Native and Catholic

Got a problem, I think this is the right place to post. Here is a draft of a letter I have written. I need some advice on changes, and if I should send a copy to someone else beyond our Bishop. I do know that another bishop in the state would take immediate action. (Dorothy got out of Kansas)

Dear Bishop __________

I was raised Catholic, in a Mormon dominated area, in a family with a strong undercurrent of Native spirituality. As a result, I have had many spiritual issues in my life. I have recently moved to _________. In the process of adjusting to the culture of this refuge from LDS, I have discovered that the local Catholic parish is insensitive to the needs of Native Catholics.

Reflecting the intent of the Catechism of the Catholic Church Part Three: Life in Christ Article three, Social Justice 1928-1938, please assign a priest qualified to minister to the needs of Native American Catholics in this county. Even if he were available only one Sunday a month, it would be better than the situation we have now.

Sincerely in Christ,

your letter would be far more effective and much more likely to elicit a satisfactory response if you include
the name of the parish and of the pastor with which you have an issue.
the nature of the issue, be specific, with dates, names and details.

Children from __________ community are not welcomed in the religious education program, or are prohibited from attending by (action of director, distance, cost, whatever).

______________ are not included in any parish decision making body or ministry (provide a parish directory or other resource to prove this is true.

I would also point out the number of Catholics in the group you represent, their percentage in relation to the total number of Catholics in the parish, and specific instances where their needs have not been met.

Your letter as written gives the bishop nothing to go on, and the most that might happen is a phone call:
Father Joe, we have had one complaint from one Native who says you don’t treat his people right. Do you know what this is all about? Not a response likely to initiate positive change.

Thanks for the suggestions.

In terms of it not being the opinion of one person, I can simply encourage a letter-writing campaign from among my friends, also expressing what they have seen, although I really believe that this has already been done. Many simply don’t attend mass, so it is difficult to find them there.

Personally, I think that the present pastor has enough support among the white population that a separate small parish might be justified. And that is perfectly fine to me. The present pastor simply drives them out, believing that there is an innate incompatibility. :eek:

I need to collect more information first, too, and can’t disclose much here. You sure you aren’t my mother? :smiley: 'Cept she usually doesn’t live in Texas.

Generally, most American bishops will avoid creating separate parishes to serve the needs of different ethnic groups. The logic behind this is that it does not promote community but instead supports unhealthy separation. It is also expensive. However, a separate Mass at the same parish, perhaps with a different priest, would be a good thing. That is what my parish does!

If you believe your white pastor is “chasing out” potential Native American parishioners, that is a very bad thing for that priest to do. If he does not understand the particular needs, or is intimidated by a handful of influential and bigoted white members, that is a situation the Bishop must know about in order to properly and effectively address it.

Rather than a letter-writing campaign, consider putting a three-part letter together. The first part is a one-page bulleted summary of the problems you and other Native Americans are experiencing. The second part is a detailed treatment of each bulleted point. Do not be afraid to name names, however, always be charitable and do not make unsubstantiated assertions.

The letter can conclude with the third part which is a petition signed by as many Catholics, including any while Catholics you feel you can talk to about this. Also, do not limit signatories to just adult Catholics. Consider including potential Catholics as well as teens who have been confirmed.

My prayers are with you. May God bless you and your priest and bishop. May He grant you all the wisdom and patience to deal with this fairly and justly. :signofcross:

I don’t think a letter writing campaign will lead to any changes that will serve your interests unless each letter spells out exactly what is wrong, with specifics, and offers suggestions to better meet the need. Just “they are not meeting our needs” gives the bishop absolutely nothing to work with.

get specific
"in the 4 parishes that serve our people (name the parishes and locations) there are no Natives on Parish council, no Natives as ministers in service of the liturgy, no natives teaching CCD etc"

“We have approx. (how many) Natives who are at least nominally Catholic in (specified area) yet no one is inviting them to participate in: Mass, CCD, parish school whatever area is not serving this population”

“Church A has a polka Mass, Church B has a Mariachi Mass in Spanish, Church C has a Life Teen Mass, but there is no parish in (location) which offers Mass with readings or songs in our language.”

You really have to give the bishop some help here.

“Polka Mass” really gave me a smile. :smiley: I want drums!!

My draft is going well, and is very specific as to my observations. I will show it to friends as a template for their observations, and we will get busy.

I agree with the observation that a separate parish would not be the answer-- if he were to stay, he would need a bit of re-education from the visiting priest.

Thanks again.

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