Thursday, March 29, 2007

Call To Action News

Breaking News from the local Call To Action folks:

Dear Friends,

CTA members in Lincoln, Nebraska have recently received word from the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura regarding their appeal. Contrary to what Bishop Bruskewitz has been claiming, it turns out that the Vatican has not endorsed the attempted excommunication.

CTA has consulted with eminent canon lawyers who tell us that the Apostolic Signatura considers Bishop Bruskewitz’ excommunication threat to be a local “legislative action” and therefore only available for appeal to the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. Also, the letter our members received in December from a Vatican Cardinal that Bishop Bruskewitz has been touting as a confirmation of excommunication actually “has no official value” and “is nothing more than a personal opinion [of Cardinal Re] and not that of the Pope,” says canon lawyer, Fr. Tom Doyle.

Despite the emotional tumult of this 11-year struggle, our members in Lincoln remain steadfast in their faith. They will continue their appeal and will move forward with their quest for gospel justice in their diocese on such matters as accountability to the Charter for the protection of children against clergy sexual abuse. Click here to read the courageous stories of two CTA members in the Lincoln diocese, a mother of three and a university professor, and learn how their faith has supported them through these times of struggle for justice.

With admiration for these Catholics of courage,

Call To Action

P.S. St. Anthony Messenger, a publication of the Franciscans, says “Excommunications are Not the Answer” in its January 2007 issue. Click here to read about their support for CTA and the need for bishops to be open to requests from laity for dialogue.

Cesar Chavez Day

~Cesar Chavez Day~
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Join our Celebration Walk in honor of Cesar Chavez Day.
Our march will begin at 10:00 am at Arturo Guajardo Park in San Juan (I-Road & Business 83) and will continue to LUPE Hall in San Juan. The celebration will continue until 3:00 pm, with games for the kids and food for all. Please wear comfortable shoes if you are walking. If you are not walking, you are still invited to join the fun after the walk at LUPE Hall (Business 83 & Cesar Chavez Rd.). Everyone is invited! Please come and help us celebrate!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Father Gus Pacheco

Your Prayers Are Requested.
Father Gus Pacheco, the founding pastor of Holy Spirit parish, recently had bypass surgery on his leg. He is now in ICU for the second time after this operation. This operation appeared to be the least serious of his last five operations, but it seems to be causing the most problems.
Please join me in praying for his quick recovery and continued good health.
Father Pacheco is now the pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows parish in McAllen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lay Congress Recap

We Are The Church:

A Lay Congress for Valley Catholics.

Panel Members (l to r): Sister Kate Kuenstler, Edinburg Attorney Mark Peña, Lena Woltering, and St. John the Baptist Parishioner Alva Peña.

On March 17, 2007, approximately fifty Catholics from throughout the Diocese of Brownsville, with participants from over ten parishes, gathered at the Palm Aire Hotel in Weslaco for the first Lay Congress for the Rio Grande Valley.

Lena Woltering, one of the original organizers of the Lay Synod movement, opened the Congress with a history of this successful national movement. The keynote, Sister Kate Kuenstler, PHJC, JCD, a canon lawyer from Belleville (IL), spoke on the “Rights of Lay Catholics in Canon Law.”

The day was spent in discussions that explored the implications of what Canon Law (the law of the Catholic Church) says about the rights and responsibilities of all the Christian Faithful within the communio, the Body of Christ that is the Church.

What arose from these discussions was a strong desire to contribute to the building up of an inclusive Church, where everyone is welcome and respected, and to the building up of an open, dynamic Church, in which the laity are empowered collaborators with the clergy and the hierarchy in living and carrying the Gospel message to the whole world.

As a result of these discussions, the Lay Congress of the Rio Grande Valley presented the following recommendations to Bishop Raymundo Peña:

The Lay Congress recommends that catechesis [religious education and formation] in the Diocese be a program for adults as well as for youth and children.

The Lay Congress recommends that catechesis in the Diocese include instruction in the teachings of Vatican II and in the rights of the Christian Faithful in Canon Law.

