causes for change but do you incite a call for disobedience? How can the Church reconcile to that? “A house divided against itself . . .” It is a call not only to disobedience but to disunity a kin to the Protestant Reform which continues to be a scandal in to the Christian Church that Jesus calls “to be one.”

Is it true however that if we did these things that the Austrian priests called us to, would things be better? There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently which you can find here that talked about this entitled, “Traditional Catholicism Is Winning.” Not that this is a game or that someone wins at another’s expense. But it does tell about some interesting trends concerning the Church in the United States. Consider these:

As mainline Protestantism is in decline the Catholic Church has grown from 55million in 1980 to 77.7 million.

There are 5,000 more priests in the world today than there were in 1999.

There were 467 ordinations in the U. S. last year, up from 442 two decades ago.

Where is the Church growing? In dioceses with a strong and orthodox bishop who is not shy about being Catholic and who invites others to live as authentically.

If I may quote the article:

“This aging generation of progressives continues to lobby church leaders to change Catholic teachings on reproductive rights, same-sex marriages and women’s ordination. But it is being replaced by younger men and women who are attracted to the church because of its teachings.

“They are attracted to the philosophy, the art, the literature and the theology that make Catholicism countercultural. They are drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the church’s commitment to the dignity of the individual. They want to be contributors to that commitment – alongside faithful and courageous bishops who ask them to make sacrifices. It is time for Catholics to celebrate their arrival.”

After sending me the link to the article about the priest of Call to Disobedience, he asked me to pray for him “if I am able.”

Of course I am.

And pray for me too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "If you want to know what is most holy in this world look at what is severely profaned."  Christopher West 

QUOTE II:  "One day I was home in bed with the flu reading Erica Jong.  She was describing in exquisite detail what it was like to stand in her kitchen and eat a sandwich with her husband and realise how much she loved him.  Suddenly sex seemed beside the point if I didn't have a relationship that would stand up to eating together in the kitchen on an ordinary day."  Anon in "The Sun" magazine

GO AHEAD AND ASK FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL:  Last weekend St. Sebastian Parish hosted what appears is going to be an annual hand bell festival.  If you would like to hear what it sounded like there is a short sound bite here.
The next concert at St. Sebastian is this Sunday with the Akron Symphony Choir.  Tickets are $15.  Don't miss it!

Also seen at the seminary for you Insanity fans:

Here is a thought provoking video:

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "WASHINGTON - The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. They outlined their position in "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty." The document was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), approved for publication by the USCCB Administrative Committee March 13, and published in English and Spanish April 12."  Read more here.

Here is some late breaking news.  If you haven't already heard, Bishop Lennon announced today that he is not going to challenge the Vatican's decision to reopen certain parishes.  We are to publish a letter to the effect in this weekend's bulletin.  In Akron the parishes to reopen are St. Mary and St. John.  I imagine parishes injoying a parochial vicar will be far less in the future . . .

Monday, April 16, 2012


 Dear Diary,

Saturday morning was met with a slow start. Every morning getting up at twenty past 5 in order to make it over to school gym to do the Insanity Workout with my fellow parishioners is starting to take its toll. So I rush through my morning prayers just a little bit in order to have enough time to read the Scriptures and write a homily for morning Mass.

After the Mass I head on down to the hall where there is a men’s breakfast going on. The gas, however, has gone out on all of the ovens. NO SAUSAGE! Only donuts. This has the potential to be a dark and dreary day – but at least I get to eat the donut I like so much; the one that is usually missing by the time I get to donut Sunday.

I leave the conference early in order to get to confessions. Although there are three of us hearing confessions they go a little long because it is Divine Mercy Sunday. That doesn’t bother me so much. That just means I’ll go to the phone store a little later than I planned (giving Sebastian water I bent over and my phone slid out of my pocket and into his water bowl for only the tiniest fraction of a portion of a second. How did it even have time to get wet?) But Fr. Pfeiffer has a funeral and this will crunch his prep time.

While Fr. P had his funeral I went to the phone store to get a replacement. (Is it not amazing that the Church has survived for 2000 years without cell phones and now they are essential to the ministry?) I just wanted a phone and an otherwise nice guy named Mike was trying to help me but after 20 minutes of whittling the choices down to one with which I was comfortable he came back from the stockroom to inform me they were out that model so I punched him.
“Did you just punch me?” he asked a bit in shock.

