Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

In the Vineyard: March 12, 2018

In the Vineyard :: March 12, 2018 :: Volume 18, Issue 5

News from National

Lent Reflections for 2018: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Ash Wednesday was about one month ago Then, we were signed with ashes and called to turn from sin and look to the Gospels. Let’s take stock of our Lenten disciplines so far: Has the fervor of Ash Wednesday worn off or has it deepened? (At right, Lenten ashes at Holy Family Church in Concord, Massachusetts)

The word Lent comes from the Old English word “lencten,” which means spring. Thinking about Lent as Spring Training, this season can be a period of rebirth and renewal, a time of getting our spiritual life back on track, like warming up our spiritual muscles to become more proficient and more deeply committed to spiritual growth during the season and, importantly, AFTER the 40 days of Lent.

Like most humans, we often fail and fall off the tracks of Lenten intentions. We need reminders! It’s time to revisit the three-pronged “Swiss Army Knife” of Lenten practices: Prayer, Almsgiving, and Fasting. Each practice can give us new tools; and each discipline provides new ways to be renewed one day at a time. Pope Francis’ Lent 2018 message penetrates the essence of these practices.

Devoting more time to prayer during Lent, we enable our hearts to “root out secret lies and forms of self-deception and then to find the consolation God offers.” A modest goal of committing 10 minutes each day to prayer during this season can help us be faithful to the presence of God in our lives.

Almsgiving “sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbor as brother and sister.” Remembering that our possessions are never ours alone, we practice this discipline of giving of ourselves to others so that it may become a genuine style of life.

Fasting disarms us of feeling satisfied and wakes us up to be more attentive to God and neighbor. This practice can be an expression of our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. The discipline of fasting “revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”

Pope Francis reminds us that the entire Church experiences this time of grace in preparation for Easter. God in his providence offers each of us Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion. Lent summons us and enables us to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our lives.”

We’ve been given the gift of Lent and the disciplines of the season; how shall those disciplines become more engrained in our daily life?

Take some time this week to explore the many ways God has begun to refashion you this Lent.

Phyllis Zagano on the Problem with Women Deacons

What's the problem with women deacons? Nothing, says Phyllis Zagano, scholar of women's ordination in the early church.

Do you agree? Read Zagano’s latest article in US Catholic and take the survey.

Should women be ordained as deacons?

Would ordaining women as deacons change everything in the church?

Read the rest of the essay and take the survey.

"She Was One of My Heroes"

Gaile Pohlhaus, Ph.D., former National Voice of the Faithful officer and inspirational guide for so many at Villanova University where she taught, in her Church, and in VOTF, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning, February 27, 2018. 

She lived a remarkable life, as the oldest of ten siblings, a nun, professor, activist, wife, and mother, her son Will said.

“I am very sad to hear this news―Gaile was one of my heroes,” said VOTF trustee Margaret Roylance, who worked closely with Gaile Pohlhaus on many of the organization’s initiatives. “Whatever I’ve done during the last 15 years to support VOTF has been based to a significant degree on her insights about the Church and about human nature shared during the early Structural Change Working Group days of VOTF. Requiescat in pace.”

Margaret continued, “We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Gaile and to her husband (Bill) for supporting those many trips to Boston for Structural Change Working Group and other VOTF meetings. Her health was never robust but her strength was beyond compare.”

“Gaile was a true Christian, a valiant worker and a wonderful friend,” said Elia Marnik, former VOTF Board Chair and leader of numerous VOTF projects. “She will be lovingly remembered.”

Her daughter continued this theme on her Facebook post, saying her mother was “a Christian who worked tirelessly and fiercely to reform the Roman Catholic Church, particularly with regard to women’s status within the Church and with regard to corruption of religious hierarchy in perpetrating and hiding sexual abuse.”

At the time of her death, Gaile was Professor Emerita in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. She had retired from Villanova in 2005, but she remained active in VOTF and continued teaching, studying, and writing about her major interests of theology and women’s equality, even after she started living in a nursing home.

“Gail was truly committed to the VOTF goals,” said Mary Freeman, former VOTF Trustee and coordinator of several working groups. “She flew up (to the Boston area) for committee and board meetings regularly. I was privileged to have her—and often Bill—stay with me. She shared so much of her spirituality. We became very good friends.”

