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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Huffington Post: RABBI FRED SCHERLINDER DOBB: Tar Sands and the Jewish Month of Change

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Fr. Jim Noonan arrested

Maybe I should start attending the Happy Hour instead of relying on the salad bar for info. Fr. Joe La Mar reports that at the Happy Hour, Fr. Jim Noonan shared that he was arrested along with 64 others at a demonstration at the White House on August 21. Ms. Marie Dennis, head of Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, was also arrested.

The group Tar Sands Action calls for protests and acts of civil disobedience over the coming days against the proposed Canada-Texas Keystone XL Pipeline project, slated to carry toxic "bitumen" (a low grade of oil extracted out of tarry earth) from the Tar Sands region of Alberta Canada, south across the great plains and the vital Ogallala aquifer, all the way to the Gulf Coast near Houston.

In a blog by Rose On, she states:
"Some highlights from Saturday: Jim Antal, former head of Fellowship of Reconciliation and now president of the Massachussetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was arrested. Kristy Powell, originator of the One Dress Protest, was arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, leader of the protest against the former military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was arrested. Fr. Jim Noonan, Maryknoll Catholic priest, who spent years in Cambodia under Pol Pot serving AIDS patients was arrested."

A little fact-checking is in order. Pol Pot stepped down in 1979, a year before the HIV virus was identified. Noonan didn't go to Vietnam until much later, but did indeed minister to people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cambodia.

It's nice to know that once we dismiss that pesky R.B, Maryknoll's newly acquired (and totally undeserved) reputation for passivity and obedience to the rule of law will be mercifully short-lived.

Doyle for the defense

I finally got around to my weekly emptying of my snail-mailbox, only to find I, too, have received TWO letters (of six and five pages respectively), the first dated August 16, 2011 and the second August 21, outlining the defense of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, prepared and proposed by Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., M.A., M.Ch.A., C.A.D.C.

Gotta tell you, if those initials don't give you pause, the content of the documents will.

That being said, I am faced with a dilemma. My copy came with a brief note from Roy that I am to share it with the community. I presume it's our Maryknoll community. Also, Roy disseminated it with the knowledge and consent of his procurator-advocate.

The document itself is addressed to the superior general and the members of the General Council, who are at a distinct disadvantage here because they are loathe to move the upcoming canonical proceedings into the open venue of trial by social networking and public opinion.

That being said, as I mentioned earlier, several Maryknollers have already received a copy of the defense, so this is hardly a breach of client privilege let alone confidentiality. (Transparency can be a real bite in the butt.)

Ergo, I am willing to email a copy of Roy's defense to any Society member who requests it.

Till then, allow me to give you a very brief summary of the summary.

1) The ban on women's ordination is not infallible;
2) The ban on women's ordination is not part of the Deposit of Faith to which all Catholics must give assent;
3) The ban is not essential to the core of Catholicism, nor does questioning it amount to a rejection of the teachings of Christ;
4) Tradition notwithstanding, Christ did not ordain anyone to anything at the Last Supper.
5) No one has been gravely harmed by Roy's action to the point of physical or emotional, let alone spiritual damage.
6) None of the clerics or hierarchs involved in THE scandal of the century has been so punished.

In addition, Doyle emphasizes an illegitimate demand that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made on Roy to betray his conscience, as well as several irregularities by the CDF in communicating its penalties.

Man, would I love to witness this trial, as I am sure there will be an equally spirited prosecution.

Ah, but Canon Law has no place for Judge Judy.

Besides, as with the case against Fr.Bob Nugent and Sr.Jeanine Gramick 15 years ago, there is something decidedly Down the Rabbit Hole in the way the Vatican operates.

From "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", Chapter Twelve:

"'Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'

'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

'I won't!' said Alice.

'Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved."

Shimmering shades of gray

(No, I'm not referring to hair color.)

The dining room was all abuzz this morning with animated discussions of yesterday's conversation with the superior general and his Council.

It was a first. Imagine! No less than 55 Society members discussed the events leading up to the process of dismissal from Maryknoll of Father Roy Bourgeois. No chairs were flung. No voices raised. No tables pounded. (Whether due to wisdom or battle fatigue, I have yet to determine)

But radically divergent views were openly expressed, and heard, and respected. And guys left smiling. (Are we talking about Maryknollers????)

