February 25th~Year 7, No. 7

It’s a Girl

For years, Swift Kicks has been printing obituaries to inform our readers about those with Nazareth community connections who have died.  From this week onward, we want to balance announcements of death with tidings of new life.  Though a number of babies have been born recently in our community, we begin with the most recent.  On Valentine’s Day (Feb. 12th) Lily, a baby girl, was born to Tyler & Misty Schacher.  Congratulations, thanksgiving, and blessings!

Historical Markers set in Place

Holy Family Cemetery Marker

Holy Family Cemetery historical marker. Courtesy: Darryl Birkenfeld

After extensive research work and an application process that began back in summer 2013, two official historical markers were finally erected last Thursday, one at the west entrance of Holy Family Cemetery, and the other on the northeast corner of the Home Mercantile Building.  A Dedication Ceremony for both markers will take place on Sunday afternoon, March 15th at 3pm, to which the public is invited.  After a short ceremony at each marker, everyone is invited to attend the St. Paddy’s Celebration at the Home Mercantile from 4-6pm, featuring music and dances by the Texas Tech University Irish Set Dancers and the Caprock Céilí Band, plus a stew supper during an intermission at 5pm.  There is no admission charge for the event, but donations are greatly appreciated.  Please mark your calendars and come learn more about our rich heritage and history.

HM Marker

Home Mercantile historical marker. Courtesy: Darryl Birkenfeld



Foxes Among Us

Gray fox photo 2-17-15

Gray fox. Courtesy: Joann Starr

It is easy to forget that we live among wild animals…until a nice surprise comes along comes.  On Feb. 17th, as they were preparing some lunch, Joann Starr and Darryl Birkenfeld glanced out their kitchen window to notice that two foxes (not coyotes) were suddenly running up close to their house.  As the foxes meandered their way around the west side of the house, the homeowners had a chance to admire their black, silver and brown colorings.  Darryl was hoping the pair might be swift foxes, something next to impossible since swift foxes are nocturnal, extremely rare outside any setting that isn’t wide open shortgrass prairie, and are much smaller in size.  Just before the foxes moved out of sight, Joann snapped a photo of one of them from her office window.  As you can see from the photo, it is clearly a gray fox, due to its coloration, size, and the distinguishing black stripe running the length of its tail.

According to Wikipedia, “the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) ranges throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America. It is readily differentiated from the red fox by the lack of ‘black stockings’ that stand out on the latter and the stripe of black hair that runs along the middle of the tail.”  Gray foxes can climb trees, and prefer to make their dens on the outskirts of small towns and in the countryside.

To learn more about the swift fox, the Nazareth school mascot, here is the link to photos and an article by the Nebraska-based photographer Michael Forsberg:




Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer is pastor of St. Hyacinth’s Church in Amarillo and Immaculate Conception Church in Vega, TX.  He is the author of several books, as well as The High Plains Preacher radio program.  Fr. Jim sends greetings to his many friends in Nazareth.



By: Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer


Some folks dropped by my house last week and I offered them refreshments. They asked what I had to offer and I said, “Beer and pretzels!” One of the visitors wasn’t Catholic, and she expressed surprise that a priest would serve beer to this guests. I replied that my last name is Schmitmeyer and, if I didn’t offer beer, I’d be denying my ethnic heritage. Then I went further, pointing out that beer and pretzels have deep roots in the Catholic countries of Europe.

Then, one of the Catholics in the group, expressed surprise at the connection between pretzels and Catholicism. So I told them the story about the Italian monk who folded strips of dough folded into shapes that resembled children crossing her arms in prayer. He would give these treats called “pretiolas” or “little rewards,” to the children who had memorized their prayers.

After my guests left, I got on the Internet and discovered other connections between pretzels and the Catholic Church. Here is what I found:

In 1185, an illustration of pretzels appeared in a manuscript at an abbey in Alsace, then a region of Germany.  In a prayer book used by Catherine of Cleves in 1440, there was a picture of St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels. By this time, pretzels were considered a sign of spiritual wholeness—possibly due to the three holes in the pretzel being considered a representation of the Holy Trinity.

Eventually, the pretzel’s popularity led its inclusion in holiday celebrations. In Germany, children hung pretzels around their necks on New Year’s Day. In Austria, pretzels were used to decorate Christmas trees. In Switzerland, the pretzel shape was used to symbolize the marriage knot.

By the 16th century, it had become tradition to eat pretzels on Good Friday in Germany and Catholics once considered them the “official food of lent.”

This is probably more than you’ll ever need to know about pretzels. But the next time you serve your guests beer and pretzels, you can now use the occasion to comment on how reminders of God show up all around us: in the guests whom we welcome into our homes, in our conversations and concern for one another and, yes, even in the pretzels in the bowl next to the beer!





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