The pastor of Holy Family parish in the Kansas City - St. Joseph diocese, Fr. Matthew Brumleve, spoke the following words last Sunday, Ascension Sunday, about Jim McConnell, a member of his parish who stepped away from the permanent diaconate program, saying he could not kneel before Bishop Robert Finn and offer his unqualified obedience. This is an excerpt from his homily:
Another way ... to clarify one’s thinking on what is valuable and
important in life – is to make a difficult decision – as Jim McConnell had to
do within the last week. Jim and his wife Cindy prayed about and struggled
with his ordination to the diaconate – in light of all that has come out about
what Bishop Finn did, and failed to do, in the recent sexual abuse case
concerning Father Shawn Ratigan.
Jim decided that he could not just go through the motions of the ordination rite in which he would have to kneel before the Bishop and promise to respect and obey a person he no longer had respect for. And I say better that this faith community has lost a deacon than to just have one more person lose their integrity. Someone better than I once said that evil exists in the world because good people stand idly by and say and do nothing. So I say to Jim, and
I hope it is with the backing of this community, thanks, Jim, for leading the way in not standing idly by. Jim from the very beginning, and Cindy, almost from the very beginning, have been members of Holy Family. And so it is with a bit of pride that I hope in some small way it is due to the fact that Sunday after Sunday they were nurtured and formed by the Word of God in this place and were constantly being comforted and challenged by us – and this is what
gave Jim the strength and conviction to do what he did. So standing among the poor, losing someone you love, and making a tough decision are all ways that we can tell if we stand for the things Jesus stood for: compassion, understanding, integrity, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy.
Every day, each of us has to be able to say and do the things that allow us to sleep peacefully at night. In preaching this homily, I will sleep peacefully tonight. In standing against the exploitation and harm of children, Jim will sleep peacefully tonight. I hope that all of us can have a peaceful sleep tonight because we have been effective witnesses of the risen and ascended Christ this day. That today, in large and small ways, we have stood for the things Jesus challenges and expects us to stand for. AMEN!