In the Vineyard: December 18, 2015

In the Vineyard :: December 18, 2015 :: Volume 15, Issue 24

News from National

Merry Christmas from VOTF
We pray that the light of God’s grace shines on you this Christmas season and always.
The Staff at VOTF

Offertory Collection Controls Initiative in Boston Diocese
VOTF applauds the Archdiocese of Boston’s parish “Offertory Collection Controls Initiative,” which helps make sure Sunday donations make it to the bank. The pilot project was initiated in Brockton, Mass., in July. “It’s been a long time coming – more than 25 years by my counting,” said VOTF member Michael Ryan.

Ryan has been advocating at least that long for more secure practices for parish collections. He is a retired federal law enforcement official with experience in conducting financial audits and security. He also wrote Nonfeasance: the Remarkable Failure of the Catholic Church to Protect Its Primary Source of Income, which was published in 2011. (continued)

Another Perspective: India’s Work on the Family Synod
Here’s a look at how the bishops in India responded when asked to prepare documents and answer questionnaires for the Family Synod meetings completed this year in Rome. The bishops’ conference there chose a team approach, with two bishops named as leaders, four persons running “execution teams,” and three on the questionnaire design and analysis.

Alan Doulton of the lay group E-VAAC (Evangelizing for a more Vibrant, Alert and Aware Church) was on the Execution Team that covered 14 regional centers and the national response. On Nov. 9, he presented that team’s report to “about 75 people: around 6 bishops, about 15 provincials and superior generals, a dozen parish priests, CRI regional secretaries and a sprinkling of laity.” (continued)

Did you know?
If you would like to support VOTF as you do your online Christmas shopping, please start your shopping at the VOTF website and click on the AMAZON link. Amazon donates a portion of your shopping to VOTF—it’s a painless way to support your favorite charity!

NOTE too, please, that when you click by starting from our link, we get a larger percentage than if you simply use Amazon’s “smile foundation” link.


Parish Finance Poll Results
We kept the poll open an additional two weeks so more of you would have a chance to tell us if your parish prints a weekly or monthly financial update online or in the bulletin. And more of you voted—with pretty much the same results: 51% say yes and 49% say no. Here’s hoping that if we asked the same question in a year the transparency would be higher.

Broken Vessels: Storytelling for Healing” Video
“Storytelling for Healing,” was presented at Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century on Dec. 3, 2015, by VOTF’s William Casey. The lecture talks about Voice of the Faithful Restorative Justice Healing Circles and how they can be a step toward healing for those who have been harmed by the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal.

In his lecture, Casey, a former VOTF board chair and director of the Northern Virginia Mediation Service Restorative Justice Program, tells how Healing Circles employ the power of deep listening and ensure a safe place for those telling their stories.
Click here to watch the lecture …

Walk with Us this Advent
It’s not too late to see our Advent Calendar for the season. You can start from the beginning, link day-to-day. It is a beautiful way to celebrate the Season.


Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Experts say Vatican financial reform needs prosecutions and sanctions
“Europe’s key financial watchdog group has given a broad thumbs-up to legal reforms introduced in the Vatican to prevent future money-related scandals, but also warned that the real test will be to see those procedures working in practice through effective investigations and prosecutions. To date, evaluators found, there are ‘no real results’ in terms of significant prosecutions of financial crimes by Vatican law enforcement or the confiscation of assets.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,
Europe calls on Vatican to take more action on financial crime, By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal
Storytelling for Healing
“The power of deep listening and safe storytelling ensures a safeplace for those telling his or her story. William Casey, former Voice of the Faithful board chair and Northern Virginia Mediation Service Restorative Justice Program director, explains the “Restorative Justice Healing Circle” approach as that safe place in this lecture.” Posted to YouTube by Boston College Church in the 21st Century Center

‘Spotlight’ and its revelations
“Since seeing the movie ‘Spotlight,’ about the Boston Globeinvestigation of sexual abuse and coverups in the Catholic Church, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and the questions it raises—about how far institutions will go to protect themselves, about who we listen to and protect, about who and what we ignore, about the power of disclosure and even conversation … In the movie, the revelations of the Spotlight investigation make (Globe Spotlight team member Sasha) Pfeiffer too uneasy to keep going to Mass with her grandmother … ‘She was shocked and saddened, but she stuck with the Church till the day she died,’ Pfeiffer said. ‘Some people left the Church; others tried to change it from within, like the group Voice of the Faithful; others loved their parish, they loved their pastor, and they sort of said, ‘Oh, that’s terrible,’ and they kept going to Mass.’” By Sarah Larson, The New Yorker

The Catholic Church’s performance at the royal commission is farcical
“The Catholic Church continues to harm sex abuse victims by its failure to acknowledge the extent to which it covered-up sex crimes against children. … The severe psychological and psychiatric harm caused by these crimes was evident not only with the primary victims giving evidence, but also the many family members of loved ones who had killed themselves because the pain and damage of the sex crimes were too great to bear.” By Judy Courtin, The Age

Healing rites held throughout Helena Diocese for sex abuse victims
“While its sexual abuse settlement and bankruptcy proceedingsfade into history, the Helena, Mont., diocese’s “road less traveled” to healing and outreach for victim survivors continues, most recently through seven “deeply moving” prayer services throughout the sprawling see. Helena Bishop George Thomas, who presided at each, described them as ‘one of the most difficult and challenging tasks in my 40 years of priesthood.’” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

Father Thomas Doyle Addresses Canadian SOL
In late November, Father Thomas Doyle gave a speech in Quebec City on removing the SOLs…or prescription as they call it there.

According to Father Doyle, “The Statutes of Limitations in many jurisdictions, including the Province of Quebec, prevent most victims from ever entering the courtroom. The rapidly developing body of knowledge about the nature and effects of sexual violation are being used to enlighten legislatures to the fact that victims do not report the assault they experienced not because they don’t want to but because they can’t. Hopefully by better understanding the complex and highly destructive nature of child sexual abuse, lawmakers will put politics and favoritism aside and focus on the victims so that they can change or completely eliminate statutes of limitations in civil cases.”
To read more of his research, please click here

Something to Think About
Following is an excerpt from a reflection by Vinita Hampton Wright, author of Days of Deepening Friendship

I Saw Jesus Today
I saw Jesus on the train today. He had worked a long shift, his coveralls a patchwork of sweat and grime; yet he joked with a coworker in the adjacent seat. I saw Jesus awhile later, as the crowd filed onto the stairs to the street below—he was a young girl with two small children in tow, her nerves clearly frayed. And then, in the grocery store, there was Jesus again…Click here to read the rest

Book Review

By Joan McLaughlin

By Joan Chittister

As an only child, Joan Chittister longed for a dog. However, her mother gave her a parrot instead! She adored Billy and was devastated when he disappeared from her life never to be found or seen again.

Many years later while living in a convent in a small town, Joan received a gift from a friend—an Irish Setter named Danny who taught her invaluable life lessons.

Danny became her dog in every sense of the word—totally devoted to her and wanting only to please her.

However, he had a stubborn streak in him that first reared up in obedience school. He just didn’t like to follow the rules. As with people who try to please others by following the rules, Danny showed Joan that it is more important to be true to one’s self than to satisfy others.

Danny had a similar reaction to a Vet’s visit when he had to have his shots. After being prodded and probed, he had had enough. When the Vet approached him to give him his shot, he calmly turned his back on the Vet, lifted his leg and urinated all over the Vet’s clean, white jacket!

Human beings, like Danny, need to be assertive without rancor or violence. The need to respond to affronts by calmly stating our objections separate us from those we dislike.

Danny also taught Joan the true meaning of empathy when she was counseling a broken soul. During these sessions, Danny would lie quietly under Joan’s desk sleeping peacefully. At one session, however, he seemed to sense the woman’s hopelessness and padded slowly over to her and lay his big head in her lap. Somehow, this simple act of caring unleashed her heartache and she was ready to heal. Empathy feels for others feelings while sympathy feels concern for the suffering but not the feelings.

Soon after Danny’s demise, Joan adopted another dog—a three year old Golden Retriever show dog who had grown too big to show and was no longer valued. Duffy had spent those three years bending to the will of his trainers and seemed to take no joy in life—he just did what he was told to do. Now he was put out to pasture and considered worthless. Like animals, humans also fear rejection. They learn to conform to everyone else’s idea of who they should be and become joyless.

They must seek out like-meaning groups to come alive and become one’s true self.

Because of his overtraining and then rejection, Duffy was wary of any new relationship. You had to prove yourself before he warmed up to you. Many people are the same and have become hardened after seemingly happy relationships deteriorate. They must look inward and become that friend to someone else and only then find happiness.

Slowly, Duffy was opening up to his new world and enjoying his new surroundings—simple things like flowers and butterflies. Human must also stop and smell the roses to truly feel alive.
After years of living happily with large dogs, Joan went back to her first love and adopted a parrot named Lady. Joan went by the book and bought various toys and treats to stimulate Lady . After a small attempt to play, Lady settled down with the real object of her affection—an empty toilet paper roll! As with Lady, in our overly commercialized world, we are constantly being bombarded with the newest, the best, the most expensive new thing. To be truly happy, however, we must seek out what makes us feel joy with the quality of what we have.

Lady reveled in playing and being the center of attention. She loved nothing more than entertaining people. Life today doesn’t allow for many people to just play and enjoy. Our lives revolve around having to do certain things to survive when a little playtime can feed the soul.

As a parrot, Lady was capable of speech but seldom used it. She was also a willful bird who didn’t always obey. After being constantly harangued to do this or that—“Step Up—Right Now,” she had reached her breaking point. At breakfast one morning, she jumped onto the offending nun’s fingers, looked her in the eye and squawked “Step Up—Right Now.” Disrespecting an animal is no different than disrespecting a human. In the hierarchy of life, humans rank higher than animals. But it was a small parrot who was able to teach respect to humans.

This book is a real celebration of human-animal relationships and about how much we can grow by interacting with our pets.

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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