Category Archives: Ministry and Church

Reverend Bernard Charles Jewitt – in memoriam.

Father Jewitt passed away on Ash Wednesday, February 6, 2008. He was my first Pastor when I moved to Tulsa (he was Pastor at St. Thomas More Parish). When I began my seminary studies he was my first summer assignment Pastor. We grew to become friends and he invited me to join him on other breaks from school. He was so kind to open his residence to me, and to share his wisdom.

Fr. Jewitt was a priest for almost 49 years. He held many positions in the leadership of the Diocese of Oklahoma and then the Diocese of Tulsa, including Diocesan Administrator for two terms when Tulsa was without a Bishop.

I was fortunate to spend some time with Fr. Jewitt over the last few weeks, as well as some time with him and his family on Tuesday afternoon and evening.  He will be missed but his mark has been made on this world.

You can read more about Fr. Jewitt at the Diocesan website or at the Tulsa World.

Fr. Jewitt

Reverend Bernard Jewitt

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may Your perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all of the faithful departed rest in peace.

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Champions of Faith!

I want to pass along some information about a DVD I recently viewed. It is called Champions of Faith and is a sports related video about Catholics in professional baseball. The blurb on the DVD says, “Baseball’s biggest stars reveal how their faith guides and sustains their spectacular major league careers.”

It is an extremely well done video that is very Catholic!!!! It has players’ and coaches’ testimonies including Mike Piazza, Mike Sweeney, David Eckstein, Jack McKeon, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Suppan and others.

I would suggest this DVD for any group or individual who is interested in the personal testimonies of individuals who love the Lord and live their Catholic faith. It could also inspire young and old alike who are interested in famous sports figures. You can find out more at their website Champions of Faith.


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Summer is off to a good start!

Here it is almost the end of May and a lot has already happened.

My last day of school this semester was May 15th and for the first semester since going to seminary I was totally finished with all of my required assignments before leaving St. Meinrad. It was a very good feeling!!!!! I drove to Cincinnati to help teach at a School of Evangelization lead by my friend Charlie Osburn. I was able to teach/preach on many different subjects relating to evangelization and living Christ’s message of love and mercy. It was quite a week and a good kick off for the summer.

Next I drove to Tulsa and participated as a server for the ordination of 11 permanent deacons and 2 priests for the Diocese of Tulsa. My school mates and diocesan bothers Brian O’Brien and Gary Kastl were ordained as new priests. It was a truly wonderful celebration held in the Reynolds Arena on the campus of the University of Tulsa. Between the newly ordained, the clergy, the thousands of Catholics in the assembly and the beautifully transformed worship space it was a memorable time of praise and thanksgiving for the Church and these men of God. I am glad I was able to participate.

On Tuesday I began my summer assignment. I will be in the CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program at Hillcrest hospital in Tulsa. Basically I will be trained to minister to the sick, dying, their relatives and friends, and the staff of the hospital. This will be an intense program of learning and self-discovery. I am looking forward to the next 12 weeks. I am living at Christ the King parish with Fr. Tam Nguyen and the newly ordained Fr. Brian O’Brien. I am appreciative of the warm welcome and hospitality of Fr. Tam, his staff, and the parishioners. It should be a great summer.

Since I am in Tulsa, call me or drop me an email and maybe we can get together. I would love to visit with anybody who is in Tulsa for the summer. The time will go fast so give me a buzz……

Homily for Sunday, April 22, Third Sunday of Easter

I thought I would post one of my homilies from the Introduction to Homiletics class. If you are interested in the readings for this particular Sunday they are:

First Reading: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41
Psalm: Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
Second Reading: Revelation 5:11-14
Gospel: John 21:1-19

Here’s the homily.

Have you ever had déjà vu? That feeling that you’ve been here before – that you’ve already experienced this? Have you ever had déjà vu? That feeling that you’ve been here before – that you’ve already experienced this?

That must have been what the apostles felt. It wasn’t that long ago, just a couple of years, that they were having another bad night of fishing and this man named Jesus told them to throw their nets over the other side of the boat. They did and caught a boatful of fish that day too. That was Jesus’ first appearance to them, when he called them to follow him and become fishers of men. This time it was a little different circumstance – or was it? Yes, Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, and yes, they had already seen him twice since the resurrection. But I don’t think the apostles were too sure what to do next. It must have been a very troubling time and they needed some comfort, something familiar. Peter decides he’s got to do something and exclaims, “I’m going fishing,” and the rest follow. I guess when you’re not too sure what to do it always seems best to go back to something comfortable – like going fishing.

