Wednesday, February 12, 2020

(243) Family of the Year For 2018 (Tim & Chrissy Stapleton) and 2019 (Scott & Bernadette Lewis) and Other Awards at St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio


       Each year the Knights of Columbus Council 3335 recognizes an outstanding family and others who have made significant contributions to the parish of St. Louis Church in Gallipolis, Ohio.  The February 2020 and the October 2018 issues of the Council's newsletter is dedicated to them and is reproduced here..  Some of their stories are inspiring and worth sharing with the readers of this blog. 

February 2020

The Lewis Family receives the St. Louis Knights of Columbus Council’s most important and prestigious award, “Family of the Year 2019”.  Mama Bernadette is standing on the extreme left behind Madison (11).  Toby (8) is holding the plaque.  Next to him is little Gianna (6) with big sister, Faith (15) behind her.  Giving his acceptance speech is Papa Scott while holding baby Anna (1).  On the right are Noah (12) and Elijah (14).  One of the children is missing.  Kolbe (4) is there, but where?  Bernadette can only conclude that he’s lost in the temple……hiding behind the podium on the left.  The Lewis Family is amazing!  They not only live in a domestic church; the kids go to their own home school that their mother runs.  On February 22 they are all going on a mission trip to Costa Rica for a week……..being witnesses as they give a testimony after Mass and meet Costa Rican families; helping to build a chapel; and visiting the home bound.  If the Lewis Family discerns a calling, they will return for at least a year.  Both husband and wife must agree.
The Lewis home is a beautiful Christ centered model of what a domestic church should be.  They have daily prayer time which includes the rosary.  Story time features the saint of the day.  In preparation for Sunday Mass that they attend as a family every week without fail, they discuss the readings.  As part of their homeschooling, they set aside time for some Bible reading according to each child’s age.  Scott is a super convert, having entered the Church almost five years ago.  During lulls while helping patients with kidney dialysis at Holzer Hospital, Scott does spiritual reading.  According to his wife Bernadette Stapleton Lewis, “Scott will go to any Catholic event up and down the state with his family, including a family retreat, conferences, visiting shrines, etc.”   He wants to show the kids that things Catholic are fun!  They have gone to the March For Life in Washington as a family in January, help out in the Right to Life booth at the Flea Market, and participate in the Life Chain along Route 7 in October.  The family is very active in our parish.  The three older boys are altar servers at even some daily Masses.  Our thanks to Mike Stapleton for taking the photos in this issue.

Fr. Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus to promote, preserve, and protect families.  The current national campaign is to promote the domestic church in order to strengthen both the family and the parish.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE TODAY?  In his apostolic exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio, on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”, St. Pope John Paul II explained how the married state is designed by God to lead toward mutual sanctification of both husband and wife. By virtue of the mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ, conjugal love is purified and made holy.  The graces of the sacrament of Matrimony accompanies the couple throughout their lives.  The goal of any marriage should be mutual sanctification and so much will follow.  In difficult times pray and tap the graces of Matrimony.  Help to make your wife holy.  

Gretchen McConnell & Justin McClelland after the Graduation Mass in May.  They both received Knights of Columbus $1000 scholarships.  Gretchen is currently a student at the University of Rio Grande.  She played varsity soccer at Gallia Academy.  Justin is a business major at Capital University in Columbus, where he is continuing his football career as a quarterback.  Even though a freshman, he got considerable playing time.  At Gallia Academy he played varsity football, basketball, and baseball.  Both were altar servers and continue to serve when not away at school.

On the right is Paul Sebastian giving an acceptance speech after receiving the Knight of the Year award.  He talked about his struggle to maintain a balance of priorities even though retired…….1) God; 2) Family; 3) Job to support the family; and 4) Service.  Paul advocated that each knight specialize in at least one activity instead of simply paying dues and never showing up to help.  Sebastian attends every meeting as lector where he gives a brief five minute talk on diverse subjects and organizes the Knights of Columbus Mass five times a year.  Previously Paul was treasurer for two years.  He writes this monthly newsletter and other articles subject to the approval of our pastor.  Together as a team, Paul and his wife Jaga bring Communion to the sick every Sunday and advise the Catholic Newman Club at the University of Rio Grande.  Paul is on the Steering Committee for putting on the annual Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal since 2010 and tries to mobilize our men to attend.  They are generally patient with him.


