Thursday, December 11, 2014

(149) SECULARISM: The Grinch that Stole Advent and Christmas---- Let's Take Them Back and Put Christ into Christmas

AMDG

             Every year more and more of Christmas is taken over by the Grinch.  That is Secularism, which intends to keep God out of the public square, out of the community, out of the public school regardless of community values, and out of private business.  They give lip service to “religious freedom” but keep your faith within the walls of your church and the privacy of your home.  The secularists will not concede any right for Christians and their clergy to speak out on moral issues that are not “politically correct” even within the confines of the church building under the umbrella of so called “anti-bigotry laws”…….opposition to the homosexual lifestyle as immoral even though those with same sex attraction are most welcome in the Church; opposition to same sex marriage; forcing Christian institutions, businesses, and individuals to provide health insurance that include abortifacients, contraceptives, and abortion itself by government fiat and fines. 

Overrun by Secularism. In our culture today, originally very Judeo-Christian, but now very secularized, prayer in the schools is supposedly against the Constitution; manger scenes on public property are “illegal”, even saying “Merry Christmas” is becoming taboo.  The net result of this secularization: Christ is taken out of Christmas, which was a celebration of the Savior’s birth since the 4th Century……the reason for the season.  There is nothing in the Constitution about the so called “separation of Church and State”.  Thomas Jefferson first used the term to protect the churches from government encroachment and prevent an official religion.  But today secularism and its collection of Godless beliefs is slowly becoming the de facto official religion.

        Secularists are starting to throw “Solstice Parties” just before Christmas.  It was originally a pagan feast in the Roman Empire that celebrated the return of the sun as the days start to get longer again after December 21.  Since no one is sure of the date of Christ’s birth, the Church substituted Christmas for the feast in the 4th Century to overcome the debauchery of the week long celebration. Now they're bringing it back.

I have told my students in Catholic Poland:  “Over the centuries, the Polish people have successfully resisted and overcome radical Islam, Nazism, Communism, and other threats, but the greatest threat of them all is Secularism” because it is materialistic and atheistic in its essence.  It’s more than indifference to faith; its intent is to ultimately eliminate religious belief.  Under the influence of the very secular European Union and material prosperity, the Church is slipping in Poland and was stronger under Communism.  Secularism is a grave threat here too and we are oblivious to it because it is so gradual that we cannot see our religious freedom eroding.
 
The commercialization of Christmas encroaches upon Advent.  Sixty years ago the Christmas shopping season started after Thanksgiving, originally set aside to thank God for our blessings, but now just another holiday, “Turkey Day” thinking that the very religious Pilgrims only thanked the Indians.  Now the Christmas season starts after Halloween; forget about Advent.  It supposedly starts with “Black Friday” where stores try to insure a profitable year (in the black) by offering great bargains to attract people while supplies last.  People flock to the stores minutes after midnight so as not to be left out.  We bought our “Black Friday Special” recliner at Big Lots on Thanksgiving Day.  Then the commercial internet sites get into it on “Cyber Monday”. It’s all about buying “things”.  Christmas has been diluted to the point of losing its real meaning.

          Why do we give gifts in the first place?  Let’s remember that God gave us His only begotten Son to teach us how to live, save us from our sins, and open the gates of Heaven for us if we only follow Him and accept His teachings.  We give gifts to our loved ones and to charity to celebrate God’s great gift to us. Let’s give gifts that educate our children and strengthen their faith; let’s give of our time, talent, and treasure to the Church, to charities, and to the poor because we are doing it unto Christ……the Giving Tree, food pantries, soup kitchens, the K of C Coats for Kids campaign, etc.

It’s OK to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Better yet is to wish people a “Beautiful and Blessed Christmas”.  Saying “Happy Holidays” is a surrender to secularism and so is sending a Christmas card with no relation to the birth of the Christ child, who is the reason for the season.  Let’s send Christmas cards with a genuinely Christmas theme, not simply sleighs, reindeer, penguins, and snowmen.  That is also a profession of faith.  Sending Christmas greetings and good wishes is really a small communication of love, remembering, and caring.  Let’s look at it that way and not simply as a required chore.
 
