Monday, March 28, 2005

Ann Cass - Knights of Columbus

Another FIRST... (I guess we have become an official way of spreading the word at Holy Spirit).
A post from Ann Cass:

Would you please post the following on your Web Page:

Two points:
1. I do wish that Bishop Peña would follow the many other bishops in this country and NOT permit swords in church buildings. The previous two bishops did not take that action either, unfortunately.

2. I have received many phone calls about the final announcement at the Vigil regarding the Knights of Columbus. I had nothing to do with that. Where the gesture of giving rosaries to the neophytes was noble, I suggested that it happen at the reception, not at a Mass that had already gone on for three hours and was full of ritual significance. It was the KCs who wanted to do it at the Mass, not my decision. I was assured there would be no "big deal" made of it. I think what most of you are upset about is that the Grand Knight went on and on about the KCs, not about the neophytes. The focus was on the KCs and not the neophytes or the rosary.

The neophytes were given rosaries last summer when we discussed how to pray the rosary (granted they were not very expensive), they were given a Bible and a cross when they went through the introductory rites of the RCIA, they were presented with the Creed and the Our Father during Lent. At the vigil they were presented with their candle and the white garment. There is no place in the ritual for a presentation of a rosary at the Vigil.

I want to make it clear that I think this was a nice gesture, I just didn't agree with how it was done, where it was done, and when it was done. My anxiety is that next year there will be other groups who will want to follow. I would like to invite the KCs to make the presentation of the rosaries when the candidates enter the catechumenate, rather than at the Vigil.

Peace and all good things,
Ann Cass

In response to Ann's posting:
I hope that people are also calling Louis about this and not just the office personnel. At Holy Spirit, Louis now makes ALL of the decisions.

And, yes, although the Knights did not have their swords during the Thurs. service, they did have them during the adoration afterwards, on the very night that Jesus told Peter to put away his sword! What is wrong with these people? Don't they realize how ridiculous they look in their feathered hats and the antics they perform in church, distracting the parishioners?

"Right arm of the church" my...! Yes, I agree with the parishioner who lamented on how hollow the services were this year. Sad, very sad.

This is outrageous! Carlos, when are you going to tell the bishop what is happening at Holy Spirit?! Does he not care?! Maybe he needs a vision from St. Athanasius: "The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

A parishioner.

Just a short note: We are still accepting comments relative to the posts by Fr. Carlos. I received several today and will continue to post them as I receive them. To review the previous posts, go to our Happy Easter post under: "Previous Posts".

Note: If you would like to contribute a posting or a comment to this site, please send it to:, with "Holy Spirit" in your title line. You may also e-mail this article to a friend, simply by clicking on the little envelope icon below!

Sunday, March 27, 2005


He is risen!

"Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here, He has risen, just as HE said."

Ok ... I guess everyone knows that Father Carlos Villarreal left a comment on our Blog a few days ago.

I don't know about the rest of you, but that has just thoroughly made my Easter! It is so gratifying to know that at least "someone" of clergy status is viewing our comments and at least hearing our cries.

Thank you Father Carlos.

Because we have had so many responses to Father Carlos' post, I have decided to finish out the Easter season by posting his comment and your responses on a special page. I will continue to post your comments as I get them.

May you all have a Happy Easter!

"Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way."

Fr. Carlos A. Villarreal

“Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way”.

I agree with Fr. Carlos 100%.

In addition, bishops and priests should love their flock and should not act with malice towards them or tell them false-truths, i.e. Where is Fr. Ivan? “Oh, he has been sick and needed some time off” or, “Fr. Nicolau resigned from the Basilica for health reasons” or, “I didn’t have anything to do with the firings at Holy Spirit.

YES… “Love One Another”, “Do Unto Others”… But, also Speak Out to Correct Injustice! Isn’t that what Christ taught us?

Nowhere could you find more examples of Christian values being put into action than at Holy Spirit Parish previous to June 18, 2003.

Where were your Christian values then?

A still hurting parishioner.


And the flock scattered far and wide, including to other religions. And it continues still.

Another still hurting parishioner.

"Christians love Christians. Christians do not talk about Christians in a hurtful way." -Carlos

I get the message, but I don't agree. What is missing are the words SHOULD and PEOPLE, not just Christians.

Though Jesus never stopped loving sinners, he had what would be considered hurtful words for them. Words like vipers, whitened sepulchers, Satan. And he saved the worst for the religious leaders who should have known better. He was actually quite kind and understanding with the oppressed laity when they sinned.

But at least Carlos is making an attempt at communication, not considering himself a high and mighty priest unworthy of hearing what his parishioners have to say. One rumor has it that after Luis goes to the Basilica, Carlos will replace him at Holy Spirit.

If Carlos keeps an open mind and heart and truly listens and seeks reconciliation, he will have no problem at Holy Spirit, except for the small handful of outsiders who continue to demand that the church return to the superstition, secrecy, arrogance, sexism, and racism of pre-Vatican II.

We will help Carlos handle those lost sheep lovingly, as we did before the upheaval of June 2003. We seek a priest who will listen and respond with God's interest at heart; that is all. No genius spiritual director nor orator is necessary.

-A humble parishioner

Fr Carlos, May I say with all sincerity, "Thank you for entering into dialogue with us.” Perhaps you sensed feelings of anger, pain and bitterness and you felt this was not the proper Christian response to our situation.

The problem is that our anger, pain and bitterness has come as a response to deceit, oppression and injustice imposed on us by spiritual leaders who are supposed to have chosen to be Christian and Catholic as their vocation. Instead, their goal seems to have been ordination as a career and whoever is the greediest, most ostentatious, most callus and calculating is the most successful.

How can we stand (or perhaps, I should say “kneel”) for this if we know with every fiber of our being, that it is WRONG!!!

Margaret Eberhardt

It seems almost comical…

Those that are living their religion according to current Catholic Church directives (Vatican II) are the ones that are considered to be the “rebels” and those that are going against those directives and are trying so fanatically to change them... are not!

Proud to be a rebel.

I have to agree with Margaret that at least Fr. Carlos is showing some attempt to dialog, something we have not been able to do with our own pastor after trying so many times.

He only consults with his few secret "advisers" and decisions for the whole parish are made in this fashion, i.e. the ending of one of our most beloved traditions of having real bread (as directed by the GIRM) at the Eucharistic Banquet; ignoring and eventually disbanding our Parish Council, Liturgy, Financial, and Peace and Justice committees; etc., etc.

For our pastor, his sheep are not all deserving of the same respect, only those who will never challenge him, even if he is wrong.


I agree. If you are not one of the old style "Pray, Pay and Obey" Catholics, our present pastor doesn't want much to do with you. This reflects highly of his character and up-bringing.


Christ came to gather lost sheep. He preached salvation for ALL people. And, because we are ALL sinners, no one was excluded.

To be Christian encourages “inclusiveness”. Everyone is welcome at His table.

Previous to 6/18/03, everyone WAS welcome at Holy Spirit. No one cared if you sat, stood or squatted. You were not criticized. You were ALWAYS included and you were ALWAYS welcome.

The attitude at Holy Spirit today is one of “exclusiveness”. If you don’t stand, kneel or sit when I tell you, don’t come back! If you prefer bread instead of host, this place is not for you. If you are interested in a peace movement, go somewhere else. If you are not obedient to me, you cannot be a Eucharistic Minister. No one can count the collections, but who I appoint. If you don’t agree with the way I select the Parish Council, get out!

A religious leader that seeks exclusiveness in his Church does not have a good understanding of the most basic of Christ’s teachings and that will surely result in trouble for Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, the way of the cross involves standing up to a religious leader that has forgotten what his job description really is! Was he not paying attention to the concept of the washing of the feet on Thursday night?

A sinner-

So far, Holy Week has lacked the solemnity and meaning of past years at Holy Spirit.

To start with, I was disheartened to see Luis Brum preside at tenebrae. It looked so bad when he refused to read some of the humbling phrases from the Bible readings.

At the Holy Thursday service, in this age of extreme concern over homosexual pedophilia, it does not look good that he chose only male youth for the washing of the feet. And then, he got the meaning of the ritual backwards. He thanked the young men for humbling themselves to have their feet washed! He mixed up the Christian message so badly, frankly I wonder if he is really a priest! I am not being facetious!

The exception to this disappointing streak for Holy Week was the Friday service downtown! Read about it in the Saturday Monitor. That was an event in the true Holy Spirit tradition. Of course, Luis had nothing to do with it and wanted Holy Spirit not to be involved. People came out of the shops to pay respect and some even followed the procession for a while. What an outreach event for Holy Spirit!

What is wrong with Luis? Why does he discriminate against so many groups? How much longer are we going to put up with this outrage of a priest?

A justifiably angry parishioner.

Several weeks ago, I attended a management meeting in Dallas. Once our flight got underway, the pilot came on the PA system and said: “Thank you for choosing American Airlines. We know that you had a choice of which airline you could choose and we want to sincerely welcome you and thank you for choosing American!”

I think our church can learn a lesson from this important message. No longer do we automatically acquire parishioners, even if they were born Catholic. Our young have multiple choices of where they can worship. They will go where they are invited and are welcomed! You can’t put on a false front and fool them anymore, either. They are too smart for that! It’s called being truly sincere about saving their souls.

It may seem like you are gaining parishioners, but compared to our present population explosion, your attitude is loosing them in groves! PLEASE take heed!

-A Worried Parishioner

Fruit for thought.
Do not agree with me, just let the words sink in.

"In order to heal, I must forgive. If I never forgive, I will never heal."

May the Resurrected Christ, reign in your lives!

Fr. Carlos A. Villarreal

Pope Paul VI said: “If you want peace (healing), there needs to be justice.”
Pope John Paul II added:
“To have justice, there must be reconciliation.”

We HAVE forgiven! But before there can be PEACE, we need JUSTICE and RECONCILIATION.

This requires the participation of BOTH parties…

An excellent start, Carlos, but it is only a start.

Let me add this and, like you say, let it sink in:

"Between forgiveness and healing lies the vast chasm of reconciliation. Cross it and you are healed."

Reconciliation restores the relationship to where it was before the offense.

"Fruit for thought" for Father Carlos:

Although I appreciate the opportunity to dialog with a priest, perhaps you should hesitate before you accuse parishioners of not forgiving. I, for one, have forgiven those who caused the hostile takeover on June 18; however, that does not mean that we are reconciled. Bishop Pena has never taken responsibility for his part in those actions.

How can we reconcile with someone who isn't taking responsibility? Bishop Pena's modus operandi has been to deny responsibility for everything from moving pedophile priests to dioceses in other countries, to the firings at Holy Spirit Parish and the subsequent removal of beautiful traditions in our parish, such as real bread for the Eucharist and the choice to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Reconciliation is not just the responsibility of the parishioners; it is also the responsibility of the clergy. Bishop Pena and Father Louis Brum also need to reconcile. Father Louis refuses to discuss any type of reconciliation in our parish. His "past is the past" rhetoric has become tiring.

Holy Spirit Parish was a victim and victims do not heal by ignoring their pain. You cannot just put it aside and move on. In order to have reconciliation, there needs to be open communication about the hurt that was caused in 2003, and that has never happened at our parish!
You may sign me:
A parishioner who has forgiven, but is waiting for reconciliation.

I suppose we should be grateful that the Knights did not wear their swords to the Holy Thursday service - BUT, they did wear them in the chapel during the 4 hours of adoration AND they had a changing of the guard every 15 minutes. How was that supposed to contribute to a spirit of mediation and silent reflection??

What a show of clerical sexism was the service!! I am disappointed that those poor Confirmation boys (although I did notice at least one already confirmed college boy) did not speak up for their female counterparts and insist that they be included.

Did you notice how those boys were arranged - according to dress in a descending order?? First there were the ones with coats and ties, then ties, then no ties. What a sad demonstration of exclusivity. I wonder who was responsible for that - the pastor or Grand Knight Tom?
-A disappointed parishioner

We had a wonderful showing for our annual downtown Way of the Cross Good Friday Afternoon - we had about 55 people. That was a tremendous showing for not being able to advertise the event in the bulletin or in a verbal at the parish.

This prayerful event, which we have done for about 20 years now, is a profound reminder of the ways the sufferings of Jesus still live on in the poor and dispossessed of our city and our world today.

I am confused as to why our pastor refused to let this be an activity of the parish this year - he gave no reason. I am confused why a priest is so opposed to the parish promoting activities pertaining to peace and justice. Isn't that what the message of Jesus is all about? Isn't that what our mission as Catholics is all about?

At least we still have parish members who are committed to the works of peace and justice and who are committed to continuing this ministry in the name of and on behalf of the parish.

Sister Moira

Thank you for your thoughts Fr. Carlos. However, those who have committed acts of injustice also have a responsibility to acknowledge their actions and ask for forgiveness. The clergy who have demonstrated ill actions toward the committed parishioners have given an example of pride, authority and total disregard for the faith of the people they have attacked.

They refuse to allow those who disagree with them to sit at the table for a balanced conversation. He (Louis) has chosen to hear only one side of the story. His tunnel vision does not allow him to see the greater vision of what Christianity is all about. He has chosen to conceal the great mystery of the resurrection to the inside of a chapel. Those who really understand the gospel know that our responsibility is to bring it to others.

He talks consistently about the mystery of the Eucharist, but fails to understand that the Eucharist has a dynamic message. Don't hide your light under a basket. Let it shine for all to see. Bring my message to the poor, the misled; those who need to hear it.

Louis, please read the Beatitudes. You might learn something. It is never too late to find Jesus and what He was all about. He never wanted to be the highlight of the day. He humbled himself to become a servant. Try it. It really is rewarding.

Pope John Paul II has exemplified evangelism by traveling to innumerable nations bringing the message of the gospel. That is evangelization. It is not imposing one's interpretation of Catholicism, but rather delivering the message under extreme conditions and willing to suffer the consequences for the sake of the gospel. Louis is too secure behind his collar and not even willing to carry the cross on Good Friday.

He did miss the point on Holy Thursday. He thanked the young men for their humility in having their feet washed. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIM EXPRESSING HIS HUMILITY FOR WASHING THEIR FEET. But when humility is too hard to bear, one escapes to making up reality rather than living it.

Fr. Carlos wrote about healing. Maybe he is aware of information that he needs to share with the parishioners of Holy Spirit and those victims that have been scarred at the hands of some clergy.

It takes a great man (priest) to admit that he has hurt others through his actions or words. "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but so not perceive the wooden beam in our own eye?" Our clergy needs to stop hiding behind their "clerical garb" and realize they are men first and not divine like Jesus.
A Parishioner

I do not live in McAllen, but I have family living there. When Father Jerry was the priest we would come to McAllen every year for Holy Week services. The feeling of love and beauty of the week would last for a long time.

It seems so many of our priests have made the church over to suit them. Our priest bragged, in church, that he had a better spy network than the CIA and knew everything about every one of us. Bringing back pre-Vatican II is bad, but the "Inquisition"? Telling on your fellow Christians and having them damned without a trial?

The "good" people meet with Father and make all the decisions; the rest of us, sinners all, just write the checks for the weekly envelopes. The "good" people come to the weekly "Holy Hour" and pray out loud, the bad sinners stay home with small children or sick spouses.

Our priest says we do not realize how much God suffered for us until we see the movie, "The Passion of the Christ". Yes we do. I was raised Lutheran and before Confirmation we learned about the agony in a very clinical way that had some of us crying. Our pastor told us what it was about, using the Bible as background. Not only that, Jesus died like that because He loved every one of us and He was sad if one was lost. I think many of the "chosen" will be sad in Heaven if they can't look down and see the others in Hell.

Mary O'Donnell
Sweeny, Texas

Holy Thursday was indeed a sad day for women at Holy Spirit. After nine years of attending the wonderful services of Holy Week at Holy Spirit, I could not believe what happened on Thursday.

Is someone trying to take us back to the times of rampant discrimination against women? I know the Catholic Church is one of the few respected world institutions not yet fully willing to give women their equal rights, even after Vatican II, when it was supposed to change.

Nevertheless, at the Holy Spirit of past years, my daughters and I felt included and sensed a honest effort at giving women an equal opportunity to serve and be apostles, as Jesus called us all to be.

What a contrast with what is happening now! Does our pastor believe that the Last Supper was just like Leonardo's painting? Is that what he learned at priest school, that only well dressed boys were present in the upper room? Doesn't he know that many disciples, both men and WOMEN, followed Jesus?

More than likely, the women cooked the Passover meal and their families gathered to celebrate together? Most of the disciples were married, and their wives and children also followed Jesus. They were all one BIG FAMILY!

My daughters are appalled at what they saw and heard Holy Thursday. They are struggling with their faith since the veil of trust in the church keeps falling from their faces on a daily basis. How is something like last Holy Thursday at Holy Spirit going to help them heal and convince them to remain faithful Catholics? Can someone please help us?

Yes, Fr. Carlos, healing and forgiveness do go hand in hand. But you can forgive and also stand your ground firmly in seeking justice, truth and basic respect as a fellow brother or sister in Christ. While angry words may not always reflect the better angels of our nature, the words do reflect the deep hurt that is felt and the deep love we have for our church and our parish. What was our spiritual home, our sanctuary and our place to participate and grow in faith, now seems like a foreign and sometimes barren land.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are what we want to give and receive, but so many of us are being shut out or ignored. How can the body of the Church at Holy Spirit Parish begin to heal when it continues to be wounded? We will never be the same parish we were, but we can also never rebuild if we continue to be torn apart.

One more comment on Easter: Instead of leaving Easter Sunday with a feeling of joy, I left trying to understand why I felt a sense of hollowness. Was the focus for the service the celebration of the resurrection - or were we there to celebrate our new goblets??