The Lay Congress recommends that a formal process be established so that all the Christian Faithful can participate in the selection of their pastor .

The Lay Congress recommends that there be established, in every parish, both a Pastoral Council and a Finance Committee and that these be chosen openly and operate transparently.

The Lay Congress recommends that a Peace and Justice Office be established in the Diocese and that there be a Peace and Justice Committee in every parish.

This Lay Congress is the first ever held in Texas, and discussions for further sessions in the Valley have already begun. Later this year, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Northern California will have similar gatherings.

For more information: contact or visit

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Night Prayer

Night Prayer Restored - Praise the Lord!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Newsletter of 03/18/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.
March 18, 2007

Alternative History, Redux
The furor over the Deacon’s faux pas has died down and you would hope that he and the Monsignor have learned some lessons from what happened. It might be worthwhile however, once again, to speculate, in the manner of the “alternative history” genre, and think about what might have been:

There was a Sunday in a parish somewhere when a deacon made some remarks in his homily that were unfortunate and very offensive to many, if not most, of the parishioners. The pastor, who was the celebrant at that Mass, was taken aback by the remarks but on the spur of the moment, right after the homily, really didn’t know how to react.

At the end of Mass, the pastor asked everybody to sit for a moment. He then said, “Our Deacon Joe made some remarks in his homily today that I’m sure he didn’t mean to say. We all have our moments when what comes out of our mouths is not what we were thinking or trying to say—believe me if I had a dollar for every time that has happened to me, I’d be able to take that dream golf vacation this year. What was said was offensive to many of you, I know, and it offended me too. I apologize, in the name of the parish, and, I am sure, also in the name of Deacon Joe.”

But then, it is called speculative fiction, isn’t it?

The Call to Joy
“Rejoice, Jerusalem,” are the liturgy’s well-known first words on this fourth Sunday of Lent. The opening prayer develops the theme: “We are joyful in your word, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a season rightly regarded as one of repentance and the call to conversion, the theme of joy could seem at first anomalous. On Ash Wednesday the Matthean Gospel called both faithful and catechumens to fasting, prayer and works of charity. The color of the liturgical season is purple. Many churches today have imaginative tableaux of the cross in a desert setting or banners of purple enveloping the sanctuary, to help the congregation remember the beginning and end of the Lenten journey.

Yet the first preface of Lent unambiguously says: “Each year you [our merciful God] give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed.” Orthodox theologians have been particularly sensitive to the theme. Thomas Hopko, for example, a former professor and dean at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, writes in The Lenten Spring: “The church welcomes the Lenten spring with a spirit of exultation. She greets the time of repentance with the expectancy and enthusiasm of a child entering into a new and exciting experience. ... Joy is at the heart of everything in the Christian life, and Great Lent is no exception.”

The theme should puzzle us even more, for joy, like forgiveness and compassionate judgment, is not an experience with which many people today seem easily comfortable. (Ask yourself how many people you know who represent moral insight that is caring but also sure, who can speak persuasively of feeling forgiven, who radiate joy.) Tolerance, the desire not to offend, the cultivation of comfort all seem more valued and sought after. But Lent, according to the liturgy, is meant to be a season of joy.
From Leo O’Donovan, S.J. the president emeritus of Georgetown University, in the NCR, March 16, 2007

Notes from St. Dysfunctia’s
The whole flap over Night Prayer is like a scene from some absurdist play. Parishioners being told they can’t continue to use the church to pray—an edict thundered down during the very liturgical season when we are particularly called to pray—would be fodder for late night comics if it weren’t so sad.

The convoluted explanations [sic] coming from the Monsignor are just silly: “because for two weeks there was no Night Prayer, there can be Night Prayer no longer.” Where is the simple courtesy of contacting someone who participates regularly and ask them what is happening? Why not use that clever invention, the telephone, and actually talk to people you are supposed to serve?

