Monday, June 30, 2008

Sally Quinn's Controversial Communion: WWJD?

The Plank posts on Sally Quinn taking Communion at Tim Russert's funeral and the Catholic League's press release criticising her.

In the comments, neitwin said:
Why do I find it odd that the writer of a column entitled "On Religion" is so clueless about one of the central tenets of a major world religion? Was it really [Russert] who said, "this do in remembrance of me"?

As for Jesus, he [breached] religious laws regularly, I'm sure he wouldn't have minded. The self-serving bewilderment at the offense given may have struck him as hypocritical though.

P.S. From the post's URL, it looks to have started out titled "Is It OK to Deny Journalists Communion?"

(via Ryan T. Anderson at First Things)

Friday, June 27, 2008

St. Louis Archbishop Burke gets new job in Rome

Tim Townsend reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Archbishop Raymond Burke today was appointed today to lead the Vatican's supreme court [Apostolic Signatura].

(via Relevant Radio)

P.S. At Charlotte was Both, More on St. Louis
there have been several controversies involving the Archdiocese over the past few years - the St. Stanislaus business, this women’s ordination business, the Sheryl-Crowe-at-the-fundraiser business, as well as a few others - as well as the huge battle over the embryonic-stem-cell research referendum.

At every turn, the Archdiocese web team - whoever they are - are on the spot, immediately putting up full statements, Q & A’s and video within hours of stories breaking.


You cannot complain about the secular media’s treatment of the Church and Church issues if Church authorities are not accessible, clear and proactive when it comes to talking about those issues. ...

The St. Louis website's Contact Us page indicates one whoever is Website Administrator Tony Huenneke, Assistant Director of Communications. And the page archives Archdiocesan press releases back through 2000!

Devil in Disguise

Jessica McBride in Milwaukee Magazine, July 2008, on the case of Sister Norma Giannini, convicted last year for sexual abuse of students at St. Patrick School in the 1960s.

(see this earlier post)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keep Arms?

From Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion today in District of Columbia v. Heller, (slip opinion, p. 9)
The phrase “keep arms” was not prevalent in the written documents of the founding period that we have found, but there are a few examples, all of which favor viewing the right to “keep Arms” as an individual right unconnected with militia service. William Blackstone, for example, wrote that Catholics convicted of not attending service in the Church of England suffered certain penalties, one of which was that they were not permitted to “keep arms in their houses.” 4 Commentaries on the Laws of England 55 (1769) (hereinafter Blackstone); see also 1 W. & M., c. 15, §4, in 3 Eng. Stat. at Large 422 (1689) (“[N]o Papist ... shall or may have or keep in his House ... any Arms ...”);

(via Feddie at Southern Appeal)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Catholics try new ways to solve priest shortage

Tom Heinen reported in Monday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on what's being done to "invigorate" our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. One good sign, no one is quoted using the phrase energize our vibrancy.

Looks like the continuing decline in priests in service will be dealt with, in part, with one or more priests serving multiple parishes and creating new lay administrative positions. Archbishop Dolan will not close a parish over its objection. There are 34 seminarians and a projected 25 ordinations in the next five years.

I've heard people, including priests, talk about how our priests are stretched thin by their declining numbers, as if they had to serve a constant number of parishioners. My contrary take has been, you might recall, that
Local Catholics are decreasing Mass attendance and participation in the sacraments, doing their best to ease concerns over priests' workloads, but it's a difficult process.

Mr. Heinen's article reports,
The average of Mass attendance counts on one weekend in October and one weekend in March have fallen from about 212,300 five years ago to about 165,100 for the fall 2007-winter 2008 counts, according to Jerry Topczewski, Dolan’s chief of staff.

Where will the survivors be buried?
more than 40 major parish and school construction and renovation projects worth more than $130 million have been completed in the past five years, according to archdiocesan statistics.

What I call the Field of Dreams theory of evangelization.

The increases in seminarians and ordinations are good signs. There also is the Living Our Faith initiative which at least attempts things that are recognizably evangelization. I'm reminded that back on June 25, 2002 Father Rob Johansen wrote,
The Church in Milwaukee was not co-opted and decimated overnight, and neither will it be reconstructed overnight.


Bishop Dolan will be obstructed and bitterly opposed within the Archdiocese the moment he tries to undo anything wrought by "Brother Rembert". He will be opposed by his priests, and by many laypeople who have been deceived and malformed by the AmChurch agenda. He will be denounced as "retrograde" and "divisive".


If conservatives expect to see sweeping changes and purges within the Archdiocesan structure, I think they will be disappointed. ...

Instead, he predicted, Archbishop Dolan would take the approach called Romanitas, and will "Make haste slowly" in the turnaround effort. I note, though, that Fr. Johansen said this approach "can be amazing... when it works...". That leaves the possibility our Archdiocese will turn out to be a case when it won't. Archbishop Dolan might take comfort in the age and projected retirement dates of the internal opposition, clergy and lay. Not all the demographics work his way, though, such as the decline in the number Catholics as Mass. I doubt that our Archdiocese's estimate of 680,000 registered parishioners will stand if all parishes update their rolls.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2008 Theology on Tap Schedule Announced

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee explains,
Theology-on-Tap is a speaker series designed to address the needs, questions and interests of young adults in their 20s and 30s.

Tapping, so to speak, the potential of Catholicism as the religion with a cocktail hour.

One risk in a program like this is the hangover when pop culture references go awry.
Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will present “There’s Something About Mary,” on Thursday, July 17, at Derry Hegarty’s [Pub & Grill], 5328 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Staffing Changes Impact Cousins Center Reception Area

Staffing Cuts Euphemisized to "Changes".
If you have an appointment with a Cousins Center {Milwaukee Archdiocese HQ] staff member before 9:30 a.m. or after 2:30 p.m., you are asked to make arrangements to have that individual meet you at the front entrance.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playaway Collection

Now @ MPL [Milwaukee Public Library],
Playaways are the digital content of an entire book pre-loaded into a pocket-size player. There is no need to load CD’s or cassette tapes; you just press “play” and begin listening.

(via WisBlawg)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Right of Conscience Serves Us All

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference's June 2, 2008 Eye on the Capitol report included this editorial. For future reference, it refers to Wisconsin Constitution, Article I, Section 18, in support of a health care provider objecting to providing certain services, as in Wisconsin Statutes section 253.09.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Churches Should Euthanize Their Small Groups (and what we should replace them with)

Pastor Brian Jones raised his doubts about small groups with a consulting pastor who replied.
“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work. Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the [in this case] evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.”

I nominate for next cut: "holistic".

(via Oak Leaves)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Truth About Barack Obama

Christopher Beam at Slate suggests an alternative to the Fight The Smears strategy.
Rather than restate untruths about Obama, the campaign would do better to start some rumors of its own. Here's a template e-mail the Obama campaign might consider disseminating.

For example
Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

(via KausFiles)

Update: at Peter Feld, Everything I needed to know, I learned from reading Jonathan Alter,
I guess we have reached the point where the possibility of someone being Muslim needs a Seinfeld disclaimer: “… not that there’s anything wrong with it.” [Ross] Perot didn’t hate Obama, he just thought he was a Muslim.

(via comment from TS to this later post)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mass 2K or the Holy Inclusive Liturgy

Those are some suggestions by "A Faithful Catholic" for the name of an anti-Tridentine Mass. "Catholic Soldier" commented
What exactly would that Mass look like?

Again, here's video of the Closing liturgy from the 2008 West Coast Regional Call To Action Conference.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nitty Integrity

When researching the man whose biography I wrote for may doctrinal dissertation, Edwin O'Hara, I discovered that, in his seventeen years as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, he always had one priest among his close pastoral collaborators whom he would always appoint "court critic". This man saw him every Monday morning at nine o'clock, and his duty was to criticize the archbishop, to tell him the bad news, to let him know what the priests and people were saying about him. Now, it takes a man of real integrity to set up such a system.
--Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, Priests for the Third Millenium (2000), p. 107

In his discussion with Monsignor Renton, Father Urban sometimes clutched at straws. "As I understand it, a bishop needs the consent of his consultors, where this much is at stake. If things get rough, a thousand lire won't even pay for the aspirins," he said, remembering this key figure from his reading. Anything over a thousand lire was considered a big deal.

"I can't recall when we've withheld our consent," said Monsignor Renton. "I don't say we wouldn't, mind you, if our consciences dictated."

"That's sort of what I had in mind."

"Yes, but suppose one consultor's against something a bishop wants to do, but he knows the other consultor's aren't--he knows he's going to be outvoted. In the circumstances, it might not be wise for this consultor to expose himself, nor should he be expected to do so."

--J. F. Power, Morte D'Urban , pp 227-28

Monday, June 16, 2008

Anne Hathaway is a cool number in 'Get Smart'

Patrick Huguenin in the New York Daily News interviewed Anne Hathaway about her movie role as Agent 99, played by Barbara Feldon in the original television series.
As far as "Get Smart" is concerned, she knows the fate of the remake is in the hands of its longtime fans.

"One of the things about Barbara Feldon is she has a certain ineffable quality," says Hathaway. "You either have that or you don't, and I leave it up to the audience to decide whether I do."

Would you believe Bishop Trautman was to play the Cone of Silence? Missed it by that much.

(via Charlotte was Both)


Behind the Scenes

John L. Allen, Jr., at All Things Catholic, has been reporting from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Last April, noted Catholic ethicist Germain Grisez published an article [The Church Betrayed?] in Catholic World Report criticizing CRS [Catholic Relief Services] policies on contraception.

This included "educational materials" on HIV and condoms, materials from which CRS omitted its identifying logo.
In response, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee, chair of the board for CRS, sent an April 23 letter to his fellow bishops insisting that "in no cases does CRS promote, purchase or distribute condoms," and that CRS' positions "are fully in keeping with conference policies."

That doesn't address the issue of whether CRS educational materials comply with those policies. Mr. Allen quotes another, unnamed, bishop as calling Grisez's essay a case of "Ready, Fire, Aim." If so, looks like a lucky shot.
In the wake of the dispute, the Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities decided to commission an internal critique of the CRS materials. A draft of that critique was discussed during a private session in Orlando and basically approved, though with requests for a bit of "fine-tuning." Once completed, the critique will be sent to Dolan.

Its gist, one source said, is that the CRS materials should be revised along the lines suggested in the Grisez essay.

Update: Archbishop Dolan's letter was more extensively quoted in CRS chairman says agency practices church teachings on condoms, by Regina Linskey, Catholic News Service, April 30, 2008.
Archbishop Dolan said "CRS' name does not appear on HIV pedagogical flip charts because the tools belong not to us, but to the government of Zambia's Ministry of Health."

In fact, he noted, "CRS was able to convince the government of Zambia to include discussions on abstinence, behavior change and fidelity in marriage within the material, information that was absent in previous drafts."

Although CRS' name is not in the flip chart, the church's teachings are included "by virtue of CRS' efforts," he said.

When Can We Hope to See the New Missal in English?

One of these years.

Helen Hull Hitchcock reports in Adoremus Bulletin, May 2008, on the work of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, and includes a progress chart.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

FreezePage: Somebody Stealing you[r] Work? Capture it!

At MakeUseOf,
What makes FreezePage different from other screenshot capture tools is that in addition to screenshots it also saves the exact date and time, page size and more.

(via WisBlawg)

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Reports from the U.S. Bishops meeting in Orlando, Florida, included discussion of new translations for the Mass. Some bishops found objections effable, leading Amy Welborn to reiterate,
This “John and Mary Catholic” who haunt Bishop Trautman’s conscience are a worrisome pair. They are worrisome because of what they imply about a cleric’s view of the laity. As I have blogged and written before, many times, clerics and those in the church bureaucracy need to get their stories straight. Are we “the most highly educated laity in the history of the church” capable of making our moral decisions all on our own, without substantive Church guidance..or are we idiots who can’t figure out what “dew” is?

Hypothesize that the view of the laity selected is the one which, in the particular context, requires less effort from clerics and bureaucrats. Assume an educated laity, and less effort in needed in instruction and formation. Assume an infantalized laity, and less effort is needed in liturgy. Finally, assume that not getting their story straight, in itself, reduces effort by discouraging questions, compared to the time that would be required to provide actual answers.

You can hardly disprove this hypothesis by noting such an approach would lead to declining participation by lay Catholics. It has been declining for decades. Consistent with the hypotheses, taking no effective action in the face of declining participation protects our clerics and bureaucrats from more effort.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Read the whole story...
--Christian, in Pilgrim's Progress

A summer guide to 100 politically incorrect movies.

Started June 9th at God, Man & Hollywood, by Mark Rayden Winchell

(via ISI Books)

June 14-15 Combined Collections: Church in the United States

One of the four potential recipients.
The Retirement Fund for Religious helps ensure adequate retirement funding for more than 50,000 elderly religious men and women nationwide who have dedicated their lives to ministry and prayer.

Maybe there should be a footnote on why we shouldn't wonder if Fr. Pflager's sermon at Trinity Church means they might decide to throw the money away.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Save Budweiser

Turns out Budweiser is in no danger.

Rather, InBev has offered to purchase the stock of Anheuser-Busch, which many centuries later began to brew a beer it called Budweiser.

Update: Opposition To Anheuser-Busch Sale Grows, The Onion, June 19, 2008

Now, watch this drive.

Steven Walters reported yesterday at NewsWatch, Gov visits fund-raiser amid flood cleanup.
[Gov. Jim] Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner said the governor attended "part of" his campaign's sixth annual golf outing [Tuesday] at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona, which had a suggested contribution of $1,250 per golfer. Doyle has said he will decide later this year whether to seek a third term.

Water for La Garrucha

The cover story of the Spring 2008 Marquette Magazine tells of MU engineering students work on a water system for a village in the highlands of Guatemala.

La Garrucha is in the same Department of Chimaltenango as Santa Apolonia, where we've been going on parish mission trips. They two are not far apart "as the crow flies" but it looks like it would be a long drive from one to the other.

Nothing is more important than the Eucharist

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 29, 2008, takes his theme from the previous Sunday's "feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Our Lord". He celebrated at rural St. Lawrence Church with a Mass and procession.
We processed through the parish cemetery, and even the cows in the adjacent pasture sensed something unique.

The uncaused cows, for you Thomists. Our Archbishop takes an apparent detour from his theme.
Last week, as you know, I was in Ethiopia with a delegation to celebrate 50 years of efforts by Catholic Relief Services in that aching country of East Africa.

