Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gaillardetz to address Canadian bishops

From LifeSiteNews.com ...

Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, is scheduled to present a set of talks at the annual plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Cornwall from October 19-23.

Marking the Year for Priests, Dr. Gaillardetz will speak to the bishops about the priesthood and the relationship of bishops to priests.

The article goes on to say that "Gaillardetz may strike some as a surprising choice for the job, however, since he is an open dissenter from Church teaching," including her teaching on women's ordination.  As a reference the article cites SoCon or Bust blogger John Pacheco's thorough post on the subject.

Pacheco cites so many of of Gaillardetz' "nuances" of  - or outright departures from - authentic Catholic teaching that it is amazing that the man considers himself a Catholic, considering his myriad problems with Church teaching.

Darling of the DOR ministerium

Professor Gaillardetz is no stranger to DOR, having given talks here at least 3 times within the last 5 years, including presentations to the DOR ministerium (i.e., priests, deacons and lay people involved in ministry in some way).

This isn't very surprising, given John Allen's comments in a 2007 NCR piece.

Gaillardetz argued that in the United States, liberal Catholicism is less an ideology than a “pastoral phenomenon … alive in parishes that have a flourishing catechumenate, vibrant liturgies, thoughtful and relevant preaching, and multiple lay ministerial opportunities,” as well as “in a growing number of intentional Christian communities that are determined to keep alive a vision of the church that they associate with Vatican II.”

Looking around, observers such as Gaillardetz say that the moderate-to-liberal camp probably represents a disproportionate share of the church’s ministerial workforce, meaning priests, deacons, religious, and laity, as well as the theological guild.

What Gaillardetz (and Allen) fail to note is that, at least in DOR, liberal Catholicism is driving the faithful right out of the pews:  Fully 25% of DOR's Mass-attending Catholics have called it quits in just the last 8 years, "vibrant liturgies" and "thoughtful and relevant preaching" notwithstanding.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"What does a bishop do?"

2nd grader: "What does a bishop do?"

Bishop: "What do you think he does?"

2nd grader: 'Well, he writes letters asking for money."

Thus went an exchange between Bishop Eugene Gerber and one of the younger members of his flock about 30 years ago when His Excellency was leading the Diocese of Dodge City.

"That was when it first struck me that things have to change," Bishop Gerber told a reporter in 2004.

In 1982, when Gerber was transferred to head the Wichita diocese, he began thinking of ways to change how the diocese was governed. Gerber, who had served as a priest in the Wichita diocese before becoming bishop of Dodge City in 1976, knew of one parish where changes had already occurred.

Msgr. Tom McGread told NCR he first began considering a new model in 1959, after he read an article by two Mobile, Ala., priests who were trying to "come up with a Catholic idea of the Protestant practice of tithing."

He explained that when he introduced the model to his Wichita parish, St. Francis of Assisi, in 1969 his "emphasis was getting the people involved in the Parish, with their time and their talents. Once they became involved, they got a sense of belonging. Once they got a sense of belonging, then they got a sense of ownership."

McGread asked his parishioners to work out a percentage of giving, "according to what the Bible told us," he said. "I advised them to start with a lower percentage and work up and see if they missed it. One of the promises I made to them was if they were worse off financially at the end of the year after tithing, they could come back and we'd give them all their money back. In 40 years I never had anyone do that."

Gerber was encouraged by St. Francis' success. He began to hold meetings around the diocese asking three questions: "What are the qualities of a good parish? What are the obstacles? what would you do if you had unlimited resources?" He also began studying ways to meet the increasing challenges of providing Catholic education.

He said the findings "converged into one," and out of that emerged United Catholic Stewardship.

Following the new model, parishes began tithing 10 percent of their donations to the diocese each month, replacing the annual bishop's appeal and special collections.

All parishes agreed to pay for Catholic' education for the children of active parishioners. According to Daniel Loughman, diocesan director of stewardship and finance, between 60 and 70 percent of parish budgets are devoted to paying for Catholic education. The great majority of that money goes to schools, but religious education classes and other education ministries also figure in.

Gerber said that the parables in the Gospels are full of references to stewardship. He said that in order to succeed, the model must be "centered on the Eucharist." That focus on Eucharist is why "probably about 70 percent of our people, somewhere in there, are attending Mass on the Lord's Day. We have perpetual adoration here that I suspect, relatively speaking is unequaled." Currently" perpetual adoration continues in 18 parishes in the diocese. In some parishes it has been ongoing for nearly 20 years.

While free tuition to the schools is one of the fruits of Wichita's stewardship process, it is not the only one. The diocese built The Lord's Diner, a free diner for poor and homeless people, and supports the Guadalupe Clinic, which provides free health care for working poor people.

The conversion to the stewardship model has not always been easy. According to McGread, one of the biggest difficulties has been converting priests, rather than parishioners. Priests, he said, are often afraid that the stewardship process won't be "successful for them."

Gerber said some older priests may have "been schooled more in fundraising than in stewardship. As a consequence, they trust their longtime experience. That doesn't mean their ministry is less for it, but it is not something that I say meets the challenges of our time."

He said that stewardship "very much meets with [the approval of] the younger set of priests because it is a part of their theology, they know the scriptures, and they haven't been a part of any other models."

Gerber said he's been asked by bishops how to get started, and he tells them, "Well, just go start. Just go begin preaching it, go begin learning about it. If nothing else, get a cluster of parishes and start. If it takes one parish, start with one parish."

He said, "Some dioceses have decided they want to do it incrementally. We did it as one fell swoop. It takes a leap of faith to do that."

(Full source here. This story is the "RELATED ARTICLE" beginning here.)

That is how the Diocese of Wichita transformed itself into what is today a model of Catholic stewardship that any other diocese in this nation is free to emulate. What is amazing is that their story has been out there for years and yet so few dioceses have been willing to follow their lead.

Perhaps the reason is that Bishop Gerber neglected to mention the other necessary component (besides faith): Total loyalty to the Church as exemplified by full acceptance of all that she teaches.

That last part is a deal-breaker in far too many dioceses these days.

Opening conversation, updated 30 years and translated to DOR

So how would our opening conversation play out today here in DOR, were Bishop Clark ever to visit a Catholic school?

I suspect it would go something like this:

2nd grader: "What does a bishop do?"

Bishop: "What do you think he does?"

2nd grader: 'Well, he writes letters asking for money."

Bishop: "That's only part of my job, honey. I also close parishes and schools, appoint dissenters to head up parishes, allow non-ordained people to preach at Mass, appoint agenda-driven gatekeepers to make sure few if any orthodox vocations get sent to seminary and turn a blind eye to just about any liturgical abuse anyone can dream up.

"I also try to get out parishes to push stewardship, but that doesn't seem to be going very well."

Wichita Catholic schools enrollment up 20% in 16 years

Buried in a recent blurb announcing a future guest speaker is this little tidbit (my emphasis):

Mark your calendars! September 2 - Mr. Bob Voboril, Superintendent of Schools for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita since 1993. In the 16 years he has been here our schools collectively have grown over 20% and have been recognized nationally for putting the Catholic faith as every school’s priority.

The announcement comes from this month's online bulletin of the Downtown Wichita Chapter, Serra International.

2009-10 Enrollment is up, parishioners continue their support

Other news coming out of Wichita indicates that, contrary to the trend in the rest of the country, Catholic school enrollment is actually up a modest amount.

The 20 Catholic schools in Sedgwick County had an increase in enrollment from 8,005 to 8,052 students, according to the Wichita Catholic Diocese.

Kapaun Mount Carmel High School reached an all-time high of more than 900 students, an increase of about 30 from last year.

Growth in the east-side K-8 Catholic schools that feed students into Kapaun, such as All Saints and Magdalen, has been faster than expected, said Bob Voboril, superintendent of the diocese schools.

"The feeder schools are doing a better job," he said.

The growth has led to larger class sizes and waiting lists to get into those schools, Voboril said.

"For the most part, schools are trying to add students without adding staff," he said.

Wichita Catholic schools don't charge their mostly Catholic students tuition individually. Instead, all church members pay for their parish's school.

Funding has kept up with growing student populations, Voboril said.

"It's amazing that in the middle of a recession, our parishes are willing to support more students," he said.

"They could've just as well said, 'Cut off enrollment.' "

Story here.

