In the Vineyard :: November 21, 2013 :: Volume 13, Issue 21

News from National

Add Your Voice to Those Advising Pope Francis

Voice of the Faithful® has joined other Church reform organizations sending Pope Francis input for the 2014 Synod on the Family. The Vatican released the preparatory document for the synod with a questionnaire on family issues. Bishops' conferences were asked to share it as widely as possible so that input from local sources could be received.

To ensure that your voice is heard, you may respond to the original questionnaire, use one of the web site links published by some U.S. dioceses, or add your voice directly to the questionnaire sponsored by VOTF and other reform groups participating in COR (Catholic Organizations for Reform). The COR questionnaire closely follows the questions asked by the Vatican but converted as many of those questions as possible into yes/no and multiple choice options along with the essay comments in the Vatican questionnaire. The online questionnaire must be completed by Dec. 15.

Let the Vatican hear your voice. Click here to answer the questionnaire.

Or if you live in a diocese where the Vatican version has been posted, you may wish to respond there. Here’s a list of those we know in the U.S.—note that some of these have deadlines as soon as Dec. 1:
Bridgeport CT
Davenport (Iowa)
Des Moines IA
Dubuque IA
Harrisburg PA
Philadelphia PA
Pittsburgh PA

And if you live in England or Wales, click here for that version.
A word of caution on these surveys: Some are designed to permit only one entry from a computer—so if you “review” the survey, or leave it and try to return, you may not be able to.

2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action

Enjoy a full day of presentations, workshops, prayer, and collegial collaboration at the VOTF 2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action. National Catholic Reporter Senior Correspondent John L. Allen, Jr., will be our guest speaker. Mr. Allen is NCR’s top Rome correspondent and has intimate knowledge of Vatican workings and how Pope Francis affects the previous status quo.

Six afternoon workshops will help you turn talk into action—using the window Pope Francis has re-opened for Church reform.
Lunch is included in the $80 per person registration fee.
AND if you register before Dec. 31, you'll be entered in a drawing for a $250 Master Card gift card.

The VOTF 2014 Assembly will take place Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and closing events conclude at 5:30 p.m. If you stay overnight in Hartford, you may make reservations at the Marriott Harford Downtown, located right next to the convention center, for only $89 per night.

Register online today or download a printable registration form and return to VOTF by mail.
More to come.

Albany Bishop Search

(Information for this article taken from
Last month Voice of the Faithful sent a letter and proposal to Pope Francis outlining a demonstration project for restoring wider lay participation in the selection of a diocesan bishop. The effort would have national bishop conferences conduct demonstrations, report on the results, and then submit them to the Vatican for development of “best practices.”

Perhaps they can take note of an effort just launched in Albany NY where a coalition of concerned members in the Albany diocese has prepared an online questionnaire with additional options for lay people to make their voices heard on the selection of a new bishop.

If you live in the Albany area, and would like your voice to be heard on the selection of the new bishop of Albany, please go to On this website you will find links to addresses to send letters with your recommendations, as well as a link to a questionnaire which will be summarized and publicized on the website.

Bishop Howard Hubbard, who has celebrated his 75th birthday, submitted his letter of resignation as Bishop of Albany to Pope Francis on October 31, 2013, as required by Canon Law. The Pope will appoint his successor guided by recommendations the Apostolic Nuncio will submit to the Congregation for Bishops.

According to present practice, those recommendations will be based on information gathered principally from the bishops of the New York Province, from some priests of the Diocese and, at his discretion, from select lay men and women consulted individually and confidentially. Many Catholics believe this restriction deprives the process of consultation with all the laity of the diocese to ensure that the Nuncio's recommendations enjoy a breadth and depth of information that could only more wisely inform the appointment of the new Bishop.

In 2010, VOTF requested Pope Benedict to “require the formal participation of lay men and women in the Episcopal recommendation processes ... preliminary to your appointment of new bishops.” To date, the Vatican has taken no action on this request. Yet, the requirement that bishops at age 75 submit their resignation lends itself to establishing an ecclesial process to solicit the recommendations of all the laity on their next bishop.  See “Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy” (which VOTF shared with the American bishops, requesting their support).

