Sunday, March 27, 2005


He is risen!

"Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here, He has risen, just as HE said."

Ok ... I guess everyone knows that Father Carlos Villarreal left a comment on our Blog a few days ago.

I don't know about the rest of you, but that has just thoroughly made my Easter! It is so gratifying to know that at least "someone" of clergy status is viewing our comments and at least hearing our cries.

Thank you Father Carlos.

Because we have had so many responses to Father Carlos' post, I have decided to finish out the Easter season by posting his comment and your responses on a special page. I will continue to post your comments as I get them.

May you all have a Happy Easter!

"Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way."

Fr. Carlos A. Villarreal

“Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way”.

I agree with Fr. Carlos 100%.

In addition, bishops and priests should love their flock and should not act with malice towards them or tell them false-truths, i.e. Where is Fr. Ivan? “Oh, he has been sick and needed some time off” or, “Fr. Nicolau resigned from the Basilica for health reasons” or, “I didn’t have anything to do with the firings at Holy Spirit.

YES… “Love One Another”, “Do Unto Others”… But, also Speak Out to Correct Injustice! Isn’t that what Christ taught us?

Nowhere could you find more examples of Christian values being put into action than at Holy Spirit Parish previous to June 18, 2003.

Where were your Christian values then?

A still hurting parishioner.


And the flock scattered far and wide, including to other religions. And it continues still.

Another still hurting parishioner.

"Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way." -Carlos

I get the message, but I don't agree. What is missing are the words SHOULD and PEOPLE, not just Christians.

Though Jesus never stopped loving sinners, he had what would be considered hurtful words for them. Words like vipers, whitened sepulchers, Satan. And he saved the worst for the religious leaders who should have known better. He was actually quite kind and understanding with the oppressed laity when they sinned.

But at least Carlos is making an attempt at communication, not considering himself a high and mighty priest unworthy of hearing what his parishioners have to say. One rumor has it that after Luis goes to the Basilica, Carlos will replace him at Holy Spirit.

If Carlos keeps an open mind and heart and truly listens and seeks reconciliation, he will have no problem at Holy Spirit, except for the small handful of outsiders who continue to demand that the church return to the superstition, secrecy, arrogance, sexism, and racism of pre-Vatican II.

We will help Carlos handle those lost sheep lovingly, as we did before the upheaval of June 2003. We seek a priest who will listen and respond with God's interest at heart; that is all. No genius spiritual director nor orator is necessary.

-A humble parishioner

Fr Carlos, May I say with all sincerity, "Thank you for entering into dialogue with us.” Perhaps you sensed feelings of anger, pain and bitterness and you felt this was not the proper Christian response to our situation.

The problem is that our anger, pain and bitterness has come as a response to deceit, oppression and injustice imposed on us by spiritual leaders who are supposed to have chosen to be Christian and Catholic as their vocation. Instead, their goal seems to have been ordination as a career and whoever is the greediest, most ostentatious, most callus and calculating is the most successful.

How can we stand (or perhaps, I should say “kneel”) for this if we know with every fiber of our being, that it is WRONG!!!

Margaret Eberhardt

It seems almost comical…

Those that are living their religion according to current Catholic Church directives (Vatican II) are the ones that are considered to be the “rebels” and those that are going against those directives and are trying so fanatically to change them... are not!

Proud to be a rebel.

I have to agree with Margaret that at least Fr. Carlos is showing some attempt to dialog, something we have not been able to do with our own pastor after trying so many times.

He only consults with his few secret "advisers" and decisions for the whole parish are made in this fashion, i.e. the ending of one of our most beloved traditions of having real bread (as directed by the GIRM) at the Eucharistic Banquet; ignoring and eventually disbanding our Parish Council, Liturgy, Financial, and Peace and Justice committees; etc., etc.

For our pastor, his sheep are not all deserving of the same respect, only those who will never challenge him, even if he is wrong.


I agree. If you are not one of the old style "Pray, Pay and Obey" Catholics, our present pastor doesn't want much to do with you. This reflects highly of his character and up-bringing.


Christ came to gather lost sheep. He preached salvation for ALL people. And, because we are ALL sinners, no one was excluded.

To be Christian encourages “inclusiveness”. Everyone is welcome at His table.

Previous to 6/18/03, everyone WAS welcome at Holy Spirit. No one cared if you sat, stood or squatted. You were not criticized. You were ALWAYS included and you were ALWAYS welcome.

The attitude at Holy Spirit today is one of “exclusiveness”. If you don’t stand, kneel or sit when I tell you, don’t come back! If you prefer bread instead of host, this place is not for you. If you are interested in a peace movement, go somewhere else. If you are not obedient to me, you cannot be a Eucharistic Minister. No one can count the collections, but who I appoint. If you don’t agree with the way I select the Parish Council, get out!

A religious leader that seeks exclusiveness in his Church does not have a good understanding of the most basic of Christ’s teachings and that will surely result in trouble for Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, the way of the cross involves standing up to a religious leader that has forgotten what his job description really is! Was he not paying attention to the concept of the washing of the feet on Thursday night?

A sinner-

So far, Holy Week has lacked the solemnity and meaning of past years at Holy Spirit.

