Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sunday Evening Vigil + Rice & Beans

Vigil Information
This week, instead of having our usual Sunday Night vigil, we have decided to join our friends at Pastors for Peace at St John's Parish, as per the attached: This will also allow our staff to join us. See you there!

Thank you so much for your warm welcome to McAllen.

It is such a blessing to discover the people in the Rio Grande Valley that are organizing for peace and social justice. Homeland Security has given us an unexpected gift-- an extended visit to your Valley to get to know each of you as we fight for passage of seized humanitarian aid bound for Cuba.

We are Pastors for Peace ( Twice a year we gather in McAllen after traversing the US collecting donations and raising awareness about US foreign policy in our destination country. This year, over 100 volunteers gathered about 140 tons of humanitarian aid for Cuba; our 16th direct challenge to the immoral blockade. After a 20 hour stand-off on July 21st, the majority of the aid and caravanistas were allowed to cross the border, but seven of us stayed back with a bus filled with computer equipment for children with special needs in Cuba-- These items are specially prohibited by the Commerce Department as a threat to security.

Sunday evening, July 31st, we will gather at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church (on the SE corner ofthe San Juan Basilica) at 6:30 for a potluck. It will be a chance for all of us to learn and grow from sharing the stories of your work here in the valley and how it can connect with the Pastors for Peace International Caravans of Solidarity with the people of Cuba, Mexico & Central America. We are new to McAllen and counting on you to spread the word to your contacts and neighbors.

Please invite everyone to join us Sunday night at St. John's and again on Monday morning at the Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridge, as we welcome the caravanistas who made it through the border back from Cuba. We'll look forward to seeing you there!

There are a few more things you can do to help!
1. Call your congressional representative and senator: (switchboard: 202/225-3121)

2. Call the Cuba desk at the State Departmen: 202/647-9273.

3. Call Jayson Ahern, assistant commissioner for field operations at Customs: 202/344-1620.

4. Call Michael Turner at the Commerce Departmen: 202/482-1208, ext. 3.


6. Media coverage really helps us to get the word out. Caravanistas are available for media interviews and press releases are available on our website:

For Peace & Justice,

Taleigh Smith & Mark Lamalfa
16th Caravan to Cuba
Pastors for Peace
646-319-0372 or 646-245-9931

Also,... Don't Forget to bring Rice & Beans to Mass for the Poor!

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, July 27, 2005

Bishop Letter, Plus Posts.

Bishop Letter
I reciently received a copy of a very interesting letter from Bishop Pena that was addressed to Mr. Homero Basaldua, State Representative for Texas Federation of Teachers/AFT. I have the original, but it didn't scan well, so I have retyped from the original.

September 9, 2003

Mr. Homero Basaldua
State Representative
Texas Federation of Teachers/ATF
1500 Dove Avenue
McAllen, Texas 78501

Dear Mr. Basaldua:

Thank you for your correspondence urging the Diocese of Brownsville to endorse the union contracts signed by four parishes in the diocese, and please accept my apologies for the delay in my response. One of my secretaries has been ill and we fell behind in our correspondence.

First, allow me to underscore my own personal commitment to social justice and to collective bargaining on the part of labor. In this particular case, because of some of the issues involved, I feel that I need clarification from higher church authority, before making a final determination, and I will seek that clarity.

In the meantime, we have offered the affected employees full reinstatement, independent of the union contract. We have assured them that if the church or the civil court were to invalidate the contract, their reinstatement would not be affected. They would continue to be employed by the parish.

For your information, I enclose copies of our diocesan and parish salary scales, vacation and holiday schedules, health care and retirement benefits, provision for sick and emergency leave, etc. Through our diocesan synod, we are also in the process of developing a policy that will protect the employees, as well as the new pastor, whenever a change of pastors occurs in a parish.

Thank you for your interest and concern and may God bless you with his peace.

