“When you don’t work every day with people who live on the margins of our society, it’s much easier to make easy statements about who’s right and who’s wrong.” -Sr. Simone Campbell
On July 1, 2010, the All Saints Catholic Newman Center of Tempe, AZ, fell under control of the Diocese of Phoenix. Previously, since 1968, and while I was a part of that community, the Newman Center was run by priests of the Dominican Order.
For those not familiar with the Catholic Church, there are several different Catholic religious orders - Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Carmelites, etc.
The Dominican Order is one with a large focus on Social Justice. It is also has a huge loyalty to learning, and different forms of spirituality. I loved this community because that’s what it was. A community. Open to everyone. Involved in local and national social issues. Bringing people together. Actively working toward making the world a little bit better. The priests I knew, Fr. Fred Lucci and Fr. Nathan Castle, gave homilies that seemed to speak directly to me, about issues I cared about. Their words and lessons stay with me, years later. They were there for me during some incredibly low moments of my life.
So when I heard that the Dominican Order had “stepped down for the incoming Diocesan priests” I immediately called bullshit. They didn’t “step down”. They were forced out. Fr. Fred resigned as the Director of the Newman Center.
The Dominicans were kicked out after over 40 years of service for much the same reason these Nuns are now being placed under the watchful eye of Archbishop Peter Sartrain in order to make sure they make the necessary changes to their ministry. Too much focus on Social Justice, not enough focus on issues that don’t actually have anything to do with the teachings of Jesus. It is widely speculated that the Dominicans were made to leave largely due to the Newman Center’s LGBT Fellowship (which is no longer a part of the Newman Center). This particular outreach ministry was, not surprisingly, unpopular with the Diocese of Phoenix.
It infuriates me the amount of potential the Catholic Church has to make a significant change in the world, and wastes it. Fr. Fred actually wrote a homily on this. The enormous amount of energy wasted on hatred, and how much of a difference we could make in the world if we focused that energy on Social Justice and respecting each other.
Really? It’s 2012 and people are starving and homeless and kids are shooting each other and 11-year-olds commit suicide because of bullying but OH MY GOD GAY PEOPLE STILL EXIST?? WHAT THE FUCK!??
I don’t really get the whole God and Jesus thing. I believe in doing what’s right for our fellow human beings. Not because of some eternal reward, not because some deity told me to, but because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t not believe in a higher power of some sort. I don’t really know what I believe. I’ll tell you what I don’t believe in. The Catholic Church. I thought I did once, but I really just believed in Dominicans. And now I believe in a group of nuns, too.