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"Live on in me, as I do in you." John 15:4

Here we go! This is the launch of a regular effort to gather all of VOTF for a virtual plenary session. Many in VOTF remember the days when we could fit into one room – many more never had the pleasure. Yet VOTF has grown in other spaces all over the country. We are grateful for the electronic capability to say to one and all, “Welcome to the vineyard – let’s catch up!”

Please know we are working on a hard copy for our members who do not have access to e-mail. Until then, perhaps those who are “computerized” could print copies of In the Vineyard and share some of the outstanding work being done in our organization.

In the Vineyard will include an office update/remarks from the Executive Director, Communications Team news, various Parish Voice and Committee contributions, Upcoming Events, Q&A, a "Best Practices" piece and/or anything else that is working well in your group.

Let's remember that the vineyard will only produce what our labors bring to it, so keep those e-mails coming to leaderpub@votf.org . Peggie L. Thorp


From the Desk of Steve Krueger, Interim Executive Director
The story of Voice of the Faithful continues its compelling journey as a spiritual, religious, and social movement of our times. We are well aware that the fruit of our labor may not be born for many years. Yet, the stories of personal commitment and sacrifice of our employees, volunteers, and members continue to inspire us every day and provide the manna from heaven for us to carry on. We face a Church that bans our members from meeting on Church property and that continues to put its perceived welfare ahead of the pastoral needs of its members, survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and priests and religious. Yet the rigors of a start-up company and the issues surrounding our governance compound the challenges we face in living our mission and fulfilling our goals.

The Culture We Make
As we build our organization we are seeking ways to provide the means for your empowered contributions to shape VOTF policies and decisions while at the same time to grow as quickly as possible and to respond to a fast paced, perilous environment as a professionally managed organization. To this end, your Representative Council has authorized the formation of a Governance Study Committee to develop an organizational structure that does this and at the same time meets the legal requirements of our corporate status. Some have suggested we are trying to invent a new type of organizational structure. This is a complex, organic exercise that will evolve over time, but one that will necessarily have as its goal the creation of an organization that focuses on serving you, our membership.

While this discussion advances through us, I would like to suggest that another one take place beside it - it may be a bit more inviting to discuss and answers the question, "What kind of culture do we want to develop in Voice of the Faithful?" The discussion of organizational structure focuses on the tangible ways our relationships relate to one another and is often portrayed in diagram form. The discussion of our culture focuses on values and answering the intangible questions of who we are, how we conduct ourselves, and how we relate to one another as people (of God.) It is better defined in how we treat one another than how we diagram our organization chart. We need both.

We are very cognizant of the hierarchal structure of our Church. We can see it and it is indisputable: Pope - Bishops - Pastors - Us. What has been more difficult to see is the culture of our Church, which many believe to be the root cause of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. While the structure is important, the culture has the more powerful effect in orienting the organization and the people in the organization. And this is especially true in service organizations, where culture is arguably the most important factor in their success - living their mission and attaining their goals.

The first thing that may come to mind in cultivating a VOTF culture is embracing gospel values. But what does that mean within our organizational structure and how do we respond to the currents we are facing? I offer you some questions to think about and discuss and I encourage you to share your responses with us if you are so inclined.

What does the Vatican II sense of the word "collaboration" mean to you? What does "servant leadership" mean to you? How are we responsible and accountable to one another and to our Church? Finally, what role do you think our culture will play in our "success" of living our mission statement and pursuing our goals? We look forward to your opinions and views.

Of Interest
One of the recent and interesting stories of VOTF is the inconspicuous ways that Parish Voice Affiliates are springing up across the country. We have discovered people from all over the country are adopting our mission statement, goals, and model of Parish Voice and are starting PV affiliates without contacting us directly, using the web site as a reference. This is truly an organic movement leveraged by internet technology. However, if you belong to such an affiliate, please contact us, so can better serve you and your organization.

Bannings In The News
Among our immediate goals and priorities is the reversal of the bannings. We should be able to meet in the same churches on Monday nights that welcome us on Sundays and ask for our financial support. Since August, VOTF has been banned in at least seven dioceses across the country, including Boston (MA), Bridgeport (CT), Brooklyn (NY), Camden (NJ), Newark (NJ), Portland (ME), and Rockville (Long Island, NY). The bishops in these dioceses have impugned the intentions and character of VOTF without taking the opportunity to learn about us directly! See our web site for the VOTF press release regarding these actions and Jim Post's response to them.

