Monday, June 27, 2005

Parish Newsletter - 06/26/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—June 26, 2005

Many of us remember from our childhood the Gumby toy—you know, the figure of a little man that could be stretched, bent, and twisted into any shape we wanted. Well, this past week we were blessed by a visit from the ultimate anti-Gumby, a small, soft-spoken man who gave uncompromising answers to the question, "What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus today?"

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, basing his talk on the words of “heretical heterodox liberals” like John Paul II, Paul VI and John XXIII and those of “notorious cafeteria Catholics,” like the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, made his major point that peace is based on the twin pillars of justice and love, particularly that special form of love, forgiveness.

It was a powerful evening attended by nearly 300 people. What a shame that aside from the two priests from the hosting parish there were only two other priests from the Diocese of Brownsville—hey fellas, what gives?

Soul Food
Nutrition experts offer the following advice: your food should be able to remember where it came from. In other words, the fresher, least processed and least chemically altered, the better. Seems like the same advice can apply to church. Sure, we are a human institution and that means we need rules and laws to be able to function. But our rules and laws emanate from the Word—the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. If our rules have become too processed, if they can’t remember the Spirit or Jesus’ teachings that they come from, then they are like empty food and are unable to sustain or nourish the Body of Christ. Especially in this year of the Eucharist, we need to turn to the Bread of Life and the Word that sustains us. And, we need to be welcoming all to the table. From parishioner, Michelle Pena

Jesus Increases
It is a great tragedy that the new “theology” at Holy Spirit is encouraging different factions and that the new “spirit” is not one of joyful celebration but rather one of great disharmony, dishonesty and distrust. It’s difficult to walk through the front doors of the church on Sunday mornings with the uncertainty of what changes one will encounter. The latest is that our Fr. Louis Brum is now methodically crossing lectors off the list if that particular person is participating in anything that even “smells” of peace & justice. No matter that these individuals have been active members of Holy Spirit parish for YEARS; no matter that they, through their choice to be a true image of Christ, choose to make the church a priority in their family; no matter that they have served our parish not only as lectors but as active members in many ministries including ACTS. All this work does not seem to matter to the Reverend Father. What matters most to him, it seems, is to elevate himself over and above the people of God.

The saddest irony of all is that this new “theology” is a direct contradiction to what is proclaimed to be the true mission of the Catholic Church. And if one goes to the top, the Holy See, and examines the many encyclicals and church documents of the past twenty-five years, then the actions taken by the Reverend Father completely nulls and voids what our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II worked so long and so hard for – peace and justice. He taught this even as he approached his death. Yet the audacity of one priest to go against the teachings of one of the greatest peace-makers the church has ever seen is incomprehensible and unacceptable.

Over the span of the past two years, it has been difficult at Holy Spirit Parish to focus on the greater picture because of the trite and trivial matters that are taking up so much precious time and destroying the work that has been the hallmark of this community since its inception – to work against poverty and to work for peace and justice. Yet, during his homily yesterday, that’s exactly what Fr. Jose Salazar encouraged us to do during the 12:30 Mass. Look at the bigger picture, he said. Work, right now, for what is just so that, even if you don’t see it in your lifetime, your work will bear its fruit in the years to come. “Go out,” he said, “and be the true priests, kings and prophets Jesus called you to be.”

One of the great examples of a true prophet that Bishop Gumbleton gave last week in his presentation was that of John the Baptist. How great it is to hear that a true prophet was born in Jesus’ time, not to proclaim his own “agenda” but to proclaim that one greater than he was to come. How great to be inspired by John the Baptist’s words—May I decrease so that He, who comes, may increase. I am saddened that this is not a philosophy or a way of life that Reverend Father chooses for himself and it is not the way of life that is encouraged by the members of the groups he is compelled to endorse such as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters. In their promenades in and out of church, in the vast numbers of members that they boast to have, why is that we never witness their actions to echo the words of St. John—“May I decrease so that Jesus can increase.” The very promenade into the sanctuary, which diminishes the presence of Christ in our midst and calls attention to them, is not reflective of these words. As Fr. Jose reminded us yesterday, we are all equal on this earth; it was not created for one of us but for all of us.