I didn't know.
The highlight was a visit to the center in the poorest area of Addis Ababa served by the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Theresa. When Missionary of Charity Sr. Benedicta, called to invite us, I told her I was eager to visit their kitchen which served 6,000 hungry a day, their orphanage where they cared for babies with HIV/AIDS, their center for the dying, their nursery preparing abandoned infants for adoption, and their dispensary for the sick, one of the only ones in that teeming metropolis.

I say apparent detour because,
"Oh good," Sister replied. "But we are more eager to have you celebrate Mass with us."

Uncharacteristically, I was speechless.

Me too.
For all the astounding good these sisters were doing, nothing was more important for them than the Eucharist.

The 2005 parish mission trip to Guatemala included the feast of Corpus Christi. I left off following the local church's procession, and kneeling on the cobblestones at the shrines at which it stopped, to go to a human rights briefing.
The "real presence" of the Son of God: hidden under the very ordinary signs of bread and wine in the holy Eucharist, and in the broken bodies of the poor. We annually need the feast of Corpus Christi to remind us of this.

If I had it to do over, I'd stick with the procession.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wine May Help Keep Liver Healthy

Nicholas Bakalar in The New York Times, June 10, 2008
Recent reports suggest that red wine is a potent force in increasing lifespan, and a new study offers still more good news for wine drinkers. A glass a day, whether white or red, may reduce the risk of developing the nation’s most common liver disorder, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Then the bad, or at least moderate, news.
“While one glass a day seems helpful, these data do not support the use of larger amounts of alcohol,” said Dr. Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, the senior author [of one of the studies] and an associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of California, San Diego.

For your glass a day, I recommend C. H. Berres Impulse Riesling.

(via InstaPundit)

Have faith?

John Mark Eberhart of McClatchy News Service interviews comedian Lewis Black, including about his book Me of Little Faith. The article appeared in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in connection with an upcoming local appearance by Mr. Black.

One of Black's topics is "Why do we need religion at all?"
His answer, or at least one of them: fear of death.

"Religion gives us a destination to head toward. It's the Orbitz of death, and if you are as good as you can be, then you get to end up in first class and you don't have to go through the security line. You won't even have to take your shoes off."

Is there a religion of works-righteousness-based immortality? I have encounted something that sounds like it at funerals. Turns out we might call it Lewtheranism.
In one piece, "Ron the Archangel," Black ponders why he felt such a sense of peace when his brother died - and why, in the months and years that followed, many pieces of his life began to fall into place.

"Career doors that had been closed to me began to swing open," Black writes. "I have no doubt that my brother was the one who was helping to unlock them."

Seminarian helps parishioners exercise heart, soul

Karen Girard reported, Special to "Your" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 29, 2008. Seminarian Matthew Widder catechetics class required developing a plan of adult formation. His undergraduate degree is in exercise science. He used that background in developing his "Faith & Fitness" program.
Thirty-five to 40 people ranging in age from 13 to 80, including a homeschooler who came with his grandmother, gathered every Monday and Wednesday after the 7 a.m. Mass during March and April, to build up physical and spiritual strength.

The class was appropriate for people at any fitness level, according to Widder, who noted that most participants were near retirement age, and female.

That's the demographic of so many things around a parish, but here might only reflect the attendees at 7:00 a.m. Mass.
"We are not training for a marathon," said Widder.

Not a physical marathon, that is.
The unique character of the classes, however, came from Widder's enthusiasm for the fitness of soul, which matches his passion for physical fitness. Every class began with prayer and a reflection on one of the saints.

Something to keep in mind if you develop a beer belly from Theology on Tap.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom

Bryan Appleyard in The Sunday Times, June 1, 2008, on the author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
To explain: black swans were discovered in Australia. Before that, any reasonable person could assume the all-swans-are-white theory was unassailable. But the sight of just one black swan detonated that theory. Every theory we have about the human world and about the future is vulnerable to the black swan, the unexpected event. We sail in fragile vessels across a raging sea of uncertainty.

MU professor to discuss book on progressive Catholicism

From Religion Briefs in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 7, 2008
Daniel Maguire, a theological ethics professor at Marquette University and former Catholic priest known for challenging the Vatican, will talk, sign and give a reading of his new book, "Whose Church? A Concise Guide to Progressive Catholicism," at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

Concise might mean big print for the aging eyes of the progressive Catholic demographic. For really concise, here's a review at The New Press.

US homes swept down river after dam collapse

The New Zealand Herald reports,
In Wisconsin, an embankment forming the side of the man-made Lake Delton failed, and the water poured out into the nearby Wisconsin River, destroying five homes.

Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church

Helen Hull Hitchcock reports in Adoremus, May 2008
A synod of the world’s bishops on the subject of Scripture will take place October 5-26, 2008.

The preliminary guideline for the synod, titled “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”, was posted in April on the Vatican web site by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

These guidelines (Lineamenta) are in three chapters, with concluding questions.

Tiny hands at St. Alphonsus make a difference

Cathy Breitenbucher reports, Special to "your" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 29, 2008, from my St. Al's parish's school. Kindergarten teacher Kate Reuter has her students raise money for the MACC Fund [Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc.] with sales of their work at an annual art fair in the school.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome mat out for gender-neutral restrooms

Scott Williams reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
St. Mary's Catholic Church in Elm Grove and Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield have established gender-neutral facilities.

The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, pastor of the Unitarian church, said she expects to see such restrooms become increasingly common, as society becomes more tolerant of people of various sexual orientations.

Or is it the Eurotarian church.
Lynch doubts, however, that Americans will accept European-style restrooms that allow all sexes and sexual preferences together behind one door.

What's wrong with Kansas bathrooms?
"I think people are more conservative than that," she said. "As a culture, we're a little too uptight for that."

(via Dad29 where commenter Neo-Con Tastic calls the article "misleading" regarding St. Mary's)

Researchers Discover Details Smaller Than Minutiae

The Onion, June 9, 2008

Eucharistic adoration 'personal encounter with the Lord'

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 22, 2008, on a revival of interest. The article quotes from Pope Benedict XVI's Sacramentum Caritatis, an Apostolic Exhortation following a synod of bishops.
"67. With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church's pastors and to the People of God the practice of eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community. [footnote omitted] Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully. Wherever possible, it would be appropriate, especially in densely populated areas, to set aside specific churches or oratories for perpetual adoration. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist"
The article links to a list of 35 parishes offering eucharistic adoration. That works out to about one in six in the Archdiocese. Three have or will have perpetual adoration, St. Mary's Visitation, Elm Grove, St. John the Evangelist, Greenfield, and St. Jerome, Oconomowoc ("after completion of new church in fall 2008").

Sunday, June 8, 2008

St. Alphonus Parish Council Minutes May 5, 2008

Posted on the bulletin board in the church foyer. Among developments since the April 14, 2008 meeting,
III. New Business
c. Begin discussion changing meeting night for council and meeting less than monthly for (a) council (b) committees

Council meets on a Monday night early in the month, committees all meet on a Tuesday later in the month. I assume it continues to be hard to get enough people who can meet monthly. One problem with the proposal is it's hard to maintain continuity in such bodies if they meet less than monthly. They could instead reduce the number of people needed by reducing the council from 12 to four members (both plus the two parish trustees and pastor) and consolidating committees into the four main areas of responsibility (Word, Worship, Works, and What's happening with the money). Rather than elect or discern council members, the committees in the four areas could each send a liaison to meet with the trustees and pastor monthly.

Or they could just quietly abolish the council, and then committees one by one, to see if anyone notices.

And why only consider changing the council meetings from Monday now, with Brett Favre retired?
V. Committee updates
j. Rectory plan -- property is being looked at for different possible uses. Tenants have been advised.

Even the parish council still calls it the Rectory, though the last priest tenant was forced out years ago. Might as well go back to calling the "Parish Ministry Center" the Convent.

Update: The June 8, 2008 bulletin includes an item on Parish Council News
Beginning in August, the Parish Council will be meeting on Thursdays.

An age of transformation

The Economist, June 6, 2008, looks at challenges to American suburbs.
many suburbs try to govern themselves and suffer from diseconomies of scale. ... Elsewhere suburbs are controlled by urban city halls that largely ignore them, except as generators of taxes. Both arrangements make it difficult to come up with bold cures for the suburbs' growing pains.

How to Turn a Book Into a Picture Frame

At wikiHow

(via WisBlawg)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In the zone

The entrance to the tunnel is shaped like a parabola. The Albert Speer touch. Somebody during the thirties was big on parabolas anyhow, and Albert Speer was in charge of the New German Architecture then, and later he went on to become Minister of Munitions, and nominal chief customer for the A4. This parabola here happens to be the inspiration of a Speer disciple named Etzel Olsch. He had noted this parabola shape around on Autobahn overpasses, sports stadiums u.s.w., and thought it was the most contemporary thing he'd ever seen. Imagine his astonishment on finding that the parabola was also the shape of the path intended for the rocket through space. (What he actually said was, "Oh, that's nice.")
--Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, p. 298

Local cases behind decision to audit parishes

As reported by Tom Heinen in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it was a decade of embezzlements that prompted the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to resume financial audits of parishes.
The Catholic Mutual Group, which insures the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, paid $1,017,000 in parish embezzlement claims from 1997 through early 2008, according to the archdiocesan Parish and School Financial Services Office.

The Archdiocese knows of financial 19 parishes with "suspected financial theft or mismanagement by employees" during this period. Not all have been reported to the police. Reporting is at the pastor's discretion. If not reported, losses are not covered by insurance.

You might recall that regular audits had been Archdiocesan policy. They stopped in 2000 when "additional duties" were given to the Financial Services Office. (see this earlier post)

The article concludes with mentions of the largest theft, about $800,000 from Gesu Church, and of recent charges against an employee of St. Matthias Church.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Jesus is present in Most Blessed Sacrament

Bishop William Callahan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 22, 2008, brackets between John 6 and St. Augustine's Sermon 272,
Our union with Christ in the Eucharist is not merely a spiritual union, but it is a physical one as well. ...

