Sunday, February 17, 2019


Beloved Cursillistas!

How can I thank you for ALL the LOVE you GAVE me at last Saturday’s School of Leaders? I knew there was going to be a celebration for me, BUT not to the unbelievable extent that you did!  


O course, having Sisters Mindy and Chris from my Order there to celebrate with me was the “Delicious Icing on the cake!”  


Lovingly, Sister Clara 

Community gathers to honor Sister Clara at School Of Leaders 2.16.19

Monday, February 4, 2019


School of Leaders February 16, 2019 Saturday after the 9 AM Mass will be hosting a  celebration in honor of Sister Clara for all her hard work and dedication to the Cursillo Movement. Sister said she may be heading up to Englewood Cliffs for her retirement sometime in March or beginning of April.

Please come and wish her well! We will be having a toast/roast for fun. Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome to wish Sister well by cards, donations or to share 
a story.

Please pass this invite to all the Ultreya members who do not have access to the computer and e-mail.

Please coordinate ride share opportunities.

DeColores, Kathy Tucker

Wednesday, January 23, 2019



The key to happiness is climbing the ladder of the Beatitudes. Each rung is a closer encounter in our relationship with our lord, JESUS CHRIST our light. The more we climb the closer we are to surrender. While we read down the beatitudes one through eight we realize how happy we have become and our personal relationship with the Lord has become greater. 

The world promises happiness in what we want success in, “money new cars etc”…. 

Most philosophers think it is a state of mind: happiness is much more; it is a state of being. It is derived from being in communion with God. This communion I speak of is given through the sacraments: My focus is the sacrament of reconciliation with the priest in the confessional. This brings the soul and the heart to peace. This peace is true happiness for it brings light to our soul. Being happy all the time is virtuously not to be in this life but is eternal in heaven. In Mt. Jesus says repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Take notice Jesus says REPENT for the Kingdom of God is at hand. To achieve happiness is to have peace to have peace is to have been in communion with God. To deepen this peace we can receive Eucharist with a clean heart. And even in pain we can   be happy, for the love of God is within and we know this because the Spirit reveals this in our mind. 

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
2 He began to teach them, saying: The Beatitudes
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman & she becomes happy!!!!!!! (John 4)

1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — 
2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

After the encounter with the Lord; the woman is transformed: she becomes excited, happy and wants to shout from the rooftops what Jesus has told her about herself. The woman can’t wait to get back to town to tell all she encountered & the truth Jesus revealed to her.

Now, remember the woman came to Jacobs well at the hottest part of the day when there is no one else at the well. The woman didn’t want to be around the town people, for she was ashamed of herself. Instead she found Jesus and climbed the first rung of the ladder truly happy she is on the way to holiness.

What truth has Jesus revealed to us, that we encountered a transformation that set us on the road to happiness and the first rung of holiness? It is in holiness that we find humility, and become humble in realizing how poor we are and that there is a great wealth in the people we encounter for we are truly less. 

At this point share on a holy person that we love! I shared about Marilyn my wife.

These are the steps of the ladder for there is great wealth in the climb; the gifts of the spirit are above us; the fruits of the spirit are above. Our Lady Wisdom is life. 

(Matthew 5: 4 - 11)

4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,*for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,*for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

Deacon John Clymore


Prayer: I put my trust in you oh Lord help me to do your will. Thy will be done. Amen.

For a while now I have been asking God Why am I here? Praying over it and thinking heavily about it, wondering if I would ever get an answer.

Last October I went to a talk at our Church and the guest speaker was Colleen Rayner, the subject of her talk was “The Power of Yes”.  During her talk she spoke about the Bible passage Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope”.  I began to notice a connection to my prayers. 

Then Kathy asked me with Tony to read this book “Resisting Happiness” by Matthew Kelly. I began to think and realize these are messengers from God.  God IS talking to me.

The Title intrigued me but I was apprehensive because I had a fear to give a talk, however I did say Yes.  Thinking back on the talk ”The Power of Yes”. 

First thing  “Seek his will in all things this is the road that leads to Happiness”. Then here comes the Resistance, my fear of the challenge, it would just be easier not to do it BUT God was challenging me. 

