Friday, March 30, 2018


The parish boundaries of St. Sebastian at this time still extended out through Copley.  Once not much more than dirt roads and farmland, the area was now becoming developed and there were people who needed a parish to serve them better.  On September 10th, Fr. John Kroll, Vicar General of the Diocese, traveled to St. Sebastian to explore the possible future development of parishes “on Hawkins and in Copley and Fairlawn.”  According to a letter dated the 17th of that month, Father Zwisler stated that there were over 800 students in the school and it was only after some prodding that he finally admitted that perhaps there were at least that many again attending public schools because St. Sebastian was full and at a distance from many of the students.

“The fact of the matter is,” Fr. Kroll wrote, “that his parish covers a territory of about sixty square miles.  In that area are three golf courses and also a deep gorge of the Metropolitan Park District . . . He agrees that his parish should be divided to the west because of the recent housing development and because of the traveling distance - Copley to the west and to the northwest, the Fairlawn District.”

A couple of sites were suggested.  Property was already acquired on South Hawkins and would take the southern part of the current parish boundaries.  Another was in Copley.  “Father Zwisler concurs that a location at the intersection of Rt. 162 near the present Rt. 21 would serve the present concentration of people around the center of Copley better than the present site . . . Moreover, the new Rt. 21 Freeway is now being constructed to the west of the site . . . There is a great deal of construction activity in and through Copley Township.  This seems to be a natural overflow from Akron.”

There is then a description of their efforts to find out if there would be any water or sewer service  in the area within the next ten years.  Lots were being sold at this point without water and homeowners would have to drill wells. 

The letter continues describing a discussion with a local realtor.  “He was asked whether he was aware of any present site, about 15 acres, available around Copley Center.  He agreed to inquire, particularly since he said that while he sold 49 lots in about a week, there were many people who inquired whether there was any Catholic Church in the neighborhood, and many of them complained that the distance to St. Sebastian was too far.  He was surprised to learn that my companion was the pastor of St. Sebastian.  He agreed to make some inquiries and to report to Father Zwisler by the 26th.”

Eyes were also set on Fairlawn.  “There is no question about it.  The Fairlawn District is well developed and there is room for more development.  The property which Father Zwisler indicated is not the most desirable one because it is too great a distance from his parish.  It would be better located at the main road of Rt. 18.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Starting Easter Monday, St. Sebastian church will be closed weekdays for restoration.  Someone might rightly ask, “Why drop this amount of change on a building?” and list any number of worthwhile causes were the resources might be spent.  It is a good question to ask and one not to be taken lightly. 

At the center of a Catholic community is not a thing (building of otherwise) or a theology or philosophy or any thought or thing.  It is a Person: Jesus Christ.  And not a center where Jesus is remembered or merely in some way mysteriously present in a people or proclamation.  According to our 2,000 years of belief, Jesus is present substantially, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of bread.  He is present to us just as He was 2,000 years ago when John the Baptist pointed to Him and said, “Behold!  The Lamb of God!” 

The epicenter then - the very core of our parish can be found in the tabernacle - in the Sacred Species.  You can find this in the most conspicuous spot in the most conspicuous building on our campus.  There is no mistaking this from the clues given by our art and architecture.  

As a result, this is where a large number of (mostly) local residents voluntarily gather at least once a week to discuss what it is to be human, what it is to be good men, good women, what it is to be a good citizen, to hear and be sent out on mission to form Western Culture.  It is no academic exercise.  It is a duty to which we are expected to respond the benefits of which are for more than ourselves but for the good of all, particularly the most oppressed or disenfranchised.

Its doors are open to all.  Its beauty is even for those who have no funds to support it.  It is all done voluntarily and not just for the good of itself but, as it sees itself, for the good of the whole world.

Such noble gems of intentions are of course enshrined in a beautiful space.  The center of our source of beauty, goodness, and of truth is reflected in the space in which it is nurtured.  The idea is not to have a building that stands out beautifully in a less-than-beautiful world, but to inspire the world to be as beautiful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "And even if it were possible to permanently banish everything threatening - everything dangerous (and therefore, everything challenging and interesting), that would mean only that another danger would emerge: that of permanent human infantilism and absolute uselessness."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "Beauty shames the ugly.  Strength shames the weak.  Death shames the living - and the ideal shames us all.  same source.


