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.

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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.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Being Thankful for Our Gifts

The following was published in the November-December issue of 'CORPUS REPORTS.'

BEING THANKFUL FOR OUR GIFTS
By Ray Grosswirth, CORPUS Media Liaison

In the September/October edition of ‘CORPUS Reports,’ president Russ Ditzel wonderfully articulated the phenomenon of ‘writer’s block’ that consumed him for a brief period. As a long-time writer, I too have experienced this phenomenon.

The mind is a curious thing. There are days in which my creativity is racing a thousand miles an hour, and I rush off with pen-in-hand to put my thoughts to paper. On other days, the so-called ‘writer’s block sets in and I stare endlessly at a blank page.

As media liaison for CORPUS, I try to maintain a presence for our organization in newspapers, the internet, radio and television. Admittedly, there are days when I find myself in a dilemma over how to get our message out. I find it is an ever-increasing challenge to find mainstream members of the media who are willing to spend time with me to discuss topics that are integral to the crusade for reform in the Roman Catholic Church. One reporter put it this way: “We have been over-saturated with stories of sexual abuse the past few years, and our editor feels the public has heard enough about the Catholic Church.”

As we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving in November, it is a good time to reflect on the many gifts CORPUS members have been bestowed with. I am sure that many of you have found yourselves in a slump from time-to-time, whether it be writer’s block or the lack of motivation to keep moving the message of reform forward. However, I have found it is best to focus on the many gifts we possess that allow us to provide alternative ministries to the multitudes, despite objections from the Vatican and members of the celibate clergy.

Having just begun a wedding ministry, I am reminded that many of you (CORPUS members) have been providing this valuable service for many years. I have also become increasingly aware of the other ministries you provide that are just as valuable, whether it be as chaplains, counselors, leaders of small faith communities, advocates for social causes, missionaries, officiants at funerals and baptisms, and countless other services you provide for your respective communities.

At the very least, it is safe to assume that many diocesan clergy are probably envious of the freedom we enjoy in our ministries. As this freedom relates to weddings, most diocesan priests are not allowed to officiate in non-church settings, such as outdoor facilities, banquet halls, private homes, colleges, parks, or numerous other creative atmospheres. The most recent wedding for which I was the officiant involved collaboration of Jewish and Catholic customs (groom was Jewish and the bride was Catholic). I was asked to officiate after the couple had visited three local priests, each of whom refused to offer their services, unless there was a promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith. (The couple elected to raise their children in both the Jewish and Catholic faiths, whereby the children would be free to make their own choices later in life. This was a choice I respected, whereby I agreed to officiate at their wedding.)

All married priests, and most recently, women priests, have found situations in which they have felt ostracized by conservative members of their respective Catholic communities. While such public shunning can make us feel sad at times, it is important to maintain a positive attitude about the alternative services we are able to offer via our spiritual and pastoral gifts. Jesus and his disciples were no strangers to the experience of feeling ostracized, but they pressed on with their messages of love and inclusivity. CORPUS members must do no less. We are disciples of Christ, and the work we do in the diaspora is extremely important.

If you have read the inside front cover of ‘CORPUS Reports’ in the past couple editions, you noticed that David Gawlik (CR editor) wants to mentor a CORPUS member who would eventually assume responsibility for the publication. I can’t imagine ‘CORPUS Reports’ without David at the helm, but in the interest of keeping this first-rate publication viable in the long-term future, finding a potential successor will be important. I now wish to pitch the position I am currently in, for which I am also seeking a successor.

After serving as CORPUS Secretary for three years (2002-2005), I entered into my experimental position as CORPUS Media Liaison. Whenever possible, I have tried to keep the initiatives of our organization alive in the media. However, as stated in my opening remarks, it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture the interest of reporters on topics relating to church reform.

While I have tried to keep up with all the emerging technology, such as podcasting, and the increasingly popular YouTube, I think CORPUS will be better served by someone who actually has expertise in such technologies. Therefore, I offer the following job description that includes the skills that would be valued by the CORPUS community, if an aspiring candidate should emerge to assume the role of media liaison when the new Board begins their term in July of 2008.

CORPUS MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE

The primary purpose of having a media representative, or liaison, is to have the means of getting our goals, mission and special initiatives to the public-at-large.

Ideally, a person interested in assuming the role of media representative should possess the following skills:

+ The person should be media-savvy, which includes the ability to generate interest amongst reporters who have the responsibility for religious stories.

+ The person should be a creative writer – one who can generate eye-catching press releases.

+ The person should be up-to-date with today’s communication technology, inclusive of print, audio and video capabilities.

+ The person should be able to search for, and locate church-reform-related stories on the internet that would be of special interest to the CORPUS Board and staff.

+ The person should have the ability and desire to write regular articles for CORPUS Reports that encourage CORPUS members to participate in the effort to get our message out to religious reporters.

+ The person should feel comfortable speaking to broadcast media, whereby he or she would search for interview opportunities.

+ The person would ideally be available for CORPUS Board/staff meetings and would attend, whenever possible, events that would be of interest to our membership.

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