Thanksgiving Days Past
I just read "The Monitor" section on Valley Life, where there was a great article show casing Tomas Tijerina and the story behind his Thanksgiving Dinner provided in front of his restaurant, Rene's. I was most touched by the woman who was in tears because now she had a place to go for Thanksgiving Day dinner. He is to be commended for organizing such a charitable event for the residents of Mission.
Perhaps he will understand how those of us from Holy Spirit Parish are upset that, after doing the same thing for 22 years, a new Pastor, Fr. Brum, comes in and stops what had been so successful.
We started the Thanksgiving Day dinner, following the morning bilingual Mass, back in 1983. The two reasons we did it was to have a place for people with no extended family to come with parish family to eat, and to provide a place for those of low income, migrant workers and colonia residents, to come and eat and take food home with them.
It did not cost us more than a few hundred dollars, as parishioners were very generous in donating all the food. We never had a problem getting volunteers; we had more than enough volunteers every year. Families would come gratefully with their children, and it became a Thanksgiving Day tradition that many of our children grew up with. I will never forget the second year we had it, a woman came and told Fr. Marti that she was contemplating suicide because she felt so alone. She was thrilled to come to the parish and worked to help serve and eat and laugh and be with others.
Fr. Brum's having a dinner on Sunday for the parish does not help people out on Thanksgiving Day who have no family. His offer to send people with a certificate to Rene's is fine, but why cannot they go to their own parish for this event in McAllen?
Are we going to pretend that the pastor's message, "Thanksgiving Day is a day to be with family members" answers the reason why he stopped the Thanksgiving Day meal? Could it be that he himself is out of town on Thanksgiving and doesn't want anything happening that he cannot be at? Is that micro managing or what? Could it be that because this was a tradition of Holy Spirit Parish before he arrived that this meal, along with almost everything else that was in place, had to be done away with so he could assert his own power? Was this part of the plan the Bishop had made up by sociologists and psychologists to deal with unionized parishes? Does this act on the pastor's part sound like someone who claimed he came to Holy Spirit "to serve the people?"
Every week I run into people who have left the parish, some have left the church itself. They are in shock over what is left at Holy Spirit Parish. They are discouraged and hurting. Where is the process the bishop promised for healing five years ago? Does he not care? What a sad testament to our leaders, both the lay people leading the parish at this time and the clerical leaders, the pastor and the bishop. It is all about power, it is not about making people feel welcome. And, you critics out there, that is one thing you cannot disagree about the parish before June 18, 2003: Holy Spirit Parish was a welcoming parish community. There was room for everyone around the Table. Now it seems no one gives a damn!
~Ann Williams Cass