Wednesday, May 30, 2018


It is not unusual for someone to be mad at God because it appears as though He is not answering their prayers.  Usually this means that God is not following our directions properly.  “If He loved me, He would do as I request because - well - it’s really what I want.”

And it is interesting to ponder if God thinks the same thing.  “I’ve told them exactly what I want.  Why don’t they listen?”  But the difference is that God doesn’t get mad and He will be there tomorrow listening just as intently as He did the day before and hoping we will listen just as attentively.  

Friday, May 25, 2018


One of the hallmarks of Fr. Byrider’s tenure as pastor was his thoughtfulness and kindness.  Known to his intimates as “Chuck,” there was an expression bandied about amongst the priests of the diocese about the well thought of pastor.  Fr. Byrider made it a habit to keep an eye out in the news for any mention of one of his brother priests.  If he spotted a story about you, you would receive a congratulatory note in the mail from him.  This was known as “getting Chucked.”

He had great respect for his predecessor.  At one point, Father Byrider had decided to have some trees removed from the property.  Monsignor seeing the trucks stormed out of the rectory and told the tree cutters to get off of the property.  Being informed of the incident, Father Byrider allowed the trees to remain rather than upset the man for whom he had so much respect. 

Another example of his great love for priests in general, Father Byrider did not insist on his right to take over the pastor’s suite at the St. Sebastian rectory.  Instead, he let Monsignor finish out his stay there while he took rooms in the west wing originally constructed for Monsignor’s sister and there he stayed eventually even allowing his parochial vicars to take the “good room” after Monsignor had finally  passed on to his great reward.

Thus closes the first period of the history of the parish.  The dedication and foresight of its people, religious, and clergy, especially that of founding pastor still have a profound effect on its people today who carry on the proud work of Christ in the hopes of passing on a strong faith and powerful parish for generations yet to come to West Akron.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


At the last Theology on the Rocks, Fr. Kevin Klonowski gave a talk on how to encourage adult children back to a practice of the faith.  The venue was packed and people had to be turned away.  We will are now working on rescheduling the talk so that it might reach more people.  Keep up to date on the schedule of talks HERE.

That being said, Father gave his collection of "5 DON'Ts and 10 DOs" in the practice of encouraging your adult children back to the practice of the faith.  Someone wrote us a note on the comment cards and asked if these 15 points could be published on Adam's Ale.  Yes they can and here they are with some notes written by me since his outline did not contain the details that he shared!  Thank you Fr. K for sending me your outline.


1. Complain.
Who wants to belong to any organization or do any activity that tends to produce complainers?  And this topic is just further evidence that you do not like me for who I am.  This just divides. 
2. Nag.
When has nagging inspired anybody to do the good any further than to quiet the nagger?  Nagging does not transform.  It pushes, it does not lead, and when the pushing is done the momentum stops.
3. Yell or Disown.
When was the last time someone yelled at you and you thought, "Hey!  They are right!  They are only yelling at me and disowning me for my own good!  What a fool I have been!  I can't wait to turn into an exact copy of the person who is attacking me like this!"
4. Grow Discouraged
God works on his own schedule, not yours.  Never give up hope!  St. Monica was persistent in her hope for years and years.  My own Father did not come back to the faith until practically on his death bed.  But he did  Always have hope.
5. Underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit within you.
As Bishop Nelson says, "Never underestimate the Holy Spirit working in you, through you, and in spite of you.  God's will will prevail. 

