Saturday, April 22, 2006

MORE Thoughts From A Parishioner (or Two).

April 21, 2006

Fr. Louis Brum
Holy Spirit Parish Council
Holy Spirit Finance Council

Enclosed you will find the letter and raffle tickets we recently received, unsolicited, at our home exhorting us to try our best to sell them to friends and neighbors. I am returning them because I disagree with this means of fund-raising at Holy Spirit Parish.

I also wish to communicate my sadness that the mismanagement of our parish, the “banning” of some parishioners from ministries, the firing of our beloved choir director, and the holding of secret parish council meetings away from church premises, have brought us to the point – for the first time in over 20 years – of having to hold a parish-wide raffle in order to help the parish make its budget.

Furthermore, I wish to state my disappointment that the planning for the 25th anniversary of the parish includes a “semi-formal dinner/dance” which I understand will require parishioners to pay a high-ticket price to attend. Such an event will only serve to exacerbate and further divide the parish into the “haves” and the “have-nots.” This is further evidence to me of the tendency in recent months to appoint to positions of leadership and ministry a preponderance of those who are in positions of power in the community as business owners, managers, or professionals. In the past, our parish held free dances for entire families, where one and all were welcome to come and enjoy one another’s company. (Yes, on occasion, other “fancy” dinner theater or dance events were held in the past, but these were always to raise funds for a particular worthy group in the parish, not to go into the general parish coffers.)

But this is all of a piece with the other signs we have seen over the past year that continue to emphasize the message that money talks, including the introduction of gold chalices. Even in this case, the purchase had to be of large vessels, rather than more modest ones. And in this case, the point was further driven home in that they were purchased individually by particular families or individuals, who were then invited to a “special” mass of thanksgiving and appreciation.

The claim that we are “one parish family” rings very hollow, indeed. Gone are the days that Holy Spirit was a parish at which all were welcome, no matter their income, no matter their station in life, no matter their politics, no matter their personal spirituality. Those of us who are saddened by these and many other changes no longer feel welcome; indeed, we feel alienated. That is why, this past Lent, our family decided to “give up” something completely different: Holy Spirit Parish. We visited other churches some weekends and simply stayed home on others.

I am especially disappointed that – should we return to and continue coming to Mass at Holy Spirit – our daughters will not have the opportunity our sons had to grow in faith through service and the works of justice and peace. It is our hope that each of our children grow up to become compassionate people who see it as their mission in life to help others and to make this a more just and peaceful world. It would have been wonderful to have them grow in this way being able to fully integrate their ethics with their faith. Perhaps it may still be so, but I doubt it can be at Holy Spirit given the current state of the parish.

Weary and saddened,
Felipe Salinas

Sunday, April 23, 2006
To: Reflections of the Spirit

We received in yesterday's mail our copy of the letter and the raffle tickets that Felipe Salinas wrote about in his letter to Fr. Louie. Although the raffle appears to comply with the requirements of a charitable raffle under Texas law, the sale or distribution of lottery or raffle tickets through the U.S. Mail violates federal law (18 USC § 1302) and is punishable by fine or imprisonment up to two years, or both.

I've attached a link to the statute in case your readers are interested:
~A Parishioner

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thoughts From A Parishioner

This message is meant as a reconciliation and acceptance of some changes that have been done at Holy Spirit, but it is also meant as an unflinching stance at other changes that have occurred. I have analyzed the changes on whether the changes have a chilling effect on any of the following three things that I teach my children: (1) Pray by yourself, find your own dialogue, your very own conversation with God, (2) Pray with your family, your community, your church, and (3) Put your prayers into action by helping others as Jesus did.

If the change does not have a chilling effect on any of the forgoing three things, then I accept the change as part of my reconciliation: however, if the change has a chilling effect on any of the three forgoing things, then I cannot accept the change and reach the goal of reconciliation. I will share my thoughts on some of the changes with the forgoing parameters.

The Kneeling Requirement
I accept the kneeling requirement because it does not have a chilling effect on individual prayer, prayer within our Holy Spirit Parish group, or in our obligation to help others. My preference would be as it was before which, may be a surprise to some, was those who wanted to stand could and those who wanted to kneel could - that was the actual practice, although as a rule, we stood.. We never had a diehard policy that you had to stand, but now we have a diehard policy that you have to kneel. I still accept it.

The Gold Cups
How special and easy it was to explain to others why we didn't use gold cups. Jesus is not interested in material things. He is interested in what is in your heart. See how easy. Even though not using gold cups was special, I accept the change because it does not affect any of the three above mentioned things.

The Red Rose
I accept the red rose. I understand that certain rules do not allow for the red rose, but for the sake of reconciliation, I accept it because it does not affect any of the three things mentioned above.

Families Preparing The Table
I accept the change of families not preparing the table. The symbolism of families setting the tablecloth was strong, warm and endearing, but not doing it does not go against the three things mentioned above.

The Peace And Justice Committee
The Peace and Justice Committee was one of the many good things at Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, through the committee, was helping others as Jesus taught us. Restricting the actions of the committee does affect the third thing mentioned above. Restricting the actions of the committee goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ and silences a loud and visible voice we had in our community to bring peace and justice to all our brothers and sisters. There must be a sound explanation for the restrictions. If there is, then I apologize for not having yet heard it. I cannot reconcile this change with my knowledge of the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ. If someone can help me reconcile this change, I welcome you to help me.
Arturo R. Cantu, Parishoner

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Affirmation Night Comment

Affirmation Night Receives Praise

To the editor:
April 14, 2006
McAllen Monitor Newspaper

I attended the annual Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Affirmation Night (March 13) as I have done the past several years. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The speaker, Sister Theresa Kane from New York, was excellent. There were so many people from various nonprofit organizations that do good work in the Valley. These people and organizations were recognized — or “affirmed,” as the name of the event suggests. It was inspiring to have these people gathered together.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why our pastor at Holy Spirit would not allow this event to be held at our parish. Why would he not want to be a part of honoring such wonderful works?

When it was announced at last year’s event that the pastor has said it was to be the last one held at the parish because it was too controversial, I could not believe that. What is controversial about recognizing the good work of the peace and justice community in the Valley?

I commend the Holy Spirit Peace and Justice committee for having the commitment to continuing this event and having the fortitude to find a new venue. It was announced that it was donations of committee members and some of their friends that made the evening possible. God bless them all.

I look forward to next year’s Affirmation Night.
Eleanor Marks
San Juan

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Newsletter of 04/16/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—April 16, 2006

The Last Resort
“Over the pope, as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, is one which in the last resort is beyond the claim even of the official church.” from Joseph Ratzinger in his commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s declaration, Dignitatis Humanae.

This quote from the theologian who is now Pope Benedict XVI reiterates a very important principle of Catholic moral theology that many times gets lost in discussions on authority in the Church. Each of us is bound, above all, by our conscience—we are not bound by a blind obedience to anyone in the Church, be it Pastor, Bishop, or Pope. Even clergy and religious, who are bound by narrowly prescribed vows of obedience, have as the “supreme and ultimate tribunal” their individual conscience.

Those who think the Church is a kingdom, governed by those responsible only to God, and that every member must think as the king’s representatives tell them think, behave as the king’s representatives tell them to behave, and obey, without question, the directives of the king’s representatives, are simply wrong. There is a comforting sense of security that is gained by thinking this way, but it is the artificial security that comes from a child-like view of things. “When I was a child, my speech, my outlook, and my thoughts were all childish. When I grew up, I had finished with childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12)

Believe, Share, and Transform
Bishop Peña, in his Easter message to the Valley, describes a goal to accomplish the mission, Go and Make Disciples, that has been accepted by the Bishops of the United States. This threefold goal is “Believe, Share, and Transform.”

The pastoral message of the U.S. Bishops and Bishop Peña’s message are eloquent words that have the potential to inspire us to “transform our society.”

There is something disconcerting about the Bishop’s message, because his words are out of tune with much of what has happened to our Parish, either by the direct action of the Bishop or by his acceptance of the actions of those he has appointed. The people in the Parish who, over the past twenty-five years have been the most active and productive in carrying out Believe, Share, and Transform, are the ones who have been singled out for what can only be described as persecution. It is their dedication and work that has been demonized and dismissed, leaving Holy Spirit in a shambles and a hollow shell of what it used to be—a Parish that was actively engaged in all aspects of the Bishop’s threefold goal.

As I reflect on Holy Week and Easter, my thoughts turned to a poem I found while my father was facing cancer. The poem was very comforting to me because it helped me put his cancer into perspective. This awful disease was painful but not all-powerful. There was so much more that was beautiful and lasting that his cancer simply could not touch. This seems to be the message for me this Easter—a reminder that what we celebrate this Holy week and this Easter is boundless. Whatever the cancer may be in my life and in my faith life, my God and God’s unconditional love are bigger.

