Southeast WI Affiliate
Reported by Terry Ryan
Southeast Wisconsin affiliate of VOTF met on March 13th
at St. Rita's parish to celebrate the one-year anniversary
of the founding of Voice of the Faithful in Boston.
A prayer service, featuring readings and candlelight
and anointing one another with oil, was held prior to
the start of the monthly meeting. Reports were given
on legislative issues, the plans for mediation in the
Archdiocesan of Milwaukee, and a nomination/election
process for VOTF leadership.
Ryan, coordinator, asked members to sign a letter of
support for the "Boston 58" who are now being attacked
for signing a letter several months ago requesting Cardinal
Law's resignation. Everyone present signed the letter
of support, which was then mailed to the Boston Priests'
Forum, c/o Fr. Walter Cuenin.
tense situation with Iraq was on everyone's minds, so
we closed our meeting by joining hands and praying for
world peace. Posters with the message, "Pray for Peace",
which were donated by the Peace Action Center, were
also available as hand-outs.
Pat Lagges, a canon lawyer from Chicago, will be the
keynote speaker on April 22nd when VOTF-SE WI meets
at 6:30 pm at St. Alphonsus parish in Greendale. His
topic will be "rights and obligation of the clergy &
laity according to canon law".
VOTF group wishes all other affiliates and chapters
and "Parish Voice" groups a happy and blessed Easter
season. May our voices rise to bring hope and necessary
reform to our Church in this holy season and may we
experience peace in our world.
Nashville, TN invites readers to visit their website
for mission statements, contact information, and updates
for the Nashville chapter.
Southwest Florida Dick Calderone encourages your
visit to the VOTF SW Florida website at www.naples.net/presents/voice/.
Grand Rapids, MI
Reported by Laurel Hill
of Grand Rapids, Michigan recently hosted an evening
with Fr. Richard P. McBrien, author and theologian from
the University of Notre Dame. Fr. McBrien's talk, "Challenges
Facing the Church Today," was co-hosted by Aquinas College,
and was well received by over 200 people. Fr. McBrien
spoke highly of Voice of the Faithful, as well as VOTF
founder Dr. Jim Muller, an alumnus of ND. He emphasized
the opportunity in the current Church crisis, said he
believes more of the crisis is before us than behind
us, and talked about the mandate of Vatican II. He emphasized
lay involvement and recommended VOTF as a wonderful
option toward that end.
Grand Rapids diocese has a new Review Board and their
names and credentials were publicized this week, which
was one of our goals. As well, we find ourselves gaining
new faces at each meeting.
Reported by Patricia Newton
VOTF participated in Nashville's second annual St. Patrick's
Day parade on Sunday, March 16, carrying a banner with
the emblem from the VOTF website in white and purple.
The banner is kelly green and in white letters it says,
"Nashville Voice of the Faithful Keep the Faith."
VOTF's next step is to increase membership and participation.
To that end, we sponsored an informational meeting at
St. Ann Parish Life Center (ed. more in the next
Vineyard), At Nashville VOTF's request, this meeting
was announced in a number of Nashville Diocese parish
Sunday bulletins, including the bulletin of the Nashville
Diocese Cathedral of the Incarnation.
VOTF wants to express its gratitude to Nashville's Father
Sanches. Fr. Sanches writes a "Dear Parishioner" column
for the St. Patrick's Parish Sunday bulletin every week.
After the February Nashville VOTF Appreciation Dinner
for the Priests, he wrote a Dear Parishioner Letter
recruiting members for the Nashville VOTF. It was awesome!
He also advised that he would post a sign-up sheet for
VOTF and encourage everyone to join
in furtherance of the Nashville VOTF goals, we are taking
steps to incorporate as a Tennessee not-for-profit corporation.
Reported by Kevin Gemmell
nine years of tough legal maneuverings, the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Camden has agreed to pay $880,000 to 23 men
and women who filed suit over their sexual abuse as
children. The diocese has admitted no wrongdoing but
has said it now clears the way for Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
to meet personally with the victims.
Diocese affiliate leader Kevin Gemmell stated, "It has
taken much too long for the diocese to offer any pastoral
care or retribution to victims but I nonetheless feel
it is a sign that groups like VOTF are succeeding with
convincing Church leaders to do the right thing."
Camden Diocese chapter still meets monthly and has reaffirmed
its commitment to removing the NJ statute of limitation
and charitable immunity laws and continues its efforts
to make all diocesan financial and personnel records
public. It has also formed strong alliances with the
Northern NJ VOTF and the statewide SNAP organization
and is involved in planning the fall regional VOTF conference.
Florida - Coordinator Goz Gosselin writes,
"After nearly five months of dialogue with my pastor
Fr. Joe Clifford our new affiliate will be meeting in
St. Columbkille parish center in Fort Myers. We are
presently a total of 43 members, drawing from the many
local parishes in and around Fort Myers." (ed. Time
well spent, Goz!)
Northern NJ Affiliate
Reported by Maria Cleary
good news is that our March meeting was an excellent
dialogue with two of our brave diocesan priests who
came to share their thoughts on the future of ministry.
The not-so-good news is that they were both "summoned"
to the chancery by the bishop after the meeting and
reminded of the Vatican decrees that prohibit the discussion
of the subjects of married priests and women's ordination.
It's safe to say that our clergy here in the Paterson
and Newark dioceses have been given a definite message
about VOTF. We are so grateful to our Franciscan priests
who have opened their parish doors to us consistently.
We continue to pray for more open doors, open minds
and open hearts.
next meeting is May 13 when we will welcome Kathleen
McChesney, head of the US Bishops' new Office of Child
and Youth Protection, as our speaker. The subject of
bishop accountability is high on everyone's list of
priorities, and we're hoping for some good dialogue
on the subject.
Structural Change Action Group has made great strides.
They have collected data on the projected number of
clergy in our diocese over the next fifteen years. The
facts are grim. By 2015, the Paterson Diocese projects
it will have 32 priests to serve its 114 parishes (and
these numbers were published before the abuse crisis.)
We are working on a way to publicize this dire situation,
possibly in the format of a one-day workshop on ministry,
with a special emphasis on how we're preparing (if at
all) for the shortage.
tuned for news about the first East Coast Regional
VOTF Conference! Our tri-state group from NJ, NY
and CT have been "chatting" on AOL Sunday nights, looking
for a venue and discussing possible speakers. We're
aiming for the Fall, so please send prayers this way!
so much more to tell, but the most amazing part is that
we continue to percolate despite the fact that we are
exhausted and often discouraged. Certainly, the Spirit
is working miracles, because, by rights, we should have
collapsed in a heap by now. It is our connectedness
with all of you that gives us strength, and our knowing
that together we can be the change we hope to create.
Your VOTF/NNJ sisters and brothers send many blessings
VOTF NY East Side Affiliate - watch for their report
in the next issue!
Ellsworth, ME Affiliate
Reported by Terri Ouellette
are the VOTF Ellsworth, Me affiliate and have been meeting
regularly since June of 2002. In January we hosted and
facilitated an informational meeting open to all parishioners.
The Portland diocesan informational outreach team came
and answered specific questions that we had forwarded
to them. We also hosted a prayer and healing service
to our local parish of St Joseph's Ellsworth, Me. The
service was aimed at healing and a renewal of faith,
something we felt was important as we embark on a new
we have joined VOTF Portland in addressing an issue
regarding a retired Josephite priest who is living in
Bar Harbor Maine. The priest, Fr. Dayton Salisbury,
has a long and repetitive history of sexual abuse, information
released by the supervising order, the Josephites. We
attempted to work with the parish in which he is a parishioner.
Our intention was to ensure that no other children be
put at risk, and that he abide by the norms of the Charter
for the Protection of Children and Young People. We
were met with complete resistance and denial from the
pastor. Although we contacted several parish members,
no one was willing to come forward in light of the pastor's
perspective, that this is a non-issue. Our concerns
are based on the fact that although he is a retired
priest, he has on several occasions acted in a priestly
fashion, and has been portrayed as a priest in good
standing to many of his fellow parishioners. Awareness
of his sexual abusive history has been heightened due
to the efforts of VOTF, and I have been told that the
local priests have been made aware that Fr. Salisbury
is to have no priestly function. We have contacted the
Josephites again regarding this matter and hope now
to focus on continued education regarding sexual abuse
as well as the support of priests of integrity.
Northwest Nassau, NY Parish Voice
Reported by Carol Bongiorno
VOTF-LI (representing Nassau and Suffolk counties
on Long Island, New York) met at North Babylon High
School on 02/13/03. Approximately 900 persons attended.
Sheila Peiffer, Director of VOTF-LI, reflected: "We
are suffering the effects of a failed system. This
system must be challenged." Dan Bartley, Co-Director,
noted "We are not about pointing fingers and placing
blame. We are about finding a solution."
Jim Post, President of VOTF National, gave a speech
at St. Ignatius Church, NYC, which focused on Goal
#3, Restructuring the Church. Jim stressed the need
to redesign church administration. He said "we should
not be surprised that a system characterized by secrecy,
fear of scandal, and a protective attitude toward
priests produced the kind of sexual abuse cover-up
we have seen. The challenge we now face is to redesign
church administration in ways that guarantee that
these 'structures of deceit' are eliminated."
William Clark, S.J., who spoke at a VOTF gathering
in Maine (where VOTF is also banned) was quoted as
saying: "The laity can no longer adopt a passive role.
We must now assume the role bestowed by our baptism
as sharing in Christ's threefold role as prophet,
priest and king. VOTF has a right to exist. This right
is clear in Canons 208-231. We have the right to associate
and to meet to discuss our concerns and a right, sometimes
a duty, to make our concerns known to the hierarchy
in fulfillment of our priestly role." Fr Clark stated
that "frontal assault is divisive. We need to listen
and not combat arrogance with arrogance."
Our Moderator, Carol, wondered why so many reasonable
questions are greeted with a wall of silence on the
part of church leaders: Are we not supposed to ask
for the truth about the abused, the abusers, administrative
and financial decisions made "for the good of the
Church?" Why not? Are we not to be listened to and
treated with respect for our faith, intelligence,
sincerity and willingness to share the variety of
gifts we have received from the Holy Spirit? Why not?
Are we not supposed to object to the fact that we
cannot meet on our own church property in order to
discuss ways to help heal and restore our beloved
church? Why not? Are we not supposed to wonder how
Jesus fits into this situation? Why not?
New Hyde Park, NY
Reported by Joan Georgaides
group of parishioners met with their pastor, Msgr. John
Martin, to discuss concerns related to the present crises
in the Church. The pastor assured the group that a Pastoral
Council will be established in the near future. This
gathering resulted from a direct approach to the pastor.
The experience might serve as a model for other VOTF
members vis-à-vis their pastors.
presentation, "Structural Change in the Church," was
given by Father Andrew Connolly, S.J. Fr. Connolly is
from Queen of the Most Holy Rosary parish in Roosevelt.
He was introduced by Jim Howard, Co-Moderator. "Andy"
is a member of the steering committee of Voice of the
Ordained, an organization of priests and deacons, married
and unmarried, in the Dioceses of Brooklyn, Rockville
Centre and New York.
Connolly addressed the need for structural change and
said we must examine the basis for the present structure
and the basis for a new structure. We need to bring
to our analysis the tools of theology, philosophy, sociology
and history. A useful resource is a book titled Imagining
the Catholic Church: Structured Communion in the Spirit
(excerpts were distributed at the meeting).
major points were that we need to understand our rights
and relationships within the structure of the church,
structure of authority and structure of responsibility.
Who is accountable for what and to whom? He talked about
finances, policies, strategies. We need to make sure
we know what we want to change. At present, it's a one-way
street, top-down. At the diocesan level unlimited power
is in the hands of the local bishop. We need to move
to a horizontal structure with wide ranging lay involvement.
Openness in the area of finances is a practical place
obvious enormous obstacle: Those with the power have
to be the ones to make the changes, i.e., the bishops.
Vital to change is a massive organization of laity and
priests; if the priests don't sign on, Fr. Connolly
feels we must move along without them. Focus on the
organization and, concretely, what you want to change.
Connolly offered some practical suggestions: Begin where
you are, i.e., in your parish. Then:
Campaign for the establishment of Pastoral Councils,
which, where they exist, are merely advisory at present.
