Monday, August 21, 2006

Newsletter of 08/20/06 (Revised)

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—August 20, 2006

Notes on Religious Education, Part II
The Director of Religious Education (DRE) at Holy Spirit has been removed from her job. No, Martha Sanchez has not been fired, but over the past month or so, piecemeal, virtually all her responsibilities for religious education in the Parish have been parceled out to other people, none of them professionals in religious education. There has been no formal notice of these changes given to her by the Monsignor, instead Martha simply arrives at work and finds yet another thing that she is no longer in charge of: setting the curriculum, ordering materials, recruiting catechists, etc. She has a job and a paycheck but very little real work that is related to her contract as DRE.

Elfida Martinez, the Youth Minister, resigned because the Monsignor was engaging in exactly the same tactics with her, making it impossible for her to carry out her job. Ironically, the Monsignor was not even aware that Elfida was responsible for the middle school religious education program when he accepted the resignation he had maneuvered her into offering.

There has not been a formal evaluation of Martha’s work and no indication from the Monsignor that her work has been substandard. Likewise, there has been no formal evaluation of the religious education program at any of the levels (elementary, sacramental preparation, middle school, high school, or youth groups). There is no model of management, whether we are talking about business, government, education, etc., with which this behavior is consistent—unless we are talking about management by personal whim, the management style of petty tyrants concerned only with demonstrating their own power.

There are at least three staff members whose responsibilities have been so modified and reduced that it is difficult to reconcile their job descriptions with what they are allowed to do each day. Taking salary and benefits into account, the amount of money committed by the Parish to these positions probably exceeds $75,000 per year. By not allowing these people to do their work, the Monsignor has, at a minimum, wasted the Parish’s money.

In the Canonical Tribunal’s ruling concerning the Parish contract with the UFW a major point was that the previous Pastor had put the Parish resources at risk by binding it to making pension payments for the workers. Refusing to allow people hired to do a job the opportunity to actually do that job is even more obviously a waste of scarce Parish resources—is it not?

Notes on Religious Education, Part II
[The original article was not accurate in its description of the recent staff meeting about religious education—below is a revision. I apologize for the misunderstanding. Editor]

On Friday of last week, the Monsignor finally informed the staff about the plans for the religious education program for the upcoming year.

It appears that parents will be offered the choice of two programs for their children: a once a week, classroom-based program or a once a month program (not clear whether this, in all its details, is the current family-based program). It also appears that any parent choosing the once-a-month program will be interviewed during the course of the year to see how they are progressing with their children.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I found the following quote this week and it made me think about how different life in my parish family could be. It is from an article in the Friday, August 18, 2006 edition of The Monitor on how to make meaningful choices as we face life. The words are a wonderful reminder of our call to love. If only all of us, from the diocesan offices on down could dedicate ourselves to the following:

“Jesus also calls us to love, to dedicate our talents and energies to the same purposes for which he lived and died, namely the kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, of justice and truth, of equality, peace and unity.”—Bishop Raymundo J. Peña, Bishop of Brownsville
Submitted by fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday bulletins, since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $68,232.79 less than the $638,000 the parish budget has called for (this includes an estimate for the weekend of April 2, since no data was ever reported for that date). If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then this gives a total of $153,692.23 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 8/13/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $181,636.27.

Redemptive Violence?
The myth of redemptive violence, writes Walter Wink in The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium, “speaks for God; it does not listen for God to speak. It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own; it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical judgment by God. It misappropriates the language, symbols and scriptures of Christianity. It does not seek God in order to change; it embraces God in order to prevent change. Its God is not the impartial ruler of all nations but a tribal god worshiped as an idol. Its metaphor is not the journey but the fortress; its symbol is not the cross but the crosshairs of a gun. Its offer is not forgiveness but victory. … It is blasphemous. It is idolatrous. “And it is immensely popular.”

It is difficult to be the shining city on the hill when so much of our effort and treasury and youth is mired in blood-soaked sand.
From the National Catholic Reporter, 8/11/06

Legal Matters—the End of the Tour
This week an agreement was reached between the Diocese and the UFW concerning two separate issues. One was the Holy Spirit contract and the second was the failure of two other parishes to make pension payments required by their contracts with the UFW. In the settlement of these merged cases, the Diocese has agreed to have the parishes make the pension payments for four of the five years of the contract and in turn the UFW has agreed to terminate the contracts immediately. For the Holy Spirit workers this means they are vested in the UFW pension at 80%, but no longer have any protections of the union contract in their employment.

Like so many things that end up in court, this came down to money, not principle. The diocesan administration and our current pastor have behaved shamefully throughout this whole business. What has been gained? What has been lost?

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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Anonymous said...

Re: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I too read the article by Bishop Peña in last Friday’s edition of The Monitor. How in God’s name can our Bishop ask all of us, “… to love, to dedicate our talents and energies to the same purposes for which He lived and died, namely the kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, of justice and truth, of equality, peace and unity”, when he, himself, has failed so miserably at insuring that this attitude has remained prevalent at Holy Spirit parish? How on earth did he even have the nerve to write that article? I guess Machelle Peña’s title says it all, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.

Anonymous said...

Re: Actions Speak Louder
The words; justice, truth, equality, peace and unity only apply to the laity in the Church, not to Bishops or priests, hence, "Do as I say, not as I do!"