So I share the poem with you and pray that no matter how you define cancer, you receive the blessing of knowing that Easter is greater.

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the Resurrection.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Have We Been Processed Yet?
Cynicism is easy and very destructive, but sometimes it seems to be the only honest way to react to what we see and hear.

There is no evidence of any “process” by which the Parish, as a community with everyone—Pastor, parishioners, staff, etc.—participating, embarks on a path that will lead to healing and reconciliation.

The Bishop’s comments and those of our two homilists during Lent identified the problems as being animosity among parishioners and disruption of order. Therefore, they define the solution as an interior change of heart by the parishioners, particularly those who have been outspoken. Since the “problems” so identified as just symptoms of a deeper set of issues, the “solutions” have no real chance of accomplishing anything, since they do not address the underlying issues. As we have seen in the past, “reconciliation” to the Bishop and the Pastor seems to mean “reconcile yourselves to the current state of things, because we are not going to change anything that we do.”

$$$$$ Update
The Sunday Bulletin of April 9th did not have a report of the collections for the weekend of April 1st and 2nd. Using the average of the collections from 10/16/05 for that weekend, we can estimate that since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $33,825.35 less than the $377,000 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 same period an additional shortfall of $50,498.76 was created.

This gives a total of $84,324.11 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 4/9/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $168,648.21.

Resurrexit, Sicut Dixit, Alleluia
“He has risen, just like He said.”
Easter is a time for certainty, for connecting ourselves with the fundamental truth of Christianity: Christ, crucified, rose from the dead—He lives! All the rest of what we believe as Christians is commentary. We know, for certain, that we have within our grasp the ultimate meaning of human existence: that death has no real power over us if we identify ourselves and our lives with Christ crucified.

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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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Downtown McAllen Stations of the Cross

My Most Favorite Easter Season Picture!

Downtown McAllen Stations of the Cross

Dear Kanickers,
I commend the now disbanded Holy Spirit Peace & Justice group for organizing this year's Way of the Cross through downtown McAllen without the support of the parish that they have been a part of for more than twenty years. I have walked with them for the past five years and will continue to do so for as long as I can. Nothing during the entire Holy Week reminds me or brings me closer to the suffering of the present day Christ amongst us.

Thanks to all of you for once a year giving me the opportunity to remember that Christ is alive today in those considered the least among us, and in ourselves called to be His body: His eyes that see the suffering, His hands that heal, His heart full of love and compassion, His determination to make possible the kingdom of God here on earth, even if it means dying again on a cross.
~A Parishioner in Exile

Thanks to Our Lady of Sorrows for announcing the Downtown McAllen Stations of the Cross in their Sunday Bulletin...

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Peace and Justice News

Stations Of The Cross

Annual Peace and Justice
Way of the Cross through Downtown McAllen

You and your family are encouraged to join us in our annual Stations of the Cross through downtown McAllen on Good Friday (April 14), beginning at noon, at Archer Park.

This Way of the Cross recalls how the sufferings of Jesus continues today in the lives of the poor and marginated. Stations will include the Federal Court (to pray about the death penalty), a bar (to pray for those who fall under the cross of addictions), a clinic, the Valley AIDS Council, Sacred Heart food pantry, poor housing areas, etc.

We take turns carrying the cross in solemn silent procession. This is an excellent way for the whole family to pray together on this important day. Please bring comfortable shoes and drinking water. Also, please bring rice or beans to donate to the food pantry.

Joan Chittister, OSB
will appear on
Meet the Press
Easter Sunday
April 16, 2006
On a Special Edition of
Faith in America

Joan Chittister, OSB has been a leading voice on spirituality for over 25 years. She is presently executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality located in Erie, Pennsylvania.

A member and past prioress of the Benedictine sisters of Erie, she is past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and of the Leadership conference of Women Religious. She is author of 22 books, the latest of which are; "Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light" (Orbis Books, 2000) and "The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman's Life" (Eerdmans).

Sister Chittister is a noted national and international lecturer whose keynote addresses and conferences focus on women in church and society, human rights, peace and justice, and contemporary religious life and spirituality.

She attended the Fourth U.N. Conference in Beijing in 1995 and the Parliament of the World's Religions in SouthAfrica in 1999 as media representative for the National Catholic Reporter and is a regular columnist for that paper.

