Louisville, KY Affiliate
Submitted by Paula Radmacher
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.
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.
Fall River, MA
Submitted by Chris Boyd
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.
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," as follows:
from a statement in a September 2002 report issued by
the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Post suggested
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.'"
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
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.
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 to me!"
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
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
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.
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.
Holy Trinity Affiliate, Washington, DC
Submitted by Frank Lane
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, Arlington, VA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
next meeting of VOTF at Holy Trinity will be on November
Westford Chelmsford and VOTF Central MA
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
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)
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.
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
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 Holiday
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.
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.
advantage 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.
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 are great!
folks are terrific. Your enthusiasm, perseverance, and
awareness of the importance of being a visible presence
in the community is impressive.
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.
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
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
Submitted by Bob Morris
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.
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.
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.
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.
Submitted by Maria Cleary
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.
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.
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.
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.
from NJ to all our sisters and brothers throughout the
world. May we all continue to grow in wisdom and grace.
Submitted by Terry O'Connor
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,
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."
San Diego, CA
Submitted by Richard Dell'Orfano
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 at
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).
of the Faithful, VOTF, "Keep the Faith, Change the Church,"
Voice of Compassion, VOTF logo(s), Parish Voice, and
Prayerful Voice are trademarks of Voice of the Faithful,
of the Faithful is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization.