Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Newsletter of 11/27/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
November 27, 2005

Tribunally Yours
Most everyone (except possibly a cave dweller) is aware that a Collegiate Tribunal of the Diocese of Brownsville determined the contract between the Parish and the United Farm Workers to be invalid. The Tribunal met in June and its decision was rendered on November 10th. A few facts about the workings of the Tribunal and the details of its decision might be worth pondering.

The Collegiate Tribunal is one the instruments of Canon Law, the law of the Church, and as such operates under legal theories and practices of ancient Roman law, which are very similar to how the law works in continental Europe (in civil law, the Napoleonic Code is its closest relative). The main difference that we, who live under the legal theories and practices of English Common Law, should be aware of is that most proceedings in Canon Law are not adversarial with proponents of two opposing views given equal footing before the court.

Instead, the Court seeks truth by asking questions of witnesses—there is no cross-examination, there is no opportunity for rebuttal, etc. There is only one side—that of the Court. In theory, there are no advocates of a particular position who participate in the proceedings; there is only the Tribunal and its witnesses.

This particular Tribunal’s judges were chosen by the Bishop, the list of witnesses was prepared by the Bishop (and initially included, from those who had a stake in the contract being determined valid, only Father Jerry Frank and Father Sam Arizpe), and the issues or questions to be heard by the Tribunal were chosen by the Bishop (and withheld from at least some of the witnesses beforehand).

After direct request to the Tribunal, and only at the last minute, one of the workers and the UFW representative were allowed to be witnesses. Each of those was told (by the diocesan spokesperson) that the issue at hand was whether contracts signed by a pastor outlived his tenure as pastor.

The Chair of the Parish Council at the time of the contracts being signed (and at the time of the workers’ being fired) was refused her request to be a witness—this request was denied in a flippant, arrogant, condescending letter that reveals the underlying hostility of the diocesan administration towards its workers and the very people of God they supposedly have a vocation to serve.

The Tribunal’s decision was not based on the appropriateness of unions for Church workers, it was not based on whether a contract outlasts the Pastor who signed it, instead it was based on the extremely narrow point of whether this particular contract was one that needed prior approval from the Bishop for the Pastor to sign it.

The Tribunal determined that such approval was needed since there is a Diocesan policy that any expenditure over $5,000 needs the Bishop’s approval. They reached this decision in spite of the fact that the $5,000 limit has never been applied to personnel issues in this Diocese.

In fact, employment contracts (well in excess of $5,000) are signed at the discretion of pastors all the time with no approvals from the Bishop required. In fact, a pastor can create new positions in his parish and fill them without even informing the Bishop, much less asking his permission. The $5,000 limit has always, in practice, been applied only to physical things (land, stuff, etc.), not people.

When asked whether the labor contracts at the other three parishes are now also invalid, the Diocesan spokesperson said “they are valid until someone would question their validity.” Sort of a legal Alice in Wonderland isn’t it?

Do The Right Thing
It is not clear whether there will be recourse in either the Church or the civil courts that will allow the Tribunal decision to be reversed. In a very real sense, that doesn’t matter because the basic, underlying situation which prompted all of this could be resolved in an instant by the Bishop’s retroactively validating the workers’ contracts (in all four parishes).

Legalisms shouldn’t command the stage as governing principles here. What should command the stage is following the Church’s teachings that advocate for workers’ rights to organize and following the Church’s teachings that direct employers to create a working environment that protects workers from exploitation, provides them due process, job security, and just compensation (including guaranteed pensions, etc.). It’s not hard, just read the Gospel, read Church social teaching, and do the right thing.

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past six weeks parishioners have donated $9,463.97 less than the $87,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then during this six-week period an additional shortfall of $11,653.56 was created.

This gives a total of $21,117.53 of red ink (versus budget) for the six-week period ending November 20th. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $183,018.59.

Why is it that there continue to be a collection for the building fund when the annual fiscal report indicated (as of June 30th) a balance of $56,319.13 in the fund and a loan balance of only $34,954.13?

