Sunday, July 28, 2019

(231) BOB SCHOPIS (1921-2019): One of the Last of the Great Generation That Won World War II

AMDG

Bob Schopis and Ellen faithfully at his side for 70 years.  We study American History.  They lived it.  This photo was taken in about 2011 for the 2012 St. Louis Church Directory.

       Bob and Ellen Schopis are members of the “Great Generation” that got us through the Depression and won World War II.  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the United States faced a crisis greater than 9/11.  The United States was losing the war at first because the country was woefully unprepared for it.
 
The United States had to mobilize 16 million soldiers from its population of 140 million to fight while retooling its industrial might (mining, oil, steel, vehicles, machinery, etc.) to produce armaments, ammunition, equipment, vehicles, ships, air planes, food to feed the troops and fight a war on two fronts……Europe and the Pacific.  The entire economy was directed toward winning that war.  

     Pro sports were disrupted as such legendary players as Bob Feller, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio gave up three years of their careers in their prime to join the armed forces.  Thus a one armed pitcher was able to make the big leagues during the war.  In pro football, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles had to temporarily merge into the Steagles.
  
Even Superman and Batman joined the fight in the comic books with the “Japs” and “Krauts” pictured in very uncomplimentary ways.  As little kids, we would play war with toy guns, fighter planes, bombers, and tanks.  I even had a toy air craft carrier.  Oh how we looked up to soldiers like Bob Schopis, especially marines, who would come home on furlough for R & R, a break for rest and recuperation!
 
       As a six year old my mother would send me to the store down the street with money and ration stamps.  There was a limit to how much each family could buy to make sure there was enough for the troops.  When I was in 1st Grade, we had to collect used tin cans to recycle steel for the war effort and sang patriotic songs at school.  The local steel mills were going full blast.  The teachers cajoled us into saving our pennies to buy war bonds.
 
Because Pittsburgh was a prime target, we had air raid drills although neither Germany nor Japan was capable of sending bombers such a distance.  Instead of cars, Chrysler and GM produced tanks and trucks. Boeing and McConnell Douglas produced fighter planes and bombers.
 
I remember seeing one railroad car after another hauling tanks to port.  Bob was risking life and limb on the war front and Ellen was on the home front.  People were huddled at their radios for the latest news about the war after reading about the details in their daily newspapers.  Nobody thought of demonstrating against that war.  The Country was never so united except for our shameful culture of segregation and racial injustice with even a segregated military as well as ethnic Japanese Americans being unjustly forced into internment camps…….paranoia at its worst.
        
At the age of 20 in 1942 Bob Schopis answered the call while young women like Ellen did their part on the home front in the factories and other support jobs.  Bob joined the United States Marines and was deeply involved in the South Pacific Theater, including the August 7, 1942 amphibious landing in the Battle of Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.  It was the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific Theater of operations.  The Japanese finally abandoned the island the following February.  Bob came back; some 416,800 never did, witness the thousands of American graves at Normandy, France.

Robert Schopis, U.S. Marine Corps, about 1942.
       
     The motto of the United States Marines is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful).  Bob lived that motto for the rest of his life.  He was always faithful to his country, his community as a scoutmaster, and later his job in quality control at Stauffer Chemical on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River after utilizing the GI Bill to obtain a degree in Chemistry from the Catholic Seton Hall University in Newark, NJ.  More important, he was faithful to his wife and family of six children, even taking care of Ellen for several months during her illness four or five years ago.

       At lunch after the funeral for Bob Schopis, I asked Ellen, his widowed wife:  “You were married for 70 years, what’s your secret?”  “There is no secret”, she replied in her characteristic New Jersey accent.  “We made a vow, ‘Until death do us part’.  We worked things out.  Marriage is like a roller coaster.  There’s ups and downs, twists and turns.”  In other words, be faithful and adapt.
   
The most important of all, Bob was faithful to God and His Church from Catholic grade and high school to his death.  He was brought up in a Catholic culture that we must restore in our families.  For 70 years this beautiful couple aged together and were fixtures at the 8 o’clock Mass………no flimsy excuses; they were there EVERY SUNDAY because it is a SERIOUS OBLIGATION to God.  Thank you, Bob for serving our country and being a model for us of quiet faithfulness.
 
    Bob was a railroad enthusiast whether model miniatures or the real thing.  In lieu of flowers, he directed contributions to the restoration of the old Gallipolis railroad station complete with a steam engine, passenger car, and a caboose.  Fr. Thomas Hamm, our pastor, beautifully utilized his hobby in the homily.  “Bob stayed on track”.  May we also stay on track on our journey to eternity.

       His son Paul gave a beautiful eulogy at the burial of his father at St. Louis Church Cemetery that gives further insights into this member of the Great Generation.





       The motto of the United States Marines is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful).  Bob lived that motto for the rest of his life.  He was always faithful to his country, his community as a scoutmaster, and later his job in quality control at Stauffer Chemical on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River after utilizing the GI Bill to obtain a degree in Chemistry from the Catholic Seton Hall University in Newark, NJ.  More important, he was faithful to his wife and family of six children, even taking care of Ellen for several months during her illness four or five years ago.



       At lunch after the funeral for Bob Schopis, I asked Ellen, his widowed wife:  “You were married for 70 years, what’s your secret?”  “There is no secret”, she replied in her characteristic New Jersey accent.  “We made a vow, ‘Until death do us part’.  We worked things out.  Marriage is like a roller coaster.  There’s ups and downs, twists and turns.”  In other words, be faithful and adapt.
   
The most important of all, Bob was faithful to God and His Church from Catholic grade and high school to his death.  He was brought up in a Catholic culture that we must restore in our families.  For 70 years this beautiful couple aged together and were fixtures at the 8 o’clock Mass………no flimsy excuses; they were there EVERY SUNDAY because it is a SERIOUS OBLIGATION to God.  Thank you, Bob for serving our country and being a model for us of quiet faithfulness.
 
       Bob was a railroad enthusiast whether model miniatures or the real thing.  In lieu of flowers, he directed contributions to the restauration of the old Gallipolis railroad station complete with a steam engine, passenger car, and a caboose.  Fr. Thomas Hamm, our pastor, beautifully utilized his hobby in the homily.  “Bob stayed on track”.  May we also stay on track on our journey to eternity.

       His son Paul gave a beautiful eulogy at the burial of his father at St. Louis Church Cemetery that gives further insights into this member of the Great Generation.




Eulogy to Bob Schopis By His Son, Paul



“Good morning and welcome, on behalf of my family and myself.  I want to thank all of you for coming here today to help celebrate the life of my father, Robert Schopis and to pay our last respects to him. As his son, I've spent some time reflecting on how to sum up in just a few moments 97 years of living, and at nearly a century’s duration, what a life it was.  

He was born in 1921, to a working class family. He was only 8 years old when the Great Depression started. I remember him telling me that during those years receiving the luxury of an orange and peanuts for Christmas gifts was considered fortunate, as many people were going hungry.  His family put forth their best effort for his education and he was able to attend St. Benedict’s prep school. 

When World War II broke out, and he was called up for military service, he joined the Marines, trained at Paris Island and was deployed to Guadalcanal.  Like many men of his generation, he didn’t talk much about the war itself, rather he talked about getting there and back, his time at Santa Barbara and maybe a few observational anecdotes such as watching aerial combat above the islands, but he almost never talked about his involvement in the fighting, except to say it was an ugly business and he didn’t like to think about it.

He came home, met my mother, and they married.  They produced 6 offspring, his work brought him here to Southeast Ohio, far from the urban environment he was accustomed to.

Like most people, he was a complex and complicated person.  He had a great regard for learning and was truly curious and inquiring about the world around him and how things worked.  He loved reading about history and enjoyed classical music.  On the other hand, much to the chagrin of my mother, he thoroughly enjoyed Benny Hill, sophomoric as it was. He had a generally serious demeanor, but thoroughly enjoyed “playing” with his model trains.  And boy did he love trains.  It would be difficult to remember a family vacation that somehow didn’t involve railroad rides, visits to railroad museums, visits to hobby shops that specialized in model railroading or a combination of all of the above.

He didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, and was uncomfortable with public displays of affection or emotion.  I remember when my older brother Bob graduated from law school.  We were standing in Mershon Auditorium’s lobby and my brother was moved to hug dad.  I thought he would have the big one right there and then.  On the other hand, when my oldest son Seth was born, mom and he came to visit and he patted me on the shoulder, and gave me “that” look.  He didn’t have to say what he meant; I knew it.  “You’re one of us now; you’re in the club; better buckle up; it’s going to be a wild ride”.

