Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reading Rat September 2007

Also of interest:

Converting a newsletter into a blog by Kevin O'Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs, September 13, 2007, using law firm newsletters as an example
(via WisBlawg)

Book Festivals: Upcoming festivals and readings

Transgressive Liturgy

How the therapeutic mentality affects the culture and Catholic worship

by James Hitchcock, Adoremus Bulletin, September 2007
Therapeutic culture reduces interdicts merely to taboos, that is, to essentially irrational and neurotic compulsions arising out of fear and ignorance, and in the post-conciliar Church there were increasingly shrill polemics against “legalism”, as though interdicts have no spiritual meaning. The rare disorder of scrupulosity was treated as the root of all belief, a sickness that had to be constantly fought against.


"If you are laughing, you can’t be afraid"

James Kaplan interviews Stephen Colbert in last Sunday's Parade magazine.

(via Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alms, psalms for the poor

Tom Heinen reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on local Capuchin Franciscans new St. Francis Institute at the order's inner city facility.
In some respects, the institute is a re-founding.

In 1985, the Capuchins founded the Benedict Institute for Urban Ministry at one of the parishes they run here, St. Benedict the Moor Parish, which is still known for its nightly meal program for the poor. That institute gave more than 200 men and women experience doing various urban ministries - including many from local Catholic and Episcopal seminaries - before times changed, participation dropped and it became inactive, Veik said.

Time's passed, but how did times change after 1985 so that this prior effort ended?

Local Anglicans heterodox, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Bishop supports Episcopal resolution
Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Although some parishes have broken away from the church in other parts of the country, orthodox Anglicans are a minority here and no local parishes are known to be considering such action, said Bill Chapin, president of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the American Anglican Council."

Archbishop Dolan's letter to the Faithful of Green Bay
September 28, 2007 "As you perhaps have heard, Pope Benedict XVI has asked that I serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Green Bay until he can appoint a new bishop."

Capitol Update September 21, 2007
from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference. Contents Include:
"1. State Budget Update
"2. WCC Testifies [2 pp. pdf] on Coercive Abortion Bill [5 pp. pdf]
"3. Upcoming Hearings of Interest [Transportation aid to school districts. Providing information about the human papillomavirus to schools and to parents of pupils in grades 6 to 12.]
"4. New Bills of Interest [Regulation of payday loan providers.]"

Spiritual journey to include helping the environment
[For Sukkot] Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee, a Jewish social-action group whose name means "repair of the city," ...
"This year, the group will seek ways to improve the city's environment at a Brunch & Learn program on Sept. 30 entitled 'From Silver to Dross: Pursuing Environmental Justice.'"

Exploring Priesthood Weekend
October 5-7, 2007 "held at Mundelein Seminary"

Annual Life Directions Weekend 2007
"A weekend for Single Catholics, ages 18-45, will be held on October 5-7, 2007 at the Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
"Vocation Ministers of the religious groups of the Milwaukee Archdiocese will be on hand..."


Relevant Radio seeks to blunt impact of $4.7 million FCC penalty

A reader noted this report by Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service. The possible penalty is the difference between Relevant Radio's withdrawn bid and the winning bid in an auction for FM radio spectrum in Yarnell, Arizona. RR says software problems lead it to erroneously think the location would let a station's signal reach metropolitan Phoenix. When that problem was discovered, it withdrew its bid.
Bob Atwell, chairman of Relevant Radio and its nonprofit parent, Starboard Media Foundation, said that the FCC is aware of Relevant's circumstances. The proposed penalty is "more than one-third of our (annual) budget" of $12 million, he said, and more than the net worth of Advance Acquisitions, Starboard's for-profit arm that engaged in the auction.

There might be a good reason for this "for-profit arm" but it would be better if it were in RR's Annual Report [20 pp. pdf].

Update: Relevant Radio not directly affected by FCC fine

Patricia Kasten, with Mark Pattison, reports in The Compass on reaction from Trish Luerck, CEO of Relevant Radio.
"It was less than adequately explained by Catholic News Service (CNS)," said Luerck, "reporting it as if Relevant Radio had been levied these fines. But it was, in fact, Advanced Acquisitions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Starboard Media" which is also the parent company of Relevant Radio.

Still nothing on the reason for the for-profit subsidiary and why it bids on licences.

Ten Months

The choices are as Tom Friedman puts them today:
10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. ...

Given our military constraints, the message of the last election, and the inadequacy of presidential leadership, I'm compelled to say: 10 months.
--Andrew Sullivan November 29, 2006

Friday, September 28, 2007

Looking for Liturgical “Fatherhood”

Sure, it's an anonymous weblog quoting an unnamed pastor,
“I will not celebrate the Liturgy in a way that makes ME uncomfortable.”

but it does capture the prevailing liturgical paradigm of presider as bachelor uncle with a model railroad.

(via Dad29)

U.S. Bishops Urge Elected Officials To Support DREAM Act, Affirm It Is The Right And Moral Thing To Do

In a statement delivered September 19 at the National Press Club Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, [speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)] called elected officials to “resist the voices of dissension and fear this time and vote for the DREAM Act.” ...

The DREAM Act would provide young persons who were brought by their parents to this country at an early age a way to regularize their status and obtain permanent residency. It also would allow states to give these young persons eligibility for in-state tuition.

Not exactly, according to Wikipedia.
The DREAM Act would also repeal Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which currently requires states to offer in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens in order to offer them to immigrant students."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pastoral planning calls for realistic look at archdiocese

In the same issue as the interview with Father Connell on planning, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan addresses the subject in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald.
The church’s sacred mission, faithful to the mandate of Jesus, to teach, serve, and sanctify, requires such ongoing, purposeful, professional planning.

Never-ending planning.
This archdiocese has done so, in a very concerted way, for at least the last 15 years.

It's hard to know where one round of planning starts and another one ends.
...many of the recommendations for our parishes and schools have already been implemented or are in process. Other recommendations await implementation.

It's not that I think process produces an inadequate return on time invested; I suspect the return actually is negative. Planning at St. Al's, at least, was exhausting and demoralizing.
Today I want to talk to you about a heightened, more energetic effort to re-commit ourselves to the process of pastoral planning.

An effort to re-commit to the process of planning. We're four steps removed from actually doing anything.
What is this all about, anyway?

I've been through plenty of it and haven't heard any good answers.
Well, for one, it’s about fidelity to the church’s primary duty of evangelization. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI all remind us that evangelization in the third millennium calls for new, creative ways to respond to pastoral urgencies that engage us today.

If I wanted to kill creativity and evangelization, I'd be hard-pressed to suggest a better weapon than planning as done in this Archdiocese.
People are looking to the church to be a light to the world, to be proactive,

not passive, in dealing with contemporary challenges, and to meet the spiritual needs of her people today as she has in the past.

So let's break out the flip charts and the sticky dots.
Are we evangelizing and living our faith? Are we meeting the spiritual needs of our people? How effectively do we live Jesus’ mission in today’s world? Are we good stewards? These are the questions that pastoral planning confronts.

Seems to me there's been an inverse relationship to how much of those things we accomplish and the size of the planning effort.
Simply put, we have too many parishes, priests, and buildings in areas of southeastern Wisconsin where our Catholic population has shrunk, and not enough where big numbers of Catholics now live.

That assumes he has solid numbers, as does everything else he goes on to discuss.
Simply maintaining the buildings we have, with no energy or resources left for the mission of Christ and his church, is no way to run a railroad!

All right, just show objectively how shuttering those old inner city churches in the 1990s has energized people and advanced the mission.
Does this pastoral planning mean some parishes and schools might merge, move or be served by creative new styles of leadership? Yes.

Except for the creative styles of leadership. Expect instead styles of leadership that make accountability murky.
Does this mean that some new parishes, or re-configurations of current ones, might appear?

And, who knows, some current parishioners might even follow from their closed parishes.
Does this mean that new ministries, new models of schools, catechetical programs, and fresh outreach in evangelization and charity might arise? Yes.

Again, we'll see what this means on accountablility.
Can we continue the mushrooming of central office services that began 15 years ago after the archdiocesan synod?

Mushrooming? Because the synod provided the right growing medium?
Have we kept pace with changes in our parishes and reflected those changes in our central structure designed to support those very same parishes? Have we focused on what’s most important, most helpful, most needed?

How about bringing liturgical design consulting and fund-raising consulting in house, instead of paying consultants. Maybe standardize Information Technology throughout the Archdiocese, and provide central support? In a world of weblogs, text messaging, podcasts, etc., there are parishes with no web site and which struggle with email.
Or, have we continued to try and be all things to all people, as our world and our culture changed around us?

Is trying to be all things to all people undesirable in principle? I haven't seen it as a source of problems here; if anything, staffers have busied themselves on their own agendas and pet projects instead.
All of this work is especially important as we move toward a capital campaign.

What's called planning will apparently involve asking people to donate for Catholic high schools at the same time they're being told there are not sufficient resources to keep their parishes open.
Well, have I made my point? All this planning is crucial! So crucial that it also needs to be full-time.

For someone, anyway.
Thus, I have appointed a much respected pastor, Fr. James Connell, as archdiocesan vicar for planning. ... We know from experience the aggressive planning I have described will take more than one year, but I believe Fr. Connell’s full-time attention, along with the consultation and support of our priest council and pastoral council, will allow us to make great progress and set the course for future implementation.

Does aggresive planning mean anything beyond aggresive closings? If he isn't pointing to any problems in prior planning, then future planning can be expected to be more the same, Why, then, should be expect the results to be anything other than more of the same?
Fr. Connell was also just elected chair of our archdiocesan priest council on a “single-issue” emphasis – you guessed it: pastoral planning!

There's been plenty of emphasis on planning, but not planning the work. There seems to be an idea that if we get the process right, the process will do the work for us. It's like believing in the market without people buying and selling.
With their election of Fr. Connell, our priest council sent a clear, resounding message – we must boldly renew our commitment to pastoral planning, to new models of administration and to new approaches to serving the people of God in southeastern Wisconsin.

A "renewed commitment to pastoral planning" is already an old model of administration in these parts.
We need to dream of what could be and “cast out to the deep,” ...

I've got lots of old parish and archdiocesan planning materials here in the filing cabinet. Maybe it's time to cast them into the deep.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Louis Auchincloss

Recommended reading at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

‘The irony of my life’ by Trevor Butterworth, Financial Times, September 21 2007 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Louis Auchincloss at 80 by James W. Tuttleton, a consideration of the author upon publication of his book The Atonement & Other Stories, The New Criterion, October 1997

Advancing the Vibrancy

A reader points out this at the diocese of Green Bay.

Its Advancing the Mission program begins by saying,
During his last days on earth, Jesus instructed his disciples to go and share the Good News, to advance the mission of His Church.

The program has five initiatives.

Number One:
Since our parishes are our spiritual "homes" it makes sense to ensure that our parishes are as vibrant as can be.

That’s why "Vibrant Parish Ministry" is our first initiative. ...

Evangelization is third. Catechesis is fourth.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Christensen inbound, Zubik outbound, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Religion Briefing
From the Sept. 22, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including
"Harvest Bible Chapel, a contemporary evangelical church with 'bold, unapologetic' preaching from the Bible and more than 9,000 members on three campuses, will open a new chapel with an inaugural service at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Value Cinema, 6912 S. 27th St., Franklin."

Homily, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, year C [2 pp. pdf}
by Father Nathan Reesman, St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, Elm Grove
"... Discipleship strips us of everything at times and gets us down to the one thing in life that really matters- Jesus. ..."