Governor Keating meets with VOTF
Survivors and VOTF representatives met on October 4th with Gov. Frank Keating, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board. The Board was established to monitor the compliance of Catholic Bishops with new policies for disciplining sexually abusive priests. Gov. Keating said, “Bishops need to listen to survivors and grassroots organizations. I don’t see what’s wrong with open dialogue – we can’t talk too much.”

VOTF to Meet with Cardinal Law
Recently, representatives from VOTF met with Bishop Edyvean, Vicar General, and other representatives from the Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB). The meeting was initiated by VOTF in response to published reports that RCAB was re-considering its ban on the formation of new VOTF affiliates. The purpose of the meeting was to address significant concerns that Cardinal Law and some other Chancery officials had with regard to VOTF's third goal. Unlike the previous two meetings, which could be characterized as an exchange of positions and views of our relationship to one another and our advocacy for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, this meeting centered on Chancery officials learning more about us and our Structural Change Working Document (on the web site). Chancery officials, including two canon lawyers, indicated their willingness to discuss the document again and described it as positive and reasonable. Additionally, VOTF presented a number of examples of the positive and energizing effect VOTF affiliates have on their parishes - something Cardinal law had been told in his recent regional visitations with both pastors and the regional vicars. Bishop Edyvean conveyed that Cardinal Law would like to meet with representatives from VOTF in the near future. We remain cautiously optimistic that this meeting will be arranged soon and will be constructive in literally "opening the doors" of our churches for VOTF to use in the work we do for survivors, priests, and one another.

Membership Notes
Our web site has been transformed and is content rich, updated frequently, and easy to navigate. If you have not visited it lately, you might want to take a look around.

Also, we have recently asked all of our members to "re-register," so we may know who you are and how the crisis has affected you. The information you provide is confidential and will not be shared outside of VOTF and only selectively within VOTF. Please re-register here.

We now have the capability to accept donations over the internet and hope to utilize this feature of our web site as part of a year-end fund-raising campaign. This will be another important step for our continued success. To make an online donation click here.


From the Desk of Mary Ann Keyes, Parish Voice Committee
Since September, I have increased the number of our coordinators by 15, which brings our total to 33 including our Secretary, Mary Jane Sullivan, RSCJ and our Web Master, Bob Strong. We have 20 new affiliates, now numbering 97!

I have also initiated a bi-monthly update to all the coordinators and affiliate leaders as well as an effort to update PV website news every two weeks.

We invite you to visit the VOTF Parish Voice on our Web site for a list of all coordinators, affiliates and contact information. You will find a wealth of information about vigils offered by our affiliates, victim support opportunities and achievements, Speakers' Forums and various reports from our coordinators all over the country.

Many pastors have noted the work VOTF is doing and I am happy to share some of their thoughts:

"The best thing VOTF is doing is getting laity involved at every level of parish life."

"Voice of the Faithful has given a sense of hope for the future of the Church."

"I believe Voice of the Faithful is about being willing to make an investment in your faith, become passionate about your beliefs and make time to demand what is rightfully yours through Baptism."

We are thrilled with our growth and look forward to the journey ahead!

From the Desk of Mike Emerton, Media Contact
The last two weeks have indeed been a very busy period for VOTF Communications. Top-tier press outlets such as Time Magazine, New York Daily News, Washington Post, New York Times and Associated Press have continued to turn to VOTF for our response to breaking news. The news topics that have peaked their interest range from the recent VOTF bannings in Brooklyn, NY to inquiries seeking clarification on Vatican responses to the U.S. Bishops' proposed Dallas Charter.

As always, please visit our Web site for the latest response to breaking news.

From the Desk of Svea Fraser, Priest Support Working Group
In an effort to determine how best to support our priests, our Goal #2, ten members of the Priest Support Working Group (PSWG) met with five diocesan priests at the Tufts Catholic Student Center on October 17th. Our first priority was to listen to what the priests had to say. The gathered group is called, appropriately, a "Sounding Board."