The Reverend Monsignor was heard to say to a staff member that it is his goal that anything that can be done in the Parish by a volunteer will be. This brings to mind some thoughts from June 23, 2003:

The crux of the stated argument by both the bishop and Father Delgado is that a large number of professional staff "is ‘abnormal’ and that it interferes with opportunities for parish members to participate in the ministries of the parish by volunteering their time." The bishop goes so far as to say that "a professional staff is inimical to the spirit of the Vatican Council."

For this diocese, Holy Spirit is an abnormal parish. It is abnormal in its overall affluence…. But its true abnormality has been the extraordinary success of its liturgical life, its religious education, and its myriad ministries, both within and external to the parish community. All this work is overwhelmingly volunteer and its success is directly attributable to the skills of the professional staff in coordinating and managing the volunteer efforts.

Anyone experiencing life in the parish for even the briefest of weeks can see that the professionalism of the staff creates opportunities for parishioner involvement, it does not stifle them. Unfortunately, neither the bishop nor Father Delgado has had that experience, nor has chosen to talk to those who do. Déjà vu, all over again.

Banned in Boston
There is an organization out there that has taken a position completely at odds with the Church’s teaching—no, it’s not Call to Action, which has taken no formal position contrary to Catholic doctrine and morals—it is the Democratic Party with its stand on abortion. When are all the Democrats to be drummed out of Parish ministry?

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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2005

We Get Letters:

Dec. 1, 2005

I, like others, am concerned about why Holy Communion is no longer taken to parishioners that pertain to Holy Spirit Parish. Is anyone in charge of fulfilling this blessing?

My mother, Omega Perez, pertains to Holy Spirit Parish and for a long time now, no one has gone by to give her Holy Communion. She had a 4 bypass in August and is presently at Las Palmas here in McAllen.

She only sees the Holy Mass on channel 60 and that's all. She hungers to partake of the body of Christ. We had to request a priest from Mission to come pray for her due to the fact that she was in critical conditions, but praise the Lord, she overcame the complications. She was in 2 different facilities and to this day no one from Holy Spirit has gone by to take communion.

I personally have gone in numerous times to the parish and left her name, address, and phone number to see if someone could even go by her house when she was there and no one ever went.

Thank you for your prompt attention to my concern and I'll continue praying for you all. In Jesus Name.

~A friend who cares for you all.

The Monitor
Sunday November 27, 2005

To the editor:

Thanks to God for my church

At this time of year, we take stock of the many blessings we have received in our lifetime. I would like to express my thanks to God for the first 23 years of Holy Spirit Parish. During those years my life has had many blessings that enabled me to grow in my faith and develop a true understanding of the gospel message. I want to express my thanks for Holy Spirit when:

  • It was a vibrant Vatican II parish.
  • All people were welcome at the table of the Lord.
  • Diversity was accepted and respected.
  • Our pastor was spiritual and collaborative.
  • Peace and justice meant witnessing to the gospel, not hiding behind a chapel door.
  • Ministry was not dependent on agreement with the pastor.
  • Homilies challenged us to live the gospel message and were not repeated week after week.
  • People were respected for their opinions.
  • The pastor told you the truth, whether or not you wanted to hear it, because it was the truth.
  • People were educated in the religion and not shielded from the facts.
  • Leadership was based on the ability to lead and not on one’s abandonment to the will of the pastor.
  • Committees were composed of people with different views, rather than just "yes" men.
  • Worship was truly worship, not an opportunity to display arrogance.

There are so many other things to be grateful for when Holy Spirit Parish was a true expression of the gospel. My prayer is that God returns us to honesty, spirituality, peace and justice and removes the blanket of suppression and intimidation that exists. The embers are still burning among those who are grateful for the past.

Harold Mosher, McAllen

I am heartened to see some of our ministries continuing despite Monsignor (My Lord) Brum. The Giving Tree, being mainly charity, is something Lord Brum, by his gracious countenance, allows. One of the new charities, shoes for the people of Afghanistan, is an excellent idea, and I congratulate Marine McShane for doing this. It is reminiscent of the Eyes Wide Open campaign of the American Friends Service Committee that displays boots and shoes of military and civilians killed in Iraq.

But I am concerned about the ministry ironically represented by the dove. Basic toiletries and food for our military in the Middle East? Is the Pentagon not supplying these basic needs? What does the Pentagon do with all the money? Do people realize that half of their income tax goes to the Pentagon and that we spend more on the military than the rest of the world, friend and foe, combined?