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

See you in church tonight!

Don't forget about the Stations of the Cross
in downtown McAllen tomorrow! Full information
in yesterday's post.

You may want to check out the many "comments" from yesterday.
They are still coming in and I'll continue to post them as they arrive.

Click on yesterdays post under the "previous posts" column.
Someone sent me this link. Nice Easter Message!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gold Vessels, Feet Washing & Stations.

Our New Gold Vessels are Here.
I understand there was a "by invitation only" mass for those secretly selected to donate our new GOLD vessels. Maybe we will be able to see them during the upcoming Easter services. I just can't help but think that this whole project could have been such a special opportunity for our entire church community to join together had the selection process not been so closed and secretive. I hear our Youth Group wanted to participate collectively, as did others, but their requests fell on deaf ears... Go figure!
Another healing opportunity lost... Maybe I am just too young to understand the interworking of church logic!


Washing of the Feet
From The Monitor, Sunday, March 20, 2005

BOSTON -Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley has decided to wash the feet of both women and men during this year's Holy Thursday footwashing ritual, a year after angering Catholic women by washing only men's feet.

O'Malley's decision, which came after consulting with the Vatican, drew immediate praise from advocates of a greater role for women in the Catholic Church.

Would somebody please inform our pastor about this... instructions directly from Rome! Maybe we should stage an "angry women" protest here, too! We could make some posters and picket after services on Holy Thursday... Call Ch-4, Ch-5 and The Monitor! It worked for the women up in Boston!

Also see our previous post (and comments) of 3/10/05: "Holy Thursday".

Fundraiser Ticket Sales
What is going on within our parish?

It seems that there is no scheduling of food fundraisers by the various organizations. In the past month I have been approached 4 times to buy a Bar-B-Q plate for one group or another and last Sunday, March 13th, 2 different groups (the Middle School Youth and the Catholic Daughters) were selling Bar-B-Q plate tickets after mass.

How can either group expect to make their fundraising goal if they are in competition with other organizations? I also see that the ACTS ministry has a weekly Friday Fish Fry during Lent. I have heard a rumor that this coming Friday - Good Friday - a day of Fast and Abstinence - the ACTS group will be frying up their fishy wares again??

The over use of this type of fundraising has to change or no group will be able to have a successful food fundraiser because every one will get fed up with it all.
A Fed Up Parishioner.

Stations of the Cross
now disbanded Peace and Justice Commission will again sponsor its annual Way of the Cross through downtown McAllen. Official Parish sanction of this annual event has not been granted by our pastor, but we ask that you overlook that fact and participate anyway. This prayer event will begin at noon on Friday at Archer Park and will proceed through the downtown area for the 14 Stations, ending back at Archer Park at about 2:30.

This prayer offering brings to light the ways in which the sufferings of Jesus continues today in the poor and oppressed, reflecting on such issues as the death penalty, addictions, homelessness, unemployment, immigration, health care, and war and peace.This is a good way for the entire family to pray together on this holy day. Wear your walking shoes and bring drinking water! Also, rice, beans, canned food, etc. to drop off at the Food Pantry on the way.

Note: Any Comments submitted to this posting will appear below... Please click on "Comments" to review them. If you would like to contribute a posting or a comment to this site, please send it to, with "Holy Spirit" in your title line. You may also e-mail this article to a friend, simply by clicking on the little envelope icon below!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Newsletter of 03/20/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—March 20, 2005

The Good Fathers
Priests of the diocese have made the news in the past week or so. Father Juan Nicolau has been removed from his very prominent position at the Basilica (don’t believe for a minute the official party line of his stepping down willingly—he was forced out because his continued presence there had become an embarrassment).

Also, Father Ivan Rovira was identified as an accused pedophile and his continued public priestly ministry in the Diocese of Matamoros over the past two and half years was revealed.

Father Ivan was removed from public ministry by the Diocese of Brownsville in 2002 and is therefore unable to minister as a priest (say Mass, etc.) in the United States, but this prohibition is not binding on a diocese in another country.

Until being “outed” by the Dallas Morning News, Bishop Peña and the diocesan administration never commented on Father Ivan’s removal from ministry and continued to deny any knowledge of Father Ivan’s whereabouts, even though he was working in a Catholic institution just a few miles away.

The diocesan administration has followed a strategy of minimalist compliance with its interpretation of the directives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In sharp contrast with many other dioceses, the "Faithful of the Rio Grande Valley" have not been afforded full disclosure of the numbers of abusive priests (religious order priests have been excluded); we have not been afforded full disclosure of the total amount of money spent on lawsuit settlements, payments for counseling of victims, and payments for treatment of abusive priests; we have not been told the names of the abusive priests; and we have not been told what steps the Diocese took in dealing with each of the abuse cases in the past.

Father Bert Diaz, Chancellor of the Diocese, has said some truly silly things when commenting on the diocesan policies concerning sexual abuse by priests. For example, he said that the diocese does not reveal the names of accused clerical sexual abusers, “to protect the victims.” On an earlier occasion when discussing the same issue, he said, “We're talking about the issue and the problem as a church.”

Well, the issue and the problem are not being talked about with the faithful, and since the faithful are the Church, it is difficult to know to whom Father Diaz (and the Bishop) are talking—it is certainly not the Church.

Ashes, Penance, and Fasting
Isaiah clearly tells us how God defines Penance and Fasting. It is not by wearing "garments like sackcloth" and ashes that satisfy God. It is in the living of justice that God delights. “Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
Releasing those bound unjustly,
Untying the thongs of the yoke
Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
And not turning your back on your own.

“If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech; if you offer your bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.” (Isaiah 58: 5-7, 9-11)

It is by personally practicing the works of mercy and by assuring that structures of oppression are brought down that we please God. This is the fast that we are called to—an active pursuit of personal and social transformation.

This text was submitted by the Peace and Justice Commission for inclusion in the Sunday bulletin. The Pastor refused to include it, saying “it was repetitious of what I have preached from the pulpit.” Darn, I must have missed those Sundays!

When I was a child, my speech, my outlook, and my thoughts were all childish. When I grew up, I had finished with childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Those of a certain age will remember that Holy Thursday used to be called Maundy Thursday, from the Latin, mandatum, meaning command. What command is being referred to? It is the command Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper: “I have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example: you are to do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-16)

What Jesus did for the disciples and calls us to do for one another was the work of a menial servant, a slave (in Greek, diakonos). “Diakonos is a person whose function is not determined by his own will; he is entirely at the disposal of others. Jesus not only washes the feet of others, he puts his life at their disposal.” (Father John McKenzie in Authority in the Church, p. 24)

Like all the rich liturgy of Holy Week, the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday is not a dramatic pageant or even less a reenactment of an event, but it is a celebration of the living Christ today in His Body, the Church.

As children, Holy Week probably struck us as historical drama, but as adults we cannot satisfy ourselves with being an audience—peeking around the corner and eavesdropping on the Last Supper, as it were. We are celebrating a fundamental truth about our lives today: the Eucharist binds us to Christ and to each other; we are diakonos, as Christ is
Good Friday Stations of the Cross
In that same spirit of looking upon Holy Week as events of the present, not the past, everyone is encouraged to participate in the annual Stations of the Cross through downtown McAllen.

For over a decade this has been an activity of the Peace and Justice Commission, but under the unenlightened leadership (sic) of our Pastor, official Parish sanction has been withdrawn.

Ignore that bit of clerical idiocy and join in prayer with and for those through whom the sufferings of Christ lives on today.

The activity starts at 12 noon on Good Friday at Archer Park, winds its way through downtown McAllen, and ends at approximately 2:30 pm. Bring rice/beans/canned food to leave at the Food Pantry, wear comfortable shoes, and bring drinking water (it will be a warm day!).

He did not consider his divinity something to be clung to, but instead took the form of a slave (diakonos). (Philippians 2:6-7)

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier:

Note: Any Comments submitted to this posting will appear below... Please click on "Comments" to review them. If you would like to contribute a posting or a comment to this site, please send it to, with "Holy Spirit" in your title line. You may also e-mail this article to a friend, simply by clicking on the little envelope icon below!

Friday, March 18, 2005

"My Masses" & More Fr. Ivan.

He will not learn.
Before Christmas, Pastor Brum sent a letter to all parishioners saying that he would remember us at "my masses". I brought it to his attention then, but he did it again for Easter.

My message to him:
The preamble to the GIRM affirms, "the celebration of the Eucharist is the action of the whole Church". In the solemn tradition of those saints who served to keep the Church on track when it has strayed, I humbly and respectfully offer this advice:

Please refer to the Mass using the possessive "our" or simply "the" but not "my". Saying "my mass" feeds the illusion that the mass is celebrated solely by the priest and not the entire community assembled.

I am sorry if this seems picky, but something so simple as saying "my mass" can mislead otherwise pious individuals and result in error in the Eucharist. Attention to these inclusive details can help us become "One in Christ" at Holy Spirit Parish again.
A watchful parishioner.

Re: Father Ivan
With all the news about Father Ivan continuing to carry on his priestly duties in Mexico and the Bishop attempting to keep any sexual abuse incidents quiet, I think that it is high time that the bishops of the Catholic Church start reporting these pedophile priests to the authorities, so that they can be charged, tried by their piers and sent to prison, just like any other sex offender.

Just ask yourself what the Bishop would have done if the sexual offender would have been the yard man that takes care of the church grounds, instead of one of his priests? The poor guy would have been arrested, put in jail with no bail, provided a court appointed attorney, been tried for his crime and sent to Jail! Nothing even close to a teaching position at a Catholic University!

The discovery of Father Ivan living the good life and performing his priestly duties across the river in Matamoros sure does amplify the requests of the Call to Action group.

I strongly agree that the Bishop should release ALL of the names of the other sexual offender priests from the Diocese so that we can check up on them to make sure they are not enjoying the same privileges as Ft. Ivan. Just consider what a let down this discovery must have been for his victims. How sad!

Just a suggestion to any future sexual offender victims: "Report them to the Police, NOT to the bishop!
Another watchful parishioner

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Father Ivan in Mexico.

Monsignor Ivan Rovira

Priest thwarts U.S. bishops' abuse policy by crossing river.

Rovira, accused of rape in Texas, finds different set of rules in Mexico.

10:35 PM CST on Tuesday, March 15, 2005
By BROOKS EGERTON and BRENDAN M. CASE / The Dallas Morning News

MATAMOROS, Mexico – When Monsignor Ivan Rovira was accused of rape in 2002, he didn't have to go far to dodge U.S. Catholic bishops' sex-abuse reforms. He admitted abusing one boy, then traded his job as a seminary boss in South Texas' Brownsville Diocese for a Catholic university post just across the Rio Grande.

Monsignor Rovira also continued to lead worship services regularly, despite Brownsville officials' assurances that he had been barred from public ministry.

Last month, with Brownsville Bishop Raymundo Peña watching, he was among many priests celebrating Mass as Matamoros' new bishop was installed. "I guess the Catholic Church is not universal," said Josie Rocha, two of whose sons have accused Monsignor Rovira. "We have a different set of rules just by jumping a river."

U.S. bishops say that since adopting a one-strike-and-you're-out-of-ministry rule in 2002, they have been doing everything possible to protect children and to promote victims' healing.

The policy permanently bars from ministry all priests confirmed to have ever sexually abused a minor. But it does not apply abroad, where many bishops consider the rule too harsh, and it does not apply to nonministerial jobs.

Only the Vatican can prevent foreign bishops from employing abusers – by removing them from the priesthood. U.S. church officials, however, don't always petition to have them expelled. And the Vatican can refuse a petition for various reasons, including the age of the case or a lack of cooperation by the abuser.

