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SPRING! Ahhh Spring! How sweet it is to see some sunshine, warmer temps,the trees budding and plants sprouting after a long and cold winter. We can watch the transformation of buds into leaves, sprouts into colorful flowers, grass turning greener, and finally get to hang up those heavy coats. This is a visible sign for us during Lent, to go from our ordinary lives into a short 40 day journey of self evaluation to make personal commitments and changes that strengthen our character and deepen our faith. The joy comes from watching spring grow into something beautiful, but also allowing Lent to grow into the joy of the Risen Lord. Easter is thholiest and most incredibly season of our year and well worth the journey.

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,”Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Many of us pray The Our Father almost daily. Yet do we really forgive those that hurt us in some way?

I am familiar with something that occurred many years ago. A woman and her accomplice took money from an old man who could not afford that theft. For awhile the theft went unnoticed. When the theft became public years later the woman pleaded for forgiveness. She had developed cancer and her survival was doubtful. In spite of her repeated efforts she was not forgiven by the family. She eventually died and the family prayed for her.

But she was gone and forgiving her could only be done after the fact of her passing.

Regular visitors to our website will notice some changes.  There are some things that will look familiar to you and some that will look or act a bit differently. 

Our club is indebted to Dr. Bob Luchi for his tireless efforts to develop and maintain such a great website.  He set a very high bar for us to achieve.  Thanks Dr. Bob.

Fellow Serrans,

Well as the old saying says, “if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.” Let’s hope so, but so far the lion has arrived. The good thing is that the Lamb has also arrived in the form of Lent. We begin the holiest season of the liturgical year, a Lenten journey of reflections, prayer, renewal, and a deepened spiritual change.

Lenten Retreat for all Serrans and GuestsMonsignor Michael Mullen will be leading our Serran Lenten Retreat at Savior Pastoral Center on Saturday March 23, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Retreat Topic will be on the Beatitudes. Mass will be at 11:15. AM.  Continental Breakfast and Lunch are included in the fee of $30 for the Retreat.  All Serrans and their guests are encouraged to attend.  See the calendar for registration.


 Jeremiah was known as the Prophet among Prophets because he praised God’s word. He did not back off. As Bishop Robert Barron says, he was known for his upbraiding of the people for their idolatry. They worshipped the gods of the land rather than Yahweh. Jeremiah was a great conduit of God’s passion to set things right.

Jeremiah was humiliated and imprisoned because he continuously called out the Israelites for worshipping false gods.  In effect they left God behind. God realized when human beings worship something less than Him we lessen our own dignity.

We fit God in when it is convenient. We look at God as an inconvenience when we want to focus on something else. It may be our career, money or something else we choose to elevate.

 Can you remember a time in your lives when God was inconvenient?

Late afternoon and evenings are the worst. There is something about the coming of darkness that produces a bit more sadness and anxiety. We are called to live in the light of Christ, not in the darkness that encompasses much of our world. Sometimes the light of Christ seems dimmed and far away while shadows creep in from all sides.

Fellow Serrans,HAPPY NEW YEAR !! As we close out 2018 and look forward to the year to come, we all have thoughts and hopes of good things to happen and to continue our good work as Serrans. A year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, a continuation of all the wisdom that experience has instilled in us.

Click here to see upcoming USAC Events and the current world-wide Serra membership

Thanks to people like the Pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln, and our mothers and fathers, I believe the America I was born into is worth fighting and dying for. But how do you do that? There is no one answer. But as Catholics we believe where sin abounds Grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20) and this is where we can start.

I didn't retire until age 80 so my horizon for planning my post-retirement was not a great as some. The biggest decision was to cut off any formal relationship with medicine, not to teach from time to time in a Medical School and to cancel my subscriptions to my medical journals.

That decision was the result of prayer and seeing what other physicians had done post-retirement. Their path was not a path with which I was comfortable. That was the extent of my discernment.

I was on my own to start on a different discernment, a different career.

While I was still in practice my wife Jean was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer type. Also she was quite functional in many ways it fell to me to be more of a "house husband", especially in food shopping and cooking, doing some cleaning and providing more companionship to her, more than I was able to do while active in medicine.

I also had a desire to do more for our Church and now had time to do so. Daily Mass was nearby and I had the opportunity to serve as Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Presider of Communion Services, all of which was fulfilling.

