St. Peter Parish Blog


Msgr. Jack's Homily about the Sex Abuse Scandal

I feel that I must talk to you about the “elephant in the room” and the events of the last day or so in our Archdiocese and the release of the names of Archdiocesan priests who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them.  The list goes back to 1950 and many of the priests listed are deceased and the others have long been removed from active service as priests of the Archdiocese.     

When I spoke to you last year on this topic after the Grand Jury investigation in Pennsylvania and the listing of priests’ names there I spoke of cancer patients telling me that when they are first diagnosed with cancer; it is very traumatic and an initial shock.  At that time there is the idea that we will overcome this sickness. I am going to fight this cancer.  I am going to do anything and everything I can to rid this evil. I am going to beat this.

But when it returns a second or third time it feels worse. It is harder to get up. It feels more hopeless and it seems that it will never go away.  There is a feeling of resignation.  There is a greater intensity of anger.  

With the release of this list of priests we know the “cancer” of the clergy sex abuse scandal has returned once again and this time it is personal to us.  We know many of these priests. I know that I have these feelings today….and perhaps many of you do, too:   Weary of the topic….again.   Feelings of grief and betrayal.  This is understandable.  Own your feelings!  

 I believe that we are experiencing, in a very small way,how the victims  (and their families)  must feel….hopeless, alone, burdened with pent-up, unspoken and unresolved feelings and filled with resignation and anger.  This simply will not go away! 

Perhaps some of you may even be feeling a sense of relief that at long last the names of someone whom you knew to have committed a crime has now been made public.  And victims can finally feel a sense of justice, which will help in the long process of healing.

 Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, refers to the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal as the “Devil’s greatest masterpiece,” It was so thoroughly thought through, so comprehensively intentional.  The word, “Diabolo” devil, means “The Scatterer.” And scattered we have become!  We need, more then ever, Jesus, the unifier!  Yet, we can’t claim, “The Devil made me do it”,” either.  Sinful humanity took over and great sin has happened.

 I share your anger at my brother priests who committed these horrible acts and were so unfaithful to their vows, so uncaring to the most vulnerable in their care, so harmful to the priesthood.  And I share your anger at some of the bishops for their profound neglect of their pastoral care, so insensitive to the victims and their families.  Protecting the institution and its reputation over people and their needs, hurts, and anxieties, and moving accused abusive priests from one assignment to another and putting more young people in harms way.

But to play the “blame game” at this point is not appropriate and not the Gospel, and will not move us where we need to be.   Personally, I must own it, too, for I as your pastor, as a priest of this great Archdiocese and your priest, and as a representative of the Universal Church I must take responsibilities, too.  Thus, in the name of the Universal Church, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and in my own name as the Pastor of Saint Peter, your pastor, I am so very sorry for what we, the clergy,  have done to you and to the victims especially and their families…. and to you, the loyal, faithful, dedicated lovers of our Catholic Church and parishioners of Saint Peter Parish.

Maybe some of you are asking why the Archdiocese is publishing these names, particularly of priests who are deceased and can’t defend themselves.  The fact is some of their victims are still alive.  It is important for them to know that they’ve been heard, and they’ve been believed.  

 And for those on the list who are living, some question why are we doing this now, perhaps many years after allegations were made, “ What about mercy?”  “What about forgiveness?”  We all know God’s mercy and forgiveness abound for all who have true repentance and for all who ask for forgiveness.   Yet that does not mean that they do not have to face the consequences of their behavior.

I so admire you who have remained active in the Church and in St. Peter Parish, and you who are at Mass today.  Many have left….we need to call them home, invite them, and pray for them.   Perhaps you, too, have been tempted to leave, to walk away from the Catholic Faith:   “I have had enough!  I’m done!”   I get it!

  Bishop Barron acknowledges that feeling, and anger associated with it and challenges it in his “Letter to a Suffering Church” saying:  “This is not the time to leave the Church; it is a time to stay and fight for what we know is good, and valuable, and true about the Catholic Church.

The Scriptures has a great deal of light on our present situation; historically, we have been here before in the Church; and we have survived.  Everything you love in the Church is still present and is worth defending. The treasures of the Church, which is the Eucharist, the doctrines, the beliefs, the sacraments, the traditions, are here and packaged in “Earthen Vessels”….

How do we fight?   By insisting that protocols be followed from the Dallas Charter of the Bishops 2002 and our own Archdiocese with its lay board of review to deal with clergy sex abuse.

Fight by becoming the saints that God wants you to be.

Fight by encouraging a decent young man to become a priest.