Channel 15 streamed the meeting live to the guys at St. T's.

What emerged was the painful complexity of trying to separate personal opinions regarding Roy and his actions from the reaction of the Vatican and the impact all this has on Maryknoll. For many of us, its not just back and white. Some guys who support Roy's position nonetheless disagree with his tactics; others disagree with both and think Maryknoll has been overly indulgent with him and disciplinary action is long overdue; still others regard Roy as a prophet, however flawed, and strongly support him and his actions and think both Maryknoll and the Vatican are on the wrong side of history.

Some background to put this into perspective:

Back in the day (May, 1981) when Roy performed his now infamous disappearing act in El Salvador, at a time when such events usually ended in a shallow grave, Maryknoll's then superior general went out on a (what turned out to be very shaky) limb by publicly holding that country's military responsible should any harm befall the Maryknoller. We're talking NYT material.

After Roy ambled out of the jungle unscathed some days later and explained he had initiated this in order to commune with "los muchachos" (as the rebels were called), the super G had the proverbial egg on his face. Paradoxically, that same Maryknoller today remains one of Roy's staunchest supporters.

Conversely, a point was made that Roy never offered a single word of acknowledgement, let alone regret or apology for the anxiety and subsequent embarrassment his actions caused Maryknoll. Then as now, a pattern emerges.

Catholic deference to the primacy of a well-informed conscience came up in the conversation, with the emphasis on the "well-informed".

It goes without saying but merits repeating that this situation has soured our relationship with the U.S. Bishops, as well as with Rome, although it can equally be argued that it has also soured our relationship with many Catholics, both our supporters and our detractors. At this point, no matter what Maryknoll does or doesn't do, some people are going to be very displeased.

Funny thing, all this brouhaha comes down to a six-letter word: former.

Even if he is dismissed, Roy's monthly personal allowance from Maryknoll is assured as is his health care coverage. All that will change is that, in future public events, Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois will, instead, be referred to as former Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois. Will this placate Rome and the bishops? We'll find out.

Nothing was solved by yesterday's gathering, but that wasn't the intention. Men got to speak their minds in an atmosphere of fraternal respect. Issues and feelings simmering just below the surface finally came into the light of day. We now know where each other stands. And in the end, for all the tension and bad publicity and ambiguity (creative or otherwise), we are still proud to be members of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America.

Haitian Day, postponement 2b

The Haitian Day event that had been postponed last Saturday because of Hurricane Irene was to have taken place this Saturday, September 3. However, that being Labor Day weekend, busses are in short supply, so the date has been moved again to September 24.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Locking the barn door....

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Asia Room there will be a conversation between the members and the entire General Council, including the superior general, to discuss developments in the Society and around the Maryknoll world (let the reader take note).

Because the discussion will be in a "Blog-Free" Zone, the precise content will not be divulged here on this website. This allows everyone to express his opinion openly without fear of reading about it on Knollnews or in the NCR. Or the New York Times. Or Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

That being said, the overarching theme that will be used to prime the conversational pump, as it were, is "How We Got Where We Now Are and Where Do We Go From Here?"

Alas, I have a previous commitment and will not be here this evening, so the temptation posed by my twitching fingers to blog will thus be avoided. I spoke to at least four other guys who also said they learned about this too late and will also not be able to attend. I trust that enough interested parties will be present for a frank and candid exchange of mean opinions.

The very fact that our superior and his Council are willing to sit and chat with us is a welcome development, as communication and transparency have been sorely missed nigh these past three years (or since the last Chapter declared that communication and transparency would be the desired goals in the coming years.)

Maryknollers being Maryknollers, I harbor no illusions we will even attain a "We must hang together or we shall most assuredly hang separately" (cf. Ben Franklin) moment.

That being said, let me offer my two cents in absentia. Is it too late to offer Roy a cease fire? To wit: The third canonical warning letter, which in effect dismisses him from Maryknoll, will be held in abeyance in exchange for him issuing a public disclaimer at EVERY future forum that his actions and words on behalf of women's ordination do not in any way reflect the position of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. Similarly, can he, in exchange for retaining the M.M. after his name, make an effort in every future interview with reporters and the media to instruct them to leave Maryknoll's name out of the discussion?

I fear this and other suggestions are moot at this point.