Perhaps we could make a concession to Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim friends and say “happy holidays” to them as we invite them to celebrate with us in our Country which was founded as a Christian country and still is.  Share with them the reason for the season with an ecumenical spirit of respectful interfaith dialogue and ask them to share their religious customs with us.  If we should live in India, Japan, or Saudia Arabia they certainly would expect us to respect their culture and not be “offended” by manifestations of their faith in public places.
 
Why do we have all those lights and decorations?  Why do we decorate our homes and our city park so beautifully with lights?  Let’s do it in honor of Christ, the light of the world.  May your light shine as well.  Let’s add on in our front yards a manger scene which explicitly demonstrates the reason for the season.  Including the shepherds demonstrate that God sent the Christ child to the Jews and to the poor which He and His Church have a special love for.
 
Why have a Christmas tree (not “holiday tree”) with a star on top?   It is an evergreen tree, denoting life eternal which God offers to us.  We decorate it to celebrate God’s gift of His Son and eternal life.  Be sure to put a star on top to remind the world of the Magi who followed the star to pay homage to the new born king.  Let us not forget that God gave this message to the astrologers from probably present day Iran to demonstrate that He also sent His son to the gentiles and the affluent.

Why do we party and visit each other?  It is to celebrate this great event in history, God becoming one of us.  Because God is love, we party for amicable fellowship together with our family, our friends, our colleagues at work without going into excess.  Visiting friends and relatives, especially the sick and the elderly, are great gestures of love.  Caroling by our Yacht Club in nursing homes is very significant.  In bringing Communion to the sick and the elderly, especially in the nursing homes, I have found that they treasure visits and feel very lonely without them.

Why other customs?  Let’s look at Santa Claus from the Dutch for St. Nicholas, the candy cane as his crozier and that of Christ, the Good Shepherd (red for sacrifice & white for purity), and the stocking in which He would put gold coins for the dowry of a poor girl.  For more detail as on the holly and the Poinsettia, see my blog #52.


Mary with child and Joseph on the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, 90 miles and four days on foot as seen on the map below as they prepare for the coming of the Savior during their Advent.  This shows how tough St. Joseph was.  How many of us can walk for 22 ½ miles over hill and dale in one day and then with aching muscles repeat it for three more days?  


Preparing our Hearts for Christmas During Advent. To get the most out of Christmas with all of its joy, its magic, its graces, its blessings, and spiritual growth, preparation is a must.  That’s what Advent is all about.  When Adam and Eve were evicted from Paradise, God promised a Redeemer, a Messiah, who would restore what they lost to those that believe in Him and follow His teachings.  The Jews waited 4000 years; we relive that wait in joyful anticipation with each week symbolizing a wait of a thousand years.  You can buy an Advent Wreath in the Parish Hall after Mass for your dinner table and light an additional candle each Sunday.  Let’s prepare for Christmas with more prayer, spiritual reading as bible study, watching excellent Advent programs on EWTN cable and satellite or www.ewtn.com, Mass attendance in addition to Sunday, and by all means, a good Christmas bath for our souls…….Confession.  Then we put up the Christmas tree a day or two before Christmas and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, keeping the tree up until after the feast of the Epiphany (the Magi) on January 6.

The most important of all is Christ and the Christmas Spirit. It consists of peace and love for all.......forgiveness, reconciliation with our enemies and adversaries often within our own extended families, charity, generosity, and joy that only Christ can give. May everything that we do in relation to Christmas be directed toward developing the Christmas spirit. Then our Christmas will indeed be happy, merry, and joyful.

Let’s look at Christmas the way the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds.  “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will”.  Let’s use Christmas and its customs and everything we do in the new year be all for the greater glory of God (Ad majorem Dei gloriam”).  That’s what Christmas is all about…….gratitude and celebration for God’s great gift to us, His Son.  Let’s bring the true, the good, and the beautiful into Advent and Christmas…….not simply decorating, partying, and buying more stuff.  Join the Knights of Columbus campaign to put Christ into Christmas……..and Advent too.  Let us not forget that the first six letters of Christmas are the most important.