Like the military baskets before (2 baskets for the military vs. one for the poor) I am afraid that this ministry takes away from the poor. People will not give extra, but anything they give to the military will take away from the other good ministries. I say if you really want to help the troops, contact Congress and the President to get them out of there as soon as possible!
~A peace and justice-loving parishioner and parent of Marine who served in Iraq


Well,... I guess that the results from the tribunal shows to all that a Tribunal of the Catholic Church is nothing more than a one-sided exclamation of exactly what "they" want declared. What a goat-rodeo!

Looks like it is going to take a court of the United States Government to show the Catholic Church a few of the teachings of Christ! Shame.

The Louie-loving letters are short, the same, and devoid of fact. The letters challenging him to be a pastor are long, searching, and uncomfortable to read.

A comparison of two leaders: in the short run, Hitler had his nation including the bulk of the hierarchical Catholic Church in Germany loyally following him to the end. In the short run, his own people who chose a known murderer, Barabas, over him, betrayed Jesus. In the long run, we all know what happened to both.

How will this little local drama at Holy Spirit play out in the long run? The once vibrant, solvent, Vatican II Parish in disarray with many of its ministries dead or dying. Many of the most active parishioners long gone when it became too painful to see the new pastor's agenda opposed to love and respect. An agenda to destroy the legacy and character of their beloved parish, with an iron hand of arrogance gained through years of uncontested power and control at other parishes. Too painful to see indeed.
~A parishioner

It is very common, actually, for a priest to have a little circle of "spies" that keep him informed about fellow parishioners. This happens in Catholic churches all over. Our last priest bragged he had a better spy network than the CIA. Who are these people? They tithe, mostly, they say the rosary in public and always say yes to the priest, no matter what. Never, never should you consider a cause the bishop does not agree with. So us bad people tithe too, until we have had enough and decide to use our money where it is more needed. Well, God bless us, every one.
~Catholic from Sweeny, Texas

In Good Standing with the Catholic Church?
I would like to know what the Reverend Monsignor means when he constantly uses the phrase "in good standing with the Catholic Church?" I realize that he screens every parishioner like a hawk by referring to that phrase, but what is the definition of that phrase? Is this phrase used by every Catholic Priest to evaluate the worthiness of God's children to actively participate in any of the church's ministries, committees, and other functions?

The manner in which Monsignor Blum uses this phrase leads me to believe that if you disagree with him on any topic, one is automatically "not in good standing with the Catholic Church." We are, therefore, immediately considered an outcast and not welcome at the Table of the Lord.

However, if one believes and agrees with everything Monsignor does, even if he is very wrong, i.e., refusing to give Holy Communion to persons he dislikes, those parishioners are rewarded handsomely by being allowed in any ministry of their choosing. In other words, just agree and be obedient at all times and things will be much easier for you.

What hypocrisy coming from someone called a Monsignor! That man is consumed with egotistical power and complete obedience to that power. If not, the sky falls upon one like a wrath of hatred. And all of this is allowed to happen in the name of the Catholic Church???

What are we becoming? Are we blind to the heresy displayed by this priest? What would Jesus Christ say about the blind followers of such a tyrannical leader who despises children of God simply because they have better or different ideas than he does? I think Jesus Christ would react by throwing chairs and tables across the room much like he did with the Pharisees! We would all be thrown out of the temple in utter disgrace!
~A Concerned Parishioner

Dear Kanickers,
Every two weeks I look forward to reading the latest issue of Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo. It's not only educational, but the only way so many of us parishioners find out what is happening at our parish.

In the News Commentary of the latest (November 13, 2005) issue, it is mentioned that the Reverend Monsignor( Fr Louis?) will be deposed on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 ... I don't understand, can someone explain what is going on? Is this not a serious thing? Why is he being deposed?
~A concerned parishioner

This is a note from a concerned parent about our Religious Program. I want to know what is going on with the constant changing of meetings for parents for First Communion? We never had that before. We are having so many changes that we are confused as to what date and time we should show up. What a mess! Can't the priest make up his mind?

Most of the time, our priest doesn't even show up, so what's the point? Some events, like Reconciliation, run very late because our priest doesn't show up on time. This is very hard on our kids who have to get up the next day to go to school.

Next thing you see is having First Communions in a separate mass in our parish. When my other child celebrated First Communion in past years, our family loved the fact that the community, who had seen him/her grow up, now was witnesses of their First Communion. I guess the destruction of our parish continues; now our children are the next targets.
~A concerned parent

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

Tribunal: Contracts Invalid.

Lay Workers’ UFW Contract Invalid
November 19, 2005
James Osborne The Monitor

McALLEN — A Catholic Church tribunal has declared the union contract between church lay workers and the United Farmworkers of America invalid under church law, the Diocese of Brownsville announced Friday.

The tribunal, composed of three ecclesiastical judges from outside the diocese, stated the Rev. Jerry Frank, formerly of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in McAllen, broke church law when he signed the contract with UFW in 2002 without first asking Bishop Raymundo Peña’s permission, said diocese spokeswoman Brenda Nettles-Riojas.

Ann Cass, a pastoral coordinator at Holy Spirit, said that while she is disappointed with the decision, she and other workers would continue to fight the issue in district court, where they filed a lawsuit against the diocese in 2003. "We don’t in any way consider this a defeat because we’re fighting for justice in a church we love very much," Cass said. "If we have to take this to the Supreme Court, we will."

The decision to unionize came in 2002 after Peña converted lay workers’ pension plans to 403(b) plans, something senior workers like Cass criticized. They say the change would have reduced their retirement income about 30 to 50 percent. Around 30 employees from four area churches signed on with the UFW, who installed a new pension plan to which the parishes were required to contribute to under the contract Frank signed.

While the tribunal has now declared that contract invalid, the effect it will have on workers’ pensions is still unclear. "I spoke with Father Louis Brum (pastor of Holy Spirit), and they’re going to consider what steps to take, if any, but that it’s too early to say," Riojas said.

The UFW, which is leading the legal battle on behalf of the workers, said it was still considering what action to take in light of Friday’s announcement. "We’re still working on the legal recourse we have, but we’re still challenging the bishop to sign the contract," said State UFW Director Rebecca Flores. "Why is he expending all this money on setting up this tribunal and paying lawyers to challenge a contract that’s simply protecting their workers?"

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

Monday, November 14, 2005

Newsletter of 11/13/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—November 13, 2005

1. There are three grades of monsignor: protonotary apostolic supernumerary, prelate of honor to his holiness, and chaplain to his holiness. Monsignors can be elevated from one rank to another.

A protonotary apostolic wears a fuchsia cape, or ferraiolo, as his insignia.

A prelate of honor, the second grade of monsignor, wears the bishop’s choir cassock—the cassock worn during liturgies. The fuchsia cassock has red buttons, red piping and red cuffs and is worn with a fuchsia sash. The prelate of honor also can wear the bishop’s black house cassock, which has red buttons and red piping, and the fuchsia sash.

Chaplain to his holiness is the third grade of monsignor. The chaplain wears a black cassock with fuchsia piping and fuchsia buttons and the fuchsia sash. From the Catholic Accent, newspaper of the Diocese of Greensburg, IN

2. “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. … All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi’.

As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master;’ you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant.” From the Gospel reading for October 30th

3. “Numerous monsignors were recognized in this week’s honors [awarded by Pope Benedict XVI]. [Among them] … The Rev. Monsignor Louis Brum, … From the McAllen Monitor, November 1st.

4. “Fuchsia is to die for!” From the fashion commentator for the Eternally Weird Television Network (EWTN)

“Discuss among yourselves—I'm too verklempt.” Linda Richmond

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past four weeks parishioners have donated $4,437.56 less than the $58,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then during this four week period an additional shortfall of $7,769.04 was created.

This gives a total of $12,206.60 of red ink (versus budget) for the four week period ending November 6th. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $158,685.80.

All Saints and All Souls
In this November, the month of all the saints and all the faithful departed, consider the following:

Raped and murdered by Salvadoran government death squads on December 2, 1980: Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and lay church worker Jean Donovan.

Murdered by the Salvadoran army on November 16, 1989: Jesuit priests Segundo Montes, Arnando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, and Julia Elba Ramos, a cook, and Cecilia Ramos, her 15 year old daughter.

The Salvadoran army and its death squads were under the command of officers trained by the United States at its notorious School of the Americas (SOA). In the long, bitter civil war in El Salvador, agents of the United States government, along with their SOA trained partners, led operations of terror and torture in the country.

The interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib within the last five years are referred to in official United States documents as the “Salvadoran Option.”

Is it any wonder that over ten thousand people gather each November outside the gates of Fort Benning, GA (site of the SOA) to protest the United States’ role in Central America and call for the closing of the SOA?

As in the past, several parishioners will be participating in the gathering at Fort Benning (November 19th)—pray for them and bless them and pray that our government will eventually see that the closing of the SOA is not only the moral thing to do, but is in the best interests of the nation.

Saints are our heroes and heroines—not because they intercede for us, but because their powerful witness to the Gospel inspires us as we face our own difficult set of choices in our following of Christ. These ten people (along with countless others) murdered in El Salvador are, in that sense, saints.

Time, Children, and Things Lectoral
Does anybody really know what time it is? Chicago

The parish’s employee time clock has been inoperative for over a month. The Reverend Monsignor has long been aware of this problem and has refused to approve getting the clock fixed or getting a new one. A small thing, of course, but part of a pattern of disrespect for the seriousness of the work that parish employees do—little scraps of paper tossed on a desk are a good enough record of their work—it’s all so trivial, really, why bother with professionalism?

Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them. Mark 10:14
The Reverend Monsignor has discontinued the Children’s Liturgy of the Word. This ministry, in which young children gather during Mass to hear a version of the Sunday’s scripture appropriate to their age, has been appreciated by many parents over a long period of time.

The Reverend Monsignor claims that he has a “better program” which he will initiate at some undisclosed time in the future. If such a program really exists, let’s see it. But why, in the meantime, discontinue a popular and successful ministry?

The Reverend Monsignor has been hostile to this ministry since his first days in the parish, and it seems as if yet another program of the formally vibrant parish has been cast aside, simply for the reason that it was a program of the formally vibrant parish.

Living in a state of constant vigilance is exhausting. Anonymous
“We would like to extend this invitation to participate in this ministry [lector] to anyone in good standing with the Catholic Faith.” From the Sunday Bulletin, November 13th.

No wonder the Reverend Monsignor is so exhausted that he can’t celebrate all the Sunday Masses each week—he spends his energy screening participation in Parish ministries, seeking out those “not in good standing.”

Applying such a designation to parishioners is not within the Reverend Monsignor’s job description and borders on the slanderous. The Eucharistic celebration is the ultimate sign of the Body of Christ, the Church, Us—it should not be used to divide Us.

News Commentary
The Reverend Monsignor will be deposed this Wednesday (11/16). I say it’s about time, maybe Holy Spirit can start to function as a Vatican II parish again, once he’s gone.
[Psst! It’s a deposition—testimony in a lawsuit—not a removal.]
Oh, that's very different..., never mind! Emily Litella

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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

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

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Recent Letters To The Editor

Just In Case You Missed 'em!

Billboards First Step to Doing the Right Thing.

To the editor:
I am so pleased to see the billboards stating, "Protect God’s Children, Report Sexual Abuse by Clergy." It is about time someone has the courage to raise this issue in our area. I hope those who have been abused by priests in this area will report that abuse to the police — not to Bishop Peña. Reporting it to a bishop only seems to allow for a cover-up.

If a teacher, maintenance person, minister, or counselor is accused of abusing a child, the police are involved and we read about it in the paper and see it on the news. But priests seem to escape the police, the publicity and the punishment, even though child abuse is a crime.

According to news reports, pedophile priests are just moved to a different parish or diocese, where they continue their practice of abuse. Pedophilia is seldom cured.

It seems that particularly in this culture there is a strong reticence to believe anything negative about a priest, let alone report one to the police. We tend to think, "Father is always right and would never hurt my child." So many children are doubly hurt because they are not believed by their parents when they tell of their abuse. Certainly, we have come to trust these men, but when that trust is betrayed, we must take action. We must, as the signs say, protect our children. To let these incidents go unreported puts other children in jeopardy.