Sal Di Grazia, one of four Rovira accusers interviewed by The Dallas Morning News, said he asked Bishop Peña's top aide last week why the monsignor was still a priest. He said the Rev. Robert Maher told him that the bishop "tried to kick him out, but that Rome denied it."

Brownsville officials declined to say whether Bishop Peña sought to have Monsignor Rovira defrocked. The Vatican, as is its custom, did not respond to inquiries on the matter.

Approached at the Matamoros cathedral after celebrating a recent Monday afternoon Mass, Monsignor Rovira largely declined to comment. "God be praised," he said when asked whether he wanted to say anything about the abuse accusations. Pressed about why he was working across the border, he said that "my health had a lot to do with all of this."

Last week, the Brownsville Diocese posted a statement from Monsignor Rovira on its Web site. In it, he acknowledged that Bishop Peña had removed him from ministry under the one-strike-and-you're-out rule.

Monsignor Rovira also wrote that he had celebrated Mass in Matamoros only "on a few occasions when there was an emergency" and at the bishop's installation ceremony. The priest apologized for taking part in the ceremony.

His accusers and Bishop Peña's spokesman, the Rev. Heberto Diaz Jr., said they weren't aware of him ever apologizing for the abuse. "I'm sure he's very remorseful," said Father Diaz, the Brownsville Diocese's chancellor. "The Diocese of Brownsville apologizes on his behalf." Monsignor Rovira's statement said Bishop Peña told him in 2002 "that there were two allegations of sexual misconduct against me in reference to a situation that happened 24 years ago."

In fact, two of Ms. Rocha's sons had given the bishop detailed written accounts in 2002 of abuse that spanned several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their ages then ranged from 9 to the early teens. Bishop Peña told them that Monsignor Rovira admitted only to abusing Ruben Rocha, who described a series of anal rapes beginning when he was 13. Diocese officials would not give details of the admission.

Mr. Rocha's younger brother, Mario Rocha, said the abuse began when he was 9 and involved many acts of simulated intercourse.

Mr. Di Grazia complained to the diocese in 2003 about similar activity. A fourth man, Joe D. Garcia, told The News that the priest once pinned him to the floor and simulated intercourse.

The Rocha brothers said some of the abuse occurred while Monsignor Rovira heard their confessions, or shortly before. They said they did not tell each other about any of this until 2002.

All four men said he supplied them alcohol or offered to do so. And all said they have suffered long-term damage – from nightmares and family problems to loss of faith in the church.

The Brownsville Diocese has spent several hundred thousand dollars on counseling and other matters for the brothers, the Rochas say. Much of the money went to residential treatment for Ruben Rocha after he became suicidal in 2003.

There have been no criminal charges or civil litigation involving the priest. He was also sent to a treatment center in 2002, according to church correspondence.

Monsignor Rovira is the second accused priest from the Brownsville diocese whom The News has recently found in foreign ministry. The Rev. Basil Onyia fled to his native Nigeria during a 2001 criminal investigation and has been working in a parish there despite a pending arrest warrant.

He said he did nothing wrong and left after Bishop Peña advised him to; the bishop denied giving such advice. The bishop took about a week to notify police of the allegations; law officers have complained that the delay gave the priest time to flee.

How it happened

How did Monsignor Rovira come to be working in Mexico, in church and at the Catholic university?

Father Diaz, the Brownsville spokesman, said Bishop Peña knew two years ago that Monsignor Rovira was going to teach at the Matamoros Diocese's Universidad del Noreste de México. He didn't object, the spokesman said, because the job was academic. So is the university rector's post to which Monsignor Rovira has since been promoted.

The spokesman said that in 2002, Bishop Peña told his Matamoros counterpart, Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla, "everything" about the priest's admission and suspension. But Bishop Chavolla said he had heard nothing about the abuse.

Monsignor Rovira "has shown irreproachable behavior for many years," said Bishop Chavolla, who has led the Diocese of Toluca, near Mexico City, since early 2004. He told The News that during his tenure the priest was not in ministry.

Others in the Matamoros Diocese say Monsignor Rovira has been allowed to perform ministerial and nonministerial duties because they didn't believe the allegations. "It's a lie", said the Rev. José de Jesús Robledo, who is the cathedral's head priest and, along with Monsignor Rovira, is one of the top two administrators at the university. "There's a collective psychosis around that sort of thing.

"If an accusation like that were solid, the priest would be removed to prevent greater harm," Monsignor Robledo said. "The church is an institution that depends on credibility, because we handle matters of faith. That's what maintains our moral prestige."

Monsignor Rovira remains a priest of the Brownsville Diocese but is not listed on its Web site or the Matamoros Diocese site. Monsignor Robledo said his colleague was "only passing through" when he celebrated Mass at the cathedral, but church staff said he had been regularly leading Monday and Tuesday noon Masses.

The Brownsville spokesman said Bishop Peña fully briefed the Matamoros Diocese's new leader, Bishop Faustino Armendáriz, after seeing Monsignor Rovira at the recent installation ceremony. Bishop Armendáriz could not be reached for comment.

The spokesman insisted that the priest "will not be celebrating Mass anywhere. He is to live a life of prayer and penance."

But Monsignor Rovira is still free to work at the university, Father Diaz said. "We really don't have control over that," the spokesman said.

The Brownsville Diocese has complied fully with the discipline policy U.S. bishops adopted three years ago, the spokesman said. That policy, in addition to its "zero tolerance" provision, calls for moving away from past secrecy because it has sometimes "enabled sexually abusive behavior to be repeated."

Why, then, did Bishop Peña suspend Monsignor Rovira without public notice in 2002? Father Diaz said Texas bishops are generally following this practice with abusers. "That was the bishop's call," he said. "He wanted to remove him quietly."

Lengthy role in church

Questions about Monsignor Rovira date back decades. The Cuba native was ordained in 1971 as a priest of the Rockford, Ill., Diocese but transferred to Brownsville after a few years. Officials in both dioceses said they did not know why.

The Brownsville spokesman said diocesan files show no record of accusations against him before the Rocha brothers complained in 2002. There are indications, however, that Monsignor Rovira had been accused or suspected much earlier.

