Sunday, May 29, 2005

Newsletter of May 29, 2005

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—May 29, 2005

On Matters Vigilant
The absurdity of parishioners being ordered, under threat of losing their jobs, not to gather on the grounds of their parish to pray with their fellow parishioners (see the Blog) rivals any satire that The Daily Show with John Stewart or Alice in Wonderland presents. Is there anyone who isn’t at least entertaining the possibility that there are a few screws loose somewhere?

Is it the vigil itself that is the problem? If so, the Pastor should confront those participating, and tell them to leave. He has no right in Canon Law to do this, as James Coriden points out in the journal, The Jurist, but at least the “problem” would be faced directly and openly with those involved. “You can’t pray on church property” does have a strange ring to it, doesn’t it?

Is it the participation of employees that is the problem? What employees do on their own time cannot be cause for dismissal, particularly if it is something other parishioners are free to do.
It’s a logical mess!

The Sunday Obligation
When we were kids, we were taught that missing Mass on Sunday was the worst thing a Catholic could do. We now find that the obligation that a pastor has to celebrate the Eucharist with his parishioners is not so fundamental that it cannot be set aside time and time again. Not simply in emergencies but as a matter of course—e.g., the 10:30 Sunday Mass has been assigned to a visiting priest because our Pastor “has to rest between Masses.” This is on top of the repeated absences that have characterized the Pastor’s behavior over the nearly 18 months since he has arrived.

Not only does this cost the parish ($25 stipend each time), but it demonstrates a lack of commitment to our community. The Pastor seems to have many other priorities—what they are is not at all obvious, but what they are not is very clear. E.g., in his discussion with the Peñas, he indicated that the concerns of 273 parishioners are not “a high priority.” Let’s see: social justice, disaffected parishioners, the religious education program, celebrating the Eucharist with the community, spending money wisely—none of these are priorities. What are his priorities, anyway?

Bread for the World
Bread for the World (BFW) seeks justice for hungry people by seeking to impact policies related to hunger and development.

BFW's 54,000 members contact their senators and representatives about legislation that affects hungry people in the United States and worldwide. They do not provide direct relief or development assistance. Rather, they focus on using the power we have as citizens in a democracy to support policies that address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

BFW has been generously supported by more than 45 denominations and church agencies - Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Orthodox. Its board of directors includes grassroots leaders, members of Congress, and leaders of churches and charities. “We welcome and treasure this rich diversity of theological traditions. The good news of Jesus Christ moves us to create new visions and possibilities for our global family.” (see

Thousands of local churches and community groups support BFW’s efforts by writing letters to Congress and making financial gifts to the organization. Bread for the World groups across the country meet locally to pray, study and take action; members meet with their representatives in Congress, organize telephone trees, win media coverage and reach out to new churches.

Is there anyone in the Holy Spirit community who is surprised that our Pastor has decided that Holy Spirit will no longer be affiliated with Bread for the World? Apparently, because it is a “bad organization that gives money to foreign countries” [wrong on both counts]. This information [sic] is from a priest friend at a seminary in Baltimore. It doesn't matter to the Pastor that the United States Catholic Conference and the National Catholic Charities Office are both represented on the Board of BFW.

Sad irony that such news comes down during the week of Corpus Christ, the Feast of the Bread.

Corpus Christi
“How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work, that just as I celebrate the Eucharist at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates the Eucharist at his workbench, and each metalworker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand, are performing a priestly office!”Archbishop Oscar Romero, in The Violence of Love

“If our food and drink is the Lord himself, the important thing is that sharing this food makes us ‘pass over’ into what we receive, so that everywhere we carry him with whom we are dead, buried, and raised to life.” St. Leo the Great

“Through the food the Lord has given us, we become members of his flesh and of his bones, we are mixed into that flesh, and he has kneaded his body with ours.” St. John Chrysostom

“The bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received. You become, that is, the body of Christ.” St. Augustine

Be the Change
Being a mom, this story struck a chord:
“When my daughter was small she got the dubious part of the Bethlehem star in a Christmas play. After her first rehearsal she burst through the door with her costume, a five pointed star lined in shiny gold tinsel designed to drape over her like a sandwich board. “What exactly will you be doing in the play?” I asked her. “I just stand there and shine,” she told me. I’ve never forgotten that response. Sue Monk Kidd, in When the Heart Waits.

