Monday, January 30, 2006

Sunday with Bishop Gumbleton

Here's a fun exercise you should try sometime. I never thought anything scientific would come of it -- then again, if you want to make God laugh, you tell him your plans....

It's a force of habit, but also an ecclesiological thing, that I usually throw titles out the window in conversation. Let's face it: if you're ordained and you're out there speaking in the commentariat, as with anyone else who's doing face and voice time, you're usually not there because of what you wear, but because you're chatty and have something to say. Like me. Like all of us who do it for a living.

So next time you try talking to someone whose biases you're trying to feel out, drop the name of, say, "Joe Fessio." If you get vicious mouth-foaming and screams of "You must respect the priesthood! I am a God Warrior!" you have your answer.

Conversely, with the same experiment subject (who is, most likely, unassuming that any kind of research is going on), proceed to drop the name of "Tom Gumbleton" (a successor of the apostles, mind you).

Don't be surprised if you don't get the same reaction, and actually end up seeing something more akin to the visceral sneer of a hopped-up homeowner who's thinking of the neighbors down the street they want evicted just because they don't like the look of 'em.

Whoever said the cafeteria was closed was making a Very. Presumptuous. Statement. Just look at the head table.

I'm not a ginormous Gumbleton enthusiast or anything, I'm just saying that this is what is. And with that in mind, it seems his parishioners at St. Leo's are eager to not let him go.

Loggia Poll
question: are they vicious heterodox or do they just know good pastoring when they see it?
The 11 a.m. Sunday mass draws a diverse crowd, who come from nearby and as far away as Farmington Hills and Ann Arbor. On Sunday, they applauded when Gumbleton pledged to keep his activist ministry alive, even though he announced last week his official retirement as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
The resignation has still not been accepted by Rome of yet. Maybe tomorrow? Seems the overzealous have fallen into the Bishop Pilla Trap of Confusion yet again....

But I digress.

St. Leo parishioners, however, can't imagine the parish without Gumbleton, who turned 76 on Thursday.

"He's a solid part of this community. The area is poor, and we need this church. He means more than you can imagine to this community," said George Evans, 52, a cab driver from Detroit.

Suzanne Camino, 43, a musicologist, travels from Ann Arbor with her daughter, Elena Chambers, 7, for Sunday mass because she admires Gumbleton's ministry.

"He's been a real guide for me, mostly through his sermons and examples," Camino said. "It is the Catholic faith I was taught as a child that focuses on peace, justice and service to others."

Margie Rivera, 50, a nurse anesthetist from Farmington Hills, is inspired by St. Leo's outreach to the poor, through a soup kitchen and programs.

"We love him. We are parishioners here because he walks the talk," Rivera said.

Gumbleton said he expects to be able to remain at St. Leo's, as do many retirement-age yet active pastors at other Detroit-area parishes. Gumbleton spends many weekdays traveling in the United States and abroad, most recently to Haiti, to preach on peace issues.

Gumbleton said he and Maida haven't discussed whether he will remain as pastor.

It doesn't look like it'll happen.... Then again, I've known retired auxiliaries who've pastored their parishes until they turned 80.

Uh-oh. Seems they've got that new-fangled vibrant liturgy there, too

St. Leo's service stretches past 90 minutes, and the choir sings African-American spirituals. In other parishes, the Peace of Christ handshake with people in adjacent pews takes a minute. But at St. Leo's, it resembles a 10-minute celebration as parishioners migrate around the church grasping hands with friends as well as first-timers.

Good God. People are actually sharing love at the Eucharist.... Horrors, I tell you -- horrors.

In his homily Sunday, Gumbleton renewed his call for Catholic leaders to do more outreach to Catholics who were sexually abused by priests. Earlier this month, Gumbleton revealed that as a teenager he was molested by a priest, and he called for legislators to pass laws to give victims of past abuse more time to file civil lawsuits against the church.

That position puts Gumbleton at odds with Maida and other U.S. bishops.

"Gumbleton at odds".... What's news about that?