Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Newsletter of 11/26/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—November 26, 2006

L’Affaire Thanksgiving
The whole business about the Monsignor’s decision to shut down the 20 year old Parish tradition of hosting a parishioner prepared and served dinner on Thanksgiving Day for all comers has been talked about on the Blog for many days now. Those commenting all agree that the Parish has suffered a great loss and that the decision was…how can it be said, stupid.

In the aftermath, a question arises: why was such a decision made in the first place? It is always problematic to speculate about people’s motives, but this situation cries out for some sort of explanation.

First, the stated reason, “we want people to be home with their families on Thanksgiving,” doesn’t pass the laugh test. Those involved with the decision (the Pastoral Council and the Monsignor) have, in the main, never attended or worked at the dinner over the years and so the fact that it was on Thanksgiving itself really would not impact them personally. If people chose to contribute their time and effort on the holiday, why decide for them what is best for them?

Second, an unstated reason is that the traditional dinner, unattended by the Monsignor (who has always been gone from the Parish over Thanksgiving), was such an obviously good thing for those participating and for those it served that it had to be suppressed, since nothing from the “old days” could possibly be given a stamp of approval. Every vestige of the activities and spirit of the Parish prior to June, 2003, has to be wiped out, and even vilified (observe what is happening in the religious education program), no matter how much intrinsic merit those activities might have. The Thanksgiving Dinner Affair is just one more skirmish in the battle to dismantle the Parish, to “purify” it—for whom, the dramatically dwindling numbers of people in the pews?

“To be a Catholic is a challenge.” Bishop Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, Chair of US Bishops’ Doctrine Committee

The US Bishops met recently and produced several documents.
Here is some commentary:

“… [T]he bishops aren’t terribly persuasive or clear when they talk about sex, and they tend to want to talk about sex a lot. To be sure, they say lots of lovely and lofty things about marital love, about how it completes people and cooperates with God’s plan and fills married lives with joy and happiness. You can want not to have children, say the bishops; you just can’t do anything ‘unnatural’ about it. It’s a strange concept, like not wanting to die of heart disease while not doing anything ‘unnatural’ about it….

“ It’s either be open to having kids or married sex is no more significant than an encounter with a prostitute. Such a view of marriage and sexuality and sexual intimacy can only have been written by people straining mightily to fit the mysteries, fullness and candidly human pleasure of sex into a schema that violently divides the human person into unrecognizable parts. There’s a reason 96 percent of Catholics have ignored the birth control teaching for decades. We doubt the new[est] document will significantly change that percentage.

“So it is with gays. Here again, church authorities try to fit together two wildly diverging themes. They go something like this: Homosexuals are ‘objectively disordered’ (that’s about as bad as it humanly gets, in our understanding of things), but we love them and want them to be members of our community….

“The next paragraph in the document, by the way, begins, ‘Sad to say, there are many persons with a homosexual inclination who feel alienated from the church.’ You can’t make this stuff up.

“It is difficult to figure out how to approach these documents. They are products of some realm so removed from the real lives of the faithful one has to wonder why any group of busy men administering a church would bother. They ignore science, human experience and the groups they attempt to characterize. The documents are not only embarrassing but insulting and degrading to those the bishops are charged to lead. The saddest thing is that the valuable insights the bishops have into the deficiencies and influences of the wider culture get buried.”
from an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter, 11/24/06

Youth: Our Future Leaders of Tomorrow
The redundant and garbled title of this article is a phrase we hear from the Monsignor frequently. Does he really understand what it takes to educate young people in the faith?

On holidays these past twelve months, the Parish has been instructed by our youth—Adam Moya last Christmas and Ben Salinas this Thanksgiving. Leaving aside the circumstances and focusing on their messages, we can’t help but be impressed by the depth of their understanding of the Gospel, the Eucharist, and the Church as the Body of Christ. A lot of that understanding must certainly have been caught (or taught) from within their families, but both of these young people are the products of the Holy Spirit Religious Education Program of years past. Some may see their ideas and actions as evidence that the program was a failure; others may see thoughtful young adults truly engaged with the fundamentals of Catholicism (which aren’t memorized prayers and catechism answers, or even “feel good” messages that “Jesus loves me”).