D.S. sent in the article, "Don't Let Liars Tell the Story in Your Home."  Read it HERE.

TODAY (Tuesday) is the Chrism Mass in the Diocese of Cleveland.  You are invited to attend but if you cannot, you can watch it live streamed beginning at 7PM HERE.

It's Holy Week!  Remember that for the rest of the week the Mass/service schedule at your parish will be chaotic so keep an eye on the bulletin or website for exactly when to show up.  HERE is the St. Sebastian website which has our schedule.

Also, this is the last week that we will have weekday Masses in our church.  We begin the 2 month long restoration on Easter Monday.  (There is NEVER a good time to do this.  But here we go.  I can't believe it is actually time to begin!)

Here is your video for this week:

Monday, March 26, 2018



Yes, we are quickly approaching the finish line of Lent.  Hopefully we have become refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit in our lenten practices not only in spirit, but in body and mind as well.
So though we are entering into Easter, don't lose the wonderful advances you made during lent!  If you cut out something that already wasn't exactly life giving to you or the people around you, keep it up!  You are on a role!
On the other hand, if your discipline was like being crucified, it might be time to come down off of the cross.

Friday, March 23, 2018


According to county records, the junior high wing of the school was added this year.  The growing population of students was becoming too much for the original building and so a wing of classrooms was added.  The addition of five classrooms relieved much of the pressure of the growing student body.  It was also constructed in such way as to make it easily expandable if  ever needed.  The classrooms are all on one side of a long hallway making it possible to double its classroom capacity by adding more classrooms on the opposite side where now stands the greenhouse.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Despite his rockstar status, in many circles, there are those who are very wary of Pope Francis and they let me know it.  It is a completely different group from those who were very wary of Pope Benedict and let me know it; which was a somewhat different group from those who didn’t care for Pope John Paul II.  Was it ever thus?  St. Paul had a run in with St. Peter and sought him out to set his straight.  Then there were those who didn’t care for Jesus much either, even among His most intimate brethren.

Is there cause for concern with Pope Francis?  I will admit that every once in a while he says something that causes my right eyebrow to rise up slightly higher than the left.  Objectively, he has not changed anything of the fabric of the faith.  The most serious accusations thus far (at least it seems to me) is that he thinks a bit too much out loud and may be a cause of scandal particularly for those whose faith is weak (adult children, grandkids, friends.)  

Conversely there are those crowing because they are back on some sort of “winning side.”  With Pope Francis they see the hope of some flagging dreams for the Church spark and catch on once again.  

Every pope brings his with him his human strengths and weaknesses.  They are men after all.  Pope Francis seems to think out loud.  A lot.  John Paul II - excuse me - St. John Paul (the great?) - was not a great administrator.  But if you really want scandal, especially of the moral kind, it is easy enough to find in the history of the line of popes in the Catholic Church.

But the faith has never been compromised.  Sometimes God uses his popes as sons, sometimes as tools.  Even the most morally corrupt pope was what the Church needed at the time - saving the Church from bankruptcy, making it possible for some of our most beloved art to exist - but never did God allow the Church to fall away from truth in any official manner and I dare say he won’t under this pope either.

There are two reasons for this:  The first is that there are just far too many safeguards in place.  A pope may say, “I have decided that polygamous marriages are a good idea,” but that does not mean that the Church will allow it.  (Have you witnessed one change to faith and morals in the past century during a time that mainstream Protestantism went through wholesale overhauls of 2,000 years of beleif?)  The second is that the Holy Spirit is ultimately in charge.  He always has been in charge and He always will be in charge.  Men and women may do unintelligent and unholy things, but the Church, the spotless Bride of Christ the Bridegroom, will never be so sullied.

So if you don’t like, agree with or are nervous about a particular pope, pray for him and for the Church.  I guarantee you he is making mistakes and needs prayers.  It’s difficult enough trying to manage a parish, I can’t imagine trying to manage 1.3 billion Catholics of different languages, customs, practices, cultures, etc., some of whom are cheering you, others booing, some passionate, some disconnected.  

Then give thanks that you are not the pope.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


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

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


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

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

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

Here's 4 minutes of thought:

Monday, March 19, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

Oh wait.  We already do that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


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

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


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

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018


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

Friday, March 9, 2018


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

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

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


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


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

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

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

Friday, March 2, 2018



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

Thursday, March 1, 2018


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

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

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

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

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