Letters • February 24, 2020


Inspired by Frank Parater

On the 100th anniversary of the death of Servant of God, Frank Parater, I express my deep gratitude for his intercession on behalf of our family. I learned about him shortly after our conversion to the Catholic Church, and I was deeply impressed by his offering of his life on behalf of the Catholic Church in Virginia.

After noting that he was an Eagle Scout, I prayed novenas to him before and during our boys’ Eagle Scout projects. We were blessed in many ways. So many special things happened during my son Jeremy’s work at James River State Park that the state park ranger declared afterwards that, “God’s hand was all over this project.”

Later I prayed for Frank’s intercession again before my son, Father Cassidy, left for college. I was concerned because I could tell that he had a lot of gifts that would be excellent in a priestly ministry, and I wanted him to discern whether he had a vocation or not. Happily, he did receive the graces to do that and is now delighted to be a priest.

I encourage parents and parishioners to not forget Frank when they notice a young person who may have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, or if they are working toward a major goal like the Eagle Scout award. I’m sure Frank would love to be asked for help for other needs of our parishes or for our diocese. Our family has found him to be a powerful intercessor before the Lord. – Tanya Stinson, Dillwyn

Office for Black Catholics vital to Diocese of Richmond

As we celebrate Black History Month, I invite everyone to read the wonderful article in the Feb. 7 issue of America Magazine by Deacon Charles Williams, interim director of the diocesan Office for Black Catholics. You can access the article at https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/02/07/my-black-catholic-church-was-closed-name-integration.

Deacon Williams recounts his experience of the closing of black parishes in the Richmond Diocese and the effect it had and, in some ways, still has on the black Catholic community in the diocese’s attempt to foster integration.

His is a cautionary tale about misguided decisions made by those in authority in the Church without the full consultation/collaboration with those to be affected directly by the decision. His is a story of resilience, faith and reconciliation.

Deacon Williams’ article is timely as black Catholics are facing a similar experience with the closing and minimizing of Offices for Black Catholics in the U.S. Church, in what many bishops assume is a step forward in this 21st century, so called, “post-racial” society.

If we are honest about race relations outside and inside the Church, we need our Offices for Black Catholics more than ever. Reading The Catholic Virginian’s letters to the editor confirms that racial insensitivity, misunderstanding, bigotry and racism still exist in the Church.

Deacon Williams has served as the interim director of the Office for Black Catholics since the previous director left. He has successfully fulfilled this position on a part-time basis. For the good of our diocese, we need to solidify the Office for Black Catholics. It is past time for a full-time director of the Office for Black Catholics to be named with all of the rights and responsibilities of a diocesan director.

As we celebrate the bicentennial of our diocese, let us continue to move forward as a Church — “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” Let us not make the same mistake we did with the closing of black parishes. – Gretta E. Barnes, Richmond

Recognize good done by Trump

If a political party promised health care for all, free college education, a roof over everyone’s head, unlimited immigration and a chicken in every pot but remains adamant that it was, and should ever remain, legal to kill a Jew — in private, of course — could a Catholic support such a party or a member of that same party? Ditto the above but replace killing Jews with the dismembering of unborn children.

Abortion is the gruesome murder of the most innocent of humanity. Democrats not only want it kept legal, but they promise enshrining it in law should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Recent Virginia Democratic legislative action to remove all protection — again from murder — of our unborn gifts from God is a public demonstration of this fact. All Democratic presidential candidates push to see who can be the most pro-abortion commander in chief.

When will certain Catholic quarters stop giving credence to the Democratic Party? When will extremely pro-abortion politicians be stopped from receiving holy Communion, preventing the major scandalizing of all present during Mass? When will any of the very much good that President Trump does be given public recognition by our Church leaders?

To cite one good action, President Trump is appointing lower court judges who uphold the Constitution. Our Constitution declares no “right” to killing our unborn, nor a ‘”right” to force LGBTQ “sexual orientation” and “gender mis-identity” ideologies on our schoolchildren and citizenry — a direct attack on the natural family established by God. Both of these “rights” are fully supported by the Democratic Party. – John Stec, Covington

Look beyond president’s opposition to abortion

I am a cradle Catholic and daily communicant with 16 years of Catholic education. I have no respect for religious people — especially Catholics — who support President Trump because he says he opposes abortion.

The most offensive things we know about this man came out of his own mouth. On television, he bragged about the numbers of women he’s had and how easy it is for him to seduce them because of his money, position, etc., and he even laughingly talked about grabbing their private parts — using a word I can’t bring myself to say!

He has paid tens of thousands of dollars to women (verified!) to buy their silence about their affairs with him. And he has had three wives.

I have only one question: How many abortions has he caused? – Audrey J. Calomino, Harrisonburg

A prisoner’s view of the death penalty

In response to negative views on anti-death penalty advocates:

As a prisoner, I can attest firsthand to the cruelties and injustices of the criminal justice system.

The fact that many people facing the death penalty have been found to be innocent should be reason enough to stop the practice of killing human beings.

Some may believe that criminals are pariahs, and the victims of these pariahs deserve some kind of reprieve from the wrong done to them. I can assure you that killing human beings will provide no relief to anyone.

Some may think that criminals refuse to assimilate into the social compact and prey upon their fellow citizens. But the neighborhood I came from drove me into its own social compact, and throughout life I had to learn many things the hard way. So, who teaches these “social compacts”?

Some may say the Church traditionally follows condign punishments, but when the woman was caught in the act of adultery, the condign punishment was death. But our Lord didn’t follow such a cruel practice, and neither should his Church.

Human beings shouldn’t be killed, if it can be avoided, especially not by the criminal justice system as corrupt and cruel as we have now. – Cecil B. Truman, Augusta Correctional Center, Craigsville

Give Catholics a second chance

Re: Gary Brown’s letter (Catholic Virginian, Feb. 10) stating that friendliness was not found at the parish where he attended Mass a few times and asked for feedback.

With 50-plus years of being Catholic, I have attended friendly parishes all over the country and consider my parish as family in Norfolk. I am sad for your experience, but your evaluation of Catholics was based on your experience at one parish.

You stated that you are not Catholic. Maybe you do not realize that the holy sacrifice of the Mass is not our social hour. I would dare say most come hungry for the graces that come with receiving our Lord in the Eucharist and offering our struggling lives as sacrifice. We are not primarily there to meet new friends and chat.

Many Christians — Catholic or not — are introverts, suffering physically, emotionally and have done their best just to get themselves to Mass on Sunday to celebrate the liturgy. I encourage you to attend the weekly Bible study, the “That Man Is You” program or volunteer on a parish committee or food pantry. This is where you should find fellowship and the friendships you are seeking.

If the parish you attended does not have programs, then visit another parish and certainly look into attending the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Friendliness definitely exists in Catholic parish life. Celebrating Holy Mass is our time for reverence and worship.

Give Catholics a second chance, and may the peace of Christ be with you! – Catherine Waters, Norfolk

Experience of friendliness can vary

Regarding the letter “Where’s the friendliness?” (Catholic Virginian, Feb. 10):

My wife and I are members of the Catholic Church. I am a convert to Catholicism, which occurred while I attended Fordham University. Gary Brown’s comments about the Catholic Church he occasionally visits, including the building, the choir and the pastor, are heartwarming and are very similar to the church my wife and I attend.

His experience concerning friendliness, or the lack thereof, is coincidental. Every week at church is different regarding compatibility among other parishioners. Some Sundays a parishioner will say hello and even shake your hand, and then the next Sunday the same person will walk right by not even giving a glance. My wife and I look at one another with a smile and just shake our heads.

The situation becomes more obvious when one is disabled and wheelchair bound as is my wife. Friendship that once was appears to gradually dwindle. This may be because one can no longer participate in activities that once were shared together.

Friendly persons should actually care about others and want to make them feel comfortable. One cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality. And, if there be any truer measure of persons than what they do, it must be with what they give.

We should all strive to be pure like our Blessed Mother, obedient like St. Joseph and humble like Jesus. – Chuck Brown, Nellysford

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