That seems to sum up what we are called to do. To be willing to accept the role of instrument—no matter how small or dubious it might be—and let God shine through us. Our presence and the example of our striving to live the gospel do make a difference and begin to bring about change. We are called not only to recognize what needs to be changed and wait for someone else to do it—we are called to shine. Or as Gandhi has said, “Be the change.” from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

June 18th is coming, June 18th is coming.

Remember: Food, not Flowers.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit will be in the Valley on June 23rd at St. John the Baptist in San Juan—details later.

See you at the Sunday night vigil (June 5, 2005)—8:00 pm in front of the church.

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

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!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fr. Louis Brum Prohibits Church Staff From Attending Sunday Evening Prayer Vigil.

Holy Spirit Prayer Vigil

Dear Kanickers,

I regularly attend the 7:00 PM Holy Spirit Sunday Evening Prayer Vigil.

For those of your readers who are unfamiliar with this vigil, it was started when the Diocese attempted to fire all of our staff. It originally provided a way for members of our parish to show support to our staff and to encourage a healing process relative to the injustice that was brought against us.

Over the past two years, this vigil has evolved into a very special prayerful event, wherein, among other things, we pray for peace in the world, the well being of our parish, our pastor and our Bishop.

The four members of our staff that were actually "fired" during the attempted take-over usually are well represented at this vigil. Last night, however, none of them were present. When I inquired about their absence, I was informed that Fr. Louis had forbidden them from attending the prayer vigil, indicating that if they did attend they would be in direct defiance of one of his orders!

Several of our parishioners and committee heads have already learned the repercussions of not adhering to one of our new pastor's wishes. Many have been removed from their parish committee positions and have been forbidden to participate in ministerial parish activities.

This action by our new pastor is extremely disturbing to me!

How can a pastor of the Catholic Church threaten his employees by forbidding them to attend a prayer vigil that is held after working hours? Is he now trying to control what his employees are allowed to do during their free time? With threats like this from our clergy, does anyone wonder why every employee of the Catholic Church should not seek the protection of union representation?

It amazes me that ever since the attempted hostile take-over of our parish, the Diocese has continuously acted like it was the fired employees and the parishioners who were responsible for the fiasco of June 18, 2003. They never dream of placing blame on themselves.

Father Louis Brum has failed miserably at uniting our parish and at attempting to establish even minuscule common grounds for reconciliation and healing. His attitude and actions, since his early arrival, have been so utterly deplorable that it is hard to assume that the Bishop did not assign him to Holy Spirit Parish with specific instructions to continue retaliatory efforts against our parish.

Over 270 concerned parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish have signed a letter of petition voicing their concern over the destructive nature of this new pastor. Since Fr Brum has objected to addressing our concerns in an open, parish-wide meeting, we assigned a small group of five (5) members to meet with him to discuss these concerns. After many attempts, he has refused to meet with our representatives. Our efforts have been met with one excuse after another, i.e. "This problem is not my TOP priority", "The people that signed your letter are not REAL parishioners", etc.

Bishop Pena, it is high time that you assign a knowledgeable, compassionate priest to Holy Spirit Parish that is capable of initiating the healing process needed to enable our parish to recover. This is a problem that YOU should have addressed long ago. This problem is NOT going to go away!

The pastor that you assigned to our parish is making things much WORSE!
YOU caused this problem and YOU need to fix it! Fr. Louis Brum needs to be replaced immediately! We will NOT allow our parish to be systematically destroyed!


-A faithful Holy Spirit parishioner since the early school cafeteria days.

P.S. Bishop Pena: If you feel that the signers of our Letter of Petition are not "real Holy Spirit parishioners", we would be most happy to have them assemble in our Parish Hall so that you could have the opportunity of meeting each one of them in person.


For all of those who were unable to attend last Sunday.

We began PRAYING THE ROSARY THROUGH THE PSALMS, a Pax Christi publication with reflections by Sister Joan D. Chittister.

We prayed the Glorious Mysteries and everyone was impressed by how profound and deeply rooted on scripture the reflections were.

I hope that all of you that couldn't come and anyone else interested in this wonderful alternative form of praying the Rosary will join us at our next vigil.

Mary, Model of strength Be our guide
Model of patience Be our guide
Model of courage Be our guide
Model of perseverance Be our guide

Mother of the liberator Pray for us
Mother of the condemned Pray for us

Oppressed woman Lead us to life
Marginalized woman Lead us to life
Comforter of the afflicted Lead us to life

Woman of mercy Empower us
Woman of faith Empower us
Woman of vision Empower us
Woman, pregnant with hope Empower us
Woman, centered in God Empower us

(From the Litany of Mary of Nazareth)

Submitted by Ana Hallman


There will be no Sunday evening vigil this weekend due to the holiday and graduations. The weekly vigil will continue next Sunday (June 5). Beginning with this June vigil, the starting time will change from 7 PM to 8 PM.

Also, please remember to bring rice and beans to put before the altar as many weekends as you can to show our continued commitment to the poor among us - in contrast to spending money on flowers, which are just for show.

Dear Kanickers,

I was recently reading the comments on Reflections of the Spirit and was completely astounded by the comment that "gringos " were responsible for the controversy at our parish.

The person who made those remarks has clearly demonstrated an internal bias and willingness to discriminate against what the Church is all about. His /her comments only enhance the dysfunctionality of the "Holy Spirit Family"” that has developed since the appointment of our new pastor. We used to be a family, now we are searching for family ties. Whoever made those comments about "gringos" should take time to search his/her heart to understand what the "Universal Church" really means.

These comments only express an internal confusion and long lasting enmity about people who are different than the person who made the comment. I certainly hope this person is never in an administrative position. That would certainly not bode well for those who were not of his/her ethnic background or political or religious views. There would certainly be repercussions if there were ever a disagreement.

I consider myself a Catholic and I am willing to accept the faith of all who choose to be Catholic. I have a problem with those who think that the Church only exists within the boundaries of Holy Spirit Parish. Jesus did not become man to be held hostage behind a glass window in a small chapel. His message was to go out and serve the poor and preach the gospel, not only in word, but also in action.

Our pastor finds it hard to humble himself to serve others. That is his problem. We still have the obligation to follow the gospel despite his lack of leadership. You and I will be judged, not by his mandates, but by the mandates of the gospel. He finds security behind his collar. A collar is a man made object. Faith and the gospel are God made objects. Which do you think we should choose?

Universality encompasses all people of all ethnic backgrounds and cultural differences. The person who made those comments about "gringos" has no knowledge of the Church or what the Church is all about. He/she is all about himself/herself. Some people get so caught up in hostility and hatred that they cannot find the door to truth and love and healing. Our bishop has that problem and so do most of the clergy in our diocese because they are frightened by the bishop.

Our pastor is under mandate to make us Catholic. Little does he know that we are more Catholic than he. He is completely clueless about what Church is all about. He thinks it is "I am the pastor and you do what I tell you to do". Sorry. God gave us free will and the option to be who we are and still be followers of the gospel. Jesus never told us how to serve Him, He just said, "If you choose my message, than be my disciple". Our pastor has chosen to be Jesus with a bias.

Holy Spirit Dysfunctional Family Parish, thanks to our pastor, who is infrequently present, will continue to pray for healing and reprieve from the chains of bondage. And, oh yes, we will also pray that our staff members will be allowed to pray in front of the church during the vigils. He is so intimidating that he thinks he can control the lives of staff members after working hours. Wow, is he a Hitler all over again. How does he live with himself? I would find it difficult to be everybody's conscience. Why doesn't he join the vigil to pray for healing? Maybe it would take too much of his time, or maybe it is not his priority. HE came to serve. Apparently he came to serve himself and the bishop. You and I are merely obstacles in his way.

And to the "Gringo" accuser,.. pray for guidance. Someday you may understand the nature of the Church and the fact that it's not all about money.

Harry Mosher

Well said, Harry.
You are truly a follower of Christ; He would not mince words when talking about the religious hierarchy and their cronies who abuse their positions.
The right-hand man of Mr. Brum that you refer to who spreads division has done other like things. For example, he accused me of saying to him that Mr. Brum was a "lying bastard". He has also been loose with confidential information on church finances. He is on the verge of getting into legal trouble.
Keep the faith, Harry.
-Guy Hallman

When will you people ever learn?
You are directing your efforts to the wrong person.
Your new priest has vowed strict obedience to his Bishop. He can not do one thing at Holy Spirit that has not previously been cleared by the Bishop and any action that is taken is strictly the result of direct orders from the Bishop, which, for the sake of his personal integrity, are always filtered down through the Vicar General, then to the local parish priest. That way, if anything derogatory happens, he can always claim, "I don't know anything about it". Remember his response to orders given to Father Delgado!
Lots of luck to you fine folks.
-An outsider.

Your parish priest is over-stepping his bounds...
Your parish employees should go to the vigil and "pray" that your priest fires them. They would NEVER have to work again!
Name Withheld-

Today's Quote:
Hope is like a path in the country;
there was never a path there before,
but when many people walk there,
the path comes into existence.
-Lin Yutang
Never Give Up Hope.

I am not finished. The divisive person Harry and I
mention as well as other people who have surfaced to
try to corrupt Holy Spirit Parish are not entirely to
blame for their actions. Some of them were here
before Mr. Brum came, and we got along with them and
participated in functions with them, such as adoration
and rosary. Fr. Jerry was able to reconcile problems
arising from healthy differences among parishioners
and made it an important part of his pastoral service.
I actually liked these people for what they were
then. Diversity in the church is good and to be
nurtured. The Body of Christ is made of many
different parts, and all are to be welcome at the

Contrary to this ideal for the Church, Mr. Brum
encourages division and plays these poor souls (who
erroneously feel that if they do exactly what the
pastor wants they are being good Catholics) like the
devil's fiddle to accomplish it. Mr. Brum is the
primary one to blame, and the bishop for setting this
in motion and then not doing anything to correct it.
Have Mr. Brum and the bishop no fear of the Lord? Do
they not believe in a just God?
-Guy Hallman

OK,.. I guess apologies are in order.
I have gotten several e-mails noting that because of my "you know what to do" posting (when I announced that the Bishop was going to be at Holy Spirit for confirmation) that a security guard was hired by Fr. Louis just in case something was planned for the Bishop! It seems Fr. Louis also gave Conrado instructions to keep an eye on the bathrooms and outside areas for potential PROTESTORS. Many in attendance also noted that he seemed to have a bad case of paranoia and even left the alter several times just to go check on things.
As noted, the "you know what to do" was in referance to the proper way to greet a Bishop of the Catholic Church. I think this is quite hysterical! As everybody knows, I even did a posting with instructions well before the Bishop was even scheduled to arrive.
At any rate, I apologize if it caused any misunderstanding.

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!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bishop Pena at Holy Spirit, Plus Newsletter.

Bishop Raymundo Pena

~ Just a Reminder ~

The Most Reverend Raymundo J. Pena will be at Holy Spirit Parish on Tuesday, May 17, 2005, at 7:00 PM for Confirmation.

You know what to do!
(If not, E-mail me.)
Also, don't forget to wear RED for Pentecost Sunday.


5/16/05 UPDATE:
OK, enough E-mails! The "you know what to do", above, was NOT at all intended to suggest that we gang up on our Bishop while he is here at our parish... It's just been so long since he has visited Holy Spirit, I just wanted to make sure that we all remembered the proper way to greet him while he is here. Instead of e-mailing instructions to everybody that inquired, I have just included those instructions as a comment attachment to this posting.

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit, May 15, 2005

The Peñas Make a Report
Mark and Michelle Peña were able to meet with Fr. Louis on May 6th. Because Fr. Louis had commitments to another parish, the meeting was brief and an agreement was reached to meet again for further discussion. Efforts are still being made to confirm a meeting time.

During the meeting Fr. Louis expressed that he was unwilling to meet with the group of five representatives, but said he is available to meet with parishioners on an individual basis.

Fr. Louis feels that one must let go of the past and that time takes care of things. He feels as Catholics, we should take a more obedient role and defer to those in authority.

He expressed embracing a more passive approach to addressing problems and leaving solutions in the hands of those in charge, which is at odds with the philosophy of engaging the whole parish community in actively identifying and seeking solutions to problems. There seems to be a marked contrast in views regarding the Eucharist. He feels adoration should receive more emphasis than the act of living the Eucharist.

Fr. Louis continues to believe that there are an "intelligent few" who have an "agenda" and that this small group is at the heart of all the dissention in our parish. It is hoped that further discussion will convince Fr. Louis that there are concerns in our parish that need to be respected and addressed, and there are many people who have and are willing to help address these concerns.

The Eucharist and the Community
A parishioner has said that the Pastor cannot control his witness and ministry: "If the Pastor forbids me from doing something, I will continue, but outside the context of the parish."

Of course, we are all that free. But it is a diminishment of our lives as Catholics to witness and minister bereft of our community. We are meant to live out the Gospel with our ecclesia, our assembly, our Body of Christ. The Eucharist is our assembly's celebration of Christ's life and death and everyone brings their witness and ministry to the table, identifying ourselves, just as Christ did, with the bread and wine. When we are not allowed to live the Gospel within the parish, the Eucharistic celebration is lessened.

Contrasts on the Day of the Spirit
Mothers' Day, well past and not even liturgical, dominated Pentecost's Eucharistic celebration in the parish. Not just with the silly "symbolic" roses, but with the interjection of cloying remarks into the Eucharistic Prayer itself. Mass intentions, bought and paid for, are a Catholic tradition that should probably just fade away, but when the practice takes on this magnitude (to the tune of at least $500 for a "novena"), it becomes unseemly. Simony is the "deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual". It is sacrilegious.

"Submissive, passive, docile, and pliant", these were the characteristics we were encouraged to adopt for ourselves by our Pastor on the Feast of the Holy Spirit. This is the same Holy Spirit of whom we asked, in song on that same day, to "send down the fire of your justice." It is unfathomable how one person's view of the Christian life could be so diametrically opposed to the plain words of Scripture.

Some more flowery thoughts
We used to place at our altar, gifts of rice and beans for the poor of our community. Now each Sunday we have a very expensive flower arrangement at the altar. This shift is a real change of priorities and is also symbolic of the larger dismantling of the Holy Spirit community that is taking place. So, maybe flowers can be symbolic after all.

Answering Prayers
Most of us will agree that we believe that God answers prayers. What trips us up is how we believe the answers come. And that deals with more than just whether or not we get the answer we want to hear.

Most of us don't have the "movie" moment when the clouds part and a big voice from the heavens calls down the solution, or have a lightning bolt strike and take care of everything. For most of us, the answers come in the course of unfolding events, through quiet reflection or even through the actions or words of others. Our part is to be receptive. That does not give us license to take the "couch potato" approach. We have to engage and actively listen.

There is another part to the equation. If we believe that God answers prayer through the words and actions of others, we must admit that God can and will answer prayers through us. We can be called to action, to be an instrument. Sometimes our part in prayer is to be hands and feet and not be on our knees. Or, as St. Francis expressed it: Always preach the Gospel, and use words only when necessary. From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

A Rush to Judgment
In an overheard conversation, a self-styled "prominent" member of Holy Spirit Parish said that it was "just a handful of gringos" who were dissatisfied with the current state of the parish.

There are several issues that could be taken with that comment. Factually, it comes up just a little short: 273 people can hardly be described as a handful (unless we are talking very large hands). And, since nearly 75% of those signing the letter of concerns to the Pastor are from households identified as Hispanic, the "gringo" part doesn't wash either.

Facts aside, the comment says much more about the speaker than about the situation in our parish. It is a comment by an intellectually lazy person who refuses to engage the substance of another person's concerns or ideas, but instead dismisses them simply on the basis of that person's name, appearance, etc. Prejudice means pre-judgment, that is, ideas from "people like that" do not have to be heard to be rejected; they can be rejected out of hand.

It is sad that Holy Spirit has parishioners (prominent or not) who cannot rise above the un-Christian patterns of racist thought and action that infect our society, even in their relations within the parish community.

Remembrance of Things Past
Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. (Is. 43:18).
-Quoted by Father Carlos Villarreal in the Blog.

This mantra from some folks in the diocese rings a little hollow when we learn that our current pastor is the plaintiff in a Church legal action (a tribunal) against our former pastor, Father Jerry Frank, relating to the union contract with parish workers. Now who cannot let go of the past?

See you at the Sunday night vigil, 7:00 pm.

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

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!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Father Carlos Villarreal

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope you all are doing well. I was going through my ACTS things and I ran into something that I thought might help us focus on the hope the future brings.

This is from the youth ACTS retreat of Oct. 04

"Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.
Watch for the new things I am going to do. It is happening right now!"
(Is. 43:18-19).

Fr. Carlos A. Villarreal

My Reply:
Greetings Father Carlos..

Thank you for your comment directed to Reflections of the Spirit.

I don't know if I can get through to you with this reply. As of 4/12/05, all of my attempts to send you notifications of our posts have been returned. I think someone there at the Diocese has put me on your "spam list", as several other addresses there at the Diocese are also being returned.

You always have the choice of going directly to our web page at:

As always, we welcome your comments...



Dear Fr. Carlos,
Thanks for your dialogue, unique among priests in this diocese. Why is honest, meaningful dialogue (as opposed to shallow chatter) with the clergy so difficult these days?

I agree with you; we should not dwell in the past, and we are not. We are trying to address grievances that are happening today. The letter to Mr. Brum signed by over 270 parishioners refers to things that he is doing now that are killing the parish, not things that happened when he was not there 2 years ago! Can you help, or are you simply going to periodically issue trite phrases?

Justice and peace,
Guy Hallman

Fr. Brum
You demand obedience to your will by all parishioners. If you want to make changes to our parish, YOU need to be considerate of your parishioners.

270 members of this parish have told you that they want you to meet with them concerning issues that we have. You have been asked to meet with 5 representatives to discuss these issues. You have received a request by your superior, the Bishop, to handle this complaint.

To date the only move you have made is to meet with 2 of the 5 individuals, and all that came from that meeting was a request by you to meet with the 2 individuals again. This is a delay tactic on your part, probably because you do not think it matters. I want to let you know that it does matter. As long as you keep up this segregating of our parish, we will not agree to anything that you may want.

Yes, you may have the support of those that believe in blind obedience, but that group is not the true voice of Holy Spirit parish. Yes, they were here before you came, but they never spoke of wanting things to be different.

You have let this dissension go on for too long and now is the time for you to listen to all of the parish, not just those that you favor. We will be here long after you are gone, so lets make the little time that you are with us enjoyable for all.

We will never let one person destroy what we have spent so long building. Call us, meet with us, and lets settle these grievances once and for all. We are one family and it takes only a little humility on your behalf to bring this family back together. It is time for you to stand up and be the Pastor of Holy Spirit parish, not just some visiting priest that is waiting for his next assignment (who knows maybe by fixing this parish you might get what YOU want sooner).
-A Parishioner Waiting for an Answer.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Newsletter of 05/01/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—May 1, 2005

Crisis Resolution and the Parish Community.
One Bishop’s Thoughts. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit on crisis resolution in the Early Church: “Well what did they do [in this crisis]? This is where you get a real clear understanding of what the church really is. It is the whole community that is called together. It is not just Peter saying, ‘Okay, I'll decide how to handle this.’ The whole community comes together. They wanted to develop what much later in theological terms we call the sensus fidelium—the common understanding of all the faithful, of the believing people.

“Because everyone has insights, everyone is connected with Jesus, everyone who is baptized is a member of his body. Jesus lives in every member of that community, because of this they all have a right and responsibility to be listened to. And so that's exactly what they do. They call the whole community together and they listen to various ones speak, and pretty soon there's a consensus as to what to do. …That's how they resolved the crisis in the early church, and it was based on very sound understanding of who the church is—the whole community of disciples. If you listen to what Peter spoke in his homily: ‘You are a chosen race, a community of priests, kings, a consecrated nation, a people God has made God's own to proclaim God's wonders through the whole community, share in the work of Jesus, the mission of Jesus, prophetic, priestly and royal.’ The whole community.” From Bishop Gumbleton's sermon of April 24th.

Another Bishop’s Thoughts “As your shepherd in the Valley, I am also very concerned about your welfare and the welfare of the parish. I have asked [the Pastor] to design a plan whereby we can both reach out to all the parishioners to help heal the wound that …the entire community at Holy Spirit [has]… endured. I have also offered to help in any way that I can to bring about harmony and peace to which the Kingdom of God calls us.” From Bishop Peña’s Message to Holy Spirit Parishioners, June 2003.

We should all pray that our Pastor will take these thoughts to mind and heart as he begins to deal (we hope) with the concerns that have been raised in the letter signed by so many parishioners.

Romero and El Salvador, Part I
It was glorious, it was truly glorious! That’s all. There are no words in vocabulary sufficient to describe the visit to El Salvador that Sister Cecilia, Celia Muñoz, Teresa Savoie, and I made for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the assassination of ‘Monseñor’ Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Monseñor is in quotation marks because that is what La Gente calls him, either that or San Romero de las Americas. Jesuit Jon Sobrino, a noted theologian from the University of Central America, says that it is time to call him San Romero del Mundo, so universally significant is his life and his writings, and especially his homilies which deliver so powerfully his message of the “the preferential option for the poor,” and many others which I will mention later.

During the ten days at Hospital Divina Providencia (HDP), where Archbishop Romero lived and was killed, hundreds of people from all over the world came to pay homage to this great man, truly RISEN IN THE SALVADORAN PEOPLE, just as he said he would be. We did not stay for the national celebration on April 2nd, but I assure you that our “hearts were burning” and brim full of love for San Romero and Salvadoran people, especially the Sisters with whom we stayed and the patients of the hospital with whom we visited.

The Missionary Carmelites of St. Teresa, who care for the cancer patients at HDP, provided a small house for the Archbishop and it was in the hospital chapel of Divine Providence that Msr. Romero was shot during a Mass he offered for Doña Pinto, the mother of a journalist and friend, Jorge Pinto. Fortunately, a cameraman was present, and many pictures were taken of this atrocious attack on the Archbishop. But this was also an attack upon the Catholic Church of El Salvador and La Gente, whom he loved so much. These pictures haven been enlarged and are on display at the Centro de Monseñor Romero on the University campus. As I was standing and looking at them, I could only think of the many times in his homilies that Archbishop Romero told those who wanted him dead that he forgave them, and that they were forgiven, that God loved them and wished that they would, by the sacrifice of his life, be converted to the poor, to share their land, and to live as Christ would want them to live. For this he was brutally killed.