*Our grateful thanks to the Ours Family for another stellar job with the Giving Tree

*Many thanks to Allen White, his son Alex, and his nephew Frederick Michael Edelmann for their work with the Coats For Kids campaign.

*Don’t forget our Coffee and Donuts Breakfast after the Sunday Masses on February 9.

*We need your participation at the next Knights of Columbus meeting.  Your presence makes a difference and animates everybody present……..great fellowship and most of all, your ideas.  Since our chaplain cannot make the usual 4th Monday, the meeting may be changed to another day.  Our Council is as strong as its members.

Patty Hays receives the Lady of the Year award from our grand knight, Tyler Reynolds.  A professional photographer, Patty has taken many wedding and First Communion photos.  She’s a real prayer warrior who mobilizes those on her Prayer Line to pray for those in distress by e-mail and Facebook, which she uses as an apostolate.   Hays also organizes the women to participate in retreats and mini-pilgrimages.  Patty was at Fr. Bill’s side when he died, comforting and caring for him in Dayton.  Similarly, she helped Blanche Champer in her last days.

Bill Griffith, who entered the Church only about seven years ago, has helped enough for a lifetime.  An expert in the culinary arts, he has cooked at many a wedding, fish fry, parish festival, and other gatherings in the parish.  Even though he’s not a knight, Bill helped us sell raffle tickets to his brothers in the Elks, raising over a $1000.  He even helps out with maintenance in the parish.  Thus he earned the Volunteer of the Year award.

Our pastor, Fr. Thomas Hamm, was chosen as Chaplain of the Year in appreciation for attending all of our meetings and keeping us on track in regard to the parish.  He blesses our meals and leads prayer at the beginning of our meeting and for those members who are ailing.  Thank you, Father, for your faithful service.

The Awards Breakfast

Krystal Davison receives the Youth of the Year Award.  Krystal continues as an altar server, especially when her Mom is lector.  Krystal often helps out at the fish fries.

Frederick Michael Edelmann receives the Bluecoat of the Year Award from Grand Knight Tyler Renolds.  Frederick Michael works with a company that sells cabinets.  He is a member of the National Guard that could be deployed with little notice.  In his spare time Frederick Michael is a volunteer fire fighter…….risking life and limb to protect us.  He was very helpful with the Catholic Newman Club at the University of Rio Grande a couple of years ago.
The awardees, all together.  Coach Jared McClelland is a stand-in for his son Justin.  Thank you for all that you have done for the parish community.  And the Lewis Family found little Kolbe on the far left.  His mother has her hand on him, just to make sure he doesn’t get lost again.  The Lewis Family is intact.  

October 2018

Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds in the blue Knights of Columbus shirt presents the St. Louis Council’s most important and prestigious award, “Family of the Year” to the Stapleton family.   From oldest to the youngest, tallest to shortest are Aubree on the left, Riley on the right, Eden behind the plaque, Josiah to the left of it and Ezekiel to the right.  Mama Chrissy has her hands on Lucia and Papa Tim is holding baby Lilian.  Chrissy homeschools the kids while Tim restores salvage cars totaled by insurance companies and resells them at a moderate price to support the family.  Their home is a domestic church with Jesus Christ the center of their home and the Holy Family their model.  They all feel at home at Catholic Familyland every year where large families are not unusual.  Tim is an amazing apostle, having brought an extraordinary number of people into the Church by his witness and sharing the faith.  The husband and wife team work together with the Confirmation class.  The Knights of Columbus was founded by Fr. Michael J. McGivney to promote, preserve, and protect families.   
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE TODAY?   Do something together each day.  It could be a rosary walk, going to daily Mass, eating out, watching a movie or video, doing volunteer work in the parish or community, doing a home project together as a team, host a dinner together for friends, go on a date together or a family outing, etc.  They say that crawling into bed together at the same time is a help.  Pray for her daily and together too every day.