We can only hope that the latest version of the Parish’s youth program doesn’t completely abdicate its responsibility to engage young people seriously with Catholicism. Don’t sell young people short by selling fundamentalist style “Jesus Camps” as authentic models of Catholic Christianity.

Stand Up and Sing
This nit-picking nonsense about criticizing people who stand and sing the “Great Amen” is one more example of the ignorance and blind hostility of some folks in our Parish. To have the Monsignor haul out the sacred GIRM is hypocritical at best—he who persists in the explicitly prohibited rose on the altar knows full well the complete text of the GIRM on postures and knows that his decision to impose kneeling is his choice, since exceptions are explicitly allowed (“some other good reason”).

Standing throughout the Eucharistic Prayer is the world-wide standard—so are we to believe that the U.S. is the only nation that really understands what the Eucharistic Prayer is about? Again, nonsense.

Leave people alone as they stand up and sing!

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $15,810.01
(last year same date: $9,463.97*)

Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $27,463.57
Projected yearly shortfall: $238,017.61
* not getting better, is it?

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 mailto:gbrazier@rgv.rr.com

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

News about Joey!
Just wanting to wish all a very "filling" and Blessed Thanksgiving as well as your families. Remembering always those who have little or none.

Update on Joey is that he had eye surgery that took four hours to try to clear more of the shrapnel and repair more damage to the left eye. He has to keep his head positioned facing down even when he sleeps for five days. A gas bubble was left in the eye to keep the retina from getting scratched while he is healing. He will have to wait two months before he has surgery on the right eye. The natural lens was destroyed by shrapnel and an artificial one needs to be implanted. It has been very painful for him. He has had to restrict himself to dark rooms and no fast movements of the head. Thank you for your prayers
Love and prayers,

Ben Salines' Letter to Fr. Louie
November 22, 2006
To: Rev. Msgr. Louis Brum

Dear Fr. Louis,

I am 20 years old. For the past 18 years, I have spent Thanksgiving at Holy Spirit. For me, a typical Thanksgiving Day starts by waking up at 7:30 or 8:00 AM. By 9:00 my family and I have arrived at Holy Spirit and are greeting our friends and fellow parishioners who have volunteered to prepare for the Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Every year, I look forward to Thanksgiving so that I can spend a day in service alongside some of the best people I know.

Every year, we see familiar faces. Tom, wearing his baseball cap, has his oven mitts and brings his pot. He’s in charge of the oven. Bill will make the gravy. Chayo arrives and prepares the yams, with assistance of several others. My mother will take some of the smaller children into the hall and have them cut sticks of butter, place rolls on pans, and butter the rolls. Benny and Debbie arrive with half their kitchen and oversee just about everything. Harry will be in charge of insuring that there is enough food at the tables at the proper time. And me? I work with the other 30 volunteers anywhere that help is needed. In the past 18 years, I have cut pies, butter rolls, stirred potatoes, picked music, drawn names for the door prizes, made punch, heated turkey and stuffing, opened cans of corn, prepared cranberry sauce, served food, counted plates, refilled drinks, prepare roasters, place tablecloths on tables, arrange baskets of fruit, drench yams in brown sugar, take out trash, sweep the floor, and everything else that needs to go into preparing a Thanksgiving Dinner.

For the past 18 years, my family has created a tradition of spending our Thanksgiving Day preparing a meal for 400 guests. At the end of the meal, we always have people come up to us and thank us. They tell us that if we didn’t have this dinner, they would be alone on Thanksgiving. They explain that without this food, they would go hungry on Thanksgiving. They talk about how it is their tradition to come to this dinner every year. They tell me that they remember when I was 3 years old, running around at Thanksgiving.

This year, my family’s tradition has been broken, for this year there is no Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

I understand that Holy Spirit celebrated a Thanksgiving Dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This is a nice gesture, but you cannot call this a Thanksgiving Day Dinner. There is a reason that we always chose to do our dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Our Parish Community, as you so love to call it, is our family. Thanksgiving is a day to get together with your family, and this is what we do. By attending the Thanksgiving Day Dinner, you are saying, “On this day reserved for my family, I spend my time with Holy Spirit Parish. The Parish is my family.”

Many of the guests at our dinner are Farm Workers, or come from the colonias. They do not normally attend our Services, but they come to Thanksgiving, and we welcome them. Holy Spirit used to be a church that welcomed ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of the economic status of many of our guests, without our Thanksgiving Dinner, they would not have a Thanksgiving Dinner.

We also have many people attend who would be alone on Thanksgiving Day. These guests include widows, as well as couples with no family in the area. They are extremely grateful for the chance to be with a family on Thanksgiving Day. They have repeatedly thanked Holy Spirit for holding this event on Thanksgiving Day.

Don’t you see? It isn’t about the food we serve; it’s about when we serve it! When we serve a “Thanksgiving Dinner” 4 days before Thanksgiving, we tell our parishioners that they are not important enough for us to spend a special day with them. We tell them that they are an afterthought. We tell them that while we talk about them as our family, when push comes to shove, we care about them as much as we do complete strangers.

Fr Louis, I am personally insulted that you felt I was not good enough to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in your presence. I am personally insulted that the Parish Council put their own desires in front of the desires of the parish. It is nice to say, “Well, people don’t want to come to church on Thanksgiving Day,” however that is a bold face lie! For the past 18 years, we have had hundreds of people attend a Thanksgiving Dinner, on Thanksgiving Day, each year. Last year there were more than 400 guests at our Thanksgiving Dinner.

You could blame it on the fact that there are no volunteers, but that is not true either. Last year we had more than 100 people involved with preparing for the Dinner (ranging from donating a turkey, to spending 10 hours on Thanksgiving preparing a meal). The volunteers are there. We’d love to spend Thanksgiving at church doing what we have done for countless years in the past.

Fr. Louis, I am ashamed of you and the Parish Council for only caring about yourself. Remember that whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me. You are forsaking members of your community. You are shunning them. You, supposedly sent to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, are throwing people away.

Where were you when a man wanted a family on Thanksgiving? Perhaps you were eating a fancy dinner at a friend’s house. Why did you not invite him to come with you?

Where were you when an impoverished family asked for a meal on Thanksgiving? Perhaps you were handing them a coupon for a sandwich shop in Sharyland. Why did you not eat the sandwich with them?

Where were you when a high school student was looking for a way to live his faith through volunteer work? Where were you?

You and the Parish Council bring shame to the good name of Holy Spirit through your selfish actions and your exclusivity. How dare you take the church that I helped build and corrupt it? How dare you take my home and turn it upside down? How dare you insult my family? How dare you feel you are too good to hear from a parishioner and not read this entire letter?

If I do not receive a response to this letter, I will be personally insulted. Just remember, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.”

Ben Salinas

A Card of Thanks to Our Troops
Something cool that Xerox is doing...

If you go to this web site, www.letssaythanks.com , you can pick out a Thank You Card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

This is not about if they should be there or not,.. or even if we should bring them back. This is about THANKING THEM for the job they are doing for us...

How AMAZING it would be if we all sent one.
Happy Thanksgiving to all...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Farewell to Celia.

Farewell to Celia.
Our dear friend Celia Munoz Badiozzamani always wanted to cross the line at the School of the Americas protest. She has now done better than that - she has crossed the line into her next life. Celia passed on in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after a long struggle with cancer. We all know how she worked tirelessly for the Sisters and girls at Casa Amparo.

The arrangements for her wake and funeral are as follows:

Visitation - De Angel Funeral Home - 3611 N. Taylor Rd
(just south of 3 Mile - across from cemetery)

Wed. 11am - 8pm

Thurs - 5-8 pm with Rosary at 7 pm

Funeral - Friday - 1pm at Our lady of Guadalupe - Mission

We will miss you, Celia. Thank you for the gift of your life and your great energetic spirit.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Items of Interest

Item #1: Ben Salinas Sponsorship

I received the following information from Felipe and Cathy Salanas. Most of us at Holy Spirit have watched the Salinas kids grow up. Felipe and Cathy were a part of EVERYTHING at Holy Spirit and their kids grew up in that environment. Ben is now away at collage… A fine young man… Hopefully, in a small way, the result of a good influence at Holy Spirit. I know Felipe and Cathy are very proud of Ben. We all are! Maybe this would be a good chance for us to show him that we support him.

Dear family and friends,
Our son, Ben, will be going to Uganda over the Christmas break with some fellow students to work on some development projects, which he describes below. Please read his note below and, if you are able, we invite you to help sponsor him.
Felipe and Cathy Salinas

Project Information:
In January, I will be traveling to Uganda with 14 Babson students and one other Olin student as part of the second trip with Babson's Global Outreach in Entrepreneurship (BGOE).

