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.

Harry G. Hardy – in memoriam.

A good friend of mine, Harry Hardy, passed away this evening in Helena, Montana after his third bout with cancer. I have known the Hardy family since the late 70’s and have shared many wonderful times with them over the years. He was a throat cancer survivor from the mid ’70’s and was a pretty tough old bird.

Harry was a musician, a band director, and a wood craftsman. He enjoyed life and pursued his many interests with great zeal. He was a big fan of dixieland jazz and played in a few bands in Montana and did some touring also. One of his claims to fame was being an uncredited actor in the Jimmy Stewart movie, “The Glenn Miller Story”. Harry was directing the military band (I believe on an airstrip) when Jimmy (Glenn in the movie) pushed him out of the way and took over directing. Harry was in a military band in his young years as he was a quite talented low brass player. Harry many times called the movie, and I quote, “The Glenn Miller Story starring Harry G. Hardy and co-starring Jimmy Stewart.”

Here is a picture of Harry from the 1978 Capital High Yearbook from one of the schools where he taught. I found this picture on their “Class of ’78” website where many mentioned Mr. Hardy as their favorite teacher.

Harry is survived by his wife, Molly, his children Kathy and David, 2 brothers and a sister, and many nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and grand-nieces.

You can find his obituary and other comments on this link: Helena Independent Record – Life Story of Harry G. Hardy.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, amen.

Candidacy at St. Meinrad!

On Sunday, November 3rd, the Rite for Candidacy was celebrated in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel at St. Meinrad. I was one of fourteen men who were advanced to Candidate in the ceremony. Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo America, presided over the Mass and was the Homilist. Here are a few pictures from the ceremony.

Bishop Blair

The Candidates

John O’Neill (me), Diocese of Tulsa and Saviour Nundwe, Diocese of Springfield/Cape Girardeau

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.

Affiliate General Promo 240
Click the link to learn more

Summer’s over and I’m back at school!

Well, summer went by very quickly. I am back at St. Meinrad and ramping up for another semester of learning.

The CPE Program (Clinical Pastoral Education) that I participated in this summer at Hillcrest Hospital was a great learning experience. I had many moments of crisis and many others of blessings. God truly gave me grace to minister to others in both of those moments and everything else in between. The other students and staff were all part of my learning curve and hopefully I was a positive part of theirs. I am pretty sure I can handle just about any kind of ministry situation now, as I was in many emergency situations over the summer. My prayers continue for the men and women of the medical profession that so diligently care for the people who enter their hospitals and emergency rooms. Here is a picture of the group.

Clockwise from bottom left: Jeff (supervisor), Tausha, John, Donna, Elkin, and John (me).

This year I am taking Trinity, Advanced Homiletics, Introduction to Canon Law, and Reflections on Hispanic Ministry. These classes will all be in English (The Hispanic Ministry may be bilingual at times). I am also going to take a Moral Virtues class in Spanish. This will help prepare me if I go to Salamanca, Spain next semester (more on that in another post). It will be a busy semester with possible ministry at the Guadalupe Center in Huntingburg again. I will know more about both of these things next week.

At the end of the summer I had a chance to go back to my home town of Okeene, OK. I spent time with friends, relaxed, and generally rested after the 12 week CPE program. I needed to catch up on a few naps. I also met the new pastor of the Catholic Church there, and he invited me to speak to the congregation after Communion at Sunday’s Mass. I was humbled and honored at the opportunity. This was the first time I had been in the Church since I had joined the seminary. It was a real treat to share a little about my journey thus far and to be welcomed by so many familiar faces. I look forward to my Mass of Thanksgiving that I will celebrate there after I am ordained. After I spoke I realized that it was 50 years earlier that same week that I was baptized in that Church. It is amazing to think that all these years after serving and attending Mass I will soon be celebrating at the same altar as my former pastors.

That’s about it for now. I probably won’t get back to Tulsa until Christmas time, but I invite anyone to come visit me here in Indiana. I am sure you would enjoy your time here and I would love to have guests to share this place with.

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.”