But if there is one thing I want to remember about dad, it is his integrity.  He was one of the most honest people I know.  He was honest in all of his financial dealings; he was considerate of others; and he was intellectually honest.  And if one has a legacy, he can claim that as his.  On the last point, I can cite a few examples.

First, his family, like many of the day, held racially biased attitudes.  Despite the fact that he grew up in a household where that was the prevailing attitude, he came to the conclusion that bigotry was wrong.  As  children, we were prohibited from ever using a racial slur in our house.  If we did, it was a good way to get our mouth washed out with soap.  Parents still did that back then.  My point is: that through his own efforts and listening to individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King, he realized how wrong racial bigotry was.

He maintained that intellectual honesty well into his advanced years.  In our turbulent and ever evolving times, he continued to read and reevaluate his views and thinking.

Lastly, when it came to his family, he brought his A game; he gave it his best.  He did what he thought was right and as we, his children, approached the age of reason, he let us become ourselves, and for that, Pop I thank you.”




Thursday, July 11, 2019

(230) THE EARLY CHURCH: The Apostles Go Out to Teach All Nations

AMDG

The original 12 apostles including Judas (bottom row betraying Our Lord with a kiss 
by his free will).  He was replaced by St. Matthias (right corner).  St. Paul, often 
called the Apostle of the Gentiles, is also included here, giving a total of 14 in this 
illustrationIt was a motley crew of tough rustic men and fishermen that our Lord 
chose, taught and formed for three years at campfires and walking all over Galilee 
and Judea.  Only St. Matthew, a former tax collector, and Judas, a thief, were out of 
place.  Although the original apostles had the best teacher of all time, they still didn’t 
understand much of our Lord’s teaching until they were filled with the Holy Spirit at 
the first Confirmation on Pentecost.  By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we 
are also called and sent to be apostles in the New Evangelization by prayer and example 
(as fearless witnesses with our lives), by word and deed.   We must continue the work of 
the first apostles and should also be ready to accept persecution (be it direct or indirect, 
subtle or blatant……..ridicule, discrimination, verbal attacks, calumny, false accusations, 
being bad mouthed, loss of job or promotion for being politically incorrect, jail, even 
death).  The New Evangelization is critical today since our Society is becoming more and 
more secularized (without God) as even some of our loved ones are drifting away.  
Secularization includes not only opposition to even the mention of God for the sake of 
“political correctness”, but also indifference to His presence (“He might exist but I don’t 
care”) and living like He does not exist.  Secularism is really functional atheism.

        At the Ascension Christ gave the apostles their 
commission to teach all nations.  However, they were 
apprehensive, afraid, and unsure of themselves.  They still 
did not understand much of what the Lord had taught them.  
Thus they kept a low profile, cooped up in the upper room 
in a prayerful ten day retreat, preparing themselves 
spiritually in wait for the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost changed 
all that!  Our Lord’s teaching became clear to them and it 
all made sense! They were on fire for the Lord.  Filled with 
the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately went out to spread 
the good news with great zeal.  They felt compelled to share 
what they learned from Jesus and be His instruments to 
change the world.

Although concentrating on Judea until the year 42, the apostles eventually spread out across the known world.  It is not well documented where each apostle went, but there are legends and tradition…….passed down in the local churches, at meals, camp fires, and living rooms where friends and family gather.  Today story telling and conversation are becoming lost arts in the age of television, computers, and i-phones.

 

St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, may have covered Asia Minor, Armenia, Romania, and Slavic countries such as the Ukraine.  Some of his relics were brought to Scotland and he became its patron saint.  St. James the Greater, brother of St. John, preached in Spain where he is buried.  St. Philip went to Samaria and Asia Minor.   St. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) worked in Turkey, Armenia, Persia, and India.  St. Thomas is associated with southern India where many Christians venerate him.  He probably reached Turkey and possibly Indonesia as well.  St. Matthew preached to the Jews in Palestine and wrote a Gospel directed to them.  St. James the Lesser evangelized in Egypt and Syria.  St. Jude Thaddeus preached the Gospel in Samaria, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Libya.  St. Simon the Zealot preached in the Middle East, Iran, and Ethiopia.  St. Matthias planted the faith in Armenia, Turkey and Ethiopia.  