THE 10 DOs

1. Become a disciple.
You can't give what you don't have.  If you want your kids to follow your example, give them something to imitate. 
2. Learn, know, and be able to articulate the story of our salvation history.
You never know when someone you love will be interested in knowing more.  The door may open for just a minute.  What will you say?
3. Promote the pursuit of truth.
There are three ways to God: through goodness, through beauty, and through truth.  If you children are seeking truth in some way, promote the effort in them and encourage them to dig deeper even if the subject is not directly that of faith because God is truth and the seeking of Truth can lead one to God.
4. Pray for all of you loved ones who have fallen away.
Pray is powerful.  Always remember that and employ it whenever the thought comes!  If you are washing dishes and think of your kids, don't plan on praying - pray RIGHT THEN.
5. Promote vocation to the priestly and religious life.
Pray that there will be more vocations to help aid the life of the church.
6. Support campus efforts for evangelization.
Campus life is often the first time young folks are away from positive influences in the practice of the faith.  They may even be more greatly challenged to abandon it (even in our Catholic Universities.)  Promote organizations that build up the faith on our campuses.
7. Encourage beauty.
Fr. Benedice Groeschel often said that "Ultimately beauty will save us."  Of the three transcendentals, beauty is the most difficult to refute.  God is Beauty itself.  Appreciation of beauty is appreciation of God whether one realizes it or not.  Promote beauty in your parish!
8. Put faith into action.
Our faith should lead us to pray but also to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend to the sick, visit the lonely etc.  Let it be shown that the practice of your faith makes for a better world.
9. Plan for you death.
Let you last act be in the embrace of the Church and her sacraments.  Perhaps seeing this, perhaps someone involved with your funeral may be able to touch something in your son or daughter.   This may be first time in a long time they have met a priest or been in church.  Who knows what God can do?
10. Love your children and will their good.
God is love.  Be the person to your child that you hope is their impression of God.  "I want to be like my parents who loved so much and the inspiration of their love was their Catholic faith."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  "Maybe you're a handy-man's dream, a real fixer-upper.  How can you start your renovations without being demoralized, even crushed, by your internal critic's lengthy and painful report of your inadequacies?  Here's a hint.  The future is like the past.  But the past is fixed, but the future - to could be better.  It could better, some precise amount - the amount that can be achieved, perhaps, in a day, with some minimal engagement."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"


Mark Rosenberger & S. D. sent this in:  Hi all!  We won a national Gabriel Award!!!!!!!
The Catholic Press Association presents the Gabriel Award each year.  It is the largest Catholic communicators’ award program in North America, judging over 2600 entries annually from journalists, book authors, broadcasters and students. This prestigious award recognizes the best in artistic, creative, and inspirational media productions that entertain and enrich with a real vision of humanity and life.
Okay, so… what won? 
Back in January of 2017 Carrie Wise did a story about 83 year old Mother Mary Thomas who became a cloistered nun more than 50 years ago.  What is different about Mother Mary Thomas is that she paints murals… big, beautiful murals. 
Congratulations to Carrie, the ideastream Arts and Culture Unit and everyone who had a part in bringing this great story to audiences here and everywhere! 

Some of Mother's painting are at St. Sebastian.  Also, yours truly appears in this documentary.  ALSO this documentary is final three contender for a local Emmy!  If you have not seen it, you may see it HERE.

Deacon Stavarz sent THIS in concerning Avila Institute.

Here's some renovation updates.  The ORGAN IS BEING REINSTALLED!
 The removal of the front doors has begun.
 The saints are lining up for their makeovers.
 St. Francis' toe and his sparrow's tail has been replaced.
 And work continues on the shield.

Good news bad news:  The good news is that last night Theology on the Rocks concerning how to  your encourage your adult children to practice the faith had an OUTSTANDING talk by Fr. Kevin Klonowski.  The bad news is that it was so needed.  The venue was too packed.  We will reschedule his talk for a second time for those who were not able to get in.  Keep an eye out.  Also, we are speaking with the restaurant about the food shortage.  (They were understaffed that night.)  

This video was sent in by M. W.  Could you imagine if he were a politician in the United States?

