Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Saddened Parishioner

The Saddened Parishioner
There was a comment posted on a previous post that I thought needed to be brought front and center. Thank you to The Saddened Parishioner for taking the time to express your feelings.

You speak for many of us that have lived through the unwarrented injustice brought upon us by our Church. Isn’t it sad how much destruction and hurt one little act of revenge on the part of our Bishop has caused the parishioners of Holy Spirit parish. And it continues...


Anonymous said...

This will sound repetitive, but yes, Holy Spirit has been a part of my life as well. I grew up with this church. I was born and raised in it. Baptized, went through Communion, and was Confirmed. I even worked there. Through the years of going through classes and retreats, I saw some great things out of this church.

With this mindset, I would come to this blog to read about what used to be. The good times. But finding out that people like the Bishop and the priests came to destroy what I called a safe-haven, hurt me spiritually. And for this, I could no longer attend Holy Spirit.

No offense, but people who first fought for these ladies that were fired 3 years ago and turned their backs on them for a "special seat" in the Parish Counsel should be ashamed. This isn't what God wanted from his family. God wanted us to come together and fight the oppression from the Bishop.

Then suddenly, as soon as these selected people heard "special seats", and other "grand" things to come, they dropped their picket signs and went back to church.

Then they have THE NERVE to come here and tell people that write on here [that they] "should be ashamed" and are "doing devilish things".

Please! Those same people are the ones who criticize everyone here, and yet are sinners in their own ways. If anyone turned their back on God to believe in someone who WOULD RATHER HARM OUR CHILDREN AND KEEP RUINING OUR CHURCHES WITH HIS LIES, then they should think twice about criticizing the rest of us.

This is my personal opinion, of course. So, if anyone who follows the bishop and the priests has anything to say about this opinion, don't bother. I'm done hearing your complaints about how we're such bad people, but the truth is, you haven't looked in the mirror hard enough.
~The Saddened Parishioner
6/28/2007 12:24 AM

Monday, June 25, 2007

Holy Spirit Parishioners' Newsletter of 6/24/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
June 24, 2007

“It must be understood, that a prince cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state.” from The Prince by Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. (It is said that Machiavelli wrote The Prince as advice to Cesare Borgia, a Cardinal of the Church and son of Pope Alexander VI.)

The fourth anniversary of the firing of the parish workers has certainly set off an exchange in the local version of the blogosphere—a lot of heat, certainly, and even some light. Anniversaries give us an opportunity to step back, take the long view, and try to understand the significance of what has happened over a period of time.

Some have emphasized the actions of the three priests who have been in charge of the Parish since June 2003, but in the big picture there has been one consistent player who has never wavered in his attitudes and his actions vis-à-vis Holy Spirit and who has controlled the main flow of events over this entire time. Bishop Peña has orchestrated it all in a way that would make Machiavelli proud.

It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the Bishop wanted a dramatic confrontation in June 2003, when he very easily could have taken action in 2002, when the labor contracts were signed, by immediately getting on the phone to the five pastors and informing them that they did not have the authority to execute such contracts—the issue would have been settled on the spot. Instead the Bishop allowed nearly a year to go by, giving, to all intents and purposes, tacit approval to the contracts, and then chose to dramatically violate the contract in a parish he wanted to make an example of anyway.

It has all been manipulation—conservatives and progressives both have been played, contributing, unwittingly, to an exercise of raw power, not authority. The Bishop portrays himself in public as the voice of reason and pastoral care, seeking a way to “heal and reconcile factions in the parish.” This conveniently ignores the fact that he created the divisions in the first place and, by his failures to act, has encouraged the three priests to further exacerbate the situation. The Bishop has engaged in at least four different, long term, behind the scenes efforts at supposed dialogue and negotiation on particular issues, but every time has found a way to see these fail, blaming others on each occasion and leaving the net situation in the Parish worse for the effort.

Some of the most recent entries on Reflections of the Spirit raise the call for some honest dialogue—calm, respectful, and face-to-face—without involvement of the clergy. Sort of a clubhouse meeting, players only, that might have a chance of putting human faces to expressed feelings and ideas and so create an atmosphere where some real progress might take place. This seems like a good way to start the fifth year of this sad saga and begin a turn from tragedy and farce to effective action.

