Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Rights of Church Lay Workers.

The following was sent in as a "comment" to my "Late Breaking News" post. I thought it was exceptionally well done and deserved to be posted front and center. Thanks for sharing this with us, Bridgit.

About the Rights of Church Lay Workers
It is very important to remember that this struggle was never about winning. It was and continues to be about working for the rights of lay workers in the church. That cause will continue day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year until the church treats lay workers with dignity and respect.

Ann, Martha and Chayo are leaving our parish staff because it is wrong for them to have to continue to endure the difficulties that have been purposefully put in the way of their ability to minister to the parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish.

Just a reminder of what they faced every day:

Unbelievable stress from a pastor who will not involve them in programs that they have been responsible for 25 years; who devalues the importance of what they contribute to Holy Spirit; who does not have the courtesy to inform them of changes in programs; and who would not meet with them to discuss these problems.

Parishioners who once called them friends now treating them with hostility. Some parishioners and members of our parish council want them out—people who seem to be choosing to forget the beautiful faith that these women not only have, but share with the community.

Some of these same people stood with us outside when the diocesan staff took over our parish. At least one of them even helped Ann move from her office on that tragic day. Another offered the services of his company—free of charge—to aid in fighting the injustice that we were trying to overcome.

Now these parishioners and their families have been given positions of power in our church, or maybe even an opportunity to enter the diaconate program. Some are even choosing to do the Sacristan duties that Chayo excelled at for so many years. Things worth far less than Judas’ 30 pieces of silver, but evidently tempting enough for them to turn their backs on these faithful women, and to become no different than the diocesan staff members that overtook our parish three years ago.

Certain staff members who once called these women family; who encouraged them to fight for the pension fund when the Bishop dismantled the retirement pension for lay-workers; who wanted these women on the forefront of a fight they couldn’t—or wouldn’t—fight for themselves. When the struggle got difficult, they treated Ann, Martha and Chayo as if they were lepers.

I wonder if they will be reminded of these women when they open their monthly pension checks from the UFW, and if they will remember that they receive those checks because of the courage of the same three women they have treated so badly.

Ann, Martha and Chayo embody the very meaning of Catholicism and Faith. The void that these women will leave on our church staff cannot be filled. The experience they bring in ministry to this parish cannot be matched. Holy Spirit Parish is poorer today because of this tragic loss.
Bridget Cook

The same for Harry Mosher's comment:
For over 25 years I have served Holy Spirit Parish side by side with Ann Cass. Throughout those years we focused on the parishioners and attempted to bring them true service and knowledge of the Gospel and Vatican II. Ann's knowledge and true understanding of what it means to be Church was, and continues to be, an inspiration to me.

We have had differences, but in the spirit of Church we were always able to work them out. What has happened at this now dysfunctional parish is an abomination. The pastor has demonstrated no Christ like characteristics and has shown only hatred and a complete disregard for the members of the parish. His dictatorial manner is an attempt to intimidate and belittle all who disagree with him.

I have known him for over 30 years and never saw the arrogance and hatred that I witnessed in the past three years. "What price glory?" All this for a title.(Msgr.) When he came to Holy Spirit he claimed, "I have come to serve" when upon this proclamation he was cheered by staff and parishioners. He failed to tell us whom he was here to serve. It was apparently the bishop and himself. One cannot serve the parishioners unless they serve him first. "What price glory?"

Ann, Chayo, Martha I know you will never relinquish your love of the Gospel of the Church and the Parish. You are all so much a part all three. I stand beside you always. We who know the meanness you have endured, who know the indecencies you have experienced, who know the unprofessional manner in which you were treated, who know the outright harassment that was sent your way will never forget the enormous contributions you have made to Holy Spirit, it's wider community and to the Diocese of Brownsville. No one can take that away from all of you.

Someday, the persecutors will have to answer to a Higher Authority. Let's see if they can lie their way out of that. "What price glory?"

I just wish the clergy of this diocese would lift their voices and sing the Gospel message rather than resign themselves to intimidation from their bishop.

All of this rings of the hierarchy attempting to regain authority after their mishandling of the child abuse scandal. Intimidate, force, condemn, and threaten all who fail to bid them homage.

"Do not fear to hope" We pray for the salvation of the Church through the Gospel and not through the hostile hands of those who claim to be Church.
Harry Mosher

And this from a previous comment:
Over the past 3 years, things have been extremely stressful around the office (especially in recent months).
Consider the recent happenings with Religious Education. Martha knew nothing of the new plan for Religious Ed, and yet she was supposed to sign people up. When she asked Fr. Louis how frequently the program was going to meet (so she could tell curious parents) he replied, "You do not need to know that. I'll have a meeting in September." (Well, we all know how that went)
One cannot do their job when they are not told what is going on. Many secrets were kept from them, and this creates a lot of undue stress.
I do not know exactly how bad it was, however I know it must have been extremely bad for I know Ann, Chayo, and Martha and for them to leave the church that they helped build and have been intimately involved with over the past 10-20 years, well it must have been bad. For them to leave the jobs that they have literally fought for; it must have been bad. None of them are the type to leave for no reason.
Ben Salines

And this:
I think most of us in our parish will feel a great sense of loss with the resignation of Ann, Chayo and Martha. I cannot even begin to find words adequate to describe the gift each has been to my family and myself.
However, we cannot give in to the idea that this is a situation that is over, or that someone has to be the winner and someone the loser.
We are a parish family, a community and we cannot let someone, be it the bishop or anyone else, reduce us to a territory and just a fight for control. To do so ignores everything that we are called to be and everything that Holy Spirit has ever been.
The loss has been to the whole body of Christ that is our community because these three members of our family have been treated so badly. As they have been hurt, we all have been hurt. They have tried to take on the pain for all of us and ministered as best they could to our parish family as it has been torn into so many directions and broken pieces.
They have made a difference, they have been a powerful example and voice, and it is time that we all shoulder our own responsibility to minister to each other and bring our family back together.
They resign only their positions in our church office, but never their place in our hearts. I will miss witnessing each of them in the positions I am used to seeing them fill - but I am looking forward to sitting with them in church and joining with them as we support each other and take some of the burden from their shoulders.
Michelle Peña

And this:
What went through your heart as you would listen to the homily, since way back when, when your spirit was free.
What pain have you endured that was surely greater than ours, since way back when, when your spirit was free.
What have you shown us these past three years since way back when, when your spirit was free.
You have shown us grace and beauty, that love is patient, that love is kind, to show our faith through our works, not just our words.
What have we given you this past three years, since way back when, when your spirit was free.
Did we do what was right. Did we write. Did we even try to make them see the light, or were we the quiet ones who did nothing at all, the most dangerous of all.
What will you give us now, now that your spirit is free as it was way back when, when your spirit was free - grace and beauty, that love is patient and kind, to show our faith through our works, not just our words, is what it will be.
Thank you Ann.
Arturo R. Cantu

Thanks to all of you for sharing your feelings. We all know how you feel.

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Guy Hallman said...

Good account, Bridget; thanks.
Sad that some people allow themselves to be overtaken by those in power thinking that they will get some reward. But remember even Peter turned on Jesus and cursed him in his darkest hour. They are human and we must be ready to forgive those who are presently cursing us and thinking that they are doing God's work. The struggle continues.

Edna Cantu said...

Congratulations Bridget,
This was a wonderful summary of what had been happening at Holy Spirit since three years ago. I wrote something very similar to yours to The Monitor, but it never got published. When I started working at HSP during one of the hardest moments of my life, I felt the unity of the people, especially the staff members. It helped me a lot, to get out of my own depression, seeing that people I had never seen in my life really cared about me. It was very hard to go back after we got fired and see the division it created. But with the help of Martha, Chayo and Ann I survived one more time and we developed a closer relationship. I thank them for giving me the love, understanding, and compassion I could not get from my mother because I don't have her anymore, I always thought she sent me to HSP to find my light (purpose) in this world. I am glad you are going to be free from that man that has so much hate in his heart.
Edna Cantu

Anonymous said...

One thing really bothers me…
Every priest in this diocese knows the wrong that has been done.
Every priest in this diocese knows the source of this wrong.
Every priest in this diocese has watched the injustice that Ann, Chayo and Martha have suffered.
Every priest in this dioceses knows that the pastor at Holy Spirit doesn’t give a damn about the parish and that he was only sent there to do a job.
You claim to be "Men of God". "Shepards of Our Lord". “Followers of Jesus”. Yet, not one of you has had the courage to speak up against this grave injustice!
Does your bishop have such a strangle on you that you are all too afraid to stand up for what Jesus taught you? I know that it may be hard for a single one of you to speak up, but is there not several among you that have the courage to organize yourselves and stand up against this injustice?
You are the pastors of our parishes. We depend on you to be our moral leaders, to set the example for us! Read today’s gospel… Just speaking the words is not enough; you must have the courage to act!
If not, then what kind of priest are you and what do I need you for?

Anonymous said...

If nerry a one spoke up when the Bishop sent his storm troopers and security guards to Holy Spirit to FIRE EVERYONE, what makes you think any priest in the diocese will have the guts to stand up to their Bishop for anything that has happened three years hence?
Besides, it is not just priests that should be up in arms over this! Where are all of you that claim to be "good Catholics"? Are you just saying the words, too?

Anonymous said...

I am just so thankful to be a Catholic and to be given the opportunity to live my life according to His teachings. Isn't it GREAT to be a part of this wonderful Church and to be able to receive the Eucharist every Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the oppourtunity to live one's life according to Christ's teachings rings hollow to the Bishop and most of the priests of the Brownsville diocese.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Maybe I have been so busy trying to make the Eucharist the "center of my live", that I have been too busy to listen to what he tried to teach. How stupid of me!

Ana Hallman said...

Silly me,
Yesterday at the 12:30 Mass I was sure Louie was going to say some words of thank you and farewell to Ann, Martha and Chayo. Perhaps not from his heart, but to use the opportunity to "look good" in front of the community. ...How wrong I was. This man is worse than I thought, his heart colder than ice. Even the worst employee at a pizza parlor gets a little farewell party, maybe a slice of pizza to take home or a pat on the back.

Ann, 25; Martha, 20; Chayo, more than 11 years of love, service and dedication to Holy Spirit... and they get NOTHING, not even a word from a man that proclaims to know Jesus. WHAT A LIE!! He doesn't know Jesus. He doesn't know love. His actions yesterday and during the past three years speak volumes of his character.

But you know what? ... After my initial pain and anger I thought about this man and felt sorry for him. To be so callous to some and so sweet to others must be a difficult act to perform, unless he is sick.

We need to remember that our God is a God of justice, and justice will be done. Jesus told us to "pray for those who hate you", and the best we can do is pray for him. In the Our Father we repeat, "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us", this is the moment to put it to practice. Louie Brum needs a lot of prayers, may God have mercy on him.