Bishop Aymond and Priestly Transfers

Parish rallies behind priest

In today’s Metro section of the Austin American-Statesman, a story ran about St. Theresa’s parish in Austin and a priestly transfer currently in progress. After a five-year term as pastor, Fr. Gregory Romanski is being transferred to St. Martin de Porres Parish. Many parishioners disagree and wish for Fr. Greg to remain Pastor. As stated in the article, the people involved with the rebuttal- calling themselves “Austin Catholics”- have started a letter-writing drive to Rome, namely the Congregation for the Clergy, to appeal the transfer.
Fr. Greg has hired a canon lawyer to help with the appeal. The lawyer, Msgr. Vincent Bertrand, spoke to a crowd and the newspaper included some of the comments:

Some bishops [want priests] to say, ‘Yes, bishop; yes, bishop,’ It’s not like that anymore. We’re living in the year 2004.

The relationship between most bishops and their priests is much deeper than a “yes, bishop; yes, bishop.” The bishop is the shepherd of the flock- both the lay faithful as well as his clergy. Moreover, they are his clergy, something the man submitted to through Holy Orders. In either case, the bishop has to look over all within his diocese. While disagreements occur, he must do what he feel his best, through the guidance of people helping him on the diocesan level and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While the relationship is not usually a “yes-man” type, when conflict occurs, the bishop is the victor.
Overall, the story was fairly well written.

The paper-version of the article included a URL for Austin Catholics, The site, pretty simple in design, includes scanned copies of many of the documents related to the situation. They’re all pretty interesting.

Of particular note, the letter signed by various members of the parish community following the bishop’s response to the petition.

…We feel compelled to let you know that because you have chosen not to communicate with the hundreds of Austin Catholics who have expressed serious concerns regarding one of your recent decisions, we find ourselves forced to share our views with a much larger audience.

This letter strikes me. It’s rather combative and assuming. My first tip to any Catholic wishing to write to their bishop about anything: this is not how to do it. Charity, compassion, prayfulness. These are all things that should be included in any form of communication. In my humble opinion, I don’t believe these were included as much as they could have been in the formation of this letter. As someone who has worked with letter-writing campaigns, I understand the “rush” that comes over the group. That rush must be calmed with insight by the Spirit.

The letter seems very assuming- mentioning veil of secrecy and a chosen lack of communication and interest.

The bishop responded a few days later. As many of you know, I am a fan of Bishop Aymond. I’ve worked with him on multiple projects and spoke with him many times on both business and personal matters. In all of my dealings with him, I have never felt brushed off by him or felt anything but open communication. That being said, he is very ethical. If he feels that it is not his place to discuss a subject, he respects what is proper and ethical. If I became a seminarian and the bishop decided to transfer me from the University of Dallas to another minor seminary anywhere else, it is not his place to tell my friends why he transferred me. If a superintendent transfers a teacher to a different campus, it is not the superintendent’s place to discuss the reasons with students.

As far as open dialogue, there is a split in this country between “American Catholicism” and actual Catholicism. Spirituality is not based on the rule of the people. Religion, faith, matters of truth are not determined by the popular vote. I think many Americans forget that. Should the U.S. Bishops allow American Catholics to take a vote to determine whether they are to kneel or stand when taking communion? No. It is not a matter of getting what the people want.

I really don’t understand at times why this seems to be such a hard concept. If I had a problem with a priest at a parish I was at, I would submit letters to the bishop requesting action. If nothing happened, I would suck it up. If a priest I dearly love is transferred, I would probably not be happy; however, I would have to accept- and believe- that the transfer would make the Diocese stronger.

I don’t know Fr. Greg but I’ll take on faith that he’s a good priest and that all the things that the “Austin Catholics” group is saying is true. I’ll also take on faith that he has done great things for the parish. Perhaps, he’s done “too good” of a job. How could he do too good of a job? Possibly, he has made so many improvements that worked so well that the bishop, seeing a need in another parish, wanted to see the priest improve this other parish just as much.

