31 August 2016

A visit to the Academy


I have recovered enough from hip replacement surgery to make a visit to my beloved students at The Atonement Academy.  This picture shows my visit with Upper School students out in the courtyard.  I had the opportunity to visit several classrooms, too.  It won't be long before I will be able to spend lengthier portions of the day, eventually restoring my regular schedule.

27 August 2016

Better each day...


Most of you know that about a week ago I had a rather nasty fall in the rectory which resulted in a broken hip. There was no dramatic reason for the fall – it was simply my inattention which caused me to stumble on a small set of steps leading into the kitchen which sent me “airborne” resulting in landing square on my hip on a tile floor.

In what was a typical (for me) attitude that ”these things never happen to me” I decided that the excruciating pain was the result of a pulled muscle and I proceeded to try and walk it off (what a mistake!) which only exacerbated the injury. After a night of being propped on a sofa, even I was willing to admit that there was a good chance I had broken something. That was confirmed after a visit to the Baptist Emergency Hospital (newly built on 1604 near us). I was then transferred to St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital, where I was given a complete hip replacement. The care I received was consistently marvellous, and your prayers are putting me over the top!

Although it’s still a bit difficult for me to negotiate very far, and I still get tired fairly quickly, I do plan to make a visit to the school sometime this week. I’m working regularly with my physical therapist (a wonderful Catholic lady from Boerne) and her exercises are making me stronger. She and the visiting nurse, in consultation with the surgeon encouraged me to remain at home this weekend, but they agreed that a visit to the school next week would be good for everybody!

Of course, I yearn to be back at the altar in the place I love so much, with the people who are so dear to me. Right now, I’m not able to stand for any extended period of time, but it won’t be long before I’m back with renewed energy. Thanks for your prayers!

14 August 2016

Thirty-three years ago...

I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on 15 August 1983, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven,  At the same time, the Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement was canonically erected and I was appointed to be the Founding Pastor.  Apparently there's still work to do, because I'm still here!

Procession into the Cathedral of San Fernando
15 August 1983
for the Mass of Ordination.


Being examined by the Archbishop before priestly ordination.

The Litany of the Saints.
JoAnn (holding Sarah), my father and mother, my grandmother.
In the pew behind my family are some of the
Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus,
and I served as their Chaplain for several years.

The Laying on of Hands.
Bishop Popp, Archbishop Flores, Fr. Peter Scagnelli.
The Priest's First Blessing.

Our family at the time.
JoAnn (expecting Catherine), me, Sarah, Christian, Nathan.

12 August 2016

The Consecration of the Altar

As we get closer to August 15th, we move towards the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day when we celebrate many of our important parish anniversaries -- the founding of the parish thirty-three years ago, the dedication of the church and consecration of the altar, the founding of the school, and for me personally it will be the thirty-third anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.

Here are pictures of the Dedication of the original church, and the Consecration of the High Altar. Archbishop Flores officiated on that occasion, and as plain as the building was at that time, he was genuinely surprised that our then-tiny parish was able to build a dignified temple for the worship of God. When he began his sermon he said that he needed to change his prepared text, because he had expected us to have only a multi-purpose hall at that point so early in our history, and he was going to urge us to move forward in building a proper church. He told us with kindness and generosity, "...but when I saw it, I thought it was a basilica in the woods!" From that time on, we have referred to our "basilica in the woods," remembering with great fondness the archbishop's surprise.


Praying the Litany, before the Consecration of the Altar.


The Prayer to Consecrate the Altar.


Placing the Relics of St. Thomas Becket, and Anointing the Altar stone.


The Archbishop giving his personal Rosary to be placed in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Placing the linens on the newly-consecrated Altar.


Opening the Triptych.


Placing the crucifix and candles at the High Altar.


Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the newly-consecrated Altar.

07 August 2016

St. Dominic, Priest and Founder


Born in old Castile, Spain, St. Dominic was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.

On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, “the pure”) held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal was “to speak only of God or with God."

Almighty God, whose Priest Dominic grew in the knowledge of thy truth, and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the faith of Christ: by thy grace, grant to all thy people a love for thy word and a longing to share the Gospel; that the whole world may be filled with the knowledge of thee and of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

03 August 2016

St. John Vianney


St. John Vianney, also known as the Holy CurĂ© de Ars, was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, near Lyon, France to a family of farmers. He was an unremarkable student and his bishop was reluctant to ordain him.  He did so in 1815 only because there was a shortage of priests.  He was then sent to the remote French community of Ars in 1818 to be a parish priest.

Upon his arrival, the priest immediately began praying and working for the conversion of his parishioners. Although he saw himself as unworthy of his mission as pastor, he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served the people.

St. John Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and the witness of his life. He gave powerful homilies on the mercy and love of God, and it is said that even staunch sinners were converted upon hearing him. In addition, he restored his church, formed an orphanage, and cared for the poor.

His reputation as a confessor grew rapidly, and pilgrims traveled from all over France to come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Firmly committed to the conversion of the people, he would spend up to 16 hours a day in the confessional.

Plagued by many trials and besieged by the devil, St. John Vianney remained firm in his faith, and lived a life of devotion to God. Dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, he spent much time in prayer and practiced much mortification. He lived on little food and sleep, while working without rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience and cheerfulness, until he was well into his 70s.

St. John Vianney died on August 4, 1859. More than a thousand people attended his funeral, including the bishop and priests of the diocese, who already viewed his life as a model of priestly holiness.

The Holy Curé of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is the patron of priests. Over 450,000 pilgrims travel to Ars every year in remembrance of his holy life.

Almighty and merciful God, who didst wonderfully endue Saint John Vianney with pastoral zeal and a continual desire for prayer and penance: grant, we beseech thee; that by his example and intercession, we may win the souls of our brethren for Christ, and with them attain glory everlasting; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.