Please send comments and inquiries to

Lent among Christians was originally “the period of prebaptismal preparation, later of public penance. Finally it became a forty-day devotional preparation for Easter traditionally based on Jesus’ wilderness fast (Mark 1:13).” from the Bible Dictionary, ed. Paul Achtemeier


VOTF National Representative Council (NRC) welcomes Bob Schwiderski as the new Region 8 (MN ND SD) representative. For additional Council news, see NRC Update.

On Feb. 24 VOTF National will present Bishop Thomas Gumbleton with a Priest of Integrity Award. The presentation will be made at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington DC. The event is sponsored by the VOTF at Holy Trinity affiliate. (Watch for a report on this gathering in the next Vineyard.) As reported in the Feb. 8 Vineyard, the Bishop was not given permission to speak in the dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix AZ; he cancelled engagements there. Nonetheless, Bishop Gumbleton was heard. See the Tucson Citizen.

The VOTF National office has some powerful DVDs to share with affiliates. See VOTF Office Notes.

For details on our Executive Director search, click here.

Also in this issue:

For everything you always wanted to know about conscience, but didn’t know where to look, see Theologians’ Corner. SITE-Seeing, Etc. links to Boston College C21 opportunities; Eugene Kennedy on baby boomers and VOTF; NCR on Tiananmen Square and the Bishop Gumbleton shunning; an article on diocesan reorganizations throughout the Northeast; and more reflection ideas for Lent. DIOCESE/State Watch covers New York City NY, Bridgeport CT, Palm Beach FL, Richmond VA and San Diego CA. Affiliate Highlight – VOTF Regional conference (Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana). Commentary on the New York City parish closings process and the end of a vigil; and the VOTF St. Louis commentary missing in the Feb. 8 issue (from VOTF St. Louis MO on the story of a Yakima WA priest’s transfer to St. Louis MO).

DIOCESE/State Watch: Highlights. See more inside.

Breaking News in Lincoln, Nebraska: The Vatican has answered the Lincoln, Nebraska Call to Action appeal. Catholic News Service reports in National Catholic Reporter "The Vatican's highest court said it has no jurisdiction over a decision by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln that Catholics in his diocese who are members of a dozen organizations were automatically excommunicated." Subscribers can access the full story.

New York NY - According to the New York Times, Feb. 12: “A score of parishioners began a protest vigil inside a 120-year-old Roman Catholic church in East Harlem yesterday and vowed to stay until the Archdiocese of New York reverses its decision to close the parish as part of a broad reorganization. The protest at Our Lady Queen of Angels apparently took the church and the archdiocese by surprise ….” Subscribers can see the full text. The article notes David Gibson (author of The Rule of Benedict), who said that “he saw little prospect of a successful prolonged protest against the New York Archdiocese closings. The …Boston closings came amid ‘an almost perfect storm’ of anger over priest sex-abuse scandals. In New York, the closings were decided with ‘much greater care’ and over a much longer time.”

  • VOTF NY issued a press release and VOTF NY’s Francis Piderit reports on the forced ending of a vigil. See Commentary – “Eyewitness to Irony”; also, see Chris Schenk of FutureChurch on parish closings.

Bridgeport CT – The tragic unraveling of another gifted pastor continues to draw passionate response from parishioners at St. Michael’s Church in the Archdiocese of Bridgeport CT. See recent commentary in the Stamford Advocate. Also see links to this story and commentary from Dan Sullivan, VOTF Bridgeport, in the Feb. 8 Vineyard.

  • The Bridgeport CT diocesan newsletter the Fairfield County Catholic published a markedly defensive editorial in which it noted, “The Op-Ed pages are also the favorite haunt of dissident groups like Voice of the Faithful, who jump on any contrarian bandwagon to gain publicity. They offer nothing constructive or even accurate, only vitriol.” VOTF Bridgeport is preparing a correction to the editorial’s misinformation.

SITE-Seeing, Etc.

Boston College/Church in the 21st Century program will present “Called to Be Catholic: Religious Practices that Nourish Women’s Spirituality” on Feb. 24. For details and registration, click here.

  • The much-praised C21 lectures that have anchored this program are now available in a set of five paperbacks (with more to come as the program continues). The Church in the 21st Century program is now a permanent center at Boston College. For reviews and ordering information, click here.
  • Tim Muldoon, director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College has written a user-friendly and practical introduction to Ignatian spirituality: The Ignatian Workout – Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith, Loyola Press, 2004 is available at the Boston College bookstore and

A National Catholic Reporter editorial finds a message in comparing events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the recent U.S. diocesan cold shoulder toward Bishop Gumbleton in 2007: “China is a far stretch from the Tucson, Ariz., diocese or any other U.S. diocese, and information flows as freely here as anywhere. The comparison, however, dramatizes the futility of insisting that Catholics not think, discuss or entertain dissident notions about teachings such as women in the church and homosexuality.” Read more.

According to NCR, “Faced with rising costs and shifting populations, several dioceses in the Northeast United States announced reorganization plans in mid-January that involve closing or merging many of their parishes and schools. Read more.

The Feb. 23 Commonweal magazine editorial weighs in on financial accountability referencing the Richmond VA situation (see DIOCESE/State Watch). Read more. is the creation of VOTF’s Stan and Eileen Doherty of Hingham MA. It was created “by some people in the Boston area to capture the experiences, voices, and visuals of Roman Catholics resisting the unjust closure of parishes.” The Dohertys also post reflections on scripture and prayers written by people in small faith communities, vigiling parishes, and other faith communities. These are truly the “voices” of the faithful.

In a commentary on baby boomers, Eugene Kennedy, Loyola University professor emeritus of psyschology, says, “Boomers will also change the approach of such reasonable Catholic groups as Voice of the Faithful or Call to Action, who seek not only accountability but dialogue with their bishops in order to modify church structures. They make very little progress. The boomers who remain will simply put their demands on the table. They do not negotiate, they expect their needs to be met. This would change Catholicism more than any other initiative now under way by traditional reformers.” See the Atlantic Journal-Constitution. Let us know what you think. Write to

QUOTE for Our Time: “What makes the Spiritual Exercises a helpful guide for us postmoderns is its insistence that we can come to know God by coming to know ourselves better.” from The Ignatian Workout – Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith


In the Vineyard
February 22, 2007
Volume 6, Issue 4
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

NRC Update

Diocese/State Watch

National Office

“Eyewitness to Irony” – Francis Piderit, VOTF NY reports on diocesan handling of a parish vigil

“History Repeating Itself” – Robert Kaintz, VOTF MO

Theologian’s Corner – A Lenten exercise


Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Prayerful Voice

Goal 2 - Priest Support

Protecting Our Children



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