One Day at a Time!

Often, people who know me will ask, “How are you doing?”. My answer is always, “one day at a time!” It’s definitely not a new saying but for me but it is so true. I finally, after months of searching, have found a good therapist. I have opened up more to him in four recent sessions than I did in four months when I was at St. Luke Institute. Finding a good therapist is not easy. Finding someone you can be comfortable with is essential. Unfortunately, when I was at St. Luke I didn’t feel that. The atmosphere there was too intense for me and it caused me not to trust. But, this is not a new issue with me because my trust level in people has its limits over the years. Often I am wary of people. I believe this comes from years of being put down and made fun of behind my back. It’s one of those childhood things that has followed me into adulthood. Okay, I’m insecure on many levels. Perhaps this is related to one of my “daddy issues” (another story for another blog)!

It was one year ago on August 28th that I quietly left Portage and flew to Washington, D.C. to be then whisked off to Silver Spring, Maryland. It sits right off the border of D.C. I went there because I was no longer functioning because of my physical and mental condition. I had been dealing with chronic back pain for three years. I was always in pain. Unless you have endured pain over a long period of time, it would be hard for you to understand. In those three years I had back surgery which relieved me of my pain for a few months but then it returned. Being in chronic pain led to the festering of many other issues that had been suppressed deep inside me.

At the end of a very intense physiological and psychological testing I was recommended to this facility. My diagnosis was this: major depressive disorder, high anxiety, restrictive food intake disorder (anorexia), bereavement issues, chronic back pain and ADHD. Hearing the diagnosis explained a lot; intellectually I understood what was happening to me, but emotionally it was devastating. Surrendering to this six month program gave me even greater anxiety. The “worrier” in me thought about my animals, my aging mother, my parish, my hard working staff and so many other things. But in all of this I had to stop and ask the question: what about me? I was being given an opportunity to begin a healing process. Didn’t I deserve to take care of me for once? After all, my life to this point had been taking care of so many other lives over a 25 year period. But again, the “worrier” in me was feeding the fire of negative thoughts. St. Luke Institute sounds like a very good place but when you strip away the title it is actually a psychiatric mental hospital. Oh my God, I was a patient in a mental hospital! Coming to terms that I was suffering with mental illness was a hard pill to swallow. Even now it is hard for me, at times, to accept. In retrospect, many of these concerns have changed. I can honestly say I was ill. I needed help. I have a profound and new understanding of mental illness. Now that I am back in active ministry I have become even more empathetic to people who are in crisis which may be affecting their own mental health.

I suppose there may be some whisperings behind my back that say “Fr. Andrew went crazy”, or “he was in a looney bin”. Well, I’m at the point now where I can talk about my incarceration, er, uh, I mean, my time at St. Luke. But being real, I did go crazy. I was in a looney bin! The one thing I am ashamed of and have tremendous guilt over is that I hurt some people who were very close to me. Especially my loyal staff who were brutally scrutinized after my departure. Trying to imagine what they had to go through would be as difficult as them understanding what my experience was like. My number one hope is that we can change this and process both our experiences face-to-face, as adults, and begin a healing process. I love and miss them so very much. Before the storm we had so many good years of working and laughing together. Understand that this is not a simple issue. It is much more complex on many levels. Too many to explain in just one blog posting. Right now I’m not sure where I stand with them. It was implied that they did not wish to speak with me at this time. When I learned of this, it felt like a stab in my heart. Until that day comes, I will still remember that it truly is “one day at a time!”


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Don’t worry! Be Happy!