Bishop of Brownsville

Request for Copy of New Policy
Dear Bishop Pena,
By return E-Mail, please furnish me with a copy of the new policy which, according to the above correspondence, was in development almost 2-years ago to provide protection to parish employees when a new pastor is assigned to their parish. Many of my readers would be very interested in reading it!
Thank You.

Who ordered the Tribunal anyway?
Interesting! It seems that all this time we have been giving Fr. Brum credit for instigating the Tribunal thing. According to this letter, it has been the Bishop’s idea all along…

One good thing, I guess this letter also pretty much solidifies the employment positions of the “fired four”. Damn good thing,… if he ever so much as even thought about firing any of them again, the parishioners at Holy Spirit would bring the roof down on him!
~A Watchful Parishioner

Another great newsletter!
Thank you for the time and effort of everyone who contributes and puts it together.

Jose Moya's account of how he was removed from the ministry he loved so much is the story of many at Holy Spirit. It saddens me deeply to see how nothing has changed after so many attempts at reconciliation. The arrogance of the Diocesan perpetrators of injustice and of our “supposed to be pastor" is dispersing and loosing sheep all over the place.

Thank you, Jose, for the courage to stand up and speak truth to injustice. Many times I have also been tempted to say, "just let It go". It would be so much easier to move on into the comforts of my own routines.

But, then I remember the Jesus that I love and strive to imitate, the Jesus that spoke truth to injustice, the Jesus that challenged and condemned the church and government leaders of his time. For this, He was murdered. So why should true followers expect less? To imitate Christ is not easy and the reward will not come from this world.

Let us all keep our light burning to help each other find that light within us and to help others see the light.
~A Parishioner

Hooray for Jose…
Sad to say that since the destruction of our previous “vibrant” parish, most of our remaining parishioners are the “one-hour-per-week” type that are usually unaware of all of the “stuff” that is going on behind the scenes at the parish!

Actions such as those taken by Jose Moya at the 8:30 Mass on July 27, 2005, is at least a means of letting those unsuspecting folks know that things are not exactly right on the home front.

That,... and continuing the "Food For Peace" program and placing signs of protest on the inside of your automobile windshield while you are attending Mass! But please take heed, our pastor has security write down your license number, then he will kick you off any parish ministries!

Wow, what a parish we now have!
Sign Me: Disgusted!

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, July 25, 2005

Newsletter of 07/25/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit, July 24, 2005

Light A Candle
Funny how times change. Seems like just the other day that I was proclaiming the Word from the ambo with as much gusto as I could gather.

I would examine the Lector's List every month and place my name dutifully on the calendar, as well as in my Palm Pilot, so that I wouldnt miss the opportunity. Not just because I enjoyed reading to the 8:30 community, but also because it was a chance to serve without so much as a thought of what has happened in our parish after the attempted firing of all of our staff. It was giving without thinking much about the slow dissolution of so many of the ministries that we have all supported over past years. In short, it was service,.. and I loved doing it.

I was preparing to go on vacation this month and noted that the schedule never arrived at my house. I looked at the posted schedule in the sacristy, again dismayed by the absence of my name. Before last Sunday's Mass, I asked Fr. Louie Brum, "Why have I been removed from the list?" His answer was very telling; "I did not remove you from the list. I would never do that. You removed yourself from the list because you choose to associate with certain groups."

"So", I asked, "If I quit associating with these groups, can I read again?"

"No." he answered, "I would have to review your general attitude."

"So then you did remove me from the list?"

"No" Fr Louie replied. "You removed yourself."

It became very clear at this point that he was not going to take any responsibility for his telling others not to include me on the Lector's List. Once again, he acted with impunity, not telling others exactly what he was doing. I was expected to simply accept his judgment and move on quietly because, after all, "that is what Fr. Louie told me to do".

Instead, during the 8:30 Mass, I walked right passed the posted reader and read the Second Reading, then announced to all that this would be my last reading, since Fr. Louie had removed me from the Lector's List.

