Inside Calendar Page 8 Indepth Page 6 Entertainment Page 9 Op-ed Page 18 Features Page 7 Sports Pages 121& 13 Youth Page 10 J Pope's letter attracts mixed local reactions By Lee Strong Staff writer ROCHESTER - Sister Sheila Walsh, SSJ, was blunt about her reaction to read- ing Pope John Paul H's letter, \Religious Life in the United States.'' \My blood pressure went up to 400,\ she said. Sister Dolores Banick, THM, the Dio- cese of Rochester's vicar for religious, summarized the reaction of diocesan reli- gious with whom she has discussed the document as, \We've moved beyond some of me things it stated.'' Other local men and women religious re- sponded in varied ways to the letter, tee studying religious compensation, said that by recognizing die LCWR, the letter suggests diat efforts \to try to hang on to what was\ are growing less effective. \I think (the letter) recognizes mat American religious are sound and commit- ted and undaunted,\ asserted Sister Joan Sobala, SSJ, pastoral assistant at St. Mar- y's Church in downtown Rochester. \(Pope John Paul) never ascribes to us any ill will and self-centeredness.'' Despite her praise, however, Sister So- bala also found much to criticize in the let- ter. \There's something really unsettling about the report,\ she observed. \In these brief pages, the whole truth has not been *When we try to put everyone i^n^^Mt^mwjiv of doing he a remits that is our „ ow Hayes/Catholic Courier Sisters Sheila Walsh and Shirley Pilot, real estate agents, are among reli- gious exploring alternative apostolates. released March 29. At best, some called it \positive\ and \optimistic but other as- sessments included \off target,\ and even \insignfficant.\ The papal letter was written in response to a study of religious life in the United States conducted by a special papal com- mission headed by Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco. In the letter, die pope said me commission was realistic in assess- ing bom the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. religious. Among the strengths Pope John Paul singled out were \generous and varied service, greater prayer life, eminent professional competence, a serious re- sponse to renewal.\ At the same time, he pointed to a number of weaknesses, includ- ing \a decline in vocations, decreasing numbers and aging membership, inade- quate theological foundation, weakened presence in or absence from the traditional apostolates, insufficient public witness, cases of excessiye introspection, radical feminism and polarizations.'' Perhaps the letter's most significant ac- tion, according to Sister Jacqueline De- Mars, RSM, was to reaffirm me Leader- ship Conference of Women Religious as the body that speaks for women religions in me United States. During the 1970s, con- servative groups such as the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis voiced opposition to me LCWR, claiming that itwas too liberal. Sister DeMars, who served on a commit- caught. There are issues and realities of our life that have been dealt with in a sen- tence or a phrase, and you don't really catch the full import, me depth of under- standing mat we have.'' Father Norman Tanck, superior of the Basilian Fathers at St. John Fisher College, said that although the letter \pointed out some areas we needed to be cautious about\ — such as spirituality and prayer life — if reveals an inadequate \under- standing of American culture.'' ATHOLIC COURIER Diocese of Rochester Thursday, April 27,1989 50* 28 Pages As an example, Fattier Tanck cited me pope's contention that religions in this country do not give sufficient public wit- ness. \I mink we have quite prominent public witness,\ he said. \I think we have religious men and women involved in the grass-roots level, and I think it's well widiin our apostolates.'' Religious in the United States have a his- tory as innovators, the Basilian pointed out. \We've had ihe freedom to move in and accomplish things. We would not have (Catholic) schools if not for religious,\ he said. \Our tradition is to start things, men to move on in service to me kingdom.'' Sister Banick echoed Father Tanck's as- sertion, pointing out that religious created the Camolic schools in response to a need for education among poor Catholics. Stu- dies now indicate mat Catholics as a group are among the best educated, wealthiest groups in the country, and mat tiieir need is no longer necessarily for religious-based schools, she acknowledged. \That's the way it's always been — to perceive me needs of die times,\ Sister Banick said. \At one time, that was in ed- ucation. Now mere are other needs.'' The needs of the poor and of society have led religious to venture beyond con- vent and school walls into some \non- traditional apostolates,\ Sister Walsh said. She and Sister Shirley Pilot, SSJ, for ex- ample, run a real estate agency. \Housing is a critical need for people,\ she said. \The working poor long to own meir own homes.