More recently, VOTF has written to Pope Francis, requesting that he encourage national Bishops Conferences to establish pilot projects incorporating a broad consultation of the local faithful when a new bishop is to be appointed. The VOTF proposal, prepared by our Bishop Selection Committee, details the mechanism for collecting lay input via projects the national bishop councils would conduct within their own countries. (To read more about this proposal go to

Book Corner
By Steve Goddard

Some may find it quirky that Father Henry Frascadore's world includes animals that communicate with one another, flowers that tell us how to live, the moon as an artistic burglar, pets talking with their masters, as well as lessons from scriptures and vignettes of Jesus healing lepers and feeding the needy.  But to the Hartford author of this unforgettable poetry collection, it just comes naturally, for these are all creations of God.

Henry, as the retired Catholic priest likes to be called, lives across the street from downtown's Bushnell Park, where he and his black lab Ramsey walk several times a day, rubbing elbows with 150-year-old elms, a fish-stocked pond, and the homeless people who have become their friends.  Along the way, Henry shares lessons with his readers, such as an appeal to slow down if we want to fully perceive and savor the blessed world around us. 

Steve Goddard is a Hartford attorney, author, historian, and book critic.

Here’s a poem from the collection titled conversations after sunset:

one by one
by Rev. Henry C. Frascadore

Jesus stopped in capernaum
on his journey through palestine
the sick in huge numbers
were brought to him
and Jesus laid his hands
on each of them one by one
teaching by his manner
that it is the human touch that matters

the people of the town
begged him to stay with them
for there was much to do
but he said
"i have to move on
to the towns of palestine
to teach there what I taught here--
that a crowd ceases to be a crow
when you look into the eyes of each one
and see your own."

Fr. Frascadore’s new book is now available on Please go through for all your Amazon purchases, and VOTF will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.


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

Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse
Prompts Push to Make Abuse Silence a Crime
Horrific sexual abuse cover-ups by the Catholic Church has led to a parliamentary committee recommending new offences for grooming children and failing to report crimes. The nation's first inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organizations found several thousand children were criminally abused by people within non-government organizations in Victoria over decades.” By Matt Johnston, James Campbell and Annika Smethurst, Herald Sun
 -- Report of the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government organizations: Summary, Vol. 1, Vol. 2
 -- Priests Asked to Read Commitment Statement at Mass
 -- Commitment Statement from Leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia
 -- Truth, Justice, and Healing Council Urges National Compensation Scheme for Abuse Victims

The Synod Turns Sexy, Statistics in a Global War
In this column, NCR’s John L. Allen, Jr., offers a Q&A on the preparation for the Synod of Bishops on the family and the 38 questions the Vatican distributed that seemed to indicate to some that the Vatican was “polling” Catholics’ opinions.
-- Can Anything Good Come for a Synod

USCCB Returns to Tradition with election of New President, Vice President
“Returning to a tradition they broke three years ago, the U.S. bishops elected Tuesday (Nov. 12) morning as their new president the sitting vice president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Task Force Supervisor to Control Group’s Access to Clergy Abuse Information
“A task force created to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will only have access to information provided by a church official.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

Read the rest of this issue of Focus by clicking here...


St. Susanna – Dedham Massachusetts

December 2 – The Nuns on the Bus: Sister Elaine Betoncourt, CSJ, one of the Nuns on the Bus, describes her presentation in her own words: “I'm excited about the prospect of talking about Nuns on the Bus. What I would like to do is weave together a presentation that includes Catholic Social Teaching, the moral imperative for Immigration Reform now, Nuns on the Bus, and our present day call to justice as one of political activism and changing systems. I was a nun on the bus for three weeks from May 28th to June 18th, from New Haven Ct to San Francisco CA.”
She will also speak about the Network Lobby and invite people to become members and join in Network's advocacy for laws that promote the Common Good (which is what Catholic Social Teaching promotes).

Sister Elaine is a Sister of St. Joseph from West Hartford CT. During her religious life she has been a teacher, a parish pastoral associate, and has held a variety of leadership roles in her congregation. She is currently serving as a member of a retreat team at Holy Family Monastery in West Hartford and involved in presenting weekend retreats to men and women. She is also on the boards of the Hartford Catholic Worker, the Spiritual Life Center (West Hartford) and the Hartford Archdiocesan Office of Social Justice Ministry. "I'm especially grateful for 6 years of ministry working with the poor in Appalachia from 1995 to 2001." Her education includes degrees in Latin and Theology.

