Voice of the Faithful, In the Vineyard

Working Group News

Support Survivors with the purchase of original-art Christmas cards - read more; the Structural Change Working Group has completed its survey on Parish Pastoral Councils (pdf) - Priests' Support, Structural Change, and Prayerful Voice reports all appear under Worcester Conference coverage in Regional News.

National News

A key endeavor at this time on the VOTF calendar is our year-end fundraising appeal. Phone-a-thon banks and our remarkable team of volunteers are already up and running; thousands of letters soliciting members and supporters for year-end gifts are in the mail. Julie Rafferty is chair of the Development committee - read her statement on the work of the all-volunteer Office of Development.

The Washington Post reports that the diocese for suburban Orange County, California has agreed to settle 87 cases of alleged sexual abuse by clergy. Click here for the VOTF letter to Bishop Skylstad of Spokane, WA, new president of USCCB and bishop of the third US diocese to file for bankruptcy; the Executive Director Search Committee is in place and at work; MEET THE OFFICE - photos and names of many of the people who bring you VOTF; have you voted in the VOTF annual elections?; You can't if you're not registered - click here for election information and read more in National News; have you seen the VOTF ad in the December 3 issue of Commonweal magazine?; VOTF Convention 2005 update and a few questions for you; the ad hoc Governance Committee introduces itself and its work; VOTF trustee David Castaldi named to Boston Archdiocese post by Archbishop Sean O'Malley.

Also new on our web site:

Regional News

[Correction and apology to our Maine members and supporters: The reminder to Maine VOTF people to join VOTFMainemembers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com appearing in last month's Vineyard had an "r" after subscribe and was incorrect. The correct address is as you see it in this message.]

You can still order your Christmas cards; newly appointed to the National Review Board, Dayton, OH Judge Merz makes his first public statements to Dayton VOTF; Celtic Spirituality came to VOTF Scituate, MA; the VOTF Chevy Chase, MD symposium and the Worcester, MA conference drew substantial crowds - read Commentary along with some memorable quotes (additional coverage on our web site - links below); Site-seeing tip from a member - www.alban.org for some interesting parish rebuilding advice; the Boston Voice of Compassion Fund - update from David Castaldi

New on the VOTF web site:

Prayer and Reflection

From staffer Anne Coursey, a prayer used in one of her classes:

May the long time Sun shine upon us all
Surround us
And the Light within us
Lead our way.

Also, one of our members has sent an Advent prayer that focuses on the world's children.

Book Review

Donald Cozzens' new book has been published. Faith That Dared To Speak is about all of us. It is available in bookstores, from Liturgical Press and at www.amazon.com. For review, click here. Next month, look for a review of Boston College professor Stephen Pope's recently published book Common Calling - The Laity & Governance of the Catholic Church.

Did you know? A two-volume set of documents titled "A Documentary History of Religion in America," Edwin S. Gaustad and Mark A Noll, eds., includes several pages of VOTF texts, as part of the story you and we are writing. The book is in its third edition and is widely used in college and graduate Religious Studies courses. It is available at www.amazon.com;

Letters to the Editor and What Do You Think?

Correspondents write about the role of the Church in society, the separation of Church and state, and more; VOTF president Jim Post speaks at two Masses in Minnesota and reflects on how many people VOTF has reached in one month.

In the Vineyard Wish List.

If you have two or more volunteer hours a month, a computer where you can work from home, I have a tedious but rewarding job for you. Please contact Peggie Thorp pthorp@votf.org or leaderpub@voiceofthefaithful.org

Office Wish List

Are you a space planner with some volunteer time to spare? If so, please contact rwhite@votf.org. You are needed!

    Voice of the Faithful, VOTF, "Keep the Faith, Change the Church,"
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    Prayerful Voice are trademarks of Voice of the Faithful, Inc.

    Voice of the Faithful is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization.

In the Vineyard
December 2004
Volume 3, Issue 11
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"The courage for faith-filled speech continues to emerge from the laity, vowed religious, priests, and bishops….Their voices … are converging into a chorus. 'You will,' in the words of Second Isaiah, 'rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations, and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.'"

From Donald Cozzens book Faith That Dared To Speak, p. 78

Isaiah's words leave little doubt as to what it is all of us are supposed to be doing. So it is appropriate that In the Vineyard is closing 2004 and beginning the new liturgical year with an album of the gifts of many laborers - photos of some of our organization's blessings in the National office, reports of a round of successful gatherings in New England and the Washington, DC Metro area, a record-breaking response to our VOTF officers election and, not least, a seat at the proverbial table of Church governance. Surely we are "rebuilding the ancient ruins"!

There were several bright moments in and near the nation's capital in November. The November USCCB conference in Washington, DC, where National and local VOTF again bore witness and found our voice represented all over the country - if a newspaper covered the bishops' meeting, VOTF was part of the story; Jim Post and Judy Miller report a success on November 14 of the five VOTF affiliates' conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. More coverage of these events has been posted on our web site.

Possibly one of the more encouraging signs to come out of the bishops' bi-annual gathering is their decision to join a nationwide council of Christian communities that will bring together a wide variety of Christian Churches and faith groups in collegial dialogue. It is encouraging to VOTF and other reform groups in that it suggests our Church leadership may extend the same long arm of inclusivity to its own fractured Roman Catholic population.

Capping VOTF New England on the same weekend in November was the outstanding VOTF conference in Worcester, Mass. that rallied nearly 1000 attendees despite some serious-looking snow. As one spokesperson said, "This was the Church of the faithful gathered."

All of these conferences, press coverage, volunteer and staff work, Council meetings and multiple affiliate labors, are about service in hope.Without hope and its abiding Christian sense of promise, VOTF would have little to say and fewer to say it. The VOTF year-end fundraising appeal now in progress is only one measure of your support, but its success is foundational, in Isaiah's words, "to raise up the age old foundations."

We are humbled and richly blessed by the ongoing interest by so many in serving the Voice of the Faithful mission. The level of "service in hope" produced our largest number yet of officer nominees as well as willing candidates for VOTF's officer elections. Already, we have ten percent more respondents than the number who voted last year. Names of the nominees and candidate statements have been posted and ballots continue to be distributed. Election results will be posted by the end of this month.

And if all of the above isn't enough to make this season merry, there's one more healthy development in our Church - Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley's recent appointment of VOTF trustee David Castaldi to the chair of the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee. David's place in the archdiocese represents a model of hope as the skills of lay people are put to work in the service of our Church.

Voice of the Faithful continues to pledge its labors toward those noted by Isaiah. May Isaiah's hope and the Spirit of all that is Good and True bless you and yours throughout this Christmas season.

Peggie L. Thorp, ed.