A Follow-up:
SISTER JOAN ON “MEET THE PRESS”: Joan Chittister, OSB will be on a special edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 10 a.m. EST. She will join five other religious leaders in discussing Faith In America. The following “Meet the Press” web site will carry video and written transcripts of each program soon after airing:

"Why We Fight"

It is being called the most important documentary film of the year... you owe it to yourself to go see it!

What: Why We Fight, a film by Eugene Jarecki
When: Friday, April 14 through Thursday, April 20, 2006
Start Time: 7:15 PM
Where: Cine El Rey, 311 S. 17th St. McAllen - 971-9825

New Showtime Updates:
Friday: 7:15 & 9:15 PM
Saturday: 3:00, 5:00, 7:15 & 9:15 PM
Sunbday: 3:00, 5:00 & 7:15 PM
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday: 7:15 PM
No Showing on Wednesday!

About the Film:

WHY WE FIGHT, the new film by Eugene Jarecki which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, is an unflinching look at the anatomy of the American war machine, weaving unforgettable personal stories with commentary by a "who's who" of military and beltway insiders. Featuring John McCain, William Kristol, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, WHY WE FIGHT launches a bipartisan inquiry into the workings of the military industrial complex and the rise of the American Empire.

What the critics have said:
"An even-handed interrogation of war's financial implications."

"A sobering, cool-headed and meticulous cinematic essay on the effects of the military-industrial complex."
-Stephen Garrett, INDIEWIRE

"A stunning film that lines up the evidence to explain not only how we got into Iraq, but how corporate forces have propelled us into wars for the last 50 years."

"Balanced, reasoned, and utterly damning, it deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible."

"One of the great documentary films of 2005."
-Harry Knowles, AINT IT COOL NEWS

*** (highest rating) It's unlikely that 2006 will see a documentary more important, compelling, or devastating than WHY WE FIGHT... with its damning contextualizing and cogent argument, WHY WE FIGHT makes FAHRENHEIT 9/11 look like amateur night."
-Jay Carr, AM NEW YORK

"Astonishing. Terrifying, poignant and sad."
-Jeffrey Lyons, NBC's REEL TALK

"Hard-edged critique... you'll leave the theatre feeling vastly better informed... Jarecki deserves praise for introducing intellect into a debate characterized by passion."
-Joshua Rothkopf, TIME OUT NEW YORK

"The year is still young but it's hard to imagine we will see another film that is more important, more urgent and more disturbing than WHY WE FIGHT. You owe it to yourself to see this mind-blowing movie on the reasons we go to war. YOU WON'T SOON FORGET IT."
-Pete Hammond, MAXIM

"Probably be the most important documentary you see this year... you owe it to yourself to see it."
-Copernicus, AIN'T IT COOL NEWS

Make Sure You See It!
(Call or E-mail your friends to make sure they see it, too)

Peace and Justice Group Ousted.
Reprint from The Paper of South Texas.

Sister of Mercy Moira Kenney arrested and sent to prison in 2003 for protesting School of the Americas is now banned from Holy Spirit activities, but splinter group continues with humanitarian work.
By David Robledo

The punishment just keeps raining down on Sister of Mercy Moira Kenney, the activist nun who was arrested and sent to prison in 2003 for protesting against and crossing the boundary of the infamous School of The Americas in Ft. Benning, Ga. – where US military train Latin American soldiers in guerilla fighting techniques. Three years after her six-month prison term, the cherub-like nun has been banned from participating in the activities of her own Holy Spirit church in McAllen.

What’s more, priest Louis Brum has effectively ended Holy Spirit’s commission for Peace and Justice, a 20 year-old group that Kenney has coordinated for the last five years. Father Brum gave the commission a new name last December – Outreach Ministries – and has also eliminated several protest and commemoration activities that the Peace and Justice group has become known for.

The Brownsville Diocese maintains that some of the group’s activities had nothing to do with the parish. But Kenney and other members think that all the Peace and Justice activities had plenty to do with both the parish and Catholicism itself – working for a world without suffering. “By revamping, we lost anything that had to do with promoting peace and non violence,” Kenney said. “What’s the point of having a Peace and Justice Commission if you can’t work for peace and justice?