Ms. Rocha, for example, said the priest told her in 1979 that another mother had threatened "to go to the bishop and accuse him of being a pedophile." She said she didn't know at the time what the word meant and didn't pursue the matter.

Ruben Rocha said he personally confronted the priest in 1987 about being abused. Monsignor Rovira's "terse response was, 'It never happened with anyone else and I got counseling for it,' " according to a letter Mr. Rocha sent Bishop Peña in 2002.

And Monsignor Robledo, the Matamoros cathedral priest, told The News that abuse allegations against Monsignor Rovira have been "frequently mentioned over the years." He said he had known his colleague for a long time and was "absolutely sure that there was never anything like that."

Such attitudes add insult to injury for Ruben Rocha, the man Monsignor Rovira admitted abusing. "It's a terrible slap in the face to have him continuing where he is," said Mr. Rocha, who long sought to become a priest but has left the church. "It just goes on and on how outrageous it is."

Staff writer Brooks Egerton reported from Matamoros and Dallas; staff writer Brendan M. Case reported from Mexico City. News assistant Javier García contributed to this report.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ft. Brum to the Basilica?

A parishioner submitted the following suggestion:

With all the buzz around Monsignor Juan Nicolau's leaving the basilica, one wonders if Father Luis Brum would be considered to replace him. The Rev. Brum would be an excellent, logical choice, as he seems to do very well in a “showmanship” type of environment, such as the basilica.

This would, of course, be up to the bishop and he has NOT ALWAYS been known to make logical choices in personnel transfers.
"Haz todo con amor"

Several other parishioners have also suggested:

Maybe some of us (parishioners) should submit recommendations to the bishop to express our feelings… I am certain that ALL OF US would hate to see Ft. Luis Brum transferred away from Holy Spirit Parish, but when the interest of the diocese is at stake, we must all be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice!

Maybe we could hear from a few more parishioners on the subject...

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Newsletter of 03/11/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—March 11, 2005

“…there is the challenge for us to be obedient as Jesus was. And this is a very important quality that we must develop for ourselves and to understand what obedience really is. Sometimes we think obedience is just blindly following whatever we’re told to do. Well, that is not a virtue, simply to follow, to do whatever you’re told. Blind obedience is not a virtue; it is a failure of responsibility. Obedience really means, the word itself means, to listen deeply. …Listen deeply and respond! That’s what Jesus did, he listened deeply to God and where God was leading him and he responded.

…We have to listen to God … speaking deep within our hearts, to listen deeply to God and follow where God takes us with confidence and with trust that God’s love will always be, where God is leading us to a full appreciation and living out of that love.”
-Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, The Peace Pulpit, First Sunday of Lent

Disingenuous, revisited…
disingenuous, adj. not frank; insincere; covertly guileful; crafty.
Disingenuous remarks seem to have become the norm in discussions regarding Sr. Margarita. At the very least, inconsistent and conflicting would be appropriate descriptions. When asked point blank if Sr. Margarita was being hired by our pastor for a position in our religious education program, the answer was “no.” Sr. Margarita, when asked the same question, responded by saying she was only volunteering. However, it is also widely reported that Sr. Margarita plans to be working in our parish after Lent, and that she has refused another job offer so she can be available to direct the religious education program at Holy Spirit parish.

It is worth noting that the “wonderful Lenten program” that Sr. Margarita currently volunteers to our parish consists of taking the children who are first communion preparation age away from attending mass with their families and providing them preparation class. Other volunteers get to deal with the children who do not meet that age requirement. Apparently this new and “wonderful” preparation program is more desirably than our current parish program of two years religious education, additional family sacrament classes and retreats, and encouragement to attend mass together as a family.

Parish Council Update
If only there were something to report. It seems that the vague nomination process of one month ago has been sucked into a black hole. Who was nominated? What process will be used to determine who will serve? For that matter, what will be the role of the parish council? Why were the nomination slips not anonymous – or did the pastor need to collect information about his parishioners? And the big question, who will want to serve on a council that may never meet or be the fall guy for mandating changes that the parish does not want or need?

Union Blues
Stay tuned for more information regarding looming court troubles for our parish due to failure to meet legally binding contract agreements with the United Farm Workers Union.

The belief that “priests and bishops are apart from and superior to the laity.” Our priests, pastors and bishops are without question deserving of our respect. But respect is a two-way street with no room for superiority. As Paul clarifies in his analogy of the church community to the body in I Corinthians 12: 20-26: the body of Christ has many parts – all necessary and all to be cherished. No one part can claim to be more important or give superiority to any other part.

This Holy Week, we will be powerfully reminded of how we are to be disciples when Jesus, our Teacher, washes the feet of his friends and followers. Jesus once again invites us to follow Him in compassion and humility.
-from a fellow parishioner

Washing Feet
Speaking of Holy Thursday, this service is creating quite a bit of discussion. It is vital that the group of people selected for the symbolic “washing of the feet” represent our parish as a whole, for its diversity of viewpoints and gender. Our pastor has chosen who he wishes to participate, and his choices will reflect his thoughts on our parish, and who and what he values.

Psalm 30
In The Blindfold’s Eyes by Sr. Dianna Ortiz, she describes how her community desperately prayed the psalm from the lectionary from the day she was abducted as they waited and hoped for news that she was still alive. The psalm was prophetic for her community, and can be a prophetic prayer our parish community as well because we dare to hope.

I praise you, Lord, because you have saved me
And kept my enemies from gloating over me.
I cried to you for help, O Lord my God,
And you healed me;
You kept me from the grave.
I was on my way to the depths below but you restored my life.

Sing praise to the Lord, all his faithful people!
Remember what the Holy One has done
And give him thanks!
His anger lasts only a moment,
His goodness for a lifetime.
Tears may flow in the night
But joy comes in the morning….