Others just had to know this,... not because I am important,... but because others have also been removed for some made up or actual wrongs and they too are no longer allowed to minister in our Parish. Men and woman that have dutifully served their brothers and sisters in a variety of ministerial positions within our Parish have now simply been "removed".

My son asked me why I do some of the things that I do. Why I support the workers right to Unionize? Why I stand against injustice? "Why do you even make an issue of something as small as bringing food to the Altar during the offertory? It won't change him, Dad," he repeatedly tells me. "We are under new management, just let it go."

I must say that his suggestion sometimes sounds appealing. Just let it go! I can't change the monolithic church and I can't change Fr. Louie's mind, since he now refuses to communicate with me,.. so what the hell am I doing here?

And just when I am about to pitch it all and say; "Son, you are right. I am spitting in the wind... this won't change anything," I am reminded of the man that stood before the White House with a single lit candle during the Vietnam War. He was there night after night. A reporter asked him if he thought he could change the policies of a nation simply by standing with one single candle. He laughed, holding his candle, saying, "Of course not, I do not stand here with my one candle to change the policies of a nation, I stand here with my one candle so that the policies of a nation will not change me."

I will continue to serve the way that I have been taught to serve,... by speaking truth to injustice and power. Not because I think it will actually change anyone, but so the candle that was lit from the Easter candle on the day of my Baptism will continue to burn brightly in my heart, bright enough to remember that although we are "under new management," that we will all be held accountable to a "Higher Management." I will keep my light burning to help me and others find the light within themselves.

Please, do not lose hope. Do not allow the policies of injustice to change you. Keep your light lit like a city upon a hill. I'll need your light myself.
~From a parishioner, Jose Moya

The Persecuted and the Slandered
"As long as the Church preaches an eternal salvation without involving itself in the real problems of our world, the Church is re-spected and praised and is even given privileges. But if it is faithful to its mission of pointing out the sin that puts many in misery, and if it proclaims the hope of a more just and human world, then it is persecuted and slandered and called subversive."
~Archbishop Oscar Romero in his pastoral letter of August 6th, 1977.

Loaves and Fishes
A while back, I finished reading The Blindfold's Eyes by Sr. Dianna Ortiz and her understanding of a parable keeps coming back to me. She writes that at various times she would put her Bible on its spine and let it fall open. Many times it would fall open to the parable of the loaves and fishes, which would frustrate Sr. Dianna because it was hard for her to see abundance in her life when so much had been so brutally taken away from her. After much time and prayer, she was able to draw meaning from the parable, and her interpretation is poignantly beautiful.

She identifies with those in the crowd of humble people who gave the loaves and fishes to the apostles when Jesus asked them "what do you have?" The lesson is that these humble people gave of what little they had, unselfishly gave of themselves and trusted that it would be enough for Jesus. He blessed and broke it, and the little became an overabundance. Sr. Dianna points out to herself and to us that we are called to humbly give of ourselves even if what we have is little and seems far below what is needed. If we trust, God will bless and break it, and it will be more than enough.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

The Pastor has refused to allow materials to be ordered for the family-based religious education programs. At the Pastor's directive, preparations for the latest round of the parish RCIA program have been halted. What is going on? Clearly there is something afoot that will be euphemistically called "restructuring and improving" but will in fact be a dismantling of yet another set of parish ministries.

These actions appear to part of a broader agenda of the diocesan administration, which is the suppression and destruction of the very idea that a Vatican II parish can be allowed to exist in the Diocese of Brownsville. Don't kid yourselves, this is about power, not the good of the parish, not the welfare of its parishioners, and not the building up of the Body of Christ. We know the Bishop is intent on breaking the union, but it seems he is also intent on punishing those parishes and those parishioners who dare to ask that church administrators follow the Gospel when they exercise their authority.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. 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, July 18, 2005

Parish Financial Reporting.

Holy Spirit Parish

Parish Financial Reporting:
I attended mass at Our Lady of Sorrows last Sunday. Happy to report that Holy Spirit’s founding priest, Fr Gus Pacheco, is now well enough to start saying mass again. But, he still has 2 operations to go, so he still needs our continued prayers.

After mass, during his announcements, Fr Gus made a big to-do about the financial reports that had been included within the Sunday bulletin. It included four pages of complete financial disclosure. Every penny that came into the Parish and every penny that was paid out is disclosed. His comments were: “This is your Parish. You deserve to know exactly how much money was taken in and exactly where your money was spent.”

His disclosure made me wonder when we were going to get these same financial reports from Fr. Louis for Holy Spirit Parish? According to Fr Gus, “It’s so simple now… all you do is write the last check for the fiscal year, then push a button on the computer and you get an instant, year-to-date Financial Report! Holy Spirit's fiscal year ended on July 1, 2005, as well.

Since our Parish Counsel and Finance Committee have now gone “hush-hush”, are we still going to get a financial disclosure for Holy Spirit Parish as we always have in the past?

Maybe it’s time that we start asking for it?

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, July 11, 2005

Newsletter of 7/10/05 + Letters

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit Parish
July 10, 2005

Cliché, Part One
Cliché. n. a timeworn idea or expression;
a trite or stereotyped phrase.

“The Church is not a democracy.”
Most of us have heard that cliché as part of a discussion about governance, or even doctrine in the Church. Ordinarily the one using the phrase means it as an “argument clincher” that will end the conversation. However, think about the following from Father Donald Cozzens: “When I hear that charge, I could counter that in some sense there has never been a more profound democracy in the history of Western civilization than the church. I'm not talking about a political democracy; I'm talking about communal discernment of the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

While the Church is not a political democracy, neither is it a kingdom, a dictatorship, a republic, an oligarchy, nor any other sort of civil society. Likewise, it is not a contractual association (like a club or a business concern) nor is it even a family. Father John McKenzie’s Authority in the Church (1966) presents a detailed analysis of what sort of society the Church is and what sort of authority it exercises, and in his introduction he says, that since the Church is not civil society with jurisdiction, a family with dominative power, or a free contractual association, “none of these species of power can be transferred to the Church.”

When we say we belong to the Church we are not saying we are citizens of a civil state, soldiers in an army, children in a family, employees in a company, subjects of a king, servants to a feudal lord, etc. None of that works. And, if fact, if a civil society analogy must be used, democracy comes closest to filling the bill—it was the mode the ekklesia (assembly) used to “communally discern the Spirit” in the days before the Church allied itself with the Roman state and took on the trappings of a civil monarchy.

Lies, Fibs, and Whoppers
A diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country.
Henry Wotton, Sr. (English Diplomat 1568-1639)

Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.
Mary McCarthy about fellow writer, Lillian Hellman

Poor Brenda Riojas, the spokesperson for the Diocese. Whether she is an honest person or not is impossible to know, but she certainly has been sent forth to lie, to publicly tell big, big fibs, for her employer.

In an AP story now syndicated around the country, Ms. Riojas spins some outrageous whoppers that might win her points at the local Liars’ Club, but do serious damage to the welfare of the Church in the Rio Grande Valley.

In particular:
The diocesan employee grievance policy (a part of the mediated settlement of the Holy Spirit case) is not working. In fact, a diocesan employee seeking guidance from the UFW on how to get the diocese to respond to her request to file a grievance was fired for discussing the substance of her grievance with the UFW representative, and then was told she could not file a grievance because she was no longer employed. Is Catch-22 required reading at the diocesan HR office?

Notification to the UFW attorneys of all official diocesan actions related to the inquiry into the canonical validity of the union contract (notification required by the mediation agreement) did not take place. A posting on a website indicating that a tribunal would be meeting in ten days is not the form that official notice between two parties in a civil lawsuit takes. If there is an official letter of notice sent by the diocese, let’s see it!

There has been no healing process (formal or informal) at Holy Spirit (again, something required by the mediation agreement). If Ms. Riojas had been in the room for the countless encounters that the Pastor has had with parishioners requesting just such a process and heard his dismissive comments, even she could not have spoken as she did. Additionally, to refer to the Eucharist as “a healing process” only displays her lack of understanding of sacramental theology.

