National Parish Voice has identified four U.S. regions for purposes of affiliate coordination, communication efforts and future regional definitions and representation:
Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico,
Colorado, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alaska
North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama,
Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida
Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia


VOTF Travel – Down Under
Submitted by Kathy and Mark Mullaney

On June 15, 2003, Kathy and Mark Mullaney, co-founders of VOTF, met with Mike Nicholas and family and Kevin Campbell in Christchurch, NZ. Mike and others throughout New Zealand’s North and South Islands have been following the Catholic Church sexual abuse situation in NZ and around the world for several years. New Zealand’s Catholic Church has experienced the same abuse and recycling of pedophile priests as in other countries. Through VOTF, he is hoping to get advice and support on how to extend their lay network and reach out to Church hierarchy to increase lay participation in the workings of the Church. The Bishop of Christchurch is not receptive to this lay appeal. As with most hierarchies, they state that they have no more abuse and they have new controls to be sure that it will not happen again.

In May of 2003, a report was made to the Australian Bishops’ Conference indicating that the Catholic Church had received 1200 complaints in the previous 10 years. The Bishops Conference stated that this figure should not be misunderstood because “a number of such pedophile priests and other Church personnel abused multiple victims.” Rather than calming the laity, this issue of repeat offenders was the most upsetting aspect of the scandal.

In 1996, the Melbourne Archdiocese, possibly the first in the world to introduce such a protocol, established Professional Standards entitled “Towards Healing.” The real question is whether these are being followed. Only voluntary acceptance by the various religious orders was requested. The Jesuits never signed it. The same week the Mullaneys were in Sydney, an accusation was made against a Jesuit in Melbourne. Initially, the Jesuits followed the advice of their legal advisors and avoided responding, withdrawing from an agreed-upon televised appearance to discuss the accusation. Within a week, at a meeting with VOTF President Jim Post who was speaking in Melbourne, a Jesuit spokesman apologized, saying they had paid too much attention to their legal advisors.

On June 28, Kathy and Mark met with Terry and Othelia DeSouza and attended Mass in Terrey Hills, 15 miles north of Sydney, Australia. Terrey Hills is a unique community of faithful led by Passionist priests. Most parishioners come from other suburbs and parishes, some as far as 30/40 km away, who have been drawn to this parish because of its dynamic character – the integral features include 26 Family Groups and strong Youth Activities, all forming a close-knit community. Terry and several other parishioners have been communicating with VOTF and considering how to make effective changes in their archdiocese to ‘open the books’ on the full history of abuse, finances, and participate in the establishment of preventive programs. The Sydney Archdiocese has not been responsive to inquiries or to proposals for inclusion of laity.

Terry worked with his pastor, Fr. Brendan Connell, to arrange for the Mullaneys to speak briefly after several Masses and to lead a Listening Session with a group of 45 from a wide area who had been informed of a VOTF presence. The Mullaneys addressed the question of “how VOTF is relevant to Australia’s faith community.” They provided the history and status of VOTF, including ongoing work with survivors and priests, prayerful voice activity, alternative charitable donation methods and education programs.

During discussion, it was clear that in the Sydney vicinity, there has been very little cooperation from the hierarchy. In fact, they are where Boston and the US would be if not for a Boston Globe Spotlight report to expose the Church’s cover-up. Even after the revelations in the US, the hierarchy has resisted every effort to take responsibility and allow lay involvement in the effort to ensure that this never happens again. Australian Church leaders too are disregarding all similar efforts. The response has been consistent and, to many, suggestive of a centralized response coming from Rome.

At the conclusion of the Sydney gathering, these Catholics, the usual collection of survivors, social workers, educators, former priests and everyday faithful asked for advice on how to successfully approach Church leadership. They are exploring ways to work within their parishes to establish programs that will ensure the safety of children. They are also studying the legal avenues for prosecuting criminal behavior. Terry is in regular contact with VOTF as they consider the possibility of becoming a VOTF affiliate.

An interesting comment came from one of the participants following the listening session. While speaking to the Mullaneys, he commented that it was poignant to have a married couple addressing a Catholic community on these leadership efforts…a sign of things to come.


VOTF president Jim Post received a letter from Terry DeSouza, an Australian VOTFer from Terry Hills, Australia, just outside of Sydney. Terry attached the article below from the August issue of his parish (St. Anthony of the Fields) journal The Terrey Graph. Terry’s cover letter noted that the Mullaneys were “excellent ambassadors” during their June visit. The Mullaneys’ visit coupled with Jim Post’s earlier visit encouraged Terry to write this comprehensive article (excerpted) in order to facilitate the establishment of an affiliate there. He noted that the parish priest is already supportive of this effort. He closed his note to Jim with “God Bless you and your labours in the Vineyard!” While much of the information is not new to our readers, it nonetheless gives us a sense of the energy and the hope left behind the visits of our traveling members.

” In the last issue of The Terrey-Graph I reported briefly on the meeting at St Anthony’s on Sunday. 29 June when we heard our visitors from America, Kathy and Mark Mullaney – founding members of VOTF – give us a brief introduction to the Voice Of The Faithful, explain its goals, and discuss the relevance of VOTF to Catholics in Australia.

A similar meeting was held in Melbourne on 27 June, where Dr Jim Post, President of VOTF, gave his views on what the Catholic Church must confront in future and what Voice Of The Faithful has to offer us for a way ahead.

The significant interest generated by these meetings encourages me to provide more information on VOTF and report more comprehensively on the meetings held in Sydney and Melbourne – and on recent developments.

Through groups of dedicated Volunteers and an active professional web site www.votf.org Voice Of The Faithful has spread to 21 countries ….We have only 55 members registered on the Australian database including about 20 in Sydney and NSW. Adrian Farrell, Regional Coordinator for VOTF in Melbourne, is now in the process of establishing an affiliate of VOTF in Melbourne while I have been requested to consider the feasibility of forming an affiliate in Sydney….

The Meeting at St Anthony’s – 29 June, 2003

When I was informed that Kathy and Mark Mullaney – founding members of VOTF – would be willing to speak to us while on a brief visit to Sydney, I immediately sought the approval and support of Fr Brendan and Bro Damian – who incidentally are members of VOTF – to arrange for them to speak at our Church. They very kindly gave me their full support and assisted me in the promotion of the visit of the Mullaneys over the weekend of 28 & 29 June. Fr Denis Travers, Passionist Provincial, was also very helpful in introducing me to Sr. Angela Ryan, Executive Director of The National Committee for Professional Standards, who provided me with much information and material, including the document ‘Towards Healing,’ which sets out the principles and procedures that form the basis for the Church’s response to complaints of abuse. I make mention of this matter as these protocols established in 1996, revised in December 2000, have, I believe, been significantly successful in creating a culture and environment to deal more effectively with these issues.

Around 120 people attended a meeting in Melbourne addressed by Dr. Jim Post, president of VOTF, on 27 June. There was overwhelming endorsement by a show of hands that a VOTF affiliate should be formed in Melbourne. ABC Radio National interviewed Dr. Post at some length on 2 July where the VOTF objective of structural change was discussed. Dr. Post …explained that VOTF is not talking about changing fundamental doctrine but about changing the human administration of the Church.

Why VOTF is Relevant to Australian Catholics

The experience of the North-American Catholic Church is indeed relevant to Australia. An article in the Sunday Age on 24 May 2003 presented information obtained from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. According to this report the Church has received 1200 complaints during the past 10 years. The view of VOTF is that the only way to make progress is to stay clearly focused on the one issue that unites all Catholics, and that is the need to reclaim the moral integrity of the Church by eliminating this evil. It should no doubt be noted that the Church in Australia has apparently been more pro-active in dealing with this problem than the Church in North America, particularly as the protocols I referred to earlier, ‘Towards Healing,’ were introduced back in 1996, while in USA it was only in June last year that America’s Catholic Bishops met in Dallas to hammer out a policy on dealing with clerical sexual abuse.

