Yes, a lot has changed; the priests are different, the church looks different, the artwork has been replaced, the music groups are dwindling, and just about everything that we knew and loved about our community has been turned upside down.
I will admit the changes have been difficult but the thing that has really hit those of us who have remained is the absence of you. For me, that has been the hardest change because many of you left without giving it an opportunity to work.
We were Newman, a strong vibrant Catholic community. We were Newman, a place where many volunteered. We were Newman, a center of dialogue and discussion. We were Newman, a church which, in some instances, leaned a bit left for my tastes.
But I attended in spite of that, I stayed because Newman is my Catholic community. Our ranks appear to be down to at most 20 percent of the original parishioners from the time of the Dominicans.
Am I unhappy that this change was forced upon us and handled badly? Of course. We have a right to be upset and frustrated. However, that does not change my love for what made Newman special and that, in large part, was you.
To Father Michael DePalma, you should know that other Catholic communities in Albuquerque are reaching out to the scattered Newman flock. They recognize the value of their faith, their willingness to volunteer, be active members of their Catholic community and the possible donation levels they could provide another parish.
I myself have received one such email where I was personally encouraged, as well as other ministry heads, all ex-Newman Center parishioners and those who have expressed an interest in serving at another Catholic community, to attend a Parish Pastoral Council meeting.
You indicated once in an article in the Albuquerque Journal that the Newman Center had become a haven for those disenchanted with the Catholic faith. Other parishes don’t seem to view us that way and, additionally, I’m no Catholic scholar but isn’t that whom you should be preaching to?
The Newman Center had strengths and it is high time you sent a letter to the former parishioners recognizing those strengths and welcoming them back.
An interesting aside to the changes is the reaction my children have had.
They are wanting to volunteer now and they have expressed that they are OK with the changes.
As a mother of teenage boys, I feel the new priests are doing something right if they have captured the attention of teenagers. Positive changes exist as well, having daily Mass twice a day is an example; you know when it is every day, twice a day, which makes it far easier to attend.
Father Simon Carian and Father DePalma appear to be good and holy men, and the novices are delightful. They are largely from New Mexico, they know our community, grew up here, and already know about the benefits of St. Martin’s and the Brothers of the Good Shepherd and the like.
The Newman Center will survive; financially, the funds have got to be tight and I imagine the archdiocese will have to assist if it hasn’t already.
It will not be the same, but we were Newman and I openly invite my fellow parishioners who have chosen to leave to come back. Your Newman community needs you more than ever and it is sad you have abandoned the rest of us who are brave enough to stay.
We are the five or six families who are brave enough to be the only ones to reach across the aisle and hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, and we need you.
We are Newman, a rather pathetic, lonely group, but we are Newman and will remain.