Sunday, April 29, 2018


I was wondering this week, after seeing the headline in the Saturday Plain Dealer, "CAVALIERS TRASHED IN INDIANAPOLIS," what if newspapers reported on homilies the same way?
And what if the annoying pop-ups on your computer that try to get you to click on them focused on Catholics?
And what if radio talk show hosts took faith life as seriously as they take the national debt . . .

Friday, April 27, 2018


The new church was dedicated in May bringing the total amount of floor space on the campus to 100,000 square feet. The architecture of the new church is modern Romanesque; the exterior construction is cream-colored brick supplied by the Belden Brick Company of Ohio, the company that has supplied the brick for all of the buildings on the campus including the pavers for the new brick parking lot that would come 50 years in the future.  (The bricks for the lot incidentally were given the name Sebastian Red.)  The interior construction contains mostly Travertine marble accented by nine other marbles imported from Italy.

The space is presided over by a large-mosaic depicting the scene of the Last Supper behind the main altar. The altar is made of Giallo Doro marble and the mosaic scene features Jesus Christ in the center, holding a large chalice, and reverent apostles (except Judas in the lower left hand corner) are depicted on each side of Him.  The high altar and the tabernacle provide the “table” around which thy are gathered and the Eucharistic Bread in the tabernacle is the “bread” missing from the scene.

The sketch for the mosaic scene was chosen from several submitted by DePrato Studios in Chicago. This sketch was then sent to Venice where it took one year to make the 175,000 pieces of Venetian glass that make up the complete scene. It took six weeks for four Italian workmen to piece together and cement the mosaic to the wall.

The artist was painter and sculptor Albert E. Henselmann, born in Offenburg whose work tended to reflect the complexity of social and political upheavals of the 20th century as well as the growing importance of abstract forms of expression in art.  According to an online biography, “He received his education at the Kunstakademien in Karlsruhe and Munich and settled in Mannheim in 1925. There followed years of artistic prosperity: the painter and sculptor disassociated himself from a style of composition influenced by the art of the academy and successfully turned to the New Objectivity.  With the take-over of power by the National Socialists in 1933, a process of exclusion began, which ended with the flight to Switzerland in 1938.  In 1950 he decided to venture to a new beginning in the United States.  In the late 50’s, after his artistic work had been subject to the constraints of economic survival, Henselmann connected his work with his earlier developments and pursued his own, abstract-constructivist approaches.”  It was around this time he designed our mosaic.

According to a biography supplied by Mr. Thomas Powers who was the Cleveland agent for DaPrato Studios, Mr. Henselmann was well known for his work of modern design in churches, schools, hospitals, and industrial buildings.  His sculptures and paintings are represented in museums and are in many private collections in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


While doing some research for a project concerning the upcoming 90th anniversary of St. Sebastian Parish, I came across this bit of information:  The first known Mass ever celebrated in the city of Akron was in a log cabin owned by James McAllister who was a contractor in the early years of the city.  The priest who celebrated the Mass was named the Rev. John Martin Henni.  He was born in Switzerland but was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Cincinnati of which this area was a part.  It would be a number of years yet before the Diocese of Cleveland would be established.  

One of his passions was to take care of the scattered Catholics in this part of the diocese which consisted largely of Germans and Irish.  It was in the year of 1833 that there is a record of him saying that first known Mass in that log cabin, four years before the mission church of St. Vincent was founded.  That makes this year the 185th anniversary of that Mass.

The pastors in this area are going to do something (yet to be determined) to mark this event.  It probably won’t be huge (the number 185, while significant, is not a number like 200) but in making it, hopefully we will be able to remember more significant anniversaries in the future.  If you have an idea on how to celebrate this event, please let me know (soon.)   

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "When you have something to say, silence is a
lie - and tyranny feeds on lies."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "What you aim at determines what you see."  same source


M. W. sent in THIS letter written by a young Catholic.  Thanks.

One of our parishioners, Adam Bernard, has one of his photos in a show.  See the story HERE.