Let us close with a link to a flash mob of students of Thomas Aquinas College, a great books school in Santa Paula California.  For the second consecutive year they pulled it off in a large mall outside of near Los Angeles.  Click on http://thomasaquinas.edu/flashmob2014?utm_source=Thomas+Aquinas+College+List&utm_campaign=4aa411876c-December_E_Letter_OFFICIAL_DEV_12_09_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_934026db06-4aa411876c-241861441#video

Monday, December 1, 2014

(148) The Future of the Ohio Valley Symphony: the Next 25 Years and Beyond

 AMDG

A Christmas Concert of the Ohio Valley Symphony
        After celebrating the 25th Anniversary Concert of the Ohio Valley Symphony Orchestra in October, we are looking forward with anticipation to the joyful and heavenly sounds of Christmas at the Ariel Theatre (really pronounced AR-ee-L) at 8 pm on Saturday December 6, the feast day of the original St. Nicholas (Sante Klaas in Dutch), who died on that date in Myra-Turkey in 343 A.D.  The Christmas Concert of The Ohio Valley Symphony is their most popular concert of the year as it blends the popular with the sacred.  

Now would be a good time to look into the future of the Ohio Valley Symphony which the people of Gallia, Meigs, Mason, and even Jackson County can claim as their own although many come from further out to enjoy it.

   To insure the long term survival and prosperity of the Ohio Valley Symphony long after the original founders have passed on, a taste for classical music must be cultivated and nurtured in the population, especially with the youth.  The role of the music teacher is crucial……whether it’s one on one piano lessons or music appreciation at the elementary, secondary, and college level.  After the founders pass on, then what? 

   Too many people right now are oblivious to this fabulous opportunity under their noses or consider the Symphony to be “nerdy”.  A big help is the annual outdoor symphony at the Gallipolis River Recreation Festival every year; however this year the grant money dried up and we had only fireworks.  Another big help is the special discount to students, but that must be publicized.  It’s only $10, very competitive with the price of a movie at the local cinema and it’s live!  Similar performances would cost $25 - $68 in Columbus and much more in the bigger cities.  As an added bonus, the Assistant Conductor of the Ohio Valley Symphony, Tom Consolo, conducts a half hour Pre-Concert Chat at 7:15 before each performance, helping those who attend to understand the musical compositions and the objectives of the composer.


    Would it be feasible to obtain private or state funds to sponsor the symphony to appear each year at one of the local high schools?  Rotating it among Point Pleasant, Gallia Academy, River Valley, and South Gallia with Gallipolis Christian High Schools on a four year cycle would give every kid in the two sister counties at least one opportunity in their lives to experience a symphony.  Maestro Ray Fowler, the Conductor of the Ohio Valley Symphony, is good at explaining the meaning of each musical selection as the great Maestro Leonard Bernstein did in conducting “Young People’s Concerts on CBS from 1958-1972 and Public Television with his New York Philharmonic.  Cultivating a natural hunger for the true, the good, and the beautiful will enrich the lives of our youth and keep them out of trouble.

Maestro Ray Fowler, the Conductor of the Ohio Valley Symphony

      A more practical and less costly possibility is to have an annual Symphonic Music Festival for Youth with different schools of the four county area attending at the Ariel each year.  According to Lora Snow, the Executive Director of the Ariel Centre, the Symphony could give four performances through the day to a total of 1800 kids (450 per performance).  This perhaps once in a lifetime educational experience for many would entail only a few dollars on the part of the school boards to bus the kids plus perhaps a small fee from each family to cover what the grant does not.  They already pay a $90 fee per year for each sport that a Gallia Academy High School student plays.  If there is a will, there is a way for the local school boards to make it happen.  Maestro Fowler would explain the music at their level and what the conductor does.


Lora Snow, Executive Director of the Ariel Centre
      Parents have a great opportunity at no cost at all to bring their children to sit in on all or part of the Friday evening (7 – 10 pm) and Saturday afternoon 1 - 4 pm) rehearsals before the Saturday evening performance of the Ohio Valley Symphony.

   How many small towns of the size of Gallipolis, Point Pleasant, Pomeroy, or Jackson can boast of having their own symphony orchestra with world class musicians?  The Ohio Valley Symphony really belongs to all us in the four county area.  What a privilege!  Thank you all who have contributed to the Ohio Valley Symphony during those 25 years whether as a musician, promoter, sponsor, or spectator.  Patronizing the symphony with your presence at the five concerts per season is a big help to insure its survival and viability.  The price of a ticket only covers part of the cost.  All of you have enriched our lives and our community and have helped to attract doctors and other professionals to live in Mason, Meigs, and Gallia Counties.  More detailed information is available for the many cultural opportunities the Ariel provides and ticket information at arieltheatre.org or ohiovalleysymphony.org.