Resistance takes many forms: procrastination, laziness, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception, tension, self-sabotage.

Here are some points in the book that is helping me to make a-better-version-of-myself.

“Reflect on my image of God and trace back to its roots. My image of God: Gentle, kind, loving, very patient.  Wants me to see what he has in store for me.  I think back when I was 13, I remember how I wanted a sister. I would go to Church for 10 minutes or so everyday after school and pray for a sister.  Months later I remember my mother coming to me and told me that she would be having a baby!  I said “I know”!  She was taken aback, but I got my sister.  As I grew I wanted a loving husband and children.  I made pilgrimages to churches and I was Blessed with all these things, God was there for me every  time.   Life was not perfect, life was messy. 

Tony speaks:

"We lived with my parents in Manhattan in a room and we had 3 children we needed to move to our own house everything was so expensive here on the east coast my friends in California wanted us to move out to them the houses where so much cheaper $24,000 compared to here $50,000.  We packed every thing with a U Haul and ready to leave for California but we ended up in New Jersey.  It was too difficult on my parents and with some help from them we were able to settle closer.  Everything was ok for a while. 

Our decision to move our business from NY to NJ was based on trust in God, we were scared, needed to educate our children, they were in High School and College was in the future for 3 boys in the next few years, it was truly scary.  Money was plentiful in Manhattan but  a toxic environment, a small town in Cresskill, NJ was a step down but healthier for the family.  We did well, we worked hard, less money but happier.  We worked together, our boys had to help at work. 
We got involved with marriage Encounter, Cursillo. 

Helped to bring my parents to our home.  God sent us a great health aide  Barbara, a Jamaican  women who stayed with us for twelve years.  We are still friends with her today.  I was there when my Mom and Dad passed. Thinking back God was always there in the center of our life.  I have a great devotion to Our lady I have consecrated myself to her as I remember being taught “To Jesus through Mary”. 

Anna Maria speaks:

"When we married we were married in Germany and during those years it was difficult for Tony’s family to come to our wedding because of the political climate in Yugoslavia. His parents were not at our wedding.  Through the years we would take many summer trips to visit Tony’s family, important for our children and Tony’s family.

We were able to have our 50th wedding Anniversary in Slovenia with many of Tony’s relatives and our children and their families. We celebrated our Mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Thanksgiving for all these gifts from God. 

This book helped me to go back our life together and see how God is answering four questions:  Who am I?  What am I here for? What matters most? What matters least?

It has given me a perspective and put things in place so I can make sense of it all and where I am called to go next. 

I believe that God has asked me to read this book not Kathy."

Important parts from the book: 

  • Pay attention to your spiritual life.  Here is where Cursillo has played the biggest roll in our spiritual life and now I can see it. How fabulous is that!
  • Present moment awareness.  Learn to find God in ordinary activities of daily life.  He wants you to be aware of things while they are actually happening.  At the end of the day write down three times when you were fully aware of God in your day”.  In the smile of your little grandchild or your old friend.
  • God invites you/me to change and grow every day.  It is an on going journey.  God invited me to collaborate with him in my daily conversion.  But I am still resistant. I know the next step will bring as much if not more happiness than the last step he beckoned me to take, but I am resistant. I hope I can break through the resistance today”.
  • As Christians we are called to transform every activity in our lives into prayer.  This is how we become the-best-version-of-ourselves and live holy lives”. I remember when I was in grammar school the Nuns would always tell us “offer it up” whenever we had a task that we did not like.  It was always easier to do the job with the prayer in mind. 
  • “Everything can be transformed into prayer”. Cooking, cleaning, daily chores, etc.  
  • “Visit the lonely. Somewhere not too far from where you live, someone’s saying a prayer. He is asking God to send someone to visit him and lift him up out of the depths of his loneliness.  God wants you to help him answer that prayer”.
  • Read the Bible regularly the Bible gives us incredible insight into the mind of God. People who read the Bible make better decisions
  • From time to time it is good for us all to learn to listen again.  Listen to those you love.  Listen to your body.  Listen to your conscience and soul.  Listen to God.
  • “Prayer and fasting” it can be as simple as ordering a glass of water instead of a coke.
  • In order to consistently overcome resistance we need to give truth a place of honor I our lives.
  • “Our culture is trying to murder truth and it is important to note that you cannot murder truth without first murdering the Catholic Church. So in a culture that hates truth, the Catholic Church is public enemy number one”.
  • “You cannot be happy focused on yourself. You were made for mission.  It’s deep within you.  Only by serving others in a meaningful way do we truly discover the happiness we yearn for so unrelentingly”
  • "This world we live in is not our destination we are only passing through."
  • Lastly, Have you ever wondered what God Looks for on a resume?  Only one thing! He asks only one thing of us.  He can take care of the rest.  The one thing God needs from you in order to launch you into mission is availability.  Make yourself available to God and Incredible things will happen.
This book is very powerful I just skimmed over some points that seemed to resonate with me but it is a must read book and a must do book. 