The Basin and the Towel
We are offered on Holy Thursday not just a time to recreate the last supper, we are offered an opportunity to listen and witness again our brother Jesus’ final example of what we are to be for one another and for the world – how we are to be His Body. The following is a poem written by Michael Card that reflects on the Body of Christ.

The Basin and the Towel
In an upstairs room a parable is just about to come alive,
And while they bicker about who’s best with a painful glance He’ll silently rise,
Their Savior Servant must show them how
through the will of the water and the tenderness of the towel.
And the call is to community, the impoverished power that sets the heart free.
In humility to take the vow, that day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
In any ordinary place on any ordinary day,
The parable can live again, when one will kneel and one will yield,
Our Savior Servant must show us how,
through the will of the water and the tenderness of the towel.
And the call is to community, the impoverished power that sets the heart free.
In humility to take the vow, that day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
Day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $27,372.56 (last year same date: $30,727.39)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $72,597.17
Projected yearly shortfall: $171,593.31

A significant member of the Pastoral Council (yes, there is such a Council) was asked what the building fund money was being collected for, since the debt is paid off. This person responded, “for maintenance, like the lights [that’s working so well, don’t you know].”

If this is true, it amounts to fraud because the money is being collected under the pretext of contributing to a capital fund. Anyone who has worked for a large company or agency knows the important distinction that is made between a “capital account” and an “operating account.” It is bad business practice to use money designated for capital expenditures to pay for day to day operating costs. In the context of a parish community doing such a thing amounts to lying to the community—hardly the way a church should act.

True Meaning
What is the true meaning of forgiveness? What is the true meaning of reconciliation? What is the true meaning of peace? These “true meaning” phrases are repeated ad nauseam in homilies in the Parish but are never elaborated on. It would be revealing to hear exactly what the Monsignor believes those three things mean.

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

Lay Congress

Saturday, March 17, 2007

News about Joey!

Cannot thank you enough for all your prayers. Joey had his surgery on the left eye on Tuesday morning and the doctors' evaluation on Wednesday afternoon. He came through the surgery very well. The retina is holding and he should be on the road to recovery. His vision is going to get better but not enough for him to see clearly. As I mentioned before the peripheral vision in that eye is gone. They have not determine when they will do the surgery on his right eye. They are still waiting for the left eye to recover completely. It could take about four months. It is possible he might be given a medical discharge from the Marines as he is not going to be able to return to his original duties. He was Special Forces. As Father Jerry used to say "bad luck, good luck, who knows." He just wants the doctors to give him a final diagnosis as well as the government's final decision on what he can do so he can go on with his life.

In his "blindness" he has decorated with military green, brown and black cord, making different knotting designs, two wooden oars. They have metals and ribbons awarded to his two friends that died on the attack that injured him. He is going to present these to their families in their memories. It was something for me to watch him work the cords making mistakes and undoing them when they did not feel right to him. He comes to eat grandma's enchiladas, beans rancheros and pico de gallo every chances he gets on a weekend. Something I thoroughly enjoy doing for him.

Again thank you for your continued prayers.

Love and Prayers,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Night Prayer Lock-Out

Monsignor Brum Orders Doors
Locked on Night Prayer

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Several Holy Spirit parishioners went to church this evening to attend Evening Prayer. Two of the first to arrive were members of religious orders assigned to service within the Valley area. When they asked that the door be unlocked into the chapel, Mr. Larry Eberlein declared that he had been instructed not to unlock the chapel for Evening Prayer. When asked who had given those instructions, Mr. Eberlein said, “Those are the orders of our pastor, Monsignor Louis Brum.”

Parishioners have been attending
Evening Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) at Holy Spirit for over 10 years. Night Prayer was NOT a service for any particular group of parishioners, it was open to all. Until several months ago, it had been continuously announced in the parish bulletin to allow parishioners the opportunity to pray and reflect within this ancient practice of the Catholic Church.

From a previous post:
"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 now seems to have declared war on Holy Spirit’s long tradition of continuing this ancient prayer practice.

