Back to Boston.com homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online Cars.com BostonWorks Real Estate Boston.com Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Boston.com Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
 Latest coverage

March 23
Law's words frame new play

March 2
Wary Catholics return to church

January 25, 2004
Churches report attendance up

January 4, 2004
Dot parish struggles to survive

December 28
Hudson fill-in priest welcomed

December 12
Law prays daily for diocese

November 22
Assignment for Law expected

November 20
Policies on VOTF reconsidered

September 19
Crisis issues in church's future

September 18
Meeting ban at parish is lifted

August 4
O'Malley given warm welcome

August 1
Lawmakers see shades of gray

July 31
An angry protest, and prayers
Voices of protest and support
Three in crowd bound in hope
At BC, optimistic students watch

July 29
Lay group to engage O'Malley

July 24
Many outraged after AG's report

July 21
Law to skip bishop installation

July 18
O'Malley invites Law, victims

July 11
Bishops seek private opinions

Earlier stories

Search for:
Time period:

Spotlight Report

Sharon church to establish Voice of the Faithful chapter

By Judith Forman, Globe Staff Correspondent, 8/11/2002

Following the lead of several local -- and national -- churches, members of Our Lady of Sorrows in Sharon are forming a chapter of Voice of the Faithful to give lay members a chance for a more active role in the Catholic Church.

Lay leaders in Sharon have scheduled an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Cottage Street church for those interested in learning more about the Voice of the Faithful. The meeting is open to members of Our Lady of Sorrows and other area parishes.

Founded in Wellesley after the priest sexual-abuse scandal made headlines, the group's mission is to offer lay Catholics a place to talk about their concerns, support one another, and find ways to participate more actively in church governance, organizers say.

According to the group's Web site, Voice of the Faithful also aims to support those who have been abused, support priests of integrity, and shape structural change within the church.

Plans for a local Voice of the Faithful chapter first took shape in February, shortly after the sexual abuse scandal broke, said Bob Strong, a Sutton resident who has been a member of the Sharon parish since the mid-1980s. In the winter, the Parish Council created a task force of about 15 people to consider ways for the parish to react and to keep people involved in the church.

Of the 1,200 families belonging to the parish, Strong said, about a third are active. And as a result of the crisis, he said, donations to the church and attendance at Mass have been dropping.

"There were many, many personal concerns" among Sharon parishioners, Strong said, "ranging from `Are there victims in the parish?' to `How do we support our pastor?' to `How do we change the policies in the parish to ensure this type of thing won't happen here in the future?' "

Strong's job on the task force was to connect with other parishes responding to the crisis. "And that job led me to locate Voice of the Faithful," he said.

There were no incidents involving the parish that led to the local group's formation, Strong said.

In July, about 35 members of Our Lady of Sorrows attended Voice of the Faithful's first national convention, held in Boston. There, about 4,200 people from 36 states and seven countries took part in prayer, education, and organization.

"The response was extremely positive," Strong said of parishioners who went to the convention.

So, late last month, the parish decided to form its own chapter. A temporary steering committee of four members, including Strong and Lauretta Maslanka, is guiding the chapter until September, when a new steering committee and officers are expected to be elected.

"When this started coming out, I think people were distressed," said Maslanka, a Sharon resident who has been in the local parish since about 1974. Personally, Maslanka said, she thought the crisis was "unbelievable."

"I thought `How did this happen?' " she said. "I thought the cardinal had too much power and too much say and [the church] was too centralized."

A lot of the healing, Maslanka said, will come from members of the Voice chapter working and learning together.

"The more you're educated and empowered, the more you feel hope for the church," she added.

Other area Voice of the Faithful chapters have formed -- or are in the process of forming -- in Braintree, Canton, Hingham, Brockton, Plymouth, and East Weymouth, Strong said. There are 23,000 members worldwide and 68 chapters around the country that have formed since January, said Voice of the Faithful spokesman Mike Emerton.

In Sharon, Our Lady of Sorrows also has planned a healing Mass for Oct. 6, at 10 a.m., said the Rev. Robert Bullock, who has been with the parish for 24 years.

"We need to reach out to our parishioners," Bullock said. "We need to celebrate. We need healing. We need to gather."

Judith Forman can be reached by e-mail at jforman@globe.com.

This story ran on page S6 of the Boston Globe on 8/11/2002.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy