Priest's stand on Liturgy - petition for his removal.
  • Michigan Center Catholic church waiting for bishop to make decision about petition calling for removal of priest
    By Monetta Harr | Jackson Citizen Patriot
    December 09, 2009, 11:44PM

    A Michigan Center Catholic parish divided over its priest is still awaiting word from Bishop Earl Boyea — though a petition signed by 150 members calling for the priest's removal was sent to the Diocese of Lansing a month ago.

    "I am very disappointed that (the bishop) hasn't come up with a solution or an answer," said Helen Navarre, a charter member of Our Lady of Fatima.

    Appeals to the bishop are rare

    It is rare, but not unheard of, for a parish to appeal to the bishop to remove or retain its priest.

    In 1992, 650 members of St. Rita Catholic Church, located between Clark Lake and Lake Columbia, petitioned the late Bishop Kenneth Povish to keep their interim priest. Povish already had named a replacement priest for the parish. Three weeks later, Povish changed his mind and appointed Lehr Berkenquest, who had been serving as interim clergy.

    Berkenquest, who still serves St. Rita's, isn't sure bringing a petition to the bishop is the best way to achieve a resolution to a conflict between clergy and congregation.

    "I think it makes the solution to any problem more difficult. You get so much emotion, the solution becomes cloudy. A one-on-one meeting between a bishop and priest has to now be modified to the general public," Berkenquest said.
    A spokesman for the 10-county diocese, which includes Jackson, said it's unclear when Boyea might make a decision — and even when he does, it might not be made public.

    "I'm not sure if he has met with (Father) Robideau, and I'm not sure if when they do meet, I will be made aware of it. The bishop is hopeful this will come to a resolution," said Michael D. Diebold, director of communications for the diocese.

    The petition outlines a series of concerns with the Rev. Jeffrey Robideau, who was assigned to the parish in July. Petitioners have cited among their frustrations Robideau's refusal to bless children brought forth during Communion and his decision not to hold standing committee meetings.

    Robideau also has said only the church organ — not the piano — can be used during services.

    Robideau, 42, has declined comment for the newspaper, but he defended his actions in a Thanksgiving Day letter to parishioners.

    He wrote that pastoral and finance councils — which have not met at Fatima since Robideau became pastor — are meant as "an advisory board to the priest. Notice that they are only advisory and not decision making … in the end it is the priest's role to make pastoral decisions."

    He also wrote that he will begin using Latin in Mass because "it is my duty to do so."

    His letter pointed out that there is "no permission" in the Vatican II church reforms of 1965 for the use of Protestant or more secular Christian genres of music, and the pipe organ — not the piano used in Fatima Masses prior to Robideau — "is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church."
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Having been in that situation myself, I'm sure a petition isn't the worst reaction he's gotten. Yes, he IS moving far too fast. So what? That doesn't warrant removal. And the really unfortunate part is that probably most of the parishioners don't care. They can do piano or organ, Latin or English, OF or EF, and people don't care. It's just a vocal minority dedicated to making life into Hell for anyone who changes anything, and I should know because I've been the target of such before.

    I keep saying it: what we're up against isn't liberalism, it's conservatism. Change nothing ever.
    Thanked by 1SamuelDorlaque
  • Never mind...
  • I think that sometimes we engage in wishful thinking that just as many support us or that most don't care. If the mass began being said ALL in Latin exclusively, I can assure you, most WOULD care - and many would not be happy.

    The trouble is, Noel, that out of a parish of 650, 250 aren't active at all. So out of the 400 who ARE active, 150 signed the petition. Another 100 probably agree with the petition, but aren't the type to put their name out there publicly as "making trouble." So 250 out of 400 are not happy. Probably 50 don't care one way or the other. Maybe 100 strongly support him.

    Of course this is all conjecture - both on your part and mine. But, I strongly suspect that my math is more correct based on experience.

    If we start basing our arguments for authentic sacred music upon popularity, we will lose. I think that the vast majority of people want to "feel good." That is accomplished through sappy music. We must base our arguments upon documents and legislation and catechesis.

    Oh, and yes, I think he moved WAAAAAAAY too fast. He should have been thinking more in terms of a 5-6 year plan. Perhaps the organ could have been used MORE immediately - perhaps more on some weeks and less on some. Then gradually, the organ is used more and more ... the piano is used twice a mass, than, after a year or two, the piano is only used once per mass, and sometimes not at all. Keeep in mind, this is just the instrumentation - I'm not talking about changing reperatoire. After a couple of years of that, better hymnody is introduced. Simultaneously, the choir has begun singing better music - almost all in English, but of a worthy quality. During Lent and Advent, some latin is used. You get my drift.

