Sunday, February 17
Earlier in the week, a member from Old St. Patrick’s contacted me via email expressing his frustration and anger over an article that appeared on the front page of the Chicago Sun Times (I think it was Monday). The front page story was about the upcoming sale of the parking lot adjacent to Holy Name Cathedral and how the proceeds of that land sale will apparently be used to pay the multiple lawsuits and settlements for the victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse. While I totally agree that the Church is responsible and accountable to aid and assist victims in their pursuit of healing and justice, why we are in this position to begin with is nothing short of disturbing and sickening. That essentially was the message from the person who wrote to me. And, as I indicated to him, I share his frustration and disgust. News stories about this ongoing ugly crisis, crimes committed by clergy people, and some meeting happening in Rome with the Pope to talk about sexual abuse is not exactly what I ever imagined would be the topic of the day when I was preparing for the priesthood. The whole darn thing is disheartening, to say the least.
And to make matters more complicated, this weekend is one of the “asks” I am supposed to do on behalf the Annual Catholic Appeal. I can understand if your knee jerk reaction is: don’t bother. But let me just offer a few things for your consideration. You probably are not aware but a few years ago I was asked by the Cardinal to be on the Annual Catholic Appeal steering committee. Yeah, I know: it shocked me too. I am not one of those priests that the archdiocese calls upon too often for anything. So this was a bit of a surprise to me too. But I said yes to it and I’m glad I did. Not to toot my own horn, but I am proud of the fact that I have been one of the more “outspoken” members of the committee gathered at the table. In recent meetings as the Archdiocese was getting ready for this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal, I said very firmly that two things need to happen: First, the good people of this local church need to know again that not one dime of their contributions is going towards this ugly issue of abuse cases. I told the committee that the printed materials need to show that everything collected for the Annual Catholic Appeal is going directly towards the MISSION of the church. So on this page you will see where your past contributions went. After they showed us the proposed brochure for the 2019 ACA, I spoke up and said: get rid of the far-too-many pictures of priests in this brochure. Show photos of people, The Church, being involved in the various expressions of the mission of the Church here in Chicago and beyond.
I know this is a crazy, complicated time and asking you for anything more might seem bold. But after being a part of this Annual Catholic Appeal a little more up close and personal, I can say with confidence that I really do believe that we have an opportunity to keep helping promote the really good stuff that’s happening every day in the name of good people and a Catholic Faith we can be proud of. Despite its many foibles and failures, I still love being a priest and I very much want to be a part of healing and renewing this Church of OURS. As I mentioned in my homily last Sunday with respect to my “marriage” as a priest to this bride the church, like most marriages: not everyday is great and we don’t get along every day. We have our moments. “She’s” disappointed me and I’m sure I’ve disappointed her as well. But we made a commitment to each other and it’s one I pledge to protect.
Last year, because of your generosity, Old St Pat’s exceeded our goal of $174k! Together we raised an additional $60k that we have used towards social outreach efforts (OSP Relief) and we even used a good chunk to help a refugee family seeking asylum and cared for through Catholic Charities. Something we should be proud of. We have the same goal this year for the Annual Catholic Appeal. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of what we can do to keep helping the Church do its REAL work of living the gospel.
Father Tom Hurley