Archive for June, 2010

June 19, 2010 – Unfinished Business

June 19, 2010

Hope you are staying cool during our heat wave – it’s technically not even summer yet and we are already in the Southern Illinois soup.  Way back when before health problems set in I vowed to, in observance of the Year for Priests, every once in a while talk about a priest who influenced my life in some way.  Lo and behold today is the final day of this year-long celebration, and I still have yet to complete my mission.  So I will be talking about two special men in my life who have touched me in special ways.

The first is our former pastor, Msgr. Dennis Schaefer.  Msgr. Dennis was our pastor for 18 years and did many, many things to make our parish a better place.  His touch when dealing with the sick and with family members of those who lose a loved one is second to none.  He reminded me of the Energizer Bunny – when things needed to be done he kept going and going until everything was completed.  He knows the true meaning of being a servant.

His influence on me is great and is ongoing.  I have always been a dedicated Catholic – twelve years in Catholic schools, a faithful church goer, and even a period of time when I considered entering the seminary.  However, when it came to things beyond that, such as being on committees, participating in education, and generally being a more active Catholic, I had an attitude for a while that this was not my responsibility, that other people had more time and knowledge to do these types of things than I did.  But Msgr. Dennis refused to believe that, and after I got out of school and settled back to Chester, he continually asked me to be on the school board, or to be a sponsor in RCIA, or to do other things, and I would continually come up with more creative excuses not to do them.  Finally he asked me to go to a workshop in 1996 in Belleville as our parish’s representative, and I responded with a resounding “I guess I could”.  Little did I know how that day would change my life and give meaning to my life.

I discovered that day that not only did I enjoy participating in activities with my fellow Catholics, but I would learn many lessons about what it truly means to be a Christian.  It is not just about sitting in a church and listening to a message, it’s about taking the message and being a witness to others.  I have done many things to serve my God and church since that day, but it has all been fulfilling, it has made me a more fulfilled person, and I know that what I am doing feels right.  So I thank Msgr. Dennis for his persistence in leading me down the right path.

FYI, I received an e-mail from Msgr Dennis a couple of days ago.  He continues his recovery from surgery at his mother’s home and everything seems to be on track.  He will have his sutures removed on Monday and begin the next stage of his recovery then.  He is very appreciative of everyone’s prayers.

Finally, last but not least is our current pastor, Fr. Gene.  Fr. Gene has served our diocese in many ways, from school principal, to pastor, to vocation director, to rector of the Cathedral, to deacon formation director, and others ways which I’m sure I’m neglecting.  He has excelled in these areas I believe because of a quality that I have admired since the day I met him – his ability to make people feel at ease and to adapt to any situation.  It is an admirable quality that I wish I could do a better job of. 

From the day I met Fr. Gene, I knew we were going to get along famously, and I think most people who have been in contact with him have felt the same way.  In my work and other activities, I have a lot of acquaintences, people that you talk to and deal with but not necessarily consider a close friend.  I am proud to say that Fr. Gene is one of my dear friends.  Whether its sharing a joke, talking about the Cardinals, beating our heads against the wall over decisions by the church hierarchy, or his numerous phone calls when I was at the height of my illness, I cherish my conversations with him.    We are fortunate to have him as our pastor, and especially as our friend.

I’m sure you have your own priests in your life who have influenced you in a very positive way.  Feel free to leave a comment and to share your own experience.

Speaking of fathers who have influenced us, Happy Father’s Day to all of our dads this weekend.  Our prayers for a great day and an enjoyable time with your families, and our prayers for the repose of the souls of our Dad’s who are no longer on earth with us, but are still in our hearts.

A final note to wrap up:  You have probably heard at least a little bit about the upcoming changes in the translation of the Roman Missal, which for the average Catholic will mean a chnge in some of the responses that are given during Mass.  You will be hearing much more about this in the coming months, and I will be putting some materials on the website to give you more information.  There was an article in the Post-Dispatch this past week that gave a good first-look introduction into this.  If you didn’t see it, here is the link to access it on the internet:

There may be a few other subtle changes coming to the website as well (suspense, suspense).  Thanks again for reading and for checking out the other things on our website.  Peace.

June 3, 2010 – 3 Years and Counting

June 4, 2010

I didn’t even look back to see when my last blog entry was – it’s way too embarassing and humiliating.  When I began this blog, I didn’t know how long I would do it or how often I would do it.  As it so happened, it pretty much turned into a weekly thing until health problems reared their ugly head last fall.  A few years back when I gave the eulogy at my Dad’s funeral, I began by recalling my days in school that whenever I had a project to do or a paper to write, it always seemed like the hardest part was getting started – thinking of those first few lines and paragraphs – and once I figured that out, the rest seemed to flow pretty easily.  I had the same feeling when I was thinking about what to say about my Dad – trying to figure out where to begin.

I’ve had the same feeling again the last few days.  After not having written here for so long, where do I begin.  But, I cannot hold off my clamoring fans any longer (actually, I’ve had one person tell me they missed the blog, but it sounds good).  So let me start by updating you on my health.  I saw a neurologist a little over a month ago and he diagnosed me as having muscle contraction headaches.  He then recommended a couple of medications to my family doctor to try.  I’m happy to report that for about the last week and a half I have been feeling some better.  I still have pulling and pressure sensations in my head but they haven’t been quite as intense and have been more on-and-off.  I don’t want to brag too much because I’ve been down this road before only to worsen again.  Hopefully things will continue to improve.  It has been quite a journey.  I kidded Fr. Gene the other day that they are going to change the old proverb from having the “patience of Job” to having the “patience of Brian.”  But there just may be light at the end of the tunnel.

As far as the rest of me, I think I’m doing pretty well.  I’m still sticking to my diet (for the most part).  I’ve lost about 40 lbs.  I have bloodwork in a couple of weeks so we’ll see how the blood sugar, cholestrol, etc. are doing.  I remember thinking to myself a while back that when I turned 40 (which was last October), that I would start paying a little more attention to my health.  Little did I know that I would be forced into it a little sooner than expected.  As a line from one of my favorite songs says – “Life is about change and nothing ever stays the same.”

One of my worst periods was around the time of Holy Week.  There were a couple of things that got me through.  One was EWTN so I could watch the Holy Week services.  The other much more important thing was thinking about the cross.  No matter what life throws at us, Jesus has endured so much more for our sake.  And even in what seemed to be the darkest of times, the hope of the resurrection sprung forth.  There were many days when I couldn’t see hope, but the joy of Easter reminded me that hope is never lost.

So what else has been going on.  We had a very nice Confirmation liturgy last week.  I knew this was going to be a test for my health.  For a long time the only way I could get relief from my headaches was to lie down.  I didn’t think Bishop Braxon would appreciate me stretching out in the aisle of church.  I’m happy to report that I made it through the festivities on my feet.  I’m also happy to report that the Bishop was very cordial and did a very nice job with the kids.  My first thought when I got home that evening was of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team (“Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!.  The impossible dream comes true!!!!!).  Many thanks to all of those involved.

Through my health issues, and also through problems with my internet provider, my scanner, etc., etc., I have tried to keep the website updated the best I can.  I am happy to say that our website went online 3 years ago today.  This was another project that I wasn’t sure about when I began, but it has been a labor of love, and I think it has done our parish at least a little bit of good.  One of the things I started earlier this year was a Facebook group page for our parish.  Currently there are 35 members on there – current parishioners, past parishioners, and other interested people.  I encourage you to go to our homepage at and click on the Facebook tab to check it out.  Better yet, become a member of the page and keep in touch with current and former parishioners.  Also, this past year I haven’t had the chance to take any photos from parish events.  If you have any recent photos, you can e-mail them to me or drop them off at the parish office (I assure that all photos will be returned) so I can post them on the website.

On one of my favorite shows, Seinfeld, when George’s fiancee died from being poisoned by licking the cheap envelopes George purchased for the wedding invitations, George declared that he was now free and declared “the summer of George.”  In a way I’m hoping that this will become the “summer of Brian” and that I can get back to at least a somewhat normal routine again, including a semi-regular blog.  I thank you for your patience with me through all of this, and I ask for your continued prayers, as I continue to pray for you.  Oh, and Cubs fans – looks like 102 years and counting.  My Cardinals are starting to hit again, and it looks to be a fun summer of excellent baseball. 

Pray for all those who are suffering or in harm’s way, including those who are ill, those who continue to defend our freedom across the world, and all those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf.  The Holy Spirit reigns.  Peace.