Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Decan Alvin Gerbermann

Deacon relieved of some duties
Kaitlin Bell
February 27, 2007

McALLEN — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has temporarily barred the deacon of Holy Spirit church from delivering homilies during Mass, after complaints that he blamed parents for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.

Diocese spokeswoman Brenda Riojas said Tuesday that Bishop Raymundo Peña has asked Deacon Alvin Gerbermann to undergo additional training before he gives any more homilies, the remarks made during Mass that explain a selection of Bible passages.

The training will include a program about preventing sexual abuse called “Protecting God’s Children,” which the diocese created after revelations of child molestation within the Catholic Church. In addition, Gerbermann will be required to retake a course taught by the diocese on how to give homilies, Riojas said.

The remarks that prompted the outcry from some parishioners and local members of the church reform group Call to Action occurred during Sunday Mass on Feb. 18. News of the controversy also attracted statements from national groups calling for reform in the church.

Gerbermann published a short apology in Holy Spirit’s Sunday bulletin for words that “may have caused misunderstanding.”

He added: “I’m truly sorry if I offended anyone.”

Gerbermann, reached on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon, said he did not have time to respond to questions, as he was occupied at the time. He did not respond to a message left on his cell phone Tuesday night.

Neither Gerbermann nor the church has made clear whether a written copy of the homily exists, nor have they provided the text of those remarks.

The Rev. Louis Brum, the priest at Holy Spirit, also said Tuesday afternoon he did not have time to talk. He did not respond to a message left on his phone Tuesday night.

Gerald Brazier, the president of Call to Action’s local chapter, reacted with surprise to news of Gerbermann’s required training.

“So he has to go through some retraining? Oh my heavens,” Brazier said.

“They did a lot more than I ever thought they would,” he added, referring to the diocese.
But Call to Action members and some parishioners said they were still not satisfied by Gerbermann’s mea culpa.

Call to Action issued a statement saying, in part, “The Deacon claims that his remarks were ‘misunderstood’ and that he apologizes ‘if he offended anyone.’ There is no hypothetical at play here, people were offended.”

The statement also criticized Brum, who was present at the Mass when Gerbermann delivered his homily, for his remarks last week that parishioners taking umbrage at the statements were misinterpreting Gerbermann’s intent.

Parishioner Harold Mosher, who had been an outspoken and early critic of the remarks, also called the apology insufficient.

“The deacon's apology consisted of three sentences placed in the parish bulletin,” Mosher wrote in an e-mail.~“He did not even show up for the 12:30 mass on Sunday.”

Brum had said last week that Gerbermann would be away over the weekend because of other commitments.

Kaitlin Bell covers Mission, western Hidalgo County and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4446.


Anonymous said...

Well, they ought to make the pastor get retraining. I was in the adult education class that Ann Cass facilitated and Fr. Louis spoke to us about the Blessed Mother. Then he told us not to read the Old Testament because we were Christians. We just finished a whole year the year before studying the Hebrew scriptures, as Ann called them, and she told us that to better understand the New Testament and to better understand Jesus, we needed to know and read the Hebrew scriptures. Then he comes in and tells us not to read the Old Testament. Where does he think the first reading and psalm come from most every Sunday. He needs retraining too. Let them go study together!!!
Why didn't he correct Alvin at that Mass? Or did he put Alvin up to saying it? I wouldn't want to bet!

Kanickers said...

Retraining indeed! This incident is not the first time our strong-arm deacon has spoken incorrectly on church matters. But then again, as we all now realize, Fr. Louie is not much better. Both need to take a few years off to go back to study church theology, church history and church procedures. It's the uninformed leading the misinformed!

Our bishop will say, “It is just so hard to find good priests these days.” All the good ones seem to have left the church, are now married or have just become disgusted and left. We once got America’s best talents. Now, we attract only the lowest on the scale.

Worry not though, as soon as we change those silly marital, celibacy and male dominated rules, our church will again be loaded with talent as it once was. Those rules were set up for no other reason than to limit church power. It's time to change that and give the church back to the people.

Who can dare state that God would object to having a woman praising Him and saying, "Do this in remembrance of me"?

As has been clearly proven at Holy Spirit, a women can run a parish every bit as good as a man. MUCH, MUCH BETTER in the case of Holy Spirit. Just look at Holy Spirit parish before and after! Even the bishop must now admit (even if only to himself) that he made a humongous mistake.

True, Ann Cass was an exceptional parish administrator who put together a team that had their hearts set on making Holy Spirit the kind of parish that was a model for Catholic parishes everywhere. They paid dearly for their efforts. SO DID WE!

Lets change those silly unsubstantiated rules and get our church back! But please, don’t just pray about it, or hope for it… LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN! Our boat is SINKING!