1998 Jan 18 – 2nd Sun Ord (Bulletin Letters)
Bp. Charron & Priest Personnel Board’s Response to Fr Frank’s letter of Resignation
Included in this week’s bulletin is a copy of Bishop Charron’s Dec. 15, 1997 letter to me responding to my Nov. 29, 1997 letter of resignation from my pastorate here at Holy Trinity of SE Warren Co. In this letter, the Bishop and the Priest Personnel Board decided not to accept my resignation.
Needless to say, I’m disappointed in the Bishop and Priest Personnel Boards response. As I tried to make clear in my Nov. 29th letter to the Bishop, ‘I am currently working with others in planning a serious nonviolent direct action witness sometime after Easter (April 12th).’ I went on to inform the Bishop and the Priest Personnel Board that they ‘will probably need to find a priest to cover for my absence form the parish soon after Easter.’
I believed that my resigning at this time would be the best thing I could do for the people of Holy Trinity of SE Warren Co. to give the Bishop and the Priest Personnel Board a chance ‘to find a suitable replacement for me’ and assure ‘the people of Holy Trinity of SE Warren Co. their pastoral needs will be met in my absence.’
A Ten Month Discussion
I started this dialogue with you about my plans to risk arrest and jail time as early as March of last year, when I asked the Parish Council to start talking to people in the parish about my going to jail again and the possibility of us working together to put in place a team ministry that would meet the pastoral and sacramental needs of the parish while I’m away and in jail.
In my April 13, 1997 bulletin letter, I officially put the parish on notice of my intentions to risk arrest and jail time after my three year pledge was completed in April 1998. In that letter I went over the options that I thought were available to us, given my decision to participate in some kind of direct action after April of 1998. I asked that we have a full discussion about these possibilities at our May Parish Council meeting.
About 30 people showed up for our May Parish Council meeting and a full discussion took place. It was at this Council meeting that I first brought up the idea of having Fr. Larry Morlan, from the Peoria Diocese, come and join me in a team ministry that would allow us to develop a parish based / resistance model of priestly ministry.
At the May Parish Council meeting, it was decided to keep the discussion going and to invite Fr Morlan to our next Parish Council meeting to meet with and talk to people about the possibility of his joining me in a team ministry, here in SE Warren Co.
All of this was contingent on the approval of Bishop Charron and the Priest Personnel Board, who were keep informed of every thing that was happening
At this point, the Bishop and Priest Personnel Board got directly involved in the discussion. I was invited to talk to the Priest Personnel Board at their June 25th meeting about Fr Morlan and my proposal.
In a June 27th letter from Bishop Charron and a follow up Aug. 12th letter of clarification, I was informed that the Bishop and the Priest Personnel Board had rejected Fr Morlan and my proposal for team ministry.
What is the Real Problem?
Since IÕve been ordained, IÕve been sentence to four six month prison terms for crossing the line at Offutt Air Force Base. Each time I went to jail, my absence from my parish assignments caused a great deal of pastoral difficulties for the parishes I served.
Throughout this time, I was under the assumption that the problem with my going to jail was the difficulty of meeting the on going pastoral needs of my parish assignments. If we could come up with a way to met these needs, I believed, I could continue developing this parish based / resistance model of priestly ministry that I had begun.
With the Bishop and Priest Personnel Board’s rejection of Fr Morlan and my proposal for team ministry, it’s becoming clear to me that the problem with my going to jail with the Bishop and the Priest Personnel Board is not my absence from my parish assignment but that I am going to jail at all.
The Bishop and Priest Personnel Board’s rejection of my letter of resignation is just one more indication that we are not of one mind in this area.
Fr Frank in Baltimore for Resistance Retreat
I will attend an intensive week long retreat at Jonah House in Baltimore MD this coming week. I will be meeting with others who are interesting in doing a serious non violent direct action witness some time after Easter.
Fr. Allen Stetz from Sacred Heart Ch. in Chariton will be on call for any emergencies while I’m in Baltimore. Fr Stetz’s phone number is (515) 774-4978.
Msgr. Steve Orr will be covering the Jan 24 & 25 weekend Masses. I will be returning to SE Warren Co Tuesday night Jan. 27th.
Sat. Jan 24 Meeting With Msgr Orr
Msgr. Orr has agreed to meet with any parishioners who wish to met with him about my plans to leave parish after Easter and what will happen to Holy Trinity of SE Warren Co. right after the Sat. Jan 24th 5:30 p.m. Mass in Milo. Msgr. Orr is the Vicar General of the Diocese and knowledgeable of our situation. I hope as many of you as possible will attend this meeting. This may be your only chance to have your concerns heard by someone from the Diocese