I hope Bishop Peña will do the right thing and make public the names of any priest pedophiles here, so as to validate the experience of all victims and to allow us to continue to protect our children. Those priests have been allowed to continue living among us without a police record, and thus, without us knowing who or where they are.
Noemi Martinez, Edinburg

Bishop at the Center of Church’s Problems.

To the editor:
Sadly, Veronica Ramos (Nov. 2) is correct about the Catholic Church today. Worse, it doesn’t seem to bother the bishop, who busies himself petitioning Rome for "monsignori," an honorary title (literally, "my lord").

The priest destroying my parish (Holy Spirit in McAllen) is one. Of course, not all monsignors are bad or appointed for unquestioned loyalty. One of the new ones is very good. But ironically, he refused this honorary title.

When not appointing vanity titles, what is the church doing for the people? It used to stand shoulder to shoulder with Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers (UFW), but now persecutes UFW members who are church employees. Where was the church when La Union del Pueblo Entero, another Chavez group, initiated its fast Friday in opposition to the Minutemen?

You may believe the Minutemen to be patriots, but the only Minuteman I know is a violent racist. I hate to judge the whole movement by this one individual, but until other volunteers emerge from the shadows, I’ll have to go with my gut feeling that it is a racist group. Besides, it is as ineffective to stop illegal immigration by sealing the border as it is fighting drugs by attacking only the supply side. As long as the demand for below market-value labor exists, there is no stopping it. This is yet another issue that could use some moral guidance from the Church, except that it is too busy handing out vanity titles.

Furthermore, when will this diocese come clean on sexual abuse? Have you seen the billboards around the Valley lately?
Guy Hallman, McAllen

Baptism Should Not be Denied for Anyone

To the editor:

In response to the letter from Ana L. Hallman from McAllen, I agree that the Catholic Church has changed so much, and unfortunately, it has not been for the better. I am a Catholic, believe and love the Lord with all my being, but I am upset at all the rules and regulations the Church has started imposing.

My grandson is still not baptized because you have to go to meetings, the godparents have to be married by the Church, you have to be married by the Church, and so on and so on.

How many meetings did John the Baptist have to go to? Besides it being Jesus who baptized him, when did Jesus request that his parents or any one else be married by the Church to get baptized? He baptized many people and never questioned their social status or their standing in any religion, he just baptized them. While I agree that being married in the eyes of the Lord is a good thing, I disagree that a child has to be sacrificed from being baptized because someone else is not married by the Church.

It’s not just that, it’s too many things that have just turned me off. I still consider myself a Christian and God will always be in my heart. I just wish it would be easier to believe in a religion that will do for you as an individual, as opposed to preventing the first sacrament because some one else is married by law only.

I think baptism is very important and should not be denied to anyone.
Maria Martinez, Mercedes

Priest Not Performing Duties at Holy Spirit.

To the editor:
Regarding the letters from Jerry Tennyson and Norma Morales in The Monitor on 10-16:

You both are right in heaping praise on a good and caring priest who leads his parish on a spiritual journey in which everyone is welcome.

Such is not the case at Holy Spirit. I do not believe our priest is "performing his pastoral duties." He is not a "dedicated priest." These are not mere statements, they are based on facts and can be verified by countless parishioners who can never reach him by phone (he hardly ever answers or returns calls), much less meet with him in person. He seldom is at church, he is hard to reach, and that is a fact.

He even delegates his pastoral duty of officiating Mass, as the Church has had to pay countless priests to say Mass because he is never around. There is documentation corroborating this, plus the Holy Spirit community attending Mass is also witness to this.

Ask around, open your eyes and see the truth. Because we are good Catholics, we seek the light of truth and we are tired of the hide-and-seek games. We should not have to chase him down to talk to him. It is obvious something is taking him away from his duties. If he is busy, what is he doing? Where is the accountability? Where is "our shepherd" when we need him?

Let’s wipe the glassy look of "Catholic euphoria and fanaticism" from our eyes and break the chains of "earthly indoctrination," because a "good Catholic" has faith and is mandated to seek the real truth of God.
Leticia Borders, McAllen

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

Friday, November 04, 2005

An Evening about El Salvador

Archbishop Oscar Romero


"An Evening about El Salvador" will be held on November 11, 2005, at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall, 216 W. First St. in San Juan.