Loving Father, I come to you today to make myself 100 percent available to you.
I lay everything I have and everything I am at your feet.
Take what you want to take, and give what you want to give.
Command me in all things. I will do whatever you ask me to do.
Transform me and transform my life, so that I may become the-very-best-version-of-myself
and lead others to you with my life and my love! Amen   
(Pray this prayer for nine days)

DeColores, Anna Maria and Tony Kinific

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


From Mary Weis, Lay Director: De Colores! Below please find information about the Regional Spring Encounter that is a one day event. It will focus on the new guide for Rectors on the Cursillo Weekend. I encourage all of us to be there and to register in advance. We can easily carpool for the day - it is in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday, April 6 from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Thank you and God bless, Mary

***  APRIL 6 – REGION 2 SPRING ENCOUNTER *** (Note: this encounter is a one-day event, not the usual three-day event.)


Location: St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1010 W. 4th Street, Wilmington, DE 19804 from 8:30am to 5:00pm

Cost: $25 – covers the cost of breakfast and lunch.

Please mail your $25 check payable to “Cursillos de Cristiandad Region 2” and mail to Carmen Oliva, 3308 Floral Street, Silver Spring, MD 20902

Deadline: PLEASE RSVP and make payment no later than Saturday, March 30, 2019
$35 will be charged at the door – so save money and pay now!  We hope you can join us!

Sue Wenzlick, Region 2 English Coordinator

Saturday, January 5, 2019


“Lord hasten to fill the emptiness within me this CHRISTMAS. Christ, light of the world, sparkle within me, dance within me, speak Within me, command within me. Christ, light of the world, take me, mold me, hold me, for I love you, Lord Jesus, Amen”

1st Reading:  Of all the titles by which we address Mary, the most profound and meaningful is “Mother of God”.  This is a daring, startling title.  God, the creator of the whole universe, has a Mother? The title “Mother of God” does not imply that Mary herself if divine.  It does mean that she is most worthy of our love, our gratitude and our confidence in her intercession.  As we pass through this Advent it is comforting to know that she will accompany us with her prayers and her motherly love.

Song:  SING OF MARY, by Gretchen Harris

2nd Reading:   In these days of Advent we often remember those who are spending this Christmas at Jesus’ table.  If someone close to us has passed this past year we might think this, “This is the first Christmas without them.”

But even if they died long ago, we remember them in a special way at Christmas.

We sometimes remember our childhood, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning as a youngster with our family.

We might think of Mary and Jesus together on the great Jewish feast after Joseph had died.  They remembered how they used to celebrate those wonderful days with him.  On those days Mary missed her husband, whom she loved. 

Whomever you miss at Christmas… talk to Mary. She understands.

Song: AFTER DECEMBER, by Gretchen Harris

Let’s take a walk with Mary

Song:  MARY, DID YOU KNOW by Kelley Mooney

“What do you want to say to Jesus”

Song:  HALLELUJAH BY Kelley Mooney

I always look for the special gift from Jesus every year sometimes it comes early during Advent last year it came on Little Christmas.

This year I got a call from a MOM whose child I had in Rehab.  Suzie after her father died she had a series of seizes. They told her Mom she would not make it start planning her funeral.  I’ve been praying for a miracle for her.  Well I was having a real rotten day and then her call came and she shared Suzie is eating and talking and walking.  My Christmas Gift came early today.

What is the most special gift you’ve ever received?  Did you receive it on your birthday, for Christmas, or on another occasion?

Turn and share with the person sitting next to you.

I will close with a song to bring you back in.

Song:   All Good gifts by God Spell

Christ gave us Grace, Justification, righteousness, obedience and eternal life.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


"A blessed and holy, happy and healthy New Year to all! May 2019 bring you ever closer to the Christ child, deepening your faith, hope and love through Cursillo. I wish each of you to make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ in the coming year." De Colores, Mary

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Year after year we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and yet year after year, our world seems to be crumbling with atrocities being heaped upon the human race.

Listen to the words of a Christmas Day message from one John Paul II: “Wipe away, Baby Jesus, the tears of children! Embrace the sick and the elderly! Move men to lay down their arms and draw close in a universal embrace of peace! Invite people, O merciful Jesus, to tear down the walls, created by poverty and unemploy - meant, by ignorance, by discrimination and intolerance. It is you, O Divine Child of Bethlehem, who saved us, freeing us from sin.”

In our world today, those same evils prevail along with added horrible atrocities. So why do we continue to celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Christ Child, Prince of Peace? The reason is FAITH! Now, we know that Faith is believing what we cannot see or understand. And we are speaking of supernatural Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Faith is “both a gift from God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed. And the whole truth of our Faith is contained in the Bible as well as in Sacred Tradition. An example of Sacred Tradition is the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which cannot be found in the Bible. It was Pope Pius IX who proclaimed Mary’s Immaculate Conception a Dogma of Faith back in 1854.

But getting back to the birth of Jesus, everything we believe about His birth can be found in the Bible, starting in the Old Testament. In Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 5, we read: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, GodHero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”

In the New Testament, starting with Matthew’s Gospel, chapter one, we read about how Joseph was greatly troubled about Mary’s pregnancy and how the angel told Joseph in a dream it was OK to marry Mary and he was to name the baby Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” Then what Matthew tells us in verses 22 & 23 is what our Faith is all about. We read: Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah, “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” which means , “God is with us.”

Again, another prediction of Jesus in the Old Testament. But what a declaration of our Faith: GOD IS WITH US! In chapter two, Matthew goes on to relate the Visit of the Magi, also known as the Three Kings who were astrologers led by the star to the Manger to pay homage to the Christ Child. What Faith the Magi had!  They believed in something that was beyond their total understanding. Matthew goes on to relate The Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Infants which caused sorrow and fear to Mary and Joseph. Babies were being killed back then as babies are being killed today through the horrible evil of abortion. How we need our FAITH
today to keep us on the right path that our caring God wants us to travel!

In Luke’s Gospel, we read other details of the Birth of Jesus that are not in Matthew’s Gospel. In Luke’s account of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus we read that it was the Angel Gabriel who informed Mary of the birth of her Son, Jesus. Matthew gives us no name of the angel. However, in regard to FAITH, Luke concludes his message to Mary by informing her that her cousin, Elizabeth, is also having a child in her old age. Angel Gabriel concludes this message saying; “for nothing will be impossible with God.” This is another declaration of our Faith; “FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.” 

Now the Liturgical word for the Birth of Christ is INCARNATION. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Incarnation is “the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature and became human in order to accomplish our salvation in that same human nature. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is both true God and true man, not part of God and part of man.” It is only through our FAITH that we are a able to believe this and not understand it.

I love how St. John expresses INCARNATION in his first chapter, verse 14a; “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” And again in ch. 2 verse 16, John tells us; “For God so loved the world the he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.”

Think of it. Jesus, Son of the living God, left His celestial home in heaven  to be one of us — taking on our human nature with all its pain and sorrow. In the Bible, Paul’s letter to the Philippians ch.2 verses 6 to 10 give us a glimpse of what Jesus sacrificed for us. 