We will teach local residents better business practices and help them to innovate with available resources. Last year, eight Babson students traveled to Sri Lanka 's tsunami torn region helping to rebuild businesses and improve practices.

I have long been interested in international development, and have finally had a chance to make this dream into a reality. This year, we will be spending two weeks in Uganda working with several local non-profit organizations. While there, we will work with two hospitals on improving their management and image, a hotel which funds a non-profit organization and a non-profit which assists women and children with AIDS.

The final project we have, which I will be working on, is a new venture which I have personally developed. An organization named Full Belly Project (http://www.fullbellyproject.org/) has recently developed a hand operated Automatic Peanut Sheller which can be used in developing countries (highlighted in the November issue of Popular Mechanics). Link:: (http://www.fullbellyproject.org/Documents/JockBrandis_BreakthroughAwardArticle.pdf)

Currently it is estimated that women in Africa spend more than 4 billion hours shelling peanuts each year. This machine has the potential to cut this down to less than 0.1 billion hours. Peanuts are valuable crops because they enrich the soil, fetch a high price on the market, and are protein rich, which makes them extremely good at battling malnutrition.

We have developed a business plan which will allow a local entrepreneur to collect and sell peanut shells (which are currently discarded) to concrete companies which will use them as fuel. This will cut their greenhouse gas emissions and save the concrete company money. Sustenance farmers will get an extra income from these shells (as well as save the 2 months they currently spend shelling peanuts) and the entrepreneur gets a sustainable business which has the potential to expand. The beauty of this business plan is that everyone comes out ahead.

This is a plan that I have been working on for the last few weeks and that I look forward to putting into effect in Uganda. However, in order to go, we need to raise some more money.

As a group, we have already raised over $10,000, however this is not enough for the 16 of us to make it to Uganda. I have set a personal goal of raising $2000 in the next few weeks.

I'd be honored if you would sponsor me on this trip to Uganda to help make a difference. Even small amounts can help make a huge difference. If you have any questions about BGOE, the upcoming trip, the Peanut Sheller, or stuff in general feel free to contact me at
Benjamin.Salinas@students.olin.edu or by phone at 781-540-9402.

Thanks for your support,
Ben Salinas

Item #2: Here we go again!

Church Religious Director Arrested.
Story Link:
Religious Director Arrested

I am not trying to beat a dead horse, but this story just brings back horror stories. I have provided the story link. I don’t recommend that you click on it to reread the story – only if you haven’t read it. I just have a few comments:

1. How many of our current Holy Spirit Religious Education Instructors have attended the Protecting God’s Children Child-Abuse Prevention Program, as indicated in the story and required by the Diocese?

This is a mandatory requirement of every Religious Education Instructor before they can teach our children, right? Can who ever is in charge of our Religious Education Program at Holy Spirit please e-mail me a listing of our current instructors and a simple “Yes” or “No” if they have completed the required course… Based on the past sex abuse within our diocese, this should be "first priority" for our Religious Education Instructors.

2. A question for Brenda Riojas, Brownsville Diocese spokeswoman: If this sexual abuse incident would have been committed by one of our priests, would you still have called the police and had him arrested, or would Bishop Peña have taken the law into his own hands again and covered it all up? What is current policy?

I guess we will never know where the Bishop transferred all of our previous sexual offender priests, what kind of treatment they received, what kind of treatment their victims received or how much it all cost us? I just hope that our Bishop understand how important it is for his protected pedophile priests to be on the National Sex Offender List, so that their whereabouts can be tracked and they will never have the opportunity to offend our children again! We should all INSIST that this be done!

Maybe we can get our Bishop to address these issues in his next editorial in The Monitor Newspaper!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Parishioners' Newsletter of 11/12/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—November 12, 2006

The word “scandal” comes from the Latin scandalum, meaning “stumbling block.” Unlike our modern use of the word which refers to particularly egregious public behavior (Enron, Watergate, the escapades of Hollywood starlets, etc.) the original English meaning was closer to the Latin and referred to behavior that undermined society’s values and caused people to question the validity of those values. To “give scandal” was considered particularly serious since not only was the act itself a bad thing but it caused others to question and possibly to “stumble.”

