send your comments and inquiries to email@example.com
Donations to VOTF can be made
on line or mailed to
VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002
In the Vineyard DEADLINE FOR DECEMBER COPY IS 12/1
you received your VOTF quarterly? If not, please call the VOTF
office at 617-558-5252 and request the fall issue. Submissions for the
quarterly are gratefully considered. Please contact Peggie Thorp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact an affiliate in your area, just go to the VOTF Web site
your state by region, click appropriately and you're there.
makes the heart large enough until it can contain God's gift of Himself.
Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and
keep Him as your own." Blessed
response from readers last month to the "What Do You Think" section
of this publication underscored again the readiness among us. Coupled
with the remarkable success of tri-state conferences (NY/NJ/CT and OH/KY/IND),
and galvanized by the work of 190 affiliates around the world, several
observations seem inarguable: Catholics want to be asked and are ready
to answer the challenging questions of our time; VOTF is here to stay;
bishop accountability matters; and prayer heals. As Mother Teresa hoped
in the above quote, Catholics are asking and seeking.
at the NY conference asked what might be done about what often appears
to be rampant passivity among our fellow Catholics. The answer has always
been the same in VOTF's work - engage with as many people as possible,
encourage listening to survivors and, as one correspondent told VOTF last
month, "Keep on keeping on!"
For all the acquiescence
so easily evidenced among American Catholics, for all the declining attendance
at Mass around the world, for all the frustrations inherent in change,
it has always been clear to VOTF that as a People of God we are profoundly
touched by ongoing events. As of the current crisis, Catholics are committed
to our faith in ways yet unfolding and not as quantifiable as meeting
attendance and affiliate growth. Affiliates from coast to coast as well
as Catholics in many other reform movements are nourishing themselves
and our shared faith by way of the spate of new and thought-provoking
books that face squarely the crisis that is far from over. Theologians
and universities, many parishes and small faith and contemplative communities
are seeing a new day in their audiences, congregations and gatherings.
VOTF conferences continue to draw Catholics who are first-time visitors
to a VOTF gathering - they come for community and for shared liturgy with
others who feel as they do. Even where VOTF is banned from the use of
Church property, Catholics show up. http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/laityto20.htm
to the VOTF experience vary but each experience is grounded in community.
Paul Kendrick of Maine may be the best example to date of growing into
this moment in his own way. His letter (http://www.votf.org/vineyard/nov03/think.html) reminds us that Christ was
banned, too, but it didn't stop Him or those who heard Him from being
in each other's company, from "going out." This leave-taking of our places
is our common calling - we invite you to tell us about your own journey
as we continue to "keep the faith and change the Church." Together, we
will continue to honor Mother Teresa's wise vision - "Seek and ask." Please
continue to write to VOTF at email@example.com.
L. Thorp, ed. "
- Christian Science Monitor; Lighthouse update
News - National Working Groups; Council elections; National Policy
Forum - Who's Talking?; Bishops' semiannual meeting in Washington, DC
"If it is to be, it's up to me!" Who said it and why?
Etc.; Tri-state Conference Highlights including Jim Post's address;
attendees' vignettes; New York Archdiocesan Synod opportunity; and don't
miss out on the Boston College, MA ongoing study of "The Church in the
21st Century. Besides events and lectures, the program offers occasional
papers that might jump start many a conversation. See a synopsis of
paper #4 and/or visit www.bc.edu/church21;
AND don't forget your VOTF Christmas cards
to the Editor;
responses to October's "What Do You Think?"
of the month
"What Do You Think?"
for your review
News and Notes
Ann Carroll reports on the
The VOTF National Policy Forum
Which potential VOTF
programs would be of most interest to Catholics in Seattle, WA, Nashville,
TN, Brooklyn, NY, and Peoria, IL? What should be VOTF's role at the US
Catholic Conference of Bishops meeting in St. Louis? Should voting in
VOTF officer elections be expanded to all registered members? What are
the hot topics in your diocese? These are a sampling of the questions
discussed in the National Policy Forum conference calls. These monthly
calls were instituted based on feedback from affiliate representatives
(from outside Boston) following adoption of the "3 VPs" motion at the
January 2003 Representative Council meeting. The intent of the motion
was to ensure greater representation in VOTF policy-making for Regional
Coordinators and affiliate representatives from outside Boston.
The initial participants
were selected to ensure representation from all four VOTF regions (West,
Central, East and South), focusing on areas with large concentrations
of VOTF affiliates/members. Over time, additional participants have been
added, often to provide local commentary on an issue with national ramifications.
Recent participants include: Shannon Whalen (Louisville, KY), Elizabeth
Warren and Jim Zralek (Nashville, TN), Eileen Knoff and Catherine Smith
(Seattle, WA), Ed and Peg Gleason and Hugh O'Regan (San Francisco, CA),
Peter Davey (Oakland, CA), Sandy Simonson and Suellen Riley (Phoenix,
AZ), Nan Fischer (Cincinnati, OH), Kris Ward (Dayton, OH), Maria Cleary
(Northern NJ), Maria Coffey and David Pais (NY City), Melissa Gradel (Brooklyn,
NY), Terry O'Connor (Chicago, IL), John Ryan (Peoria, IL), and Jim Post,
Ann Carroll, Cathy Fallon, Steve Krueger, Mary Ann Keyes and Suzy Nauman
Each call centers
on one or two pre-determined issues of common concern. The calls provide
a systematic mechanism for voices of representatives from across the country
to be heard. Too, this communication effort will go a long way toward
communication efforts not only between our 198 affiliates and the national
office but among those affiliates as well.
of Parish Voices Mary Ann Keyes submits
PROCEDURES FOR AFFILIATION/Forming a Parish Voice Affiliate
Through our "Parish
Voice" working group we are promoting and supporting the development of
VOTF affiliate organizations in dioceses across the US. We currently have
membership in over 40 US States and 21 countries with the highest concentration
of affiliates in the New England and Northeast Corridor states. See our
Website for a listing of Parish Voice affiliates and other information
Parish Voice is the
means by which lay Catholics across the country and the world experience
the mission and goals of Voice of the Faithful in their own unique community
setting. Each Parish Voice affiliate is an independent group of lay Catholics,
generally associated with a specific parish and living the mission statement
and goals of VOTF in a manner they develop. In this way each PV feels
connected to a greater cause while maintaining its own autonomy and independence.
The relationship between
Voice of the Faithful, Inc. and the Parish Voice groups in local parishes
is that of an independent affiliate. VOTF, Inc., has adopted a policy
for the formation of PV affiliates as well as their right to use the VOTF
and trademarks. A group of Catholics can form a PV affiliate if a two-thirds
majority votes to form a PV affiliate. There is no restriction as to the
type of organization, i.e., informal association, corporation, etc., that
an affiliate can be. Subsequently, the group must contact VOTF and notify
them they have taken such action. To date VOTF has accepted all affiliates
requesting this status. VOTF grants its affiliates the right to use its
name and trademarks as long as the affiliate agrees to abide by the mission
statement, goals and policies of VOTF.
VOTF, Inc. supports
the formation of affiliates in several ways. Through our Regional Coordinators
we facilitate the organization of interested persons within specific geographic
areas. As part of this process we convey the model by which the organization
was originally formed, which serves to provide a process for creating
organizational identity and cultural integrity throughout VOTF.
Every PV affiliate
is entitled to provide a representative to VOTF's Representative Council.
This council has been established by the Board of Trustees to provide
VOTF with the means for a collective vision of the future of the Catholic
Church. The Representative Council meets on a monthly basis.
Late News -
Fran O'Leary has agreed to serve as interim moderator of the National
Lay Representative Council as Maura O'Brien ends her nearly two years
in the position. See more on Maura's outstanding service to VOTF in the
National Chair of
Prayerful Voice Susan Troy, M.Div., Report on the Prayerful Voice National
There is a proposal
for a conference on lay spirituality to be included as one of VOTF's national
events in 2004-2005. The proposed conference, for VOTF members, by VOTF
members, would be held in Spring 2004.
We need your input!
Prayerful Voice is made up of the Prayerful Voice representatives from
affiliates across the country. We have been working to establish communication
with all of you. If you have not informed us of your existence and/or
interest in being part of the Prayerful Voice national working group,
please contact us! (PrayerfulVoice@voiceofthefaithful.org)
We need to keep the
VOTF mission statement before us… "To provide a prayerful voice, attentive
to the Spirit…." How have we as individuals and as a community recognized
the Spirit's work in our midst? How have we encouraged it?
We want to begin to
articulate what so many of us have experienced, that being a member of
VOTF has been an incredible, Spirit-filled journey. What was our "spirituality"?
How did we live out our faith in the world and how did our faith sustain
us in that world? How has our faith and spirituality been changed, perhaps
even transformed, by our reaction to this crisis in the Church, and our
association with this movement called Voice of the Faithful? Those are
some of the questions with which we will begin our thinking.
Prayerful Voice hopes
to facilitate a means to ponder these questions at the affiliate level,
to foster discussion and feedback that would culminate in a Lay Spirituality
Conference where we could meet, pray and discuss the spiritual fruits
we are receiving.
Voice Steering Committee - Susan Troy, M.Div., Chair, National Prayerful
Voice, Sr. Betsy Conway CSJ, Barbara Jordan, Kaye Pfeiffer, Dr. Ana-Maria
Rizzuto, Robert Szpila, M.Div., Mary Jo Tecce
- National Representative Council elections for officers - Nominations
are due from registered members by November 21. Submit your nominations
here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=42591305701 .Members,
be sure to check your email for Executive Director
Steve Krueger's email of 10/30. The subject line reads, "VOTF Nominations
for Elected Officers." Any additional questions, please call the office
VOTF again bears witness
at the semiannual bishops' conference in Washington, DC. Nov. 10-13.
VOTF-National and VOTF-Northern Virginia will hold a press conference
on Monday evening in Washington, D.C. to present a VOTF Report on the
State of the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis in Light of the Bishops' Conference.
VOTF will focus on issues of bishops' accountability, transparency and
disclosure from lay review boards, and signs of hope. Visit the VOTF Web
site at http://www.votf.org/bishopsconference/DC/index.html
and this space in December for an update.
In keeping with their
mission, the Structural Change Working Group is conducting a survey on
Parish Pastoral Councils - their existence and efficacy. Click here for
my details: http://www.votf.org/Structural_Change/surveybackground.html
At the moment The
Lighthouse is alive and well. It appears that, unless someone comes up
with a better course of action, the physical plant in East Boston will
shut its doors on December 31. Financially, this makes sense. Founders
Phil and Lauren intended to fund the first two years of operation out
of the proceeds of the sale of their real estate in Providence. Unfortunately,
the sale did not produce the amount anticipated. Phil and Lauren have
invested heavily in covering all costs (minus whatever donations have
been received to date) amounting to some $700 per month for rent plus
phone, Internet, Web design, and other operating expenses. It is neither
just nor moral to hold them to any further commitment. They have already
done far more than they were really able to do.
To continue to pay
this amount of rent for a property that has not realized the anticipated
attendance from survivors would be fiscally irresponsible. Donations that
have been raised will continue to fund the cost of maintaining a telephone,
Web site maintenance and associated expenses so that the Lighthouse can
continue to be a resource and referral service for the survivor community.
Phil has been working
with his accountant to provide a detailed accounting of the income and
expenses of the operation. These will be posted to the Web site as soon
as it is complete.
The future of the
Lighthouse as an institution and its method of operation properly are
the business of the survivor community for which it was organized. We
advocates who are now serving on the board of directors are only trying
to keep the light burning and to determine what the survivors would want
to see as the future of the program.
I will do whatever
I can, in accordance with the wishes of the survivors and the other directors,
to ensure that accounting for the funds is accurate and that the closure
of the East Boston office is handled properly. Since there are no paid
functionaries in the operation, it is not to be expected that anyone can
provide full-time coverage to these activities. All who are willing to
help are invited and appreciated by the board.
For the remainder
of this month, it is incumbent to report on the finances of the corporation
and prepare for a graceful transition to a new modus operandi, whatever
form that may take.
I, and I am sure that
the other directors feel similarly, would appreciate any input, any ideas,
any recommendations, any alternative solutions that may exist anywhere
out there in the survivor/advocate communities.
For a must-read in
the Christian Science Monitor, go to www.csmonitor.com,
click on "Archive" and type in to the Search box "Sexual Abuse." Go to
the 10/23/03 article by Mary Wiltenburg, "Sensitive task of putting a
price tag on sexual abuse."
to the Editor
The response from
readers on the subject of limiting the service of altar girls and
applause and dancing during Mass was overwhelmingly critical of what
many saw as a significant leap backward for our Church. Recently,
learned in NCR that the Vatican supporters of such changes have reconsidered
and will not, at this time, be advocating several of the proposals,
generated considerable controversy and shock among Catholics. Nonetheless,
your response tells us a little more about who we are and what we're
even beyond specific liturgical changes Be sure to give some thought
to this month's "What Do You Think?" and many, many thanks
for your spontaneous and articulate response to this first foray!
Respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.
are the lessons learned from Vatican II? One day the Church will be needing
women for ministry of all sorts. This would represent another retrenchment.
As far as officiating with other clergy - where is our ecumenical movement?
We should be emphasizing our similarities, not our differences. Have we
deck chairs on the Titanic is another analogy that comes to mind. It makes
me sick that this is where our authority figures place their efforts."
"I was furious after
reading the article in the Charlotte, NC Diocesan paper regarding restriction
of altar girls, applause, and liturgical dance, Many forms of worship,
whether cultural or simply expressive of love of our Creator, using our
talents such as dance or applause in moderation, express encouragement
or acknowledgement for another. Dear God, help me keep the Faith."
"Regarding the latest
proposed changes, I could just cry when I realize that this is what has
been on the minds of our leaders with the world in such a sorry and needy
Pauline Reynolds, Providence, RI
"Having been involved
in Ecumenical dialogue for some fifteen years, and also in Muslim/Christian
and Jewish/Christian dialogue for as many years, in Montreal, I have but
one comment: I think it's absolutely ludicrous!"
"We have been blessed
to have been able to travel quite extensively. My wife quips that there
is no church we have ever seen that we have not visited. This is especially
true of non-American churches. Worldwide, churches are the repository
of the history and art of an area. Each one is a museum of culture and
beauty. One can learn, and enjoy, much by making these visits.
American church has been healthier than others around the world. People
attended US churches and participated. In recent times, however, a malaise,
similar to that of other countries, is starting to take hold. We are becoming
cynical. The sins of the hierarchy, the ugliness of the pedophile tragedy,
the disgusting focus on donations, the denigration of females in general,
the refusal to follow through on the wonders of Vatican II, the mismanagement
and so much more. And now a small thing, but emblematic of so much that
is wrong with the church - the proposal from Vatican sources that altar
girls might be welcome no longer. It took so long to allow them to participate
and now this stupidity. Sometimes it is just a small straw that breaks
the proverbial camel's back."
"I really don't think
much of the ideas presented. It has taken centuries to try to break down
barriers that artificially separate and someone wants to put all of that
behind us? As to the idea of banning poetry, etc., I have always thought
that the majority of priests (I'm an ex-seminarian) didn't really understand
what was going on in the lives of the people in the pews. If something
can be uplifting, then there is certainly nothing wrong with using it.
We all recognize why we're at a Mass - to receive the Body and Blood of
Christ. If we can be uplifted and feel good while we're there, then hooray!
"Let's hope there
are new guidelines demanding more reverent and worshipful behavior at
Mass - the sooner the better. Maybe it will remind Catholics what the
Mass is, or should be, all about."
"Here are two thoughts
regarding 'What Do You Think?' First, the very act of asking us
what we think is novel and deeply necessary for a modernization of the
Catholic Church in America. We hold democratic and representative rule
very near to our hearts, yet the Church always dictates and never asks.
Please keep asking opinions on different topics and present aggregate
findings to the Church. This is a model that can be used to better involve
the laity. We believe that we are the Church, we are God's Hands, and
yet we are treated like stupid sheep.
Secondly, keep the
girls involved!!! As a Catholic woman raising a Catholic daughter, I think
we need more opportunities, not fewer. Except for women religious, we
don't have any role models for involvement. DON"T let the Church undo
what tiny progress has been made. Finally, bless you for starting and
maintaining a Web site to be a focal point."
Rosellen Kraus, Orlando , Florida
"We shall refuse
to eliminate altar girls in our parish, and my daughter, a former professional
dancer with an MFA in Dance, has a teen liturgical dance ensemble that
will continue to participate in liturgies.
I must admit that
applause does nothing for me. As a matter of fact, I think it takes away
from the divine moment and cuts it off. We do have applause in our parish
and I do not participate. As one involved in theatre, I'm fearful that
we could confuse liturgy and theatre."
"People often applaud
without any thought and dance is a big part of many cultures. Would it
be helpful if all the women in our churches stayed home for two full weekends
and see what we would have?"
"I believe the Church
needs to continually strive to eradicate the sexism that has existed for
too long. I do notice that there seems to be an abundance of altar girls
these days, which would point to the need for men to model their involvement
in the Church so that being an altar boy remains appealing to boys.
Liturgical dance should
continue. It is a valid expression of worship. In the US we have not used
our bodies enough as an expression of worship. Too many Masses are so
dry that it is increasingly difficult to sit through them. We need more
exuberance and energy in the Mass.
Applause at Mass has
always blessed me. Continue when it is appropriate. I have never been
to a Mass when applause has been used inappropriately."
"This is ridiculous!
This is the kind of thing that is driving me away from the Church. I can't
believe our Church turned a blind eye to rampant pedophilia by priests
- tacit institutional approval of such practices for decades. Now they
are worried about dancing, poetry, and applause? No. The attempt to further
exclude girls and women from meaningful participation in the Church is
even more distasteful. I urge VOTF to continue to present the view of
the laity so that the Church will wake up."
"Just another example
of how OUT OF TOUCH the Church leadership is. The "male" clergy in general
have made a mess of things. We need more not less 'female' influence to
clean it up."
"I believe that the
idea of limiting girls' roles in the Church (or the roles of women in
general) emphasizes Jesus' gender at the expense of His humanity. I believe
that limiting expressions of human creativity and joy in our central mode
of worship, the Mass, similarly denies much of the humanity that Christ
experienced. For example, He attended weddings where the host ran out
of wine. Even a small stretch of the imagination suggests that dancing
or poetry readings (or singing) were responsible for that thirsty group
(either that or we are left with an image of the historical Jesus hanging
out with a purely drinking crowd).
We Catholics believe
that Christ is among us humans based on our fundamental religious document,
the New Testament, and the various Acts and Letters of the early Christians.
Everyday observation of the behavior of other humans and honest self-reflection
upon our own behavior reveals to any rational being that Jesus is among
all of us, but not entirely in any one of us. Therefore, our life-long
search for Christ requires us to look for him in all whom we encounter.
Logically (and even statistically), this search is most complete when
as many humans as possible can present themselves to others in their entirety.
That entirety may take expression in someone's femininity, masculinity,
ability to write poetry (or express appreciation for this talent in others),
ability to dance (or express appreciation for this talent in others),
or the kindness to recognize that other faiths may also give people access
we deny opportunity of expression to any human, we are denying ourselves
an opportunity to find Christ."
Jerry J. Cura, PhD
"We seek the more
open, flexible services that are few and far-between in Charleston, South
Carolina. One Monsignor evidently knows theology and rather than speak
down to his congregation expects them to walk beside him as he explores
unique interpretations of the day's readings. However, Bishop Baker has
given his blessing to the Latinate Mass. It seems this is more significant
than the dramatic changes Vatican II attempted to effect at the behest
of Pope John XXIII."
"Several years ago
we attended Mass in Wisconsin. To our surprise there were no kneelers
in the pews. The congregation stood during consecration! Novel? Yes. Involving?
Yes. Uplifting? Yes.
May the Holy Spirit
descend upon you and grant you hope and fortitude to continue your vital
James N. Letendre
"The problem with
having well-meaning applause during Mass for, say, installation of Parish
Council officers or following a baptism is that you have to be consistent
and fair and allow other vocal demonstrations, e. g., booing if some are
inclined. We would be horrified at booing, but at ball games booing and
applause are two sides of public expression. Don't think you can allow
one and prohibit the other.
Yes, get rid of poetry.
We had a priest who loved to read Helen Steiner Rice calling-card selections.
The problem was he was aware that it was not well-received but continued
to read anyway. There should be ample food for thought from the Scripture
readings; that's why other Christians refer to them as lessons.
However, I don't
think the Church has to be concerned about altar girls in the future.
I don't think there will be that many people attending Mass. The emphasis
for young people is away from the Catholic Church. Does it make me sad?
Yes, it does. I am now 60 years old and still a practicing Catholic. But
if I were raising my children today, I would have to think twice about
raising them Catholic."
"As a Canadian in
the Diocese of Victoria/B.C. we not only have taken Vatican II to heart
but had a Synod, which supports the increasing involvement of ALL the
laity. We certainly are dead against any changes that would inhibit our
female altar servers from being a part of Church.
As to the non-Catholic
participation, our thrust in the Cowichan Valley and in the diocese is
towards more, not less ecumenical outreach. Dancing is an integral part
of Judaic/Christian worship and, where appropriate, will, we state, continue
- applause, likewise.
We watch with interest
the movement of VOTF in the States and look forward to contacting others
who might help form a 'cell' of action here."
(Ed. note - we
have put Peter in touch with others in his area)
"What kind of men
spend time and energy on such questions?"
Mary Lou LoVecchio
"The holy sacrifice
of the Mass is not a theatre production and does not require applause
or dancing. As for altar girls, this should be reserved for boys as the
priesthood is. On the subject of conduct at Mass, the trading of non-Catholic
ministers at each others churches for homilies is not in accord with Catholic
John R. Lang
would take the Church ONE GIANT STEP BACKWARDS! Whatever happened to the
Ecumenical movement? With the advent of altar girls (my daughter is one),
the Church took one small step forward for women. The next, long overdue
step is the full participation of women in the Church as priests, bishops,
and even, Pope someday. As for dancing, they might as well eliminate music,
too. Dancing can also be a way of worship, as is singing. What's wrong
with prayerful poems and readings that aren't from the Bible? Thank you
for soliciting my opinion. Will anyone in the Vatican hear me?"
Eileen M. Craffey
"I am a convert to
Catholicism. I have practiced my faith for over 30 years. The trend I
have seen is to become more like the Protestant religion by relaxing the
rules and allowing liturgical dancing, applause, etc. I see people chatting
during the Mass, children getting up and leaving to go outdoors for a
little while and return when they feel like it. Half of the people no
longer genuflect when they go into church. Mothers of teenagers coming
into church in SHORT shorts and allowing their daughters to come in with
shorts and spaghetti strap blouses with their midriffs exposed. There
is an overall lack of respect for the Church and what it represents. There
is no longer any sacredness attached to the Mass. One of the reasons why,
I believe, is that the Church has stopped teaching proper behavior during
the Mass. And having the Blessed Sacrament stuck over in some obscure
corner does not help at all. In our church the Crucifix is also off to
the side and the bishop's chair is front and center. The priest tells
jokes and, quite frankly, it is more like a day for fun than a day for
prayer and reflection. I believe the Church must put respect back into
church, by teaching the rules to be observed during the Mass. In addition
they should observe the rules themselves."
"To banish girls
from altar service, or texts that do not come directly from Scripture,
or applause or dancing, would be a serious misdirection of our call to
love and serve God and our neighbor. The leadership of the Church should
be looking for ways to help us live more genuinely Christian lives, which
would include being open to ministers of other Christian faiths or to
lay persons assisting at liturgies of various kinds. Social justice, humility,
poverty in spirit, purity in hearts should be our concern, not narrowing
our certification of Roman Catholic identity. Priests and bishops and
faithful followers have better things to do."
"Most of our servers
in our small southern Church are female. As for applause, that was what
I heard first when I completed the conversion process many years ago.
It made me feel welcome. Thanks for your work in helping to change the
Church and God Bless."
"Altar girls are
fine with me, also good liturgical dancing, but poetry? Why don't we stick
to the loveliest poetry of all - the Psalms? I should add that I love
to go to a Gregorian Mass once in a while, too. I can do this at the 9:15
Sunday mass at Our Lady of Sorrows in Kansas City, Missouri. The church
is host to a Gregorian community in addition to the "regular" pastors
- a great combination."
Kay Miles, Missouri
"I barely hang onto
my faith. Sometimes I think the best thing is to share your thoughts and
prayers with Jesus and eliminate the middleman (formal Church) completely.
That is what most of the younger generation does."
"I can do without
liturgical dancing and non-Biblical readings. I don't need wine for everybody
and think the 'sign of peace' is silly. I hate applause in church, except
at a concert. But I think not allowing women and girls to participate
as altar servers, readers, cantors or Eucharistic ministers would be totally
wrong. If they do their jobs with reverence and efficiency they belong
there. Keeping non-Catholics from participating is also a stupid idea.
Haven't we gotten past the idea that God loves only Catholics?"
"When I read the
article about the suggested changes in the Church in my local newspaper,
I almost fell out of my chair. If these 'suggested' changes are approved
it will only show how out of touch Rome is with the American Catholic
I feel most American
Catholics like the Church just the way it is. Sure, it took some time
for us to accept English, Communion in the hand, and, yes, even altar-girls;
but these are some of the best things that have happened in our lifetimes
in our Church. Let's hope cooler and clearer heads prevail in Rome before
they add more fuel to the recent scandals."
"I really see this
as a feeble attempt to retain a power that has gotten out of the box.
