Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

News about Joey!
Just wanting to wish all a very "filling" and Blessed Thanksgiving as well as your families. Remembering always those who have little or none.

Update on Joey is that he had eye surgery that took four hours to try to clear more of the shrapnel and repair more damage to the left eye. He has to keep his head positioned facing down even when he sleeps for five days. A gas bubble was left in the eye to keep the retina from getting scratched while he is healing. He will have to wait two months before he has surgery on the right eye. The natural lens was destroyed by shrapnel and an artificial one needs to be implanted. It has been very painful for him. He has had to restrict himself to dark rooms and no fast movements of the head. Thank you for your prayers
Love and prayers,

Ben Salines' Letter to Fr. Louie
November 22, 2006
To: Rev. Msgr. Louis Brum

Dear Fr. Louis,

I am 20 years old. For the past 18 years, I have spent Thanksgiving at Holy Spirit. For me, a typical Thanksgiving Day starts by waking up at 7:30 or 8:00 AM. By 9:00 my family and I have arrived at Holy Spirit and are greeting our friends and fellow parishioners who have volunteered to prepare for the Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Every year, I look forward to Thanksgiving so that I can spend a day in service alongside some of the best people I know.

Every year, we see familiar faces. Tom, wearing his baseball cap, has his oven mitts and brings his pot. He’s in charge of the oven. Bill will make the gravy. Chayo arrives and prepares the yams, with assistance of several others. My mother will take some of the smaller children into the hall and have them cut sticks of butter, place rolls on pans, and butter the rolls. Benny and Debbie arrive with half their kitchen and oversee just about everything. Harry will be in charge of insuring that there is enough food at the tables at the proper time. And me? I work with the other 30 volunteers anywhere that help is needed. In the past 18 years, I have cut pies, butter rolls, stirred potatoes, picked music, drawn names for the door prizes, made punch, heated turkey and stuffing, opened cans of corn, prepared cranberry sauce, served food, counted plates, refilled drinks, prepare roasters, place tablecloths on tables, arrange baskets of fruit, drench yams in brown sugar, take out trash, sweep the floor, and everything else that needs to go into preparing a Thanksgiving Dinner.

For the past 18 years, my family has created a tradition of spending our Thanksgiving Day preparing a meal for 400 guests. At the end of the meal, we always have people come up to us and thank us. They tell us that if we didn’t have this dinner, they would be alone on Thanksgiving. They explain that without this food, they would go hungry on Thanksgiving. They talk about how it is their tradition to come to this dinner every year. They tell me that they remember when I was 3 years old, running around at Thanksgiving.

This year, my family’s tradition has been broken, for this year there is no Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

I understand that Holy Spirit celebrated a Thanksgiving Dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This is a nice gesture, but you cannot call this a Thanksgiving Day Dinner. There is a reason that we always chose to do our dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Our Parish Community, as you so love to call it, is our family. Thanksgiving is a day to get together with your family, and this is what we do. By attending the Thanksgiving Day Dinner, you are saying, “On this day reserved for my family, I spend my time with Holy Spirit Parish. The Parish is my family.”

Many of the guests at our dinner are Farm Workers, or come from the colonias. They do not normally attend our Services, but they come to Thanksgiving, and we welcome them. Holy Spirit used to be a church that welcomed ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of the economic status of many of our guests, without our Thanksgiving Dinner, they would not have a Thanksgiving Dinner.

We also have many people attend who would be alone on Thanksgiving Day. These guests include widows, as well as couples with no family in the area. They are extremely grateful for the chance to be with a family on Thanksgiving Day. They have repeatedly thanked Holy Spirit for holding this event on Thanksgiving Day.

Don’t you see? It isn’t about the food we serve; it’s about when we serve it! When we serve a “Thanksgiving Dinner” 4 days before Thanksgiving, we tell our parishioners that they are not important enough for us to spend a special day with them. We tell them that they are an afterthought. We tell them that while we talk about them as our family, when push comes to shove, we care about them as much as we do complete strangers.

Fr Louis, I am personally insulted that you felt I was not good enough to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in your presence. I am personally insulted that the Parish Council put their own desires in front of the desires of the parish. It is nice to say, “Well, people don’t want to come to church on Thanksgiving Day,” however that is a bold face lie! For the past 18 years, we have had hundreds of people attend a Thanksgiving Dinner, on Thanksgiving Day, each year. Last year there were more than 400 guests at our Thanksgiving Dinner.

You could blame it on the fact that there are no volunteers, but that is not true either. Last year we had more than 100 people involved with preparing for the Dinner (ranging from donating a turkey, to spending 10 hours on Thanksgiving preparing a meal). The volunteers are there. We’d love to spend Thanksgiving at church doing what we have done for countless years in the past.

Fr. Louis, I am ashamed of you and the Parish Council for only caring about yourself. Remember that whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me. You are forsaking members of your community. You are shunning them. You, supposedly sent to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, are throwing people away.

Where were you when a man wanted a family on Thanksgiving? Perhaps you were eating a fancy dinner at a friend’s house. Why did you not invite him to come with you?

Where were you when an impoverished family asked for a meal on Thanksgiving? Perhaps you were handing them a coupon for a sandwich shop in Sharyland. Why did you not eat the sandwich with them?

Where were you when a high school student was looking for a way to live his faith through volunteer work? Where were you?

You and the Parish Council bring shame to the good name of Holy Spirit through your selfish actions and your exclusivity. How dare you take the church that I helped build and corrupt it? How dare you take my home and turn it upside down? How dare you insult my family? How dare you feel you are too good to hear from a parishioner and not read this entire letter?

If I do not receive a response to this letter, I will be personally insulted. Just remember, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.”

Ben Salinas

A Card of Thanks to Our Troops
Something cool that Xerox is doing...

If you go to this web site, , you can pick out a Thank You Card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

This is not about if they should be there or not,.. or even if we should bring them back. This is about THANKING THEM for the job they are doing for us...

How AMAZING it would be if we all sent one.
Happy Thanksgiving to all...


Msgr. Louis Brum said...

Dear Ben,
I did not read your letter. Let me tell you that it is all about ME now, not the parishioners, and especially not the poor. If you don't like it, you, your family, and the 7-9 troublemakers can all go elswhere.
Monsignorissimo Louis Brum, Esquire

Anonymous said...

There was definitely something missing this Thanksgiving- the 10:30 bilingual mass and the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner. Ben has spoken for many of the volunteers who worked each year doing what Christ ask us to do- When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink. We, as a FAMILY, worked each year because we wanted to SERVE those who didn't have any food or who didn't have a place to go on this holiday. It truly is sad to think that our "leaders", with Fr. Brum in the forefront, felt that we needed to stay home with our families instead of serving others. Is it because they did not want to be inconvenienced on that day? We felt it was a privilege to do this for others on the actual day; giving a little of our time for others in thanksgiving for all our blessings. For a few hours, these people felt important, that somebody they didn't know cared about them. It is too bad that Fr. Louis and his council never attended any of these gatherings. If they had, they would of known how much it was appreciated by those who attended.Just add it to the other good things Holy Spirit use to do that has now been eliminated by our current administration. May God forgive them all.

Benny Arfele said...

Sad Thanksgiving.
Well, the day has come to a close and I have an empty feeling in my heart. As I have stated previously, this is the first year in the Valley that I was not at Holy Spirit Parish working on the Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

Debbie & myself had to find a way to celebrate the day. We did share a dinner with friends, but that only partially filled the gap that being part of the bigger dinner held in our hearts. I know that there are others that feel the same way I do and next year I promise to do all that I can to hold a Thanksgiving Day Dinner the way we have done for years, on Thanksgiving Day, with all that are looking for a place of sharing and caring in our Parish Hall.
Peace and Hope,
Benny Arfele

bridget said...

Amen, Benny

I can't agree with you more. It was nice spending the holiday in Corpus Christi with family, but I can't help but feel that something is missing.

We have used this site over the past three years for a lot of comment on what change has brought to our church, but this event--or lack of it--shows how shallow our parish has become. Instead of a place where we look for ways to serve, we have a church that looks for ways to avoid serving. When I was in church last week, the Msgr. spoke about having the "new" Thanksgiving Dinner in a spirit of unity. Unity with whom? Certainly not with those in need, or with those who are shunned from ministry in this parish.

I am so grateful for the blessings that my family has received this year, but still the feeling remains that somehow we have failed to reflect those blessings onto others who needed a place to go and a community to share the day with.

I agree with Benny--I will not cooperate in an environment that turns it's back to the poor and lonely. Next year there WILL BE Thanksgiving Dinner ON THANKSGIVING DAY. We will make it happen.

Ben Salinas said...

As we were driving to my grandmother's house (this was the first time I've ever had Thanksgiving Dinner with our extended family), we noticed that it was noon. I felt very unproductive yesterday. By that time we had usually prepared a meal for 400. On this particular Thanksgiving, I had watched some of the parade and checked my e-mail.

Anonymous said...

About Rev. Brum, not only is against the GIRM to have anything on the altar that is not part of the consecration, I find it rarther queer (as in odd) that a grown Christian man would have a single red rose as his signature. Is the cross not good enough for him?