Monday, April 04, 2005

Newsletter of 4/03/05

Always In Our Hearts!

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—April 3, 2005

Peace and Justice, Redux
A five minute Google Search discovered that the following dioceses in the United States are among those that have an Office of Peace and Justice:

Chicago, Portland (OR), Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, El Paso, Raleigh (NC), Fort Worth, Lexington (KY), Joliet (IL), Salt Lake City, Worcester (MA), Kansas City (KS), Venice (FL), Richmond (VA), La Crosse (WI), Gary (IN), Madison (WI), Peoria (IL), Lansing (MI), Charlotte (NC), Providence (RI), Arlington (VA), Oakland (CA), Pueblo (CO), Rockford (IL), Reno (NV), Albany (NY), Gallup (NM), Covington (KY), Louisville (KY), St. Augustine (FL), Kansas City (MO).

Additionally, the following dioceses have offices with slightly different names, but the same function:

Cincinnati (Social Action), Santa Fe (Social Justice), Newark (NJ) (Social Justice), San Antonio (Social Concerns), Owensboro (KY) (Social Concerns), San Jose (CA) (Social Justice and Human Concerns), St. Paul-Minneapolis (Social Justice), San Bernadino (CA) (Social Concerns).

What prompted this Internet hunt was the continued efforts by the Pastor to dismantle not only the work of the parish’s Peace and Justice Commission, but also even its name. He is somehow convinced that such work, even such a title, is inappropriate for a Catholic parish. The Peace and Justice Commission, its name and its work, has been characterized as the “lunatic fringe,” the last bastion of aging radicals, so far out of the Church mainstream that they are an embarrassment to “real” Catholics.

This, like so much else being foisted on the parish, is complete nonsense as the above data from forty-one dioceses around the country show. Are we to believe that our Pastor is wiser about the implementation of the Church’s teachings than the leaders of these forty-one dioceses? Is our faithful gospel witness in the Parish to be simply “Pray, Pay, and Obey?”

Christian love of neighbor and action for a better society cannot be separated. The Scriptures and the authentic tradition of the Catholic Church call the Christian community to labor individually and collectively to meet the needs of others. Action on behalf of social justice is a constitutive element of the gospel. Those who wish to live fully the pious life cannot be content with occasional acts of generosity. Attention must be given to unjust and oppressive structures in society. Christians must struggle against not only poverty, racism, sexism, and any form of exploitation of one person by another, they must also struggle against the structural causes of such injustices (Peoria Diocese, Statutes on Justice and Peace).
Peace and Justice seems to play pretty well in Peoria.

The Easter Vigil
Much has been made of the Knights of Columbus and the “incident with the rosaries” at the Easter Vigil (see the Blog). Are the powerful rituals of light and dark, fire and water, bread and wine, so fundamentally unsatisfying to some that the liturgy has to be “tricked up” with pious, but irrelevant to the occasion, ceremonies to make the sacramental celebration “feel right” and be complete?

As noted in a previous newsletter, “where the official liturgy does not spiritually nourish people in sufficient measure, Christians tend to focus on popular devotions.” [October 31] What else can we expect when our parish liturgy is slowly being transformed into an ornate show that we watch, rather than a communal celebration that all of us make together?

As For Me, I’ve Made a Choice
Easter Sunday—a high point in the liturgical celebrations of our church—and I kept waiting for the joyous spirit of the resurrection. The setting was beautiful and the chimes at the “Gloria” were moving, but I just couldn’t get past that display of golden cups. Watching the ceremony surrounding the cups underscored how we are being encouraged to become spectators instead of participants doing “this in memory of me” and celebrating together as our Lord wished.

But Easter did find me through the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Twenty-five years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, and began to plant trees, new life and hope. She lives the amen, the “I believe.” Her movement’s slogan is: “As for me, I’ve made a choice.” Prophetic words. As for me, I have made a choice and been chosen. The resurrection is mine, and the choice is mine to live it and not allow myself to become a spectator. From a Parishioner

That Annoying Justice Thing Again
When, in 2001, the Diocese of Brownsville implemented a change in its retirement plan from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution,” it created a situation in which some older employees were affected negatively (i.e., they lost a lot of money). More than any other event, the retirement change prompted the unionization of four parishes (funny what being treated unjustly leads some people to do).

As part of the union contract with Holy Spirit, the parish is obligated to pay a total of $1,800 per month to the UFW pension fund, in which the workers will be vested after five years and will be guaranteed a defined benefit upon retirement. When the diocese changed the retirement plan and after it disbursed payouts to each employee, it distributed, from the surplus that remained in the over funded pension fund, monies to each parish to do with what they wished.

At Holy Spirit, a decision was made by the Finance Committee and Father Jerry to put the distributed funds in a dedicated account and use it to meet the union contract obligation. Guess what? No additional money has ever been set aside from general revenue for this account and the money will be gone in May. The Parish is under legal obligation to make the $1,800 payment each month—will it (we) be doing that?

A Brief Note
Last fall, a check in the amount of $6,254.04 was donated to the Parish through the Texas Civil Rights Project. This money is the total that had been collected in 2003 for the designated fund to help support the fired workers. The four workers are very grateful for the outpouring of love and support that they received, and, therefore, they released this money to help the Parish.
The Pastor has refused to have this fact published in the Sunday bulletin.

If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at:

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