These need to move from a consultative to a collaborative
function. Finance Committees should hold decision-making
power, laity being responsible for budget preparation.
Transparency and communication are the keynotes here.
Introduce the practice of evaluating priests' and
Consider the election of pastors by the parishioners.
Consider, too, the election of bishops, using as a
model the election of religious superiors.
Connolly stated that in this moment of change the overriding
attitude should be trusting the Spirit that dwells in
each of us. A lively discussion followed. It was noted
that Andy opened up new areas for further study and
Report: Joe Hassan, Treasurer, read the current figures.
He noted that since the Affiliate operates on the principle
of complete financial openness, he will present a more
detailed report in March. Note: Bishop Murphy has announced
that the March 6 issue of the Long Island Catholic will
carry a report on diocesan finances. Joe mentioned that
the diocese taxes each parish 8% of their weekly collection.
He also cited some of the charities sponsored by the
Voice of Compassion fund, offered as an alternative
to the Bishop's Appeal.
Councils: Joe Bongiorno reported that St. Joseph's in
Garden City, like most parishes in our area, has not
had a council meeting in a number of years. On a positive
note, St. Aidan's has reinstated its Stewardship Council.
Joe has been tracking Bill A1516 in the New York State
Assembly, which would require mandatory reporting of
clergy sexual abuse with the exception of the confidentiality
of the confessional. Assemblyman McEneny, who introduced
the bill, would welcome the support of VOTF-LI. This
bill closes a loophole in the final version of the US
Bishop's Charter for the Protection of Children and
Young People, which did not have a mandatory reporting
requirement. For a text of the bill visit www.assembly.state.ny.us
Greenwich, CT Affiliate
Reported by Tom Malarkey
March 18 the Greenwich, CT affiliate hosted two speakers
from NYC S.N.A.P., David Cerulli and Linda Allegretti.
Both speakers' painful stories impressed the group with
the ongoing need to support survivors.
March 22, the Greenwich affiliate followed up by hosting
a metro-New York workshop on how to support survivors,
together with Survivors First. Members of SNAP and The
Linkup contributed to the program, which was put together
and presented by Anne Barrett Doyle and Paul Baier.
Susan Gallagher and Terry McKiernan also made presentations.
(Survivors First and VOTF) spoke about helping Catholics
become activists for survivor causes. Paul (Survivors
First) talked about reforming or eliminating the statutes
of limitations for child abuse. Susan (UMass, Lowell)
outlined alternatives to Diocesan healing offices. Terry
(VOTF, Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, and Survivors
First) described how to encourage and measure bishop
members from northern New Jersey and the Camden Diocese,
the New York Archdiocese, and the Brooklyn, Rockville
Centre and Bridgeport Dioceses took part in the workshop.
Hartford East, CT Affiliate
Reported by Mary Ann Murray
Hartford Area Regional Coordinators (HARC) continue
to meet to formulate an archdiocesan organizational
structure here in Hartford. Joanne Moran, PV coordinator
(St. Tim's in West Hartford) has been instrumental in
the logistics of our formalization process thus far.
We are meeting to put the finishing touches on our new
structure and look forward to working with all the CT
affiliates under this umbrella.
have also met to discuss our plans in anticipation of
further conversation with Archbishop Cronin. We held
a brainstorming session for agenda items to be considered
for our next meeting with the archbishop.
Durham, NH St. Thomas More Parish Voice
Reported by John Miskus
the February 12 monthly meeting, the St. Thomas More
PV chapter, representing the seacoast area, moved from
the "steering group" forum to an elected 10-member Board
of Trustees, after approving Organizational By-laws
for our NH STMPV. The following were elected to the
Executive Committee: Chair - Lorraine Graham; Vice-chair-
John Miskus; Secretary - Peg Boucher; Treasurer - Sylvia
Russell; Assoc. Treasurer- Lynn Holmes. By-laws were
formulated, and accepted, as a forerunner for application
for NH state charitable tax free status, and also, preparation
for federal 501(c)3 charitable organization status filing.
A previously established checking account is open for
those parishioners who wish to fund our parish (solely)
without the 7.8% assessment by the bishop/the diocese.
