Why Does Joan Attend Mass ?

Joan sits near the front of the church during Mass. From this position, she is unaware that the rest of the building, behind her, is mainly empty. She was aware that our previous priest was under police investigation, and disappeared without an explanation being given, but, that is apparently O.K. with her.

She has admitted that she cannot understand the accent of our current priest, from Africa, but that does not stop her from attending Mass.

When the church’s organ broke down , a parishioner purchased a new one at a yard sale for twenty dollars. It was a bargain, because it has no volume control, and when it is played during Mass, the volume is deafening. Joan does not appear to mind this.

Many seniors develop problems with balance , and possible falls can be traumatic. However, Joan says nothing when she sees that the entrance of the church is obstructed with the previous broken organ, a rusty shovel, a large bag of salt, and four expired fire extinguishers.

Joan is unaware that our Diocese is now facing a lawsuit, due to the actions of the priest who disappeared. The victim’s family mercifully chose to keep that information out of the hands of the media.

I wish that my faith in the Catholic Church was as strong as Joan’s, so that I could continue to attend Mass. However, Joan is a cradle Catholic, while I am a convert, and yes, all the scandal and cover-ups have overwhelmed me. I am not a lapsed Catholic ; I am, as someone else has said, a ‘collapsed’ Catholic.

However, I know that Joan prays for me to return to Mass. I sincerely appreciate her prayers, and I leave the matter of the Church in God’s hands.

They call us “Newfies”

We folks in Newfoundland are sometimes called

“Newfies”. We do not like that term . It is derogatory, and it implies that we are very naive, or that we are

” intellectually challenged “. Have I ever behaved in a way that might label me as a Newfie ? Why yes, I have ! There was , for example, the time that Fr. Jose arrived a half hour late for Mass, and I said nothing, because he was always late. It was the day he gave his homily about his days in the seminary in his Asian country of origin. His face shone with obvious pleasure as he told us about the time he led a group of his fellow students on an escape from the seminary to a local pub. There, they all got drunk, the Father told us, and he danced on the tables !

Perhaps he was trying to build rapport with us, since many rural Newfoundlanders enjoy dancing too.

Why didn’t I speak up ? Well, as a retired Sociologist , I have some insight into my behaviour. Because no one else spoke up, I was under peer pressure to stay silent as well. Individuals are influenced by the groups they are in.

I have now learned my lesson, I think. I often pray that God gives me wisdom, since He promises, in

James 1:5 to grant wisdom to all who ask for it. I ask for the grace not to perpetuate the negative stereotype of the Newfie.

I Should Have Kept Silent, They Say

Who would have thought that I, a humble housewife by the sea, would receive criticism for writing this obscure little blog !

The fault-finding has come from former parishioners, who endured clergy abuse and cover-up, as I did, but who resent the fact that I chose to speak about it !

My critics claim that I should never have exposed what went on here, in a isolated Catholic Parish in Newfoundland. Sadly, Newfoundland has experienced much priest betrayal ; many people are familiar with the tragedy of the Mt. Cashel Orphanage.

However, it is best to speak up, for the phenomenon of clergy abuse has been world-wide, and it cannot be hidden. The Holy Spirit is bringing many things to light that should be exposed. Christians are people of light; light shines in the darkness.

So, I spent today mainly in my room overlooking the North Atlantic, thankful, that by the wonder of Facebook Messenger, I have been able to contact the Asian Bishop who sent us one of the priests who disappeared, without a word of explanation to the parishioners. I’m waiting to hear back from his Excellency.

Recovery From Clergy Abuse

We have started recovering from the clergy abuse we experienced almost five years ago.

Yesterday, my husband and I were able to attend church, not a Catholic Church, but rather a warm and friendly congregation where we can celebrate our faith in Christ , the victory of his Resurrection, and his unconditional love for all of us.

We were reminded, during the events of Holy Week, that Jesus fully understands betrayal, and He longs to comfort and heal those people who have been so wounded by clergy.

Pope Francis has clearly identified clericalism as one of the factors in the perpetuation of abuse by clergy.

Through clericalism, an unhealthy climate is created within the church , which wrongly maintains that the clergy are far superior to the laity. The laity have contributed to clericalism by fawning over the clergy, and never questioning them, even when their behaviour is suspicious. I saw this in our Parish, when our priest became increasingly bold in his misbehaviour, by inviting teenage boys to the rectory for sleepovers. No one said anything, and disaster soon followed.

I have learned, through this tragic experience, to place all of my trust in one priest only, that is Jesus, our Great High Priest.

May our Lord grant peace and healing to everyone who has been victimized by clergy abuse.

Spiritual Abuse

As Fr. Jose saw that no one in our Parish objected to his sermon topics, he became bolder. One week he preached about how he was caught drinking and driving in his native Asian country. He was given a DUI suspension, totalled his car and injured someone.

I asked my friend Veronica, a cradle Catholic, whether we should question this. She told me that the Catholic Tradition is to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. We must never question a priest. I understood then why no one said anything. But it is clear to me now that we were the victims of clergy spiritual abuse.

Don’t Be Tardy to the Party

Do you know someone who is chronically late ? Fr. Jose was late for every Mass. For the Christmas Mass in 2012 , he was over an hour late. This was especially embarrassing for us , since many of the parishioners had invited friends and family for this special Mass. No one felt that they had the right to question Father about his tardiness. But, in typical Newfoundland Catholic Fashion, we parishioners started making bets before Mass as to how late Fr. Jose would be that day !

Finally , my husband R. J. and I , ( converts to Catholicism ) gathered our courage and asked Father why he was late for every Mass. He became highly indignant, and replied : ” You’re willing to wait hours for the physicians of your bodies, why are you not willing to wait for the physician of your souls ? “

And then came the day when he didn’t show up for Mass at all…

Trusting Your Feelings

Have you ever ignored your “gut feelings”, and then found out later that you should have listened to them ? The gut and the brain are linked, through the enteric nervous system.

I should have listened to my intuition, my gut feelings, when Fr. Jose sometimes based his sermons on how much he enjoyed watching the T. V. program, “Dancing With the Stars” !

Something was definitely wrong here. I should have spoken up immediately. Should the clergy be fascinated with such a program ? I looked around at my fellow parishioners, but they were in their usual half – asleep position. So I said nothing, and a few years later, disaster resulted. I have learned to rely much more on my gut feelings. Jesus tells us to sit up, stand up, and speak up ! Jesus demonstrated an assertive way of speaking and acting. Let us follow our Lord’s example.

The Bishop Yelled at Us

The Bishop was coming to our little church ! On Sept. 23, 2017, we celebrated our 150th Anniversary. The parishioners had planned a Mass with the Bishop, a dinner, and a dance.

We joined the reception line outside the church after the Mass. We asked his Excellency if he could come back inside the church to speak to us privately. He said, no, he could not. He was expected at the reception, and did not want his dinner to get cold.

My husband, R.J., a former football player, convinced his Excellency to come back inside the church. Then, we asked him, very politely, why two priests had disappeared from our Diocese, and the parishioners had not been told why. He remained silent for a moment, and then he yelled :

“Do you want me to show them the police report ? “

With this, the Bishop left the church. He shouldn’t have worried, however; about his dinner getting cold. On the menu for the celebration was a Newfoundland speciality, a Cold Plate.