I have one final comment regarding this situation. The organized group is calling itself “Austin Catholics”. I’m an Austin Catholic and I’m nowhere close to being aligned to this group much less a member of it. I feel that a name means something and giving a group a name that doesn’t fully represent it correctly is something that I can’t respect. Call it “Committee to Retain Fr. Greg” or “We Love Fr. Greg” or “People at St. Theresa’s Parish Who Really Want Fr. Greg To Stay Really Really Badly” or “Austin Catholics Who Want Fr. Greg to Stay” or even “Some Austin Catholics” or “A Few Good Catholics” or anything else. Calling the group “Austin Catholics” seems to include a much much larger group than it ever will. It is just a pet peeve that instantly drops credibility with me.

Church Funny

nobody steals from god

Priest Beats Up Would-Be Robber
Found this story via the Shine of the Holy Whapping.

st. peter’s indian mission

It’s been a few days since I made it back to Austin and now that I’m mostly all rested up, time to start posting again. The mission was beyond words. In short, we led a six-day jr. high retreat for some of the kids on the Gila River Indian Reservation. It was the most pastoral experience I’ve had to date as well as one of the few times that beyond any doubt, I know that we made a difference.
I’ll be adding more details as the days roll on.

mass draft of 2004: introduction

The International Commission on the English Language (ICEL) is working on a new translation of the Roman Missal, also known in the English-speaking world as the Sacramentary. This is the book used at the altar by the priest and contains all the prayers for the Mass.
By the wonders of the internet, a “green book” draft copy that was sent to the English-speaking bishops for their individual review has found its way into the hands of whoever finds it. I found a PDF copy of the scanned pages. A “green book” is a literal green book that contains the working draft. It is sent to individual bishops for review. A “grey book” is a, you guessed it, grey book that is sent to the National Conferences for a later, more formal review. That being said, it should be well noted that this is an early draft and very much subject to change.
The process of liturgy revision and translations interests me and so I am going to compare slowly the draft copy with the currently used ICEL translation of 1973. I will add my comments where they exist. I must throw in the broad headnote that I am not a liturgist or a theologian. I do not know what I am talking about beyond my own personal, informal research. If I am completely ignorant of something that should be noted, feel free to use the comment system.
The ICEL has been controversial for some time with the translations of the Latin texts. In 1999, there was a draft translation submitted to the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) for their recognitio. Since a new editio typica of the Roman Missal was released, it was assumed that the Vatican stamp of approval would not be given. In addition to the rejection letter, Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez, then-Prefect for the CDW, included a list of critiques.
After that, the Vatican said this and that and tightened control over the ICEL a bit. In addition, Dr. John Page, Executive Secretary for the ICEL, resigned from his post of 22 years.
With this latest draft translation, the critiques seem to have left an impression. This leads to some complaints, probably both valid and invalid, as well as shouts of joy. While I am a novice to all of this, I figure that a translation should be a loyal to the original as possible. That being said, if it is closer to the original Latin, I am down with it. Of course, there are the valid issues of creating a translation that conveys the same message and intent as the original. From what it sounds like, there are those that believe that the translation should convey the same message but not using the same words. On top of that, I have the gut feeling that the valid translation of meaning, not words, was used as a reason to slightly change and adapt the meaning.
It is important for the translations to be as correct as possible since how we pray influences how we believe.
Also, as I doubt this will be of huge interest to my Xanga crowd, I won’t be posting the draft comments on there. I will make a note, however, that a new draft post is online at this website.
For the review, I will be using a few different texts. I will be using the 2004 draft tranlation of the Roman Missal and the current Sacramentary, translated in 1973 for the main comparison. For additional context, I will be including the editio typica tertia, authorized by John Paul in 2000 and published in 2002. Also, I will be including the English from a older missal, 1966 English translation of the Mass. This translation includes many elements of the Traditional Rite and was before the editio typica prima of 1970. While this last text is of least concern to the current translation, I think it is equally interesting to watch the progression of liturgy and liturgical language. I am only making comments of differences between the 1973 and 2004 texts.
[This post was edited from its original version. The last paragraph on texts used was added and later edited to include the 1966 translation.]


