St. Peter Parish Blog

 

A Response from Msgr. Jack

For all of us as Roman Catholics these past few weeks have been particularly challenging and most difficult. While Father Paul and I preached to you last week about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report of priestly sexual abuse and the bishops’ cover-up of those abuses over the last 70 years in that state, I feel that I must write to you also about this very on-going and ever-present tragedy in our Universal Church. Of course the Pennsylvania report comes on the heels of the news of retired Archbishop of Washington, D.C, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and his demotion as a Cardinal of the Church because of credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors years ago while a young priest and bishop. 

Parishioners who have been diagnosed with cancer tell me how devastating that news is when the disease is first diagnosed. Once the initial shock has worn off there is a great spirit of hopefulness that this sickness is going to be beat. I’m going to confront this evil and overcome it. I am going to win! But when it is diagnosed a second time and returns, the feeling is one of hopelessness and despair and great anger. It is a notion that this is probably not going to go away. 

In many ways I feel like that now regarding the priest sex abuse scandal. Perhaps you have felt the same way…anger, yes justified anger, hopelessness, and the fear that this terrible evil will simply not go away. The cancer of the priest sex abuse scandal is back again with a vengeance…if it really ever went away. 

It sure points out the very sinful humanity of the Church, the weakness of our church leaders, and the feelings of helpless of what should we all do about this. How do we begin the deep healing process that needs to happen? Where do we all go from here? 

The reality of sin abounds in all of this and the work of the evil one… Satan. The word for devil in Italian is Diabolo, which translated means, The Scatterer, one who scatters and divides. Diabolo has been hard at work scattering us and dividing us as sin always will. Bishop Robert Morlino’s letter to his flock in Madison, Wisconsin said, “For all too long we have diminished the reality of sin.

In many ways we have excused sin in the name of the mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation.” 

“Why do we do this? Is it out of an earnest desire to display a misguided sense of being “pastoral?” Or are we afraid of being called hypocrites because we are not striving tirelessly for holiness in our own lives? Well no matter the excuses we must be done with sin. It must be rooted out and again considered unacceptable. Love sinners? Yes. Accept true repentance? Yes. But do not say sin is okay. And do not pretend that grave violations of office and of trust comes without grave, lasting consequences.” Oh, yes, “The Scatterer” has been busy. We have been a sinful Church. 

I have had this past week much anger at my brother priests who have committed these horrible acts and were so unfaithful to their vows and so uncaring to the most vulnerable in their care. I apologize to all of you for the sins of those in my profession who were so selfcentered and so insensitive and cruel to children. 

In addition, I have had and perhaps you have had, too, much anger toward the bishops for their profound neglect of their pastoral duties, so insensitive to the victims and their families in order to protect the institution of the Church and its reputation over the people and their needs, their hurts, and their anxieties. 

In his comments to us our Archbishop Carlson said: “Priests are called to be spiritual fathers to their people and bishops are called to be shepherds of their flock, to protect the people in their care. We know in so many cases that this has not happened. The trust of the faithful has been violated. Archbishop Carlson mentioned in his response that our Archdiocese has done much since 2002 to stop this evil: yearly background screenings of the clergy, lay staff and volunteers; instituting the “Protecting God’s Children” program to all who have any contact with young people or old people or any person. 

Still it is not enough. We must do more to protect our children, to choose good and worthy shepherds. We have to insist on transparency of all documents and information from the Archbishop regarding priestly sex abuse in our Archdiocese. We must continue to improve the screening and formation of our seminarians in human formation. 

In 2002 the noted priest sociologist, Father Andrew Greeley suggested in cases where there is such doubt and such mistrust and such an abuse of power among the hierarchy our Holy Father ought to insist that bishops resign, as happened in Chile recently, in order to assure a sense of trust and a return to authentic moral authority in their ministry and the shepherding of their people. Perhaps this needs to happen. If nothing else the bishops must admit their role and their guilt in this affair and not keep “throwing just the priests under the bus” and ignoring the victims as has been done so often since the bishops’ Dallas Charter of 2002. One thing for sure…we cannot continue the path that has been taken since 2002 regarding priestly sex abuse and episcopal cover-up. The solutions must be more radical and pervasive or we will never face this “head-on” and victims and their families will never have closure. 

