Monday, January 23, 2006

Parish Newsletter of 01/22/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—January 22, 2006

Desolation Row
They’re selling postcards of the hanging…
Now at midnight all the agents and the superhuman crews
Round up everyone that knows more than they do.

Bob Dylan

Why I Have Lost Faith in the Catholic Church and
Gained Faith in the Catholic Community

The events of the past two and a half years have deeply shaken my belief in the Catholic Church. I have asked myself how I can believe and follow a Church which worries more about its appearance than its members. I have wondered how I can sit next to individuals who follow their faith blindly, listening without question to every word that comes from the ambo. I have questioned how it is possible for men to say they believe in the gospel, but do not work for justice. Through all that, I was able to keep my faith.

The events of the past 3 weeks have shaken my faith more deeply than all this. I no longer feel I can stand aside and simply be a silent participant in the quest for truth and justice. I need to announce that virtually all my trust in the Catholic Church has been pulled out of me because of what I see happening today. More than nineteen years of attending church services, walking in walk-a-thons, wrapping presents for children in Colonias, gathering food for the poor, raising advocacy, attending CCD classes, listening to speakers tell us of horrible injustices, hearing about wonderful organizations which deserve our affirmation, have all gone down the drain. I no longer feel as though I want to be a member of the Catholic Church. It has done so many immoral, improper things that I no longer feel proud to say I am Catholic. Now when someone criticizes the Catholic Church, I join in and add my own list of shortcomings and problems. I no longer have any respect for the Catholic Church.

I realize that it might seem silly to dismiss the entire Catholic Church because of what I see in one Catholic Parish, but the Catholic Church is nothing without the Parishes. I have never been to Rome. I’ve never met the Pope. I’ve never had a meeting with the Catholic Bishops of America. I’ve never read the GIRM from cover to cover. To me the Catholic Church is nothing but the local parishes. What the Pope says does not affect me.

The fact is, I cannot believe in a Church that pushes its members away. The Catholic Church I grew up in was a vacuum, gathering everyone close together without worry of religion or beliefs. The Catholic Church I see today is no longer a vacuum, but an air pump. I see it pushing everyone who cares for the Church away; spitting them out to be on their own. This is not what the bible teaches. This is not what Jesus gave his life for. This is not the church of the people that has been built up for the past 2000 years.

At the same time, recent events have caused my faith to grow tremendously. I no longer have faith in the Church, but rather I have faith in the individuals. I have faith in the Catholic Community. I have faith in the people I sit next to when I wear black. I know that they are doing the right thing. I know they are doing what they believe in. I know that they are doing what the Catholic Church used to do. These people are the new Catholic Church.

However, the word new implies that we are revolutionaries, changing what the church stands for. We are not. We are what the Church used to stand for. I now realize the Catholic Church is separating from the Catholic Community. Our Catholic Community has not changed at all. We are still fighting for the same things we did 10 years ago. We still believe in the same teachings, and we still stand for the same justice. We still answer to the same God. Our Catholic Church has left us. We are still on the path to goodness and light, the path I hear about so often. The Church has strayed from the path. We have not strayed from it.

While we are still on the right path, we cannot just simply keep trekking forward. We are morally obligated to help our brothers and sisters return to the trail. We must continue calling their names, and slowly pushing them in the right direction, for with each small push, they are one step closer to the true path. We must not lose sight of the trail along the way. Now more than ever, we need to keep our minds set on what is right, and reach out to one another to push forward.
From Benjamin Salinas, a parishioner

“Throughout the New Testament, ministry is nowhere conceived of as a structure in accordance with the worldly model of ‘leadership,’ in the sense of rulers being over subjects. On the contrary, as all three synoptics say (Mark 10.42f; Luke 22.25; Matt.20.25f.), ‘It shall not be so (as is the case with worldly rulers) among you.’”
From The Church with a Human Face, by Edward Schillebeeckx.

Mourning Becomes Electric
As black has now become the new red in the Parish, the Blog has had several postings that along with reactions to and explanations of current Parish happenings have an underlying tone of sadness—sadness at the condition of the human relationships in our Eucharistic Community. Civility, common courtesy, and respect for other people’s humanity (much less opinions) have all been cast aside.

This atmosphere has been allowed to happen and even encouraged to happen by the Reverend Monsignor. His behavior at the infamous “Eucharistic Ministers” meeting was appalling in that he not only refused to attempt to calm people down, but seemed to relish the vicious reactions of what only could be described as a rabble. His behavior that evening put his personal stamp of approval on a way of acting that goes beyond being described as un-Christian. We are now reaping a harvest of escalating rhetoric and confrontation. It should make us all be weighed down by sadness.

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past fourteen weeks parishioners have donated $18,244.20 less than the $213,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then during this fourteen week period an additional shortfall of $27,191.64 was created. This gives a total of $45,435.84 of red ink (versus budget) for the fourteen week period ending January 15th.

Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $168,761.69.

All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got, now
From a children’s song by Bill Staines

Real peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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Kanickers said...

Lost Faith in Catholic Church:
Kudos to Ben Salinas in having the courage to say what many of us feel in our hearts. Such a sad-but-true commentary from a very fine member of our parish.

I hope Ben's message encourages more of us to speak out about the injustices that go on in our parish. So many people are hurting, but there is so little response from our pastor.
Bridget Cook

Kanickers said...

Thank you Ben Salinas.
As I finished reading Ben Salinas' letter, I felt as if he had spoken for me, my kids, my family. His words reflect so well what so many of us feel, especially young people.

In the last 11 years, since we became members of Holy Spirit Parish, we saw Ben grow up and become an exemplary youth, as his brother, as Adam Moya, and as many other extraordinary kids who so happily dedicated so much of their time to the church.

With their parents or by themselves, they were always there, volunteering, helping, and working. They were part of that beautiful parish family that we all loved so much and miss so much.

It is very sad that our finest kids had to experience this kind of disappointment with the church at such a young age. I know my own kids are struggling also.

At the same time, it is wonderful to see how they can discern and see that the true church is not a building, not the hierarchy, not a set of "laws" conveniently imposed at will by the powers of the moment.

The church is the people, the community, the family that in the midst of turmoil, rejection, and oppression, continues to grow in love for God and each other, continues to reach out in living the gospels, continues to stand for truth and justice, and does not fear to hope.

Ben, your Holy Spirit Community, your old family, is alive and wonderful. We are very proud of you, and you are always welcome to come home!
A mother, a parishioner

Kanickers said...

Seems Holy Spirit has gone from an "over-funded" parish to an "under-funded" parish. What a difference leadership makes to the bottom line!

Sadly, there is no hope of reversing this trend any time soon, or at least not until present leadership in the parish has been banished. No one is comfortable donating their hard-earned money without having confidence in the management of their parish.
A Parishioner

Kanickers said...

$$$ Update.
How True! We once had a Parish Finance Committee that we could trust… one where we felt confident that all of our donations were accounted for… that they were being applied to their specified causes, and we always received an accounting of what was received and where paid. You can only attain that level of confidence when your Finance Committee is elected at large... not appointed by the pastor! WE WERE NOT BORN YESTERDAY, FATHER LOUIE!
A Bean Counter