Tuesday, October 31, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "'The Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.'  The life of prayer is already in us: if we reach into our deepest desires, we will discover our prayer.  To 'pray without ceasing' then, as the Apostle Paul admonishes us to do, one must learn how to live within the painful 'ache' of constant longing."  from Christopher West's, "Fill These Hearts"


6 Ways to get to now your patron saint better.  Read HERE.

Here are the latest inductees into the Bell Tower Hall of Fame.  Seminarian Joseph McCarren was here on Priesthood Sunday to encourage vocations.  After Mass we had a dinner for young men who would at least ask the question "should I be a priest?" and then we climbed up into the bell tower.  There was a great sunset of which you can see a sliver in the background.
P. V. sent an article in about architecture.  It reads in part, "More important than style, however, is how a new estate or village, say, is laid out. You have to get the roads right, the corners and junctions, the sightlines or lack of them, the pavements or shared surfaces."  Read more HERE.

She also sent in an article about Mark Wahblerg that reads in part, "Hollywood film star Mark Wahlberg, who is a Roman Catholic, recently admitted that he made some poor choices in his past and asked God to forgive him for starring in 'Boogie Nights,' the 1997-hit movie about the porn industry."  Read more HERE.

This Sunday at 4:30 Lynn Steward will be giving a 50th anniversary concert at St. Sebastian playing, "Things I practice when I think nobody is listening."  There will be pieces even kids recognize.  I hope to see you there!
There are two events on November 4th.  Tacos and Trivia will be in Zwisler Hall at 6:30PM.  Tickets are $30 which includes two beverage tickets.  21 and over please.
Earlier that day at 5:30 is a Chili Fest at the Julie Billiart School of St. Sebastian, Akron.
11 minute video on Why I Became Catholic

Monday, October 30, 2017


Every year: All Hallow’s Eve
I buy my favorite treats
for on this night I still believe
that one day someone will come knocking at my door.
Gazing out upon the night
from my window high
wondering - wondering if I might
spy someone knocking on my door.

With locked doors and darkened lights
I do my best to add
to the spookiness and the frights
of someone wanting to knock on my door.
For five years and then five more
I wait for “Trick or Treat!”
But what am I doing this for?
for no one comes to knock on my door.

Then late at night: our beggars dodged
we come to life and merry
eat our way through our bags of stodge
for we have avoided someone knocking on the door! 

Friday, October 27, 2017


This year would also mark the 25th anniversary of Father Zwisler’s ordination.  In May, hundreds would turn out to offer their congratulations to the dynamic and driven priest.  A scrapbook presented to Father, leather bound with beautifully illuminated pages, contained extensive newspaper clipping of the event, hundreds of signatures of congratulations and even some telegrams.  One Western Union telegram proclaimed:


After a listing of his many accomplishments and a description of the celebrations to come, one newspaper wrote, “St. Sebastian’s parish property . . . is a showplace among diocesan buildings.  Father Zwisler on June 6th will celebrate the 10th year of the launching of the parish.   Plans are now under way to erect a rectory on the parish grounds.  Priests of the parish now make their home at 100 Elmdale Avenue.”

A letter from the Knights of Columbus says in part:

“The Knights of Columbus joins with your many friends in congratulating you on the twenty-fifth anniversary of your ordination to the priesthood.  Your extensive education, both in this country and abroad, your fine character and your devotion to God, equipped you well to be selected as a leader in the Church.

“We were pleased when you consented to act as the Chaplain of our Council.  Your words of helpful advice to us have always been attentively received, and we appreciated the sacrifice of your time for our benefit.

“May your future years in the service of God and humanity be as fruitful as those for which we now celebrate your jubilee.  Sincerely yours, C. C. Lippa, Grand Knight.”

There was much to celebrate during what must have been an otherwise difficult year for Fr. Zwisler.  In a post script of a letter written to Auxiliary Bishop McFadden dated July 15th, 1938, Father wrote, “My aged mother is dying of cancer.  The doctors do not give her a month.  An occasional prayer for a speedy delivery from her suffering will be much appreciated.  H. A. Z.”

Thursday, October 26, 2017


I’m starting to get a taste of what’s involved with being a pastor.”

This was a line from a newly ordained priest for the Diocese of Cleveland.  He had visited St. Sebastian on Monday night to talk to our confirmation candidates, their parents, and sponsors about being on fire for God.  Afterward in the rectory he made that comment about being a pastor.  He was “Home Alone,” his pastor being on his annual retreat.  “I’m not running the parish,” he was quick to clarify, “but I’m discovering there is a lot more to it than I originally imagined.”