Bishop Peter F. Christensen ordained
by Julie Godfrey Miller, Superior Catholic Herald
"Bishop Peter Forsyth Christensen was ordained as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Superior Sept. 14, at the Cathedral of Saint Paul [St. Paul, Minnesota]. ..."

Lay Ecclesial Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee [audio]
Keynote address, by The Most Reverend Richard J. Sklba, Symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Cardinal Stritch University, Friday August 10, 2007, Relevant Radio
Update: ‘New reality’ of lay ecclesial ministry examined
by Maryangela Layman Roman, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, August 16, 2007

Lay Ecclesial Ministers: Gifted, Called and formed as 'Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord' [audio]
by Dr Richard McCord, USCCB, Symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Cardinal Stritch University, Friday August 10, 2007, Relevant Radio

When Bp. Zubik leaves, what happens next?
by Fr. John Doerfler, Diocesan Chancellor, The Compass, August 3, 2007
"First of all, Bp. Zubik is still the Bishop of Green Bay, until he is installed as the Bishop of Pittsburgh on September 28. ..."

Catholicism: The One True Church: True or False?
September 24th at St. Dominic Church, Sheboygan [stats D9 4th 42%]
September 26th Same program at St. Gregory the Great Church [stats D16 11th 33% -2%]
September 27th Same program at St. Anne Church [stats D1 6th 34%]
"This document reiterated that the Catholic Church is the 'one true church'. ... The Emmaus Project of the John Paul II Center is sponsoring this program that is open to people of all denominations."

40 Days for Life
"This fall, 89 cities in 33 states across the nation will unite for a unique pro-life campaign called 40 Days for Life -- an intensive effort designed to raise awareness, save lives, bring healing, and prepare America for the beginning of the end of abortion.
"The campaign will be conducted simultaneously in all locations from September 26 - November 4. "

America, Human Rights and the World
Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference, September 27-29, 2007, Alumni Memorial Union, Marquette University


Friday, September 21, 2007

Darth Cheney

"Vice President [Dick] Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday. You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges," Hillary Clinton said ...

If she's elected president, will that make him her father from a certain point of view?

(via Modern Commentaries)

Living Our Faith in our Future

My earlier post on Archdiocesan planning drew a number of responses. Some noted the vocabulary in the underlying articles in our Catholic Herald. Those, in turn, drew a post at Catholic Sensibility on whether or not it's significant the articles haven't been Mentioning The Name of Jesus but also on the planning itself.
It doesn’t look like you have some kind of program carved in stone anyway–the news items say these are just starter questions getting passed around.

If I search the Archdiocesan web site for Father Connell's name, I find the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Annual Parish Leadership Conference.
At the general sessions
Fr. James Connell, Vicar for Planning, will share his vision for planning
This was posted on September 15th, a month after the Catholic Herald article. Things might not be written in stone, but they're on a fast track.

Also on the agenda is "Living Our Faith, our Evangelization initiative". Searching for this I find a solicitation for Living Our Faith Story Ideas. These appear destined for a "" web site to come.
Living Our Faith presents Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee an invitation to engage in these three key activities:

Meeting Christ
Knowing Christ
Living Christ

There is also a session on "the Capital Campaign: Faith in our Future" which, the juxtaposition indicates, will present Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee an invitation to engage in a fourth key activity.

The conference is "for pastors, parish council leadership and APC [Archdiocesan Pastoral Council] members". It's on a Saturday morning and there's a $25 fee to attend.

Catholics must acknowledge 'war is defeat for humanity'

says Mark Peters in a Guest Opinion in yesterday's edition of our Catholic Herald. Only the print edition, alas.

I don't know who is asserting war is a victory for humanity, or even that it's a close call one way or the other. The issues are more specific, for example, whether withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would result in genocidal violence. If one believes that's the more likely outcome, is withdrawing the troops moral? Mr. Peters acknowledges that this concern exists but wastes the opportunity to address it.
As far as those experts, they're the same one's that got us into this mess.

That's a line that might come in handy, say during this next round of Archdiocesan planning, but I digress.
The simple and irrefutable fact is that whether or not there will be a bloodbath after we leave, there is one now.

This appears to be an assertion that thing are unlikely to get worse if U.S. troops leave. If he has anything to support that assertion, this op-ed would be the time and place to detail it, but he doesn't bother.

The piece omits from his identifying information that he's a Parish Consultant for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Perhaps it was thought that would undermine his credibility.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bush Doctrine

...the plan, as one skeptical pal of mine puts it, "to shove freedom down the throats of the entire world whether they want it or not"...
--Mark Steyn


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hillary Clinton, From Revolution to Evolution

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel included this column by David Brooks on the health care financing plan the Senator has proposed as part of her presidential campaign.
Clinton is hard to interview because her answers are often just chunks of her stump speeches, but I thought I detected real warmth when she described the way she and her staff came up with the plan.

“It was an exhilarating process!” she enthused, describing how all sorts of different people came together to talk through issues. “There were countless meetings,” she remembered fondly, “with business leaders who were surprised to find themselves sitting next to me” and a long parade of academics, nurses, experts and friends.

If you can associate the terms "exhilarating process" and "countless meetings", you may have found your candidate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is the The Cosmic Mass?

Here's the answer.

One of those involved in TCM is Matthew Fox. "A Faithful Catholic" had bewailed that
Even now, Benedict is reaching out to the Society of Pius X. And some would say that this Latin Mass thing is an olive branch in their direction. When will there be an olive branch for the Matthew Fox's and Rev. Alice Iaquinta's?

I'll concede I've seen no indication Pope Benedict is the least concerned with getting into his first chakra again.

TCM has options for those seeking an extraordinary rite.
At our Techno Cosmic Masses people dance to techno music as well as live music; DJ's provide the musical ambience and VJ's or video jockeys provide images through slides and videos that tell the story of the theme celebrated.

(That should put the two neins into Dad29.)

Update: The Resolution on Matters Concerning Proper Liturgical Form at the Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community is in accord.
IV. LITURGICAL COSTUMING: The Stole, the Alb, the Ambo, and the Vestment are all ancient costumes copied from the Romans. We don't see why we have to wear just these things and cannot wear costumes that speak to our particulary cultural norms in ways that are new and creative. We reserve the right to have a Star Trek Mass, a Clown Mass, or a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Mass.

Update 2: Glenn Elert's student Kristine McPherson says the cosmic mass is between 1053 kg and 1060 kg.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Changes possible for archdiocese, parishes, schools

Brian T. Olszewski reported last month in our Catholic Herald on Archbishop Dolan's appointment of Father James Connell as vicar of planning. Fr. Connell wrote and is circulating a paper of "starter questions" called "Energizing Our Vibrancy". Based in part on responses to it, he will make recommendations to Archbishop Dolan. Preliminary conclusions are expected to be known by Thanksgiving, and he hopes new planning ideas will be in place for the spring budget planning for the fiscal year starting next July.

The article had a promising start, with Archbishop Dolan and Fr. Connell citing Matthew 28:19-20.
“For sometime -- three, four, five years, there has been a growing concern among the priests that we are not getting the planning job to where it needs to be,” said the 64-year-old priest. “We keep working at it, we keep talking about it, we had these new initiatives these last few years.”

What's he doing instead?
In July, he published and distributed to about 500 people a document titled “Energizing Our Vibrancy” in which he posed what he termed “starter questions” about the present and future of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The term "starter questions" looked like an acknowledgement that there's been an enormous amount of time and effort wasted in what was called planning. This goes back well more than five years. What we need is failure analysis, including looking at the assumptions on which the current planning approach is based. Instead we're getting a variation on the same approach. If he'll be trying to extract themes from huge numbers of responses, he repeats the mistake of the current process. It's too unsystematic, and based too much on opinion, and opinion of what the facts are, rather than on facts.
When Fr. Connell, a priest of 20 years, cites the loss of vibrancy in the church, he notes it’s caused by fewer people in church and fewer participating in the life of the church; few students in Catholic schools, fewer priests and nuns, and buildings that continue to deteriorate.

Aren't these effects, not causes? And if you want to know why people don't come to Sunday Mass, shouldn't you survey those people, not ask insiders and the self-selected their opinions? Fr. Connell was once a management consultant. When deterioration demoralizes people and causes more deterioration, isn't that a death spiral?

Fr. Connell raises the possibility of parishes not being geographic districts.
“I say the more that people can be pulled together in the grouping of how they tend to live life — that’s that identifiable community.”

This might mean some form of "intentional community", of which the most prominent local example is the Cathedral parish. From what's in this story it looks like the main effect is to provide a reason to "intentionally" not evangelize the people moving into all the new residential buildings in and near downtown Milwaukee.
“The younger people aren’t around that much; they’re the ones we’ve got to be finding and bringing back and getting attracted to this again,” he said about the evangelization component of his work. “The older folks, who have been very faithful and loyal, are going to say, ‘This is mine; this is the way we built it’ and yet, it’s not about them as much as it is about the younger people.”

Some of those older people apparently can't conceive or won't accept that what appeals to younger people now can be different than back when they were younger.
“We have more of an inroad to the vibrancy by being grouped in fewer yet larger organizational structures."

He appears to assume that creating larger parishes will produce the energy of Protestant megachurches. In fact no parish in our Archdiocese draws as many as 3,000 people on Sunday. Unless this can be changed with the parishes we have, we should expect that even larger parishes will be even more hollow.

He returns to his point of what views are most important.
“We’re at the point where this is not a matter of necessarily what people want in a popularity contest, because the ones who will vote are not necessarily the ones who will need,” he said. “The voters are the ones of the older group who are in church so to speak.”

So to speak, our clergy and Chancery and parish staffs are full of people committed to protecting the status quo.
In recent years, members of parishes affected by declining membership and subject to mergers developed plans resulting in mergers or in the closure of parishes and the opening of a new one. Fr. Connell appreciates that process — as far as it goes.

“Where the people themselves, from the bottom up, have done as much as they can, but we cannot get the matters resolved, they have to be resolved,” he said.

So the people who set up the process find it inadequate. Instead of investigating that failure, he assumes an alternate process will come up with better answers.
"We will be finding that the archbishop will have to make decisions where in the past they have been waiting for the people to make the decisions."

The various planning processes in our Archdiocese can be judged a success, if the goal was to discredit participatory democracy. From what I've seen, they and the similarly operated parish councils and committes are among the causes of the loss of energy.

If the Archbishop has solid data to rely on, which I doubt, and has a genuine concern for the people affected, which I'm willing to assume, and gives people an opportunity to point out problems he might not have considered before his decision are final, this might at least be less protractedly painful than the previous rounds of planning. I doubt the data since I got an inkling that the number of Catholics "on the books" has been left inflated because falling mass attendance percentages were easier to ignore than a falling total membership.

On schools,
“We close the schools that generally have financial problems, and they might actually be the schools we most need open, in terms of the mission of the church.”

Might be, in principle. Now if Father has a time machine so we can have a few decades of homilies on how this is connected to the Gospel, it just might work in practice.
In the interview with your Catholic Herald, he noted, “(Personnel) need to be pulled together in such a way that they serve the people and the mission of the church.”
As opposed to figuring the Archdiocese won't collapse until after they're collecting a pension.
“As a pastor, I would be delighted to run a parish with all volunteers. We pay people simply because we have activities, functions that need to be done and we do not have competent volunteers willing to volunteer sufficiently to do that which needs to be done,” he said.