However, victims and survivors do still exist here. This was brought painfully home to us when ‘The 7.30 Report’ on ABC TV reported the sad tale of Lucien Leech-Larkin, who was abused by a Catholic School teacher 35 years ago at St. Aloysius College, a Jesuit institution in Sydney. When he reported the abuse to the school principal no action was taken – on the contrary, he was asked to leave the school. Over the years Lucien suffered several nervous breakdowns, alcohol problems, and an attempt on his own life. Recently he wrote a series of letter to Jesuit superiors seeking some form of reconciliation but continued to be rebuffed. He discovered that the Jesuits had refused to sign the Church’s protocols, ‘Towards Healing’ – they had a vastly different three- page protocol. However, the publicity and exposure of the TV program had significant consequences. The Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Mark Raper, wrote to Lucien a profound apology on behalf of all Australian Jesuits. Fr. Raper also appeared on ‘The 7.30 Report’ on 1 July and admitted it had been sheer folly to let the ‘legal area’ dominate the ‘pastoral area.’ As the presenter, Maxine McKew said ‘this was a genuinely transforming moment on television.’

Lucien recently made contact with me to thank VOTF for the support and assistance we have offered him and expressed his wish to join VOTF. He also told me that Fr. Mark Raper had called on him at his home on 6 July to personally apologize to him and to his mother and offered them his sincere sympathy.

How Do We Respond?

The variations in our response are best expressed in the words of an editorial in a recent issue of the quarterly journal of VOTF when it said, ‘When the Faithful speak, we have no idea what languages we will hear. Once translated, we may find that we are not in agreement after all or that we misunderstood the original question or statement. We may find that we have much to say and begin the painful struggle to say it. We may judge our own silence as complicity or ‘just the way I am’. We may feel so overwhelmed by the subject at hand that we distance ourselves and retreat to the place where nothing is required of us. VOTF members speak all these languages, from outraged proactive positioning to praying the rosary to an unsure quiet. Some of us stand in silent vigils outside cathedrals; others enter the church, kneel and pray; many do both. Born of the survivors and their courageous ‘telling’, this is the VOTF family we are and the organization we hope to model for our Church. We are the place for all voices, across the broad spectrum of opinions and places held by Catholics. In such a Church, no one is marginalized – not the survivors, not the hierarchy, not the silent, not the demonstrators. It is vital to the healthy future of our Church that all prayerful voices, regardless of stands taken for or against any issue, are honored and heard. Healing without honoring is meaningless. Many wrongs remain. But right is surfacing. Remember what has been said elsewhere – if the people lead, the leaders will follow.’ We pray that this will be so.” Terry DeSouza



VOTF Salem, Oregon
Reported by Violet Carter

We are delighted to hear that Portland, Oregon now has a chapter of VOTF and we plan to attend their next meeting.

Queen of Peace recently heard a very informative report by Father Ray Carey explaining the beginning and effect of Vatican II. He stated that Pope Paul VI bravely and boldly opened many doors when he initiated such a gathering. Fr. Carey is a marvelous speaker and extremely knowledgeable regarding Catholic History and Theology and can be contacted to host another Open Forum. His captivating style and inspiring approach put him in great demand. We usually are fortunate to set a date within a year of contacting him.

VOTF Tucson, Arizona
Reported by Terrence Cardin

A delegation from Voice of the Faithful-Tucson emerged from its initial meeting Wednesday afternoon July 23, with Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas with a commitment to mutually explore “concrete” ways to continue working together to achieve more meaningful lay participation in the affairs of the diocese.

Specifically, the delegation and the bishop agreed to seek appointment of a diocesan official as liaison to the lay organization and to consider a meeting of VOTF and the diocesan Pastoral Council to explore opportunities for synergy.

The decision to move ahead came after a frank discussion of concerns previously expressed by the bishop regarding the establishment of a VOTF affiliate in the Tucson diocese and an explanation by the delegation of its three goals and how they might be implemented in the diocese.

It was agreed following this discussion that VOTF and the diocese are “not in opposition,” that they appear to have common goals, and that those affiliated with VOTF in Tucson are loyal Catholic laity offering their good offices to their bishop.

Bishop Kicanas agreed that “we need help” from the laity, especially in reaching out to victims of clergy sexual abuse, many of whom are reluctant to become involved with healing efforts sponsored directly by the church.

Specific issues discussed during the meeting were as follows:

The bishop’s concerns

Bishop Kicanas had been quoted in an article in The Northwest Explorer, a suburban Tucson newspaper, that formation of a Tucson affiliate of VOTF “might not be relevant or helpful in our area.” He explained to the delegation that his concerns were based on the formation of VOTF in the Boston Archdiocese under “unfortunate circumstances” that led to an oppositional tone in the relationship between the organization and the archdiocese. His concern regarding VOTF in Tucson, he said, was over the question of whether a national organization represented the “best” mechanism for improving lay participation in the affairs of the diocese.

The bishop expressed no objection when the issue of VOTF meeting in the various parishes and organizing parish affiliates was raised, though he expressed the opinion that some pastors might oppose such activities if they viewed VOTF as being in competition with the parish for the talents and energy of parish laity.

The delegation stressed the benefits of a national organization, which has the ability to share “best practice” information about models that have proven successful in other locations.

VOTF Goals

Support for victims of clergy sexual abuse: The delegation noted that VOTF has credibility and a relationship of trust with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and can work with victims who have little or no trust in church-sponsored efforts to promote healing and reconciliation. The Tucson affiliate is assisting in the formation of a Tucson SNAP chapter. Bishop Kicanas noted that any and all assistance to the diocese in helping victims to heal was welcome. He suggested that VOTF members active in pursuing this goal might benefit from a future meeting with Dr. Paul Duckro, director of the diocesan office of child, adolescent, and adult protection. The bishop expressed particular concern for the victims who have come forward without legal counsel to seek assistance in healing. He questioned the justice of distributing most of the assets available for healing to those who engage in litigation.

Support for priests of integrity: The delegation noted that diocesan priests—as with Catholic clergy everywhere—are isolated and overworked and in need of all the help they can get. Lay Catholics have the skills and the willingness to relieve some of the burden but many priests lack the skills or the temperament to delegate effectively. To overcome these obstacles, VOTF envisions ongoing dialogue with priests to gain a better perspective of their problems and establish a relationship of trust. It was noted that VOTF affiliates in other parts of the country had reported success with “priest roundtables” in which five or six priests of varying ages and geographic assignment in the diocese discuss the challenges they face in the current environment.

Achieve structural change in the Church: The delegation reported that this is a work in progress and that VOTF had not developed specific comprehensive proposals for achieving desirable change—though it is clear among the membership that this is a very high priority. Essential to any change, however, is increased meaningful participation by the laity in the secular aspects of Church governance. Structural change will evolve naturally and incrementally from such participation, it was suggested.

Members of the VOTF-Tucson delegation were Terrence S. Carden, Jr., MD, of St. Pius X Parish; Maureen Nichols, of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish; John O’Rourke, of St. Joseph’s Parish, and Mary Grace Wendel, of the Newman Center at the University of Arizona.


Bay Area VOTF, Florida
Reported by Dee Esteva

Our affiliate here in southern Hillsborough Co., FL, started as the Prince of Peace affiliate. The first organizational meeting was held in June 2002. Last March the membership voted to rename it the Bay Area VOTF. This was desirable so as to encourage membership from nearby areas.

During this first year of operation we have made some progress about changing
the attitude toward Voice of the Faithful among members of the clergy and
laity alike.