Besides being an “expert” (as much as anybody is) on matters of faith, God, and people’s souls, there are budgets and roofs and counseling.  Art, education, tax laws, city ordinances, Increasing federal laws, and being able to play the politician (you can’t say yes to everything but try to keep people involved and happy) and more are all nuances of a pastor.
“I had to say, ‘No,’ to someone today,” he said.  “Gosh was that difficult.  It was something that the person really wanted and I knew the pastor (who was away) didn’t.  I had to find a way to say no without getting this very enthusiastic person upset.”  It is a very difficult thing.

That was an interesting lesson to learn for such a recently ordained priest.  

Then the next morning tragedy struck his parish.  One of the school children had died.  Pulled away from Mass, he had to run out to scene to pray and comfort.  But Mass could not be left unfinished and so he had to returned to finish Mass after witnessing this as duty called him to do.  But things would not end there.  This is something with which they will be dealing for a long time.  

Fortunately the pastor was able to hurry home and assist with his wizened and time tested years dealing with all kinds of things and together, along with a wonderful, faith filled community, they began the process of coping and healing.

This weekend is Priesthood Sunday.  Imagine how different things would have been if there was not a priest on hand at the parish that morning - if there were not someone living at the parish that could handle emergencies around the clock - if there were not someone free of familial obligations so as to be able to be that representative of Christ (however imperfectly we do so) whenever and for as long as needed.  Please pray for vocations.  Suggest to a young man that you think he might make a good priest.  Be a part of the solution of making sure our Catholic community is well tended in the future.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Thinking of you and sending you prayers.  What follows is a quote from Charles Dicken's. "The Curiosity Shop"

When death strikes down the innocent and young, from every fragile form from which He lets the panting spirit free, a hundred virtues arise, in shapes of mercy, charity, and love, to walk the world and bless it.  Of every tear that sorrowing mortals shed on such green graves, some good is born, some gentler nature comes.  In the Destroyer's steps there spring up bright creatures that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a light to heaven.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Today, even the Church is increasingly fearful of inflicting pain: afraid of exercising appropriate authority or discipling her members, afraid of telling them hard truths."  from Patricia Snow's article, "Empathy Is Not Charity" in First Things Magazine.

QUOTE II:  "The saint is not empathetic; he is charitable, which means he always wills the ultimate good of his neighbor."  same source


Our beloved Poor Clares in downtown Cleveland finally have updated their website a little bit.  They have a fund raiser coming up about which you might have some interest.  See HERE.

Out walking the dogs early one morning and saw this at Schneider Park.  

B. S. sent in an article concerning the Pope and the death penalty.  I remember when John Paul II greatly curtailed the use of it. Pope Francis appears to take it even further.  Read more HERE.

P. V. sent in THIS article about Christopher Columbus.  In part it reads, "It is unfortunate to see what was once a uniting figure—who represented American courage, optimism, and even immigrants—is suddenly in the crosshairs for destruction."

Our first Trunk or Treat was the other night.  Here I am with Super Priest.  (I really don't know what I dressed as.)

E. P. sent in THIS article, "Did You Pray for Your Pastor Today?"

Here are some up and coming events that you might like to know about:

Our music director will be celebrating 50 years of being an organist and is having a celebratory concert on November 5th at 4:30.  Lots of fun music that kids too will recognize and enjoy.  Bring friends, family, and the unsuspecting stranger walking down the street.  Free and open to the public.
Theology on the Rocks is returning to D'Agnese's.  Newly ordained, Fr. Jim Cosgrove will be speaking.
Tacos and Trivia is coming up on November 4th at 6:30PM in Zwisler Hall.  More information and ticket prices can be found HERE.
Maybe you are not so much a taco person than a chili person.  You are in luck!  The Julie Billiart School of St. Sebastian, Akron is having its second annual chili fest on the same day.  (I happen to be both a chili person and taco person and so will be at both!)
The next Theology on Tap will be at Ray's Place with St. Sebastianite Mark Cook speaking and doing magic.

Both ToT & ToR are ministries of St. Sebastian Parish intended for all.  Thank you to those who put so much time and effort into these ministries.

Here is another clip about art sent in by D. S.

Monday, October 23, 2017


There is a new face in the St. Sebastian rectory.  His name is Archer.  (Get it?)  He is a black lab mix rescue just like Sebastian.  He is on a two week interview to see if he will work out.  Sebastian is going to be 11 this year and it seemed time to have a trainee come in and learn the ropes.

So far he gets along with dogs, children and adults.  He doesn't bark much.  He respects the house rules.  He and Sebastian are getting along.  The staff seems to love him.  The only thing so far is - he's a sneak pooper.

Not so Sebastian.  Everybody can tell when Sebastian is about to do his duty.  He has tell tale signs that go on forever as though he wants the world to know the creation he is about to unveil to the world.
First he takes a funny turn away from the direction we are walking.  Zig zags a couple of times.  And when he finds a tuft of grass (it's aways the same type of landscape - so much so that if you miss him creating, you'll find it by looking at the topography) Then he walks a little more - his hind legs spreading further apart with each step and then, finally, he slooooowly squats like a dainty elephant trying to sit on a small stool and remains that way long enough to read half a page of comics.