Fight by doing a holy hour every day for the sanctification of the Church in our new Adoration chapel.

Fight by coming to Mass regularly.  Fight by evangelizing and loving the Church for what it really is…. the church uniquely speaks of God in an increasingly secular culture and here we find God’s presence; fight by doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy (visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, comfort the sorrowful, forgive injuries, counsel the doubtful); fight by sacrificing for the Church, for the victims/families by fasting, abstaining…one day a week…Friday is the traditional day for that.

1.     In the next week or so you will be receiving a copy of Bishop Barron’s excellent “Letter to a Suffering Church” along with a cover letter from me.  His letter is a challenging and hope-filled piece and gives excellent direction we need to take to move on…  I hope it helps you. 

2.     In addition, the Archdiocese is publishing a special edition of the St. Louis Review,which all of you will receive, with all sorts of information on this issue: counseling and spiritual healing, frequently asked questions; what is going on at Kenrick Seminary in human formation for our priests to be; numbers to call for help with all of this; the make-up of the committee on Clergy Sex Abuse for the Archdiocese and on and on.  I hope it helps you.

The Gospel today is about Jesus teaching the disciples his personal prayer: TheLord’s Prayer

Pray that prayer often!     It is the perfect prayer because it involves the wholeness of God:  Father, Son, and Spirit, and the wholeness of life:  Past, Present, and Future.  

 “Father, Give us this day our dailybread!” Give us what we need to live today…your grace to be holy, to be understanding, to be forgiving, to be whole, to be centered on YOU.

 Jesus, “Forgive us our trespasses” for all ourpastoffenses and the offenses of priests in our diocese and in the world! And help us be a forgiving people…to receive forgiveness graciously and to offer it graciously.  Look how forgiving God was to Sodom in the First Reading today. 

And Holy Spirit  “ Lead us not into temptation;” free us from futuresin/temptation especially our temptation to give up, to walk away, to hold on to our angers and fears…. for we are so easily tempted.

To conclude:  Could you all stand and pray The Lord’s Prayer with me for our Archdiocese, for the victims and their families, and for the accused priests and deacons, for our bishop, priests and deacons serving the Church now and each all of us here who are God’s Holy People?        

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, 

thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.



Questions that Jesus Asks

Whenever I read the Gospels, I like to make lists. I once made a list of times when Jesus showed emotion. If God became one of us, it is interesting to know what kinds of things He gets angry about, or sad about, or feels compassion for. On another occasion, I made a list of all the commandments Jesus made. I did this because Jesus says in John's Gospel, "if you love me, you will keep my commandments." What an interesting list, having all of the commandments of Christ listed in front of you!

                  My current list, suggested by a priest acquaintance, is listing out the questions that Jesus asks in Scripture. He suggested that when Jesus asks a question, we shouldn't be content to find out how the person being asked answered the question: we should answer the question ourselves. This past weekend, Jesus asks the blind man, Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" How would you answer that question if Jesus asked you?

                  When I answered Jesus' question, I found myself asking three questions:  How would Jesus wantme to answer that question? How would I honestly, actuallyanswer that question? What do I need to ask for to move me from my current desires, into a person who can honestly and fervently ask for what Jesus really wants me to ask for?

                  The beautiful thing about answering Jesus' questions is that by the time we finish answering it, we have a very personal prayer to offer back to Him. Here's how I prayed:  "God, I know you want me to ask you for ______________; but when I look inside of myself, I find myself far from you. I find myself desiring ____________ instead. But I want to desire what you want for me, so I ask you __________________ so that my mind and heart may become more like yours."

                  I offer you an abbreviated list of the questions Jesus asks in Scripture. Return to them from time to time; sometimes, your answers may change; at other times, a question that did not seem relevant may speak directly to new circumstances in your life. When we answer Jesus' questions, we grow both in our knowledge and relationship with God, and in knowledge of ourselves.

In Christ,

Father Paul Hamilton

Questions that Jesus Asks (Abridged)

1.And if you greet your brethren only, what is unusual about that? Do not the unbelievers do the same? (Matt 5:47)

2.Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matt 6:27

3.Why are you anxious about clothes? Matt 6:28

4.Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matt 7:2)

5.Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Matt 9:4)

6.Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)

7.To what shall I compare this generation? (Matt 11:6)

8.Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? (Matt 12:48)

9.Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)

10.And why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matt 15:3)

11.Do you not yet understand? (Matt 16:8)

12.Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matt 16:13)

13.But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)

14.What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)

15.O faithless and perverse generation how long must I endure you? (Matt 17:17)

16.Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? (Matt 20:22)

17.What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)

18.Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)

