Comments of VOTF-Bridgeport Board of Directors, 2007-08:
Anne Pollack, a parishioner at OLF, Wilton, where she has served as a CCD teacher and choir member, is currently enrolled in the Diocesan EPS Program. She states, “I feel certain that the abuse scandal would never have reached epic proportions if the laity had been involved in church governance. Over the last four years it has become evident that there will be no open discussion in our diocese, much less the active involvement of the laity in a way that would bring us together to move beyond the scandal. Both seem critical in addressing the very real problems of a declining number of priests, church closings, and the restoration of the moral integrity of our church. Because VOTF’s goals address my concerns, I feel a responsibility to do what I can to advance them.”
A member of St. James, Stratford, a community volunteer and the holder of certificates from the School of Spirituality and Spiritual Development from the Mercy Center, Madison, John Marshall Lee brings also his 41 years of business experience to the VOTF Board. “I believe in VOTF objectives. The power and healing that comes from listening to survivors is awesome to me, a real ministry. Structural reforms that raise the responsibility of and respect for pastoral priests will protect against further abuse of authority and power.”
“Having served on the VOTF-Bridgeport Board previously, I would like to continue working on some of the projects under-taken and planned for in the near future,” states Dick Vicenzi, an independent management consultant to small companies since 1968, specializing in the areas of acquisitions and divestments. Dick also serves on the Parish Council of St. Jerome Parish, Norwalk.
A Georgetown University corporate attorney and volunteer with community youth sports activities, Dan Sullivan, of St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan, states, “I believe in the goals of Voice of the Faithful, and hope to assist in bringing about structural change in the Church, of which I have been a lifelong member, by gaining a more participatory role for the laity.”
“I believe that VOTF provides a forum in which laymen and women can make known their concerns about the future of our Church. This is important because there is no alternative in our diocese and indeed our bishop has denied us normal access to our parishes. As the former chair of VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport I have worked to help us educate ourselves and I have been able to secure several speakers who have helped us do that. I think it is time now to turn the leadership of VOTF over to the people, but I would like to continue on the board because I think I can be of service especially in planning our monthly programs.” – Joe O’Callaghan, former Chair of VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport, is a parishioner of St. Jerome Church, Norwalk, and Professor Emeritus of Medieval History, Fordham University.
“Vatican II brought me into my‘ adult’ status in the church. I believe that by virtue of baptism we are given a responsibility to share in all phases of church life. We have not had a structure that has enabled us to have any input. Through the hard work of VOTF we hope to change the passivity of the laity; uphold the stated goals of VOTF; and, renew our confidence in the hierarchy through a change in the moral unaccountability of the clerical culture.” – Marge Hickey, a 40-year parishioner of St. Jerome, Norwalk, has served as a catechist, children’s liturgy coordinator, parish liturgy committee, Eucharist Minister and member of parish council; VOTF member since its inception in Norwalk in 2002.
Kathleen Clement has been a life-long member of St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Norwalk, having served as Eucharistic Minister since 1982, and having served also as President, Treasurer and Secretary of the parish Rosary Society. Kathleen notes, “I have been a member of VOTF Bridgeport for three years and feel that I am now able to take on a more active role in helping VOTF work towards our goals, and I look forward to doing so.”
Rosemary and I have been active Catholics since our growing up days in Minnesota and at St. Theresa College and St. Thomas University. We have been active lay administrators and contributors to six parishes through the years before ending up here in Connecticut with our six children. Tony Wiggins states, “We shared the optimistic vision of John XXIII and Vatican II and have labored in various organizations to endeavor to see the goals of Vatican II come to fruition. VOTF was an answer to our prayers for an organization that would advance the precepts and principles of Vatican II. So far VOTF has proved to be the ideal vehicle for change for which we were looking. I want to contribute my efforts to advance VOTF since I believe so thoroughly in what VOTF is trying to do.”
“I wish to serve on the VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Board to work to increase VOTF’s membership and to further our cause for the laity’s participation, helping to bring women into recognizable positions which hold some weight in each parish and diocese. I believe that this would improve our beloved Church for all.” Pat Powers is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield. A mother of six and grandmother of ten, she has volunteered as a Girl Scout leader and has served on a community Arts Commission.
Marilyn Kirchner has been active in her parish, St. Francis of Assisi, Weston, for many years, as a Eucharistic Minister, as head of the Women's Group, as a Renew leader and by making altar cloths, vestments and baptismal gowns. She is also a member of the Weston Volunteer Emergency Medical Service and states, "I feel that VOTF is the voice that is needed in our Church. We are united in our efforts to help our beloved Church and require the cooperation of all the laity and clergy. I am so very proud to be a member of this group and I know that we are being led by the Holy Spirit and that our efforts will, in the long run, prove to be worthwhile and helpful not only to the laity, but also to the clergy."
Joanne Bray, a member of the Emmaus Community of St. Maurice, Stamford and a member of the task force on “The Role of Women in Church and Society,” of the New England Jesuits. - “VOTF came into existence to end sexual abuse by primarily (all male) clerics and the abuse of power by members of the (all male) hierarchy. It is my belief that the exclusion of women from leadership in both of these areas is a significant and underlying cause of these abuses. It is my further belief that to correct and prevent further damage, women will be needed to work as full partners with Catholic men at all levels of leadership, and in particular with priests of integrity towards structural change. As an activist on Catholic women’s issues for over 25 years (working with Jesuits on the implementation of their document on women, as a leader in the Women-Church movement, and currently on the national board of Women’s Ordination Conference) I am pleased to bring my background to VOTF goals and objectives.”
“My commitment as a lifelong practicing Catholic is manifested in my membership within the Emmaus community (St. Maurice’s, Stamford) and my leadership work as a ‘peer counseling’ trainer with a wide spectrum of Catholic people around the world for 3 decades.”
Marie Rose, of Wilton, a Registered Cytotechnologist with Bridgeport Hospital, says, “I believe I can make a useful contribution to VOTF-Bridgeport, where I have received incredible insight into the ongoing history of politics and intrigue within the Catholic Church hierarchy. With its stated goals, VOTF faces a vital task to transform the Church so that it better serves the spiritual needs of the clergy and the laity.”
Peg Mooney is a very involved member in education and liturgy at the Emmaus Community of St. Maurice Parish, Stamford, who also served on Cursillo teams in the Bridgeport Diocese. She said, “I believe that I have the responsibility to take an active part in addressing the current crisis in our Church. I am dedicated to helping in whatever way I can to renew this Church that has been such an essential part of my life.”
Born and raised a Catholic in Louisville, Kentucky, Jamie Dance attended parochial schools and graduated from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. Currently a member of St. Thomas More in Darien and a widow, she is the mother of three married children, and a grandmother. In 2005, she received a Master's degree in Religion from Yale Divinity School. “Voice of the Faithful is the one organization founded by the laity that has cast its net widely enough to encompass most American Catholics, regardless of their politics. It reflects attitudes and principles that are mainstays of American life, namely accountability, responsibility, and faithful regard for the rights of others. VOTF strives to fulfill the principal message of Lumen Gentium, that, as God’s people, we are to work in concert with the members of the hierarchical priesthood. That it was the passivity of the laity that enabled egregious priestly behavior must be remembered always. These days, loving our Church means being willing to stick our necks out.”
A parishioner of St. Jerome, Norwalk, for many years, Bob Mulligan has served as member/chairman of the parish council, Eucharistic minister/Mass coordinator, and on special projects like the 25th parish anniversary - he says, “The continuing church dilemma triggered by the sexual crisis is but a warning flag of secretive and moribund hierarchal practices. Such practices in an open democratic society are inimical to the expectations of an educated laity accustomed to openness and transparency in issues affecting their lives. Nor can a new generation of Catholics be expected to accept such practices as did their parents.”
Richard Maiberger, a life long Catholic, is a parishioner at St. Jerome Parish in Norwalk, where he serves as a Eucharistic Minister. He is also a long time member of the TOTAL team (high school education and faith experience) at St. Jerome. Richard is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University Medical School. He is a semi-retired psychiatrist practicing at Norwalk Hospital. “It is important that our children and future generations be able to receive the invitation to participate in the loving, grace filled, faith community that the Catholic Church has been to so many of us… Our Church has been in crisis and the future of our Eucharistic worship among other things is more tentative. The talents of the laity have not been fully utilized. The Church needs all of our help and I believe that we are all called to that mission. The Church can be better. VOTF is offering that help.”
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail, at VOTF-Bridgeport, P.O. Box 5044, Westport, CT 06881.