Friday, July 21, 2006

Call To Action Letter to Parishioners

Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley
P.O. Box 3443, McAllen, Texas 78502

July 21, 2006

Dear Parishioners of Holy Spirit,

There is a situation in Holy Spirit Parish that has reached a critical point, and I believe that everyone connected to the parish community needs to be informed about it.

You may not be aware, but since Monsignor Brum has been in the parish, he has either informed some parishioners that they would not be welcome in parish ministries, has asked some parishioners to withdraw from parish ministries, or has actually removed some parishioners from parish ministries. In many of these cases, Monsignor Brum has used these parishioners’ membership in Call to Action (CTA) as the reason for their exclusion. The Monsignor has publicly described such parishioners as “anti-Catholic,” and “not in good standing with the Church,” and therefore, unworthy to serve the parish. These statements have been made repeatedly, most dramatically in a Eucharistic Ministers’ meeting in August of 2005, where a written policy to that effect was distributed.

From the mouth of a pastor, such characterizations have been extremely harmful—they are not only personally offensive but have damaged these parishioners and their reputations, not only within the Parish, but in the larger community. They amount to slander since the phrase, “not in good standing with the Church” has a very precise meaning within the Church, and when spoken or written publicly by a pastor, it takes on serious import and has serious repercussions. The negative impact of the Monsignor’s exclusionary policies is not limited to hurt feelings and damaged reputations, however. Because of these policies, parishioners are being denied the opportunity to fully practice their Catholic faith within their own Eucharistic Community, Holy Spirit Parish, and the parish itself is being denied their talents. These are not insignificant consequences.

Because of the seriousness of this matter, I wrote to Bishop Peña in March of this year, outlining the situation and asking his opinion as to whether membership in CTA or its local chapter, Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley (CTA-RGV), meant that a person was not in good standing with the Church. On April 17, Bishop Peña responded saying:

"Membership in Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley, in my opinion, does not per se cause a person to be ‘not in good standing’ with the Church."

In a follow-up letter to the Bishop on May 13, I requested that he direct Monsignor Brum to stop these sort of public statements and change his exclusionary policies. In two e-mails to me (May 16 and May 17), the Bishop indicated that he would discuss the issue and my requests with Monsignor Brum.

On May 26, I wrote a letter to Monsignor Brum asking him to publicly retract his statements about his parishioners who are members of CTA and to rescind his exclusionary policies. There was no response to this letter, not even an acknowledgment of receipt.

Subsequently, in two different e-mails to me, the Bishop said:

"I suggested for him [Monsignor Brum] to re-evaluate his policies and re-define the requirements regarding lay participation in various ministries of the parish." (June 6)

"I did receive copy of your correspondence to Msgr. Brum and I have discussed the matter with him and encouraged him to resolve the matter amicably, as soon as possible. It is now up to him to respond to your needs." (June 20)

On June 28, I wrote a second letter to Monsignor Brum informing him that I was aware of the Bishop’s opinions and desires. Namely, that the characterization of CTA members as “not in good standing with the Church” was not something that the Bishop agreed with and that the Bishop wanted him to re-define his policies, resolve the matter amicably, as soon as possible, and respond to our needs. I also asked that these two things be done:

"1. Include in the Sunday bulletin, beginning on the weekend of July 16, 2006, and continuing for a period of a least a month (since not everyone comes to the parish each Sunday), the following:

Membership in the organization Call to Action (CTA) does not prevent a person from serving in the ministries of Holy Spirit Parish.

2. Restore to ministry, by August 1, 2006, at least some of those who have been excluded and put in place a process for integrating the rest."

At the conclusion of this letter of June 28, I said:

"Please contact me by July 10, 2006, to discuss implementation of the bulletin announcement and ministry restoration. If I do not hear from you by that date, I will presume you do not intend to resolve this issue and Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley will pursue other remedies."

This letter was hand-delivered to the parish offices on June 28, the day Monsignor Brum returned from a two-week absence. To my knowledge, he has not been out of town since that day. The letter contained the CTA-RGV mailing address, my own home address, my home phone number, and my cell phone number. There was no response to this letter, not even an acknowledgment of receipt.

From all indications, Monsignor Brum is not going to follow the wishes of Bishop Peña and resolve this issue “amicably, as soon as possible.” This is a serious matter that must be taken seriously and must be resolved—people are being hurt and Holy Spirit Parish is being hurt. I ask you to use whatever influence you may have in the parish community to facilitate such a resolution.


