My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Road to Ordination

Dear Friends:

I wanted to wait until this article was published, before sharing it with you. In the article, I answered the three primary questions I continue to be asked:


MY ROAD TO ORDINATION
By Ray Grosswirth, CORPUS Media Liaison

March/April, 2007 Edition of ‘CORPUS REPORTS’

Having been part of the CORPUS community for several years, this is my very first article written as a married priest. The road to ordination was indeed long, with a few bumps along the way. However, in the end, my faith has been enriched as a result of my finally saying YES when the Holy Spirit beckoned.

Much has been written and said already in the mainstream media about my ordination. So, rather than restating all the particulars, what follows will be what can perhaps be described as a reflection on what my ordination means in terms of my future with CORPUS and how I intend to carry out my ministries in the diaspora.

I wish to begin by thanking the CORPUS community for all the good wishes I received following my ordination on December 10. I also wish to give special thanks to Bill Manseau, who put me in touch with Archbishop Peter Brennan a couple months prior to the event. In the way of a background, Peter was one of four men consecrated archbishops by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo last September.

After Archbishop Brennan reviewed materials I had sent him, he conversed with Archbishop Milingo, whereby both agreed I was a suitable candidate for the priesthood. It was further agreed that everything would be done according to Roman Catholic specifications and rituals. So, in keeping with the proper specified order, I was first ordained a transitional deacon by Archbishop Brennan, and was then ordained a priest by Archbishop Milingo on December 10.

Bill Manseau did a wonderful job with the feature article he wrote for the January/February 2007 edition of ‘CORPUS Reports.’ In his article, he gave us an overview of the personality and spirituality that defines Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. I am in full agreement that Milingo is a highly spiritual man and that his devotion to the Roman Catholic faith is steadfast, despite some comments that have been made in the mainstream media.

Since my ordination, I have been asked several questions by friends, members of the media and representatives of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Three primary questions have surfaced: 1.) What will my future relationship with Archbishop Milingo be? 2.) For whom will I carry out my ministries? 3.) Have I been threatened with any penalties by the Roman Catholic hierarchy?

Before answering the above questions, I wish to state that CORPUS remains my primary community, although I wasn’t ordained for the community. Nevertheless, the work being done by CORPUS remains extremely vital to the future of the Roman Catholic Church. When historians look back at the history of married priests and the work done toward priesthood inclusivity in general, the work of CORPUS will be recognized for its combination of meticulous theology, bridge-building and its success in attracting members without coercion or deceptive advertising. In short, CORPUS builds relationships, and my friendships that have been cultivated through our organization mean more to me than I can say. So, I was greatly honored to serve as CORPUS Secretary for three years, in addition to serving in my current role as CORPUS Media Liaison – a role I will continue under the current Board leadership.

I will now answer the three questions I am most often asked:

What will my future relationship with Archbishop Milingo be?

Many CORPUS priests will remember their ordination day. Two primary promises were made: a.) obedience to their bishops; b.) a promise to remain celibate. Obviously, since I am a married man, who was ordained by a married bishop, there was no promise of celibacy on my part (thanks be to God). When it came time for the pledge of obedience at my ordination, I knelt before Archbishop Peter Brennan. This is not to say I won’t have a future relationship with Archbishop Milingo. It simply means that I will have my primary episcopal relationship with Peter, since my ministries will be done, at least in part, on behalf of the Ecumenical Catholic Diocese of America (Peter Brennan is primary bishop).

I will at least have a spiritual connection to Archbishop Milingo. Since the archbishop will be traveling back and forth between Africa and the United States, physical contact is problematic. However, his life by example is one of prayer and ministry to those in need. So, I can only hope to emulate, even if in only in a small way, his commitment to Gospel values.

For whom will I carry out my ministries?

At the time of this writing, my application for certification is being processed and evaluated by the Federation of Christian Ministries. If approved, I will be able to carry out my ministries on behalf of FCM. In addition, my ordination certificate gives me faculties to minister on behalf of the Ecumenical Diocese of America. It is my hope and calling to be an officiant for weddings, baptisms and funerals.

Have I been threatened with any penalties by the Roman Catholic hierarchy?