Acceptance of our direct PV contribution has been met
by resistance from our finance commission, similar to
Cardinal Law's refusal o accept the MA VOTF $50,000
contribution. Pursuit by our PV on this issue is continuing.
State Assistant Attorneys General Will Delker and Jim
Rosenberg were guest speakers at the March 13 PV meeting.
Delker and Rosenberg were lead investigators in the
agreement in which the Diocese of Manchester, NH admitted
culpability in the sexual abuse scandal, and agreed
to open the diocesan files to the NH AG`s office. Questions
from those present, many of whom were VOTF members,
were reported in the Dover and Portsmouth newspapers.
NH Public TV covered the meeting, and the meeting will
be shown on Durham Public TV in the near future. The
two attorneys stated a firm belief that priestly sexual
abuse will no longer be covered up in NH, as access
to records and mandatory reports of abuse will be well
monitored by the NH AG office. .
important conference for tri-state (NH, MA, ME) VOTF
members will be held shortly. Implementation of VOTF`s
#1 goal, supporting survivors of sexual abuse by clergy,
will be the subject of workshops from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Bishop accountability, documents, diocesan healing offices,
awakening the laity, and fundraising will be addressed
by leaders of the Survivor Support Working Groups. It
should be a substantive meeting for every VOTF member.
Reported by Carolyn Disco
(Ed. This is taken from a press release distributed
NH, APRIL 6, 2003 - New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful
(NH-VOTF) today called on Bishop John B. McCormack and
Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian to resign their
positions as bishops of the Diocese of Manchester, NH.
The two-thirds vote by the group's steering committee
included representatives from nine affiliates across
the state. NH-VOTF has approximately 600 members in
call for resignations follows patient discernment by
members of the record of Bishop McCormack in Massachusetts
and New Hampshire and the record of Bishop Christian
in New Hampshire. "Both observed a general disregard
for the testimony of sexual abuse victims and an unwillingness
to remove predatory priests from contact with children,"
said Jeffrey Blanchard, NH-VOTF steering committee chairman.
Springfield, MA Diocese
Submitted by Ann Turner
March 25th, a small delegation from the Northampton/Springfield
Voice of the Faithful Affiliate met with Bishop Thomas
L. Dupre to discuss areas of mutual concern. Those present
from the affiliate were: Ann Turner, moderator; Mario
DePillis, member of the Steering Committee; Joan Smola,
member; and Bob O'Brien, member. Four parishes and towns
were represented. Also at the meeting were Father George
A. Farland, Monsignor Richard S. Sniezk, and Father
Daniel P. Liston.
meeting was quite cordial. Voice of the Faithful representatives
assured Bishop Dupre that they are faithful Catholics,
who wish to lend their support, skills, and gifts to
this diocese to help however they can.
VOTF members suggested that they could assist in the
formation of Pastoral Parish Councils, in fulfillment
of the promises of Vatican II. Bishop Dupre responded
that it is diocesan policy to form such councils. If
members of a parish are denied the right to form a Pastoral
Parish Council, they could then write directly to Bishop
expressing the goals of Voice of the Faithful and some
of its accomplishments, VOTF members also articulated
that VOTF can help by giving people a place to express
their dismay over the crisis in the church, while still
remaining within the church. The discussion then addressed
the sexual abuse crisis, its impact on the church, and
on victims and their families. Bishop Dupre, Father
George Farland, and Monsignor Sniezk all confirmed and
restated a diocesan policy, which VOTF members had misunderstood:
If a victim wants to come and tell his or her story
before the Misconduct Commission, they are allowed to
bring a friend, family member, or a lawyer who has not
instituted suit against the diocese, and can appear
before the Misconduct Commission at the same time they
are bringing suit. Bishop Dupre also said that he has
personally offered to talk with any victim who might
wish to do so.
dialogue then touched briefly on another healing resource,
which the church might use - the healing of memories
as explained by Father Francis MacNutt. While Bishop
Dupre explained that he was uncertain about some of
the activities of the National VOTF, he did say that
he was reassured as to the fidelity of the local Voice
of the Faithful, and that he looked forward to working
more with VOTF in the future. The meeting lasted one
and one-half hours and was fruitful in fostering greater
understanding and respectful dialogue.