To start with, I was disheartened to see Luis Brum preside at tenebrae. It looked so bad when he refused to read some of the humbling phrases from the Bible readings.

At the Holy Thursday service, in this age of extreme concern over homosexual pedophilia, it does not look good that he chose only male youth for the washing of the feet. And then, he got the meaning of the ritual backwards. He thanked the young men for humbling themselves to have their feet washed! He mixed up the Christian message so badly, frankly I wonder if he is really a priest! I am not being facetious!

The exception to this disappointing streak for Holy Week was the Friday service downtown! Read about it in the Saturday Monitor. That was an event in the true Holy Spirit tradition. Of course, Luis had nothing to do with it and wanted Holy Spirit not to be involved. People came out of the shops to pay respect and some even followed the procession for a while. What an outreach event for Holy Spirit!

What is wrong with Luis? Why does he discriminate against so many groups? How much longer are we going to put up with this outrage of a priest?

A justifiably angry parishioner.

Several weeks ago, I attended a management meeting in Dallas. Once our flight got underway, the pilot came on the PA system and said: “Thank you for choosing American Airlines. We know that you had a choice of which airline you could choose and we want to sincerely welcome you and thank you for choosing American!”

I think our church can learn a lesson from this important message. No longer do we automatically acquire parishioners, even if they were born Catholic. Our young have multiple choices of where they can worship. They will go where they are invited and are welcomed! You can’t put on a false front and fool them anymore, either. They are too smart for that! It’s called being truly sincere about saving their souls.

It may seem like you are gaining parishioners, but compared to our present population explosion, your attitude is loosing them in groves! PLEASE take heed!

-A Worried Parishioner

Fruit for thought.
Do not agree with me, just let the words sink in.

"In order to heal, I must forgive. If I never forgive, I will never heal."

May the Resurrected Christ, reign in your lives!

Fr. Carlos A. Villarreal

Pope Paul VI said: “If you want peace (healing), there needs to be justice.”
Pope John Paul II added:
“To have justice, there must be reconciliation.”

We HAVE forgiven! But before there can be PEACE, we need JUSTICE and RECONCILIATION.

This requires the participation of BOTH parties…

An excellent start, Carlos, but it is only a start.

Let me add this and, like you say, let it sink in:

"Between forgiveness and healing lies the vast chasm of reconciliation. Cross it and you are healed."

Reconciliation restores the relationship to where it was before the offense.

"Fruit for thought" for Father Carlos:

Although I appreciate the opportunity to dialog with a priest, perhaps you should hesitate before you accuse parishioners of not forgiving. I, for one, have forgiven those who caused the hostile takeover on June 18; however, that does not mean that we are reconciled. Bishop Pena has never taken responsibility for his part in those actions.

How can we reconcile with someone who isn't taking responsibility? Bishop Pena's modus operandi has been to deny responsibility for everything from moving pedophile priests to dioceses in other countries, to the firings at Holy Spirit Parish and the subsequent removal of beautiful traditions in our parish, such as real bread for the Eucharist and the choice to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Reconciliation is not just the responsibility of the parishioners; it is also the responsibility of the clergy. Bishop Pena and Father Louis Brum also need to reconcile. Father Louis refuses to discuss any type of reconciliation in our parish. His "past is the past" rhetoric has become tiring.

Holy Spirit Parish was a victim and victims do not heal by ignoring their pain. You cannot just put it aside and move on. In order to have reconciliation, there needs to be open communication about the hurt that was caused in 2003, and that has never happened at our parish!
You may sign me:
A parishioner who has forgiven, but is waiting for reconciliation.

I suppose we should be grateful that the Knights did not wear their swords to the Holy Thursday service - BUT, they did wear them in the chapel during the 4 hours of adoration AND they had a changing of the guard every 15 minutes. How was that supposed to contribute to a spirit of mediation and silent reflection??

What a show of clerical sexism was the service!! I am disappointed that those poor Confirmation boys (although I did notice at least one already confirmed college boy) did not speak up for their female counterparts and insist that they be included.

Did you notice how those boys were arranged - according to dress in a descending order?? First there were the ones with coats and ties, then ties, then no ties. What a sad demonstration of exclusivity. I wonder who was responsible for that - the pastor or Grand Knight Tom?
-A disappointed parishioner

We had a wonderful showing for our annual downtown Way of the Cross Good Friday Afternoon - we had about 55 people. That was a tremendous showing for not being able to advertise the event in the bulletin or in a verbal at the parish.

This prayerful event, which we have done for about 20 years now, is a profound reminder of the ways the sufferings of Jesus still live on in the poor and dispossessed of our city and our world today.

I am confused as to why our pastor refused to let this be an activity of the parish this year - he gave no reason. I am confused why a priest is so opposed to the parish promoting activities pertaining to peace and justice. Isn't that what the message of Jesus is all about? Isn't that what our mission as Catholics is all about?

At least we still have parish members who are committed to the works of peace and justice and who are committed to continuing this ministry in the name of and on behalf of the parish.