Thanks to organizations like VOTF, I do not ever see our Roman Catholic
Church being put back in the box. But if the laity becomes apathetic or
if we do not understand our responsibilities, little snips at our freedom
A deeper concern
that I see in the article is the last item, 'There is also a proposal
to inhibit pan-religious participation in the Mass, a practice that had
taken root during decades of ecumenical enthusiasm in the Catholic Church.
Representatives of Protestant or other non-Catholic sects should not take
part in the service beside the priests, according to the proposal.'
As a baptized Christian
I am baptized into the Body of Christ, not the Roman Catholic Church and
not any other Christian denomination. In ecumenical weddings, it is preposterous
and offensive to ask a non-Roman Catholic minister to participate in the
wedding but not to allow any participation in the service beside the priest.
In the Nicene Creed, a truly ecumenical creed because it was developed
by the early Christian Church before any division occurred, we proclaim,
'We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.' In grammatically
correct printing of this creed, the word 'catholic' is not capitalized.
That is because the word 'catholic' does not equal Roman Catholic.
We the baptized need
to claim the spirituality of our baptism. 'There is...one Lord, one faith,
one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all
and in all.' (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Don E Siegal, Lemoore, CA, Diocese of Fresno
"One half of the
Catholics throughout the world are female. How is it conceivable to consider
excluding females from the same roles allowed for males during Mass? This
mentality has the Church in a position now where we do not have enough
priests to carry on the role of serving the parishes. Think of where the
Church would be if lay people were not serving in the various ministries!
A large percentage of these volunteers are in the Autumn of there years.
We need to start thinking 'out of the box' to save the future of our beloved
"Personally, I think
that these "possible changes" are a step backwards and insult the laity
once again. Not only are these changes divisive, they come at a time when
our Church needs to concentrate on building community, not focusing on
trivial matters. Thank you for providing this opportunity to express my
views. Blessings and PEACE!"
Toni Bastoni, VOTF member in Santa Rosa, California
"I think the restriction
of freedoms within the Catholic church recently show fear on the part
of the governing [male] hierarchy within the Church. Dialog diminishes
with fear, and dogmatic ultimatums (with the threat of being 'unfaithful'
for the noncompliant) increase.
The proposed changes
appear to be reactionary and based upon insecurity. The theological strengthening
of the 'God-priest' coupled with the reduced participation of the 'non-priest'
laity (are we now the "god-less," I wonder?) won't negate the current
crisis within the Church. Resurrecting the "we vs. them" mentality is
not only regressive, it is downright alienating.
We love our faith,
which is why this is so disturbing. I will pray that our church management
has the courage to face their fear and begin to realize that true communion
is only a dialog away."
Mrs. Virginia Pierson
Regarding the buzz
about eliminating girl altar servers, liturgical dance, and applause,
it seems that this is an attempt to eliminate the female energy and service
in our liturgy celebrations of the Eucharist. What would Jesus do? He
would, without any doubt, welcome everyone and their gifts to His table.
How can we survive and deal with all the serious issues of our day when
our Church leaders are focusing on such demoralizing actions? God help
them to wake up and fill up with the Holy Spirit! Sincerely your sister
Mary Ann Barry, Prayerful Voice Rep., St. Theresa's VOTF, Harvard,
"How are they going
to stop applause? Call the police? Take tapes of who is clapping and threaten
them with excommunication?"
"Are burkas next?
I really don't think these proposed changes will happen. I think the People
of God are not going to be pushed back behind the altar rail to a passive
role in THEIR Church."
Ellen Healey, Indianapolis
"The role of women
and girls in ministry should not be limited. I believe that gender apartheid
is just as wrong when practiced in the Catholic Church in the United States
as it is when practiced by the Taliban."
Shirley Stokes, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
"Our diocesan news
here in North Carolina covered the proposed changes in liturgical practice
very briefly, reporting that the instruction '... recognizes a bishops
authority to permit girls and women to serve at the altar BUT NEVER WITHOUT
A JUST PASTORAL REASON' (caps mine). Could not the needed "reason" be
that we as female are Gods own loved daughters?
At 67 years of age,
I would have hoped for so much more from our bishops. But I rejoice that
VOTF is, after having been birthed in enormous pain, alive and growing,
and giving hope to us all. Blessings to you, VOTF."
"Bishop Thomas J.
Gumbleton of Detroit has written a letter to the editor of Commonweal
(Oct. 10, 2003) that is very supportive of VOTF. The bishop ends his letter
by saying, 'We can only hope that Voice of the Faithful and other lay
groups will have the stamina to persist in their efforts to hold the bishops
accountable and to bring structural reform to the Church.' Progress comes
slowly, but it will come.
John Gallagher, Westminster, CA
"Limiting the already
pathetically small role of females at mass (for instance, by eliminating
girl altar servers) might just succeed in finally driving me out of the
Church. I say this as a woman who's been a lector almost since the admission
of lay women to that function was introduced. It's one thing for us to
progress slowly, quite another to destroy advances already made. What
on earth (or in heaven) harm has been done by letting girls feel their
Church values their assistance?
I don't have strong
feelings about most of the other issues, though I've always disliked the
practice of applauding during Mass. We're not an audience, and the liturgical
dancers are not performing for our benefit. I once attended a demonstration
of Tibetan monks chanting. Though they were on a stage in an auditorium,
we were asked in the program not to applaud because the monks did not
wish to shift the emphasis to themselves from That to which their chants
were addressed. The tension in the silences between chants was palpable;
people wanted to applaud. Not being allowed to do so made us focus on
the purpose of the extraordinary sounds we were hearing. I'd like to see
a similar focus maintained during mass.
The use of non-biblical
readings is acceptable if their choice is carefully monitored by a trained
liturgical committee. I'm strongly in favor of cooperative liturgies involving
other clergy alongside priests. I favor a pluralistic approach in such
situations: let different perspectives exist side-by-side rather than
'blanding down' to a single mutually acceptable prayer or ceremony. That's
a matter for the pastor to decide on a case-by-case basis, though, in
Thanks for opening
this discussion. I hope our words get passed on... or upward."
"I learned of these
possible limitations on Monday, September 29. It felt like a slap in the
face, especially because on Sunday, September 28 I served on the altar
for the first time in my life as a Minister of Ceremonies, being the principal
assistant to the priest at Mass.
As a child I went
to daily Mass during the school year and also on Saturday in Lent. I knew
all the Latin, and because my missal was English/ Latin I KNEW what the
Latin meant. I knew what the altar boys did and when to do it, and I knew
every movement the priest made. I was always on time, awake and alert
- while the boys often were not. But I could never go and help the priest,
I could not assist at Mass. I was a girl and that was that.
It took 45 years
for me to assist at Mass. And the very next day I read that this tiniest
of accommodations may be taken away. Discrimination is a terrible thing
and that is what this amounts to. I am hurt and angry.
I also understand
that another recommendation is to re-install a communion rail, keeping
the priest away from the congregation. Are these really the things that
senior Church leadership is concerned about???? 'Out of touch' does not
begin to describe the chasm between hierarchy and laity if this is the
"Just a short note,
as a Roman Catholic still in shock over the recent incidents in our Church,
I just wanted to give you encouragement to continue your good work. And
if and when a chapter comes to the Boca Raton, Florida area I will be
Your group presence
for this extremely good cause to save the Catholic church and the real
roots of the Catholic religion is an inspiration. I have not attended
Mass since the exposure of Cardinal Law and his group of merry men. I
must get over it and seek a Catholic Church that has our true meaning
of what religion is all about. There has to be more humility and spirituality
for all. May God bless each and every one of you."
(Ed. note: We have
put the writer in touch with our Florida coordinator.)
"Thanks for all you
do and have done. Many active Catholics see the crying need for change.
We love the message of Jesus and want to follow Him to His Father."
"This level of control
is counterproductive to the gospel and the movement of the Holy Spirit!
VOTF is a critical movement for hope in the Catholic Church."
"My opinion is that
women have an important role in the future of our Church. I honestly think
we have drifted away from the beauty and solemnity of our religion. Dancing
is one of my loves but I don't see its place in a church.
Attendance at Mass
is somewhat of a three-ring circus at times. Children go back and forth
to the bathroom to pass the time. (We didn't even know there was a bathroom
in the church and if we did we would have been embarrassed to distract
everyone by strolling back and forth.) People don't show reverence for
the Blessed Sacrament - they talk throughout the Mass. Teenagers are bored
because they don't have the opportunity to feel the sacredness of the
same Mass that thousands of us felt 30 or 40 years ago. People are never
admonished to dress appropriately. That would be another assault on their
We Catholics used
to see the need for rules, standards and good manners. Now we go with
the tide of complacency. Wake up and restore the Church as it was meant
to be. Priests and bishops should stand up and be counted. Today many
are a disgrace to the Church and its mission. Instead of dancing in the
church, look at the more important issues before it's too late. Render
to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the beautiful things
that are His. How about the beauty of the Church before Vatican II?"
