Church accused of workplace injustices.
What follows is a ministry story of a different stripe. This one addresses abuses often suffered by church ministers, church employees. It is our hope that bringing these abuses to light may begin to clear the air and eventually lead to more just and harmonious conditions for all Catholic ministers.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Sixteen months after she was fired from the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in 1992, Doris Parnell was still shivering with emotion as she recalled the way she had been treated. For all those months she had been struggling to get her "emotions and personal life under control,' she,said, an ordeal so painful that it has driven her from the Catholic church.
Parnell, 58, was a religious education coordinator working with handicapped and disabled people. She joined the diocesan staff in 1987 and has about 20 years' experience in her field. All around her, colleagues were being summarily sentenced to the purgatory of the unemployed. She objected to her supervisors. "If that's the way you're going to be, you can go, too," she was told. Her job was subsequently eliminated, ostensibly because of a budget cut.
She was given a month's salary as severance pay, but no unemployment compensation. She applied for food stamps, nearly lost her house and car (HUD took over the mortgage on her house to prevent a foreclosure).
Ifs a very sad situation, all of it,' she said during an interview in a South Bend diner. A lot of harm has been done.'
In the Fort Wayne-south Bend diocese and in other dioceses across the country, church workers are routinely fired with little or no notice or explanation and with no recourse. Often these are church workers with modest salaries, people approaching retirement who are suddenly forced to kiss their retirement benefits goodbye.
Such injustice in a church that preaches justice and social concern,has begun to gather wider national attention in recent month&
Notre Dame's Fr. Richard McBrien, for example, speaking at last fall's Call to Action conference in Chicago, said victims of such abuses have little recourse but to take their cases to the courts. He said that "until there are dramatically successful lawsuits against priests, bishops, parishes, dioceses, schools and hospitals, and some costly out-of-court settlements, as there have been to date in the tragic cases of sexual abuse by priests, church employees - the great majority of whom are women - will continue to be abused, intimidated, calumniated and fired without cause or recourse."
The Call to Action organization has formed a special committee to examine the problem and gather information about church employees seemingly arbitrarily dismissed by their employers.
Examples abound. Few, however, like to speak publicly about their cases, sometimes hoping settlements can be worked out. Still others fear talking about the problem lest they be branded as troublemakers and lose any further chance of ministering in the church.
In interviews from Florida to California, North Dakota to Texas during the last two months, NCR found at least 40 cases of aggrieved diocesan workers, many of whom are still out of work.
Carol Ann Giannini, for example, had been director of the Springfield-cape Girardeau, Mo., diocese's family life ministry for six years and was terminated effective Dec. 31. "A chancery is 40,000 square feet surrounded by reality," Giannini said only days after she left the diocesan chancery for the last time. Giannini, 52, a single mother (and grandmother), had seen herself as a bridge between that institutional never-never land and the everyday day reality of a spiritually starved laity. The trouble with being a bridge, she said, is that you get walked on.
The family life ministry was popular in the largely rural diocese, virtually a one-woman show, and Giannini was hoping to expand and improve it. To enhance the many retreats she gave, she was doing graduate work in preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. She also wrote a twice monthly column for the diocesan newspaper, where she analyzed issues such as reclaiming the image of Mary as a down-to-earth example for today's woman.
This was a laywoman preaching and teaching Marian theology. It came down to a matter of clerical turf, she said. If you are a woman working for the church, "you're supposed to stay in the diocesan kitchen." The bishop advised her to stick to writing about how parents could help their kids with their homework and she was told to drop the Aquinas course.
When she refused, she was asked to resign. Again she refused and the diocese scrambled for a reason to fire her. Finally they said she had combined a vacation with a family life convention in Providence, R.I., an inappropriate use of diocesan funds.
Giannini calculated that her vacation arrangements had cost the diocese about $32 more than the trip would have otherwise. She reimbursed the money. And she went to an attorney.
By the end of the year, apparently unsure of their ground and fearing a lawsuit, the diocese agreed to pay her a severance settlement.
Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop John Leibrecht would not comment on his reasons for firing Giannini because it was a "personal matter" and "very difficult for everyone." He said there were "serious reasons for Carol Ann not continuing here," but they had nothing to do with her course at Aquinas or with her newspaper column.
And the beat goes on:
Another family life minister in another heart-of-America diocese was one of four middle-aged women fired several years ago in yet another diocesan "house cleaning." She asked not to be identified, but said the church fails its lay employees. There is no grievance process, she said. You have no place to ten your story." The church tells us we are not part of the secular work force, she said. "They tell us we are not General Motors, but in some ways we'd be better off if we were General Motors."
* In Kansas City, Kan., Bernadette Hoyt worked for the archdiocese for about 18 years. It was never an easy or fair relationship, she said. The clergy "denigrated ideas from a woman."
At her last church job, she was director of volunteers at the St. Joseph Care Center. The nursing home director was a Christian Brother from Chicago. He fired her, ostensibly for budget reasons. She was told to pack up your things right now.' That was in 1983. I never got dose to the inner working of the church again," Hoyt said. "That's the damage it's done to me."
* In Florida last June, John Frank was summarily dismissed from his job as director of the St. Augustine diocese retreat center called Mayrwood. Frank, 43, had diredted the center since 1988, arriving there when the facility was still under consturction. He shaped its vision and developed its programs, molded Marywood into what many thought was one of the top 10 reatret facilities in the country.
But Frank's vision reflected a spirituality that was holistic and developmental and many people in the diocese had serious reservations about that broadly progressive approach. Some of those same people remained unconvinced that a layperson should be directing the retreat center to begin with. Controversy developed. There were conflicts with some of Frank's staff members. Marywood became a political liability for St. Augustine Bishop John Snyder. He fired Frank without notice and with no written reason, although he did offer him generous severance terms.
Repeated attempts to obtain a comment from the St. Augustine diocesan were unsuccessful. Last week, diocesan attorney and Marywood board member Dennis Guidi said Snyder was out of town, but that he would try to get a response from he bishop's office by press time. Guidi not return subsequent telephone calls.
After 21 years as what he prefers to call a proffessional nonrodained minister, Frank was devastated. All his formation and training told him Marywood was his vocation and he had planned to make it his career. Months passed before he felt healed enough to begin a job search. He has four children. For family reasons, he hesitates to relocate. So he does not expect to be working for the church again.
* In Philadelphia, two your parochial school teachers with the highest possible job evaluation rating were fired at the end of the 1992-93 school year. Diana Gomez and David Younkin, both 26, both former Jesuit Volunteers, had chosen to teach in the inner city and they loved the work.
But in their second year at St. Charles Borromeo, Gomez and Younkin dared to criticize some of the school's policies, calling the parish school more of a boot camp than an elementary school. The pastor, Fr. John Van de Paer, fired them.
Van de Paer told Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez that Gomez and Younkin were good teachers but disruptive, and bad for morale. Parents demonstrated for the two young teachers. Some pulled their children out of St. Charles.
As the current school year began - with no union, no grievance procedure, no recourse - Gomez was waitressing and Yonkin was tending a salad bar in another restaurant.
* On Valentine's Day in the Los Angeles archdiocese in 1991, four women were summarily fired from the faculty of St. John's Seminary College. The rector told them their slots were needed to bring more priests onto the faculty. There was no grievance procedure or appeals process in place at the time.
One of the women, Ellen Davis, had been a nun for 20 years and on the St. John's faculty for 17. She was left facing her retirement years with almost no resources.
Sources in L.A. saw the firings, dubbed the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, as a purge of women faculty members, part of the house cleaning Cardinal Roger Mahony did throughout much of the archdiocese after he took over in 1985. It came on the heels of the archdiocese's protracted efforts to convince Catholic cemetery workers not to join a union.
Each of these cases, along with a majority of those not cited, shares certain characteristics and reflects a pattern for the dismissals: The church employees had little warning, few reasons given and little or no recourse, short of taking legal action. But most of the victims hesitate to take legal action because it is expensive and because they would almost certainly forfeit any hope of gaining church related employment elsewhere. In these and other cases a climate of fear and intimidation prevailed.
The Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese provides one of the serious examples of what many see as an abusive pattern of church dismissals. Along with Sacred Heart Parish on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, the diocese is a defendant in a lawsuit filed last year by a former Sacred Heart employee. Beverly Brazauskas, 48, is charging breach of contract, fraud and defamation, among other allegations, one of which involves the Notre Dame university administration.
This is one of the first suits of its kind in the nation and many look upon it as a test case for the rights of church employees. Several former church employees said they had considered filing lawsuits after they were fired but decided not to do so because they did not have the resources to carry it through. In labor disputes, the church tends to hire hardball law firms that drag suits on for years and wear plaintiffs down.