“Yes. Yes I did. I bet that happens a lot.”

“Actually . . .no. That was my first.”

We worked together to come up with option two. I was not making this a two day event. He started to go back to the storeroom again and then stopped and came back. “Are you going to punch me again if we don’t have this one in stock?”

“I don’t know rightly. Why don’t you try coming back without it and see?”

Fortunately they had it.

Coming back to the rectory I saw a bunch of cars parked in our gym lot and I got to thinking about how much was going on at the parish just this weekend. (Yours is no different.) So I thought it out:

There were of course Masses. There was the Saturday AM daily, and four weekend Masses (plus one other Fr. P went away to do.) Here people came to be united more closely to God and to become better people. There were confessions in which people try to become better spouses, parents, children, employees, employers, etc. There was a funeral Mass that gave people a place to come and mourn and commend their loved one to God. There were a couple of baptisms that brought families together to celebrate the spiritual birth of their children. There were social gathering: the Men’s Breakfast and a Recently Married Couples Cheese and Wine Party. There were educational opportunities such as the Emmaus Roundtable and the Chesterton Society and the Parish School of Religion. There was a hand bell concert that attracted choirs and person from around north east Ohio. There were also a number of sporting events of various kinds and ages.

Then there were those who were assisted in need. A few people came in for counseling for various reasons from spiritual direction to marriage prep. Communion left this place and went to people unable to get to Mass. The community used the property for everything from AA meetings to a place to come and walk or let the kids play.

Then there are the things one rarely thinks about – being exposed to art every weekend be it music or statues or paintings, how much information is disseminated through preaching, teaching, announcements, bulletins, CDs, and other periodicals. Money is collected to assist those in need both locally and in the world at large. Persons are employed; others are given opportunities to volunteer. Just the fact that the community comes together in a constructive way is so very important. And I know I am leaving a lot of things out.

The best part is most of this is free. It is funded by the goodwill of people who can afford it.

HERE IS THE IMPORTANT THING: St. Sebastian Parish, as much as I would like to think otherwise, is not unique. This happens at other parishes or churches (synagogues) also. And St. Sebastian is just one parish in city full of parishes and churches. This city is just one of many in the state. Our state is just one of fifty in this country. Our country is just one among many in the world. How much color these houses of worship bring to our lives. Can you imagine how impoverished we would be without these centers of faith, of art, of sports and health, of gatherings, of assistance spiritual and otherwise, of information, of education, and of just having yet another place to be community?

I hope we appreciate them enough.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I did not think that they would be done in time but the last of the organ was moved out of the church today in time for 4:00 confessions (without much time to spare.)  In the picture below you can see that there is no longer anything behind the screen in the choir loft - just space.  Here is one of the larger pipes being handed down from the balcony.

As it turned out they would only have to saw one pipe in half.  The rest squeezed out (but just barely.)  They supposed that they were installed before the screens were put up.  Below is what the church looked like yesterday with pipes laying around getting ready to be hauled away.

For those of you wondering what yesterday's tune was here is the answer:
bee hole (d), bee hole (d)
Behold, behold!

The wood of the cross
The wood of the Cross

On witch is hung "our salvation"
On which is hung our salvation

"O" come, lettuce, a door.
O come let us adore.

Some semblance of sanity and order should return to Adam's Ale next week.

For my friends involved in INSANITY, this sign was spotted at the seminary.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


We are nearing the end of the organ removal which is good because the weekend is quickly approaching and we will need the pews!  Almost all of the pipes have been removed and now they are removing other pieces parts.

Below you can see the boxes of pipes are carefully catalogued for transport.

Here you can see the pipes laid out across the pews.  A hymnal is on top of the pew so you can have an idea of the size of these pipes.
Here another chamber is almost completely empty.  Every hole had a pipe in it.  There is a five dollar bill placed there so you can get an idea of size.
These monsters come out today.  You can see the top of the door at the bottom of the picture.  That should give you an idea of how tall these bad boys are.  Another shot below shows Sebastian looking up.  Today they told me they may have to saw these in half in order to be able to get them out!  They can be restored when they are repaired and returned.

And for those who are tired of organs . . . NAME THIS TUNE:  (Answer tomorrow)