"Thank you VOTF for
strengthening my belief. I waited 35 years for understanding. Keep the
Bob Schwiderski, a victim/survivor of Catholic Clergy sexual abuse
"A Suggestion: We
have listed as a goal 'to change the Church'. At the same time we have
had difficulty being accepted and recognized by our bishop. During the
months of September thru December the Rockville Center Diocese, NY is
holding Synod Parish Listening Sessions. The Bishop is offering to hear
what the people have to say. Are we (VOTF) as an organization using this
opportunity to "voice" our concerns, hopes, and dreams? Is the organization
encouraging its members to attend and participate in their parishes? This
is an opportunity to 'put our money where our mouth is.' Is the organization
truly interested in this opportunity to be heard or is VOTF only interested
in being recognized as an organization? Something to think about from
a VOTF member!"
of the Month
are grateful to John Hynes, a MA VOTFer for introducing this prayer
VOTF Council members in October. The prayer is from the "Pray Every Day"
chapter of Mother Teresa's book A Simple Path. It was published
in 1995 by Ballantine Books, Inc., and was compiled by Lucinda Vardey.)
us all become a true and fruitful branch on the vine Jesus, by accepting
our lives at it pleases Him to come:
As the Truth - to be told;
As the Life - to be lived;
As the Light - to be lighted;
As the Love - to be loved;
As the Way - to be walked;
As the Joy - to be given;
As the Peace - to be spread;
As the Sacrifice - to be offered,
In our families and within our neighborhood."
VOTF Christmas cards, sponsored by the Winchester, MA Area VOTF! The
four card designs were prepared by artists in our group. Proceeds will
benefit the survivor community. The back of each card invites people to
learn more about VOTF by visiting the national site. A PDF version of
our order form, with color pictures of each card, is available on the
first page of our local web-site (www.votfwinchster.org).
For additional copies of the order form for yourself or your affiliate,
or if you have any questions, please e-mail Bob Morris at email@example.com.
Place your order today!
**** The Diocese
of Rockville Centre - Long Island, New York has begun Synod 2007 (2007
is the 50th anniversary of the Diocese). In this first phase (Parish phase)
each parish will hold Listening Sessions - several sessions have been
scheduled from 9/15-12/15. These offer parishioners a chance to share
their hopes, dreams and concerns with the bishop and the rest of the diocese
(all responses are posted on the diocesan website www.drvc.org). Phases
2 and 3 will focus, respectively, on the Deanery and Vicariate levels.
Laity are involved at all levels. Parishioners in the Rockville Centre
diocese should check their parish bulletins for information. Additional
information can be found on the diocesan Web site, in the diocesan newspaper
and may be obtained by mail from Office of the Chancellor, Diocese of
Rockville Centre 50 North Park Ave., Rockville Centre, NY 11570.
**** National Pastoral
Life Center's annual parish convention in NY City 11/13-15. Bps. Untener
and Ramirez, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Sr. Helen Prejean and others will be speaking.
Check the Web site at www.nplc.org. for additional information. This organization
is considered "…the most listened to and respected organization on lay
involvement in the Church within the Church," according to Susan Troy,
National Chair Prayerful Voice.
Jim Post and Executive Director Steve Krueger will join Boston, MA affiliate
representatives in a first meeting with Archbishop Sean O'Malley on
November 19. Readers are asked for prayers that this meeting will be a
mutual step forward in Boston's Church-laity relations. Watch the Web
site at www.votf.org and this space in December for an update.
MA, "The Church in the 21st Century" at www.bc.edu/church21
Check out Occasional Paper #4 "Is the Church Open to Change in its Governance?
Some Historical Evidence" by Fr. Michael Sheeran, S. J.
Synopsis : Father
Michael Sheeran, S.J., President of Regis University (CO), highlights
changes related to the selection of bishops and the election of popes
that have occurred throughout the Church's history. He also discusses
the contemporary American experience of a laity increasingly well-educated
and competent in professional expertise but often not well-educated "in
the Faith." He calls for a "new evangelization" and for greater access
to significant decision-making.
Chestnut Hill Campus, MA on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - Panel Discussion:
"Protecting Children: Models and Best Practices," moderated by Richard
Rowland, Graduate School of Social Work, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Merkert 127 Information:
617-552-4021, Sponsor: Graduate School of Social Work
NH Conference, Rivier College
Submitted by Anne Southwood
A conference geared
to lay Catholics was held at Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire on
October 25 and developed a focus on hope for the future of the Church.
It was clear from the beginning of this day together that it would be
"roll up your sleeves and work" despite the temptation of a perfect New
England Fall day outside.
Psalm 92 set the tone
as the opening prayer: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to make
music in your name. Your deeds have made me glad. For the work of your
hands I shout with joy."
Keynote speaker Paul
Lakeland, chair of the Religious Studies Department, Fairfield (CT) University,
and author of The Liberation Of The Laity, was so connected to
his audience he stayed to be part of the final panel discussion.
The Lakeland keynote
stressed the apostolic responsibility of all Catholics, in the lay theology
developed by the documents of Vatican II. Lakeland's remark "An ordained
priest does not displace the priesthood of the laity," brought applause
from the audience, which included religious. He noted that a priest is
defined in relation to the laity for the first time by Vatican II. "The
burgeoning sense of co-responsibility for the Church should pressure the
bishops," said Lakeland. "VOTF has positioned itself well," he said, in
reference to changing the Church at the "front end." He supported lay
activity, saying we could be effective at the grassroots level, despite
being shut out of consultation. "The community is the complete church
in the local unit," said the keynoter.
Lakeland, an Englishman,
related traditional American qualities like vigor to the lay movement
in the Church. "Vigor is connected to vitality in the public sphere,"
he said. Having spent a career in teaching theology, Lakeland stressed
the need to anchor the spirituality of young Catholics to the Church.
"If not accessed, they will walk," said Lakeland. This idea was incorporated
into two of the workshops. Theologian Maureen Sullivan, O.P., from the
St. Anselm's College Theology faculty, author of 101 Questions and
Answers on Vatican II, said her book was written to offset the woeful
lack of students' theological knowledge. Following the example of Pope
John XXIII, Dr. Sullivan stresses the importance of living as a Christian
in dialogue with the world. Participants were slow to close the workshop,
so contagious was her passion for the call to seek out legitimate lay
In a neighboring workshop,
Melissa Kelley of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, focused on young
Catholics. Dr. Kelley, whose 14 years as a campus minister complement
her academic work in pastoral psychology, explored the experience of young
adults as Church in our culture. Kelley was happy with the total workshop
participation by those experienced with young Catholics at the parish
and diocesan levels. "They are laborers in the vineyard; it is important
to hear their experience - mine is never the full one," said Kelley. "They
have so much wisdom, so much hope."
VOTF Conference, Fordham University, NY - October 25
Submitted by vignette holders
Breslin lumbered down the side aisle of Fordham's gym, tossing aside offers
of a chair to perch on some folded bleacher seats as he listened to Eugene
Kennedy's keynote speech. The 1500 attendees gave Kennedy a standing ovation
and as he was leaving the stage he caught sight of his old friend Breslin.
The two aging lions embraced, knowing they could both still roar when
they wanted and needed to."
Ellen Vosbury, VOTF Manhattan
"It was about 6:30
am, still dark, a little chilly and very quiet when our car full of intrepid
conference planners pulled up in front of McGinley Center at Fordham University
on October 25th. We tossed our large, empty coffee containers in the trash
and sleepily hefted boxes and shopping bags toward the conference site
doorway. WAITING for us in front of the door with a huge smile and a wide-awake
welcome was our first VOTF Conference participant - Ed Hill from Florida!!
I knew right then, this was going to be an amazing event!"
Maria Coffey, Conference Co-Chair, New York
"Each person who
attended renewed my energy and faith that Voice of the Faithful is making
a difference and that we will move forward with confidence as united and
devoted Catholics in the 21st Century! My deepest personal appreciation
goes to all who participated in this very special gathering!"
Marie Ford Reilly, Conference Co-Chair
"I had a fine chat
with Fr. Jim Sullivan at the Tri-State VOTF Conference in New York. Some
of you will remember that Fr. Jim, now in his 80s, was a memorable participant
at the VOTF 2002 convention in Boston. He has been active in Voice of
the Ordained and in suggesting ways to make structural change effective
(e.g., follow the example of the religious orders and elect leadership
for fixed terms). It's always encouraging to re-connect with good friends.