No one could have loved more! It is our FAITH that enables that us to truly believe this without full understanding. Just think about it…We all have a purpose in life. And so did Jesus! His purpose was to be one of us in everything except sin so that we can know God personally, not as spirit that we cannot see. Jesus told us in scripture from John, ch. 10 verse 30: “The Father and I are one.” Again in ch. 14, verse 7: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the the Father except through me.  If you know me, then you will know my Father.” The Infant Christ Child was born to live poorly, suffer greatly, die a gruesome death on the Cross and RISE triumphantly. We will also rise after we die and be united with our loved ones in heaven, God’s celestial home, only if we live the life God wants us to live. So let us all be grateful and faithful to our Faith that we first received in our Baptism as well as the Grace we receive from frequent reception of the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Penance, or Reconciliation,  throughout our lives. 

To conclude, I encourage you to celebrate Christmas not through sentimentality but through the eyes of FAITH. DE COLORES!

Saturday, December 1, 2018


Robert Lauricella, Rick Klarmann, Bob Morris, Dick Hemler, Father Ed Blanchett,Dean Boturla, Deacon John Clymore, Mike Ivanko, Bob Burke

James Monks (Sponsor - David Riggio)
Luis Quinto (Sponsor - Adelaide Sangiorgi)
James Walsh (Sponsor - Dean Boturla)
Keith Daniels (Sponsor - Rick Klarmann)
Jay Daniels (Sponsor - Rick Klarmann

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Scandal is nothing new to the Church or indeed to human understanding itself; it is as old as recorded history. The Old Testament is full of stories of individuals and kings from King David on, who behaved atrociously; just count how many times the kings of Israel made their children “pass through the fire”, a practice of sacrificing their children to the pagan god Moloch. At its very beginnings, the Church saw scandal in its leaders: Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter denied Jesus; all of the Apostles – except John – abandoned Jesus (probably with Peter leading the way out of town). In the 1500’s the behavior of many Catholic priests and bishops was so atrocious that an Augustinian priest decided the only way to deal with the situation was to separate from the Church. Although dedicated leaders such as St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Ignatius of Loyola led a true Counter-Reformation to address these failures, Martin Luther and others initiated the Protestant rebellion that continues to rock Christianity through today and into the foreseeable future. And, lest we think that the crisis was only about the money given for indulgences, St. Catherine of Siena bemoaned in her writing The Dialogue about the “stench of sin” coming from the papal court and prophesized that even the demons were disgusted by the sexual activity they had tempted priests into and the coverup by their superiors!

Given all this history and the current sexual scandals we find ourselves, how could the Catholic Church possibly be the “One, True, Church”? The effects of these scandals will also continue to rock us for the foreseeable future. First of course is the toll taken on the innocent victims devastated by the crimes committed against them by clergy. As we now know, some Catholic bishops, who were in authority over these men dismissed their behavior and took the pretext about how they were “just following the advice of mental-health professionals” of the time when re-assigning them into parish ministry, even in parishes with schools and contact with children. 

There is no earthly way to undo the damage done to the victims of these scandals. The goodwill, respect and trust that had been extended towards the Catholic Church in the 20th Century has largely evaporated, making an increasingly cynical and hostile attitude towards the Church by outsiders and confusion from those who have remained faithful. I and many of my brother priests have been shocked, embarrassed and discouraged at having to answer for the damage done by the “Judas priests” who have betrayed their vows and the trust given to them so horribly. 

How could the Catholic Church possibly be the “One, True, Church”? That is a question we need to look at closely if we can ever hope to move forward appropriately, both for ourselves and to those who challenge us. Acknowledging the tragic reality of scandals in the Catholic Church is the only appropriate first step towards providing an adequate response: showing that, in spite of these scandals, there remains a solid and compelling reason why people should be Catholic. Because – in spite of the scandals – the Catholic Church has the answer to all of life’s most urgent problems and challenges. The very fact that we are all justifiably shocked and horrified by the terrible things done by Catholics shows exactly what happens when Catholic teachings, in particular her moral teachings, are ignored and rejected, especially by clergy, given the fact that we have been in some sense been called to a higher and stricter standard of behavior.

That’s a first step, where does it go from there? The answer, frankly, is quite basic: we must remember that – in some form or another –the answer to the many problems in life is the gospel, the “Good News”, of Jesus Christ. Not in the sometimes overly simplistic sense that many of our separated brothers and sisters in Christ see it, and certainly not the way “prosperity Gospel” proponents preach it. Teaching, preaching and living the gospel message of Jesus Christ is the Catholic Church’s response to the world’s easy and shallow attempts to living a life immersed in pleasure, power and pride: what the Bible refers to as “the world, the flesh and the devil.” The Catholic Church is the ark of salvation because the head of the Church is Christ, not its sinful members. And speaking of boats, listen to Mark chapter 4:

 A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”* The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” 

There have been and, sadly, there will continue to be times when it appears that Jesus is asleep as the wind and waves of life appear and toss the ark of the Church so violently that it seems it will capsize and sink. We must have faith in Christ and in his promises to be with the Church always, no matter what, no matter how misguided and malicious some of the members of the Church may be. Let’s listen this time to Matthew chapter 13: 

Jesus proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Jesus prepared us to realize that uncomfortable and even confusing circumstances would surround the Church, just like a field of wheat which has weeds mixed in it: those Christians who are genuine followers of Jesus and those who just have the appearance. That’s a real challenge: in the parable, Jesus used the word “darnel” for weeds, which look just like wheat. One detail which isn’t known to most non-farmers is that the head of darnel weed stands straight up, kind of like so-called Christians who are proud of their virtue, while real wheat droops slightly, in the way that true humility of followers of the holy One would be. 

Scandals are part of the life of the Church not because of its teachings and customs, but because individual Catholics choose to ignore and reject those teachings. Consider celibacy, one that mainstream media seems to be enamored in citing as a root cause for pedophilia. This gift, freely chosen by men for the sake of the Kingdom is not the cause of sexual misbehavior among priests. It is when a priest abandons his commitment, when he turns away from striving for the ideal, that he sins. Although priests are certainly not alone in this atrocity, what causes society to respond so strongly when the perpetrator is a priest is that, as much as outsiders will deny it, society expects Catholics to live up to the high moral standards imposed by Catholic teaching. This makes it all the more shocking when a priest or bishop betrays his solemn promise to be a chaste celibate.  

The cause of all scandal – both that within the Church and outside of it – is always traceable to one important starting point: when we say “yes” to serious sin, usually done as the result of a whole string of small compromises and rationalizations with sin. Scandal starts when someone makes a decision to take the easy path – usually one that promises and may even deliver a brief pleasure – with little or no thought to the later consequences to that action. It’s been that way since the beginning, when Satan chose to tempt Adam and Eve in the Garden. And just like that long-ago test of humanity in its original holiness, let’s never forget that, first and foremost, this is a spiritual battle. It drives Satan crazy when we try to be virtuous, because that’s a sure sign that we’re not under his influence, that we’re headed for Heaven. He doesn’t care a whit about us, he only wants to keep us from God, to frustrate God’s plans: Go ahead, eat the fruit of that Tree, you won’t die but you will become like God! A lie our original parents bought at the beginning, a lie that we continue to buy, to our own destruction and to the grave harm of those around us.

Thank God and thank our Savior that, although our first parents said that first “No!” to God and we continue to say “No!” to Him in our own actions, He didn’t then – and He doesn’t now – abandon us. The voice of our conscience, the law “written upon our hearts” as is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, warns us against doing things we know deep down are bad and wrong and, after we’ve done them, it makes us of our guilt but then also prods us to repent and turn away from sin. God hardwired us to have basic virtue and to make good moral decisions. But because of our wounded nature, we can’t rely only on ourselves. We need more help and that’s why He gave us the Church. The teachings and most especially the sacraments of the Church repair and restore the damage that we inflict upon ourselves and give us the strength and guidance to avoid further damage in the future.

But we see what happens when some of its members – especially some who should know better – misuse the very instrument that Jesus gave us to continue his work in the world. As tragic as the scandal has been on those who have been victimized as well as to the world in general, its tragedy (and the furthering of Satan's work against the Church) will be most greatly realized in the number of souls who may be lost due to the trust betrayed and the despair that follows. We would do well to start any hope for recovery by praying for them and also for the souls of the shepherds who chose, either in action or by allowing, such action to continue and either have or will stand before God to answer for such deeds. 

