Saturday, July 08, 2006
There's one sacred space . . .
Friday, July 07, 2006
Latin Mass Community's Report
Well, it's hardly a secret any more...the summary of "Stengths, Challenges and Vision" from the first listening session, prepared by some of the folks who attended the Blessed Sacrament listening session last month for the St. Rose Philippine Duschene Latin Mass Community, has been widely circulated. Even so widely circulated I might as well post it here.
This report was prepared by the SRPD folks in response to what they viewed as a haphazard and confused process during the listening session, when comments of the territorial parishioners were mixed in with the SRPD members and the comments of each group seemed to get jumbled in with the others. I understand that it was delivered to each member of the "task force," such as it was, and also directly into the hands of the Archbishop, in an effort to make sure our community's perspective was fairly presented (even if, fait accompli, the decisions have already been secretly made, and this and the efforts of other communities are the pointless exercise I feared they would be from the beginning).
Anyways, if you're a member of another parish in the 'Dotte, and you've done something similar, please share it with me, and I'll post it here alongside the SRPD report!
THE LATIN MASS COMMUNITY OF ST. PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, KANSAS CITY, KS
“…a powerful silence, a seriousness… a centuries-old script… no personalities…” Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, speaking of her recent attendance at an old Latin Mass in Washington DC.
- First, and most importantly, we have a great community sacramental life provided by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). The Masses are celebrated with great reverence for the greater honor and glory of God. As observed by our visitors, real interior participation in the Latin Mass seems to be very high (although it can't really be measured, except by noting the large number of our members who use prayer books and who also stay for some time after Mass on their knees to give thanks to God for the gift of His Body and Blood).
- We have daily opportunities for confessing our sins and being forgiven—typically 8-9 hrs every weekend and 6-8 hrs on weekdays. Generally, we take those opportunities for confession seriously, with a high percentage of adults making their confession at least every two to three weeks.
- We have weekly Benediction on Thursday evening and daily group rosaries. We put a big emphasis on traditional blessings during the course of the year, and the use of sacramentals. For example, almost 2,000 holy medals of St. Roch and St. Benedict and hundreds of holy cards were recently distributed to adults and children after two recent Sunday Masses.
- The spirituality of our Mass seems to obviously carry over into the daily lives of most of our parishioners, too. You can tell their lifestyle by the frequency they attend daily Mass, the modest dresses the women are wearing, the way everyone talks, the number of children, the bumper stickers some people have on their cars, the overall way they live good lives, and their good example to others. We are really trying to be saints!
- We are blessed with Fr. XYZ and his assistant, Fr. ABC, both of whom fulfill our spiritual and liturgical needs (frequent confessions and reverent Holy Communions administered by a cleric). In addition to these two young priests, we are also blessed by the regular visits of other good priests from the FSSP. Behind these priests we see a full pipeline of traditional seminarians as well.
- Our community produced a Fraternity seminarian, a monk and a cloistered nun last year, and we've had a hand in some of the other vocations that have come from the Missouri Latin Mass community, now Old St. Patrick's. Our stream of vocations is growing, not dying out.
Our Priests are outstanding role models for the boys, and with them around (or having been around), it's unlikely that any young man who does have a vocation will be able to ignore it)
- Unmarried Catholics in our community seem to have a special understanding of their role to become saints and to help the Church prosper, and most liberally contribute a significant part of their time to church devotions and activities. We don’t seem to have any unmarried singles living together.
- Married Catholics with children are the most numerous vocations in our community, and we are pleased that there are now more children than adults, 374 children as compared to 357 adults. The children are generally very well behaved at Mass, even the very youngest, probably because the parents control children’s behavior at home and older children help with the younger ones.
- During Mass, we understand the importance of our joining with the priest to pray together (but silently) the very words and prayers of the Divine Sacrifice. English-Latin Missals are much used, and are free to Mass attendees who do not have their own.
- Outside the Sanctuary, nearly all our Catholic Action activities are coordinated by laymen—prayer chain, handmade baptismal garment sewing, parish lunches following First Communion Sunday and other important parish events...you name it and we’ve probably got it!
- Our lay religious activities are all rightly ordered, with our Chaplain unquestionably in charge and others working with him (instead of against him or indifferently to him) toward a common goal.
- Even though not officially a part of our community, the Blue Knights and Little Flowers have originated from parent meetings and result in organized recreational activities for the kids. The Legion of Mary has grown to five Praesidia. We also have a lending library with good Catholic books, a parishioner who makes religious goods available, and other community activities after Sunday High Mass.
- Lay volunteers also coordinate our annual church picnic, our website, the preparation and distribution of weekly church bulletins, and our annual picnic and annual banquet. [Our featured speaker at the October 24 banquet will be Steve Wood, founder of St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers, who will emphasize the importance of Dads in the family.]
- We've got our share of gray hair, but by and large, we're a YOUNG lot with many couples in their 20s, 30s and early 40s with lots of children—obviously our people are heeding the Church's teaching about the blessings of children. Two to three baptisms of babies happen every month.
- In addition to that, we have a large number of single men in our pews. Faith gets taught by mothers, to a large degree, but gets its strength, best example, and permanency from men, especially fathers.
- After going through much of our workaday life with people who are so different from us (for men), or who usually speak with immature conversationalists (for moms), we especially relish the times when we can get together "with our own kind," that is, with people who share our general spirituality and outlook on life.
- We have after-Mass coffee and doughnuts most Sundays, and two or three other events during the year in which we can get together.
- Young mothers who home-school their children keep in contact by phone to share ideas, field trips, and babysitting.
- Our Schola provides the traditional and timeless music of the church to bring our community to a reverent presence before God. Singing a capella, the Schola also accompanies the Eucharist on outdoor processions. The leader is a trained musician who brings out the best in choir members who range from the old to the young.
- As our forefathers did, our congregation easily joins in singing the common parts, i.e., the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, which provides another opportunity for lay involvement in the Mass and is a great source of Grace.
- We have five trained organists, one cellist, and two more organists in training who are almost ready to play at Mass and for church devotions.
- Religious instruction is regularly conducted by our chaplain for both non-Catholics and Catholics, and is tailored to the special needs of both groups.
- We have an excellent home-schooling support group, and our parishioners take their obligation to educate their children in the faith (and in more mundane matters) very seriously.
- Our website has been established for a number of years at www.latin-mass.org and is now being totally revamped.
- We regularly communicate with our members through e-mail, including distribution of our weekly church bulletin and alerts to the particular needs of community members. While living within the old traditional Catholic Church, we use the best and most modern means of reaching those who should be invited in or who have already joined with us to rebuild the Church.
- Our parishioners are involved in many pro-life and related political activities (Life Chain, praying the rosary at abortion clinics, Defense of Marriage Act campaign, Terri Schiavo bumper sticker campaign, support of the Grace Center, medical ethics seminar, etc. Many of our congregation also actively campaign for politicians who support Catholic values, including our own State Senator XYZ and State Rep. ABC.
- Whenever there's a specific need—a catastrophic illness or a job loss or anything else, whether with a member or an outsider—there is an army of our people to offer prayers and practical help. .......
- Elderly Catholics receive rides to Sunday Mass from community volunteers.
Our second collection at Sunday Mass is usually the FIN campaign, and this money is designated for ‘Families In Need’. Our community consists of many single-wage-earner families with stay-at-home Moms. The FIN collection is distributed to those who need extra help to feed and take care of their families when misfortune strikes.
- We also participate in activities like protests of The DaVinci Code and pursue other causes to support and defend the Church.
- We have a beautiful church in which to worship God and learn His truths, especially because of the traditional altar and statues of the saints that remind us of what we must become.
- We are especially indebted to Blessed Sacrament parish and to Fr. [N.O. Pastor] for their welcoming us to use their church and meeting areas. In many, many ways, Fr. N.O. Pastor has been a great help to our community, and he deserves the highest praise. We are so fortunate to have him for our landlord!
- The FSSP is here at the pleasure of the Archbishop, and we are somewhat unsure of the future of our Latin Mass community. We are especially concerned that we could lose some of our strengths by compromising our traditional practices.
- We have had three recent vocations to the religious life and more are expected, as there are usually 12 to 16 servers at High Mass and 4 to 6 servers at Low Mass. The older boys are well-trained in Latin solemn High Masses, Requiem Masses, Benediction, Solemn Processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, and Stations of the Cross.
- There are no traditional nuns in the archdiocese (although some are nearby in Kansas City, MO). We need sisters to pray for the Church, help with religious education, and give a clear example of what constitutes complete dedication to Jesus Christ.
- More young women would find the religious life if more consecrated sisters dressed in traditional habits were seen at Mass.
- Collections could improve, especially if there were more understanding of and trust in our future.
