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The following two pieces of commentary come from the latest edition of In the Vineyard, the newsletter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) in America …


When a faith community works – beware

by Diana Draheim

For over 40 years the Campus Ministry at Bridgewater State College served a vibrant Catholic community. We were financially and administratively semi-autonomous and managed our affairs separate from surrounding parishes. As laity, we consistently participated in the selection of our campus ministers and for years we had been served by fine priests, both diocesan and from several orders. In recent years, we constructed a lay-led self-governance structure that was collaborative in nature.

But in swift strokes last September, the RCAB ordered that we be absorbed by the local parish. The local parish, itself under a new pastor, eventually blended our finances with the parish, superseded our governance structure and even folded our weekly bulletin into the parish bulletin. We were assigned a new campus minister. All of these changes were made without lay involvement. Our existing campus minister, a Sister of Notre Dame who had been a member of our community for many years, saw the handwriting on the wall and resigned.  Like errant sheep and against our will, we essentially disappeared into the RCAB fold.

We in Bridgewater, like the faithful in vigiling churches, experienced a new (to us) adult way of being Church. We were a lay-led intentional worshiping community and we have been forever changed by the experience. We’re sure that this was how the Church was in the beginning and we’re sure that  the Church will someday be this way again, though perhaps not in our lifetime.  It was an exhilarating ride while it lasted.


A new day in Atlanta, Georgia

by John Dearie

When we met with Wilton Gregory, the new Archbishop of Atlanta, in April 2005, he said he was inclined to allow VOTF to meet in "welcoming parishes" and that he would probably bring the subject of VOTF to the archdiocesan Council of Priests. We waited patiently until September, when we wrote to remind him of his words. That same month, he did bring VOTF to the Council, and a committee of two priests was appointed to meet with, and learn more about, us. We met with the committee in October, the issue was debated at the Council in December, and at the end of that discussion, the Archbishop announced that he would allow VOTF-Atlanta to meet in parishes where we were welcome. He indicated he wanted the pastors to attend the meetings. The first meeting was held Saturday, February 18 at St Thomas Aquinas parish in Alpharetta, a northern suburb. About 25 members attended. Pastor Msgr. David Talley was there, actively participated, and seemed supportive. The survivors present were pleased to finally have an opportunity to meet with a clerical representative of the Archbishop, and pled for counseling and support groups for victims in the area, regardless of where  the abuse took place.

Last week our VOTF meeting notice was published in the archdiocesan paper, the Georgia Bulletin, for the first time, and the director of the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection has agreed to attend our meeting next month.

It seems to be a new day in the Archdiocese of Atlanta!


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