Monday, March 31, 2008

Affirmation Night Success



Thanks to all that were responsible for putting it together and making it happen.
Good Job!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cesar Chavez Birthday

10:00 AM ~ Saturday ~ March 29
La Marcha de Cesar Chavez
La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)
506 West Business 83, San Juan, Texas

Also, sign the patition to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday!

Affirmation Night Event


This year's Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Affirmation Night will be held on Friday, March 28th, at 7:00 PM at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on the corner of North 10th Street and Nyssa St.

This annual event recognizes and "affirms" those individuals and organizations that work for peace and justice in the Valley.

The highlight of this year's event will be a panel of seven activists that have been involved in peace and justice work in the Valley for over thirty years.

Edinburg attorney, Joe Richard Flores, worked with the South Texas Project when legal work in the area of civil rights began. One of his most historic cases included the McAllen police brutality case of 1981, which received national attention and which he will discuss.

Nina Ochoa Krueger is the founder of BARCA, the Border Association for Refugees of Central America. She and her husband, Ed Krueger, an ordained Disciples of Christ minister, were active in the early years with the Farmworker Ministry, organizing farm workers and informing them of their rights. In the 70's Ed was directly involved in the controversies between the United Farm Workers and the Texas Rangers, which led to historic legislation. He also organized women in the maquiladoras along the border.

Telma Longoria was the director of Catholic Social Services at the height of the controversy surrounding the Catholic diocesan refugee center, Casa Romero, as well as organizing legal services during the Amnesty program of the mid 80's.

Sister Marian Strohmeyer responded to refugees from Central America by opening Casa Merced on her family’s McAllen property. She is also well known as a health care advocate who founded Comfort House, initially for persons with AIDS.

Ann Williams Cass is a member of the McAllen Ministerial Alliance and will speak about the local interfaith involvement in addressing Valley justice issues. She will also be the moderator of the panel.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, director of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), previously the United Farm Workers Union in San Juan, will speak of the farmworker movement in the Valley and the challenges and victories gained in the 80's.. Linda YaZez, Judge with the 13th Court of Appeals, was practicing immigration law in the early 1980's and dealt with the challenging cases of Central Americans applying for asylum.

This event is free and open to the public. Childcare will be available. It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of peace and justice in the Valley. Refreshments and desserts will follow the presentations.

Friday, March 28, 2008
First Christian Church
North 10 and Nyssa Street


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Obituary

Jeruselem ~ OBITUARIES ~ 33 AD


Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth, died Friday on Mount Calvary (a place also known as Golgotha). He was betrayed by Judas, one of His apostles, Jesus was crucified by the Romans under order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The cause of death was crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture and loss of blood.

Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham, was a member of the house of David. He was the son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth and Mary, His devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He is survived by His mother Mary, His faithful Apostles, numerous disciples and many loving followers.

Jesus was self-educated and spent most of His adult life working as a teacher. Jesus may have also occasionally worked in the medical field, as it is reported that He healed many patients. Up until the time of his death, Jesus spent His time teaching and sharing the Good News of His Father, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry and helping the poor.

Jesus was most noted for telling parables about His Father's Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, as well as, healing a man who was born blind.

On the day before His death, He celebrated a Passover meal with His friends and asked them to preach His message throughout the world in remembrance of Him.

Upon His death, His body was quickly buried in a stone grave donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of His tomb and Roman soldiers were posted to stand 24-hour guard.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that everyone try to live by His teachings and that any donations be given to anyone that is in need of them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Parishioners' Newsletter of 03/16/08

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Catholics of the Rio Grande Valley
March 16, 2008

Five Years
“[you have built] a dynamic, progressive Vatican II parish in every respect—spiritually vibrant, financially solvent and generous with many outstanding charitable endeavors, many active volunteers in a wide variety of programs, extensive participation of members in educational and renewal programs, a large number of small church communities…and a strong, prophetic voice in the larger community.”
Bishop Peña to the parishioners of Holy Spirit in February 2003.

