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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 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/us/09priest.html or yesterday's National Catholic Reporter http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/bourgeois-facing-expulsion-maryknoll) 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.

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