Category Archives: Weekly Column

Find Our Children, Lord…

(Another Previous Article.)

I’ve asked several whiz kids if there was a gizmo (see how tech savvy I am?!) that would, with a push of a but-ton, trace lost articles to their source. Sort of a GPS for misplaced keys or calendars. I’d buy it in a second.
These weren’t available to shepherds at the time of Jesus either. Luke’s gospel, Chapter 15, tells us the story of the lone sheep who leaves the 99 to wander about. Why not clip a little chip on each sheep and know its position on your shepherd radar screen?

It’s not like that. Things get lost. Keys, pens, cars, you, me. Have you ever been lost? It can be scary. I remember my father in his early 80’s arriving home two hours late for our dinner. Mom, was sick with worry. Dad arrived white as a ghost, almost trembling.

“WHERE have you been?!” “I was lost.” Dad said. It turned out he’d had a mild stroke while driving the car. A city that he knew like the back of his hand suddenly lost all recognition. “Where am I?” Nothing looked familiar. He could have been in Buenos Aires for all he knew.

Slowly, the confusion passed. Buildings and street signs started to communicate where he was and finally he’d found his way home!

So, what’s the point? In Luke’s gospel, Jesus was having dinner with “sinners”, people who had lost their way, wandered off. The scribes and Pharisees insisted that these people be shunned until they found their way back. Jesus says “No. These are the ones I’ve come for.”

He searches the highways and byways for us. What does this search look like? Dinner. Conversation. Wine. Laughter. Stories. Friendship. Not church. Not yet.

What does this say about our children and grandchildren who have seemingly walked away from the faith? Will He find my lost child?

Yes. But probably not the way you would imagine.
Something new has to happen. Something, that on the surface has nothing to do with “Church”, or priests, or going to mass and confession.

Sometimes, we have to meet Christ on the street or in the pub, or a movie, or a conversation with your closest friends. Something beautiful needs to happen. Something that reminds us of a “home” we have always longed for, a moment that touches us with its beauty, power and humanity.

Like, Sleeping Beauty, a person is invited to a deeper life. It’s called love. And this love comes from Christ. And all who abide in this love are children of God.

Parents. Grandparents. You have this love in you. Be confident of it. Give it to your young ones lavishly, humor-ously, gently . . . then, when you are alone . . .beg Jesus to add the church thing!

Remember, he’s out on the heath looking for them. He’s the Good Shepherd. Come. Meet Him at Mass.

God loves you more than you know.

Fr. Tim


God: Co-Weaver of our Life

A talent that comes so naturally to a child, but one that sometimes fades as we get older, is the ability to be surprised or delighted. Those of us who think they have seen it all can be slow to hear new things or consider different ways of doing things. It’s called being “stodgy” or old fashioned or “set in your ways”.

I’m dangerously close to that. Sometimes I think I know what you’re saying before you’re done saying it. Why? Because “I’ve heard it all before.” I know how the sauce will taste because I’ve eaten Italian all my life. And of course, there are no new jokes. Really, haven’t you heard every joke in the world? “A man walks into a bar . . . “ yeah, yeah.

But something happened last weekend while I was in Syracuse that really surprised and delighted all of us. A young man (now a deacon in Syracuse, soon to be ordained a priest) gave a talk on “discernment”. How do you figure out what path in life God wants you to take?

He used this image. See what you think.

Picture you’re weaving a cloth with a shuttle and yarn attached to it. Only this cloth is suspended over your head. The garment you’re weaving is, of course, “your life”.

You view your cloth from the bottom and see several openings which will receive your shuttle. So, seeing the pattern you’ve already begun, you choose an opening that seems to best add to your cloth. You push the shuttle through and wait for its return.

Meanwhile, God is there above to receive your choice. He takes his time in returning the shuttle. He’s partnering with you as co-weaver! Finally, He drops the shuttle back down to you, but not exactly where you thought He would. It’s “over there”.