That Lenten sermon of five years ago is always worth recalling and reflecting on. Within a few short months of those words, the Bishop set in motion a process to produce a parish diametrically opposed to the one he praised—he has succeeded. We can wonder if, in this his final year as bishop, he looks upon this as one of his great successes.

Four Lenten Sundays
The last four Sundays of Lent brought us the woman at the well, the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus, and finally, the Passion narrative. Water, light, dark, life and death—pretty serious stuff that focused our thinking on the nature of Christ and what he has brought to us by his life, death and resurrection.

I spent these last four Sundays with four different communities, celebrating in many different ways—a home Mass with a visiting priest and a familiar community, a para-liturgical service with Call to Action chapter leaders from all over the country, a standard upper-middle class suburban Austin parish’s celebration (professional music, lots of families with young children, lots of smiling faces, an air of formality) and finally back in the Valley at a small, relatively poor parish, with lots of honest effort but without many resources to create an inspiring and uplifting Palm Sunday liturgy.

Though wildly different, these celebrations were essentially the same—a community gathering to hear the Word, to give thanks for being bound to each other and to Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and to share the ritual meal that cements those bonds.

I think we need to periodically think about the three-fold core that makes up our Eucharistic celebration. The surrounding, peripheral parts of the liturgy should all point to and reinforce the essentials—the Word, the giving of thanks and the meal—not distract from and certainly not overshadow them. Those peripherals matter and how they are done matters but they are not the core of what we are about when we celebrate the Eucharist. That’s a lesson that was reinforced for me these last four Sundays.
from Jerry Brazier

But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
from the Passion of Matthew, read on Palm Sunday

The veil of the sanctuary (in the Temple in Jerusalem) separated the sacred from the profane—only the chosen, ritually clean, and special ones were allowed inside the veil. With Jesus’ death the veil has been torn from top to bottom. There are no longer, in this post-redemption world, sacred things and profane things. It is no longer possible to compartmentalize our lives into the spiritual/religious/holy parts and the secular/human/everyday parts. Our relationship with God is carried out in our human, everyday, secular lives with the people with whom we share those lives. This is what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is about: the redemption of humanity, right now, not at some time in the future.

“..What occurred to me, the new insight is this: whereas before, I believed that issues of sexual morality polarized and politicized the Church; and while that’s true, to some extent, I now believe that polarization is less significant to the life and future of the Church than I had believed. The deeper reality that marks our ecclesiastical life is this: not in opposition to the Church’s teachings, but a sense of irrelevance. The Church is increasingly not polarized over these issues. Rather, large segments of the community have come to the conclusion that the Church is simply irrelevant in terms of having anything credible or useful to offer when it comes to human sexuality.

“Now let me illustrate this by making reference to what is, admittedly, an anecdotal experience from my own teaching at Marquette University. As I was teaching class, and after discussing the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, I had the students keep journals. And one student after that discussion wrote the following in her reflection journal; she said, “When it comes to the Church’s teachings on gender and sexuality, I look at the Church much like I do my senile grandmother.” She continues, “I respect her as a dear old lady, but I don’t base my decisions on anything she has to say.”
from Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Bryan has a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Institute in Rome and he is currently an Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University

“In psychological and psychiatric terms, homosexuality represents a defect in the psychosexual development of the individual.

“It is not considered an illness but a human conduct that in the majority of cases is a learned behavior that may be altered to a ‘normal’ or natural order.
from Monsignor Juan Nicolau, in the McAllen Monitor, 3/9/08

Contrasting Structures
Our Church institutional structure can be traced back centuries to the adoption of a Roman governance system centered on a supreme human authority. Until then, following the example of St. Paul, it adapted its structure to different cultures as it spread the Good News.

Scholars identify the chief characteristics of a Roman system as monarchical, dogmatic, male dominated, with overtones of infallible divine authority coupled with legalistic administration. Citizens were indoctrinated with loyalty to the state. Discipline, loyalty and obedience were the esteemed virtues.