Several occurrences in El Salvador in 1980 will be remembered in a 'mini-movie’ festival. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the deaths of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and the four American church women, Sisters Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clark, and lay missionary, Jean Donovan. The movie "Romero" will be shown and films about the Churchwomen, and the six Jesuits who were assassinated in 1989.

While the political situation has improved, El Salvador, which is just slightly larger than the Rio Grande Valley, has a population of more than 6 million people. Like many of the countries in Central America, El Salvador has experienced earthquakes, hurricanes, and torrential rains which produce mudslides which are capable of destroying whole villages.

The event is sponsored by the Council of United Neighbors (CUNI) a non-profit organization based in McAllen. CUNI has a project in San Salvador which assists Hospital Divina Providencia to provide palliative care for its cancer patients. If you would like to learn more about this small country and its struggle for peace, we invite you to this film event. CUNI accepts donations to assist in its projects. For more information, call Sister Marian Strohmeyer at 686-6047 or Leona Diener at 664-0112.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Congratulations Mr. Rodriguez

Congratulations to
Mr. Armando Rodriguez


Members of the United Farm Workers, AFL CIO, announced the distribution of the first pension check to an employee of the McAllen, Texas, Holy Spirit Parish under union contract since July 2002.

Armando Rodriguez, employed at Holy Spirit parish since 1987, joined the union in July 1, 2002. He will receive a Juan de la Cruz pension check for the rest of his life, and further if his wife survives him, she will receive a portion of his pension until the end of her life.

Fr. Jerry Frank, pastor in 2002 at Holy Spirit, signed a union contract that contributed an amount for each full time employee based on seniority. Union contracts with this provision also exist at San Felipe in Brownsville, St. Joseph the Worker in San Carlos. Two churches (St Joseph the Worker in McAllen and Sacred Heart in Hidalgo) which had also signed contracts with the UFW in 2002, have sued the Juan de la Cruz Pension Plan in an attempt to remove their employees from this benefit. The lawsuit is presently before Federal Judge Randy Crane.

The Juan de la Cruz pension plan is the first pension plan for farm workers in the history of the United States. It was established in the early 1970’s by Cesar Chavez. At present there are more than 10,000 participants and is worth more than $90 million.

A worker qualifies for the pension plan after working under a UFW contract 500 hours in a calendar year for at least five years. The average retirement age a participant can retire is 55. Surviving spouses’ benefits are provided.

The amount of monthly pension benefits is determined primarily by the number of years of vesting credits, the number of hours worked in each year and the amount contributed per hour by the employer. The amount of employer contribution is negotiated as part of the contract with the UFW.

Since 1989, the pension plan has provided cost of living increases and other bonuses.

The pension plan was named for Juan de la Cruz, a 60 year old farm worker striker shot to death on a Kern County, California vineyard picketline in 1973.

Also there are times when farm workers do not realize they have qualified for pension plan benefits. Recently, a retired 87 year old Filipino-American farm worker received a $73,357 back pay pension check.

For more information contact: Rebecca Flores, cell 210 842 9502, e mail: rebeccaoflores@gmail.com Or, the Juan de la Cruz Pension Plan, PO Box 36, Keene, CA 93531. Phone: 1 800 321 6607.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Newsletter of 10/30/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.
October 30, 2005

Center of Our Lives, Part One
Sister Rita Burley, superior general of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a former president of the International Union of Superiors General, the main umbrella group for women religious, was an official “Synod Auditor” at the recently concluded Bishop’s Synod on the Eucharist held at the Vatican.

Here are a few of the comments she made to the assembled bishops: Eucharist and work for justice are inseparable and Communion with Christ in the Eucharist implies accepting the moral responsibility to work with him, in collaboration with others, to transform unjust structures and mentalities into strategies and plans which further the true nature of God’s love for our human family.

These ideas are part of the heart of a theology of the Eucharist that makes the oft-heard phrase (at Holy Spirit, anyway) that “the Eucharist is the center of our lives” a statement with some real meaning, rather than a platitude.