Thus far, there have not been any official statements from the Vatican. However, there has been the predictable comment by spokespersons from a few dioceses to the effect that by my action, I have excommunicated myself. At the very least, however, my ordination is being determined by Canon lawyers to be valid, but illicit.

I still consider myself to be a Roman Catholic and have related to members of the hierarchy that any ministries I carry out will be respectful of Roman Catholic boundaries. Sadly, like many married priests, I will be working on the fringes of the official church, but at the same time, providing valuable ministries to those in the diaspora. Jesus was the perfect role model in this regard, because the diaspora was a very special place for him, as were the people he ministered to.

I ask for your continued prayers as I begin my new life as a married priest, just as I continue to pray for all of you. In addition, let us all continue to pray for the day when Rome will recognize all who are genuinely called to ordained priesthood, whether they be male, female, gay, straight, single or married.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Inspired by Spiritus Christi Church

Dear Blog Visitors:

I was deeply moved by a feature story that appeared in our local newspaper this morning. It focused on a group of volunteers who donate their time to the Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center.

The Mental Health Center is just one of many outreach ministries offered by Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester, New York. This is a parish that truly walks the talk, in that it takes the Gospel message of Jesus Christ very seriously. Jesus instructed us to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, take care of the disenfranchised, and welcome the stranger. Spiritus Christi continues to be a model for those of us who wish to be true disciples of Jesus.

For those of you not familiar with the story, Spiritus Christi began several years ago, as an offshoot of Corpus Christi Church (diocesan parish). Through its independent status, the parish has two ordained female priests (Mary Ramerman and Denise Donato), in addition to having the services of Fr. James Callan, who moved from his role as a diocesan priest to a leader of the Spiritus Christi community.

Many diocesan parishes can only wish they had the capacity to offer all the outreach ministries that are a trademark of Spiritus Christi. In addition to the many ministries offered, Spiritus Christi also has a model tithing program, whereby 15% of its annual budget goes to charitable/non-profit organizations.

Since my ordination as a married priest in December, 2006, many of my friends and colleagues have encouraged me to join the Spiritus Christi community. This is certainly a future possibility for me, especially if the Vatican should make a negative decision concerning my ordination. However, at least for the time being, I remain a diocesan Catholic.

When I made the decision to pursue my ordination as a married priest, Spiritus Christi was admittedly part of my discernment. When one reads the history of the parish, one learns that it came to a point where a decision was reached that if change was to take place, it was time to stop talking about ordainding women, and simply do it. I made a similar decision concerning my ordination. (Rather than simply talking about the ordination of married men, I simply did it.)

What follows is today's inspiring story about the Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center:

Spiritus Christi center is proof of gaps in health care
Mark Hare
Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester, New York

(February 20, 2007) — New Unto Others is a consignment shop for "gently used" home furnishings, says the store's manager, Nancy Carlucci. But it is more than that.You can pick up a custom made sofa or easy chair, a china cabinet, lamps, end tables, original paintings, beautiful pieces of blown glass art, even a Russian samovar, or teapot. Then there's the jewelry — bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

"A young woman who benefited from the mental health center made this jewelry for us," Carlucci says. The materials are donated and all the proceeds go to the Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center, at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh St.

New Unto Others, which opened at 141 State St. in December, isn't a business, but a ministry. Every penny it clears supports the church's mental health center, just a block away.

Carlucci says she's never run a consignment shop, ("I do have a black belt in consignment shopping, however.") but she's had a lot of volunteer help setting up the shop. "I have a real interest in mental health" she says, "We have a son with two substantial mental illnesses, and my husband and I are very familiar with the problems some people have getting access to care."

The lack of access to mental health care is why Spiritus Christi opened its center six years ago, says director Maureen Marlow.A week ago, I wrote about the Mercy Outreach Center on Webster Avenue. With a staff of volunteer doctors and other medical professionals, it fills in the gaps — offering care to people who go without care.

It's a wonderful ministry, but its existence is proof that we need a system of universal care in this country — so that people in need do not have to rely on finding volunteers to help them out.

