FR. GREG FAMILY UPDATE
Hi Staff, Parishioners, and Friends!
Today, September 2, marks my half way point of radiation (daily oral chemo continues). Last day will be on September 26. It was quite a surprise to receive the wonderful green t-shirts in the mail from Jill Hartke ... THANKS Jill & Hartke Family for all your hard work! The picture includes my sister Clarisse Slater who is also parishioner of St Patrick of Merna and a member of a Small Group. I hope that all of you have a wonderful and blessed Labor Day Weekend! Jesus Reigns!!!
Fr. Greg went down to Houston for his appointment on Thursday. There were some complications after the MRI and he was admitted to the hospital. He should return this coming week. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
Your Parochial Vicar, Fr. Michael Pica
Dear Parish Family and Friends!
I am so grateful for your love, prayers, and support! I was admitted to MD Anderson Cancer Hospital at 10:30am on Friday for my second brain biopsy and discharged by 3pm on Saturday. My neuro surgeon was able to get tissue from a needle biopsy directly from the main tumor which has a "cloud" of smaller tumors which have spread. The full pathology report including diagnosis, prognosis, and initial treatment plan will be shared with me on Thursday at 9:15am. I long ago have already accepted whatever God has planned for me! My brain needs to heal before beginning intense radiation and oral chemotherapy beginning on Aug. 2 for an initial six weeks and then re-evaluate to see if the tumors have shrunk. Although I miss all of you terribly, I believe Jesus has put me in the right spot here in Houston to eventually bring me back home to continue my beloved pastorate of St Patrick of Merna and St Mary's in Downs. For now, I pray for you non-stop and communicate regularly with Fr Dustin Schultz, Fr Michael Pica, and our talented Staff. I unite my sufferings to the Passion of Jesus that His grace will make our Parishes grow even further and praise His glory! I want to be as transparent as possible with you because a Good Shepherd teaches you to live and how to die. I will shepherd according to Jesus' holy will! Jesus Reigns and is our Savior!!!
Hi Parishioners & Friends!
This will be my last "Statement" for quite a while I anticipate. My treatment has gone well. I will be flying home into Bloomington on September 27. It's now time for me to regain my normal routine of parish ministry and get things back to normal again. Bishop Jenky verbally stated to me that as of noon on September 27, the Administrator of St Patrick of Merna Parish and St Mary's in Downs (Fr Dustin Schultz) has been relieved of duty. I am VERY GRATEFUL to Fr Dustin Schultz! He has done an outstanding job and now will have even further time to give to his assignments of St Patrick in Wapella and Central Catholic High School. I very much look forward to his friendship and working with him at Central Catholic High School. I also want to recognize the pastoral work in my absence of our outstanding parochial vicar Fr Michael Pica and our wonderful Staffs at Merna and Downs. They are hard working and touch the lives of our Parish Family Parish and beyond each day. Please be aware of my need to ease into my normal routine. This will take a little time, but I am SO EXCITED to be coming home and be with all of you! Many of you have donated toward my ongoing treatment. I am grateful for your love! I will need to travel to Houston every 2 months for a couple of days to have an MRI and speak with my physician at MD Anderson. I continue to advocate that only Jesus is the true Divine Physician and He alone Reigns!!!
Hi Parishioners and Friends!
I got a little reprieve from Houston on Saturday and Sunday by going three hours south to Port Aransas Beach. The doctor this week lowered me from 4mg to 2 mg steroids. Thus, the brain swelling has reduced and tumors must be decreased. My radiation is done on September 26 and I will fly home on September 27. I will have three weeks without oral chemo. I will fly back to Houston October 16-17 for an MRI. I will need to fly to Houston every two months for MRI's. My picture can show how much weight I have lost. My doctor is amazed by my commitment to exercise and healthy eating. My head is clear and my balance is great. I feel strong and am excited to be with you soon. I have you all in my daily prayers!
I would like to first, and foremost, thank everyone for all of your thoughts, prayers, and cards that I have received over the past few months. Although I am no longer able to text or write myself, I still want to hear from you. My dear sisters have served as "secretary" for me in responding to phone calls, texts and the many letters/cards and gifts I have received. Although they may not always feel like it, they are truly angels of God. I feel very blessed to have them in my life.
I do believe that your many prayers have served me well this summer. At my last visit to the neuro-oncologist at Northwestern University Medical Center the end of June, I learned that the growth of my two primary brain tumors had slowed and that there was no evidence of any new tumors present. Hallelujah! However, the side effects of my chemotherapy and adjunct therapy tend to wear me down, so I often do feel tired, stiff, and a little weak. Also, because of the brain hemorrhage I sustained last November, my speech is significantly impaired and will likely never improve from what it is currently. Nonetheless, I try to continue to serve by hearing confessions and con-celebrating at mass with Fr. Schultz and Fr. Pica. I so much appreciate their patience and support in helping me to make this possible. I also appreciate the support and graciousness I have received from our own Bishop Jenky in allowing me to remain in the rectory at St. Patrick of Merna.
In closing, I ask that you continue to pray for me. My next visit to the neuro-oncologist will be on August 17, so I am hoping and praying that I get another favorable report. One of the goals that I have set for myself is to be on that bus trip later in September to watch the Cards versus the Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The Cards won 3 out of the 4 games I was present for at the end of May, so I believe it's important that I attend that September game!! Most importantly, remember that Jesus loves you and me. This is what truly sustains me on my "bad" days when I'm not feeling 100%.
Love and peace to you all!
Monsignor Greg Ketcham"
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
I would like to let you know that Fr. Greg's family made the very difficult decision to put Fr. Greg on home hospice this week. The originally prescribed pain medications for Fr. Greg's headaches weren't doing enough. Fr. Greg and his family are much at peace and though Fr. Greg does continue to struggle and get worse the Lord continues to give them the grace they need. On behalf of Fr. Greg and his family I thank you for all your love, support and prayers.
Fr. Dustin Schultz