    There IS a way to accomplish this without any petitions going around.
  • Ahh.. parishioners thinking that the Church is a democracy. How quaint. I will personally send a note of support.
    Thanked by 1Ben
  • BTW did anyone see the replies to the news story. I wonder if the American church can be saved...
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "Is it better for a priest to make changes that bring the parish into line bit by bit, slowly angering the people?"

    I would say yes, because that AVOIDS angering people. People generally have short memories. Make a small change in a Mass, and within a few months that's "how we've always done it". At my last (Catholic) job, I walked in when the pastor had banned all "piano songs", and I only expanded the traditional hymn repertoire and got rid of the cantor-as-song-leader position. A small change, but within a few months people couldn't fathom anything but the organ leading the singing.

    The other aspect is one MUST be consistent about the change. If you introduce Latin, do not EVER go back to an all-English Mass. Change what's in Latin, or maybe only recite some of it (I don't know WHY the first thing we introduce is the ordinary when we could simply introduce "Ite, Missa est/Deo gracias"), but keep that as the language of the church. As soon as you slip out of it, you have to re-introduce it.

    Anyway, many lessons were learned in my last job. I'm more convinced than ever of the need of severe changes in how the Roman Mass is done today, but I've also learned how to wisely introduce them so as not to scandalize (yes, I said scandalize!) the congregation. If anything, I'd say the real tragedy was putting an inexperienced priest into such a position.

    And as for the numbers, I 100% agree that Noel's estimates are unrealistic. Having been in such a situation, I can say that (in my last parish of 300 families), 150 families did not attend, 50 or so people were vehemently opposed to the changes (most of which weren't even AFFECTED by them, given the folk Mass was left alone), some 20 people or visitors were somewhat supportive of changes, and I only know of 2 people loudly expressing support. I might assume an even bleaker situation at the church in question here, given the history of the Lansing Diocese.
    Thanked by 1SamuelDorlaque
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    This was all over the net a couple of weeks ago.

    Did the new pastor move too quickly?

    When I was small, I needed band-aids with a certain frequency, as did all of you, I'm sure.
    Sometimes Mommy took them off veeeeery slooooowly; and sometimes quick as a wink -- and no one other than she and I were in a position to know which was better in a particular situation.

    One pertinent piece of information left out of the discussion here is that this poor priest's predecessor was in place for more than three decades.
    CORRECTION - According to the parish website, the former pastor was only there for 25 years, contrary to information in the original new article
    I leave it to the imagination how that fact might affect the situation.

    Out of delicacy, and cognizant of the fact that some people might be eating, I won't say what Mommy would be likely to find under a band-aid left in place for 30 years....

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • General Instruction of the Roman Missal

    Chapter VII

    The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts

    352. The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be greatly increased if the texts of the readings, the prayers, and the liturgical songs correspond as closely as possible to the needs, spiritual preparation, and culture of those taking part. This is achieved by appropriate use of the wide options described below.

    The priest, therefore, in planning the celebration of Mass, should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations.[emphasis added] He should, moreover, remember that the selection of different parts is to be made in agreement with those who have some role in the celebration, including the faithful, in regard to the parts that more directly pertain to each.

    Since, indeed, a variety of options is provided for the different parts of the Mass, it is necessary for the deacon, the lectors, the psalmist, the cantor, the commentator, and the choir to be completely sure before the celebration which text for which each is responsible is to be used and that nothing be improvised. Harmonious planning and carrying out of the rites will great assistance in disposing the faithful to participate in the Eucharist.

    All of us would do well to copy this and keep it handy.
  • When a pastor is in a church over a period of time, certain people end up settling in in positions of power and the congregation becomes a reflection of what they want, under his guidance.

    When a new pastor enters, in most Diocese, all committees are automaticall dissolved and he then, when he is ready begins to build them.

    The parish council is to consist of pastor=appointed and elected members. And it has NO power.

    This appears to be a very sore point in this parish that has done things the same way, I am sure, for 30 years.

    Does your diocese have the same policy.

    [Now I am going to take time and read what Paul has posted.]
  • "The priest, therefore, in planning the celebration of Mass, should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations."

