Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
November 25, 2007
You Better Watch Out!!
Some new signs have appeared on the parish grounds recently. Are these signs simply signs of the times, in the sense that our buildings and grounds are under assault by the lawless hordes that are wreaking havoc on our society, culture, and property, or are they signs of a different mentality at the helm in the parish? Maybe it is true that the neighborhood has so dramatically deteriorated in the past four years that it has become necessary to plaster these sorts of things around the parish property. But maybe it is more true that the Monsignor and his advisors just look at the world and the parish from a perspective that would strike many parishioners as hostile and intimidating.
Has there truly been use of church grounds without permission that has been damaging or unsafe? Oh yes, we all know that there has been “unauthorized” praying happening on church grounds for many months. Such dangerous behavior must stop, of course, and now don’t we feel better (more secure? more powerful?) that we will have it all recorded (probably in HD).
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them, unless of course they haven’t obtained permission from the church office first.”
We went to spend thanksgiving with family out of town this holiday, which offers all kinds of new opportunities, including the opportunity to read different newspapers with articles that might not make it to our home paper. One story helped me start to focus my thoughts towards advent and the spirit of new understanding it brings. The story has a somewhat bittersweet ending.
A nine year old boy and his mother were traveling through an isolated stretch of highway in Arizona, when his mother lost control of the car. His mother was killed and the boy was left injured, distraught and alone. He was found by a man illegally entering the United States who stayed with the boy, built a fire and cared for him until they were found by some hunters. Border Patrol was the first one to respond to the hunter’s radio call for assistance and the boy will recover from his injuries. The man was sent back across the border, his dreams and hopes for his own family sacrificed for a young boy’s need.
No drug trafficking, no terrorist—just a man who became an angel of mercy. I suspect most of the people crossing are like this man, decent people who can bring the gift of hope. This advent we will again tell the story of a young family immigrating to Bethlehem and the human needs and responses along the journey. Maybe this advent can be a rebirth of compassion for each character in an immigration story and a rebirth of hope for us all.
from a fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña.
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9)
Father Paul Stanosz, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has researched and written extensively on the priesthood, particularly seminary training. Here are a few of his thoughts that have appeared in Commonweal in the past few years:
“Priestly training in the seminaries I studied tended to impart a clerical difference, a sense of specialness that led the seminarians to see themselves as not only separate but also superior to laypeople. These students tended to see loving human relationships as involving lust and sexual desire rather than mutuality, communication, and collaboration...
“The current dearth of priestly vocations also leads seminarians to think of themselves as markedly different from other people. That they are entering a profession for manifestly altruistic purposes and lofty ideals likewise adds to their understanding of themselves as special or different from most other people.
“I found that this sense of specialness was also heightened by a feeling that their services would be in great demand following ordination. The day would come when men and women, a generation or more their senior, would address them as Father and kneel before them for a blessing…
“Priestly identity must be rooted in the person and ministry of Christ and the church, not in a search for superior status…
“I see the priest shortage as a blessing in disguise that will eventually break the clerical choke hold on absolute power and force ad-justments down the road, bumpy though it may be along the way. I am optimistic in the long view that new modes of ministry will prevail, and bring more blessings than problems.”
A parishioner kindly supplied me with the financial report provided to the parish on November 4th and the parish offices came through with a copy in the mail—thanks to both.
As a fussy, nerdish math guy, numbers take on an almost mystical life of their own for me, so bear with me as I wander through the report’s entries and muse out loud for a while.
First, I don’t believe that the report is untrue in any overall sense—there are too many ways that deception could be uncovered that the risk would be too great to attempt it. That being said, there are some things in the report that raise questions.
One oddity is that adding up the 52 weekly reports of collection totals presented in the Sunday bulletins gives a yearly total (from 7/1/06 to 6/30/07) of $680,549.41, but the yearly report gives that total as $780,437.58—that’s an almost $100,000 difference. Why have the weekly totals been so dramatically under-reported?
Another oddity is that the diocesan assessment (cathedraticum) is reported as being 12.35% of the Sunday collections, yet the required percentage is 11.5%. Why did the parish pay a little over $6,700 more than is required to the diocese?
The categories used in the current report do not, in general, match those used in the last report (2004-05), so it is very difficult to see how the expenditures/income have changed from two years ago, except in the most general terms. Some specific differences can be noted, however: “Other Collections” decreased from about $67,000 to about $17,000; expenditures for “Religious Education” decreased from about $116,000 to about $50,000. The magnitude of those differences is puzzling. Also, there is an entry of over $35,000 for “Legal Fees.” What is that about?
I have asked the Blog Person to post the two reports and let people do their own perusing. Jerry Brazier
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 oppor-tunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.