I am a worrier! I worry about everything. So much so, that I make myself sick to my stomach. Two days ago I was feeling like an abandoned child. In fact, I clearly recall as a little boy I had this recurring dream that my parents moved and left me behind. Those dreams were so vivid that I still remember them and how they made me feel. Funny how nightmares like this can carry on into your adult life. The night of my last blog I went to visit my mother, Rosie. Initially I prepared myself that she would be in somewhat of a downcast move, maybe pretending that this move would not be a great thing and regretting this new move. Boy was I wrong! I haven’t seen her this motivated and happy in a long time! It seems she now sees the benefits of living in a place where she will not be alone. She won’t have to cook which is something she does not enjoy anymore. I clearly recall there was a time when mom always had something to eat in our fridge. Either that,or, she was cooking. When friends came to the house she often she would ask them if they were hungry. My friends caught onto this and I now know that when they would come to our house they knew Rosie would be a generous host and Ma was always ready to whip something together or warm up a plate in the microwave. Her homemade pie crust was a killer. It’s a recipe that I still use today. But now, after cooking for so many years she no longer has the zeal. Currently she weighs only 100 pounds. I’m hoping that her time at Rittenhouse in Portage will put a few pounds on her. (She’s happy that the dining room is right around the corner of her apartment).

She expressed to me that she will have new friends, go on trips, socialize and participate with many of the activities they have to offer AND, she can take her cats, Daisy and Buddy! Of course, she will have to sacrifice a lot when it comes of disposing her personal belongings with this move. The jury is still out if we will allow her to take her car. Even though we took away her car keys she told me with an elfish grin that she has another set. But she is being obedient to my brother Dan who is the one motivating force behind this very necessary move. I can’t lie. It hurts to see the changes I am witnessing and the possible last years of life approaching for mom. I wonder how many good years we will have left with her. All of this I worried about and all for my own silliness. At this time we are going to rent out her condo so that we can attempt to hold onto it for now. But if we have to make a different decision then we may take another direction. But for now I feel relief.

The bottom line for today is that I feel pretty good. I know mom will be safe and secure. My next big worry would have been when Dan, Diane and I go to Greece in October and that mom would be on her own for those 11 days. (Dan and Diane live two doors down from her and have been looking out for her)! Now we can be assured that she will be good. Change is often very difficult. How many times have I been with people who were forced to make a change and they struggled with big decisions? How many times have I had to help others lay out their objectives for those going through difficult decisions too? Probably many in my 25 years as a priest. So, now its our turn to make a tough decision for our beloved mother. The one who bore us. Nursed us. Fed us. Taught us our first social skills. How to cook! (Tamales at Christmas, and oh,…her famous taco meat recipe). The list is much longer! For now, all we can just do is to love her to the end.


FYI: If you want to make a comment there should now be a place to do so at the end of this blog but there is not. Instead I would ask you send me an email at: I am having problems with this feature. My dear friend, Fr. Mike, is working on it!  Also I wanted to clarify that even though my debt is totally out of control, I do not have creditors knocking at my door nor am I receiving harassing phone calls. My debt is manageable on a monthly basis meaning my bills are getting paid but my problem is that I have very little for my own temporal needs or to put in savings. Let’s be clear about one thing: I am not asking for pity or money!  Many of you have expressed that they have been in the same financial position. So you know! Maybe those who read this will also know that there is hope and there is help. I can fix this as long as I stay focused on my future and go to my Debtors Anonymous group every week. I always leave there with a sense of hope. I invite you to continue to follow my blog. Making new entries has already relieved much stress. Soon I will be writing about my diagnosis when I was at St. Luke Institute for Clergy and Religious. Google it!

Fixing the Bumpy Road!

It seems like I can’t get a break. Today is such a mixed bag of feelings, but, in this moment I can say I’m a tad sad. I’m not fully engulfed with sadness but I do feel like I’ve been kicked hard. Yesterday there was a screw up with my paycheck that virtually sent me into an anxiety attack. I’m not kidding when I say that because I take medication for anxiety! I also take medication for depression. How’s that for being honest? The second kick came when I was once again reminded that my future retirement plans may fall by the wayside. I have eight years to go before I can retire and that’s not far away. The plan was that I would be handed over my parents condo when mom passes away. Well, my dad passed away two years ago and mom has been living by herself. She will be turning 90 years old on August 29th and mom’s health has been a great concern. In the past year her health has been “sliding”. I say sliding because at the outset she looks terrific but her memory is not so good. She forgets to take her medication, she doesn’t eat well (and her 100 pound frame is the evidence), she still drove, that is, until we took her car keys away from her last week. I mean, what would you expect from a 90 year old woman? She’s not the same strong mommy I once had.  All these things are very sad coming from a woman who had been strong all her life. In some ways, I mourn the old mom. Talking to friends going through the same thing with their aging parents offers  some comfort. It’s good to share these common stories of our aging parents.

But here’s the kick! Mom agreed to go to an assisted living center. At first, she was somewhat strident as she told us she wasn’t going to leave her house. She wasn’t interested. But then when it was expressed to her about the concern we had for her, her tune changed! Now she is actively planning to leave her home. The big question is how are we to pay for this transition? She falls a bit short of monthly income to sustain her. We looked at the possibility of renting her condo out which could be an income game changer, or, we could sell the condo. Are you beginning to see my emotional dilemma? Selling the condo would put me out of a retirement home. Where would I go in eight years? Priests incomes are not great. Because of my spending habits I am in deep debt. That’s my fault and there’s no one to blame but me. True story! Last night when I spoke to mom about my concerns she came across as very cold. She told me that I better start saving my money so I could find a place to live! Ouch! Why does everyone think there is an “old priest home” that I can retire to? There is no such thing in this diocese. It hurts my heart every time one of my family members suggests  this to me. Living with my siblings is out of the question.

Well, I have eight years to figure this out but right now I feel like my dream has been shattered. It seems like many things have been shattered in my life. The loss of my parish, the loss of my beloved pets, the loss of relationships that have washed their hands of me. And all I can say is that I caused this. Perhaps this is my penance. Well, if it is, then so be it. I have faced worse in my life. Every Tuesday I attend a 12 step group called Debtor’s Anonymous. It’s located in the basement of St. Peters Church in the Loop (Chicago). I have found other people just like me. Many of them have recovered and are there for support and to offer their guidance. There is a strong possibility that I have a found a sponsor. It is someone whom I feel connected with so we’ll see how that goes.

Oh, woe is me! But not so fast. You see, there are people who really love me and care for me. I do have people in my life that are lifting me from the muck and the yuck! I do believe my sibs understand my dilemma. I feel their concern for my future. I just wish they’d tell me. They could easily read my blog but that’s up to them. It should be known that I love my sibs very much and I could never hate them or disown them. As a family we have survived many things and this will not derail the love we have for each other. I do have my faith with a stable spirituality. There lies my hope! So wah, wah, wah! This is the topic I hope to bring to group today.


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Is there anybody out there?

This is basically a test to familiarize myself with my blog page. Since my last major entry so much has changed. My goal is to be able to express myself better through written word with my feelings. Note… feelings, not yours! It’s important that I clarify that right off the bat! You may not always agree with what I am feeling BUT, like I said….my feelings!  I am able to post comments but I will filter them. In the past I have been criticized for posting things that may not sound priest-like. But I got news for you…I am merely a human being who shares living in a crazy world just like you. I have been through a lot since October 11, 2017. I hope to be able to open up about where I’ve been and where I hope to go. Right now I am living in Munster Indiana where I am a priest in residence at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

This year on June 5th 2018, I celebrated my 25th Silver Anniversary of Ordination for the Diocese of Gary. Sadly, for me, there was no big celebration. We’ll get to that on some other entry if you choose to follow this blog. Where am I at in my journey? Well, thats kind of tough to say because I have a ways to go before I can heal fully. Currently I am living in an environment that is going to allow me to heal physically, mentally and spiritually.

Right now as a test of my computer skill and knowledge I’m going to attempt to insert a picture!

Yay! It worked! This is a picture of my beloved mother Rosie. Her real name is Rosaura. Like fusing Rose and Laura. We’ll just stick to Rosie.

She is turning 90 years old on August 29th. This Saturday on July 28th we are throwing a Surprise Birthday Party for her. I hope to post pictures of that this weekend. That’s it for now! Tune in again!

