Saturday, May 1, 2004

May 2004

This is a placeholder post linking to the page with this month's entries in the pre-Blogger format.

Topics: 25 jobs eliminated in archdiocesan restructuring. New form of governance reflects its leader. Local priest part of national drive for optional celibacy. Contractors group pushes project to separate sewers. Sewage dumping around state was negligible. Frijole days of obligation. Adult catechesis is ‘unfinished business’ of Vatican II, says speaker. Dominican High teacher suspended pending investigation. Priest placed on leave during investigation. On Becoming Post-Liberal. Lutheran, Catholic leaders meet in Milwaukee. Dousman pastor placed on leave pending investigation. Law requires clergy to report cases of child sex abuse. Meeting explores common ministry.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


The May 20, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.

25 jobs eliminated in archdiocesan restructuring

Our Archdiocese axes 25 headquarters employees as of July 1.

In announcing the preliminary results of the planning effort, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan said the new vision of the central offices will be rooted in the mission of the church, modeled after Jesus, which is to teach, to sanctify and to serve.

Under the new plan, services and ministries support areas will be aligned under four areas:

- Educational and Formational Services (to teach)

- Worship and Pastoral services (to sanctify)

- Community and Apostolic Services (to serve)

- Administrative Services (support for the services in the other areas)

So if some business executive dealing with a financial crunch asks "What would Jesus do?" don't be shocked if he answers, "Lay off 10 per cent of the employees."

Not that the employees should have been surprised.

The central offices of the archdiocese were last restructured in 1988 following the 1987 Archdiocesan Synod. At that time, [the archbishop’s delegate for the Department for Human Resources, Rick] Tank estimated between 20 to 30 positions were eliminated, leaving the central offices with 281 employees.

One man whose job looks secure is Jerry Topczewski, administrative assistant to the archbishop, and long-time archdiocesan spokesman.

Topczewski, also a member of the original strategic planning task force, noted Archbishop emeritus Rembert G. Weakland had talked about the need for planning often as he neared retirement, but "was hesitant to do so, so as to not tie the hands of his successor. ..."

Then why wasn't he hesitant about the Cathedral project?

New form of governance reflects its leader

This sidebar clarifies the matter; by our leader they mean Archbishop Dolan.

For example, rather than continuing with a cabinet of 10-12 close advisors as Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland met with twice a month, Archbishop Dolan will meet weekly with an executive council of four people and Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba.

It's like I say of our Parish Council: we don't need such a big rubber stamp.

Local priest part of national drive for optional celibacy

Fr. Joe Aufdermauer is in the press, and not for the first time. This time it's because he

... traveled to New York City from April 20-21 to meet with 20 other priests from 10 dioceses. The discussion led to the formation of the Priests’ Forum for Eucharist, a group "dedicated to advocate steps to ensure that the Eucharist remains available regularly and universally to Catholics," according to a press release.

Along the way, he comments on the poor state of catechesis.

"We’re suggesting that one way we might get some more priests is to make celibacy optional. We’re trying to use this as a teaching moment--a lot of Catholics don’t know you need a priest for full Eucharist; they’re used to receiving Communion at Communion services (usually run by a lay person). ..."

It seems likely that Catholics ignorant of this would also be ignorant of what the Church believes the Eucharist is.

This also points up the importance of exact definitions. He goes on to observe,

About 20 percent of the parishes (nationwide) don’t have a resident pastor, and about 50 percent worldwide.

We do not have a resident pastor at our parish. We have a pastor, and many of us wanted him to stay in the rectory, but he insisted on moving across town.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Contractors group pushes project to separate sewers

While the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District had no program for complete replacement of the old combined storm and sanitary sewers, I assumed they were separated when the old combined sewers needed to be replaced.

The City of Milwaukee is spending $19 million this year replacing old combined sewers that carry both storm water and sanitary waste, said City Engineer Jeff Polenske. That's nearly all the city's sewer project budget.

It would make more sense to install two new sewer lines instead of one when doing such projects, so eventually much of the city's combined system would be separated, Wanta [Richard Wanta, executive director of the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association] said.

"They've been replacing combined sewers with combined sewers for a long time," he said. "They are not solving their problem."


Tuesday, May 25, 2004


The Social Construction of Reality (1967), by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann

One must make do with the parents that fate has regaled
one with. This unfair disadvantage inherent in the situation
of being a child has the obvious consequence that, although
the child is not simply passive in the process of his socialization,
it is the adults who set the rules of the game.


The child does not
internalize the world of his significant others as one of many
possible worlds. He internalizes it as the world, the only
existent and only conceivable world, the world tout court.


However much the original sense of inevitability may be
weakened in subsequent disenchantments, the recollection of
a never-to-be-repeated certainty--the certainty of the first
dawn of reality--still adheres to the first world of childhood.
Primary socialization thus accomplishes what (in hindsight,
of course) may be seen as the most important confidence
trick that society plays on the individual--to make appear as
necessity what is in fact a bundle of contingencies, and thus
to make meaningful the accident of his birth.



Sunday, May 23, 2004


Our mission group was welcomed back to our parish at the 9:00 a.m. Mass and we presented the framed artwork the orphanage had made for us.

Afterward our group met for breakfast at Baker's Square. The menu included several variations of french toast, including one made from cinnamon rolls. Tempting, in a way, but no one orders it.


Yes Prime Minister (1988), by Jonathon Lynn and Antony Jay

From the diary of Prime Minister Hacker.