Concerning the disputed question of whether the Pastor intimidated an employee by offering him a raise in exchange for his leaving the union: who has something to gain by lying, the employee or the Pastor who could face charges that he has violated state labor laws?

Ms. Riojas’ comments on the current state of parish life at Holy Spirit are obviously not based on first-hand knowledge, but instead, on self serving reports, and so are not worthy of response.

Put Your Right Foot In, Put Your Right Foot Out
I was sharing a list of entertaining life questions the other day—questions like “Do fish sneeze?” or “Why do wet dogs stink and dry dogs smell fine?” The question that produced the biggest laugh was “What if the hokey-pokey really is what it’s all about?”

The question came back to mind as I was driving kids back and forth. We really do live like that—we get so caught up in putting our right foot in & out, in following the leader, that we lose sight of why we started in the first place. We follow our daily routine simply for the sake of finishing the routine.

Soon we will hear the parable of the seeds and the dirt in which they fall. If we want our hearts to be fertile dirt, if we want the Word of God to take root and be fruitful in us—we have to be willing to move to the beat of a different drummer, to dare to be out of step. There really should be more to life than the hokey-pokey.
~From parishioner, Michelle Peña

you say to-mā΄-tō, i say to-mä΄-tō
you eat po-tā΄-tō and i eat po-tä΄-tō

~George and Ira Gershwin

It is said that the first casualty in a conflict is truth, so maybe truth should be added to the growing list of casualties that is being chronicled on the Blog. A particularly subtle and pernicious attack on truth that keeps getting floated about is the one that creates equivalences between positions (actions, statements, etc.) as if these were simply matters of taste about which there can be no real dispute (to-mā΄-tō, to-mä΄-tō).

For example, “the parish used to have a ‘social activist’ priest, but now has one who is ‘spiritual and focused on the Eucharist.’” Aside from being complete factual nonsense, the statement seems to imply that there is a menu a pastor gets to choose from and then impose that choice on the parish—“no more of that peace and justice, we’re going to be spiritual now.” Neither can be suppressed; there is no choice.

Or, “the staff (and others) must adjust to a different ‘management style’”—as if tension, inefficiency, and chaos form an equivalent set of choices to an effective, smooth running parish.

Or, again, “you are not a real Catholic” being put forward as an acceptable alternative way of talking to people, while rejecting all that uncomfortable Gospel stuff.

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


July 12,2005, The Monitor

No Healing at Holy Spirit.
To the editor:

Re: "Church employees say diocese flouts union" (July 7).

As a parishioner of Holy Spirit, I was greatly taken aback by diocese spokesperson Brenda Nettles Riojas’ comments that we are "again a vibrant parish," and "a parish that is coming together and flourishing. Healing is happening every Sunday."

How can she say there is healing when parishioners continue to ask the pastor and the bishop to provide opportunities for reconciliation? Parishioners want an outside person to facilitate this. We are told this is not needed and is not a priority for the pastor.

How can she say there is healing when every Sunday we learn that one more person has been removed from a volunteer ministry because he or she is not in full agreement with the pastor? It seems the pastor believes the only way to have healing is to be surrounded by "yes" people and to get rid of those who are not. I was removed from coordinating the parish Peace and Justice Commission.

How can she say there is healing every Sunday when the pastor is absent so much? Perhaps that is when we do experience some healing — when another priest, a compassionate priest, comes for a Sunday Mass. It is obvious, from his continued absences, that our own pastor has no commitment to the parish.

What was once a vibrant, social justice-driven parish has been transformed into a parish where justice issues may not be discussed, where ritual and roses have replaced commitment and compassion, where those who ask for a conversation and healing are disregarded and discarded.

I called Ms. Riojas to question her statements, especially since she has not visited the parish in the past two years. It is time the public knows all is not well at Holy Spirit. We are dismayed that a diocesan spokesperson says it is.