What has happened in our Parish with respect to the Thanksgiving Dinner (see the Blog and the next article below) is, in the original sense of the word, a scandal. Losing the traditional dinner is a bad thing, but the fact that the official Parish has decided to abandon it creates the impression that that sort of outreach is not something Catholic parishes should be doing. Now that’s a scandal.

Missing the Tradition
I recently wrote a Blog entry (Kanickers.Blogspot.com) about the moving (or removal) of the Parish Thanksgiving Dinner from Thanksgiving Day to the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Over the 12 years that my family has lived in the Valley, there has not been a Thanksgiving that at least one of us did not volunteer to help with the preparing, serving and the resulting clean-up after the event. It was an event that we looked forward to every year. It was our "tradition". The interaction with others that had been part of the volunteers for longer than myself, was like going to a family reunion and seeing a cousin for the first time in many years.

I can remember different little incidents where you knew you were doing the right thing. Talking with a couple from Canada that happened on our church and wanted to help on that day, or working with the Confirmation Candidates as they performed various duties as a service project. In performing their task, the Confirmation Youth had to answer one question, “Where was Christ in this task?” All these youth had to do was look around and they would have seen him in many of the people that were there.

This change removes the ability for Christ to shine through us on that joyous Thanksgiving Day. It breaks my family Tradition of serving others by working on the Thanksgiving Day meal. We have a parish that was full of tradition and now we are moving to what many want to call a “Traditional” church.

We were a traditional church by following the words of our Lord in our day-to-day actions. Our Tradition is not based on how things were when we were younger, but how we interpret the Lord’s commands and apply them in today’s world. So the next time someone states that our church is becoming a “Traditional” church, remind them that going back to a simpler time is not what our Lord wants of us. We are to be the Welcoming, Loving and Serving people that our Lord demonstrated to us over 2000 years ago. Peace and Happy Thanksgiving.
From fellow parishioner, Benny Arfele

Beer, Brats and Other Thoughts
Milwaukee has been the site of the Call to Action National Conference for several years now. A weekend ago, there was beer and a few bratwurst, sure, but it was really 3,000 thoughtful people reflecting on the current state of the Church.

What got a great deal of public play was a liturgy celebrated by several women, who have apparently been validly (but illicitly) ordained as priests in the Church. What characterized the liturgy was how ordinary it was — even down to the struggling choir and the pedestrian sermon, it was like any other Sunday Mass — except for the women celebrants. Maybe that was the point.

Here are some quotes from the weekend:
“The only time Jesus got mad was in church”-Father Tom Doyle
“How can the hierarchy be leaders when they where chosen because they are followers?”-Diana Hays
“The pain of losing a parish was worse than the pain of losing a Mother”- pastor of St. Augustine’s, New Orleans
“Tell your bishop and priests what you want them to do for you. They are to serve you, not the other way around” Polish priest, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kosta, St. Louis
“Life is a journey of peace to the God of peace. But the only thing the ‘Empire’ looks for is power”-Father John Dear
“What will save the Church is the laity’s courageous insistence on what is right.”-Jeannette Rodriguez
“Why didn't you leave the church?... I have a baptismal certificate, thus, I am the Church.”- Father Tom Doyle

Some words from Listen With The Heart by Joan Chittister as we approach Thanksgiving and bless each other, our families and our meals together:

“Blessings are the life breath of those who believe in the sacredness of space and place, all things and life. Blessing is an ancient custom which, perhaps, could profit a people who live under schedules that leave us breathless and unsatisfied … Blessings are the visible demonstrations of faith in the goodness of the God whose blessings are often invisible."

“Blessings are the way we celebrate the everyday goodness of our lives. By reminding ourselves always of the bounty in which we our-selves are immersed, we save ourselves from the burden of coveting the lives of others.

“Blessing is not magic and it is not superstition. I t is recognition of the fact that God’s wonders are worked for us every day. If we really believe that life is sacred and good and full of the touch of God, isn’t it time to start saying so again?

“What we bless we declare to be part of what it takes to make us holy.”

And finally, a blessing for each of you from the Book of Numbers:

May God bless you and keep you; may God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may God look upon you kindly, and give you peace.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Night prayer is a Church practice that goes back to at least the fourth century (pre-dating the Rosary and Adoration by 900 years) and consists of psalms, songs, scripture readings, prayers and meditation. The Monsignor seems to have declared war on Holy Spirit’s long tradition of continuing this ancient practice — shame on him.

