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, April 30, 2009

Blueprint for a Reconstructed Church



Dear Blog Visitors:

I look forward to my new membership at Spiritus Christi Church. I have known Rev. Jim Callan, Rev. Mary Ramerman and Rev. Denise Donato for many years. In fact, Denise and I were classmates at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry and Jim Ramerman (Mary’s husband) was my instructor in a course entitled ‘Parish Administration.’ In addition, I have come to know many members of the Spiritus Christi staff and community and will meet more persons as I become familiarized with the weekend liturgies and parish-based activities.

A question has been posed to me:

"Now that you are a member of Spiritus Christi, will you be giving up your reform activities on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church?"

A straight answer to this question is NO. In brief, I love the church, despite its lack of the type of inclusivity I have been working toward. I love many of the traditions of the church and I am enriched by its sacramental system. However, there is no question that Pope Benedict XVI has hampered efforts to bring the church into the 21st century. By this, I simply mean that vocations have dried out to the point where Catholics around the world face what amounts to a Eucharistic famine.

It is fair to say that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI for the simple reason that cardinals wished to reward him for his loyalty to his predecessor, John Paul II. Since Benedict is in reasonably good health, he may be around for a few more years. In the meantime, we continue to witness decreased Mass attendance, a severe shortage of men willing to commit to a life of celibacy that is required for the priesthood, and millions of women who feel threatened by the sin of sexism that exists in the church.

If the Roman Catholic Church is to exist as a vibrant faith community, it must open its doors to women and married men who are called to the priesthood. In addition, the church must consider another model of hierarchy. Such a hierarchy would place Jesus Christ at the top of the pyramid, followed by the People of God, followed by clerics. In this model, priests would be servants of the People of God, which is the model we find with Jesus in the Gospels. After all, let us not forget that Jesus instructs us that he came to serve, as opposed to being served.

As we consider the priesthood shortage in the Roman Catholic Church, I would like for you to read the following article from the May 4 edition of ‘America’ magazine. It gives us food for thought as we consider the church’s future.

A Modest Proposal
The editors | MAY 4, 2009
America, the Catholic magazine

Silence and fervent prayer for vocations are no longer adequate responses to the priest shortage in the United States. As the church prepares to observe the Year of the Priest, which begins on June 19, open discussion about how to sustain the church as a eucharistic community of faith and fortify the pastoral life of Catholic congregations has become imperative. For making do within the limits set by present demographic trends presents a double threat to Catholic life: Catholic communities will become only infrequent eucharistic communities, or eucharistic communities will be severed from the pastoral care and public witness of priests.

In 2008 the sociologist Dean Hoge said: “We need at least a doubling of ordinations to maintain the American priesthood as we know it now. But this is impossible.” Of current diocesan priests, only 70 percent are available for parish ministry, with the rest sick, retired or absent for a variety of reasons, according to Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. An increasing number of Catholics are unable to participate in a Sunday or weekday Mass. All this prompts the question, Will the priest shortage impose a eucharistic famine on the Catholic people?

The de facto remedy already applied in many places— making the priest a circuit rider moving from parish to parish to dispense the sacraments—risks narrowing the ministry of the priest and impoverishing the Christian life of the communities he serves. A narrowly sacramental definition of priesthood satisfies the requirements of only one of the three canons that define the pastoral responsibilities of the priest, Canon 530. As a consequence the sacramental office is as a practical matter severed from its integral connection with comprehensive pastoral care. Canons 528 and 529 provide a broader understanding of the priestly ministry. The first sees the priest as one who instructs, catechizes, fosters works of justice, shows special care for the education of children and brings the Gospel to those who have ceased to practice the faith. The second requires that he should come to know the faithful entrusted to his care, visit families, share their concerns, worries and griefs, help the sick and seek out the poor, the afflicted and the lonely. Diminishing numbers make it difficult to carry out this holistic vision of the priest’s pastoral ministry.

We hope that the upcoming Year of the Priest will lead to a broader discussion of the priesthood in the contemporary world and, in particular, will open examination of the various ways the shortage of priests can be addressed honestly and with imagination. New vocations can be promoted through youth rallies, the Internet and, as always, with prayer. In addition, the pastoral needs of parishes may also be met in part by more effective pastoral assignment of permanent deacons and by increased leadership by lay men and women.

What about the recruitment and training of married men as priests? Married priests already minister in the Catholic Church, both East and West. Addressing the married clergy of the Eastern Catholic churches, the Second Vatican Council exhorted “all those who have received the priesthood in the married state to persevere in their holy vocation and continue to devote their lives fully and generously to the flock entrusted to their care” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” No. 16). That exhortation now applies to the more than 100 former Anglican priests and Lutheran ministers who have entered the Catholic Church, been ordained and now serve in the Latin rite. As we face the challenges of the priest shortage, some of the more than 16,000 permanent deacons in the United States, many of them married, who experience a call to priestly ministry might be called to ordination with a similarly adapted discipline. In addition, the views and desires of some of the more than 25,000 priests who have been laicized (and are now either single or married) should also be heard.