Not so Archer!  Most of the time there is no warning.  As he is trotting along it might just squirt out with no warning.  You might miss it but I guarantee you the passing car won't.  From time to time he likes to display his creations on pedestals.  If I didn't see it I wouldn't have believed it.  The other day he backed up against the base of one of the light poles and left a perfect specimen sitting on the elevated cement platform on to which the pole is bolted.  I'm glad I saw it happen because if I hadn't and saw it later I would have though someone was playing a not so funny prank on us.

What in his background before he was found brought about this behavior???  Oh well.  

Saturday, October 21, 2017


The further progress of the crusade is not found in the parish archives, but the results may be witnessed by the impressive rectory which stands to this day.  The mission revival building remains much as it did when it was constructed in 1938 on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the parish though the second story on the west wing, over the garages, is a later addition.

The rectory contained three modest sized suites for priests which consisted of a small sitting room, bedroom and bathroom.  The pastor’s suite was march larger, grander, and more in keeping with the building’s mission revival architecture.  There was also a “Jack and Jill” set of rooms for guests.  Two more bedrooms on the first floor were intended for live in help, a situation that was not at all uncommon in rectories at the time.  This was largely owing to the lack of social security and widows seeking a place to live and to have a source of income.  

The house was set up so that those in the service corridor would not have to pass into the main part of the house and visa versa.  To this day it is difficult to go from the front rooms of the house into the back of the house at night as there are no light switches located by doors heading in this direction as no-one was supposed to pass that way.  A little door is located in what used to be the small dining room through which meals would be passed.  There was a floor buzzer (no longer in existence) that would announce to the kitchen when a course was finished.

The house only contained three offices which suited a parish of the 1930’s.  There was one large office for the pastor, one for the secretary, and a final office which the parochial vicars would share.  This would only become a problem later when a typical parish would have many more employees.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


The fact that we die makes everything more beautiful.”

It took a long time to figure this saying out.  I find that it is true.  The fact that everything has a time limit gives us the impetus to see and experience here and now.  

At my first assignment there was a public garden that I passed all of the time.  I always told myself that one of these days I am going to stop in there and see what all of the fuss is about.  At first the assignment was for five years and I kept thinking, “There will be time later.”  And then when winter hit, “I’ll see it next summer.”  When time was running out I received two extensions which just made me put if off even longer.  Sadly I left the parish without ever seeing those gardens.

Sometimes that happens with love.  After a period of doting, we can take each other for granted.  There is just so much to do and to accomplish, when all of this fussing is passed I will refocus on my spouse, my family, on God.

This happened notably once to me while growing up.  I had a dog named Benny that I loved dearly.  Every time I had a wish to make (shooting star, dandelion, birthday candles) I would wish that he would live forever.  I entered a period of life when I became very busy and our relationship consisted largely of, “Not now dog,” or “Later,” or “Out of my way I don’t want to trip!”  Then one day coming home, he was excited to see me as he always was I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to him for some time.  I immediately fell down on my knees and petted and played with him feeling guilty and happy at the same time now that we were reconnecting.

Dogs aren’t forever.  There time is very limited compared to ours.  That makes the time we spend with them so much more beautiful.  If we face the fact that everything is passing (this beautiful fall) we will really see it and appreciate it.  It will seem more beautiful because we didn’t rush passed it.

These end dates - death - if we face them with the confidence of a true Christian, give us the freedom to remember love is more important that getting that thing done.  He or she won’t be here forever.  You won’t be able to walk forever.  That garden won’t bloom forever.  Stop and smell that rose before the frost.  They are beautiful now.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Self sacrifice is always tedious and tiresome.  Faith makes it palatable.  Love makes it a joy."  Archbishop Chaput.

QUOTE II:  "In the land of the deaf, you have to shout."  Flannery O'Conner


My office had the chicken pox.  This is my sister standing in my office as we were trying to figure out how the lights worked for our Autumn Nights Festival at St. Sebastian.
George Bachman provided live music for the event.  Here he is settling in for the evening.  All he needs is a red cap and he could be a garden gnome!
So in dog news . . . St. Sebastian may have a new resident.  His name is Archer.  Thanks to generosity of some parishioners, he may be an additional rectory dog.  Sebastian is going to be 11 in a few months, very old for a lab, but he's doing Okay with the help of modern pharmaceuticals.  My hope is that he will train the new dog to be as great a dog as he is.
He was found in Kentucky and was brought to a lab rescue in Ohio.  He is PAINFULLY skinny - something that should NOT be a problem at the rectory where I have to regularly beg the staff to stop feeding the dog.  He is here for two weeks after which we will need to decide if he is working out or not.  (We've still not heard him bark - maybe he will be a quiet dog like Monsignor over at St. Joe's.)

Ian Kelly, a seminarian from St. Charles came over for a visit yesterday and Archer took to him.

I think Sebastian is handling it Okay although with all the loving going on with the new dog he got depressed and went out back and stuck his head in the ground.

Well, maybe that is not the reason why - but it was funnier that way.

Last night we had Theology on the Rocks at a new location.  The Honorable Daniel Horrigan, Mayor of the City of Akron spoke at Bricco Prime with an OUTRAGEOUS amount of food provided by the restaurant.  There was defiantly more room here.  

 People seemed to like the new digs but it is rather far away from St. Sebastian.
So should we stay???  The next speaker will be Fr. Jim Cosgrove, newly minted priest and classmate to Fr. Simone, Fr. Bearer, and Father Jordan.  Keep an eye out for the location by following Theology on the Rocks on Facebook.
Here are some of the people that make ToR possible:
Here is an excellent video and part of an explanation of why St. Sebastian started the Academy of Culture and Arts for adults and children: (5:49)

Monday, October 16, 2017


Thanks for coming back after having nothing to read for a whole week!  I was on retreat and it didn't seem right to play on the computer while trying to realign myself with God and focusing on remembering that He loves me.

Oh it was horrible.  It went on all night long.  And just as I started feeling like it was all over and all was going to be well and that I could finally fall asleep, my alarm went off.  So now that I was miserable and sore, I was also tired and annoyed.  It is easy for me to slip into feeling sorry for myself in times like that.  

Then I got called away on a couple of anointings, one of them a much younger guy, and both of them were not long for this world.  What's a little soreness and tiredness?

Then the next day everything looked so much better.
Sebastian and I went for a wonderful morning walk on a crisp, colorful fall morning.  We saw three deer in the park who just stood there and looked at us.  A red tail hawk zoomed close over our heads. It was a magical morning.  

In this morning's Gospel Jesus asks why does this generation demand signs?  His love is all around us if we just look.  The fact that you have being is His gift at every moment of your life.  If you can read this, it is a sign of His love for you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I'm not really blogging this week.  I was on a retreat and am taking a break until next week.  HOWEVER, I did want to share with you this:

Don't worry . . . they will have the game on before and after . . . 

Thursday, October 5, 2017


This letter was sent out to the parish “at the request and by order of the Most Reverend Ordinary of the Diocese, Bishop Schrembs.”

“The attempted marriage on Sunday morning in a local Protestant Church before a Protestant minister by a member of a well known family of the parish - an event widely publicized in the society columns of the daily papers - and the formal act of apostasy attendant thereupon, has been the cause of serious public scandal to all and where ever the party concerned is known.”

All those associated with the wedding fell under a decree of excommunication, which could only be lifted by the bishop himself.  In September, however, he lifted the censure, “from all parties concerned except the principal party who by her illicit union remains excommunicated.”


P.K. reminded me that today is Chester A. Author's birthday.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


So a lady calls me who had been trying to get into a religious order out of state.  “I was accepted!” she exclaimed and wanted to come in to see me the next day to talk about it.  To tell the truth, I was excited also.

The next day she comes in and starts balling tears.  Waterfalls.  Like someone accidentally punctured a water tank.  I was mildly confused.  “I thought we were happy and excited about this,” I said.  As it turns out, the gentlemen with whom she was spending time decided that he was serious about loving her and wanted to spend a lot more guaranteed time with her.  So out of the blue he proposed and now she was conflicted.  

“What does God want me to do?  Does He want me to be married or does He want me to be in a religious order?”

“Well, first let’s look on the bright side,” I responded, “It is not as though you are looking at the difference between death row and a life sentence.  This is a choice between two goods!”  (That didn’t help.)

Unlike St. Francis, most people don’t have a dream or hear a voice from God saying, ‘HERE IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO.”  Be glad.  If that happened, you would HAVE to fulfill it or be in serious sin since you would know the will of God and then ignore it!  Most of us are granted MUCH more leeway.

So most of us go through a period of discernment.  Or we should instead of just plowing through life doing the next thing that pops up.  If you want a plan of discernment, there are all kinds of books, tubes and retreats on the matter.  Many times it comes down to making a decision.  Your discernment may leave you with two goods and nights of roiling over “What does God want me to do?”  Here’s the answer (and you may not like it if you are in the roiling process right now.)  Sometimes God wants you to choose and then be faithful to that choice.  Marriage and religious life are two goods.  They were placed before the woman mentioned above like two puppies.  She had to choose one and only one, and then make the decision to give that one puppy all her care.

Sometimes that alone is God’s will.