The five minute lecture at the September meeting by Lector Paul Sebastian was on St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day we will celebrate on October 4. In a time of crisis, laxity, and corruption for the Church in the 13th Century, the Lord told him: “Rebuild My Church”. Our Supreme Knight Carl Anderson challenged the Knights of Columbus, each one of us, to get to work on that task, beginning with renewing the domestic church as fathers and heads of family in our own homes. That includes each knight making our own council the best. Francis once kissed the consecrated hands of a notoriously corrupt priest, showing that the Mass and sacraments celebrated by the most corrupt priest is still valid and no excuse for missing Mass on Sunday or leaving the Church. Now is the time to be pillars of the parish in helping our pastor to renew and purify our parish.

Big Mike McConnell receives the Volunteer of the Year award along with Keith Davison (center).  Mike refinished all of the pews……first sanding off all of the old brown paint and varnish.  Then he made the natural wooden  pews look like new although well over 60 years old.  It was a long and painstaking job, really an exquisite work of art.  Big Mike is often an usher at the Saturday 5:30 pm Mass and could pass for a bouncer at the same time.

Keith Davison is still recovering from a liver transplant, used his electrical engineering skills to plan a complete rewiring of the church.  The original wiring was antiquated and unsafe.  Now the wiring and lighting is state of the art.  The members of the parish mobilized their resources along with a loan to finance the over $400,000 undertaking from September 2017 to Lent 2018 while we had Mass in the parish hall.  Our pastor had to act as a construction superintendent, overseeing the project at every step. 

Chris Davison (right) received the Knight of the Year award.  When work needs to be done in Knights of Columbus projects, clean-up of the grounds, maintenance of the cemetery, etc., Chris is front and center. 


Paul Sebastian introduces Fr. Donald Maroon and accepts the “Chaplain of the Year” award for him in abstentia as Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds on the left and Master of Ceremonies Allen White look on.  Fr. Maroon was a very dedicated pastor of St. Peter & Paul in Wellston for the last 19 years.  His parish included a parish hall and an elementary school above the church in the same building.  As pastor and chaplain, he gave the local council of the Knights of Columbus ample support and was always available for them. 

Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds presents the Lady of the Year award to Kitty Griffith.  When work has to be done with the Lenten Fish Fries, the summer Spaghetti Dinner, and other parish function, Kitty is right there and her husband Bill teams up with her as one of our chefs.

Grand Knight Tyler Reynolds presents the Youth of the Year Award to the McConnell sisters Gretchen and Gaby.  Both have done their share, working at our Lenten Fish Fries and other functions.  Both are altar girls.  Gretchen competed with boys on the Gallia Academy soccer team before the girls finally got their own team.

Catie White receives the Knights of Columbus scholarship for $500 from Tyler Reynolds.   She is often the soloist in the choir.  Catie is currently a nursing student at the University of Rio Grande, following in the footsteps of the great healer.

Tony Easton, shown in the right photo, was named “Bluecoat of the Year”.   Even though he is a student in Industrial Technology at the University of Rio Grande, Tony volunteered to be a firefighter despite all of the required training, risks, and dangers.  We take fire departments for granted until our own house is on fire. 

Finally, all of the awardees are together as the Knights of Columbus Council 3335 Award Class of 2018.  Thank you all for what you have done for our parish community.  May your efforts stimulate others to step up and do their share. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

(242) St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theologian and His Writings


St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) is the Patron Saint of Universities and Students.  His Feast Day is January 28.  Much is taken from the DVD Series: Catholicism, the Pivotal Players by Bishop Robert Barron.

    St. Thomas Aquinas was a philosopher, theologian, scientist, mystic, and biblical commentator.  There is no sacrifice of the mind to be religious.  He boldly asked all the questions.  Reason poses no threat to religion when both reason and religion are authentically understood.  There is no contradiction between faith and reason.  They go hand in hand.  Truth is truth.  St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict reiterated that.  As a rationalist, Thomas made theology logical and understandable.  His contributions to religion and culture are massive.
       He was a saint deeply in love with Christ.  As a spiritual master, his main purpose in writing was to bring people to Christ.  His theological masterpiece was the “Summa Theologica” that sums up Catholic theological beliefs and teaching.   It includes the doctrine of the Eucharist to which he had a special devotion and love.  It actually consists of several volumes.  It is said that he placed the finished work at the foot of the cross and Christ told him: “Thomas, you have written well on the sacrament of my body.  What would you have as a reward?”   Thomas replied: “I will have nothing except you”.
    Thomas was born in 1225 in aristocracy in Roccasecca, a castle near Aquino between Rome and Naples.  Even as a child, he desired a close friendship with God for his life.  Thomas was from the age of six educated for nine years at near-by Monte Cassino by the Benedictines.  At the age of 15 he entered the University of Naples.  In his efforts to understand God, Thomas agreed with Peter of Ireland in applying the practical view of the pagan Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who was controversial at the time.

       Thomas joined the teaching friars of St. Dominic who preached while practicing poverty with begging, the simple life, and complete trust in God……somewhat similar to St. Francis from the same era.  The Dominicans aspired to revitalize Christianity to return to the radicalism and simplicity of its original message and to renew the Church.  Aren’t we trying to do the same today?  Since they were considered weird, his family did everything possible to prevent him from staying with them, even locking him up.  Thomas used that time of confinement to memorize much of the Bible.

          In 1245 he studied under the best scholars in Paris, the intellectual capital of the Christian world at the time, mainly on the Left Bank of the Seine River, also called the “Latin Quarter” because Latin was the international language of the scholars and students in the Middle Ages.  A question or proposition would be presented followed by debate.  Finally, the professor gave a magisterial resolution and explanation after answering the objections.  The professor would be on the second floor of a building and the students would sit below on bales of hay.

       While studying, Thomas became a protégé or apprentice of the Dominican, St. Albert the Great, a brilliant philosopher and scientist of the time who saw the great potential in his student.  St. Albert also relied on Aristotle as a starting point.  Thomas followed him to Cologne (in Germany today) and was ordained there.  This genius was quiet, humble, and very big; thus he was dubbed the “dumb ox”.  As a baccalaureate (bachelor degree), he returned to Paris in 1252 to become a magister (master’s degree) and then obtain his doctorate.  Notice how customs of Academia date to the Middle Ages.  The cap and gown of graduation go back to this time.

       Scholar and Saint.  In his scholarly career that spanned 25 years, Thomas was a prolific author of over 50 thick volumes or books and wrote commentaries on the Bible.  Even today the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Aquinas Institute has taken on the task of translating  and publishing the works of St. Thomas Aquinas that have not yet been translated into English. 

He was a genius as seen in the detail in his thinking and in the nature of his analysis.  His mind had such order and discipline.  St. Thomas beautifully integrated faith and reason; that was the title of one of St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals.
St. Thomas Aquinas would constantly think (even at dinner and while resting), read, and write.  He would sometimes dictate three different writings of his to three different scribes at the same time, even at times dictating while taking an afternoon nap.  As with many geniuses, he was very absent minded, yet a very balanced and integrated person.  Every day Thomas would say one Mass and assist at a second one.  He once dined with King St. Louis, the patron of our church.
       In 1274, the year of his death, the mystic received a revelation from Christ and exclaimed to his friend, Reginald after 25 years of scholarly work.  “Everything I wrote is straw compared to what has been revealed to me”.  After that, he never wrote again.  He died dictating a commentary of the “Song of Songs” from the Bible.

The Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)
St. Thomas Aquinas clarified and gave us a deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church.  The relationship of faith and reason is under intense scrutiny in an age beholden to the competing claims of fundamentalism and secularism.  Atheists insist that the claims of religion amount to superstition, a retrograde holdover from centuries past.  Religious fundamentalists adhere to a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible, often independent of logic or rational introspection and development.  St. Thomas Aquinas anticipated these objections and demonstrated that to believe is to think and that the life of the mind is integral to life in Christ.

His Doctrine of God.  Since a child, Thomas asked the question, “What is God?”  It was an obsession that he pursued for the answer the rest of his life.  He proposed that God is not a being, but the sheer act of existence, being itself (Ipsum esse).  There is no distinction between God’s essence and existence without restriction.  It is wrong to imagine God as a supreme version of a creature as do the atheists Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, and Sartre.  He is not a being exalted among many.  The creator of the universe is not an item in the universe.
Therefore, when Moses asked God: “Who are you?”, the Lord answered: “I am who am”.  God is simplicity, yet unconditioned, unrestricted, without limit, eternal, infinite, perfect and fulfilled in His manner of being, immutable, unchangeable.  Thus He is reliable and consistent with mind, will, and freedom.
St. Pope John Paul II putting the words of St. Thomas Aquinas in practice.
God stands outside of time, not restricted to any point in time.  He transcends it without being restricted by it.  Thus He is eternal.  God is present in all moments of time.  Since God is immaterial and not restricted to one place, He is everywhere (omnipresent) and without borders.  Because He transcends the material, Christ was able to appear to the apostles through locked doors and walls.  Because God is already perfect and infinite, He cannot rise to a higher level.
God made all things (ominipotent); they exist because God knows them as good and wills them into being.  God is the condition for all existence.  He is the condition for the possibility of the existence of contingent things.  Everything finds its existence in God.  

God is love which is so great and intense that it overflows and creation is the result. God is all knowing (omniscient).  God is personal; He knows everything about each one of us and loves all who participate in His being.  He is not passive, but creative.  God is one, yet three persons, i.e., the Trinity…….the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Faith (Theology) and Reason (Philosophy) cannot be in conflict (Averoism) because they come from God who is truth itself.  Aquinas brought faith and reason together.  All truth is from God.  Faith stands above and beyond reason which explores the faith without compromising the mind.  There is an integration between faith and reason.  There is no contradiction between faith and reason nor between science and Theology.

The Human Person (Theological Anthropology) is an integration or unity of body and soul.  The body is not a prison for the soul which is in every part of the body just as God is present to the entire universe.  The body should be reverenced, appreciated, and taken care of since it is from God.  It is the energy that makes the body distinctly human.  After the Last Judgment, the body and soul come together.
The human person is made according to the image and likeness of God in regards to the great capacity of the mind to know the truth and the will that desires the good.  Both the mind and the will are ordered to God, i.e., the true, the good, and the beautiful, all of which inspires much literature and poetry.  The human being is made for ecstasy, for the journey into God.  The soul can reason and reaches out for the good.  It is the energy that makes you a person, the real you that really contains the body.

       Christology.  Like all saints Thomas was deeply in love with Jesus Christ as shown in His writings, by his deep devotion to the Eucharist, and in his mystical experiences.  He saw in the Incarnation the supreme goodness of the nature of God in giving Himself away with His infinite love in the fullest possible manner.  He became one with creation, one with us.
God reaches outward and downward to us in love, while we tend outward to others and upward to God.  We can also see God’s supreme goodness in the tremendous variety in His creation.  Since God is being itself, Christ’s divine and human nature are not in competition.  This would not be the case if he were a finite supreme being.  He is truly human and truly divine.  Aquinas uses Philosophy in service to Theology.

Why is Thomas Aquinas a Pivotal Player?  Today he is more relevant than ever.  Thomas showed that Christians can think deeply about any aspect of the faith while blending faith and reason in discussions with non-believers.  