In the course of time I was invited to join the Serra Club of Kansas City in Kansas. I knew little about Serra Clubs, and, while in Houston, the Serra Club there had only a tangential, if any, effect on our son's discernment for the priesthood. So I demurred for several months, then accepted the invitation to attend a Wednesday meeting and with some hesitation agreed to join Serra KCK.

After a month or so I wasn't sure this was the place for me to serve the Church and I was thinking seriously of resigning. As a trustee, a bit at sea, I requested a meeting over coffee with Bob Vohs, then president of the Club. He suggested that I fill a pressing need by helping out with the Nun's Appreciation Day Event.

That involvement was critical to me remaining in the Club and led to other assignments the Newsletter editor;, VP, Communications Committee; President of the Club and eventually the website development and maintenance.

None of these duties has yet detracted from my essential post-retirement responsibilities as caregiver to Jean, the person most important in my life, although that may change with time. I am a better Catholic layman as a result of my association with Serra KCK and I feel that I have, in some small way, contributed to their holy ministry.

Robert Luchi

I dreaded it, explored ways to avoid it but found that I had not real choice. Sometimes the things that we dread the most turn our to be wonderful "God Moments". 

On May 21st, my wife Jean and I will travel to Philadelphia where she and 3 friends from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School in Philadelphia will attend Mass at the Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on her feast day. Jean and her friends have been faithfully doing this for 81 years. It is a prayerful and joyous occasion, one that we hope to continue for as long as we can.

St. Rita and the Blessed Mother have been at the root of Jean's Catholic faith. They have brought her deep into the mystery of Jesus. When asked, how do you cope with Alzheimer's disease, Jean answers: “I put one hand in the hand of St. Rita, the other hand in the hand of Mary and with their help walk the path that Jesus has chosen for me.”

To the medical profession, Jeans ability to function, her happy, joyful days interacting with her family and friends after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease more than 20 - 25 years ago is quite remarkable. She is competent in all the activities of daily living (dressing, washing, eating, cleaning, etc.), continues to write checks, handles telephone calls and still makes the homemade pizza that her family enjoys every Friday night.

The hallmark of dementia of the Alzheimer type of course is loss of recent memory. And Jean's memory has not escaped the effects of her disease.

Dealing with memory loss in many patients can become stressful to them and their caregivers. Does memory loss have an upside? Perhaps. Small tiffs between husband and wife are quickly forgotten as if they never occurred.

Another is the sweet goodnight kiss that Jean never fails to give me. Sometimes it is only one goodnight kiss; sometimes she forgets and I get two and, at other times, even three.

I never refuse the second or the third. I cherish each.

Grace and Love bursting through, unconquered by the veil of Alzheimer's disease.

Robert Luchi

On May 21st, 2016 my wife Jean and I traveled to Philadelphia where she and 2 friends from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School in Philadelphia attended Mass at the Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on her feast day, May 22.  A third friend, unable to make the Mass at the Shrine, was able to join us at a restaurant for lunch.

These 4 friends have communicated with each other over the years, despite distance, illness, deaths or personal misfortune, by mail or phone calls and by visits to each other's homes.

Jean and her friends have been faithfully visiting the Shrine for 81 years. When one of the group cannot join the others at the Shrine (as when Jean was overseas) the others send her a packet of dried leaves of the St. Rita roses blessed at the Shrine on her feast day. It is a prayerful and joyous occasion, one that we hope to continue for as long as we can, despite Jean's Alzheimer's disease.

Long trips like this are not easy on people with Alzheimer's disease, because just getting out of the house presents a host of new sights, sounds and images that are unfamiliar and disorienting.  Deciding what to wear, packing, going through airport security and navigating the new environment of a hotel room present challenges.   But Jean is determined to see these long-standing friends and she has a bit of trust in me to handle the details.  Yet it is a struggle for her to place these unfamiliar things in their proper context. However, once at the Shrine on Broad Street in Philadelphia and the site of her elementary school, Jean was in familiar territory and was able to, at least partially, feel in charge of the situation.

What was new on this trip was a short interview with a local newspaper complete with a photograph of the four friends, arranged by the daughter of one of the 4.  After all, 81 years of continued friendship undisturbed by serious, lasting disagreements is worthy of note.

The article appeared in the Daily News in Philadelphia a day or so after we left Philadelphia. Jean loved the photo and the comments the reporter made but felt the reporter had missed an essential point. The reporter commented on the marvel of such a long-lasting and untroubled friendship and wondered if this tight bond of friendship had anything to do with allowing these women to live into their late eighties.

What Jean thought was lacking was an appreciation of what had been taught to these women from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School. Jean and the others had grasped early on that there is a loving God revealed by Jesus and witnessed by St. Rita and other saints throughout the centuries. That this faith required them to acknowledge God's love for each other by offering their praise to Him and loving their neighbors, their friends, indeed everyone, in the way that God loves them. Perfect charity means that we will the good of the other regardless of any cost to us. That is what Jesus did for us.

There were some uncomfortable moments when one of Jean's friends offered some resistance to have an article written about them because of her strong sense of humility. "Our long-standing friendship need not be touted as something extraordinary". There were discussions among the 4 friends, and quietly and beautifully, the resistance was dropped, and interview and photograph embraced.

This admirable friendship has lasted because these four women understand that Christian charity means “willing the good of the other regardless of personal cost”.

Robert Luchi

Our annual neighborhood summer potluck party was held in early June this year. Jean now has little interest in preparing food for an event like this but welcomes the opportunity for her to engage in what she likes so much to do—socialize with other people. Late afternoon passed pleasantly enough into early evening and Jean was ready to go home after being at the party for about two hours.

The usual practice is for the people who prepared food to take home what is left, but since the party was still going strong when Jean and I left we took nothing with us. Later that evening one of organizers of the party came to bring Jean samples of food for her to enjoy the next day and to sit with her and chat. I was in the basement working when she arrived and came up sometime later to find Jean in serious conversation with this younger woman who was weeping quietly. She greeted me with a smile, dabbed tears from her eyes and said, "Jean has given me the grace I was looking for and needed so much". She thanked Jean warmly and departed, thanking Jean again.

The remarkable thing is that Jean has no memory of the content of the conversation. She only knows that this woman was anxious over something and that she, Jean, probably said something supportive. But just what that something was we may never know.

It seems that nothing, not even Alzheimer dementia, can suppress the Christian love for neighbor so deeply embedded in Jean. Whatever Jean said came from some deep source within her, an inexhaustible source of living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well in the gospel of John. A disease such as the dementia of Alzheimer type has the power to strip us of many things, but it has no power over the essential graces God gives us.

Robert Luchi

We, like many of you, view our adult children's birthday with joy mixed with a sense of disbelief that they, once toddlers, now are mature, independent adults. For Jean, birthdays have always been special occasions celebrated in special ways, no matter what our personal circumstances were are. Cards, cakes, candles, presents were selected well in advance, hidden away and brought out on the great day so that our children could feel Jean's love, present always, but, on these occasions, made explicit once again. Memory for remote things intact, Jean will still look at photographs of past birthdays and often be able to describe the setting of that birthday with surprisingly accuracy.

Our youngest child's birthday falls on the day before the date of our wedding anniversary. That relationship now is somewhat smudged in Jean's memory. Reminded of our child's upcoming birthday, Jean will exclaim excitedly that we must select a birthday card and then will not remember it an hour later. Keeping Jean in some way at the helm of these annual celebrations is important to us as a way of trying to maintain in her a sense of autonomy, purpose and place. It has become more difficult as her Alzheimer disease progresses.

A month before our daughter's birthday was to take place, repeated offers to take Jean to the store to buy birthday cards (each child usually received several) were declined. So,birthday cards were purchased and placed on a writing table for Jean to write a birthday greeting. Repeated observations that our child's birthday were fast approaching were met with, "I will do it first thing tomorrow. It's too late for the mail pickup today anyhow".

How often do we not heed opportunities for grace!

I was completely oblivious to the fact that in these repeated delays Jean was really asking for help. While I was insisting on her taking action, as she had always done before, she was telling me that she needed my help in getting started. Blinded by insistence for Jean to return to the person she was years ago, caused me to ignore a wonderful opportunity for grace and mercy.

Finally! When Jean's message became clear to me, I sat down at the table with her, wrote my birthday greeting, handed her the pen to write hers and while Jean was doing that addressed and stamped the envelope. Together we then arranged for a gift to be delivered to our daughter. So simple a response, so late in coming.

Jean's "thank you" was as subtle as her requests for help: a smile, a kiss and a look of relief mingled with joy that her daughter would recognize her mother's special love on yet another birthday.

Robert Luchi

My older sister attended St. Ann's Academy, a well-recognized Catholic Girls Schools in my hometown of Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania. The Academy was open to boys from Kindergarten to 6th grade, at which point, for boys, puberty was on the horizon, 7th grade was to be taken elsewhere, allowing the girls to finish their education undistracted by non-academic concerns.

My sister was doing well in St. Ann's so it seemed appropriate to my parents to enroll me in St. Ann's 1933 Kindergarten Class. I didn't thrive at St. Ann's, so my parents transferred me to a public school after second grade. Thus ended my parochial school career.

I only remember four things in my few years at St. Ann's: my stammering made me an object of abuse and ridicule on the part of some of the boys in classes ahead of me. In the second grade, when it was my turn to read before the class, I finished with a sigh of relief that I didn't stammer too much, and that I had finished, a minor triumph for me. I stood in front of the class somewhat pleased with myself only to hear the teacher say slowly, "Robert that was very, (pause) very (pause as I waited for the word 'good') -- poor". I walked back to my seat thinking she is wrong, I thought that for me, that was pretty good.

The other two things I remember had relevance to my Catholic faith. In the first grade, at recess, I walked the grounds and found myself in the convent's cemetery, with headstones, flowers and in the center a larger-than-life, realistic statue of Christ on the cross. I was frightened and turned away. I could not imagine that the cross and the figure on it had anything to do with my life.

And later in the second grade, dressed in a suit with hands folded and eyes reverently downcast I walked back to the pew after receiving my first holy communion, wondering why I didn't feel any different after having received the Host and why the Sisters proclaimed that reception of communion would transform me.

Becoming the disciple Christ wants us to be is the work of a lifetime. Being born into an observant Catholic family and being baptized is a wonderful start, but much more is required. God does lead, teach and instructs us from our youth as the Psalm says. As with so many, the one who led me (and continues to lead me) to Christ was the Blessed Mother.

God's remedial education for me began with a ship.

At three years of age I was enthralled by a model of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Columbus, sitting on the mantle of my Grandmother's home. We lived there for a time so I saw it everyday but was forbidden to touch it. (I did find a way to touch it once or twice). Canvas sails with a red cross on the mainsail and the detailed rigging gripped my imagination. I thirsted for a model of the Santa Maria of my own but never found one that equaled the Santa Maria in my grandmother's home. Saying the name of the ship, "Santa Maria", became a joyuful boyhood refrain.

My next clear remembrance of God's gentle tugs was through the years of elementary and high School. My bedroom was on the third floor, so every day passing through the second floor on my way down, I passed a statue of the Blessed Mother on a small table in the hallway. That image radiated tenderness, warmth and love that thereafter pulled me toward the Blessed Mother whenever questions arose or trouble loomed.

It was the blessed Mother that set me on a path that led me to finally recognize in her Son, Jesus, the same qualities of warmth, tenderness and love I perceived in her. I no longer recoiled from the cross but embraced it, at first tentatively, then more completely as my relationship to Jesus deepens.

It is remarkable it took so many years for me to realize that "Santa Maria", the Italian translation of "Holy Mother", is the beginning of the second part of the Hail Mary, andthat my desire for the ship on my grandmother's mantle was God's loving way of telling me where to start my journey to Him.

And now, as my life approaches its end, I find myself at peace in my home parish, Queen of the Holy Rosary.

Robert Luchi

A Samaritan traveler was moved with compassion—Luke 10:33

A long time ago, when I was in my third year of medical school, as part of my training I was assigned to a hospital located in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was a hot, spring day and I was late, hurrying to be in the hospital in time for the beginning of my class. About a block from the hospital on the other side of the street I saw a man lying prone and motionless on the sidewalk. Flies were buzzing about his lower abdomen and upper thighs. Many thoughts rapidly crossed my mind. Did he have as stroke? Was he a diabetic? Did he pass out in a diabetic coma? (I had enough medical knowledge to know that the urine of a diabetic in coma is loaded with sugar and thus attractive to flies). Or was he simply intoxicated and sleeping it off?

I was in a hurry, I was late, so, I took the easy way out. I put my convenience ahead of his need for someone to come to check on him. In all probability, I decided, in that neighborhood, he was simply drunk and would soon be back on his feet after a nap.

After class, returning home I passed the spot. The man was gone. Did someone else pause, stop by and call an ambulance? Or did he wake up and go on his way again?

I never found out.

I regret not acting like the good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke, taking the time to see if this stranger needed help, putting another’s need first and my convenience second. To this day I regret missing out on that opportunity for grace.

How often is the opportunity for grace offered us? And how often do we ignore that opportunity?

Robert Luchi

“She couldn’t kill a fly” is literally true of my wife Jean.

A fly buzzes around me as I prepare something for us to eat. You would search in vain to find a flyswatter, much less flypaper, in our home. One of “God’s creatures“ she will say, “The fly did not ask to be trapped in the kitchen. Let it go free”. Easier said than done as we have screens on all windows and opening the door might let the cat out or invite more files in. The fly and I attempt to co-exist.

It doesn’t end with flies. Spiders, moths, mosquitoes and unnamed other crawling beings are similarly categorized as examples of the generous, creative power of God.

We humans are linked with mice, rats, chipmunks and the bird species, all of whom, once in our home or patio, are visitors to be treated according to the code of St. Benedict, that is, as if they were Christ. We must be attentive to their comfort and nutritional needs. Above all, we must not kill.

And when our cat corners a mouse Jean will fly to the rescue. The family is mobilized to gather up the mouse in something soft and comfortable to be escorted to the patio door to be set free. That the mouse, so well treated, and having praised the accommodations, may return with his friends bothers Jean not at all.

So, we welcome all creatures into our home as if they were Christ himself. Whether Christ himself, or one his disciples, ever swatted a mosquito or a fly, is not a subject open for discussion.

There is a certain sweetness and tenderness expressed here that is so characteristic of Jean. It springs from a deep Christian faith and an abiding sense of love for all of God’s creation that the prevailing ethos, or the infirmities of age, have not diminished.

It is a special grace that allows her to live now, daily, in the coming Kingdom of God where the lion will, one day, lie down with the lamb.


Robert Luchi

Last year over the weekend of October 1, there was a reunion for all of us who had worked at Media/Professional Insurance. I was hired to work there fresh out of law school in 1984.

During the course of the festivities two women approached me and said, “Kim is here and would like to talk with you.” I hadn’t seen or talked with Kim for years, but I had an idea of what she wanted to say.

Kim and I both started as underwriters at Media/Professional around the same time in the summer of 1984. Neither of us had worked as underwriters before, although Kim, who was around my parents’ age, worked as an insurance broker for a number of years and had dealt with my father when he was underwriter.

Media/Professional was a new start-up and didn’t provide any sort of training to new hires. We were given our manuals, a stack of files and instructed to work up our quotes for our supervisor’s review and approval. Kim and I became primary sounding boards and sources of advice for each other as we began to navigate the mysterious world of specialty insurance.

Later in the year Kim’s husband, Hollis, developed cancer and his deteriorating condition put her under a great deal of stress. I overheard her talking to others about it and felt bad for her, but didn’t know what to say, so I avoided the subject. One day Kim asked me if I could give her a ride to work as someone was picking her up from the office to take her to see Hollis at the hospital later in the day. I said I would be happy to as her house was pretty much on my way. During the ride over she gave me a rather frantic and complicated account of Hollis’s condition that I really didn’t follow as other thoughts about what I needed to do that day popped into my sleepy mind. When we got to the office Kim thanked me for the ride. I told her that I would be happy to give her a ride any time. It soon developed that I was picking Kim up every morning on the way to work during which she would give me a detailed report on Hollis’ deteriorating condition which I never would never fully comprehend. I would occasionally interject a sympathetic comment in an effort to do something to help this poor woman.

After several months Hollis died and Kim’s request for rides stopped. The years passed and we drifted apart. Then one day during the holidays I received a Christmas card from Kim. In it she simply wrote, “I will always be grateful for how helpful you were when Hollis was sick.” I was so stunned and flattered to see those words. I hadn’t really done very much and had felt so helpless as I listened to her recount her husband’s plight. We continued to exchange Christmas cards and every year she would write the same simple message of gratitude, which I didn’t feel I deserved, but which made me feel good nonetheless.

Kim eventually found me at the reunion. I was with my wife Melinda who I married on October 1, 2011, well after all this had occurred. When I introduced the two Kim said, “Jim was so helpful to me when Hollis was dying of cancer.” Kim’s generous comments definitely helped score some points with Melinda who is a nurse and who lost her mother to cancer in her twenties during the final stages of pregnancy with her son.

So often we can be more helpful to another even when we don't completely understand the situation, simply by listening sympathetically.

God continually presents us with such opportunities for corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Jim Borelli