“Oh,” we think. “That changes things. Now what? Where do I send my shuttle back to Him?”
And up and down the shuttle of life goes. Each time we make the best judgment we can about life’s choices . . . Is this the person I should marry? Do I work or stay home with the children? Do I apply for the new opening at work? Where do we send the children to school? What should I say about recent developments in the family? How do I handle this new problem? Etc.

Get the picture? It’s really a nice meditation on the partnership God has with us in guiding us through our lives.
Two points seem critical to me in this process.

1. When we ponder where to send up our choices, (the shuttle) there needs to be some sort of Prayer. “Oh Lord, please guide me, enlighten me. Show me where to send this choice in life. I give it to you. Help me.” Then act with the confidence that God will indeed help your choices. He loves you!

2. When God drops the shuttle back down to you, no matter how unexpected its placement, trust that it is God’s answer to your prayer. The events of our life that follow our prayerful action is what we call God’s Providence (His loving grace given to us, His children). Trust that He has heard you and has answered your prayers.

Case in point: We prayed for months that God would guide the selection of our next bishop. Bishop Salvatore Matano is God’s answer to us! Welcome bishop! Now let’s all get to work.
God is waiting for your next prayer.

Bless you.

Fr. Tim


Light a Candle . . or . . Curse the Darkness?

There is a prayer league called the Christopher’s who have as their motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”. What a wonderful motto. I bet you can explain its meaning without much coaching . . . spread the light, not the dark.

But, what does that mean in practical ways? It means there is a choice to be made in many of our human activities, a choice between goodness and meanness, or truth or lies, or generosity and selfishness.

There are, of course, “neutral choices” or choices of preference (the soup you eat or the toothpaste you buy) that don’t spread light or darkness. But, think for a minute how many times in the day we are confronted with opportunities for goodness or evil in the twinkling of an eye.

Do I:

Say something positive about a person, or join in the litany of faults that others enjoy telling?
Watch something funny or human or beautiful on TV, or search out programming with ultra violence, fear or lewdness?

Try to find something hopeful in a difficult situation, or enjoy describing how terrible things are?
Do I wait for the smallest opportunity to “be offended”, or do I take any personal slights as coming from some-one whose day is probably harder than mine? Or, some-one who needs my patience?

Do I take the old comfortable path of minimal effort, or do I try to make something beautiful or excellent?

Do I give a person the benefit of the doubt, or do I pre-sume their motives are small and mean?

Do I enjoy getting angry and being hurt? Or, do I try (not always successfully!) to ignore or forgive?

Do I grab that parking spot, or let someone else have it?

Do I enjoy a whining? (“It’s just not fair!”) Or, do I try to point out what’s wrong in a way that people are invited to correct? (“Why don’t we try this? Let’s try to make this better).


Did you know that the light is more powerful than the dark? (Sometimes we wonder, don’t we?) Think about it though; what is darkness, but the absence of light. Darkness is removed by lighting a light. I think of the Easter Vigil – how the Paschal Candle burns alone in the Church announcing the Resurrection? Darkness has no power over light . . . so long as it shines.

“Dear God, help me to learn to love your Light. Help me to learn that I carry your Light. Oh God, use me to spread your Light.”

candle

Bless you always,
Fr. Tim


Hello Summer!!!

The detail almost slipped by me, but last Sunday was the first day of Summer. Aren’t you glad that smarter people than you and me took the time to figure out just when it happens?

So, what are your plans for this summer? Travel? Family get-togethers? Gardening? Maybe just some time to relax. I want to do all those (except the gardening — too many years weeding my dad’s garden).