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $8,667.12
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $16,436.16
Projected yearly shortfall: $213,670.08

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.com.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Human Rights at Home

Human rights work begins at home
By: Lisa Suhay

I thought I understood the definition of human rights and what it means to defend them. But all that I knew was a jumble of foreign headlines and a feeling of being powerless to make any meaningful difference in the world.

What could I, a mother of four boys in Virginia, do to stop genocide in Darfur or bring comfort to women there who forage for firewood and find rape instead?

It was Mary Robinson who made me realize I was asking the wrong questions. Ms. Robinson, who has held titles ranging from president of Ireland to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, set me straight before a talk she gave recently at Old Dominion University.Robinson deftly mingled her own convictions with the words of Eleanor Roosevelt - chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission of 1948 - between taking sips of water.

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world," she repeated Roosevelt's words, as if reciting a most beloved piece of scripture. "Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Dignity. So simple and yet so often absent from the human equation. How often do we tread on what we do not recognize as the human rights of those with whom we live and work?

I have always recognized large places on the map when in reality and practicality I was missing the simplest way to send my ripple into the pond of humanity, through the preservation of the rights of those around me.

How often has a co-worker been demeaned or the victimized by vicious talk while I stood idly by? Where was my voice when a good person running for public office was splattered with muck by an opponent? The ugliness spills into my mailbox, TV, and into my voice mail from candidates daily.

Did I object? No. I just let it go, as so many all around the world let go the small miseries until we became immune to the passage of grief on a wider scale.

"Human rights work begins here, working in preschools, buying fair-trade products and coffee not sold by those who profit for the abused in other lands where human rights are violated daily," Robinson said.

Again, I wondered: Where has my voice been? In my wallet, apparently, and misused. Buying coffee only from companies paying farmers a fair price and not treating them like sweatshop laborers was a contribution I had no idea I could make.

How cocooned had I become with four children and only the time to read the headlines that screamed of torture, but never coffee or fair trade? Now the moment of truth: When I saw the headlines of rape and torture, did I quickly turn the page?

Now, I pledge to slow down and read more than the headlines. I will check the labels of the goods I buy - and I will check the tones I use with friends and strangers alike. To answer Eleanor Roosevelt, I am where human rights begin and today, thanks to Mary, I'm on the way.*

Lisa Suhay has written seven children's books, including "The Mermaids and Yellow Jack."(c) Copyright 2006 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Submitted by a parishioner.

Monday, November 06, 2006



Thank you so much for all your prayers.
The new update is that Kathy (his mom) talked to Joey today in Germany. He has shrapnel wounds in the face and eyes. No Burns! He has undergone some surgery. His vision is blurry. He will be coming to San Antonio by the end of this week. He will be needing more surgery. Expected recovery is about six months.
Joey has always had a very positive attitude. His spirits are very high according to his mother. Sadly, Joey lost one of his best friends in this incident.
Love and Prayers,

MORE NEWS ABOUT JOEY - 11/07/2006 Update

Our latest word is that Joey is not coming to San Antonio, yet.
Instead, his mother is being flown to Maryland where he will be arriving today and where he will be having more surgery. Depending on how things work out, he will be sent here in two weeks.

Joey's friend's name was Lance Cpl. Luke Holler from Bulverde, TX., which is located just north of San Antonio.

Thank you for your prayers.
Love and Prayers,

11/10/06 Update on Joey:

We are happy to say Joey was released from the hospital in Maryland last night and came home to Kingsville today. He will come to San Antonio tomorrow for his friend's funeral. He has to wait for the swelling to come down to continue the surgery needed for his eyesight on the 10th of December.

We still do not know how much sight he will regain. I have talked to him on the phone and will see him tomorrow after the funeral. He sounded very much in good spirits. He is looking forward to a fajitas BBQ with grandma's pico de gallo. People have been so supportive in many different ways. We are eternally grateful, people in Kingsville, family and friends in the valley and people who still remember his dad from his military time who went to see him in Germany.

We hear about all the young men we have lost and see their pictures and or names in the news, but until it hits home we do not know how many more thousands are hurt, burned, blinded or amputees. We hear about the deaths, but not how many were left wounded along side of the dead. My grandson saw his friends die and tried to help others before realizing he could not see because he had been hit too. They were wearing body armor. The thing that "saved" him was his weapon which was in front of him. It was destroyed. He was two feet from the main blast. His mom says it was an angel guarding over him.