M. S. sent in THIS article for 9 practical things to do to stay focused at Mass.  Thanks.

Here are some photos from this week's restoration projects:

The floor is being cut in order to install the sound loop.  
 The altar crucifix which normally stands about as tall as a 4th grader is disassembled for restoration.
 There are some places that the cherrie picker does not reach and so this guy had to have a loooooong pole.

Here's a laugh for the day:

Sunday, April 22, 2018


People bring Sebastian bones all of the time - mostly those rawhide bones and he does not eat or chew them.  He stores them away (somewhere) in the house and then when it is time to go for a w-a-l-k it is suddenly in his mouth.
The scenario is always the same.  He looks for THE best place to bury the bone.  This can take FOREVER.  He tries digging, decides that the soil conditions are not quite right, moves on, almost buries the bone, changes his mind and digs it back up, moves to a different spot and then finally buries it.

Weeks, and sometimes even months later - after the fermentation process has set in just so - he goes right back to the spot and digs the bone up.  At this point, the rawhide has turned to a soft, pliable, wet, dirt encrusted substance that makes him happy as all get out.
There is nothing to be done once it is in his jaws.  And INVARIABLY when he gets it in the house he drops it on the floor (usually on an oriental rug) and a TON of dirt and gross wet stuff are spilled all over and the vacuum needs to be brought out (did I mention that this part only happens at night?) just when you thought you were gong to bed.

So after a few years of this I learned the trick of catching the darn thing as he dropped it, taking it to the kitchen sink, washing it off with super hot water, and giving back to him.
This turned out to be a rather satisfactory solution to a rather nasty problem that was not going to change.  Sebastian now waits for me to catch it and then sits next to the sink waiting and wagging his tail for his gourmet grossness.

So this past week, the day Fr. Simone was on his day away, I took the dogs on their last airing out of the night and Sebastian came trotting up with the typical limp thing in his mouth.  A former bone I figured but it was dark.

We came into the dark house and I placed my hand under his chin and he dropped it.  We went over to the sink and I started running the hot water over it.
I reached over and turned on the light.
It was a rabbit.

Friday, April 20, 2018


It was the practice of the diocese to build a school/church combination at the founding of a new parish and later to build a more permanent church in order to promote an aggressively healthy Catholic school system.  This is clearly seen in many of the parishes of inner city of Cleveland.  Parishes were begun during a healthy period in the life of the city and a church school combination would be constructed.  The idea was that it would easier to promote the building of a parish church after the school was built than to build a nice school after the church was constructed.  That is why so many Catholic school gyms appear oddly “churchy.”

Unfortunately, it was also at this time that many Catholics fled the inner city of Cleveland and parishes with this school/church combination, never maintained the amount of parishioners necessary to build the dreamed of church and so today are left with church buildings that have a oddly gymish feeling to them.

Plans for a new church building at St. Sebastian extend back to the inception of the parish.  On file in the Records Room are various proposed structures that might one day become the parish church.  An early proposal by KRAUS AND COMPANY shows such a building built on an east/west axis (the present church runs north to south) with a dome, apse, and a facade that looks much like St. Sebastian Church outside to the walls in Rome.  Another proposal saw a north/west oriented gothic building with a giant spire, a convent and rectory winging off of each side with open walkways connecting them to the church building not unlike the walkway that connects the current rectory to the school.

Now it was time to stop dreaming.  Monsignor felt that this was the time to put the last stage of development of the parish campus into motion with the building of a new church.  There was considerable pushback at the diocese.  After all, the current building seemed to be meeting the needs of the people and the boundaries of the parish had just been trimmed considerably.  But Monsignor’s forceful personality and persistence paid off and permission was gained to move ahead with the project.  KRAUS AND CO. was once again contracted to design the new building.  This would make the firm the designers of all of the buildings at the parish.  St. Sebastian would have a new church. 

