VOTF Natick, MA
Submitted by Mary Ellen Siudut

March 14th Panel Discussion: A panel discussion by Catholic clergy and laity, entitled "Moving Forward Together as Church", will be held on Monday, March 14, 7-9 pm. at the Morse Institute Library in Natick. The presentation is sponsored by Natick Parish Voice on the occasion of their third anniversary. The six panelists are well qualified to talk about church renewal. Members of the clergy include Rev. Walter Cuenin, Pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton, Rev.Joseph Marchese, Director, First-Year Experience at Boston College, and Rev. Bruce Teague, Pastoral Minister at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Brighton. The laity will be represented by Dorothy Kennedy from St. Anselm Parish in Sudbury, Donna Manganaro from St. Patrick Parish in Natick and Stan Curran from St. Cecilia Parish in Ashland. Faith Madzar from Natick will serve as Moderator.

Natick Parish Voice welcomes all interested clergy and laity to attend the program on March 14 and participate in the discussion following the panel presentation.

VOTF Greater Philadelphia, PA
Submitted by Gaile Pohlhaus
VOTF/GP on the Internet: http://www.votfgp.org

General Meetings: Joseph O'Callaghan, a historian and author, will speak on "Counsel and Consent: Restoring the Laity's Role in the Governance of the Church" at a general meeting of Voice of the Faithful of Greater Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, March 15, at Chestnut Hill College. The program, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Social Room of Fournier Hall.

O'Callaghan, a professor emeritus of medieval history at Fordham University and past president of the American Catholic Historical Society, is the author of "Counsel and Consent as Christian Virtues: Five Proposals for Structural Change in the Catholic Church," a document produced by VOTF Bridgeport, CT. Among its recommendations for changes in church structure, the Bridgeport document proposes the election of bishops by the Catholic community and the selection of pastors by parish faithful. The document also calls for the ownership of church property by a parish corporation (the full text and a summary of this document are available at www.votfgp.org ).

O'Callaghan, the former director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham, has written seven books on medieval Spain and translated The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola.

VOTF Northern NJ
Submitted by Carole Rogers

Focus on the larger issues has been the basis for our ongoing VOTF-NNJ Speaker Series. We believe that a vital part of our ministry is to offer opportunities for adult conversations, to initiate dialogues that help create an informed laity.

One of our speakers, Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of the recently published, Faith That Dares to Speak, suggested a motto for all today's faithful Catholics. "We need," he said, "the courage to be truthful, the courage to be faithful, the courage to be present."

Since we began in mid-2002, we have presented more than thirty speakers-victims, priests, theologians, psychologists and sociologists, journalists, members of the National Review Board-on topics that have expanded our awareness and our sympathies for all three of VOTF's goals, but also enlightened us about our larger responsibilities as baptized members of the Church.

Many of these speakers, some nationally known, have traveled long distances to be with us. Our members would not have had an opportunity to participate in so many stimulating and varied conversations in any other venue. Recent highlights:

  • In January, David France, author of Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal, traced the sexual abuse crisis to the days when seminaries did not allow any teaching about or discussion of human sexuality. His book, which includes the stories of some victims and priests involved in the recent scandals, will soon be a made-for-TV movie. Watch for it.
  • In February, Rev. Ed Edwards, M. Div., MSW, a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ, who has provided counsel to many gay males, spoke about homosexuality in the Catholic Church and particularly in the priesthood. Father Edwards questioned many of the premises that lead to "scapegoating" gays in today's society. He said they are no more likely to be child molesters than heterosexual men; they are probably no more promiscuous than heterosexual men of the same demographic; they can and do have faithful relationships, build families, or lead celibate priestly lives; they are frequently creative men who value lives of service. They can and do make wonderful contributions to the Church and society.
  • On April 11, our speaker will be Rev. Jeff Mickler, SSP, Ph.D. Father Mickler, who has served as Superior of the Society of St. Paul as well as host of a weekly radio program, has chosen as his topic: "The Making of a Naive Priest: Instruments of Healing and Hope." He says, "Until the scandal broke in the media around 1990, I never thought about the possibility of there being any pedophile priests in great numbers. This naivete on the part of a broad spectrum of priests and religious was typical and allowed the predators in our midst to flourish."

We try to reach out and educate Catholics in northern New Jersey in other ways:

  • Our continuing Prayerful Voice offers affiliate members and guests another opportunity for focusing on larger issues at our twice-a-month liturgies. During the liturgy, in discussions before and after, we listen to one another, recognizing Christ in the other and in ourselves. Growth, change, healing, and peace happen; these are wonderful interludes for people living in a desert time.
  • We also continue twice weekly airings of our public access TV program-adult conversations at their best.
  • At the Thirteenth Annual Spirituality Convocation at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ, two of our members will present a workshop, "Finding Our Way with Voice of the Faithful." The conference draws more than 700 attendees; it's another opportunity to explore large Church issues as well as the three specific goals of VOTF.

VOTF West Suburban Parish Voice, MA
Submitted by Julie and Frank McConville

St. John's, St. James, and St. Paul's parishes in Wellesley, MA and St. Joseph's in Needham make up our affiliate. We encourage all in this area to join us for our General meetings each month. The general meeting will be held on March 10 and will feature Dr. Ann T. Spearing who shares Ecumenical team ministry with her husband at Athol Congregational church and is Spiritual Director & Retreat Guide. Dr. Spearing was a Roman Catholic nun for 17 years.