- Although Blessed Sacrament church is beautiful, its PA system could be improved so that folks who are hard of hearing can hear the sermons.
- We truly need the communion rail restored because we all kneel for communion on the step to the sanctuary. It's difficult (especially for the older folks) to balance oneself on the step and (for the younger folks) keep one's children from having their fingers stepped on while making a reverent Holy Communion.
- The primary organ needs some significant repair and regular maintenance.
- We really need a bigger vestibule and cry room. With so many little children, the vestibule can become very crowded with the confessional line and parents bringing children out for feeding, correction, and instruction. An alternative would be to place a free-standing confessional somewhere in the back of the church, so that the vestibule and cry room could be used exclusively by families with small children.
- The basement of the church needs considerable maintenance, especially the restrooms. It would be great to have a place for parents to change diapers.
- We would like a more permanent structure and commitment from the archdiocese, even though we would be content to stay at Blessed Sacrament for the present. We see definite advantages for continuing to remain at this beautiful church with its generous and welcoming pastor and parishioners.
- The community is very widely dispersed, and as such it's difficult to collaborate on things like education. Even getting to weekday Latin Masses, which many of us would like to do, is a chore.
- When visitors come downstairs after Sunday Mass for our social time, they get to see us relaxed and interacting as a single large family in our social setting. Coffee and doughnut hour is a fixture in our community and has resulted in many friendships being established.
- Few know about our community, unless they have a good friend who attends. Current new members say they would have been interested in joining our community long before now if it had not been hidden from view.
- It would be good if our community had access to archdiocesan and public channels of communication. In particular, we would like to see references to our activities in The Leaven, links to our website on the archdiocesan website, and news items published in the secular media.
- Having large families in fidelity to the Church's teaching on contraception does not permit the education of multiple children at $2,500 or $3,000 per child for grade school and about $6,000 per student for high school. Home-schooling parents, on the other hand, do a good job of inexpensively educating their children. The Archbishop should acknowledge, encourage, and publicly support this growing phenomenon, at least until the spirituality, liturgical life, and orthodoxy of teachers in Catholic schools is reestablished. We ultimately need an affordable, traditional option for corporately educating our children, particularly at the high school level.
THE VIBRANT PARISH (We think most of this fits the Latin Mass community)
- A community ordered primarily towards becoming Saints and thus attaining Salvation.
- A growing church, both by adding new families and adding to existing families.
- An adequate number of energetic, orthodox priests who’s first and foremost concerns are the provision of the sacraments and the saving of souls.
- Sacramental liturgies that emphasize our duties and reverence to God, our priest, and holy things.
- Sermons that call listeners to do great things for God, even when requiring strength and perseverance that seem impossible to achieve, except through grace.
- A community that supports the work of its priests with more than enough volunteers (i.e., lots of lay involvement in appropriate areas) to implement the directions of the pastor.
- A community that appears to the outside world as providing an excellent example of what Christianity is all about.
- The pleasing of God; resulting in many religious vocations to serve the Church
- Daily Mass and frequently scheduled Catholic devotions
- Long lines of penitents – with confessions heard daily, both before and after each Mass, as well as during regularly scheduled evening hours – so as to be more readily available to those who work during the day. We cannot become better Catholics without recognizing and confessing our sins on a regular basis.
- A catechism program faithful to the Church and that achieves spiritual growth, understanding, and religious commitment in the students.
- A beautiful church that continually awakens people to a deep love for the Church and makes its people its own. (We still need some elements, as discussed above.)
- Adequate, convenient facilities for other church-related activities. (Improvement is needed.)
- Faithful, consistent, and energetic leadership in the local church and the Archdiocese.
- Regularly scheduled evening courses in Thomistic philosophy and theology as part of an ongoing program of adult education.
- The education of students on the full responsibilities, beliefs, and activities of the Catholic Church so that one day they can effectively lead the Church to a new Catholic Restoration (Partial support)
- School options that fit well with the beliefs and practices of the traditional Catholic family. (We are missing this.)
Thursday, July 06, 2006
No, I haven't been keeping this up.
Therefore, most of my postings on the WyCo fiasco have been on my primary blog, Curmudgeon's Cave, including an update on St. John the Baptist with new interior photographs, and a couple of posts (here and here) on the efforts of the St. Rose Philippine Duschene Latin Mass Community's efforts to participate in the process as a community, despite the efforts of certain people at Meitler and the chancery office to keep us more-or-less invisible (as we have been all along).
Therefore, for the latest, jump over to Curmudgeon's Cave. Do keep sharing information as it comes in, and also do contact me if you're interesting in contributing to this blog directly.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Church Demolition in St. Louis.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
"Listening Session" at St. Peter's Cathedral
One of the many projects I've neglected for this blog (which is still open to another contributor, hint, hint) is my report on the St. Peters "listening session," which I attended as a mole on May 10, 2006.
As a preliminary, I admit that the St. Peters' session wasn't probably the best one to attend, because that parish isn't at all likely to suffer in the process. After all, the bishop is unlikely to shutter the Cathedral, now, is he? (actually, I was told by a woman I sat next to that rumors constantly circulate that the Archbishop is going to demote St. Peters and move the cathedra and seal to some barn-style newfangled church in a more fashionable part of Johnson County). St. Peters is in one of the neighborhoods of Kansas City, Kansas, that has fared better than others in the eastern part of the city. The current Mayor, Joe Reardon, still lives in the neighborhood, and he participated in the session. As Kansas City, Kansas goes, it's a pretty solid area.
Anyways, the sessions were led by a Teresa (or Theresa) Horvat, who's an employee of the Archdiocese, rather than one of the mercenary consultants. Ms. Horvat is hereinafter referred to as the "Facilitator Lady."
The session started with a church closing prayer written by Fr. Dan Gardner for the process which had such catchy lines as "lead us forward beyond who we are." Sounds like something I'd read on the website of the goofball New Agers that are building behind my house. Wary of others' sentiments and intentions, I elected not to join them; instead I said Veni Spiritus Sanctus to myself.
After the prayer, the Facilitator Lady laid out the agenda:
1. Facilitator Lady would review the "planning process"
2. The ground would generate a list of the strengths and weaknesses of the parish and the school.
3. Facilitator Lady would then try to have the group do some "visioning about the future."
Immediately, one asks what "visioning about the future" would be about. It sounded rather goofy. I had to stay until the end to find out, and I was already sleepy when I got there. The first substantive part of the meeting, where Facilitator Lady solicited answers to the question "Why do we plan?," was a bad omen. MUST…STAY...AWAKE.
Facilitator lady, after reading some of all of the Archbishop's duplicitous letter, said that the purposes of involving the parishes in the planning process were as follows:
- Building ownership in the plan through participation of key stakeholders [read: make laymen feel like it's their fault, that the Church has imploded over the last four decades].
- To provide "communication" and "transparency" in the process and show there's "no hidden agenda" [read: we think you're to stupid to catch on that this is about closing churches and schools]
- Articulate a vision for the "pastoral region" (the Wyandotte County deanery) for the next decade that takes into account the shortage of priests and fiscal realities [read: cut back on Masses and schools because the "New Springtime" promised by Vatican II has left us with very few priests to say Mass and zero Nuns in the teaching orders to keep education affordable].
The larger process is as follows:
- In January, the Archbishop met with priests and hired Meitler Consultants (the firm which, I noted before, was quite useful to Cardinal Sean in shuttering must of what little is left of Holy Mother Church in Boston, and which was instrumental in helping Naumann, as a St. Louis auxiliary, shut down a bunch of historic churches in St. Louis as well (see the Rome of the West blog for more information on these). One of the things Facilitator Lady mentioned at this point was how important feedback and input from the laity would be, but then there were no decision makers, or even close counselors to the decision maker, at the meeting. Anyways, they established a task force and Msgr. Tank is in charge (something about him makes me uneasy).
- In March and April, the diocese collected raw data (population, mass attendance, etc.).
- In May and June, the consultants do facilities tours and go around interviewing parishes and schools, and then "listening sessions" such as this take place.
- Through the remainder of the summer, the consultants analyze data.
- In September, the parish leaders meet in focus groups.
- In September and October, there's another round of parish meetings.
- In October, the task force formulates recommendations
- In November, those recommendations are shared with parish leaders.
- In November and December, those recommendations are shared with the parishes at large.
In early 2006, the Archbishop will implement the plan (demolition crews get ready to bid!)
One of the things that was said at this point was that the Archbishop "doesn't have a plan in his desk drawer." I don't believe that. One of my other correspondents reported that the consultants slipped up at a task force meeting and said that, in response to one member's question, "Does it really matter what we conclude?," that the recommendations of the task force caused the Archbishop to change the plan.
Now tell me, if the Archbishop didn't already have a plan, how could the task force's recommendations cause there to be a change in plans ???
Now at this point, someone jumped in and asked whether they were closing Bishop Ward High School. The Facilitator Lady's response was "I'm not here to talk about closing anything." Heh, heh.
They discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the parish (leaving the school aside for a time). The strengths consisted of the predictable stuff about being a strong faith community, and nice liturgies [does this mean lots of altar girls and loud singing of Glory & Praise hymns?], and a pretty church and so forth, but I think the best observation came from Joe Reardon, the mayor, who observed that St. Peters was the closest thing to a traditional parish in Wyandotte County (by which he meant a parish where the parishioners lived in the geographic boundaries, instead of driving in from JoCo as they do in parishes like St. John the Baptist). The weaknesses (excuse me, "challenges" included poor weekly collections, resentment that their Archdiocesan support seems to get spent on JoCo projects, a divisive previous rector, an aging population, and trouble getting new folks involved.
At this point, there was a digression as to whether Spanish Masses were a good thing because they served the Spanish speaking population or a bad thing because they kept Spanish and English folks from integrating and assimilating, An interesting point was made, and that was that the English speaking folks have just as much right to preserve their culture as do the Spanish speakers, and it got tense for a moment, but it's a good point, if not artfully made. Funny, none of that would be at issue (except perhaps the sermons) if they were celebrating Mass in the language of the Universal Church, Latin. Hmm. But now I digress.
With respect to the schools' (both the grade school and Bishop Ward high school) strengths and weaknesses, everyone was particularly concerned. Not so many strengths were mentioned, but when someone suggested that there was some academic weakness, an assistant prosecutor for Wyandotte County, who was in the audience and who had experience with delinquents from public schools in the 'Dotte, begged to differ and said the Catholic schools were far and away better. As for the other weaknesses in the schools, the complaints were that religious education was somewhat weak [somewhat?], that tuition was too high (one guy said it was something like $5,000 to send you kid to Bishop Ward High School and there wasn't much in the way of other programs like music and art. Wow. That's obscene for a place like Rockhurst, much less a place like Bishop Ward), that wealthier JoCo parishes poached good teachers, and that the fundraising emphasis, the new toys, and laity's attention is all going to the fancy new JoCo high school rather than to Bishop Ward.
So ended the discussion of strengths and weaknesses. A lot more was said; not much of it was worthy of being written down.
Finally (and here I was getting really sleepy), we got to the "Visioning the ideal parish" and "visioning the ideal school." No surprisingly, the ideal parish would have at least two full time priests serving the parish itself, and not just a second one in residence to help with Masses, but who was on another assignment during the week or retired or whatnot. The ideal parish would also have more youth programs and so forth. The ideal school would be a school that has what the new JoCo high school, St. James, has.
At that point I nodded off, woke myself up, and slipped out the back. I'd seen all I cared to see.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Hey, Facilitator Lady? Is that supposed to make us feel better? The Old Enemy has conquered Boston in a bloody rout, and your Meitler guys are there helping Bishop Sean (excuse me, I mean Cardinal Sean) pick the last flesh off the bones of Holy Mother Church there.
Meitler is responsible for destroying THIS. What will they wreck in the Dotte?
St Peter's "Listening Session"
Shudder. Of course, the Cathedral itself isn't likely to get shuttered.
Full report coming soon (sorry--we've been distracted by the Bishop Finn story).
Monday, May 01, 2006
Schedule of "Listening Sessions"
May 8, Monday, 6:30 p.m. St. John the Baptist (is this in English or Croatian?)
May 9, Tuesday, 7 p.m. Holy Name
May 10, Wednesday, 7 p.m. Cathedral of St. Peter
May 11, Thursday, 7 p.m. St. Patrick
May 15,Monday, 6:30 p.m. Sacred Heart
May 16, Tuesday, 7 p.m. St. Joseph-St. Benedict (English)
May 20, Saturday, 7 p.m. Blessed Sacrament (Spanish)
May 21, Sunday, noon. St. Mary-St. Anthony (Spanish)
May 25, Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Holy Family
May 30, Tuesday, 7 p.m. Christ the King
May 31, Wednesday, 7 p.m. Sts. Cyril & Methodius
June 1, Thursday, 6:30 p.m. St. Mary-St. Anthony (English)
June 13, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Blessed Sacrament (English)
June 14, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Our Lady and St. Rose
June 15, Thursday, 6:30 p.m. St. John the Evangelist (English)