Two people have approached me with copies of Roy's legal defense in the upcoming trial. This is not mine to share. I heard from one source that Maryknoll has retained canonical counsel of equal stature as Rev. Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., who is defending Roy, so we are in for a battle royale and are no more able to influence impending events any more than we were able to stop Hurricane Irene from wreaking havoc all along the Eastern seaboard.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene aftermath

Luckily the only damage Irene inflicted upon the Knoll as she punched us in the face on Saturday and Sunday was a few fallen trees, some leaky rooms---and the Centennial banner that had till now graced our tower. This latter blew up on our roof. Whether it will be re-hung to finish out 2011 remains to be seen.

Locally, traffic lights are still out in some parts of Ossining, notably where Camp Woods Road meets Route 133 on the way to Chilmark. That intersection has been bifurcated by traffic cones and tape to discourage through-traffic twixt Chilmark and here and forcing cars up or down Route 133.

The 9A South exit toward Briarcliff Manor is closed until the 2' deep x 20' wide trench caused by the ramp's collapse can be repaired.

Elmsford took the worst hit with massive flooding that has yet to subside.

As expected, all local highways with River or Brook in their names turned into them making Monday's commute a nightmare for many. Metro North had to literally dig out tracks from mudslides before it could resume limited Sunday scheduling today.

Fr. Stephen Taluja posted via Facebook that the electricity went out Saturday night where he is helping out at a parish in Garden City on the Island. As of Monday morning he was still without power and was able to re-charge his cell phone at a local Starbucks.

Haitian Day, cancelled because of the impending storm, has been rescheduled for this Saturday, sans tents. Pray that puffy clouds shelter the expected 550+ participants from the heat of the sun as they will still dine al fresco.

Kudos to all who heeded the warnings and prayers for those who suffered loss of loved ones and property.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Strike the set!

Tomorrow's Haitian Day is cancelled due to the impending storm. The bus drivers rightly balked at the possibility of not being able to get back home, as the bridges may be closed due to high winds.

The St. Paul Cheong Ha-Sang Sunday school workshop has been cancelled at Maryknoll and will, instead, be a one-day workshop at the parish tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. or until rising waters force us to quit.

Gathering storm (Parts one & two)

A gathering of Maryknollers that calls itself "Common Table" met for the third time in two months to discuss ways to refan into flames the smoldering embers of Vatican II.

In addition to "The Situation", models of authority as presently exercised by leadership, communication and transparency (or the lack and need thereof) were also discussed. The meaning of our oath, and whether we consider ourselves primarily priests and Brothers, or Missioners, or Maryknollers were shared. Ways we might refound Maryknoll and mission in the 21st century were also briefly mentioned as topics for future deliberation.

A voluntary steering committee of four members will facilitate topics for the next gathering, to which all Society members are invited. Only attendees will get detailed minutes.


Another topic discussed was our reaction to the gathering earlier Wednesday, when Monsignor Bill Brentwood, pastoral vicar from the New York archdiocese, gamely described the ways Holy Mother Church will strive to get the Eucharistic toothpaste back inside the liturgical tube.

Apparently the guiding rubric and answer to most questions about the New Roman Missal is "Because it's closer to the Latin", in fulfillment of the Lord's injunction: "By this shall all know you are my disciples, if your worship more closely reflects the Latin."

Never mind that Latin scholars pointed up THOUSANDS (OK, hundreds) of mistranslations among the 10,000+ changes that were made to the Mass AFTER the U.S. Bishops signed off on the "final" draft.

Never mind the contradiction that "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" will be dropped because "there is no Latin translation" when, in fact, in the Pre-Vatican II days there were NO Eucharistic acclamations and all were made AFTER the Council. Someone (Cardinal Wilton Gregory, I hear) didn't like it so out it goes.

Never mind that "Chalice" replaces "Cup" in the words of consecration, being "closer to the Latin" "Calix", although inexplicably "Cup" survives into Eucharistic Acclamation B "...and drink think this cup..." (Whoops! Now they might catch this before the books come out October 1)

The egalitarian accessibility to the liturgy once proffered by Mass in the vernacular will be thus sacrificed on the high altar of clerical Romanocentric conformity.

On the other hand, we delude ourselves if we think people will get their bloomers all in a twist over this. Hell, they stuck around during the days when the Mass was entirely in Latin and Greek. The Powers-That-Be are equally deluded if they think this will in any way stem, much less reverse, the hemoragghing of active Catholics from attendance at Mass.