Monday, May 21, 2018


This past Christmas, owing to a two for one sale, I bought Fr. Simone and myself a DNA test kit.  It took us awhile to send the samples in and get the results back but finally we did.  Fr. Bearer from St. Francis was visiting the other night and I shared with him the results:

Mom always said that when you get 4 Europeans in a room, you either have an army or four political parties, with the exception of Slovenians.  When you have four Slovenians in a room, you have a choir.

Friday, May 18, 2018


It is a busy end of the year!  Apologies for no posts this week!


The Second Vatican Council closes and in the next city over, a baby named John Anthony Valencheck was born at Barberton Citizen’s Hospital.  Forty three years later he would become the fifth pastor of St. Sebastian.


Forty years had passed since the founding of the parish.  It had weathered many storms and stood up against crippling debt, one of the worst economic downturns in history, a word war, and a huge reduction in its boundaries, but it still stood out as a shining example of the very best in Catholic parishes.  Monsignor Zwisler was the mighty captain at the wheel for the entirety of those four decades, but now, at 80 years of age, it was time to retire and The Rev. Charles Byrider to be named the second pastor.

It is generally thought that this year marked the beginning of the Byrider era and in many ways it did.  But the influence of Monsignor Zwisler was far from over.  He would continue to live at the parish and his shadow of influence would continue.

Friday, May 11, 2018



The Catholic world begins to change dramatically as we enter this year.  It is the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  From religious habits to the way Mass is celebrated, many aspects of the Church went through dramatic alterations.  This would include architecture.  But the original integrity of St. Sebastian church remains largely intact to this day.  Built with the same foresight as the rest of the campus and falling on the cusp of the Council, the building seems to have had a sense of the changes that were to come.  So the when the changes did occur, very little was needed at all by way of alterations.  In fact, besides the addition of a second free standing forward altar donated by the Wendelken family, there were no changes necessary, all other adjustments to the space being made later and for different reasons.


This was an unusual year for the parish.  It would be unusual for any parish.  St. Sebastian prides itself with a long line of sons ordained to the priesthood.  But in 1964, FOUR of her boys would be ordained on the same day, the Rev. Francis LaRocca, the Rev. Joseph Kraker, the Rev. William Karg, and the Rev. David McCarthy. One of them, Fr. Karg, would later become the fourth pastor of the parish.  Another, Fr. Kraker, would become pastor of the parish’s mother parish, St. Vincent.

A picture appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal concerning this rare event.  Monsignor Zwisler stands, holding an oversized clock normally used in the school to teach children how to tell time, while the four men who are about to be ordained point to the times each chose to celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at the parish.

In a Beacon Journal article dated May of 2004 covering the 40th anniversary of these men, Marie Thomas tells a story about how mischievous they were in school.  “We had a front door and a back door in our classroom.  They would sneak out the back and rap on the front door.  When the nun went to the front door, they would sneak in the back.”
Having four priests ordained in the same year was quite an exciting thing but Monsignor was not out of tricks yet.  In 1964 a group of Catholics saw a need for a retreat facility in Summit County. On the first board were many prominent persons from St. Sebastian Parish as well as Monsignor Zwisler himself.  After appealing to the Jesuits for their sponsorship, the board raised the money needed and acquired a parcel of farmland overlooking Nimisila Reservoir near the Portage Lakes in southern Summit County.  Today it is known as Loyola Retreat House.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


“‘If God had not been on our side.’  This is Israel’s song.”  (Psalm 124)

This little ditty from the Psalms is a great example of why it is so important to contemplate, reflect and meditate.  Often when all we look at is where we are going, we only see the challenges ahead.  (Pharaoh wont let us go, the Red Sea is in the way, we are running our of food . . .)  But in reflecting back they can see how God has been with them every step of the way, through miracles, releasing them from their slavery, parting the Red Sea and removing the Roman soldiers as a threat, gaving them manna in the desert.

Parish life can be like this too.  We can get caught up in all of the work that needs to be done, all of the challenges ahead, all of the programs that the diocese wants implemented and it can be overwhelming.  But as pastor of this parish, I can look back over the past ten years and realize that we have been seen through everything that set us back on our heals when they first appeared.

