In the Vineyard  ::    June 4, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 11

National News

As a grassroots movement, ensuring that the voices of our members are heard is critical to our success. A task force committee has been formed to investigate and propose alternative models to the National Representative Council to best represent the grassroots voice of the VOTF membership. The committee has begun its work and will present proposals at the September meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Co-chairs are Elia Marnik and Mary Pat Fox.  Members also include Bill Casey, Ron DuBois, Svea Fraser, Anne Wilson, David Biersmith and Jim Beyers. The committee is actively soliciting input from VOTF members. You can send your suggestions to Elia or Mary Pat at the email addresses below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Elia Marnik    

Mary Pat Fox

Nominations for Priests of Integrity Awards
Presentation at the 2009 VOTF Conference

All affiliates and members of VOTF are invited to nominate priests whose actions exemplify the gospel imperatives of honesty, openness, courage and compassion. While many priests work faithfully and often anonymously in their ministries, we encourage acknowledgment of specific acts that demonstrate the leadership needed in our church.


Members of the ad hoc subcommittee of the Goal #2 National Working Group:

Joan Bedosky


(Member, National Working Group for Priest Support)

Fran Hofmeister


(Member, NWGPS)

Bev Rowden


(Member, NWGPS, RECEIVES 2009 nominations)

Elizabeth Warren


(Member, NWGPS)

Bud Bretschneider


(Representative of the General Membership)

Svea Fraser


(Trustee, ex officio Member of NWGPS)

Please Join Us!

2009 Voice of the Faithful National Conference
Making Our Voices Heard

Hosted by the Long Island Voice of the Faithful
October 30-31 2009

Featured Speakers:   Joan Chittister, O.S.B and  
Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.
Location:   Huntington Hilton, Melville, Long Island
Click here for hotel information

Join us as we pray together as one voice, learn about VOTF’s current strategic plan and exciting new projects, and participate in stimulating conversations. It is a great chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones as we convene some of the most active and committed Catholics to “make our voices heard.”

A Welcome Advance for Transparency in the Church

The release of the Ryan Report in Ireland highlights the need for accountability in the Church.  The shocking abuse by clergy, religious, and lay people in Irish institutions detailed in the Ryan Report shows how denial and cover-up allowed abuse to fester.

Denial is now in retreat in Ireland.  Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor has called for “examination and explanation,” regarding the abuse. Archbishop Diarmund Martin of Dublin and Cardinal Sean Brady, who urged compensation for the abuse victims, have echoed his call. Their words underscore the need for what Voice of the Faithful, including our Irish affiliate, continues to seek: transparency and accountability in the Catholic Church.
Read the full press release

News from the Affiliates

Submitted by Clare Keane
On Monday June 1, Winchester Area VOTF held a Prayer Service of Hope and Healing in St. Eulalia's Church. Prayers were read by many of the participants, hymns of comfort were sung, and petitions were placed in front of the altar. As a prayerful voice, we fulfilled our VOTF goal, and also brought our personal intentions to the service.

Many of our loved ones are facing serious illness, notably our pastor Fr. Tom Nestor, and also Bob Morris, the founder of our affiliate, who was diagnosed last year with ALS. Bob continues to work and to visit the affiliate from his new home in Rhode Island, even as the disease progresses.

On that topic, a group of us are walking for Bob in the Sharon Timlin Road Race in Hopkinton, MA on June 20.

Platform News

Editor’s Note: The following is part of an ongoing series of updates from our platform groups.

Spiritual & Communal Growth Platform
Submitted by Kevin O’Connor

Several months ago a member of our Board of Trustees chided VOTF for our lax attitude towards prayer. She acknowledged that our gatherings invariably begin with a prayer. But from that point on, prayer becomes secondary to more pressing matters. It was from that casual remark that the Spiritual & Communal Growth Platform began to take shape.

International News

Update on the Ryan Report
Submitted by Sean O’Conaill

The impact of the Ryan report is unprecedented in Ireland—with Ireland's bishops seeking to distance themselves from the religious orders in the dock for decades of abuse.

But this is difficult, as we all know that the bishops themselves had the power to prevent what happened and did nothing. They especially did nothing to develop an understanding of Catholic social teaching in the aftermath of Vatican II—the era when most of the now mostly elderly victims suffered every possible kind of abuse.

Site Seeing

The nomination of Judge Sotomayer would make Catholics the most represented religion on the Supreme Court.

The Catholic church’s top women religious organization this week issued a strong supportive statement for U.S. women religious congregations under investigation by the Vatican. Read more in National Catholic Reporter.

NCR discusses Judge Sotomayer’s nomination to the Supreme Court


The Vineyard calendar is published twice monthly. If you have something to include about an event in your area, please send it to

Beth McCabe, Connecticut co-chair of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and fellow survivor Brian Walsh will speak at the June meeting of Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport (VOTF), to be held on Thursday, June 4th, at 7:30 pm at The Congregational Church on the Green in Norwalk. For more information and directions go to  All are welcome.

THE GUADALUPE MISSION IN WIMAUMA will hold a Voice of the Faithful meeting from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. June 8 at 16550 S U.S. 301. "Magdalene Sisters," a movie about girls facing abuse in Ireland, will be shown, followed by a discussion. Admission is free. Call (813) 633-8780. St. Petersburg, Florida VOTF.

Doing any shopping lately? If so, please shop at! Anything you purchase from by following a link to their site from VOTF means a small donation to VOTF! And we get that donation on books, DVDs, CDs, electronic equipment, apparel, toys and more, even gift certificates.

Letters To The Editor

VOTF’s Bill Casey submitted the following letter to America Magazine.

Re: America Editorial, “The Markey Bill”, June 1, 2009.  America calls for justice for those that might be falsely accused of sexually abusing children when it opposes Bill A.2596 currently before the New York legislature. Certainly, the presumption of innocence is a reasonable and time-honored principle in American jurisprudence. But what if that principle upholds justice for a small number of people and allows injustice to affect a much larger group?

The number of clergy who have been falsely accused of sexual abuse over the last seven years pales by comparison to those whom Church officials acknowledge have abused children and for whom they have paid out over 2 billion dollars in settlements alone. How is it justice to prevent those who have been sexually abused as children a one-time opportunity to PROVE their claims in a court of law, if such claims are currently barred by unmercifully short statutes of limitation? Victims face a significant burden in overcoming the staleness of evidence and the unavailability of witnesses in substantiating their claims, but at least they deserve an opportunity to seek legal relief. The evidence is compelling that most child victims of sexual abuse are simply unable to make public their abuse for years and often decades.

Our laws recognize that allegations of murder are justifiable exceptions to statutes of limitations. It’s time to recognize that “soul-murder” deserves the same exception. At the same time, justice requires appropriate protections for those accused until a legal judgment is awarded and exoneration if claims are not substantiated. This issue does not lend itself to an either/or choice. Let our Church officials champion justice for all.

Bill Casey
Alexandria, VA

Update on Vigiling Parishes
I thought that the Vineyard might want to make available for reading the Council of Parishes' Mediation Initiative, which the vigiling, suppressed, and suppression-threatened parishes in 8 dioceses submitted to an undersecretary of state to the Vatican during Holy Week. A copy of the initiative can be found as a .pdf document at the following link to vigiling parish St. Jeremiah in Framingham, MA

To me, the document is the important news, but there are AP reports from Rome and Boston of this event, as well as articles from NCR and the Tablet (British Catholic weekly, which carries great weight in the English-speaking world), and local news reports in Boston, Cleveland, New Orleans, Adams, MA, and areas of Pennsylvania. FutureChurch also has collected news reports of this effort.

This effort is consistent with our Third Goal, structural change within the church by increasing lay participation in administration of our parishes, dioceses and Church.
Sharon Harrington
Scituate MA

Editor’s Note: Below is an article from NCR on the vigiling parishes.

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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Affiliate News

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