Cover Letter Sent to 273 Holy Spirit Parishioners
August 24, 2005
Dear Fellow Holy Spirit Parishioner,
As one of the 273 parishioners who signed the letter of concerns sent to Father Louis Brum, this is an update for you about the current state of the effort to bring about an addressing of these concerns by the Pastor and the Diocesan administration.
On June 29th, almost a full month after the request to the Bishop for a meeting, your five representatives met with Father Bert Diaz, the Chancellor of the Diocese and the person the Bishop designated to handle the request.
This session lasted about two hours and was, in the main, cordial. Father Bert listened to our presentation, which focused on a request for the initiation of a formal process within the parish to address the raised concerns and to heal the damage done by the events of June 18, 2003, when the staff was fired.
When asked by Father Bert about particular ones of the concerns, the five of us elaborated on them and presented details that reinforced the seriousness of what has been happening in the parish (e.g., the dismantling of ministries, the suppression of parish governance, the continued persecution of parishioners who are viewed as contrary or non-supportive by their removal from some or all ministries, the characterization of these and other parishioners as “evil,” and the generally slip-shod management of the parish).
To our main request for an opportunity to deal with all of this as a community, Father Diaz defended Father Louis’ insistence on dealing only with individuals one-on-one, saying we should have been approaching him that way instead of soliciting signatures to what he described as a very negative letter. Our pointing out to him that these individual approaches had been attempted over a long period of time and were completely ineffective was dismissed out of hand.
Since Father Bert indicated that he would inform us of the results of his discussions with the Bishop and Father Louis, we expected to hear from him relatively quickly. As of August 1st, we had not heard anything and so decided to send a letter to Father Bert raising some new concerns about the deterioration of parish life at Holy Spirit [a copy of this letter is provided under our Previous Posts, "Another Letter to Fr. Bert Diaz?"]. Father Bert responded on August 11th [letter attached].
It is our opinion that Father Bert’s response is completely inadequate and indicates that the Diocesan administration is in total support of Father Louis’ handling of the parish.
As a result, we have sent a letter to the Bishop [also attached], which points out our dissatisfaction with Father Bert’s response and indicates that we intend to pursue this matter in other forums, both inside and outside the Church structures.
For those of you unfamiliar with events in the parish in the past few months, we recommend your visiting our Blog on the Internet at http://www.kanickers.blogspot.com/ (Reflections of the Spirit).
We are planning to organize, for the near future, a social gathering of all of us (the 273) and other parishioners who are hoping for a Restoration of the Spirit—watch for news!
Also, we encourage you to participate in the Labor Day Pilgrimage for Justice in which we are asked to join workers, the farm workers and other labor unions to honor the working people of the valley.
Copy of the Response From Father Heberto Diaz, Jr. , Chancellor (retyped due to poor scan).
Dear Mark, Michelle, Mirtala, Gerald and Ana:
I received your certified letter yesterday, please be assured that I have not forgotten you; presently, I have a full work load on my hands. After my meeting with all of you, I met with both Fr. Louis and Bishop Peña and addressed your concerns at length.
First of all, Fr. Louis has continued to repeat his pledge of meeting with you all or any parishioner on an individual basis. We discussed the reasons why he feels reluctant to meet with you as a group. If you meet with him in a spirit of healing, and collaboration I am confident that you can work together in building up the Body of Christ at Holy Spirit Parish. You must remember that he is not Fr. Jerry Frank, and comes to you with his own pastoral and leadership styles which can only compliment and enhance the direction of the parish.
Secondly, you all raised a concern that some members of the parish staff were being harassed. There are provisions in our Diocesan policies for employees who feel harassed, and it is up to them to take the matter to the appropriate channels.
None of us can change the events that happened in the past and healing will take time. I pray that all of you can approach your Pastor with a helping hand to bring about that healing. I assure you that Bishop Peña and all of us are praying for Holy Spirit Parish and for all of you. I am confident that if each one of you approaches Fr. Louis in a spirit of collaboration and genuine concern for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, he will continue to receive you with open arms. May God bless all of you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Heberto M. Diaz. Jr.
xc: Bishop Raymundo J. Peña
Rev. Louis L. Brum
NOTE: Response letter to Bishop Peña follows on next post.
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Saturday, August 27, 2005
Cover Letter Sent to 273 Holy Spirit Parishioners