Monday, February 05, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter of 02/04/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—February 4, 2007

Texas Wins?
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Thirty-eight people have been put to death in the United States since May:

Six states executed one man each: Alabama executed Larry Hutch-erson, 37, Oct. 26. Mississippi executed Bobby Glen Wilcher, 43, Oct. 18. Montana executed David Dawson, 49, Aug. 11. North Carolina executed Samuel Flippen, 37, Aug. 18. South Carolina executed William Downs, 39, July 14. Tennessee executed Sedley Alley, 51, June 28.

Virginia executed three men: Brandon Hedrick, 27, July 20; Michael Lenz, 42, July 27; and John Yancey Schmitt, 33, Nov. 9.

Ohio executed three men: Darrell Ferguson, 28, Aug. 8; Rocky Barton, 49, July 12; and Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, Oct. 24.

Oklahoma executed four men: Eric Allen Patton, 49, Aug. 29; James Malicoat, 31, Aug. 31; John Boltz, 74, June 1; and Corey Hamilton, 38, Jan. 9.

Florida executed four men: Angel Diaz, 55, Dec. 13; Arthur Rutherford, 57, Oct. 18; Danny Rolling, 52, Oct. 25; and Clarence Hill, 48, Sept. 20.

Texas executed 18 men: Jermaine Herron, 27, May 17; Jesus Aguilar, 42, May 24; Timothy Titsworth, 34, June 6; Lamont Reese, 28, June 20; Angel Maturino Resendiz, 46, June 27; Derrick O’Brien, 31, July 11; Mauriceo Brown, 31, July 19; Robert Anderson, 40, July 20; William Wyatt Jr., 41, Aug. 3; Richard Hinojosa, 45, Aug. 17; Justin Chaz Fuller, 27, Aug. 24; Derrick Frazier , 29, Aug. 31; Farley Matchett, 43, Sept. 12; Gregory Summers, 48, Oct. 25; Donell Jackson, 33, Nov. 1; Willie Shannon, 33, Nov. 8; Carlos Granados, 36, Jan. 10; and Jonathan Moore, 33, Jan. 17.

Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 1,060 prisoners have been executed in the United States.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

Lent and the Big Tent
Well, I try my best to be just like I am,
But everybody wants you to be just like them.
Bob Dylan

Last Lent a visiting homilist talked to the Parish about the “big, inclusive tent” that is the Church: from Joan Chittister to Mother Angelica; from Tom Gumbleton to Fabian Bruskewitz. There is a vast spectrum of opinion and practice in the Body of Christ and like Gary Coleman used to say, “different strokes for different folks.”

The spirituality and piety of some folks might strike others as strange and not for them, but those who talk about and practice the Gospel differently are not necessarily outside the tent. What we would not choose is not, by that fact alone, something that no one should be allowed to choose.

Consider, for example, the interesting history of retreat movements in the Church. They begin with the best of intentions and have great success in bringing people into a heightened spiritual life—prayer, becoming more aware of God in their lives, etc. Very frequently they have led to an inward turning, cult-like confraternity of the “elect” which can very easily view anyone with a different take on the spiritual life as in error and even the enemy of those in the movement. This has happened over and over again over the centuries in the Church and it’s too bad. It seems a very big price to pay for reconnecting folks with Christ and the Church. Think about the readings from Corinthians a few Sundays ago in which Paul spoke about the diversity of the Body of Christ and take them to heart.

The Center
We used to hear the phrase “The Eucharist: the center of our lives” so much during Mass that it almost became a game. How many times this Sunday? The phrase came back to me when thinking about a recently shared observation: As Catholics our history has more than its fair share of scandals, but the faithful keep coming because we are rooted in the Sacraments—even when they are presented badly.

I know just enough about liturgy to cringe most Sundays at the way we celebrate Mass. Last Sunday’s baptism celebration was particularly painful for me. But I keep coming because I am rooted in the Sacraments. I need Eucharist and to hear The Word and the living homily given to me by the community. I guess the phrase “the Eucharist: the center of our lives” became a game because so many of us were aware that we are surrounded by people who live that phrase. We come together each Sunday because we know deep within ourselves—in our center—that we need Eucharist to sustain and nurture us. I suspect a good amount of healing could happen in our parish family if all members of the community were seen, and could see each other, as revelations of that reality. The Eucharist is our center, we come to celebrate our center and we are the Body of Christ. Please don’t tell us what we already know, especially if you cannot see us for who we are. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Notes on the Media
First there was Monsignor Briseño and his ham-handed actions at KMBH, followed by his embarrassing remarks to the media in the aftermath. An official at PBS has pointed out, just a few days ago, that the Monsignor’s claim of not being informed at least 26 days in advance of the change in programming for January 16th is simply false. All affiliates were informed on December 1st (47 days prior, for the math challenged) of the change which put “Hand of God” on the schedule.

In the middle of all this questioning of the involvement of the Church in public broadcasting, we have the Bishop announcing a Lenten sacramental preparation program that will be broadcast in primetime over KMBH during the first four weeks of Lent. Does this really allay the fears of the general public about a too cozy relationship of local PBS with Catholicism?

Finally we have Monsignor Nicolau’s column about the sexual abuse of children which rails against the people who commit these crimes—they need to be prosecuted, victims need justice, etc. Odd that he fails to mention the responsibility that the Church has towards the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and the responsibility that the Church has to resolve this scandal in a full, just and open manner. Why did he not call for the Bishop to release the names of the sexually abusive priests of the Diocese of Brownsville?

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $22,223.00 (last year same date: $24,077.14)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $53,299.16
Projected yearly shortfall: $173,222.27

Babies and Bottles
Abortion counseling is a powerful and important ministry. It is one of several tools that will decrease the number of abortions. Please know that the ministry that is supported by the “Baby Bottle” campaign in the Parish is part of the work of the fundamentalist Faith Pleases God church. You would think we would be able to muster a Catholic witness in this work and not partner with a church that attacks Catholicism as part of its proselytizing efforts.

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


Anonymous said...

As always, another great Somos. Kudos to Jerry and Michelle for her column.

About the last comment: Those presently in charge of Holy Spirit Parish, including the Msgr., are taking on the trappings of fundamentalist churches even adapting their anti-Catholic stances on theology and issues. Simply amazing!

Like the letter in the Monitor today alluded to: the bishop must resign; he is presiding over the destruction of the Catholic Church in the RGV.

Church Employee Whose Seen It All said...

Two things:

First, Nicolau won't do what you suggest because he is presently the defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit and, second, the baby bottle campaign is NOT a ministry of Faith Pleases God Church. It receives support from Catholic and Protestant churches across the board, an ecumenical effort in educating the public on alternatives to abortion.

Kanickers said...

There was also this Letter to the Editor in The Monitor today.

The Monitor
February 06,2007

Valley Catholics need new bishop

To the editor:
The Catholic Church in the RGV is in the moribund state! Mass attendance and school enrollment has dropped significantly during the past decade. Tens of thousands of Catholics have deserted the faith to join Pentecostal, Baptist and other denominations. There was only one parish established since Bishop Peña assumed the leadership here. On the other hand, thousands of non-Catholic churches have been or are being erected, with ex-Catholics as their members. It is long overdue, but we need a new and dynamic bishop to stop the church hemorrhage!
Pio Silvano,

Anonymous said...

Even though the Pregnancy Testing Center (beneficiary of the the "Baby Bottle Campaign") may not have formal ties with the Faith Pleases God church, it is clear from its own materials that close ties with fundamentalist Christianity exist. When the Center boasts of clients who have "received Christ," you know who you are dealing with.

The point of the newsletter article was that specific parish endorsement of an effort tinged with fundamentalist outreach may not be the best way to witness as Catholics, because anti-Catholic rhetoric is many times part of fundamentalist proselytizing.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the letter by Silvano, if you visit any of the hundreds of colonias dotting the valley you may only find a Catholic church in Monte Christo, that one because of Holy Spirit's very own Sister Cecilia, nothing to do with the bishop. But you will find some type of mostly fundamentalist church in just about any colonia; sometimes it is only a shack, but it is a church, nonetheless, a church probably akin to those of the first few centuries of the Church. Where is the Catholic Church in the colonias? Oh, there is no money to be had there. And then the bishop is going to have some type of weak evangelical program this Lent. Think that program will enter the colonias? I doubt it. Has the bishop ever been in a colonia? What do you think?

Anonymous said...

You mean our bishop doesn't jump in his Cadillac Escalon SUV every day to go visit all those good catholics in the colonias? I'm sure he does, after all, isn't that why he purchased an SUV, for all those harsh back roads getting to the colonias?

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

He purchased an SUV? When? How does he climb in to the driver's seat? Is this true?

Back to the Fundamentalist vs. Catholic witnessing. What is wrong with receiving Christ? So long as you understand that salvation is God's gift of grace, that it is a life long process (salvation CAN be forfeited) and that you are to work out your salvation in fear and trembling, why get caught up in the terminology that the Protestants use? I mean, if I am about to be killed, I don't care if it is a Protestant who saves me!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I heard about that evangelization program the Diocese is promoting for this Lent. Before they send people door to door, they need to begin evangelizing the people that come to the Basilica. I have encountered, many times, people who only attend the Basilica, and it amazes me how little these people know or understand about the sacraments, and the very basic principles of Catholicism.
Bishop Pena, you have a wonderful opportunity to make your evangelizing program a success. Without much effort begin at the Basilica, then jump in your SUV and go to the numerous colonias begging for a visit from the Catholic Church. Do it before they all convert to the nearest evangelical church that comes to their colonias.

Anonymous said...

Kidding aside, some excellent ideas come across this blog, like the previous one about evangelizing in the basilica, of all places. If one man, the bishop, would only try, not even accomplish, but at least TRY to achieve only ONE of these suggestions during every new church season, what a difference it would make and what a Church we would have! (sigh...)

Anonymous said...

Yesterday the Vatican released a position paper that said the death penalty "is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity." The paper recognized the obligation of governments to protect their citizens, but it also said that "today it truly is difficult to justify" using the death penalty when other means of protection, including life imprisonment for murderers, are possible.

Anonymous said...

T0 "Church Employee Who's Seen
it All"....There is a national baby bottle campaign that many churches have adopted, including the Catholic Conference. But here the money goes to the Pregnancy Counseling Center which is a ministry of the Faith Pleases God Church. We know that as well because two years ago fpg website was all over the material. Last year in their report they spoke of those who had found Jesus through the PCC. I would like to argue and ask, Why can't we collect money in the baby bottles and have the money go to Catholic Social Services and bring back the Project Rachel service we had before?
And, you mentioned once before about what happened at Carlos Zuniga's parish. What did happen? I thought it was handled well. Do you have other information we do not have?-Ann Cass