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Real Catholics: Be the Squeaky Wheel!

GUEST COLUMN

By Sandra Marcellina | November 2003
Sandra Marcellina (a pseudonym) wrote "A Handmaiden's Tale" in our September 2001 issue.

I was informed that in the parish hall each Sunday morning, Sister T., our “Pastoral Administrator,” was spreading heresy under the cover of religious education. She had asked me several times to attend this Adult Formation. I used every excuse in the book to say no. I had no desire for a fight, and that is what there would be when Sr. T. passed on her amalgam of neo-Modernism, New Age, and universalism. She stopped asking, and I became complacent. Let someone else handle catechesis.

However, Sr. T. was becoming increasingly aggressive in her battle for the hearts and minds of the parishioners. Shortly before the beginning of the school year, I received the usual outline for Adult Formation. I almost tossed it into the round file unopened, but didn’t. There was quite a surprise inside. For the Sunday after Easter, Sr. T. had invited the former priest, now the former paramour of the divorced wife of a parishioner, to be the guest formator for the whole parish. You read it correctly: This poor man left the priesthood to cohabit with the mother of two young children who sought counseling after her divorce, and he accepted an invitation to return to our parish as a guest. No more was needed to shock me out of my complacence: I was fully electrified.

I kept hoping that someone would pass a petition to change the program, or raise heck at the Parish Council meeting, or speak to Sr. T., or do something — anything. I prayed for peace, I prayed for patience, I prayed for poor ex-Father. Occasionally, I managed to pray the Instant Gratification Prayer, the four little words that immediately obtain what we ask for: “Thy will be done.” Even as I contemplated the damage that this man could do to consciences in this parish, I prayed for the restraint to stay out of the fray, as I am sharp of tongue, with combat in my blood. If I were to enter battle, there would be victory — or death.

Then the terrible thought occurred to me: Why do you think the Lord gave you your big mouth? It was a horrifying moment, which struck me as I vacuumed the cry-room carpet. I stopped and dropped to my knees, looking to the reposed Blessed Sacrament through the plate glass window. “Lord, I accept whatever you want me to do. I accept the hell I will surely have to endure, and I accept how insensitive, intolerant, and non-inclusive I am going to appear.”

I went home and wrote to the bishop, enclosing a copy of the study outline. I told no one in the parish about the letter, hoping that the bishop would be able to work this thing through quietly, with charity toward everyone concerned.

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