Gerald D. Brazier
President, Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing this out. For my part I will withhold tithes until Fr. Brum accepts all parishioners.

Delia Mendoza said...

Dear Kanickers and bloggers-
After much reflection and prayer, I am requesting to be removed from the blog mailing list. Although I still wish nothing but the best for all of us, I can no longer be made to feel that I must choose sides. It has been four years-- four years and still neither side can get together to be true followers of Jesus Christ. It has gotten to the point that I do not even want to attend mass or participate in any church work anymore due to the conflicts. I do not want to choose anymore-- I know that Holy Spirit will never be what it was--- and I do not see any end ....

I will continue to help at Briarcliff because I can truly see how I am doing God's work there. My husband will continue to help with the housing projects for the same reasons but I want to be a part of a loving and united community and want my children to feel that-- will we ever feel that again?

Holy Spirit is our church and will always be our church but something has to give-- all involved must give and forgive.

Last time I responded to the topics of conflict, Guy Hallman had to respond with all of the proper Vatican procedures-- okay-- but they too are all man-made and man-written--- but how does arguing about who is right or wrong or good or bad going to unite us as God's family. I may not be as well-versed as he in proper procedures but I do try to live a life of love and forgiveness patience and understanding and trying to live as Jesus wants us to.

May God grant all of us peace.

Still a follower but no longer an arguer---

Delia Mendoza

Anonymous said...

I can very much understand how Delia feels. Isn't it a shame that our Bishop's little act of revenge against his employees has totally destroyed our once "very vibrant" parish?

Like Delia, HUNDREDS of our former parishioners have now quit coming to mass and are no longer receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist. What a Sacrilege!

And his acts of revenge continue under Fr. Louie...

Is he EVER going to admit to what he did, ask us for our forgiveness and set things straight at Holy Spirit? What would Jesus do?

Guy Hallman said...

What would Jesus do? Let me resubmit the last half of my contribution of Aug 11, 2005 that Delia mentions:

"...Jesus called misguided clergy “vipers, evil, hypocrites” and many other bad names. Jesus was very harsh against clergy who were leading the faithful astray, like our pastor and the bishop. Vatican II is the law of the Church right now and those that do not follow Vatican II are going against the church. Catholic Churches are required to adhere to Vatican II teachings. We did at Holy Spirit before June 18, 2003.

You wonder if there will be compromise. We cannot compromise the teachings of Jesus or the Church as expressed in its current form, Vatican II. It seems quite evident that this pastor must go. He has been given ample opportunity to become our shepherd, but has refused, scattering the flock and not caring one wit about the lost sheep among our flock, the lost sheep that Jesus would have left the rest of the flock to recover.

Finally you express a weariness of heart and a desire for “peace and hope and comfort”. Jesus wanted that, too, but it was not to be. In the end, He did what his Father in Heaven wanted and we were saved as a consequence. He calls us to shoulder his burden. With him it is bearable. I would love to leave this alone and rest, maybe even find another church where I can wallow in grace easily poured down from above. But I know that it is not meant to be and we are here doing what our brother Jesus wanted us to do. Let us shoulder the burden together, Delia."

Bridget Cook said...

In response to Delia’s letter, I must add that I am also tired. Tired of controversy; tired of parishioners who are divided where they were once a community; tired of having to justify the importance of justice in our parish; and tired of people who are too blinded by the need to obey that they overlook the message of love and inclusion that Jesus taught.

Delia said, “I do not see any end.…” Perhaps she does not see an end, because injustice continues—not in the two “sides,” but in the pastor who refuses to bring reconciliation.

Delia said that she will continue her ministry at Briarcliffe “because I can truly see how I am doing God’s work there.” Doing ministry at Briarcliffe is wonderful, and definitely something that she should do—but perhaps standing up for those who have been dealt with unjustly is just as important, even though it doesn’t always bring the visible results we would like to see. Sometimes doing God’s work has rewards we never see, but that doesn’t make them less important or necessary.

Delia said, “I want to be part of a loving and united community and want my children to feel that—will we ever feel that again?”—Leaving Holy Spirit will not bring back the community that we were. Staying is the only way to build a new community. Those of us who stay don’t do so with the idea of turning back the clock, but of building a place where all are once again welcome—turning your back on a place plagued with exclusion and divisiveness is no way to make those problems go away.

Delia said, “Holy Spirit is our church and will always be our church but something has to give—all involved must give and forgive”—If you leave Holy Spirit, then it will not always be your church—you are choosing to walk away. As for forgiveness—it is easy to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that you allow someone to keep abusing you. True reconciliation only comes when what was wrong is set right—beginning with people being welcomed back into ministry.