I don’t usually plug products on this site but I found a CD that really caught my attention. It is called Hours. It was produced by seminarians from the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in the Archdiocese of Denver.

The first track, O Sanctissima, begins with a peaceful, reflective piece. It feels like one of those relaxation CDs that Target sells. It places you at peace. An alarm clock sounds, a person breathes a sigh, a priest (sounds like one at least) talks over a police siren. Footsteps, chanting comes in with the music. A beat drops. You hear the words better now- O Sanctissima.

The second track, The Morning. Music again, peaceful. A voice- “my vocation is not to be a seminarian, it is to become a priest….” Various voices come in and out of the music and speak of the small wonder of the morning, the morning as they know it.

I haven’t really just sat and listened to all the tracks yet, but so far, track 5- The Mass- I really enjoy. It starts with a light beat with a voice- “Father all-powerful and everyliving God…” The Eucharstic Prayer continues… “…hoping the “… with all the angels in heaven, we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise…”

The voice ends, the music continues lightly. We hear of what the Mass means to a few seminarians. The priest’s voice comes back- “Lord you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness, let your spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy so that can become for us the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Another seminarian speak of what the Mass means with the music.

The Lamb of God, in Latin, starts and then fades out. Another statement of what the Mass means… Agnus Dei… another seminarian speaks… “Father you are holy indeed”, singing, it repeats. Agnus Dei comes back. “Father you are holy indeed” is played again over the music. “Before he was given up to death…” the priest continues. The host becomes the Body. Bells ring, Agnus Dei is sung. The wine becomes the Blood. Bells ring again, Agnus Dei is sung again, continued this time. “Father you are holy indeed” It fades out.

Austin Church

Dinner with The Bishop

I have a few minutes so I’m going to run through a recap of the dinner with the His Excellency Gregory Aymond, Bishop of Austin.

As Lambda Omega Alpha’s chaplain, I arranged the affair. It started back in September with a few voicemails shared between the Diocese of Austin and myself. Finally, I’m riding home with a friend following a snack of queso when my cell phone rings. I answer the phone to hear “Hello Brandon, this is Bishop Aymond. How are you?”

From my previous experience in the Diocese of Fort Worth, being very active in Diocesan Ministry, I have never been called by a bishop. We setup a time for me to meet in his office to discuss the dinner and set a date.
Hung, Secretary of the Lambdas and a good friend, joined me that day. He prefaces the meeting by telling us that his secretary had informed him this morning that he has two evenings free between that time (September) and Christmas. Honestly, I must say that I was a little worried. We talk about the dinner and present him with a letter of appreciation for his work so far. We get back to setting a date and time. We decided upon October 29th and he says “I’ll block off my calendar from 6 pm until the end of the night, sounds good?” Of course!

We talked about some other random topics including the new GIRM and he gave us his personal copy of the 2002 GIRM with Diocese of Austin footnotes and adaptations (for places where it is up to the local bishop). We tried to get two but he didn’t have another one. He told me to contact the worship office.

Some time passes, some brothers volunteered to cook, we buy food, have people RSVP.

The day arrives. I run around some picking up baked goods that the Lambda Little Sisters made; they are simply incredible. I can’t speak highly enough of our sisters. A final run to the store, a quick breather. I arrive at the Blessed John XXIII House in central Austin, the home of the Bishop, around 3 p.m. I’m met there by Bonnie, his former secretary who now, in a part-time role, manages his house for events like the dinner. The home is already prepared for a dinner with thirty-one people with enough wine, soda and coffee for us all.

