June 2, 2019


+ Pax et Bonum!  Peace and goodness to you this day!

It is very good to be here today.  I’m sure that many of you are disappointed that Fr. Summerlin is not preaching.  In fact, for those of you from around here at St. Maria Goretti, I’m up here, and it’s probably like, “Oh, no!  Not him again!”   Sorry about that.  There is a tradition that when you are ordained, that you ask someone, some priest or deacon or bishop, to preach at your First Mass.  This is first and foremost a great honor for the person that you ask to preach for you.  I am greatly honored, and humbled, and touched, that our new Father Summerlin asked me to preach for him today.  Thank you, Father!  And beyond the honor part, it is a real help to the new priest, who for the first time is going to preside over and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and with that, comes a lot of pressure.  Fr. Summerlin has practiced, and prepared, and wants everything to be right.   If my giving the homily today helps alleviate any of that pressure, today, then I am most grateful to help out on this special day.

Back in the spring of 2005, we had just moved into this church building, when we began to have a problem with one of our school classes at Mass.  This one particular sixth grade class would just keep talking, all during Mass.  Their teacher had talked to them about this.  The principal of our school had talked with them about this.  And in fact, I, their priest, had also talked to them, about their non-stop talking during Mass.  They were like a class of chatty-Cathy dolls!  They would not stop talking.  And this would even bleed over into the Eucharistic Prayer, where they even kept talking during the Consecration of the Mass.  Now, here’s where I draw the line.  We can’t be talking when the Body and Blood of Jesus is being consecrated.  So I offer one more very stern warning to my favorite sixth grade class.  You keep talking during Mass, especially during the Consecration, and I am going to kick you out of Mass.  So the next school Mass, I’m watching them.  They are watching me.  They are still talking during most of the Mass.  We get to the Consecration, and they are still talking during the Consecration.  We sing the Great Amen, I make a bee-line back to our sixth graders, and like my favorite major league baseball umpires,  I say, “You’re outta here!   I kicked them out.  Now, as a priest, you only have to do this once in your entire life, and you have a reputation.  For the next twenty years, kids will know the story that you kicked kids out of Mass for talking.  See that priest?  That’s Fr. Kevin, he kicks whole classes out of Mass if they are talking.  I’ll never have to do it again.  So I send the sixth graders back to their classroom, and tell them to wait for me after I finish Mass.  When I get done, I head directly there in flying vestments and all.  I tell them that their real punishment is that they don’t get to receive the Holy Eucharist that day.   And then I tell them, if they really want to talk in church, if they really want to talk during Mass, then they all had better become priests, and deacons, or sisters.  There were a few parents who were afraid that I had done deep psychological damage to their kids and that they would never go back to Mass again, after getting kicked out, by a priest.  Didn’t happen.  In fact, guess what?  Fr. Summerlin was one of the kids in that sixth grade class.  I figure that Fr. Summerlin still wants to talk all during Mass.  Now he can.  Maybe it’s a good thing he’s not giving the homily today.  We might be here all day!