Sunday, September 30, 2018


It used to be that one would save all of their happy memories in photo books.  For a trip down memory lane someone would open it on their lap and page through while others told stories.
Those things took up space though I tell you.  I still have shelves full of them.  Thank goodness for cameras that allowed you to download photos instantly on your computer for storage.  Then you could just watch  screen as they shuffled through.
And now?!  What takes me shelves and shelves of photo books we can now keep in our hip pocket in our phones!  This is AWESOME!  Pictures anytime - anywhere.
But even phones can pale in bringing back all of the sights and sounds and smells of a great night . . .

Friday, September 28, 2018


My family came over to help me break in the new house.  Mother and Father having passed, the task was left to my sister Mickie, my cousin Bernadette, and my Aunt Mary.  All setting off to explore and snoop we became separated from each other.  The house is large but not that large.  But the privacy walls erected in hallways made parts of the house isolated and the floor plan confusing.  We became sufficiently lost in the unfamiliar surroundings and had to use cell phones to be brought together.  The reunion was reminiscent of characters in a haunted house movie finally coming together after having gone their separate ways for some inexplicable reason.  Together after our adventures, it was decided that it was time to break in the kitchen.

My family considers this room one of the most important to a priest.  When I was first ordained my cousin Bernie bought me a cookbook with the admonition, “You are now becoming a public figure.  The only place people cannot tell you what to do is in the bedroom and in the kitchen.  Learn how to cook.”

In general people either love this kitchen or they hate it.  There is very little middle ground.  It is large, high ceilinged with tile floors, and a butcher block table right in the middle.  I am somewhat naive when it comes to kitchens but was rather taken in with its dual microwaves.  The assembled family fell on the positive side concerning the kitchen.

It is located in what is called the service corridor of the house.  This section of the house also contains the live-in’s bedrooms, which had been transformed into offices, the live-in’s living room now serving as the breakfast and lunch room, and a private staircase which givES access to the priest’s quarters upstairs and the  laundry room, boiler room and storage/pantry downstairs.

The first job was simply trying to figure where everything was.  Here I was gently pushed aside as the new order was taking shape.  “Spatulas!  These belong by the oven!  Knives!  These belong by the butcher’s table!  These pots and pans need to be handy!  These can go under the counter!”  And so the kitchen quickly took shape and my relatives did it with such authority that I have been afraid to change it to this very day.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


When I was a kid and somebody did something wrong enough to be reported on in the newspaper, it was not unusual for the reporter to mention that the man was once an altar boy - as if that had anything to do with the price of cheese.  People raised a big stink about making this connection and such mentionings stopped cold.  But it was an interesting back handed compliment - as if a former altar boy should know better - that a Catholic should BE better.

The thing is - there is some truth to that, but not as much as would be preferable (hence confession lines - and sometimes lack of them.)  Every once in a while someone will lob the (accusation?  back handed compliment?) that a Catholic or a Catholic organization should know better, be better, act better, lead better . . .   And that is true.  That is why we are here.  To make humanity . . . well . . . better.  Good.  Redeemed.  Saved.  Living in truth.

And the Church is holy - that is her teachings, her way of life, what she promotes and what she eschews is holy.  She makes saints.  But she is made up of a bunch of sinners striving to be saints (hopefully).  AA helps people not drink, but many of her people do though they know better and want to be sober.  Hospitals are about making people healthy but all of her residents are sick.  Libraries are supposed to help a person grow in knowledge and truth but some of her books are full of misguided advice, knowledge or insights.

So when someone says, “this Catholic (person/institution) should be morally better at (whatever), they are right.  But if it is perfection for which they are looking, look at the teachings of the Church, not her people.  The people are patients in the hospital.  1.2 billion people.  Priests are somebody’s baby brother - nuns are someone’s daughter, an altar server is a teen like any teen, the person in the pew is person like any other striving to be that better Christian.

What makes them different is being soaked in the teachings of One Who knows how human beings can thrive.  They absorb grace through the practice of the sacraments and prayer.  They are encouraged regularly to good works and self improvement.  They are given a vision of a better world.  And yes we should know better.  And I am glad people think that Catholics should be held to a higher standard.  And we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.  But that even John Paul II is a saint does not mean he did everything well.  It means he strove well and still made mistakes and still needed the sacrament of confession.