He exemplifies a truly Catholic mind, open to any influence and willing to embrace the truth wherever he found it.  He’s grounded in the Bible and Christian theological tradition while reading Jewish (Maimonides), pagan (Plato, Aristotle, & Cicero), and Muslim (Averroes, Avicenna, & Avicebron) authors with respect even when disagreeing. 

St. Thomas Aquinas is also a great philosopher who uses Philosophy to serve Theology… move people to Christ.  He showed that God is non-competitively transcendent, compatible with intellectual freedom and integrity.  God makes the world more beautiful and more radiant without consuming it.  Aquinas is without question, one of the top thinkers (both as a Philosopher and a Theologian) of all time among Plato, Aristotle, Kant, etc.  St. Thomas Aquinas is buried in Toulouse, France.


For many quotes attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas go to - 25 top quotes of Thomas Aquinas


Thursday, January 16, 2020

(241) Celebrating 60 Years of Marriage and Achieving the American Dream Together.......Dr. Mel & Lydia Simon

January 2020



       Their Secrets to a 60 Year Marriage.  Brother Sir Knight Mel Simon (4th Degree) and his wife Lydia recently celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary.  In an era when young couples have a hard time keeping their marriage going for five years, they kept it going for 60 years through good times and bad, highs and lows, joys and sorrows.  How did they do it?  What is their secret?  Mel says “Faith, devotion, and trust in God”.  “One may not get what he asks for, but God grants a better way.  God answers prayers for the family not necessarily the way we want, but for our best” (in the long run). 

Lydia says: “It was a partnership; I did everything for him; I did everything he asked me to do.  I took my wedding vows seriously; I honored the man I married by being submissive to him.”  Old fashioned?  Perhaps, but it worked.  Furthermore, it’s Biblical and if the husband has the last word after considerable dialogue, conflict is minimized.

“I attribute all to God.  He was the center of our marriage.  When there was a misunderstanding and I was angry, I prayed and trusted God…….’Let go; let God’……one day at a time.”  Together they tried to maintain a Christ centered home, educating the children in the faith, advising them, praying together and assisting at Mass every Sunday as a family.            

How Mel and Lydia Met. They were both born in the Philippine Islands and survived the Japanese occupation.  As a boy Mel narrowly escaped death when the city hospital was bombed a few minutes after he left.  Once he heard the air raid siren sound, little Mel jumped through the window and rolled down the hill to safety. 

Lydia and Mel were there when their hero, General Douglas MacArthur was forced to escape through a blockade in a PT boat to Corregidor  and Australia to regroup his forces.  Four years later with the approval of U.S. President Harry Truman, he kept his pledge, “I shall return” and landed in Leyte with massive U.S. and allied forces to liberate the Philippines from the yoke of the Japanese occupation.

Mel studied Medicine after high school against the wishes of his father who wanted him to study Agriculture with assurance of a job after graduation because his father was a Division Superintendent of the government school system. Instead, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomás College of Liberal Arts in Pre-medicine. 

Meanwhile, Lydia studied Pre-Nursing at the same institution in Manila with Mel’s sister Trini.  After both completed their nursing studies, Lydia went to work as a nurse at San Lazaro Hospital.  Trini went to San Juan de Dios Hospital and then to Mary Chiles Hospital prior to furthering her post graduate studies at New York Polyclinic Medical Center.  Meanwhile Lydia was accepted at St. Mary’s Hospital, an affiliate of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

While Mel was doing his internship, his fraternity in medical school was going to hold a Valentine’s Party, at a five star hotel, the Manila Hotel Fiesta Pavilion before graduation.  Since neither Mel nor his fraternity brother William Sales had a date in mind, the latter asked for a suggestion, Mel thought of Lydia who was a close friend of his younger sister Trini.  But the dormitory, where all single nurses live, enforced the dorm policy that no ladies can leave the dorm alone at night without an escort.  Lydia quickly thought of Gerry, her roommate.  The double date was on!  

