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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-03-26

Here is Bulletin_2017-03-26

A Visit to Remember: Friday was a special day for me for several reasons. It was made even more special because I was able to attend Mass at St. John the Baptist and pray the Holy Rosary in the presence of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. My family, starting with my father, whose name was Francis, who was Portuguese, and who was roughly the same age as the three children of Fatima, has a long and inspiring relationship with Our Lady of Fatima. We pray the Rosary and we have been blessed with many graces because we do.

Owing to my respect for those who came to venerate, my picture was taken at a poor angle. But I think you can get some idea of what Friday morning was like. It has been 100 years since Our Lady came with her message of prayer and penance. Friday morning that message was renewed for me and many, many others. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


Where was our Pastor? Okay, it’s happened again. We go to Mass at St. Peter’s and, without any advance notice, some other priest is there in his place. This weekend, it was U.S. Navy Chaplain Father Daniel Mode. It was a wonderful Mass and the homily was on point and inspiring.

Nevertheless, we must still consider the question – Where was our Pastor?

After the 8:30 AM Mass, a faithful and supportive reader of this blog asked me directly – “Where is our Pastor?”

I answered rhetorically, “Do I look like I have the Pastor watch?”

Our reader looked at me strangely in a way that said: “Well, you do, don’t you?”

I responded to her look with, “Your right, I guess I do. I’ve failed again, forgive me.”

So, dear faithful reader, I have done my homework, albeit belatedly. Though I cannot be 100% certain, it would appear that our Pastor was at the 149th Women’s Cursillo Weekend which was to be held Thursday March 23 – Sunday March 26, 2017 at Missionhurst | 4641 25th St N | Arlington, VA 22207.

Now, on behalf of my dear wife, and many Sheep in Exile, it would certainly be helpful if St. Peter Catholic Church, in its bulletin and on its website, were to provide us and all of the people in the parish notice when our Pastor is and is not going to be at the parish. There are very few times during the year when my wife and I can attend Mass together in our own parish. Providing advance notice of Father’s presence and absence would be an exceptionally helpful courtesy.

So, from my wife, here is an encore concerning where our Pastor might be: “somewhere out there“.

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishin’ on the same bright star
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky



For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-03-19

Here is Bulletin_2017-03-19

Here is a excerpt from a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave when he received in audience participants in the 28th annual course on the “Internal Forum,” organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary (Rome, Chancellery Palace, March 14-17, 2017):

In fact, the confessor is called daily to go to the “peripheries of evil and of sin” – this is an awful periphery! And his work represents a genuine pastoral priority. To hear confessions is a pastoral priority. Please, let there not be those notices: “Confessions are heard only on Mondays and Wednesdays from this hour to that hour.” You hear confessions every time they are requested. And if you are there [in the Confessional] praying, keep the Confessional open, which is God’s open heart.

Because the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on a Sunday this year it will be celebrated on March 20th. St. Joseph is also known as the Protector of the Church.

In these days of uncertainty and disquiet within the Church, it is good to pray to St. Joseph for his intercession.

St. Joseph Protector of the Church, pray for us!


Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #20 – Priest-less Parishes?

There was a time when real men, real men with strong faith, real men with strong faith and courage were pastors. This is the pastor I knew in my youth in Ohio: (Click here for the full history.)

Bishop Edward Hoban founded this parish [St. Mary Magdalene] on January 27, 1949 and Fr. Harold Laubacher was pastor from then until he retired on September 10, 1968. During his pastorate the parish grew enormously- from 600 to 4,000 families. There were 196 students during the 1949-50 school year, and by 1968 there were 1,549 children in grades one through eight.

After Fr. Laubacher retired, the new “men” came, the somewhat less admirable men, the men who have somewhat less courage, some of them may be the very same men who are now members of the Ohio-based Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP). They were not builders. They were too weak. They could not and did not boldly profess the hard teachings of the Church such as those contained in Humanae Vitae. Inevitably, through their weakness, the parish that Fr. Laubacher had built began to decay. By 2006: (Click here.)

Our day school enrollment had dwindled to barely 200 students while maintenance costs for our large, aging school building required more money than we received from tuition and parishioner contributions.

What a a great irony and a sad commentary it is when we come to the final lines of the current history of St. Mary Magdalene Parish: (Click here.)

Most rooms in our nearly 60-year-old school stand empty and our financial situation suggests that we need to consider repurposing that building. However, we are reminded that our buildings do not define us as a parish. Throughout the past 60 years, the people of St. Mary Magdalene have celebrated God’s love, cared for those in need, shared our faith with children and adults, ministered to each other and participated in parish groups. We have done this together in the past and will continue to do this in the future because we are a vibrant parish.

This is the St. Mary Magdalene I remember. In that sanctuary, arrayed with spiritual murals and scripture, is where I served Mass. On the side of St. Joseph we boys would sit when Fr. Laubacher described and explained the mysteries of the Church and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He was stern and demanding, he was gentle and humorous, he was a father in the Faith, and he would expect nothing, absolutely nothing, less than our best.

The new “men” came, the somewhat less than admirable men, and they tore down the altar; they destroyed the murals, they smashed the very wall behind the altar and built a new entrance to the parking lot. Half way up the main nave they erected a cheap wooden table and called it an altar. They hung felt “symbolic art” banners and they replaced disciplined altar boys with white-robed, distracting, little altar people. They replaced majesty with pretentious mediocrity. Meanwhile, in the nave, they removed the kneelers and arranged the seating to give all a ringside view of the spectacle.

But the greatest accomplishment of these new “men” was when they banished the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament to a hidden place where the main entrance to the church used to be. Just as there was no room in the inn, there is no room near the altar for God.

That brings us to the present. Today, the new “men” by their own admission are “… mostly older priests who were educated and formed by Vatican II”. On their watch the Church in the US has gone into a steep decline and parishes like St. Mary Magdalene are beginning to turn off the lights and are preparing to close their doors. In their own words the priests of the AUSCP tell us that: (Click here to see the full story.)

  • 30 percent of U.S. Catholics have left the church;
  • Church marriages have declined 60 percent since 1980;
  • “Apart from Hispanic members,” Catholic total membership is declining.

With this as their background of accomplishment the priests of the AUSCP come to us and say: (Click here and here to see the full story.)

The AUSCP Working Group on “Pastoral Care for Priest-less Parishes” has prepared a draft PROPOSAL FOR PASTORAL CARE IN & THRU PRIESTLESS PARISHES, found below. We want and need your input. So please review and comment.

Now that we know our Pastor is probably a member of the AUSCP and we as a Catholic family and as members of St. Peter’s have a stake in this matter, we feel that it is appropriate to provide the AUSCP Working Group on “Pastoral Care for Priest-less Parishes” our comments.

Comment 1: We submit to you that you are the new “men”, the somewhat less admirable men, the men who have somewhat less courage. We submit that parishes like St. Mary Magdalene were, in some ways, already priest-less while you lived in the rectories of those parishes. A real man with strong faith and courage, a real pastor like Fr. Laubacher would have saved the Catholic school under his charge. And a real pastor would have fostered vocations so that there never would be a priest-less parish.

Comment 2: You have already done your harm. You have already spiritually abused your flocks. You have already done what you could to turn the sheep away from the saving grace of the Sacraments. What can you possibly offer in your PROPOSAL FOR PASTORAL CARE IN & THRU PRIESTLESS PARISHES? A close reading of the text shows that you only seek to perpetuate and magnify the shameful destruction you have wrought.

Comment 3: All that we have said to this point applies to St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Willowick, Ohio and the Diocese of Cleveland, but, now that we know our Pastor is probably a member of the AUSCP, we feel that it is appropriate to provide a brief reminder of one small chapter in the history of the Diocese of Arlington:

2014-01-17 St. Charles announces school restructuring

2014-01-28 Parents floored over closure of Arlington Catholic school

2014-01-22 St. Charles parents react to school closing

2014-06-10 St. Charles Borromeo Pastor Gets Transferred, Speaks Out

Our question is, “Is it really possible that the type of thinking that binds AUSCP members together could ever really solve the problem of priest-less parishes?” Our next question is, “Now that we know our Pastor is probably a member of the AUSCP, is it possible that some day in the Diocese of Arlington there will be a priest-less parish?”

As my wife so frequently asks, “How many souls will be saved?”

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!




Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #19 – God or Mammon?

This is the second in a series of posts analyzing the implications of our Pastor’s probable membership in the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP). (See Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #18 – Our Radical Pastor and the AUSCP for background.)

Members: What can we say about priests who are members of AUSCP? The best place to begin is with what they say about themselves: (See Priests’ association celebrates values of Vatican II. Check out picture No. 8)

“We’re mostly older priests who were educated and formed by Vatican II,” said Father Bernard “Bob” Bonnot, the association’s president. He was ordained for the Diocese of Youngstown, in 1967.

