Monday, November 06, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Celebration

An Open Letter to my Pastoral Council

November 6, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It saddens me to read about the upcoming Thanksgiving Celebration in the Church Bulletin of November 5th. For over 20 years our parish has sponsored a FREE Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

This bulletin announced that this celebration would now occur on Sunday, November 19th @ 6:30. It also mentions that Tony Melendez will speak at the Parents Night of Religious Education, with the Thanksgiving Dinner to follow.

In the past, our parish family would volunteer to cook turkeys and to provide other items that were needed for the Thanksgiving meal. The Middle school & High school religious education program students donated the canned goods needed for the dinner. Parishioners volunteered their time, working on Thanksgiving Day, to cook, serve and clean up after the meal. We would usually feed over 350 people every Thanksgiving day.

This meal was my first experience of parish community involvement when I moved to McAllen 12 years ago. Over the years, my family has made this event a tradition by volunteering to help out. In recent years, I would also help coordinate the Confirmation candidates, as this was a service project for them.

Over the years, this event has grown and it has become an event that many of our parishioners have looked forward to providing. Anyone who happened to walk into our church hall on Thanksgiving Day could receive a hot meal and Holy Spirit, as a parish community, was given the opportunity to interact with those attending to invite them to become a part of our church community. I understand that we will now be giving them “courtesy tickets” to go to Rene’s of Sharyland.

I pray that the decision to change this program was made with the realization that yet another fruitful ministry has once again been systematically eliminated at Holy Spirit Parish.

Your Fellow Parishioner,
Benny Arfele

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re: Thanksgiving Dinner
Does any of this suprise anyone? Why would Holy Spirit want to do anything for the POOR of our parish? We just want RICH PARISHIONERS that can put dollars into the collection basket! Send all of the poor to Sharyland!

Anonymous said...

Yep! Now even the poor are being kicked out of Holy Spirit. So much for a once very vibrant, caring Catholic parish.

Anonymous said...

Who made this decision?

Anonymous said...

Why not encourage all those needy families to PURCHASE tickets to the Tony Melendez Youth Benefit, then they would get their Thanksgiving Dinner FREE!

Or, they could just BUY tickets to the Thanksgiving Chalupa Bingo and maybe WIN a turkey and Roster Oven to be able to fix their own Thanksgiving Dinner! Only $10 per!

Bridget & Laura said...

Bridget & Laura said...
We are so grateful to Benny for pointing out the loss of this critical ministry in our parish. As co-coordinators of this ministry, we feel it necessary to point out that we fought to keep this event at Holy Spirit Parish the last two years. First Father Van Hove, then our pastor, Msgr. Louis, couldn't understand why this event occurred on Thanksgiving Day.

Well, let us set the record straight by pointing out that the importance of this minstry was to provide not only a "free meal", but also to provide a place where people could go on Thanksgiving Day when they had no where else to go, or no family to share this day with. Every year, our Holy Spirit Family created community with those less fortunate--providing a place where anyone could feel a part of a family on a day when most of the country is celebrating just that--family.

How sad that we are no longer able, because of our membership in Call To Action, to co-ordinate this much-needed ministry to the Valley community.

It would seem that those left at Holy Spirit have forgotten the meaning of the charity, mercy and love that Christ asks us to bring to each other.

Bridget Cook
Laura Moya

Anonymous said...

It is very sad to read about the annual Thanksgiving Dinner that will no longer be held on Thanksgiving Day. When my husband and I moved to the Valley 25 years ago and did not have any family to visit, attending this celebration helped us to get through a holiday that we always spent with family. We had the opportunity to share food and our lives with others we didn't know. It was our refuge for that day. Year after year we would attend and help so that others could also feel that welcoming on a day that we truly need to give thanks. Those who have a place to go on Thanksgiving will never understand how a few hours of a warm, homecook meal and conversation can mean so much. For those who have made this decision I hope you never have to experience not having a place to go on the holidays. Hopefully, God will also understand your decision.

Anonymous said...

Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Once again our new leaders have decided that the poor are no longer in need of the services of Holy Spirit Parish. They have decided that it is too much of a sacrifice to spend some of their Thanksgiving day with those who are in need of a decent meal on a day when we are all to give thanks. The pastor, who claims to be here to serve, has chosen once again to convenience himself rather than serve those who Christ has asked all of us to serve.

He will undoubtedly have a wonderful day with his family while those who hunger will be searching for a meal. Jesus asked his followers to leave your family and follow Me. Some so called leaders can't leave mama to fulfill their responsibilities.

It appears that he has chosen priesthood as a profession but was not really called to serve. A collar can get you convenience and a pass on really serving those in need.

Are we asking the poor to purchase tickets to a concert to get a meal? If they could afford the ticket, they would not need the free meal. This "family parish" continues to demonstrate its dysfunctionality by the decisions it is making. Louis stop referring to us as a family. You are the most disgusting family leader in the Valley. It is all about you and not about the parishioners of Holy Spirit or the poor we are asked to serve. When you find out what service is all about, ask forgiveness for your past actions and decisions.

Felipe & Cathy Salinas said...

So I guess now we are going to "outsource" our charity by sending people to a restaurant? This is the latest sign of Holy Spirit's new capitalistic (if you got the dough, you're in) and individualistic (Jesus and me) approach to spirituality. Many families would participate in this event, children working alongside their parents to learn the true meaning of service and charity. Everyone could participate no matter their income. I guess we only want our children to memorize their prayers, we don't want them to learn how to live the scriptures that inspire those prayers. Instead of "I was hungry and you gave me food to eat" it's now "I was hungry and you gave me coupons to a restaurant; I was a stranger and you turned me away; I was in need and you gave me pious platitudes." It's really sad to see an event that was so focused on family - families who came to serve joining with families and individuals seeking community - be shelved. Despite the rhetoric, Holy Spirit is not a pro-family parish anymore.