Some people have wondered
whether the passage of time and resistance from members of the hierarchy
has sapped the strength of the VOTF movement. Based on what we saw yesterday,
I don't think so!
The presence of so
many people and so many new faces among those people, was a powerful testament
to the yearning of the laity to "be together," share together, think together,
and pray together. The personal welcome of Fr. McShane, newly installed
president of Fordham University, was of great substantive and symbolic
value. The quality of the presentations and the sheer presence of so many
wonderful and talented speakers provided great "food for thought." And
the closing Mass, drawing on so many musicians, lay ministers, and active
participants provided a closing exclamation mark to a day that celebrated
our presence as one VOTF community.
As VOTF approaches
the end of two years of effort, we must recognize that there is no crystal-clear
blueprint or plan that will chart our course. Days like this in New York,
and in Cincinnati, OH recently, are vital. They provide an opportunity
for the Holy Spirit to touch us and to provide energy and guidance for
That survivors, clergy,
and laity were together to exchange ideas, discuss problems, and share
creative ideas about how to respond to this crisis of our times underscores
how clear it is that bishops continue to miss the opportunity to be among
the people of the Church when they boycott such events."
"The VOICE OF COURAGE
Award, moved my conscience deeply. Mrs. Busam is a 'Courageous Catholic
Woman' and truly an authentic Christian. Afterwards I told her that our
Cleveland/Akron VOTF will keep Joey in our prayers."
"I think our willingness
and desire to be the adult people of God that we know we should and could
be was a driving force in this day and I feel that God truly blessed that
and worked through us to make that happen for a lot of people."
"I couldn't agree
with you more. It is a new day in the Catholic Church and it is clear
to me that the goals and mission of VOTF will play an important role in
what that will eventually look like. I had an interesting exchange with
our pastor as I told him about the day. He believes that change will only
happen slowly, but I think it has begun to move in people's hearts and
souls and that is an important step. Nativity VOTF was energized and affirmed
by the day--it was truly a success in every sense of that word!"
"What a crew, what
a mission we have, and isn't it wonderful to know we're not alone!" "Thanks
to all the VOTF people for an insightful conference. You are doing a great
job of presenting VOTF's objectives. Your speakers were outstanding. Your
approach is balanced. Thanks."
"The Church was in
crisis, on the verge of spiritual and meaningful decline, or a transformation,
a rejuvenation of our Faith. We believe VOTF is an instrument to that
Holy Family Church, Fr. Richard Mc Brien's "The Crisis Continues: Reflections
on the State of the Church," Thursday, November 13th at 7:30 PM at Holy
Family Church, 2515 Palatine Road in Inverness, IL. Parish Phone: 847-359-0042
Submitted by Paula Radmacher
Recently, we sent
out 200 letters to priests of the Archdiocese (active, retired, religious
order) inviting them to join us for a "listening" session on one of two
different evenings. Our goal is to establish a dialogue with them and
to educate them about VOTF, in general, and our group in particular. We
don't know what to expect in terms of response but we are hopeful.
At our meeting, Sue
Archibald from LinkUp spoke about breaking ground for their ambitious
project: a small farm dedicated to becoming a place of healing and recovery
for victims/survivors of abuse. There will be opportunities for us to
participate in the building (in the concept of a Habitat for Humanity)
as their plans go forward. We discussed planning a "survivors' supper"
as a later event.
VOTF Fall River,
Submitted by Chris Boyd
After several unsuccessful
attempts to engage Bishop Coleman in dialogue as a result of his diocesan
ban of VOTF meetings in parishes, bulletin announcements, and direct contact
with our organization, which he initiated in May, approximately 100 Fall
River diocesan Voice of the Faithful members banded together in a coordinated
effort to seek the bishop's attention and published an open letter. Without
as much as the courtesy of a response to our several letters, it was time
to speak out and inform our fellow Catholics of the state of affairs.
As the bishop attempted to censor us by rejecting our advertising dollars
for the diocesan newspaper, we published out letter in three major regional
newspapers within the diocese. The text was respectful but firmly expressed
our resolve along with our immediate goals.
One week later, on
October 19th, we were fortunate to host a diocesan-wide event at which
approximately 200 attendees heard Voice of the Faithful national President
and co-founder, Jim Post. Held at the Sandwich High School, since our
parishes are not available to our members, Jim's talk was excellent! Calling
Bishop Coleman to account for his unfounded banning, Post challenged the
bishop to live up to the vows of his office. The Cape Cod Times reported
some of the lecture entitled, "The Emerging Voice of the Catholic Laity,"
"Quoting from a statement
in a September 2002 report issued by the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Post
that Coleman pay more careful attention to the views of his fellow clergy
who wrote that there was a need for bishops to 'recognize and promote
the dignity, as well as the responsibilities, of the laity in the church.'"
Post read from the
report, "We need to confidently assign duties to them in the service of
the church, allow them freedom and room for action ... so they may undertake
tasks on their own initiative." He told those gathered that he was "going
to put this into a letter and send it along to Bishop Coleman because
he may not have heard this before."
"He needs to know
that it is unacceptable to refuse to talk with the people in the diocese.
The bishop has an obligation to provide a spiritual and pastoral presence
in the diocese ... I would say it is immoral to tell people that they
cannot meet in their own churches to talk about issues," Post said to
the resounding applause of the audience.
Following the lecture,
Chris Boyd, outgoing Regional Coordinator challenged the audience not
to look to national leadership to ask "What are you doing about this or
that?" but rather answer the question, "What are you doing about
it?" He urged members to embrace the notion, "If it is to be, it's up
The new Regional Coordinator
Marie Collamore also spoke and outlined her priorities. Marie will bring
a renewed energy and enthusiasm to the position as she sets out to deal
with our reluctant bishop and pastors, move parish voices into action
toward implementing the goals, build more wide spread involvement from
around the diocese in our movement, and continue to develop the intra-diocesan
coordination of the laity through parish voices.
day also included the celebration of the Mass. After great difficulty
in finding a priest willing to accept the risks of joining us for Mass,
one brave Jesuit welcomed the opportunity to join us in prayer around
the Lord's table. Rev. Ed Vacek, S.J., of the Weston Jesuit School of
Theology also had strong challenges for Bishop Coleman in his homily when
he referenced the Pope's recent remark that bishops not be afraid to engage
and empower their laity.
In the weeks that
have followed, much press coverage has bolstered the enthusiasm of our
membership in the diocese. That said, the leadership continues to plan
for the opportunity to meet with the bishop. What will be their response
if the bishop continues to ignore his faithful? This will be among the
top priorities for discussion at the VOTF Fall River Diocesan Leadership
Council meeting on Wednesday, November 12th at 7:15 p.m. at the Cape Cod
Community College in the 2nd Floor Library Conference Room.
In the meantime, more
revelations of apparent failings of the implementation of the highly touted
procedures for the protection of our youth focus on questions surrounding
the connection of a Woods Hole pastor, an inactive priest counselor, and
a murder suspect and convicted child rapist who lived with the priests
and may have worked for the parish.
Moreover, it has come
to be known from a local pastor that nearly 60% of parishes within the
diocese do not have Parish Pastoral Councils. These are the very same
"existing consultative bodies" which Bishop Coleman has noted in press
accounts as justification for opposition to VOTF parishioners meeting
in their parishes for Parish Voice meetings. The question remains, "Will
Bishop Coleman welcome the involvement of his parishioners in the healing
of the Church, and in so doing, help to create a greater spirit of openness,
transparency, and accountability procedures?" The months ahead promise
to be interesting, challenging, and full. Stay tuned.
VOTF Holy Trinity
Affiliate, Washington, DC
Submitted by Frank Lane
October was a very
busy and productive month for the HT VOTF affiliate. On October 6, HT
VOTF members joined with over 100 VOTF supporters from DC, Baltimore,
MD and Northern Virginia to hear VOTF President Jim Post speak at T.C.
Williams High School, Alexandria, VA and Our Lady Queen of Peace Church,
Post stated that it
is essential for laypeople to overcome traditional apathy and become involved
if the Church is to be passed on to future generations. For example, lay
people must take a prominent role at all level of church finances, to
promote openness and accountability and to eliminate the secrecy surrounding
Church dealings with the victims of sexual abuse. Many of the victims,
Post noted, have yet to come forward and he expects they will be with
us for many years to come, long after many of the abusers have gone.