As you walk up the front steps to the “new” church, if you look to the right, you will see the cornerstone laid at the beginning of construction, “AD MAJORUM DEI GLORIA - ANNO DOMINI 1958.” or, “To the Glory of God - the Year of Our Lord 1958.”  Construction would continue over the next year.


The friendly church on the corner.”

I do not know why they curl my chin hairs but church slogans do.  It seems more and more Catholic parishes are jumping on board with this also.  It is not just a theme for a year but a slogan to identify their brand like, “Finger lickin’ good!”

Perhaps this is it: don’t tell me who you are - show me.  A parish or church already has a reputation in its neighborhood which no slogan will do anything to change.  If you want to be “Christ centered,” don’t put it on a banner, figure out what the community can do to be more Christ centered.  If you want to be known as friendly, don’t put it on your marque, do something to develop the reputation of being friendly.  A slogan might be a nice interior reminder of what the community is striving for - like a mission statement - but there are better ways of handling it.

Slogans are also rather confining.  A Catholic parish does many things and expresses it in many ways.  Being “friendly” is such a small part of what we are supposed to be and “Christ centered” should be so obvious that it is like putting a sign on your dog that says, “This is a dog.”  So what?  tell me something I don’t know.

If someone wants you to know that they are trustworthy, the best thing they can do is simply be trustworthy.  Then, after 99 times of trusting them they slip up, you think, “This is odd.  So unlike him.”  And the friendship is much more salvageable.  If your trust is largely built on the slogan on their T-shirt, “You can trust me!” then if he slips up you’ll simply roll your eyes every time you see him and keep your counsel to yourself.

Mom always used to say, “If you have to say it, it probably isn’t true.”  That is probably where I get my general angst with church slogans.  They are quick and easy and don’t really do anything by themselves.  But developing a community, a culture, a reputation, an environment slowly, over years, and gaining a good name is worth all of the slogans of the world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "No matter how good you are at something, or how you rank your accomplishments, there is someone out there who makes you look incompetent."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Living"

QUOTE II:  "[R]esentment always means one of two things.  Either the resentful person is immature, in which case he r she should shut up, quit whining, and get on with it, or there is tyranny afoot - in which case the person subjugated has a moral obligation to speak up.  Why?  Because the consequence of remaining silent is worse."  same source


This was sent in by S. D., I’m writing to let you know WVIZ plans to re-air the feature on Mother Thomas April 27 at 8:30 p.m. during Applause. I can also share that the station entered her story for awards (we haven’t heard back yet), including the Gabriel Awards ( 

E. F. sent in THIS article about a juried Catholic art show coming fall of 2018.

For those of you who might wonder why this is getting out to you while I am supposed to be on jury duty, we were let go early today!  So I got to see some of our workers at work:

This poor guy is cleaning the front of the church and ice cycles are forming on his cage!
 Stripping the wood of the confessionals.
 Painting the walls around the windows.
Interesting.  3 and half minutes.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Things aren't bad really.  They are just not as good as they used to be.  I'm a little balder, a little blinder, and, as it turns out, going a little more deaf.  
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, which was largely everybody except me.
So perhaps it IS time to get glasses AND have my hearing checked.

Friday, April 13, 2018


If you want an idea of how large of a parish St. Sebastian was at sixty square miles, the city of Cleveland, as the 48th largest city in the United States, is 82 square miles (only 77 square miles of which is land.)  The city of Akron is just a little over 62 square miles.  The parish of St. Sebastian was responsible for an area roughly the size of a large U.S. city, an area which was developing quickly, and becoming impossible for the parish to serve.  So it was in this year that another parish was carved out of the parish boundaries.

As the story goes, Monsignor Hilary Zwisler was inconsolable that his parish territory was about to be divided up.  To ease his distress, the new parish in Fairlawn just west of St. Sebastian would be named after St. Hilary of Poitiers.