Hiatus to end.

After being gone, it is my intention to begin blogging again. Stay tuned!

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Chance Meeting Was No Accident!

It has been way too long for me to not have posted. So since I just re-upped my website ownership I suppose that I should be motivated to start again! I am writing this after the 50th Annual Festival at Nativity of Our Savior Church. It was a huge success and as usual, I am flattened afterwards. This year I was fortunate to be able to head down to Florida to preside at a wedding for a young couple in Sarasota. Naturally, I was able to spend some time in DisneyWorld to visit my “Happy Place”! I also got to dine at my fav restaurant The Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. I had also hoped to have some of those yummy Chicken wings at the ESPN Sports Bar, but alas, they were undergoing renovation and their menu was limited to cold items. Nonetheless, I got to visit with my favorite bartender, Jim.

the wedding of John and Kimberly Lambert was over the top. I have never been to a more beautiful and elegant wedding in my entire life. That’s what happened when the reception is held at the Ritz-Carlton. I’m used to receiving a drink in a red solo cup but this swanky place served in glass glasses. Whoa!

But the highlight of my trip was meeting a woman and her daughter from London, England. She was in Sarasota with the hopes of getting new prosthetics for her daughter. Her daughter had meningitis when she was two years old and the disease caused her to lose her arms and legs. Now at the age of sixteen it was time for her to transition to a “newer” prosthesis. I found her daughter to be unaffected by the stares and whisperings that I saw people doing when she walked into the hotel lobby. I admit, the initial sight took me off guard. But instead of gawking at her I felt very moved at her unflaunted confidence. At a perchance conversation with her mother she shared with me about her amazing daughter. She told me how the doctors told her that her child would not survive this disease. But she firmly believed that as a woman of faith, her daughter would live. And she certainly has indeed. She gave up her career as an accountant to care for her daughter. She placed all her ownings of her accounting business into property around London and has lived very well.

She is now recognizing that her daughter is slowly transitioning away from her mothers loving care. I felt that she was telling me that she will mourn the loss of not being her main caregiver.  But it was because of her love for her daughter that she became a stronger person. I found this to be sad and celebratory. She is now looking at how she will now transition to a person who will have the time to do things for herself. Perhaps more reading, a new hobby or interest and perhaps a swank at going back to the career she left those 16 years ago.

When I departed from my hotel I was able to run into her one last time and I had to just thank her for sharing her story with me. In turn, she thanked me for listening and being able to express her feelings about her life. I found in her talks that she was a Roman Catholic. When I told her I was a priest, she seemed delighted that a member of the clergy listened to her.

In essence, what unfolded in my meeting with her was how we fed each other. I thought of the Eucharist and in the sharing of Jesus Christ, Body and Blood. Soul and divinity. We did not exchange addresses and/or emails, but, I feel the impact we had on each other will last a lifetime. Praised be to God!

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New Year!

It’s snowing like crazy. It’s winter, it’s Northwest Indiana and thats what it does here. It snows! I thought I’d push out a few lines on the blog-a-rooney before I head to the church and celebrate mass. Something tells me my regulars will be here no matter what. It just worries me that my elder scholars would subject themselves to the terrible driving conditions today. I mean, who do they think they are? Well, that is the theme to this mornings Gospel. John the Baptizer gets asked this and he tells folks that he is NOT the one they’ve been waiting for! So, despite that, as I sit here I am looking out to the parking lot and three of my usuals are here. This morning as I drove to McD’s for breakfast I asked myself what was I thinking by driving to get breakfast. i have a few eggs, my new bacon bowl kit and a fridge full of tamales!

In fact, today I was going to drive to East Chicago to pick up more masa to make another 10 pounds. I had my mom call them to cancel the order because of the driving conditions. We have been very lucky with bad weather. For the past two years we’ve had the mildest winters. And it’s been decades since we’ve had a snowstorm like the much talked about Snow Storm of 67! So, lucky indeed. I only wish I had a fireplace like my last rectory. It was awesome and wonderfully toasty to sit by it when the weather was cold and snowy. The only thing I have is one of those DVD’s that has a fake fireplace.

