Sunday, November 30, 2008

CMA continues to lag in parishes that lost schools

As a group, the Monroe County parishes that had their schools closed by Bishop Clark last June are now lagging some 11.5% behind the group that got to keep their schools in reaching their 2008-09 CMA assessments. Data now posted on show that, were the first group pledging at the same rate as the second, their combined pledges would now be some $88,450 higher than they actually are.

Of the parishes that lost their schools, only Blessed Sacrament and St Charles Borromeo are significantly ahead of the diocesan average.

Of the parishes that kept their schools, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Pius the Tenth, St. Louis and St. Joseph are outpacing the diocesan average.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

As the recipient of many well-deserved scoldings from several nuns during my career as a Catholic grammar school student a half century or so ago, this piece from Mary Rose at True Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter brought back a flood of memories. (I'm smiling as I write this but were Sister Juliana or Sister Clement or Sister Georgiana still around I'm certain they would be telling me, "Wipe that smirk off your face, young man!")

This past Sunday, I witnessed something I hadn't seen (or heard) in years. A scolding from a nun.

Who can scold like a nun? Heck, who still scolds, period? Everyone is running around, trying to be "sensitive" to other people's feelings and/or politically correct. It is just so un-PC to scold because really, who am I to tell anyone that what they're doing is wrong?

Enter the ardent nun, clad in her habit and wielding a powerful knowing that can't be denied. After all, this is a woman who has given up an opportunity to marry and have children just so she can pray all the time. She is not a woman to be trifled with.

And so I found myself slightly surprised when I was munching on my chocolate-glazed donut and suddenly witnessed an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned scolding of a young boy by a nun. He was the altar boy for the Mass we had just attended and according to the nun, was too fidgety and obviously not paying proper respect to his duties. I couldn't help but smile when an adult friend pointed out this young boy wanted to become a priest and the nun snapped back, "Well, I can't imagine you would do well since priests must be very disciplined and you seem to lack that trait."

Wow, eh? What amazed me more was the fact that the young boy's mother came over to chat with me and the family friend notified her of said scolding. Her response? "Good. He needs to hear that. I'm glad she told him." I mean, double wow! Can you imagine if this type of exchange had happened in most schools? Oh, whoever did the scolding would have probably been dragged into an administrator's office to receive a verbal warning, and the parent would have wailed to high heaven that her perfect child was being abused.

The whole scenario was so refreshing but yet so rare that I had to think of what had happened to our culture over the past two decades that made such a scolding uncommon. It doesn't take long to see that when a nation loses its sense of right and wrong, it loses its way. It's no wonder so many young people are disrespectful and willful. When they have no one to tell them what they're doing is wrong, they'll keep doing the wrong thing.

Thank God (and I cannot say this enough) for the old-fashioned nuns who aren't afraid to speak up. I'm tired of the waffling, mamby-pamby type of spiritual coddling that makes up the majority of "spiritual formation" that is going on in churches and schools. Bring back the tough nun! Those glorious women who wear no make-up, don't care a whit about their hair, but are obsessed about their Spouse and will kick our butts hard if we don't straighten up and fly right.

God bless them!

Catholic Culture and the Presidential Election

Not mincing his words in the least, Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, gives us his take on our recent election ...

It is impossible to speak of a “Catholic culture” in America any longer. A whole segment of the populace who call themselves “Catholics” do not feel bound by any standard of Catholic orthodoxy or sanity. In fact, it is impossible to even speak of a Catholic culture in most parishes! At a recent “ministry faire” of a large Catholic parish in south Florida, the Respect Life ministry of the parish displayed its pro-life materials next to the table of the “social justice” committee of the same parish. Any commonality between the two ministries was simply in the space they shared. Their worldviews could not have been further apart, but they both call themselves Catholic.

In fact, the “social justice” people were positively aglow about the election of their new messiah, Barack Obama. Several of them were speaking of their plans to attend the Inauguration and were utterly unaware that there would be 100,000 people marching on the nation’s Capitol two days later for the right to life of unborn Americans which they had just voted into irrelevancy by electing Obama to the highest office of the land. One of them even expressed shock at the provisions of the upcoming Freedom of Choice Act until he was confronted with the nasty little fact that his messiah had been a sponsor of that pernicious bill in the last Congress. True to form, he steadfastly refused to allow that truth to have any effect on his euphoria. His mind was made up, and he would not let himself be confused by facts. Needless to say, the orthodox, practicing, believing Catholic pro-lifers will not be attending the Inauguration.

