Minutes of Steering Committee,

Winchester Area VOTF, August 21, 2002, 7.30 p.m.

In attendance: Bob Morris, Fr. Jim Bertelli, Mary and John Deyst, Michele Nivens, Barbara Doherty, Paul Kellen, Regina Pontes, Bonnie Rodgers-Kronenburg, Louise Aleo, Marge Bean, Marion Gura, Jane Howard, Clare Keane.

The Opening Prayer, a prayer of touching, was offered by Paul Kellen. Attendees introduced themselves.

Wellesley Lay Council: Since Louise needed to leave early, she made her presentation first. About 200 attended the Aug. 8 meeting. The move toward structural reform relates to both church structure and the structure of VOTF itself. Several motions were voted. Extensions were requested to the temporary terms of office-holders. Wellesley is delaying elections until the end of December. Originally the Wellesley Steering Committee (now known as the Lay Council) did the voting for officers. Now elections will be open to all. One of the most important issues is that of communication – within VOTF Central and between individual VOTF chapters. We need a method of input and ratification for groups outside of Boston so that their voices are heard. The voting system at the Lay Council is that each chapter has one vote, regardless of how many representatives attend from a given chapter. Michele noted that she will be asking for volunteer representatives on the Lay Council after September.

Bob Strong was the author of the statement of goals for VOTF and Regina has used them as the basis for the brochure she is putting together for the parish presentation on September 8. The August 26 Steering Committee meeting will be largely devoted to editing and tweaking this brochure. In the meantime, Bob will distribute it to Steering Committee members. Members should send any comments on the brochure and on the Statement of Goals by email.

Bob Morris noted that he had received an email from Paul Baier regarding a group calling itself Faithful Voice. It disrupted a VOTF meeting in North Andover and we should be prepared for it to makes its presence known at other chapter meetings. The group has called on the faithful to attend Mass at the Cathedral on September 22 to show solidarity with the Cardinal. A discussion followed about members discomfort with a victims’ group flier which calls supporters to boycott Mass on that day and stand outside with the survivors. The consensus of the Steering Committee is that we continue to be faithful to our religious observances or our activities will give fodder to those spreading misinformation about VOTF. All agreed they would not want to boycott Mass in any case. This is an unfortunate direction for a group to take. Some may have other opinions, but they are not compatible with VOTF goals, and we do not want to diminish the effectiveness of VOTF. A suggestion was made to include some strong disclaimers at the Monday night meetings for the benefit of those who are confused about the origin of certain initiatives.

As anticipated, a public response to negative reporting and misinformation came from VOTF –Central – and excellent letter from Jim Post which was partially quoted in the Globe. Individuals were encouraged to write personally to the Pilot, the Globe and to the Archdiocese.

UPDATES:

Speakers:

Sr. Janice Farnham from the Weston School of Theology will speak about Church History on August 26.

Fr. J. O’Donohoe will speak on Sept. 23 on historical tensions over power in the Church and the history of church structures.

Bob has a commitment from James Carroll to speak on Oct. 7.

Regina has heard that Fr. Leahy, President of Boston College, is very booked up and may not be able to speak to us in the next few months. He has not, however, given us a definite no.

Sex Abuse Panel: Bob has contacted a parishioner who has worked with victims, and members discussed who else would make up the panel. We need a therapist representative, and possibly someone involved with SNAP. Bonnie and Paul have a contact and they will work together to try to secure her for the panel. Mary Deyst mentioned another strong potential panelist from Arlington who deals with victims of abuse.

Cable Access: Regina will send out some publicity relating to VOTF and its upcoming events to the Cable agencies in Arlington and Winchester, and also to the local newspapers.

Sex Abuse Education: Paul noted that we need input from the parents of small children, a group sparsely represented at VOTF meetings. Bonnie will contact the leader of Moms Morning Out. Paul will try to enlist the same contact he has in mind for the panel discussion.

Contact with St. Zepherin’s: Bonnie has connected with Darrell Simpson.

Cathedral Volunteers: Marge Bean attended last Sunday with 3 volunteers from St. Eulalia’s. She mentioned that volunteers were asked to hold signs, many of which were vulgar and objectionable. Discussion followed, again centering on being faithful to the church and to VOTF’s stated goals.

September 8 VOTF Presentation at a Mass: Bob has in mind a 7-8 minute oral presentation, two minutes each from several individuals, possibly Christina, Louise, Michele, Paul and Andy. Time for questions from parishioners will follow during the socialization period in Manion Hall. We have to limit the entire session to 30 minutes, since the faithful will be arriving for the 11 a.m. Mass.

The Steering Committee will not meet on Sept. 11 due to memorial services planned for the anniversary. We will meet instead on the Tuesday, Sept. 10.

For the Closing Prayer, the group prayed the Our Father.