17 March 2009

Trouble in the north

The National Catholic Reporter is carrying a story about one Ruth Kolpack, who was relieved of her position as Pastoral Associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, Wisconsin by Bishop Robert Morlino.

I am not usually one to comment on such stories, but something caught my eye in this article and raised warning signals alarmingly high. One parishioner, Stephanie King Norton, said of Ms. Kolpack:

She's been through four priests, and we always knew she would be there. She's the heart and soul behind everything that goes on. Our priest is only 40 percent, so she was responsible for sacramental work as well. People converted and were brought back to the Catholic faith were crying because their friend was dismissed. (emphasis mine).
First things first: only a priest or deacon may do sacramental work. Second, if Ms. Kolpack is the "heart and soul behind everything that goes on," something is drastically wrong.

To better illustrate what I mean, consider these words of Ms. King Norton: "I don't know anyone at St. Thomas who would say that Ruth isn't the foundation, even if they don't always agree with her."

Every parish has one foundation: Jesus Christ. No one person, even a priest, is indispensable to the life of a parish. The parish existed before Ms. Kolpack and it will certainly exist after Ms. Kolpack, just as the parish has continued after four different priests in her time there.

I will grant that it is possible Ms. King Norton was simply exaggerating to make her point; I think we can all imagine what she might have meant.

There is, of course, still the question of Ms. Kolpack's dislike of the word "Father" used in reference to God, despite the fact that this is the word Jesus gave us to use. To suggest we not use the term goes against what has been divinely revealed to us and is cause enough for concern.

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