Let’s everybody put their copies of The Prince back on the shelf, set aside its advice, and get to the business of creating a better Parish.

Assessment and Metrics
The great number of parishioners in government, education, or some large business enterprise have certainly become aware, of the large amount of emphasis and energy that goes into assessment these days. Sometimes this emphasis seems extreme, but everyone has to admit to the logic that careful assessment should lead to a more effective enterprise. Good assessment depends upon clear articulation of goals and clear definition of metrics.

When the Bishop in his interview on KRGV, and others in blog contributions, declare Holy Spirit to be thriving, the question becomes how did they arrive at such a conclusion? What was measured? How was the data gathered?

There is an old adage, de gustibus, non est disputandum (concerning taste, there is to be no disputing). Some people think that The English Patient was terrible; others think Fargo is a terrific film. Taste is not the subject of a proper assessment. Neither are anecdotal impressions. When the Bishop says, “the Confirmation candidates were well-prepared,” he should be able to tell us upon what data he based that observation—help all of us understand the religious education effort better.

There are some numbers that point to a Parish that is not thriving: Mass attendance is dramatically less; Sunday collections are significantly lower; hundreds of people have left the Parish; fewer youngsters are participating in religious education; ministries and activities in the Parish are fewer in number and involve a smaller percentage of the Parish. These are “bottom line” numbers that should concern everyone.

The fact that some people like or dislike certain changes is not really fodder for assessment—we need to decide what is important to be doing and how to measure what we are doing. Merely disputing taste won’t get it done and eventually becomes time-wasting and destructive.

Rules of the Road
Chalk it up to a moment of truth is stranger than fiction. In the midst of a week filled with increased death and violence in Iraq, renewed focus on healthcare, immigration issues, efforts to raise awareness about the desperate living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters at home and around the world—in the midst of all this and more, the Vatican released a document called “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road”. Within its 36 pages it even includes the “10 Commandments of the Road”. Sorry, but my immediate reaction was along the lines of doesn’t the Vatican have something better to be spending its time and energy on?

But if you put the document in perspective, the advice is good. Especially when the document is viewed according to what is at the heart of the matter—how to be in relationships with each other that are just, relationships guided by Jesus’ commandment to love one another. Then the document really comes to life. It stresses prayer, avoiding expression of power and domination, bringing parties together for the experience of forgiveness, protecting the more vulnerable party and feeling responsible toward others. How different this world would be if all of us—world and church leaders included—could follow those guidelines. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

Effective Ministers
“…I have known many wonderful priests who do their best to bring Christ alive today. A friend will soon be ordained to the priesthood, and I am happy for him. I am, however, concerned about what the editorial describes as ‘a new breed’ of priests enamored of the robes, jewels, costumes and attitudes that are as misfit a medieval concept as limbo. Such men cannot be faithful disciples or effective ministers when they place themselves on pedestals above the people they are called to serve. Clergy are not holier or more virtuous than laypeople. They are our brothers who exercise a particular ministry within the community of faith…. It seems that many bishops are more concerned with protecting the institution at all costs than they are with leading us in doing Jesus’ work in the world. Where is their faith in the goodness and fidelity of God?” Sheryl B. Za-bel in a letter to the editor, National Catholic Reporter, 6/22/07

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $47,058.50 (last year same date: $49,559.67)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $116,979.86
Projected yearly shortfall: $168,970.91
Note: The total shortfall numbers in the last two newsletters were incorrectly reported as $58,267.80 and $64,094.58. They should have been $92,369.94 and $105,920.59, respectively. Sorry for the error.

How and why is it that the Holy Spirit Preschool appears on several websites as a branch of the Catholic Charismatic Services of Dallas (also known as the Christian Community of God's Delight)?

