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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Mass Translation is Problematic



Dear Blog Visitors:

Many of you may be aware that a new English Mass translation will be implemented in all American dioceses as of November of this year. For those of you who wish to examine the current language against the new translation, I have provided a link that will allow you to do this (or simply paste the link to your web browser):

http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/samples-people.shtml

It is not my intention to be political with my criticism of the new translation. In the photo above, I am giving a thumbs down from primarily a musical perspective. In simple terms, current musical settings of the Mass will not work with the new translation. Although composers are racing against time to modify scores in such a way that will allow the words to work, they are running into much difficulty.

My guess is that once U.S. bishops receive multiple complaints in November from Catholics who do not like the new translation of the Mass, they will perhaps be receptive to allowing optional choices that would permit either inclusive present-day versions of Novus Ordo or in special circumstances, the Latin Mass with traditional musical settings.

At a time when church attendance is at an all-time low point, changing the wording of Mass parts will only serve to complicate matters, especially when the new words don't flow very well, whether they are spoken or sung.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Looking Forward to This Year's Weddings



Dear Blog Visitors:

As an independent married priest, commissioned by the Federation of Christian Ministries, I have a freedom of choices that are not available to diocesan priests. For example, I am often approached by Catholic couples who have opted for an outdoor wedding. Since diocesan priests are not allowed to officiate at weddings outside a church setting, I am delighted to be able to offer my services. In this regard, I am pleased to have a reciprocal arrangement with both diocesan priests and priests with Spiritus Christi Church (independent community). With this reciprocal arrangement, either parish priests will refer couples to me, or I will refer couples to them, depending upon the circumstances. On occasions when I have referred couples to diocean priests, it has usually been because of misunderstandings, whereby couples incorrectly assumed they could not have a diocesan wedding.

I always tell couples that my commissioning for ministry comes from the Federation of Christian Ministries (www.federationofchristianministries.org) and my ordination is judged to be valid. Since I am not a diocesan priest, any weddings for which I am an officiant are not considered to be sacramental by the powers-that be in the Roman Catholic Church, but are nevertheless recognized by municipalities in the United States. These weddings are nevertheless sacramental when couples and I desire them to be so, for the simple fact that a sacrament is defined as any important event in life at which Christ is present. Couples that contact me are primarily interested in a religious wedding, as opposed to a civil ceremony. Yet, at the same time, they have opted out of a traditional Catholic wedding in a diocesan setting.

In addition to officiating at weddings for Catholic couples, I always welcome the opportunity and challenges of officiating at weddings where couples are of different faith persuasions. For example, I have officiated at weddings where one party was Jewish and the other party was Catholic. I have also officiated at ecumenical weddings, where one party was Catholic and the other party was Protestant. In all of these weddings, what was most important was the love that existed between the bride and groom. In all cases, they were persons of faith, and it has been an honor and privilege for me to help these couples have their nuptials in the presence of God.

I look forward to a very inspring spring and summer with couples who have asked me to officiate at their weddings.

Peace to all,
Ray

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Continuing to Prepare for Retirement





Dear Blog Visitors:

As you can see in the above photos, I have been very busy with the process of packing boxes, in preparation for retirement from Rochester's City Hall.

Those who know me well are aware of the fact that I often complained about the piles of paperwork I had to deal with in City Hall on a weekly basis, especially at the end of a fiscal year. Looking at the boxes in back of me in the photos will give you an idea of how much paper I accumulated over the years.

For those who remain in City Hall, they will find their lives will become much easier, for July 1 is the kick-off date for a new paperless/advanced electronic system that will streamline the manner in which the City does business internally and externally. I only wish this process had been incorporated earlier.

As stated in a previous post, I look forward to a very active retirement. Although my income will be reduced, I will nevertheless be engaged in my passions, and I feel that is what is most important.

As I retire, I continue to pray for people who have been without work due to a challenging economy. I wish I could offer an unemployed person the job I am leaving. However, the City of Rochester is also dealing with hard times, and I expect that my duties will simply be distributed amongst staff already in my department.

I hope to write on a variety of topics at this blog while in retirement. So, stay tuned.

Peace to all,
Ray

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Black History Month: Remembering Calvin O. Dash



Dear Blog Visitors:

As we celebrate Black History Month, I fondly recall a man who was a huge influence in my life. I am referring to the late Dr. Calvin O. Dash, who lived from 1924-2005.

