Friday, October 4, 2013

The Earth Moves a Bit in the Diocese of Baker

In the Diocese of Baker, where I live, there’s been a little shake-up. Oh, it’s nothing worth national news, and it won’t make much difference to you readers who don’t live in one of the parishes mentioned. But I’m going to write about it because it’s important to me, and well, because I can!

Here’s the shake-up: The pastor of the largest (I think) parish in the Diocese has been removed from his post.  The bishop posted a letter about it here, which doesn’t really say much – unless you live in one of the affected parishes; then it says a lot.

I’ve written about that large parish in the past…they have a little problem with light bulbsbut their “new” – AKA the Aztec handball court – seems to have become the location of choice for ordinations. So much for the Cathedral and the Cathedral parish! I’ve written about all of these things – see the “Bishop Cary” tab above if you’re curious.

There are, of course, people who are not happy about the pastor’s removal, and some of them even wrote a letter to the bishop about it. The thing is, these are, apparently, the liberal-progressive-modernist contingent of the parish. Some of them were active in the local “Call to Action” group before Bishop Robert F. Vasa arrived on the scene and cleaned up some of that mess. But it appears that with the installation of the newest pastor (and you can see some of the history surrounding that turn of events here, here, and here) resulted in a resurgence of the “old” ways of the dissenting group, and some have been coming back “to the Church”. But really, when this happens, can we really say they are coming back to the Church? I think in large part they are coming back to a pastor they perceive as having a similar view to theirs of what the Church should be. That’s not always a good thing.

Here are a few excerpts from the letter sent to the bishop on behalf of the pastor:

Many of the parishioners, who left St. Francis Church after approximately 2004, have returned because they feel that this community is once again their spiritual home.

This part is referring to the parishioners who left because of Bishop Vasa’s insistence the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should be able to make an "Affirmation of Faith" indicating that they actually believed what the Church teaches. There were some issues over active homosexuals in positions of ministry in the parish in Bend, as I recall. Bend was the main parish affected by Bishop Vasa’s “Affirmation of Faith”, and I believe that was probably because there were more vocal dissenters there than in other parishes around the Diocese. The letter-writers continue:

The communal sense of joy during our eucharistic celebrations has returned. We look forward to our gatherings as the Body of Christ, to the hearing of God’s Word and to Fr. Radloff’s proclamation of that Word through engaging and therefore memorable homilies. Even the children often get the point and feel spoken to because Fr. Radloff speaks the language they know and his humor appeals to them, as well as to adults.

I thought the “communal sense of joy” was supposed to come from worshiping God, rather than giggling at the homilist’s jokes.

We have not experienced such charismatic modeling since our Capuchin pastors were forced out of Bend .

That, too, was Bishop Vasa’s doing, and there was good reason for it. Soon after the Capuchins left, the atrocious looping, gauzy streamers in the beautiful historic old church were removed.

St. Francis has returned to being a welcoming community which attracts newcomers. We believe that this is happening due to the joyous nature of our liturgical celebrations, as well as to the fact that our pastor continually reaffirms that Christ’s Church welcomes and gathers all in the spirit of charity.

Frankly, I’d rather see a few faithful Catholics than pews full of people who are there because they think that the pastor embraces the same heresies they do. And it seems to me that, as in many other liberal parishes, “all” were welcomed…except for those of a traditional mindset. The letter goes on:

All these signs of life and growth will very likely be destroyed if our pastor, who has committed his gifts so strongly to the rebuilding of the Body of Christ at St. Francis Church, should be fired without a convincing accounting of a substantial just cause. Without an accounting, the tremendous exodus of parishioners—along with their financial resources—that St. Francis Parish experienced during our previous bishop’s tenure in the Baker diocese, will almost certainly repeat itself, with one crucial difference: This time, those who leave will feel so violated that they may never return, and may finally give up on the Roman Catholic Church.

Yeah…they need the money of those who will come if they think they can hold on to dissenting views and still remain Catholic. Those “violated” parishioners who are challenged to form their consciences in line with Church teaching might leave forever! Well, we truly don’t want people to leave the Church, of course; but neither can we allow them to deceive themselves that the Church suddenly has changed to accommodate them, rather than the other way around. A Protestant pastor I once knew used to say, “God loves you just the way you are, and he loves you too much to leave you there.” Amen, brother!