Okay, I did my best to be interesting. I think later today I’m going to play on my blog page to figure out how to do a few things to it’s appearance. My technical aptitude is adventurous to say the least. Ciao for now! Stay warm!

So Long 2013!

I will say it but to no avail! This was not the best year and this was a great year. Every year I have been alive there have always been ups and downs. I think that is a pretty general statement and I would say that it is accurate too. Not just for me but for many good folks out there in internet land. I made some painful decisions that affected lives. But I also made some good friends and connections that I’m hoping will  enliven my life and the lives of my parish family. But something weird happened this morning that brought me to my blog today. Not so much that it was the end of the year but to a realization that I’m still trying to piece together. My calendar reminder mentioned that my little dog Kerry of eleven years died three years ago early in the morning. He was not in the best health when I moved here to Nativity. He was diabetic, blind and severely underweight. But as troubled as he was with his health, he still gave me that unconditional love that so many of my fur kids have given me. Even to the day he died he was still the most loving dog I ever had. When he died in his sleep it was a sadness but also a relief. I had decided that I would have to put him down the next day but God gave me a break and sent Kerry on his journey over the elusive Rainbow Bridge. I have his ashes in my little house Chapel next to another beloved pet, Gus.

But I also called to mind all the people whom I buried this year. I said farewell to some really wonderful folks and for some I had the privilege of officiating at their funerals. So I now sheepishly join on the bandwagon of saying Good Riddance 2013 and look forward with new hope for a prosperous year. My wish is to see a ministerial growth in my parish community. I want to see people take ownership of their parish and watch it flourish. I want to meet new people who share my vision of rebuilding a church community into a great community. So I graciously and humbly ask God to bless me and my family. To give peace and hope to my congregation and for them to be willing to open their hearts and minds to a God who truly loves us. Pray for me my friends because I am praying for you!  Happy New Year!

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He is Near!

On this third Sunday of Advent it is commonly referred to as “Gaudete Sunday.” it signals the closeness of the coming of the Christ Child. The Rose colored candle is lit and, if possible, Rose colored vestments are worn by the presider. I can liken it to a flare being shot up into the night sky to call attention to those around that help is needed or help is on the way. Indeed, with the coming of Christ as the infant we are reminded that he came to us as one like us! Flesh and blood, hungry for his mother’s milk and needing all the loving care that any newborn child would require. It is so awesome to reflect on the knowledge that our God loved us so much he sent us his son to be among us. All with the knowledge that this child would come to change the world for all time.

Each week I post the daily mass readings. I do not do this to fill space but rather I do it with the hope that we will take the time to read scripture each day. Having said this I’m sure people will want to ask me which bible do we read. That is a very good question because there are so many versions of the bible it can be confusing. Let me help you by telling you the official version of the Catholic Church is the New American Version (NAB). Study bibles with notes are an excellent source of delving into certain phrases that we may not be familiar with. I would also suggest that you do not necessarily buy a hardbound edition. The St. Joseph Edition by Catholic Publishing is highly recommended and they have them in large print.

Every Catholic home should have one and not to place on the coffee table in the living room for everyone to see. Make a prayer corner for yourself somewhere in your home where you can read scripture and pray. Only when we practice our faith and belief can we truly enjoy the fruits of the sacrifice we make each day when we offer thanks and praise.

We owe it to ourselves and to God to take a break each day and give thanks. We are so distracted by the noisy world. We can get lost, lonely, confused, angry, hurt along with so many other emotions. The one thing that will never let us down in is in our time with Him. I strongly encourage you to begin feeding your heart and mind to strengthen your inner spirit.

Rejoice, for He is near!

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Get me to the boat!

I am hoping to write about Alaska and send back beautiful pictures! I leave in the morning. So tired from packing!