Sister Moira Kenny,

Spokeswoman Wrong on Parish.
To the editor:

I am writing to clarify diocesan spokeswoman Brenda Nettles Riojas’ characterization of a "vibrant parish" ("Church employees say diocese flouts union," July 7).

Holy Spirit pews were once standing room only for Sunday liturgies — now there is always a supply of empty space. Our parish once had over 100 active ministries and groups. This number continues to shrink as groups are disbanded, including the parish council, and parishioners are either removed from ministries or quit from frustration.

And, saddest of all, anonymous letters are being written to individual parish members and copied to the pastor that cross the legal line into slander and libel and end with threats of damnation.

I found Ms. Riojas’ statement that healing happens every Sunday a bit curious. It is true that the community draws strength from its shared celebration of the Eucharist. It just struck me as odd that she made no reference to the much-appreciated dialogue with diocesan representatives to initiate healing efforts at Holy Spirit Parish.

It was indeed a blessing to so many parishioners that the diocese gave us a chance to be heard after repeated assertions from our pastor that we are not a priority.

Michelle Peña,

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!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Meeting with Father Diaz + Nat'l News

Update: Meeting with Fr. Bert Diaz .

On Wednesday, June 29, 2005, the 5 representatives for the group of concerned parishioners from Holy Spirit Parish met with Fr. Bert Diaz, Chancellor for the Diocese of Brownsville. Fr. Carlos Villareal was also present to take notes for the meeting.

We are grateful to the Bishop and to both Fr. Bert and Fr. Carlos for this opportunity for dialogue. Fr. Bert will be speaking with both the Bishop and Fr. Louis concerning our meeting and will follow-up with the group of parish representatives.

Thank you to all who especially kept Wednesday's meeting in your prayers and who continue to pray for our parish and our priests.

Catholic Church Workers Say Diocese Flouts Their Union.
Associated Press Writer

HARLINGEN, Texas. Members of what is believed to be the first workers' union in a Roman Catholic Church say church leaders are trying to break the labor contract and undermine the union.

About 50 lay workers at five churches in the Diocese of Brownsville had signed with the United Farm Workers in 2003. But the union says membership is down to about 30 because of the absorption of one church into another and a pastor's pressure on workers at another. A church tribunal is considering whether a new pastor has to abide by the contract.

"During the two years since Aug. 18, 2003, the agreement signed before Judge Ramirez has been broken, and the employees in the diocese and at Holy Spirit have suffered terribly," Rebecca Flores, a spokeswoman for the workers, wrote in a news release.

The workers were under a confidentiality agreement pending the decision of the tribunal.

There are now only three unionized churches, with membership down from about 50 to about 30. Flores, speaking for the workers, said the Rev. Louis Brum, the newest pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in McAllen, hasn't met with them to begin healing and offered raises to maintenance workers who quit the union.

Brenda Nettle Riojas, spokeswoman for the diocese, said Brum denied that allegation. She said he told her the only time he talked to employees about the union was when an employee asked if he could be taken out of the union because he couldn't afford the dues.

Riojas said the diocese wasn't sure why the workers were upset.

"We do have a grievance procedure in place, they were notified of the judges, and healing is taking place every single Sunday at Mass," she said.

A church tribunal is scheduled to announce in September whether an incoming pastor needs to be bound by the union contract signed by his predecessor.

Riojas said the diocese is following church procedure and that church attendance remains strong.

Brownsville Bishop Raymundo Pena has repeatedly denied allegations he is anti-union through a diocese spokeswoman and through letters posted on his Web site.

The dispute dates to 2000, when Pena switched pension plans for lay workers in the diocese to save money.

Some workers went to the United Farm Workers union for advice. The United Farm Workers helped the workers draw up labor contracts that were signed by pastors at five churches in May 2002.

The union drew praise from liberal Catholic church groups like Call to Action, which said the church was not applying its own teachings about workers' rights in its own backyard.