So, here’s what I hope my summer can be about:

  • I want to get back to Ohio a couple times this summer. My sisters, Patty and Maureen, totally spoil me, and their husbands don’t mind. “Tim, come again, I only get to eat like this when you come by.”
  • I’ve played golf since I was 9 yrs. old. I really like it. Over the years some college buddies have taken me to the cleaners. I mean, they see me coming! It’s time for payback! (By the way, are you planning to play in the parish golf tournament July 27? Sign up!)
  • Sometime this summer I will be driving with good friends to Quebec City. I am not a good traveler, but it is fun to tag along with those who love seeing new sights. Bon Voyage!!!!
  • Now that we’ve made our goal for “This is My Parish!” I want to bring the two projects we told you about (Phase 1 of the church roof, and the new parking surfaces), to completion. I hope by mid-September we can have those done.
  • There are a few fellows I know who are thinking about the priesthood. I hope to have a cookout and conversation with them sometime this summer.
  • There are three new books on my table I’m looking forward to reading.
  • Eventually, this summer (not right now), I’ll have to start talking with our Parish Council about the next pastoral year. “What is God asking us to do this year?”

Anyway, I hope these precious summer days are filled with peace and a growing awareness of God’s love for you.

As always, for you.
Fr. Tim


“This is My Parish!”
Completes it’s goal!!
The Ask . . . $424,000
Your Response . . . $453,000!!
Holy Trinity you are amazing. God bless you.

You Pledged $406,948. Wonderful! . . . $20,000 still to go.

I can’t tell you how impressive your response to the “This is My Parish!” campaign has been. The num-bers above tell the story so far. Who would have thought that in two weeks time we would have come so far?

Back in April the Finance Committee and I held our breath as we contemplated the monies needed to replace our church roof and repair parking spaces and driveways. “How can we do this?” I asked. The committee responded without hesitation, “Ask the people. We’re ready to help.”

And so you have. Bless you dear people.


But still I need to remind you that we are not done yet. Several facts remain that tell us it’s not time to relax.

1. Almost daily we’re getting reports that the roof substructure needs further buttressing. What we’ll find as we move down the length of the roof is anyone’s guess. Each new discovery and repair adds to the estimated bill.

2. Your pledge is for two years. A lot can happen in that time . . . to you and to Holy Trinity. Funding experts tell us that final tallies usually run 10 to 15 percent less than what is pledged. Unforeseen family circumstances can require some to forgo their pledge. (We understand this, and I trust you will make the decisions that are best for your family.)

3. There are other projects that I didn’t have the courage to tell you about . . . thinking we never could get to them. One is to help the worship experience in the west wing. (Some Sundays there are up to 200 people going to mass in folding chairs set up in the Gathering Space.) We’d like to help their worship by adding a large video screen and camera showing the pulpit and altar — the sound is already quite good there.

4. Take a look at the roof on the annex building (currently housing the Positive Pre-School). It’s a mess. It too needs a new roof.

5. Then there’s our ancient church boiler, the de-caying window fittings on our beautiful stained glass windows, and the leaking roofs discovered this past winter in the church wings.

Get the picture? Holy Trinity is a huge complex. The facilities are beautiful but aging for sure. We will do what we can to secure this place for the generation to come.

I promise you we will not take on any unnecessary projects or undergo any parish debt so far as we are able.

In the meantime, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. We’re on our way! If you have not yet made your contribution to “This is My Parish!,” please do so in the weeks ahead. We still have a ways to go. “And miles to go before we sleep.”

With love,
Fr. Tim


Hey Dad.

Like Mother’s Day this tribute to fathers ran last year at this time. Why again? Well. . . it’s like dad’s brown shoes – he wore them day after day.

It’s hard explaining Fathers. Each is different. Each father brings different skills with which they make their contribution. Some are handymen, fixing everything in the house. Some are sportsmen, sharing the love of outdoors, fishing, and hunting. Some make work their special skill.


But here’s some things that all fathers share, or at least, I think they should.

Today is your day. We’re not too keen on these things, are we. Somehow it goes against what we see as our role as the “watch over person”. We’ve all seen holy cards of the Holy Family. There they are, Mary and the baby, front and center. Joseph is usually off to the side watching or standing over his wife and the child as protector. We like the background role.

In fact, we can sometimes “hide” in the back when things get sticky or uncomfortable. When tears or disappointment come to the children, it’s time for mom! She’s the expert in handling emotions or significant events . . . birthdays, in-laws, holidays, vacation plans etc.

So what DO you do, dad?

Can I tell you what I’ve seen you do? First off, you love your wife. She has the key to your heart. She is the one person who pulled you out of yourself when you were this whiney, selfish 20/30 something. She helped you discover that “to love” meant to “lay your life down”. You didn’t know that until you met her. Now your job is to make her life a joy.

The second thing is the children she gave you to hold. What profound stirrings you felt when each of your children looked up at you.

Somewhere came that particular “Father feeling” that said, “No one will ever hurt this child so long as I am here. You are safe with me dear one . . . do you hear that world?!!”

What else do you do, Dad?

You create a “place” that is warm, safe, and fun. Yes, it’s a place to live, but it’s more than that. Your strength and love and watchfulness brings about a place in which your wife and children can blossom and grow. They don’t have to worry, “are we okay here”?. They’re free from fear because you are there. You are like the house beams! -always there, quiet, holding things in place. The world is dependable . . . because you are dependable. You beat back the chaos.

Last on my list of things to thank you for is the fact that you didn’t give into me when you knew I was headed in the wrong direction. I could bully mom into going along with some silly scheme I thought was really cool. “Well honey if it will make you happy.” You wouldn’t budge.

“Rethink that”, you would say. “That’s not what we taught you.” You had several other sayings that went right to the heart of the matter. Things like . . . don’t give up. . . you disappoint me (ouch!) . . . do it the right way, not the easy way . . . I’m proud of you . . . don’t worry, I’ll be there. . . and (yes, dad you actually said this) . . . “I’m not your friend, I’m your father.” Dad, you saved us from our worst impulses.

Lastly, you show us something of God the Father. Strong, present, watching, protecting, our rock. You gave us a “place” of safety to discover who we are; you were strong enough to listen when mom knew us better. You gave up your crazy ways to be our dad. We are really glad you did.

Happy Fathers Day, dad. We love you.

Fr. Tim


While you were sleeping . . .

One of the attitudes that marks our Western culture is the notion that we are in control of our lives and our future. The powerful tools of science and technology enable us to live lives expecting results that will please and comfort us.

Let’s see . . . today I’ll take my car to the mall where I’ll buy an Ipod which has an app that, with two touches, books a room in a snazzy resort and tells me the water temperature in the hotel pool. My doctor will fix my bad hip. The micro will heat my pasta. And tonight I’ll watch the Yankees play Boston in high def. I’m pretty set. Life is good.

So pervasive is our confidence that these machines will (pardon me, Webster) make my “life worth living” that we begin to expect our life to be what we command it to be.

So who needs God when life can be so controlled and self-directed?


But you and I know it’s not that simple. Life is bigger than that. “Things happen”. Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we planned. The comfort and convenience we get from our machines just doesn’t satisfy the hunger we have in our hearts.

You see we were made for something greater than high def TV, and Ipods, and even the Yankees (put your team) winning the pennant.

In short, we were made for God. We were made in the likeness of God. Scripture says we, unlike any other creature in this universe, are God’s Children! How can this be? Because God became one of us when He was born a human being. And this human being, Jesus, God’s Son, has asked that we allow him to enter our lives and “live in us”. (see: John 17:20-26)

How does this happen? By the gift of the Holy Spirit! It is a Divine Person who we cannot see and, un-like our Ipod, we cannot control. This Pentecost Sun-day we hear again about the strong driving wind which first blew over the waters of creation now blowing over the apostles, making them “born again” in the Spirit.