Just as those responsible will have to stand before God's justice, we have to remember that our actions need to be in justice as well. Sometimes we are so caught up in the hype that, in the passion that our emotions generate, we lose sight of this. For example:

  • Following the Pennsylvania grand jury report, several states Attorneys General have announced their own investigations into accusations, and these have made headlines often in the past few weeks. One thing those headlines often fail to say is that accused does not mean convicted. Keep in mind that many of the incidents are accusations that still have the right to due process. Of course, one abuse is one too many but it does not do to assume that all abuse claims are true. 
  • The majority of abuse cases are decades old; in many cases the accused has died. It may not be possible - or extremely difficult - to determine the facts of such cases and determine how justice can be humanly determined. Of course, this does not preclude making investigation where possible; however, it does at least admit where it may not be possible. 
  • Just about every news article I've seen implies that the Catholic Church has done nothing to prevent this problem from recurring. Anyone involved in Church ministry - priests, staff and volunteers, most of you here today - know that the Church has implemented and continually monitors the VIRTUS and background screening programs to both identify individuals unsuited for ministry as well as how to identify when a situation of abuse might be occurring. Far from doing little or nothing to prevent abuse, the Church has created methods of combating this disease that has become a model for other organizations - religious and otherwise - to follow.
  • The conclusion - whether implied or outright stated in news items - is that a large percentage, possibly even a majority, of clergy are culpable or complicit and are not to be trusted. This is - literally - a damnable lie. If we turn away from our faith leaders, the shepherds who have been called by the Holy Spirit to lead us, despite their human flaws, to the Kingdom of Heaven, we must keep in mind what Peter said to Jesus when so many disciples turned away from Jesus when he told people that they must eat his body and drink his blood (the famous "Bread of Life" discourse from John chapter 6): "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." It would be a mistake - one that may have eternal consequences - to leave Peter because of Judas. While we may come to know some aspects of God through our own reason, we will never get sufficient knowledge of God without His grace and revelation - grace that we receive primarily through the sacraments entrusted by Christ to His ministers, the clergy of the Catholic Church. Please pray for the many bishops, priests and deacons who work tirelessly in guiding those entrusted to them closer to Christ every day.  
We are a deeply wounded Church and expect those responsible to be brought to justice. No one is above the call for justice, no matter how high up in the Church leadership they may be; in fact, it is right to hold them to a higher standard and accountability. But also remember that the Church is and always has been, not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners - and we should thank God that this is so. As we picture those who have perpetrated this atrocity standing before God's throne, let's not forget that we too will do so, maybe not for sins of such grave scandal, but certainly ones that are an offence to God's justice. As we trust in God's mercy for ourselves, let's not be too quick to deny His right to extend mercy to others - God's mercy and justice are in perfect balance, even if ours is not. In the meantime, we should also call for and work for justice balanced by mercy, as imperfect as that work may be, because that's how we are called to do God's work while in this life. 

As a priest, I will try to keep in mind the words that Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Minneapolis St. Paul-Minnesota gave in his homily at Mass for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recent meeting in Baltimore regarding the sexual scandals: “This is our moment to give it our all, to listen attentively to those who are hurt, to listen deeply with discerning ears and hearts to each other as we share the fruits of our prayer, the fruit of our discussion, the fruit of our experience. And to act in a way that convincingly shows our commitment to change.” 

That’s what I intend to do as a priest. As a Catholic, as a member with you of the “One, True, Church” even with all its problems and sinful members, I’ll remember that she teaches us the truth that will set us free, even though not every Catholic obeys those teachings. As I mentioned before, the Church throughout her history has been called “the New Ark of salvation” and I think that’s an image that works on many levels; think about that for a moment. Noah’s Ark: a boat full of animals; can you imagine what it must have smelled and sounded like? But at the time of the great Flood, it was also the only safe place on earth for those creatures, from the gentle dove to the powerful and ruthless predators such as lions and tigers. As long as they stayed on board, they were safe. The scandals may be seen as Catholics – priests who committed these atrocities and the bishops who covered them up, those who ignored and disobeyed the Catholic teachings on proper moral behavior, individuals who have given in to despair – who have abandoned ship and have dived overboard. And we see where it gets them. Those who stay onboard the Ark may have to endure cramped, smelly and sometimes frustrating conditions, but they will be saved in the end. 

!De Colores!