"The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront of supporting workers, yet I don't know of any group of employees that is treated more unfairly than the employees of the Catholic Church," Call to Action spokeswoman Linda Pieczynski said.

David Garza, an attorney for the diocese, said then that the church wasn't sure the civilian concept of a union applied to a religious organization with a religious mission.

In June 2003, a new pastor arrived for his first day at Holy Spirit Parish in McAllen with what workers said was a fistful of termination notices for workers.

The action tore the parish in the months that followed, with workers and their supporters boycotting weekly mass, instead staging vigils in front of the church.

Holy Spirit got another new pastor. The Rev. Ruben Delgado, the previous pastor, was reassigned.

Riojas, the diocesan spokeswoman, said more than 3,000 families at Holy Spirit participate in what is again a vibrant parish.

"It's a parish that is coming together and flourishing. Healing is happening every Sunday," she said.

This article was written by Lynn Brezosky, an Associated Press correspondent in Harlingen.

So far, at least three Texas newspapers--the Denton Record-Chronicle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Austin American-Statesman--and a Tyler-Longview TV station, have posted it to their online editions this evening. It was carried on Channel-5 News in the Valley. There could be even more widespread coverage by Thursday morning.

Thursday Morning Update: San Antonio Express and The Houston Chronicle also ran the story. It also was front page news in the McAllen Monitor.

More National News!
An Audio Interview of the above News Story may be heard at:

Validity of the Union Contracts.
I have heard the interview concerning the Union Contracts. As per Brenda Rojas, the spokesperson for the Diocese, she said that the Catholic Church has always supported the rights of workers to Unionize and that the only question concerning the Union Contracts was if the local priests actually had the authority to sign the Union Contracts without the Bishop’s approval or permission.

Well, that makes things quite simple… Quit spending all of the Diocese’s money on attorneys and tribunals and just have the Bishop endorse each of the EXISTING Union Contracts… Problem solved!
~A parishioner that is ready to walk out over all of this foolishness!

Is it possible to post Brenda Riojas' telephone number on your site so we can call her for clarification on some of her statements. In spite of being a little ill informed, she seems to be the only diocesan employee who is giving official comments.
~A Parishioner

Brenda Riojas is the Diocesan Public Relations Director. According to the Diocesan Web Page, she can be reached at (956) 781-5323. Her e-mail address is:

Have had several suggestions that I put together a "Casualty List" of parishioners who have been forbidden by Fr Louis Brum to participate in Church Ministries or other activities of the Parish.

If you have been forbidden to participate in a Parish Ministry or have been instructed NOT to attend an activity of the Parish, please contact me by E-Mail so that I can bring your story forward and include you in our Official Parish "Casualty List".


People Are Not The Only "Casualties" of Fr. Louis Brum.
People are not the only "casualties" of the discriminatory actions of our pastor, Fr. Louis Brum. Our Parish Ministries and Parish Traditions are too!

Everybody knows of the strong Social Justice agenda of Holy Spirit since the beginning of the Parish and of its Peace and Justice Commission. What many do not realize is that the Peace and Justice Commission has been disbanded, shut down by our pastor with no reason and its educational and prophetic missions have been completely silenced. Activities like Affirmation Night and Holy Friday Stations of the Cross in downtown McAllen have all been prohibited by our pastor. More recently, the sponsorship of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton to the Valley. These are all casualties, too!

My personal involvement as a representative of Holy Spirit parish in anti-war demonstrations (my answer to the teachings of the Gospel and to the calling of our Pope for peace in the world) has been harshly criticized by our pastor.

For these reasons and as a member of the ex-Peace and Justice Commission, I declare myself to be a casualty. Because of a capricious decision by my pastor, I cannot perform a ministry that I dearly love and feel strongly called to do.
~Ana L Hallman

The "Real" Casualties at Holy Spirit.
Thank you so much for speaking out, Ana. You are totally correct, but also consider the hundreds of parishioners that have left our Parish because of our Bishop's foolishness. Many have changed religions or are simply no longer coming to church. Those lost souls are the "real" casualties of this Bishop's tenure!