... There is a vacancy in the diocese of Bury
St. Edmonds, and I have to make the choice between two names
which they [the Synod of Bishops of the Church of England] will be submitting to me.

But although, by tradition, they have to submit two names, they
will be anxious that I don't pick the wrong one. I asked Bernard
[Woolley, Hacker's Private Secretary]
how I will know which to pick.

"It's like any Civil Service option, Prime Minister. It'll be a
conjuring trick. You know, 'take any card'--you always end up with
the card the magician forces you to take."

It was very bold of Bernard to admit this. So I asked, "What if
I don't take it?"

He smiled confidently. "You will."

We'll see about that, I thought to myself. "Who are these clerical
cards they're going to offer me, Bernard?"

With the church," he grinned, "you're usually given the choice
of a knave or a queen."

--Ch. 7, "The Bishop's Gambit," pp. 198-199


Saturday, May 22, 2004


Sewage dumping around state was negligible

While it was the rainy season in Guatemala, Milwaukee apparently was getting more rain. As a result, the flow from the combined storm and sanitary sewers in the older parts of town overwhelmed the deep tunnel storage, and billions of gallons went into Lake Michigan without treatment.

This was largely a Milwaukee problem. Green Bay, for example, dumped no untreated water.

One reason for Green Bay's good record was that city's decision to separate its combined storm and sanitary sewer system 50 years ago and build a new treatment plant in the 1970s, he [Paul Thormodsgard, executive director of the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District] said.

If Milwaukee had decided 50 years ago to separate two per cent of its combined sewers each year, we would not have had to pay the billions of dollars the deep tunnels cost, and the problem would have been solved. Instead, Milwaukee spent the money on other things. It pushed the deep tunnel as an alternative, and successfully fought to have financed by property taxes rather than usage charges in order to shift much of the cost to the suburbs. Now Milwaukee's newly-elected mayor has raised the issue of subidizing the cost of finally separating its sewers.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Guatemala City to Milwaukee


Our bus ride to the airport is uneventful. The $30 departure tax is now included in the air fare so we don't have to pay that at check-in. Now, after check-in, we have to line up to pay a $3 or Q20 airport sewer tax.

A couple of the orphanage staff have come to see us off.

At our connection in Houston, we treat the shuttle train like a carnival ride. (A you-had-to-be-there experience.) We say good-bye to Carla, who's returning to Charleston.

Back in Milwaukee, we find that the gift picture from orphanage made it in one piece, padded in a duffel bag.

A few of us meet for dinner at a steak house. Before that hunk o' meat, I have a hankering for a salad.


The May 13, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.

Adult catechesis is ‘unfinished business’ of Vatican II, says speaker

The dismal state of catechesis is evidenced by the article itself.

Indulgences were one of the topics discussed at the Council of Trent (1545-62), a council that also established the seven sacraments ...

Of course, it did not.

If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; ... let him be anathema.

I knew that from pre-Vatican II catechesis,

A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

Dominican High teacher suspended pending investigation

Irrelevant or ironic detail?

In October 1999, Laing-Martinez and his wife, Letzbia, traveled to the Dominican Republic to serve as lay missionaries for two years at La Sagrada Familia, the archdiocesan sister parish. In 2001, Laing-Martinez was honored by his alma mater, Lawrence University in Appleton, for his lay missionary work.

Priest placed on leave during investigation

For as overworked as our priests claim to be, they sometimes seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

In a letter signed by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, read to parishioners at weekend Masses and mailed to all registered parish families, Archbishop Dolan stated the case is "related to the use of computer pornography involving minors."


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Santa Apolonia to Guatemala City


We have a brief morning prayer in the courtyard, then the traditional group photos. Someone decides we also need a group photos of us on the boys' playset in front of the clinic. Then we go the front of the orphangage, the same spot where we arrived, say good-byes, board the bus, and leave.

Will we be back next year? Or never? We hope to be back, but Who knows?

As usual, we stop for a few hours in Antigua, the colonial capital. Many of the major buildings from that era still lie in ruins from the 1773 earthquake that lead to the move of the capital to Guatemala City.

After some shopping, my wife and I have lunch at the Cafe Micho. It looks sort of like a Starbucks, except the rear doorway opens into a central cobblestone courtyard with fountain. We take a table and order. To bracket all that instant coffee, we have cappuccinos. To eat, I order "Egg McMicho," which is what you're thinking it is except on a croissant instead of an english muffin. After that comes some shopping for gifts.

Cathedral ruin
The old cathedral is on town square. Most of it still is a ruin. Most of the damage was from the 1773 earthquake, but not all. For example, some of the adjoining bishop's palace had survived and was being used as a school when it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1976. There has been, in recent years, some restoration work on the cathedral ruins. In the photo, the large fragments are of an arch that fell in the 1976 earthquake. Some of the brickwork in the columns on the left is from the last couple of years. Where the cathedral roof survives, like over this side aisle, is dark. Where it had collapsed is in daylight, as over the transept where I was standing when I took the photo, or over the main aisle just visible on the left.

If someone offers to show you around, he's a guide and is doing this for a living, and will need to be paid. A guide showed us around for Q20 each, which was quite reasonable.

Just to the right of the photo is a stairway down the the "catacomb." From the chamber, there were entrances to rooms for burials, one for Mayan people, the other for the Spanish. While alive, they didn't sit together at Mass, either, our guide says.

There is another steep stone stairway down to a Mayan chapel under the main altar. On its back wall is a carved stone crucifix, the corpus seeming bent partly to accomodate the low ceiling.

Mid-afternoon we board the bus and go back to the convent in Guatemala City. For supper, we have our traditional Domino's Pizzas with cans of soda and beer. We ask if the aluminum cans are recyled. The answer, they are. By the people who make their living from what they can dig out of the dumps. So we throw the cans in the garbage.


In my absence, a reader pointed out this John Nichols column from The Nation on
Bishops vs. Kerry. Much of the column is quoted from Fr. Andrew Greeley.

"I subscribe to the consistent ethic of life that the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin enunciated some years ago," explains Greeley. "I believe abortion is wrong. I believe the death penalty is wrong. I believe preemptive war is wrong. I will take seriously the 'pro-life' enthusiasts when they are ready to protest against and denounce the death penalty. I will take them seriously when they also denounce criminally unjust wars."

Fr. Greeley appears to be saying he takes people seriously when they agree with the views to which he subscribes.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Santa Apolonia


It's Ellen's birthday, and I had been given the job of getting the celebratory firecrackers, which, per custom, I set off outside the girls' "dorm" windows at 6:30 a.m.

Looking south over Santa Apolonia
Santa Apolonia sits at the foot of a long ridge. On our Sunday walk, we saw what looked like a church service a couple blocks up the side of the ridge. Over lunch today, I decide to try to find my way to it. I go a few blocks easterly from the orphanage, then take a cross street, Primera Calle (First Street) up the hill. It soon turns to gravel, then to a dirt path, going uphill in a westerly direction. The path goes past some concrete structures that appear to be part of the water system. The ridge turns out to have a bit of a ravine down its length, which broadens into a small valley as I climb. There are a couple small farms with cattle grazing, all hidden from view from the town below. From the top of the lower ridge, I can see the whole town and the road south that we had walked on Sunday. The trail climbs higher, and I hear the sound of traffic from higher up, the Pan-American Highway, I assume. There's a gravel road down the hill and I take that. It winds steeply down, often cut into the hill, past farmhouses and another church. It finally meets the main road at a point west of town. It continues as the concrete road that winds around the hilltop cemetery and back to town. I took a moment to visit the tomb of Geovany.

Back at the orphanage, the tire swing has been hung on the boys' playset. Cutting the chain for it turned out to be beyond our tools, and was done at the metal shop in Tecpan. The rope ladder is a bit long, since it's hanging straight down rather than angled like the cargo net was to be. The decision on whether to cut them or anchor them at an angle is deferred by Martin and Colin.

On the girls' side, three year old Carina insists I push her on the new swings. And keeps on insisting until the motion eventually makes her sleepy, and she goes inside.

Boys' playset
With the last concrete footings poured, both playsets are done. The last of the classes we held for the kids was this morning. The dental clinic on the grounds is staffed by a newly-graduated Guatemalan doctor; we bring some new equipment and supplies each year. Our most important work is the medical clinic, which saw well over 300 patients, some of whom are kids at the orphanage but most are from the town and surrounding area.

I take a shower, and this time there's even some hot water!

The fiesta starts with prayer in the salon. We stand along the walls. The tile floor is covered with cypress needles. In the center and at the four corners are circles of flower petals, with small candles around the perimeter, and large ones in the center Each grouping is a different color, and we are each handed a candle of a color matching one of the groups. These apparently are from the Mayan culture and religion, and are incorporated in the prayer, which describes the symbolism of the colors as each group is lighted, then we are called forward by candle-color to light ours and add them to each group.

When the prayer ends, we all head to the boys' dining hall for supper. As we leave, some of the younger boys are experimenting, trying to light the cypress needles with the candles. Unsuccessfully.

Dinner is chicken, what we call tostadas with chopped beef and with chopped beets, and plantains.

Then back to the salon for the entertainment. Since our presentations are especially popular with the younger kids, we're on first. As I said, it's The Three Little Pigs, adapted to fit the available cast by adding six pigs, Grandmother, Woodsman, Goldilocks, and Red Riding Hood. At the end, we're called back on stage, except for Ellen, and we sing Happy Birthday to her in English and Spanish. Then she joins us onstage, and we're presented with a framed cloth painting commemorating ten years of missions to the orphanage by Friendship Without Borders.

The kids perform some folk dances, lip synching, clowning, and as funny animals. In the last, their costumes are made from feed sacks with the animal faces pasted on. The sacks are pulled over their heads, pinning their arms the their sides. An M.C. interviews the various animals, so it's sort of a talk show.

As always, the evening ends with dancing to CD's played over the P.A. by some of the older boys. It's all Salsa until after we leave. Then, from our room, we hear from the salon what sounds like "Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits."


Monday, May 17, 2004

Santa Apolonia


Today is the real pancake day. No frijoles, the bane of our Rita's meals. Maybe our fiesta skit some year could be a musical, "Of Rita."

Lloro si veo frijoles

a todos cenas

y almuerzos

y desayunos;

y desayunos.

(Pardon my Spanish, which was meant to say, more or less)

I cry if I see frijoles

At every dinner,

At every lunchtime,

At every breakfast.

At every breakfast.

Call it a work in progress.

Girls' playset
In other progress, the water lines have been repaired. Several times. The pipe on the girls' side was redamaged during work on the play set. Colin finally repairs it by taking a piece of the one inch plastic pipe, slitting it lengthwise, putting a plastic (as in "paper or plastic") bag on the pipe, and getting the slit piece over it as a sleeve. It works, and we concrete in the footings for the monkey bars. With that, the girls' playset is more or less done.

We didn't finish all of Alfonso's beer last night, so he insists we return tonight to do so. Might be a local custom, and when in Rome ...

After prayer, it's dress rehearsal. Edgar, who supervises the carpentry shop, has made some sets for us, wooden outlines of three houses (for the Three Little Pigs, remember) about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. My wife glues on straw (cornstalks) and sticks that we collected on our country walk, and red rectangles of construction paper for bricks. Rehearsal shows we're ready ... as we're going to be.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Santa Apolonia


Our group's itinerary for the trip was labeled "draft." Meaning subject to change, sometimes without notice.

The plan was, we thought, for the children to attend the 10 a.m. Mass today, and so some of our group plan to sleep late and join them. Others, including us, decide to attend 7:00 a.m. Mass instead, since some of the girls will be singing in the choir.

I had won $10 from my wife when she had earlier bet me we had no such itinerary last year. Walking to church, she says there's no reason to be on time because Mass here always starts late. So I bet her double or nothing.

There is a list of rules posted just outside the church entrance, including several about punctuality. We walk in a few minutes after 7:00. The church is standing room only, and the Gloria is in progress. There being no rule posted on gambling, I'm up $20.

It's Mother's Day in Guatemala, and banners strung across the interior say Feliz Dia Madre (Happy Mother's Day). The priest's homily has a lighter tone, and he is more animated than in prior years. I can't understand what he's saying, but that can happen with English-speaking priests, too. The offertory hymn is, or is to the tune of, "Blowing in the wind." The Communion hymn is "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."

Half our group has meals on each side for half our time her, and we switch this morning and so have breakfast on the girls' side. It's corn flakes with warm milk, the milk containing sugar and cinnamon sticks. Tasty, but I'll be sticking with cold milk back home. The girls make more of an effort to fake a conversation despite the language barrier. (Most of our group has taken Spanish lessons, and some of us took it in school, but we "unlearn" it from lack of use between trips.)

I join members of our group on the way to 10:00 a.m. Mass. We're a little early and are waiting outside the front door when there's a surprise, nay, not a surprise, Praise the Lord It's a Miracle! my wife's also arrived for a second Mass. That's got to be a rarity, especially for someone who isn't Catholic.

Sunday afternoon reading The orphanage has a library but the kids are always eager for something new to read. We bring out some more of the books we've brought and they sit on the veranda reading.

Some of our group and some of the kids take a bus and the orphanage pick-up truck to the nearby Mayan ruins at Iximche. We've seen them a couple times before and decide to stay behind.

Jack and Jennifer have been power-walking some of the road south out of town, and my wife and I decide to (non-power) walk it. Along the way out and back, I photograph each church we pass. The various pentecostal and evangelical churches have Sunday afternoon services. Most feature singing lead by a band, some of which have a kind of rolling or driving piano which reminds me of the song "Good thing." Often we could still hear the music from the last one when we come upon the next.

Back at the orphanage, we hear that Liz had accompanied Jack and Jennifer on their walk, turned back early, took a wrong turn, was lost for several hours, but turned up safe and sound.

Later that afternoon, our group visits Alfonso. We thought we were just stopping for a beer, and maybe some snacks, but he also has a two man band playing in the background. They happen to play the "Beer Barrel Polka" and we all break into song, except for Carla who is (1) originally from Ohio and (2) dumbfounded.

Despite Liz's return, no fatted calf for supper.

That night, after prayer, we run through our play for the fiesta.


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Santa Apolonia


The volcanoes are finally visible this morning. It's the rainy season and they have been obscured by clouds every other day so far. They look just like last year. Here a rough diagram of what you see from the balcony above the courtyard, looking south-southeast.

/\Beleh (Guatemala City)

That is, Guatemala city is to the southwest (right) of Beleh, and Antigua is at the foot of Agua. At least, that's how I interpret the detailed map in our room.

Many of us have been skipping the breakfast served in the dining halls for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some cookies/crackers on the counter outside the sisters' quarters. Frijoles aren't just for breakfast, anymore.

In the carpentry shop, it's my turn at design. I draw up a cargo net to attach to the tower of the boys' new play set. The net is to be of five vertical ropes with wooden rungs between pairs.

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Unfortunately, we cut the rope into fourths, not fifths, and modify the plan to two rope ladders.

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The rungs are to be cut from 2x2, and drilled for the ropes. As the rungs are strung, the ropes are to be knotted above and below each rung to hold it in place.

Mid-morning, I start typing the script for our little play for this year's farewell fiesta. When I return, I hear that when digging the footings for the vertical supports for the monkey bars of the play set on the girls' side, our crew cut the water line to the girls' side. Not long after, when digging the footings for the vertical supports for the monkey bars of the play set on the boys' side, in front of the medical clinic, our crew cut the water line to the clinic. I find this out when I take the script to Rigo at the clinic so he can start translating it.

This year I packed a rain suit, but despite that it rained heavily enough this afternoon that I wore it. My trip was to say hello, for myself and for Jim who isn't on this year's trip, to Alfonso, a local businessman and a good friend to our group over the years. He invites our group to visit him at his home tomorrow afternoon "for a beer." He always goes to a great deal of trouble to be a good host, so I tell him I'll ask if people can make it but that he shouldn't go to a lot of trouble.

TiendaOn the way to and from his house, I pass the tiendas near the town square. Someone took the Crush sign literally.

Supper is plaintains and frijoles; for many of us that means more frijoles to make up for skipping the plantains. The dining halls always have some type of chili, hot sauce, and I found last year that a few drops makes the frijoles more appealing.

After prayer, there's a party in the girl's "dorm," with the wine and snacks we bought back at the Hiper Paiz. (If any of the sisters read this, just kidding about the wine.) Rick, one of the new people this year, has an apparently unlimited supply of stories from his years working as a nurse, and has some new ones from our clinic. They were almost laugh-'til-you-hurt funny, but you either had to be there, or have Rick to tell some if you meet him.

Daytime temperatures have been in the seventies, and the nights maybe the fifties until last night, which got colder. Tonight feels like it's going down to about forty. We had been told of cold nights on past year's missions and bought cold weather sleeping bags for our first trip. It's never seemed cold enough to really need them, and they take up a lot of room in the one checked bag we each get, so this year we brought fleece sleeping bags and fleece blankets. Fortunately, these are warm enough. Just in case, I'd packed some wool socks for sleeping, but I don't need them.


Friday, May 14, 2004

Santa Apolonia


Surprise, it's pancakes for breakfast instead of frijoles and tortillas. After it took us three years to figure out that Monday is pancake day, they throw us this curve.

We take the components of the first play set tower across the street to the girls' side and assemble them on the dirt play area. It is decided that that perfect spot is that now occupied by an old brick barbecue. I take the first turn with the sledge hammer. The brick and mortar are a bit weak, and the job goes faster than we hoped. Finally we're left with the foundation concrete slab, about four feet square. We dig under it and Colin finds some lengths of pipe to use as a pry bar. The slab breaks as it's lifted, leaving us with some manageable chunks to throw on the disposal pile.

I get sent to a tienda to buy some Cokes. The "yellow store" a few blocks away has about the best shopping selection in town, including several display coolers, each about the size of a small refrigerator. I buy twelve Cokes for the women's "dorm" and one for the walk back. "Got an ugly American thirst? Nothing goes with a third world country like a frosty cold Coca-Cola."

After lunch, we dig holes for the footings of the four legs of the tower. Next, a new experience for me, we mix concrete. On a scrap sheet of corrugated metal, mix three parts sand, two parts aggregate ("chippings" to Colin), one part cement, then mix in water to the consistency desired. We pour a firm mix in the holes, place the tower legs, and level the structure.

We've breaking our saw blades and wearing down our grinding disks cutting pipe into the "monkey bars," so it's decided it would be more cost-effective to hire it done. We have to wait for the concrete to set, so I ride along with Martin to Tecpan to the metal shop that will cut the pipe. On the way, right after the sign with the Spanish equivalent of "Pass with Care," an oncoming chicken bus is passing a truck, and Martin moves our truck over to the shoulder to make room.

The metal shop seems to have been built by putting a corrugated metal roof over a alleyway between two buildings. There are cutting and welding torches at work toward the back. On the floor just inside the front door is a circular saw that cuts our pipe, and in a few minutes it's back to the orphanage.

Later we mix more concrete, a wetter mix to fill the holes. At the end of the afternoon, I take my first shower since arriving. Only some hot water could have made it better.

Liz and my wife and I take three of our newbies, Mary, Sean, and Ellen to the cantina. The quiet safe cantina was already closed so we go to the other one that's always open.

Oh, Santa Apolonia, how still we see thee lie,

Except when chicken buses or the diesel trucks go by.

But in the dark we spyeth but one cantina's light.

Our gringo fears with Gallo beers we're drowning out tonight.

Like most buildings in Guatemala not made of concrete block, the cantina is made of rough hewn boards. The proprietress seems a little tipsy, as usual.

We have the place pretty much to ourselves until a beggar comes in. When he asks us for money several times, the proprietress comes out from behind the counter to chastise him, then calls in what appears to be her older son to help give the Guatemalan equivalent of the "bum's rush."

As we walk back for supper at the orphanage, Ellen says that the cantina is an example of how everything here has turned out to be as we described it, yet not how she imagined it from our description.

That night at prayer, Jack uses a form of theological reflection. We raise the incident with the beggar. He appeared to us to probably be alcoholic, and looking for money for booze. But if giving him money would not have been good for him, what else could we do? And when he persisted, we couldn't help feeling something between uncomfortable and threatened, and while we didn't wish for it, we felt a little relieved when he was thrown out.

Sr. Marietta suggests that this is a little like the Gospel account of the man from whom the apostles could not drive out a demon. She paraphrased it to have them say to Jesus "We couldn't do anything for him!" Jesus replies that this was a tough case requiring "prayer and fasting." And Rita, who has been on these mission trips recalls that Phil, who was on them long ago, used to give beggars what they asked but, in return, asked that they go to church (presumably to give thanks) and also do something for someone else in turn.

We are told that the poor we will always have with us. For me, it might be this guy.


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Santa Apolonia


Market day in TecpanIt's market day in Tecpan, the nearest larger town, so a group of us ride the "chicken bus" there. Fare one quetzal (about 12 cents).

If you want fresh goat's milk, Tecpan's the place to get it. It's milked from the goat into one of those foam cups and handed to you. We pass.

We do buy a small ceramic pot and some cut flowers for five quetzales each, and a pound of blackberries for two quetzales. I buy the morning Prensa Libre, also Q2.

We're back at the orphanage by the start of the work day. Because it's the rainy season, the orphanage's enormous and colorful tarp has been suspended over the area in front of the clinic so the waiting patients stay dry.

The twins in classAnother part of our group starts classes with small groups of children. They'll be doing some craft projects, like self-portraits, and working on ways to peacefully resolve disputes. The younger kids come in for a bit of supervised play.

Those of us on the construction crew will be building wooden play sets, one for the girls, the other for the boys. We start this morning working with some of the kids planing the rough lumber available in Guatemala into standard 2x4's, then cutting notches into it as a component of a climbing ramp. Some 4x4's are being finished and by the end of the day we've' assembled the first "tower" frame in the carpentry shop.

Our group meets for prayer each morning and evening. At evening prayer, we break into small groups per a number on our song sheets. (It would help to be a fan of the St. Louis Jesuits.) Deciding who in each group speaks first is decided by whose birthday is closest to today. Thus we learn that Ellen's birthday is next Tuesday ...


In my absence, the May 6, 2004 Catholic Herald went on-line with its permanent links. Well, not exactly permanent. It appears that while the latest issue, each is found at

When the next issue is published, this issue was added to the "Past Issues" with the URL

It appears that after a few weeks, issues are then moved to the directory for the year's issues, and the URL will be

On Becoming Post-Liberal

In his column, Fr. Ron Rolheiser goes for the heart of the matter, and the matter of the heart.

Two major proclivities have characterized the past couple of generations, at least in the Western world.

First, an unbridled itch for sophistication has driven us out in such a way that, for good and for bad, we've ended up shattering most of our former naivete, debunking most of our former heros and heroines, and wreaking havoc with most of our childhood faith and values. Second, an ever-increasing sensitivity has progressively polarized and politicized life around marriage, church, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, culture, hierarchy, and values.

While much of this was needed and is in many instances a clear intellectual and moral progress, we've been slow to admit something else. This is also slowly tiring us, gradually wounding the heart and draining away much of its strength and resiliency. To be innocent, etymologically, means to be "unwounded". The loss of our innocence has, precisely, left us wounded in the heart. A wounded heart seeks to protect itself, to find respite from what wounded it in the first place. Hence, more and more, we have less heart to put up with the strains and tensions of family, church, neighbourhood, community, and country. Instead we protect ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, safe circles, and we have too little heart for actually dealing with the tensions that arise from our differences.

You would almost think he's asking what it profited us to gain a world but lose our souls. Or to put it another way, you might expect that having found himself in a hole, he would question the wisdom of digging.

Much of this, I believe, was good, needed, prophetic even; but I believe as well that it's now time for a different response, at least for a while. Another shift is needed, though not one which tries to roll back the last fifty years. What's required is not a conservative or fundamentalistic turn, though that clearly seems to be the temptation for many. We can't unlearn, nor do we want or need to, what we've learned through these years of deconstruction.

So despite his diagnosis, his prescription is more of the same. While he decries "surrounding ourselves with like-minded people," he cannot conceive that he could have anything to learn from anyone with a significantly different point of view.

We're called instead, I believe, to become post- liberal, post-critical, post-modern, post-sophisticated, post-deconstructionist, post-ideological, post-hypersensitive, and post- politically-correct.

He anticipates the un-post-sophisticated question.

What exactly does that mean?

It's post-meaning, of course, for the post-heart age to come.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Guatemala City to Santa Apolonia


At breakfast, I try Gran Dia cereal, which looks like Raisin Grape Nuts made from corn, but doesn't stay crisp in milk.
On the bulletin board in the dining area is a photocopy of an article "Critica abuses en Misas."

We take the bus to CALDH, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action. A staff member told us of the exhumations of mass graves from the civil war. These allowed families to have funerals for their dead and provided evidence to organizations like CALDH. The government and military leaders at the time said any mass killings by the army or paramility groups were excesses by individual units. The exhumations indicate to CALDH planning, support, and discipline, and consistent methods of operation, which implicate the high command and military juntas. Particular targets are Romeo Lucas Garcia, leader of the 1980-82 junta, and Jose Efrain Rios Montt, leader of the 1982-83 junta. Some types of charges are pursued in national courts, others in international human rights forums.

Pursuing these cases presents several difficulties. It can be difficult to prove all the necessary elements of a charge. For example, proving genocide requires proof that the intent was to eliminate a particular ethnic or religious group, in whole or in part, rather than an intent to preserve the status quo or oppose communist influence. Many of the potential defendants still hold powerful positions or are otherwise influential in the government. Gen. Rios Montt had been head of the Congress until giving up his seat in his recent unsuccessful run for president. His party still holds numerous seats in the Congress. There might not be the political will to pursue cases. Cases must have the support of the people affected, not just advocacy groups. And the religious divisions in Guatemala also have an effect. Members of the rapidly growing evangelical religions tend to believe that these wrongs should be left in the past, the better to concentrate on the needs of the present and future. Still, some cases have proceeded to judgment.

The new president appointed Frank LaRue of CALDH to the human rights post in his cabinet. Of course, this means Mr. LaRue now has the job of overseeing the defense of the government against charges of abuse of human rights. That does not mean his appointment makes no difference. He has accepted judicial rulings adverse to the government in human rights cases.

Members of our group raise the issues of American military assistance during the worst of the civil war in the early 1980's. It's asserted that the U.S. provided weapons and intelligence through Israel. Members of our group also raise the point that some of the military officers involved in human rights abuses had earlier received some training at the School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (It crosses my mind that when Mr. LaRue talked to us last year, he went out of his way to note that the U.S. cut off military assistance to Guatemala in the 1970's, but I decide against mentioning this.)

We leave with pocket folders of materials, including "wanted posters" of various junta generals.

We return to the convent, load our bags, then stop at the Hiper Paiz to buy supplies for the orphanage. No Los Simpson comics this year. Next we have lunch in the adjoining food court. Some go to Domino's Pizza, others Taco Bell (!), while I struggle to get the fried chicken special across the language barrier at a Guatemalan restaurant.

We leave at 1:10 p.m. and get on the Pan-American Highway, route CA-1, and soon are winding through the mountains. Along the road are signs for a new beer Brahva. Rigo, one of our translators, says it's called the "mother-in-law beer" because, in Spanish, brava is the feminine form of "angry."

The orphanage is in the Department (province) of Chimaltenango. We reach its capital city, also called Chimaltenagno, at 1:45 p.m. It's fair-sized, and it takes us ten minutes to get across town. The highway had been four lane divided, but from here on, its two lane. At about 2:15 p.m. we pass some of the many large greenhouses in Guatemala. Cut flowers are a major export. At about 2:25 p.m. we enter the flat bottom land of a large valley. After a bit of rough pavement, we enter a construction zone. We later learn this stretch of road is being widened to four lanes. After 15 minutes, we're out of the construction and back in the mountains. A roadside gas station is selling regular for 18 quetzales (about $2.25) a gallon. At 2:55 p.m. we turn onto route RD-3 and arrive at the orphanage at 3:00 p.m.

Welcome to Los HogaresAs always, the children and staff and volunteers are lining the street to meet us. The orphanage is on both sides of the main street, and this year they have strung a welcome banner across it. The kids present us with gifts; I get a construction paper heart with my name on it, glued to a stick.

We unload our bags and put our personal bags in our rooms. The women are in a downstairs classroom. The men are in the computer lab. As usual, we'll be sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

After we unload the supplies for the medical and dental clinics, we have some time to visit with the kids on the playground. They start up the Guatemalan equivalent of "spin the bottle." We stand in a circle and chant

Ahi viene en conejo

de la buena suerte

con cara de inocente

tu besaras

al chico o a la chica

que te guste mas.

(per Feliza)

while slapping hands around the circle. When the chant stops, the last person whose hand was slapped give a hug to their favorite person in the circle. It's a thrill for the kids ("Ooo!") when a married or engaged couple kisses.

That evening, we have our first prayer service and then a meeting with the staff and volunteers. Besides Martin, this year's volunteers are Jan ("Juan") who took the social service alternative to service in the German army, and Colin from Wales and Ruth from Germany who signed on for a few months work while traveling this part of the world.

Jill, one of our group's pediatricians, says she visited on of the girls houses and read a Spanish version of Snow White. The girls remembered her part in our play at last year's fiesta and pointed out when the book version varied from her lines.

Finally, we change money at our "International Bank of Rita" and go to our rooms to sleep.


Selected Political Essays by Orestes Brownson, edited by Russell Kirk (1989)

We agree, as we have said, that our Lord came to
found a new order of things,--new in relation to that
which obtained among the heathen,--and that he
contemplated the good of the millions here as well
as hereafter; we agree, nay, we hold, that he did
propose the amelioration of the lot of man even while
in this world,--and not of one class only, but of all
classes. But how? By his new order, or, irrespective
of it, by merely calling upon the people themselves
to do it through political and social organizations?
If you say the latter, you place him in the old order,
and class him with the old heathen philosophers. If
he asserts simply man's dependence on nature and
social organization, he founds no new order, for this
dependence was the precise basis of the old order.

--from "Socialism and the Church" (1849), p. 106


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Milwaukee to Guatemala City


Our mission group met at the Milwaukee airport, all in our matching purple golf shirts with our mission group logo. Since there will only be instant coffee available at the orphanage, some of us make a point of getting one last cafe latte or cappuccino to go. The airport is replacing some of its long-time tenants with chain outlets, presumably for higher rent, and our familiar coffee stand has been replaced by a Starbucks. The woman at the counter speaks English with an accent and translates our orders into Spanish for her colleague to fill them. Something of a preview of the the week ahead.

We are to change planes in Houston, but severe storms there cause our flight to be diverted to College Station, Texas. The weather clears and we hop the 100 or so miles to Houston. We have just enough time to get to the international terminal for the scheduled departure of our flight to Guatemala City. We count off to avoid losing anyone in the rush.

Our plan was to there meet Carla, the final member of our mission group. She was to have arrived that morning from Charleston, South Carolina, where she attends school. The gate agent tells us she took herself off the flight. We cannot track her down, so we finally board. She's on the plane. We introduce ourselves and give her her purple mission shirt.

We took off at the same time as another plane on the parallel runway and then watched it bank to the west, while to the east there was a rainbow.

The airline says it charges $5.00 for headphones. Now I remember why I saved them from last year. Too bad I didn't pack them. For the music channel. Not for the feature film. We had not had time to eat at the Houston airport as we had planned, but the flight provided a light supper.

Like last year, some of the sisters from the orphanage meet us at the Guatemala City airport. We load our luggage on a bus and ride to the order's convent in Zone 2 to spend the night as guests. The men bunk in one room, the women in another.


Sunday, May 9, 2004


We and the other members of our parish mission to Guatemala were commissioned at the 9:00 a.m. Mass. We all wore this year's mission logo golf shirts (purple; we're running out of colors to use), and stood before the congregation to receive this year's crosses (to be worn around the neck) and a blessing.

After Mass, one of our pediatricians said she'd scored some more medical supplies but had no more room in her bag, so some of us will be mules for cases of Children's Chewable Tylenol.


Thursday, May 6, 2004


The April 29, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.

Lutheran, Catholic leaders meet in Milwaukee

The ELCA-Catholic ecumenical match has gone ten rounds. The latest round reached agreement on the church as Koinonia.

"Koinonia" is an anglicized Greek word variously translated as "fellowship, partnership, a close mutual relationship, sharing in, contribution, or gift."

So do they actually agree, or is this ecumenism by equivocation?

[Susan] Wood [professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.,] summed up one of the dialogue’s recommendations by saying that "ever since Vatican II, task forces have acknowledged that the Lord’s Supper has the power to engender light and grace. The idea that it is not valid without (the benefit of) orders is not true. ..."

Which appears to say that the Second Vatican Council abolished the Catholic teaching that the sacrament of the Eucharist requires an ordained priest. It did not, but you might recall that the lay leadership at Our Lady of Lourdes parish seems to think so. They, and anyone with the same view, could now point to this statement in the Herald as supporting their position. After all, they could say, the Herald is the official newspaper of our Archdiocese. If what Prof. Hill said wasn't true, there would have been some clarifying statement in the Herald article. They could further point out that Bishop Sklba was on the joint commission, and surely he would have given some clarifying comment to the Herald if it were needed.

Here is the joint statement [75 pp. pdf] at ELCA.

Update: Bill Cork read it and comments.

Dousman pastor placed on leave pending investigation

When the district attorney declined to prosecute and the Archdiocesan investigation began, Fr. John Schreiter of St. Bruno parish in Dousman, immediately asked that his parishioners be notified and that he be placed on leave pending the outcome. How did the parishioners react?

Fr. [Robert] Stiefvater [director of vocations for our Archdiocese] said the overriding reaction from parishioners was shock. "The word got out after the 5:30 p.m. Saturday Mass and so many came prepared," he said. "I don’t think anybody was angry. There was a concern of how long did we know about this before, and did the staff know about this before the rest of the parishioners. ..."

Because of the priest's request, he was placed on leave and the parish notified while the investigation proceeded. Couldn't this be the standard procedure unless the district attorney requests otherwise? Then the parishioners might not wonder how long they were kept in the dark.

Law requires clergy to report cases of child sex abuse

As previously reported, the law requires clergy to report child abuse, except when learned through certain confidential communications. It also has this provision, not discussed here before.

The final provision of the new law may be the most dramatic. It allows individuals abused while under 18 to sue religious organizations for failing to supervise clergy. This key provision clarifies a 1995 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision which ruled "churches could not be sued on the basis of religious doctrines and internal decisions pertaining to the training and supervision of priests." ...

Clarifies meaning overrules. Of course, if the court's decision rests on an interpretation of the Constitution, then it cannot be overruled by a statute.

According to the WCC [Wisconsin Catholic Conference], in order for a religious organization to be liable, four elements must exist:

- Someone in the religious organization must know or should have known of the abuse.

- That person must be a supervisor of the offending clergy.

- That person must fail to report the previous abuse.

- That person must fail to prevent a repeat of that abuse.

The new provision applies only to supervision of clergy and not non-clergy members

I assume it does not apply retroactively, either.


Tonight was group packing for our parish mission to Guatemala. Because shipping is either slow or expensive, we pack supplies in duffel bags, one for each of us, and these serve as one of each or our two checked bags.


Monday, May 3, 2004


It's back to the Parish Council on the issue of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Priests' Alliance presentation at our parish the indicated one mission of the Alliance was to be an advocate for pro-choice Catholics. Our pastor was not there because of the meeting of all the Archdiocese's priests at Lake Lawn Lodge in Delavan. I reported that I had not yet heard back from him, and supplemented my earlier remarks with copies of minutes of the Alliance's February 5, 2004 meeting. For now, we'll have to wait to hear back from our pastor.


Saturday, May 1, 2004


Wasn't yesterday to be the last day of our Archdiocese's sexual abuse mediation program?

Meeting explores common ministry

In other news, the USCCB and the ELCA sent their respective theologians to another extended series of meetings, this one on the clergy.

Largely setting aside the question of ministerial validity, the dialogue team - which is co-chaired by Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba of Milwaukee - looked instead at how ministries function and are structured in the churches. It concluded that each side's approach has strengths and limitations, but they are compatible.

The Catholic Church could use some ministers for preaching. While we're at it ecumenically, it could use some rabbis to answer questions.

One difference between the Catholic Church and the ELCA was said to be that

... the Vatican exerts control over the content of liturgies ...

At least, the Vatican publishes a lot of documents about the content of liturgies.


A reader suggests this article,
ACE inhibitors vs. angiotensin II receptor blockers in acute myocardial infarction and heart failure [pdf] from the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

ACE is still aces.

As you can see, I'm experimenting with the page template, moving the email link to the left margin and some of the links from The Colonnade to the right margin.



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