\ • • The two sisters not only help people find affordable housing, but tiiey also provide financial counseling, Sister Walsh ex- plained. \People have come through here who would never be able to buy a house,\ she said. \We try to sit down with them and help mem budget, with saving money, investing, finding low rents.'' Sister Jamesine Riley, SSJ, a lawyer, said she doesn't know \what the letter means by traditional apostolates. \Our traditional apostolates, in our or- ganization, were not teaching and health care,\ she said. \We were instructed to do whatever work women were capable of do- ing and were filling the needs of the people we served.\ Her recently established law practice \fits in well wim me call of me Gospel, with the call to justice,\ Sister Riley con- tinued. \I dunk'our congregation has been called to reconciliation, to heal broken lives.\ Religious are pursuing new apostolates in response to Vatican JJ's call for orders to re-examine their roots and meir charism, Sister DeMars noted.' 'Our charism was to be of service to women and the poor,\ she said. \Translate what that service means 'Oc/r traditional apostolates''. ... were not nun limn and\ health care We were in-\ striated to dn whatever work women were capable of duinu and werrjillun> the 'needs of the people we ser- ved. • Sister Jamesine Riley's legal work helps meet the needs of the poor. today.\ In criticizing die directions taken by reli- gious orders in the United States, the pope and Vatican officials reveal that perhaps \they don't understand the whole concept of renewal,\ Sister Pilot suggested. \Ren- ewal means to get back to meir roots. For our order, that means going out to meet the needs of the people. Our roots are taking us back to (the people.)'' The papal document also points to. de- clining numbers of vocations to religious life in the United States as a weakness. This trend, however, parallels a similar decline in vocations to priesthood. Sister Pilot said mat one of the factors involved in me overall trend is mat lay people —espe- cially women — are able to minister in the church wimout consecration, and are in- creasingly being recognized as partners in ministry wim sisters, brothers and priests. \Perhaps the:reason there are fewer vo- cations is because there are other forms of religious faith communities,\ Sister Pilot added. She cited prayer groups, service groups, Catholic Worker communities, Vista and the Peace Corps as some alterna- tives to religious life. \I flunk we've got to look at them as vocations to carry out that commitment to serve,\ she said. \There is no shortage of vocations.'' Continued on page 16 Cardinal Mooney High School to close By Teresa A. Parsons Associate editor ROCHESTER - Officials of the Dio- cese of Rochester and Cardinal Mooney High School announced Wednesday that me Greece high school will close at the end of the current school year. Bishop Matmew H. Clark and Brother Paul Rahaim, CSC, provincial of the Holy Cross Brothers and president of me school's board of trustees, revealed plans to close the school, located at 800 Maiden Lane, during a jointly held news confer- ence Wednesday morning, April 26. \The decision is me result of a steady decline in enrollment over the past three years and an operating deficit of $200,000 per year over die same period, despite efforts to cut expenses,\ said Brother Ra- haim. \We had hoped that increasing next year's tuition would enable us to arrive at a balanced budget.\ Instead, registration for the 1989/90 school year dropped to 4S4 students, 166 fewer than school officials had expected. Enrollment tins year was just under 700, down from 1,302 in 1985/86. Bromer Rahaim said that Mooney ad- ministrators had worked closely wim dio- cesan officials to explore alternatives to closing the school, including a major capi- tal campaign two years ago. \Because it is very late in the school year, out of con- sideration for all concerned, students, par- ents faculty and staff, we felt we could not delay making a final decision on the school's future any longer,\ he said. Bishop Clark said he deeply regrets the closing, but acknowledged that the school could not continue to operate under the cir- cumstances. \For me past two years, peo- ple have worked very hard to avert this de- cision, but the continued decline in regis- tration has made it inevitable,\ he said. \I have a deep respect for the Mooney spirit and I am sorry for die pain mat this will bring to students, parents, alumni, staff and friends in the community.'' Administrators from Cardinal Mooney have said they will help students enroll in other Catholic high schools, and will assist staff members in finding new employment. Working with diocesan officials, me Holy Cross order will explore possible uses for the Mooney budding.