‘Movement Of The Spirit’ Comes To Rockaway
By Howard Schwach
"We are the church," says long-time Catholic Vera Powers. "Without us the church would be nothing."
Mary Kiernan and Annie Heslin nod their heads in agreement.
The three women, with more than 175 years dedication to the Catholic Church behind them, were at The Wave offices to talk about a movement that is sweeping the faithful, a movement that has just come to Rockaway and that they hope will grow.
"When we started, there were nine of us venting our anger over the scandals that were rocking our church," Kiernan says. "We held a meeting and asked everyone to bring somebody to the next meeting."
"It was a source of strength," Heslin added. "It gave us support and a way to channel our anger with the church."
Now, despite the fact that Bishop Daly has banned the group, called "The Voice of the Faithful," from using church facilities for meetings, the group in Rockaway has grown to 30 people from five local parishes – the two in Breezy Point (St. Genevieve and St. Thomas More), St. Francis de Sales, St. Camillus and St. Rose of Lima.
Nationally, the organization, which began in Boston (Massachusetts), has more than 30 thousand members in 43 states.
They are trying to broaden the local organization’s base with a meeting to be held at the American Legion Hall (301 Beach 92 Street) on Wednesday, January 29 at 7:30 p.m.
The topic of the meeting will be "The Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church."
That issue has become the driving force for the group.
"The organization consists of mainstream lay Catholics who support the teachings of the church and who formed in response to the clergy sexual abuse problem," the women told us. "The group’s mission is to provide a prayerful voice, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and the guidance of the Catholic Church."
Speakers at the meeting will include the Reverend John Powis, the cofounder of The Voice of the Ordained," Sr. Sally Butler, who has worked for more than ten years with children who have been abused by the clergy and canon lawyer Reverend Frank Fajella.
The women say that their belief is that the local pastors support their group’s goals, even though they cannot actively support them because of the Bishop’s belief that the group is "divisive."
"The pastors have sworn a vow of obedience to the Bishop," they said. "They have told us that they must remain neutral."
All of the pastors, with the exception of the pastor from St. Gertrude’s in Far Rockaway, have barred the group from printing information about the group and its meetings in church bulletins.
That is why they are holding the meeting on January 29.
"There is a lot of misinformation about us out there," they say. "We want to let people know what we are about."