Maybe I just don’t understand. How can a pastor of a Catholic Parish not allow parishioners or members of its religious orders to pray? Am I missing something here? Christ's teachings were all about INCLUSION. How can the Catholic Church EXCLUDE its very own parishioners?

This is the last straw for me. I am totally convinced that our pastor is SICK! He needs our prayers. But he also needs to be REMOVED as pastor of Holy Spirit immediately!

More than anything, I blame our Bishop for what has happened at Holy Spirit! For years, he has been informed of what has been happening. He has been sent letters, e-mails, parishioners have met with him, etc. He has done absolutely nothing about it!

Bishop Peña..... FIX HOLY SPIRIT NOW!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

We Are The Church

Noted Canon Lawyer
to Address Lay Congress
for Valley Catholics

Sister Kate Kuenstler, PHJC, JCD, from the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, will be the featured speaker at We Are The Church, a Lay Congress for Valley Catholics. The Lay Congress will be held from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 17th at the Palm Aire Motor Inn in Weslaco.

Organized by interested laity in the Valley, the Lay Congress is a bringing together of people to learn about their rights as faithful, lay Catholics and so become empowered to impact the Church in the Rio Grande Valley and the world.

Sister Kuenstler will speak on the basic rights of all Catholics in Canon Law. There will be small group discussions and a panel presentation reacting to the main address and to the points raised by the small groups.

The Lay Congress is free of charge and no pre-registration is required. Lunch will not be provided, but will be available at the Palm Aire or nearby restaurants.

For further information, see, or contact the RGV Lay Congress Committee at

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sins of the Father

MONDAY, March 12th at 9:00 PM (Central)

March 8, 2007

Headline News Anchor Thomas Roberts reveals his personal account of the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest in an hour-long special this Monday. Roberts discusses his journey to overcome the scars and bring his abuser to justice on "Anderson Cooper 360°," Monday, March 12 at 10 p.m. ET.

Story below from the Baltimore Examiner --
For the first time on camera, CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts discusses his sexual abuse at the hands of Calvert Hall chaplain "Father Jeff" Toohey. The interview airs Monday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

Ron Cassie, The Examiner

BALTIMORE - To Pat Goles, it was divine intervention. His son Michael had faced the Baltimore Catholic community's damnation after making sexual abuse charges in 1993 against popular Calvert Hall chaplain "Father Jeff" Toohey. Then, in 2004, his son, who remained troubled and unvindicated, got a phone call from a man only several blocks away in Atlanta. He had just come forth with similar allegations.

The second man, CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts, was a previous Toohey victim. Roberts talks extensively on camera for the first time about the sexual abuse he suffered at Calvert Hall on "Anderson Cooper 360" Monday night.

In an hour-long segment, Roberts, 34, discusses the abuse - emotionally at times - which he said took place from 1987 to 1990. He reveals the struggle to overcome the psychological damage, including a suicide attempt, and the decision to ultimately come forward and press charges with Goles.

"It's probably the worst place you can be in your life," Roberts says at one point in a preview reviewed by The Examiner. "There's shame. There's self-hatred, self-doubt. Every mixed-up emotion you can have, and you don't feel you can talk to anybody."

Toohey pleaded guilty to abusing Roberts in February 2006 and was sentenced to five years in prison, but served less than 10 months before being released into home detention.

After his parents split up when he was in seventh grade, Roberts says he slowly withdrew, struggling in school and failing to get into the high school of his choice, Calvert Hall. His mother, Michelle, brought her son to Toohey for guidance. The priest got him a placement at the Towson private school.

Roberts kept his secret to himself for a decade and a half, even as Michael Goles was vilified publicly for his accusations.

"I still couldn't stand up for this kid," Roberts says.

But eventually he did, asking for Goles' name and phone number from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

And last year, both men testified in Annapolis in support of legislation that would extend the statute of limitations to file civil claims against sexual predators. That right ends when the victim turns 25. Senate Bill 575, introduced this year, would create a one-year window of opportunity for victims to file civil lawsuits.

"The call from Thomas changed Michael's life," said Pat Goles, a Catholic deacon in Bel Air. "It changed both their lives. We believed Michael all along, but now they both knew someone else believed them, too, and understood what they had been through."
Sins of the Father

Friday, March 09, 2007

Don't Blame The Messenger

This comes from the local Call-To-Action folks:

In a recent letter to the Monitor, Mr. Edwin Rodriguez takes out after Call to Action (CTA) for causing the furor over Deacon Gerbermann’s homily. Two parishioners are responsible for the original report to the newspaper: Harry Mosher and Roland Quintanilla. Neither of these people are members of CTA or CTA-RGV.

The newspaper reporter, Kaitlin Bell, called me and asked for a comment about the Deacon’s remarks, indicating that she knew that CTA-RGV was an organization working on a resolution of the clergy sex abuse scandal. This was probably because of the screening of the film “Hand of God” that CTA-RGV was sponsoring that same weekend. I told her that I had not heard the homily but if the remarks were as Harry and Roland described them, then they amounted to blaming the victim.

Call to Action did not precipitate this flurry of publicity—the Deacon’s remarks and the failure of Monsignor Brum to act properly and quickly to diffuse the situation are at fault. You always hear, “Don’t blame the messenger,” but in this case, CTA isn’t even one of the messengers.

Gerald Brazier
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Full Story Not Being Told...

Letters To The Editor

March 8, 2007

Full story not being told about deacon

To the editor:
This letter strongly supports Deacon Alvin Gerbermann from Holy Spirit Catholic Church and exposes deceitful practices of the Call To Action (CTA) mini-group. Obviously, The Monitor and CTA are again attempting to make a “mountain out of a mole hill.”

First, the real issue here is not the protection of our children, but CTA’s and their sympathizer’s repeated attacks against church authority. CTA could care less about our children and knows that the issue of sexual abuses in the church relate largely to homosexual priests. Since CTA approves of homosexual acts, they have to disguise the root cause of the problem. They have an extraordinary ability to distort facts, use half-truths and slander, in addition to bullying tactics against parishioners.

Although information is available, neither The Monitor nor CTA have the moral courage to expose the truth behind the real issue of homosexual-related sexual abuses in the Catholic Church. Any unbiased research into this problem will produce identifiable patterns, including certain “homosexual-friendly” religious orders, seminaries and schools. The real culprits are those individuals and groups that have deliberately promoted (some exclusively) homosexual candidates for priesthood.

To the Diocese of Brownsville, the Catholic Church does not need to appease any media, least a traditionally discriminatory one. Instead of needlessly disciplining a righteous and knowledgeable religious man, the church should create a commission to investigate the CTA. Other dioceses have taken uncompromising action against this organization of hypocrites. Many Catholics are questioning why the diocese has not yet excommunicated CTA members.

Ironically, CTA abuses are serving to strengthen our local Catholic community and are motivating groups to denounce CTA.We feel that enough is enough and any so-called Catholic supporting these Pharisees should be held accountable. CTA can not provide any solutions to the church’s problems because CTA represents those problems!

Edwin R. Rodriguez

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

'The Paper' Article

Deacon Was Right to Warn Parents
Against Catholic Priests

March 7, 2007
McAllen, Texas

A deacon at a Roman Catholic Church in McAllen was recently criticized for his comments during mass that parents were to blame for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.

At hearing these words, churchgoers at Holy Spirit were appalled and complained. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville dutifully responded by sending Deacon Alvin Gerbermann to awareness classes. Gerbermann issued a few words of apology in the parish bulletin and went silent. So did the diocese. But how off mark were Gerbermann’s words? If he was referring to the sexual abuse of children by priests between (the) 1950 and 2000, he should be excommunicated for making such irresponsible and arrogant statements.

During that period, the church hierarchy had become experts at hiding their wolf priests in sheep’s clothing. Who could blame unwary parents back then for allowing their children to spend time with priests they thought were devoted men of God?