Sister Moira

Thank you for your thoughts Fr. Carlos. However, those who have committed acts of injustice also have a responsibility to acknowledge their actions and ask for forgiveness. The clergy who have demonstrated ill actions toward the committed parishioners have given an example of pride, authority and total disregard for the faith of the people they have attacked.

They refuse to allow those who disagree with them to sit at the table for a balanced conversation. He (Louis) has chosen to hear only one side of the story. His tunnel vision does not allow him to see the greater vision of what Christianity is all about. He has chosen to conceal the great mystery of the resurrection to the inside of a chapel. Those who really understand the gospel know that our responsibility is to bring it to others.

He talks consistently about the mystery of the Eucharist, but fails to understand that the Eucharist has a dynamic message. Don't hide your light under a basket. Let it shine for all to see. Bring my message to the poor, the misled; those who need to hear it.

Louis, please read the Beatitudes. You might learn something. It is never too late to find Jesus and what He was all about. He never wanted to be the highlight of the day. He humbled himself to become a servant. Try it. It really is rewarding.

Pope John Paul II has exemplified evangelism by traveling to innumerable nations bringing the message of the gospel. That is evangelization. It is not imposing one's interpretation of Catholicism, but rather delivering the message under extreme conditions and willing to suffer the consequences for the sake of the gospel. Louis is too secure behind his collar and not even willing to carry the cross on Good Friday.

He did miss the point on Holy Thursday. He thanked the young men for their humility in having their feet washed. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIM EXPRESSING HIS HUMILITY FOR WASHING THEIR FEET. But when humility is too hard to bear, one escapes to making up reality rather than living it.

Fr. Carlos wrote about healing. Maybe he is aware of information that he needs to share with the parishioners of Holy Spirit and those victims that have been scarred at the hands of some clergy.

It takes a great man (priest) to admit that he has hurt others through his actions or words. "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but so not perceive the wooden beam in our own eye?" Our clergy needs to stop hiding behind their "clerical garb" and realize they are men first and not divine like Jesus.
A Parishioner

I do not live in McAllen, but I have family living there. When Father Jerry was the priest we would come to McAllen every year for Holy Week services. The feeling of love and beauty of the week would last for a long time.

It seems so many of our priests have made the church over to suit them. Our priest bragged, in church, that he had a better spy network than the CIA and knew everything about every one of us. Bringing back pre-Vatican II is bad, but the "Inquisition"? Telling on your fellow Christians and having them damned without a trial?

The "good" people meet with Father and make all the decisions; the rest of us, sinners all, just write the checks for the weekly envelopes. The "good" people come to the weekly "Holy Hour" and pray out loud, the bad sinners stay home with small children or sick spouses.

Our priest says we do not realize how much God suffered for us until we see the movie, "The Passion of the Christ". Yes we do. I was raised Lutheran and before Confirmation we learned about the agony in a very clinical way that had some of us crying. Our pastor told us what it was about, using the Bible as background. Not only that, Jesus died like that because He loved every one of us and He was sad if one was lost. I think many of the "chosen" will be sad in Heaven if they can't look down and see the others in Hell.

Mary O'Donnell
Sweeny, Texas

Holy Thursday was indeed a sad day for women at Holy Spirit. After nine years of attending the wonderful services of Holy Week at Holy Spirit, I could not believe what happened on Thursday.

Is someone trying to take us back to the times of rampant discrimination against women? I know the Catholic Church is one of the few respected world institutions not yet fully willing to give women their equal rights, even after Vatican II, when it was supposed to change.

Nevertheless, at the Holy Spirit of past years, my daughters and I felt included and sensed a honest effort at giving women an equal opportunity to serve and be apostles, as Jesus called us all to be.

What a contrast with what is happening now! Does our pastor believe that the Last Supper was just like Leonardo's painting? Is that what he learned at priest school, that only well dressed boys were present in the upper room? Doesn't he know that many disciples, both men and WOMEN, followed Jesus?

More than likely, the women cooked the Passover meal and their families gathered to celebrate together? Most of the disciples were married, and their wives and children also followed Jesus. They were all one BIG FAMILY!

My daughters are appalled at what they saw and heard Holy Thursday. They are struggling with their faith since the veil of trust in the church keeps falling from their faces on a daily basis. How is something like last Holy Thursday at Holy Spirit going to help them heal and convince them to remain faithful Catholics? Can someone please help us?

Yes, Fr. Carlos, healing and forgiveness do go hand in hand. But you can forgive and also stand your ground firmly in seeking justice, truth and basic respect as a fellow brother or sister in Christ. While angry words may not always reflect the better angels of our nature, the words do reflect the deep hurt that is felt and the deep love we have for our church and our parish. What was our spiritual home, our sanctuary and our place to participate and grow in faith, now seems like a foreign and sometimes barren land.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are what we want to give and receive, but so many of us are being shut out or ignored. How can the body of the Church at Holy Spirit Parish begin to heal when it continues to be wounded? We will never be the same parish we were, but we can also never rebuild if we continue to be torn apart.

One more comment on Easter: Instead of leaving Easter Sunday with a feeling of joy, I left trying to understand why I felt a sense of hollowness. Was the focus for the service the celebration of the resurrection - or were we there to celebrate our new goblets??

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