In the Vineyard: February 15, 2024


In the Vineyard :: February 15, 2024 :: Volume 24, Issue 1

National News

A Letter from the President

Thanks to all of you for your words of support and welcome. More importantly, thanks to all of you who contribute to our Church, not only with VOTF but in the many other functions that most of you do in your home parishes.

I also want to especially thank the board for their confidence and support.

The past six months have seen major transitions for VOTF!

Both Donna Doucette and Nick Ingala have retired; Mary Pat Fox stepped down as President, and Joe Feitelberg has resigned from the board for health reasons. Special thanks to Donna and Nick for decades of service from VOTF’s foundation until today! Many will also recall Joe Finn, another long-term member best known for his activity in the Financial Transparency field, who recently passed away.

Welcome to Leslie Scales, our new Executive Director! Leslie brings a wealth of nonprofit experience and will help us, not least of all, bring new energy and perspectives.

A brief personal introduction…

I was active at the working group level from 2005 to 2010. Structural reform and financial accountability have long been major areas of interest for me. In 2010 I had to step away due to a change in work responsibilities which made regular participation impractical.

I have not been personally engaged in VOTF’s activities regarding the protection of children. That said, I am well acquainted with the basic issues in this area, as a 20-year volunteer leader in Boy Scouting sponsored by a Catholic parish, and I was active in religious education at our parish as well. So, like many of you, I’ve been fingerprinted, background checked, and Virtus trained. As most probably know, Scouting has had its own problems with abuse which continue to impact the organization even today.

So what’s going on with VOTF in 2024? It is clear that the Synod, and Synodality generally, are among the greatest opportunities in our Church today. This is exciting for VOTF; we have been about Synodality since our formation! As we progress through 2024, look for Synod-related programs from VOTF! I look forward to having the opportunity to meet many of you and hear your thoughts.

Wishing you all God’s blessings in this new year! Brad Pritts President Keep the Faith, Change the Church!

Emerging Women’s—and Men’s—and YOUR Voices (Svea Fraser, VOTF Women’s Emerging Voices)

The AUSCP Women in the Church Working Group held an interactive webinar for clergy and laity on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, on “Dialogue on Co-Responsibility and Women’s Participation in the Church.” The response to the webinar invitation was immediate and overwhelming – over 425 people registered! It is a sure sign that people are eager for conversations between and among clergy and laity. Since it was not possible to include everyone who wanted to take part, the webinar was recorded. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it here.

As a member of the working group that prepared the webinar, I want to tell you who we are and how this came to be. The planners included clergy and laity: representatives of AUSCP, VOTF, and Discerning Deacons. VOTF has collaborated and supported AUSCP over the years, and we have been mutual partners with Discerning Deacons since its inception. It was appropriate that these three organizations joined in co-responsibility for this historic event!

Please take the time to watch and listen to this extraordinary event and be part of this “conversation of the Spirit.”

YOUR FEEDBACK IS WELCOME AND STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. After you watch, please take time to answer the question “Considering what you heard, what is resonating with you and why?” Please share your thoughts with us by adding your comment under the video or emailing

A synodal report will be sent to the General Secretary in Rome and the U.S. Bishop’s Synod Office based on the reflections you share. YOUR INPUT MATTERS!

Share, share, share this link widely. Better yet, ask your pastor and clergy friends to have a “conversation of the Spirit” with you and others.

Be part of this momentous opportunity in the history of our Church by being a protagonist for a synodal church in our time.

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Top Stories

Vatican’s abuse expert says ending priestly celibacy could prevent a ‘double life’-

One of the Catholic Church’s leading doctrinal officials has reiterated his unusual call for the global institution to consider ending its millennia-long requirement that priests remain celibate, saying that allowing priestly marriage could be a means of preventing clerics from living dangerous double lives. National Catholic Reporter.

Pope invites Anglican woman bishop to Council of Cardinals meeting

With the help of a woman Anglican bishop, a Salesian sister and a consecrated virgin, Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals devoted the first morning of their February meeting “to deepening their reflection, begun last December, on the role of women in the church,” the Vatican press office said. National Catholic Reporter

Catholic church loses high court bid to prevent father of George Pell accuser suing for damages

Australia’s highest court has rejected the Catholic church’s bid to avoid paying damages to the father of a choirboy allegedly sexually abused by Cardinal George Pell. The father, who cannot be named, claims he suffered nervous shock after learning of allegations that the cardinal sexually abused his now-deceased son in the mid-1990s. The Guardian

‘A Church that seeks the truth’: The making of the 1st global report on child protection

Almost two years ago, Pope Francis gave the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors a challenging assignment. The pope asked the Vatican’s child protection body to begin producing annual reports on the Church’s global efforts to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults.

“This might be difficult at the beginning,” he said in April 2022, “but I ask you to begin where necessary, in order to furnish a reliable account on what is presently being done and what needs to change, so that the competent authorities can act.” The Pillar

Pope and Milei meet as Argentina gains first female saint

Argentina’s first female saint was canonized on Sunday, in an event which brought Pope Francis and the country’s president face-to-face for the first time. President Javier Milei, a libertarian, had previously said the Pope was an “imbecile” who “promotes communism”. He has since toned down his criticism after taking office in December.

María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, was an 18th-Century laywoman who is considered by some to be Argentina’s first feminist.

She renounced her family’s riches to minister to the poor, and helped keep the Jesuit movement alive in Argentina after the religious order – to which the Pope belongs – was suppressed. BBC

Looking for something to do to mark Lent this year?

Join Faith for the Heart, a 3 Part Lenten Conversation with Professor Thomas Groome, on how to live well in daily life. Offered by Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century, the conversations will stem from Prof Groome’s book, Faith for the Heart, A “Catholic” Spirituality. The conversations will be held over Zoom on February 19th, March 4th and March 18th from 1-2 ET.

A rich aspect of Catholic tradition is the partnership of faith and reason. We recognize that faith needs to make sense in order to encourage personal conviction and commitment.  Equally important, however, and also central to the tradition, is the partnership of faith and feelings – engaging people’s hearts and souls to live well in daily life.

We might say that “the head” was the emphasis of the Church for the past thousand years, championed by great thinkers like Thomas Aquinas who crafted theology as “faith seeking understanding.”  We might also say, however, that faith for “the heart” was more the emphasis of the first millennium, with Augustine recognizing that our hearts are “restless ‘til they rest in God.” Of course, both emphases are needed – our faith should both make sense and bring joy.

This being said, in our overly scientific 21st century, with its emphasis on empirical data and critical reason, we need our faith all the more to engage and help satisfy the deep hungers of our hearts.  Thankfully, our Catholic Christian tradition has such potential and Lent is an ideal time to revisit its rich possibilities.

Please register to receive the Zoom link and event reminders. The book is available for purchase through Paulist Press or your favorite seller.


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