The good Monsignor sought to assuage our misgivings by assuring us this, too, is a work in progress which will be reviewed, evaluated and changed as necessary, "in about 40 years."

Yeah, I'm assuaged.

Gathering storms (Part Three)

Where to begin? The sunny albeit humid weather belies the monster storm barreling down (or up) the east coast even as I blog. Scheduled to unleash nature's fury in the form of a Catagory 2 hurricane, Irene threatens to make this weekend memorable.

The Haitian Day will go on as planned starting tomorrow, but the question remains whether the scattered, preliminary thunderstorms scheduled for tomorrow morning will discourage any of the 550 people from leaving their homes to board buses Maryknoll-bound.

The full brunt of the storm will not be felt until Saturday night. So, Maryknoll Fr. Romane St. Vil, who hosts this annual event, has already curtailed their schedule, now ending at 2:30 rather than 5:00 p.m. to allow guests to get safely home. The tent company is sending out an emergency crew to dismantle the tents and take away the tables and chairs and thus deprive Irene of some potentially lethal projectiles.

I am also in communication with my Korean Sunday school teachers who are also intending to participate in a workshop here tomorrow into Sunday. Again, getting home with flooded roads and downed trees may cause them to scuttle their plans.

Gov. Cuomo just ordered the closing of all mass transit beginning 12:00 p.m. tomorrow. This effectively cancels plans for Fr. Ed Dougherty, superior general, to fill in for me at the 9:30 Mass at St. Paul's in Flushing in Sunday. He had planned to take the Number 7 And since I can't get there, they may be without an English-speaking priest. Then again, I doubt even Koreans, famous for their strong piety even in the midst of hardship, will brave the floods and tempest to attend Sunday Mass.

I will post Gathering Storms Parts Two and One anon.

A sighting!

Amateurs pursue the ever-elusive if not totally fictional Loch Ness monster and Abominable Snowman.

I, armed with only the camera function on my iPhone, have captured a picture of the equally elusive Father Ken Sleyman as proof he does indeed exist.

Rumored to frequent a medical college on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido where he purportedly teaches medical ethics, Ken appeared unannounced here at the Knoll with sisters and nephew in tow.

They harbored illusions of taking in the sights in Manhattan yesterday before the weather turned nasty, which it did by noon.

My favorite story about Ken took place back in the day when he and Barbara Pavelka, both nurses as well as Maryknoll lay missioners, worked on the southeastern Korean island of Sorokdo. This island for Hansen's disease patients was so small that Barb and Ken (yeah, I know) had phone numbers "3" and "4" respectively.

Nevertheless, Ken was so elusive even then that he and Barb only saw each other when they came up to Seoul for meetings!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Titanic redux?

In all the hullabaloo surrounding our seemingly endless Centennial celebrations, not to mention the up-coming Centenary of the Maryknoll Sisters next year, one very important 100-year anniversary is creeping up on us and should not pass unacknowledged: April 15, 1912.

The sinking of the Titanic.

Granted our 14 Centenary committees have enough on their plates, so I suggest the first official preparation for the Memorial to the Titanic Sinking be the gathering here at Maryknoll this afternoon from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the Asia Room where Monsignor William Belford from the New York archdiocese will instruct us on the New (Improved?) Roman Missal.

Folks, the unsinkable Roman Catholic Church has already hit several ginormous icebergs and is taking on water fast. Passengers are abandoning ship in droves. We are listing severely to the far right. And what comes from the Captain's quarters? The emergency announcements shall henceforth be given in theologically questionable, linguistically awkward and pastorally dubious albeit poetic terminology.

The argument for the need for said new retranslation is bogus and has been discredited by real Latin scholars who have pointed out that the 10,000+ changes that were made AFTER the U.S. bishops approved the "final" draft are not, in fact, closer to the Latin. Nor do they adequately represent sound Biblical and theological statements.

With all the serious issues our church faces, it is quite disheartening to see so much energy, attention and money given to making the Mass less accessible, more incomprehensible, yet "closer" to the Latin (at least as our Lord spoke it, anyway).