Our plea is modest. The bishops of the United States should take greater leadership in openly discussing the priest shortage and its possible remedies. These should not be conversations in which we face a problem only to find every new avenue of solution closed. Rather, they should be exchanges fully open to the possibilities offered by the Spirit.

King David - a heart-warming musical celebration of faith for the entire family. Click here for more information.

In March, Cardinal Edward Egan, the newly retired archbishop of New York, said in a candid moment that the topic of married priests “is a perfectly legitimate discussion.” He added, “I think it should be looked at.” The cardinal later nuanced his statement, but the need for a creative re-visioning of priestly life to sustain the eucharistic life of the church in its fullest sense can no longer be delayed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Have Joined Spiritus Christi Church



Dear Blog Visitors:

After several years of discernment, I officially joined Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester today. As you know, Spiritus Christi is independent of Vatican rule, which suits me perfectly at this point in my life.

I truly value all the friendships I have experienced in the Diocese of Rochester, and I anticipate that many of these friendships will continue. However, I will now have the freedom to engage in my ministries without the Vatican and ultra-conservative Catholic groups worrying about every move I make that is geared toward church-reform.

I will continue to work toward a church that values the gifts/ministries of all its members. I truly appreciate the friendship and leadership of Bishop Matthew Clark, for he has done as best he could to bring women and married men into diocesan leadership positions, although the powers-that-be would not allow him to ordain these gifted people to the priesthood. As he nears retirement, perhaps conservatives are right in their assessment that the Vatican will appoint an ultra-orthodox bishop in his place, in which case Spiritus Christi Church is certainly a safe place for me to be.

I look forward to continuing my role as national media liaison for CORPUS (www.corpus.org) and I will continue my role as officiant for weddings, baptisms and funerals, via my certification from the Federation of Christian Ministries (www.federationofchristianministries.org).

My prayer is that the Roman Catholic Church will come to realize that if it is to survive another 2,000 years, it needs to be open to structural change, which does not mean it needs to sacrifice any of its long-held doctrines.

Stay tuned to my blog and YouTube site for further developments.

Peace to all,
Ray Grosswirth

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two Women Ordained in Philadelphia



Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate two Roman Catholic women who were ordained in Philadelphia on April 26. I also want to thank Rabbi Linda Holtzman for allowing the ordination to take place at her synagogue.

Mary Schoettly was ordained a priest and Chava Redonnet was ordained a deacon. Chava is from Rochester, so I am especially pleased that she joins the ranks of the ordained, and I know she will do a spectacular job in our community. (She is pictured above.)

What follows is a brief article from Philadelphia.

Peace to all,
Ray

Posted on Mon, Apr. 27, 2009

Catholic women ordained in Phila. despite censure

Two Roman Catholic woman were ordained yesterday, one as a deacon, the other as a priest, in the sanctuary of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, a Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue in Roxborough, Senior Rabbi Linda Holtzman said.

The ceremony was the first ordination of women in Philadelphia. On Friday, it elicited a one-page denunciation from Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia.

Mary Schoettly, 66, of Sussex County, N.J., was ordained a priest. Chava Redonnet, 51, of Rochester, N.Y., became a deacon.

About 200 attended, Holtzman said. "It was really beautiful," she said. - Harold Brubaker

Find this article at:
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/20090427_Catholic_women_ordained_in_Phila__despite_censure.html

Here is a video that was taken during the ordination (provided by the 'Star-Ledger New Jersey'):

NJ woman ordained as a priest in controversial ceremony

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Update on Officer Anthony DiPonzio

Dear Blog Visitors:

A number of you have inquired as to the current status of Officer Anthony Diponzio's recovery process. I am happy to report that he is coming along much better than anyone initially expected.

You may recall that Officer DiPonzio was shot in the back of the head during a routine investigation several months ago. While the prognosis was initially grim, a combination of swift action by police officers and surgeons, and prayerful support from all of you, has resulted in a miraculous recovery process. To be sure, Officer DiPonzio has a long road ahead of him, but I am encouraged by what I have seen thus far.

For those of you wishing to contribute toward Officer DiPonzio's health-care expenses, contributions may be made at the following address:

ANTHONY DIPONZIO FUND
ROCHESTER POLICE LOCUST CLUB
1425 LEXINGTON AVENUE
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK 14606

Here is a video I made in which I highlight the recovery process:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Four New Women Bishops



Dear Blog Visitors:

I am very pleased to share with you a press release I distributed on behalf of CORPUS, which is in reference to the ordination of four women-bishops that took place in Santa Barabara on April 19. Those who support church-reform, such as yours truly, are truly excited about this latest development. The women ordained are highly qualified for the episcopate and they will greatly advance the cause for more inclusivity in the Roman Catholic clergy.

PRESS RELEASE
April 20, 2009
CORPUS SUPPORTS AND CONGRATULATES FOUR NEWLY-ORDAINED CATHOLIC WOMEN-BISHOPS

CORPUS (www.corpus.org), the national association for an inclusive priesthood, is deeply proud to articulate its support of four ordinations that took place on April 19 in the state of California. It is with great joy that we congratulate the following four Catholic bishops: Joan Mary Clark Houk, Andrea Michele Johnson, Bridget Mary Meehan and Maria Regina Nicolosi.

