The nearly 300-page book, published by Xlibris Corp., was released earlier this spring and is a collection of enlightening and spiritually uplifting anecdotes first written by Father Schmidt for parishioners at Little Flower Parish in Springfield. Although he has been writing for over a dozen years, the essays featured in his book include the initial five years of his collection.
“Back when I was pastor at Little Flower, I guess it was about 13 or 14 years ago, the principal of the school (Sister Mary Joan Sorge, OP) said, ‘You should start writing things down.’” Father Schmidt took his friend’s advice, to a certain degree.
“I started to write about what I saw in nature, because I thought, ‘Who cares about meetings and stuff like that?’” Eventually those thoughts led to essays for his parishioners, which are all published first in his parish weekly bulletins, usually on the back cover.
Father Schmidt says most of his essays relate directly to nature, thanks in part to his childhood growing up with the influence of nature-loving parents, teachers and Dominican Sisters. “I grew up on a farm outside of Carrollton with a sister and five brothers — I was second to the bottom,” he says. “My sister, who is two years older than me is Sister Henrianne, a Dominican who lives in Aurora.
“We went to a country school where we learned about God in nature — in flowers and in birds and other animals. When I was serving in other parishes, I always used to come home and walk in the woods.”
Father Schmidt says his messages are fairly simple. For example, just as frogs jump into a pond alive with activity, so should parishioners jump into parish activities.
The name of Father Schmidt’s book, which refers to sandals, relates to the priest’s attire. “I’ve been wearing sandals for 30 or more years now,” he says. “I wear them all year long. I like to wear the least amount of shoe as possible.”
Although the book only covers the first five years of his essays, Father Schmidt isn’t sure whether he’ll have more books published. He admits that his parishioners and other friends have been enthusiastic about seeing the first book in print.
“Some people kept saying I should try to have the essays published, so I finally thought ‘Why not send them to Xlibris and see what they have to say?’ and that’s how this came about.
“You know, I was privileged to grow up on a farm where our parents (Henry and Ann) instilled in us the presence of God in our daily lives, as well as in the majesty of God’s nature,” he says. “I hope my perceptions of God in nature will help the reader to encounter God in the ordinary experiences of life.”