When the group was founded, he said, members felt that some of the council’s [Vatican II] openness to the world was being closed off.

“We wanted to stand for it and we wanted to fight for it,” Bonnot said. “We want to move our pilgrim church forward as the Spirit inspires.”

Membership – Priests: What is required to become a member of AUSCP? According to the AUSCP website only two criteria are listed: (Click here.)

  • Completion of a registration form, and
  • Paying a membership fee ($50 for “Basic” membership and $150 for “Supporting” membership)

Membership – AUSCP “FRIEND”: What is required to become an AUSCP “FRIEND”? According to the AUSCP website four criteria are listed. The first two are essentially the same as for priests: (Click here.)

  • Completion of a registration form, and
  • Voluntarily paying of a suggested donation of $50 or some other amount

Now this is where things become a bit confusing. On a different page, FRIENDS of AUSCP are described as: (Click here.)

Persons or organizations who –

• Support the mission and work of AUSCP with prayer, time, talent, wisdom, encouragement and treasure

• Do not publicize or publicly promote positions contrary to church teaching or AUSCP positions

There are two points to be made here:

  1. Logic would suggest that, in addition to FRIENDS,  AUSCP priest members would also be required to refrain from publicizing or publicly promoting “positions contrary to church teaching or AUSCP positions”.
  2. Without providing a clear definition of church teaching, both priest members and FRIENDS might encounter obvious conflicts between church teaching or AUSCP positions. Consequently, any of the current AUSCP positions being developed in current AUSCP Working Groups could be seen as pushing the line on church teaching.

Rather than enter into an argument over words, let’s consider what a founding member of AUSCP, Fr. Frank Eckart from Toledo had to say on this point: (Click here.)

“We push those issues that are not set in stone, but that are not contrary to dogma or faith, although we believe in dialogue with dissenting groups.”

And there it is, dear Readers, our radical Pastor probably is an active member of a group that is promoting positions that are right on the edge. That same group believes in dialogue with dissenting groups. Our question is, when he encounters a conflict between a church teaching and an AUSCP position, which will he choose to promote to his parishioners or to those attending a Cursillo weekend?

We must remember Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-03-12

Here is Bulletin_2017-03-12

Vacation? Retreat? Bar Mitzvah? Job interview with the White House?: Our Pastor is gone again and no one says why. Whatever the reason, our Pastor’s absence continues through Thursday, March 16th. According to the bulletin, there will be Communion Services on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-03-05 Supplement

1. My dear, sweet, and beautiful wife learned today that Fr. Mark Pilon will celebrate the Masses at St. Peter’s this weekend.

2. I’ve just returned from business travel to Idaho. Our good friend graciously treated me to dinner while I was there. This statue of Our Lady of Fatima holds a place of prominence in our friend’s home. The Diocese of Boise is slowly recovering from the years under its past Bishop. Please pray for the faithful Catholics in Idaho.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-03-05

Here is Bulletin_2017-03-05

1. Where will our Pastor be?: There will be Communion Services Thursday evening March 9th, and Friday morning March 10th. Father announced at the 8:30 AM Mass today that there would be Confessions available every Thursday evening during Lent. (Of course, everywhere else in the Diocese there are Confessions available  during Lent on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.) We have a question. If there is only a Communion Service this coming Thursday, will there be a priest there to hear confessions?

2. Ecumenical Lenten Services: The flyer in this week’s bulletin gives us the full schedule for “Ecumenical Lenten Services”, probably organized by the Rappahannock Clergy Association. If you are so inclined, you may go to a number of venues in Rappahannock County this Lent and hear non-Catholics tell you the incomplete and perhaps slightly unorthodox meaning of the “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”. What possible gain can there be for the orthodox Catholic who is trying to come to a fuller understanding of his/her faith? – We here at the Sheep of Kephas blog just don’t get it.

Last evening at St. John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal one could see the type of ecumenical service that the Church should be striving for. The first three rows of the church were reserved for the “confirmandi” from the neighboring Methodist church and their pastor. Before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Fr. Fasano explained all that they would see. He cut no corners, the Mass was thoroughly and faithfully 100% Roman Catholic. By the questions they asked Fr. Fasano after Mass, it was apparent that they had been paying attention and were impressed. That, my dear readers, is Catholic ecumenism!