Although active in every one of VOTF’s Structural Change Working Group initiatives, she was most involved with VOTF’s study on Parish Pastoral Councils and the Primer to identify the existing structures of the church as a first step in trying to change them. This work culminated in her presentation at the 2004 meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America: “Parish Pastoral Councils and the Voice of the Faithful.”

In addition to VOTF’s Structural Change Working Group, Gail was instrumental in many of VOTF’s women’s equality issues and programs. Her activities on behalf of women’s equality also spread outside VOTF. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference, for example, presented Gaile with its Mary Magdalene Award in 2013. Her profile in SEPWOC’s newsletter read, “The award recognizes courage and leadership for women in the church. Balance characterizes Gaile’s style; her courage has deep spiritual roots which allow her to challenge without alienating—mostly! She has a lifetime of working everywhere from parish to church reform organizations and academia.”

An early generation computer programmer and lover of all things tech, according to her daughter, Gaile also was a lifelong educator, teaching at high-school and college levels for decades. Gaile held a Master’s in mathematics from Boston College, a Master’s in theology from Villanova University, and a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University.

She spent the bulk of her teaching career at Villanova, becoming full professor of theology and religious studies and retiring as adjunct professor in 2005. Gaile also directed the Women’s Studies program at Villanova for several years, and after retirement was named an Honorary Member of the Gender and Women’s Studies program, having been responsible for developing a number of its assets, including the creation of its Resource Center and its graduate assistantship position.

Gaile was a member of the American Association of University Professors, American Academy of Religion, Catholic Theological Society of America, College Theology Society, and American Academy of Religion. She received the Catholic Theological Society of America Ann O’Hara Graff Award in 2005 and the College Theology Society National Service Award in 2007.

A VOTF founder and its first president Jim Post remembered Gaile as a “devoted VOTF member, officer, and leader inspired by a deep compassion for those in need. Her life was really defined by love of others.”

“Gaile’s voice was so important to VOTF and to me personally,” said Mary Pat Fox, present VOTF president, “especially when she served as VOTF Secretary from 2006 to 2008. She was so knowledgeable and kind, always there to discuss issues as they arose. She will be greatly missed.”

In a Facebook tribute, her daughter, Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., said, “I am grateful to have been her daughter. She taught me to imagine different worlds, to, as she would say, ‘walk around corners that aren’t there,’ to question authority, and to provide cogent arguments for the things I believe in. I will miss her very much.”







3x your impact! From March 12-31, Amazon is tripling the donation rate on your first purchase. The promotion launched TODAY, and ends on March 31.

This is a great opportunity to increase your donations to Voice of the Faithful by using AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile program is Amazon's dedicated portal through which a portion of your eligible purchases are donated to your designated charity. You must copy this URL into your web browser -- -- and then go to the AmazonSmile page to name Voice of the Faithful as the beneficiary of the donation. (Once you name us as the Smile recipient, the selection should be automatic each time you return to Amazon.)

Would You Like to Lunch with Our Speakers?

You can, if you register for VOTF's 2018 Conference before April 1 and we select your name in our drawing. The winner and one guest will join the trustees for a Speaker's Lunch on Saturday, Oct. 6. 

Click here to register. And if you already have registered? Good news--you are automatically entered in the drawing already! We will draw the lunch guest name from all those who register through midnight on March 31. But don't delay!

P.S. Even if you are not a winner here, you STILL get a free lunch -- the box lunch on Saturday is part of our Conference Package.

Scheduled speakers so far are:

Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., internationally known theologian, expert on Vatican II and Pope Francis’ leadership, prolific writer and sought after speaker, will address the Conference on Vatican II’s legacy for the laity. (Read more about Prof. Faggioli.)

Marie Collins, a forceful voice for clergy abuse survivors, a lay member of Pope Francis' initial Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and counselor to bishops' conferences worldwide on best practices for protecting children from abuse, is making a return visit to update us on the Commission's work -- including the obstacles she has faced. (Read more about Marie Collins.)

Attendees also will hear VOTF leaders talk about progress in healing the wounds of clergy sexual abuse; holding dioceses accountable for financial transparency; and developing resources for lay leadership.

Cost per person is still just $85 if you take advantage of our early-bird rate. Full -price registration will be $125/person.

Click here to register.

