Saturday, June 30, 2018


So on Tuesday I was at a restaurant eating something highly recommended by the waiter and thought to myself,  "Wow, I can't believe how cheap they were with this cheese.  It is almost tasteless!  How could he recommend this?"  Later I realized that it wasn't the cheese it was ME!  I had lost taste on the left side of my tongue.

Now, my first bite was extremely hot and I thought, "I must have burned my tongue."  But then the next day when I still couldn't taste, that was my first signal that something might be wrong.  Later that night I noticed I was having difficulties whistling and wondered if I was having a stroke.  So I did what all good Slovenian men do.  I decided to sleep on it and see if it would go away.  (Yes, I know, I've already been yelled at extensively by my N.Y. sister.)

By morning my smile was getting crooked.  But I really wanted to go to a funeral for the father of a friend but then my guardian angel whispered in my ear, "If you are having a stroke, do you really want to be the center of attention at somebody else's funeral?"

So I went to the ER.  To make a long story short, (too late), I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, a viral infection that causes you to temporarily lose muscle control on one side of your face.  It generally passes in a couple of months.  So essentially I have no facial expression on one side of my face.
Yet another reason every man should grow his beard - for just such an emergency.  Between glasses and the beard it isn't too bad.  

Unless I have to make a facial expression.

Which, at first, I thought wouldn't be so bad.  I can live with this if everyone else can.  THEN I REMEMBERED that this is the kick off of our 90th anniversary year of St. Sebastian Parish and because of that the number of photo opportunities that there will be including the shots for our PHOTO DIRECTORY that we were currently taking!  For the rest of history I am going to be remembered for looking more like our founding pastor, Monsignor Hilary Zwisler, who was NOT known for smiling: 
Anyway, I thought I could swing it without too much distraction until I woke up on Friday morning.  The dogs are always outside the door of my room and I always swing the door open and greet them with a hardy, "Good morning my good morning puppies!"  But this is what came out:

So the letter "P" is a challenge.  And this is where we come to understand that God has a sense of humor.  The Mass that day was for St. Peter and St. Paul.  And NORMALLY you would mention the saint's name MAYBE three times during the Mass.  But not Sts. Peter and Paul!  Nay!  Nay!  It seemed like EVERY OTHER BUMBLING WORD WAS PETER AND PAUL.  No kidding!  Here is the preface:

For by your providence
the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul bring us joy:
Peter, formost in confessing the faith,
Paul, its outstanding preacher,
Peter, who established the early Church from the remnant of Israel,
Paul, master and teacher of the Gentiles that you call.

Wasn't that just too coincidental?  (!)  It was difficult for me not to laugh during the Mass though I dare say people might of though I was choking or something since my face would not match the noises I would be making.

Knowing that there were a lot of "P"s and not wanted to be a distraction, I told the people what had happened at the beginning of my homily instead of waiting until the end of Mass.  I was told later that when I said I was having difficulties with the letter "P" that someone thought I had said that I was having difficulties when I pee and thought it a little odd and inappropriate that I was talking about it during the homily.

Well, that's about it so far.  All is well.  If you have time for an extra prayer that would be great but other than that things are the way they are for now *BUT* there is one thing of which I would like for you to be aware: If you crack a joke or smile and wave, don't be upset that I don't seem to smile back:

Friday, June 29, 2018


Though built for multi purposes, the original parish building is now used entirely for the school and hall.  But there is evidence of former uses.  The office located on the top floor of the bell tower was once the office of the sister principal.  A hole in the ceiling is where the rope for the bell in the tower once hung.  There is a window that is now plastered over in the hall but the evidence of which is still seen in this office by way of a sliding door that sister once used to keep an eye on her students during Mass.

In the basement under a set of stairs is an abandoned vault.  Here was kept the parish valuables when this building also housed the church, hall, and offices.  In the library is still seen an elevated area that served as the stage from when this floor was the church hall.  

On the second floor is a large classroom that housed the nuns.  The girls bathroom is larger and slightly more ornate than any others in the building.  This served as the communal bathroom for the religious faculty who lived there.  