I could not help but join my prayer to his, that soon his people would be free to live without hunger, without death of their babies from dysentery, with good work and good pay, so that they and all the Salvadorans might live in peace, from oppression and repression. From a fellow parishioner, Sister Marian Strohmeyer

Night Vision
“Unity is not something we are called to create; it’s something we are called to recognize.”—William Sloan Coffin

What brings more depth to our Eucharistic experience is that we celebrate together as a community, that we come together and recognize each other as joined parts in the Body of Christ. I don’t think that I am alone in sensing that a feeling of “us” and “them” has crept in to our celebrations, an undercurrent that we are watching each other to see who is doing what. Watching each other and recognizing each other are two different things; one requires eyesight, the other depends on seeing each other with our heart. The following story made me think that maybe we need to recognize the shadow that has fallen on our community and each do our part to let in the light.

An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and day had begun. “Could it be, “asked one student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it’s a sheep or dog?” “No,” answered the Rabbi.

Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” answered the Rabbi.

“Then what is it?” the pupils demanded.
“It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you can not see this, it is still night.”—Hasidic Tale from Peacemaking Day by Day. From a fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Of Mice and Men
It isn’t so much Ratzinger who concerns me, but instead the “Mausinger” bishops and pastors, small men with little intellect and spirituality, who may now think they have carte blanche to suppress and persecute the progressive faithful.

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

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Parishioners Letter Update

The following update was sent by mail to parishioners who signed the letter to Fr. Louis. After this update was mailed, Fr. Louis contacted Mark Peña and a meeting has been scheduled for 6:30pm on Friday, May 6, 2005.

Dear Fellow Holy Spirit Parishioner,

Thank you for your participation in this effort to move healing forward in our parish. The letter to our Pastor that you and over 270 other parishioners signed was hand-delivered to Fr. Louis Brum and a copy was mailed to the Bishop on April 11, 2005. After originally agreeing to meet on May 4, 2005 with Mark and Michelle Peña, the designated contacts, Fr. Louis cancelled the scheduled meeting and discontinued further communication with the Peñas.

The Bishop’s office was subsequently contacted with a request for a meeting and his assistance. A copy of the parishioners’ letter and signature pages was also faxed and emailed to the Bishop. The Bishop has asked the parish representatives to meet with Fr. Bob Maher, our Diocesan Vicar General, as the next step in resolving our concerns.

Fr. Bob recently confirmed communicating with Fr. Louis, and Fr. Louis has renewed his willingness to meet with the Peñas. Fr. Bob has indicated he will await the outcome of that meeting. Fr. Louis was contacted again on April 26, 2005 to schedule a meeting. To date, Fr. Louis has not returned the call to schedule a meeting.

We will continue to update you by mail as events occur and will post periodic updates on the parish Blog site, Reflections of the Spirit (

In the meantime, there are actions we all can take:

· Continue to pray for healing for our parish and that our concerns will be acknowledged and addressed. Parishioners continue to gather in prayer on Sunday evenings at 7pm at the church.

· Encourage others you know to sign the letter. There will be someone at each mass who carries the bright pink letter.

· Let Fr. Louis know that you are happy he is willing to listen to the expressed concerns and that you hope the meeting will happen soon.

If you have any questions about what has occurred, suggestions about future courses of action, or have an interest in becoming more actively involved in this effort, please contact any one of your parish representatives:

Mark and Michelle Peña (380-3731)
Jerry Brazier (381-1407)
Mirtala Rodriguez (318-3256)
Anna Hallman