I also think this “let’s go fishing” reaction of the apostles gives you and I a little hope. How many times have we had a task in front of us, or been confronted by our weaknesses, or been just a bit overwhelmed by life, and we run back to things that are easy or familiar to us. Maybe someone is prompting us to do something a little different, or challenging us to look at life a little differently and we cling to the known, rather than take on the unknown. It’s a little like déjà vu – we’ve done this before and it’s familiar, maybe we even like to do it, and it usually doesn’t take us out of our comfort zone. More realistically it puts us right in the middle of our comfort zone. Almost like a little déjà vu security blanket that we need to hold on to at times. I have a friend that washes his driveway when he has a big decision to make or needs to think something through. I usually play a little guitar. Peter just goes fishing. But the déjà vu of the apostles goes a little deeper.

Here are the apostles, fishing, just like before, and Jesus asks if they’ve had any luck. I’m not sure if these guys could have made it as fishermen because for the second time now they’ve caught nothing. Jesus insists that they cast just one more time and they catch more than their nets will hold. In that moment, in their déjà vu, they realize it is Jesus talking to them, and just like before they follow him. It gives us hope in second chances when Jesus again gives the apostles a second chance. In fact it is in the second chances, or the déjà vu moments, when Jesus ministry becomes clearer, more real. Today we see him feeding his apostles fish and then breaking bread. A while earlier he fed 5,000 on a couple of fishes and a few loaves of bread. Just a few days before he broke bread and shared the cup with the twelve, and then he broke bread in Emmaus with a couple of other disciples. Each moment, in the breaking of the bread, it feels a little like déjà vu. Isn’t that what it takes sometimes for us to understand the love of God, or the depth of Jesus’ gift of salvation and redemption on the cross? To see it over and over again? To experience it one more time? Each times Jesus breaks bread with his followers – something happens. And this time was no different.

Jesus feeds his disciples and then its déjà vu all over again. He asks Peter if he loves him – three times. And each time Peter answers that he does. And each time Jesus tells him to “feed my sheep.” How many times is it going to take for Peter to get it? At the Last Supper Peter claimed his undying love for Jesus and then turned around a few hours later and denied him three times. Here’s a little theological déjà vu for us. Jesus gives Peter a second and then a third chance to be redeemed for his three denials when he asks him three times if he loves him. Jesus is all about second chances, and third chances, and maybe more chances if needed. But at some point Jesus must expect that we will get the message and act on it.

Our first reading fast-forwards us to a few days or weeks after Jesus’ Ascension. Peter and the apostles have finally gotten Jesus message about feeding his sheep and spreading the good news. They seem to be preaching everywhere about Jesus. And we also see the Sanhedrin and the high priest in a little déjà vu moment of their own. They must have been thinking – didn’t we deal with this Jesus character just a few weeks ago? Didn’t we have him put to death so that his followers would go away? What are these guys doing speaking his name? We had Jesus crucified for his message of the Kingdom of God, and here come Peter and the apostles preaching the same thing. In fact we learn that the Sanhedrin had already warned the apostles about telling the story of Jesus, yet here’s Peter and the boys, back in front of them again for the same reason – déjà vu. But for Peter and the disciples, this time it’s different than before. This time they understand the message of salvation and redemption. This time they recognize the sacrifice of love that Jesus showed them on the cross. This time they’ve been given the power of the Holy Spirit to preach, and that’s just what they’re doing. Instead of looking for their déjà vu security blanket they proclaim obedience to God, they’re rejoicing that they’ve been found worthy to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus. That’s a big change for the apostles. But that’s the hope that comes from Jesus in our déjà vu experiences of God.

We’re in a déjà vu moment ourselves – here today. How many times have we heard the gospel proclaimed? How many times do we enter the church with the same problems and life challenges as before? Celebrating the Eucharist can definitely be a déjà vu security blanket – inviting us into the comfort of God’s presence. The songs we sing, the prayers we share, the community around us, and even the pew we sit in can give us that feeling that everything is going to be okay. But it can also be an important point of change, of conversion. Today we break bread, like Jesus did 2000 years ago. Today we give thanks and preach the Gospel, just like the apostles did 2000 years ago. And today Jesus is present, just like he’s been for the last 2000 years, in the Word, in the Eucharist, in the body of believers that give thanks to his holy name and proclaim, “Alleluia, He is risen.” But just like 2000 years ago Jesus is also asking us, inviting us, to get the message and act on it. Jesus’ own words challenge us – “Do you love me? Follow me.” “Do you love me? Spread the good news.” “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.”

When we answer yes to Jesus’ challenge and take up our own cross for Christ, it is in this moment that our déjà vu is no longer a security blanket, but a point of change, a point of conversion. In this moment we can all fall down in worship and say, “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.”

First Communion at Huntingburg!

Here are the kids that Chad and I had in our First Communion Class. We had the celebration of their “Primera Comunión” en Español on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo). It was a wonderful liturgy with most of the kids participating. I am so proud of them!!!!! The celebrant was our Rector – Fr. Mark O’Keefe. The deacon was Br. Paul Nord.

