In the Vineyard   ::    May 7, 2009   ::    Volume 8, Issue 9

National News

VOTF held its first platform teams meeting May 1-2 in Hartford CT. The gathering gave members of the platform teams a chance to meet face to face with both their own teams and members of other teams. Each team outlined its goals for the upcoming months and looked for places where they could work together with other teams as well. They also discussed the need to support affiliates and to make sure the work under each platform aligned with the Mission and three goals of VOTF. Over the next couple of issues of In the Vineyard, I will ask each of the platform teams to update the membership on the projects for each platform and how they plan to carry out those projects.

As a prelude to the meeting, Janet Hauter, VOTF Vice President, put together a presentation on “branding” and discussed how perceptions both of members and of the community as a whole affect the VOTF brand. Every action in every project must reinforce the VOTF brand, Janet noted. See excerpts from that discussion here; the full presentation also is available if you email

Help Wanted NOW
We are looking for someone with experience who is willing to help us organize and edit a Program Book for the October Convention on Long Island. The Program Book is essentially a fund raiser and will include paid advertisements and messages from our affiliates, members, associates and well-wishers from around the country. It will also include a limited amount of material specifically relating to the conference, such as Conference Program, President's Welcoming Message, Special Award Winners, etc. If you are willing to lend a hand in this important endeavor, please contact Kevin Connors at or 516-796-2231. Please reply ASAP; this effort is critical to the success of the conference.

October 30-31, 2009: VOTF National Conference

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. We will post additional info as it becomes available.

Priest Support Working Group Needs Your Help!
Submitted by John Ryan

One of the  more perplexing aspects of the vocation crisis is the fact that fewer than three out of every ten diocesan priests actively follow up with young men who show signs of having a vocation to the priesthood.  This is something that predates 2002 when the sexual abuse scandal broke.  Even the head of the Bishop’s Committee on Vocations and Priestly Formation stated “What inhibits priests from inviting young men to the priesthood is a matter for speculation.” 

News from the Affiliates

The Long Road to Justice: Lobbying for Statute of Limitations Reform
By Francis Piderit

On Tuesday, April 21, 2009, member organizations of the New York Coalition to Protect Children descended on the Capitol Building in Albany to lobby for passage of the NY Child Victims Act, sponsored by Assemblywoman Marge Markey in the NY Assembly (Bill No. A02596) and by State Senator Tom Duane in the NY Senate (S02586).

Here is a scene-by-scene replay of the day, the players and personalities, the action, the issues, and the lessons learned for wanna-be lobbyists of all ages.

To read more

We would love to hear about other affiliates across the country! Please contact

Site Seeing

VOTF’s Bill Casey was interviewed on Seattle Public Radio (KUOW) about the upcoming lawsuit against the Seattle archdiocese.
To hear Bill’s remarks:

To read an article about the case in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Mass celebrated to honor victims of clergy abuse

Father Richard McBrien talks about the “Grieving Church.”

More about Ruth Kolpack

More on the investigation of women religious by the Vatican


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

Elizabeth A. Dreyer, Fairfield University Professor of Religious Studies, will speak on Women's Spirituality for the 21st Century on Thursday, May 7 at 7:30 at the First Congregational Church on the Norwalk Green.

Dr. Dreyer, most recently author of Making Sense of God: A Woman’s Perspective, is general editor of the Called to Holiness series. She lectures widely on the Christian tradition, especially medieval mysticism, grace, the Holy Spirit and contemporary lay spirituality.
More information

Spiritual Thoughts

by Gaile Pohlhaus

Beliefs are faith put into words. Love is faith put into action.

We can be mistaken in both our words and actions. Dogmas seem to fossilize faith; at best they point to a truth but since words change in their meanings every day we can’t be sure that we got the point. The Holy Spirit did not intend to act as some mystical editor. I don't think we should idolize words, the Church (meaning the whole of baptized folk), nor the Eucharist (Communion, the Lord's Supper*), nor Jesus, nor the risen Christ.

Actions can also be pointing in the wrong direction. I am sure there were many well-intentioned folk on the Crusades and well-intentioned missionaries who confused Western Culture with following Jesus. We learn from our mistakes and sometimes we learn without making mistakes.

In any case when it comes to a choice, I believe that Love trumps Beliefs. (I am aware of oxymoron in preceding phrase.)

*I do not mean to imply that Eucharist = Communion = Lord's Supper; these words seem to have similar roles albeit in different churches.

Suggested Reading

Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century has added the following books to their suggested reading

Prophetic Witness: Catholic Women’s Strategies for Reform, Colleen M. Griffith, Editor

While many share the vision of a more inclusive and just church for the 21st century, practical strategies of reform and renewal are still desperately needed. This strikingly direct and practical volume brings together the voices of leading Catholic women theologians from across the U.S., presenting their particular strategies for the church.

Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century also recommends: Two Centuries of Faith: The Influence of Catholicism on Boston: 1808–2008; Thomas H. O’Connor, Editor

In recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Archdiocese, the president of Boston College authorized this series of scholarly essays focusing on the various ways in which Catholicism has influenced life and society in the Greater Boston area. Two Centuries of Faith covers such topics as Catholic Charities, parochial education, church-state relations, Catholic literary figures, the influence of women, the changing nature of parish life, as well as a contemporary history of the Archdiocese of Boston.

If you are interested in purchasing either of these books, please go to and follow the links to Amazon. VOTF will get a portion of the proceeds. What a great Mother’s Day present!

Letter to the Editor

A young man (in his early forties) who is a deacon in my parish lost his wife to a terminal illness this past year. A requirement of becoming a permanent deacon is that one remain celibate for the rest of his life under such circumstances. This requirement, along with the requirement of celibacy as a condition of ordination to the priesthood in the Latin Rite, is one that is purely arbitrary and one that has no inherent connection with ordination to either the diaconate or the priesthood. It is well known, or it should be, that a good number of our current priests struggle mightily with this requirement, and that there are more breaches than we would like to believe. In the case of our good deacon, with three young children to boot, tell me how the church will be better served by requiring his lifelong fidelity to this requirement. The National Working Group for Priest Support of Voice of the Faithful ( has been advocating for a serious exploration of these and other areas relating to our priests and the priesthood. We invite your participation in these conversations.

 By John Ryan on April 28, 2009 at 1:00 PM
(This letter was posted in America Magazine)

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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