   Gallia County really has the potential of becoming a regional center for the arts.   We have in place the Ariel – Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in the very center of downtown Gallipolis and the French Art Colony only a few blocks away within easy walking distance.  On top of that we have the School of Fine Arts with a faculty of nationally known scholars in music, theater, and art at the University of Rio Grande about 10 miles away.  In fact, the academic background of the new President of the University of Rio Grande, Dr. Michelle Johnston is music.  If each entity would work together, complement each other, specialize in what it does best, cooperate, pool resources, and promote each other’s functions, this vision can indeed be achieved.  Coordination would avoid conflicts of events on the same date.  The fine arts would not only survive in our region, but prosper with state wide and someday even national prominence as the people of the surrounding communities are enriched with the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

(147) The Great Dignity and Value of the Developmentally, Mentally, and Physically Disabled: The Funeral of Theresa Pappas With the Dignity She Deserved........81 years institutionalized, her life had meaning.

AMDG

A work crew of GDC residents and staff that often cleans up the grounds  
at parks and cemeteries to give something back to the community.
"Disabled does not mean disabled."  Because of privacy laws, GDC could
 not release a photo of Theresa.
          Theresa Pappas died on October 30 at the age of 88 after 59 years at the Gallipolis Developmental Center (http://dodd.ohio.gov/residential/Pages/Gallipolis-Developmental-Center---.aspx) in Gallipolis in southeastern Ohio.  She died without family because she outlived them all.  She was actually institutionalized since the age of seven, a total of 81 years.  No one knew of her death except the GDC residents and staff and anybody who might notice her name in the obituary section of the local newspaper.  The Gallipolis Development Center was a Civil War hospital and in the years that followed treated mainly epileptics and later the developmentally and mentally disabled with special needs.  At its peak GDC had about 2,700 residents, but in the last ten years the State of Ohio like other states has elected to de-institutionalize and put the residents into group homes in their original communities.  Thus the number at GDC has dwindled down to 88.

            Since Theresa was baptized Catholic according to GDC records, the Administration asked Fr. Thomas Hamm to conduct a service at the Cremeens Funeral Home and bury her at the St. Louis Church Cemetery.  But then we thought:  “Is that all?”  According to her great dignity as a human being created in the image and likeness of God and for whom Christ suffered and died, Theresa deserved much more than that.  Thus a family yielded its Mass intention for Monday November 3, the day of her internment and Fr. Tom with Fr. Tim Davison, concelebrated a memorial Mass to honor Theresa’s life and pray for the repose of her soul.  Father began by announcing the Mass intention.  He designated three scripture readings and a Gospel suitable for a funeral.  His homily was special for Theresa as were several beautiful hymns that we sang with Martha Edelmann, our choir director, at the piano.
Theresa Pappas
            Allie Clark, who happened to be the lector at the Mass, exclaimed with great surprise:  “I knew her while a nurse at GDC in the 1990s!”  We also attended the funeral service and burial on a crisp but beautiful, sunny day.  GDC, an entity of the state, did all it could to give Theresa a funeral and burial with dignity.  It was simple but beautiful.  Laid out in a white casket and wearing a nice red dress, one would never guess that Theresa spent most of her life at GDC.  Appearing very peaceful and dignified, one would think that she was a prominent senior citizen of the community.  Over 30 members of her GDC family (residents and staff) were present for the service and internment, including Margaret Mossbarger, the superintendent.  All those present received a memory card in Theresa’s honor.  Gratifying is that GDC, a state institution, treated Theresa Pappas at the funeral, not as a number in a bureaucratic way, but as a person with great dignity.

            Theresa was placed in GDC 59 years ago because of developmental disabilities and special needs.  Allie Clark, a retired nurse, remembers Theresa as a “happy person, always smiling, a beautiful person, very aware although a little slow in grasping.  She had a great sense of humor, frequently laughed, and was fun to tease”.  She enjoyed teasing the staff as well.  Allie observed: That behavior is not typical of retarded people; she may have been misdiagnosed" when admitted as a youth. Theresa was transferred from the Columbus State School to GDC in 1955, when Elvis Presley took the country by storm.  She remained an Elvis fan until she died and was buried wearing an Elvis Presley bracelet.