Also, consider that Holy Spirit, previous to the Bishop sending in his troopers, had over 100 active ministries. Holy Spirit was truly a coming together of hundreds of parishioners for Christian causes that extended far beyond our Parish boundaries, contributing to the spiritual and economic needs of many. Where are all of these ministries now? Casualties all!
A Parishioner~

Dear Kanickers:
I would like to commend and praise Ana Hallman's letter about the antiwar demonstrations that are now being discouraged by Fr. Louis Brum. In America, we are all allowed to exercise our freedom of speech. Under a dictatorship style of management, there is no freedom of speech. One can easily compare Fr. Louis Brum's style of management at Holy Spirit to the dictatorships of the previous USSR. Many of our parishioners are now personas non grate because Fr. Louis Brum has stripped them of their rights.... they may only attend Holy Mass. Perhaps one of these days, he will disallow this freedom as well.

Concerning the weekly demonstrations against the war in Iraq, Fr. Louis Brum is not recognizing the Gospel and the Holy Pontiff's relentless efforts to encourage Peace among all nations. Apparently, he also disagrees with the Commandment of "Thou shall not kill."

I cannot believe that an Apostle of Jesus Christ believes in such belligerent fallacies. This is truly not in accordance with Catholic Theology. To add insult to injury, our very own Bishop also must agree with Fr. Brum! So far, he has condoned every action Fr. Louis Brum has taken against the many ministries of our beloved Parish.

We must pray for Fr. Louis Brum and for Bishop Pena as they need our prayers and perhaps someday soon, God will grant us our wishes to return our beloved parish to what it once was....the most vibrant Catholic Parish any of us had ever seen.
~A Concerned Parishioner

More on Church Casualties.
I recently ran across a Small Church Community couple that I had not seen in quite a while. They now attend Baptist Temple. They said they now get nothing out of the services at Holy Spirit. The sad thing is that at one of our small church meetings, they recounted how they had helped their son through a lengthy faith crisis to stay in the Catholic Church. Now, look what has happened to them!

Sadder still is the fact that they could not find another Catholic Church in the area to satisfy them; it points to a larger crisis within our diocese. They still consider themselves Catholics, but can find no peace, no room at the table, at any Catholic parish in their area. These are not some far-out Catholics who want to pick and choose their beliefs, but what I would consider people centered in Catholic tradition and faith.

I think that before Ms. Brenda Nettle Riojas makes any comments about our parish, i.e. "It's a parish that is coming together and flourishing. Healing is happening every Sunday,” she should actually come visit our parish in person, instead of just taking Father Louie's word for it! Don't take all that you hear as the Gospel, Brenda.
~A parishioner who is still hanging on, but wondering until when.

Peace & Justice Commission Announcement.
Since the Holy Spirit Peace & Justice Commission is no longer allowed to place announcements within our Parish Sunday Bulletin, would Reflections of the Spirit please allow us to post the following?

400,000 people have died in Darfur over the past two years.
15,000 continue to die each month.
More than two and a half million people have been displaced from their homes.

The Sudanese government, through its army and militias has murdered, raped and displaced the people of Darfur. They are mostly ordinary farmers and herders, husbands and wives struggling to raise their children and survive in one of the world's harshest environments. Now, through no fault of their own, they are facing man-made horrors that no one should have to bear.

This weekend, people all over the country will be joining together in prayer and political witness to call for an end to the genocide in Darfur.

Prayer for Darfur
Merciful and compassionate Spirit
Be present to the suffering people of Sudan
Shelter the widows and the children
Comfort all who are weary and afraid
Bring relief to those who hunger and thirst
Center our thoughts with those who suffer in silence
Move us to recall our shared humanity
Unite us in our determination to respond to injustice
May we never forget! May we never forget!
Hear our prayer. Make our action swift.

Submitted on behalf of the now disbanded Holy Spirit Peace & justice Commission.

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