How can these two groups sit side-by-side in the same pews and display their ministries in the same space at the same Catholic parish? Simply because this contradiction has been tolerated for years by those in charge of our Church. In this election season neither of these two groups received any guidance about voting according to Catholic principles because, as per usual, there was silence from the pulpit on the issue. The absolute failure of our church leaders to define for us what membership in the Church means—and then to enforce it—has led to the degradation of Catholic culture and the loss of meaning for things that are sacred. When Christ and Belial are considered equal partners in the sanctuary, then nothing in the sanctuary means anything any more and no meaningful standard exists to distinguish a true Catholic from a false Catholic.

The degradation of Catholic culture is largely, but not exclusively, the fault of the clergy. For four decades in the Catholic Church in America we have seen:

  1. Liturgical abuses run rampant, aided and abetted by those in charge
  2. Two or three generations of Catholics left un-catechized or taught with flimsy, Protestantized fluff passed off as Catholic education
  3. Sexual abuse by clergy excused and unaddressed by the hierarchy
  4. A blind eye turned to high profile dissent and political class heretics
  5. Wholesale attacks on sacred teachings that receive virtually no response from our pastors (and if it weren’t for Catholic Answers, EWTN and the Catholic League we would have no defense whatsoever)
  6. The succumbing of our Catholic institutions of higher education to the ravages of political correctness, and the list goes on.

In the face of all this, should we be surprised that 54% of “Catholics” voted for Barack? Hardly.

The battle for Catholic culture begins with us, and there is no time like the present to don the armor of spiritual warfare. We either believe and practice what the Church teaches or we live as part of the shadow church, falsely trading on the Name Catholic for its benefits without at the same time shouldering the crosses that this entails.

There is, however, great hope for the future because the battle has already been engaged: new Catholic colleges are springing up to replace the old decrepit houses of heresy, new religious orders with abundant vocations and orthodoxy have arisen, home schooling families and strong lay movements are abundant now. Only when we take back our beloved Church from the false Catholics and clerics will our Church be able to stand up and rebuke the storm winds of paganism that are building faster than we care to admit. This project is not without its price, however. The cost of being a true believer will undoubtedly be much higher than ever before in our lifetime. Starting now and into the next generation we as Catholics will have to show the world not only what we believe but that we are willing to lay down our lives for it as a witness to the truth.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Tip: LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Catholic education does not begin in college"

Sixteen years ago a group of determined Catholic families started with almost nothing (in a material sense) and today there exists an excellent grade 6 through 12 school serving 550 children in rural South Carolina.

Father Dwight Longenecker tells us the rest of the story while making a little fund-raising pitch ...

My main job is chaplain to St Joseph's School in Greenville, South Carolina. St Joe's is a wonderful school. Just sixteen years old, it was started by nine families who felt called by God to start a Catholic school in upstate South Carolina.

They started with $800.00 in the bank and nine students in a house borrowed from the local Lutheran pastor. Sixteen years later we occupy a 38 acre campus and have nearly 550 students in grades 6 - 12

St Joseph's is a school that can best be described as 'classically Catholic.' We are orthodox and always faithful to the church's magisterium. This sounds maybe a little bit, ummm shall we say, 'stuffy'?

Not so. The school is an open hearted, loving and enthusiastic community with truly committed families, faculty and staff. With a full range of fine arts and athletics programs as well as high academic standards, the school also has a fine commitment to the pastoral work and spiritual development of the students--seeking to form hearts and minds in the image of Christ.

Here's the school website, and here are the photo galleries. See what a great school God has given us!

Now here's why I'm writing all this: Every year St Joe's has a big fundraiser. Our Knight Before Christmas gala has a raffle. Each year you can win a car (or take the cash) Second prize is a home theater system with 47" screen and all the trimmings. Third prize is a vacation in San Francisco.

Tickets are expensive: $100.00 each, but there are only 2,000 of them, so your chances of winning are pretty good.

It would be great if some readers went to the site to buy some tickets. It would also be great, if you have a blog to help spread the word about St Joseph's and this raffle. Talk about St Joe's. Link to the school website, and use the link below to help people buy tickets.

This is a fun and practical way to support a terrific Catholic School.

Remember, Catholic education does not begin in college...

Help us educate the next generation of 'classical Catholics' to help renew Christ's Church.

Link here for more information on how to buy tickets.

One wonders if being "orthodox and always faithful to the church's magisterium" might have anything to do with St. Joe's success.  Bishop Clark and a steady stream of failed MCCS Superintendents have tried just about everything else, with disastrous results.  Perhaps it's time to give orthodoxy a try.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The CMA is lagging in parishes that lost their schools

The diocese has been updating its online CMA progress page quite regularly of late. I've been visiting every few days and capturing whatever happens to be there at the time. Since I've now got about a month's worth of numbers I thought it might be time to do a little "data mining" and see what information might be buried in all those figures.

One very interesting result has emerged. When all the parishes that kept their schools are treated as one group and all those that had their schools closed are treated as a second group, it is blindingly obvious that the former group is outperforming the latter.

As of last Friday the spread between the two groups was 10.53% of CMA Assessment. Translating that percent to dollars, if the Closed Schools group were pledging at the same rate as the Open Schools group, their combined pledges would be almost $81,000 higher than they actually are.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The CMA is taking a hit at Holy Cross

Today's bulletin seems to confirm what many had expected might happen: The 2008-09 CMA drive appears to be in serious trouble at Holy Cross Church.

Despite many long hours of hard effort on the part of the parish's Stewardship Committee and despite weekly mentions of the importance of the CMA drive from the pulpit, Holy Cross parishioners are being much slower in supporting the CMA this year than they have been in the past:

Thank you to the 200 members of Holy Cross have who pledged a total of $ 27,713 to the Diocesan Ministry Appeal as of November 12. This takes us to 39% of our goal.

At this time last year, the pledges of 281 parishioners had gotten us to 56% of our goal.

Last year Holy Cross had a CMA assessment of $65,019. That and the 56% mentioned in the last sentence tells us that total CMA pledges this time last year were some $36,411.

The number of pledges is down by 81, or 29%:


The total pledged is also down, in this case by almost $8,700, or 24%:


Perhaps the economy has something to do with this downturn, but the sheer magnitude of the numbers would suggest it could only be playing a minor role, if any.

One can only wonder how the other parishes that had their schools closed are doing relative to last year.

Say it ain't so, Papa Ratz!

At the tail end of a piece on the next round of ad limina visits to Rome by the American bishops, Whispers in the Loggia's Rocco Palmo dropped a little bombshell that almost caused me to lose my breakfast.

... the buzz has since gained further steam that the Congregation for Bishops has proposed raising the episcopal retirement age to 78. As with all things, the reported move remains under papal consideration.

As of right now Bishop Matthew Clark has 44 months before he turns 75 and must offer his resignation to the pope. Even given his history of closing parishes, of closing Catholic schools, of putting radical feminists in charge of once solid parishes and thereby driving parishioners out of their pews, of tolerating and even encouraging all sorts of liturgical abuse and of just plain failing to teach the Faith, I thought there still was a chance of DOR surviving those 3+ years somewhat intact.

I am afraid, however, that an additional 36 months of this kind of leadership is more than we will be able to bear.

This is one proposal that His Holiness needs to reject out of hand.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Second Collections, Mass Attendance and Religious Ed

My parish no longer has a Catholic school (thank you, Bishop Clark), but this story on stewardship, Mass attendance and Catholic schools still caught my eye.

One of the reasons is the parish's method of eliminating the need for physically taking up a second collection, a practice of which I've never been a big fan.  The money is still collected, but each parishioner just puts a single check in his/her envelope and, on the front, designates how much of that check goes to each of the various funds.

How simple!

Another interesting part of the story is the dramatic increase in Mass attendance that can come from requiring families with kids in a Catholic school to actually attend weekend Mass or risk losing their parish subsidy.

I wonder if that same approach would work for the families with kids in our religious ed program. We have a policy that kids have to attend religious ed in order to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation - which usually happens in the 8th grade - but there is no requirement that they attend weekend Mass.  As a result, on average less than 50% of them actually do. (That's my own observation based on my 5 years as a junior high religious ed catechist.)

Maybe if a kid couldn't get confirmed without showing that he takes his faith seriously enough to attend weekly Mass, that number might go up a bit.