You can see this with older and wiser priests.  Fewer and fewer things ruffle their feathers. Something comes down the pike - something new that must be implemented immediately or else the end of the world will happen, and priests and parish staffs and volunteers start going wild like chickens who have a wolf knocking at the door of their straw houses.  But the older priests take it in stride.  Most things will pass.  Many will be replaced by the latest and greatest before the old is even fully implemented.  All that it takes is a new person in political office or a change in Church administration.  So the older pastors roll with it not getting too excited following gate advice of  Alexander Pope, “Be not the first by whom the new are tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”  This can only come by experience and by reflecting/mediating on that experience.

The spiritual life is the same.  The one who doesn’t meditate sees each new trial as the end of the world and wonders why God has abandoned them.  The one who sees God acting in his past knows God will see you through one way or the other - even if that is saving you at death and bringing you into heaven.

In opening the new Catholic school in Akron we hit a lot of walls and often thought the project was over.  Feeing sad at that but entrusting it to St. Sebastian or St. Julie, we would go our way wondering what would happen next.  Every time, seemingly impossible obstacles were removed and we could only attribute that to God and the intercession of our saints.  “If they had not been on our side,”  This is our song - and our encouragement to face the future.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "In matters of dogma, faith places all intellects on the same level, the learned man and the ignorant, the genius and the common herd must all subscribe to the same details of belief; rich and poor must follow the same observances, and it imposes the same austerities upon the strong and the weak; it makes no compromise with any mortal, but applying the same standard to every human being, it mingles all classes of society at the foot of the same altar, just as they are mingled in the sight of God . . . Thus, American Catholics are both the most obedient of the faithful and the most independent citizens."  Alexis de Tocqueville as found in Archbishop Chatput's, "Render unto Caesar"


Hope to see you at the next Theology on Tap:  Better parking and good food at the Barely House in downtown Akron, but the room is a little difficult to locate!  We should have more signs this time.
 Today's construction progress:  The destruction of the old plaza is going quickly:
 Now it is ready for testing to make sure we are building the new plaza on a good foundation:

Work on the shield continues.  Say hi to Lindsay way up there.  (Did you know the child is about 9'?
Just found out that our painting of St. Julie Billiart was used in a video about her feast day:

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Saturday started off inauspiciously.  I was walking the dogs in the morning and Marcy, who just dropped off some groceries at the rectory, hailed me from across Schneider park:
WHY do these things always happen on the weekend?  WHY?  Our maintenance guy said on Friday that he was looking forward to having a whole weekend off so I was not going to call him in.  We would find a way to deal with it ourselves - helpless as we are.

Unfortunately it was a very busy weekend and the project of the refrigerator would have to wait until later in the day.  That meant that when it was time for lunch, careful calculations had to be made so that the door would be open the least amount of time possible in order to retain as much cold air as possible.

Friday's meal was DELICIOUS (thank you M.W.) and it was an emergency situation so . . .
So, yes, I ate the whole thing.

Finally, everything with an immediate deadline was completed and so it was time to address the problem of the refrigerator.  I went to go tap Fr. Simone on the shoulder to help but encountered him running frantically through the house:
So he was stressed and I thought to leave him alone until I figured out a solution to our problem and  so use his time as efficiently as possible.

I checked the breakers (fine) and made sure everything else that plugged in was working (they were.)  What now?  There is another refrigerator in the basement of the rectory.  So at the very least, with the help of some boxes all the food could be taken downstairs and stored there, other things could be thrown away, and I gave the dogs all of their refrigerated treats so we wouldn't have to deal with them.

Then I thought (not knowing a lot about refrigerators) before I get too much more deeply into this, I better pull the beast out and make sure that there isn't a fuse or a breaker or a switch on the back of the refrigerator that just needs to be flipped.
And that's when I made the discovery.