On March 3 our group took part in the VOTF Many Hands, Many Hearts Campaign. Our objective is to address key concerns in developing voices for reform in order to build a more effective, adult Catholic community.

VOTF Seacoast Affiliates, MA
Submitted by Maurice Donovan

The ongoing Adult Faith Formation series sponsored by the North Shore, Lynn and Seacoast Areas has two events in April.

April 3: (Lynn; St. Pius V, Lower Church Hall): "We Believe in One God: Jews, Christians, Muslims as Brothers and Sisters in Faith: Our Common Heritages and Differences" with Padraic O'Hare, Ph.D. (Merrimack College).

April 10: (Lynn; St. Mary's Parish, Cardinal Cushing Center): "Christian Ecumenical Dialogue: Progress Since Vatican II In Creating Closer Ties Between the Christian Denominations" with Padraic O'Hare, Ph.D. (Merrimack College).

For further information, please send an email message to Jim Callahan at jcall2@comcast.net); Vince Guerra at vfgmd@aol.com), Mary Fitzsimmons at mpfitzsimmons@comcast.net), or Jack Whelan at whelanj@lynnschools.org).

VOTF Brooklyn, NY
Ed and Anne Wilson

The New York Times reports: "The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn and Queens moved yesterday to take financial control of the diocese's struggling elementary schools from the pastors and principals who have run them for more than a century and to install lay boards to steer the schools' finances instead." Registered members of NYTimes.com can access the full story.

Here in the Brooklyn Diocese, covered extensively in the NewYork Times (and thence into the Malarkey Report), is the story of a complete reorganization of the parochial schools to move from a 19th century parish-based, pastor-led model to clusters of 4 or 5 schools each (group) managed by a LAY board of individuals responsible for financial, real estate, education, hiring, planning and the running of the schools. The clergy previously in charge of parish schools were relieved of duty by this change. This is major. Even though enacted by the bishop, it took several years of study and planning with lots of work by lay people. It professionalizes the running of the schools in a way that was overdue. It is an encouraging sign of structural change.


VOTF SW Florida
Submitted by Peg Bisgrove

VOTF of SWFL's Speakers Forum will present award-winning author Eugene Kennedy, as their annual nationally known guest speaker on March 13, 2005 from1:30-3:00 PM in the Ballroom of the Parish Life Center of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church at 625 111th Avenue North, Naples, FL. His topic will be "The World, the Flesh, and the Catholic Church." Dr. Kennedy is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Loyola University, Chicago. He is a syndicated columnist and author of over forty books, including the biography of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. His most recent book is Cardinal Bernardin's Stations of the Cross: How His Dying Reflects the Mysteries of Loss and Grief. Dr. Kennedy's book, The Unhealed Wound, deals with how the Catholic Church's teaching on human sexuality has gone wrong. For more information, please e-mail VOTFofSWFL@aol.com.

VOTF Atlanta, GA
Submitted by John Dearie

It may be premature, but things seem to be looking up in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. New Archbishop Wilton Gregory is holding listening sessions (he doing the listening) for his beleaguered priests, has published a lengthy, amazingly frank piece on the 2004 audits by CNS reporter Augustine Bono on the first two pages of the diocesan paper (unheard of under the former Archbishop), and has agreed to meet with VOTF-Atlanta leaders in April. We are encouraged and hopeful that Atlanta is finally moving toward the center. Stay tuned.


VOTF Indianapolis, IN
Submitted by Mary Heins

We had a very successful meeting last week at the Indianapolis affiliate with about 30 members in attendance. We invited the pastors of one of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, and Episcopal congregations asking them to describe the governing structures of their churches and the role of the laity in those structures.

It was a very friendly and informative presentation with each speaker taking about 10 minutes. Q & A followed and although we planned to end at 8:30, no one objected to staying a little longer. The pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, Fr. Munshower, was present for the entire evening, also. One man said it was the most ecumenical gathering he had ever attended. Many others stayed to visit with the panelists and express their appreciation. [If you would like a summary of the panel discussion, please email Peggie Thorp at pthorp.ed@votf.org]

VOTF International

VOTF Saanich Peninsula Affiliate, Sidney B,C. Canada
Submitted by MaryAnne Gervais, VOTF coordinator Victoria diocese, Canada

It was a pleasure to meet several members of VOTF Puget Sound, WA when we attended Seattle University's Symposium: "Pursuing Vatican II". Dr. Paul Lakeland spoke to us on The Liberation of the Laity; In Search of an Accountable Church, his masterful book that won the Catholic Press Award for Best Theology Book of 2004.

My hosts were Eileen and Steven Knoff from VOTF. Eileen was Regional Coordinator for the West since its inception. Eileen was also our very first internet connection to the International organization. It was great to put a face to the names of fine people who spend hours in trying to better our church and it gives the cyber-communications a far deeper meaning.

Our affiliate will soon be viewing the symposium on video.

PHOTO Credits- Dr. Paul Lakeland (top) - Eileen Knoff, MaryAnne Gervais and Paul Post (Bottom)



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In the Vineyard
March 2005
Volume 4, Issue 3

Page One

National News - USCCB CHARTER Discussion in VOTF

VOTF Best Practice February 2005

Council News

Book Review


Prayer for the Paschal Season

Affiliate News

In the Vineyard Archives

Our postal address is VOTF,
Box 423,
Newton, MA

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For an overview of press coverage of VOTF, click here.