Happy Easter!

Blessings and grace to you during this Easter season. This has been a very blessed time for me and I want to share these last few weeks with you.

During the last few weeks of the semester, before the Easter break, I was blessed to teach a group of young ladies preparing for their Quince Años celebration (this is a Mexican tradition for 15 year old girls – almost a spiritual rite of passage). My seminarian brother Chad King and I have spent 4 weeks helping them better understand their life in the faith and the call on their lives to serve God. These bright and energetic young women were probably not too sure how to take us seminarians, but especially during the last couple of meetings we were able to see their hearts and spirits opening to the power of the Holy Spirit. God is so good!!!!

For the week before Holy Week, all seminarians from St. Meinrad are to take a 5 day retreat. I had my retreat at Subiaco, in Arkansas, with 3 seminarian brothers, Matt, T.J. and Catesby. It was a pleasant time of prayer, reflection, rest and quiet. We were blessed to be able to pray and eat with the monks. I was so impressed with the dedication and openness of these prayerful men. The seemed very much like a group of “good old boys” who truly loved the Lord and their service to Him.

During Holy Week I have been in Pensacola, Florida visiting my friends Charlie and Jeanne Osburn. Charlie is a Catholic Lay Evangelist who has been preaching and teaching for the last 30 years. Before I entered seminary, Charlie was more or less my mentor. We have been praying, preaching, sleeping, eating and telling war stories for the last week. I have been very blessed to spend this time with them. Charlie is 74 years old and still serving the Lord. He leads a group of volunteers who prepare an Agape Meal every Wednesday night at their parish. Last Wednesday I help set up for about 285 people who were fed shrimp scampi. This morning I helped him prepare sauce and sausage for the meal they will serve next Wednesday. Tomorrow morning he has been asked to preach at a sunrise service for the Pensacola Junior Chamber of Commerce.

I was able to attend the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday. The seminarians from the diocese were serving and I had a chance to have lunch with 3 of them who were also in Guadalajara learning Spanish this last summer with me. It was good to see Mike, Matthew and Tim again. Making a connection with someone and then being able to unexpectedly follow up is a good thing.

We lost a good family friend on Tuesday. Henry (Hank) Huhman died at the age of 95. Hank, and his wife Marie, lived across the street from my family in Okeene since 1958. I bought my first car from him (which my brother is now restoring) and bought many gallons of gas from the station that he co-owned. Here is a picture of Hank and Marie just after my dad’s funeral in 1998.

Well, that is about all for now. Blessings to all on the Easter weekend!

Time for a new post and an update!

It has been awhile since I have given and update and a lot has happened so here goes.

I spent time in Kansas and Oklahoma over the Christmas break with family, friends and got in a nap or two. I played for a New Years Eve dance/party at St. Bernard’s in Tulsa with John the Blessed – the band I also play with for other gigs when I am in town.

For the J-term at St. Meinrad I spent 3 weeks at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) in San Antonio in January. This was a mini-pastoral experience to learn about multiculturalism and how to better do ministry in our ever changing USA. This was quite an eye-opening time with a trip into some of the poorest parts of our country and across the border into Mexico. I will be adding a couple of posts later on this subject, so will not go into details here.

I am back in school and am really looking forward to the new semester. My classes include Christology, Intro to Homiletics, The Sacrament of Marriage, and Christian Morality and the Pursuit of Holiness. As usual there is a lot of good reading and the teachers are all excellent. I am also working at the Vibrary (an in-house video rental library), and I will continue to play in Abbey Mode – the house band for the Unstable.

My ministry also continues this semester at the Guadalupe Center teaching first communion class, a quinceanera class (a special celebration for 15 year-old Latino/Hispanic girls), and leading the music at a Spanish Mass on Sundays in Dale, IN. My time in Guadalajara last summer and at MACC have really helped me understand the culture and background of the Latino/Hispanic community, and has opened my eyes to some of their needs and how we might work together for a better US.

I was be installed as an Acolyte in the Catholic Church today. This is another step on the road to priesthood. I will be able to assist the priests and deacons at the altar during Mass in an official capacity. I can also be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in any Catholic Church in the world. Each step is so fulfilling as I continue to walk in God’s will for my life. The picture below is of me and my classmate Gary Mayer kneeling in front of the Archbishop of Indianapolis who presided at the ceremony/Mass.

I also started a MySpace account. You can visit it at http://www.myspace.com/johntheblessed. There is not much on it yet, and this will be my main blog for posting, but now I have a MySpace presence also.

That’s about all for now. Thanks for keeping myself and all seminarians in your prayers, and also for praying for vocations to the priesthood or the religious life – both for young men and women. Your prayers are appreciated by me, all those serving the Lord in their vocations, and by the Church through which we all serve one another and the Lord.

Be blessed!