And so
Not even the angels can claim this unique reality of communion with God.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How Obama Did It

Karen Tumulty at Time
When Betsy Myers first met with Obama in his Senate office on Jan. 3, 2007, about two weeks before he announced he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President, Obama laid down three ruling principles for his future chief operating officer: Run the campaign with respect; build it from the bottom up; and finally, no drama. Myers was struck by how closely Obama had studied the two campaigns of George W. Bush. "He said he wanted to run our campaign like a business," says Myers.

(via The Daily Dish)

P.S. W.'s third campaign with Carter's second term?

Justice demands sound stewardship of money

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 15, 2008, announces regular outside financial audits of all parishes.
That's the good news: guidelines, expectations, requirements, reporting, and oversight are all in place which, if obeyed, guarantee open, straightforward, sound, honest stewardship of our finances.

The bad news is that - just like the Ten Commandments or the eight beatitudes - people can and do break these rules, and that's when problems occur. There's always a way some sinful, desperate, or selfish person can devise to try to pilfer other people's money, even when it's given to the church.

Still, it's only money. How about outside audits of liturgy and Christian formation.

P.S. Tom Heinen reported, All Catholic churches will have to get audits, in the May 16, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Milwaukee archdiocese has detailed financial guidelines and requirements for parishes. They include a call for an internal financial review of each parish every four years to make sure that each is following the required accounting procedures and guidelines. But that has not been done since 2000 because of additional duties given to the archdiocese's Financial Services Office, Hoeller [Katie Hoeller, director of the Parish and School Financial Services Office] said.

I'm not seeing what will prevent that from happening in the future. Audit audits, perhaps. Reminds me of a former pastor at St. Al's who "explained" that the parish website hadn't been updated because he had given that duty to someone who was too busy to do it. Sure, that can happen, but where else is it a policy?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reading the Bible, Who, When, Where, How, Why

Sandro Magister reported on the results of a survey commissioned by the Catholic Biblical Federation of samples of the adult population in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Russia. Some selected percentage results,
Do you believe that the contents of the Bible are true or false?
Poland 93 true, 7 false
United States 88 true, 12 false
Holland 59 true 41 false

Is it real or abstract?
United States 75 real, 25 abstract
Holland 35 real, 64 abstract

(via Adoremus Bulletin)

Pfleger pfinally pfaltered. But why?

Mark Stricherz at Get Religion notes a report in the Chicago Sun-Times that the temporarily suspended Father Michael Pfleger is apartment hunting. I'd suggest he pflee to The Pfister for a pfew weeks, but he says,
"I'm going to buy a bed and get some furniture from the church basement and move into an apartment in the neighborhood," a deflated-sounding Pfleger told me, while the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ where Pfleger made the fiery statements late last month that got him into this latest donnybrook with the cardinal, waited to take him to a late dinner. "I'm trying to find out what [George] means by 'a couple of weeks.' There's no timeline. There's no date. Give me a time. It just says a couple of weeks. I don't know . . . "

Mr. Stricherz also links to this Chicago Tribune story.
On Sunday at his parish, Pfleger apologized, and on Monday he issued a statement seeking to clarify another controversial snippet from his sermon. When he said "America is the greatest sin against God," Pfleger said, it was a simple mistake and the first word should have been "racism."

Simple mistake or pfreudian slip?

Priest calls for new strategies to keep young adults in church

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We're down on our knees...
-Stephen Sondheim (1956)

This Catholic News Service ran in the May 8, 2008 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
Father John Cusick, director of young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Chicago and the father of the Theology on Tap program, said the church needs a savvy "new apologetics" and "satellite sites" away from the parish grounds where young adults can gather to form quality relationships without feeling pressure from the church.

He has a good form for the question.
"If Catholic youth ministry is so good, where are all the young adults?"

Father might not be completely up to speed on current conditions.
Although young adult Catholics hunger for the Gospel, they are cynical about the institutional church, Father Cusick said. Often, they drop their children off for religious education classes but act as if they themselves would get a social disease if they walked into the church, he said.

Judging by published statistics and common advertising, some of them probably do have what Father calls by that anachronistic euphemism.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Role of Liturgical Norms in the Eucharistic Celebration

I notice he didn't say "The Role, if any...".

An address by Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to the Path to Rome International Conference in Mexico City, November 3, 2007, published in Notitiae (Nov-Dec 2007, p 600ff), republished in Adoremus, May 2007
The norms help the parish community or the diocese to be sure that it is in communion with the universal Church in celebrating the Mass of our fathers and ancestors in the faith. They reinforce the sense and conviction of being members of a world-wide Church. They save local communities from spending precious time in the reconciliation of tastes, choices and personal theories as if these were the ultimate criteria for liturgical decision-making.

It's almost as if he would say the time spent at St. Al's on why no Penitential Rite, why no Gloria in Ordinary Time, why no Creed on Sunday, why no genuflection at the Consecration, why croutons rather than hosts, why General Absolution, etc., hasn't been time well spent.