Calvin Dash excelled at a time when it was often very difficult for African Americans to pursue their chosen fields. In his case, the chosen field was operatic music. Although the world could have been his stage, he chose teaching instead, and I was honored to be one of his students.

Calvin received his doctorate from the Juilliard School of Music. Although he had hoped to teach at the Eastman School of Music, he instead taught magnificently at Franklin High School in Rochester, New York and later ran his own music school for many years in the Washington, DC area.

I was very privileged indeed to have Dr. Dash as my high school choir director, in addition to taking private voice lessons from him and singing in his church choir while I was in college. Calvin had a very strict demeanor, because he wanted his students to perform to the best of their respective abilities. When a student excelled, he helped him or her to explore options, whether it was applying to a prestigious music school or exploring performance opportunities.

Calvin and his wife, Dorothy, had magnificent operatic voices and they often performed together in the Rochester community. Their son, Michael, became an acclaimed singer with the Metropolitan Opera and other opera companies. Sadly, Michael died in 1995 at the young age of 36. Here is a link for Michael's obituary that appeared in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/16/obituaries/michael-dash-countertenor-and-baritone-36.html

Calvin and Dorothy's other son, Elliot, is doing well as a professional actor.

When Calvin Dash visited Rochester a few years ago, he called me and we had a wonderful nostalgic conversation. I am glad I had an opportunity late in life to remind him of the very large role in played in my early life.

Peace to all,
Ray

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preparing for an Active Retirement





Dear Blog Visitors:

In the photo above, you see me surrounded by the 36 boxes I packed in preparation for my retirement from Rochester's City Hall on May 6. In actuality, I still have many more boxes to pack for the City's archives, which serves as a reminder of how many documents I have processed as supervisor of the City's accounts payable unit.

My past few years in City Hall have been especially busy, because in addition to my duties as supervisor of the accounts payable operations, I was also responsible for all documents relating to the City's professional service agreements (processing and filing), thus the multitudes of boxes I am packing.

As I went about the process of emptying file drawers, I couldn't help thinking about the many trees that were destroyed to create the paper for the documents I worked on. Therefore, I am delighted that the City of Rochester will be moving toward a paperless process for both payable operations and professional service agreements. The new system should be up and running on July 1 of this year.

Since I was part of the planning process for the City's new multi-million dollar purchase-to-pay system and a new process for professional service agreements, it is understandable that many in City Hall had hoped I would either stay in my job longer or consider working under contract, so that I could assist departments with the technicalities of the new system. However, after spending 23 years in City Hall, with many of those years involving working through my lunch hours and sacrificing vacations, I am more than ready to retire.

What I anticipate is an active retirement, inclusive of doing things I enjoy and proabaly working at a part-time job for extra income. Despite media reports that many government workers receive lucrative pensions, it certainly won't be the case with me, since I was a mid-level Civil Service employee, as opposed to an administrative person with a large salary. With my pension and social security combined, I expect my income to be cut by at least a third. So, part-time work will most likely be a necessity for as long as my health remains in good shape.

Many people have asked me what my plans are for retirement, aside from a part-time job. In brief, I look forward to pursuing my hobbies, such as photography, making videos and free-lance writing, in addition to taking plenty of long walks with my neighbor's Alaskan husky. I also look forward to continuing my ministries as a married priest. The one exception will be a dramatic cut-back in my campaigning to reform the Catholic Church. It will be up to the next generation to either accept the church as it is, or to work for change.

In conclusion, it should be evident that as I move toward retirement on May 6, I look forward to a very active retirement, which will include occasional entries to this blog.

Peace to all,
Ray

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My Top Ten Proposals for the City of Rochester



Dear Blog Visitors:

Since I don’t meet the residency requirements for the mayoral race in Rochester, I am not a declared candidate. However, this is not to say that I don’t have ideas on how the City of Rochester should be run. After all, I have spent 23 years of my life in City Hall, and in the process of my assorted positions, I have certainly seen the ‘good, the bad and the ugly.’

As I near retirement on May 6 as a Civil Service employee with the City of Rochester, I would probably be entering my name amongst the several persons running in the special election for Mayor if I were a City resident. While I did in fact spend most of my years within city limits, I am currently a resident of the Town of Henrietta (south of Rochester), which disqualifies me from the current mayoral contest.

Since the mayoral election is only a few weeks away (March 29), the media has correctly stated that candidates need to state their positions very clearly and SOON!