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We Remember

Monday, June 18, 2007
The Fourth Anniversary of the
attempted FIRING of our Holy Spirit Parish Staff by Bishop Raymundo Peña.
You are invited to post your comments and remembrances of June 18, 2003

(Click on images to enlarge, back button to return)

Link to Washington Post Article of 7/05/03: Washington Post

Link to Papal Nuncio Letter of 7/24/03: Papal Nuncio

Response to Bishop Pena 7/07/03: Response to Bishop Pena





A lot has happened at Holy Spirit Parish over the past four years. I will be posting a Fourth Anniversary Review soon.

Until then, there was a recent post that pretty much summarized much of what we have had to endure at the hands of Bishop Raymundo Peña and our current pastor, Monsignor Louis Brum. I have decided to repost this response just in case anyone missed it.

My question to our Bishop remains, Why?


Anonymous said:

Dear (Name withheld),

Thank you so much for expressing your feelings about Holy Spirit Parish. I feel everyone should have the right to express his or her thoughts and feelings about their Catholic parish without fear of reprisal from their Bishop or Priest.

Don’t you agree?

When you claim Holy Spirit as "your" church, how long have you been a parishioner here?

· Were you here when Bishop Pena cashed-in the Employee Retirement Fund?

· Were you here when Bishop Pena retaliated against Father Jerry for allowing employees their legal right to union representation?

· Where you here when Bishop Pena sent his security guards and diocesan staff into Holy Spirit to fire the union employees and change the locks on the church doors?

· Were you here when Bishop Pena embarrassed Catholic communities throughout the United States for his deplorable actions against his employees?

· Were you here when Bishop Pena, through a letter written by his Vicar General, was exposed for offering to provide “expert help” to other Bishops in the methods of squandering any attempts of Church employees to unionize, while he continued to claim he “walked” with Cesar Chavez?

· Were you here when several hundred Holy Spirit parishioners signed a “Letter of Petition” asking Bishop Pena to meet with them to answer for his actions, which to this day has never been addressed?

· Were you here when hundreds of Holy Spirit families migrated to other non-denominational churches or just quit going to Mass in disgust of the actions of our Bishop?

· Were you here when Father Brum removed our duly elected Parish Council.

· Were you here when Father Brum appointed his own “secret” Parish Council at Holy Spirit?

· Were you here when Father Brum fired our Peace and Justice Director and discontinued our Peace and Justice Program?

· Were you here when Father Brum fired our long-time Music Director?

· Were you here when Father Brum humiliated Sister Moira and publicly slandered her on so many occasions?

· Were you here when Father Brum removed parishioners from ministries because they expressed concern over some of his actions at Holy Spirit?

· Were you here when our long-time staff finally got so disgusted with Father Brum’s ability to run the parish that they all quit?

· Were you here the numerous times that parishioners asked and were refused to meet with Father Brum to attempt to restore peace to the parish?

· Were you here the numerous times Father Brum and his “secret” Parish Council have refused to provide an accounting of our parish finances?

· Were you here when Father Brum declared that specific parishioners were "not in good standing" with the Catholic Church because they questioned some of his actions and methods?

· Were you here when Father Brum squandered our long-standing Night Prayer Service and Vatican II Classes?

· Were you here when Father Brum totally destroyed our Religious Education Program?

· Were you here when Father Brum suggested that parents “home school” their children in Religious Education and promised to support them with religious educational materials that have yet to be provided?

· Were you here when Bishop Pena declared the alleged actions of Sister Moira to be groundless and instructed Father Brum to reinstate her to ministry, which he then “torpedoed”?

So (Name), when you speak of the tools of the devil; “stiff-necked pride”, “lack of respect”, “arrogance” and “hatred”, of whom are you speaking? Those few of us that have had the guts to speak truth to power?

Maybe it is time you removed your blinders!

May the peace of the Lord be with you!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Newly Ordained Priests

Bishop Peña recently ordained four new priests in the dioceses.

Eduardo Gomez
Juan Rogelio Gutierrez
Juan Pablo Davalas Picago
Juan Pablo Robles

There was a homily given at the ordination of two other recently ordained priests, Brandon Ware and David Dutra, on May 19, 2007, that I feel was exceptionally well done and was consistent with the teachings of Our Lord. Enjoy.

Homily for Ordination to the Priesthood - Brandon Ware and David Dutra : May 19, 2007
Given by the Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.

My dear brothers to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood, Brandon and David, the words Jesus spoke in Matthew’s gospel to the disciples he directs to you this morning.

“You are the salt of the earth.” The flavor you bring to priestly ministry is your personal zeal and the motivation to serve God with a generous heart. Your hands will be anointed by the Holy Spirit to offer to God the sacred mysteries of our faith and to bless those whom you serve. You are not anointed to be some kind of ecclesiastical functionary but rather one who is sent to awaken faith in Christ among those who have grown drowsy and to strengthen in conviction those who believe.

There are some in the Church today who do not look forward in hope with the eyes of faith but tend to be preoccupied with looking back in some kind of nostalgia for a Church they never experienced prior to the Second Vatican Council. I encourage you to study the history of the Church as a living and developing tradition and not to look back as Lot’s wife did or you might end up being a pillar of salt rather then the “salt of the earth.”

Those looking back want to give to the Church new forms of triumphalism, juridicism, and clericalism. The triumphalist wants to exercise authority through aggressive condemnation and excommunication and believes that the Church not only has the truth but also all the answers to every modern dilemma. Christ is indeed the Truth but we must seek out with humility and in light of the Gospel how to respond to the many and varied demands of living in today’s world. We are a servant Church, which proclaims the truth in love. We do not impose the gospel on the world. We seek to persuade by grace.

The juridicist searches out laws new or old to justify personal positions or ideologies in the Church. Especially they like to focus on liturgical practices. They incline to creating unnecessary hoops for people to jump through. The Church, of course, needs law to insure good order. But the purpose of all laws in the Church is the same as for all the works of the Church: “propter homines and propter nostram salutem” - for us, for our good and for our salvation.

The clericalist exaggerates the authority of the priest creating a new authoritarianism. The clericalist operates as if the priest is entitled to special status and privilege in the Church and in society. He gives little merit to collaboration with the laity. The ordained priest, however, represents Christ the Head and Good Shepherd of the Church. As Head of the Church Jesus came not to be served but to serve. As Good Shepherd he gave His life for the flock. The good priest patterns his life on Jesus the servant of God and remembers that the whole Church (Head and members) is the Body of Christ.

I have always treasured the words of my first pastor when I was newly ordained: We are here to serve the people and to do it with a touch of class.

“You are the light of the world.” Light first of all gives off warmth. As the sacramental presence of Christ the Eternal High Priest you bring a caring and warmth by your presence. The presence of the priest in celebrating the liturgies of the Church is one of faith and not just of style. Like Christ in the Eucharist you need to be a real presence among the people. This does not mean that you need to be at every event but it does mean that you need to be with the people outside of church on Sunday, with families when they are hurting, with the sick and dying - to anoint them and to bring some words of comfort and to give some of your time, to be there when they need the healing and comfort of the Lord Jesus and his friendship. The shepherd stays with the sheep. The priest who rarely leaves his room puts his light under a bushel basket and gives little light to the people of God.

Your light will burn brightly if you are men of prayer. I am not talking at this point about saying prayers or presiding over the liturgy. Neither am I talking about spiritual exercises as such. I am talking about hearing the word of God, the prayer of receiving the word of God deeply in your minds and hearts. Jesus said: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” The First Letter of John reinforces this teaching of Jesus: “Whoever keeps His word, truly has the love of God been made perfect in him.” Only the priest who prays is spiritually alive.

After being a priest for forty years I realize each day how terribly weak and inadequate I am. God has anointed us as priests to represent Christ and to serve in His name. So often we blur this image, but in a marvelous and mysterious manner God accomplishes His will though our ministry. “Do you love me?” the risen Jesus asks us as He did Peter. Like Peter we respond: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Then Jesus says to us, in spite of all our denials, in spite of all our limitations, “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

We pray that our four new priests will be filled with the Holy Spirit as they continue their lifes in the priesthood.