February 9, 2006
Dear Parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish,
I have read the request for letters of support for Msgr. Louis. I agree the Msgr. has had a most difficult time at Holy Spirit Parish, but with all the active and intelligent members of our Parish, from both sides of our divisions, I feel that most of our parish’s troubles could have been avoided. I don't want to be radical, but I do want to get my point of view across. Here is my humble attempt at beginning dialogue to resolve our differences.
My name is Joe Aleman III. My family & I attend the 10:30 Spanish mass at the Parish. My parents, Joe & Anita Aleman, were one of many "founding" families of Holy Spirit Parish. This history is the reason it upsets me so much to see one of the most productive & proactive parishes in the Valley being systematically disassembled.
In our productive past, our Parish had many active ministries that reached out to many interests. I have been told that our Parish, before the termination of the employees, was the second highest provider of donations in the Diocese of Brownsville. Personally, I never attended a bible study, walked for our sister parish in El Salvador, nor participated in any functions of the Knights of Columbus, but I was glad that those that wanted to, could. Why? Because each group was practicing their faith and ministering in the way they each chose.
Msgr. Louis is a fine priest, but I strongly disagree with his decision to discontinue certain ministries of our Parish. I also do not agree with his attempt to “prohibit” members of our Parish from participating in ministries of the mass just because they disagree with any of his interpretations. We are all different and it is not realistic to believe every parishioner will agree in every matter of our church and faith. The worldwide members of the Catholic Church never have and never will. That is OK. It is all right to disagree with one another.
We are MANY parts, but ONE body. ALL of us, the liberals, conservatives, peace & justice people, Knights of Columbus, Habitat for Humanities people, Catholic Daughters, Spirit of Girls, Marriage Encounter, Boy Scouts, ACTS people, Religious educators & volunteers, Puppet Ministries, the people who visit the elderly & sick, choir members, lecturers, youth Groups & their directors, Eucharistic ministers, the employees and any other volunteers that I may have inadvertently failed to mentioned, are ALL part of the Body of Christ.
And as the Body of Christ, we ALL should be allowed to serve at mass if we so choose. If I disagree with Msgr. Louis, that does not mean that I am not a “Good Catholic”. I often disagreed with our previous pastor, Fr. Jerry, yet I was never prevented from practicing my faith and expressing my thoughts. Each one of us should be allowed to serve as a Eucharistic minister, lector, or choir member if we so choose. The mass should be a place where we all come together and unite ourselves around the Blessed Eucharist, not divide ourselves between the “Good Catholics” and those who do not agree with our priest.
Since his arrival, Msgr. Louis has systematically “prohibited” many parishioners of our parish from serving as Eucharist ministers, serving as a lector and singing in the choir. These members have been denied their right to practice their faith because they simply do not agree with all of his decisions.
Three weeks ago, a very active member of our parish was sent a certified letter from Msgr. Louis relieving him of his duties as a youth director volunteer. For over ten years, this dedicated parishioner and his family have dedicated their time & resources to many of the young adults who grew up within our Parish. I, myself, have never had the time, nor the inclination at helping in this ministry, so I am glad that he and his family were there to meet the need. We should all say a collective “Thank You” to him for his efforts and not ask him to stop “volunteering” his time in this ministry because he openly disagrees with Msgr. Louis.
Last week brought the termination of one of the most talented choir directors in our country. I do not know Mr. Ed Arguelles personally, but I think we all can agree that his musical talents have enhanced the spirituality of the 12:30 pm mass. In the 23 years that he has served as choir director, he has never been controversial or disrespectful to our priests or Parish. He simply disagrees with some, or all, of our priest’s decisions. Therefore, he also received a letter from Msgr. Louis relieving him of his duties as the choir director of Holy Spirit Parish. His termination is really OUR loss. A really big loss for our community.
My family & I attend the 10:30 mass and our choir director’s skill & musical talents are one of the main reasons I enjoy and am fulfilled when I attend mass. I hope she doesn’t publicly disagree with Msgr. If she does, she had better be ready for her letter, too.
I consider myself fortunate that my children didn’t see Msgr. Louis publicly yelling at a young, immature employee of the Parish during the mass of January 1, 2006. Although I agree that the employee’s fathers response to Msgr. Louis during the mass was disrespectful and inappropriate, I think the whole incident could have been avoided if the priest had used greater discretion and not humiliated and thrown the kid out the church during the mass in the first place.
Msgr. Louis is a fine priest, but a poor leader. Holy Spirit Parish needs a leader that can harness ALL of the talents of our parishioners, bring us back into unity, & put us all to work spreading the gospel by action, not just words. With better leadership, all of us can return to our own ministries of good will and can again make our parish a warm and welcoming church to gather in, and subsequently increase our tithes to the Diocese.
I know many wonderful members of our Parish on both sides of our division. Speaking with many of them, we all agree that mass at our Parish has not been pleasant these last few weeks. We all feel a little sick in the stomach stressing out on events that happened or what might happen during the mass. Let’s just stop. None of us are perfect “Good Catholics”, but that is OK. We are each trying the best we can to get into the Promised Land & hopefully take a few people with us.
So let us pray for Msgr. Louis. Let us pray for ALL the members of our parish as well. We, ALL OF US, are the Body of Christ united in our beloved Holy Spirit Parish. Priests will always come and go. Msgr. Louis, alone, is not Holy Spirit Parish. Let us ALL ask our Bishop to provide us with a leader that will unite us, not divide & conquer our Parish.
Whether you agree with me or not, I wish God’s blessings for you and your loved ones. God Bless ALL OF US at Holy Spirit Parish.
Joe Aleman III
A note from Kanickers:
Another SECRET Parish Council Meeting. Details in 'comments' under the A New Parish Council posting of January 30, 2006.
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