We learned about the current crisis from another perspective. In addition to the overwhelming workloads and expectations placed on priests, they are feeling vulnerable and "raw."

We discussed the importance of identification - in this case, some priests are uncomfortable with "priests of integrity." They find it divisive and judgmental. Others felt changing the term should take place only after careful consideration. We plan to bring this subject to an upcoming Council meeting for discussion.

We also discussed due process for accused priests. Everyone agreed that the first priority is the protection of children and that justice pursued must be justice for all. Currently, it seems to many that an accused priest is guilty until proven innocent.

When we asked how we can best help our priests, the resounding response energized everyone present. The hope of priests is that large numbers of laity will take a greater role in the life of the Church. More education and more imagination are needed to galvanize Catholics in this direction.

This evening ended with a feeling of hope and good will. As one person put it, the meeting was a good "first date." One of the priests thanked VOTF for "ringing a bell."

There is much work to be done, but the investment of time spent praying together, listening to each other and learning more about our roles will certainly bear fruit in a renewed and vibrant faith community.

Voices From Afar

Voice from Indiana - Lola McIntyre Indiana Regional Coordinator

VOTF-Indiana has initiated VOTF-Indiana Bishops Compliance Project:
This project embraces all 3 of VOTF's goals, and challenges us to think outside the box. It will walk us to all corners of Indiana's dioceses, and to many perspectives. We hope to learn and grow from the process.

We have established 5 different Bishops Compliance Project Facilitators; one for each diocese in our state (at this point we are a state-wide affiliate). At our next meeting we will divide into 5 "buzz" groups, each with a facilitator. Facilitators have been reviewing their designated diocesan web site, and brainstorming on HOW to do this.

The project includes clear procedures. We are committed to studying the Charter in its entirety, studying the Diocesan website and sharing our findings with each other.

Additional steps will be shaped by committee meetings throughout November.

Voice from Winchester, MA - Bob Morris, Winchester Area Voice of the Faithful
These are some highlights from our group in the past month and some upcoming events:

James Carroll's appearance on October 7 drew over 450 people to St. Eulalia's Church. After reading from his new book, Toward A New Catholic Church: The Promise of Reform, Carroll took questions for close to an hour. He left to a standing ovation.

Led by Christina Hurley, Clare Keane, John & Mary Deyst, and others, we are in the process of completing our survey of over 30 Boston area priests. The results of this survey will be made available once completed. The survey results will enable us to begin working toward fulfilling the goal #2, "Support priests of integrity."

On October 20, we conducted our second "Introduction to VOTF" after the 11:00 Mass. We conducted a similar session in September after the 9:00 Mass. We attracted about 35 people who had never attended one of our regular meetings. The questions we received were not hostile, but revealed that despite all the media coverage, there is considerable ignorance about VOTF. We still have much work that needs to be done.

On November 4, we will welcome Fr. Robert Bullock of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Sharon, and one of the co-founders of the Boston Priests' Forum. He will address VOTF's goal of "supporting priests of integrity".

On December 2, we will welcome Thomas Carr and his Pastoral Response Assistance Team. Tom and his group will be addressing the issue of sexual abuse by clergy. Tom's group is presenting a day-long program at Merrimack College on October 26.

Voice from New Jersey - Maria Cleary
The Northern New Jersey and Southern New Jersey VOTF groups realized we were having our October meeting on the same night. We decided to plan a joint candle-lighting service for survivors. We had a phone connection open between the North Jersey and South Jersey affiliates and we lit candles and prayed the same prayer at the same time! It was really inspiring to think that we were joined together in spirit for a common cause despite the miles between us. In any event, it's great to touch, in some concrete way, those who are following the same journey across the country and around the world. It's what technology does best, and why it's such a gift to this movement. We're looking forward to trying this again -- maybe even teleconferencing.....who knows?

Voice from the Westford-Chelmsford Area - Lauren Franceschi
The Westford Chelmsford Area Parish Voice voted unanimously to pay tuition for 5 members of the Clergy and Staff from each of our Parishes to attend a seminar offered on Oct. 26 at Merrimac College. It was entitled, "Developing a Pastoral Response to Sexual Abuse in the Church."