I cannot thank you enough for your calls, e-mails and especially your prayers and love. Please express our gratitude to everyone as I do not have everyone's e-mails or phone numbers. We still have his brother Jon in Iraq, please keep him in your prayers.
Love and prayers,

Thanksgiving Day Celebration

An Open Letter to my Pastoral Council

November 6, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It saddens me to read about the upcoming Thanksgiving Celebration in the Church Bulletin of November 5th. For over 20 years our parish has sponsored a FREE Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

This bulletin announced that this celebration would now occur on Sunday, November 19th @ 6:30. It also mentions that Tony Melendez will speak at the Parents Night of Religious Education, with the Thanksgiving Dinner to follow.

In the past, our parish family would volunteer to cook turkeys and to provide other items that were needed for the Thanksgiving meal. The Middle school & High school religious education program students donated the canned goods needed for the dinner. Parishioners volunteered their time, working on Thanksgiving Day, to cook, serve and clean up after the meal. We would usually feed over 350 people every Thanksgiving day.

This meal was my first experience of parish community involvement when I moved to McAllen 12 years ago. Over the years, my family has made this event a tradition by volunteering to help out. In recent years, I would also help coordinate the Confirmation candidates, as this was a service project for them.

Over the years, this event has grown and it has become an event that many of our parishioners have looked forward to providing. Anyone who happened to walk into our church hall on Thanksgiving Day could receive a hot meal and Holy Spirit, as a parish community, was given the opportunity to interact with those attending to invite them to become a part of our church community. I understand that we will now be giving them “courtesy tickets” to go to Rene’s of Sharyland.

I pray that the decision to change this program was made with the realization that yet another fruitful ministry has once again been systematically eliminated at Holy Spirit Parish.

Your Fellow Parishioner,
Benny Arfele

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sad News

I have just received news that Elfida Martinez's grandson, Joey, has been injured while serving in Iraq. Details are sketchy and I don't know the total extent of his injuries, however, I do understand that he has been burned and has also lost his eyesight. He is currently being evacuated to Germany and will then be transferred to San Antonio. Four others were killed during the incident.

Our hearts and prayers are with Elfida during this tragic time, as we continue to remember Joey in our prayers. If anyone has additional information, please e-mail me so I can keep everyone updated.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fellowship and F.I.R.E

Holy Spirit Fellowship Potluck Dinner

November 11, 2006

Please join us for shared prayer, food, fun and fellowship!

We will meet in the Activity Room at First Christian Church

First Christian Church is located at the corner of 10th and Nyssa
(2 blocks south of 10th and Pecan St.)

Parking and Entrance Door is in the back.

Families In Religious Education

Families will meet at 5:00 pm and break into age groups for community based religious education sharing. Bring your books (if you have them).

All F.I.R.E Families are also invited to stay for the Fellowship Dinner starting at 6:30 pm.

Our thanks to First Christian Church for the use of their facilities.

Voters Guide

Editorial Comment:

Voters Guide
I recently downloaded a guide for American Catholic voters called Faithful Citizenship.

Interesting reading, very well done and, of course, it is a reflection of the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, since it is produced and provided by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I recommend that all of us read it. All of the links are active... just click!

As I was reading through the various issues, including: Abortion, War, the Death Penalty, Marriage, Economic Justice, Poverty, Welfare Reform, Health Care, Immigration, etc I could not help but notice the policy of the Catholic Church concerning the rights and dignity of workers.

I guess it is still extremely hard for me to understand how a current Bishop of the Catholic Church can be a contributor to policy and actions that are considered offensive by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As an example:

“We reaffirm the Church’s traditional support of the right of workers to choose to organize, join a union, bargain collectively, and exercise these rights without reprisal.”

That seems to be very clear to me,.. but maybe we should add: “except for workers of the Catholic Church”.

Our Church calls on all of us to embrace the teachings of Christ, to embody it into our lives and it encourages us to elect public officials that reflect His teachings. How can we be expected to accomplish this if our very own local Church leaders (Bishop & Vicar General) contribute to practices that are so strongly prohibited by their Church? Maybe we can get the bishop to address this in his next editorial in the Monitor Newspaper?

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