But if Gerbermann was speaking of today’s parents, he was correct in asserting that they should keep their children away from some Catholic priests. That is not to say that predatory priests should not be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for having sex with minors, but parents should know by now that it could be (is) risky and irresponsible behavior on their part to allow their children to roam about a Catholic Church unattended.

For at least half a century, between about 1950 and 2000, the Roman Catholic Church had done an excellent job of keeping their dirty little secret of pedophile priests under wraps. They went to elaborate lengths to hide the transgressions by transferring offending priests from parish to parish, which only allowed them to prey on even more unsuspecting children and families. It was (and possibly continues to be) a disgusting practice.

As a result, thousands of children were abused by “celibate” priests, and the church to date has paid out about $1 billion in reparation to children. But there is no reason to believe the Church has become transparent and holy again in an all-out effort to purge and heal itself of offending priests.

Despite the Church’s rhetoric, which sane parent would risk their child’s well-being on mere words and very little action?

Which leads us back to Gerbermann’s comments. Since about the mid-1990s, some (the) Catholic priest’s (Church’s) perverted practices have been splashed on national news regularly. It should not be news to anybody that some (the) Catholic priests have (Church has) practiced for years the art of institutional pedophilia which the Church has attempted to (and) cover-up.

Any parent who leaves a child alone today with a Catholic priest (or any other stranger) may be (is) putting that child at risk. While certainly not all churches are dins of perverted sex with children, and certainly not all priests are predators, the danger and history cannot be ignored. Troubled priests from other areas can still be transferred to any local church without warning.
Transferring pedophile priests has been church practice for decades and parents should not be blinded to that fact by devotion to God, religion or anything else. Their first priority should be the safety of their children. Maybe that’s what Gerbermann was trying to say.

Citizens of the Rio Grande Valley should have become suspicious of the Catholic Church dating back to Easter 1960, when a young McAllen school teacher was raped, murdered and found floating in an irrigation canal.

Days after the discovery of Irene Garza’s body, a Roman Catholic priest named John B. Feit became the prime suspect and remains so to this day. Almost immediately, the Catholic Church went into a defensive mode, hiding Feit from investigators and pressuring local authorities to allow the church to investigate and punish Feit on their own.

Authorities relented, slapped Feit on the wrist with a $500 fine on (an) another attempted sexual assault and allowed him to go free.

In 2003, the McAllen police and the Texas Rangers’ cold case squad spent more than a year investigating Feit for the 1960 murder. They presented to Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra what they considered a very strong case against Feit. But Guerra would have no part of it. Investigators tell The Paper of South Texas that Guerra told them, “I am not going to take on the Catholic Church.”

Despite the lawmen’s insistence that the case was against a man, not the church, Guerra refused to prosecute. Since then, several key witnesses have died and the case may now be lost forever.
With a church history of pedophilia and cover-up nationwide, the diocese’s refusal to reveal pedophile cases against local priests and a prosecutor unwilling to hold Catholic priests accountable for their actions, Gerbermann’s words should be taken as a warning about a danger parents should already be fully aware of. •

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Parishioners Rally Around Deacon

“I don’t question why. I just accept and say ‘yes’.
Just like an obedient child.”

Here is the Link to The Monitor article:

Go all the way to the very bottom of the article to leave a comment.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Newsletter of 03/04/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—March 4, 2007

Ab Esse, Ad Posse
“… [there is a] negative presupposition that we Catholics have deep in our psyches is the notion, as it is frequently expressed: “The Catholic Church is not a democracy! And that means that it never was, and can never be a democracy!” That is a deep, deep presupposition that we all have been immersed in from the very beginning of our Catholic lives, and our forbearers’ lives for centuries. The problem with this presupposition is simply this: It is not true!

