July 9, 2018
Dear Bishop Dewane,
Please accept the two enclosed volumes from Parishioners for Justice to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of your ordination to the priesthood. We congratulate you on your years of service to the people of God and your achieving a place of leadership and responsibility in the episcopacy.
Parishioners for Justice is the group that represents the majority of the active members of the Catholic community of St. Isabel’s Parish on Sanibel Island. We were formed to maintain and express continuing spiritual and public support for our beloved Pastor, Rev. Christopher Senk. The members of the Parish that Fr. Christopher served for more than fourteen years know him to be a good and faithful priest, who has counseled us, laughed with us, cried with us, and deepened our commitment to the Gospel message of Jesus. Parishioners for Justice includes many members of the Parish who are personally familiar with the individuals and events involved in the allegations against Fr. Christopher; based on their direct, personal knowledge, these parishioners have submitted formal statements that belie the charges. On June 19 Fr.Christopher marks the forty-second anniversary of his own ordination.
As you no doubt know, the unjustified removal of our Pastor has left a previously tranquil and spiritually sanguine Parish in disquieting limbo. The flock has been scattered by our pastor/ shepherd’s own Ordinary. But cf. Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23; John 10:11-18; 1 Peter 2:25 (all of which call upon the shepherd to protect his flock and keep them unified).
Parishioners for Justice seeks to fulfill the responsibilities that the Church recognized for the laity when Blessed Paul VI issued the “DECREE ON THE APOSTOLATE OF THE LAITY: APOSTOLICAM ACTUOSITATEM (1965) (cf., ch. I, para.2: ch. III, para.10):
“In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a oneness of mission. Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in His name and power. But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.”
“As sharers in the role of Christ as priest, prophet, and king, the laity have their work cut out for them in the life and activity of the Church. Their activity is so necessary within the Church communities that without it the apostolate of the pastors is often unable to achieve its full effectiveness. In the manner of the men and women who helped Paul in spreading the Gospel (cf. Acts 18:18, 26; Rom. 16:3) the laity with the right apostolic attitude supply what is lacking to their brethren and refresh the spirit of pastors and of the rest of the faithful (cf. 1 Cor. 16:17-18). Strengthened by active participation in the liturgical life of their community, they are eager to do their share of the apostolic works of that community.”
The enclosed material consists of copies of the programs for the weekly prayer services that Parishioners for Justice has organized and conducted to pray for our Pastor and for his well- merited restoration to his office. These prayer services contain carefully selected hymns, scriptural passages, and readings from other spiritual writers. As you will see, they reflect no rancor, incivility, or disrespect. Rather, they reflect the heart-felt cry for both justice and mercy in accordance with the Gospel message of Our Savior.
We earnestly hope that you will peruse these programs and that you will find insights that speak to the priestly vocation on which you formally embarked three decades ago.
Please celebrate your anniversary by ending the ordeal through which Fr. Christopher and the Parish of St. Isabel have been struggling for nearly twenty months.
Respectfully yours in Christ, Parishioners for Justice