    It seems that a priest who implements the Church's vision for sacred music and liturgy is doing nothing but that which is for the common spiritual good of the people of God. I don't see anything in the above article that speaks to the priests own inclinations, other than his desire to follow the Mind of the Church. The problem seems to be more of a matter of prudence.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    The priest, therefore, in planning the celebration of Mass, should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations.
    All of us would do well to copy this and keep it handy.

    I'm curious about your highlighting.
    Are you suggesting that giving preference to the organ, using Latin in the Roman Rite, and discontinuing addition people made to the missal in the from of blessings, are merely personal inclinations?
    Given that we do not know the details of the situation, charity requires that we presume this man DID take into account the common spiritual good of the people of God, (who are not, of course, limited to the members of his parish.)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • If they have had the same pastor for 30 years, the Bishop is responsible for assigning a new priest who is, in his opinion, the best match for the parish. From the backlash, it appears that that may be what he did.

    In the Protestant church it is a given that a pastor who follows a beloved, long-term one is nothing but an interim, no mater what his title is.
  • Have to agree that "common spiritual good" does not equal "what the people want or are used to." That said, this fellow could have been more considerate by slowing implementing and correcting poor catechesis gradually. Still, it's no reason to send him packing unless there are deeper agendas involved.
  • I'd suggest that none of us can judge anything since we were not there before he got there nor since he has arrived. We are not aware of what abuses occurred.

    As Gavin has said, change seems never to be welcomed as a friend.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    I agree with most of the above; but the pastor would be making a mistake if he doesn't hold regular meetings of the pastoral and finance councils. They're both mentioned in canon law and probably required by diocesan policies. Refusing to let the finance council meet can even lead to suspicion about financial mismanagement.

    (In my old parish in Boston, the administrator refused to let the finance council meet; the members eventually pieced together enough information to show that he had been spending their collection money on expenses at the other parish he ran. Eventually their complaints moved the archdiocese to order an audit, which confirmed the misuse of funds and brought about a restitution.)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    The previous priest was there for 25 years? Well gosh, it doesn't matter what the guy does. He could have the congregation sing all their favorite songs, make Mass take 25 minutes, and throw candy during processions and people would STILL hate him.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Chonak (or somebody else), please cite all the relevant Canon Law(s)
    and URLs from the Vatican website
    for *each* of the Councils.

    Also, I think the term is Council, NOT Committee.
  • What we have to accept here is that the Bishop felt this was the right pastor for this church now.

    And the Bishop, by not immediately removing him or responding to the people, continues to act in the interests of the parish.

    Note that the priest has not gone public with this, the parishioners did.
  • Let's step back and consider what the pastor wrote to his congregation:

    "He wrote that pastoral and finance councils — which have not met at Fatima since Robideau became pastor — are meant as "an advisory board to the priest. Notice that they are only advisory and not decision making … in the end it is the priest's role to make pastoral decisions."

    He also wrote that he will begin using Latin in Mass because "it is my duty to do so."

    His letter pointed out that there is "no permission" in the Vatican II church reforms of 1965 for the use of Protestant or more secular Christian genres of music, and the pipe organ — not the piano used in Fatima Masses prior to Robideau — "is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church."
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    The Holy See English
    Resource Library
    Code of Canon Law

    For the time-challenged, here is the table of contents with links ...

    Book II
    Part II
    Section II
    Title III

    Lots of good stuff there, but apropos my above request ...

    Can. 536 §1. If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and in which the Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity.

    §2. A pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and is governed by the norms established by the diocesan bishop.

    Can. 537 In each parish there is to be a finance council which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 532.

    So ...
    Canon Law requires a parish to have a Finance Council,
    but defers to the local Bishop whether or not all his parishes will have a Pastoral Council.

    There is NO such thing as a parish council.
    There is NO committee of any sort mentioned.
    Read the entire Canon Law webpage cited above, from whence the excerpt is provided.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    I attended a church committee meeting once where there were strong and absolutely opposite, (albeit amicable,) stances on something and one of the regular members suggested we all take a vote -- the pastor quickly interrupted, "You certainly can but I really wish you wouldn't, if it's going to give the the idea that a majority opinion matters. I asked input but this is ultimately my decision to make."
    As it was.
    Chonak, are you sure the pastoral council is mentioned in canon law? I had heard that only the finance committee was.
    Never bothered to look into it because I would sit through a 3 Stooges film festival eating okra before I would sit on one.
    LITURGY committees, now there's something I wish were mentioned in Canon Law.
    I wish they were banned...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • 1. Okra, like grits, is a fine addition to a southern meal, if cooked properly.
    2. What's a liturgy committee? (I know G, we've gone the rounds over this before, but even thinking or uttering the term makes me chuckle. Then I get irritated.)
    Thanked by 1SamuelDorlaque
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    Ah, thanks for answering the question, eft.