And all we need to "energize the vibrancy" is energy. So isn't the question the source of the loss of energy? One possibility that comes to mind is asking what might be at stake if a Catholic routinely skips Sunday Mass, or, for that matter, if a Catholic leaves the Church. If the answer is "everything", that's probably more energizing than "not much".

May the Farce Be with You

Erin Hueffner reports in On Wisconsin
The Chad Vader saga, with eight episodes so far, was created a year ago by Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan of Blame Society Productions. The idea came from a friend who thought it would be funny to place Darth Vader in a supermarket and film him on the job.

Many members of the cast and crew are from the Madison area, and the series was filmed during off hours at Madison’s Willy Street Co-op.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

7 & 10th Grade Youth Ministry

You might recall that we St. Al's catechists don't need training. Last Sunday's bulletin said, on page 5 [5 pp. pdf]
We are in need of one 7th Grade and one 10th Grade Catechists. You only teach six times!

That's two hours each, which is the most classroom sessions I've seen scheduled. Some years it's turned out to be as few as three.

Our new pastor's next "town hall" meeting is on the school and religious education. I might ask why we should be confident that six to twelve hours per year from whoever responds to the annual last minute call for catechists constitutes "religious education".

... we MUST start raising our children right! We HAVE to teach them what to think, so the rad-trads don’t get into their brain and steal their ability to think!
--Sr.Fairah at Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Terri Schiavo Memorial Dubium, and other news

First news, then upcoming events

Vatican Affirms Church Teaching On Nutrition And Hydration For Individuals In ‘Vegetative State’
"The [U.S.] bishops also asked for clarification as to whether nutrition and hydration could be removed if physicians determined that the patient would never recover consciousness. The [Vatican's] Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] affirmed that the patient must receive “ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means” regardless of the prognosis of recovery of consciousness."

Annual Vocations Picnic was held August 30th
"Hosted in Archbishop Dolan's yard, the picnic brought together men and women discerning vocations as well as Vocation Directors from across the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Seminarians and Seminary staff." I assume he grilled brats, but since he can't drink Falstaff like his father, what was he drinking?

St. Adalbert unveils immigrant plaza
September 16th "St. Adalbert Church, 1923 W. Becher St., [stats D14 2nd 74%] will hold a ribbon-cutting to open Immigrants Independence Plaza after a noon Unity Mass on Sunday. Built by volunteers, the plaza will provide green space for 400 students; celebrate immigrants' contributions to the nation; and symbolize hope for immigration reform. The event kicks off 100th anniversary celebrations for the formerly Polish and now predominantly Latino church."

CUF Milwaukee September 2007 Newsletter
isn't posted yet, but the hard copy says "Rev. Donald J. Hying, Seminary Rector, to speak on September 16..." on "Vision and Direction for St. Francis Seminary and the Priesthood" at Blessed Sacrament Church [stats D16 3rd 49% +4%] Hall, South 41st St. and Oklahoma Ave. (Enter lot from S. 40th St.; use door on SE corner of Church) ... 2:00 p.m - program ... 1:45 p.m. - Rosary"

Two Faiths, One Mystery: Exploring Catholic and Orthodox Spiritualities
September 19th at Mount Mary College, "Building on the momentum of the recent historic meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Mount Mary College offers a unique opportunity to begin exploring the potential for reconciliation between two of the largest Christian Communities in the world."

2007 Saint Francis Seminary Dinner
(formerly the Rector's Dinner) "You are invited to join Archbishop Dolan for dinner (and to support your Seminary!) Planning is underway for the fifth annual Saint Francis Seminary Dinner, formerly the Rector's Dinner. This year's event will be held Friday, Sept. 21 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee."

Black Catholic Community Mimi Summits
Not ethnic, just a typo. Beginning September 22nd at All Saints Church [stats D13 10th 40%], "We are holding several 'Summits' to address the hopes, dreams and concerns of the Black Catholic Community in this archdiocese. The seven principles of the National Black Catholic Congress will frame the mini summits which will be held over the next months."

Gathering Women of Faith: Leading Lives That Matter
September 22nd, 2nd Annual Women’s Convocation at Cardinal Stritch College. "Come for Prayer, Keynote speaker (Dr. Rev. Trinette McCray), Cafe Conversation (a process of mutual sharing), and time for networking on topics of interest such as women’s book groups, rural ministry, women’s retreats, traveling dinner groups and more." Come for the prayer, stay for the pie?


Friday, September 14, 2007

The 40% solution

In the St. Al's bulletin last Sunday our new pastor announced the series of three Wednesday evening "town hall" meetings. I went to this week's on liturgy.

Eventually someone else brought up the parish Mass attendance statistics. Father Jurkus responded that it's good liturgy that keeps people coming back. I asked if, assuming that to be so, St. Al's last place Mass attendance told us anything about our liturgy.

He volunteered that St. Monica, his former parish, was also in last place in its district. He went on to say that the parish checked if people on its books were actually still members. After purging those who weren't, the attendance percentage went from 21% to over 40%. He said he would try to have the St. Al's parish records updated this same way.

As a St. Al's parish council president once said to me after I passed along one of former pastor Father Aiken's explanations, that makes things even worse. St. Monica's 21% was derived from 1,419 attendees out of 6,773 parishioners. To get even 40% attendance from 1,419 attendees, they had to reduce to 3,578 members, a drop of 3,195. There's an Archdiocese-wide goal of increasing the percentage of members at mass by 20 percentage points. I wonder if St. Monica was deemed to have met that end by this means?

St. Al's 27% attendance was derived from 2,365 attendees out of 8,817 members. To get 40% attendance from 2,365 attendees would take a reduction of members to 5,913, a drop of 2,904.

If that turns out to be the case, that's about 6,000 Catholics off the rolls, an almost 1% drop for the entire Archdiocese from just two parishes. It raises the question how many parishes have out-of-date membership records. Based on what Fr. Jurkus said about St. Monica, the Archdiocese could have hundreds of thousands fewer members than it reports.

