June 19, 2010 – Unfinished Business

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.


One Response to “June 19, 2010 – Unfinished Business”

  1. john beck sr Says:

    i enjoy your blog. keep it up.
    on another note, i did receive your invitation to the council.
    i am unable to serve on the council at this time.
    i will continue to support the activities of the parish and i agree with you on our Fr.Gene and Fr. Dennis.
    please keep up the good work.
    john r beck md sr

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