Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Newsletter of 6/12/05 + Other News.

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—June 12, 2005

Canon Law and Disorder
I am not a Canon lawyer, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, but the circumstances surrounding the Collegiate Tribunal that has been called by the Diocese to rule on the validity of the contract between Holy Spirit and the UFW strikes me as odd at best

In the relevant Canon Law (c.1400-c.1670), it is clear that a tribunal is called to settle “a controversy between persons” (a parish is considered a person). Who are the persons in this dispute? To date, none of the workers, their union representatives, no parishioners, Father Jerry or any of the other priests who signed union contracts have been informed that they are parties to the dispute. A dispute must have two sides and both sides must be represented as the issues are presented to a deciding court. Or so it seems (again, I am not …).

“Whatever general and specific regulations on contracts and payments are determined in civil law for a given territory are to be observed in canon law with the same effects in a matter which is subject to the governing power of the Church, unless the civil regulations are contrary to divine law or canon law makes some other provision.” Code of Canon Law, Book V

Is it the contention of the complainant (whoever that may be) that a pastor cannot sign a contract that binds the parish, even beyond his tenure as pastor? This cannot be true, because pastors sign contracts that survive their tenure all the time. Is it the contention of the complainant that no labor contracts can be signed, since church workers cannot belong to a union? This is simply false, as many teachers and cemetery workers in the U.S. and even all the Vatican workers are unionized. Is it the contention of the complainant that this particular contract is improper since the pastors of the Diocese had been specifically told not to sign union contracts? Even though now prohibited, there was at the time, no directive from the Diocese about such contracts. In fact when the workers inquired of the Diocese about the contract, they were told “that is an issue between you and your pastor.”
~From Jerry Brazier, a parishioner.

Romero and El Salvador, Part II
There is so much to say about Archbishop Romero that I think it might be best to suggest some books and articles you might wish to read. I have read them all and they are all quite wonderful.

Oscar Romero. Voice of the Voiceless. The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements. Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 1985.
The Introductory Essays by Jon Sobrino and Ignacio Martin-Baro are truly excellent. (Martin-Baro was one of the Jesuits killed at the University of Central America (UCA) in 1989). These pastoral letters show the growth of understanding of God’s work in a suffering people, especially in Romero.

Oscar Romero. The Violence of Love. Orbis Books. Maryknoll,NY. 1988.
“The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.” The excerpts of many of Romero’s homilies, and other writings, are gathered here for a deep look into the heart of a pastor, willing to give his life for his flock

James R. Brockman. Romero: A Life. Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 1989 and 2005.
This volume is an updated version of The Word Remains by Jesuit James Brockman, done for the 25th anniversary of Romero’s assassination. “The essential biography of a modern martyr and Christian hero.” A must if you want to understand the context of Monseñor’s life and death.
Dennis, Golden, Wright.

Oscar Romero. Reflections on His Life and Writings. Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 2000.
This is a small but mighty book on the growth of the stature of the centrality of the poor in Romero’s spirituality. It includes, also, the growth of the stature of Romero in the thought of many theologians in El Salvador and around the world. Romero has become the universal prophet of our times, by including the poor and oppressed, as one of the Jesuits says, “Long before the church made an option for the poor, the poor made an option for the church.” Food for deep prayer and conversion for all of us who are complacent about the life of the church in the world today.

Maria Lopez Vigil. Memories in Mosaic. EPICA. Washington, DC, 1993.
Republished in 2000 for the 20th anniversary. I found this book took me into the heart of Romero, with its stories and anecdotes by people who knew and worked with him, as well as some who hated him enough to have a party on hearing of his death. You’ll find many intimate details of his relationships with his priests, and his growing understanding of the struggles of his people. Romero was highly energetic his entire life. Yet, he spent hours on his knees in prayer, especially as he wrote his homilies and pastoral letters. You’ll hear Romero telling the cook how wonderful her beans are, as well as holding the body of the first priest he ordained as a bishop, and covered with blood, weeping as he cried, “Octavio, my son, what have they done to you?” They had run a tank over his body and crushed his face. Heavy stuff. No?

Oscar Romero. A Shepherd’s Diary. St. Anthony Messenger Press. Cincinnati, OH. 1993.
In his second year, of only three, as archbishop, he began recording each day’s happenings. Very detailed. Very enlightening. Very worthwhile. It reveals the complexity of the country, the archdiocese and the church and how Romero traversed this complex world and insight into Romero’s relationships with three popes and a very unsympathetic Vatican Curia, which was the cause of great personal suffering for Romero. Amazing!

These are all great books. I hope you come to revere Archbishop Romero as I do, and millions of others in this world. ~From Sister Marian Strohmeyer, a parishioner.

More parishioners have been barred from ministry in our parish. The stated reason, in at least one case, is that this person “doesn’t follow Church teaching.” Will our Pastor now bar visiting priests who have preached (in our parish) contrary to Church teaching from saying Mass here? We are not obliged to go to confession each year (only if we are aware of serious sin), Mary is not the “Co-Redeemer,” etc.

See you at the Sunday night vigil—8:00 pm in front of church.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. 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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

Also, This from Rebecca Flores at The United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO.

June 13, 2005


Brownsville Bishop Pena breaks Court Agreement

The United Farm Workers, AFL CIO will hold a press conference Friday, June 17, 2005 to denounce the bad faith negotiations by Representatives and lawyers of Bishop Pena in the agreement of August 18, 2003.

On issues of major importance to lay employees and parishioners, Bishop Pena broke the agreement he made before Judge Mario Ramirez. The issues he has broken are those specific to the grievance procedure for lay employees, and the process he has instituted in preparing for a Tribunal to determine the validity of the union contract. Further neither Bishop Pena nor the pastor of Holy Spirit Parish has met to discuss a process for healing and reconciliation within Holy Spirit parish.

Because Bishop Pena has broken this court agreement, the UFW is considering future legal action.

TIME: 12 noon, Friday, June 17, 2005

WHERE: The entrance to the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan, on Nebraska Street in San Juan, Texas.


For further information contact Rebecca Flores, cell: 210 842 9502.

Do Not Fear to Hope.

Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. St. Paul to the Romans, 5:5

You the parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish “have built a dynamic, progressive Vatican II parish in every respect—spiritually vibrant, financially solvent and generous with many outstanding charitable endeavors, many active volunteers in a wide variety of programs, extensive participation of members in educational and renewal programs, a large number of small church communities…and a strong, prophetic voice in the larger community." ~Bishop Peña to the parishioners of Holy Spirit in February 2003

We recognize the parish described in those words, and we are concerned that the character of that parish is being changed so fundamentally that it is becoming unrecognizable to those who lived in and built it over a period of 23 years.

The events of June 18, 2003 when a priest who had not been here for 45 minutes began to fire the entire staff profoundly shook the parish. The events since that day have done nothing to heal the parish, but instead have made the situation worse. "I feel I have lost my family."…"I come to Mass on Sunday and the spirit that was once there is gone, and I feel that something very valuable has been taken away"… "It feels as if we are being told that our experience of Church at Holy Spirit has been inauthentic and wrong, and so must be changed." ~A quote from a parishioner.

We do not want to lose that special character that has made Holy Spirit such a strong and powerful experience in our lives.

During this two-year period, we have seen the following:

  • Parishioners have been removed and prohibited from participating in parish ministries with no reason given.
  • The Finance Council has become secretive and ineffectual. There is now no transparency in reporting revenues and expenditures.
  • The Parish Council has been dissolved.
  • The Worship Committee was disbanded and numerous liturgical changes have been made which are contrary to the traditions of our Parish and Church directives.
  • Sister Moira was removed as head of the Peace and Justice Commission and the scope of the Commission's activities has been severely limited to works of charity.
  • Affirmation Night, at which those in the larger community were recognized for their Christian acts of peace and justice, was banned with no reason given.
  • The underlying hurt and resentment created by the events of June 18, 2003, when the employees were fired and the parish was thrown into turmoil are being ignored.

In spite of this, we, the Holy Spirit community, do not fear to hope. We do not fear to hope for the return to our dynamic Vatican II parish and healing of our community. We do not fear to hope because we see that our staff still has their jobs, because we observe the very strong bonds that have grown amongst groups of parishioners who have been tested and strengthened in the fire of their experiences in these two years, and we do not fear to hope because we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to watch over and guide this very special community.

Let’s all come together on Sunday evening, June 19th at 8 p.m. for a special Candlelight Vigil commemorating the second anniversary of the events that so shook our parish. See you in front of the church!



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