Despite having the rug pulled out from under them, the group has reformed, meeting at homes of members and planning for their annual Way of the Cross demonstration on good Friday later this month - a walking tour through McAllen aimed at raising awareness about the death penalty, poverty, sickness, and other tragic conditions of the human race.

Brownsville Diocese spokesperson Brenda Nettles Riojas said that the Peace and Justice commission was never eliminated, but that it was only renamed. “Some of the activities that did not have a direct connection with the parish were discontinued,” she said. Outreach Ministries at the parish continues with several other activities – including support of housing services, a church project in El Salvador, and a ministry in South Texas colonias, she said. Father Brum named a new coordinator for the group, Mickey Eberlein, who recently returned from a week-long visit to Holy Spirit’s sister parish in El Salvador. Any controversial activity by the group was not necessarily a factor in renaming the group, Riojas said, and the church continues to move forward in its service to the community.

Like Kenney, Margaret Eberhardt, a 12 year member of Holy Spirit and five-year member of Peace and Justice, has also been banned from taking part in Holy Spirit activities. Eberhardt said that Father Brum doesn’t have the power to stop the group, but that he continues to try by keeping her and Kenney from all extra curricular functions of the church. Those sentiments seem clearly understood by the members of the Peace and Justice organization.

It’s obvious, however, that the Peace and Justice group might easily be considered controversial. No other Valley group holds as regular protests against the War in Iraq or the death penalty. You can see them from time to time displaying picket signs with phrases like “War is Wrong,” or “Bush is a Murderer” on street corners throughout Hidalgo County. The 15-member splinter group also each year recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations who work for social change, like Mujeres Unidas, the South Texas Civil Rights Project, the Men’s Resource Center and others.

Guy Hallman, a Holy Spirit parishioner and five-year member of the Peace and Justice group, said that the group’s demonstrations have the right to be controversial, as were the teachings of Jesus Christ. “Everything we do is consistent with Church doctrine,” Hallman said on the steps of the Holy Spirit Church in North McAllen, where he and 7 other members gathered for an interview last week with The Paper of South Texas.

Amid North McAllen’s strip malls and sprawling new subdivisions, the group’s activities stick out like a sore thumb. Each year for example – or at least until last year – the Peace and Justice group helped a Pastor’s for Peace caravan make their way into Mexico, loading it up with supplies and medicines bound for distribution in Cuba and Latin America.

Parked at the North McAllen church, that Pastors for Peace bus with the hand-painted messages draping it’s sides was as conspicuous as a tie-dyed T-shirt in a tuxedo shop. Pastors for Peace, a special ministry of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, delivers tons of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean each year. But the Holy Spirit church, because of the changes brought about by Father Brum, will no longer serve as a pit stop for the Pastors for Peace caravan en route to Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

On April 13, Peace and Justice will gather without the blessing of their parish for their annual “Way of the Cross” walk through the City of McAllen. The group stops at the federal courthouse, where they pray for those who have died under the death penalty. They stop at a clinic, where they pray for the Valley’s sick and uninsured. They stop at a bus station, where they pray for those who have difficulty finding labor because of their lack of transportation. And they kneel in front of a bar, where they pray for the rise of the fallen, as Christ fell and rose from the cross.

This Way of the Cross traces painful paths that mankind takes through life, according to the group, but it also boldly pinpoints problems in the social fabric of the Rio Grande Valley. Like Christ, who wandered the Earth while spreading his message of forgiveness, this Peace and Justice group without a home continues their work in celebration of the Holy Spirit, they said. “You can’t lock the Holy Spirit inside the walls of a church,” said Gerard Vaello, an advertising agent and member of the group for three years. For now, this renegade group of Christian activists is managing to hold together just fine. Like the earliest of Christians, their work and message needs no roof, only the ears and hearts of anyone willing to give peace a chance.

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 below.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Newsletter of 04/02/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
April 2, 2006

“Fight they will, we are certain. And they may win some, lose some and even come to some acceptable compromise in others. In the end, however, as has occurred in nearly every other step they’ve taken along the agonizing path of this scandal, the bishops will be left with the same fundamental problem: a lack of trust and credibility within the Catholic community and in the wider culture. There will remain the overwhelming perception that their apologies and words of concern are for show and that what they most deeply care about is protecting their own positions and maintaining the institutional status quo….

“The community is exhausted. We are tired of hearing about sex abuse; tired of writing about it; tired of not knowing what the next disclosure will bring; tired of apologies that mean little.