There’s more to that letter, but you get the idea. There wasn’t any mention of Catholic identity in it.

Even the local news media got into the thick of it – you can see a local story here, along with a video interview, but it really seems to be simply an editorial in favor of the folks who don’t want to lose their new pastor. The sub-title of the article is “Some Parishioners Outraged by Bishop’s Decision”. Some, however, were not outraged, but you’ll find no quotes from any of them.

Now here’s the part that makes me happy. The priest who will replace the pastor in Bend is…wait for it…yes…none other than…ta da! …the priest from the Cathedral parish! (We live within the physical boundaries of that parish.) This particular priest is the one who sends my letters back to me unopened, marked “return to sender”.

So, there is no love lost, as they say, between the Boyds and the Rector of the Cathedral. But then, as the dominoes fall, we ask who will take over as Rector of the Cathedral? Well, it is none other than a priest I know personally, who actually seems to like me! He is also the Diocesan Priest Moderator of the Office of Pro Life Activities (how they came up with that mouthful of a title is beyond me!). I am very, very happy that he is coming to the Cathedral parish! Of course, my saying so could be the “kiss of death” for him with some people, but what the heck (sorry, Father!).

So, things are changing a bit in the Diocese of Baker. To be honest, I don’t see these changes as indicating anything substantive regarding the Protestantized nature of our diocese. I am not hopeful that a new sense of Catholic identity will emerge for a long time to come. However, at least there is a little bit of a consolation in all of this for my husband, my daughter, and me.

I pray for all concerned, though. At least one priest is walking into a situation which is likely to cause him no end of headaches. God help him! 


  1. Have hope, Dr. Jay.

    Relief from huge financial scandals, liturgical abuse and theological idiocy took a long time in coming in our neck of the woods, and there is still the occasional bit of liturgical hanky panky in some of the outlying parishes.

    Now we actually have weekly TLM liturgies and a monthly Latin ad orientem Ordinary Form Mass. We even have new vocations to the priesthood! It's hardly the same diocese of some 15 years ago, thanks be to God!

    Keep praying, especially the Prayer to Saint Michael!

    I'll pray for the Diocese of Baker.

  2. Thanks for your encouraging words, Wendell! And thank you for praying for the Diocese of Baker.

  3. Great post Jay. I'm going to post it on my blog.

    It was so nice so go to Redmond and know that all those at the altar signed the affirmation of faith. Far from being like slavery, there was total freedom for the signers and the congregation. The "vibe" was so clean.

    God Bless you and the Diocese of Baker.

  4. Dr. Jay, I have to stick my two cents in. It maybe a small earthquake but earthquake it is. I maybe to hopeful but we are having some small quakes too. If you start to add them up, it may turn out to be one huge quake.


  5. Speaking of St Francis parish, what ever happened to the old St Francis church? When I was a kid and we were camping up in the mountains, we'd come down to Bend for mass there. When I came through Bend on a Sunday a couple of years ago, I was disappointed when the GPS led me to the current "Aztec handball court". I guess new architecture goes along with new ways of thinking. Too bad.

  6. Actually, Erik, the old church is still there; it's now called the "historic" St. Francis church. Mass is held there - I think daily. I'm not sure about Sundays. I've been to Benediction there, too, in recent times (Fr. Radloff even sang Tantum ego in Latin!!) It's been newly unrenovated to put it more back to the old way; I've been told that one or more parishioners donated money expressly for that purpose. But there is still no TLM offered there.

  7. We lost a good priest. That is the truth of it. You are mistaken regarding our parish! Such a cynic. But God bless you and we will welcome our new pator even though our hearts are sadden.

  8. Pat Smith, I believe that comment is yours. I'm really not sure why you come back here to my blog so often, but of course you're welcome to visit. Please do welcome your new pastor, too, and pray for him. I will do the same.

  9. (Different Anon.) Honestly, I find the whole thing sad, not 'consoling.' But, I suppose I should heed the seventh chapter of Mathew. +

    Why do you find consolation in the sadness/downfall of another?