So the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend may turn out to be a testing ground in many ways and it is well worth a closer look.
St. Joseph Day Massacre
The story begins in May 1985, when John D'Arcy, an auxiliary bishop in Boston, was installed as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, replacing the retiring William McManus.
Under McManus, the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese and the Archdiocese of Chicago had been party to a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court five-to-four ruling that the National Labor Relations Board had no authority over church-run schools. Diocesan teachers had asked the NLRB to enforce union organizing and collective bargaining laws in the church schools. The court's decision, while dodging constitutional church-state issues, left teachers in Catholic schools at the mercy of the local bishop.
McManus said he had already worked out an amicable agreement with his teachers. Thomas Hampson, then head of the diocesan teachers' group, told NCR at the time that he did not question McManus' goodwill. "But you can't count on his successor being as socially concerned or having the goodwill he does," Hampson said. The remark turned out to be prophetic.
Less than two years after D'Arcy's arrival, March 19, 1987, the feast of St. Joseph, members of the diocesan Religious Education Institute and Religious Education Office gathered in a basement meeting room in the building where D'Arcy had his Fort Wayne living quarters. Some of the employees had used the room for an informal study group, so they felt comfortable there.
Their comfort did not last long. They were told that, as a result of the recent organizational evaluation D'Arcy had commissioned, the Religious Education Institute was being abolished and several employees in the Religious Education Office terminated.
Louise Pare, who was Fort Wayne director of the REI, said was "all very impersonal" and there appeared to be "no awareness of the impact on lives," on people with "kids and mortgages." That sort of callousness is a common complaint of church employees who think they have been treated unjustly.
Pare, who is now in California working on her doctorate, said she believed there was a lack of honesty in the evaluation process. D'Arcy claimed the evaluation was to strengthen the diocesan organization, but it was actually a spurious process to change the organization completely, Pare said. "We had a saying," she said: "Evaluation equals elimination."
Sr. Jane Carew, who was part of the evaluation team, denied Pare's accusation of a prejudged outcome. It was a professional evaluation of all diocesan departments and everyone was consulted, she said. The REI was eliminated because D'Arcy wanted to unify the religious education office, Carew said.
Carew studied spirituality with D'Arcy when he was an auxiliary bishop in Boston in the 1970s and later became associate director of the archdiocesan permanent diaconate program. Although she still insists on being called "Sister," she no longer belongs to a religious community. She is now consecrated in the order of virgins, an ancient order for laywomen stipulated in Canon 604.
D'Arcy set up the evaluation team in October 1986. In February 1987, he asked Carew to come to Fort Wayne. March saw what came to be called the St. Joseph Day Massacre. About three months later, Carew became diocesan director of religious education, the position she now holds.
Although she said there has been no inordinate turnover in her department, Carew has lopped a lot of heads, Doris Parnell's among them. She has held her employees to a stern model of orthodoxy and has been known to poll them on their beliefs and practices.
"All of us who were canned were independent thinkers," Parnell said. Steve Starks was one of her colleagues who got axed. At the time of the 1987 "massacre," he was associate director of the Ft. Wayne religious education office. He was rehired, but a year later, during Holy Week 1988, the blade fell again.
Starks had been working in Indianapolis the day before. He got up at five in the morning to make it back to Fort Wayne for the meeting his boss, Carew, had called. At 9:30 he walked into the room and could tell immediately "that somebody was dead and it was probably me." Carew gave him until 11:00 to clear the building. He didn't have his key with him and he said Carew was "pitching a bitch" about that.
He asked Carew why he was being fired. "You know good and well," she said. But, said Starks in a recent interview, "I still don't have a clue." Carew said she had spoken to Starks several times about improving his work, although she refused to elaborate. "I believe that Steve was justly treated," she said.
The trauma lasts a long time, Starks said. He investigated "bringing charges" but decided that he had no resources for a lawsuit. "It's mostly the way they did it," he said, calling it "uncharitable" if not unjust.
Starks tried another diocesan ministry in another part of the state, but eventually decided that it was not his work. "I'm too apolitical to survive working for the church," he said. He now works for a religious supply company.
Eliot Kapitan was also fired during Holy Week 1988, but for him the outcome has been happier. Kapitan was the diocesan director of liturgy. Only six months before he was sacked, he had been assured that his job was secure. Then, at a Holy Week Mass, D'Arcy told him that, although he was doing a good job, the bishop wanted "to go in another direction." D'Arcy did not say which direction, but Kapitan was replaced by a priest.
Kapitan said that he does feel he was treated unfairly, but he is now liturgy director for the Springfield, Ill., diocese and he said the bishop there, Daniel Ryan, is "very fair." But he said the transition was difficult. No benefits followed him from Fort Wayne-South Bend, a problem that is at least as widespread in the church as it is in secular society.
William Odell walks a careful line somewhere between Starks and Kapitan. Odell was hired to replace one of the St. Joseph Day casualties as associate director of religious education in Mishawaka, just outside South Bend. He was fired in June 1990.
Surrounded by a vast working library in the basement office of his South Bend home, where he and his wife, Katherine, write and edit for various religious publishers, Odell said that in 1987 he realized at once that he had "walked into a hornets' nest."
People in the local parishes were suspicious of him because he was from the diocese and he had to work hard to gain their confidence. The Fort Wayne-South Bend split has always been here, Odell said. There is a Fort Wayne fear that South Bend is starting its own church. "There is nothing liberal in the state of Indiana, but South Bend is a little less conservative," Odell said.
While describing his first two years on the job as a "positive experience," Odell said there was a growing fear in Fort Wayne that he was less willing to cooperate with the diocese than with the local people he was ministering to. It became clear in the last year, he said, that there was a real difference in the concept of what ministry is. For Odell, it was to listen to and respect people and respond to what he heard.
Odell, now 50, said nearly everyone had been fired when he began working for the diocese, and now nearly everyone hired at that time is gone. He said he was no "flaming liberal," but that he was open to new models of church and ministry. So Odell was asked to resign. He was a popular minister and is still spoken of highly by many people. He was told that if any South Bend DRE made an issue of Odell's firing, Odell would lose his severance pay.
But Odell said he is not bitter, that he is left only with "disgust and regret" because his gifts were denied. "I do not want to see bitterness toward this bishop or Jane Carew because that would be an injustice, too, maybe even a greater one," he said. "We have to expose this injustice with charity and with justice."
Church ministers have to have the quality of long-suffering and be willing to take one more punch, Odell said, because the "tragedy of the human condition shows itself in more vivid colors when you're talking about church." Odell said he would like to see D'Arcy find the confidence trust people who speak a different (ecclesial) language than he does. But, as it stands, church workers in the diocese are not treated well, Odell said. And the situation with diocesan school teachers "is an extension of the problem of ministry."
CATCH as catch can
D'Arcy's relationship with diocesan high school teachers deteriorated steadily from the time of his arrival in Fort Wayne. The teachers were organized in a local union called CATCH (Community Alliance for Teachers at Catholic High Schools). D'Arcy's predecessor, William McManus, managed to come to terms with CATCH, although he reportedly found the union difficult to deal with. But D'Arcy's approach was more confrontational.
Negotiations for a new contract had been under way since November 1988. The old contract expired in June 1989. By 1992, the two sides were still at an impasse, primarily on the issues of due process and binding arbitration by secular courts or agencies, along with the perennial issue of low salaries (a teacher with a bachelor's degree starts at $15,400 and after 15 years would still be making less than $20,000).
Gallucci, Hopkins & Theisen, a notoriously antilabor law firm, represented the diocese at the bargaining table. CATCH, small and relatively inexperienced, was clearly outgunned.
The atmosphere was so poisonous that during a pastoral visit to one high school, students interrogated the bishop about his "unjust" social practices (D'Arcy says at the instigation of CATCH) and the faculty refused to look at him. Finally, in May 1992, D'Arcy announced that he would no longer recognize CATCH as a bargaining agent and that he was establishing an advisory council of teachers to replace the union. The council would have 16 members, eight elected by the teachers and the other eight selected by the bishop.
There was an uproar. Charges of union busting flew. D'Arcy defended himself with a 76-page analysis of the diocese's relationship with CATCH. His main concern was that CATCH had attempted to usurp the office of bishop, first by putting itself forth as the bishop's equal "in directions and decisions regarding the Catholic high schools," and then by submitting the bishop's authority to the arbitration of agencies outside the church. Many longtime church observers were not convinced.
Respected labor priest Msgr. George Higgins, for example, while not taking a public stand on the issue, was known to have been distressed that the teachers were being denied their right to organize and bargain collectively, a right the U.S. bishops had strongly affirmed in their 1986 economic pastoral and elsewhere.
In a letter to D'Arcy dated June 4, 1992, Notre Dame history professor Jay Dolan, who has known D'Arcy since their seminary days together in Boston, said the "spirit of charity was totally absent" in the bishop's CATCH document. "The document was a classic management-labor statement and of course labor, the teachers, was the enemy," Dolan wrote. He went on to call the document "dishonest," in that it "twisted statements and misrepresented what people actually said or meant."
D'Arcy never responded to the letter, Dolan said during an interview in his office on the Notre Dame campus, but he could not have liked reading that he had "demeaned the office of bishop," the very office he said he was trying to defend.
Several sources who know D'Arcy well said that he has a highly elevated, some would call it "inflated," sense of the office of bishop, which may help to explain why he is so quick to involve himself personally in employee disputes. Any challenge to his authority is seen as an attack upon the office.
D'Arcy's view of church was shaped by his experience in Boston before Vatican II, Dolan said. "They ran the church pretty much the way they ran the political wards." It is a rigorously hierarchical view, a "boss mentality" that Dolan said D'Arcy reverts to in weakness.
But Dolan said it is also part of a current trend away from the people-of-God model of church. "It's kind of scary," he said.
Striking a more secular but surprisingly similar note, Philadelphia attorney Bruce Endy said in a June 1992 letter to John Reilly, president of the National Association of Catholic School Teachers, that "those church fathers who believe that teachers will obtain real social justice without representative bargaining are kidding themselves and the rest of their parishioners."
"The church does not operate in a vacuum," Endy wrote. "The employment relationship with its lay teachers is essentially a civil legal relationship. It is a contract for personal services that is enforceable in the civil courts.
"Bishop D'Arcy is lost in his notion that the church is a feudal institution which has the right to live apart from the rest of the community of which it is a part," Endy continued. "If he wants to close his eyes to the world in which his lay teachers live, let him hire only religious to teach in his schools."
Endy castigated D'Arcy's new teachers council, saying it would be "his creature as opposed to an independent, indomitable association, freely elected by the majority of those teachers who wish to be represented by CATCH."
Sally Vance-Trembath was the first chairperson of D'Arcy's council. In an interview on the Notre Dame campus, while her twin sons played around the fountain, she described the council meetings as "a joke." No one wanted to serve, Vance-Trembath said. "People were ready to throw eggs or something."
A part-time teacher at St. Joseph's High School at the time, she was a fairly new member of CATCH, joining in the spring of 1991 after coming to South Bend from the far more progressive Seattle archdiocese. With the union's permission, she ran for the council and was elected.
Msgr. William Lester, diocesan vicar for education and one of D'Arcy's two vicar generals, attended the quarterly meetings to set the agenda, Vance-Trembath said. But D'Arcy had control. (Vance-Trembath said that when she offered a 90-second opening prayer, D'Arcy was looking at his watch. In Seattle, opening prayers could last 30 minutes.)
When a "massive" teacher morale problem loomed as an agenda item, for example, Lester seemed to agree, but D'Arcy refused to approve the agenda. "A person with a low morale is a person with a disquieted spirit and we don't want them in our school system," D'Arcy said.
Another teacher from St. Joseph's, Michael Mazza, a D'Arcy appointee on the council, challenged the bishop. Mazza was to the ecclesial right of D'Arcy, a religion teacher who gave students extra credit for saying the rosary, but he knew church documents on labor relations. D'Arcy simply took over the meeting and torpedoed the agenda, Vance-Trembath said. (After implying that an NCR interview with D'Arcy could be arranged, the diocesan communications office made no further response to the request.)
D'Arcy later ostracized Mazza for his association with E. Michael Jones, editor of Fidelity Magazine, an ultraconservative who views churchpeople like D'Arcy and Jane Carew as too loose and liberal. Mazza left the diocese and published a scathing attack on it in Fidelity.
On another occasion, Vance-Trembath suggested the obvious "lack of community" should be on the council agenda. D'Arcy objected. "He kind of yelled at me," Vance-Trembath said. "Yes, Sally," D'Arcy told her, "we are a community, but we are a hierarchical community and I have to make some of these decisions." Vance-Trembath is a talented, highly qualified and popular teacher, but last year her contract was not renewed.
A case in point
Outspoken as she may have been on the teachers council, Vance-Trembath believes her contract at St. Joseph's was not renewed more because of her involvement with the Beverly Brazauskas case. She has defended Brazauskas in Sacred Heart Parish meetings and challenged the pastor, Holy Cross Fr. Jose Martelli, on the issue. Martelli is a defendant in the Brazauskas lawsuit against Sacred Heart and the diocese.
Brazauskas had worked at Sacred Heart as a pastoral associate in charge of religious education and liturgy for six years. A former Sister of St. Joseph, she had spent most of her life in teaching and pastoral ministry. She is highly trained and competent. Her evaluations at Sacred Heart were superior and parishioners liked and supported her.
Martelli became pastor at Sacred Heart in June 1992, taking over from Holy Cross Fr. William Simmons. Brazauskas had worked well enough with Martelli when he was associate pastor, but she said a different man emerged after June. (Martelli did not respond to an interview request.)
When Brazauskas got back from vacation in August, Martelli met with her two days running. By the second day, Aug. 7, he had decided to fire her if she did not resign. Brazauskas mentioned her contract and Martelli told her she didn't have one. She said there was one on file in her office, but when she went to her office the file was gone. She had seen it there in June.
A friend in Connecticut, a priest she had worked with for years before going to South Bend, once told Brazauskas that she threatened "the hell out of most priests in this diocese the moment you walk into a room." She is a tall, strong-minded woman, confident in her abilities.
On the day he fired her, Martelli was candid: "You intimidate me and you dare to disagree with me in public," he said. He later said in a sworn statement that they had had "several disagreements over liturgical and doctrinal issues" during the previous year.
Under pressure from parishioners and others to explain his action, Martelli cited "personal and confidential" reasons that he could not discuss because of a pending lawsuit. There was no lawsuit at the time and Brazauskas had no intention of filing one. Her attorney, Edward Kalamaros, was dead set against suing the church, she said.
Not until December 1992, when attempts for some sort of redress for Brazauskas were going nowhere, did Kalamaros agree to prepare the suit. At about that time, the diocese made an offer. They would pay Brazauskas a year's salary and Martelli would write her a statement of reconciliation. Brazauskas held out for reimbursement of her legal fees (then about $4,000) and an unconditional letter of recommendation.
In a wide-ranging interview in the red-brick rectory near the downtown Fort Wayne chancery last October, Vicar General Lester said he did not think Brazauskas has "a leg to stand on." Let them go to trial, he said. "We have a perfect case." Lester, 73, is known to be close to D'Arcy, who was out of the country at the time of the interview.
Pressed as to the specific nature of that perfect case, Lester hedged. "What else can I tell you without going into the bad parts?" he said. "In strict justice, I don't think we have to pay her a penny."
Asked what she thought Lester might be referring to in the phrase "bad parts," Brazauskas said she had no idea, unless it was her "friendship with Dick." She was referring to Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien, saying they were "very good friends."
Through his syndicated column and other public statements, McBrien is known to rank the church's unjust treatment of employees even above the sexual abuse of children by priests as an institutional issue to be dealt with. He has been an ardent champion of Brazauskas' cause, along with other Notre Dame big guns such as Jesuit Fr. Richard McCormick.
Without referring to any of them by name, Lester said he knew Brazauskas had "all kinds of high people behind her." But they "don't know what they're talking about. They think if somebody has a doctorate they're competent," he said. They think they are "going to squash that little ant over there (D'Arcy). That's the appearance of it."
Lester's comment may help to explain why D'Arcy has come to see, some say characteristically, the Brazauskas case as an attack upon his pastoral office. According to his attorneys, the diocese is now prepared to defend itself all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
While Brazauskas said she got into the lawsuit seeking a personal redress of grievances, delegates at a state DRE convention last October told her that she had to push the legal fight for the good of all church employees. "Somebody's got to speak up and let people know what's going on," she said. Then, her voice quavering with regret, she said, "I think I'm finished in church work. I don't think I'll ever be allowed to minister again."
Pare, former director of Fort Wayne's Religious Education Institute, said she did not think Bishop John D'Arcy is a mean or malicious person. He is simply "walking backward into the future with his eyes open," she said.
D'Arcy's current DRE, Jane Carew, went further. She said that thanks to D'Arcy's diocesan reorganization, along with lay formation programs in conjunction with the University of Dayton and Creighton University in Omaha, Fort Wayne-South Bend is "now the most stable diocese in Indiana." She described D'Arcy as a "very fair man" and "a holy man."
However that may be, at least a dozen diocesan employees, former and current, said there was a pervasive atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the diocese. Some observers believe that, as it was with the pedophilia scandal, only secular pressure from outside the institution will shred the collar of injustice strangling many lay employees.
Doris Parnell would agree. A convert who chose Catholicism well into her adult years, she now finds it hard even to go into a Catholic church for a funeral. She sat there shivering with emotion in that South Bend diner and she said, "I believe in what I thought the Catholic church stood for, but until I see justice toward their own people I won't go back."
Her job is gone, but her work just begun
CLINTON, Mo. - Carol Ann Giannini saw her work in the family life ministry of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., diocese as a call from God. When Bishop John Leibrecht asked her to resign last fall, she told him he was not the author of her ministry and he could not take it away.
Now that she has been fired effective Dec. 31 (see main story), she intends to start an ecumenical organization for spiritual development. "There's just too much work to be done to fool around with people who aren't interested in you," she said in a Jan. 5 interview here.
She said the church does not seem to realize how much lay ministers step out in faith. In 1987, she arrived in Missouri from Denver to take the Springfield job. "I came with a rabbit and a dog and my youngest daughter in my Jeep station wagon" and with almost no job security, she said. Now her daughter is college, Giannini has a home mortgage, uninsured summer flood damage and her own student loans, and she has been fired.
"We have to rethink our model of church and ministry," she said. "I don't think we've had a time like this since Luther." She characterized lay ministers as midwives at the birth of a new church.
Giannini said that even after being fired she feels a deep sense of peace. "Why am I not losing sleep?" she asked. "Something is radically wrong or radically right with this picture. I think it's radically right."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Justice for church employees was the main reason The National Association of Church Personnel Administrators was founded 23 years ago, according to Sr. Ann White, NACPA executive director.
The Cincinnati-based organization has about 1,200 members, people working in and administering lay, clergy and religious personnel systems nationwide. Through position papers and workshops for pastors, the NACPA attempts to educate priests and others on the just treatment of church workers.
Sometimes ignorance is the only problem, White said. Many pastors have no background in church labor policies or employee relationships, she said.
White said most bishops look upon the NACPA with favor. "It's not we against them," she said.
The NACPA is currently reworking and expanding a new position paper dealing with working relationships between the individual and the institution.
Suit says diocese
cued Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - After Sacred Heart Parish on the campus of the University of Notre Dame fired Beverly Brazauskas in 1992 (see main story), she applied for a position as acting director of Notre Dame's Program for Church Leaders. The university had established a four-member search committee to chose the best candidate.
The committee judged Brazauskas far and away the best qualified applicant and she was the only one it recommended for the job. Without warning, Notre Dame president Fr. Edward Malloy abolished the program, which had been in existence about 20 years.
Brazauskas' lawsuit against Sacred Heart pastor Jose Martelli and the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese charges that the defendants, "personally or through their agents and/or employees," pressured Notre Dame to eliminate the position Brazauskas had applied for.
The diocese contends that the charge is without merit. Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D'Arcy has said in a sworn statement that he did not intervene.
But sources here ask why the university set up a search committee if it was going to abolish the program and why Malloy intervened personally. Normally, the provost would have been responsible for abolishing the program. Malloy did not respond to a request for an interview.
Several sources pointed out that there is a precedent for diocesan intervention at Notre Dame. About six years ago, a high-powered group that included Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin pushed to bring controversial theologian Fr. Charles Curran onto the faculty of Notre Dame's peace institute. D'Arcy intervened with pleas to Malloy, the papal nuncio and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Vatican head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the appointment was blocked.
Msgr. William Lester, Fort Wayne-South Bend vicar general, said it was D'Arcy's prerogative to intervene in the Curran case if he thought Curran's presence would have an adverse pastoral effect on the diocese. Did D'Arcy have the same prerogative in the Brazauskas case? Lester was asked, even though D'Arcy said he had not contacted Malloy.
"And Malloy said he did? That would be an interesting development," Lester said.
The reporter explained that Malloy had said no such thing.
"The whole thing is just fatuous," Lester said.
Fatuous or not, the lawsuit stands and the court will have to decide.
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|Title Annotation:||includes related articles; unfair labor practices sometimes stem from authoritarian structures|
|Publication:||National Catholic Reporter|
|Date:||Jan 21, 1994|
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