The same can be said of the Spiritus Mental Health Center. New York's new Timothy's Law requires that insurance policies include mental health treatment coverage comparable to the medical coverage it offers. But the problem is there are people with no insurance or whose coverage limits have been reached, Marlow says.
She tells me of a woman in her mid 50s, a housewife and mother whose husband left her — and left her with nothing. She moved in with a kind friend, but "she was too depressed to work," Marlow says. She had no insurance and no access to care, until she found her way to Spiritus. She saw a volunteer psychiatrist, eventually found the right medication to help her, got counseling and found a job.

"Most of our clients are high functioning," says Amy Durkee, the center's administrative associate, "but they can't afford therapy."A mother brought her 11-year-old son to the center. He had been expelled from school because of anger and uncontrollable tantrums. The family had insurance, Marlow says, but not for mental health care. "His mom just wanted him to be able to control his anger and stay in school," she says. And with proper care, that's just what happened. "When he left here, he was in school, was helping out at home and had started his own lawn mowing business."

The center has 26 volunteer therapists; two psychiatrists can prescribe drugs. The center has two large and comfortable counseling rooms and a waiting list for clients, Marlow says.

If they had more space and more volunteer help, "we'd be able to use it," she says.The center offers loving and supportive service, but it exists because so many fall through the cracks in our system.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Statements from CORPUS & 'Married Priests Now!'

Dear Blog Visitors:

People continue to ask me what I intend to do, now that I am a married priest. The short answer is that I continue to be a Roman Catholic, and my primary ministries will be via certification from the Federation of Christian Ministries (baptisms, weddings, funerals).

A question that continues to surface from time to time is what the relationship between CORPUS and 'The Married Priests Now! Prelature' will be. After some careful dialogue/negotiation, both organizations have released statements that are respectful of each other's goals and initiatives. Since both CORPUS and 'Married Priests Now!' have posted these statements to their respective websites, I thought it would be appropriate to post the statements here as well.

At the heart of all organizations that work toward inclusivity in the priesthood is the reality that while the Roman Catholic Church is growing in terms of numbers, the celibate priesthood is shrinking, which places the availability of the Eucharist in jeopardy.

I will continue to support the crusade for optional celibacy and want to encourage all men and women called to the priesthood to pursue their vocations, despite present obstacles.

Having been ordained by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, I support his efforts to bring the need for married priests to the forefront of public debate. After many decades of dedicated service to the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican stripped him of his pension. He is now advocating for all married priests, most of whom also lost their pensions. In the private sector, an employee with an adequate number of vested years does not lose his or her pension. Yet, the Vatican continues to punish priests who enter into marriage by stripping them of their rightfully-earned retirement benefits. This is an injustice Archbishop Milingo is helping to address.

Without further delay, here are the statements by CORPUS and 'The Married Priests Now Prelature.' Despite some differences in the two organizations, we share the conviction that the policy of mandatory celibacy is outdated and is causing great harm to the church-at-large.

Peace,
Ray Grosswirth

CORPUS' position statement regarding the Married Priests Now! organization

CORPUS’ board and staff have been approached numerous times by our members, non-members, and representatives of the media regarding our organization’s position on the Married Priests Now! prelature. After having the opportunity to reflect, meet in person, and discuss, we feel it important to share with you our perspective...

CORPUS intends to be inclusive not only with those candidates who seek ministry but also with the diverse national and international organizations which seek different strategies for implementing an inclusive priesthood.

Married Priests Now! is a new organization, one which has in its membership and leadership CORPUS members and one which has a Roman Catholic Archbishop as its leader. CORPUS supports and endorses the good will of those who choose Married Priests Now! as the proper structure for their spiritual journey.

CORPUS, nonetheless, is concerned about some aspects of the theology of Married Priests Now! and trusts that eventually that organization will address these concerns. These concerns of ours include the following:

an insufficient public emphasis on the charisms of women and their yearning for ordination

a marginalization of homosexual candidates even when these candidates are people of exemplary and unimpeachable character

a heavy clericalization of the organization, one which seems at odds with collegiality and biblical simplicity

a reliance on funding sources that are questionable

CORPUS does not intend and has no right to be judgmental about motivations and individuals. We do wish, however, to make our concerns explicit in the hope that a dialogue will follow and that a proper resolution of these concerns may allow organizational solidarity to go forward.

