The commentary on the life of John W. Donohue, S.J. (Of Many Things, 3/8) stirred in me fond memories of my freshman year at Canisius High School in 1944-45. We were in the first class to use the “new” school on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Our class was special in several ways. It was the largest freshman class in the school’s history, and we were in our own building, not intimidated by the presence of upperclassmen.
Each pupil was assigned to a homeroom. Our homeroom teacher was a young Jesuit scholastic. “Father” Donohue, as we referred to him, taught us religion, Latin and English. He was an excellent teacher who commanded respect. His authority was never questioned. He was also very kindly and never talked down to us or ridiculed our mistakes. The respect he had for us enkindled in our adolescent hearts a respect and love for him. I shall never forget him. When I graduated four years later, he sent me and other classmates from our freshman year homeroom a personal note of congratulations and encouragement to maintain Jesuit ideals in our lives.
Thank you for your respectful remembrance of that wonderful man, who at the beginning of my first day of high school in 1944 wrote on the blackboard “A.M.D.G.” and told us what it meant. His life was “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”
Richard M. Mattimore
Glenview, Ill.Prison Reform a Pro-life Issue
Re “Administering Justice,” (Editorial, 3/15): One might hope that lack of money would force genuine improvements in the penal systems. While there is some movement in this direction, there is also a lot of resistance. We continue to operate more from a place of punishment and vengeance than one of correction and maximizing potential.
Legislators are unwilling to risk their real or perceived political futures by advocating for the programs and policies that can, over time, address the needs of the total community. Maybe if the church lived as if it believed this too was an important pro-life issue, we would have more success in changing hearts.
Mary Therese Lemanek
Allen Park, Mich.Sad Commentary
I am pleased that the bishops have come to the defense of John Carr (Signs of the Times, 2/22). Having known John during my years with Catholic Charities, he is one of the shining lights of the national offices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But if the bishops had dealt with the narrow politics and intolerance of such groups as Human Life International in the beginning, their un-Christian politics would not have been allowed to infect the church as it has. I have Catholic relatives who have claimed that President Obama is evil and doing the work of the devil, and by inference I am as well, because I voted for Obama. The debacle at Notre Dame when President Obama spoke, the divisiveness and vitriol that the anti-Obama bishops encouraged, are another sign of the bishops falling into the politics of fear and division. It is a sad commentary on a church that its social teaching can claim a rich tradition of love, justice and peace, but in its practice and public deportment it has become an object of ridicule.
Lansing, Mich.The Power of Images
Re “Friendly Persuasion,” by Robert Barron (3/8): Images have stopped wars, and images created change in South Africa. Images are powerful and bring forth conviction. The Berlin Wall coming down, the man in Tiananmen Square standing up to a tank, the images of war from Vietnam—these images stir up something within us.
Yet the reality of abortion, we do not want to look at. It is too horrible, too unconscionable, too painful. We are not ready to look at the realities. But when we do, then the time will come for change, because the change will come from within, not from someone imposing rules and laws. There will be a conviction that will not go away until true change occurs with the conversion of one’s heart. And this all happens through various images.
So whether we look at a beautiful child within the womb or at a child killed by abortion, it is all about the images. We are not ready to face the realities; we are not ready to look; we are simply not ready for change. The day we allow the images, the realities to imprint on our nation’s soul is the day change will occur.
Saratoga, Calif.Like Chairs on the Titanic
Re “Welcoming the Roman Missal,” by Bishop Arthur Serratelli (3/1): Some of the new translation may be beautiful. But introducing archaic words likes “the gibbet of the cross” is not going to help me pray liturgically. I question the entire undertaking. Just suppose that all the time and money that have gone into the preparation had been directed toward alleviating human misery around the world. The world is falling apart as the economy crumbles, and we are rearranging liturgical chairs on the Titanic deck. If you want real liturgical reform, get the inclusive texts that have been developed and are being used by inclusive intentional communities across the country.
J. Patrick Mahon
Young Harris, Ga.Priest Emeritus Too
Like a bishop emeritus, as described by Bishop Emeritus Frank Rodimer, 3/22), a “retired” priest should also be considered emeritus. There should be significant gatherings, well prepared, that he is invited to actively share in, thus maintaining some official relation to the people of God. The term retired should probably not be used with regard to priests, nor the term senior priests, which usually means nothing.
(Rev.) Richard T. Rodriguez
As a hospital chaplain, I eagerly read “Ward Healer,” by Aaron Biller (3/1). I agree 100 percent that listening attentively and talking with patients about their concerns are very important parts of the chaplain’s ministry.
But I do not agree that “patients, nurses and chaplains have ranked talking and listening as the number one spiritual intervention and need.” And I really believe that neither would Sr. Elaine agree if she were asked directly. Sad to say, nothing was mentioned about the sacrament of the sick.
To me, the most powerful spiritual intervention for a sick person is the anointing for healing. Catholic chaplains are given the most powerful prayers, the sacraments, by Jesus to bring healing to the patient through the power of Christ. And his power to heal is far greater than any listening or comforting words we offer to the patient, as important as they are.
Roger J. Bourgea, S.M.
Boston, Mass.Humor and Hope
Kudos to John F. Kavanaugh, S.J. His article “Antidote to Anomie,” (3/15) is so right in pinpointing our present political dilemma, especially in regard to health care. His sense of humor helps to make the pill go down. And thank you so much, America, for helping me to keep up my hope in these troubling times.
Pocatello, IdahoTruth to Power
It was distressing to read in “The Other America,” by Tim Padgett (3/8), about the way the U.S. government [tacitly] supports dictatorial regimes in Latin America and is more interested in giving them military support than in helping the poor.
But it is even more distressing to see how our church has not come out for the poor. My experiences in several countries of Latin America have shown me how the people are people of deep faith, but it is faith in God, Jesus Christ and Mary, and not necessarily in the church. And with good reason.
Too often the church is closely entwined with the ruling class and encourages the wealthy to donate to the poor, but it is not willing to take the second step of changing the structures that keep people in poverty.
The hierarchy, for the most part, has not seen how detrimental such close alliance with the government is for the church. When people rebel against the government, they also rebel against the church, as has been seen for example in the French Revolution, Mexico in the 1920s and the Spanish Civil War. The hierarchical church must remember its prophetic mission of speaking truth to power. I pray that it will.