May 5, 2008

The Fun Parish " Mission" at Good Shepherd

Dear Soldiers of Christ:

I hate to scoop the Les Femmes newsletter which is going to the printers tomorrow and will be in your mailbox in about fourteen business days (God willing), but I couldn't miss this super Twilight Zone item which deserves a whole orchestra in concert playing the TZ  music.

Almost everyone in the diocese must know the history of Good Shepherd in Alexandria. An earlier pastor, Fr. Thomas Quinlan, was known to process into the hall (which was serving as the church at the time) in unusual ways. One Christmas he dressed like a Christmas tree. One palm Sunday he drove down the aisle in a Volkswagon beetle because it was the "modern day donkey."  When the diocese split and Arlington was formed, Fr. Quinlan chose to go to Richmond, aka Wally World, where he continued his antics, dressing like the Grinch, superheroes, etc. Bishop Walter Sullivan apparently had no problem with this goofiness, but in 2006 Bishop DiLorenzo finally forced him to retire after a long history of continued liturgical abuses. (See Six hundred parishioners signed a letter to the bishop asking him to keep Fr. Quinlan on, proving that there are many Catholics sitting in the pews waiting for the next show to go on.

Fr. Quinlan may be gone from Good Shepherd, but his spirit lives on as evidenced by the upcoming parish "mission" being hyped on the the GS website ( It takes place on May 13 and 14 and features....(trumpet blast)...Jason and Kim Kotecki. Jason is a cartoonist who pens the cartoon Kim and Jason about two little kids and their outlook on life. Cute cartoon. I'm sure I'd love to hear them give a motivational talk, but a parish "mission?"

You can watch the video hyping the "mission" on the Good Shepherd home page . The theme appears to be "Escape Adulthood with Kim and Jason." The "enemy" according to the two is "adultitis." (We thought the enemy was sin, but, hey, we're old fashioned.)

Preview the "mission" by watching the video. Using a screen and slides, Jason gives a humorous talk to the laughing audience. "You might have adultitis," Jason says, "if you think your cell phone is a body part." Or you might have adultitis "if the last time you actually took a day off was when Michael Jackson was black." (Ouch, isn't that a cheap shot? We admit we've been known to take cheap shots at Michael Jackson ourselves, but we would not hold that up as exemplary Christian behavior at a parish "mission." As a matter of fact we are thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.)

What Kim and Jason are trying to do, they say, is remind people it's okay to smile, have fun, etc. They will be successful if people leave and "have lives that are more fun." Is that really the objective of a parish "mission?" We thought it was to live holier lives more in accordance with God's will.

Don't get me wrong. Les Femmes is all in favor of having fun. The moms and grandmas in our group enjoy the little ones and the big ones too.  (So do the dads and grandpas.). I personally love jumping on the trampoline with my grandkids, going on bear hunts, baking cookies, and roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories around a campfire. But a parish "mission" is not about eliminating "adultitis;" it's about becoming more adult in the faith and growing closer to God through worship, study, the sacraments (particularly Confession and Eucharist), and sacramentals like the rosary and liturgy of the hours. Good Shepherd trivializes the meaning of "mission." Trivializes? Heck, they demolish it, but like the egg stated to Alice, "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'" (Was that before or after he was cracked?)

Compare the message on the Good Shepherd website with this video of a redemptorist mission. Note the joke which is completely relevant to the spiritual message. Yes, you can laugh at a parish mission.

Now, at the risk of demonstrating our "adultitis" by asking serious questions we have two:

Is this "mission" being given in the Church in front of the Blessed Sacrament? We certainly hope not.

And were these speakers from outside the diocese vetted by the board that is responsible for approving speakers coming into parishes?

We are copying this message to the chancellor and the Director of Catechetics and will be faxing it as well. We respectfully ask that they check with Bishop Loverde to see if this is his standard for parish "missions" in the Diocese of Arlington. If so, can we expect to see a feature article on it in The Arlington Herald? With photos?

By the way, the Good Shepherd website mentioned that this "mission" was given recently at another parish in the diocese. Where and when?

One last question, does the policy on speakers in the diocese amount to anything?

Please pray that this fake "mission" is not coming to your church next. But if you want Jason and Kim to the parish picnic for a funny talk, be our guest. Of course, check with the speakers' board of the diocese first.

Mary Ann Kreitzer

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