Oh sure, there are some nice revisions such as "Behold, the Lamb of God" and even "And with your spirit," but "Consubstantial with the Father" and "Incarnate of the Virgin Mary" won't come trippingly off the tongue. I'm not even sure if "consubstantial" is an SAT word.

For the most part, I doubt most parishioners (those that still come to church) will notice, much less care. It does, IMHO, give yet another indication of just how oblivious the clergy are to their real spiritual needs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.8 Earthquake

Nancy Kleppel and I looked across the table at one another and asked simultaneously, "Did you feel that?"

Head Chef Mike McLoughlin and Sodexo Manager Margie Sheehan said they didn't feel anything. Mike suggested there was construction going on. Two more minutes into our meeting of the All-Important Food Committee, my iPhone went nuts with Tweets, Facebook updates and news alerts.

All are safe here and plans continue apace to host 650 Haitians on Saturday for a day of prayer for which the six lawn-killing tents went up again today. These will come down on Monday, the lawn will be dead but in three weeks will rise again---only to be resacrificed for the Maryknoll Alumni Weekend, Sept. 15-18.

In addition, 40 Korean Sunday School teachers will be here for their annual workshop. To date, they have not hurt the grass.

Sent from my most excellent  iPhone

Monday, August 22, 2011

Maryknoll Alumni Centennial Promo

(Hopefully this link posted successfully and works!)

Check out this video on YouTube about the up-coming Maryknoll Alumni gathering here at Maryknoll September 15~18.

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From futures to formers

Having just spent last week with the future of Maryknoll, I am happy to oblige a request from Fr. John Sivalon to post a YouTube link to a short video about the upcoming gathering of Former Maryknollers (MARYKNOLL ALUMNI WEEKEND)from September 15~18 here at the Knoll.

This promises to be an exciting, dynamic and energizing event. Please check out this link:

[SORRY! I am experiencing some technical difficulties getting the link to post. Working on it!]

UNTIL FIXED, please search for Maryknoll Centennial Promo on YouTube.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Pablo Talevera & Ryan Thibault greet the community as they enter our formation program for the first time.

They clean up real nice

To start their academic year, our seminarians and Brother candidates, fresh from a truly transformational retreat with a director far too humble to tell you his name, gather for a welcoming Mass.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sharing the Word

Our seminarians and Brother candidates on retreat reflect on the meaning of discipleship in Scripture.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Volleying vocations

Seminarians, Brother candidates and retreat director (moi) take advantage of the break in the three-day downpour to play a few friendly (?) games of V-ball while on retreat at the OMI center in Connecticut.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dueling letters

Apparently even among Maryknollers, letters are flying fast and furious between members and our general council. The following was forwarded to me from Fr. Ken Thesing, former superior general, and is posted here with his permission. There are other letters in support of the action taken against Roy and in support of the Holy See which, if I can obtain permission, will also be reposted here.


Maryknoll General Council
PO Box 303
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0303                                       August 9, 2011
Dear Ed, Jose, Ed and Paul,
Greetings to you from Nairobi. I hope you are all doing well.
I opened up my computer a few minutes ago this morning and saw an article stating that you Ed and the Council have sent a second warning letter to Roy Bourgeois that he faces dismissal unless he recants publicly his position on the matter of women priests.
I do not favor expelling Roy from the Society; he has been excommunicated by the Church, his priestly faculties are suspended. What is gained by his expulsion from Maryknoll?
The Gospel from St Matthew chapter 18 that we read at mass this morning has Jesus saying: “Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not…go in search for that one?” Now as a farmer I always react to this story and answer that of course the first thing I will do is round up the 99 and put them in a safe place; then I will go to look for the stray. I have to be concerned for the 99. And as a farmer I remember the saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” So the first thing I do is look for the breach in the fence, the break. Then I know I am on the right path to look for and find the stray.
We are celebrating our 100 years of Maryknoll Society…unbroken. I think the meaning of that 100 in the Gospel is completeness. It is a serious matter when that completeness is broken. If Maryknoll had had a serious difference and separated one year…even if we came back together we would not be celebrating this 100 years, the 100 years would not be complete. I think Jesus is saying the People of God, God’s flock belong together. So he came to find the lost, the marginalized one. He looked for and fixed, healed and mended the break in the fence that caused humanity’s being separated and incomplete by giving us a way to reform our attitudes and lives so that we can stay complete.
Is Roy a stray, lost a bit and separated from us? Yes he is…and he has walked away and bears responsibility for his actions. But he found the break in the fence, he did not create it, a weak spot in our Church and he went through it. So the Church too has some responsibility; Church leadership as well as Church followers have to keep the fence in repair: “Good fences make good neighbors.” Without working on the break, repairing the weak spot, Roy will stay out there…a stray. The neighbors will be upset. Our Society will be less complete if Roy is expelled, some members will be upset and yes some will feel better. Our Church too will be incomplete in the same way. We have seen this double reaction already after the first letter.
We have just had a wrenching example of our country’s politicians not dealing with a ‘break’ in our economic, our fiscal fence. They ended up just using power, whatever each had. And they ‘kicked the can down the road’ as commentators said. Because they did not deal with the problem, the break in the fence, we can all be sure the problem will return. So it will be with our Church and the issue of dealing justly and equitably with women. I do not pretend to know exactly where the ‘break’ in the fence is on this issue, nor do I pretend to know exactly how to fix it, but I do know that if the farmer (Church leadership) does not first go out and look for the break, the weak spot in the fence we will not achieve our goal of being complete…of having all 100…of having unity in the People of God that I think Jesus challenges us to form.
Again you all do remain in my payers.
Ken Thesing
PO Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Open letter to Fr. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.

Dear Roy,

I write this to you with an unlikely mixture of pride, sadness, anger and joy. No matter what, I will always consider you my brother in faith. Barring a successful appeal to Rome, in a matter of days you will no longer have the privilege of appending M.M. to your name, yet paradoxically ours will be the greater loss.

Despite several articles by otherwise astute writers claiming the contrary, you will NOT lose your monthly allowance or health coverage from Maryknoll. Such a vindictive action would truly betray not only the Maryknoll spirit we share but the gospel we profess. That same gospel and Maryknoll spirit will no doubt continue to inspire you whether you are canonically in the Society or not. You will be freer, in a sense, to continue your advocacy on behalf of the ordination of women, yet without membership in the Society we all love.

I just wish, in all your righteous claims to the primacy of conscience, you'd have said a word of acknowledgement of the effect your actions have had on Maryknoll. This might have assuaged some of the anger and sense of betrayal some Maryknollers feel, not toward your stated goal of promoting the ordination of women, but rather because of your methods that seemingly disregarded the negative impact on the Society. Likewise when Maryknoll's reputation was taking a hit because of this situation and we were losing supporters despite our pledge of continued financial support for you, a word from you defending the Society would have been greatly appreciated.

My position on the ordination of women has been a matter of public record since my editorial in MARYKNOLL magazine in May 1993. In it I asked, "If a woman could produce the body of Christ physically, why can't women produce it sacramentally?" More than any other person, the Virgin Mary can point to Jesus and say, "This is my body; this is my blood."

Of course, this was before Pope John Paul II strictly forbade even thinking about discussing this topic, so I have obediently refrained from thinking about discussing it.

My anger arises from the second reason for your dismissal as described in the second canonical warning that you forwarded to me. It states: "Grave scandal given to the people of God, the Church, especially in the United States, and scandal given to many of the Maryknoll priests and Brothers...."

If causing grave scandal is sufficient reason for dismissal from religious life, many bishops should have been booted out years ago. Plus, I have not come upon a single Maryknoller who is scandalized by your actions. Outraged, frustrated, aggravated, agitated, perturbed and resentful, yes, but scandalized? Not so much.

We are Maryknollers. We are scandalized by a system that repeatedly put the reputation of the institution above the welfare of children. We are scandalized that Catholics are deprived of the Eucharist because of a chronic shortage of priests, thus sacrificing the spiritual well-being of people on the high altar of male, clerical celibacy. We are scandalized by those who consider the ordination of women as even remotely equivalent to the molestation of children as harmful to the church.

And I, for one, am scandalized that laicization is part of the disciplinary action taken against you. What an insult to the laity that their state would be considered a punishment!

Yet as a veteran conscientious objector from the Vietnam war days, I am also proud of the stance you have taken. May your case continue to focus public attention and the light of reason on aspects of church law you consider unjust. Gandhi taught it is precisely in accepting the punishment for breaking an unjust law that people will realize how wrong the law is and demand change.