Although I am not a mayoral candidate, I have put together my top ten proposals for the City of Rochester:

My Top Ten Proposals for City of Rochester:

1.) Limit compensated employee travel to emergencies only. 2.) Cut back on non-emergency professional service agreements. 3.) Investigate the frequency of ‘change orders’ on construction projects, whereby initial bid quotes become greatly increased/inflated once projects are underway. 4.) Look into consolidation of City departments whenever possible. 5.) When considering job cuts, re-negotiate with the AFSCME so that cuts are not strictly based on seniority. ‘Slackers’ (non-performers) should be released first, whereby top-achievers would be retained. 6.) Thoroughly investigate illegal gun trafficking in Rochester. (While illegal guns are not the root source of violent crime, they become the primary means.) 7.) Initiate frequent dialogue with Monroe County on potential governmental consolidations. 8.) Encourage more dialogue between City administration and talented employees, so as to eliminate the top-down model that currently exists. (When the brains of talented employees are used, the necessity for outside consultants would be greatly reduced.) 9.) Enter into dialogue with suburban entities for the purpose of evaluating the potential of a metro school system. 10.) There needs to be more transparency with the media. This helps to keep local government honest and the public remains informed on important matters. (Mayor Bob Duffy began his first term with weekly briefing sessions in City Hall’s atrium for the media and City employees; this practice was gradually discontinued.)

I truly love the City of Rochester, and I hope candidates for Mayor will at least take some of my proposals (or perhaps all of them) into serious consideration for their own campaigns.

Peace to all,
Ray

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Need for Civility in American Politics





Dear Blog Visitors:

Ever since the recent tragedy in Tucson, we have been saturated with commentaries about the need for more civility in American politics. In this regard, I have been thinking of role models, past and present, who had a special gift of generating friendship with those they either agreed or disagreed with on social or political issues.

I am writing this on what would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday. Since I have already posted a couple tributes to him during the past week, I won't be repeating myself today. However, I will simply restate that I respected his ability to be a brilliant communicator, in addition to his ability to reach across the aisle, in a spirit of friendship, to those who didn't always share his viewpoints.

Throughout much of my life, I have been immersed in a variety of political arenas. In a traditional sense, I had my day in the sun with both Democratic and Republican politics. Later in life, I became embroiled in the politics of the Roman Catholic Church, especially when I became an advocate for married priests and the rights of women. While I tried to be civil in all my interactions, there were admittedly a few occasions when things got a little testy.

Someone I greatly admired was the late Jack Kemp. I was privileged to know him when he was a New York Congressman. I was also privileged to work on his presidential campaign. Like myself, Jack was in many respects a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Some knew Jack when he played football with the Buffalo Bills. Others knew him primarily from his days in politics. I think it is safe to say that anyone who knew Jack would readily refer to him as a true gentleman and a man who cared about all his constituents. As Secretary of HUD (Housing and Urban Development), he was an advocate for the poor and he was passionate about racial equality in America.

I have posted a couple mementos from Jack Kemp that I am sharing with you. Let us pray that American politics becomes more civil. This would be Jack's prayer as well.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sainthood for John Paul II





Dear Blog Visitors:

A few months ago, I articulated my reasons for opposing the canonization of Pope Pius XII. However, in the case of John Paul II, I find that I am favor of his canonization process, which seems to be on the fast track.

I was recently asked to sign a petition being circulated by a variety of Catholic reform organizations that are opposed to the canonization of John Paul II. While initially tempted to sign, I ultimately decided not to.

It is quite obvious that I was in disagreement with John Paul II's fierce defense of mandatory celibacy for priests. However, I found this was not a good reason to sign a petition in opposition to his canonization.

When a person is nominated for sainthood, his or her entire life needs to be taken to account. I did this in the case of John Paul II. I admired what he did as a young man in Poland. During this horrible period, he worked in the underground against the Nazi regime. Later in life, he supported the solidarity movement in Poland. I only wish he had voiced similar support for the liberation theology movement in Latin America.

I truly appreciated the friendship John Paul II developed with President Ronald Reagan. The two men have been justly credited with being largely responsible for the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

I am also appreciative of the fact that Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo were once friends. Obviously, the dynamics changed following Milingo's marriage. However, during their friendship, the late pontiff supported Milingo's efforts to ease the level of suffering and poverty in Africa.

I have included with this post photos of John Paul II with Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. (Milingo ordained me a married priest in 2006.)

In conclusion, after much reflection, I support the canonization of John Paul II.

Peace to all,
Ray