There are many at Holy Spirit who have worked and continue to work, albeit in a less obvious manner, to continue the work that started years ago. There are many who contribute hundreds of hours a month to the ministries that give the parish its wonderful character. There is not a defunct action simply because the priest says it can’t happen anymore. In spite of the discouragement to embrace the loving ministry of peace and justice, to embrace lovingly and wholeheartedly the ministry to the ill, the ministry to the poor, the ministry to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, in spite of all this, there are many who work to decrease so that Jesus may increase. Of these, there are not many who Reverend Father would call to be his personal advisers based on the simple reason that they are not following his “agenda” – perhaps because they are not pious enough or perhaps because they can’t bow down low enough when they see him approach.

But there is a unity there among them. There is the great belief that they will decrease so that Jesus may increase; they will do whatever they can to continue their work. Long after this lifetime is over, their work – the work for justice and peace—will bear its fruit. May God Bless us All, YSIC, Glenda (a parishioner)

The Orthodoxy Report
Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep.
Buffalo Springfield

More parishioners were removed from ministry this week, ostensibly because they placed a placard inside their own cars advertising Bishop Gumbleton’s talk. The Pastor “tracked them down” via their license plate numbers. Was it Sam Spade or was it Captain Queeg?

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

A word about last Sunday's 12:30 Mass.
What an uplifting mass that was celebrated at 12:30 this past Sunday by Fr. Jose Salazar. His prophetic message was well received and very needed by the Holy Spirit community. It earned extended applause and a standing ovation. It was wonderful to once again hear a homily based on the scripture readings that challenges us to do what Jesus calls us to do.

May God continue to bless us with priests, like Fr. Jose, who are willing to speak out on the injustices that surround us and to instill a seed of hope in each one of us that goodwill will always precede over those willing to destroy what God has given to us.
~A parishioner

More on Fr. Jose and Gumbleton.
The Newsletter continues to have excellent insight about our faith from laity. It should be in all of the parish bulletins in the Diocese. Glenda's account of Bishop Gumbleton's message is outstanding; she is a true prophetic voice. What richness we have at Holy Spirit!

Fr. Salazar mentioned several times at the 12:30 mass how he wished that we had attended Bishop Gumbleton's talk. Of course, we were prevented by Mr. Brum from advertising it at Holy Spirit, although we managed to do it to an extent. The presentation was taped. We should have a showing of it at Holy Spirit. If Mr. Brum doesn't like it, he doesn't have to attend (although he should). This is our parish!
Peace & Justice,
Guy Hallman

News Release from the Diocese on Channel-4 News
Canonical Judges’ Decision Expected in September.
The Tribunal of the Diocese of Brownsville, with a panel of three judges from outside of the diocese, held sessions last week to examine the validity of the May 23, 2002 contract between Holy Spirit Parish in McAllen and the United Farm Workers of America.

Fourteen witnesses were called. The panel of judges is now studying the testimony and evidence presented. Given the amount of testimony and documentation in the case, as well as their other duties, the judges expect to issue a formal decision by the end of September.

Scheduled Meeting with Father Bert Diaz.
Today, Wednesday, June 29, 2005, is the day that our five representatives are scheduled to meet with Fr.Bert Diaz to discuss the Letter of Concerns that was signed by over 270 members of our parish and sent to Fr. Louis Brum. This meeting is scheduled for 4:00 PM. We ask all to pray for an amicable outcome. We will keep you posted on any progress.

Inspired by Bishop Gumbleton I'd like to subbmit:
"...the U.S. bishops wrote,
'Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith.
We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but
by our Lord Jesus.'''

A Parishioner~

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