After several meetings with the steering committee, our pastor, Msgr. Bumpus
still feels we should not meet on Church property. Some of us agree, for this
will ensure our independence. The meetings with Msgr. have prompted his
support in various ways. For example, he celebrated a Mass of Solidarity with the
sexually abused sponsored by our affiliate; he gave a lecture about the Code of
Canon Law, at our request; he has supported Voice of the Faithful with a very
favorable "blurb" in our Church bulletin and agreed to post announcements of
our meetings in the bulletin. Three of our members are on the parish council
and, at our request, "executive sessions" have been discontinued at council

A letter to our bishop led to a meeting with Fr. Alan Weber, the Secretary for Pastoral Programs (now also vicar general) for our diocese of St. Petersburg. This meeting produced some open and positive exchange of concerns and information and some points of agreement. We hope to meet with Bishop Robert N. Lynch early this fall.

Our affiliate maintains close communication with the local SNAP chapter and supported their efforts to amend Florida legislation to require clergy to report sexual abuse of minors and extending the statute of limitations for reporting such abuse. Two SNAP members made stirring presentations at our October 2002 meeting.

For the upcoming season we plan having outside speakers at several of our meetings. We hope to improve the organization of our affiliate by adopting by-laws and holding an election of officers. We will continue our efforts to establish contacts with other parishes in the Bay area, and hope to meet with representatives from other affiliates in West Central Florida.

We invite you to visit our website at: http://members.aol.com/Addfly1


VOTF Northern New Jersey
Submitted by Maria Cleary

All eyes are on October 25 here on the East Coast. That's the day of our big convention at Fordham University in NYC hosted by the NY, NJ and CT Affiliates. We are thrilled to have been welcomed with open arms by Fr. McShane, the new president of Fordham, who has offered us the facilities, including the large gym, on the day following his inauguration. Our committee is hard at work, already having lined up some notable speakers. Lots more on this to come, but circle the date. It'll be a wonderful get-together for our VOTF family!

Two hundred people, many of them new members, came for our first meeting in the Archdiocese of Newark (where we are banned) at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Their gracious pastor, Fr. John Negrotto said upon inviting us, “It seems to me that Jesus would not only have found a supper room for such a meeting, but also would have been physically present there to hear the cries of His people.” We agreed.

Our roster of attendees is up past 500 now, and doesn't show signs of stopping. We continue to push forward, and encourage all in the tri-state area to contact us if you're thinking about setting up new affiliates so we can do as Jesus asked and "go forth to proclaim the good news." Blessings to all from New Jersey!

VOTF Northshore, MA
Reported by Vince Guerra

Our VOTF-Northshore affiliate has now reached its first year of operation and is reflecting upon its achievement. We are a regional group, based at St. Rose of Lima parish in Topsfield, Mass., meeting for plenary sessions once monthly plus another meeting of the steering committee during the month. We draw participants from a variety of parish and faith communities in this area, largely in mid-Essex County and more recently from a few coastal towns.

Our emphasis has been primarily educational and we have brought in both clerical and lay speakers to address the group. For example, in November of last year, VOTF-Northshore recruited Dr. Joseph Kelley, lay theologian from Merrimac College. In February '03, we heard from the familiar Father Roger Haight, S.J. from the Weston Jesuit School; in April from Father John McGinty, pastor of Sacred Heart in Lynn; and in June from Dr. Bernard Swain, lay theologian and parochial-diocesan consultant. Their topics dealt with the relevant issues in today's Catholic Church, especially those emerging from the devastating scandal.

In the intervening months, meetings were devoted to discussion and reflections
on the previous speaker's presentations. For the most part, their messages pointed out that the path for the laity is characterized by an uphill struggle but our faith will strengthen and sustain us through difficult times ahead and our efforts for ongoing dialogue will be rewarded. So far we have profited immensely from what we have learned and we are hopeful that the Holy Spirit will guide us toward renewal in our institution. Voice of the Faithful has kindled a meaningful purpose for our involvement in the Church and we will continue with as much commitment as possible.

Our group is also engaging in a North Regional association of Parish Voices and will host the planned September gathering. Frank Brophy, our North Region coordinator, has been very visible and very supportive in all of our activities. Our steering committee remains enthusiastic and our leadership under chairwoman Jolene Guerra and her council delegate husband Vince will continue over the forthcoming months. We look forward to the new challenges ahead and remain resolute in implementing the goals of VOTF.

