In the Vineyard  ::    July 2, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 13

National News

2009 Priest of Integrity Award Nominations
The National Priest Support Working Group is now accepting nominations for the 2009 Priest of Integrity award that will presented at the Long Island National Conference October 30-31st.  Deadline for submission is August 1st.  Click here for nomination information and requirements.

Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award
The ’09 National Conference Committee is seeking nominations for this year’s Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award. This award was established by the 2005 VOTF Convocation Steering Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees at that time.

VOTF established this award because Catherine of Siena encountered corruption and crisis in the Church and took noble and effective action to end it. Grieved by scandal and undeterred by rank, she was spurred on to reform the Catholic Church. Catherine of Siena went directly to Pope Gregory XI and through determined and courageous efforts became the catalyst for ending the crisis precipitated by the Avignon papacy.


Save the Date!

Featuring SR. JOAN CHITTISTER, O.S.B., and

Join in lively discussions as we come together to reflect on the state of our church and how we can be part of the changes that will renew our faith. Sign up now! Also remember to use the reference code VOTF for the hotel reservation.

News from the Platform Committees

Local Action Platform:
Global Change Starts With Local Action

The mission of the Local Action Platform Group is to increase the active participation of the lay faithful in the mission and ministries of each parish and diocese. Our approach will be to discover and describe models or “best practices” in such areas as parish governance, financial administration, child safety and community life. We will then provide the resources needed by the laity to implement these best practices in their own parishes and dioceses. Since effective implementation will be dependent on the existence of strong, effective VOTF affiliates, our platform team also aims to provide the tools needed to strengthen VOTF affiliate operations and communications, so that each affiliate has the resources needed to help the laity achieve the best practices defined.


News from ireland

Irish Report Sheds Light on Widespread Abuse Cover-Up
The shocking report released in late May by the government-appointed Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse details the depth of child abuse at the hands of the clergy and religious of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Roughly 2,000 men and women were abused in more than 100 schools and institutions run by religious orders dating back to the 1950s. This latest report is another example of the worldwide issue of clergy abuse—an issue that cannot be resolved without an end to the culture of secrecy and a call for accountability. Click here to read the VOTF national press release or visit the VOTF Ireland website to view their press release.

You also may be interested in reading an article sent to the Irish Times by VOTF’s Sean O’Conaill.


News from the Affiliates

After reading about newly installed Gallup Bishop Wall's initiative to investigate all past and present priest personnel files, the Twin Cities affiliate thought to try and promote this policy. Who better to start with than Twin Cities native Robert Carlson, recently appointed as Archbishop of St Louis? Below are our letters to these 2 bishops.  We plan to continue this practice with all newly appointed bishops, including Saginaw, MI.

Suzanne Severson
Twin Cities VOTF Steering Council


We would love to hear about other affiliates across the country! Please send your updates to

Site Seeing

A very interesting article by Dr. Robert Moynihan about the new movie “Angels and Demons” and the reaction from the Vatican.  What is truth, what is fiction? And does the Vatican care?

John Allen interviews Archbishop Gregory Aymond, the new Archbishop of New Orleans, and get his thoughts on the sex abuse crises and how he will handle it going forward.

David O’Brien has some advice for the Bishops.

Suggested Reading

A Pulitzer Prize Mother - 2009

By Ruth Bertels (from her website Taking Five)
When religion becomes more complicated than it seems Jesus ever meant it to be, these words from Alice Walker’s book, “Color Purple,” come to mind.
“Tell the truth. Have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for God to show. Any God I ever found in church I brought in with me and I think all the other folks did, too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
Margaret Marie Bragg, mother of Pulitzer Prize journalist, Rick Bragg, read her Bible, but she didn’t go to church to share God, for she didn’t own a dress fit for the Lord’s house, nor shoes without holes.

Letter to the Editor

My eyes are wide open to the mistakes the hierarchy has made and continues to make, but I see them as men who are equally as imperfect as me.  I assume that the laity is equal to the hierarchy -- that the hierarchy can't exist without us, and we without them.  And that's because I've been lucky enough to witness that from the inside.  The Archdiocese of Boston has made it pretty clear that in the foreseeable future, our parishes will be sharing priests, and the daily pastoral care will be administered by the laity.  So why the fight for a seat at the table, when the table's already set?  We have an obligation as Catholic Christians to participate fully.  It's a model my parish has already begun.  Our pastoral associates (two nuns who shared the position) left this winter.  Lay Catholics, including me, have been tapped to fill many of their duties while we look for a replacement.  But even when we hire someone, we will continue many/most of those duties.  Bottom line -- assume that VOTF has helped forge a way for the laity and encourage people to take an active role in their faith communities, to be leaders, to let their voices be heard.  Frame it like the battle is won, because there is, in fact, no other option.  And take credit for making the laity important to the future of the Church.  Above all, get to the point -- our faith defines us as Catholic Christians.  Our goal is to move ever closer to Christ.  VOTF may likely share that belief, but they're not saying it.  It seems the mission is rooted in animosity.  I know many people have suffered and are righteously indignant, but to move forward, VOTF needs to start from a place of unity, a place of common love, a place of Christianity.  Hope springs eternal.  Not blind faith, but hope.  That may be too simplistic a view, but I don't see any other way for VOTF to expand. 

Linda Phelan

Dear VOTF,
Thanks so much for your criticism of the bishops' conference.  It was well deserved.  I have always wondered about the other priests in the rectory while all this abuse was going on.  Most of this happened when there were several priests living together.  Did no one speak up, were they squelched, or what was the role of the pastor?
Mary Z.

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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