“The answer lies not in some magic wish that it all go away and that the community once again become a crowd of compliant Catholics. The answer lies in what we all know, the faith that we profess, the sacramental life that sustains us."
From the editorial of March 31st, 2006, in the National Catholic Reporter.

Two Incidents: Evidence of Progress in Reconciliation?
At a recent Mass in the Parish, a minister of Holy Communion, after the “Body of Christ—Amen” dialogue, did not give the Host to a communicant. After the communicant took the Host from the minister’s hand and returned to the pews, the minister followed the communicant to the back of church, abandoning the distribution task, and asked the communicant whether the Host had been consumed. This is decidedly odd, but since the communicant is one of those removed from ministry (being “a Catholic not in good standing,” you understand!), maybe this action is a reflection of a persistent antagonism that borders on the fanatical on the part of some in the Parish. The “reconciliation process” seems to need a little work.

The reaching out towards people that the Bishop has called for needs to modeled from the very top, from the most visible members of our community. One such member, in snubbing a young person from the Parish in a very public way at a local coffee shop, does not seem to understand that.

Those Wascally Wabbits
At my house we have added two new members to our zoo—4 week old rabbits. Each will fit in the palm of your hand and they are adorably cute. They have brought an interesting dynamic to our house. Everyone changes around the rabbits. The rough and tumble play has toned down in the room with the rabbits and my two teen boys become gentle giants holding and caring for these two little dependent fur balls. In short, they bring out some of our best instincts—to be aware of another of God’s creatures, respect and provide for its needs, cheerfully clean up after accidents and offer gentle love. And the rabbits offer the gift of simple cuddly joy.

As we move through Lent and closer to Holy Week, these little rabbits teach me about the love of our Lord. He gave us an example of the humble give and take of our relationships as He not only washed his disciple’s feet, but also accepted the care from the woman who washed his feet. Part of the Lenten message is learning to participate in the exchange of caring and receiving. Lent calls out our best instincts – to be aware of and care for one another. Lent also calls us to be open to receive from one another and to receive the gift of Easter.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

The Incarnation and The Church
“The object of the various testimonies in the New Testament is not an ethereal ‘heavenly being,’ sojourning on earth in human guise, but the concrete person Jesus of Nazareth. This then is the one and only basis for an authentic Christology.”
From Edward Schillebeeckx, in Jesus: An Experiment in Christology (1981).

The Incarnation means that Jesus is a human being. But the same is true about the Church. We always hear, “the Church is a human institution,” but many times people take that to be commentary on the Church’s failings, which are attributed to the human beings who make it up. In that view, it isn’t the Church itself which is human, just the people who belong to it—the Church is divine, not human and divine. To talk this way is to deny the Incarnation, since the Church is the Body of Christ. We must not forget that the Church is a truly human institution, not a “heavenly” one in masquerade, and is bound by the same principles that guide any human enterprise.

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $33,398.08 less than the $348,000 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 same period an additional shortfall of $46,614.24 was created. This gives a total of $80,012.32 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 3/26/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $173,360.03.

Pray, Pay and Obey
Money matters, and it is very important that the Parish generate the income needed to sustain its work. In 1985, the Parish decided to become a “stewardship” parish, foregoing all major fundraising (raffles, auctions, carnivals, etc.) and relying instead on the commitment of steady donation from the entire parish community. For eighteen years this was extremely successful, both in supporting the ministries of the Parish and in building the new church. The past three years have seen this stewardship model start to fail and now we hear of proposals to reinstitute major fundraising efforts in conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebration this summer.

Big fundraising is a big task and takes the energy and enthusiasm of lots of people to make it successful—energy and enthusiasm that ends up being directed, not to ministry, but to the financial support of someone else’s ministry. It’s like in the old days, when lay people raised the money so Father and Sister could do the work. This is a different vision of Church and Parish than the one upon which Holy Spirit was built—it is one that creates a false dichotomy between lay and clerical, between sacred and secular, that belies the mystery of the Incarnation lived out in the Church.

We seem to drifting inexorably towards reestablishing Pray, Pay, and Obey as the appropriate model for parish life (certainly the Obey part is on the march).

Via Crucis
The annual Stations of the Cross through the streets of downtown McAllen, sponsored by the Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Committee, will be held on Good Friday, April 14th. It begins at 12 noon at Archer Park—bring water and comfortable shoes and witness to our participation in the Passion of Christ in today’s world.

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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