Bishops Houk, Johnson, Meehan and Nicolosi join their male counterparts in the Roman Catholic Episcopate as servant-leaders of their respective communities.

For over thirty-five years, CORPUS has been actively engaged in the effort to create a church that is all-inclusive. In its effort to expand its outreach efforts, CORPUS has moved beyond its original mission as a vehicle of support for married priests and their families. We now recognize that the Kingdom of God on earth cannot be realized until all of human creation is treated with dignity and respect. We also realize that a call from God to ordained ministry is not limited to celibate males. We therefore embrace and encourage all who experience the call, minus any discrimination on the basis of gender, marital status or sexual orientation.

Women who prepare for ordination to the diaconate, priesthood and episcopate are highly trained and have the same educational qualifications as males in similar roles. CORPUS hopes and prays that those who are opposed to the ordination of women will search their hearts and come to realize that if the Catholic Church is to remain vital in the years ahead, we must be open to the will of the Holy Spirit.

The fact that many women are coming forward to respond to a call from God is a reason to celebrate, and CORPUS greets these women of faith with open arms and a feeling of joy and gratitude for their spiritual and ministerial gifts.

Bishops Houk, Johnson, Meehan and Nicolosi give hope to a divided church. CORPUS has every confidence that they will be true disciples of Christ, and we therefore rejoice in their ordination to the rank of the episcopate.

Ray Grosswirth
CORPUS Media Liaison

Post-script: The following is a video I made in which I congratulate the four newly-ordained bishops:



As an update, here is a press release just issued by Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP):

Press/Media Release
Roman Catholic Womenpriests Ordain Four U.S. Bishops
April 21, 2009
Media Contacts:
National Media Contact, Bridget Mary Meehan; 703-505-0004, sofiabmm@aol.com
USA-Western Administrator, Suzanne Thiel; 503-784-3330, suzthiel@yahoo.com
USA-Midwest Co-Administrators, Kathy Redig; 507-429-3616, krredig@hbci.com,
Alice Iaquinta; 414-791-9952, aliceiaquinta@hotmail.com
USA-Great Waters Administrator, Rose Marie Hudson; 636-208-5598, reehud@sbcglobal.net
USA-Eastern Administrator, Eileen McCafferty DiFranco; 267-258-6966, emdifranco@aol.com
USA-Central Administrator, Roberta Meehan; 623-388-6627, biology@ctos.com
USA-Southern Administrator, Janice Sevre-Duszynska; 859-684-4247, rhythmsofthedance@msn.com

Roman Catholic Womenpriests USA is pleased to announce the ordinations of Joan Mary Clark Houk, Andrea Michele Johnson, Maria Regina Nicolosi and Bridget Mary Meehan as Roman Catholic bishops. These ordinations took place on April 19, 2009 in California. Officiating at the ceremony were Bishops: Patricia Fresen and Ida Raming from Germany and Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger from Austria.

Joan Mary Clark Houk has been called by the members of the Great Waters Region to minister pastorally to the womenpriests, womendeacons and People of God of her region. To be always mindful of that call, she has "Faithful Servant" inscribed on her bishop's ring. Joan's many years of parish ministry, and her experience as a wife and mother has prepared her well for her pastoral role. Married for forty-eight years, Joan and John have six children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Andrea Michele Johnson resides in Annapolis, MD, and has been elected to serve as bishop for the Eastern Region. She has worked in international education exchange with the senior Fulbright Scholar Program, and also as a director of religious education over many years. She was pastoral minister in a priestless Catholic parish in the mid-1980’s and also served as a former director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, Andrea currently works in hospital chaplaincy. She is happily married to Spencer, her husband of thirty-nine years and is the mother of three adult children – two sons and one daughter, and is the grandmother of two.

Maria Regina Nicolosi was elected by the members of the Midwest Region to be their bishop. Regina was born in the Rhineland, Germany, close to the Abbey of St. Hildegard and before she moved to the USA, she was a teacher. After raising her family, Regina worked as a senior housing manager and a nursing home chaplain. Currently, she celebrates Eucharist with small faith communities and has served as the program coordinator for the Midwest region. In this role she has helped prepare several women for priestly ordination. Regina is married and has four children and eight grandchildren. She and her husband Charles live in Red Wing, MN. For more information, contact crnicolosi@yahoo.com

Bridget Mary Meehan, a Sister for Christian Community, was elected to serve as bishop for the Southern Region. She presides at inclusive liturgies and sacramental services for vibrant faith communities in Sarasota, Florida and Falls Church, Virginia. For fifteen years, Bridget Mary served as a pastoral associate at Ft. Myer Chapel in N.VA. She is the author of eighteen books including Praying with Women of the Bible, Praying with Visionary Women, and co-author of Praying with Celtic Holy Women. She is host/producer of TV/Internet media designed to promote justice, equality and mutual respect, and dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University. For more information, contact sofiabmm@aol.com (See www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org)

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