Begging for the chance to attend Mass

Re “Easter 2011” (Editorial, April 24). 

In this you stated that it is an inconvenience to attend Mass, and therefore people do not. Well, I am a prisoner here in Oklahoma, and I beg for the opportunity to celebrate Mass. The faithful here are allowed to celebrate once a month, and we run to the small chapel with joy in our hearts. We would crawl on our knees the three miles just for the opportunity to celebrate every week. 

Please don’t forget the want of those of us who cannot attend. 

Carl Benke, McAlester, Okla.

Ministry shortage 

Your “Easter 2011” editorial addressing “apathy” is a sobering but true assessment of our Church today. 

I would like to share an experience with you. A few years ago, I was interviewing a pastor in our Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., at a large parish church, around 4,000 families. In addition to himself, he had two assisting priests and three retired priests who helped out in visiting the sick and saying Masses. He also had six deacons. I asked him a question: “If the bishop sent you two young priests tomorrow, what would you do with your six deacons?” He answered: “Ask them to continue to do what they are already doing for I could not run the parish without them. Look at it this way, there is enough ministry in this parish to keep all of us busy.” 

This is certainly true of smaller parishes, but it is also true that deacons can be more used, particularly as parish administrators. 

Having had that position in a parish with only two priests, I know that taking the burden off the material aspects of running the parish allows the priests to really function in those areas they were spiritual trained to do, especially in the administering of the sacraments and being spiritual advisers to the many lay organizations that parishes do have or should have in the ongoing evangelization of the parish community and in the evangelization of inactive Catholics. Many parishes could run with two priests, six deacons, not to mention religious sisters if there is a congregation in the diocese. 

 Deacon John M. Edgerton, via email

No picking and choosing 

Re “Have you thought about why you are (or stay) Catholic?” (Openers, April 17). 

Like Bryan Kemper, I, too, am a “revert,” one who was baptized a Catholic, but for one reason or another, either didn’t follow the Church into adulthood or left the Church, usually when one leaves their parents’ home. Yes, I felt as compelled as he did to return to the faith of my youth, and for the reasons that he cites. 

When Kemper talks about church authority, he says, “Every time someone disagrees with another teaching of their church they simply start a new one.” That implies that the Catholic Church uses its Church authority to hold its doctrine and teachings sacrosanct, and I agree. But my observations are that the same thing happens in Catholicism when the faithful disagree with a teaching or doctrine of the Church; they simply ignore it and go on with their own beliefs, thus becoming what has become known as “cafeteria Catholics,” or those that pick and choose what they want to believe. It’s a lot easier than leaving the Church for another or starting over. 

I left the Catholic Church when most young people do, when I moved out of my family home and was free of the “restrictions” of my faith. I returned 35 years later, after complete absence of religion and then four years at a “community” church. God drew me back to the one true Church, and I am forever grateful.  

Dennis Babson, Grass Valley, Calif.

Wake-up call 

I appreciated John Norton’s Openers and the editorial (OSV, April 24, 2011) that both stressed the reality of who we are and what we do as Catholics. I’m sorry to say that many Catholics that I know do not seem to “live” their Catholic identity. Can one possibly imagine that parish closings may actually be a work of the Spirit? The wake-up call is to get off one’s ___ and get outside, where the real religious and spiritual work is. Given all of the whining regarding the “vocational crisis,” how many of us actually encourage vocations, even within our own families?  

— Tom Doyle, El Paso, Texas

Parish closings

I am deeply grateful that you and writer Russell Shaw bravely addressed the issue of “Vatican intervenes in U.S. parish closings” (News Analysis, April 24).

In our western Pennsylvania diocese, 13 parishes were closed. The people were told there is a shortage of priests; yet four months after the closings, two priests were imported for four years from the Philippines.

Where faith is alive with definite reserves, people now question the veracity of these closings, and the bishops lose much respect as administrators. This is especially true in ethnic parishes, where attachment is generational and loyalty top shelf.

I am happy that the Vatican is finally stepping in, giving the local Catholics some hope that someone truly is listening.

Again, I thank you folks for the courage to address the issue, for it is not over. In one local town, when a large, thriving parish was suppressed and the beautiful church demolished, many of the congregation reached out to the Polish National Catholic Church, and thus established the newest PNCC parish in all of western Pennsylvania.

Father Joseph L. Sredzinski, Jeannette, Pa.