St. John the Apostle wrote the fourth Gospel which is the most theological of the four, three epistles, and finally the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos.  He took care of Mary in Ephesus, Turkey while evangelizing in the area.  He was the last apostle to die in 98 A.D. (https://www.catholicireland.net/after-pentecost-what-happened-the-twelve/).

  
From the cross before dying, Christ gave His dearest mother to us as our mother in the care of St. John.  The mystic of the 19th Century, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1784-1824), revealed hidden details in the life of Christ in her book and also the exact location of Mary’s house in Ephesus in present day Turkey.   Apparently, St. John used Ephesus as his base.  It is believed that St. John took Mary to Jerusalem for a council of the Church and that’s where the dormition and Assumption of Mary took place.  According the Quran, Mary is the most perfect woman that God ever created.  Thus  Muslims revere Mary and visit her house in great numbers.  

The apostles were so convinced of Christ’s teachings and His resurrection, to which they are witnesses, that they were willing to face any obstacle, face scourging, and even die for the faith.  All the apostles were martyred except St. John, who was banished to the Greek island of Patmos after miraculously surviving immersion in boiling oil.  All of this gives greater credence to what they taught since they had nothing to gain and everything to lose materially.
   
Early Trials in Jerusalem. In the name of Christ the apostles healed the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits (Acts 5).  In Acts 10 Peter restored Tabitha to life.  These works or signs gave credence to their teaching.  Acts 5 also describes how the apostles were imprisoned, but that night were freed by an angel, who ordered them to go back and preach in the temple area.  Again they were seized and brought to the Sanhedrin.  

      In defense Peter said:  “We must obey God rather than men”.  But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people……said to them, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men……So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God." They were persuaded by him.  After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus…….So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.  Nothing could stop them.

The Church grew rapidly.  The apostles were unable to both preach and serve the material needs of the people without neglecting their prayer life.  Thus they delegated the charitable works to others as St. Stephen, ordaining them by praying and laying hands over them.  This was the beginning of an organizational structure under the overall leadership of St. Peter (Acts 6).
  
                              The bronze statue of St. Peter in his basilica in Vatican City.  
                              His toe is worn down by so many people kissing it.

St. Peter. Christ Himself ordained Peter (and implicitly his 265 successors) as His vicar on earth, the first Pope when He said: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19).  Accordingly, the other apostles and new Christians deferred to him as the head of the Church as described in Acts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter  and http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm).

Under the leadership of St. Peter and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church evangelized non-Jews and did not require Christians to observe old Jewish norms and laws as to food, circumcision, etc. since gentiles also received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10, 11,  & 11).  Two epistles are attributed to St. Peter.  He had considerable influence on the Gospel of Mark since the evangelist accompanied him in many of his apostolic endeavors.

St. Peter went on a preaching tour of Asia Minor.  He taught in Rome and took charge as Bishop there before being martyred under Nero on June 29 in the year 67.  He spent nine months chained to a column in a filthy dungeon.  According to tradition he was fleeing Rome during a violent persecution.  Outside the city Peter confronted the risen Christ who was walking toward Rome.  Peter asked the Lord: “Quo Vadis?” (Where are you going?).  Jesus answered:  "I am going to Rome to be crucified again".  This gave Peter the courage to return and continue His mission there.   The Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz authored the novel “Quo Vadis” which won the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature.  It was made into a movie which was nominated for eight academy awards in 1951.  It is available on Amazon.com and probably Netflix and video stores.

                    His statue in front of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

St. Paul, originally a well educated Pharisee and a zealous persecutor of Christians who oversaw the martyrdom of St. Stephen (Acts 7), was converted by Christ Himself on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9).  The energy and zeal of St. Paul was a great stimulus to the Church as described in much of the Acts of the Apostles where he is very prominent.  Since St. Luke accompanied him, the evangelist was an eye witness to much of what St. Paul  did and recorded it in the Acts of the Apostles.  Thus St. Paul is better documented than all of the saints of the first 15 centuries after Christ.  The great majority of the Epistles are attributed to St. Paul.  They are letters to Christian groups after teaching them and moving on.  He is known as the apostle of the gentiles, preaching through much of the Roman Empire.