Bulletin (September 9, 2001)
This past week I was asking our students if they were happy to be back in school. Some were; some were not. September marks a change of pace not only for students, but also for most of the rest of us. Here at Holy Family we face some important challenges as we begin this new school year.
During the summer, the Planning and Research Department of the Archdiocese has been helping us set up a process to form a strategic plan for our parish. Rob Van Tassel and Alicia Martinez are serving as consultants in this process. Two ways we will be asking participation from all parishioners is through the survey and the listening session on October 11. Tom Weber (parish administrator), Stephen Morissette (school principal) and Abel Magaña (pastoral associate) together with three members of the parish are helping get all this organized.
Part of the reason for this process is that we face some important decisions regarding our building needs. Completing the new school porch and canopy was a significant step, but much more needs to be done: elevator, inner seismic repairs, plus repairs and maintenances of other edifices such as the school and Ailbe House. Also we need to address the future needs of the parish in terms of a multi-purpose facility with gymnasium and social hall. To form a strategic plan regarding buildings it is important to hear from all parishioners.
The strategic planning process comes at the time when we are forming a new parish council. When I was placed in charge of Holy Family five years ago, Greg McNabb assisted me in setting up a council which for three years labored to form goals and objectives for the parish. During the past two years we have been involved in implementing and evaluation. Part of the recommendation involved the need for bilingual staff members so we could better serve our Hispanic brothers and sisters who are attracted to this parish. Besides pastoral associate Abel Magaña who was hired by my predecessor, Fr. Ross Fewing, we have brought on board receptionist Monica Orozco, pastoral assistant Cynthia Ramirez and Frances Barron, our school secretary. In addition we have had the good fortune of acquiring the services of Vicente Bolisig as Bookkeeper and Fr. Ramón Velasco as parochial vicar.
As part of the effort to better serve the parish and conserve funds, we are using some of the rooms in rectory and Ailbe House as living quarters for people working in the parish. I have been living in the rectory since July of 1997. More recently Tom Weber has also been living in the rectory. This is both a savings to the parish as well as providing an additional measure of security. People who make use of the Ailbe House have appreciated the fact that Fr. Ramon Velasco, his sister Rose and Vernon Wells (our youth minister and sacristan) are living there. I am sure you notice the Ailbe House is both more secure and better cared since people are once again residing there.
Speaking of Vernon Wells, I want to encourage youth of the parish to attend the weekly meetings, Sundays, 7 p.m. in the Ailbe House library. Vernon brings a great enthusiasm and an ability to motivate young people regarding their faith. In addition he helps direct the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) which meets Thursday evenings, also 7 p.m. in the library.
On a different note, I want to invite young married couples to the class which Darcy Hemstad, R.N. will be giving this Sunday on the Billing Methods of Natural Family Planning. The class will take place at 1:45 p.m. in the library. The proper understanding and respect for what the Catechism calls “marital fecundity” is vital for every Christian today. Even in the secular milieu many people are becoming more aware of the harmful effects of contraception. Following is a quote from The Whole Woman (Doubleday, 1999) by leading feminist Germaine Greer:
These days contraception is abortion, because the third generation pills cannot be shown to prevent sperm fertilizing an ovum. ... IUDs are clearly abortifacient ... Intra-uterine devices, medicated or not, work by creating inflammation of the uterus, often accompanied by infection; women who accepted them as contraceptive devices were actually being equipped with a DIY abortionists tool. The outcome was frequent occult abortion, heavy bleeding and pelvic inflammatory disease, with the accompanying elevated risk of ectopic pregnancy. All this suffering, all this mess, is the direct consequence of the insistence (by men that women be available at every moment).* Whether you feel that the creation and wastage of so many embryos is an important issue or not, you must see that the cynical deception of millions of women by selling abortifacients as if they were contraceptives is incompatible with the respect due to women as human beings. You must also see that expecting women to be grateful for the opportunity to have inserted into their bodies instruments for sucking and scraping out the products of avoidable conception shows them as much contempt. Fake contraceptive technology manipulates women in ways that we are coming to condemn when they are practiced on members of other species. What women don't know does hurt them. If we ask ourselves whether we would have any hope of imposing upon men the duty to protect women's fertility and their health, and avoid the abortions that occur in their uncounted millions every day, we will see in a blinding light how unfree women are.
This dehumanization, which Germaine Greer describes, can be avoided by considering this teaching of Jesus:
Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which "is on the side of life" teaches that "each and every marriage act must remain open 'per se' to the transmission of life."…"This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act." (Catechism 2366)
*Original sentence: All this suffering, all this mess, is the direct consequence of the insistence upon the accessibility of the cervix to the ejaculating penis.