Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dedicated Jesuits Are Willing And Able

Santa Clara County in California has threatened to eliminate the Masses, which have been offered at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose for more than 25 years, as a cost-cutting measure and to downplay Catholicism in favor of a more ecumenical viewpoint. The county had planned to terminate the Masses in February.

“Valley Medical Center had intended to end the Mass and regular priestly visits for two reasons: to save the county an annual $30,000 it had contracted with the diocese, and to develop a program that better reflected the rainbow of religions in the county, and not just spend money on Catholic rituals,” the Mercury News reported May 26. “Thus far no other religious group has asked for regular services at the hospital, although clergy members from various faiths do visit when patients request them.”

But, when 76-year-old Theresa Asquith learned in late February only one more Mass was planned at the hospital, “she phoned up high-powered players to uphold the religious tradition,” the newspaper reported. Asquith, said the Mercury News, is “the retired co-founder of Mother's Milk Bank, who has attended Mass at the county hospital for more than 25 years.”

Among the leaders who became involved was Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church in San Jose, who contacted all the parties involved, according to the newspaper. “Over the past three months, this agreement has been hammered out by Cortese, the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the vicar general at the Diocese of San Jose, and Sylvia Gallegos, acting director of the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System,” said the Mercury News.

The details of the compromise, said the San Jose newspaper, include: “The two Jesuit priests, the Revs. Gene Corbett and William Stout, who are both semiretired and in their 70s, will continue to lead Saturday and Sunday Mass in the meditation room, for free, as long as they are willing and able."
Link (here) to the full article at the California Catholic Daily.

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