Delia said that she and her husband are “trying to live as Jesus wants us to”—so are we all, Delia…so are we all.

Bridget Cook,
Banned from ministry because of membership in
Call To Action

Rufus Choate said...

Why don't you start your own personal church like the 38,000 other apostate and heretical sects?

Hell awaits so enjoy your ride.

Rufus Choate

Arturo Chapa said...


At the 8:30 mass on Sunday, July 23rd, the sermon touched me. I know now that the Holy Spirit will once again flourish at Holy Spirit Parish. Imagine how I felt when Father Genaro said that sometimes he doesn't know the truth, meaning he doesn't place himself above us. He doesn't have all the answers or know the solutions to every problem. Imagine how I felt when Father Genaro said that he prays to be not only a good shepard to us, but also prays to be a good shepard to himself. He knows he is on a journey, just like us. This morning, I can rejoice because Father Genaro was a good shepard to us and to himself.

For too long, I have had to pray during mass for God to help me put aside the resentful feelings that I have for all the wrong that has been done to some wonderful people at Holy Spirit, so that I could celebrate mass the way it should be, the way it was. For too long, I had not felt uplifted during the sermon, as much my fault as of others. I was uplifted today. I do have hope today. My faith of seeing Holy Spirit Parish doing God's work with its thriving ministries of the past is strong again. My hope that the gifts of Ann Wlliams Cass will once again be appreciated and accepted wholeheartedly by our parish seems a possibility now.

I wanted to share these good news with you hoping to make you feel good inside, only to find the comments made to Delia Mendoza's comment when I opened this website. The responses Delia received probably cement her decision to be removed from the list. Most of the time, this website is comforting to me, and I look forward to reading something that will show me the caring side of us which I usually find, but sometimes I leave the site with disappointment. Delia should have also received understanding and an embrace in our responsive comments, not only a critical analysis of our positions. From what she has written, she feels the same as you and me about what has happened to Holy Spirit Parish. She didn't say she was leaving Holy Spirit Parish. She is leaving the blog. Even in her leaving the blog, some of us make her feel she has to choose sides. We are all different, and we were once all welcomed.

Arturo R. Cantu,

Anonymous said...

Yes, Fr. Genaro is hopeful. Maybe Msgr. Brum will leave and Fr. Genaro will be pastor.

Not a Baby Catholic said...

Something needs to be clarified here. Jesus does not want you to always "feel good inside" and find religion "comforting". That is evident from reading the gospels and letters, so read the Bible, don't ask me to give quotes out of context. He wants you to pick up your cross and follow Him.

By and large those sustaining this blog want to be included and are being exlcuded for no valid reason by the powers that be at Holy Spirit Parish; i.e., the corrupt pastor and the bishop. That is wrong; sinful! Those good Catholics being excluded do not want to exclude others; they are okay with the pious stuff others concentrate on. But piety is not all Jesus wishes from us.

It is not about choosing sides? Jesus asks you to choose sides between life vs. death, inclusion vs. exclusion, peace based on justice vs. 'peace' based on slavery, salvation vs. damnation. You have to choose; you are given the free will. No one, not Jesus, not the pastor, not the devil can choose for you. But choose you must. If you do not choose it is as if you have chosen wrongly.

Salvation is an evolution of your relationship to God. Yes, it may start out comforting and feel-goody, but that is only the initial stages; then you are a spiritual baby. At some point you are strong enough to pick up your cross (choose). If you have not chosen you are not there yet or have 'chosen' wrongly.

Mary A. O'Donnell said...

People at Holy Spirit Church should stop their bawling and weeping until they think what it is like to stand and fight an unfair priest and uncaring hierarchy all by yourself.

Anonymous said...

Ms. O'Donnell, the hierarchical church is rotten in many places in the world. Luckily, we at Holy Spirit do have a good, large group of supporters. We support you in spirit. And if you look carefully you will probably find other like you where you are that agree but are quiet; seek them out and get them motivated. It is up to Catholics like you and us to keep the spirit of the Church going until better times. Too many Catholics are sold out and climb in bed (some literally) with the hierarchy no matter how far they stray.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you are from or your particular circumstance Ms. O'Donnell, but you should also look into becoming an active member of the local Call To Action group in your area.
I have found them to be a group of dedicated and concerned individuals that practice their Catholic religion in the true spirit of Christ's teachings.
You can get information on any local chapters in your area by calling: 773-404-0004 or by visiting their Web page at: