Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pope Francis up close

Dear Family and Friends,

Below is a message recorded on an IPhone by Pope Francis for a meeting of Christians. It's an up close view of our Holy Father, and he even speaks some English at the beginning! I love his vision of Christians coming together.

May God bless you,
Father Kevin

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the disaster of the papers

site of the disaster of the papers
Dear Family and Friends,

Friday was a hard day at school. One of the most beloved teachers was diagnosed with cancer a few months back, and Friday morning the principal explained to the kids how “we’re not sure if she’ll get better.” Everyone was sad, distraught, confused, worried, fearful… you name it.

I had to celebrate and preach at the all-school mass in the afternoon – but about what? How could I help these kids who were suffering so much trying to understand why God would allow their beloved teacher to suffer?

Thankfully the Gospel of the day was about taking up your cross, so I prepared a homily all about that. I thought it was good. 45 minutes before mass, I went to the front row of the chapel to fine tune my homily. As I sat there reflecting, some commotion outside caught my eye through the window. Papers were blowing all across the sidewalk in front of the school.

It was a blustery day beyond compare, so no wonder the papers were blowing all over the place.

For a moment I hesitated between the two possibilities: “go and help”, or “stay and polish my homily.” “Go and help” won, though another “gosh, I never get time to polish my homilies” passed through my head as I walked out the door of the chapel.

I was hoping it would be just a few papers, but as I stepped from the doorway my hopes of a quick cleanup were shattered. Hundreds – yes – hundreds of papers were strewn across the grass, the parking lot, and the playground. Two students had been carrying a recycling bin full of papers between builidings when a gale-force wind had hit them.

I started grabbing the little white squares left and right. The students couldn’t help because they had their hands full just holding onto the papers left in the bin. The only other help was one of the school moms who had seen the disaster happen and had come to help.

But as both of us rounded the corner of the building, a sorry spectacle spread before our eyes. Papers of all sorts had blown to the farthest reaches of the school property. Many up to 500 feet away, some pinned against fences, others caught in pools of water or mud left over from the melting snow. “I’m going to be here all afternoon,” I thought, spirits sinking.

And then it happened. One of the side doors of the school opened and out poured a slew of second-graders. They looked so happy and energetic, at first I thought they were coming out to recess.

But no. In a flash, all of them, boys and girls, slow and fast, had spread to the farthest corners of the school grounds, grabbing the lost papers.

After that, things were a cinch. What would have taken me two hours to do took two minutes. The second graders had saved the day! Though a bit cold and wet and muddy, they had performed a powerful act of charity.

As I sat back down in the chapel to work on the homily, a thought slowly grew in my mind. “God just gave me a much better homily than the one I had prepared.”
I gave in. My homily would be the story of the second-graders and the runaway papers. What better way to explain suffering!!!

The poor students who had the papers ripped away from them by the wind, what could they see? Only a big disaster. So too are we most often. We can only see our suffering. It’s hard for us to understand how God can have a plan in all of this, why God permits the suffering.

For the second-graders, the disaster of the wind-swept papers was a welcome 10-minute break from a day of class, and a wonderful opportunity to exercise charity. Really! Those kids were braving mud and puddles and soggy grass, and – what’s more – the possibility of getting in trouble later for their clothes being dirty. As I poked my head into their classroom afterwards to thank them, I found them feverishly trying to clean the muck off, but I also found them with huge smiles on their faces.

God has a plan, and when we’re the ones suffering, we can’t see the fullness of His plan. All we can do is trust that He, in His goodness, on His time, will make things work out for the best.

No disaster of the papers, no chance for the second-graders to shine.

I know I don’t understand why God lets our beloved teacher suffer, but God does. And we have to trust Him. Trust that just around the corner of the building lies the fullness of His plans. And His plans are always better than ours.

May God bless you,
Father Kevin

Thursday, February 20, 2014

being a priest and loving it

Dear family and friends,

The other day I started complaining. It was bitter cold and still dark out and I was on my way to an early morning prayer breakfast before a full day of traveling. “Man, I’ll be cooped up all day!” I thought. “Wish I could get out and exercise!”

“Wait just a minute,” said a little voice, “what do you have to complain about?”

Truth to tell, the last four days had been something out of a story book. Thursday I had gone skiing all morning with the kids from school. Wednesday I had gotten to play basketball at one of the boys’ clubs I help with. Tuesday I had gone for a walk at the park, only to find the lake frozen smooth as glass, and skated around for the next hour and a half. Monday was the last day of a boys’ ski retreat, and we had spent the whole day skiing.

Add to that the beauty of being a priest in the midst of it all and helping everyone I meet, and no, I really have nothing to complain about.

I sure love being a priest. And it doesn’t hurt if you get some winter sports thrown in the mix!

May God bless you,
Father Kevin

PS: I will be celebrating a special first mass tonight, Wednesday the 7th, in the Christ the King chapel at Royalmont Academy, 200 Northcrest Dr, Mason, Ohio. There will be a dessert reception afterwards, and all are invited and welcome.

My first mass at my home parish of Saint Mary Magdalen in Saint Louis, Missouri, will be the 11:30am mass Sunday March 30th . It will be followed by a reception with lunch. All are invited and welcome, please let me know if you’re coming!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus February 9 - Christians must bear the light of Christ in their hearts

Dear Family and Friends,

Here's a video of Pope Francis' address before the Angelus this Sunday. I add a simultaneous translation into English. He talks about how we, as Christians, need to be light of the world and salt of the earth. He asks the crowd several times whether they want to be a lamp that is lit and burning, or an extinguished lamp. They answer back, "a lit lamp!"

Our Holy Father really hits it on the nail: the light we must bear in our hearts is Jesus Christ himself. Without Jesus, we're darkness; we're lamps that aren't burning and enlightening this world. When we carry the light of Jesus in our hearts, it will be evident in the genuine charity we show to those around us.

May God bless our Holy Father, and may He also bless you!
Father Kevin

Friday, February 7, 2014

first masses

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve been a priest for 53 days now, 53 wonderful days. I suppose you could say I’m still “on my honeymoon”!
celebrating mass at Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland
On January 19th I was privileged to celebrate a special first mass at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda Maryland, where my grandfather was usher for as long as I can remember (and where my Uncle Jeff still is an usher!). My mom’s whole side of the family was present, and afterwards we had a wonderful day together.
with my mom at Little Flower
This week I’ll be in Connecticut and New Hampshire. My journey to the priesthood began at Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in New Hampshire. I remember two things attracting me to the school: one, that it was in New Hampshire (which sounded wild – and is!) and two, that the boys there respected each other and they all wanted to become priests like I did. After New Hampshire I spent three years in Cheshire, Connecticut, where I took my religious vows and started to really minister to people.
with my mom and my uncle Jeff
If all goes well I will do a first mass in Cheshire on Sunday, and then I will head up to New Hampshire to do a first mass there. I have so many wonderful memories of these two places – it will be great to be back!

Then on Wednesday, February 19th, in the evening, I will celebrate a first mass in Cincinnati, Ohio. After my days in Connecticut, I spent three years in Cincinnati helping a priest and learning hands-on how to be one.

Then there will be the big first mass at my home parish of Saint Mary Magdalen in Saint Louis, Missouri on Sunday, March 30th. That one has been a long time coming – 28 years since I first felt God there nudging me in the direction of the priesthood!

Anyone is welcome to attend these masses. Feel free to give me a call if you need more information.

May God bless you,
Father Kevin