Write to the Missouri Attorney General if you feel you need to. Write to the Archbishop if you feel you need to. Write to the Pope/the Vatican if you feel you need to. And above all please pray! Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the Holy Father, Francis, and our chief shepherd, Robert Carlson. Pray for each other and the universal Church at this most difficult moment in our personal histories. And please remember who and what the Church is really all about and how it ought to be defined…don’t make the mistake of missing the message because of the flawed and sinful messengers. 

In this week’s Gospel from John, Jesus has just preached to the crowd that anyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eaten real food and drink and will have everlasting life. Many found this a hard teaching to accept and they walked away from Jesus. So Jesus turns to the Apostles and says, “Are you going to leave me, too? “ And Peter, our patron, says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” We still have the true treasures of the Church…its doctrines, beliefs, traditions, history, the Sacraments and its ancient beautiful customs. 

We still have YOU! You ARE the Church! You ARE the 99% that makes up the Church! You and I are the People of God! When all is said and done, when all the anger is subsided, when forgiveness is offered, acknowledged, and received, when new and better processes are in place, remember Peter’s Confession in John’s Gospel: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” 

Monsignor Jack

 

This is what CYC sports is all about...


The Mission of the Catholic Youth Apostolate is to help all young people hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to help all young people actively respond to the Gospel message and enthusiastically participate in the mission of Jesus Christ and His Church.

At St. Peter Parish, our CYC coaches and players strive to live out this mission on and off the field through our many teams of all ages. The following note was sent in by our soccer director, Doug Walbert, who received a story from one of our young athlete's family about their exceptional experiences playing CYC soccer. This is what CYC sports is all about!

"This season the St. Peter soccer program possibly had our most successful season in the history of our program…BUT…NOTHING compares to the life-changing stories that are the result of the entire CYC South Central program and the amazing folks at St. Gabriel Parish and St. Peter Parish…
 
I am so proud of STP Team Ryan and so grateful to St. Gabe Team Giles – you have made a life memory for the Coffman family – THANK YOU."


From the parents of Riley…

I wanted to share a quick story about Riley’s CYC soccer experience in hopes you could pass it along to some folks at St. Peter (and maybe even St. Gabriel if you know anyone there)…
 
Riley has played St. Peter soccer off and on for the past five years. Since Riley has Down syndrome we’ve grown more and more concerned about having her play due to the dramatic skill-level increases we see each year with all the other girls (especially with them now being in 5th grade). This year we decided to let her “play” by only participating in practices (no games) and she loved it. She would look forward to playing with her soccer team each week at practice more than any other activity. Her coaches (Mike Ryan, Angelo Bendoff, Scott Holdridge, and Julie Gau) were absolutely amazing and so were her teammates – honestly, Cindy and I could not imagine a better athletic experience for Riley.
 
A couple days before their last game I ran into Angelo who basically pleaded with me to let Riley play in their last game, so we agreed. The morning of the game we got Riley dressed in her STP soccer uniform and she was beaming. Between the hour when we got her dressed and game time, she must have asked 30 times when her game was – she was clearly super excited.
 
St. Peter was playing St. Gabriel that morning. Our coaches met with St Gabriel’s coaches to let them know that Riley would be playing that morning (at least for a few minutes). Riley got to kick-off the game and it became quickly apparent that the plan was to get Riley her first goal. As she slowly kicked the ball down the field, both the St. Peter players and the St. Gabriel players made sure the ball didn’t get too far away from Riley and would pass it back to her if it did. Eventually Riley got it close to the goal and scored! The reaction of all the players, coaches, and parents from both teams was tremendously heartwarming. Everyone celebrated her and patted her on the back as they ran back to mid-field. Both Cindy and I got choked up at the whole experience. Attached is a picture of Riley and Coach Angelo after the big goal. 
 
As a parent of a child with special needs, moments like that will last a lifetime. I just want to say thank you so much to her amazing coaches and her sweet teammates. I also want to thank St. Gabriel for their sportsmanship and kindness. I can’t remember who won the game that day, but I sure know what family did – the Coffmans.
 
Sincerely,

Jeff & Cindy Coffman