“If these were to keep silent, I tell you the very stones would shout out.” Luke 19:41

In this Issue:

  • Easter Reflection – Susan Troy, M.Div., “We Are An Easter People”
  • Have the urge to do something NOW? Sign the petition for returning responsibility to Catholicism – a few seconds of your time is a small investment in the future of our Church. AND watch the VOTF web site for information on the training kit. For now, the kit is called “Campaign for Catholic Responsibility – Parish Voice Petition Drive Organizing Kit.”
  • Working Group News - VOTF began on the shock wave of abused children. What better investment in their safety than the “Talking About Touching” training program held 3/27? See the Protecting Our Children report; Prayerful Voice – why bother? Susan Troy responds.
  • Survivor Community News – VOTF Maine joined SNAP to place ads in three weeklies; a survivor finds peace at the VOTF San Francisco, CA conference. Read more.
  • Priests’ Support Working Group promotes advice from David Gibson, author of The Coming Catholic Church; A Gathering of Church - Priests speak openly about the effect of the abuse crisis on their ministry. Holy Cross College hosted a discussion with priests, laity and survivors. The candor of the participating priests speaks volumes for VOTF’s ongoing commitment to unleash our voices – as Church. Readers will no doubt recognize these priests’ sentiments as very like their own – different circumstances, same humanity. Read More.
  • VOTF invited to attend Bishop installation in Springfield, MA. Read more in Affiliate News.
  • VOTF Boston meets with Mayor Menino – Read more in Events, Etc.
  • Another first for VOTF and maybe for global Catholicism! The Structural Change Working Group begins to train affiliates for the use of its long-awaited Primer on Church Structures. Read more in Affiliate News.
  • Reports from the field – VOTF president Jim Post reports on VOTF West Coast conference, VOTF joins SNAP in Twin Cities conference and the Fallons “image the Church” at University of San Francisco; report from Rome visit (Read more in Events, Etc.)
  • Do you know where your bishop is? He may be on an ad limina visit to Rome – the quinquennial meeting with the Pope required of bishops all over the world. US bishops have already begun these journeys, organized by region. Read more in Events, Etc.
  • Revisiting The Lord’s Prayer– in Aramaic. Read more in Council Minutes
  • Web site discoveries: www.oncecatholic.org If you or someone you know just can’t bring themselves “back to church,” this web site might help. OnceCatholic.org is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A., a Roman Catholic order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. “The mission of OnceCatholic.org is to put you back in touch with a face-to-face community of Catholics. Along the way, we want to walk with you as you sort through your issues with the Church.”
    • Also, check out www.networklobby.org NETWORK supports and builds political will to develop a just, participatory and sustainable world community. Founded by women religious as a contemporary response to the ministry of Jesus, NETWORK uses Catholic Social Teaching and the life experience of people who are poor as lenses for viewing social reality.
    • St. Anthony Messenger press publishes a monthly newsletter Vatican 2 Today. This is a four-page monthly publication celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and its ongoing impact on the Catholic Church of the 21st century. Attending Mass in Maine recently, Susan Troy found the March 2004 issue “Road Map for the Future – Teachings of Vatican II” an excellent source for furthering the “good news.” Accessible on line at www.americancatholic.org.
  • Commentary: Language Matters – When You Know the Language. Readers would be missing too much if some books are overlooked or never noticed. See brief excerpts from Keep the Faith, Change the Church by VOTF founding president Jim Muller and journalist Charles Kenney; Vows of Silence by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner; Governance, Accountability and the Future of the Catholic Church, edited by Frances Oakley and Bruce Russett.
  • Voice of Renewal - Voice of Renewal has been working to implement its mission as a forum to educate and be educated about topics relating to the VOTF mission and goals. To find out more check our updated pages on the VOTF web site. To contribute to our "virtual topics" join the VOR listserv: VOR-VOTF- subscribe@yahoogroups.com
  • The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is the Public Policy Voice of the Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts and is spearheading a drive for Catholic voter registration so that Catholics will use their voices at the polls – what’s wrong with this picture? What Do You Think? Visit www.boston.com for the story published on 3/26/04 and send your comments to leaderpub@votf.org.
  • Bishop McCarrick said on national TV that every parish in the world has a parish pastoral Council (wrong); the recent survey of same by the USCCB seems to suggest an equally rosy picture. Is this what VOTF means by meaningful lay involvement? What Do You Think? Visit www.usccb.org/laity for details and send comments to leaderpub@votf.org.
  • Events – West Coast Conference; Minneapolis conference; April 13-16 The National Catholic Educators Association is having its conference at the Hynes Convention center and VOTF will be there. Visit http://www.ncea.org/annual/convention/exhibitorsinfo/04exhprpscts.pdf
  • Affiliate News – VOTF Louisville, KY “goes out” to priests; affiliates to receive the first VOTF Handbook; St. Eulalia’s/Winchester, MA VOTF is hopping with speaker events AND if your affiliate needs energizing, they have an idea – a June conference for Boston affiliates complete with planning questionnaire; VOTF National has hired much-needed part-time help. Read More
  • Donate
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  • For VOTF quarterly Voice call the VOTF office at 617-558-5252.
  • The VOTF postal address is P.O. Box 423, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002
  • Please send comments and inquiries to leaderpub@votf.org


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In the Vineyard
April 2004
Volume 3, Issue 4
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Luke tells us that when Jesus was leaving the Mount of Olives on His way to persecution and death, He said of his cheering followers, “If these were to keep silent, I tell you the very stones would shout out.” Silence hasn’t been an option for a very long time.

One of the many benefits of speaking to each other in the same language is the eventual likelihood of understanding each other. Frequently, there appears to be a language barrier between Catholics in the pews as well as between Catholics and Church leadership. There is also a profound gap in lay education. Taken together, these do not contribute to an environment of reform, much less of communion. So it is with enormous relief and profound appreciation that VOTF heralds the long-awaited, first-of-its-kind Primer on Church Structures – a fundamental step toward bridging any language barrier among us, perceived or real, as well as repairing some of the holes in our understanding of “Church” and its history. This issue and future issues of In the Vineyard will attempt to facilitate a “negotiated settlement” of much that confuses many good hearts caught in the tragedy of a failed Church. If we know the language, we might begin to participate in substantive inquiry and response. We hope that our efforts coupled with feedback from our readers will contribute to a virtual conference call on being Church in the 21st Century. The Primer on Church Structures will evolve as we grow – in a sense, it is our collective work in progress. It aims to be a user-friendly introductory tool. To further ensure and encourage the use of the Primer, the Spring issue of the VOTF quarterly Voice, will recap the Primer’s content.

Speaking of language that unites, Susan Troy opens this issue of In the Vineyard with a timely reminder that “We are an Easter People.” VOTF wishes all of our readers a blessed and blessing Easter.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed.