Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Amy Welborn with her hands full

Since Amy Welborn was in Milwaukee to speak on The Da Vinci Code, I took the opportunity to meet her.

And, it turns out, to meet a couple of her children.

P.S. I'm finally convinced I am not going to master the camera's date stamp feature.

Rick Wendell ready for 'something special'

Maryangela Layman Roman gives the last of five reports in our Catholic Herald on our Archdiocese's newly ordained priests.

A Catholic family, college, ski instructor, construction contractor, almost married, a near-death experience, a novena, and

Instead of booking a honeymoon trip, Wendell found himself planning a trip to Europe and to Medjugorje for himself and his 62-year-old mother.

...On a subsequent trip to Medjugorje, he met a man he described as "a great, big behemoth of a man. He had big tattoos on his arm and I remember thinking to myself, what’s this guy doing here?" The man was Michael Lightner, now associate pastor at St. Francis Borgia Parish, Cedarburg.

...The friendship between the two men grew and in 2003 they decided together to return to their home state -- Fr. Lightner is from Green Bay -- to pursue priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.


Just an aside, what's with seminarians and french cuffs?

'Kalevala'

Early in the last century he [Elias Lonnrot] began collecting the folk songs and narrative ballads of the peasantry, especially in the most remote regions — along the borders of Lapland, and in the forests of Karelia. ...

... As he worked his folk materials into what he imagined the original must have been, he produced the most successful constructed myth in modern literature, and one of the most successful of all time. --Kenneth Rexroth, The Kalevala, Classics Revisited (1968)


Recommended reading:
Kalevala at Reading Rat

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rise of sunshine Samaritans: on a mission or holiday?

G. Jeffrey MacDonald in The Christian Science Monitor
Critics say impoverished people, especially overseas, often end up pandering to cash-wielding, untrained missionaries who leave a bad impression and don't make meaningful lifestyle changes upon return.

... Others are more hopeful. "We don't really know yet whether it's simply do-good tourism or a profound, life-changing experience for people who do these trips," says Dana Robert, codirector of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at Boston University.


(via Christianity Today)

P.S. If there's a problem, it might not be that the mission involves a only a week or two. Lucy Fuchs in National Catholic Reporter asks Do helping hands in Appalachia do more harm than good?

(via Open Book)

Variety of people, experiences shaped vocation

Maryangela Layman Roman gives the fourth of five reports in our Catholic Herald on the men just ordained.

Why's James Jaeger a priest?

In a nutshell, it’s because of his mother, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Pope John Paul II and the Green Bay Packers.

The first three influenced Jaeger’s spiritual life and, in the case of the Packers, the die-hard green and gold backer didn't want to live and minister in a city full of Minnesota Vikings fans.


Though there he could also make the annual joke that the color of his vestments his actually for the home team. It would just be at a different time of year.
Growing up, the family sporadically attended Sunday Mass, and Jaeger said that when he received the sacrament of confirmation as a senior in high school, he viewed that as a graduation from church.

Except that it's a family with ten children, it sounds pretty typical in our times.
... he went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a year, but dropped out, realizing he was unsure of a major.

Another three years, and he could have been putting that uncertain major on his law school application.
Jaeger joined the Air Force, then worked as a landscaper, and as a golf course groundskeeper.

"I was the Bill Murray in 'Caddyshack,'" said Jaeger of his time at the golf course ...


He even looks a bit like him.

After a couple years of this

"I told my mother I was thinking about practicing my faith again, and she looked at me and told me, 'I think you’re going to become a priest,'" said Jaeger.

... At his mother’s suggestion, Jaeger enrolled at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and completed a degree in philosophy.


This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former greenskeeper and Franciscan University of Steubenville student now about to become a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Faithful rider

Lee Bergquist reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Ronald Wallenfang, avid bicyclist, prominent lawyer, and devout Catholic.
The most picturesque trip was in Germany along the Mosel River from Koblenz to Trier. As he followed the undulating Mosel, he passed vineyards, quaint towns and Roman ruins.

"An added bonus for me," he wrote to his chat group, "is that after I got a room in a nice little Gasthaus a few miles from Koblenz, had a bottle of the local white wine together with my pork whatever, and gone to bed, I was soon awakened by a 20-piece band playing marches and other songs on the street in celebration of a local guy's 80th birthday. So I went out and enjoyed that."


Might have been a wine by my distant relatives.

Sounds like he's a busy guy, but I miss his occasional op-ed in our Catholic Herald.

CFO answers VOTF questions

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in our Catholic Herald on the appearance by our Archdiocese's Chief Financial Officer Wayne Schneider at the April 29, 2006 meeting of the local chapter of Voice Of The Faithful at St. Al's.

Schneider, you might recall, was co-rubber-stamp with Bishop Sklba on the payment of $450,000 of Archdiocesan funds to hush up allegations of homosexual date rape against Archbishop Weakland. Archbishop Dolan rewarded Schneider for this service by later including him in his new, smaller inner circle of yes men.

The CFO took some questions.

One participant asked what would happen to the asset of a parish if it were to close. Along a similar line, one wanted to know what happens to parishes if the archdiocese were to declare bankruptcy.

"All parishes are basically like separate corporations," said Schneider.


Actually, under Wisconsin law, they are not like separate corporations. They are separate corporations.
Another question concerned cemetery plots. The financial report shows that more than $5 million is designated to cemetery and mausoleum sales. The questioner wondered if cemetery purchases are protected.

"If the archdiocese goes bankrupt, is that money available to creditors?"

"The candid response is, 'I don't know,'" said Schneider. "We've been doing this research over a year. ..."


A year of still-inconclusive research? Maybe they can spend enough on legal fees to bankrupt the Archdiocese and get the answer from the court.
Another questioner wanted to know the source of money paid in sexual abuse settlements.

"In the budget, you see there is $1.9 million designated for future parish sites, and $1.5 million in real estate accounts. We could sell these properties, invest the money and with the money gained in interest rates, use that for sex abuse cases," Schneider said.


We already knew "future parish sites" and "real estate" means slush funds; that's where the the money for the Weakland payoff came from.
One question-writer wanted to know how much money had been spent on sexual abuse cases in the archdiocese.

"Between the first payout in the late 1980s and 2005, more than $11 million has been spent on this," answered Schneider. "Of that $11 million, $3.5 million is for legal fees."

When asked by your Catholic Herald the amount of the payout covered by insurance, Schneider answered through an e-mail,

"The $11 million is the net amount. The gross amount through June 30, 2005 is approximately $14 million, with approximately $3 million having been reimbursed by insurance, the perpetrator, or through structured payments."


Out of $14 million, $3.5 million was the Archdiocese's legal fees. If claimants' lawyers were paid one-third of the $10.5 million in settlements, that would be another $3.5 million. $7 million for the lawyers and $7 million for the claimants. It's win-win!
One meeting attendee asked specifically what the $3.8 million labeled "professional services" [in the Archdiocesan financial reports] covers. Schneider answered that it is used for a variety of things, including funding speakers, workshops, outside consultants, public relations, newsletters, legal fees outside of abuse settlements, and accounting fees for the audit.

Another slush fund? Maybe there's another $3.5 million in legal fees in there. Surely they can't be spending a lot on outside public relations to counsel Kathleen Hohl how to say everyone who could comment is out of town and can't be reached.

The Spiritual Dimension: a review

Mark Vernon in TPM Online reviews The Spiritual Dimension: Religion, Philosophy and Human Value by John Cottingham
Was it not Descartes who pointed out that someone needs to be in the right position to receive truth, as well as have the right arguments? Did not Hume discuss a kind of passive cognition that happens to us? In other words, to merely intellectualise about religious truth claims is, in a sense, to evade them. Any intuitive understanding needs to be tested and given shape, of course. Reason is an ally to right religion, since not any old religion will do. But as Pascal knew (though given the usual presentations of his wager you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise), reason is but a point of embarkation on the religious quest; it helps steer a course; but it cannot be the destination when what is sought is God who is not God if not unknown.

Getting the timing right

Kawanza Newson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Women turn to natural family planning techniques because the method meshes with their ethical, moral and spiritual beliefs, Mickelson [Julie Mickelson, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Columbia St. Mary's Milwaukee Campus] said. In addition, it tends to increase communication between couples, she said.

However, natural family planning is not easy.


Some would consider that redundant to saying it involves increased communication between spouses.
It's time consuming and requires a daily commitment of charting and monitoring, Mickelson said.

Natural family planning classes are taught through the Marquette University Institute on Natural Family Planning and The Couple to Couple League, a non-profit group whose trained volunteers teach the technique to married and engaged couples.

The method also is encouraged by the Catholic Church because it "reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life and recognizes the value of the child," according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Maybe there'd be some cachet to also calling it "organic" or "crunchy con-traception" depending on the audience.

UW proved fertile ground for cultivating vocation

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports gives the third of five reports in our Catholic Herald on the men just ordained.

Nathan Reesman had worked as a page in Congress and in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Reesman had no intention of attending a Catholic college because, when starting college, "I had no real inklings of joining the priesthood."

If he'd studied under Daniel Maguire at Marquette, he might have been a mullah by now.
Reesman graduated from UW [University of Wisconsin-Madison] in December 2000 with a degree in political science.

Qualifying him for law school or Starbucks, so
He entered Saint Francis Seminary the next month.

But now he must leave those ivy-covered halls.
After spending the last five years with his fellow seminarians, Reesman knows it will be an adjustment when they no longer live together at the seminary.

"Priests need to make community a priority, especially today," he said. "I hope we continue to get together and hold each other up because you cannot do this alone."


When he thinks of community, he thinks of the clergy, not his parish. Nothing new there.

9/11 and God's Sport

In Cross Currents, an address by Bill Moyers at Union Theological Seminary includes many of his favorite recent themes, but there's also this.
Yes, it's true: the Koran speaks of mercy and compassion and calls for ethical living. But such passages are no match for the ferocity of instruction found there for waging war for God's sake.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why many priests are no more likely to encourage boys to become priests than they are to encourage them to smoke cigarettes

Speaking of St. James Church here in Franklin, its current pastor Fr. Paul Stanosz had this post on his weblog. It includes this tidbit on the relative satisfactions of the priesthood and other occupations.
A bus driver can say s/he doesn't really care for his/her work, but that they drive a bus to pay the bills and for thier families. They aren't as compelled to say they find satisfaction in their work because they have other sources of satisfaction (especially spouses and children). Their answer is not an option for priests (though some may find the pay gratifying and are supporting illicit "wives" and children).

Whether due to this hint from Fr. Stanosz or otherwise, I hear that a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter is working on a possible story about priests who've fathered children, and how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee handles these situations.

Homily for Feast of SS. Philip and James, May 3, 2006

Mike noted that Archbishop Weakland updated his web site with this outline what he preached at the "Priests' Overnight".

Our former Archbishop told our assembled priests that faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is basically sound.

But, if one were to ask about Faith in the Church, I would have to say there is indeed a crisis. I wonder how many of our faithful, when they recite on Sunday the Nicene Creed, really mean that they believe in the Church.

That assumes that we were reciting the Creed on Sundays. To give to couple contrary examples, Fr. Aiken long omitted it while pastor at St. Alphonsus and Fr. Augustine long made a point of omitting it while pastor at St. James. This apparently is a widespread problem. It's one of Fr. John Dietzen's "Question Box" questions in the May 25, 2006 Catholic Herald.

Archbishop Weakland seems to have been and continues to be unaware of these omissions. It's one of the reasons I figure his mind must have usually been on something else during the time he was supposed to be Archbishop of Milwaukee.

There is a crisis of Faith in the Church and thus there is a crisis of authority.

Well, sure, it's been more or less sede vacante around our Archdiocese. From what I've seen, our former Archbishop, a lot of our priests, and much of their staffs are pretty much in worlds of their own.
John Courtney Murray wrote an article in America around the time of the Council, or shortly before, in which he stated that if there is a crisis of authority in any community there is also a crisis of obedience.

For example, when an Archbishop fancies himself a maverick when he should have been working as a shepherd.

P.S. Archbishop Weakland's site doesn't archive his former posts, but they are available through the "Wayback Machine" at the Internet Archive

God and Harold at Yale

Benjamin Balint in the Claremont Review of Books reviews Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine by Harold Bloom
More troublingly, however, Bloom sometimes asks us to tolerate not digression but an imprecision so thick that it threatens to deflect his argument. There is no doubt that the New Testament can fruitfully be read as a belated but strong misreading of its predecessor. But as we've seen, Bloom argues his way from that observation of Oedipal misprision to a claim about the irreconcilability of the two scriptures and the divine characters they present. But this conflates rivalry with irreconcilability.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"Decoding Da Vinci"

Author and blogger Amy Welborn is coming to Milwaukee to
...discuss the many questions that have been raised since the publication of "The Da Vinci Code" novel and that are certain to be discussed in conjunction with the release of the movie.

She will give her presentation for the general public on May 30th 6:30 p.m. at Pius XI High School, and for archdiocesan, parish and school staff members on May 31st at the Cousins Center.

Tortilla wrapup

May 18, 2006 Guatemala City - Houston, Texas - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Well, how else would you wrap up Frijole Days of Obligation?

Because of our very early flight, we stayed over last night at the Sisters mother house in Guatemala City. The orphanage alumni attending college in the capital dropped in and we ordered pizza.

The flights home were uneventful. At the layover in Houston we watched CNN Headline News' 20 seconds on the hearings for a new CIA Director and its 20 minutes on a high speed freeway chase of a pickup truck with trailer. They had no choice; you can't get helicopter shots of a Senate hearing.

P.S. On Sunday, May 21st some of us were able to attend the 9:00 a.m. Mass at St. Al's where the Last Supper wood carving was presented to the parish.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Using your head II

May 17, 2006 Choantonio, Guatemala

Hauling block
Guatemala has the natural advantage of the climate of its tropical highlands and the natural disadvantage of that geography. It's a good place to grow specialized crops. We saw fields of flowers on the bus ride from Santa Apolonia. But ground transportation is difficult. Even on good roads, travel still involves winding up and down the hills and mountains.

And as at the orphanage, there might not be any way to get a vehicle with building materials to a construction site. The local women are carrying concrete block on their heads, sometimes along with a baby on their backs.

Ninos de Choantonio

May 17, 2006 Choantonio, Guatemala

Children of Choantonio
The local public school is at the first bend in the road, behind the trees on the right. The school age kids came to the service. Guatemalan public schools have uniforms and the green sweaters are part of the uniform for this school.

The kids tended to be wary. They probably don't get that many visitors, and probably fewer from far away. And we had heard, at least, that parents here might use white people as the boogey man. Some of our group had immigrated to the U.S. and said in their old country they had been told as kids that the pirates might get them if they didn't watch out.

Whatever the source of the kids' wariness, it was overcome by their desire to be photographed.

Communion Service

May 17, 2006 Choantonio, Guatemala

We visited the outlying village of Choantonio for a communion service. The name Choantonio refers to a long ago appearance there by Saint Anthony. The municipality of Santa Apolonia covers a large rural area far beyond the town in which the orphanage is located. I believe it is all served by just one Catholic priest, so he can only infrequently visit the many scattered chapels. Our group leader is also a deacon at St. Al's and was given permission to preside at a service here.

Church of Choantonio
The music ministry at Choantonio includes a dual keyboards, bass guitar, drums, and a few song leaders. Only they have sheet music, but the congregation knows the hymns. I'm told that when our mission visited for the first time last August, we were surprised to learn they expected us to alternate with hymns we knew. Without a hymnal, our group knows one verse of Amazing Grace. So this time, we made sure to bring along the song sheets we used for our morning and evening prayer at the orphanage.

Or so we thought. When the time came, we couldn't figure out where we had packed them. Suggestions of Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, and Christmas hymns were vetoed, and so we sang the first verse of Amazing Grace a couple times, and mumbled through On Eagle's Wings.

Our deacon gave the homily, reading aloud from a translation into Spanish while we followed the English text. A homily on "I am the vine and you are the branches" might mean a bit more to produce farmers than to supermarket produce shoppers.

Their church lacks the benefits of contemporary liturgical architecture. For example, instead of opening onto a large asphalt parking lot, it opens onto a little gravel plaza where we gathered for ... well I guess for what I've heard called fellowship. They brought out rolls and coffee. We gave the moms and kids soaps and toothbrushes.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fiesta

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Gracias, Amigos
Our last night at the orphanage, the staff and children hold a fiesta in our honor, with a special meal, entertainment, and presentations.

We, in turn, take a turn at entertainment. This year we presented a four page adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and concluded with a parody of the hymn version of Mourning Has Broken.

My wife claimed it's not "Mourning" but I replied "It is the way we sing it."

The orphanage presented each of us with little gifts, and presented our parish with the finished version of the Last Supper wood carving.

Tres ninos

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Kids and courtyard
Many larger buildings in Guatemala are built in the Spanish style around a courtyard, often with a fountain, or with flowering plants as here at the orphanage.

Skip it

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Jumping rope
It took a lot of shots, but my old digital camera's meager pixel count managed to pick up the jump rope in this one.

Little Beautiful Tree

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Seedling
There used to be a Big Beautiful Tree in front of the local Catholic church. Then the Big Beautiful Tree became infested with insects. They tried to drive away the insects with smoke, but where there was smoke there was a fire that destroyed the Big Beautiful Tree.

From the Big Tragic Stump has grown a Little Beautiful Sprout, which they protect with this Big Strong Crate.

Medical staff meeting

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Medical clinic
Having seen all the kids and staff in the course of our stay, the clinic personnel slow down the pace.

Drum lessons

May 16, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

But will they learn a rim shot?
We hope the sisters appreciate our bringing a drum along for the kids to learn to play.

Pancake Day

May 15, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

We endure the one day of the week without frijoles for breakfast.

No photo, eating.

Helado Social

May 14, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Ice Cream Social
Back at the orphanage, we had a special dinner featuring fried chicken, followed by another cultural exchange, in which we introduced the kids to the ice cream social.

Pollito bus

May 14, 2006 San Jose Poaquil, Guatemala

Little chicken bus
Guatemalans commonly travel in refurbished American school buses, which visitors dubbed chicken buses for the occasional crate of live poultry in the roof rack. Here our group boards this little chicken bus, late of Newark, New Jersey, for the ride back to Santa Apolonia.

Widows Co-operative

May 14, 2006 San Jose Poaquil, Guatemala

Weaving
Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war left not only many orphans but many widows. Today we visited a co-op a group of widows founded in this nearby town to produce goods to sell to support themselves.

They began with traditional weavings, then added smaller items like purses, coin purses and hacky sacks. Later they opened a small bakery and store.

We were told that it takes three months to set up the loom. On the right in the photo, the loops of blue yarn you see tied to the vertical threads program the loom to add a design within the fabric, such as a row of cats in a Mayan style. This programmed loom doubles the productivity of the weaver compared to the traditional back loom which requires adding the design by hand.

La Recollecion

May 13, 2006 Antigua, Guatemala

Ruins of La Recollecion
This just a part of the church and monastery, lying in ruins from the 1773 earthquake.

Iglesia de Nuesta Senora de La Merced

May 13, 2006 Antigua, Guatemala

Church of Our Lady of Mercy
The monastery and church of the Mercedian order was completed not long before the 1773 earthquake, and the church survived it.

When I arrived today, a wedding had just started, so I didn't take any interior shots here, either. Maybe next year. Here's a closer shot.

Corte de San Francisco

May 13, 2006 Antigua, Guatemala

Court at the rear of the Church of St. Francis
The Church of St. Francis contains the final resting place of the recently canonized Brother Pedro, best remembered for his many assists to St. Jose Betancourt.

Iglesia de San Francisco

May 13, 2006 Antigua, Guatemala

Church of St. Francis
Also heavily damaged in the 1773 earthquake was the Franciscan's church and monastery. I arrived at the middle of a Mass so didn't take any interior shots.

Catedral de Santiago

May 13, 2006 Antigua, Guatemala

Cathedral, Antigua
Every year our group takes a day trip to Antigua, the capital of colonial Guatemala until it was severely damaged in a 1773 earthquake. Only the forward part of the cathedral was restored, and still serves as a church. When I stopped by today, wedding photos were being taken.

Here's a larger daytime shot by Eve Anderson and a nighttime shot.

Crime news

May 13, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Faithful dog
The orphanage has several dogs which serve as pets. We learned yesterday that around 11:30 the night before last one was shot just inside the gate of the girls' compound, apparently by a passer-by on the street. When the kids found him in the morning, he was taken to a veterinarian in Guatemala City. I have to admit I wondered if that was a "puppy heaven" story to comfort the kids, but here he is, back from the vet.

Casa de cerdos

May 12, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Elizabeth and Jack
The retaining wall we're building runs east-west. At the west end it runs behind the storage tanks for the improved water system. At the east end it runs behind the pig house, where a couple members of our mission group enjoy the cozy work space and exotic aromas.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Ayudo."

May 12, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

My helper
We were carrying lumber up the hill for forms for the concrete layers between sets of courses of block. I picked up this piece and one of the kids insisted on helping.

English class

May 12, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

ESL
Besides running a medical clinic and helping build the retaining wall, our mission group conducted English classes. The kids go to the local public school in shifts, grades 1-6 in the morning, grades 7-9 in the afternoon. Some attended our classes in one of the dining halls during their off shift.

Pawn plays Tecpan

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Every year when we visit the orphanage we meet young Germans who work at there as a foreign social service alternative to the military. But this year there was also a recent college graduate from Milwaukee, Ramona, who volunteered to work there most of this year. She told us an Ohio heavy metal Christian rock band called "Pawn" was booked to play tonight at a festival in nearby Tecpan. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty heavily and we decided not to go.

We're not the only ones who've missed hearing Pawn.

Using your head

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Balance
If you thought from my previous post that the gravel for concrete had to be carried up the hill by hand, that's not always literally true. Here two of the tias (house mothers for the orphans) demonstrate.

Bucket brigade

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Job site
The uphill boundary of this little farm was once used as a dump for the orphanage. The site is, I estimate, 80 feet above the grade of the adjoining street. I took 113 steps climbing to it. The trench for the retaining wall was excavated with shovels, and machetes to cut the roots of trees along the boundary. Mixed in the dirt piles are old shoes, toothbrushes, baby food jars, even a worn-out teddy bear.

We hadn't anticipated the scale of the project. Steel reinforcing bar frames for 23 pilasters are in place at two meter intervals, for a 44 meter wall with 10 or 11 courses of block, two concrete layers and a concrete cap. The block, sand, gravel and cement is all carried up the hill. Once concrete or mortar is mixed, it has to be carried by hand to where it's needed.

To the job site, continued

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

More hill
This picture was taken from the point where the two women were in the picture in the previous post. You can see up the hill to where we're working on the retaining wall.

To the job site

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

Farm gate
The entrance to the orphanage's hillside farm is a couple block's away, near the local Catholic church. First we go up these stairs, through this gate, and up the hill.

La Ultima Cena

May 11, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala

The Last Supper
This year I'm helping build a retaining wall at the orphanage's small hillside farm nearby. But I stopped in the carpentry shop and saw this example of the artwork it has started producing.

Bienvenidos a Los Hogares

May 9, 2006 Santa Apolonia, Guatemala
Ahi viene en conejo / de la buena suerte / con cara de inocente / tu besaras / al chico o a la chica / que te guste mas.
Some of the kids at Los Hogares orphanage get some of our group into a favorite game.

El Centro de Carlos E. Queso

May 9, 2006 Guatemala City

Chuck E. Cheese's Center, Guatemala City
Our mission group arrived safely in Guatemala City and set out by bus to the Los Hogares orphanage in Santa Apolonia via the scenic Central America Highway 1, Pan American Highway.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Extreme makeover: the diocese

Dennis Coday reports from Kansas City, Missouri, on Bishop Robert Finn, in the National Catholic Reporter, May 12, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

al-Jahiz

Recommended reading:
by al-Jahiz at Reading Rat


Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Al-Jahiz - the First Islamic Zoologist, by David W. Tschanz, 01/10/2001, Islam Online

Monday, May 8, 2006

Frijole days of obligation 2006

About dawn tomorrow we fly out of Milwaukee for our sixth parish mission trip to Guadalupe Homes (Los Hogares de Santa Maria de Guadalupe), an orphanage in Santa Apolonia, Guatemala.

As of last year, the orphanage had completed much of the work on an improved water system. Marquette University's "Engineers Without Borders" since added supplementary solar power for it. So it's possible there will be running water almost all the time, instead of an hour or so each morning and evening.

As of last year, the orphanage had internet access, but too slow a connection for blogging. If I can't post, you can get the idea from my accounts of some of the prior trips:

May 23rd through June 2nd 2005;
May 11th through May 23rd 2004 (includes some photos);
June 10th through June 18th 2003 (includes some photos); and
July 5th through July 13th 2002

Gregg and Espe have some experience with our mission trips and their posted photos include a couple from the orphanage.

For someone else's perspective, here's Bill Corks' account of Holy Week 1994 in Guatemala.

Heterosexual elected Episcopal Bishop of Calif

ABC News headline to Reuters report

(via Get Religion)

Labels:

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Eucharistic Rosary Prayer Service for Peace with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan

A Eucharistic Rosary Prayer Service for Peace with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will be held on Saturday, May 13, at the Archdiocesan Marian Shrine located at 141 N. 68th St. in Milwaukee.

The prayer service will include: Liturgy of the Word, Homily on Heaven's Peace Plan, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary for Peace, and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.


What, no Litany of Denunciation?

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Church in Hospice

Mike noted this weblog by Father Paul Stanosz of St. James Church here in Franklin.

Father Stanosz giveth on the parish web site.

Since arriving at St. James in June 2004, I have been delighted to be part of a vibrant Catholic Christian community that seeks to know and follow Jesus Christ. As a parish, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit for daily Christian living and service to the Church's mission. Through Baptism, we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praise of God who called us out of darkness into his Christ's wonderful light." Baptism empowers us to fulfill our calling as disciples of Christ. We are empowered to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to grow in holiness, to love our neighbor, to care for the least of our brothers and sisters, to seek justice, and to build up the Body of Christ through the exercise of our baptismal gifts in service of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

At his blog he taketh away.
Here I make observations regarding the multiple crises engulfing the Roman Catholic Church from my perspective as a pastor and sociologist. I believe that the clergy sexual abuse crisis is only a symptom of a much deeper malady and transformation that is unfolding. I analyze the symptoms and seek reasons for hope amidst the pain.

His blog name looks to be from Rev. Bryan N. Massingale's address to the 2004 Assembly of Priests.

Fr. Stanosz's first blog entry on April 11, 2006, wraps up,

The purpose of this blog is for me to have a chance to share my thoughts as I try to understand what has happened to the church I grew up in and why it is a church in hospice care.

One reason for our Church's condition might be that St. James, and other parishes, needs the pastor of the web site but gets the pastor of the weblog. As things stand, why don't they just change the name to Moping Archdiocese Priests Alliance? Though with Fr. Massingale keynoting, they might be crossing over from Moping to Morbid.

P.S. His first post gives this unsurprising supplement to recent news.

Last week, in announcing that after 150 years, St. Francis Seminary would no longer continue as a free-standing theologate (academic institution), Archbishop Dolan said that the Cousins Center would be sold. He did not say what a seminary official revealed at a meeting I attended recently. Namely, that the diocese hoped to sell the facility for ten million dollars and that all of it would be needed to pay for the settlement of lawsuits related to one priest, Siegfried Widera.

Those are the lawsuits pending in California.

Scientists and Literalists

Daniel Born in The Common Review
But it is instructive to note that the appearance of two creation accounts in Genesis is anathema to fundamentalist readers, who above all else want to keep the scriptures simple, straightforward, and in need of almost no interpretation whatsoever. Scores of Web sites attempt to explain, with elaborate verbal contortions, how the two different accounts are really a single account.

Too many to name or quote or link to any in particular, so we'll have to take it on faith.
For anyone who seeks to understand the workings of the fundamentalist mind, this is the best starting point I know, and if one wonders why the interpretation of an ancient Hebrew text should matter so much, all I can say is that reading badly--in other words, incompetent interpretation--can be blamed for a considerable sum of human cruelty and misery.

There might have been a rough spot or two along the historical way resulting from generalizations about people based on very limited contact.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Roxology hopes music will connect with young adults

Karen Mahoney once again reports
"Special to your Catholic Herald"

This time on Roxology, a Christian Rock group made up of Gordon Russell, Rita Chase, Ann Marie Yorgensen and Jeff Jachowicz. It was started about two years ago when
their former pastor at St. Mary in Kenosha, Fr. Oriol Regales, approached Russell to bring in some new music geared for the parish’s youth group. ...

Russell and Jachowicz brainstormed an idea to begin a musical group geared to the 15-21-year-olds in the parish.


Somehow this youth group music became liturgical music.
The pair [Russell and Jachowicz] believed the loss in youthful presence was directly related to the inability of certain aspects of the Mass to connect with the youth and allow them to participate in liturgy in a new and exciting way.

Believed based on what?
"We both felt music ministry was the key component in doing this," Jachowicz said. "We both felt strongly about developing a group that might keep the youth energized about the liturgy, and subsequently keep them participating in the Mass."

Apparently believed based on their feelings. Whatever it was based on, it was approved by the parish prayer and worship committee. The article gives the impression Roxology started playing just at youth Masses, but soon was playing the regular parish liturgy twice a month. How's it working out?
"We do get mixed reactions to our band in church," said Russell, who does vocals and plays guitar and bass. "Most of the people that don’t like it are older, have never seen a rock band perform and probably think it is too loud; and we have heard that some feel it doesn’t belong in the church. But then there’s the crowd that absolutely loves it, some are younger and some are in their 70s and believe it is the greatest thing to happen in the church."

Note that there is no indication that the band or our Catholic Herald reporter solicited the opinion of any parishioner, perhaps because anyone with a contrary opinion is a fogey.
"We know we are not for everyone, but we are encouraged by the positive response received from the parishioners of St. Mary’s, St. Therese, the young and the 'young at heart' alike," he said.

Excuse my skepticism, but I've noticed ministries are often judged by how they fit someone's, often the ministers', idea of how things should be rather than by measurable benefit to the people ostensibly being served.

The article goes on to plug Roxology's CD.

Ratzinger's Quiet Non-Revolution

Alexander Smoltczyk in Spiegel on one year of Pope Benedict XVI
"Reform," says Ratzinger, "consists in the removal of the unnecessary."

For example, in a sermon last December
...Ratzinger professed his faith in the council, saying that an incorrect interpretation was responsible for the uproar within the church. The council, he said, was about "reform," not "separation."

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Where ministry is a laughing matter

Karen Mahoney
"Special to your Catholic Herald"

reports on the clown ministry at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Racine.

Don't expect a report that the move from Penitential Rite to Sprinkling Rite has now progressed to Seltzer Rite. These aren't liturgical clowns.

[Pam "Gabby"] Klemm felt that a group of Christian clowns could provide comfort to those who might be left out of ordinary activities and functions. Primarily, the clowns focused on nursing homes, hospitals, and homeless shelters.

"We never say no."

Wesley J. Smith in The Weekly Standard on growing candor in the right-to-die movement
Julian Savulescu, an up-and-comer in the international bioethics community, argues that respect for human freedom demands that society permit the suicides of competent persons--even when they are expressing an "unjustified desire to die."

"Some freedoms are worth the cost of innocent life," Savulescu wrote in a chapter for the book Assisted Suicide. "The freedom to finish one's life when and how one chooses is, it seems to me, about as important as any freedom."

Rationality and Faith in God

Robert Spaemann in Communio, translated by D. C. Schindler.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

His plan was business; God's plan is priesthood

Sam Lucero gives the second of five reports in our Catholic Herald on the men to be ordained later this month.

Jason Lavann entered Marquette University in 1997 intending on a degree in economics and a business career.

But something happened on the way to financial success: a required freshman philosophy course at Marquette set in motion a paradigm shift.

Thomas Kuhn doing Thomas Aquinas' work.
"The tenor in the business world was profit-driven and I had deeper life questions that I felt weren’t being addressed," said Lavann.

Soon he'll be a pastor, and never concern himself about organizational income and expenses again.
He switched his major from business to philosophy and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2001. ...

As Lavann’s spiritual life blossomed, he made another connection important in Catholic life: charitable service. It was this dimension of the faith that finally led him to discern the priesthood.

"I had a friend who was a Catholic Worker at Casa Maria ...


Who apparently didn't harp on "justice, not charity".
Although his heart is in parish ministry, Lavann is also interested in youth ministry and Catholic-Jewish relations.

Priests seem to like having "ministers" around the parish. Maybe we could start having "rabbis" too. They could give actual answers to questions, which our priests and parish ministry are often averse to doing.
"I remember something Bishop (Richard J.) Sklba once said," stated Lavann. "He said, 'Ordination gives you permission to learn how to become a priest.' It's something now, as I stand here, that I'm taking to heart. ..."

Get a move on, Milwaukee!

Richard Thieme writes in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I came to Milwaukee in 1987 as the head pastor of a downtown church. In my sermon at the installation service, I named two issues that I believed were critical to Milwaukee's future, economically and spiritually -- race relations and the kinds of jobs that would sustain our economy during a time of change.

Twenty years later, I could give the same sermon, with the same result.


Assuming he's right, he presumably could have written this piece in 1987 about a sermon given twenty years before.
Insanity is defined as doing the same things long after it is clear they do not work.

For example, his article repeating his sermon.

Grease Fire Rages Through Midwest

The Onion reports.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Evangelization done two-by-two at West Bend parish

Karen Girard reports,
Special to your Catholic Herald

on a home visit program at Immaculate Conception -- St. Mary Parish in West Bend.
About 140 people, in teams of two, braved the chilly spring rain in an effort to visit the 1,100 registered households of the parish.

I did home visits at St. Veronica Church. It was annual pledge card follow-up. Since I've joined St. Al's, I've been visited once. It was for the building campaign. But these West Bend home visits aren't about money. Almost.
The 10-minute visits had several purposes, according to Moll [Mary Moll, a visitation coordinator]. First, each household was asked to fill out a brief census form, updating their contact information, and letting the parish know if they wished to remain members. "It gets expensive to maintain mailings to non-members," said Moll.

You may be worth more than many sparrows, but not so many stamps. I'd leave it to the people visited to raise the subject of dropping out.
Each household was also given a packet of information about the parish, including brochures about the school, ministry opportunities, and upcoming events. A copy of "The Little White Book," daily reflections for the 50 days of the Easter Season, was given to each family.

Also included in the packet was a self-addressed envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL - FR. MIKE.

"Everyone has an opportunity to give feedback to Fr. Mike," explained Moll.


Like "Why can't priests get married?" or "Why can't priests use their last names?"

Moll continues,

"Like in every good family, you don’t divorce your family when things go wrong. You work through it."

If the family postage budget permits.
They met with a variety of reactions from the families they visited.

Catholics? At the door? From the parish? Not for Money?!

Here's how I suggest launching a home visit program. First, the Christmas homily concludes "See you next week." Assuming everyone doesn't return, the Easter homily concludes "See you next week. If I don't see you, I'm sending people to your homes." Assuming everyone doesn't return, the visitation program follows.

Update: or maybe not.

Labels:

Vatican official links faith and science

Eric Lombardi reports in the Marquette Tribune on last Wednesday's speech by Vatican Observatory Director the Rev. George Coyne.
Coyne said during his lecture that he is on a sort of "crusade" against the movement promoting the teaching of Intelligent Design in classrooms.

"Teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution is something we have to fight against in the scientific community because Intelligent Design is simply outside the realm of science.


Can't raise Intelligent Design even as a critique of evolution, check.
"Science completely excludes whether or not God had anything to do with the creation of the universe.

Can't bring up God in a science class, check.
Coyne concluded his lecture with a piece of advice for Marquette students: "Be very diligent in following what your teachers teach, but not too diligent. Be creative, and don't just accept what you're told, but think about it and challenge it."

For example, don't just accept what he just said about teachers looking for challenging creativity from their students.

Monday, May 1, 2006

UWM students rebuff change

Meg Jones reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "UCLA Wannabe" defeated a challenge by "Overgrown Teachers College".

Archdiocese trying to stem 'raids' rumors

Maryangela Layman Roman reported in our Catholic Herald that half those in attendance at Mass at St. Adalbert and Prince of Peace heard that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were about.
"To the best of our knowledge, they appear to be rumors," wrote Fr. [archdiocesan vicar for Hispanic Ministry Robert X.] Stiefvater. "Both Pedro Martinez (archdiocesan coordinator of Hispanic Pastoral Services) and I have gone to the places where these were alleged to have taken place -- Laundromats, stores and southside Milwaukee churches -- and have found nothing."

Reversing races doesn't flip reality

Eugene Kane writes in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The most common way to "flip the script" is to reverse the race of the subjects involved in a news story or legal case to see if you can expect the same results.

Take this one, which I've heard frequently from readers over the past few weeks:

"What if Frank Jude were white and the cops who beat him were all black? What would you say then?"

That's an interesting scenario but highly unlikely.


How about if someone said the jury looked at the Frank Jude case as a police beating that went horribly wrong? You might flip that script and get Eugene Kane on
Charlie Young Jr., a local handyman killed by a mob of young people during a neighborhood beating that went horribly wrong.

American Liberal Theology

Gary Dorrien's survey in CrossCurrents includes this.
Peruvian liberationist Gustavo Gutierrez, speaking at a conference in Tanzania, offered a classic statement of the differences between liberation theology and the "progressivist" liberal and neo-orthodox theologies that preceded it. Modern theology from Schleiermacher onward concerned itself with questions posed by the Enlightenment, historical criticism, science, and technology, Gutierrez observed. It fixated on the criticisms of unbelievers, seeking to make Christianity credible and relevant in the context of an industrialized, capitalist, increasingly secular social order. But the problems of European and North American theologians did not reflect the concerns of the marginalized Christians who created liberation theology, he argued.

Actually liberation theology is the creation of theologians like Gutierrez claiming to be a vanguard party for marginalized Christians. That might be why I see those full Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Guatemala and never meet anyone who professes liberation theology.