“There is today a growing enthusiasm on the part of some, usually more conservative, Catholics for the reintroduction of Latin. I personally am all for it, so long as we learn to understand it. So, as my contribution to your growing knowledge of Latin, let me add another helpful Latin phrase here: Ab esse, ad posse, “If it happened, it’s possible.” Its pertinence here is that in fact there have been many ele-ments of democracy in the history of the Catholic Church. So, when someone claims that the Catholic Church cannot be democratic, the first response is: Ab esse, ad posse. In fact it was democratic; there-fore it can be democratic! … [it is a] fact that there have been many democratic elements in the history of the Catholic Church.”
from the introduction to Democracy in the Early, Medieval, and American Catholic Church, a lecture by Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L. (

Dark Ages: 19/42 = 45.2%
There is some revisionist history going around these days indicating that maybe the Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all and that those who originally portrayed that period in history that way had an agenda to highlight the positive impact of secularism on Europe (see Ah scholars, who have the time to muse about such things!

While distracted during a Sunday homily, you might take the opportunity to muse on the “darkness” of our parish sanctuary. Or you might just take the word of someone who has, and think about the fact that 19 of the 42 recessed lights in the ceiling are burnt out (that’s 45.2%)—it’s dark folks!

Now, of course, there are those who would see all of this metaphorically as a commentary on the “darkness” that has descended on the Parish in the last 3+ years. Leaving that aside, as a simple matter of lack of care for our worship space, this is a disgraceful abdication of responsibility by the administration of the Parish. The trees get trimmed while the sanctuary remains dark.

Life-Blood of the Body
Just a few Sundays ago, we heard once again Paul’s analogy of the church as the Body of Christ as he gave advice to early communities seeking balance. As our knowledge of science grows, the power of his analogy grows. We know that Paul is right. The church is a body made of many parts and each part is necessary for the body to func-tion properly. We also know that each part of the body is connected to all the other parts by the bloodstream. The bloodstream allows an exchange between all the parts and this exchange brings life. This exchange provides a connection and a chance for all the parts to function together more fully.

We have an opportunity to participate in a life giving exchange for our own Body of Christ. On March 17th, there will be a Lay Congress in Weslaco. This is not a protest or a day to just sit and complain. It is a day set aside for a free exchange of ideas and a needed infusion of life-blood into the church in the Rio Grande Valley. Our church body is out of balance, with many parts not able to function and other parts trying to carry the whole load. As Paul points out, the head cannot say to the feet—I don’t need you. The body will fail when this happens. We are all connected—whether we like it or not—and so we must all work together to bring healing and balance.
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $27,372.56 (last year same date: $28,473.33)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $66,217.76
Projected yearly shortfall: $172,166.18

Public Opinion
In correspondence with a parishioner, the Bishop indicated that he makes his decisions after prayer and discernment, without regard to public opinion.

In one sense, his comment is laudable, but in another sense, it is quite at odds with the theology of the Church laid out by Vatican II and incorporated into the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It is also a comment that simply isn’t true—without the criticism in the public forum of the Deacon’s unfortunate remarks about clergy sex abuse, it is doubtful that the Deacon would have been disciplined (recall that the Monsignor was not offended and that he did not see the need to ask the Deacon for an apology).

In Canon Law, the causes for which a pastor can be removed legitimately from his parish include: “Loss of a good reputation among upright and responsible parishioners or an aversion to the pastor which it appears will not cease in a brief time.” (Canon 1741.3)

Now, how in heaven’s name could such a determination ever be made if the opinion of the public (the people in the pews) was not taken into account? We know that the Bishop does pay attention to accounts in the press that put the Diocese and the Church in a bad light, but we also know that he effectively ignores internal expressions of concern and opinion by folks who seek some change or seek some redress. Trying to get a hearing and effective action by working quietly behind the scenes is agonizingly slow and virtually always pointless.

The Bishop listens when there is public outcry, but doesn’t listen to quiet voices of the faithful with legitimate concerns. Go figure!

“…Only Extraordinary Ministers assigned to serve at that Mass are asked to come around the Altar during the Sign of Peace. It is the main Celebrant’s responsibility to select additional Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist if needed.” from a notice that has been inserted ad nauseam in the Sunday Bulletin for over a year.