In contrast, the early Church revolved around local leaders, often women, in house churches. Entire households were included. The sensus fidelium was sought in a consultative system structured for shared responsibility and collaborative governance. The legalism of original Jewish converts flexed in response to Paul's stress on Christ's universal message as gentiles were added to the Church. Esteemed virtues were love, compassion, and humility. Prophetic zeal for the Gospel message was the focus of their life.

The rigidity of this Roman System gave us the sinful division of East and West, the Reformation, the contra-reform against Vatican II and the current crisis.

Compare legalism, governance-by-divine right, and absolute obedience with compassion, subsidiarity, and respect for conscience. Which offers most to the adult, thinking, Catholic Christian community? It will be a long road back, but a clear awareness of the problem is a good start. As human instruments of God, the change begins within ourselves. The Roman system will not, cannot, change itself. Invest your time, talent, and treasure in the system that you want for the Church.
from ARCC, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church

Prepared for all Valley Catholics and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues in the Church or have any other comments, please contact at:

Vigil For Peace!


I attended the Vigil for Peace commemorating the 5th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. It was so refreshing to see all of the Catholic priests that were there to show the Church’s objection to this unjust war. I am sure that this over-flow priestly attendance was the direct result of our bishop’s strongly suggesting that they attend…

Oh, sorry... I thought today was April Fools Day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Priests Call for their Bishop to Resign.

A statement from the Priests in the diocese...
March 12, 2008

As priests serving in the Diocese of Belleville, we have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of collaborative and consultative leadership of Bishop Edward K. Braxton since his installation in June 2005. Our repeated attempts to work cooperatively with Bishop Braxton through the Presbyteral Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Diocesan Finance Council, Priests’ Personnel Board and annual Priests Convocation have proven futile. Because of the Bishop’s lack of cooperation, consultation, accountability and transparency, it is the judgment of a great number of the presbyterate that he has lost his moral authority to lead and govern our Diocese. Therefore, it is requested that Bishop Braxton resign from his office as Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville for his own good, for the good of the Diocese and for the good of the presbyterate.

Recent revelations of Bishop Braxton’s misappropriation of funds have only intensified the lack of trust the priests, religious and laity of our Diocese have in our Bishop. We believe that his spending patterns, his pursuit of outside donors to cover these expenditures and his lack of transparency in finances and other areas has resulted in a total lack of trust.

We also publicly affirm our trust in the integrity and competence of Mr. Bill Knapp, Chief Financial Officer of the Diocese. We believe it is imperative that Bishop Braxton renew his contract for another term if any trust is to be restored. Mr. Knapp has earned our confidence during his 10 years of dedicated service to our Diocese, and without his presence in the Diocesan Finance Office, we fear that Bishop Braxton will not be held accountable for his administration of the temporal goods and finances of the Diocese.

We also take this opportunity to encourage all members of the Diocese of Belleville to give their generous support to the 2008 Catholic Services and Ministry Appeal so that we can continue the essential pastoral, educational, social and outreach ministries that make Christ visible in Southern Illinois . We pledge to ensure all these funds are closely monitored and used only for their intended purposes.

We make this statement as advocates for all the people of God in the Diocese of Belleville, whom we are privileged to know, love and serve. We also hereby re-commit ourselves to being more collaborative, consultative and transparent in our own pastoral ministries. We will continue to work and pray for healing and reconciliation in our Diocese.

Forty four (44) priests (60% of active incardinated pastors) within the diocese of Belleville, Ill. signed this statement.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Holy Spirit Parishioners' Newsletter 03/02/08

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—March 2, 2008

Forty Years
Forty years is a long time. The Exodus must have seemed interminable to the Israelites. How could they have survived that long, long stretch of time? Who knows for sure how much time it really took to travel from Egypt to Canaan—the point of the story is that none of the generation that led the flight from Egypt survived to reach the Promised Land—that’s how long it took.

Forty years ago was 1968. In late winter, Gene McCarthy almost won the Wisconsin primary by running an anti-war campaign and in doing that effectively drove LBJ from office. In the spring of that year, in Memphis, Martin Luther King was murdered. In June, in Los Angeles, after winning the California primary, Bobby Kennedy said, “It’s on to the convention,” and was dead within twenty minutes. That summer, in a lot of cities, there were riots and fires and martial law. A lot seemed to be unraveling and the country eventually turned to Nixon to make things right again and, in the course of that, seemed to back away from the great causes of civil rights and peace.

It was about forty years ago that the Second Vatican Council finished its work and the implementation of its reforms began. We seem to still be in the desert in many ways, with the institutional Church hankering for the good old days in Egypt and looking for Nixon-like leaders to “make things right again.” Maybe the generation of the transition has to pass away before the reforms can really take root and fundamentally transform the Church—it’s a biblical forty years, just scripture talk for a long time.

Examine The Catholic Exodus
Now for a reflection on a different sort of Exodus.

“Among the many fascinating findings of the recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showing the porous borders of the country’s religious denominations and the diversity of religious expression in this country, is the sobering note that the Catholic church has been hemorrhaging membership in recent years.

“The survey found that while 31 percent of Americans were raised Catholic, only 24 percent still identify as Catholic. While the retention rate among Catholics remains one of the highest among world religions, the fact is that millions have left.

“We have been able to ignore that sad reality year after year by boasting of the significant numbers of new Catholics signing up, most of them immigrants from Mexico and other areas of Latin America. While their numbers and vibrancy bring new life and perspectives to a church that is otherwise losing members at a record rate, it would be foolish to keep ignoring those who feel compelled to find religious homes elsewhere.

“Undoubtedly, some of the more self-righteous among us will say good riddance to those who decide to leave, disdainful of such infidelity.

“It would be of far greater value to the community, however, to seek to understand why so many feel so at odds with the tradition, its teachings and its leaders or so rejected by the community that their only option, as they see it, is to leave.

“Sociologists such as William D’Antonio, Dean Hoge, Fr. Andrew Greeley and others have accumulated years of research detailing the attitudes and shifting loyalties of U.S. Catholics. Some of it makes for discomfiting reading, raising challenging questions about church structures, authority and the role of the laity.

“Speculation about why the numbers have dropped began immediately after the report was released: secularism; assimilation of former immigrants who no longer feel an attachment to the church; poor efforts at evangelizing; not enough priests and nuns to go around. All of that may be true. We’d add a few of our own: the sex abuse crisis, particularly the cover-up by bishops; rules prohibiting birth control; rules forbidding Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics; lack of accountability on financial matters; the second-class status of women in the church; rejection of gays and lesbians.

“We don’t need any more speculation. What we need is a church wide discussion of what we know and don’t know about those who leave. The alternative, of course, is to continue on in blissful ignorance, bidding good riddance to the critics, and pretending smugly that all is well.” National Catholic Reporter, March 7, 2008

Wood and War
Very soon, we will not only celebrate Holy Week but a very somber anniversary. March 19th will mark the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. How ironic that the traditional gift for 5th anniversaries is wood as we prepare to gather around the wood of the cross. The wood of the cross brought resurrection, perhaps our shared prayer and conversion to the nonviolent way of Jesus can resurrect peace.

Excerpts from “A Service of Repentance on the 5th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq”, Pax Christi USA:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God …You have learned how it was said, “You must love your neighbors and hate your enemy,” but I say to you, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” In this way you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.

We ask for forgiveness for our complicity in the violence now unleashed in our world and we repent of the violence in our own hearts.

For initiating war ……..forgive us, we pray.
For turning from truth
For raining down death
For resorting to torture
For shattering innocence
For trusting in weapons
For needing to dominate
For failing to love
For failing to negotiate
For our pride

That we learn compassion ……change our hearts.
That we practice mercy
That we embrace nonviolence
That we act in justice
That we live in hope
That we love tenderly
That we do Your will
That we will be peace.

God, hope and joy of all creation, grant us we pray the grace to hear deep in our hearts our Muslim brothers’ and sisters’ daily call to prayer: “O God you are peace. From you is peace and unto you is peace. Let us live our lives in peace. Bring us into your peace. Unto you be honor and glory. We hear and obey. Grant us your forgiveness God, and unto you be our becoming.”
Amen. from Michelle Pena

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