On the front lawn of the school is the original parish bell.  Typically, Catholic steeple bells are given a name and are “baptized” before use.  In the Roman Catholic Church the name Baptism of Bells has been given to the ceremonial blessing of church bells since the eleventh century. The name given this bell is Annunciata.  It was caste by the Stuckstede & Bro. Co. and dedicated in November of 1929.  According to online sources this foundry operated in Saint Louis, Missouri, from 1890 to 1940, and intermittently thereafter until 1961.  At least 90 bells from this foundry (mostly single but some in peals of two or three) remain in the Saint Louis region.  This was the second largest and second longest-lasting of several bell foundries in this city.  At some point. during repairs to the tower, the bell was removed and placed on the school grounds, but is still very much in working order.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


I am on a (painfully slow moving) think tank for the future of Catholic schools.  Doing some research online for the effectiveness of Catholic schools I came across a bushel basket of articles commenting on a study about the effectiveness of private schools vs Catholic schools.  It is interesting to note that, depending on what you want the research to say, you can make the study sound as though it backs you up.

For example, many articles sited that, correcting for other variables such as socioeconomical backgrounds, there is no difference between private and public schools.  Time magazine would argue differently; that the study shows that it does make a difference.

But let us set that argument aside for a moment - even say that public and private schools would give the same student the same education for their background.  Is reading, typing and arithmetic all that there is to education?  What about forming the human person?  Is this exactly the same in both instances?

One of the reasons parents choose private education is to avoid what they see as indoctrination of their children into a cultural outlook with which they do not agree - stewing them in the latest political correctness rather than a longer standing understanding of what it is to be a good citizen of the world.  What some parents are looking for is more local control and flavor in a school rather than a system subject to policies that must be followed in all schools from rural to urban, from New York City to Wellington.  

At a Catholic school it is possible to do things that are illegal in public schools.  Pray.  Go to Mass and confession.  Learn about religious history.  Celebrate religious art and music.  Discuss topics such as virtue and sin.  Hold students to a higher standard according to the path followed by saints who were scientists, artist, leaders, servants, rich and poor.  A place where we don’t have to pretend that it is not Christmas or Easter.  

I would like to say that any one of these things were the primary reason people choose our school, but it is not.  In our school surveys, what turns out to be one of the greatest reasons people choose Catholic schools is safety.  They feel more secure with their child in a private school.  

Maybe it is because there is more freedom to curb behaviors in a private school and an ideal toward which we are always pointing our students.  Maybe it is because the constant reinforcement (I hope) of duty, responsibility and charity rather than just rights and freedoms.  Maybe, just maybe this is why since the 1920s there has only been one shooting in a Catholic school, in the 1970s at Gonzaga University where 4 people were injured.  Maybe.

Is it just about grades?  If it is, go to public school and save yourself a bundle.  The cost of Catholic education is becoming untenable in many places because of everything they are expected to do (and it is NOT because the teachers are paid enough.)  But if you value something else and that aligns with what is being exemplified in your local Catholic school, that education is priceless.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave . . . Europe has been turned upside down over and over again; and that at the end of each of these revolutions the same religion has again been found on top."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "Everlasting Man"

QUOTE II:  "Some stones of Stonehenge are standing and some are fallen; and as the stone falleth so shall it lie.  There has not been a Druidic renaissance every century or two, with the young Druids crowned with fresh mistletoe, dancing in the sun on Salisbury Plain.  Stonehenge  has not been rebuilt in every style of architecture from the rude round Norman to the last rococo of the Baroque.  The sacred place of the Druids is safe from the vandalism of restoration."  same source.


The St. Sebastian cutting garden that supplies the church with all of her flowers over the warmer months was part of The Ohio State University Extension Office's Master Gardeners Tour.  Between 500 and 600 people visited our gardens and church this past Saturday.

P. V. sent in THIS article on Bill Murray (comedian) about his faith.  Also, Hungary's abortion rate numbers plummet HERE.

M. S. sent in THIS article/video on Chris Pratt inviting people to learn to pray.

The new plaza is just about ready open and here is what the new lighting will partially look like (they are not all on yet.)  You are invited to see (almost everything) completed when Bishop Perez comes to celebrate Mass this Saturday (June 30th) at 4:30.

Just because I like this video and needed a laugh today:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018


Over the main entrance of the old church is the original version of the parish coat of arms.  Heraldry is of serious matter and, according to James-Charles Noonan’s book, “The Church Visible,” “it is a phenomenon very much a part of the legal and social structures of practically every continent on earth. . . Heraldry is not independent of the law and is, in fact, strictly governed by international custom and state law. . . Ecclesiastical heraldry is not determined by heraldic considerations alone but also by doctrinal, liturgical, and canonical factors.”

The heraldry of St. Sebastian has an “escutcheon” or shield “per pale” or divided down the center.  “In sinister” or to the left as you view the arms are seven crossletes of “vert” (or green) on an “or” (or gold) field.  The crosses are an obvious reference to Christianity and that there are seven of them points to one of the main purposes of the parish which is to celebrate the seven sacraments.