According to the St. Hilary website, “Archbishop Edward F. Hoban ordered the creation of the Cleveland Diocese’s 224th parish–St. Hilary, approximately six months before the late Pope John XXIII announced the history changing intentions to call the Second Vatican Council. The parish was officially established on August 1, 1958. St. Hilary was carved from its mother parish, St. Sebastian, to serve the needs of a growing population expanding west of Akron in the 1950’s. The parish was born inside Copley Township, but within two years, found its property inside newly created Fairlawn Village. Father Edward M. Horning was named the founding Pastor and it was with 325 families that the new parish was formed.

“During the initial development of the 10-acre site on West Market Street, the sacraments were celebrated at St. Sebastian’s recreation center. Monsignor Hilary Zwisler, pastor of St. Sebastian, and Father Horning broke the ground for a combined church and school on June 10, 1959. The first Mass was celebrated in the school’s gymnasium on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960.

“The new ‘church’ was soon to become the grade school’s gymnasium and cafeteria the other six days of the week. St. Hilary School opened its doors to 270 students in grades one through eight on September 5, 1960. Five Akron Dominican sisters from Our Lady of the Elms staffed the school.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Tell me more about this St. Sebastian fellow that I may understand how to draw him better.”  This was from an artist in China that I commissioned to draw me a picture of the parish’s patron saint.  The man had little to no knowledge of faith at all but through commissioning art we were able to have a discourse on the life of this amazing saint.

Another artist who is not interested most things “Church” but who is working on a project for me, was interested in having a discussion on the transcendentals and as an artists wishing to work in churches whose art is meaningful, open to the public, and beautiful.

Eric Armusik is a great young painter who has done several pieces for the parish.  He desperately wants to work for the Church but by an large we buy our “art” out of catalogues and so he must work for whoever pays him.  

For a parish to commission a work of art is time consuming, difficult, and dangerous, but worth it.  But do we really need instant art?  What if a congregation had to wait a year or two for their art of finally arrive?  What a day that will be with all of the anticipation building.  And just because it is difficult should we shy away from it?  The vast majority of us will not build a cathedral, but we could pass on a work of art for the generations that you wont run into a dozen copies of in various parishes.  As my grandma would say, “For beauty, you must suffer.”  And it is dangerous.  Finding the right artists is an art itself.  There have been unveilings that were less than stellar.  But when you have a true piece of art, it is piece of evangelization, catechesis, and prayer.

Our painting of the Crucifixion by Eric Armusik in one of the successful pieces.  We have people come to the church (not always necessarily for Mass) just to see it.  We use it for teaching people about the faith.  And during lent people come just to be with the painting and pray.  Would that have happened it was just a copy in a pretty frame?

Much more good is done in the world by commissioning one good piece art than by buying a thousand prints or mass produced statues.  From those working on the committee, raising and donating funds, to inspiring the artist, to bringing something beautiful and unique to your congregation (and beyond,) it truly becomes source of grace for everyone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "But not everyone who is failing is a victim, and not everyone at the bottom wishes to rise."  From Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life."

QUOTE II:  "Besides, if you buy the story that everything terrible just happened on its own, with no personal responsibility on the part of the victim, you deny that person all agency in the past (and by implication, in the present and future, as well).  In this manner, you strip him or her of all power."  same source


Fr. Damian Ference has an new article HERE entitled "Scorsese, Springsteen, and the Sacrifice of Celibacy."

R. G. went in THIS website of what I think the album covers of the books of the Old Testament would look like if they were records and not books.  Very clever.  Thanks.

D. S. (soon to be known as Deacon D. S. - at least for a little while) sent in THIS site of a bunch of videos commissioned by the Vatican.  Have a look!  Thanks for sending them in.

Here is a review of what is going on at St. Sebastian this week:  Blind Eye Restoration continues working on the mosaic to repair and stabilize it:
The people cleaning the exterior of the church and doing minor tuck pointing were at it today.  You can see (hopefullythat about 3/4 of the facade was cleaned on the side to your left.  Also there is going to be a patch taking place in the masonry that will take this part sightly over budget. 
The chairs are removed again and the painters are readying the west wall for patching and painting.  (They are also going to turn the diocesan flag over which has been hanging upside down and far out of reach for about 5 years.)
 I took this before I got chastised for being on the scaffolding.

