Bulletin (December 2, 2001)

Once when I was a child, I got lost in the woods. At first I just walked straight ahead, thinking I would eventually come to a clearing. However, the undergrowth soon became more tangled and I began getting scratched up, even taking a fall or two. I realized what I had to do was retrace my steps and find out where I got off the path.

Something similar has happened to us as a society. We have gotten ourselves into an awful tangle and perhaps it is time we consider retracing our steps to see if there is a way out.

This past week a Massachusetts lab called Advanced Cell Technology announced it had created embryos through cloning. They hope to eventually use such embryos to grow replacement parts. The idea is that if you need a new liver or kidney, all you would need to do is donate the genetic material from one of your cells and have it injected into an ovum. Of course, the embryo – which in this case would be your identical twin – would have to be destroyed so you could obtain the replacement organ.

Meanwhile Clonaid, which operates a secret lab outside the United States, said Monday it had created cloned human embryos before Advanced Cell Technology. Clonaid, unlike Advanced Cell Technology, wants to use its embryos to impregnate a woman and produce a clone.

How have we gotten into this tangle? About twenty-five years ago, in England, doctors produced the first “test tube baby.” She was beautiful and soon many couples followed the same path. Thus what formerly was considered an extreme dehumanization (remember Brave New World?) rapidly became an accepted practice in Western society. However, the fact something is generally accepted does not make it right. What In Vitro fertilization involved was separating babies from sex (and therefore a destruction of the sacred meaning of marriage). Once a person accepts that separation, is there any ground for objecting to cloning another human being?

But something else paved the way for separating babies from sex. In the late fifties, pharmaceutical companies began to market the birth control pill. It became widely accepted in our society. What the Pill made possible was the separation of marital love from procreation in a way never imagined before. Once we as a society accepted such a complete separation of sex from babies, it became relatively easy to accept the conception of a child in a petri dish. However, now that we are beginning to see where all this is taking us, is it not time to rethink those assumptions? Sometimes the only way out of a tangle is by retracing ones steps in order to get back on the right path.

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Many of you commented on how beautiful the funeral was for Fr. Cornelius Harrington. As pastor of Holy Family, it was most moving to concelebrate that Mass with Bishop George, Fr.Plummer and almost fifty priests from the Archdiocese. I was pleased and proud that so many parishioners attended. The family of Fr. Harrington was very grateful for the beautiful music and the lovely reception. I would once again like to express my gratitude to the ladies of the Sodality, to Pat Butler and the choir, and to Deacon Ted Wiese and Abel Magana who worked so hard to prepare the liturgy.

Fr. Harrington honored Holy Family Parish by willing us his chalice. On its base are inscribed these words: “Presented to Fr. Cornelius J. Harrington on the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood, May 22, 1941. By the members of Holy Family Parish.”

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Someone pointed out to me that at one Mass I had announced that Holy Family is “now a ‘Hispanic Church.’” Well, I must be losing my mind (something my sister and brothers have suspected for years) because I honestly don’t remember saying it. Holy Family is a Catholic parish of the Archdiocese of Seattle. The parish does not “belong” to any group. It would be better to say that we belong to each other. We need the participation of all parishioners whether of European, Asian, Latin American or African descent. It is true that, with 2000 attending our weekend Spanish Masses, Hispanics have become a major part of Holy Family. They are involved in the overall parish. For example, around 20% of our school children come from Hispanic homes. Over 360 children participate in our Spanish religious education program. The English language program also includes a number of Hispanic children. Hispanic families support the parish financially. Last Sunday, for example, the largest collection was at our 12:30 Spanish Mass. In addition at our Spanish Masses almost five hundred families filled sacrificial giving forms. The bottom line is that we not only belong to one another, but we need every member in order that Holy Family will continue to be a vital parish. The designation of Holy Family as an Hispanic ministry parish of the Archdiocese is nothing new. Over twenty years ago, when Fr. Heneghan was pastor, Fr. Jose Garcia celebrated the first regular Spanish Mass at Holy Family. When we have our listening sessions in January I will be listening with special interest to see where our parishioners feel the greatest needs and how those needs are distributed amongst various ethnic groups. I hope to see you all at those sessions.

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Our Junior High (ages 12-15) & Young Adults (ages 16-20) groups are going strong. I was impressed that three members of the Junior High group are now members of the “73 club,” that is, they can give from memory the names of all seventy-three books of the Bible. Both groups feature challenging and fun activities. If you have a son or daughter that age, please encourage them to attend on young adults group on Sunday or the Junior High Youth Group on Tuesday. Also please sign up for the Italian dinner sponsored by our Youth Groups on December 8. The proceeds will go to help the needy through our St. Vincent de Paul.