Time, talent and litigation

Karen Mahoney reported, Special to "Your" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, in the May 8, 2008 issue.
When Hjalmer Heikkinen, 84, a West Allis barber was severely injured in an auto accident in 2002 by longtime Legion of Mary volunteer Margaret Morse, member of Christ the King Parish, Wauwatosa, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was found liable.

Not from what I had heard, as Tom Armstrong, attorney, later explains.
"There was no claim that the church or the archdiocese was liable for acts of the volunteer or whether the volunteer had an insurance policy," he said.

The claim, rather, was that the Archdiocese's policy with Catholic Mutual Insurance Company covered Ms. Morse while driving for the Legion of Mary at Christ the King. The courts held that it did.
"The phrase, 'on behalf of (parish or archdiocese),' which was used at the time of the Legion of Mary accident, has been removed and replaced with 'agent,'" Hatfield [Molly Hatfield, claims risk manager with Catholic Mutual] said.

The Court of Appeals opinion is Heikkinen v. United Services Automobile Assn., 2006 WI App 207.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Congregation will flock to new location

John Nevill reported in Franklin NOW, May 7, 2008, on plans by St. James Church here in Franklin to relocate from its current property on South 27th Street (Highway 241).
St. James Catholic Congregation's pastor, the Rev. Paul Stanosz, said the 2,000-member parish is selling the 42-year-old church building - and 23 acres it sits on - so the congregation can move into a larger facility that includes a community center.

Larger? Mass attendance was 681/2,270 (30%) in 2005 and 688/1,954 (35%) in 2006. That's the total at three masses in a church that seats 750.
"We're just relocating," Stanosz said. "It's just part of our growth: Franklin and Oak Creek are the fast-growing communities in Milwaukee County."

They are fast-growing communities, but despite that you'll notice reported parish membership declined. There is a lot of commercial development around the current facility, so it likely would bring a good price if sold, and the parish's tentative plan is to buy a smaller site at a new location. Even so,
Kraemer [Paul Kraemer, chairman of the parish's long-term planning committee] cautioned the sale of land might not be enough to finance new parish buildings.

From what I've heard in connection with parish building projects, they're probably working under the Field of Dreams theory of evangelization.

When Worlds Collide

P.J. O'Rourke recalls childhood trips with his grandmother to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.
"Grandma, what's the difference between Democrats and Republicans?"

"Democrats rent."

"Grandma, what's wrong with the people in the bad neighborhoods that we saw from the 'El'?"

"No one is ever so poor that he can't pick up his yard."

"Grandma, which Roosevelt was worse, Teddy or Franklin?"

The Weekly Standard, June 9, 2008

Four new priests is no small thing

Heather LaRoi reported in the Wisconsin State Journal, May 24, 2008, on four men ordained in the Diocese of Madison.
It was the largest ordination class the diocese has seen since 2000, when five men were ordained. By 2015, the diocese expects that 28 new priests will be ordained.

Quite a change from four years ago when the diocese had only six seminarians.
Promising, yes, but the diocese is also moving ahead with a major realignment of parishes to maximize its still limited number of priests. There are now 84 priests serving the 133 parishes in the diocese.

To address this shortage, the diocese is considering reducing the number of parishes from 133 to about 95 over the next five to seven years...

Rather than have a single priest oversee several parishes, the diocese is considering
merging parishes to have a single staff, bookkeeping record, and parish membership list, even though masses may continue to be held in several churches.

If Mass attendance trended up like ordinations, I suppose then they'd still have the facilities in place to re-establish the separate parishes.
For the men newly ordained as priests, accepting the call to service is a small but hopeful step in stemming what some see as society-wide resistance to commitment.

"I think people are failing to respond to God's call for whatever their vocation is: marriage, family, relationships," [newly ordained Father Lance] Schneider said.

(via Daniel Suhr at The Triumvirate)

There went out a decree that the whole parish should be re-enrolled

Our pastor at St. Al's, Fr. Alan Jurkus, sent parishioners a letter back on April 14, 2008. He says that "after considerable thought and prayer" he is making various staff changes.
Another full-time priest will not replace Fr. Wally for at least a year.

That's Fr. Walter Vogel, who had retired as a pastor and took up duties as an associate pastor at our parish. Now he's retiring as associate. Our pastor does not here remind us there won't be an associate because he saw no "compatible" replacement available this year (see this earlier post). Our pastor came to us last year from a stint as pastor at St. Monica Church. The St. Monica Parish History says,
In 1994, Father Alan Jurkus, who in addition to pastoral work, was involved in the archdiocesan vocations program, was named the fifth pastor of Saint Monica Parish. At this time, the last associate pastor transferred from the Parish and was not replaced.

Presumably not on grounds of incompatibility. He hasn't, so far, mentioned any insights from his work in vocations then when he comments on their shortage now. The St. Monica history goes on,
...Also, Father Jurkus has reorganized and strengthened the parish administration and management to make it reflect the realities of the 1990s.