This session is from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There is no pre-registration requirement and there are no fees, although voluntary donations are gratefully accepted to cover our speakers' honoraria and our refreshments.

Also coming in December to Dedham:
December 9 – Whole Hearted Living: Quietly, almost silently, Americans are realizing they are living lives that lack full meaning. At the forefront of this quiet dialog is Brene Brown and her concept of Whole Hearted Living. We can learn to ease into Whole Hearted Living with her book, Daring Greatly (as well as the other books she has written). We will see who whole hearted people are, what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. This will be a walk with Brene Brown, each other, and a handful of other authors who cover other areas of living that fit nicely into a discussion of America and its ever so quite awakening to Whole Heartedness.

It is recommended that you invite young adults to this program, as modern music by live musicians and an orientation towards young adults will be featured.

Producer/Presenter: Brian Dwyer of the Adult Faith Formation Commission. This session is on  Monday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the Parish Hall, 262 Needham Street, Dedham. There is no pre-registration requirement and there are no fees, although voluntary donations are gratefully accepted to cover our speakers' honoraria and our refreshments.

Sr. Christine Schenk, recently retired director of FutureChurch, will speak February 1, 2014, in Hartford, CT: You can't quench the Spirit: faith and the future of the Church. Session runs from 12:30-4:00 pm at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church, 285 Church Street, Hartford, CT 06103. Sponsored by Women of Hope: Vibrant Voices. For more information, please call 860-756-4034.

Join NJ VOTF for a Thanksgiving Liturgy at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 100 Harter Rd. Morristown, NJ
A Shared Liturgy with the Sophia Community
Presider: Mike Corso 
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 at 10:00am
All are also welcome at NJ VOTF’s next Eucharistic Liturgy Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm.

LetterS to the Editor

Re: Questionnaire for the October 2014 Synod on Family Life

Here is the response we sent on the Vatican document and questionnaire to our pastor, to Cardinal O’Malley, the USCCB, and Voice of the Faithful:

The Good News is that the hierarchy are raising issues and asking for our input. From our perspective, the Bad News is that the right questions were not asked by Rome and the bishops. The questions were asked from the wrong point of view … that of the hierarchy. The questions are theological and doctrinal, designed to instruct the laity in the “orthodox” teachings of the Magisterium. In our view, the questions fail because they have the wrong purpose. We also believe that the authors of the questions would fail the test of answering the questions. 

We believe that the questions should be asked from the point of view of the laity. They should be open and process questions seeking input from families regarding the problems of Family Life in the 21st Century and the influences of values, work, entertainment, stress, money/materialism, addictions, noise, sex, marriage and commitment. 

Additional questions should be asked addressing the family in the Catholic Church—how to evangelize the family in the parish life of worship and service.

The Catholic Church is a Big Tent Church and there are many views that are valid. Pope Francis is encouraging us to be reengaged in the life of the Church and is concerned about our pastoral needs. This is our opportunity to tell the Church WHAT questions should be asked and WHAT WE NEED.

Please read this Pastoral Initiative by the Bishops (Worldwide) of the Catholic Church and respond.  It is a great opportunity to participate and be heard.  We are sending this, our response,
Thank you, Frank and Julie McConville

Re: the Vatican Synod Questionnaire and Bishop Appointments

Congratulations to VOTF for moving quickly to join with other reform groups (COR) to develop a medium whereby laity and clergy will be able to register their concerns and recommendations to Pope Francis on Family Issues in preparation for next Fall's Extraordinary Synod.

Don't be upset about any lack of clarity on specifics, tone, direction, etc., of the coming Synod at this early stage. It was just like this in much of the early period after Good Pope John announced his call for an ecumenical council, but with his determined leadership Vatican II charted a new and progressive path for the Church.  In closing the Year 2000 Jubilee, John Paul II stated, “I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century  there we find a sure compass by which to taker our bearings in the century now beginning.” In Francis we have a Bishop of Rome determined to take up that compass once more to steer the Barque of Peter progressively into the third millennium, no question about it!

As regards the appointment of bishops (Hartford) in these early months of Pope Francis, again don't be too upset; much of the old manpower and mindset is still in place at the Congregation for Bishops, but will change decidedly for the better as Francis proceeds both with his reform of the Roman Curia and his clear promotion of the role of the Synod of Bishops, as intended by Vatican II.

Jack Doyle

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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