How could a priest that was so warmly welcomed by his parishioners be so quickly turned away?
Our Parish’s Financial Status
As a long time parish member, I am troubled, angry, and extremely concerned about the way this parish is being managed (or mismanaged) by Father Brum. It appears there are only a very few parishioners that truly have access to what is really going on in the parish regarding finances, decision-making, program changes, and the dismantling of the various commissions. The message is very clear that if one disagrees with Father Brum about any issue, that individual is labeled a “troublemaker” and not a “good Catholic.”
To me, this smacks of clericalism (clericalism is defined as the “ policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy”). This clericalism is further demonstrated by his reluctance to embrace differences and keep an open mind. It is clear Father Brum’s management style does not value the laity’s participation, and sadly, he does not have the skills to deal productively and respectfully with current conflicts, nor does he have the skills (or interest) in working to heal our parish.
The process Father Brum has undertaken in the past sixteen months is very reminiscent of how our Diocese operates. He has clearly chosen to take the road of ruling by intimidation. He also has developed an atmosphere of secrecy by not being open regarding our parish finances, as well as, many other issues. His typical response has been that of defensiveness and accusations. At a minimum, Father Brum has shown he has very poor management and poor interpersonal communication and listening skills. Father Brum does not value the parishioners (both lay and religious) who can think for themselves and question his decisions and actions.
A word of advice for Father Louis:
Holy Spirit Parish can be a very unforgiving place for a priest that is unaccustomed to being challenged by his flock.
Parishioners at Holy Spirit are much too knowledgeable to be fooled by insincerity and deception. For the most part, parishioners at Holy Spirit are also quite active in pursuing church teachings and expect their pastor to be knowledgeable enough to challenge their spiritual appetite and curiosity. This is the reason Fr. Jerry was so well accepted here. He could address our spiritual concerns and he would even encouraged us to ask!
Unlike other Catholic parishes, Holy Spirit parishioners are not your average “see you on Sunday” Catholics. Since its inception, Holy Spirit parishioners have been encouraged to be involved in the operation and decision making process of their parish. There was never any secret meetings or discussions. Everything was always totally open.
Policy and operational procedures that are now in place at Holy Spirit are the result of logical and theologically correct methodologies that, in most cases, have been voted on by the entire community.
Many of these practices have been in place for many years and have now become traditions, i.e. “Fresh Baked Bread”, “Full-Immersion Baptism”, “Training of Children for First Holy Communion", “Peace & Justice Activities”, “Washing of the Feet”, policy on “Donated By” items, “Scripture Classes”, “Children’s Laity of the Word”, “Election of Parish Council and Finance Committee Members”, “Open Parish Council and Finance Committee Meetings”, “Downtown Stations of the Cross”, “Affirmation Night”, "Town Meetings with Full Parish Participation", "Small Church Communities", etc…. NO SECRETS… EVERYTHING OUT IN THE OPEN... NO PARISHIONER WAS EVER FORBIDDEN TO PARTICIPATE BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T AGREE WITH THE PRIEST!
As you have discovered, your "Gestapo" methods to try to change these long-standing traditional procedures have met with extremely stern resistance and unless you can provide your parishioners with sound, logical reasoning for making any changes, I’m afraid you are not going find much support. “Because that’s the way I want it”, doesn’t carry much weight at Holy Spirit. A priest is here to serve the community… not to be served by the community!
Which brings me to the heart of my advice. You have now reached a fork in the road on your journey at Holy Spirit. You know that your Gestapo methods are not working and you now see your flock turning against you. It’s quite simple. Either start serving your community… or get the hell out!
-A Fed Up Parishioner.
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Thursday, April 14, 2005