Higher Calling

Karen Springen at Newsweek posts an interview with Jessica Rowley, who asserts she was ordained a Catholic priest.
Rowley’s ordination—which took place at Eden Theological Seminary, a progressive institution in Webster Groves, Mo.—is approved by the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a group of churches that decline to recognize the authority of the pope but see themselves nevertheless as Roman Catholic.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion says its roots are in the Old Catholic Church, a fact glossed over in the article. I note that Ms. Rowley's parish managed to pick a fittingly schismatic Dismembered Body of Christ icon.
How does being married affect the way you do your job?

... Married priesthood was a reality in the Catholic Church in medieval centuries. It wasn’t until later that celibacy was mandated. ...

Even I, an untrained catechist, know the eastern churches in communion with the Pope are Catholic Churches which ordain married men. I suppose we shouldn't expect that just because someone covers religion for Newsweek they would know the distinction between Catholic and Roman Catholic. On the other hand, shouldn't Ms. Rowley, who claims to have a masters in divinity, know this?

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

St. Martin of Tours parish's first decade

You might recall that I had concluded from two Catholic Herald articles that the merged St. Martin of Tours parish here in Franklin wound up with the same number of member households as the larger of the two pre-merger parish. Despite that, the merged parish then built a new, larger church.

You might also recall that I later received this explanation.
Mark Mitchell, the parish's director of administration, who is quoted in the later article, says the 1997 status animarium report for Sacred Hearts showed 3,455 parishioners, and the 1998 report for the merged St. Martin's parish showed 3,931.

The latest District 16 stats [6 pp. pdf] show 3,555 members for the parish, only 100 more than for Sacred Hearts parish alone before the merger, and almost 400 less than immediately after the merger. Sunday Mass attendance averages less than 400 at each of three Masses, just over half the new church building's capacity. Even so, the parish Mission Statement says it's "vibrant".


The Simpsons Halloween special Treehouse of Horror VI included this parody of the Twilight Zone episode Little Girl Lost. Homer inadvertently enters the third dimension and is asked to describe it.
Homer:'s like...did anyone see the movie Tron?
Hibbert: No.
Lisa: No.
Marge: No.
Wiggum: No.
Bart: No.
Patty: No.
Wiggum: No.
Ned: No.
Selma: No.
Frink: No.
Lovejoy: No.
Wiggum: Yes. I mean -- um, I mean, no. No, heh.

Looks like we might get a second chance to see it (or not): New 'Tron' races on: Kosinski will program Disney sequel.

(via Drudge Report)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Archdiocese faces new sex abuse suit

Marie Rohde, with David Doege, reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, brings to eight the number of allegations brought in Wisconsin against the Catholic Church under the narrow conditions permitted in a July ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The lawsuits all allege fraud, saying the church knew that these priests had histories of misconduct and allowed them to function in the state without warning congregations or others to the dangers.

Civil Jury Instruction 2401 describes the five elements of intentional deceit. The first is that the defendant made a representation of fact.
Representations of fact do not have to be in writing or by word of mouth, but may be by acts of conduct ... or even by silence if there is a duty to speak. A duty to speak may arise ... where there is a relationship of trust or confidence between the parties.

I doubt that the relationship between the bishop, clergy, and paid staff and every member of the Church is a legal relationship of trust. It is common, at least in some contexts, for such Church leaders to omit information when trying to advance or defend their position. For example, people would go to prison if they sold stock the way they sometimes sell liturgical innovations.

That's where the fourth element, that the misrepresentation was made intending pecuniary damage to the plaintiff, comes in. It's another stretch to say that abusing priests were shuffled around with that intent. No one had reason to expect that this would cost parishioners money; maybe their souls, but not money.
Kathleen Hohl, speaking for the archdiocese, said Tuesday that church officials had not seen the lawsuit and thus had no comment.

Not even the boilerplate that "The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is committed to helping victims/survivors of sexual abuse and to protecting children."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mother Teresa found spiritual adviser in Franklin holy man

Tom Heinen reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Father Michael van der Peet contacts with Mother Teresa during her dark decades of the soul. Fr. van der Peet is a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, and now serves as the spiritual director at his order's seminary here in Franklin.

Besides the seminary, their Franklin facility includes a monastery. A few miles away in Franklin there's also a Xaverian Missionary Fathers monastery.

The headline writer's "holy man" conjures up pictures of pilgrims flocking to the Root River. If you visit Franklin, or pass through, it won't seem all that unusual. Still, there can't be that many other suburbs with two monasteries.


Monday, September 10, 2007

From the Pastor's Desk

In this case, the pastor is Father Alan Jurkus, effective last Tuesday at St. Al's.

He says he plans this to the first of planned weekly columns in the bulletin. After thank yous, his first topic is finances.
If all of our parish members would respond with just $2.00 a day for three years, we would be able to wipe out the entire debt.

As I always say, if someone showed as much concern about the parish's 27% Mass attendance, the debt might be easier to pay.
Factually, for many reasons, some members will not respond at all to this very pressing need.

I responded here.
I look forward to visiting the classrooms on a regular basis.

Sounds good. I look forward to seeing him in mine.

He then give the schedule for his town hall meetings.
I encourage each parish member to come and honestly, but gently, (no ax grinding or mean spiritedness’ allowed) share your insights etc. (The staff will not be present for these meetings.)

This appears to mean no staff but him. As for the discussion rules, if this is fair comment, we should be able to stay in bounds.

Here's a possible topic: How about we mail everyone requests for their opinions and confine the fund appeals to the bulletin, instead of the other way around?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Death of Emeritus Professor Mermin Saddens School

The University of Wisconsi Law School reported on the death of Samuel Mermin.
A memorial service for Professor Mermin will be held at Yale Law School on Sunday, September 9, 2007, at 11 a.m.

