Posted by Laramie Hirsch on Sunday, December 11, 2016
Tonight, at Tulsa’s 2016 Christmas Parade, I saw Bishop Konderla. I think. It was hard to tell, actually, because he was dressed like every other man, and he rode at the back of a motorcycle group. The Knights of Columbus were actually more dressed in recognizable regalia than the bishop.
This week, a survey announcement came out of the chancery. It reads as follows:
Howdy! I have been your bishop now for almost five months and I must tell you I’m very excited to be here. So far I have been able to visit over 45 parishes and schools throughout the Diocese of Tulsa, and I’m quickly learning of the great pride we all have in the ministry and work going on throughout Eastern Oklahoma. A Good Shepherd should know his sheep, and it has been a delight to visit your communities and listen to your stories. As part of my desire to hear from all of you, I am asking every Catholic in the Diocese to fill out a short survey about the Diocese and the DDF. The survey will help me better understand how I can serve our parishes, our seminarians, our youth, our pro-life efforts, and much more!
All survey responses will be anonymous and submitted to a third party, not the Diocese or your pastor. Please fill out the survey only once and help me understand how I can be a Good Shepherd to everyone in Eastern Oklahoma.
Yours in Christ,
So, okay. I know it’s likely the good bishop doesn’t care what ol’ Laramie has to say. However, he said he desired to hear from all of us, so who am I to refuse?
Basically, we’ve worked hard to build the Traditional Catholic community we have here, and we don’t want it quashed. If there were a word to describe the opinions in my circles, it’d be: nervous apprehension. This is for good reason. Not only has a cherished priest and organization (the Doloran Fathers) been shut down this year, but an examination of where Bishop Konderla’s roots lie will help to vindicate our concern.
One of my colleagues at Cathinfo has informed me about the diocese that Bishop Konderla came from. I have been told how, down there in Austin, Konderla’s former bishop did “everything in his power to subjugate the traddies and the Latin Mass.” She said that the climate there is to “encourage” Traditionalists to assist at only the indult Mass at the cathedral, and that priests and deacons make sure that they are unwelcome in every other parish. One priest who attempted to help establish a Latin Mass in Rockdale was transferred out.
This woman recounted to me experiences that she had as she was attempting to reconcile herself and her husband with the Catholic Church:
“My first try at reconciliation was a parish I can walk to. I never was able to get an appointment with the priest. I later found out he is one of those priests on probation for allegations of sexual abuse, and he was eventually transferred near Konderla’s stronghold [at Texas A&M]. The parish had no priest for almost two years. I had no luck with the office staff in getting an appointment, so I decided to go straight to confession. I showed up a few minutes early. When the priest unlocked the doors, I said I was there for confession. Then, once I had told him it had been 45 years, he said to make an appointment. I told him I had tried for years. Shocked, I stayed in the back pew, stunned. No one else came to confession. The priest busied himself with preparations for a benediction service. Then some people arrived with children to practice singing. I walked out and have never returned there.
“I tried the other parish near me. That priest has a title of Monsignor. I found him to be a racist and a bigot. He did not know the background of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his parishioners parroted out: ‘Isn’t she the Mexican Mary?’ There were only eight people on the feast day of Our Lady’s Assumption. I looked into the back pews and saw a Hispanic mother with her two little boys, and my heart broke. On the way home, my husband said he didn’t want to be Catholic if this was an example of a monsignor.
“The next closest parish I tried was a little farther. I enrolled in a sacramentals class. According to the deacon-in-training, the bishop had ordered all church records rectified. I was in a class of other confused Catholics. We were all ‘missing’ proof of either our baptism, FHC, confirmation, and so on. All of the people there were Hispanic. A young, frustrated father who came straight from work for this class never had his questions answered. I feared correctly when he stopped coming to class. I, too, became frustrated. I was told that I would not be received into the Catholic Church by Easter if I did not meet with the priest regarding my marriage. I never got a straight answer from anyone on my issues (I married outside of the Church to a non-Catholic). The priest broke off our first appointment, and he simply never showed up for the next appointment. I will never forget that. My mother died the next day.
“I could go on. I tried three other parishes with worse experiences. I gave up wanting to reconcile with the Church. It was my husband who found the Eastern Catholic Church. The merciful priest there was angry with how we were treated. We were received by examination, knowing both Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic/Eastern Orthodox history, doctrine, and so on. My husband is a member of an apostolate, through which we met Fr. Ripperger.”
It sounds like this woman and her husband have had a terrible time trying to discover Roman Catholicism. It would have been nice if the clergy in Austin demonstrated that they cared about converting people. What could have been different for my friend if these shepherds were more accessible?
Speaking of accessibility, here is another example of the Austin diocese’s lack of it. Back in 2011, a homeschooling group invited Austin’s Bishop Vasquez to attend their annual homeschooler blessing Mass. This was a common, annual thing. But this time, the newly-ordained Bishop Vasquez allowed his diocesan Superintendent of Catholic schools to write the following reply to that homeschooling group:
Bishop Vásquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall homeschooling blessing Mass. Bishop Vásquez believes Catholic education, and in particular Catholic school education, is an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin. As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the church. Bishop’s presence at the homeschooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic homeschooling; therefore, Bishop Vásquez must respectfully decline the invitation.
Sincerely in Christ,
Ned F. Vanders, Ed.D.
Pretty nasty stuff, that. Pure, open, unprovoked contempt. A common complaint among homeschoolers in Austin was that Bishop Vasquez was openly hostile to homeschooling. It is likely that this Ned Vanders felt free to antagonize homeschoolers because he knew he had the backing of his bishop.
And so, blowing off people seems to be a tradition that is being carried over into our diocese, here in Tulsa. These stories out of Austin comprise the cauldron that Bishop Konderla emerged from. He thrived in Austin as a college chaplain. However, what kind of a man thrives in this kind of an environment? Surely, not a man who is at all friendly to what the Catholic Church has always been.
If we look at some of the stories out of Austin, can it not be said that we should expect some of the same to happen, right here in Eastern Oklahoma?
Consider that in 2010, Bishop Vasquez of Austin decided to allow a Jewish rabbi to hold Jewish Yom Kippur religious services on the consecrated grounds of the St. Louis Catholic Church. Prominence was given to the Jewish ceremonies over the Catholic Mass. The rabbi was to hold his event in the main body of the Church, while the Mass was relegated to the chapel.
Rabbi Alan Freedman, who was on the board of Planned Parenthood
“When the first such event took place at St. Louis Church last year, the Church was transformed into a non-Catholic worship space. The altar was decked with apparel for the Jewish ritual, the tabernacle was covered, Catholic statues were removed and the Stations of the Cross covered. Before and after photos obtained by LifeSiteNews from last year’s event demonstrate some of the transformation.”
When questioned, the pastor, Fr. Covington, boasted that the Jewish community and his parishioners were pleased with the outreach of his parish. He further said in an interview, “There is no way that these gestures can repair the kind of damage that Christians have caused Jews over the years.” Later on, Lifesite news reported that this rabbi, Alan Freedman, served on the Board of Planned Parenthood in Austin. These Jewish rituals were eventually cancelled, due to outrage from parishioners.
Is this our future? Shall Tulsan Catholics be disregarded and ignored? Will we have our cathedrals co-opted by pro-abortionist Jews? Can our homeschooling community expect to be ridiculed by official diocesan representatives? Will laity be blown off as they look for answers to their spiritual needs? None of this happened under Bishop Konderla, of course; he was just a college chaplain during those reported events. However, he thrived in those conditions, and was hand-picked by Pope Francis for this job.
The Vulnerability of Tulsa Catholics
Tulsa Catholics, you may not know it, but you are under siege—or, at least those of you who value the traditions of the Church. Little by little, sheep are becoming scattered and becoming feral. Will we quibble about protecting the careers of men who are supposed to be putting their very lives on the line for our souls? Or shall we turn our eyes front to the issue that stands before us all?
When Bishop Konderla reads this—and he will—let him know that a great amount of the people that he is supposed to be caring for view him with suspicion. Perhaps they say nothing to him directly, but I assure you that the laity talk in hushed voices in the entryways and parking lots of the parishes in this city. We discuss the various movements of different priests, where they go, and who comes in.
Our backs are already against the wall as we fight the virulent anti-Catholic Protestantism of this region. To fight the internecine war with modernism that is ongoing within the Church is another additional burden.
I therefore urge Bishop Konderla to not pick at the Traditional Catholic community that has been built in this town, and assure his flock that he is on our side. We seek the healing balm of the Catholic Church, not modernist NPR liberalism. The traditional people of our city are good, hard-working folks who have a lot of struggles in this life. Please treat them well.
I would like for it to be the case that my apprehensions are unnecessary. I’ve been wrong before.
I’ve hesitated to write this blog post since mid-September, which was three months ago. This is not some sort of a zealous sport for me. I am hoping that Bishop Konderla will have an open mind about Tulsa. I am praying that he does not dig in his heels when he hears about us Tulsa Traditionalists. I am aware that 85% of what he deals with are headaches. I want this minister of God to make the best decisions. We are Catholics, not enemies.
Finally, let us not allow this issue to diminish the respect for the office of Bishop Konderla. We should revere the proper authority of our priests and bishops, as they have the authority to consecrate the Sacrament.
“It is this ministry of theirs that dictates that you should reverence them, not for what they are in themselves, but for the power I have entrusted to them, if you would receive the holy sacraments of the Church.” -God to St. Catherine of Siena