Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catholic Church shopping Part IV: the Gymnasium

I have written before about the next church I visited. This large parish on the South Shore has torn down its old church and is building a humongous modernist monstrosity in its place. For the time being Mass is held in the school gymnasium. There's really not that much to say. I didn't see any bulletins, so I can't comment on the life of the parish. It was a mid afternoon Mass and still drew a lot of people, perhaps 200. There is a large school connected to the parish, so in those situations I wonder if Mass attendance is mandatory for continued enrollment. The people certainly didn't seem like they wanted to be there. The altar was located at half court, against the wall, which gave it a theatre-in-the-round feel. The Indian priest gave a convoluted, uninspiring and unmemorable sermon. He spoke at length about what Hindus believed and said some vague things about that day's reading from the Book of Revelation. The music was played with skill by some musicians on the stage. and consisted of the post Vatican II second tier standards that grate on your nerves after a lifetime of hearing them. One thing I will remember about this church is that the congregation was perhaps the most slovenly group of people I have ever seen. Perhaps one or two older folks were dressed appropriately, while the majority were clad in jeans, t-shirts, sweatpants, shorts, and velour jogging suits (the uniform for Staten Island women) . The Gymnasium proved to be yet another disheartening experience for me.

As Sting sang, "Don't stand so close to me"



This photo in the current issue of Catholic New York accompanied an article about a diocesan pastors' convention. I've made sardonic references on this blog to the "traditional Catholic seating pattern" which means sitting as far away from everyone else as possible. This picture illustrates why no one has ever tried to tackle this pernicious habit of ours, which tells the world that we fear and dislike each other: if the pastors are doing it amongst themselves, why should the laity do any different?? Here we have a Mass for priests only, with the majority crowded in the back of the church, perhaps because they couldn't find a pew all to themselves, like the priests in the foreground. Maybe they're afraid of the non-existent swine flu plague. I've been to several churches recently that have canceled the handshake of peace due to swine flu fears. Maybe they'll cancel Mass next. What a joke.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Father and his boyfriend.

The Advance ran an obituary the other day for a priest, Rev. Daniel Cassiero, who had served in several Staten Island parishes and schools during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Passing away at the fairly young age of 66, the Advance detailed the various milestones of Father Cassiero's life and career. Towards the tail end of the standard obituary verbiage, the following bombshell was inserted nonchalantly:

"Father Cassiero retired from the VA in 2004 and moved to Albuquerque with his partner, Craig Stoebling. While there, he enjoyed volunteering for the VA pharmacy in Albuquerque.

“He served in a variety of ministries, where he was known for his humor and the quality of his preaching,” said Stoebling, his partner of 10 years."

Whoah.

Obviously, these 2 short sentences don't provide too much information, but I think the fact of a gay priest merits some notice and discussion. I have questions. When did he first break his vow of chastity? If it was during his time in the Church, is it possible that no one noticed that he had taken up with a "partner"? And if they did, why was nothing done about it? He served as an Air Force chaplain over the course of 9 years, with a brief interlude as master of ceremonies at St. Patrick's Cathedral. How did this young and obscure priest from the boonies of Staten Island obtain such a prestigious position? Why does the phrase "Lavender Mafia" come to mind? After retiring from the Air Force, he then became a public school teacher in Virginia. That seems very odd. What was the reason for his early retirement and subsequent career as a public school teacher? Why Virginia? He then returned to the Island and taught at a local Catholic high school. How did he explain his unusual career path to whomever interviewed him at Moore? After getting a Masters in social work, he then spent the remainder of his working life as a social worker with the VA. Why? Did he have a religious function there or was his position purely secular? How was that allowed by his superiors? What kind of priest was he? Was he the kind of priest who inspires young men to consider the priesthood? Or was he the kind of effeminate gay priest who repels young men from anything having to do with religion? If he was breaking his vows, and living an unnatural lifestyle contrary to the Magisterium, how faithful and orthodox could his leadership have been? What could his "quality" preaching have been like if his lifestyle was in such contradiction to basic Christian morality? I would be interested in hearing what his former parishioners have to say about that.

I went to the website of the Albuquerque parish that is burying Father Cassiero. The church describes itself as "a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural inclusive Christian Community." To be charitable, the wording may be unintentional, but "inclusive" is usually a euphemism meaning that "the rainbow flag flies here".

And again, to be charitable, the quality of journalism at the Advance has sunk to such horrendous levels that their inept grasp of the English language may have misrepresented Father Cassiero's business partner as something totally different. Judging from his Facebook page, I would say not though. (Note- the Facebook page has been changed- here is the original picture:
It took the sex abuse Gethsemane of recent years for the Church, led by Benedict XVI, to take positive action against the pernicious cancer of homosexuals in the priesthood. God willing, the Pope's directives will be effective. How many actively gay priests are still in the priesthood is anyone's guess, although I've heard too many high-pitched lisps and slack morality from the pulpit to think that the number is negligible. No doubt we'll see more reports in coming years of priests retiring to sunny climes with their boyfriends and an Archdiocesan pension. But let us not respond to these monstrous revelations with either resigned silence or meaching tributes to their sense of humor, their prize winning gardenias or the delicate skill with which they threw a tea party. Let us name them for what they are: liars, con artists, oath-breakers, deceivers, and a Fifth Column of corruption within Christ's Church.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another hidden treasure on Staten Island

The Advance reported on a convent that I myself only recently found out existed on Staten Island. The "Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, a branch of the Pauline family" has a fairly large spread hidden on a small side street off of the top of Bradley Avenue. I only discovered it by accident and no one I know had ever heard of it until I told them. I had meant to investigate it and take some pictures but never had the chance. The large fence surrounding the property also seems to discourage snooping. However, the sisters are making an attempt to be hospitable and are opening up their chapel to visitors Monday through Saturday, 1-6. On the first Sunday of every month they also host a prayer hour from 3-4, followed by a coffee and cake social. The article states that they make a living weaving and embroidering liturgical vestments.