Bulletin (October 14, 2001)

Thank you for your stewardship. Last weekend a total of $12,948 were contributed in our first collection. Also after one of the Masses, someone gave me a check for $500 which is a wonderful help to our parish at this moment. We need your ongoing support to continue our parish programs and to be able help those who look to Holy Family during this difficult time. As I indicated last weekend, we are doing what we can to cut parish expenses in order to be able to bring our budget into balance. Holy Family has a great school and a great parish staff. They have rallied in amazing ways during this past month. I know you are as appreciative as I for their hard word and sacrifice. Please continue to give us the support of your prayers, your participation and your financial commitment.

Last Sunday we did a Mass count, that is, our ushers counted the number of people at each Mass. We have grown in comparison to previous years. Two years ago we had 2,658 at the six weekend Masses. This year we had a total of 2,881. (Also the 6 p.m. Filipino Mass averages fifty to a hundred, but for the sake of comparison those numbers are not included.) In 1995 the weekend Mass attendance was 1,791, so we have grown by almost eleven hundred during the past six years.

We are bursting at the seams in our Sunday morning religious education programs. It is tough finding the space for all the children. During the week our parish facilities are also heavily used. I am sure the building needs will be a major topic when we have our listening sessions beginning in January. As you know, because of the Sept 11 tragedies & their aftermath, it was decided to postpone this phase of the process for forming our parish strategic plan. Meanwhile we continue to gratefully receive donations for the School Renovation Project. Last weekend $785 were donated in the second collection at our Spanish Masses. Also the Italian dinner netted around $800 toward the eventual replacement of the school stove. All of us are most grateful to Betty Weller, her sister and all those who worked with her to prepare the delicious tortellini and spaghetti.

Besides addressing our parish needs, Holy Family has always been a parish concerned with the poor, both within and beyond our boundaries. I thank you for the beautiful $2,646 two-bit collection last weekend for the Mary Bloom Center. This will be a wonderful help for children and families in one of the poorest areas of the Americas. I will be going to Peru on October 15 and returning November 8. During my absence, Fr. Ramón Velasco, as parochial vicar, is canonically in charge of the parish. Of course, Deacon Ted, parish administrator Tom Weber, Mr. Morissette, Abel Magaña and all the other members of the staff will continue with their duties. Also during this time we will have the presence of Fr. Adrian Luevano who will be ministering mainly in the Hispanic community. I appreciate all you prayers and wishes for a safe trip – and want you to know you will be in my prayers while I am in Peru.

There is an article I have been saving for the past weeks. I asked P-I columnist Joel Connelly if I could reprint it in our bulletin and he said it would be OK. I believe he make some very important points. While we defend other people’s rights to freely express their opinions, we need to do the same for leaders and representatives of our own Catholic Church. During the summer, both the Seattle P-I and Times had some very hostile attacks on the Church by editorialists and also by our local representative to the U.S. House. Joel Connelly gave a very thoughtful response which merits serious reflection as we strive to build a more tolerant, respectful society. Please feel free to copy and pass on to others.

In The Northwest: The lingering stereotype that needs to be shattered

Wednesday, August 29, 2001



Late-inning Mariner heroics have pushed back dog-walking routines, so it is often past 10 o'clock and a blue van is pulling up at St. Therese Church as our family hounds lead their well-trained owner on his nightly trot.

Months before the Tent City homeless encampment began its monthlong residence in a church-owned lot, the Catholic parish in Madrona was quietly opening its school gym to late-night sleepovers by homeless men under auspices of St. James Cathedral.

The sight of St. James' blue van serves to underscore the church's role as Washington's second-largest social service agency, trailing only state government.

It's also a timely reminder of good works, given the recent working over that the Catholic Church has endured locally.

On issues from AIDS to stem cell research, Catholic teaching and "the Vatican" get described as medieval obstacles to 21st century progress. Archbishop Alex Brunett is wondering whose agenda and what purpose is being served.

"What is it about Catholicism that makes people comfortable calling us names and stereotyping us?" he asked. "Why do people want to stereotype Catholics? Is the Catholic Church the last object of socially acceptable bigotry?"

Brunett is disturbed at the excesses of two recent editorial page columns that condemned the church for opposing use of condoms as a way of dealing with HIV/AIDS in southern Africa.

A P-I piece asserted that "the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church declined to challenge Adolf Hitler as he ran amok through Europe." It likened HIV/AIDS to "a viral version of Hitler," warning of "similar ignominy" if Catholicism fails to give its blessing to condoms.

A Seattle Times columnist argued that this country should "stick to the secular and practical values of human progress." She speared Catholicism repeatedly, blaming the church for the spread of AIDS and giving emphasis to priests dying from the sexually transmitted disease. She claimed that Pope John Paul II is applying 12th century religious doctrine to the life of today. During the recent House debate on cloning, Seattle's Congressman-for-life Jim McDermott pegged the church in the Middle Ages as he upbraided its opposition to certain forms of stem cell research. McDermott brought up the trial of Galileo, and the 16th century Spanish king who asked the pope if it was all right for humans to drink coffee.

Disagreeing with the pontiff or bishops is one thing. Mockery, and comparisons chosen for purposes of insult, are quite another.

Agree with him or differ, John Paul II is a 20th century man whose view of human dignity and the value of life was shaped by two seminal events, brutal Nazi occupation of his native Poland -- he lived perilously as an underground seminarian -- followed by Soviet-dictated totalitarianism.

What other world leader, spiritual or temporal, can bring these experiences and perspectives to contemporary issues?

To smear the hierarchy with a broad brush as silent in the face of Hitlerism is flat out wrong. Consider events of August 1941 in the German city of Munster. At the height of its power, the Nazi regime launched a secret euthanasia program that put to death more than 70,000 of Germany's mentally handicapped. Propaganda schooled the public in a doctrine called "lebensunwertes Leben," roughly translated as life not worth living.

Bishop Clemens August von Galen revealed and condemned the euthanasia program in three sermons from the pulpit of his cathedral. Thousands gathered at Munster Cathedral to show solidarity with him. The sermons were secretly distributed throughout Germany.

The Gestapo and Hitler's top aide Martin Bormann wanted von Galen hanged. But propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels warned the regime would forfeit loyalty of an entire region of Germany.

Von Galen's head-on challenge halted the euthanasia program. He outlived Nazism. The bishop's sermons have an ongoing resonance six decades later as voters get asked to approve physician-assisted suicide, and scientists talk of human cloning. If "mercy killing" was justified with the mentally ill, von Galen asked, who could say that it would not be extended to wounded soldiers, the physically disabled and the old and infirm?

Locally, recent characterizations raise unsettling questions. Why do some people still feel free to toss out stereotypes about Catholicism -- and other religions, for that matter -- when ethnic, racial and sexual typecasting has fallen on such disfavor?

"I've spent my life in ecumenism," said Brunett, who is in Ireland this week as co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. "It is work that requires getting rid of stereotypes. Stereotypes create antagonism. You can't have dialogue -- you can't get anything done -- if people don't respect each other."

One particular stereotype needs shattering. The Catholic Church is not just the pope or "the Vatican." The church is the people of God trying to live their faith and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Of course they stumble and err, even those at the top.

Critics might learn from a late-evening walk past St. Therese.


From the Archbishop

A massive loss of life connects us

In the days following the terrorist attacks on the United States last month, it quickly became evident how many millions of Americans were directly and personally affected by these horrifying events.

As the massive loss of life began to be personalized with names, faces and stories, it seemed that almost everyone was connected in some way to someone who had died. A relative, a friend, an acquaintance, a neighbor, a co-worker, a parishioner, a colleague, a teacher, a classmate — someone to whom we were connected was lost. And with their death, our own life was diminished. A massive loss of life connects us as human beings in a way that perhaps nothing else does. And in that connection we often find strength, resolve, and unity.

As we begin our observance of Respect Life Month, it’s important that we recognize that a massive loss of life has been taking place in this country for more than a quarter of a century. It is a loss of life to which each of us is in some way directly and personally connected.

Tragically, it is a loss of life that has been largely anonymous. Names, faces and stories do not emerge from containers of aborted fetuses and embryos destroyed for their stem cells. Names, faces and stories are irrelevant in the compilation of statistics on suicides and assisted suicides among the sick, the dying, the elderly and the poor.

Yet, just as we are in some way directly and personally connected to someone who died in the terrorist attacks, we are in some way directly and personally connected to the loss of human life through the destruction of human embryos, abortion, suicide and assisted suicide. Sadly, however, we may not be aware that our own life has been diminished as a result.

With the legalization of abortion in this country in 1973, the architects of what has become a culture of death were given license to accelerate the devaluation of all life. Indeed, one could say that the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision slammed into the heart of America in a way that has been no less destructive than the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

During this Respect Life Month, I invite you to reflect on whatever direct and personal connection you might have to the loss of fragile human life. Likewise, I encourage you to affirm your own commitment to saving and affirming life. We must celebrate all the work that is done to prevent abortions; facilitate adoptions; assist single mothers and newborns; enhance the quality of life for persons who are elderly, disabled, sick and dying; and abolish the death penalty.

“Every Human Life Has Its Origin in the Heart of God” is the theme of Respect Life Month. A few short weeks ago we were reminded that human life is indeed God’s first and greatest gift, and that it is fragile. Now, with the same determination that our national leaders have resolved to rebuild New York City, we must resolve to rebuild a culture in which every human life at every stage and in every circumstance is defended and cherished.