    This was a stroke of luck for Willie which proved to be the beginning of his lifetime relationship.  It was also providential for Mel because that was the beginning of his romance with Lydia.  Their relationship solidified; they fell in love and now you know the rest of the story.

Before immigrating separately to the United States on June 30, 1959, Mel and Lydia were engaged.  Mel went to the Cook County Hospital for his rotating internship in Chicago and Lydia went to St. Mary’s Hospital and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Willie and Gerry also got engaged, but they stayed in the Philippines.  After four months of not seeing each other, Mel and Lydia decided that it was time to get married.  On October 24, 1959 their Nuptial Mass was the first Filipino wedding ever at St. John’s Catholic Church in Rochester, Minnesota. 
The Young Immigrants Together Pursue the American Dream. In 1966 Mel completed his two years of surgical residency and four years in Urology.  Dr. Charles Holzer, Jr. and Dr. Charles Holzer, Sr. --medical pioneers in southeastern Ohio and founders of a hospital system that bears their name-- invited Dr. Mel for an interview with all expenses paid.   Recommended by Dr. J. Lester Wilkey, the Chief of Urology at Cook County Hospital, Mel accepted the invitation to join Holzer Clinic and as Chief of the Department of Urology in Gallipolis, Ohio and later at Pleasant Valley Hospital WV.  Dr. Mel passed over five other opportunities in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Through hard work, sheer determination, and Lydia’s help, Dr. Mel became a very successful and eminent urologist --certified by the American Board of Urology and by the American College of Surgeons as well as the International College of Surgeons-- on both banks of the Ohio River, serving the communities of Gallia County, Jackson County, and Meigs Counties in Ohio and Mason County and Jackson County in West Virginia.  Dr. Mel became active in medical societies and was a full Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

He also founded the first acupuncture practice in the river cities of Gallipolis and Point Pleasant when it was first introduced by the American Medical Association at which time Dr. Simon was accused locally by his peers of practicing “voodoo medicine”.  Dr. Simon stood his ground against all odds and soon other local doctors began to offer acupuncture as an alternative.

Lydia and Mel Simon celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with the community at the Ariel Theatre, a restored opera house and home of the Ohio Valley Symphony in Gallipolis, Ohio.   

Team Simon. Let us emphasize that Dr. Simon did not do it alone.  There is considerable truth in the saying:  “Behind every successful man there is a woman.”  That’s his help mate, Lydia always at his side as faithful friend, personal financial secretary, and sometimes manager.  Her help, support, and encouragement made it easier for Dr. Mel to spend more time in his professional and community activities.  They achieved the American dream together, working as “Team Simon”. 

While Dr. Mel was more focused on his work, Lydia was more focused on the home.  She was with the three children (Maria Lucrecia, a dentist in Chicago; Sherwyn, a businessman, and Paul, also a businessman and running the Simons’ Old Town Farm), managed the household, paid the bills, took care of the cooking and cleaning, and saw to it that the house was maintained.  A skilled gardener, Lydia not only surrounded the house with beautiful flowers; she had a major role in beautifying the grounds of St. Louis Church.
       Immigrants such as Mel and Lydia Simon made America.  They are the best that their native countries have to offer.  That is their intelligence, ingenuity, self-confidence, courage, resourcefulness, and spirit of adventure to take the risk of leaving their countries of birth and adapting to a new culture and a new system.  The timid, the lazy, and the less able stay home.  Most immigrants are willing to work hard, pursue new paths, and do what it takes to be successful.  They give the country new blood and fresh ideas; they come to America seeking opportunity and freedom.  Then they work hard to achieve the American dream and so often find it.
       Mel has enjoyed the fruits of his success, but is very generous with his time and financial resources in giving back so much to the twin sister communities that gave him the opportunity as well as to his country of birth that raised him.  That's what makes this prominent physician stand out and led to his being chosen for the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame 
in Columbus.  Lydia was part of it. 

All of that makes them an example to both the very successful as well as to the many unknown people who can only contribute in little yet important ways.......the many little deeds done over many years are also very important and also add to greatness.  Once they had an empty nest Lydia became more involved directly as well as from behind the scenes.

                    Dr. Mel Simon with his wife Lydia, 60 years at his side.

       Dr. Mel and Lydia exemplify Christian stewardship, which recognizes that everything belongs to God and comes from Him....... His providential help, one's endowed talents or gifts, opportunities in life, etc., all of which the individual has little or no control......that God gives us earthly possessions, property, and financial resources in trust as stewards to be used responsibly to provide for our own genuine needs and to serve one's fellow man for the common good of all. 

Greater wealth entails greater responsibility and God will hold us accountable for the use of these gifts.  In other words, the gifted have the responsibility to give something back to the community that was instrumental in their success. 

   Thus Dr. Mel and Lydia Simon have contributed significantly to their parish, St. Louis Church, to the University of Rio Grande, and many other charitable causes.  Dr. Mel has given his time and energy as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande ( from 1994 to 2014 to assist in its growth and guide it through a severe financial crisis. 

Mel contributed significantly to the restoration of the historic Ariel Theatre ( in 1990, originally built in 1896 as an opera house in the gas light era for this steamboat stop on the Ohio River.  That led to the birth of the Ohio Valley Symphony Orchestra ( and his subsequent participation as a member of its Board of Directors.  The current President of the Ohio Valley Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors is his son, Paul Robert Simon.  

In 2009 Dr. Mel and Lydia founded the French 500 Free Clinic to serve uninsured patients of southeastern Ohio.  It was busy, receiving over 1,200 patients until Obamacare filled that slack.

     Operation We Care (  As President of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America in 1988, he organized an annual medical mission to the Philippines and in 1999 he strengthened the mission by obtaining the sponsorship of the Rotary Club while its District 6690 Governor ( 

Usually every February for over 33 years (1983 to date), Dr. Simon recruits a team of some 35 doctors and nurses and obtains donations of medical supplies and equipment to do diverse surgeries for a very intense two weeks.......cleft palate, some genetic deformities, tumors, eye surgery, dental surgery, etc.  Each participant in the mission pays his/her own travel expenses.   At the same time the team members train their counterparts in a real people to people outreach.  As a nurse Lydia accompanies Dr. Mel on every mission and has a very important role.  The team members call her “Mission Mama”.  

Next week they'll be going on another mission trip to the Philippines.  Dr. Simon has backed off a little at his age, but still does minor surgery as part of a team of 50 doctors and nurses.  

       From their own resources, Mel and Lydia furnished a 100 bed surgical ward of the 400 bed Region One Medical Center in Dagupan, Pangasinan in the northern Philippines.   In gratitude for five years of bringing the medical mission and numerous donations, it was officially named as the “Dr. Mel & Lydia Simon Surgical Ward in 2007.
In addition they helped in the construction of a 30 bed community hospital in Mangaldan, Pangasinan, where deep water drinking wells were also constructed in 17 surrounding villages through the generosity of Filipino and American Rotary Clubs.   These wells helped to greatly decrease the incidence of gastro-intestinal diseases and improved the quality of life.  Dr. Mel and Lydia also initiated nutrition and literacy programs for hundreds of undernourished school children.   

Together they achieved the American dream and helped to make America great.  May God grant Team Simon good health and many more years to do His work.

Dr. Mel’s Book.
The reader may find the above in much greater detail in Dr. Mel Simon’s auto biography, “Two Rivers: A World Apart”.  It can be obtained from and Bards & Noble.  The reader may also borrow the book from the Bossard Library of Gallipolis, Ohio or from his local library via inter-library loan.  Mel is now working on a second book.

Articles Involving Dr. Mel Simon
(16) Dr. Mel Simon: A Career Serving God & His People

(90) French 500 Free Clinic (Gallipolis, Ohio) Celebrates Its Third Anniversary of Operations

(91) Description of the French Five Hundred Free Clinic in Gallipolis, Ohio