Bonnie shows me the home, runs me through the kitchen and where everything is located. I make a run back to the Catholic Center around 4:30 p.m. to pick up some of the food and transport it to the Bishop’s home. Put that all away. Mass is supposed to start at 6 p.m. People are supposed to arrive at 5:45. Some more dead time. I played with the Bishop’s dog, Samantha, for awhile. It made me miss having pets. People start arriving on time when the Bishop calls. He left a reception he was attending but traffic is slow. He’s going to be late. Some of the brothers call; they left the UCC on time but traffic is unusually heavy. No problems so far.

The Bishop arrives, runs upstairs to drop off his briefcase and returns to the main living area. He brings to me another copy of the GIRM; the Director of Worship had asked him if he would see me since otherwise, it would have been sent by messagener to the Chancery for me to pick up. I talk to him for a few minutes about the details of the night, how things are coming about, what’s on menu for the evening. We decide to push back Mass since everyone wasn’t there yet.

I find Hung and ask him to be the reader for the Mass. The Bishop asks if I would serve for him (I had previously served for him at the Confirmation Mass in April). Around 6:15 p.m., we call everyone together and enter into his private chapel. He makes a short joke about the stained glass windows- they’re just window stickers from Target or Wal-Mart.

He celebrates Mass with a homily reflecting upon our imperfections and how we can find our strength when we embrace those imperfections. We find our perfection through the perfection of our weaknesses and to perfect them is to first know and acknowledge them. A little bit of paraphrasing on my part but all the same. I also serve as Minister of the Cup; everyone takes a small amount. I finish the rest of it to which, after Mass ended, the Bishop comments that he was going to help me finish it but I had a spart of courage.

We exit the chapel to have the salads already on the table. I really couldn’t tell you what the salad was, but it was great. I sat at a table separate of the Bishop with some of the Lambdas.

I get the main course and realize the seat next to the Bishop is open. I asked around to see if anyone would like the chance to take it. Darryl mentions to me “you put all this together, you deserve it.” Everyone at that table agreed. It was such an amazing feeling to have the guys say that. A moment of blessing.

I sit next to the Bishop and dine. We discuss things such as his calendar coming up, the Center, more about the Lambdas, who the Little Sisters were and what do they do. After telling him about that, he acknowledged the benefits of a guys’ night but he wanted to see the Little Sisters at the next dinner.

The Bishop tells us that he will be out of the country for Thanksgiving and so this was actually his Thanksgiving meal (we had turkey, dressing and all the traditional Thanksgiving food). That made the extra headaches with food prep worth it.

We finish the meal with some amazing baked goods from the Little Sisters. Stephanie made a pie with the greek letters lambda, omega and alpha as part of the crust. Shannon made this sinfully chocolate cake. Marion made some delicious pies. Lauren made a cheesecake. Bronwyn made a few things; I really don’t know what. They were gone before I got there. Now, a week later, I don’t remember there being anything else. I believe that was all. In either case, the Bishop enjoyed the desserts and for all the Little Sisters reading this, you have both the complete appreciation of myself and the Bishop.

After coffee and deserts, we left the dining area to sit in the living room. We talked about so many various issues from the Bishop’s personal experience with Cardinal Francis Xaivier to the Bishop joking with Mark about his Scripture studies. It was a great evening; he is truly amazing. The Diocese of Austin is blessed to have him as our Shepherd.

We asked him many times through the night to tell us when he was ready for us to leave so as we wouldn’t impose. He always told us he was fine and brought up new topics to discuss. We ranged from the theological nature of society today to the latest issues with the gay bishop issue in the Episcopal Church to the media’s reaction to the Church.

After all that, it was 11:30 p.m. and it was time for us to leave. We made sure everything was as clean as requested plus a little and headed back to campus to return the leftovers.

After putting away everyone, talking to some of the Little Sisters and taking some people home, I finally was able to get home by 2:30 a.m.
The Bishop told me to call his office this week to arrange the time and date for the next dinner and to let his office know about him leading a Lambda Night Prayer. That would be amazing.

The Diocese of Austin is everso blessed.