Felipe & Cathy Salinas

Ben Salinas said...

For me, Thanksgiving is not about a parade on TV, a football game in the afternoon, dinner with my family, or even turkey. For me, Thanksgiving is a day of tradition. For as long as I can remember, I have spent Thanksgiving Day at church stirring mashed potatoes, opening cans, buttering rolls, heating up stuffing, making punch and being merry.

Of course, I understand entirely why we can no longer have Thanksgiving Dinner at Holy Spirit. Just look at the parishioners who put that meal together every year; a sly group of rabble-rousers that have no doubt established “Thanksgiving Dinner” as the new code for “overthrow the Catholic Church.” I know that is what I have always focused on every Thanksgiving Day. I open cans of corn as fast as I can and secretly plot on how to best make people hate the Catholic Church.

Apparently, I am not as good at the latter as some, as I’ve never met anyone in the 17 years that I’ve been helping, that leave Thanksgiving dinner saying, “Man, I can’t stand the Catholic Church.” Now days, all you have to do to hear that, is leave mass on Sunday!

More importantly, Thanksgiving is about family and at Holy Spirit we don’t promote family anymore. We promote independence, hatred and the rosary. We are taught that the bible is a tool to teach lessons that should not, under any circumstances, be applied to real life. We are taught not to make decisions based on our belief. We are taught Jesus died for our sins so that we could sit in church to listen to his gospel.

We must now respect the fact that everyone must surely want to be at home with their family on Thanksgiving. This includes those who have recently been widowed, those who cannot afford to cook their own Thanksgiving or those who don’t have family in the area. After all, who said it is the job of the Catholic Church to help those less fortunate than ourselves? No one at Holy Spirit recently.

I grew up with Thanksgiving Dinner at Holy Spirit. I’ve participated in every part of its preparation, from pressing play on the stereo, to drawing names for the door prizes, to cooking turkeys, to counting cans, to making punch, to buttering rolls. Every year, I return and wonder if this year I will be old enough to do something new. I guess this year I am old enough, because this year there will be no Thanksgiving Dinner at Holy Sprit!

Well, I guess its time for me to go back and plot on how to better overthrow the Catholic Church. Lord knows, I have nothing better to do with my time than plot the overthrow of a community of which I am no longer a part.
Ben Salinas

Guy Hallman said...

Of course some of you in the "pastoral council" know about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which is the latest casualty to the "new" way of doing things, because you have been here some years. But we can never know for sure, because the council is secret. In any case, it is you who have been around for a while but kowtow to Mr. Brum that disgust me as the Pharisees disgusted Jesus, and he told them so. See, you all have no excuse for your behavior. Shame on you!

Gerard Vaello said...

Not having Thanksgiving Dinner at Holy Spirit Parish has not just hurt the many poor families that were served. It has hurt ALL OF US!

Thanksgiving at Holy Spirit was a chance for all of us to come together for a very worthy cause, while sharing fellowship with our whole parish family. What a privileged it was for all of us to share Thanksgiving Dinner with hundreds of our fellow parishioners. It was an absolutely incredible experience and anyone who ever participated in this remarkable event knows exactly what I am saying. Because of Holy Spirit, Thanksgiving was a very special day for the whole Vaello family. No longer having this opportunity available to us as parishioners, HURTS ALL OF US!

I guess Thanksgiving Dinner and all of the other traditions that we once loved at Holy Spirit are now all being systematically eliminated. THAT HURTS ALL OF US!
Gerard Vaello

Frustrated said...

So when did the “C” in A.C.T.S. change from “Community” to “Charity”?

This had to have happened, since the Pastoral Council consists mainly of A.C.T.S. members (some even Core members) and they decided to eliminate a “Community Based Event” in favor of a “Charitable Offering” by providing tickets to a Thanksgiving Dinner outside of our parish, instead of retaining the Community Service Event within our parish.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of ACTS, why do they even bother keeping the "T" and "S". They should be simply "ACK" as in Adoration, Clique, Knights

An ACTS member said...

For those of you not in the know, the "T" and "S" of ACTS stand for "Theology" and "Service", which are arguably in short supply as currently practiced by the ACTS community. Fr. Jerry's idea was to incorporate ACTS "graduates" into the larger parish community, small church communities, other ministries, etc. It was to be an infusion of spirit followed by service into the parish and larger community. Of course, it (as so much else) did not happen when the bishop decided to abort Holy Spirit Parish and put spiritual and theological babies in charge, beginning with the pastor, Msgr. Brum.

ACTS and its failure to meet its objectives are topics that could be discussed at great length and that have frustrated me as an ACTS member.

Anonymous said...

Church Bulletin
Why has the reminder about NIGHT PRAYER been omitted from our Sunday Bulletin? Did it get overlooked last Sunday? They sure didn’t forget the Chalupa Bingo info. Guess it’s important, too!

Also, our thanks to the Blog for forcing Fr. Louie to finally admit that he had Father Genaro removed from Holy Spirit. Had it not been for the Blog, I guess he would never have told us! Par for the course!

Anonymous said...

Night prayer overlooked? Hardly! The "choir" director was given orders to lock the door to the chapel upon leaving Wed. night. Luckily one of the faithful showed up early and kept it open. So Msgr. Brum is banning prayer now. What a sorry excuse for a pastor!