The Monsignor got his knickers in a twist a few weeks ago when it was reported to him that “certain people” had served as Eucharistic Ministers at a wedding in the parish (“teacher, teacher, while you were out of the room, Johnny was bad!”). Aside from the fact that the report named the wrong persons (one of whom wasn’t even at the wedding), the Monsignor’s reaction, which led to some real unpleasantness a few days later, was completely over the top.

What is humorous is that the celebrant at the wedding followed the parish directives (see above) to the letter. There were none of the “chosen” (or is it anointed) folks at the wedding to serve as Eucharist Ministers, so the celebrant selected two people, from among those present, to serve. All quite proper, according to the Sunday Bulletin.

Eventually, when you try to control everything with petty rules, you get “hoisted on your own petard.”

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 oppor-tunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at

Saturday, March 03, 2007

From The Monitor

A Few Posts from The Monitor's Reader's Forum.

The institutional church is in meltdown. The only people who seem to know it are the people in the pews.

Bishop Raymundo Peña is in episcopal denial, evidenced by his remarks that he "has asked Deacon Alvin Gerbermann to undergo additional training before he gives any more homilies."

For God's sake, Deacon Alvin Gerbermann blamed parents for not keeping their children away from predatory priests. Is there any other person in the environs of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Texas who is more out of touch with the reality of the continuing sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church than Deacon Alvin Gerbermann?

Gerbermann published a short apology in Holy Spirit’s Sunday bulletin for words that "may have caused misunderstanding.'” And Alvin addes, “I’m truly sorry if I offended anyone.” How about apologizing for saying something so stupid, so insensitive, so obtuse, so boorish, so idiotic etc., etc., etc., and so forth?

If I were the The Rev. Louis Brum, I would forget the "retraining of Deacon Alvin" and send him on his way. Perhaps he could sell subscriptions to the diocesan newspaper or stand at the doors of the church collecting for the foreign missions. Hopefully, in that way he could keep his feet out of his mouth.

I would strongly suggest that the parishioners of Holy Spirit church, the parents, the members of Call to Action, and everyone else who does not have his or her head in the sand to boycott, picket, call the diocese, ring the phones, send e-mails until this guy is gone!
Catherine Mary Henry - Mar. 01, 2007

I'm glad this story and others like it have been written, I think we all need to know and think about how we can help to better the situation. I was wondering if the reporter or anyone can provide us with information as to who we can address problems to regarding the Diocese when Bishop Pena refuses to address issues and or even acknowledge that a problem has been brought to his attention. I've asked for his chain of command, but he has refused to provide that as well.
R James - Mar. 03, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hand Of God - 2nd Showing!

It DID Run...

The 2nd running of "Hand Of God" on KMBH-TV had to be the best-kept secret in the Rio Grande Valley. It was like the KMBH-TV Board of Directors said, "run it again during prime time" and KMBH-TV Management said, "OK, we'll run it, but we're not telling anyone when it's running".

There was also something else that was pretty sneaky about the KMBH showing. The originally scheduled program at 7:30 PM was only a 30-minute program. If you set your TiVo in advance to record "Hand of God" at 7:30, because of the original 30 minute programming, your TiVo would automatically stop recording at 8:00. This would leave you with only 30% of the movie recorded. I don’t think this was intentionally done at KMBH, but I bet it happened to many.

In spite of all this, I know of many, many folks that got together in small groups to watch the movie live. We had 8 or 10 in our “Hand Of God” party. I think this is the best way to view the movie because it gives everyone a chance to discuss what has happened in our church and how we can help correct it.

My respects to Bishop Peña for posting the showing of this movie on the Diocese of Brownsville Web page. I believe every decision made at the diocese level is planned and calculated. If this posting was truly his decision (without influence of advisors), we may very well have gotten a small glimpse into the REAL character of Bishop Peña. More on this later…