19.Why are you testing me? (Matt 22:18)

20.How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)

21.Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matt 26:10)

22.My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)

23.What were arguing about on the way? (Mark 9:33)

24.Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)

25.Will you be exalted to heaven? (Luke 10:15)

26.Which of these three in your opinion was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10:36)

27.Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbiter? (Luke 12:14)

28.What king, marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king marching upon him with twenty thousand troops? (Luke 14:31)

29.If therefore you are not trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:11)

30.Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God? (Luke 17:18)

31.But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)

32.How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? (John 5:44)

33.Does this (teaching of the Eucharist) shock you? (John 6:61)

34.Woman where are they, has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)

35.Are there not twelve hours in a day? (John 11:9)

36.Whom are you looking for? (John 18:4)

37.Have you come to believe because you have seen me? (John 20:29)

38.Do you love me? (John 21:16)

39.What if I want John to remain until I come? (John 21:22)


A Response from Msgr. Jack

For all of us as Roman Catholics these past few weeks have been particularly challenging and most difficult. While Father Paul and I preached to you last week about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report of priestly sexual abuse and the bishops’ cover-up of those abuses over the last 70 years in that state, I feel that I must write to you also about this very on-going and ever-present tragedy in our Universal Church. Of course the Pennsylvania report comes on the heels of the news of retired Archbishop of Washington, D.C, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and his demotion as a Cardinal of the Church because of credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors years ago while a young priest and bishop. 

Parishioners who have been diagnosed with cancer tell me how devastating that news is when the disease is first diagnosed. Once the initial shock has worn off there is a great spirit of hopefulness that this sickness is going to be beat. I’m going to confront this evil and overcome it. I am going to win! But when it is diagnosed a second time and returns, the feeling is one of hopelessness and despair and great anger. It is a notion that this is probably not going to go away. 

In many ways I feel like that now regarding the priest sex abuse scandal. Perhaps you have felt the same way…anger, yes justified anger, hopelessness, and the fear that this terrible evil will simply not go away. The cancer of the priest sex abuse scandal is back again with a vengeance…if it really ever went away. 

It sure points out the very sinful humanity of the Church, the weakness of our church leaders, and the feelings of helpless of what should we all do about this. How do we begin the deep healing process that needs to happen? Where do we all go from here? 

The reality of sin abounds in all of this and the work of the evil one… Satan. The word for devil in Italian is Diabolo, which translated means, The Scatterer, one who scatters and divides. Diabolo has been hard at work scattering us and dividing us as sin always will. Bishop Robert Morlino’s letter to his flock in Madison, Wisconsin said, “For all too long we have diminished the reality of sin.

In many ways we have excused sin in the name of the mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation.” 

“Why do we do this? Is it out of an earnest desire to display a misguided sense of being “pastoral?” Or are we afraid of being called hypocrites because we are not striving tirelessly for holiness in our own lives? Well no matter the excuses we must be done with sin. It must be rooted out and again considered unacceptable. Love sinners? Yes. Accept true repentance? Yes. But do not say sin is okay. And do not pretend that grave violations of office and of trust comes without grave, lasting consequences.” Oh, yes, “The Scatterer” has been busy. We have been a sinful Church. 

I have had this past week much anger at my brother priests who have committed these horrible acts and were so unfaithful to their vows and so uncaring to the most vulnerable in their care. I apologize to all of you for the sins of those in my profession who were so selfcentered and so insensitive and cruel to children. 

In addition, I have had and perhaps you have had, too, much anger toward the bishops for their profound neglect of their pastoral duties, so insensitive to the victims and their families in order to protect the institution of the Church and its reputation over the people and their needs, their hurts, and their anxieties. 

In his comments to us our Archbishop Carlson said: “Priests are called to be spiritual fathers to their people and bishops are called to be shepherds of their flock, to protect the people in their care. We know in so many cases that this has not happened. The trust of the faithful has been violated. Archbishop Carlson mentioned in his response that our Archdiocese has done much since 2002 to stop this evil: yearly background screenings of the clergy, lay staff and volunteers; instituting the “Protecting God’s Children” program to all who have any contact with young people or old people or any person. 

Still it is not enough. We must do more to protect our children, to choose good and worthy shepherds. We have to insist on transparency of all documents and information from the Archbishop regarding priestly sex abuse in our Archdiocese. We must continue to improve the screening and formation of our seminarians in human formation. 