VOTF Winchester Area, MA (representing 22 towns)
Submitted by Bob Morris

The highlight of our activities in July was an Evening of Prayer on July 28 for the new Archbishop of Boston, Sean O’Malley. The service focused on the possibility for renewal and reconciliation, from the opening hymn (“We Will Rise Again”), the first reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6, “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble”), the psalm (Psalm 23, in a version written by John Baldovin, S.J. of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology), the communal song (“Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”), and the prayers of the faithful. Members had been encouraged to write prayers or the service, or to post them on our web site. One of the prayers read at the service was written by Svea Fraser, and perfectly captured our hopes and aspirations: “Dear Lord, please continue to make our new servant leader Sean O’Malley a channel of your peace; and may all your people in Boston join hands and hearts in mutual support for Your glory and the good of all the Church.” Regina Pontes with assistance from Mary Lou Burke, Judy Eisel, Clare Keane, John Mahoney, and others prepared the brilliant order of worship. Bonnie Rogers of our group presided. After the service, attendees signed a card for the new Archbishop. Bonnie thereafter delivered the card, prayers for the new Archbishop posted on our web site, as well as a stole made for him, to the Archdiocese’s offices in Boston. (Some of the prayers submitted appear in this issue under “Prayers for a new Archbishop”)

We welcomed two guest speakers in July. On July 7, Sister Betsy Conway CSJ, and Sister Dorothea Masuret, CSJ, Assistant Director of the Office for Pastoral Ministries for the Archdiocese of Boston, discussed their different perspectives on their experiences in the sisterhood, and the challenges ahead for Sisters and the Church. Sisters Betsy and Dorothea provided a wonderful example of dialogue and respect for those in the Church who do not see eye to eye on a number of issues. On July 14, we welcomed Edward Vacek, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. Fr. Vacek addressed the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics, and explained how teachings on a wide variety of issues have changed over time.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, July 20, one of our members hosted a picnic at his house. About 50 members and their families enjoyed beautiful weather, good companionship, and, of course, hot dogs and hamburgers. This day reminded us that we in VOTF are becoming a community within the larger community of Catholics, and that we need to nurture and cherish each other.

VOTF Virginia Beach, VA
Submitted by Candice Neenan

The South Hampton Roads Regional Voice of the Faithful Affiliate (based in Virginia
Beach, Virginia) has been busy in the last several months. In April, along with prayer and a listening session, we hosted a talk by nationally recognized psychologist,
Paul Dell, Ph. D., who specializes in working with victims of child sexual abuse. He spoke on “The Long-term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse.” The meeting was the kick-off for our group and was followed in May by a meeting in which the members brainstormed ideas of how to address the three goals of VOTF.

On Monday, June 9, a letter to the editor by one of our coordinators was printed in The
Virginian Pilot
newspaper outlining the goals of VOTF and challenging an
earlier opinion piece, which had stated that VOTF is “known to call into question some of the teachings of the Church” and which had insisted that, for the laity, “there are no opinions to voice.” On June 10th, a priest/psychologist, Rev. Jim Gordon, joined us to have a conversation around the goal of supporting priests of integrity. The concepts of trust and relationship were broken open within the group, with the recognition that priests are human, with the strengths and weaknesses and need for love and understanding that we all share. Several members shared that they had always expected more from priests than they would from anyone else and for that reason had accorded them more respect. Some individuals insisted that priests, as religious leaders, should be held to a higher standard than everyone else, though the point was made that all are called to the same standard by virtue of our baptism. Before the meeting adjourned, the forty or so participants were invited to write down questions for the three coordinators to take to their meeting with Bishop Walter Sullivan later in the week. The members also completed commitment forms indicating the areas in which they wish to invest their time and effort. Plans were discussed for a workshop in the summer and a major prayer event for the fall.

On Thursday morning, June 12, the coordinators of our VOTF affiliate met
with Bishop Sullivan at his home in Virginia Beach. The bishop was welcoming and open in his discussion about the goals and actions of our group, though he insisted that he did not believe that people were really leaving the Church over the issue of abuse. Bishop Sullivan admitted that he has had a difficult time understanding how abuse affects a person over a lifetime.

The local paper carried a good article about our meeting and quotes from us and from the bishop. The day before our meeting, the bishop had his 75th birthday and
submitted his mandatory letter of retirement, though it remains a question whether the pope will allow him to retire. The weekend after our meeting, another pastor was removed from a Virginia Beach parish due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The openness with which this removal was addressed by the bishop and his vicar, Monsignor Thomas Caroluzza, is an indication that VOTF has, indeed, had an effect on the way the diocese of Richmond is currently responding to this crisis.

VOTF St. Agnes in Reading, MA
Reported by Elia Marnik

The Parish Voice of St. Agnes in Reading, MA, celebrated a “Welcoming Mass” on June 25th. All members of our parish and beyond were encouraged to attend via announcements by our priests at scheduled masses, and by notices in our parish bulletin. Our pastor of 28 years, Rev. Arthur Flynn, officiated at the liturgy. He expressed support for VOTF goals and great hope for the future of our Church through prayer and guidance of the Spirit. Following the liturgy, a meeting was held summarizing the past year’s events and discussing possible future programs. On display at this meeting was the Bishopsearch book, the product of hundreds of hours of work by members of our steering committee, and initiated by Marie Collamore. This beautifully illustrated book highlights the qualities deemed necessary in the selection of a new bishop, and contains responses from people polled throughout the archdiocese of Boston. The book will be presented to the new Archbishop of Boston and be sent to the Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C., where it will be forwarded to Rome.
Our affiliate and its members (numbering over 100 registered members) held monthly programs over the last year directly pertaining to VOTF goals.

Goal 1

In June 2002, survivors Arthur Austin and Susan Renehan honored us by coming to speak about their experiences. We were one of the first VOTF groups to spend an evening listening to survivors. On a second more recent occasion, we gathered to hear the story of Carol Xenos, also a survivor.

Steering committee member Pat Coppola raised more than $1,300 for survivor causes by selling packaged Advent candles and prayer booklets in November and December.
St. Agnes affiliate members showed solidarity with survivors on numerous occasions, at the Boston Holy Cross Cathedral, in Manchester, N.H., and by participating in the Lenten vigil at the Brighton, MA chancery.

Goal 2
Steering Committee members Pete and Peg Moloney have organized a bi-weekly prayer service “In Support of Priests.” The service consists of a participatory hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. VOTF members are asked to host the service as available. The prayer vigils are held on the first Wednesday of the month at 3:00 p.m. and the third Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in our chapel. The format is flexible, honoring the need for spontaneous prayer. However, the service opens with a Bible reading, and every 15 minutes or so, there is another brief reading, including a thanksgiving and an excerpt from a biography of a contemporary model. The services have been well attended and continue to be publicized in the bulletin with plenty of lead-time so that people can plan to attend.

Goal 3
St. Agnes PV believes that the laity has a vital role to play in our Church and that continuing education is essential to that role. We are proud to be working very closely with our parish Adult Education Committee to reach this goal. Many notable speakers traveled to Reading to address large and eager audiences. These include Dr. Thomas Groome, Dr. Francine Cardman, Father Bob Bullock, Fr. Steve Salocks, Sister Farnham, and Fr. George Evans.

The above is a sampling, not an exhaustive list of actions. The steering committee (open to all) is working on our fall meetings. We are looking forward to a year of prayerful, productive, joyful and Spirit-filled programs and actions.


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In the Vineyard
August 2003
Volume 2, Issue 9

Page One

Survivor Support News

Working Group Report - Structural Change

Parish Voice News

Events, Opportunities & News

Letters to the Editor

James E. Post - VOTF Lessons Learned One Year Later

Jim Muller - Voice for Change

Prayers for a new Archbishop in Boston

Printer Friendly Version

In the Vineyard Archives

Donations can be sent to our postal address
Box 423
Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464-0002