  10. Different Anon: You misunderstand me; I do not find consolation in Fr. Radloff's dismissal, except for the indirect effect it has on me, by resulting in a change of priests at the Cathedral. The consolation for me is that a new priest will be at the Cathedral, and my husband and I can feel free to return there for Mass. For the last 5 years or so, we have not felt that we could attend there.

    1. Why did you not feel like you could attend Mass at the Cathedral? I'm asking because I'm a parishioner at St. Francis and am curious about Fr. Cassar. Thanks.

  11. Thanks for the clarification! Happy you have a pastor who seems to mesh better on the way. I know being able to attend my home parish is quite a blessing!

    I can empathize with the parishioners who have the opposite happening to them in Bend.

    Happy feast day of St. Faustina!

    (I've always enjoyed going to mass with Fr. Radloff, and I definitely am keeping him in my prayers.)

  12. Praying for y'all out there. Hope that you guys get Fr Clemens, who is a good priest and a friend of mine

  13. Thanks for the prayers, Joe. Once upon a time I asked Fr. Clemens to consider requesting an assignment at the Cathedral. He is a good, solid priest! I go to visit him now and then, and always enjoy our conversations.

  14. Tom Keifer asked in an embedded "reply" box above: "Why did you not feel like you could attend Mass at the Cathedral? I'm asking because I'm a parishioner at St. Francis and am curious about Fr. Cassar. Thanks."

    Tom, there's a long history between me and Fr. Julian, most of it not pleasant. Because of that, my husband and I did not feel that we could attend at the Cathedral; all parties concerned were clearly uncomfortable, and it's really hard to go to Mass when you know the priest wishes you would move away from his parish. We figured that he would move before we did, and it appears that has come to pass. I pray for Fr. Julian daily, and I hope anyone reading this does, too; he is good priest in many ways, and they will eat him alive in Bend. I am sincerely sorry about that.

    1. Thank you for your reply. What do you mean that they will eat him alive in Bend?

    2. I think there is a contingent of liberal progressive types there who have had a lot of experience at getting their way by pushing the priest around. I'm not sure Fr. Julian has the fortitude necessary to deal with the duplicity, back-biting, and pressure he will encounter there. But I could easily be wrong, and I hope, for his sake, that I am. St. Francis of Assisi in Bend is not for the thin-skinned or the faint-hearted!

    3. That is very interesting. There seems to be some talk that there is a small but influential group of conservative members that may have had some bearing on Fr. Radloff being removed; in essence what you are saying in reverse! I am out of town on business quite often and it seems that every time I come home we have a new priest. I'm not an "insider" with any of the cliques (sadly, they do exist) in the church, so it's always a surprise when these things happen. It would be nice to see some long term stability, regardless of who the pastor is. Thank you again for your thoughts.

    4. It could be that there is one of each - "liberal" vs. "conservative". Certainly possible, and even likely. At any rate, there is bound to be some conflict, and I don't think Fr. Julian deals well with conflict.

  15. Jay,

    I live within the diocese of Baker, but travel (great distances, I might add) to attend
    TLM masses exclusively now. I enjoy reading your blog. Parishes are parishes and people are people, unfortunately. It doesn't really matter whether it be TLM or Novus Ordo. There will always be people and priests who want to change the
    Church to suit their own agenda. They will even go to great lengths to reinterpret
    Church teaching and liturgical practices to fit their warped self-centered approach to the Catholic Faith. Their creativity knows no bounds. I read the parish bulletin
    of St. Francis, in Bend. Wow....way too many "groups", organizations, social action, etc. for my tastes. All but two --the priest's duty of being priest and the K of C were run by women.... What? No strong CATHOLIC men there? Where are the men??
    The pages and pages of groups to join went on and on....more of a social club environment. .... And women do like their social clubs and control. There appears something for everyone. But it seems that there is very little time allowed for public devotionals, novenas, etc. Hmmmm. Fill the church up with self, no time for God.

    Shake ups can be a good thing: welcome the cross. Something good is trying to come to this church if only the factions that demand the status quo either
    change their ways, get humbled (does one really want this one?) , or may be better yet-- leave. Keeping praying that folks come to their senses.

    Pray for all priests that they become strong, shining examples of Catholic MEN, willing to stand up to the forces of dissention and division within their parishes and society.


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