C. Russell Ditzel, president
William J. Manseau, treasurer
Linda Pinto, secretary
Anthony PadovanoD
David Gawlik
Stu O'Brien
Ray Grosswirth
Joe Cece

February 10. 2007

Married Priests Now! Response to Corpus Statement
February 14, 2007

From Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, President
Archbishop George A. Stallings, Vice-President
Archbishop Peter P. Brennan, Vicar General
Archbishop Patrick E. Trujillo, Chancellor
Archbishop Joseph J. Gouthro, Secretary General

We cordially thank the CORPUS board of directors for their open, honest and helpful statement concerning our Married Priests Now! Catholic Prelature. And we appreciate the valuable advice you offer for our consideration.

We are a young organization, as you know. We only began in July 2006. Our present intention is to mesh with the institutional church and our only goal is to have married priests honored and returned to full ministry and to have married men ordained to the priesthood.

While the institutional church has not yet been openly receptive to the idea, we are hopeful that a miracle of grace will overcome them. Waiting on the institutional response to our proposals requires us to contain our demands to only ONE and that is the return of the married priesthood.

The institutional church understands hierarchy and respects the office of bishop. Our prelature retains the hierarchical structure (with mitres) because it allows the institutional church to recognize us as Catholic and episcopal; and is a sign that we mean business. They are comfortable with that structure and know what it means.

If the institutional church trashes and rejects us, as she has done to marrried priests for the last forty years, then we will have little recourse but to join the new Catholic Church about which Archbishop Milingo wrote to Pope Benedict XVI "that is forming with or without your blessing."

The Holy Father has recently deleted Archbishop Milingo's name from the Annual Pontifical Directory in an attempt to erase from his own memory his moral and social obligation to pay Archbishop Milingo his well earned pension which he is not doing. It seems the Holy Father can teach morals but does not have to practice them -- and that is not a good example to the faithful.
It is clear from their inability to respond to the crisis-level shortage of priests throughout the world that the institutional church, in the person of the Holy Father and his Curia, has made the decision to allow the sacramental priesthood to decline into extinction. This would mean that the original, scripturally-based priesthood of the faithful will replace the sacramental priesthood and that will be a greater and more significant advance than the one we are proposing. As Jesus said: "They know not what they are doing."

Cordially in Christ, the resurrected Lord,

+Peter Paul Brennan
Vicar General
Married Priests Now! Catholic Prelature

STATEMENT BY MICHAEL JENKINS, PRESIDENT OF THE UNIFICATION CHURCH OF AMERICA:

February 14, 2007

The dignity with which Archbishop Brennan addresses CORPUS concerns is to be commended. Also I want to sincerely thank the CORPUS organization for their professional, scholarly and sincere spirituality to address concerns that are legitimate and important.

I am deeply impressed that CORPUS is remaining grounded in the fundamental teachings of Jesus and staying true to those teaching such as "Judge Not lest ye be judged" and the emphasis of love and respect.

I do believe the questions will be answered and that MPN and CORPUS will find a balanced cooperative relationship on goals that both organizations share in terms of ministering to and helping Married Priests - who are a very important dimension of God's work in the world.

My respect for CORPUS has been deeply strengthened through the meeting with various former Presidents of CORPUS. They are approaching this as men of faith and with a resonable and enlighted theological depth and concern to do what is best for Married Priests organizations.

They are also doing much to respect Archbishop Milingo's courage to challenge the unworkable situation of celibacy in the Mother Church.

Archbishop Brennan,Archbishop Milingo, Archbishop Stallings and Archbishop Trujillo, as well as Father Dairo Ferrabolli have expressed enormous respect for CORPUS - let us work in such a way that CORPUS is strengthened whenever we share common objectives. I pray that Jesus prayer in John 17:21 will be fulfilled that "All May Be One".