(He was a Yale graduate.) He lead the orientation program when I started law school. We used his book, Law and the Legal System (1973).

I've heard it said that sometimes young schoolkids start learning about ethics using dilemmas, rather than examples of heroic virtues ala The Lives of the Saints. Law student orientation spent a lot of time on interpretation, most memorably summarized as how sometimes "may" can mean "shall" and "shall" can mean "may". If there are lawyers exemplifying heroic virtue, they weren't cited in "orienting" us.

Settled: $198 million

At their June 2003 meeting, Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, reportedly called his colleagues "this hapless bench of bishops." That left open the question How hapless are they? Sandi Dolbee and Mark Sauer in the San Diego Union-Tribune provide the answer. So hapless that one of them tried to put his diocese through bankruptcy, and couldn't.

The bankruptcy was filed due to lawsuits by people claiming priests sexually abused them as children.
Much of the hostility from victims and their lawyers was focused on the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Feb. 27, one day before the first trial was to start.

An attorney for the claimants said financial disclosures required by bankruptcy resulted in the diocese having to pay $40-50 million more than they would have accepted before the filing. A spokesman for the diocese said the bankruptcy will cost the diocese well over $5 million in legal fees.

These lawsuits were possible because of a change in California law temporarily abolishing the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims. It's not impossible for the same to happen in Wisconsin. Which again leaves me wondering why the Archdiocese of Milwaukee still has claims unresolved.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

WCC: EC OK ; and other news

News first, followed by upcoming events

Religion Briefing
From the Sept. 8, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including
"MU using grant to start peacemaking center"
"Marquette University is using a $500,000, four-year grant from the Sally and Terry Rynne Foundation to create a Center for Peacemaking this fall. ...
"The center will be directed by Father G. Simon Harak, a Jesuit who teaches theology at Marquette. He previously worked as the national anti-militarism coordinator for the War Resisters League."
(Previously reported by Daniel Suhr at The Triumvirate.)
John McAdams at Marquette Warrior posted on Harak, a Hard Leftist on Theology Faculty who blogs, but now not under his own name, at Unite and De-militarize. Sidebar includes mailing address for your checks.

Capitol Update September 7, 2007
This Wisconsin Catholic Conference report focuses on a few of the Budget Issues of Concern to the Wisconsin Catholic Conference [2 pp. pdf]. Among New Bills of Interest were:
AB467 Prohibits pharmacist from refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives; defines abortion (Birth Control Protection Act)
AB492 and SB252 Requires provision of information about human papillomavirus (HPV) to schools and to parents of pupils in grades 6-12.

Casa Maria Catholic Worker House Newsletter September 2007
Karina's Farewell. "Karina recently moved to Jordan in the Middle East to do peace work and harvest crops with her host family."
Also "What's Needed? vegetables & salad dressing. What's Not Needed? We are not accepting used adult clothing right now."

Testimony Regarding Assembly Bill 377 and Senate Bill 129 [2 pp. pdf]
Presented to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics, by Kim Wadas, Associate Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference. Its position is that AB377 and SB129 requiring providing emergency contraception are consistent with the U.S. Bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

News, information manager begins
The Compass, August 31, 2007, reports that Sam Lucero left our Catholic Herald to become news and information manager for the Green Bay Diocese. Maybe, before referring to the diocesan paper as Our Compass, he can have it switch to permanent links for current stories. If he did, this would be the link to this story.

Keeping Minimum Wage Just is Ongoing Responsibility [2 pp. pdf]
"Eye on the Capitol" August 31, 2007, by John Huebscher, Executive Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, reiterating support for SB 130, which would raise the state minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

Kelly Romenesko drops claim against Xavier
Renae Bauer reports in The Compass, August 31, 2007. "In her signed contract, she agreed to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. She violated her contract by undergoing in-vitro fertilization, a medical procedure that since the 1980s has contradicted the church's teachings on the natural conception of children." Presumably meaning a medical procedure developed in the 1980s that contradicted the church's teachings. (Link will change to this, I think, when the next issue is published.)

New bishop says he seeks to do the Lord's will
A.M. Kelley reports in the Superior Catholic Herald on what I hope isn't news in the Diocese of Superior.

CUF Milwaukee September 2007 Newsletter
isn't posted yet, but the hard copy says "The 'Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary' will be celebrated with a 2:00 p.m. Mass on Sunday, September 9, at the St. Francis Seminary Chapel, 3257 S. Lake Drive (use parking at rear of building). Fr. Don Hying will celebrate the Mass. There will be a Rosary Procession and Benediction. The afternoon will conclude with cake and coffee."

CUF Milwaukee September 2007 Newsletter
hard copy also says "A Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite[*] will be celebrated at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church [stats D14 4th 57%], South 5th Street and Historic Mitchell Street, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 14 ... by Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry, D.D. ... Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago ... [*meaning] according to the Latin Tridentine, the Missal of Bl. John the XXIII. ..."

Out of the Desert...In To the Water
"The Wisconsin Catholic Charismatic Conference, sponsored by the Renewal leadership in the 5 dioceses of Wisconsin, will be held" September 14-16 at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

2nd Annual Women’s Convocation
"Join other women of the Milwaukee Archdiocese for a day of Prayer, on September 22. A Keynote Address (by the Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray), Conversation Cafe (a process of mutual sharing), and networking on subjects of interest to women. The day includes lunch and a bookstore will be available. ... The convocation will be held at Cardinal Stritch University, Sr. Camille Kliebhan Conference Center ..."


Friday, September 7, 2007


Assuming the worst about Craig [Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)], the Senate has not held a vote on outlawing homosexual impulses. It voted on gay marriage. Craig not only opposes gay marriage, he's in a heterosexual marriage with kids. Talk about walking the walk!

Did Craig propose marriage to the undercover cop? If not, I'm not seeing the "hypocrisy."

--Ann Coulter

(via KausFiles)


Let’s see

Amy Welborn at Charlotte was Both gives and example of things children don't want to see when they turn 25.

Here's another.

If people typically live 70 or 80 years, and you split the difference and say 75, and then divide that into thirds, at age 25 they're entering middle age. Or half-way to old age.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

CPJ Newsletter September 2007

Milwaukee's Catholics for Peace and Justice posted its newsletter for September 2007. [7 pp. pdf]

They have a prayer service tonight at 7:00 p.m. at St. Catherine Church [stats D12 2nd 42%]. "Child of the sixties" Fr. Jack Kern will preside.

They have a General Meeting set for Saturday morning to "share your thoughts and ideas on how we can 'Make a Difference' together."

Their "Stop the War Group" [committee] is calling for what sounds like an anti-war surge over the next three weeks.
Very soon after the release of the Petraeus report, Congress will vote to authorize Iraq funding for the next 12 months. If they give the President what he wants, the occupation will in all likelihood continue until he leaves office in 2009.

CPJ's strategic problem:
Even many strongly opposed to the invasion over four years ago and highly critical of the administration's handling of the war are now showing signs of buying the administration's arguments that a "bloodbath" will result if we leave anytime soon.

For example, even if one believed it was wrong to invade and occupy Iraq, one might believe it wrong to withdraw now if one believes that would result in genocidal violence. Despite what's at stake, CPJ dismisses this as "buying the administration's arguments" rather than responding substantively to this concern.

They note an upcoming private meeting with Democratic Congressman Gwen Moore and public meetings scheduled by Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner.

They have an anti-war bumper sticker available. And you're invited to Help Create a Central Park in Milwaukee! (They mean a Central Park, not a central park.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Liturgical Referee

You might recall that Milwaukee's Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba has noted
...our problem, however, at least in my experience, is the wide diversity in current practice from one parish to another.

and called people in the pew noting the same thing The ‘heresy’ of rubricism.

Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester resolves the conflict with a New liturgical position.
The recently created position of Liturgical Referee has been instituted to help to bring uniformity to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Liturgical Referees will travel around the world randomly attending Masses. Liturgical Referees will stand, mostly quietly, to the side of the sanctuary during Mass and call out signals if he observes any liturgical penalties according to the GIRM and other liturgical documents. Only in the case of penalties that would make the Mass itself invalid will the Liturgical Referee blow his whistle and when necessary call for any replays to correct any mistake made. Penalty markers may be thrown during the Mass to alert the celebrant to any problems that might need immediate correction.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Secondhand Jesus

Reverend Danny Harvey lost his position at Florida's Leesburg Regional Medical Center after using the name of Jesus in a prayer. Fox New reported,
Louis H. Bremer Jr., LRMC president and chief executive officer, said in a statement: "The interpretation many Christians are getting is that prayer is completely banned from the hospital, which couldn't be further from the truth."

"It would be very appropriate to say Jesus' name in the presence of a Christian family. That's no problem," Bremer said in the statement. "What must be understood is knowing the audience and what is appropriate for that particular situation."

Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report explains,
The hospital was worried about "Secondhand Jesus" meaning that those who didn't intend to have Jesus had Jesus forced upon them by a third party.

(via Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community)


Starting Over

Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times Book Review Section reviews The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Weisman appears to have done considerable research to outline what would happen to the Earth if humans all suddenly disappeared.
A million years from now, a collection of mysterious artifacts would remain to puzzle whatever alien beings might stumble upon them: the flooded tunnel under the English Channel; bank vaults full of mildewed money; obelisks warning of buried atomic waste (as current law requires) in seven long-obsolete human languages, with pictures. The faces on Mount Rushmore might provoke Ozymandian wonder for about 7.2 million more years. (Lincoln would probably fare better on the pre-1982 penny, cast in durable bronze.)

Reminds me of the mysterious disappearance of the Krell in Forbidden Planet (1956). To take another example, suppose there was a species of dinosaur that developed every capability that humans now have, and over an equivalent period of time. Suppose further that it was completely wiped out with the rest of the dinosaurs. If that was 64 to 66 million years ago, would there be any trace of their civilization to find today?

If not, that suggests so many alternative scenarios to the natural disaster hypotheses, at least for the movie version: dinosaur nuclear war; dinosaur nuclear war with Mars (the Martians got the worst of that one); dinosaur genetic engineering lab mishap; dinosaur global warming. But if there's nothing else to find, a Charlton Hestonosaur would have his epiphany at a museum of natural history, or maybe at a Sinclair station.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Memorial Mass for Karen Marie Knapp

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Saturday, September 1, 2007 10:00 a.m.

Introductory Rites

Hymn: "For All the Saints" (How, Williams)

Opening Prayer
Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-6, 9

Psalm 27: "The Lord Is My Light" (Haas 1983)

Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4, 8-9

Gospel Acclamation: "Alleluia" (Haas 1986)

Gospel: Luke 24:13-16, 28-35

Homily: Rev. Michael J. Hammer

Prayer of the Faithful
Liturgy of the Eucharist

Preparation of the Altar and Gifts
Eucharistic Prayer

Sanctus (Mass of Creation, Haugen 1984)

Memorial Acclamation (Mass of Creation, Haugen 1984)

Amen (Mass of Creation, Haugen 1984)
Communion Rite

Lord's Prayer

Sign of Peace

Agnus Dei: (Chant, Mass XVIII)

Communion: "Shepherd Me, O God" (Haugen 1986)

Prayer after Communion
Concluding Rites

Hail Mary (for deceased member of the Rosary Army)

Blessing and Dismissal

Hymn: "Sing with All the Saints in Glory" (Irons, Beethoven, Hodges arrangement)