    Here's a link to a November article about the matter, with reader comments showing the diversity of opinions.

    Two interesting details: a plan to expand the church was in the works, but the new pastor has put it on hold pending a redesign. That may be a good move.

    Unhappy parishioners organized a "town-hall" style meeting, and held it at a Masonic lodge. That's scandalous. No wonder few supporters of the pastor attended.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • From the article:

    • Parents often take their young children forward during Communion for a blessing by the priest, but Robideau will not bless them.

    • Girls who have been trained as altar servers can continue serving, but younger girls will not be trained to perform these services.

    • The choir has been disbanded and only the organ, not the piano, can be played during Mass. The choir director, who served there more than 30 years, has left the parish. No more Protestant hymns will be sung, including "Amazing Grace."

    Anyone here have a problem with any of this? Notice that the choir director abandoned ship, did not get removed by the any of what he has done "wrong" in the eyes of the church? Or should a parish be permitted to continue on without change "because we have always done it this way?"
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    frogman, lets not confuse article data: "In 1992, 650 members of St. Rita"
    The priest is at Our Lady of Fatima.

    Chonak, thanks for that upstream (earlier-dated) article.
    Via google, it seems several versions (rehashes) by the same writer of the story are floating around.

    215 people attended the meeting (another version says nearly 200)
    150 people signed the petition
    __ names in the speak-NOT-in-favor bucket
    8 names in the speak-in-favor-of-bucket
    35 absentees sent letters (to whom?)

    The article comments were interesting.
    I think several stories were eventually fleshed out, but to me there is still missing data.

    Locate and visit the parish website and peruse the four bulletins available.
    200+ donations per week (pre-transition counts and amounts unknown, so no comparison possible)
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    oooh, if I did not have such a great job right now, I just might ask Fr. Robideau to hire me...
    (this sounds strangely similar to what occurred in a parish very dear to my heart a few years ago, which also happens to be in the same diocese...)
  • Charles in CenCa- The grits must be stoneground and made with cream- or at least half and half!!
  • The solution for the 250 some people who don't like the priest's implements (those ones which are fully appropriate) is to move to a neighboring parish. It is not THEIR parish to safe guard in THEIR ideas of what should go on. This happens all the time in many dioceses. I see a petition for these matters as childish.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,912
    Too often the people run the Church and I don’t recall Jesus telling Peter that upon the Samaritans he will build his Church, and that he hoped that Peter could consult with them and find out how they wanted him to over see it.

    I loved this quote from one of the people who replied to Fr. Z's post. I apologize for resurrecting this ages old thread, but I was re-reading this in light of some other issues I've been having recently (they just seem to crop up from time to time, it's the way of our profession, unfortunately).
  • Chonak -
    A suggestion -
    It would be helpful for some of us were the year of authorship to appear next to the author's name on the roster of forum threads. With no ill will towards those who, from time to time, 'resurrect' old threads, it is sometimes disappointing to get engaged in a thread only to realise that it is rather old, often very old. There are, to be sure, some topics of a scholarly nature that retain interest and value over time, but there are others which do not fit this category when they are two, four, or even, as is this one, six years old.

    As for the matter at hand, it is astonishing that any people could cause such a row over a priest whose liturgical and musical sense are beyond praise and whose ministry is an unmitigated blessing to the Church as a whole, as well as to the extraordinarily thankless parishioners. One can only wonder that their bishop did not appear in their very own pulpit and set them straight in no uncertain terms!

    And, as for the suggestion below that this priest has 'found his niche' as a consecrated hermit, one is puzzled. There is no question that being such a hermit is a unique gift, charism, and one that is a blessing to all of us. However, I am confused that the 'niche' of a priest with this one's liturgical and musical genius is reckoned to be that of hermitry. What, exactly, is being asserted with this illogic? That the liturgically sane belong in hermitage? That hermitage is only for bright priests whose people scorn them? And, this leaves untouched upon the 'niche' of these parishioners, which will remain unspeculated about. (With all due respect, Deacon Fritz.)
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,778
    and a further sequel: promoted to hermit.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 336
    Looks like he's found his niche. May his ministry prosper.
  • Imaginary conversation, bishop of Lyon, France, presiding:

    His Excellency: "Ars is a little parish, and out of the way, so at least Fr. Vianney can't do any harm."

    Presbyter A : "It wouldn't be fair to inflict a man of such little learning, culture and otherworldliness on that parish, which has been without a regular priest for some time.

    His Excellency: " You didn't want him ordained.

    Presbyter A: "True. If I were asked to be juring priest nowadays, I would have said yes in a heartbeat, because my country matters to me, and because people who have divided loyalties can't be good priests."

    His Excellency: "What about sending him to the mission in Africa?"

    Presbyter A: "Yes: that's about right. The savages there will eat him up."

    His Excellency: "Savages? In Africa? No: those savages are here, in my chancery office. To Ars he goes."

  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    Quite true. But then again, just because people are persecuting you doesn't necessarily act as a valid sign of your being a prophet. Et cet.
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 207
    Hmmmmmm, the church is truly divine. Any organization with this amount of internal strife and personal contradiction would fall apart in a year if it didn't have Our Lord at the helm.

  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    There's an apocryphal story about Pius VI or Pius VII saying something like that to Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    I find it ironic that this thread was resurrected at this time. I personally had an encounter with this priest yesterday. It was not pleasant. I believe he would make a wonderful hermit...something involving little to no contact with people.

    There is a vast great difference between defending orthodoxy in practice and simply being abrasive. If the only ambassadors for the EF behaved as this particular person has a tendency to, the EF would die out quite quickly.

    He gives every indication that he doesn't want a choir for the EF either BTW. His liturgical and musical sense are not "beyond praise" as one person stated. He has in fact cut the Propers off and bullied his way forward during the EF not once but several times when he thought they were taking too long.

    Oh and as an FYI...Fatima is STILL recovering from the damage and I'm not sure they will ever bounce back. At least they are still open. The previous parish was so destroyed that it was closed. Not merged...closed.
    Thanked by 1SusanW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Hmmm. Does anyone besides me find it disconcerting that our consecrated hermit pater takes to blogging not only about his self-actualization and advice for the rest of us infidels the lukewarm who practice our faith, expressed so imperatively, "Get Holy!"? First impression, somewhat taken aback by the whole cowboy dressage, gave me a bit of a Corapi vibe. Is that a good which or a bad which....?
    There is a vast great difference between defending orthodoxy in practice and simply being abrasive. If the only ambassadors for the EF behaved as this particular person has a tendency to, the EF would die out quite quickly.

    Nailed it, dearest.
    Thanked by 1Wendi
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I have encountered several social misfits who gravitated to the priesthood or a convent. Why they were not weeded out, I don't know, unless the perception was that anyone who applied was needed. I recently pointed out to a priest enthusing about a certain sister, that when you put a pig in a habit, you still have a pig. Then there are deacons, who can be either a blessing or a curse.

    Some of the best priests I have met were slightly older and had worked secular jobs before ordination. They seemed to have a much better idea of how the world operates and how ordinary people live.
    Thanked by 2JDE StimsonInRehab
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    Church life can attract people who love delving into complex rules-based systems but who don't exactly thrive in dealing with other people, particularly in greater-than-one-on-one situations. It's particularly bad when such people are elevated to pastorates and lack a personable vicar whom they fully empower (wise pastors of this type know their own limitations and partner up accordingly. That is the customary *Roman* way.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004

    The internet has allowed a lot of people to engage in egoistic drama that is, ultimately, at odds with their stated goals, but in a way that keeps the tension in their cognitive blindspot.
  • "I'll fight for your compromise position"

    "What compromise position?"

    "What position?"

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The internet has allowed a lot of people to engage in egoistic drama that is, ultimately, at odds with their stated goals, but in a way that keeps the tension in their cognitive blindspot.

    Why Liam, I resemble that remark! ;-)
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    I didn't have you in mind when I typed that.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 756
    Please, have you any advice on developing a cognitive blindspot? I would like to consign to it several of my faults and failings and a large number of advertisement jingles and 1980's popsongs, and quite a large repertoire of modern 'hymns'. I already have it well stocked with quantities of banal sermons, several ecclesiastical interactions and most of the maths I learnt in school.
    I do find it becomes easier to drop things into my cognitive blindspot as I get older, it has become for example, my go to place for items such as car keys, friends birthdays and that other thing, emm, what ever it was.