On October 18, the
HT VOTF affiliate met to discuss current activities including the selection
of Charlie Zito and Jane Johnson as Co-Chairs. For the first time, a large
VOTF poster, provided by the VOTF National office in September, was prominently
displayed at the speakers' podium. It was enthusiastically received by
affiliate participants as a sign of emerging unity, energy and identity
of VOTF at Holy Trinity.
Ruth A. Wallace was
the featured speaker and discussed her recent research on lay parish leaders
at parishes in the United States having no clergy as pastors. The results
of her efforts are contained in her recent book, They Call Him Pastor,
which focuses on twenty parishes nationwide administered by married
men serving as parish leaders. She studied women lay leaders in a previous
effort entitled They Call Her Pastor.
Typically, at lay-leader
parishes, Sunday liturgies are celebrated by a visiting priest whose involvement
in the parish does not extend beyond these worship activities. Wallace's
research was conducted by means of interviews with the lay leaders, their
wives and children (all of whom reside in the rectory), bishops and parishioners.
She found that these leaders tended to practice collaborative leadership
and that parishioners were empowered by a new sense of ownership, devoted
more time to parish committees, and contributed more financial support
to the parish. A key source of support for these married leaders was their
formal installation in the parish church with the bishop as presider.
The next meeting of
VOTF at Holy Trinity will be on November 5.
VOTF Westford Chelmsford
and VOTF Central MA
A little eavesdropping
on VOTF Dialogue between two affiliates - (Ed. note: Lauren Franceschi
of the Westford Chelmsford, MA area VOTF sent this message to the affiliate
mail list. Bob Ott, regional coordinator for Central MA, wrote the response
that follows - another terrific outreach from affiliates whose commitment
cannot help but encourage others.)
Here are some
ideas we wanted to share with other PV Affiliates. If anyone else has
Action Items and Ideas for carrying out our 3 goals that they'd like to
share, we would be very interested in hearing them! - Lauren Franceschi
(Westford Chelmsford Area VOTF)
MORNING VOTF MEETINGS:
The Westford Chelmsford Area PV has started morning meetings in addition
to our evening meetings. This allows people unable to attend evening meetings
to join us. The meetings take place on Monday mornings and follow the
same agenda that is used in the Monday evening meetings. Attendees are
given the same VOTF news and updates and, of course, there is time allowed
for a listening session and open discussion.
PUBLIC AWARENESS &
SURVIVOR SUPPORT: Our PV has registered for tables at local Holiday Craft
Fairs. We did this successfully last Christmas and on the Fourth of July.
All proceeds of the items sold are donated to "The Survivors Appeal."
For the month of November,
our Monday Morning Meeting group is using meeting times to work together
making items that will be sold, while still conducting the regular meeting
format of VOTF news and discussion. The group will also be selling home-baked
goods, donated gift items, and of course, "Gus's famous Honey" at the
We find that participating
in these local fairs is beneficial for many reasons. First, it allows
us to raise public awareness of Survivor Advocacy issues and earn money
to donate to their causes. We find the general public, of all denominations,
to be very generous and concerned.
We also find that
being at the Fairs is great PR for VOTF. We hang our banner that we made
for the 2002 Convention, wear VOTF buttons and hand out VOTF pamphlets
to those who are interested. Many townspeople stop and engage us in interesting
conversation and ask lots of questions about what we do, and how we are
managing to help the Church through the crisis. Our presence as a fixture
at the Town Fairs also allows us to be visible and accepted members of
our communities by participating alongside other longstanding town organizations
(such as Lions, Kiwanis, Scouts, and others.
is that the public gets to see who belongs to our PV as we work shifts
at the tables. People are not as skeptical of VOTF when they recognize
us as active, honest and involved members of our parishes and communities.
They see proof that VOTF is doing good, charitable work and this is needed
in order to build a solid, trusted reputation in our towns.
Now is the time to
register for tables at local Holiday Fairs as they usually take place
in early December and they sell out their limited spaces quickly. This
can be done by calling your Town Hall or Churches and Schools that host
the fairs. The fees for the tables are usually nominal and the benefits
Bob Ott's response:
You folks are terrific.
Your enthusiasm, perseverance, and awareness of the importance of being
a visible presence in the community is impressive.
I think that the hard
work for Parish Voices is figuring out how to continue what we started,
in what way we want to continue our presence/activity, and what kinds
of action will bring people together and give Parish Voices a sense of
purpose and direction. You seem to have found what works for your group.
Each Parish Voice has to come up with a plan which makes sense for their
members and will excite them to keep working together.
In the Central Region,
we have about 8-9 parishes. As regional coordinator, I have been holding
a monthly regional meeting since the Spring. The number of people coming
from each parish has been impressive to me, ranging from 20 to approximately
70 and this interest has continued even throughout the summer. Our focus
has included: updates about VOTF national, events on the archdiocese level,
and communication among the affiliates ; support and suggestions for parishes
who are unsure of what/how to maintain and "grow" their affiliates; addressing
as a regional VOTF in a formal letter to Archbishop O'Malley our concerns
about the closing of parochial schools with little or no involvement of
the Catholic community in the planning for alternatives to the closing
and offering to participate in such an effort (our inner-city parish is
very concerned about this issue); holding a meeting with our parish priests;
a planning group working on preparing a symposium on the role of the layperson
in the Church per Vatican II; potential sharing of prayer and worship;
and discussion of the VOTF Strategic Plan and what parts of that seem
to be priorities for Central.
We have focused on
maintaining and building connections to one another within our region,
maintaining open communication with one another and about national VOTF,
and preparing the ground for what we want to do as Central Region affiliates
in the coming months, e.g., the symposium and shared worship. Keeping
people coming together and talking/planning about what they want to do
is what you folks are doing so well. We are trying to do that as a region.
Thanks for sharing your activities and ideas, Lauren.
Submitted by Bob Morris
In the past month
two eminent theologians inaugurated a series on, "Where Should Our Church
Go From Here?" On September 29, Fr. John Baldovin, S.J., Professor of
Liturgical and Historical Theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology,
discussed, "Being a Sacramental Church." Fr. Baldovin's engaging manner,
and wide-ranging interests, made for a highly enjoyable evening for the
100 persons present.
On October 20, Professor
Stephen Pope of Boston College gave an extraordinary talk to 150 persons
on, "The Church in Boston: Where Should We Go From Here?" Professor Pope
urged us to motivate ourselves to act as agents for the transformation
of the local Church. The answer to the question, Professor Pope concluded,
ultimately depends on all of us.
On October 27, four
leaders of the Boston Priests' Forum - Frs. Robert Bullock, Austin Fleming,
Thomas Mahoney, and John McGinty - continued our series before a crowd
of over 200. The evening was largely devoted to questions and answers,
covering a wide range of topics. Two important points were made during
the evening. First, while the Priests' Forum and VOTF are in "separate
boats," we are most definitely on the "same sea." In addition, the presence
of the priests at our meeting was, in Fr. Fleming's words, a "dividing
line" that has been crossed.
In addition, our group
met on October 6, and prayed a scriptural rosary in honor of the Feast
of the Holy Rosary on October 7, and for successful implementation of
the settlement with abuse survivors. This meeting served to remind us
once again of the importance of prayer in our own lives and for our group.
VOTF New Jersey
Submitted by Maria Cleary
You may have noticed
the change in our name. That's because we're growing! We have a new website
at www.votfnj.org, with links to our Northern NJ and Southern NJ affiliates,
and a link-in-waiting for our Newark Affiliate. We had our first planning
meeting with the team that will spearhead the effort in the Archdiocese
where we are banned. Everyone was enthusiastic, eager and full of the
Spirit. We'll keep you posted on these efforts.
Our Structural Change
Action Group is also moving forward with big plans. We're preparing a
campaign to open a dynamic dialogue about the clergy shortage in NJ. Right
now, the committee is working on a strategy and writing a "white paper"
on the subject. We're banking on heavy interest in this subject, because
it affects all of us, laity and clerics, young and not-so-young.
Our next meeting on
November 20 should be a real treat for our members. Renowned theologian
Anthony Padovano will speak on the subject "Restructuring Catholicism:
An American View." Anthony is the author of 27 Books, including three
award-winning plays and 150 articles. His publications have been translated
into Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and
Spanish. We feel fortunate and very grateful to have so many wonderful
speakers willing to share their time and expertise with us.
It was terrific to
re-connect with many in our VOTF family at the Fordham University conference.
What an uplifting experience, and a reminder that there are so many who
still care deeply about renewing our Church.
Blessings from NJ
to all our sisters and brothers throughout the world. May we all continue
to grow in wisdom and grace.
