The toolbox approach (“The Pastor’s Toolbox,” by Thomas J. Healey and John Eriksen, 4/12) seems too narrowly focused on the ordained pastor. Increasingly many American parishes are managed day to day by quite capable nonordained laypeople or religious. They need as much help as our ordained pastors.
In fact, I think we should take their inspiration, even model, and begin to move all parishes to parish management (including internal lay ministry) by capable laypeople or religious, freeing our priests for heightened sacramental efforts.
Re “The Pastor’s Toolbox”: How many men, on receiving a call to the priesthood, look upon it as an opportunity to get involved with parish finances, budgets, personnel and risk management? I suspect very few.
Expecting pastors to be involved in these areas is, in fact, very poor personnel management on the part of bishops. In almost every parish there are dedicated Catholics skilled in such matters who would gladly serve their parish and their bishop with those skills.
Instead of offering pastors special help, bishops should assign laypeople experienced in those matters to those duties and offer special training to pastors for coping with loneliness on the job, the lack of support, the personality conflicts and the often unrealistic demands and expectations of the people of the parish. Training in giving homilies, individual spiritual guidance and counseling to troubled parishioners would help too.
Kathleen Norris’s “Something Wonderful Is Afoot,” (4/5) is living proof that the world needs more poets.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Professional and Prayerful
I am grateful for your thoughtful, sensitive tribute to our sisters (Editorial, “The Sisters’ Witness, 4/26). It has been and is my privilege to minister with sisters and to have been both edified and instructed by them for nearly 50 years in both Catholic health and Catholic Charities activities at the local, state and national levels.
Sisters are human beings like all the rest of us with all that implies, but as a group they are professional and prayerful, reflective and action-oriented. Catholic Health Association meetings are a constant source of renewal and refreshment, more like a retreat than a trade organization meeting. Whether in formal Catholic Charities activities or in the myriad grass-roots, direct care activities at home and abroad, they are the exemplars of what it is to be a Christian “social worker.” How happy I am able to call them not only our sisters but my sisters.
(Msgr.) Charles Fahey
The Best in Catholicism
God bless the sisters. They were a huge encouragement to me during the final days of the health care reform process (especially after the disappointing behavior of the bishops). The sisters represent the best in Catholicism.
North Coast, Ore.
Courageous and Prophetic
What a beautiful tribute to these courageous and prophetic sisters! Thank you to them and to the equally courageous editorial board of America. Unfortunately, though, we are already hearing of apparent retribution for their actions by several diocesan bishops. Let us pray for all involved that their (and our) actions may be truly based on the teachings of Jesus and not on our personal views.
Susan McCarthy, R.D.C.
White Plains, N.Y.
Cause for Concern
“First, their communities have been the focus of an ongoing Vatican investigation, the purpose of which has never been fully explained” (Editorial, “The Sisters’ Witness, 4/26). Is the fact that the number of women religious went from 179,954 in 1965 to 60,715 in 2009 not a good explanation for a concern on the part of the Holy See? Seminaries, colleges, universities and dioceses have all been investigated without incident. Why this unwarranted, standoffish attitude? I applaud the sacrifices of the many sisters who continue to care for the sick, but let’s be honest: religious sisters are not called to be social workers.
I am deeply grateful for the faithful witness of women religious and the Catholic Health Association in their support of a more inclusive and compassionate health care future in the United States. I have worked side-by-side with many of these women religious for nearly 10 years to extend health, wholeness and human dignity to all who live in this country.
I was moved to tears when I heard of their courageous letter to Congress in the final days of the debate, and I believe their actions were the turning point in the deliberations. As an ordained Protestant minister, I am honored to stand with them on this issue and any other that lifts up our sacred responsibility to work tirelessly on behalf of the common good. God bless you, sisters in faith and witness!
(Rev.) Linda Hanna Walling
Re “Salvador’s Saint,” by Richard Amesbury and Andrew Kirschman (4/26): Romero santo subito! Indeed! In the end the Vatican will simply confirm what millions of ordinary people in their hearts already know. For some (like Pope Pius XII) genuine debate continues as to the candidate’s status as a saint. But is there really any doubt about Romero being a martyr? Monsignor Romero, pray for us.
Cherry Hill, N.J.