1992 Feb 2 – Presentation of the Lord (Bulletin Letters)
MY MEETING WITH THE BISHOP I met with Bishop Bullock this past Friday in Des Moines. It lasted over two hours, and was a very good, and much needed, meeting. We discussed a wide range of issues facing the Church today; and spent a good deal of time dealing with our roles and duties within the Church. It would be fair to say we spoke our ”minds” and our ”hearts” in a free and open exchange of deeply held concerns and convictions. It wasn’t always easy. It was sometimes painful. It was well worth the effort. The most important outcome of the meeting for me was that it helped to re-establish our long-standing, and open, honest dialogue with each other.
The Bishop has decided to stay with his decision to keep me at St. Anne’s and Holy Family parishes another year. The primary reason he did not accept my resignation at this time, despite the Diocesan Tenure Policy of seven years, is because there is nowhere in the diocese he feels free to assign me, in light of my resistance activities.
The main concern the Bishop has, for me, is that I don’t short-change the people of St. Anne’s and Holy Family of their legitimate pastoral needs. This is a fair and just expectation. This has been one of my main concerns throughout my tenure in Harrison County.
The people of St. Anne’s and Holy Family parishes are “used to my comings and goings” the Bishop said. The Bishop knows you genuinely like me as your pastor, but, as we both admitted, you have not been well served by my prolonged absences due to my imprisonments.
I made it very clear to the Bishop that my continued resistance activities are not a choice between my ‘civil rights’ and my ‘priestly obligations and duties.” My resistance activities are an expression of my deeply held Faith convictions. My resistance leanings have been formed by Catholic tradition, by the Church of Des Moines and by the times in which we live. Like any priest, my being a good priest is directly connected with my being faithful to the Gospels. I told the Bishop it would be unfair to ask me to choose one over the other. I must do both.
The Bishop is well aware that I crossed the line at SAC this past December 28th. I told him that I fully expect to be indicted in the not-to-distant future. This will bring on a trial, and probably imprisonment.
I told the Bishop that I believed the major short-coming of my prior absences was the lack of parish involvement, and ownership of my pastoral replacement. This time the Bishop has given me the go-ahead to invite the parishes to help form a pastoral plan for the time when I might be imprisoned. I have already started to do this by calling together a joint committee of people appointed by the St. Anne’s and Holy Family Parish Councils.
The St. Annes Parish Council have already appointed Mary Dickinson, Russ Kurth and Kathryn Epperson to this committee. The Holy Family Parish Council will appoint their representatives to this committee at their next Parish Council meeting on Thursday night.
This committee will help plan, and implement, a process so you, the people of St. Anne’s and Holy Family, can develop a pastoral plan should I go back to jail, and help me re-negotiate my pastoral presence for the remaining time that I am in Harrison County. Proceeding in this manner, you will have a sense of ownership, and control, of your parish life, and will make my absence, because of imprisonment, less disruptive.
The Bishop has have also given me the go-ahead to seek possible priest substitutes willing to cover the sacramental needs of St. Anne’s and Holy Family parishes if, and when, I find myself back in prison. Nothing, of course, will be done without the Bishop’s full knowledge, his welcomed participation and his final approval.
There has been no word from the Federal District Attorney in Omaha about an indictment. This does not mean it is not forthcoming. My past experience tells me that the Wheels of Justice (sic) turn very slowly in this country. The delay in any indictment gives us that much more time to plan and prepare for my possible absence. I will, of course, keep you updated on any change in the situation.
“OVERCOMERS” MEETING AT RECTORY IN FEBRUARY Harold Dilley of Mo. Valley has asked to use the rectory for “Overcomers” meetings on Tuesday nights during the month of February. This is a Christ-Centered Addiction Program. It’s just a trial run. We will re-evaluate at the end of February as to whether they will continue meeting in the rectory. If you are interested in the group, call Harold Dilley at 642-2303.
CORRECTION: In last weeks bulletin letter I wrote that Rita Strabala was the daughter of Pat Zahner. That was a mistake. Rita is Pat’s sister. Sorry Pat.
Bishop Dingman is back in the hosptial.
We are told he is near death.
Please keep him in your prayers!