VOTF Chicago, IL
Submitted by Terry O'Connor
One week in the life
of Chicago VOTF: On Tuesday, October 28, at St. Alphonsus Parish, Chicago,
JUDGE ANNE M. BURKE, Chairperson of the Catholic National Lay Review Board
presented information regarding the work of the Catholic National Lay
Review Board since its appointment by the United States Catholic Bishops
as the result of the clerical sexual abuse scandal at their June, 2002
On October 29, DR.
EUGENE KENNEDY, Professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University,
Chicago., returned one year later to Holy Family Parish to offer a follow-up
presentation on "Healing the Wound: The Sacraments and Human Sexuality."
Last fall, Dr. Kennedy spoke on the topic "Pastors and People: Seizing
the Moment for Reform."
VOTF San Diego,
Submitted by Richard Dell'Orfano
VOTF San Diego hopes
to incorporate as soon as it is feasible. Meanwhile, we would like to
introduce our elected officers: Interim President/Secretary, Richard M.Dell'Orfano
Legal Officer/CPA: Mike Magee at firstname.lastname@example.org;
Interim Public Relations: Hal Walker at Hal_Walker@Hotmail.com;
Interim Treasurer: Joe Gorsuyn at Joe@Armsd.com;
Interim Membership Officer, Laura Healy at Laurasunfun@TNS.net;
Interim Social Director, Kathleen Spreen at Kspreen@AOL.com.
Our meetings will be held the third Saturday of each month. Our next meeting
will be December 6 (due to holiday).
PRACTICE - OCTOBER 2003
Submitted by Anne
Southwood, Mayflower VOTF/Duxbury, MA
As a member of VOTF's
Voice of Renewal, I'm advertising a recent "spiritual development"
best practice on the Boston Southshore. Ben D'Aprile, Norwood VOTF
leader, talked a member of his parish, Dr. Jane Regan, into opening a
parish seminar to VOTF Southshore leaders.
Using her recent book
as support in the Thursday summer series, (Toward an Adult Church;
a Vision of Faith Formation - Loyola University Press, 2002), several
of our affiliate leaders joined in and were gifted by her vision.
Dr. Regan teaches
at BC's Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry and brings
a fresh approach to catechists around the U.S. at the diocesan level.
To give you an idea,
her seminar and book are laced with phrases like: "Transforming catechesis
makes us aware of the power of the gospel in our lives." "Evangelization
has to do with how we see who we are and who we belong to. At it's head,
evangelization has to do with how a parish connects, lives, and makes
Regan's thesis is
that catechesis is in service to the formation of an evangelizing faith
community. She draws listeners to that goal by stressing the importance
of adult rather than child catechesis. The steps include investigation
of learning dynamics and understanding different stages of faith.
Group discussion is
an integral part of her seminar, aided by focus questions. Regan stresses
the need to set up vehicles for continuing high-level conversation by
adults about things that matter.
It would be wonderful
if those involved in Adult Faith Formation (AFF) efforts advertised and
expanded those efforts within VOTF, as did the MA Southshore group. Those
seriously interested, but lacking access to AFF seminars could contact
me for a synopsis of the MA Southshore summer series. The MA Northshore
combined parish effort in offering lay education/AFF speakers in conjunction
with Boston College, is another good example of best practice communication
in a region. Their flyer can be accessed on the VOTF homepage. Contact:
- For Your Review
Because of the spate
of books generated by the ongoing crisis in our Church, a few VOTFers
have compiled a short list of books many have read and recommend. As Jim
Post says, these are the worst and best of times in at least one respect.
"The crisis has created an interest among publishers in the ideas of Catholic
scholars, journalists, and learned persons. The result has been a score
of new and soon to be published books that illuminate the causes and consequences
of the crisis. The analyses by theologians, church historians, sociologists,
psychologists, and experts in religion are shedding light on some of the
great questions raised by this scandal."
We invite readers
to submit reviews of these books and/or others you find helpful and relevant
to the achievement of VOTF goals. Send your comments to Peggie Thorp at
Tom Beaudoin (visiting
assistant professor of theology at Boston College), Consuming Faith:
Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy. While you're at it, read
Tom's 10/31 NCR essay "What young theologians owe their elders."
A People Adrift. Steinfels finds much that called for attention
even before the current crisis. The New York Times Religion
correspondent considers a broad spectrum of concerns including parish
worship, religious education, doctrinal development, Catholic identity
and higher education.
Sacred Silence - see July 2203 issue In the Vineyard
The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New
American Catholicism. Gibson brings his award-winning religion
writing to the task of examining a Church at a crossroad. His CNN
documentaries on the Church as well as his years with Vatican Radio
in Rome offer readers a unique and thought-provoking perspective.
Catholicism and American Freedom - A History. McGreevy is the
John A. O'Brien Associate Professor of History at the University of
Notre Dame, Indiana. His examination of the role of Catholicism in
America's political and intellectual development will be news to many,
invaluable to most and worthwhile to all.
The Unhealed Wound. A psychologist and former priest and an
award-winning author of several books and a column for the Religious
News Service, distributed by the New York Times syndicate, Kennedy
addresses one of the oldest and greatest stresses of Roman Catholicism:
human sexuality. He studies the awkward reconciliation Catholics are
supposed to effect between their sexuality and their spirituality.
Kennedy suggests that both are to be celebrated. He lives with his
wife in Chicago, Illinois, and Naples, Florida.
The Liberation of the Laity - see July 2003 issue In the
Alan Wolfe, The
Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith.
Wolfe is professor of political science and Director of the Boisi
Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. His
book takes a broad and illuminating look at the larger question of
American culture and religion.
Do You Think?
This month we ask readers to consider the thoughts of Thomas P.Rausch,
S.J., excerpted from America magazine by Paul Kendrick co-founder of VOTF
Maine. Paul's letter to VOTF president Jim Post and others precedes the
America excerpt. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
Excerpt from Paul
Kendrick: As you know, Bishop Joseph Gerry will not allow certain
VOTF affiliates in Maine to hold meetings on Church property. I am beginning
to think, "So what?"
Many of the people
who attended VOTF meetings in the past just aren't coming anymore. It's
not that they don't want to be a part of the VOTF mission - they just
don't want to go to meetings. I'm one of them. Weekly e-mail updates would
better serve our purpose.
We need to stop demanding
"permission" to gather in church basements under the VOTF banner. Instead,
we need to get busy. If we truly want to participate in the "Church of
the 21st Century," there is much to be done now. Using the principles
of Catholic social teaching as our "conscience," we have a unique opportunity
to awaken our fellow Catholics to the true mission of our church. If we
are calling for more "lay participation," then let it begin with us.
Justice and accountability
for victims and survivors must not only be our first priority, but must
color everything we do and stand for. We must engage ourselves in personal
contact with victims and their families. Being in the presence of innocent
suffering will change our hearts and minds. We must speak on their behalf
whenever and wherever we are called to do so. We must not be afraid. We
must not care what others say and think.
It is time for us
to issue a public statement telling Bishop Gerry that his banning policy
has no effect on us. VOTF members are already meeting on Church property
as concerned Catholics actively engaged in social justice missions.
The poor are the Church.
What can we do today to help fulfill this mission? Let our fellow parishioners
come to know us as the most active people in our parish. Let's set a policy
among ourselves of "Attraction not Promotion," aimed not at the bishop
and his lieutenants, but rather towards our fellow Catholics and parish
I have come to the
conclusion that whether or not Joseph Gerry "allows" us to meet on Church
property no longer matters. In fact, I am more convinced than ever that
by continuing to object to Gerry's actions, we are only fueling the same
power and arrogance that we speak so loudly against. Each time Gerry reiterates
his banning policy, he drives his thumb into us just a little bit harder.
This is reminiscent of our childhoods, as when a parent or a teacher abruptly
dismissed our good intentions. By caring about the bannings, we remain
children. We remain the ones who are told what to do. Instead, we must
rise up, become adults, rejoice in our Baptism and most importantly, fully
participate in our individual parishes. Then, we are no longer banned.
We are engaged in helping our Church return to it's true mission. We become
a "Voice" in our parishes. Jim, your help in speaking as a strong national
VOTF presence assures that our message remains clear and forceful.
"Particularly lacking is a realistic vision of how VOTF might work with
bishops and local churches, given the nervousness of hierarchy and pastors.
There are at least three models of how V.O.T.F. might contribute in the
practical order to the renewal of church structures. One sees V.O.T.F.
as a structure parallel to that of the diocese, a second understands it
as an advocacy or pressure group, and a third seeks to incorporate V.O.T.F.
members at all levels of the life of the local church." (Thomas P.
Rausch, S.J., is the T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology
at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Calif. His latest book is
Who Is Jesus? An Introduction to Christology (Liturgical Press).)
Do You Think?" question: What model for VOTF will best suit our
Church? Respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.