            Rita Hager, another retired nurse of 29 years at GDC, described her as "sociable and would come to talk to people.  She liked to participate in the Activities Center and was active in the GDC Garden Club.  She was able to take care of herself, bathe, and dress.  She did not have any behavioral problem."    Mary Holly, an administrative assistant at GDC, described her as "a happy and kind person, loving, friendly, and funny at times.  She would get attached to people and ask for photos of them and their families."

            Theresa is typical of GDC residents, according to Ms. Clark.  They are happy for the most part and do not want to leave after living in that secure environment for many years.  Their simplicity is beautiful, enjoying the little things of life.  As the children Christ talks about in the Bible, they’ll probably get to heaven before all of us.  Some are developmentally disabled; others are mentally ill.  Some have multiple physical and mental disabilities and ailments, even bedridden under total care.  Allie Clark remembers one patient who was blind, deaf, and speechless as Helen Keller.  Yet their lives have tremendous value and dignity.

            Fr. Thomas Hamm believes that "because of their mental disabilities and physical handicaps, Society looks upon them as not important, as disposable.  Putting them on the streets uncared for is really passive euthanasia."    

Theresa Pappas
            Was Theresa’s life a waste?  Absolutely not!  Did she have a purpose in life?  Yes indeed!  Theresa taught the people around her that one can be happy with a simple life if treated well.  There was no bitterness or any complaining or whining attitude regarding her lot.  Theresa’s kindness indicated that she was able to communicate love, an example to all.  Theresa was certainly prepared for eternity and is probably holier than most of us.  She was not weighed down by possessions and “stuff” nor did she have the competitive drive to obtain wealth and more “stuff”.  

Theresa must have learned a lot about the faith since Fr. Adolph Golubiewski (1950-1980) and Fr. William Myers (1980 – 2011), past pastors of St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio were employed as chaplains at GDC for much of Theresa’s life.  They said Mass there every Sunday for many years.  According to Ellen Schopis now well into her eighties, “Fr. G sometimes fought for the needs of the residents as for pajamas in one case and for their rights.  The Catholic Women’s Club of St. Louis Church would go to GDC every Sunday to visit them”.  Ellen enjoyed the visits, calling the residents "beautiful people".    

Furthermore, those who took care of Theresa as employees depended upon GDC for employment over the last century.  They as well as volunteers had the opportunity and satisfaction of giving a little of themselves to the residents and students of GDC, Galco, and the Guiding Hand School.  That experience is enriching and facilitates spiritual growth.  The members of the St. Louis Council of the Knights of Columbus have been enriched by holding an annual special Olympics for the Guiding Hand School for the last 15 years or so.  We enjoyed their enthusiasm and simplicity.   Seeing GDC residents forces us to recognize that we cannot take our personal gifts for granted and to realize that we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day and always.



Pope Francis practices what he preaches.  In the top two photos he genuinely communicates love to two boys with cerebral palsy.  The bigger boy is wearing a World Cup Soccer Champion Argentina jersey.gr


On the right he embraces a man with a severe skin disease.  The Pontiff demonstrates  Church teaching in action........ that every human being has the same dignity and value.



“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).




Most families with developmentally disabled children consider them to be a blessing despite the difficulties.  These special needs kids add their beautiful simplicity and a lot of love to the family which makes the members realize what is really important in life.  When an abnormal baby is found in utero, many couples sadly elect to abort and snuff out what could be a difficult but beautiful and even fruitful life.  There is a reason for it all. 

St. John Neumann beautifully described the inherent dignity and value of the developmentally, mentally, and physically disabled:  “Everyone has a mission; has a work.  We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random.  God sees every one of us.  God creates every soul for a purpose.  God needs every one of us.  God has an end for each of us; we are all equal in God’s sight.  As Christ has his work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do his work, we must rejoice in ours also.”





Thursday, November 6, 2014

(146) Bob & Mary Murphy: 60 Years of Marriage They did it; so can we..........or until death do us part.

AMDG


-Published in the Gallia Hometown Herald November 7, 2014.  Click on    http://galliaherald.com/blog/2014/11/07/60-years-they-did-it-so-can-we/ 

- Published in the Sunday Times Sentinel (Gallipolis, OH) November 9, 2014 p D1 

Mary and Bob Murphy After 60 Years Together
      Today marks the 60th Wedding Anniversary of Bob and Mary Murphy, pillars of St. Louis Church since 1992.  What a tremendous witness to the institution of marriage which is so fragile and devalued today!  So many marriages can’t get past 10 years and they made it to 60!  By word and example what can they teach us about marriage as God intended it to be and how to keep it going?
       
         Bob and Mary are products of the “Great Generation” that grew up during the Great Depression and won the war that completely absorbed the Country.  Bob lied about his age (then 17) to serve in the United States Navy for four years toward the end of World War II.  In 1949 Bob returned to the B.F. Goodrich Tire & Rubber Company to work on the assembly line during the night shift and as a student studying History at the University of Akron during the day.
 
         In the early 1950s Bob was introduced to a beautiful Chemist by the name of Mary Bussan, who was working in the lab of his company’s competitor, Firestone next door.  Akron was then the Rubber Capital of the World.  Mary had graduated from Clarke College, a small all women Catholic school in Dubuque, Iowa with majors in Math and Chemistry.  Their friendship grew and Bob proposed.  During the marriage preparation, Fr. Wenchester discovered that Bob was not Catholic and so invited him into the fold.  He became a strong and devout Catholic and today never misses his daily rosary.  There's a lot of truth in the observation of more than one priest:  "The best Catholics are converts" because they discovered the truth.  Cradle Catholics tend to take the faith for granted.  Bob and Mary were finally married on November 6, 1954.


The Newly Weds on November 6, 1964
 Bob and Mary did not have the unrealistic expectations that ruin so many marriages today right from the start…….i.e., illusions of a fairy tale marriage in which everything would be bliss and they would live happily ever after.  When it doesn’t happen that way, there comes the breakup.  Bob and Mary took their marriage vows seriously…….. “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”  They knew that their marriage would have ups and downs, joy and grief, triumphs and disappointments…….and so it was.  Divorce was never an option.  In fact it’s impossible when there’s firm resolve, true and complete mutual self-giving, and dying to self with God at the center.  

         Bob climbed up the corporate ladder within the sales force to the executive level as Coordinator of Private Brands, but at a great price.  As many successful sales people under pressure, he fell into alcoholism while entertaining prospective customers on a daily basis, but Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and especially his wife Mary helped him through the recovery.  In retirement Bob used that great victory over self to help others conquer their addictions.  It was unflappable Mary who helped Bob keep his Irish temper in check; she kept the peace.  When things got tough, they confronted it and tapped the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony.  Belonging to a Catholic charismatic prayer community also was a big help.  They both have a solid faith and love that kept their marriage together.  More than once in our many conversations in the past has Bob verbalized his gratitude to the support of his wife Mary over the years.  Many a successful man attributes his success in life and even salvation to the loving support, encouragement, and prayers of his wife.  Of course, that works both ways.

       The fruits of their marriage were six children. Mary was a full time mother.  They lived through the grief of losing baby Kathleen a day after birth, but God blessed their family with a religious vocation as Sister Mary became a dedicated missionary nun, giving her life to God and His people of Mexico.  There’s also Coleen Smith, Maureen Kormanik, Patty Wallen, Kevin Murphy, and Bridget Cline.  Like many other heartbroken parents of the best of families that did everything right, they are praying two of them back into the Church.  Their family of eight continues to multiply; the extended family includes 16 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren that have come along with more to come.

           Retirement in 1992 did not slow Bob down.  Born in Vinton, he returned to his roots in Gallia County with Mary and became an alcoholism counselor for almost five years.  During his spare time, he became a staunch fighter for the pro-life cause and was the grand knight (president) of the St. Louis Council of the Knights of Columbus.  Mary was a CCD teacher and ran the Vacation Bible School for many years.  She helped Bob with his pro-life work.  Today Mary continues as a Eucharistic Minister and a member of the choir. 

        Although Bob could not be as active in his 80s, he’s still there hauling his grandkids to the Parish School of Religion and McDonalds too for motivation.  Bob (86) and Mary (83) also help their widowed daughter to raise the five grandkids who live next door.  Having helped her parents raise her nine brothers and sisters plus her own six, that’s no big deal for Mary.  For Bob with only one sibling, a lot of kids was an adjustment and over the years he became very good with them.

         I asked them several questions to find out what kept their marriage ticking for 60 years.  Their answers are summarized below.
 
