In the Vineyard   ::    December 9, 2008   ::    Volume 7, Issue 22

National News

Strategic Plan Unveiled

VOTF’s work has just begun, and for those who are called to participate in the growth of our Church, to console survivors and protect children, to preserve and protect our faith and to speak for those who cannot, this is your opportunity to act.

In the last two issues of In the Vineyard we have described how we used the feedback received from our members to create VOTF’s new strategic plan. In this issue, we provide a link to the entire plan and ask you to sign on. The plan incorporates a more focused, action based group with a revised organizational model with the following five main platforms:

  • Local/Diocese level action;

  • Protection of Children and Support of Survivors;

  • Universal Church Reform;

  • Partnerships and Networking; and,

  • Spiritual and Communal Growth.

The platforms allow us to focus the action for our three goals in ways that begin transforming the Church so that we can attain our Mission: To provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.

We hope that as you read this final document, you will see a particular area (or more than one!) that you will feel compelled to sign on and support. We need your support for VOTF to move forward and cause the change we want to see in our church.
Read the Strategic Plan

A thought-provoking new movie is due out this weekend. “Doubt” stars Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and is based on the Broadway play of the same name about a nun who confronts a priest she suspects of abusing a black student. Look for it in your area.

News from Working Groups

Father Louis Stasker, A Priest of Integrity
Submitted by Svea Fraser

The Priest Support Working Group honors selected clergy with a “Priest of Integrity” award for their noted courage and compassion in their ministry.  But there are many untold stories of priests doing heroic service in their communities. We hope that highlighting the ones we have come to know will give us examples to follow and build hope in the often-unseen goodness that abounds.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan affiliate of VOTF proposed Fr. Lou Stasker for recognition as a pastor and priest of integrity.  Among his many roles, he is pastor of one of the diocese’s largest parishes, St. Robert of Newminister Church in Ada, MI, and he is pastor and president of Catholic Secondary Schools in Grand Rapids (Catholic Central High School and West Catholic High School).
Read more on Father Stasker

Prayerful Voice
Submitted by Gaile M. Pohlhaus, PhD

As the nights grow longer and darker
Help us to cherish all children
And protect them
As Mary and Joseph
Protected the child Jesus.

If you plan to do any online shopping at, please go to the VOTF website first and access Amazon through VOTF. will then donate a small percentage of whatever you buy to VOTF. You won’t be charged any extra and VOTF will be able to raise some money! Please follow the link:

As always, thank you for your support – both spiritual and financial!

Affiliate News

Dan Bartley Speaks at Wellesley Affiliate on New Strategic Plan
Submitted by Anne Southwood

From the Cape Cod Canal to near the New Hampshire border, VOTF stalwarts of the Boston diocese came to Wellesley on  December 3 to hear VOTF president, Dan Bartley. VOTF president for less than a year, Bartley and his confidence in our membership and the new Strategic Plan drew approving enthusiasm and also monetary pledges in support of the plan.

"We must move forward decisively," he said, explaining the Plan as a "remodel" for focus. "This plan will first provide tools," he said.

Read more about Dan Bartley’s meeting in Wellesley

NY VOTF Affiliate Discusses Bourgeois Controversy and Formation of Conscience
Submitted by Francis Pierdit
The New York affiliate of Voice of the Faithful held its regular monthly meeting on Monday, December 1, 2008, at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola at 980 Park Avenue in Manhattan. The meeting was devoted to a discussion of the controversy surrounding Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who is under a threat of excommunication for his participation in a ceremony in which women were ordained as priests. Following is a summary of the two-hour discussion on this issue and the broader question of how our Catholic Church deals with dissent among the faithful. The discussion was wide ranging and touched on the formation of conscience and how we, as members of VOTF are called to act.
Read More

Site Seeing

National Catholic Reporter article on Voice of the Faithful. 
A recent article in NCR details VOTF’s position and response to the recent excommunication of Father Roy Bourgeois.  In a letter to the papal nuncio, referenced in the article, VOTF expressed a belief that the punishment of Fr. Bourgeois is disproportionate in comparison to the lack of action towards bishops who have knowingly protected pedophile priests.

Lay group calls Bourgeois move a 'scandal'
National Catholic Reporter, Missouri - Nov 26, 2008
By Tom Roberts Calling the impending excommunication of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois “the true scandal,” the Boston-based lay group, Voice of the Faithful, ...

VOTF’s Janet Hauter posted the following response to a recent article in the Daily Herald Chicago NW Suburban edition.

“In a recent quote from The secretary of state for the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, I read the following: "The world's financial crisis is the result of greed and an example of what happens when God, basic rights and the common good are ignored." I have only one question: Does this same standard apply to the greatest current scandal in the history of the Catholic Church (where lies, deceits, cover-ups, significant settlements to avoid total disclosure of personnel files and enabling acts of pedophile protection occurred in lieu of protecting our vulnerable children)?

The "good cardinal" is quick to point out our country's flaws but has he examined his organization's conscience recently? “

To read the article:
Vatican's ironic view of financial crisis
Chicago Daily Herald - Chicago,IL,USA


Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.
Alumni Advent Series (Part Two) “Jesus Fulfilled”
Boston College Club, 100 Federal St, Boston
Presenter: Daniel Harrington, S.J., Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
For more information go to
Email your comments & suggestions to

Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center
"Imagine Incarnation" retreat
Saturday December 13th from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.
For further information and to register call Wisdom House at 860.567.3163, email, or visit
Read more

VOTFNJ is sponsoring a talk by Elizabeth Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham University.  Dr. Johnson will speak on her latest book Quest for the Living God on January 14 at Drew University.
Any questions, please e-mail or

Book Corner

The Church: Evolution of Catholicism
Reviewed by Dr. Tom Malone

McBrien, Richard P. 2008. The Church: Evolution of Catholicism. HarperOne, New York. 496 pp. $29.95.

This splendid, sweeping survey of the Catholic Church by the distinguished Notre Dame scholar, Father Richard McBrien is an appropriate point of departure for reflection on the future of churches by individuals in all faiths. A central theme in the book is ecclesiology: the theological study of the Church whose sole purpose is pursuit of the Reign of God and the salvation of the human race.
Read more of Tom’s review

This book is available on Amazon so don’t forget to order it through

Letter to the Editor

Last night the North Shore Seacoast affiliate hosted a priest panel addressing the question "What is it like to be a priest?"

In the course of the discussion, one of the panelists asked the question "what do I have to prove to be considered a priest of integrity?" A side conversation with another panelist prior to this yielded the same question. He had been pondered the "priest of integrity" label and found it insulting.

I think the problem is one of interpretation. I believe that VOTF was trying to support those priests who visibly stood up for the children and the laity and themselves. Many priests appear to have interpreted it as "you are not a priest of integrity unless you've done something special." While this was never VOTF's intent, the interpretation is there. We can do one of two things. We can spend years trying to explain what we meant, or we can edit the goal to read that VOTF will "support our priests."

Hopefully we, unlike the hierarchy, can change.

Brendan Walsh, Salem, MA

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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Working Group News

Affiliate News

Site Seeing


Letters to the Editor

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