Monday, April 9, 2018


I know it may seem a trivial thing and there are those who would vehemently disagree with me but this drives me nuts.
I try to get our school kids not to reply to this question in this way.
I tell them, "That will get you a job one day!  Mark my words."  It means that you care about the English language just a wee bit more than perhaps someone else does.  It means that you are precise in what it is you are trying to express.  It may mean a deeper appreciation of English grammar in general, which will reflect positively on your place of employment.
It is extremely important when you are speaking on behalf of the Church.  Words mean very specific things in everything from ethics to rubrics.  One careless word can throw things into a tailspin.
That doesn't mean it isn't just plain annoying.

Friday, April 6, 2018


St. Sebastian Parish was not just successful.  “Success” as such could come from having many people who provide the funds to keep the parish operating.  But Father Zwisler was not satisfied with this.  Everything that the parish did had to be done well.  Liturgies first and foremost had careful attention paid to them.  Everything from the running of the school to the buildings and grounds to the running of parish activities were intensely tended to with both efficiency and the idea that they had to be done beautifully.  This intensity insisted upon by the pastor is probably the very thing that made him successful and popular with his people but also difficult for so many priests to live and minister here.

Father’s achievements, however, did not go unnoticed by the bishop.  For his outstanding and successful work in establishing a parish and school, for creating a model for parish buildings and grounds, and for his love and devotion to the Church and to the faith, he was made a Papal Prelate by Pope Pius XII.  From this time forward, Father Zwisler would be known as Monsignor Zwisler.

The term “monsignor” is an honorific form of address for those members of the clergy of the Catholic Church who are recognized as performing some great service for the Church.  Besides use of the title, being named a monsignor means that one may wear red piping on one’s cassock and is technically afforded certain courtesies such as having a privileged place in diocesan processions.  The Diocese of Cleveland no longer gives this title to her priests and more recently, Pope Francis has largely suppressed the practice.

Accounts say that Monsignor Zwisler accepted the title graciously saying that the honor was really bestowed upon the people of St. Sebastian rather than himself.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Here are some updates on the world being done on St. Sebastian.  Can't wait to see what Mass looks like this weekend.

Bell tower being cleaned
Mosaic in the process of being repaired, secured, and cleaned.
Pews being taken away.
Knights of Columbus working HARD and putting us ahead of schedule!
 View from scaffolding.


We should get all guns out of the hands of American Citizens.

I was saddened to see signs in the student walk out that said (numerous places - who got that word around?) “Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”  They are right.  Thoughts and prayers are what maintained our Western Cultural society with its respect of life, marriage, women, the pre-born, and the taboos on such things as pornography, etc.  But the wholesale dumping of these things leave little to maintain in prayer.  

Unfortunately, for most people it seems, this leaves only the governmental mandated removal of guns from its citizens so that only those who work for the government have guns. The thought being (I suppose) is that the government will keep us safe and well fed so we don’t have to do it ourselves.  It doesn’t mean coming together as a community and calling each other to something higher, it means the norm becoming metal detectors, searches, guards, laws, increasing punishments, and the worse part being that it is not a governmentally mandated action such as in the Orwell book “1984” but that we as a nation are begging for it.

One other solutions is to support our Catholic schools and other like minded institutions that are not aligning themselves with this cultural trend.  Organizations that see that the only sane way out of the quagmire that we are in is the slow rebuilding of a respect for life, a respect for proper authority, a respect for what has been handed on to us culturally, and a respect for those who will come after us.  This is not something that can be mandated by a law, enforced by a government official, punished into you and regulated.  That is a return to the Old Testament law, enforced outward conformity.  What is needed is a change of heart, mind, and soul.  Not just a regulation of actions, but forming a well formed conscience so that we don’t have to be monitored at every moment of our lives.  If this is what you want, find, join, and support organizations and communities that support you.

Here is a link to a video I hope you are able to watch:  HERE.  Thanks D. S.