God speed, Roy, as our Maryknoll paths diverge, yet take heart knowing we will each in our own way continue struggling to realize the values of the reign of God in our church and in our time.

Keep us in your prayers, as we do you in ours.

"All things work together for good, for those who love God...." (Romans 8:28)

(Rev.) Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Of Bourgeois, Pardy & Facebook

As (soon-to-be ex) Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois receives his second canonical warning of impending dismissal from the Society, (Read about it in the New York Times or yesterday's National Catholic Reporter a scene from the musical Camelot comes to mind.

Mordred, King Arthur's illegitimate son, has forced the King into an untenable situation: destroy Queen Guinevere or destroy the law, upon which the entire concept of the Round Table is based. The King consigns his queen to the flames for her infidelity as demanded by the law, and then prays Sir Lancelot will lead a rebellion to save her. The rebellion succeeds, but Camelot crumbles as a result. Amid the smoldering ruins, Arthur discovers a young boy with aspirations to one day become a knight of the Round Table. The dream lives.

Acknowledging that all metaphors limp, I urge readers not to take this analogy too far. It's offered simply as my personal feelings as I watch this drama with Roy play out. Roy follows his conscience, Maryknoll follows the law, and Camelot crumbles. I can only hope our vision for a Church truer to the gospel will emerge.

On a totally unrelated topic (I hope), the earthly remains of Maryknoll Bishop James Pardy were exhumed last week from our cemetery. With the consent of his family, the remains were then cremated to facilitate translation (I love that word in this context!) back to Korea and the diocese of Cheong Ju. Pardy was the founding bishop and Catholics there thought that Cheong Ju was a more fitting resting place.

I received an email from Father Emile Dumas on Saturday wondering if there was a traditional Korean urn used for cremains (a neologism and portmanteau, btw, scoffed at by purists who say ashes are ashes). From Wikipedia: "The Cremation Association of North America prefers that the word 'cremains' not be used for referring to 'human cremated remains.' The reason given is that 'cremains' is thought to have less connection with the deceased, whereas a loved one's 'cremated remains' has a more identifiable human connection.") I responded to Emile that, to my knowledge, Koreans dislike cremation because it retained the stigma of being reserved for convicts or those who died of dangerous diseases, so subsequently as long as the Koreans themselves don't mind, any tasteful and respectable urn would suffice.

In the coming days, said urn and contents are to be escorted back to Korea by a priest of the Cheong Ju diocese. Apparently it is much easier to get ashes through customs and across borders that it would be to attempt this with the original coffin. The cost, too, is considerably less, though I have to ponder whether the urn will be stored beneath the seat in front or above in the overhead bin. I presume the bishop's ring and mission cross were removed for future veneration. The now vacated grave here at the Knoll will remain empty and retain the original headstone, as per the family's wishes.

This all leads up to the main story (It does, if I say so) that for sometime now, Maryknollers here at the Center may indeed access Facebook, despite what you may have read on this blog. All that is required is for the member to email Fr. Mike Duggan, the U.S. regional superior, with the request. Mike will then forward this to the good people in our I.T. Department who will then forward it for vetting to Father Ed Szendrey. I encourgage all Maryknollers to start a Facebook or Twitter account, as that is the cutting edge of evangelization and we want to get the Maryknoll mission story out there. Your personal story is where it's at.

Finally on a seemingly unrelated but nonetheless strangely tangential note: one of the men attending the Vocation Encounter ten days ago shared that he was a recent convert to Catholicism from the Episcopal church. I couldn't help but marvel at this, and likened it to going from the Andrea Doria to the Titanic, the difference being the rate at which each is going down. (See above reference to the destruction of Camelot.) I sought to assuage his shock by reminding him we follow the One who walks on water.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maryknoll's 100th makes the news (Finally!)

I'd all but given up hope that any of our Centennial celebrations might earn us some outside media coverage, when one of my Korean Sunday School teachers (Thanks, Mary!) forwarded the following link.

Mr. Gary Stern, reporter for the Journal News and the lower Hudson Valley on-line version did a great piece on our Foundation Day Mass last June 29th.

Gary has covered us on many occasions over the years and knows enough about Maryknoll to write an insightful article.

This came in a timely manner since I am away on retreat this week, so am not privy to any salacious salad-bar stirrings.

So read and enjoy!