This is not an excuse.  It’s a reality check.  Catholics are sojourners in desperate need of Christ.  Every day we get better, but we are definitely on the journey.  We have not arrived.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Meaning trumps expedience.  Meaning gratifies all impulses, now and forever.  That's why we can detect it."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life."

QUOTE II:  "It's cowardly, and shallow, and wrong.  It's wrong because mere expedience, multiplied by many repetitions, produces the character of a demon . . . There is no faith and no courage and no sacrifice in doing what is expedient . . . To have meaning in your life is better than to have what you want . . ."  same source


AWESOME SITE for those who want to fight the porn epidemic:  FIGHT THE NEW DRUG.

Do you pray as much as Mark Wahlberg?  P.V. sent THIS article in.

We have been putting historical pictures on the cover of our bulletin during our 90th anniversary.  This was supposed to be this week's but the bulletin company said it would not reproduce well so I post it here.  It is part of an early fund raiser in what used to be the parish hall in the basement of the school but is now the library and computer room.
This is coming up this Thursday and you are invited.  Bishop Martin Amos is the celebrant at St. Vincent.  Hope to see you there.
This event is TONIGHT at Thirsty Dog Brewery to help support the Christ Child Society.  Fr. Pfeiffer and I will be serving at 4:30.
Concert this Sunday in Zwisler Hall. Renaissance and Baroque music and demonstration of period instruments.  Free and open to the public.
Sebastian and Chesterton have a new friend!  No, not the bug lug in the blue short, the tiny little chocolate lab at his feet named Neumann.   (Don't say it.)
It was impossible to get a photo.  The little guy kept spinning all over the place as you can tell from the blur of the picture.
One of our boy scouts is putting in a new walk at St. Sebastian as part of his journey toward becoming an Eagle Scout!  Awesome!
I think they are finished taking down trees across the street at Forest Lodge.  Lots of stumps but other than that you can barely tell.
Fight the new drug - 3 minutes:

Sunday, September 23, 2018


So I was tucked in, snug in my bed, when I heard my phone, which was plugged in on the other side of the room, buzz to tell me that I had received a text.  Well, of course I couldn't fall asleep or stay in bed now if for no other reason but curiosity.  But it could be an emergency - so - you know.

It turned out to be a message from Fr. Trenta in the next room over.
So there's that.  Now I can't sleep because there's a mouse in the house.

But an interesting thing came to light at dinner the next night as we sat around the dinner table and discussed the mouse problem.  It exemplified the reason I love having more than one priest at a parish.  Priests are not a one size fits all no matter how hard we try. 
We may all be saying the same thing, but we may say those things in a different way and one of these ways may relate to certain people more than others.
This will allow people to "hear" the message of the Gospel better.  For example, at St. Sebastian over the summer, we had three priests to handle the Mass schedule.  We couldn't be more different in our ways of delivering what in many ways is the same message.
And we each have a unique way of of extending the same message to the good people of West Akron with one or the other, perhaps, being more effective.

Friday, September 21, 2018


The next cause for concern was (the dog's) name.  Upon hearing the name “Roomie” people’s first reaction was always first, “Oh . . .” followed by as polite an, “Eww,” as they could muster.  First impressions of the name always turned to rheumatoid arthritis or rheumy eyes.   Explaining the name helped.  The dog was thought to be a companion for a person who was somewhat bedridden and he had named him Roomie as in, “This is my roommate – Roomie.”  But explaining this became old quickly and it did not mitigate the problem that still nobody liked the name.  But what name did fit him?  Days were spent thinking about it.  This led me to believe that I would not make a fit dad.  My child would be 15 before I came up with a name; the quick finding of names of things not coming naturally to me.

Our mother parish, St. Vincent, right next door and the oldest parish in the city, came to the rescue.  The pastor there had a dog, who regularly “wrote” an article in the parish bulletin.  He was named Vinnie after the patron saint of the parish.  With the precedent set, Roomie, the dog of the newest parish within the city limits, would now be named Sebastian.

I will be the first to admit that Sebastian is an awfully pretentious name for a dog and a nickname was eagerly sought.  One day, shortly after his christening with his new name, a delivery man came to the door and took obvious delight in the dog.  “What is his name?”  he asked petting him on the head.  Upon being informed that it was Sebastian he exclaimed, “Why that was me Pa’s name!”  Quite intrigued we eagerly asked if his father was ever given any kind of nickname.  “Sure he was,” said the delivery man.  Excited to find out what Sebastian’s new nickname might be he was asked what his father was called.  “Busty!” was the proud answer.

How they got “Busty” out of “Sebastian” is beyond me.  In any event, Sebastian was not going to be called “Busty.”  It seems inappropriate for a rectory dog of expected high morals.  So for the most part he remains Sebastian though there are a few other nicknames to which he will readily answer: Poops, Sea Bass (my least favorite), Bosco (I don’t know why) Seraphim (long story) and a host of other names – but mostly he is just Sebastian.
Now after everyone went home at night there was something living in the house that could tell me if I should be concerned about a noise, that would alert me if I should miss the doorbell, and could divine which of the doors it was that needed answering without me running to the four corners of the house.  It was a joy having a house mate.

I needn’t have worried about being alone however.  A little patience would have revealed that the rectory was destined to be full of residents.  And they were all welcome.  As long as they liked dogs.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Although we don’t know the exact day, this year we are celebrating the 185th anniversary of the first Mass celebrated within the city limits of the city of Akron.  That is not to say that there wasn’t perhaps a Mass celebrated in the area before this time but that this is the first known and recorded Mass.  

In 1808 all of Ohio was part of the Diocese of Kentucky where Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget was the first bishop.  He had about 10 priests to serve this vast area.  Because of the growth of Catholics in Ohio, Dominican Father Edward D. Ferwick was named the first Bishop of the newly established Diocese of Cincinatti.  He undoubtedly sent priests to the area to minister.  They would travel from Canton through the woods and stay in people’s houses or even, from time to time, out in the open.  Mass was celebrated in taverns, log cabins, in public buildings, and non-Catholic churches.  Save for these visits, residents of Akron would have to travel to Canton, Doylestown or Cleveland for the sacraments.

Akron grew owing to the canal and this brought many Catholics to the area.  1833 is the year that we know for sure that a Mass was celebrated within the Akron city limits. The Rev. John Martin Henni who would later become the Archbishop of Milwaukee, came to say Mass in the log cabin of James McAllister, a local contractor.  This is the anniversary that we are celebrating.

The pastor in Doylestown, seeing that the number of Catholics was growing, purchased separate sacramental register books to record baptisms, confirmations and wedding taking place in Akron beginning in 1937.  Bishop Purcell, bishop of Cincinnati, visited the McAllister home again that home again that year and spoke to area residents about founding a parish that would serve the Akron and Cuyahoga Falls area and so the missionary parish of St. Vincent de Paul was founded, preceding the establishment of the Diocese of Cleveland by 10 years.

A Mass celebrating this history will take place at St. Vincent de Paul Parish (the mother church of Akron) on Thursday, September 27th at 7PM and you are invited to attend.

Most of the above information comes from Murray Powers’ book, “History of the Catholic Church in Summit County from Origin through ’76"

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is in fact nothing short of a miracle (and we should keep this fact firmly before our eyes) that the hierarchical slave-based societies of our ancestors reorganized themselves, under the sway of an ethical/religious revelation, such that the ownership and absolute domination of another person came to be views as wrong."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "Strive for humility, because totalitarian pride manifests itself in intolerance, oppression, torture and death. Become aware of your own insufficiency - your cowardice, malevolence, resentment and hatred.  Consider the murderousness of your own spirit before you dare accuse others, and before you attempt to repair the fabric of the world.  Maybe it's not the world that's at fault.  Maybe it's you."  same source.

QUOTE III:  "First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."  from Matthew's Gospel 7:5.


Fr. Jacob Bearer of St. Francis de Sales giving last week's Theology on Tap Akron talk.
The Akron City Parks Department is currently removing about a dozen sickly and dead trees from Forest Lodge.  Believe me, when they are done, you won't even notice that there are any trees missing.
Our Annual Eucharistic Adoration continues until 8PM tonight.  Come say hello.
New banners outside of the church.
New lighting at night.
E.P. sent in this very interesting picture.
The 185th anniversary of the first official Mass in the city of Akron will be celebrated NEXT Thursday with a Mass at St. Vincent at 7PM, Bishop Amos is the celebrant.  You are invited.

