Dear Parishioners for Justice,
As a faithful lay minister at St. Isabel for many years, I am concerned about those who would view my decision to resign from my ministry position as something sinful. I know that I am one among many who have done so, and I feel the pain of those who, like me, are being characterized as evil. In a parish where there was once only an “us,” there is now also a “them,” for the Diocese, the parish staff, and the priest in residence seem to be doing everything they can to divide what was once a nearly homogeneous congregation. Even the parish bulletin reinforces this notion when it mentions the “fire of hatred and fear that will never beat us.” Those who no longer wish to cooperate with the injustice that has been inflicted on Fr. Christopher and on our parish are referred to as “crazies,” and, in spite of the staff’s potluck dinners, a large portion of the parish community are made to feel unwelcome.
What I previously proudly called “my parish,” is now something that I barely recognize. When I attend Mass there, because I feel I have no other choice, I recognize very few people. The familiar faces that were once there to warmly greet me and inquire about my health are no longer there. There are fellow parishioners who were strangers now doing the work of friends, and a painfully tense atmosphere has now replaced the uplifting joyful mood that once existed. The frequent presence of Khristy Scheer, who I almost never saw in church over the years, makes me feel like a prisoner being watched to keep me from doing “wrong.” The poorly trained priest in residence appears to think that a history lesson about the saint d’jour can replace a genuine homily that speaks to my life experiences and challenges me to be a better person. The change in music ministers has done nothing but help to make the celebration of the Eucharist a depressing experience.
I know that the Lord Jesus is still present in the Eucharist, and yes, I understand that His presence is not dependent on the talent of any individual priest. I also know that the celebration of Mass is meant to be a joy-filled and nourishing experience, and when tension and the pain of loss causes that to be anything but, then I am forced to find my spiritual nourishment elsewhere. It is unfortunate that others may interpret my resignation as something negative, but after seriously considering the current status of my parish, I have made a conscious decision to not enable or cooperate with the injustice that I have no power to correct. My conscience demands that I resign from my ministry, that I withhold my financial support from the parish that was once mine, and that I not attend the insincere and vapid functions that are meant to give me the illusion of belonging. Every parishioner is called to do whatever their conscience dictates, and I am convinced that the message to those in charge must be strong. Therefore, I am refusing to cooperate with those who want me to be satisfied with less than what we had. While I cannot undo the harm done to Fr. Christopher and to the St. Isabel community, I can at least boldly and proudly stand with those who have refused to cooperate with evil.
An extremely disheartened St. Isabel Parishioner