(Ed. Note: Some
of the reports in this section will seem unduly long for a newsletter.
I include them with minimal cutting for the benefit of readers who
are looking for ideas and encouragement and also to facilitate the
feeling of a virtual plenary meeting - at least until such time
as we can all gather in one enormous space!)
Puget Sound, WA
Reported by Laura Norton
going on in the state of Washington this week on three bills to
protect minors. One requires clergy to report abuse while protecting
confessional confidentiality; the other two would eliminate the
statute of limitations on reporting sexual abuse of a minor. Some
of our VOTF members will be testifying as is SNAP. As in L.A., these
bills are not retroactive. If passed, they would take effect in
can fill you in fully on the legislative action link (see the left-hand
column on the first page) at www.members.aol.com/psvotf/
Reported by Terry Ryan Contact www.votfwis.org
Wisconsin Affiliate of VOTF heard Dr. Dan Maguire, Professor of
Ethics at Marquette University, speak on "The Voice of the Faithful
in a Clerical Church" at its 1/9 meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes
parish. Maguire used the long-term history of the church to demonstrate
both the possibility of change and the continuing need for reform
in the church. Approximately 200 people attended this meeting and
gave Dan a standing ovation.
The next meeting
is scheduled for February 13th at Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in
New Berlin. The draft legislation coauthored by State Rep. Peggy
Krusick and State Sen. Alberta Darling will be discussed in order
to provide feedback to the legislators. Three critical pieces of
legislation will be introduced related to clergy sexual abuse: 1)
making clergy mandatory reporters of abuse; 2) extending the statute
of limitations for reporting sexual abuse; and 3) allowing victims
to file civil suits, which basically overturns a 1995 State Supreme
Court decision in Wisconsin.
to the focus on legislation, members will break into working group
"voices" based on areas of interest; legislation, survivors, financial,
structural, parishes, and clergy support. A new group entitled "collaborative
voice" will also be launched to act as liaison between other organizations
and groups such as SNAP, CTA, etc. We pray that our voices may be
effective in promoting reforms in the state of Wisconsin and that
these moves will prevent/deter sexual abuse, support victims of
clergy sexual abuse, and hold perpetrators - and those who cover
up these crimes - accountable. Come, Holy Spirit.
Reported by Karma Wanamaker
Here in Iowa,
Bill HF 57 has been introduced in our legislature. It would require
clergy to be mandatory reporters of child abuse. Clergy would be
obliged to complete two hours of training relating to the identification
and reporting of abuse. The bill exempts clergy from reporting "penitential
communication" and is co-sponsored by four members of the Iowa House.
Reported by Jim Zralek
Among the major
goals of Nashville VOTF is the re-establishment of a diocesan pastoral
council in the Nashville Diocese. A diocesan pastoral council is
a council of clergy, religious and laity, presided over by the bishop
to consider pastoral work and to offer, as a consultative voice,
practical recommendations. A diocesan pastoral council existed briefly
in the Nashville diocese after Vatican II, but it was allowed to
die out. Nashville VOTF believes that re-establishing this council
is an important step toward improving communication between the
bishop and the laity.
On August 17,
2002, Bishop Kmiec met with Nashville VOTF and graciously offered
to create a diocesan pastoral council. As a follow-up to the August
meeting, Nashville VOTF sent letters to the bishop requesting that
a council be re-established as quickly as possible. Also, Nashville
VOTF requested that the laity make up at least 75% of the membership
and that lay members be selected by the parish councils.
co-facilitators of VOTF met with the bishop to discuss the establishment
of a diocesan pastoral council. The bishop indicated his intention
to organize a committee that would work on the pastoral council,
with the goal of having one in place by the fall. Nashville VOTF
hopes to have representation on the committee and intends to continue
to work on this issue. At the meeting, co-facilitators suggested
to the bishop that during the upcoming Lenten season, the parish
Emmaus groups focus on reconciliation in relationship to the sexual-abuse
scandal. Several dioceses in Pennsylvania are planning such a focus.
councils and the importance of the laity were recognized by Vatican
II. For, example, the following statements are quoted from Vatican
II texts: "It is highly desirable that in every diocese a special
pastoral council be established, presided over by the diocesan bishop
himself, in which clergy, religious, and laity specially chosen
for the purpose will participate. It will be the function of this
council to investigate and consider matters relating to pastoral
activity and to formulate practical conclusions concerning them."
(Vatican II, "Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church,"
Christus Dominus, October 28, 1965)
"Like all Christians,
the laity have the right to receive in abundance the help of the
spiritual goods of the Church, especially that the word of God and
the sacraments from the pastors. To the latter the laity should
disclose their needs and desires with that liberty and confidence
which befits children of God and brothers of Christ. By reason of
the knowledge, competence or pre-eminence which they have the laity
are empowered-indeed sometimes obliged-to manifest their opinion
on those things which pertain to the good of the Church. If the
occasion should arise this should be done through the institutions
established by the Church for that purpose and always with truth,
courage and prudence and with reverence and charity towards those
who, by reason of their office, represent the person of Christ."
(Vatican II, "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," Lumen Gentium,
November 21, 1964)
suggests that individuals work toward the prompt re-establishment
of a diocesan pastoral council by taking the following four steps:
about this issue. "
Bishop Kmiec frequently at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your e-mail, you can (a) state your support for establishing
a diocesan pastoral council with at least 75% lay membership;
(b) ask for an update on re-establishing a council; and (c) offer
your assistance to the bishop. "
Bishop Kmiec frequently at The Catholic Center, 2400 21st Avenue
South, Nashville, TN 37212. Your letter can contain the same type
of items listed in Step 2. "
- Pass this information
along to other interested Catholics. Our mission statement, contact
information, and updates are available for each of our committees
Reminders are provided through
Grand Rapids, MI
Reported by Laurel Hill
Rapids is co-sponsoring with Aquinas College an evening with
Fr. Richard P. McBrien, Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology
at Notre Dame University, and well-known author. He will speak
on "Challenges Facing the Church Today" on 2/27 at the Aquinas
College Lack Center. Fr. McBrien's talk will be followed by
a Q & A session as well as a book signing opportunity and reception.
This event is in keeping with our intention to bring relevant
speakers to Grand Rapids in order to encourage continued discussion.
Committee has a scheduled meeting coming up with our Diocesan
Vicar General. We first requested a meeting with our bishop
in August. We are hopeful that this meeting will produce encouraging
results. Specifically, we are hoping to gain a listening session/meeting
for our victim/survivors with the bishop. We also hope to learn
the identity of the members of our Diocesan Review Board.
us in your prayers as we do all of you.
VOTF Northwest Nassau, Long Island, NY
Reported by Carol Bongiorno
had its first meeting at the end of September in a private home
with about 25 people. We met again in November, December and
January. Our group has grown to 65 members from ten parishes.
We keep our pastors informed of our activities with the monthly
Bishop, William Murphy, was one of the first to issue a ban
against VOTF meeting on church property. After a three-month
search we have found a local Community Church, the only place
where we are welcome. We have tried fire houses, libraries,
VFW and American Legion halls, a retreat house and a Catholic
club. Either outside groups are not welcome, Catholic organizations
fear the reprisal of the Bishop, or the price was too high.
Being allowed to use the Community Church seems an ecumenical
gesture on the part of its Pastor and Board and we are very
grateful. We have learned that, where banned, VOTF members have
been meeting in Protestant churches throughout the Northeast.
is part of the VOTF Long Island Regional group. Approximately
900 people attend the VOTF-Long Island Regional monthly meetings.
Seven hundred attended a VOTF Mass for solidarity with the victims
of abuse that was held at Maria Regina Church in Seaford on
December 8th (concelebrated with 8 priests and 11 deacons) and
followed by a candlelight vigil.
approximately 1000 VOTF members on Long Island. The VOTF-LI
Victim Support Committee has been meeting to discuss ways to
channel requests from large numbers of victims of abuse and
their families seeking support and referrals. The Finance Committee
of VOTF-LI sent a letter to the Bishop, offering expert help
with financial accountability and transparency in connection
with the Bishop's Annual Appeal. The offer was rejected. Consequently,
VOTF-LI is not endorsing the Bishop's Appeal and has set up
an alternative "Voice of Compassion" fund.
At our own
local meeting Jim Howard, Co-Moderator, offered this question
for our reflection: "If Bishop Murphy were present tonight,
what suggestions would you give him?
from Groups: Hold listening sessions in parishes with key persons,
including VOTF members; lift the ban on the use of church facilities
for our meeting, full financial disclosure; listen with your
head and your heart to the laity; as shepherd, follow the model
of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, whose ministry was marked by compassion,
not power. It was evident that the climate of fear which has
apparently prevented the Bishop's openness to VOTF must be dispelled
before any constructive dialogue can take place.
for Northwest Nassau Parish Voice Affiliate:
for Listening Session are being sent to all pastors in our
are asked to research the status of their parishes' Pastoral
Advisory Committees and/or Parish Councils for future discussion
and follow through.
- We have
made arrangements with survivors of abuse, those who treat
victims, and priests to speak at our monthly meetings.
Emphasis will be placed on Vatican II documents, Canon Law
and church history.
- NY State
Disclosure Law: The final version of the Vatican approved,
Catholic Bishop's Charter requires compliance with local laws.
Unfortunately, only 27 states require that sexual abuse by
clergy be reported to the police and New York State is not
one of them. We are looking into this further and understand
that there is a bill under discussion at this time.
not least is the power of prayer. Our opening and closing prayers
are inspired and inspiring. We feel God is working very powerfully
among us. We try to keep our focus on Jesus. In Him we have
the hope of restoring and healing our beloved church. We are
very grateful for the encouragement and resource materials received
through Voice of the Faithful, Boston, and Voice of the Faithful,
Brooklyn Diocese, NY
Reported by Melissa Gradel
from meeting on diocesan property, VOTF is active and growing
in Brooklyn and Queens, the two boroughs of NYC that comprise
the Diocese of Brooklyn. Meetings are being held at a Franciscan
college, an American Legion Hall, and a Baptist church.
Beach VOTF, Brooklyn VOTF, and a third group still in formation
in the Park Slope neighborhood, worked together on several important
issues this month. We held a candlelight vigil in front of St.
James Cathedral on Epiphany. One hundred thirty-five people
attended on a bitter, snowy evening to reaffirm our support
for victims of clergy sexual abuse, our support of priests,
and our determination to see healthful change within our church.
We stated that by barring VOTF meetings from our parish churches,
Bishop Daily had rejected the gifts of the laity. Thanks to
the artistic talents of Suzanne Michelle, a member of the Brooklyn
VOTF Organizing Committee, several dozen boxes naming some of
those gifts were assembled to comprise a stunning mural, which
shimmered in the snowfall as the assembly sang "O Come, O come
Emanuel." The first gift was Love, the last Compassion … in
between were Justice, Fidelity, Parenting, Financial Wisdom
18, six local VOTF leaders met with a committee representing
the Diocese, headed by Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Catanello.
The meeting lasted nearly five hours. Perhaps the most important
outcome was that all present established considerable common
ground in our concern for victims and priests, in our belief
that a more active laity is necessary for the health of the
Church, and in our personal sadness, anger and bewilderment
at the events of the past year. Areas of friction included the
meaning of "structural change" in VOTF's goals, our association
with SNAP, and our "use of the media." In addition, Bishop Catanello
had received an item from Crisis magazine, naming many
of the speakers at last July's conference and suggesting that,
by inviting these speakers, VOTF endorsed a range of positions
on issues. VOTF representatives responded to these concerns
with correct information and stated firmly our pledge to support
survivors' groups such as SNAP and our belief that the ban on
VOTF meetings is wrong.
here grows, we are trying to become more active in the governance
and shaping of VOTF as it begins its second miraculous year.
Two Brooklyn and Queens members attended the informal Council
meeting on January 18 and another attended the Council meeting
on January 23. In addition, we are working together with others
in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area to build regional cooperation
and communication, and hope through these efforts to help VOTF
become a truly national, sustainable voice for Catholic lay
St. Louis de Montfort Parish Voice, Long Island, NY
Reported by Bill Lynch
at St. Louis de Montfort can't fully appreciate the difficulties
faced by other VOTFers unable to meet in their own churches.
Not every parish has a Fr. Charlie or a Fr. Frank of Hope House,
willing to provide meeting spaces. Nor does every parish have
a Dr. Maureen or a Sr. Eileen and such a talented and generous
staff. I keep telling myself - it's not supposed to be this
easy. All of us, though, tell ourselves how fortunate we are.
recently of a new Parish Voice on Long Island, at Our Lady of
Victory, Floral Park. More good news - the LI VOTF is holding
its first Parish Voice Affiliates Forum for its 40 Parish Voices
on 2/4 at Pax Christi in Port Jefferson. The purpose is to get
to know each other and share our thoughts on helping the Church.
At a recent
gathering, we were privileged to hear from Bob Keeler, a member
of the Newsday editorial board, a Nobel Prize winner, a supporter
of Hope House and a friend.
addressed the Bishop's Annual Appeal. For those not comfortable
supporting the appeal and the help it provides so many charities,
we provided contact information for the Long Island Voice of
Tri-Parish of Long Beach and Point Lookout, NY
Reported by Tom Dowling
Parish Voice consists of St. Ignatius and St. Mary of the Isle,
Long Beach and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Point Lookout.
At our upcoming second meeting we expect to hear one of our
deacons speak about accountability at both the parish and diocesan
level. We have about 80 members already and keep each other
informed with postcards, e-mail and our website at www.parishvoice-seaside.org.
This includes links to regional and national sites.
Northern New Jersey
Reported by Maria Cleary
NJ Affiliate is preparing for its February 20 meeting with Deal
Hudson as the featured speaker. We invited him because Archbishop
Myers of Newark sent us one of Deal's articles in response to
our question, "Why have you banned us?" We feel it's important
to hear our critics as well as our supporters, and we'll report
back on how the evening unfolded.
started breaking into Action Groups, including Survivors, Prayerful
Voice, Education, Structural Change, Finance, and Priests' Support.
Each group is meeting separately. We're hoping this will be
an opportunity for other members to take on leadership positions,
so we can add to the size of our core team. Prayerful Voice
took a first step in that direction by planning a prayer service
for Feb. 1. Many of us are anxiously awaiting the opportunity
to pray as community and we hope this will become part of our
regular monthly calendar.
we're excited to report that we've launched a "Tri-State Regional
Chat" via AOL Instant Messenger. Members from NJ, NY and CT
logged on last Sunday and we had a wonderful "conversation."
We're planning to do this on Sundays from 8-9 pm, and anyone
from our area (and beyond!) is welcome to join us. Better yet,
it's easy to start your own. Email Maria Cleary at email@example.com
for details, or check with your local teenager. They're the
experts! Blessings to all from the Garden State!
Reported by Kevin Gemmell
continues to meet monthly despite the large geographic area
covered by 450,000 Catholics. Our next meeting is 2/18. We meet
at Mary's Vineyard, a spiritual wellness center in Cherry Hill,
NJ. VOTF Camden has recently reached out by letter to the 126
pastors in this diocese inviting them to meetings and explaining
the purpose of VOTF.
of Camden, Nicholas DiMarzio, has banned VOTF in major part
because he believes that "those in prominent leadership positions…openly
dissent from Church teachings." We have repeatedly asked for
follow-up meeting to correct the bishop. He has refused to cite
his sources or explain his reasoning and has ignored repeated
written requests for communication. In addition, the Camden
Diocese continues to succeed in using the NJ statute of limitations
to thwart survivors' efforts to be heard in court. There are
22 plaintiffs suing the diocese for allowing abusive priests
to remain in ministry. The plaintiffs also allege that Bishop
DiMarzio and his prior two predecessors engaged in a cover up
of the abuse.
Greater West Hartford, CT
Reported by Joanne Moran
3, 2003 Jayne O'Donnell, of VOTF Greater West Hartford and Mary
Ann Murray of VOTF Manchester, the two regional coordinators
for the Hartford Archdiocese, joined John Ryan of VOTF for a
meeting with Archbishop Daniel Cronin. The meeting was the result
of several attempts to make contact with the Archbishop. Among
those attempts were Jim Post's letter that went out to all U.S.
bishops, letters from our local leadership and, finally, a telephone
call that indicated VOTF's great desire to initiate a dialogue
with the Archbishop. The meeting was also the result of the
internal dialogue and constant prayer of the membership of the
local VOTF affiliates, including VOTF of Greater West Hartford.
representatives had two objectives in mind when they prepared
for the meeting:1) to allay any fears that the local hierarchy
might have regarding the real mission and goals of VOTF; 2)
to set a basis for future and ongoing dialogue, particularly
around the issue of lay involvement in the governance and guidance
of the Church. The meeting was both cordial and, in light of
the objectives, successful. The various local affiliates, including
VOTF of Greater West Hartford, will ask their membership to
develop a list of questions and issues for VOTF's future meetings
with representatives from Archbishop Cronin's office. Our leadership
will be calling the Chancery shortly to set a date for those
Greater West Hartford has encouraged the Church of St. Timothy
to sponsor a lecture series on the Documents of Vatican II.
Our monthly February meeting will be spent attending these lectures.
We have encouraged the membership of other nearby affiliates
to attend. There will be four talks in the series given by Reverend
Aidan Donahue, former president of St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield,
Ct. The talks will be held on Thursday, February 6, 13, 20 and
March 6, 2003 from 7-9 p.m. at the Church of St. Timothy at
1116 North Main Street, West Hartford. All are welcome.
Reported by Bob and Grace Marrion
have our fourth regular meeting this week with a change in location.
We now meet at the Days Inn in Niantic. While our bishop has
not permitted us to meet on church property, he has kept the
door open for further discussions and we plan to visit him again
gave a wonderful presentation here on 1/12 with about 100 people
in attendance. He spoke on "Our Hopes for Renewal in the Church,"
drawing from his recent book What Makes Us Catholic.
has scheduled two special Masses, one for survivors of abuse
on 3/30 and for our priests on 5/25. Both will be held at St.
Agnes in Niantic. We have also been in touch with SNAP to arrange
for a speaker in the Spring.
invited to join the Hartford affiliates for a meeting with Mary
Ann Keyes on 1/18 (see below). They plan to meet monthly
and have graciously included us in their future meeting plans.
continues to grow. For information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hartford Parish Voice
Mary Ann Murray
the Greater Hartford Parish Voice Affiliates met in Hartford
with VOTF Parish Voice Coordinator Mary Ann Keyes. This was
the first meeting of all area affiliates. We covered a lot of
ground in two hours with the able assistance of Mary Ann. We
will meet again in February and hope to establish a schedule
of regular meetings of all affiliates for mutual encouragement
and coordination of our efforts to support VOTF's goals. We
will address the challenges and concerns particular to the Hartford
archdiocese in order to help heal our Church and strengthen
Catholicism in our region.
a new (the seventh!) Parish Voice in the Hartford diocese at
St. Christopher's in East Hartford. It is currently led by Anita
We are grateful
to Mary Ann Keyes and all who faithfully give of their time
and talents to work for healing and justice.
Reported by Lorraine Graham
More of Durham, NH, which serves the seacoast area, hosted Sr.
Carole Descoteaux, former president of Notre Dame College in
Manchester, NH, on 1/22. She spoke on "The Role of the Laity
- Their Rights and Responsibilities," as articulated in Vatican
II. Sr. Carole's comments were very well received, especially
when she said, "I believe that Voice of the Faithful is consistent
with the message of the Second Vatican Council…and it's about
time! The Spirit of God is moving!"
It was an
inspiring session and we hope to have Sr. Carole back for Part
II as we continue to educate ourselves on our right and responsibility
to work for change in the Church.
At our 2/12
meeting, we will move from a Steering Committee format to elected
officers and by-laws. We hope to apply for our own 501c-3 tax
exempt status so that parishioners might contribute directly
to our parish without the 7.8% cut going to the diocese. We
have already established a bank account for parishioners to
fund our parish directly.
us attended the Manchester Solidarity March (see report below)
in support of victims of abuse. Fr. Tom Doyle spoke in a moving
testament to Goal #1. Hundreds of victims, survivors, and VOTF
and CCS members from MA, NH and other states participated.
Northampton/Springfield Affiliate, MA
Reported by Ann W. Turner
Fr. Mark Stelzer, who is active at Elms College, spoke at our
meeting about Vatican II and the rights of the laity. It was
a useful addition to our ongoing inquiry into the laity's place
in the Catholic Church.
we addressed "What's Next?" We discussed where we wanted to
go in the coming months and what goals might we set for ourselves.
Mary Keville, the moderator of the Worcester, MA affiliate (and
a great help in getting our group started and continuing to
advise us) had sent a long e-mail of various possible answers
to our question. After intense, small group discussion, we came
up with a number of proposals for our future:
out to and learn more about our diocese. With that in mind,
we are drafting a letter to Bishop Dupre inviting him to a
meeting or suggesting a representative group meet with him.
We want to express our support as well as acknowledge our
appreciation for the use of St. Mary's for our VOTF meetings;
our support to the community of priests in our diocese;
our support to Fr. Scahill, a priest in East Longmeadow, who
took the courageous stand of withholding the diocesan tax
until Fr. Lavigne, a local priest named in many abuse suits,
has been officially laicized;
the MA statute of limitations on reporting sexual abuse;
out more to victims in our diocese and investigate the existence
of any local victims' groups.
believes it is essential to apply VOTF goals locally, to become
knowledgeable about the Springfield Diocese, and to build bridges
to the community of priests.
West Concord, MA
Reported by Bob O'Grady
the Parish Voice of Our Lady Help of Christians, (West) Concord,
MA will have the pastor, Fr. Austin Fleming, speak on several
subjects, among them the progress of the Boston Diocese's Priests
Association. He will share his views on solutions to the projected
diminution of priests available for parish ministry. We expect
that Fr. Austin will also are discuss the impact of the past
year on his own life and ministry as well as give us suggestions
for the kind of support we can offer priests. All are welcome
Reported by Tim Buckley, Marie White and Jennifer Watts
members enthusiastically responded to our pastor's request for
volunteers to attend the Archdiocese of Boston's weekend training
program for VIRTUS that is being implemented at every parish
by the Office of Children's Advocacy. This program creates an
awareness of and provides policies for reporting abuse and neglect
of children in our parish. Training sessions are scheduled in
February and March for all parish staff, parish pastoral council
members, and all parish volunteers and parishioners who interact
with children on a regular basis. Our pastor, Fr. Wendell Verrill,
has sent letters to staff members and volunteers asking them
to choose one of the three dates for introductory sessions.
He is even serving all attendees supper after the meeting! His
goal is to have all training completed by late Spring.
Pastoral Council of St. Mary (including two members of St. Mary's
VOTF Steering Committee!) organized a celebration for Fr. Wendell
Verrill on 2/1 and 2/2 to celebrate his 65th birthday and the
40th anniversary of his ordination. We all wanted to express
our love and support to him for his integrity, wisdom, faith
Fall River, MA
Reported by J. Christopher Boyd
In the Fall
River Diocese, we are planting the seeds for what we hope will
begin a flourishing VOTF Parish Voices across the diocese. Previously,
the island of Nantucket had formally established the only Parish
Voice in the diocese. Now, due to the sensitive efforts of the
team in North Falmouth, we are proud to have a second PV in
the area. This team is well organized and distributing their
efforts among a number of highly motivated leaders. Generating
interest through positive newspaper coverage and drawing on
surrounding towns for membership, their most recent meeting
showcasing a Jesuit priest from Boston College drew a crowd
reported at greater than 300. Their efforts to grow quietly
and steadily have blossomed rapidly and dramatically. It suggests
to me that there is an enormous desire to participate in and
support the efforts of Voice of the Faithful in this area. The
spirit is moving our Church - we simply need to help facilitate
the opportunities for the faithful to respond. Presently, we
have the beginnings of our next PV developing in Orleans (ed.
Note: Orleans has joined the fold!) We hope this will enable
the many towns in between Falmouth and Orleans to gravitate
toward these PV's and build out from there.
I have broken
the diocese into clusters for communication purposes. My hope
is that this will encourage interested members to work together
in building local Parish Voices around the diocese. We have
interested members from the various corners of the diocese,
including Norton area, Mattapoisett area, Fall River area, and
various towns on Cape Cod. Some will work toward finding a meeting
place in local parishes, others will meet in homes, while others
are still are looking for alternative meeting sites, such as
restaurants, school rooms, town halls, and, if necessary, non-Roman
Catholic church facilities.
to have at least one more parish voice affiliate to report by
next quarter. To have successfully accomplished my goals as
the parish voice coordinator, we will have established at least
one parish voice affiliate strategically located in each of
the cluster areas of the diocese, and at least six affiliates
within the diocese. We're well on our way with the hard work,
determination and good will of members throughout the diocese.
Reported by Mike Gustin
Area Parish Voice had much to celebrate recently with the early
January election to Parish Council of two VOTF members in one
of our parishes, St. Catherine's in Westford. We nominated two
of our strongest VOTF voices, Dennis Galvin and Lauren Franceschi,
and fellow parishioners elected both to serve on the Parish
forward to implementing VOTF's vision for Structural Change
by our active involvement in Parish Council. VOTF members now
represent 25% of the total Parish Council membership at St.
Winchester Area, MA
Reported by Bob Morris
has been meeting weekly since May 13 at St. Eulalia's Parish
in Winchester. We have over 300 registered members, from over
a dozen parishes in Winchester and many surrounding towns. At
our January 13th meeting, we welcomed Jacqui Landry, the Catholic
Chaplain for undergraduates at Harvard University. Ms. Landry,
a featured speaker at the VOTF convention in July, addressed
the question of the impact that the scandal of the past year
has had and will have on the youth of our Church. Her talk,
attended by over 100 persons, reminded us that the scandal will
be the defining event in the Church for an entire generation,
and that its impact will be felt for years, if not decades to
27, we welcomed two survivors of sexual abuse - Phil Saviano,
the former New England Regional Director for SNAP, and Carol
Xenos. Both Phil and Carol gave moving and powerful presentations,
which brought home to the over 100 present from several area
parishes that we must never cease our efforts to support the
survivors of abuse - our wounded and despairing brothers and
St. Bernard's, Newton, MA
Reported by Martha Rowland
a licensed social worker and supervisor of Trauma Services for
Family Service of Greater Boston, spoke at St. Bernard's VOTF
Parish Affiliate on 1/23. She addressed the prevalence of abuse
in general; the estimate is that one in seven boys and one in
four girls have been victimized by abuse. She spoke of the importance
of parent and teacher involvement in understanding and determining
danger signals. Glenda also brought information from the Children's
Advocacy Center of Suffolk County on resources available to
adult survivors of clergy abuse as well as contact information.
Her talk was followed by a lively and informative Q & A period.
St. Mary's, Jefferson and St. George's, Worcester Diocese
Reported by Joyce Godfrey
January Parish Voices meeting, we had a wonderful session with
David O'Brien from Holy Cross College. He spoke about the crisis
in the Church and addressed the question, "Where do we go from
here?" There was a lively discussion period afterward. We hope
to bring David back for some more educational sessions in the
It was brought
to our attention that our neighboring parish, St. George's,
whose parishioners have been invited to join us for Parish Voices,
is now starting a pastoral council. Members of St. Mary's pastoral
council, are helping them with the process. We are very pleased
that by attending Parish Voices people were inspired to take
a more active role in their parish and approach their pastor
about starting a pastoral council.
Merrimack Valley Region, MA
Reported by Stacey Quealey
In the Merrimack
Valley Region, MA, we are beginning to develop our own regional
personality. We will be eagerly pursuing the development of
Working Groups (the successful think tanks from our forebears
in Newton/Wellesley, MA). I am thrilled to announce that Lauren
Franceschi (Westford-Chelmsford VOTF) will be a tremendous support
in this process. I expect many other local leaders will emerge
as well. It is exciting to foresee how VOTF can now become further
defined and effective by strong regionalization across the state
and across the country. In this way, Parish Voices can come
together in their respective regions and do some real work in
advocating for victims, supporting priests who are living up
to their vows, and promoting cultural change in their local
parishes (especially through Parish Councils). We all know that
parish life is where the changes, over time, will make the biggest
impact on church reform in general.
Plymouth Cluster and Duxbury Area Affiliates
Reported by Kathleen Leslie
We are sponsoring
a presentation by Fr Michael Himes, Monday, February 24th at
Sacred Heart High School in Kingston, Massachusetts. Fr Himes,
a Professor of Theology at Boston College will speak on the
"Call to Baptism" and the role of the laity in the Catholic
Church. All are welcome. Contact email@example.com
if you have questions.
St. Rose of Lima, Topsfield, MA
Reported by Vince Guerra
of the ongoing Adult Education Forum on the Catholic Church,
VOTF Northshore Affiliate will sponsor Roger Haight, S.J., author,
lecturer and faculty member at Weston Jesuit School of Theology,
Cambridge, MA. He will speak on "Lay Ministry in the American
Catholic Church," Sunday, 1/23 at 7 p.m. His talk will address
the history of the Catholic Church in America and the development
of lay ministry following Vatican II. The evening will begin
with a brief business discussion followed by Fr. Haight's talk
and a Q&A period. All who are interested are welcome and encouraged
to bring a friend.
Leadership Council Report - covering the 1/23 Council
Groups - ongoing progress reports on goal-related work
at Large - members covering key events in Naples, FL and Manchester,
Voices Everywhere! - updates from affiliates coast-to-coast
from Members - members share information about resources supportive
of female victims of abuse and an upcoming talk by Fr. Austin Fleming
in Concord, MA.
Post's Speaking Schedule
forward submissions to In the Vineyard to firstname.lastname@example.org.