Friday, May 4, 2018


The stained glass windows were made of baked glass by Francesco Marcione over a period of a year. These windows are dedicated to Our Blessed Mother as Queen, and depict her titles taken from the Litany of Loretto. 

Fourteen hand carved wooden statues carved by artisans in the Tyrolean sector of Italy surround the nave of the church. The eight side altars have two stained glass windows each that depict the lives of the saints to which they are dedicated.

The building of the new church did not end the services of the old church as a worship space.  For many years the new church would only be used for Sundays and other special events such as weddings.  Other Masses, especially the school Masses would still be held in the original church building.  The church was eventually turned into the parish hall (Zwisler Hall) and all Masses moved to the new church save for a Sunday contemporary Mass with banquet chairs and a temporary altar.  When the priest shortage began to hit in earnest and the pastor, The Rev. William Karg became the sole priest at the parish, all Masses were moved to the new church. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018


This painting is over the tabernacle in the church.  I never quite understood it.  Fr. Pfeiffer and I sat ourselves the task of figuring out all of the symbolism.  This is what we came up with:

The main part of the tester is a painting.  In the center is the “IHS” monogram and flowing from it are four wavy objects that almost look almost like bed sheets.  There are three birds drinking from pools of water and some branches with leaves on them.  The sources for this painting largely come from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation.  

From Revelation 22:1,2: “Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the main street of the city. On either side of the river stood a tree of life, producing twelve kinds of fruit and yielding a fresh crop for each month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him.…”

A similar scene is portrayed in Ezekiel 47:12: “By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food.  Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail.  They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” 

The reference to the river being “as clear as crystal” gives reason to why the artist painted the four flowing streams as white.  The leaves for the healing of the nations are the green leaves that appear in the painting.  

In Ezekiel (39:17):  "Tell all of the birds and wild beasts, "Come! Gather together and participate in the sacrifice that I'm going to make for you. This great sacrifice will take place on the mountains of Israel, where you'll be eating flesh and drinking blood.”

This excerpt from Ezekiel tells about the birds (us) are called to gather and participate in the sacrifice; to eat flesh and drink blood.  In the Christian era we clearly see this as a Eucharistic reference.  Jesus has become the Temple in the Holy City (John 2:19-21) “Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.’ ‘This temple took forty-six years to build,' the Jews replied, ‘and You are going to raise it up in three days?’ But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body. . .”  Jesus is the Temple and the Sacrifice (the Lamb from Revelation) that feeds the world and gives life.  In the context of the faith, all of this is referencing the Sacrifice of the Mass and the many graces that flow from it, an interesting tie in to the fact that the tester is designed to show the importance of the altar, the sacrifice of the Mass, and the healing nature of the Eucharist.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "I guess what concerned me most about the small lie was the danger of it becoming a habit. I've seen many times over the years how liars get so good at lying, they lose the ability to distinguish between what's true and what's not. They surround themselves with other liars. The circle becomes closer and smaller, with those unwilling to surrender their moral compasses pushed out and those willing to tolerate deceit brought closer to the center of power. Perks and access are given to those willing to lie and tolerate lies. This creates a culture, which becomes an entire way of life. The easy, casual lies--those are a very dangerous thing. They open up the path to the bigger lies, in more important places, where the consequences aren't so harmless."  from James Comey's, "A Higher Lyoalty"  (Thanks B. S.)

QUOTE II:  Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.”  Flannery O'Connor  (Thanks Deacon S.)


Here are some events coming up:

 K. S. sent in this picture of Chester that is just awesome.  Thanks
 Here is progress on the church restoration:  This is the machine that grinds down the terrazzo.
 This is the little grinding machine that gets into the smaller areas.
They started removing the grouting and railings at the front of the church today.
 Here is a clean vs the dirty pew shields.
This is over 2 hours but if you want something on in the background . . .