“In dexter” or to the right, we have three upward pointing arrows in “or” on a “vert” field.  The three arrows have a double meaning.  The first is in reference to the Trinity as there are three of them pointing to heaven.  The second concerns the story of our patron, St. Sebastian, who is most famously pictured riddled with arrows when the emperor Diocletian attempted to have him put to death for being a Christian.

At some point in the 1950s, the coat of arms went through a redesign.  A chief was added with arrow like lines pointing toward the center.  Though the original coat of arms appears on the convent which was completed in 1951, this new version made its appearance on the Recreation Center (later to be known as Byrider Hall) in 1953.  There is a little debate concerning what these  lines mean.  Some think that they are the chevrons of rank of someone serving in the armed forces and so attribute them to St. Sebastian's status as a high ranking officer in the Praetorian Guard.  But this would be completely anachronistic.  It is more likely a highly symbolic depiction of palm branches which would be the Church’s symbol of triumph over death for her martyrs.  This version of the coat of arms continued to be employed through the construction of the “new” church as can be seen on the building, the doors, and the pews.  

Around the year 2009, finding many versions of the coat of arms in use at the parish, from what was found on the buildings, various letterheads, uniforms, signs, and other such uses, a concerted effort was made to focus on just one version of the arms and standardize the colors, fonts, and uses of the arms across the entire parish.  Though remnants of various versions may still be found, all new employments of the arms have since been strictly regulated.  This final version returns to the original version and has removed instruments of war such as helmets and pikes, which are strictly forbidden in ecclesiastical heraldry.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I am fascinated by the idea that we are so complicated as human beings that we do not even really know what it is we believe.  A priest I highly respect and who has been quoted on these pages extensively brushes off many if not most persons who call themselves atheists with the phrase, “They are not intelligent enough to be atheists.”  What he means by this is that those who fit into this particular category do not lead a life in keeping with this self proclaimed position with the (relatively) sole manifestation being that they do not go to church or pray.  Instead of living a new order of an atheistic world, they live a weak-tea version of poor Christianity.

One time I met a true atheist.  He was about the only guy I ever met who truly believed everything was just happenstance of a random universe meaning nothing.  He was not depressed but the thought of this made him sad.  Even the conversation we had about it he labeled as pointless.  “If there is no God, then even this conversation means nothing beyond what little pleasure it may bring me.”  I respect that guy.

Jordan Peterson makes the suggestion that if you really want to know what you believe, don’t take the words that come out of your mouth at face value.  There is a lot going with these words.  They are not pure distillations of our hard held convictions.  Our words will be influenced by the person to whom we are speaking, by the community by whom we have been formed, by the point we wish to make, and a million other little factors that will form the tide flowing over our tongue.

Rather, says Mr. Peterson, if you really want to know what you believe, examine how you have acted in the past; how you have responded to the world and its surprises.  Despite vows of great love, did you stick it out during bad times and sickness?  Despite saying you trust in God no matter what, did you remain calm during times of turmoil?  Despite saying that you are an atheist, do you mindlessly follow the Christian/Judeo cultural patterns?  Despite thinking that you are a worthless sinner, do you keep coming back to confession?

Be careful to engage in contemplation. You may discover what you really believe. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER T MAY BE FOUND:  "A child will have many friends, but only tow parents - if that - and parents are more, not less, than friends."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "Parents are the arbiters of society.  They teach children how to behave so that other people will be able to interact meaningfully and productively with them."  same source.

QUOTE III: ". . . with his wife they will be the first teachers of the children in the ways of faith.  May they also be the best of teachers bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do through Christ Jesus our Lord."  from the Liturgy of Baptism


Blimp sighting over West Akron:
P. V. sent in THIS article about how the Dominicans are bringing back orthodoxy to academia.  

For today's video you must go HERE.  It is a 50 minute reflection on Chesterton and where are on his canonization process.  Apparently we are nearing the end of the investigation process that would lead to officially opening his cause.

Friday, June 15, 2018



Mull Avenue probably received its name from the Mull family who owned a farm in the area.  The original house, which still stands, is located at 73 Mull Avenue.  Once, when the house was for sale, an advertisement gave this description:

“Fabulous find for the Unique buyer! Enjoy the prestige and romance that comes with a home built nearly two centuries ago. Located close to Highland Square, this Ohio historical Landmark built in 1846 by Charles Mull, is one of the first Western Reserve Style homes in Ohio under the Connecticut Land Grant. Beam & Peg construction, featuring incredible wide plank, tongue & grooved, American Chestnut flooring. 44 windows allow maximum light from dawn to dusk, perfect for an artist or musician. Heritage landscaping with a fenced back yard, treed & perfect for bird watching, raised garden beds w/ stone walls. All systems have been upgraded while the home retains its historical integrity. 3Bdrs., 2ba's, overly spacious Liv Rm, dining room, charming study & back staircase off kitchen. Situated on a very private, quiet street, everything about this gentle gracious homestead whispers Welcome Home. An absolute hidden treasure. Carriage could fit 1-2 cars. History lover's delight.”

Originally Mull Avenue was probably a short, dirt road until it was upgraded and lengthened. The earliest recording of Mull Avenue in the city records was in 1905 - 1906 record book at which time it started at West Market Street and extended to one block west of Rose. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018


At Theology on Tap last night the question was asked if we should refer to someone by their preferred pronoun even if it doesn’t match their body’s birth sex.  Another person made the comment that it sounded like the predicament that Jordan Peterson found himself in.

It isn’t actually.  The Jordan Peterson debate had to do with state mandated compelled speech in Canada (a truly scary thing - George Orwellian) and persons with gender issues unfortunately got caught in the middle.  Therefor his case does not answer the above question at all.

To get to the root of the answer one must ask the question, “What is your purpose and aim?”  For most of us, particularly outside of academia and politics, a Catholic is called to be an intentional disciple.  That being the case, it is our aim to bring people to Christ in the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church.  Can we woo anyone to the Church by refusing to call them by the identity markers that they pick out for themselves?  Instead being able to explore grander topics, (eventually getting back to gender issues) it would always be about the mean Catholic that refused to call me “she.”  The conversation will be dead in the water.

As one of my spiritual director’s said, “If a person knows that you love them, you can tell them anything.”  Starting with “don’t” and “no” no matter how correct ends the game before it even begins.  This does NOT mean compromising the faith.  It does mean presenting it over a long enough period of time in which it can be heard.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is therefor desirable for religions to have a dogmatic element.  What good is a value system that does not provide a stable structure?  What good is a value system that does not point the way to a higher order?"  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life."

QUOTE II:  "You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act."  same source


John Kastelic was inspired by the restoration project at St. Sebastian to write a song.  It has had over 3K views since Monday.  Listen to it HERE.

P.V. sent in THIS revealing story about the "Sex and the City."

She also sent in THIS STORY about the danger in being too Catholic.

Deacon S. sent in THIS link to a new blog called Veronica's Veil.  

Here is some work coming along at St. Sebastian:

This came in:  Dear Chesterton Society Members across the world!

I am a young Polish scholar from Cracow working on G.K. Chesterton. Within last years I’ve published some books on him, including two French translations I’ve been directing for well known French publishers.
Today I am pleased to announce my first publication in English language, “Protestantism As Seen by G.K. Chesterton”, a synthesis of GKC's thought, written at the occasion of the five hundred years anniversary of the Reformation. Perhaps you will find an interest to read it. If so, I will be grateful for your remarks which will surely contribute to improve my next works on Gilbert Chesterton.
Find out more HERE.
M.W. sent in this commencement speech that is well worth the listen:

Friday, June 8, 2018


The "Saint Sebastian Chalice” was commissioned by the founding pastor Msgr. Zwisler.  He requested that the ladies of the parish who had diamond jewelry that they were no longer wearing donate the diamonds to the parish to be incorporated into a chalice.  The diamonds range from incredibly small to one of respectable size.  (I wouldn't be too excited about diamonds however - like a car it is amazing how quickly they lose their value once they leave the jewelry shop.  As one lady put it, "Call off an engagement and see how much you can get back for that diamond!”) 

Just below the cup there is a ring of 9 diamonds.  At the node there is a Chi Rho made up of 16 diamonds.  Around the node is a ring of 16 diamonds.  Around the base is another ring of 31 diamonds.  There is a circle of diamonds around a "Tau" or Greek letter "T" that represents the Cross.  The circle has 12 diamonds in it and the Tau has 3 diamonds in it.  Also in the Tau are 3 blue sapphires and two tiny pearls.  This makes a total of 87 diamonds, 3 sapphires, and two pearls.  Around the base of the chalice is the inscription, "Sancte Sebastiane ora pro nobis" or "Saint Sebastian pray for us." 

Mr. Nick Ciriello tells how one day, soon after the chalice was finished, he came across Monsignor carrying a burlap sack.  “Come with me,” he said to the young server.  “Do you want to see what is inside the sack?” 

“Sure,” he replied.

With that he pulled out the chalice.  “I keep it in that bag,” he said.  “If anybody came by to rob us, the last place they’d look for something expensive and beautiful is in an old burlap bag!”

Thursday, June 7, 2018


This past week this chalice was given to St. Sebastian Parish.  A phone call from the grand nephew of our founding pastor, Monsignor Hilary Zwisler, called to say that the family had this chalice in their possession and now wished to reunite it with the parish.  

The chalice was donated to the parish in 1929 by Cletus G. Roetzel.  Mr. Roetzel was a lawyer in Akron and was a decorated Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Pius XII, 1949. He served with Field Artillery of the United States Army in World War I, was a member of the American, Ohio and Akron (past president) bar associations, Akron Law library association, Catholic Service League (trustee, past president), American Legion, Izaak Walton League and a Phi Delta Theta.

The chalice, with its Celtic cross, has this inscribed around the bottom of the base; “DONATED TO ST. SEBASTIAN CHURCH BY CLETUS G. ROETZEL IN HONOR OF HIS PARENTS JOHN T AND MARY ROETZEL CHRISTMAS 1929.”

The grandnephew, Mr. Bernard George, had no idea that the parish was about to celebrate it’s 90th anniversary when he called about giving the chalice to the parish, but it made the timing so much more special.  I assured him that we would give the grand piece a mighty shining up and use it in a special way this coming year.  

Interestingly enough it came with this other little utensil pictured here with a common writing pen next to it in order to give you an idea of scale.  (Try guessing what it is before going on!)  I have never seen nor heard of such a thing before.  It seemed (to us) obviously liturgical (notice the grape and leave design on the handle) and we spent some time trying to figure out what it was.

There were a number of guesses of things with which we were somewhat familiar; items from Eastern Rite Catholics or possibly for adding salt to holy water for the old order of blessing but none of these seemed quite right.  (Why grapes if it for salt and water?)  Finally, the every handy internet came to the rescue and named a liturgical utensil of which I never heard (not an easy thing to do.)  It is called a scrupulosity spoon.  For the priest who was worried about adding too much water to the wine at Mass and thereby making it invalid, or if he had difficulties with alcohol and used very little wine and wanted to make sure that he mixed in just a very small drop of water, he could stick this tiny ladle into the water cruet and abstract that perfect amount of water.

Mom was right: You learn something new every day.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "What you aim at determines what you see."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "Even older that ethics, however, is religion.  Religion concerns itself not with (mere) right and wrong but with good and evil themselves - with the archetypes of right and wrong.  Religion concerns itself with domain of value, ultimate value.  That is not the scientific domain, It's not the territory of empirical description.  The people who wrote and edited the Bible for example, weren't scientists, even if they had wanted to be.  The viewpoint, methods and practices of science hadn't been formulated when the Bible was written.
        "Religion is instead about proper behavior.  It's about what Plato called 'the Good.'"  same source


Restoration update:  The confessionals are getting their freshening up:

New countertops in the sacristy!  Not more old formica with cracks nailed down in place!
Corpus Christi procession with pictures by K. S.

 I just like this.
It's the season for Vacation Bible School!

Friday, June 1, 2018


Fundraising has been part of the parish life from the very beginning.  The first fundraising activities were begun by the Sanctuary Society and consisted of a number of card parties.  Bridge was the game of the parish and Bridge Flights continue until this day.  The funds provided to the parish from the bridge flights in 2015 were used to commission an icon of St. Sebastian to be revealed at the 90th anniversary of the parish.  A new order of young Byzantine nuns located within the Diocese of Cleveland rely on these commissions if icons to help sustain themselves.

The first bridge party and dance was held on 16 October, 1928, in the Knights of Columbus Auditorium, the Knights of Columbus being another organization that had greatly helped in the founding of the parish.  The evening was a great success and was followed by a number of Bridge Parties in the homes of members of the Society.  

A couple of noteworthy parties include one thrown by Mrs. Guy Grimsby and Mrs. O. W. Burgess who were not members of the parish but desired to assist the fledgling new Catholic community.  The event was held at the Liedertafel Hall.  Another pays tribute to the idea that ecumenism is not a new idea with Vatican II.  On April 25th, a party sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William E. Cunningham was had filling “every available inch” of the Knights of Columbus Hall.  It was said that it “drew friends from every part of the city, Catholic and non-Catholic” alike.