There were likely other Masses celebrated before this one as priests came through the area, but this is the first well documented Mass.
The Keller Consort will be performing in Zwisler Hall this Sunday at 4PM.  Free and open to the public.  They will be performing Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments along with demonstrations of the instruments.  

I couldn't find them on line but here is some Renaissance music to give you a taste:

Monday, September 17, 2018


When you become a pastor, you become your Dad.  You have the same mindset that once drove you crazy when he displayed it when you were young.  There has not been one rectory of which I am been aware that the pastor/parochial vicar relationship does not, in some way, reflect a father son mentality at least when it comes to budgeting.
And I know that I sound and act like my Dad.  But - but - but - and I HATE to say it - it now makes sense.
That goodness for the new LED lighting.  That has cut a ton out of my worrying.  But I mean - really - after you've lived in a house for a year do you really need lights to walk around?
So I happen to like it cold.  Of course there are some things on which we are on the same side.

Friday, September 14, 2018


The dog came for his interview the following Monday morning.  He looked like a black lab save that he was a little larger, hairier, and with a longer snout.  And had a heart the size of a full moon.  On one hand this was very endearing.  On the other it made him go into an anxiety fit when it was apparent his owners were leaving without him.  He threw himself against the door with the fervor of a man who was wrongly accused of a crime being thrown into solitary confinement for the rest of his life.  The old curtains on the door windows were shredded.  It was time to replace them anyway.

It took the better part of a day to coax the dog out of a deep depression.  Not even food tempted him and at dinner I had to hold morsels of dog food up to his snout for him to mindlessly eat as he stared out the backdoor.  At some point however something clicked and he simply decided to make the best of a stressful situation.  I tried not to form a bond with the dog.  What if the staff would say that it was too difficult to have a dog in the house?  But he was extremely affectionate and turned on the charm full steam and within hours I was in love.

So we move into his first night at the rectory.  Some dog book warned against ever letting a dog sleep in your bed.  “You will come home one day and all your bedding will be chewed up!” it warned with great foreboding.  When I went to bed, the dog came rested his chin on the edge of the mattress and looked at me with his big, black, watery eyes.  I was strong however.  If we were going to do this we were going to do it right.  Besides, I had never slept with any living being in my bed and was not sure that I could start sharing it now.

The dog decided to settle for sleeping under my bed which was not a good move since he was a large dog.  As he crawled under or tried to turn over it was like being in a commercial airplane with a little kid kicking the back of my seat.  A couple of days later he settling on sleeping in the very back of the closet where there was a little private hideaway formed by my hanging cassocks.  

Over the week, the dog, whose name was Roomie, and I became inseparable.  He was a constantly glued to my side whether I was going into the office, my room, down in the basement, or anywhere for that matter.  I soon discovered that walking him with a leash was rather redundant.  Save for the occasional squirrel, he was not going anywhere without me, though I drew the line at the bathroom.

He did not come with any toys and so I dug around in one of my trunks and found old blue racquetball balls.  After dinner when the staff had gone home, we would go to one of the long hallways in the house and I would chuck the ball with the dog in hot pursuit.  Being that the ball had a lot of spring in it, it would bounce in any number of unpredictable directions and Roomie would do his best to try to subdue the thing before bringing it back for another go.  It was quickly apparent that the dog had no athletic prowess at all (and would never develop it.)  But he did have a lot of gumption and so kept at it.

The week passed quickly and the owners of the dog returned to take the dog home for the weekend and wait for a decision.  Everyone had the intervening couple of days of the weekend to decide if a dog, let alone this dog, would be a good fit for the parish.

By Tuesday morning the dog was permanently installed in the house, the staff later informing me that they knew the dog was going to be a resident fifteen minutes after his arrival.  They saw the bond fixed and made permanent that first day.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


When I was in the seminary there were guys who dreamed (with the best of intentions) of one day being a bishop.  My biggest dream was one day becoming a pastor of (what is now becoming extinct) a tiny, ethnic parish off in the corner of the diocese that most of the rest of the diocese forgot about.  Things didn’t exactly turn out that way (for which I am grateful) but I am more glad than ever not to be a bishop.  