It is clear that the Pastor rejects such a theology of the Eucharist, since he stands so strongly against any efforts to “work with [Christ], in collaboration with others, to transform unjust structures.” What does the Pastor mean when he says “the Eucharist is the center of our lives"?

We know what Sister Rita Burley thinks, we know what the sacramental theologians who guided the Vatican Council thought, we know what Archbishop Romero thought when he said that our lives are our Eucharist, but what does our Pastor think?

The week of October 17th saw two different events at two different Catholic parishes in the area, both related to Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life, but as different from each other as night is from day.

At one of the events (held at Holy Spirit), the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., of The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, spoke to a large crowd of medical professionals and others about end-of-life issues. It was a big deal: the Bishop concelebrated a Mass, there was a dinner, and Father Pacholczyk gave his view of the Church’s teaching in an hour-long presentation. His views are actually at odds, on some points, with the directives of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to medical professionals, by the way.

At the other event (held at St. John the Baptist in San Juan), a handful of people heard the personal stories of some families whose relatives had been victims of capital crimes. The speakers are part of The Journey of Hope, an effort to bring reconciliation and forgiveness into the lives of those shattered by violent crime—not by retaliation, but by reaching out to those who killed their loved ones and by working for an end to the death penalty.

This presentation was a direct manifestation of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty, particularly as articulated by Pope John Paul II: “I renew the appeal … to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” (January 27, 1999).

Under our current Bishop there has never been, in our Diocese, the kind of affirmation of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty that we saw put forth for the presentation on end-of-life issues, a presentation that did not accurately represent current Church teaching.

It is not surprising that our Pastor didn’t attend the Journey of Hope presentation, given that he had the monthly Prayer of the Faithful about the death penalty struck from the 12:30 Mass last week (that’s the one that prays for those executed, prays for those whom they killed and their families, and prays for the end of the death penalty). Too controversial, and divisive—oh, that awkward teaching of the Church, let’s just be quiet about it!

Center of Our Lives, Part Two
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

The recently concluded Bishop’s Synod on the Eucharist was much anticipated by many groups within the Church—some were looking for a crackdown on supposed “liturgical abuses” while others were looking for some change on priestly celibacy. From all reports, the synod eventually focused its discussion on the lack of access to the Eucharist, which has been created by the shortage of priests. At the end of the day, no changes of any substance were recommended—the Church will continue to restrict the priesthood to men who profess to be celibate, for example.

On the liturgical side, one of the few recommendations was a desire to move the Kiss of Peace away from the Communion Rite to some point prior to the Eucharistic Prayer—a bold move bound to effect profound change in the life of the Church. We can’t do anything about the priest shortage, but let’s get all this “expression of community” away from Communion time!

By the way, there was no change in the current ban on having flowers on the altar table.

Money, Honey Update
According to the Sunday Bulletin, in the past two weeks parishioners have donated $5,814.96 less than the $29,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget—St. Vincent DePaul income and expenses excepted), then during this two-week period an additional shortfall of $3,884.52 was created.

This gives a total of $9,699.48 of red ink (versus budget) for the two-week period ending October 23rd. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $252,186.38.

Center of Our Lives, Part Three (Revised)
The original version of this part of the newsletter was based on inaccurate information—apologies all around. Here is a revision.

It seems the Pastor was not in the parish for Saturday’s 5:30 Eucharistic Celebration this weekend—a substitute priest was arranged for, but he didn’t show up. A communion service was held instead. Even though the Pastor cannot be blamed for someone else’s mistakes, as Harry Truman used to say, “the buck stops here.”

A priest’s fundamental responsibility and, indeed, the very purpose for which he has been ordained, is to celebrate the Eucharist with his parish community. Is there no one to hold this person accountable for these kinds of failures? The efforts that parishioners have made to meet with the Bishop to address issues within the parish have been rebuffed, so it appears that the Bishop himself believes that this is how a parish should be run. Again, who is accountable to whom?

Pope John Paul II spoke of the priesthood and the episcopacy as “servant-leadership.” In this concept it is the Church who is to be served, and as the Vatican Council has taught us, we are the Church. Who is being served at Holy Spirit right now by the administrative incompetence, the fiscal mismanagement, and the sloppy, vacuous, and now missing Eucharistic Celebrations?

Something is off-center.

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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

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