Former MCCS Superintendent involved in fatal accident

Sr. Elizabeth Meegan, Monroe County Catholic School Superintendent from 2001 through 2006, was involved in a 2 car accident Sunday afternoon in North Fort Meyers, Florida.

Two other nuns in her car died. Sr. Elizabeth was reported to be in good condition in a local hospital

Story here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Confusion to the north

International Studies in Catholic Education is a scholarly journal that began publishing this year.  It's second issue contains the following article (emphasis within the abstract is mine).

Can there be ‘faithful dissent’ within Catholic religious education in schools?
Graham P. McDonough
Pages 187 - 199


Catholic education struggles with an apparent tension between student-centred methods and remaining true to the official Church teaching. The traditional view holds that students are to learn ecclesial facts, but contemporary pedagogy promotes a wider range of experiences. Consequentially, teachers struggle with the question of how to deal with reasonable student dissent on non-infallible teachings like contraception, female ordination and homosexuality. This essay comments on interview findings that religion teachers attempt to accommodate dissent, but since there is no firm theoretical grounding for student-centred methods the possibility of nurturing a reasonable intra-Church intellectual plurality becomes lost in the Catholic school.

Keywords: dissent; pedagogy-religious education; Catholic school-aims; critical thinking

Editor’s Note: This is Canadian research based on Catholic schools in Saskatchewan.

Dr. McDonough is listed as an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Victoria.  His 2007 doctrinal dissertation is entitled "The moral and pedagogical importance of dissent to Catholic education."

A few of the terms in the good doctor's abstract are just begging for translation into plain English.

  • "Contemporary pedagogy promotes a wider range of experiences" actually means that, sadly, many of today's Catholic teachers and their schools are heavily into experiential theology.
  • "Non-infallible teachings like contraception, female ordination and homosexuality" is pure gobbledygook. If the solemn teachings contained in Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are not binding on one's conscience, then hardly anything taught by the Church is. Ditto for any teaching proclaimed by the pope and bishops always and everywhere.
  • "Reasonable intra-Church intellectual plurality" is double-speak for dissent which is, itself, the politically correct term for heresy.

Lay ecclesial leaders get CMA assessment reductions

While DOR may have removed the Parish-by-Parish listing from its website, it is still possible to glean CMA information from other sources.

I've been looking through online bulletins and have thus far managed to learn the 2009-10 CMA assessments for 6 parishes. While that is not enough to draw any real conclusions, it is interesting that the 3 parishes which have seen reductions in their assessments are those being run by Sr. Joan Sobala and Nancy DeRycke.

If anyone out there knows of 2009-10 CMA assessments for these (or other) parishes, please leave a note in the comment box.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One priest, one roof

If you think we have seen too many church closings here in DOR, be thankful we don't live in the Diocese of Syracuse.

In the last decade that diocese has closed 37 churches, with 15 of those closures coming in the last 30 months.

The diocese has a "one priest, one roof" policy which forbids a priest to pastor more than one parish even if he wanted to.  This effectively eliminates clustering, which is the only thing keeping several DOR parishes open.

Story here.

Dor.org traffic analysis

Quantcast is a 2006 start-up that tracks internet traffic to millions of websites and uses inference technology to estimate demographic data for the visitors to each site.

I recently stumbled across their site and thought it might be interesting to see what they knew about the users of dor.org.

It turns out that Quantcast claims to know quite a bit. Their summary says,

This site reaches approximately 18,35 [they mean 18,350; see the graph] U.S. monthly people. The site attracts a rather female, primarily older, more educated group.

Dor.org's recent traffic seems to show a sharp increase since mid-July.

However, the demographics underlying that traffic don't bode well for the future.

It's difficult to see how an older, mostly female demographic with no kids left at home can do very much to help DOR recover from its ongoing malaise, no matter how well educated it might be.

Bishop Clark to celebrate Mass at Mason's farm?

According to the Wayne County Star, Bishop Clark will be celebrating Mass in Savannah this weekend:

Bishop Matthew Clark will lead a noon Mass at Bruce and Barbara Waterman’s farm on Route 89 during the St. John - St. Michael - St. Patrick cluster picnic Sept. 27.

The Mass, which will be held in the Watermans’ barn about four miles north of the hamlet of Savannah, is open to the public. Those wishing to stay for the picnic afterward need to purchase a ticket from the parish office ...

I wonder if His Excellency is aware that an online Masonic newsletter lists a Bruce G. Waterman as Past Master of Savannah Masonic Lodge No. 764 and a Bruce M. Waterman as current Master of the same lodge.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awash in narcissism

One of my Google Alerts took me to Anecdotal Evidence, a blog which bills itself as being "about the intersection of books and life." 

In a recent post blogger Patrick Krup shares this letter from a friend:

I'd been pondering the general topic [of tradition] since I sat near a group of women in a Starbucks one day a couple of weeks ago and was forced to listen to them discuss why the Catholic church was moronic for not ordaining women.

Not being Catholic myself, I didn't have much stake in the argument but I was astonished by their blithe assumption that the tradition of the Church was utterly without value and further, that their own opinions deserved equal weight with those of, say, Augustine of Hippo or Aquinas.

I wish I could have recorded it, so I could play it back for anyone who doubts that we're awash in narcissism. It was jaw-dropping. Maybe this is what comes of too much democracy.

Patrick's unnamed (and non-Catholic!) friend had managed to put his or her finger on the reason I feel so irritated by priestess wannabes and their supporters:  they totally deny the importance and value of Tradition in the Catholic Church.  The only things that matter to them are their desires and their feelings.  What the Church has done for 2,000 years - and why she has done it - they dismiss as utterly irrelevant.

"Awash in narcissism" is a perfect description of these people.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

DOR drops CMA Parish-by-Parish feature from its website

For the last few years DOR has posted Parish-by-Parish results for its Catholic Ministries Appeal on its website. These results were updated periodically and allowed people to track their parish's progress throughout the 8+ months of the campaign.

That feature now appears to be a thing of the past. Dor.org currently has many links related to the 2009-10 CMA but none of them lead to a parish-by-parish accounting.

Could it be that someone at Buffalo Rd. got tired of seeing images like these?

This post writes itself

I was reading through some of the comments on Channel 10's story on the launching of this year's Catholic Ministries Appeal and was struck by how many people connected years of Catholic school closings with the fact that we now see so few young people in church.

Read them for yourself:

Gus R wrote,

This year's campaign targets young people. The bishop says that's a missing group in the church. I wonder why? The Bishop has closed half the schools. That means many have left with the kids and do not donate anymore and will not be back ...

The Bishop is now loosing a whole new generation for good. Go see the Fathers house in Chili. Many are from the Catholic church and are fed up. All young with young kids. The young are not being fed Bishop. You are in another world. They are leaving and will never be back. Why? Because you did not feed them ...

The only ones left are the old folks and they are dying off. The Catholic church in Rochester will die with the old folks as well. The Bishop has just about destroyed the church in Rochester. They young have suffered the most because many have lost half their money and have lost jobs. They need support from the church not a leach.

amerks55 added,

Our school was among the first wave of closings in 1992, We fought the bishop with every resource we had, and still lost. The deck was stacked and no matter what solution we offered, he had his mind made up. So what happens? 17 years later, our church is closing.

Why? We lost two generations of kids- the lifeblood of the parish! Without the kids to bring us all together, we floundered. Without the kids, there was no continuity- no new young adults to become members of the parish. Instead, folks scattered, looked for new schools, and supported that parish.

Clark doesn't GET IT. He is killing the diocese. Soon it won't be a matter of closing another school or church. Instead he will have to shut down the diocese. Nice going! Nice legacy, Matty!

And Simon chimed in with,

The bishop said our youth are not involved in the faith today. DUH, he closed the lifeline to almost all catholic parishes.

Yes, catholic schools were that lifeline. There were self-supporting parishes that He would not save.

I think the bishop and his advisors should donate their salaries for a year.

I guess I'm not the only one who believes that a diocese that refuses to find a way to keep its Catholic schools open is a diocese that has decided to commit suicide.

DOR "loses" 36,000 Catholics in just one year.

The 2009-2010 Catholic Ministries Appeal has been officially launched, according to a story on the Catholic Courier website.

Bishop Matthew H. Clark launched the Diocese of Rochester's 2009-10 Catholic Ministries Appeal Sept. 21, asking parishioners to pull together to help meet the campaign's $5.49 million goal, thus keeping the spirit of faith and service alive in the diocese.

"Keeping the Spirit Alive" is the theme of this year's annual campaign, which funds ministries touching the lives of more than 314,000 Catholics in the 12-county diocese. (emphasis mine)

However, last year's CMA kickoff letter cited a significantly higher number of Catholics.

Calling on Catholics to help bolster the Church’s ministries and ensure a strong Diocese for future generations, Bishop Matthew Clark today officially launched the 2008-09 Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA).

The CMA funds ministries for more than 350,000 Catholics in 12 counties. The campaign goal is $5.39 million. (again, my emphasis)

Hmmm, let's see here ... "More than 350,000" minus "more than 314,000" equals just about 36,000 Catholics who have simply disappeared in just one year.

One would think that over 10% of our Catholics vanishing in 12 months would rate some kind of acknowledgement from DOR.

Apparently not.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Radical feminists killing health reform?

Saturday's D&C contained a Guest Essay by Carol Crossed, President of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum.

Headlined Feminists could kill health reform, the essay recounts how radical feminists' insistence that the Equal Rights Amendment not contain language specifically excluding abortion as a "right" helped torpedo that legislation.

Ms. Crossed then goes on to predict that a similar stance by today's radical feminists might also kill health reform.

Read the essay here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nashville Dominicans welcome 23 postulants

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia have just welcomed 23 postulants to their Nashville, TN motherhouse. According to an article appearing on Tennessean.com, "It's the largest group of new nuns in training in the United States."

While many religious orders in the United States are declining, the Nashville Dominicans are flourishing. Most of the new sisters are in their 20s and want to be traditional nuns — wearing full habits and living in a convent. They say that life as a nun offers more than the secular world could ever give them ...

They love Pope Benedict XVI and the retired nuns at the convent, as well as Christian rock bands Third Day and Jars of Clay. And they've left everything behind — families, friends, careers, even their iPods, cell phones, laptops and Facebook accounts — all for the sake of Jesus ...

Sister Mary Angela is encouraged to see all the new sisters coming to the order. Like many Catholic religious orders, they went through a hard time in the 1970s, after Vatican II had modernized many church practices. Some sisters left. But unlike other orders, many of which abandoned wearing the habit, the Nashville Dominicans retained many of their traditional practices ...

The young nuns in Nashville don't seem driven by conservative theology or ideology. Instead, they seem driven by a love for God.

Sister Mary Emily said that the nuns are glad to have the young women join them.

"We love our life, and we want to share it with others," she said.

Elsewhere in the article there is this short summary of statistics pertaining to U.S. women religious.

[In] 1965, there were 179,954 nuns in the United States. Today, there are 59,601. Most are senior citizens, said Sister Mary [Bendyna, senior research associate for CARA], who recently completed a study of American Catholic religious orders.

"There are more over 90 than under 60 [see here, page 26]. That was particularly striking," she said.

The average age of the 252 Nashville Dominican sisters is 36.

How to leave the Church AND keep the deed

From The Catholic Key Blog ...

In 2006, two long-serving Benedictine Sisters from Wisconsin renounced their vows and left their order. The Vatican concurred in releasing them.

Nothing surprising there - Religious leave their orders all the time. What is unique about this case is that the two women figured out how to take all of their former order’s assets with them. In October, a group of leaders from men’s and women’s religious orders will learn how to do the same.

Here’s the background. In 2007, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink gave the keynote address at the annual convention of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious held in Kansas City. Titled, "A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century"(pdf), her talk looked at different ways various communities of women religious were dealing with decline and evolving. One possible way was to be a “sojourner”:

Sojourners have left the religious home of their fathers and mothers and are traveling in a foreign land, mapping their way as they go. They are courageous women among us. And very well may provide a glimpse into the new thing that God is bringing about in our midst. Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God? A movement the ecclesiastical system would not recognize. A wholly new way of being holy that is integrative, non-dominating, and inclusive. But a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life. The Benedictine Women of Madison are the most current example I can name. Their commitment to ecumenism lead them beyond the exclusivity of the Catholic Church into a new inclusivity, where all manner of seeking God is welcomed. They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness.

One problem with sojourning “beyond Christ” in a way “the ecclesiastical system would not recognize” is that you have to leave behind the good will of being a Catholic religious sister and begin anew. When you leave the Church, you also leave behind the trappings of the Church – the monastery, the land, the endowment. All of these things were entrusted for an ecclesial purpose and you have chosen to no longer serve that purpose. If you quit the convent, you have to find a new roof.

But the two Benedictine sisters in Wisconsin who wanted to leave their order were in a unique position. They were the last two active members of their community. They had no one to return the keys to. So they took them.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Benedictine Sisters Mary David Walgenbach and Joanne Kollasch started thinking about leaving the Catholic religious life and starting a way of life the Church would not recognize in 1992. In 2006, they were officially released from their vows.

Between 1992 and 2006, they had a lot of work to do. According to public records, in 1998, they set up a Non-Stock Corporation headed by themselves called the Benedictine Women of Madison, Inc. The new corporation was non-canonical, ie., not connected to or bound by any of the laws of the Church.

In late 2000, the two sisters signed over the deeds for the various parcels of land belonging to their canonical, ecclesial religious order to the non-ecclesial corporation run by themselves. A separate, non-ecclesial foundation was also set up for the benefit of the new Benedictine Women of Madison, Inc.

When the two sisters finally were released from their vows in 2006, they had already transferred the ecclesial property of their order essentially to themselves. They took new vows to their non-Church related order and now run the Holy Wisdom Monastery on the property of their old order’s former high school.

Holy Wisdom Monastery has one other professed member, a Presbyterian minister. They are open to accepting “sisters” of other faiths, but so far no takers. Madison Bishop Robert Morlino has forbidden priests from offering Mass at the monastery, but in late August, they began “sharing the Bread of Life around a common table” at a weekly, inclusive, ecumenical Eucharist at their just-constructed $8 million eco-friendly monastery.

Are there any other religious orders contemplating quitting the Church and taking the Church’s patrimony with them? The Resource Center for Religious Institutes must think so.

RCRI is an organization formed by the merger of two religious resource groups sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. At their National Conference on October 23, participating religious leaders will have the opportunity to attend a workshop called “Going Non-Canonical”. It will be led by the former sister from Wisconsin, Mary David Walgenbach, and Benedictine Father Dan Ward, the canon lawyer who helped the Benedictines of Madison quit the Church. Here’s the description, my emphases:

The story of a small Benedictine community’s journey of becoming non-canonical. The content includes their ecumenical ministry, visioning process, development of an ecumenical board, relationship with the Federation of St. Gertrude and canonical and civil procedures for the transfer of assets.

Why would any leader of a religious community need to learn that?


After reading this I could not help but think of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been legally defrauded by these two women.  I am thinking of all those who, over the 50+ years the Benedictine Monastery of Madison had been in existence, made donations for its construction and upkeep or remembered  it in their wills, primarily - or at least partly - because it was a Catholic institution.

It is no wonder these ex-nuns feel they are sojourning “beyond Christ” in a way “the ecclesiastical system would not recognize.”

They have left their consciences behind.

H/T Cathy_of_Alex

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unpublished LTEs

A story about low enrollment in our local Catholic schools recently  appeared in the Democrat & Chronicle and I commented on it here.

I also sent off a Letter to the Editor on the subject.  Since there has been no phone call from the D&C in the 2+ weeks that have elapsed since I hit the Send button, I have to conclude that they have chosen not to publish it.

And so I will self-publish it here ...

To the Editor,

While local Catholic officials may be finding some consolation in the fact that Catholic school enrollment is down across New York State, I wonder if they have looked beyond our borders.

For instance, out in Kansas the Diocese of Wichita has about 120,000 Catholics (roughly one-third as many as the Diocese of Rochester) and it operates 39 Catholic elementary and secondary schools. During this past academic year enrollment reached a 40-year high at just under 11,000 students.

Furthermore, no Wichita Catholic student pays a single cent in tuition to attend one of those schools.

A recent study concluded, "Wichita might be home to one of the strongest Catholic school systems in the nation, with impressive test scores, rising enrollments, supportive parishes, an authentic Catholic identity and a unique funding model.”

If Wichita can do this, why can't Rochester?

I believe our diocesan leaders owe us an answer to that question.

Is the D&C ignoring you?

My experience with this and other unpublished letters has given me an idea.

Some comments on this and other local blogs as well as casual conversations with friends reveal a fairly widespread impression that the Democrat & Chronicle has adopted a favorable editorial stance towards DOR and its policies and actions.  Furthermore, many believe that the D&C deliberately chooses to ignore almost anything critical of the bishop, the diocese and the MCCS System.

Well, I cannot force the D&C to print your letters but I can publish them here.

If you submit an LTE to the D&C critical of any aspect of DOR and it goes unpublished, send me a copy along with the date you sent it to the D&C and I will (probably) run it here.  (See my profile for contact info.)

No anonymous rants, please!  In fact, I'm going to insist on the same ground rules that the D&C uses:  I'll need your name and phone number; also, your LTE cannot exceed 175 words.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fr. McBrien: Literate Catholics have no need of Eucharistic adoration

Notre Dame's dissident par excellence seems to have outdone himself. 

In an article appearing today on the National Catholic Reporter website (no surprise there), Fr. Richard McBrien  dismisses Eucharistic adoration as a "step backward," "notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement " of the devotion.

The not-so-good Father even goes so far to imply that only illiterate Catholics would feel any need for this "extraneous eucharistic devotion."

The practice of eucharistic adoration began in the 12th century, when the Real Presence of Christ was widely rejected by heretics or misunderstood by poorly educated Catholics. The church saw eucharistic adoration as a way of reaffirming its faith in the Real Presence and of promoting renewed devotion to it.

However, as time went on, eucharistic devotions, including adoration, drifted further and further away from their liturgical grounding in the Mass itself.

Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.

Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.

Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.

Thank you, Fr. McBrien, for letting me know that I'm too well educated to sit for an hour and adore Our Lord.

I'm sure Jesus appreciates it, too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's an EPIC!

Ascension Press held a sale over the summer and I picked up a couple of items. One of these was a copy of EPIC, Steve Weidenkopf's brand new, 20-episode video presentation of Church history, beginning (as one would expect) with the early Church as described in Acts and ending with the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

I've spent about 20 hours over the last few days watching every minute of this video and all I can say is that it is fantastic!

I have read my way through a couple of one volume Church histories and, while I got a fair amount out of each, I also had to put in a fair amount of effort. EPIC's video approach, however, seems to offer just about as much information while requiring far less in the way of work.

The complete EPIC package includes, in addition to the 10 DVDs, a 220 page workbook, a foldout timeline chart and a bookmark that lists EPICs 12 time periods of Church history.

While I have yet to run this past the staff at Holy Cross, I suspect that EPIC will soon become a part of of our ongoing adult faith formation efforts.

"A dying race of heterodox 'reformers'"

Cleansing Fire has posted some comments it has received regarding DOR's CMA promotional video. Needless to say, they aren't very flattering.

One comment in particular caught my eye:

This isn't a promotional video for the CMA. It's the death rattle of a dying race of heterodox 'reformers'

This assessment brought to mind another video I watched recently - a recording of Sr. Joan Chittister's June 24th talk at the Church of the Assumption in Fairport.

The following screencap gives some idea of the demographic Sr. Joan is attracting these days.

Most of these folks appear to be my age or older. It's encouraging that Sr. Joan's 'message' doesn't seem to be playing very well - at least in DOR - with anyone under the age of 65.

Cell phones in church

Found on The Deacon's Bench ...

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Two new videos from donjojohannes...


DOR appoints 17th pastoral administrator

Deacon Gary DiLallo has been appointed as pastoral administrator for the St. Hyacinth Church and St. Francis Church Cluster in Auburn, Cayuga County.

According to the diocesan website, a pastoral administrator

is a layperson or deacon appointed by the Bishop to lead a parish community. This person is responsible for providing spiritual leadership to the community and direction for administrative functions.


Pastoral administrators are responsible to ensure the vibrancy of worship, evangelization, catechesis and other ministries and programs, as well as ecumenical and community outreach. The pastoral administrator works closely with the Pastoral Council, and Finance Council, oversees preparation of an annual budget, supervises staff and oversees the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.

Deacon DiLallo is 1 of 17 pastoral administrators presently serving in DOR.

Full story here.