I received your email late on Friday. The Archbishop and I will discuss the matters you raise at our next Curial Meeting.
I have delayed my visit to Kelmscott until Fr. Melvin returns from his annual holiday, as I think it is only fair that he be in the parish when I meet with the parishioners. The meeting will be about the Neocatechumenal Way and I will explain how it is a means of evangelisation for a parish community. The experience I had when answering questions about the Way at the Parish Council meeting during the Visitation suggests that a meeting on that topic should be useful.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Don Sproxton.
From: Clive Maher
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 3:06 PM
Subject: S O S
Dear Archbishop Hickey and Bishop Sproxton
Please bear with me and at least believe me when I state that I am not comfortable in sending this message to you. Not comfortable for at least three reasons mainly because
1. You are a busy person with many other important issues
2. That messages like this can be mis-understood as someone off on the good old complaining train again
3. So far things have not improved but in fact got worse
Well, I thought long and hard but eventually decided to go ahead. I do not expect anything as so far nothing seems to have improved since I came out to see you. Now, instead of Father Melvyn we now have his deputy Father Clesio firing the daily shots.
Every day we are subjected to innuendo and provocative comments from the pulpit, to which we choose not to respond as (perhaps) we take the reverence of the church more seriously than we should. How long we can keep up this restrain is but another question. I can tell you it is wearing a bit thin now and feelings of annoyance are gradually steaming along.
What really has tested our tolerance levels is the homily of Father Dennis Sudla who while visiting from Redfern (NSW) last Sunday at the 6pm Mass in typical Father Dennis style gave us a royal going over. He hit out directly and very antagonistically as he accused us of being disobedient, troublesome and a few other things. We were duly chastised in front of the congregation and brought to notice.Obviously; this was as a result of his being kept ‘up to date’ by the local clergy. So here we have a visiting priest adding to the already uneasy situation that exists.
(By the way … as an aside, Fr Dennis also made the following (supposedly light hearted attempt at humour) comment. He said it was nice to see so many females at church…some pretty, some not so pretty and some ugly. There happened to be a parishioner who having had a stroke has had some disfiguration. She was duly embarrased. Ah Well … that can perhaps be put down to in-experience (yet again)? ).
Along with this ritualistic bashing, there have been claims made by the clergy that some of us have threatened to assault them, have organised a petition to have them removed and that we have been distributing flyers in shopping centres. Then there is the claim that some Acolytes have been telling some sick parishioners not to allow the priests to visit them and give Communion.
How can they lie like this? How can one be expected to have any respect for them?
As well, people have been told that two of the Acolytes have spat the dummy and withdrawn their services.
I ask you, your Grace, are these actions conducive to mending bridges or resolving concerns? And this too where we instinctively look to such people as being the role models of the Catholic church.
Anyhow, so be it. We may have to address these matters should they continue. Coming to church is now an exercise in patience and tolerance, being always on edge and uncomfortable, wondering when the next volley of criticism, accusation or denigration may pop up.
As I stated earlier, I would rather not write to you on such matters. This is a situation that is getting worse. Personally my patience and tolerance is reaching saturation point and I am struggling to contain myself. Some fellow parishioners are putting on the war paint. I hope I do not see myself writing again saying … I did bring this to your attention.
This of course has exacerbated the division that has come upon the parish as a direct consequence of these clergymen. Please do not mis-understand this plea for you to do something to arrest the dis-harmony and dis-enchantment that some of us are embalmed in.
As an added bonus, recently the youth who meet to prayer were chastised by two Neo Catechumen members for doing so. Telling them that they were being disobedient to Father Melvyn’s orders that they stop praying in people’s homes. Obviously, this too has emanated from these priests telling these Neocats about the matter. This is but another example of life in the Good Shepherd Parish and the audacity of the followers of this Neocat way to get involved in matters they have no authority over.
May God be with you always
[CM October 2012 – After a little over a year, members of the St Vincent’s community have not found Fr Melvin to be their ideal priest, but he is making a consistent and concerted effort to bring harmony to a fractured parish.]