        Joys and Problems.  There were many joys........the births, the baptisms, the weddings, etc.  There were many problems to overcome as described above.  Mary observed:  “I don’t see obstacles.  I just deal with them, riding with the bumps.  That’s life.”  Bob’s greatest joy is “being married to a lovely woman who had faith and trust in me, taught me how to be a Christian, and brought me to the Lord.” 

           Secrets in Keeping a Marriage Going for 60 Years.  Mary simply says: “Put one foot in front of the other and keep going”.  She doesn’t get upset and stays on course with a quiet determination and faith…….a real gift.  Bob believes the secret is in faith, trust, kindness, tolerance, and patience.
 
            What made your marriage work?  What kept it together?  Mary credits it to prayer and faith:  “Make choices along the way and trust in the Lord”.   Clearly, prayer, faith, and trust in God form the foundation and the core of her great inner strength.  Bob seconded that and added “trusting each other, mutual kindness, patience, and tolerance”. 

       Advice for Struggling Young Couples.  Mary urges them to “talk things out; keep communications open; share your fears”.  Bob reemphasizes: “keep the faith and develop tolerance, patience, and kindness. 
        
          The parishioners of St. Louis Church and friends are invited  to the 10 am Mass on Sunday November 9 to celebrate this great 60 year milestone and honor Bob and Mary at the monthly Knights of Columbus Benefit Breakfast for a memorial to the unborn in the cemetery immediately following.  You can send cards to the Murphys at 13467 State Route 160; Vinton, OH 45686.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

(145) Knights of Columbus Council 3335 St. Louis Gallipolis Receives International Award

         As the Public Relations Officer of the Knights of Columbus Council 3335 St. Louis Gallipolis, I submitted the following press release to the local media.  It follows the national Knights of Columbus press release format and model for the Star Award.  I adapted it and added information particular to our council.   It was picked up by the following entities: 
*Gallia Hometown Herald October 17, 2014

*Sunday Times-Sentinel Page 2C October 26, 2014

Knights of Columbus
Council 3335
St. Louis Church
85 State Street
Gallipolis, OH 45631

PRESS RELEASE
                                                                             Contact: Paul R. Sebastian
                                                                                                                  Public Relations Officer
                                                                                                                  740-245-9404

LOCAL KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS COUNCIL RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL AWARD

            Knights of Columbus Council 3335 of St. Louis Church in Gallipolis has earned the distinction of Star Council, one of the organization’s top awards, for the 2013-14 fraternal year (under the tenure of Grand Knight Matt Bokovitz).  The organization’s headquarters, located in New Haven, Connecticut, made the announcement.  The award recognizes overall excellence in the areas of membership recruitment and retention, promotion of the fraternal insurance program, and sponsorship of service oriented activities in the parish and the surrounding community.  The award was presented to the membership by the District #53 Deputy Don Frymyer of Pomeroy at the recent Council meeting.




            In announcing the local winner of the Star Council Award, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, chief executive officer of the Catholic fraternal organization, said:  “Please accept my sincere congratulations upon attaining this prestigious award.  Your dedication to the Order is seen in the high standard of excellence you have achieved.  At the same time, I encourage you to carry forward this enthusiasm to meet the challenges that will face the Knights of Columbus in the years ahead.  May this award be a reminder and an inspiration to the members of your council to continue to promote the ideals of Columbianism for the good of the Church, your community, and the Order.”

            “Receiving the Star Council Award is quite an honor for us.  We’re very proud of this accomplishment and will continue to serve our Church and the people of Gallia County with renewed energy,” proclaimed recently elected Grand Knight Mike Haas, head of the St. Louis council.

            The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic lay organization.  It provides members and their families with volunteer opportunities in service to the Church, their communities, and youth.  With more than 1.8 million members in over 15,000 councils around the world, the Knights of Columbus annually donates more than $170 million and 70 million hours of service to charitable causes.  The most prominent community activities of the St. Louis Council include the Coats for Kids campaign and Special Olympics at GDC.  Please visit kofc.org and kofcohio.org for more information.

            All faithful Catholic men of the area are invited to join the Knights of Columbus (call Bruce Davison at 256-1427).  Members enjoy great fellowship along with family activities and opportunities to serve the parish and the community.  A big bonus is the life insurance program to protect families.  It ranks at the very top as to financial stability among all insurance organizations and companies.  Any profits do not go to stockholders, but rather are returned to the insured in rebates and used for a number of charitable causes.