Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—May 14, 2006
Bold and Blind Arrogance
I believe arrogance lies at the heart of many of the problems in our Church today. It seems almost unbelievable that any priest would dare say that exercising of liturgical ministries by laity is a privilege and not a right, and the discretion to decide who will and will not serve as a minister lies with the pastor himself.
Yet, this bold and blind arrogance is happening in our midst. To suggest that a priest grants his parishioners the privilege to be a minister in our Church is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yes, exercising liturgical ministries is a privilege, however the privilege is not granted by a priest or any other man, rather it is granted to each of us by God. Jesus invited each of us to follow him, not just priests and not just those selected by priests. Yes, I think most would agree that a pastor has discretion to responsibly administer a parish and maintain our Catholic faith. However, no priest has the authority to hide behind this discretion and attempt to silence those who have dared to speak-out and raise serious and legitimate questions regarding this same administration of authority.
Unfortunately, this same arrogance has blinded much of the faithful to many of the real problems that continue to plague our Church. Wake-up fellow Christians! This is our Catholic faith and we each have a right and responsibility granted to us by God to live-out our faith and bring light to where there is darkness.
From fellow parishioner, Mark Peña
Report on Some Correspondence
…during that time [Lent], we addressed many of the concerns of the parishioners, both those who agree and those who disagree with Msgr. Louis Brum.
Most of your concerns have already been addressed and the parish has moved beyond them; others are still in process. I will, nonetheless, present your letter of concern together with a few others and many expressions of appreciation for their pastor that we have received form parishioners to the parish priest consulters (they advise me regarding clergy appointments), for their consideration ….
Part of a letter from Bishop Peña to two parishioners.
In their letter to the Bishop, these parishioners raised (among others) concerns about the removal of people from ministries, the antagonistic attitude of the Monsignor towards many parishioners, etc. They included the following comment: “We are not sure what you have been told about healing and unity at Holy Spirit, but we have not seen any healing at all.”
If there are others in the community who feel that real concerns have not been addressed and that the Bishop is either misinformed or is choosing to misrepresent the Lenten activities as a “healing process,” they should write the Bishop and his consulters directly (see http://www.cdob.org/)
Via the internet, we receive The Peace Pulpit Homilies, from Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. The following is from his homily from April 30, 2006, the Third Sunday of Easter, and is a beautiful explanation of how each part of our Sunday celebration is important – how each part celebrates and experiences the presence of Jesus. Bishop Gumbleton reminds us that while the Eucharist may be the center, the rest of the mass is not just fluff.
“The two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus began to tell them about the word, the scriptures. He was present in that word. When he’s with the disciples in that upper room on Easter Sunday night he reviewed the word of God with them. Again he was present in that word. When we take the time to listen to the word of God, Jesus becomes present to us. Also in the ceremony that we gather for every Sunday, the breaking of the bread, Jesus is present. And not just in the Eucharist that we consecrate at the altar, but the breaking of the bread is the whole experience and Jesus is present, first of all, just in our coming together. ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them.’
That’s why it’s so important to come together to really share with one another as we do during this liturgy, share with our voices, share with our greetings to one another, share in the very friendly way that we can, to become a community of God’s people and Jesus is present there in our midst. Then present in the word. Then present in the Eucharist.
If we come together and try to experience this every week, we will come to know Jesus deeply and Jesus will invite us to repent of our sins, show us the way to do that, give us the strength and the courage to do it, and then he will tell us, ‘Go and be witnesses. Spread this message. Carry my life and my vision wherever you go, so that we can rid our world of sin and evil and transform it into the reign of God.’”
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
The Sunday Bulletin of April 9th did not have a report of the collections for the weekend of April 1st and 2nd.
Using the average of the collections from 10/16/05 for that weekend and the reported amounts for the other weekends, we can estimate that since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $33,756.72 less than the $435,000 the parish budget called for during that period.
If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then this gives a total of $92,024.52 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 5/7/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $159,509.16.
The parish carnival (jamaica) was poorly attended. Now we hear that the proposed parish photo directory has had to be cancelled because of the poor level of participation. These are absolute signs that the vitality of the Parish is waning significantly—the depth of commitment that characterized this community three years ago is being replaced by the thin veneer so common in parishes peopled primarily by “Sunday Catholics.”
Everything Up To Date in Kansas City?
On May 24, 2005 Bishop Robert Finn was named bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph MO. Within a week of his appointment he:
Dismissed the chancellor, a layman with 21 years of experience in the diocese, and the vice chancellor, a religious woman stationed in the diocese for nearly 40 years and the chief of pastoral planning for the diocese since 1990, and replaced them with a priest chancellor.
Cancelled the diocese’s nationally renowned lay formation programs and a master’s degree program in pastoral ministry.
Cut in half the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, effectively forcing the almost immediate resignation of half the seven-member team. Within 10 months all seven would be gone and the center shuttered.
Ordered a “zero-based study” of adult catechesis in the diocese and appointed as vice chancellor to oversee adult catechesis, lay formation and the catechesis study a layman with no formal training in theology or religious studies.
As reported by Dennis Coday in the National Catholic Reporter, 5/12/06.
“We have learned through difficult experience in this country that bishops are, indeed, monarchs. What regard they have for the culture and tradition of the local church they are appointed by secret process to lead is finally a function of individual personality and interest.
“We have learned that while the power to cause the kind of wide upheaval that has occurred in Kansas City is easily available to bishops, the legitimate exercise of leadership and authority are quite other matters.
“Such things cannot be exercised by fiat; people can’t be made to become a faithful community by controlling them. The qualities of true leadership and authority accrue to those who have a deep empathy for the people they serve; who understand in profoundly human ways their hopes and aspirations as a people of God; who place compassion above the need to dominate; and who understand that relationships, not rules or rubrics or even revered devotions, are the essential thread of the fabric of a community living out the Gospel.”
From an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter, 5/12/06
You can see that we are not alone—there are others suffering from the arbitrary destruction of a vibrant Catholic community.
The Beat Goes On
Apparently, the Monsignor has announced that the family religious education program will be discontinued and will be replaced by a weekly classroom centered program, beginning in September. Those who feel that this is a bad decision need to make their opinion known—loudly and clearly and persistently. This cannot stand.
If this model program, the envy of the entire diocese, can be shut down, what is next on the hit list?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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