Sincerely,

Rev. Michael Jenkins
President of the Unification Church of America
(Family Federation for World Peace and Unification)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tribute to Mike Krupiarz

Dear Friends:

I just thanked Marketta Gregory of the Democrat & Chronicle for the wonderful article she wrote on Mike Krupiarz. I am posting this to my blog and to the CORPUS (www.corpus.org) forum, because several of Mike's seminary classmates from St. Bernard's are members of CORPUS.

Mike Krupiarz was a great guy and was very instrumental in my faith formation and choices I eventually made.

Back in 1990, when I was discerning the priesthood as part of a group for older men, Mike was my initial spiritual advisor. (He prepared for the priesthood himself, but had left the seminary without getting ordained, due to the celibacy issue. He became a married deacon instead.) Mike was very helpful in my discernment over celibacy and other issues facing persons who are discerning the seminary process.

Some of my memories of Mike have an element of humor. When he was a pastoral associate at St. Mary's Church downtown, he asked me to attend a peaceful rally outside the Seneca Depot, at which a Mass was being celebrated by Fr. James Callan to protest the manufacture of weapons at the facility. (Mike teased me by telling me he was going to jump over the fence as an act of civil disobedience. When he saw I was getting nervous, he told me he was just kidding.) I do, however, remember one incident that resulted in his being arrested for civil disobedience. (He laid down on the Broad Street Bridge to block traffic, in an attempt to protest the conditions homeless persons faced by living under the bridge.) This was simply Mike's way of calling attention to the disadvantaged in our society.

I wish I had known that Mike was in his final stages of life. I certainly would have visited him and shared with him the news of my being ordained a married priest. (I think he would have enjoyed my sharing that with him.)

Marketta Gregory's article was a wonderful tribute to Mike, and I am sure his family appreciated it. The article follows:

February 14, 2007

Aquinas teacher M.J. Krupiarz mourned
Marketta GregoryStaff writer
Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester, New York

Nearly 800 people — about half of them students from Aquinas Institute — gathered Tuesday to remember a man who saw God in all of creation.Michael J. Krupiarz, a theology teacher, a poet, a firm believer in the potential of people, a devoted father and husband, died Saturday. He was 57 and had battled cancer for several years.

"He was a man who felt that anything was possible," said the Rev. John Mulligan, pastor of the Cathedral Community and celebrant at Tuesday's funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. "If you could think it or dream it, Michael thought you could do it."

He wasn't a Pollyanna about it, though. He was a realist, one who saw and understood society's ills, said Eugene Oberst, a social studies teacher at Aquinas. But Mr. Krupiarz believed in plugging away at problems and doing what he could to bring about change.

"He would go up and down Dewey Avenue and plant flowers," said Oberst, who worked with Mr. Krupiarz during Mr. Krupiarz's 16 years at Aquinas and at the former Cardinal Mooney High School before that.
"He'd go back and water them every other day."He also built up his students, even when they were in trouble."If kids acted up in his class, he'd pull them into the office and have them call their parents," Oberst said. After the student had explained how he was behaving, Mr. Krupiarz would take the phone. "He'd tell the parents, 'You've got a great kid. We just want them to be all that they can be. Can you just encourage them?'"

And he encouraged his colleagues as well, said Ann Habershaw, assistant principal at the private high school in Rochester."He always reminded me that material goods weren't necessarily the best things in life to go for," she said. "He lived very simply. He didn't look for lots of extras."

He lived in the neighborhood right around Aquinas, Habershaw said. He picked up litter in the neighborhood. He walked to school every day.And he spent time with his wife, Sharon, and his son and daughter, Michael C. Krupiarz and Michelle N. Krupiarz.

"He taught me a lot about life," said Michelle Krupiarz. "Now that he's gone, I won't remember the toys or gifts that I got for birthdays. I'll remember trips to the zoo, working on homework together, going to get ice cream. I'll remember all the time we spent together."

Even as she and her brother got older, their father wanted to know what was happening with their lives and their jobs. He was always ready to go fishing or biking, and he would get excited over little things, like seeing a hawk in the back yard.

He had a tremendous love of nature, said Mulligan."He was a lover of God's creation. If God created it, Michael loved it, and the nice thing was that that included people."

MGREGORY@DemocratandChronicle.com