This day-long program was not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston or its offices, but was offered to foster healing and reconciliation in the Church. It promises to be of great value to our parishes.

Our Parish Voice has also hired renowned speaker Eileen Snow to come and speak to our group about the history and teachings of Vatican ll. We are making this special event available to all members of our parishes and encouraging DRE's to recommend it to their Confirmation candidates.

These are both expensive programs that will be paid for by contributions to our weekly collection basket. Because we believe that both to these programs will be beneficial to our parishes and we are recommending that Parishioners, Staff and Clergy partake in them, we thought it would be wise to "put our money where our mouths are." Our parishes are suffering financially due to this crisis and typically do not provide enrichment that does not come straight from the Archdiocese.

We wanted everyone to see an example of how VOTF can fit in and find a place as a buttress to our Church. As we evolve, we are more able to specifically define our role in the parishes. When an opportunity arises for us to be of help to the Parish, and carry out our Mission and Goals, we need to take it!

We also raised another $100.00 this week in a separate collection to be donated solely to Survivor Support (that's $1,600.00 total) and carpooled 5 members of our PV into the Cathedral last Sunday to stand in solidarity with the survivors.

Our PV managed to work effectively on all 3 goals in these simple acts this past week. We've been "listening" in our sessions for months now and understand the work ahead.

Voice from the Worcester Diocese - Joanne Helkowski
Mary Keville (St. Theresa, Harvard, MA) and Roger Racine (St. Richard's, Sterling, MA) met with Bishop Reilly (Worcester Diocese, MA) on Oct. 17. The meeting was a response to Bishop Reilly's advisory to all pastors that it would be premature for a parish to sponsor a VOTF affiliate without first consulting with the Bishop's office. Mary and Roger's meeting provided the Bishop with information about VOTF and found that the Bishop listened well and was open-minded. He requested that VOTF send a package of information to the pastors in the Worcester diocese. Before the meeting was concluded, the Bishop and VOTF representatives agreed to a number of collaborative efforts. The Bishop has since requested a second meeting to discuss issues around the "structural change" goal.

St. Theresa's has focused their fall education activity on a five-part tape series entitled "Vatican II: The Faithful Revolution."

Voice from Northampton, MA - Ann Turner
In Northampton, our group meets twice monthly at St. Mary's Parish Hall. At our last meeting Fr. Walter Cuenin spoke about his vision of a future church. His inspirational talk was warmly received. He discussed the role of women in the church, the role of a newly empowered laity and the need for our church to respond to the winds of change.

Soon, we will be voting on becoming a VOTF affiliate and I will pass on that outcome.

Voice from Hartford-East - Regional Coordinator Mary Ann Murray
At St. Bridget's in October, we held a candlelight prayer vigil as well as a Holy Hour prayer time for the survivors.

Our Parish Voice affiliate hosted a reception for our priests. Our pastor and two retired weekend associate pastors were honored with encouragement, support and praise for their work. Our informal gathering provided good food, friendship and laughter.

Our next meeting on November 9 will focus on the Structural Change document, the Governance document and the Beliefs document recently distributed. John Ryan, our Council Rep. will take these comments to Council.

Regional Coordinators and Parish Voice chairpeople will meet in Hartford to discuss our vision, roles and actions for the next few months.

We would like to engage a speaker on pedophilia and a survivor to tell his/her story. These would be followed by a listening session. Our education subcommittee is also interested in speakers for a discussion of church history/structure and the documents of Vatican II.

" It is in the Spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only faith can yield it." Gal. 5:5






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Voice of the Faithful is recognized as one of the most promising lay organizations to evolve in the Catholic Church. Your support is absolutely necessary for us to continue. The online donation form and the mail in donation form are both quick and easy ways for you to participate, and we are most grateful. (VOTF is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. )

Mission Statement

To provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.


Our Goals

1. To support survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

2. To support priests of integrity

3.To shape structural change within the Catholic Church.

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Pray Each Day
at Noon

Jesus, Lord and Brother, help us with our faithfulness. Please hear our voice, and let our voice be heard. Amen. More



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