Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reading Rat May 2007

Also of interest:

A Prince of Pulp, Legit at Last, review of Library of America edition of Philip K. Dick, by Charles McGrath, The New York Times, May 6, 2007

The Great Books
"No man is an island...
"and no Christian educator should feel marooned when approaching the Great Books. This online community provides Christians with a detailed, chronological recommended reading list for students in the Rhetoric stage (Grades 9-12)."
(via Apocaloopsis)

Little City Used Book Sale [pdf] Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Mall, Skokie, Illinois, June 9-17, 2007

New York Book Festival June 23, 2007

Removed from the blogroll because discontinued or inactive:
Church Reform, Cor ad cor loquitur, De Virtutibus, Get Up, and Get Moving...., Japery, Medicine Box, nihil obstat, Pontifications and President Aristotle;
or for conspiracy: Council on Foreign Relations, Illuminati, Rothschild and Trilateral Commission;
or both: International Jewish Conspiracy.

CELAM wraps up with final message and issues lengthy document

Catholic New Agency reports on the conclusion of the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops. And that document didn't just seem lengthy.
...the more than 200 page book is aimed at providing a guide for pastoral options to the Latin American Bishops. ...

According to Bishop Norberto Strotmann from Chosica (Peru) "the risk of the document is that, by trying to include too many options, we end up making no real options at all."

"It obviously has the virtues and the limitations of a consensus text," Bishop Strotmann also explained.

Length not being among those limitations.


Eminent design

The Whitney Gould Cube-of-the-Month
...Camouflage House, a striking, low-slung home tucked into a steep bluff overlooking Green Lake. ... Gale Burg Construction Inc. was the contractor.

Unfailing Patience and Sound Teaching:

Subtitled Reflections on Episcopal Ministry in Honor of Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B, this is a festschrift for the 2002 commemoration of Archbishop Weakland's seventy-fifth birthday and his twenty-fifth anniversary as Archbishop of Milwaukee. With the fifth anniversary of his resignation just past, it might be worth a post.

In the front matter (p. iv),
Scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Catholic Edition.

While the motivation might be different, it's still another vote against the New American Bible. Next,
Quotations from the documents of the Second Vatican Council, unless otherwise noted, are taken from Vatican Council II: A Completely Revised Translation in Inclusive Language...

Still in print, but not under that title.

The Forward by Richard J. Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee begins (p. vii)
It was the glory of the Council of Trent (1545-1563 C.E.) ...

He wrote on April 2, 2002 C.E., before Paul Marcoux appeared on Good Morning America on May 23, A.D. 2002. Bishop Sklba later says (p. x)
Even though the perspective may be perhaps too close for objectivity, there have been well-known Catholic historians in recent years who have opined that the name of Weakland of Milwaukee will come to have the same resonance, impact and historical significance in the Catholic Church's dialogue with American culture at the end of the twentieth century as did that of Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul a century ealier.

At least had Archbishop Ireland's tenure ended with financial and sexual scandal.

Undaunted, editor David A. Stosur explains in the Preface (p. xi) that the book's title comes from the rite of episcopal ordination. The consecrator-bishop when presenting the Book of the Gospels to the new bishop says "Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching." Stosur includes among the examples of Archbishop Weakland living up to this (p. xi)
...a public apology that modeled true penitence...

Whether it's true penitence is beyond our ability to judge, but it hardly serves as model. In his apology, five years ago today, Archbishop Weakland continued to deny the $450,000 payment was hush money. Whatever it was, he thought he should get credit against it for amounts he had previously donated to the Archdiocese.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind.

The apology had been delayed so that it could be in a setting where its being followed with a standing ovation was no surprise. Perhaps his friends and admirers thought he should be proud about his confession of pride.

Likewise, there's no indication that he or anyone else wondered if then publishing this festschrift would be a step in leaving that pride behind. The cover illustration is a photo of this life-size bronze bust of the Archbishop. I'm surprised there haven't been annual symposia in his honor marking his progress in his struggle with pride; the Humble Maverick Series at the Weakland Center, adjacent to the Cathedral, perhaps.

Stosur goes on to note that the articles making up the book were also written before the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the flood of disclosures of sexual abuse of children by priests in early 2002. Some contributors made minor revisions in light of these developments. Major revisions would have delayed publication. So they chose to proceed, though this leaves us with essays on the bishop's and bishops' role that don't consider these subsequent events. Under all the circumstances, perhaps they no longer wanted the book to attract as much attention.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

St. Louis Prelate Aims to Bring Flock in Line

Peter Slevin reported in yesterday's Washington Post on Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis. The quality of the article's journalism has come in for some criticism. It includes this, apparently intended for balance.
Burke "has relatively little concern for, let's say, negative reaction," said James Hitchcock, a professor at Saint Louis University who writes for the diocesan press and calls Burke "a very humble man in his personal life."

"He sees himself as being obliged to do what he thinks is the right thing, and he's not too concerned with strategy or how he might finesse the thing," Hitchcock said. "There are quite obviously deep divisions within the church. Archbishop Burke is one bishop who has chosen to confront them directly, as opposed to other bishops who may prefer to minimize them."

Confronting directly and minimizing sound like tactics, and tactics that, without strategy, leave the bishops likely to being outflanked.

Mark Lewis, Dennis Winslow

Catholic priests advocating optional celibacy sometimes seem to have the idea that if they were married, they'd be coming home to someone who'd want to hear all about their day. Some have wondered where they'd find such a person, but the answer might be on the "Weddings/Celebrations" page of last Sunday's New York Times.
The Rev. Mark Alan Lewis and the Rev. K. Dennis Winslow, Episcopal priests, were joined in civil union on Tuesday.

P.S. Rev. Winslow has a Masters of Divinity from Nashotah House, near Milwaukee.

(via Crunchy Con)

How to undergo a successful merger

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in our Catholic Herald. She interviewed Fr. Phil Reifenberg, pastor of Nativity of the Lord Church in Cudahy. It was formed in 2000 by merging St. Frederick, St. Joseph and Holy Family Churches. The bar for success is set pretty low.
Fr. Reifenberg said the original estimate was that more than 2,200 families would migrate to Nativity of the Lord from those three parishes.

“But that never materialized,” he said. “They ended up starting at about a little over 1,200 families."

While he talks about some parishioners then changing to more convenient parishes, he provides no reassuring statistics on exactly what happened to 1,000 former parish families. Whatever the cost in lost parishioners, Archbishop Timothy Dolan expects this process to go on.
“We don’t have enough priests for neighborhood parishes,” he said. “... Sometimes we are unconsciously, by necessity, buying into the mega-church model."

According to this, we're only getting the disadvantages of that model.

Also interviewed was Fr. Tim Kitzke of Three Holy Women Church, formed from the merger of St. Rita, St. Hedwig and Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Churches.
Fr. Kitzke said when the three parishes merged, they had about 800 families. Today, there are more than 1,300 families.

... “We’re in a neighborhood that was increasing in population so we added 500 families."

So he attributes parish growth to population growth, rather than evangelization.

P.S. Three Holy Women is in the same 53202 zip code as the Cathedral, leaving unexplained why the latter has almost no local members, let alone local membership growth. And the former is not immediately downtown while the latter is. In his proposal for a Downtown Circulator streetcar, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says
Recent years have witnessed an incredible revitalization of Milwaukee’s downtown, and now nearly 15,000 people make their home in the growing neighborhood.

I assume that includes thousands of Catholics; if so, what their parish (if any) might be remains unclear.

Priest says woman who sells sex toys can't lead choir

Marie Rohde reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on developments at "St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay."