Of course we never get the whole story, but in the paper today a bishop was accused of not removing a priest from ministry because of an accusation.  According to the diocese the cases were immediately reported to the Child Protection Service (who would not, for purposes of confidentiality, respond).  Apparently they did not substantiate the claims though.  So what is the bishop to do?  Remove the priest from service because of what the government considers a non-substantiated claim?  Or should he get in the practice of remove anybody from any position because of any report?  He will lose either way.

Maybe it is a situation that the Church brought on herself.  And undoubtedly we still have a lot of change to bring about before things become better.

However, that a does not mean that every change is always good or warranted.  Algirdas G. Nastvytis wrote in his Letter to the Editor in the August 25th Pain Dealer that “the main problem is priestly celibacy.  It’s been a festering wound for 1,000 years since it was required.”  He does not offer any clue as to what the problem is.  Does celibacy lead to pedophilia?  Really?  All we have to do is allow marriage in the Church and there will be no more cheating on vows, no more abuse of pornography, no more child abuse?  Clearly he is correct because we see none of these things in marriage (he said with a hint of irony.)

And, as a long time reader pointed out, does Mr. Nasvytis want to be the first to offer one of his daughters in marriage to man who has a tendency toward these problems to see if that would stem his desires?  I am willing to bet not.  This is not a solution and it was not well thought out - if at all.

“We also need to do away with professional clergy living in ivory towers.  A reasonably intelligent male member of the Church . . . who can read and memorize, ‘This is my body; this is my blood,’ should be ordained as a priest.”  Mr. Nasvytis has not done much work in history to find out why we make priests go to school - because of the dangerous things that can come of a man saying, proclaiming and teaching thing that cause harm and division within the Body of Christ.

“Why can’t Joe the plumber, Al the carpenter or Ed the lawyer say Mass?”  He can.  He does.  Many of the men going through the seminary are second career men.  In our diocese alone they have been accountants, artists, retailers, sportsmen, owners of businesses, teachers and in one case a widowed father and from many other backgrounds.  They didn’t come from the planet Mars or were birthed from a university.  The mystique is largely blows once someone makes a friend of a priest.  My sister just last week said she used to put priests on a pedestal until she understood that they could be baby brothers.  

We have a mess on our hands and much has been done to correct it. More can and should be done and quickly.  But it must also be well thought out and effective or it just adds to the problem. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It might even be time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who you are."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  "If you cease to utter falsehoods and live according to the dictates of your conscience, you can maintain your nobility, even when facing the ultimate threat; if you abide, truthfully and courageously, by the highest of ideals, you will be provided with more security and strength than will be offered by any shortsighted concentration on your own safety; if you live properly, fully, you can discover meaning so profound that it protects you even from the fear of death."  same source.


Guess who got skunked last night!  He wasn't (isn't) happy but it was a bonding moment - well - night for the priests at St. Sebastian.  The skunk was a surprise for him when he went sniffing under the slide in the playground.  OHHHHH it was bad.  Thank goodness for baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and Dawn!

Our 8th grade day school students are heading out to Shanksville today for the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial.  Find some press coverage HERE and HERE.

A. B. sent in an article HERE that is a little more clear than average as to why young adults leave the faith.  I found it helpful.  Thanks.

Here's proof from Schneider Park that fall is on the way . . . 

Tomorrow night Fr. Jacob Bearer will be speaking at Theology on Tap Akron!

It is time for something light.  Thank you R.B.!

Sunday, September 9, 2018


So recently I was on vacation in up state New York.  We went out to dinner at a restaurant to which I have been wanting to go for YEARS.  We were hiking so I wasn't dressed as a priest.  The waitress was friends with my sister and her family and greeted us (particularly me) warmly.  Very warmly.
I kind of don't mind when a waitress calls you "sweetie" or "honey."  And as nice as she was, she was also kind of touchy.
Not "touchy" in the temperament way - touchy in that she liked to touch me a lot.
I tried to ignore it but it was becoming difficult and so my brother-in-law came to the rescue.
You would have thought that I all of sudden turned into Mr. Heatmiser.