In 2002 the noted priest sociologist, Father Andrew Greeley suggested in cases where there is such doubt and such mistrust and such an abuse of power among the hierarchy our Holy Father ought to insist that bishops resign, as happened in Chile recently, in order to assure a sense of trust and a return to authentic moral authority in their ministry and the shepherding of their people. Perhaps this needs to happen. If nothing else the bishops must admit their role and their guilt in this affair and not keep “throwing just the priests under the bus” and ignoring the victims as has been done so often since the bishops’ Dallas Charter of 2002. One thing for sure…we cannot continue the path that has been taken since 2002 regarding priestly sex abuse and episcopal cover-up. The solutions must be more radical and pervasive or we will never face this “head-on” and victims and their families will never have closure. 

Write to the Missouri Attorney General if you feel you need to. Write to the Archbishop if you feel you need to. Write to the Pope/the Vatican if you feel you need to. And above all please pray! Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the Holy Father, Francis, and our chief shepherd, Robert Carlson. Pray for each other and the universal Church at this most difficult moment in our personal histories. And please remember who and what the Church is really all about and how it ought to be defined…don’t make the mistake of missing the message because of the flawed and sinful messengers. 

In this week’s Gospel from John, Jesus has just preached to the crowd that anyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eaten real food and drink and will have everlasting life. Many found this a hard teaching to accept and they walked away from Jesus. So Jesus turns to the Apostles and says, “Are you going to leave me, too? “ And Peter, our patron, says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” We still have the true treasures of the Church…its doctrines, beliefs, traditions, history, the Sacraments and its ancient beautiful customs. 

We still have YOU! You ARE the Church! You ARE the 99% that makes up the Church! You and I are the People of God! When all is said and done, when all the anger is subsided, when forgiveness is offered, acknowledged, and received, when new and better processes are in place, remember Peter’s Confession in John’s Gospel: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” 

Monsignor Jack


This is what CYC sports is all about...

The Mission of the Catholic Youth Apostolate is to help all young people hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to help all young people actively respond to the Gospel message and enthusiastically participate in the mission of Jesus Christ and His Church.

At St. Peter Parish, our CYC coaches and players strive to live out this mission on and off the field through our many teams of all ages. The following note was sent in by our soccer director, Doug Walbert, who received a story from one of our young athlete's family about their exceptional experiences playing CYC soccer. This is what CYC sports is all about!

"This season the St. Peter soccer program possibly had our most successful season in the history of our program…BUT…NOTHING compares to the life-changing stories that are the result of the entire CYC South Central program and the amazing folks at St. Gabriel Parish and St. Peter Parish…
I am so proud of STP Team Ryan and so grateful to St. Gabe Team Giles – you have made a life memory for the Coffman family – THANK YOU."

From the parents of Riley…

I wanted to share a quick story about Riley’s CYC soccer experience in hopes you could pass it along to some folks at St. Peter (and maybe even St. Gabriel if you know anyone there)…
Riley has played St. Peter soccer off and on for the past five years. Since Riley has Down syndrome we’ve grown more and more concerned about having her play due to the dramatic skill-level increases we see each year with all the other girls (especially with them now being in 5th grade). This year we decided to let her “play” by only participating in practices (no games) and she loved it. She would look forward to playing with her soccer team each week at practice more than any other activity. Her coaches (Mike Ryan, Angelo Bendoff, Scott Holdridge, and Julie Gau) were absolutely amazing and so were her teammates – honestly, Cindy and I could not imagine a better athletic experience for Riley.
A couple days before their last game I ran into Angelo who basically pleaded with me to let Riley play in their last game, so we agreed. The morning of the game we got Riley dressed in her STP soccer uniform and she was beaming. Between the hour when we got her dressed and game time, she must have asked 30 times when her game was – she was clearly super excited.
St. Peter was playing St. Gabriel that morning. Our coaches met with St Gabriel’s coaches to let them know that Riley would be playing that morning (at least for a few minutes). Riley got to kick-off the game and it became quickly apparent that the plan was to get Riley her first goal. As she slowly kicked the ball down the field, both the St. Peter players and the St. Gabriel players made sure the ball didn’t get too far away from Riley and would pass it back to her if it did. Eventually Riley got it close to the goal and scored! The reaction of all the players, coaches, and parents from both teams was tremendously heartwarming. Everyone celebrated her and patted her on the back as they ran back to mid-field. Both Cindy and I got choked up at the whole experience. Attached is a picture of Riley and Coach Angelo after the big goal. 
As a parent of a child with special needs, moments like that will last a lifetime. I just want to say thank you so much to her amazing coaches and her sweet teammates. I also want to thank St. Gabriel for their sportsmanship and kindness. I can’t remember who won the game that day, but I sure know what family did – the Coffmans.

Jeff & Cindy Coffman