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Catholic School Math

At The Curt Jester:
If math were taught the way religion is taught in many Catholic schools:

(via Dad29)

Reminds me of a catechist at another parish who claimed that in the time the prescribed text alloted for the students to discuss how they felt about Mark's Gospel, he had them read it instead.

'Just Books' opens chapter on social justice

Jim McLaughlin reported Special to your Catholic Herald on Catholics for Peace and Justice's book discussion group, Just Books. The demographics are no surprise.
Students at Marquette University and middle-aged adults in the Milwaukee-area are opening a new chapter in their ministries for social justice.

I suspect some of those "middle-aged" are, in fact, AARP-eligible.

Member Debra Schneider described the discussions.
Schneider said, "We dwell a lot on charity, which is good," but the trouble is that it becomes a ministry of niceness instead of justice. She said nonviolence should be a part of the catechism in church teaching, but it’s not.

Maybe CPJ needs a book discussion on the Catechism.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pierre de Beaumarchais

Recommended reading:
by Beaumarchais at Reading Rat

Reference: Pierre Augustin Caron De Beaumarchais, Theatre History

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Authors' Calendar, by Petri Liukkonen

Dovetailed voices set Florentine's 'Barber' apart, by Tom Strini, review of the Florentine Opera production, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 28, 2007

Serving God and country

Karen Mahoney reports Special to your Catholic Herald. While Catholics are about 24% of the U.S. population, she says about 30% of the military is Catholic.
“The percentage of Catholics is a bit higher in the officer corps, maybe just over 30 percent, but even higher in the Marine Corps general population, perhaps in the 40 percentile,” said David Levite, vice chancellor of the Military Archdiocese.

Iz zat so?

This Mr. Music column by Jerry Osborne ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He charts, so to speak, racial progress.
Over the years, the R&B of the '50s became known as Soul, then later as just Black music.

The name is not all that changed.

For the eight years from 1956 through '63, the number of hits by white artists reaching No. 1 on the R&B-Soul-Black charts is 30. ...

That 30th one, "Louie Louie," would be the last of its kind.

Why I could never get a Ph.D

At Open Book, The Feminine Mystique meets Life Among the Savages.
So Saturday morning as I was sitting here with some rare, but desperately needed book-writing time, I decided (of course) to go to the library and find a couple of books I'd been wanting to read, neither of which have anything to do with what I'm writing. I was successful, and returned home and essentially spent all day reading (you can sit on your back porch and read while watching two little boys tear around the back yard and still feel like a semi-decent mother.)

CPJ Newsletter May 2007

Catholics for Peace and Justice posted its newsletter for May 2007 [9 pp. pdf]

On education, their "Justice Advocacy and the Social Teaching of the Church" conference at St. Michael Church drew 100 people, including 64 new to CPJ.
In particular ideas that were shared on how parishes are spreading the word of Catholic Social Teaching and opportunities for you to get involved – for example CPJ will be hosting a book discussion this summer on Caring for God’s Creation.

Which might mean a book discussion group reading Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices, by Sarah James.

On the war, they received a response from Senator Kohl's office, but graded it incomplete.
And despite the clear verdict of the elections, we see that Kohl and the Democrats are still proceeding extremely cautiously to bring our troops home, and ignoring the issue of permanent bases and even whether impeachment proceedings against the President are warranted.

At least CPJ kept up the pretense of non-partisanship longer than MAPA.
So, we will be talking to Mr. Metzler to find out why "nobody's senator but ours" feels we don't deserve an answer to our questions.

And in a nonjudgmental way, no doubt.
Meanwhile, just as we didn't sit on our hands while waiting for Archbishop Dolan's response to our letter about Iraq two years ago, we plan to keep up the pressure while waiting for Sen. Kohl to take us seriously.

The Archbishop and Senator apparently didn't realize who they're dealing with, not that it's about them, you understand.
Some possibilities: further pressure on Kohl and his aides, a sustained campaign to hold our local media accountable for their reporting on this war, or possibly the occupation of Kohl's office, such as took place in Madison recently.

Discussion and then sanctions didn't produce results, so they had no choice but to invade and occupy.
If you want to "put your money (and time) where your mouth is" to stop this war NOW, this is the time to let us know. Contact Mark Peters...

Doesn't he have a day job?

There was also mention of the campaign to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, successor to the School of the Americas [SOA].
The goal of SOA Watch is to close the School of the Americas [SOA] and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance.

If one's idea of creative runs along the lines of the protest puppet.

The death penalty committee's name, as you might expect, understates its scope.
On Friday, April 27 State Senator Lena Taylor [chair of the Judiciary and Corrections Committee] held a meeting in Milwaukee to discuss Alfonso Graham's appointment as Chair of the Parole Commission. ... She [Sen. Taylor] wanted him [Graham] to be clear on being fair because it seems he has a bias toward keeping them in. ... Of course, people only got 2 minutes to speak. This was extremely unfair especially to the people who drove for 3 hours to get to the hearing. I reiterated the recommendations our Incarceration Coalition had given to Mr. Graham and barely had time to state them much less explain anything. We all wanted to say a lot more.

Perhaps Mr. Peters can incorporate the idea that justice demands meetings of unlimited length into his work as a Parish Consultant.

After dealing with Graham's appointment
The other part of the hearing was on the State of the Justice System and a professor from UWM spoke. John Barrett, County Clerk of Courts, District Attorney Chisholm also spoke. They all got more than 2 minutes of course.

It's almost as if they were invited to speak because of the offices they hold. One of the CPJ members present also put together some prison statistics for the newsletter.
Besides being a member of our committee, Kathleen [Hart] also works with CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants).

I've reported them to the Committee for the Reduction of Acronym Proliferation. Among her stats
Within two years after release the majority go back to prison.

Maybe that's a factor in Graham's "bias" if bias there be.

Among other Community Events was a Mother's Day For Peace at Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church.
Help us reclaim the original spirit of Mother’s Day, a day of peace activism...

But at CPJ, isn't every day already a day of peace activism?
Show that you support peace by bringing your whole family for an afternoon that includes music, inspiring speakers, a children's "peace bike parade", creating a peace mural, and more.

Sounds like the bazaar in Pollyanna, if the movie had been set in East Berlin.

Finally a reflection on the April Prayer Gathering
Last Tuesday night as I drove into the church parking lot for the prayer gathering I noticed that the parking lot was packed with cars – it was bingo night. Someone commented if only we had as many people joining us in prayer for peace and concerned about the issues of our world as we have interested in bingo.

No one then suggested trying Bingo for Peace.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A letter from Fr. Alan Jurkus, "Soon to be" Pastor

To be pastor of St. Al's in September, to be exact. His first contact with the parish was a letter two weeks ago. It must have been an insert in the bulletin; I was away and so didn't get the hard copy and such inserts aren't included in the bulletin posted online. But there is an excerpt (p. 5) of today's bulletin [5 pp. pdf].

He wrote again, his letter was a bulletin insert today, and this time it's posted [pdf]. It's about the building fund debt reduction campaign.
As you are aware, St. Alphonsus has a debt of nearly US$3,000,000. Unless this is reduced to a much lower amount, I am concerned that the impact on all the parish ministries and events will be seriously affected.

I must be honest and say that the ONLY thing that gave me pause about accepting the pastorate of St. Alphonsus was this debt.

I guess they didn't mention that we parishioners were being told the operating budget was in a "financial crisis" yet parish leadership went ahead with this building project anyway. And among other omissions, I don't remember the pitch for the original project mentioning that the debt might scare away potential pastors.
I know there can be all kinds of reasons for not committing to yet another appeal. We can say things like, "I thought the last one was the LAST one," or, "I never wanted the project anyway," or "I’ve done my share already in the past," or "We have our own debt and kids to raise," or, "Let someone else take care of this." The list could go on and on.

We had declining school enrollment and declining Mass attendance, a financial crisis, and parishioners tired of hearing about money. So we went into debt to add on to the building. From what I've seen and heard, parish leadership has learned nothing from the experience. There are already some new wish list expenditures tacked on to the latest debt reduction appeal.
It would be my hope and prayer that when I officially arrive as your pastor in September, this Debt Reduction Appeal will have reached (or, perhaps, even exceeded) its goal of US$2,000,000, so that all of us can get on with doing the Lord’s work!

Maybe some folks are waiting to make sure they aren't paying for another agenda.

Scattering services arise from ashes of cremations

This Associated Press feature by David Twiddy appeared in the print edition of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There's no mention of any connection, or lack thereof, between the practice of scattering cremated human remains and religious belief or unbelief.

CPJ Newsletter for April 2007

Catholics for Peace and Justice posted its newsleter for April 2007 [8 pp. pdf]

Their Just Books book club finished "for the semester".

On the war
Catholics for Peace and Justice enters its third year of action against the war in Iraq.

They opposed [pdf] a supplemental funding bill with an August 31, 2008 troop withdrawal date; not good enough.

On the death penalty
We ask all of our membership to continue to pray and discuss the death penalty issue here in Wisconsin, asking that we change our lives from fear, hatred and vengeance to lives of compassion, love, and forgiveness.

We don't have the death penalty, and the concept of a preventive fraternal correction does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I assume their discussion will be aimed at preventing discussion of the issue in the legislature.

The March 24, 2007 Ecumenical Prayer Service for Peace was regarded a great success.
The thirst for justice of those in the assembly was palpable, and it spilled over into fellowship, networking and the taking of letter-writing information after the service.

Where have all the leaders gone?

Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney, excerpted from their book, in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
I've had enough. How about you? I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. ...

Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. ...

The second of the degrees of prophecy

A person feels as if something came upon him, and as if he had received a new power that encourages him to speak. He treats of science, or composes hymns, exhorts his fellow-men, discusses political and theological problems; all this he does while awake, and in the full possession of his senses. Such a person is said to speak by the holy spirit.
--Moses Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed,Chapter XLV, translated by M. Friedlander (1903)

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Recommended reading:
by Basho at Reading Rat

Humor: Sizzling words by Jan Uebelherr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 25, 2007

CPJ Newsletter for March 2007

Catholics for Peace and Justice recently started posting its monthly newsletter [10 pp. pdf].

On war, one item says "Military Spending: 41% of Your Tax Dollars Allocated to War". That number comes from the Friends Committee on National Legislation. You might wonder How do they get 41%?
Because the FCNL analysis aims to illustrate how our income dollars are spent, it does not include trust funds, such as Social Security and Medicare, which have their own dedicated revenues.

Interesting theory, that Social Security and Medicare don't come out of income. Last I checked, those "dedicated revenues" are payroll taxes. The FNCL analysis reminds me of how parishes think about their operating and capital budgets. What's the real percentage?
When president’s proposal says that only 21% of the budget goes to the military, it includes Social Security and Medicare in his definition of the budget.

CPJ wrote to Senator Kohl's office on January 29, 2007 [2 pp. pdf] and was awaiting a reply. Among topics they raised,
Is Senator Kohl aware of the bill pending before the Iraqi Parliament to grant 30 year contracts for extracting Iraq's oil to companies like BP, Shell and Exxon?

They don't here specify what they want him to do about it. Maybe they object to only one of the three being an American company.

They discussed writing articles on the death penalty, and among the themes were
Reverencing Life vs. the Culture of Death
Power and Dominance
The American Drive for Profit
Being a Prophetic Cry
Cultivating a Lifestyle of Protecting/Reverencing Life
How Did We Get to the War? - we all allowed that to happen by our lifestyles
We Have Sinned – we have demeaned life

They obviously can't threaten to start hectoring us if Wisconsin enacts the death penalty.

The discussion on Fair Trade included a link to this article in The NewStandard. In the alternative economics context, I found this notice interesting.
You have reached the homepage of The NewStandard, which ceased publication on April 27, 2007. ...

The NewStandard was a unique online newspaper founded on the belief that the dominant model and methods of profit-focused news journalism have failed the public interest. ...

Unlike its corporate counterparts, which typically prioritize profits, TNS existed solely to fulfill its public mission, to support the livelihood of media workers who share its passion, and to sustain an innovative egalitarian, participatory workplace structure. ...

But for various reasons, TNS never gained the level of support needed to provide sustainable jobs and to develop the readership it needed to thrive. ...

The minutes concluded with
Carl J. Malischke shares with us a reflection [8 pp. pdf] of his experience last summer on our southern border.

which included
And the overriding message from the US side comes through strong, loud, and clear:

But, the underlying message is oh so tantalizingly sweet, and openly whispered:
“WE HAVE WORK FOR YOU. We have jobs for you..

Though not at The NewStandard.

What The Homeless Really, Really Need and Why They'll Never Get It

Joe Bob Briggs in The Wittenburg Door with the publisher's ten findings about the homeless.
Numero Six-o: Ten percent of the homeless prefer being homeless. The other 90 percent lost their job, then moved in with a relative. Then there was a crisis. (Typical crisis: Somebody in the homeless family wrecks the family car.) The relative got mad and kicked them out on the street. Believe it or not, this is as hard on the relative as it is on the family that gets kicked out.

Architect of area churches highlighted in new book

Tom Jozwik reported special to your Catholic Herald on Peter J. Brust.
The architect-relative of Msgr. Nicholas Brust and Bishop Leo Brust designed many churches and other religious buildings in southeastern Wisconsin. Peter Brust’s professional efforts serve as the subject of a self-published book, A God-Given Talent: Peter J. Brust, Architect: His Work and Legacy, 1906-2006, by Anna Passante.

Here's a review, and a prior post on the Brust firm.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Christian churches together – USA

Bishop Richard J. Sklba recounted in a "Herald of Hope" column on our Catholic Herald on his acting as official signatory for the U.S. Catholic bishops at the inauguration of Christian Churches Together. And there they are on the list of CCT Member Organizations, "US Conference of Catholic Bishops".
For the first time in the history of the modern ecumenical movement the "five families" of contemporary American Christianity pledged themselves to working for full visible unity and common witness in the Church: Catholic, Evangelical/Pentecostal, ethnic/African American, historic Protestant, and Orthodox.

Or at least somebody with each of the five family names.
Later in the ceremony, the official representative of each "family" was called forth to sign the foundational document.

Here’s where a slight clarification for the record might be helpful for future historians. The Methodist master of ceremonies was so taken by the eminence of Cardinal Mahony’s presence that the cardinal was summoned at that moment. He looked at the document, saw my name neatly typed in place and decided not to cause any awkward embarrassment ... so Cardinal Mahony forged my name!

Makes this sound like signing a Friendship Card.

Archdiocese funds find way back home

Jim Stingl writes in his column in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nick Jordan, one of the California plaintiffs who settled with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on claims that Father Franklyn Becker sexually abused him as a child.
Jordan's settlement was $2 million, but after the lawyers' cut he received about $1.2 million.

He is giving 10% of that, or about $120,000, to The Healing Center and the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, both in Milwaukee; The Counseling Center of Milwaukee; and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Madison.

Jordan now works in the motion picture industry but says he is considering becoming a priest.

MAPA Convening Board February 9, 2007

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of February 9, 2007 [2 pp. pdf].

In their opening prayer,
We read and reflected on Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 6 [17, 20-26]) with special remembrance for +Fr. Dave Meinholz who had died suddenly today.

They continued preparation for their March 15, 2007 general meeting. Father Charles Schramm had offered to speak on Wellness Day based on an article in The Cincture newsletter. There was also a suggestion to invite
...Rick Abert S.J., Spiritual Advisor for Priests to give a brief presentation on Spiritual Obstacles from a holistic view...

We discussed the fact that at the September General Meeting in 2006 we did not vote on the Priests’ Rights Document after it was amended. We agreed to put it on the agenda for the March 15th meeting.

Spring Break!
We all agreed that our treasury would sustain sending two delegates to the NFPC [National Federation of Priests' Councils] Convention in Tampa April 23-26, 2007. The purpose would be to network and learn more.

And not to wind up in Priests Gone Wild.

As for the September general meeting, Bishop Sklba might be available to speak if the meeting was after Fall Clergy Day, September 20, 2007.

These are the last minutes they've posted as of now. The next board meeting was set for March 9, 2007.


Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95 Comment Cards To IHOP Door

The Onion

Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95 Comment Cards To IHOP Door

SIOUX FALLS, SD—"IHOP has grown weak on powdered sugar and fruity garnishes, forsaking the purity of its original mission," said Lyman, a onetime regular customer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Signs and Wonders

Catholic Charismatic Renewal hosts one or two parish visits by Fr. Fernando Suarez.
Born and raised in Batangus Province in the Phillipines, Fr. Fernando began praying for others for healing at the age of 16 and was surprised at how the Lord used him.

In a good way. Ordained in 2002,
After a year in parish work it became clear that the Lord was gifting him with charisms of healing. ... The Lord has healed many through Fr. Fernando's ministry.

No mysterious ways here.

The Ministry of Irritation

At the Women's Ordination Conference
The purpose of this ministry is to challenge the Church’s policies regarding women by engaging the hierarchy and organizing on a grassroots level to publicly witness for women’s ordination into a renewing priestly ministry.

To explain why we use the term "irritation," we use the analogy of

Diaper rash? Dishpan hands? The heartbreak of psoriasis? No.
the grain of sand and the oyster. The grain of sand irritates the inside of the oyster to create a beautiful pearl, and the people active in this ministry are the grains of sand, irritating the Catholic hierarchy to create a pearl of wisdom for the Church that bring about repentance for the sins of the Kyriarchy and bring about a renewing priestly ministry!

Unfortunately for either the analogy or the hierarchy, the oyster does not survive the harvest.


MAPA Convening Board January 24, 2007

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of January 24, 2007 [2 pp. pdf].

They read and reflected on the next Sunday's Gospel reading, Luke 4:21-30.

In the previous month's board election,
58 valid ballots were cast.

That's 42% of the membership. No explanation of how many invalid ballots, if any, or why they were invalid.
Those elected are Dick Aiken [Father Richard Aiken, St. Sebastian Church], [Father] Michael Barrett [Blessed Trinity Church], [Father] Paul Daniels [retired], and Phil Reifenberg [Father Philip Reifenberg, Nativity of the Lord Church].

On to meeting planning.
We talked about the Spring Assembly of Priests and Fr. Bob Silva and the book Deep Change.

Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within, by Robert E. Quinn, "who believes that people can effect great change in large organizations by changing themselves"?
We all agreed that there should definitely be an Open Space session at the meeting.

Presumably MAPA's March general meeting, not the May Assembly of Priests.
We considered inviting the younger clergy to report on their experiences of priesthood. Dave had asked Fr. Jason [Lavann] to be an ambassador for this issue. And Fr. Jason reported back that there is no interest on the part of his classmates or other younger priests that he knows.

No interest? Wouldn't you think they'd want to know why not? Let's see how MAPA's introspection-proofing is holding up.
We spent more time discussing the current situation in priesthood: anger, frustration, burn-out, over-work, exhaustion and a bleak future, and no relief in sight. Far too many priests are experiencing health problems or simply dropping dead.

And yet the newer priests don't want to participate in this conversation.
Then we focused on who as a speaker might be able to help us.

Notice they don't even consider exchanging homilies.
We agreed that Bishop Sklba would be an excellent choice because he understands the many serious problems facing us. Dick Aiken was going to see him that afternoon and agreed to ask him on our behalf. Should his schedule not allow; or if he chose to decline the invitation we needed a second choice. That second choice is Fr. Curt Frederick.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just doing his job

At Disputations, a summary of Fr. Bill Byrne's approach as chaplain during the time that, Father says, the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland saw Sunday Mass attendance triple:
"God loves us, and His Son is here in the tabernacle."

Can he turn and point to it when he says this? It would have to be somewhat different at St. Al's:
"...His Son is out the exit of the church, make two lefts, and go the the far side of the new chapel, in the tabernacle. On your way, please pick up your pledge card to help reduce the mortgage that built this."

Reminds me of a homilist who, for emphasis, turned around to point to the Crucifix, then realized there wasn't one.


Churches seek creative ways to fund building projects

Karen Mahony reported special to your Catholic Herald with a timely reminder it was not upon fund drives that He will build His Church.
At times, parishes are advised to scale back their plans, or to build in affordable phases, rather than taking on too much debt, Feiereisen explained.

"Too many parishes are taking on too much debt and finding themselves in two, three or more debt reduction campaigns which are very difficult to do," she said. "They can then launch phase-two campaigns to finish the rest of the building project, which is much more palatable to parishioners than pure debt reduction."
The buzz at the barber shop was that St. Al's was obsessed with money, and that was before the 2001 building project. If what's reported above about avoiding repeated debt reduction campaigns is conventional wisdom, it escaped the notice of parish leadership. We're now in debt reduction campaign II with debt reduction campaigns III and IV contemplated.

MAPA Convening Board December 4, 2006

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of December 4, 2006 [2 pp. pdf].

They nominated candidates for the board election to be held later that month.

Next, mission work.
[Father] Ken Mich and [Father] Dave Cooper reported on a very lively meeting with the brothers in Madison who call themselves "The Upland Clergy Group." We met on November 26th at St. Francis Xavier Parish [in Cross Plains] and were hosted by Fr. Thomas Kelley.

(The Madison Catholic Herald's reported on the parish's 150th anniversary celebration in 2003.)
We listened to the concerns of those priests. They questioned us at length about the Milwaukee Alliance. We shared with them some documentation including references from Canon Law and how our Alliance works.

Watch out for that web site maintenance.
We encouraged them to meet and write a letter that details the facts of their concerns without making any accusations or judgments.

How might they demonstrate this non-accusatory and non-judgmental intent?
We further suggested that one representative of the group read the letter at the bishop’s clergy gathering on December 6th and all signers stand with him. Then at the end the reader would invite any other present clergy who shares the same concerns to come and stand with them.

If parishioners did the equivalent at a parish council meeting, I know of at least one MAPA board member who likely would have had a heart attack.
We also counseled them to go slowly in building a base of support for an Alliance and when they felt ready to call a meeting of all the interested priests.

Though they might want to also keep in mind the median age of those priests in determining what constitutes "slowly".

Finally, evangelization.
We also discussed efforts to get more of the Junior Clergy to attend an Alliance Meeting. We discussed the possibility of inviting some of them to come and share experiences of first year of Priesthood.

Wouldn't that be Freshman Clergy?
Dave [Father David Cooper] agreed to talk to [Father] Jason Lavann about procedure.

This assumes younger priests don't attend for procedural reasons.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

William Butler Yeats

Of what other modern poet can it be said that he never repeated himself but over the span of a long and eventful life continued to fashion his ever more complex and seemingly prosaic experiences into a verse of indisputable and enduring significance? --Stephen I. Gurney, Images of Yeats, Modern Age, Winter 1988

The anatomy of Yeats's inventions by William H. Pritchard, review of Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form by Helen Vendler, The Boston Globe, February 17, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The Second Coming by Cathleen Kaveny, dotCommonweal, May 21, 2007, 10:46 am

On A Green Knoll Apart by John Derbyshire, review of W.B. Yeats: A Life—Vol. II: The Arch-Poet by R.F. Foster, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2004

Everything and Nothing in Yeats by Brian Phillips, Hudson Review, Spring 2004

The Greatest? review by Jeffrey Hart of W. B. Yeats: A Life, II: The Arch-Poet by R. F. Foster, National Review, February 23, 2004

Slogging to Byzantium, review by Clive James of W. B. Yeats: A Life: The Arch-Poet, 1915, 1939, The Spectator, October 4, 2003

So divinely diverse

In serving others, Beth Huggins realizes 'just how big God is'

Amy Guckeen reports Special to your Catholic Herald on Beth Huggins, another in the "People of Faith" series.
Her work with Global Partners took her to Guatemala this year for spring break, an experience that struck a particular chord in her passion for Latin America.

"I wanted to see the places that we’ve been talking about all the time," Huggins said of the experience. "It was really great to see what these people were living with -- walking three hours a day just go get water.

"There’s a responsibility to come back and share the stories. Yes, I could say no, but if somebody doesn’t go, those stories never are shared. Everybody can’t go to Guatemala. If people don’t know about the realities that are there, change won’t happen. Even if we don’t have the same religion, there’s something deep down that connects us," she said.

One of the realities that are there is that not that long ago we did have the same religion as just about everyone in Guatemala. Might have been a development of interest to some readers in a feature called "People of Faith" if that referred to the Catholic Faith.

Vatican: The Board Game

From Cardinal to Pope--how it happens . . .
Cardinal Game Pieces: Choose the one that best reflects your personality

How about choosing the opposite, and making it a role-playing game?

(via dotCommonweal)

MAPA Convening Board November 8, 2006

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of November 8, 2006 [1 p. pdf].

Election wrap-up:
We noted the Democratic victory; but the fact that neither referenda went as we had hoped.

"But"? At least they were relieved of the strain of appearing non-partisan.
The Death Penalty reinstatement passed by a wide margin of favor; and the Marriage Amendment by a smaller margin – but still it passed. We tried to come to terms with all of this and what it might mean and how we might respond.

All without leaving their cocoon.
We spent the remainder of the meeting discussing the plight of our brothers in Madison.

Who had to play at Sunday Mass a recorded homily by their bishop on the marriage amendment. Without commenting themselves. Or, presumably, making faces or gestures.
We debated making contact and offering our assistance. Finally we agreed that while it would be inappropriate to do anything publicly or even as a group; we decided that we would call a few of the priests to ask what they are thinking and feeling, and if there might be any way in which we could be of assistance.

Either they decided to surreptitiously make these contacts, or the meaning of we changed in the course of a single sentence.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spiritual seed planted at John Paul II Center

Maryangela Layman Roman reported in our Catholic Herald on this new adult catechesis effort set to open July 1, 2007. Father Javier Bustos will serve as director. Among its challenges,
Use of technology: The center recognized the need to make use of online education and video conferencing. "This is not new, it’s happening all over the place," said Fr. Bustos of the technology, "but unfortunately it’s going to be new for us."

MAPA Convening Board September 6, 2006

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of September 6, 2006 [1 p. pdf].

Father Chuck Schramm resigned from the board.

The proposed November Referenda Statement was ready to be submitted to a vote at the September meeting of the membership.
We want an up or down vote on the floor. [Father] Steve Avella will handle this section of the meeting after the presentation by Janine Geske.

She is presumably giving a legal briefing.
We hope for some coverage in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel [sic] and The Catholic Herald.

With the help of Tom Heinen, their media advisor?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ascension Sunday

So says today's St. Al's Bulletin [5 pp. pdf] (p. 1). The readings at today's Mass were those for the Ascension while those in the bulletin (p. 2) are those for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

The homily started along the lines of The Rain of Christ Sermon Starter at Homilies By Email.
Ascension Sunday is very much about the reign of Christ. Notice how all the reading speak of it in terms of a king ascending a throne. King Jesus. Christ reigns!

As I thought of this and tried to understand it, it began to rain outside. I began to think of the rain that descends from heaven to help bring life...but it also returns or ascends to heaven through evaporation, so that it might return again with its blessings...Christ is the true Rain of Heaven... .

Not to be outdone in homiletic pun-ditry, our homilist went on to analogize the words of the two angels to Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bob Uecker's home run call "Get up! Get up! Get outta here!" But we shouldn't leave just yet, our homilist went on, not until after the "Ueckerist".

On page 4 of the bulletin is an announcement "Needed... A Few Good People!"
We still have openings for Parish Council and Parish Standing Committee membership for this coming year, beginning in August.

"Needed... A Few Warm Bodies!" would be more like it. (I'd rather be popping Imodium on the parish mission to Guatemala than be on Parish Council again.)

Also on page 4, is a farewell to the piano accompanist at (my) 11:00 a.m. Sunday Mass. She gave a moving farewell on an earlier Sunday. She had a young son who died suddenly and unexpectedly, and said she then found serving with our choir a great help in that difficult time. Asking that any pianists consider taking her place, she went on to ask rhetorically if Mass wouldn't be rather dull and uninspiring without the choir.

Under the circumstances, it's hard to raise questions, yet surely the Eucharist is more interesting than the accompanying music. And while the liturgical music is often praised in comments from the sanctuary, it has consistently been the biggest complaint of my Christian Formation students.

As a parting gift, she and her husband presented the parish with "Communion cups". These look like large wine glasses. It's not obvious how this complies with GIRM 328-329.

It's not as if parish practice on gifts from parishioners is "who pays the piper calls the tune". I might cite my experience with the new chapel. I've told before how the current church was built without a Crucifix, and, I was told, some parishioners raised the funds to buy one. You see it make a rare appearance in the fund drive video. As GIRM 308 indicates, a Crucifix is required, but when the fund drive exceeded its goal an image of the Risen Christ got added. Eventually it developed that most of the year we see not a Crucifix but some variation on Rainbow Jesus.

Around the time we were away on the parish Guatemala mission, the chairs for the priest celebrant and deacon were moved from their former place in the sanctuary, on the "far side" of the altar, to the front row of chairs of the leftmost section of seating. That is where the servers and lectors sit. If there was an explanation of this, I missed it; it appears contrary to GIRM 310.

In the past I've taken such issues to the parish, and the brush-offs, runarounds, doubletalk, blow-ups, and other evasions I get in response do provide bloggable material. The alternative is then taking an issue to the Archbishop, which I'm told has resulted in at least some changes. But the pace of these issues arising seems to be picking up to where they might pop up faster than the Archbishop could review them. I surmise the Liturgy Team has also been watching parish trends and is racing to perfect their alternative liturgy just as attendance drops to zero.

Update: Diogenes at Off the Record posts on the Wordsmiths of the Lectionary and their editing to produce the second reading for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

Commenter Surewish adds
Good thing Ascension Thursday Sunday doesn't have an octave. Then we'd have Ascension Thursday Sunday Monday, and Ascension Thursday Sunday Tuesday, etc. ...


See the Gathering In, Reaching Out Video

You might recall the St. Al's did $4.8 million in additions and renovations in 2001. There was an initial fund appeal and a 15 year mortgage. Every three years, we're subjected to another fund appeal to pay off the mortgage sooner. This one, at the six year mark, projects that it might take two more such appeals, which would mean the 15 year mortgage would be paid after 12 years.

If you've seen one of these appeals, you've seen them all. If you haven't seen one, here's the St. Al's video.

Based on what I knew about it's history and the actual state of the parish, most of this project made no sense in terms of mission or finance.

While at the time I argued against the project, and then against continuing to have a separate chapel, the design of the new chapel shown on the original fund appeal had some attractions. Our main church is a more or less typical Vatican II barn: no windows, stucco on concrete walls, plain suspended lighting; a Warehouse of Worship. The chapel as presented had a traditional long axis arrangement, with pews facing an altar and tabernacle. Despite all my objections, it got me to make a pledge.

I admit I doubted it would be built as shown, and it wasn't. But if they'd now arrange it as it was represented then, then I'd match my original pledge.

MAPA Convening Board July 12, 2006

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of July 12, 2006 [2 pp. pdf].

From the committees:

Fraternity of Priests committee: Father Carl Last and Father Pat Heppe were setting dates for get-togethers. They hadn't heard from Father Jerry Hessel.

Priests’ Rights committee: The revised flyer on what to do if accused is finally ready. Title: "Priests’ Rights – A Practical Guide"

Referenda committee: The document on the November defense of marriage amendment and death penalty votes was ready to be sent to the members and the bishops.

There was further discussion on problems communicating and keeping up-to-date. Sounds like our pastors, all right.

Father Ken Mich reported further meetings with Paul Priester.

Father Art Heinze resigned from the board and was replaced by Father Mike Barrett.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rainer Maria Rilke

"The Santa Claus of loneliness" was W. H. Auden's tag for his fellow poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Rilke was a solitary who spent, according to his French master, Paul Valery, "eternal winters long in excessive intimacy with silence." --Time, Santa Claus of Loneliness, June 12, 1964, review of Rainer Maria Rilke: The Years in Switzerland, by J. R. von Salts, translated by N. K. Cruickshank

Rainer Maria Rilke: What his career--taken along with Bertolt Brecht's--tells us about fame, by Clive James, Slate, Posted Friday, March 23, 2007, at 1:22 PM ET

Renew your faith in Eucharist

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald on Pope Benedict's recent Sacramentum Caritatis.
Does he encourage the use of some Latin and Gregorian chant? Yes. Does he remind us that the Mass is not ours to alter, but that careful and reverent attention to liturgical guidelines is expected? Yes.

Yes, because these were called for in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), see 36, 116, and 22?
But he also endorses fully the celebration of the Mass as renewed by the council, which, by the way, he attended.

With that "but" he makes it sound as if Pope Benedict favors these despite the Council.

MAPA Convening Board June 12, 2006

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's Convening Board meeting of June 12, 2006 [2 pp. pdf].

Among the committees:

Fraternity of Priests committee: Board members might take road trips to get-togethers outside Milwaukee.

Witch Hunt Group: The committee on homosexuals in the seminary disbanded formally, though it continues with some informal activities.

Referenda committee: They finished writing a letter on the November referenda on the death penalty and the defense of marriage amendment. The board deemed it "a great document." The letter was to be voted on at the September meeting of all MAPA members.

Wellness committee: Father Chuck Schramm reported on a Wellness Day presentation for the September meeting. The program, called "Creation or Chaos" is by psychologist Brother Jim Zullo.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Father Alan Jurkus new pastor at St. Alphonsus

While I was at Mass last Sunday in Townsend, Tennessee, the rest of my fellow-parishioners (or the one-fourth or so that attend) heard that our new pastor will be Father Alan Jurkus, now at St. Monica Church in Whitefish Bay. He'll have adjust to a change of architecture, at least.

St. Monica's has its Mission Statement & Philosophy on the Archdiocesan web site. (I don't know where St. Al's vision and mission statement are; having worked on them, I'm not going to try to find them, either.) Like St. Al's used to, St. Monica has a quarterly newsletter, the Monicazette. Father Jurkus says an anticipatory good-bye in its Spring 2007 issue [8 pp. pdf].

Father Jurkus's name has popped up in a few posts, but I missed that he concelebrated the funeral Mass of Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski.

Update: The reader who passed along the above news also notes this Sunday's St. Al's bulletin (p. 4) says,
We are pleased to announce that at the recommendation of the Priests’ Placement Board, Archbishop Dolan has appointed Rev. Alan F. Jurkus as the new Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish.

We will welcome Fr. Alan the weekend of June 23-24.

However, due to a long-planned summer sabbatical, Father Alan will officially begin his appointment as Pastor on September 1, 2007. (From June 19 until September 1, Fr. Larry Sepich will be the Temporary Administrator.)

We ask God’s blessings for Fr. Alan Jurkus and for the community of Saint Alphonsus.

Plaque to be dedicated for 1970 Sterling Hall bombing

Heather LaRoi reports in today's Wisconsin State Journal.
This afternoon, more than 37 years after a truck bomb blasted a crater in Sterling Hall, the UW-Madison physics department will dedicate a plaque in memory of [Robert] Fassnacht, who was killed in the Aug. 24, 1970, attack.

(via Right On)

Respect, Revision, Renew

That's the slogan on the 2006 Report of Catholic Charities of Milwaukee, which included a request for donations.

I emailed them (without the links)
Back in 2004, it came to my attention that Catholic Charites was an underwriter of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Can you tell me if this continues and what the purpose of the grant is, or was?

and received this prompt reply.
Please let me know what your affilation is and the reason for your inquiry.

The donation envelope didn't ask for my affiliation or reason.


Boot camp was step toward priesthood

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald on the other of two men to be ordained a priest by Archbishop Dolan at Milwaukee's cathedral tonight.
"I was in the seminary before the scandal — especially the scandal in Boston — when I was moving from the college program to the graduate program here was when all of that took place - that’s why there are only two of us, Carmelo (Giuffre) and I. Nobody new entered the program that year, nor the year after," he explained.

No need to explain to us, explain to Noreen Welte.

Priesthood came from 'dreaming big'

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in our Catholic Herald on Carmelo Giuffre, one of two men to be ordained a priest by Archbishop Dolan at Milwaukee's cathedral tonight.
Giuffre was born deaf, but is an avid lip-reader. He said he is looking forward to learning sign language, as he knows there is a need for priests to be able to celebrate Mass in sign language.

In case your parish left the impression sign language was something developed for use by the Children's Choir.

MAPA Convening Board May 15, 2006

Not long after I noted the lack of activity at the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance's web site, there's been some.

Here are the minutes of MAPA's Convening Board meeting of May 15, 2006 [2 pp. pdf].

First, among the committee ("Focus Group") reports:

Fraternity of Priests committee: Three priests said they might host get-togethers. I hope they serve healthy snacks.

Priests’ Rights committee: The flyer on what to do if accused of sexual misconduct, along with comments (including those of Father Paul Hartman) were to be reviewed, with an eye toward presenting the document in final form at MAPA's September membership meeting. (I've heard that the problem was the flyer's advice to demand various records which the Archdiocese contends an accused priest does not have a right to see under canon law.)

Witch Hunt Group: (That's its committee on homosexual seminarians.) No news.

Referenda committee: This refers to the defense of marriage amendment and death penalty referenda then-upcoming in November 2006.
[Father] Steve Avella hosted a group at Our Lady Queen of Peace and they extensively discussed the issues. They have prepared a general draft document for review and discussion. They are stressing two ideas: 1) the purpose of the document is not to tell people how to vote on the referenda. 2) The document’s purpose is to address the underlying fears of many people today which only serves to deflect proper attention and effort on the real problems of poverty, healthcare, job security, income distribution, etc.

They aren't telling people how to vote, they're telling them that voting a particular way is due to irrational fears.

On other topics, they realized they were having a hard time keeping the web site up to date.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Testimony regarding Senate Bill 129

This ia a bill "requiring a hospital to provide to a sexual assault victim information and, upon her request, emergency contraception and providing a penalty". The testimony was
Presented to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, April 25, 2007

by Kim Wadas [2 pp. pdf], Associate Director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference

More on the bill at Dad29

Are you looking for a church that cares?

It's tempting to say nothing says caring like bulk mail, but bulk mail might be more caring than nothing. The question above was in a bulk mail flyer that arrived yesterday from Milwaukee's Southside Church of Christ, membership 235.
The religious world today is terribly divided. Small wonder that many are turned of by religion. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all were content to be just Christians?

That only addresses the division of the Christian world, not the religious world.
We are a congregation of undenominational disciples of Jesus that is striving to do just that. We seek to be "Christians only".

Not in the sense of mere Christianity; more like seeking to be "Protestants only". Even if the denomination "Church of Christ" is meant to be undenominational, the C of C web site's On-line Bibles aren't. My King James Bible, for example, is a facsimile 1611 edition with the Apocrypha; their on-line KJV is based on a later edition, after the Apocrypha were removed.

They do go on to say,
Some may inquire, "What are you after?" ... It's difficult to convince people that you are not after their money.

Funny they should mention that when I have the St. Al's building fund appeal and a Catholic Charities fund appeal sitting on my desk.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Creationism for skeptics

In this May 21, 2005 commentary at World Net Daily, the Rev. Jerry Falwell prophesied on a book to be written by Christopher Hitchens.
In fact, Liberty University will be co-hosting a Creation Mega Conference, in concert with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, July 17-22 on the Liberty campus in Lynchburg, Va.

I would like to use this column to personally invite Mr. Hitchens to come to Lynchburg to attend the conference so that he can learn that creationism is not just the whim of a bunch of snake-handling mountain evangelists.

(Update via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

'Stump the Priest' education for pastor, parishioners

Karen Mahoney reported special to your Catholic Herald on a Lenten event at Resurrection Church in Allenton and St. Peter Church in Slinger.
Members were invited during the week to place their questions in a box to be answered during the sessions which were held after Stations of the Cross on Fridays in the rectory at the Allenton parish and on Sundays at St. Peter.

Father Rick Stoffel is pastor at both parishes, and managed to answer all questions.
"I have to say that the Allenton parish didn't really stump me," he chuckled, "Once they heard how Allenton went, Slinger became more competitive and tried even harder. I just said that if they won, I'd serve them wine -- but I decided to serve them wine either way so they wouldn't become whiney. ..."

Call it "Catechetics Uncorked", and it can be a follow-on to Theology on Tap.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Location, location, St. Joseph make sale

Tom Kerscher in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on how the downturn in home sales has lead to an upturn in sales of St. Joseph statue kits.
Indeed, many home sellers are eager to buy a kit, which runs about $5 and up, and stick the statue in the ground. But you're supposed to give it a little more respect than that.

Was it so long ago that this background would have been superfluous?
Joseph was a carpenter, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus.

Of more immediate importance,
Among his many patronages, he's considered by some to be the patron saint of house hunters and house sellers. The tradition of burying his statue to help sell a home is supposed to include prayers to St. Joseph. And, when you sell the home, you're supposed to dig up the statue and give it a place of honor in your new home.

The most honored part of that protocol is burying the statue. Next most honored is saying a prayer. The story quotes successful seller Clare Chin.
"I read the instructions and religiously followed them, although I'm not religious," she said.

Chin has since found two St. Joe statues buried in the yard of her new home - evidence that many people stop following the directions after they bury the saint's likeness.

More likely they stop following directions when the house sells. Reminds me of Wendell Sonny Lawson (Burt Reynolds) reneging on his bargain with God in The End.
Sales are also going "gangbusters" at the Marian Center of Milwaukee, where a dozen of the 48 statues that were delivered this month have already been sold, said office assistant Darlene Fisher.

Fisher said she makes sure to impress on buyers that they have to pray to St. Joseph.

"If they think that burying him is going to sell their house, that's a superstition, and we don't promote superstitions," she said.

Speaking of movies, as in the theme from Alfie, the statue is something even unbelievers can believe in.
David Teuteberg ... said he merely humored his wife, Lena, by agreeing to use St. Joseph when they put their Palmyra home up for sale two years ago.

Teuteberg said he thinks his wife didn't follow the kit's directions properly, but the home sold in about two weeks.

And, though he claims he's not a believer, Teuteberg said another St. Joe went in the ground two weeks ago when the couple put their Waukesha home on the market.

Catholic blogger: Relates to young adults at Theology on Tap

Kathleen Bushman reports in the Madison Catholic Herald on a presentation by Rocco Palmo, who writes the Whispers in the Loggia weblog.


Dieter Verkaufen der Motorwerks

Failure to watch The Simpsons costs Daimler $37 billion

In Episode 46, first aired December 5, 1991, a depressed Mister Burns sells the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to German investors. Only after the purchase do they realize what a daunting task it would be to get the plant into shape. Eventually they sell it back for half what they paid for it.

As Bill Vlasic of the Detroit News reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that was a good deal compared to the Daimler-Benz takeover of Chrysler.
DaimlerChrysler ... will ultimately pay out $650 million in the overall transaction.

It's a far cry from the heady days of the 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler in a stock-swap valued at $36 billion at the time.

Even in a cartoon it would have seemed implausible for the Germans to ultimately pay to get rid of the plant.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Is it dual monitors or duel monitors?

Do Milwaukee's problems invite despair?

John Gurda, in last Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, focuses on the problems of the inner city.
But too many residents are compromised by joblessness, joylessness and troubles that range from illiteracy to substance abuse. Compromised parents raise compromised children, and yet we expect our teachers to lift these young people to new heights of competence and civility.

Unreasonable, he thinks; unless, perhaps, they're dance teachers.
What to do? Again I don't know, but the Ko-Thi Dance Company has some ideas. My wife and I attended this stellar African dance ensemble's concert at Alverno College last weekend. To experience the disciplined passion of Ko-Thi is to have hope drummed into your bones.

Two spoken-word artists on the program addressed the issue even more directly. After a rhythmic reading of inner-city woes, they shouted out their answer: "Educate. Empower. Employ."

If education is the way out of poverty, but we can't expect the public schools to educate the urban poor, then that does invite despair.

Guide to Bad Homilies

at Waiting for Godot to Leave
2. ... "A boy at camp whose mother sent him cookies ..." "There was a woman who found she had a terminal illness ..." Anything with a Reader's Digest flavor to it is probably from, which is what I call the clearing house for shallow thinking sermons that fit easily into a template. ...

(via Catholic and Enjoying It! For example, enjoying that nap between the Gospel and the Creed)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The big black-v-white bomb

The Economist's Democracy in America weblog links to a video interview from al-Quada's as-Sahab Media Centre of Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri.
About 55 minutes into the speech, which is intercut throughout by critical (but sympathetic) questions from an off-camera interviewer, we get to an issue of special interest to readers of Democracy in America. Can black Americans be rallied into a fifth column for al-Qaeda? Dr Zawahiri seems to hope so.

Lead Us to the Water: Effective Models for Liturgical Catechesis

At the Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site
Harcourt Religion Publisher invites all the Pastors, Deacons, Principals, DRE’s, DYM’s, Liturgical Ministers and Directors, Music and Worship Directors, Catechists and Teachers to:
a. experience the power of using ritual as the basis for Sacramental Catechesis
b. look at how the quality of our liturgical life shapes the work of Catechesis
c. explore practical ways to prepare, experience, and break open the prayer life in the community
d. model how catechesis is rooted in the Sacraments of Initiation and the teachings of Christ.

I keep inviting the pastors and Liturgy Team at St. Al's to square our liturgy with what the parish has me teach about liturgy as a catechist (or with this). So far, no interest.

Monday, May 7, 2007

2007 RECongress Youth Day Liturgy

Photos from this year's Archdioese of Los Angeles Religious Education Conference include this of Cardinal Roger Mahony presiding, with the conference acronym projected as a backdrop.

Making France a Power for the Future

The National Interest and Politique Internationale interview Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s next president, Part I, Part II.

Church has sacred duty to protect young

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald
All of society now seems much more aware of the scourge of the sexual abuse of children and youth, with the church an integral part of this. It is almost as if our culture has rediscovered its sacred duty to protect our young people.

And, as we should be, the church is a leader in this initiative. Unfortunately, in the past, we were an example of what not to do;

It's almost as if the bishops have a committee working on taking what we once were told were anti-Catholic slanders and turning them into reality.

P.S. That would be a surprisingly effective bishops' committee.

At MPS, time to go extreme

Deborah Chamberlain in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed
Ho, hum. Another sunny morning, another cup of coffee, another disgusting story about the Milwaukee Public Schools. How's this for an idea? Shut down MPS because it sure doesn't seem to be working. ...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Archdiocese of Milwaukee Statistics

Unfortunately, the recent update was done by editing the existing page of the Archdiocese's web site, rather than creating a new page. Fortunately, at least some past versions are at the Internet Archive for comparison.

What are called 2001 numbers are found on the page dated October 12, 2001 and as updated December 12, 2002. What are called 2003 numbers on on the page as updated March 23, 2004. What are called 2006 numbers are on the page updated May 2, 2007.

Here are some comparisons.

Registered Catholics/Total population
2001 685,004/2,222,364; 2003 731,516/2,261,397; 2006 674,736/2,271,840
It's hard to believe Catholics increased by 46,000 (6.7%) in two years and then decreased 56,000 in the next three.

Baptisms (infant)
2001 9,156; 2003 9,322; 2006 8,686
That's an increase of 2%, then a decline of 7%.

First communions
2001 8,943; 2003 9,193; 2006 8,354
Another slight increase, then a 9% drop.

2001 6,312; 2003 6,537; 2006 5,997
Yet another small increase, then an 8% decline. Note that confirmations are thousands fewer than first communions.

Marriages, total
2001 3,153; 2003 2,812; 2006 2,572
Steady decline

Marriages, Catholic
2001 2,187; 2003 2,018; 2006 1,783
Accelerating decline

Marriages, interfaith
2001 966; 2003 794; 2006 789
Decline, then steady. (From my glass house I see that 30% of marriages are interfaith.) The difference between Catholics confirmed and those marrying some years later could approximates the civilly married, cohabiting, and single.

Diocesan priests, active
2001 255; 2003 228; 2006 209
Steady decline

2001 25; 2003 21; 2006 29
An encouraging big percentage increase on discouragingly small base

Women religious
2001 2,764; 2003 2,290; 2006 2,327
Unless there's an untold story about new nuns, either the numbers are off or orders are consolidating members here.

Catholic elementary schools/enrollment
2001 135/30,993; 2003 124/29,357; 2006 121/28,456
Slow decline in enrollment, possible slowing decrease in facilities

Religious education, elementary
2001 31,205; 2003 30,911; 2006 23,600
That last number seems suspect in light the elemenary school enrollment and high school religious education numbers.

Religious education, high school
2001 13,840; 2003 14,109; 2006 14,269
Slow and steady increase

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Crisis at Ave Maria Law

Mark Sargent answers the question Fr. Fessio's Next Educational Disaster?.

Special collection necessary to maintain financial stability

From page 2 of last Sunday's bulletin [6 pp. pdf] of St. Mary's Church Catholic Faith Community in Hales Corners, an example of the problems in the sub-prime mortgage market.
Currently, the parish’s financial condition is not fully secure, despite an increasing school enrollment, and total expenses which are under budget. This has occurred because regular monthly contributions to operations have fallen considerably short of budget through the first nine months of the fiscal year.

Though Hales Corners is now suburban, rather than rural, St. Mary's still depends on the weather.
Also, oppressive heat adversely impacted attendance at last July’s festival, reducing revenue early in this fiscal year.

At least we don't yet have fund appeals due to parishes not buying enough winning lottery tickets. Speaking of games of chance,
As a result, the Finance Committee has approved a special collection for operations to be conducted in early May. We need each parish family to prayerfully consider an extraordinary gift of $100 to regular operations before June 30th.

Meanwhile, on an entirely separate page of the parish books.
It is important to remember that the funding of our $42,400 monthly mortgage payment is not part of the parish’s operating budget.

While there are reasons for separate operating and capital budgets, parishes treat this as if it created separate pockets from which the parishioners donate.
Pledges for our mortgage payments have been substantial but are not yet at the level necessary to cover the $42,400 needed each month.

Maybe they could put a toll booth on their labyrinth.

Christmas with Ozzie & Harriet

Why spend big money on the box set when for a fraction of the cost you can celebrate the holiday with television's favorite atheist.

Wasn't there always milk in the Nelson's refrigerator when the American Dairy Association was a sponsor, but it was full of Coke when that was the sponsor?

Dalai Lama says compassion is key

Tom Heinen reported in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Dalai Lama's presentation last night in Madison, and on the audience.
Nearby, Kalsang Gyatso, 50, a member of the Wisconsin Tibetan Association, was handing out tickets to immigrant Tibetans, many of them wearing colorful ethnic clothing.

Colorful native costumes if he was writing for the Travel section.
Litzie Burgweger, a former Episcopalian in her mid-50s, decided that Buddhism was the best path for her after seeing the Dalai Lama preside at a Kalachakra initiation, one of Buddhism's most important ceremonies, in 1981 at the Deer Park Buddhist Center south of Madison.

"People from all over the world came, and they were just peaceful and kind without being ditzy," she said. "You could feel the centuries-old traditions."

Did she experience too much ditziness and not enough centuries-old traditions in the Episcopal Church?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Couple give $51 million to Marquette

Alan Jo Borsuk reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a major gift toward construction of a new Marquette University Law School. The caption on a sidebar with a rendering of the new building said,
The new Marquette University Law School building will occupy a prominent spot overlooking the Marquette Interchange, symbolizing the school's mission of reaching out to the community.

Actually, it's the nearest available tract of campus land to the existing law school. If they wanted to symbolize a mission of reaching out the the community, they might build it on the south end of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Red Flags Are Up!

On the Writings of Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, by Sr. Joseph Mary Maximilian, FTI
Fr. Rolheiser has been a speaker at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference that is conducted yearly and that is where I first encountered his name.

He writes and speaks on things of a "spiritual nature" and defines spirituality in his book The Holy Longing as "what we do with the fires inside of us, about how we channel our eros".

(via Roll Over Rolheiser)

Lack of trust; lack of choice

Retired clergywoman Nancy Bauer-King with a Local Perspective in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pastoral care, to me, means trusting that each person has within himself or herself a spiritual capacity that helps him or her discover and make moral and ethical decisions.

I see my pastoral care as listening and supporting people in this often difficult process of discovery and decision-making.