Reported by Patricia Newton
Tuesday, February 25, 2003, the Nashville, TN VOTF Committee Supporting
the Priests hosted a dinner for priests of the diocese at St.
Ann Parish Life Center. Six priests attended, joining Nashville
VOTF co-facilitators and committee members. Together, this group
discussed VOTF goals, planning and recruitment of new members.
further the recruitment and retention of new members, the Nashville
VOTF Chapter will have a general meeting to hear a presentation
by two experienced organizers, Rev. Ray Sells (a Methodist minister)
and Irene Boyd (a member of the Nashville Catholic community),
from Tying Nashville Together (TNT). The location is the St. Ann
Parish Life Center. This will be held on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2003
at the St. Ann Parish Life Center.
is a faith-based organization that began about 10 years ago in
Nashville and now has over 50 churches, synagogues and mosques
as members. TNT has accomplished much for the people of Nashville,
including the creation of a mediation center, which takes hundreds
of minor cases from the courts each year, an after school program
in 12 Metro Nashville Schools and higher wages for workers at
the Metro Nashville Nursing Home.
VOTF is making plans to participate in the 2nd annual St. Patrick's
Day celebration in Nashville on March 16.
Nashville VOTF Chapter issued its first monthly news letter in
January 2003. The newsletter can be seen on the St. Ann Parish
web site at www.saintannparish.com.
Nashville Chapter is especially grateful to Father Phillip Breen,
Pastor of St. Ann Parish, and the St. Ann Parish community for
the wonderful support extended to Nashville VOTF.
Fort Meyrs, FL
Reported by Goz Gosselin
accumulating experience with my VOTF colleagues in the Archdiocese
of Hartford, CT., I came to Fort Myers, FL ready to locate other
Catholics interested in forming a new affiliate. With a core group
of fourteen, including my non-Catholic wife Terri, we organized
our first "general meeting," advertised as a VOTF Informational
Meeting. Over 85 people attended and 31 are official members of
our new affiliate. Our steering committee is planning a second
meeting to be held on March 10th. Plans are to show the Fr. Tom
Doyle tape from the July VOTF Conference. A listening session
will also be part of our program, as we feel this is a most important
part of what VOTF is about. Unfortunately, we are still meeting
off church property, but hope to change that, after our visit
with a chancery official.
has only three official affiliates, with ours being the third.
We have one located in N. Naples, and the other in Sun City Center.
We are helping folks in the Palm Beach area get started, and there
seems to be interest on Marco Island. Florida is basically untapped,
and much work is to be done. We have unusual conditions here,
as so many of us are "snow-birds." Finding year-round leadership
has been troublesome, but all will work out, with the help of
the Holy Spirit.
(Ed. Note: Since Goz filed his report, the News-Press in Fort
Myers, FL noted the following:
"Bishop John J. Nevins of the Diocese of Venice is not opposed
to Voice of the Faithful, a lay Catholic group that soon might
have three chapters operating in his diocese. 'Bottom line, Bishop
Nevins is not opposed to Voice of the Faithful and their main
goals as we understand them to be,' said Gail McGrath, diocese
Northern New Jersey Affiliate
Reported by Maria Cleary
Hudson, oft-quoted VOTF critic and publisher of CRISIS magazine,
was the featured speaker at our February meeting. We made the
decision to invite Hudson because we felt strongly that we should
be open to dialogue with all voices, whether supporters or detractors.
To the surprise of many in our audience, Deal identified much
common ground in our concerns about the Church and its future.
have begun weekly "Prayerful Voice" gatherings at a lovely little
chapel in Whippany, NJ. It is wonderful to have a chance to be
spiritually refreshed by sharing some scripture and song with
our VOTF brothers and sisters.
reaching out to our priests in a much more active way by sponsoring
a series of "Priests' Forums." One of our local churches is providing
us with space, and we've invited every member of the clergy from
the Paterson diocese to attend any or all of four discussion groups.
Our March meeting will also feature a panel of local priests who
will discuss how the church crisis has affected their lives and
for us as we discern whether or not we can handle a Tri-State
Regional Conference for NY, NJ and CT sometime this year. We'll
keep you posted. Blessings from all of us Jersey folks to our
VOTF family across our country and the world.
St. Agnes Parish Voice, Reading, MA
Reported by Pat Coppola
Parish Voice has been actively involved in implementing a process
for the laity to have a voice in the selection of their bishop.
We are in the early stages of creating task forces for the nomination
process and soliciting key candidates to be part of a search committee.
Fr. Robert Bullock, head of the Priests' Forum in Boston, will
be coming to speak with us on 2/26 to discuss the selection of
a new bishop.
March, we invite other members of the Boston Archdiocese to participate
in an archdiocesan-wide meeting of laity and clergy. For further
information on this meeting contact Marie Collamore at email@example.com.
anyone is interested in learning more about this process (remember
there will be many bishops approaching retirement in the future),
we have information we can send to you. Please contact us at the
committee to support our priests of our parish has initiated prayer
vigils held twice a month, including day and evening hours.
committee of Survivor Support has asked members to email or write
the Office of Healing/Barbara Thorpe at the Archdiocese to demonstrate
our outrage of their decision in making public the confidential
files of sessions held with survivors in therapy.
Merrimack Valley, MA
Reported by Stacey Quealey
would like to compliment and acknowledge the recent success at
St. Augustine, Andover, MA Parish Voice.
Gilbert is the Parish Voice leader for St. Augustine (as well
as the Regional Coordinator for Texas). Upon hearing about the
Archdiocesan requirements for parishioners to be CAP trained,
she single-handedly alerted her pastor, educated him about the
necessity of it, and recruited four of her Parish Voice VOTF Steering
Committee to attend the training!! Because of Emilie's hard work,
one more parish will be successfully trained in the prevention
of child abuse.
is just one wonderful example of how we can work together to Protect
the Children and to encourage the active involvement of the Laity
in our church.
Reported by Bob Morris
month our Priests' Support Group announced the results of a major
survey of 30 priests from the Archdiocese of Boston. The results
were based on in-depth interviews of priests conducted by our
members over the past several months. The survey revealed the
need for an open and collaborative relationship between priests
and laity as well as a swift and due process for priests accused
of clergy sexual abuse - punishing the guilty and exonerating
the innocent. Priests noted overwhelmingly their diminished quality
of life within the tarnished image of the Catholic Church.
survey is divided into three distinct portions: background information,
current parish situation, and working for the future. Excerpts
from the survey are as follows:
Question: What is your current image of the Catholic Church?
Of those surveyed, 40% responded with a negative image, 27%
with a positive image and 33% were indeterminate.
Question: In many ways for the Catholic Church, this is the
best of times and the worst of times. What is "Best" and "Worst"
"Best" -- Thirty-nine percent highlighted the opportunity
to work with people, 35% the opportunity to effect change,
and 12% indicated support from parishioners. Fourteen percent
fell into an "other" category.
"Worst"-Forty-one percent noted the laity's distrust of priests,
28% the performance of the Catholic Church's leadership, and
14% indicated despair, embarrassment, loneliness or betrayal.
Seventeen percent indicated an "other" category.
Question: At this time in your priesthood, what do you need
from us, the people of the Catholic Church?
Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed responded with the need
for affirmation, 30% with the need for the laity to press
for reform; and 3% indicated "other."
survey results may be obtained at our Web
site. We owe an enormous debt of thanks to Christina Hurley,
who led the Priests' Support Group in this effort, and also to
Mary Deyst, John Deyst, Elinor Downey, Marie Doyle, Clare Keane,
Jean McCarthy, and many others who contributed to this effort.
February 3, our group approved a letter of invitation to Bishop
Richard Lennon, which was mailed shortly thereafter. While no
response has been received, it is our fervent hope that the bishop
responds favorably to our invitation. It is our view that face-to-face
contact with the loyal Catholics who make up Voice of the Faithful
will go a long way to dispelling any mistrust that the hierarchy
may feel toward VOTF.
February 10, our group welcomed Fr. Thomas Nestor. Fr. Tom, who
is on the faculty of St. John's Seminary in Brighton, and who
is also in residence at St. Eulalia's Parish where we meet, addressed
the education afforded priests in training. He also fielded questions
for over an hour, addressing a wide variety of issues in an open
and thoughtful manner. One of his many comments that rang true
was calling VOTF the "conscience of the Catholic Church" - a designation
which we strive daily to live up to.
Bernard's Parish Voice, West Newton, MA
Reported by Martha Rowlands
Jo Tecce requested that a liaison from St. Bernard's join the
national Prayerful Voice working group. Joe Drake agreed to serve
in that capacity.
members volunteered to help with the 3/19 fundraising phonathon
at the office in Newton, MA.
continue to work on a letter to Bishop Lennon, the interim administrator
for the Boston Archdiocese. We have relied on several communications
including Bishop Gregory's detailed response to our letter in
Reported by Patricia Clock
still-new VOTF group had a very successful second meeting at St.
Joan of Arc Church. We had about 50 people show up on an ugly,
foggy, rainy afternoon. Father Roy dropped in for a brief time
at the beginning and reaffirmed his hospitality just by his positive
presence. We broke up into four brainstorming groups to discuss
where we wanted to go as the Orleans group and allowed the "personality"
of the gathering to emerge. We generally have a very positive
and hopeful group who are looking to establish a supportive presence
to priests of integrity as well as find our voice as the priesthood
of the baptized.
strong group has come forth to assume planning and leadership
and will meet together prior to the next meeting of the larger
group, which is scheduled for March 23 at 2:30 in the parish center.
We are also working on a database.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola Affiliate, Chestnut Hill, MA
Reported by Stephen Sheehan
Saint Ignatius Affiliate of VOTF was blessed with a combined retreat
and planning conference at the Jesuit Retreat House on Cohasset
for the weekend of January 31 to February 2. This was a gift to
us from out Pastor, Fr. VerEecke.
weekend began with dinner and a gathering on Friday evening, with
time to become acquainted with our guests. On Saturday, the program
included a focus on spirituality as well as a look at organizing
grassroots efforts. Time was allocated for conference, personal
reflection and group discussion.
Roylance discussed the current working paper of the Structural
Change Working Group, again with conference, reflection and discussion.
(See the Web site at www.votf.org for details.)
afternoon ended with a liturgy provided by Rev. Ken Loftus, a
member of our steering committee. Supper led us into an evening
of relaxed community and sharing with each other our personal
feelings and thoughts.
after an informal breakfast, we concluded the retreat with prayer
and a steering committee meeting to translate what we had discussed
into future program planning.
came away feeling spiritually renewed and with a much better sense
of what we expect to accomplish and how to approach the coming
year in terms of scheduling, programming and spiritual orientation.