Fr. Jurkus will also be reorganizing the St. Al's staff (presumably not to make it reflect the realities of the 1990s).

The Director of Music Ministry will also take on the duties of Director of Liturgy. The current Director of Liturgy is also a deacon and be given the new position of Pastoral Associate. The suggestion of a combined director of liturgy and music came up regularly a decade ago when I was on the parish council. Then it was unthinkable, "contrary to the direction we've [sic] chosen for the parish" regarding liturgy. Now it's a pastor's idea.

(I did once see an idea go from being opposed by a pastor, to him later thinking he had come up with the idea, to him then complaining that the parish council wasn't moving fast enough to implement it. It's a good strategy for parishes with time and parishioners with patience.)

The three Directors of Child, Youth, and Adult Ministry have been cut from 12 to 11 months, i.e., will be paid less. They
are working on instituting a new approach to all our Formation efforts. This is a very exciting initiative, which will eventually involve all parish members who want to deepen their faith and recommit to discipleship. I have encourgaged the entire parish staff to be supportive of this project, tentatively called "Dreams and Vision". More later.

(see this earlier post)

Our pastor later says,
If we want to continue to have a vibrant parish

That's one way to promise more of the same.
we cannot "cut or reduce" our way to financial stability. I'm asking each and every one of you to search your soul today, not tomorrow, and then step forward.

The party line is everything's wonderful, except to the extent we parishioners just aren't trying.
If you shrug your shoulders and assume, "someone else will take care of this," St. Alphonsus doesn't stand a chance.

Would that be a shrug of the shoulders like parishioners get when they raise liturgical issues? The shrug of the shoulders parishioners got when they pointed out the parish had recurring "financial crises" in the operating budget yet undertook a multi-million dollar building expansion? Or the shrug of the shoulders I'd get a decade ago whenever I pointed out declining Sunday Mass attendance?
Please, we are truly at a crossroads. If we do not turn the financial corner soon, we will see our parish fade away into history, as so many others have.

If so many other parishes have closed, might that not indicate a lot of parishioners had already stopped caring if they stayed open? Maybe the first step in their not caring was getting the impression a parish was complacent about everything but money.

In a P.S. he asks that we all again fill out a parish registration form. It's a blank form, not one showing the information they have and asking it be corrected or supplemented.
It will be important to return this form, if you wish to be considered an active parish member.

Seems to literally put form over substance. The May 25, 2008 parish bulletin has an item on page 2 on the "Re-Registration Forms" that says
Your prompt response is very much appreciated. If you have not yet returned yours, please do so as soon as you can.

On the other hand, on page 3 is an item "Volunteers Needed For The Parish Office" that says
The Parish Office is in need of volunteers to help cross-check and verify information from the recently mailed Re-registration Forms to the information we now have on record in our parish membership. This is a very detailed task and will take some time to complete.

Sounds like it might be a while before they get to the bottom of the stack.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bolder will be better

A bolder rail transit proposal, says this May 25, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial.
For starters, how about a fixed-rail route connecting the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the County Grounds in Wauwatosa and all points in between, including downtown and the newly remodeled Amtrak station, Marquette University, the Potawatomi Casino and Miller Park?

The last local rail rapid transit, last streetcar line, and first major local freeway were likewise in this east-west route. In principle, this makes more sense than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's Downtown Circulator or local philanthropist and retired businessman Michael Cudahy's downtown and east side stubs. In practice, east-west line proposals have, figuratively, gone nowhere. As Janice M. Eisen pointed out in the June 3, 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
The best opportunity to put in a new transit system, if we were going to do so, has already been lost. A rail system with its own dedicated right-of-way could have been put up as part of the Marquette Interchange reconstruction project, using some of the federal money set aside for the Waukesha-Milwaukee transportation corridor.

That's been one hang-up, "its own dedicated right-of-way". That means acquiring additional property, which consistently draws too much local opposition. In desperation, rail advocates resort to advocating street running, that is, streetcars or trams rather than light rail or rail rapid transit.
[County Executive Scott] Walker says express buses or BRT [Bus Rapid Transit] could do the same thing more cheaply. He's right about the economics; a 2001 study by the Government Accountability Office concluded that bus rapid transit systems offer greater flexibility than light rail and "can have lower capital costs than light rail systems yet can often provide similar performance."

Since these new buses would run in dedicated lanes on existing streets, they minimize the capital investment. While rail advocates claim rail transit draws more new riders, they don't show it draws enough to justify the added capital expense. So besides the routing problem, there's this money problem.
Barrett ... says the real problem facing the county transit system is that Walker opposes a county sales tax increase or even a regional sales tax dedicated to transit. Denver finances its metro transit system with a 1% seven-county transit sales tax.

The county's financial woes are largely a product of the pension scandal. The money's not here. The money's in Joe's pension...right next to you. And in the Kennedy pension, and Mrs. Macklin's pension, and a hundred others. A so-called transit tax is actually a pension bail-out.

Make A Lamp Out of Books

At DIYnetwork

(via WisBlawg)