Cape Ann, MA
Submitted by Kay Partridge
(Ed. We include a somewhat lengthy report from Cape
Ann because it offers such a good chronology of events
leading up to their decisive response to the meeting
ban imposed on VOTF)
Ann Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) represents five parishes:
St. Ann's, Our Lady of Good Voyage, St. Peter's, and
Sacred Heart, located in Gloucester, and St. Joachim's
August, 2002 members of Cape Ann's faith communities
attend a Listening Session at St. Peter's Church.
Terry McKiernan, a member of VOTF's central community,
explains VOTF's mission and the process for forming
a local affiliate group
August and September a core group of concerned Catholics
meets to discuss a response to the clergy sexual abuse
scandal and to plan future action
September 6, 2002 Bishop Irwin prohibits Cape Ann
concerned Catholics from meeting on church property
September 23, 2002 concerned Catholics hold an open
meeting at the Rose Baker Center to discuss the formation
of a VOTF affiliate
October 1, 2002 Bishop Allue orders a North Andover
parish to prohibit an existing VOTF chapter from meeting
on church property
October 13, 2002 then Cardinal Bernard F. Law reverses
the North Andover ban but continues to ban new affiliates
of VOTF from meeting on church property. This ban
continues in place and prevents the Cape Ann affiliate
from meeting on church property
October 24, 2002 a second meeting of Gloucester area
concerned Catholics is held at St. John's Episcopal
Church in Gloucester. At this meeting, Cape Ann VOTF
is officially formed.
March 11, 2003 Bishop Richard G. Lennon meets with
VOTF leader James E. Post. At this meeting Bishop
Lennon indicates that he is unwilling to lift the
ban imposed by Cardinal Law at this time
Ann VOTF meets on the second Thursday of each month
at 7:30 P.M. at St. Johns Episcopal Church at 48 Middle
St. in Gloucester
area pastors are willing to have the Cape Ann VOTF
meet at their churches when the ban is lifted
ANN VOTF PROTESTS CHURCH BAN
Thursday April 10th the Cape Ann Voice of the Faithful
will take to the streets of Gloucester in silent vigil
to protest the Archdiocesan ban of their meeting on
church property. The candlelight vigil and procession
will march from Saint John's Episcopal Church, Cape
Ann VOTF's home away from home, to Saint Ann's Catholic
Church at 74 Pleasant Street. A short prayer service
will be held on the steps of Saint Ann's church.
than six months have passed since Cape Ann Voice of
the Faithful was banned from church property. During
that time Cardinal Law resigned and Bishop Richard G.
Lennon was appointed as Interim Administrator of the
Boston Archdiocese. On March 11, 2003 Bishop Lennon
met with Jim Post, the president of VOTF, and indicated
his unwillingness to lift the ban. Cape Ann VOTF believes
this policy is indefensible and defies logic. Cape Ann
VOTF is one of only six chapters in this Archdiocese
that are banned. Forty-eight other Boston area chapters,
formed before the September 2002 ban, are able to meet
on their own church property.
are shocked and outraged by the continuing and unfolding
revelations of abuse and cover-up within the Church.
We are further outraged by the institutional Church's
unwillingness to accept full responsibility and move
forward towards healing and wholeness for all its people.
The time for hopeful waiting is long over and the time
for faith-filled, prayerful, action has arrived. The
future of the church belongs to the people in the pews.
We are the Church, and we have many gifts and talents
to offer. First we must be able to take our place at
the table; sadly we face a closed door instead.
Winchester Area, MA Affiliate
Reported by Bob Morris
highlight for our group this month was a talk given
by Fr. John E. Sassani, the Director of the Office of
Spiritual Development for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Fr. Sassani discussed preparations for Lent, particularly
in light of the past year's scandals. We are very grateful
for his appearing before our group.