Date: Oct. 6, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: Providence RI at the Providence Marriott Downtown 

Make your hotel reservation now at a reduced rate by using this link to go to Marriott's Voice of the Faithful reservations page. VOTF's 2018 Conference takes place at one of the most popular time of the year for visitors to New England — Columbus Day weekend — so book your hotel room now. Use this link. (NOTE: We already sold out one block of rooms and have a limited number of additional rooms but those also are going fast.)

Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church


Cardinal to face Australian court on sex abuse charges
“The alleged victims of the most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis began giving secret evidence to an Australian court on Monday (Mar. 5). Australian Cardinal George Pell wore his clerical collar for the first day of the hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate Court to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to put him on trial. The committal hearing is scheduled to take up to a month.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

Irish bishop resigns after criticism of his treatment of abusive priest
“An Irish bishop announced his resignation March 1 after increased criticism over how he dealt with revelations of an abusive priest. Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore was criticized in a program on BBC Northern Ireland Feb. 28, after it emerged that he concelebrated a parish anniversary Mass in 2000 with a priest he knew had stepped down after being sent for treatment following complaints of abuse.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, on

Bishop at heart of abuse cover-up claims testifies in Chile
“The Chilean bishop accused of covering up sex abuse by a pedophile priest has testified before a Vatican mission looking into the allegations, a priest involved in the interviews said Friday (Feb. 23). Bishop Juan Barros has been among those interviewed by the team, said Father Jordi Bertomeu, who has been handling recent interviews in the investigation. But he did not say when the interview occurred, or whether Barros appeared voluntarily or was summoned.” By Associated Press on

Former papal advisor says Francis need to make sex abuse a priority
“A former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has charged that Pope Francis is not making the fight against sexual abuse a priority, and expressed her frustration with the procedures and limitations of the group, which she said led her to hand in her resignation last year …French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet said she tendered her resignation letter in June to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a member of the C9 group that advises the pope and the president of the commission, after she failed to convince the majority of its members to enact changes she perceived as necessary.” By Claire Giangrave,

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …


Adult Faith Formation Program at Saint Susanna in Dedham MA

The two Adult Faith Formation programs in March will be held on Monday evenings, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, at Saint Susanna Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There will be a refreshments break. There are no fees, there is no charge for refreshments, and there is no preregistration requirement. Free Will offerings are gratefully accepted to cover costs.

March 12 – Refugees. Those fleeing their countries due to war, famine, fear of death, and many other causes have become a crucial part of America’s conversation with itself, and a moral issue for those with religious beliefs of whatever persuasion. Speaker is Professor Westy Egmont of the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College, Director of the School's Immigrant Integration Lab, and a aonsultant to NECN on immigration issues. He will discuss Matthew’s Gospel rendition of the Last Judgment: “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” What does this mean in today’s world?

March 19 - The Sacrament of Reconciliation. with Father Stephen Wilbricht, CSC, of Stonehill College will continue the program's focus on Sacraments in the 21st Century. Father Wilbricht will be discussing what we have variously known as Confession, Penance, and Reconciliation, based on the latest thought.

MAY BOOK GROUP REMINDER: Barking to the Choir  by Father Gregory Boyle has been chosen as this year's book for Father Steve's Book Group. For those who don't know Father Boyle, here is a brief biography:

Gregory Boyle is an American Jesuit priest and the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry program in the world. He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics. He is the acclaimed author of Tattoos on the Heart (2010). Barking to the Choir is his second book, and he will be donating all net proceeds to Homeboy Industries.

All who plan on attending the Book Group on May 7, 14, and 21 are reminded that discussion starts with the very first session, so they should arrive having read the first three chapters of the book. The book itself is readily available both online and in bookstores, as well as at the local libraries in the Minuteman System.

Paulist Center in Boston

Every Christian knows the mandate that Jesus gave when he gathered with his friends on the night before he died: first he took bread… and then a cup of wine… and said. “Do this in memory of me.” We got it and do it. Bur there was another mandate given on the same occasion before they sat down to eat. He got up, tied a towel around his waist, and washed their feet, added: “What I have done for you, you must also do.” Did we “get” that one? This will be the last session in the 7-month Take Back Your Time series in holistic spirituality offered by Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP. Thursday, March 22, 7-8:15 pm (Suggested donation $10 - $5 students). For more information, call  or email at 617-742-4460 or

Questions, Comments?

Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.

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