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier:

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Holy Thursday

Washing of the Feet.
"It has become customary in many places [in the United States] to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the church and to the world. " (The US Bishops' Liturgy Committee, February 16, 1987)
"The washing of the feet of chosen men (viri selecti) which, according to tradition, is performed on this day (Holy Thursday), represents the service and charity of Christ, who came 'not to be served, but to serve.' This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained." (Congregation for Divine Worship, "Preparing and Celebrating the Paschal Feasts," January 16, 1988).

Anyone want to take bets on if our new priest will include women in our celebration of the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday? Doing so has been a long-standing tradition at Holy Spirit Parish for MANY YEARS...

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Food for Thought...

Excerpts from Bishop Gumbleton's last Sunday's homily.
The Gospel describes the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus speaks to this woman. We hear, as the story goes along, that this woman is a public sinner. She is known in that town as a sinner. Everybody knows about her life. That's why she comes to the well alone, instead of with a group of people, as usually would happen. She's outcast and rejected, but not from Jesus. He immediately strikes up a conversation.

Sometimes, people want to make the Holy Eucharist something that is only given to those who are good, who can pass certain tests that they set up. Some would say, "Unless you do this or that you are not qualified to come forward." To me that is almost as though they don't believe in what the Eucharist really is. If we really believe it's Jesus … Well, can you see Jesus rejecting someone after you listen to today's Gospel?

No, he speaks to the person. He welcomes her. He wants to engage with her. And if someone tried to push her away, he would object. I think we need the same attitude about the Eucharist. It isn't something that we just adore -- an object. It's Jesus coming into our lives and into the life of anyone who wants to connect with Jesus.

This Gospel also reminds us of how sometimes people set up barriers between different faith traditions or within the Christian tradition between different denominations. Jesus just wipes those things away, doesn't he? The woman says, "Well, you Jewish people say you have to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. We Samaritans say we have to worship on Mount Gerizim." And Jesus says that's foolish. You don't find God at this place or at that place. God is everywhere, and those who worship God faithfully, truthfully will worship God in spirit and truth anywhere.

The gospel lesson also speaks powerfully about the role of women. Notice how John remarked, "The woman was surprised and she said, 'You're speaking to me. I'm a Samaritan.'" Of course, Samaritans and Jews were enemies. "But I'm also a woman," she continued, "and here you are speaking to me." Women were rejected in male society at Jesus' time; they weren't given their rightful place, their full dignity as human persons, and we still do that.

But if you listen carefully to this gospel, you will realize that this Samaritan woman is the first person in the gospel, at least in John's Gospel, who was sent to proclaim the good news! She was an apostle! She went and told the others about Jesus, and they came back to discover Jesus. She was the one who carried the good news. But in our church, we say women can't have the same roles as men. That is clearly contrary to what Jesus teaches, isn't it? Could you possibly say women can't have or should not have a role in ministering in the church, in carrying out the mission of Jesus and proclaiming the good news just as that woman in Samaria did?"
Submitted by a parishioner...

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Friday, March 04, 2005

In Search of Belief.

What has for years been considered "dissent" in the church, by those who want more answers than questions, more clerical authority than spiritual investment, may not be real dissent at all.

People are not challenging Christianity and leaving the Church. They are not arguing against the need for spiritual life. They are not denying God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They are not ridiculing religion and going away. On the contrary. People that are currently considered "excommunicated" or "suspect" or "heretical" or "smorgasbord" believers, in many ways, are among the most intense Christians of our time.

They do more than sing in the choir or raise money for the parish or fix flowers for the church. They care about it and call it to be its truest self. They question it, not to undermine it, but to strengthen it. They call for new ways of bringing church together. They do not dismiss the need for spiritual life. They crave it!

What's more, they look for it in their churches. But they crave more than ritual. They crave meaning. They look for more than salvation. They look for authenticity and the integrity of the faith. Sister Joan Chittister, OSB (pg. 9)
Submitted by a parishioner.

Rule # 8 for Church Reform:
"conformity means death for any community. A loyal opposition is a necessity in any community" Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow (Pope John Paul II)

Peace & Justice Committee
The following was a submission for the first Sunday of Lent bulletin, from the now disbanded Peace & Justice Committee, which (like many more before) was rejected by our pastor. Why?... Not relevant, too controversial..., ?

What do you think? E-Mail me your opinions.

Isaiah clearly tell us how God defines Penance and Fasting. It is not by wearing "garments like sackcloth" and ashes that satisfy God. It is in the living of justice that God delights.

"Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:

Releasing those bound unjustly,

Untying the thongs of the yoke,

Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;

Sharing your bread with the hungry,

Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;

Clothing the naked when you see them,

And not turning your back on your own.

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech; if you offer your bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and he gloom shall become for you like midday." (Isaiah 58: 5-7,9-11)

It is by personally practicing the works of mercy and by assuring that structures of oppression are brought down that we please God. This is the fast that we are called to,.. an active pursuit of personal and social transformation.
From a (previous) Committee Member?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Year Of The Eucharist.

We are into the fourth month of this Year of the Eucharist, and the only thing that our pastor has managed to communicate about the subject is the weekly Bulletin paragraph stating that; adoration will be Tuesday and Thursday from 9-9, instead of only on Friday. If you want complete solitude, go to adoration. This is NOT striking a chord with the faithful. Is this what the Year of the Eucharist is all about, two days of adoration, instead of just one?

If the pastor would bother to check some of the abundant resources that the Church has prepared for this Year of the Eucharist, he might see such gems as, The authentic sense of the Eucharist becomes of itself the school of active love for one’s neighbor.” (Dominicae Cenae,6), or To offer Christ’s sacrifice truly implies that we continue this same sacrifice in a life committed to others.” or The Eucharist makes real the Diakonía or service of Christ, and it is the place of the renewal of the Church’s mission, above all for the most needy.”

When is our pastor going to prepare an uplifting homily that speaks to the concerns of the present day? It is so easy with all of the internet resources available at the click of a mouse. And when is he going to show some concern about his wandering flock?

From a disgruntled but still hopeful parishioner challenging Rev. Brum to be a real pastor.