March 10, Marie Doyle of our group led a discussion
on Carlo Carretto, the great Italian spiritual writer
of the 20th Century and his writing on the Church. Our
group found some of Carretto's words (written in 1984)
particularly fitting for the present day; "How much
I must criticize you, my church and yet how much I love
you! You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet
I owe more to you than to anyone. I should like to see
you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have
given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me
understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen
anything more compromised, more false, yet never have
I touched anything more pure, more generous and more
beautiful." We are very grateful to Marie for sharing
this message with us.
the month several members of our group have participated
in the ongoing Lenten Vigil outside the Chancery in
Brighton. This vigil and their commitment, have been
a constant reminder to us that even though the scandal
is no longer on the front pages of the newspaper, the
process of healing has hardly begun.
this month we conducted a survey of parishioners of
St. Eulalia's in Winchester, Mass. (where we meet) about
VOTF. While we came in for our share of criticism (constructive
and otherwise), many of the comments helped to reaffirm
the commitment we made last May to become a Parish Voice:
on! We need to push for reform of our Church and its
is the best thing to happen in the Church in 100 years."
feel it is a gift from God to the Church."
won't happen if we look the other way."
Waltham, MA St. Mary's Parish Voice
Reported by Nancy Gagnon
recently conducted a brainstorming session with members
to focus on our 2003 goals. Out of this session came
the idea to have a membership drive with phone calls,
posters and flyers. We are also planning to have a get-together
with our local parish priests to discuss VOTF.
pastor, Fr. Wendell Verrill, has agreed to purchase
a video system, which will enable us to sponsor monthly
family movie nights for our parish.
parish community will be having a Healing Mass with
Fr. Bob Masciocchi. We continue to meet the first Tuesday
of the month from 7:30 to 9:00 and our Steering Committee
meets on the third Tuesday.
St. Agnes Parish Voice, Reading, MA
Reported by Pat Coppola
Agnes is involved in initiating a voice through the
process of BishopSearch, where all Catholics have a
voice and participate in the selection of their next
bishop. We have met as a parish voice and listed the
qualities and expectations we would like to see in the
man that assumes that position. We hope all Catholics
will take part in this process and hope to have a website
up and running soon.
Robert Bullock, co-founder of the Boston Priests Forum,
came to St. Agnes Parish Voice to speak to us at our
last open meeting. He stressed three points: Truth is
the light of hope for our Church, great harm was brought
to many by clericalism and secrecy within the Church,
and the laity need to collaborate with clergy to effect
a stronger and healthier Church.
plans involve a survivor speakers meeting in April.
Reported by Jack Whelan
conversation BEFORE Sunday Mass, an ad hoc group from
St Pius V in Lynn started a project to manifest support
for our priests and other members of the pastoral staff.
Parishioners are being asked to express their feelings
in written form about Boston Globe and Pilot coverage
and articles on the subject of priests. Books will be
available for commentary at the entrances to the Church
for two weekends. Lay individuals are addressing the
congregation at each Mass to explain the effort and
the need to communicate. All the commentary will be
bound and presented to Father Neil and Father Joe.
North Shore Affiliate, Topsfield, MA
Reported by Vince Guerra
North Shore affiliate (a regional VOTF drawing from
six to seven communities in this area of MA) held a
meeting on Sunday, February 23, at St. Rose of Lima
parish in Topsfield. The guest speaker was Roger Haight,
S.J. who spoke on "Lay Ministry in the Catholic Church
in America." At our gathering of about 60 people, he
briefly traced the history of the Church in the US and
then elaborated on lay ministry obligations and privileges
as given to us by Vatican II. There was clear emphasis
on how the laity has changed since the early days of
the immigrant experience in America when clergy were
the more educated members of the People of God. Because
of our democratic experience in this country and the
culture of greater equality and openness in our society,
laity expect and are entitled to a stronger voice in
the operational affairs of the Church. We are therefore
somewhat unique as an American Church compared to other
cultures and societies in the world where more authoritarian
rule and a more restrained press are evident. He predicted
that practices will change but ever so slowly; the laity
will, of necessity, be stronger simply due to "plummeting"
numbers of clergy. His presentation was engaging and
was followed by a flurry of spirited questions and answers.
Next month's meeting will feature a list of essential
questions for group discussion based on Father Haight's
talk. In April, our speaker will be Father John McGinty
from St. Pius V parish in Lynn. He may speak on the
Priests' Forum. In May, another group discussion based
on this latter talk will take place. In June, we will
hear from Bernard Swain, a Ph.D. theologian.
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