The fondest longing of the human heart is realized today. We belong to God, and one day “we will be-come like Him,” Again, this is not because of any-thing we have done to cause it. We can’t make our-selves children of anybody . . . it has to be given to us. Today we are God’s Children by adoption. The Holy Spirit places in us the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and with that spirit a new life is begun – a life of Faith, Hope, and Love; one which moves us to cry out, “ABBA, FATHER!”

Like a baby!! While we sleep. The Holy Spirit is working in us to bring us to the Kingdom of God where we, in union with Christ, will be with God for-ever. How wonderful is that?!

Dear God, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.
Peace. All will be well.

Fr. Tim


THE ROOF, THE WINDOWS, THE PARKING LOT.

OK, here we go.

It’s been a month now since we’ve begun work on the church roof around the towers. We’re being told the wood decay is extensive under the slate tiles and much carpentry work is required on the 114 year-old substructure.

What you are seeing is Phase 1 of an eventual total repair and replacement of the church roof. Phase 2 will happen at this time next year. The stained glass windows will also be re-enforced and tightened at this time.

TOTAL CHURCH ROOF REPLACEMENT: $385,000


You may also have noticed that the paving around Murphy Hall and the parking lot condition in the north field and along Ridge Rd. is a mess. We’re going to expand and pave the north parking lot and re-surface the stone and gravel areas around the church.

TOTAL PAVEMENT COST: $210,000
TOTAL PROJECT COST: $595,000


Surprise!! Three generous parishioners have given us contributions of $171,000. These gifts have given us the courage to bring the 2 renovation projects to completion by asking you to step up to the challenge of raising the remaining …………………. $424,000.

This Sunday, you are asked to take home a pledge card (located in your pew) to consider what you and your household would be able to sacrifice so we might secure the strength and safety of our beautiful old church and its campus.

We’re calling it THIS IS MY PARISH SUNDAY! It begins next week, when, after the homily, you will be invited to bring your envelope forward for an industrial strength Penny Sunday Collection for Holy Trinity!

You will have 2 YEARS to fulfil your contributions. Those who leave a card next Sunday will be remind-ed by the Parish Office on a quarterly basis as to the balance remaining on the pledge.


Please be ready to give your initial response next Sunday. Or, you may also go online to our website at www.holytrinityweb.com to sign your……………… THIS IS MY PARISH! Contribution.

I trust you know we would not be asking this of you, were it not absolutely necessary for the long life of Holy Trinity church. The building is 114 years old. Time to give her a new hat!

Let’s get this done. All of us together.

Fr. Tim


My Kids Don’t Go to Mass . . .

One of the most common and sharpest pain priests hear about is the sorrow parents and grandparents feel about their children not practicing their Faith, not going to mass.
They look back over the years spent getting children to religious education, making all their sacraments, fighting and arguing on the way to church, and throwing hands up they exclaim, “How did I fail them? What did I do wrong?”

It’s a big issue, not something to solve in this little article. But here are a few thoughts that might ease the pain and point to hope for the future.

First off, you are not the perfect parent. (Mary and Joseph came the closest to that, and even they lost track of their boy for 3 days!). You yourself were imperfectly formed by your parents and on and on back into time. GOD KNOWS THIS ABOUT YOU. God judges your heart and your intentions for your children, not the imperfect answers you gave them in those embarrassing conversations about Faith and morality.

If in fact you know how it was that you came up short (laziness, lack of faith earlier in your life), you may want to share with your children how you regret your earlier lack of faith or your half-hearted efforts to share your be-lief. But now you’ve grown to see the power of Faith to change your life. Yes, an acknowledgement from mom or dad about their own shortcomings can go a long way to heal old wounds and angry accusations.

Secondly, it’s not too late to share your faith. No longer grade-schoolers, your children still look to you for love and guidance. But this time around it has to be different. They need to see how your faith and religious practices make a difference in your life. They need adult answers.

“So, mom/dad, you believe in Jesus right? Does that make you better than others? How does that help you live your life? How will it help me?” Think long and hard about your answer. People need to see that following Christ re-ally makes a difference in how you live.

Are you . . . more Patient? Generous? Hopeful? Selfless? Forgiving? Less judgmental? Do you try to think the best of people? Are you happy? Are you ready to point out what’s good in a situation (even though there’s darkness everywhere)? Why? How does Faith help you do these things? These are just a few of the signs that shine through a life that finds its meaning by following Jesus Christ. If we don’t exhibit these why would someone want to practice our religion?

Third. Life is a strong teacher. It brings lessons we never thought we’d have to encounter – – poverty, sickness, tragedy, broken relationships. But also there are moments of inexpressible joy – – first love, a baby, some victory in sport, the job you’ve worked so hard for.

These moments are full of “God possibilities”. God uses the events of our life to come to us with His strength when we are weak and can’t go on. Or, He comes to us in times of joy to remind us that life is a gift and in the end, love wins. Lastly, God knows your child better than you do. God knows why they do what they do to keep Him away. God also knows the secret goodness your son or daughter already has for God (you don’t!).

So? Trust God to find moments of love to lure your child into heaven. And . . . be ready to be an instrument of gentle, gracious, patient witness to God in YOUR LIFE. And then? Pray. Pray. . . . pray some more.

Love wins. All will be well.
Why? Simple. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Fr. Tim


Wanna Be Happy?…Serve Somebody.

I hope by now you know how happy Fr. John and I are being priests. I’ve told many young men in my job as Vocation Director that were I given the opportunity to choose my life over again, I’d be a priest. I just like it. It fits me.

Perhaps the biggest reason it feels right is that I think God wanted me to be a priest. It was His idea first . . . and then ever respectful of my freedom, God found ways to get me thinking about this way of life. It makes me happy to think God has an opinion about what we should do with the life He’s given us.

He never forced me with fear or guilt. God used natural human things to get my attention . . . comments of people who knew me well, watching some priests who I liked a lot (seeing their happiness and humor), feeling a desire to help people, realizing that we’re only here in this world for a while . . . all contributed to a growing feeling that God was calling me to live my life as a priest.

It isn’t easy to hear God’s voice calling. It requires listening in prayer, a careful examination of your heart and its feelings, and hardest of all, was trying to find “my heart’s desire.” In the end it came down to, “Tim, what do you want to die for?” And the answer – – though it took a while – – was, “I want to die for you, Jesus. I want to give my life to you and do the things that will help people get to heaven.” For me that said, “be a priest.”


That’s my story in three paragraphs! It certainly wasn’t my mother and father’s story. It’s probably not your story either. Most people don’t have that odd appeal toward a celibate life lived for the purpose of spreading Christ’s Kingdom. I mean really, let’s face it, it’s pretty different.

But . . . . your story and my story have that most important aspect in common, “Who will you die for?” Or, to put it in a slightly milder way, what is there in your life that you would be willing to sacrifice it all for? That’s God’s invitation to you. That’s your vocation.

For my father it was a beautiful woman named Rosemary. For mom it was her husband and her children. And they did. They laid it down, for each other and for us children.

And do you know who in the end we all lay it down for? Teacher, parent, spouse, priest, musician, poet, carpenter, farmer, soldier, cop, nurse, bus driver . . . we are all called to lay it down for Christ.

Yes, that’s right. You have a vocation to give your life to Christ, to be at His service each day of your life. In that sense your vocation is the same as the priest or nun.

The only problem is we don’t see him. We don’t see Him, because He’s hiding! He’s hiding in the face of your spouse, your students, customers, friends, enemies, your children, your parents, your neighbor, your check out per-son, and yes, even the cable guy! All human kind is unit-ed to Christ. (The Incarnation-God becomes one of us.)

You get it, right? “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever looses his life for my sake, (see everyone above), and that of the gospel will save it.” Mk. 8:35. We are the only creature made by God that comes to understand their life by giving it away. That’s all of our vocations — to lay it down in love.

Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Happy Spring!

Fr. Tim