Friday, December 22, 2017



In last week's installment, Father Zwisler was pitching the bishop for an additional parochial vicar.  Apparently his wish was granted but the priest was not the “efficient and zealous” model that he desired.  The young priests at the parish begged the diocese to grant them some relief.  In  a report dated September 13th, the chancellor wrote of the priest’s concerns.  The most serious part of the letter explains, “He puts the priests on a schedule which regulates every minute of the day; he has absolutely no sense of humor; he seems offended if the assistants are shown any signs of popularity by anyone; but there are no serious charges.

“My own observation and opinion is that something ought to be done.”  The suggestion was to reassign the priests who were otherwise good men before the problem became serious.  “Would it be wise to appoint a couple of older men to St. Sebastian’s?”

Apparently the Bishop agreed.  On September 28th, one of the young priests was reassigned and replaced with a more experienced priest.  The other priest would leave the following year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT CAN BE FOUND:  "That’s what universities are supposed to do for people.  They are not supposed to take people who are barely hanging together and break them and make them weak.  They are supposed to equant them with the heroic substructure of the human psyche so that they can move out into the world and thrive.  And it is an absolute crime that isn’t what’s happening."  from Jordan Peterson's Podcast


E.P. sent THIS article about the Vatican Manger Scene.

L.G. sent THIS article about a megachurch and their consecration to the Sacred Heart.

Hairy Christmas!  I am so jealous!  Best greeting of the year so far.

P.V. sent THIS in.  Click for a quick smile.  Who else could witness so quickly and effectively???

I may be stealing part of this for my Christmas homily:

Friday, December 15, 2017


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


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


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"


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


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


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.” 


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


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


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


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


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


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.