If you haven’t yet caught up with http://spiritualpilgrim.dor.org/ you may not have seen the use of the title “Pastoral Minister” there. At least two women are given that title on the site. One is Kathy Lipfert from Auburn, and the other is Cris Wensel who is an employee of both St. Louis in Pittsford and Our Lady of the Lakes in Penn Yan, and has been since 2008. (Figure out the mileage on that one!) Wensel is one who pushed so hard for the wreck-ovation at St. Januarius, and who got low ratings in a parish-wide survey, but is still hanging on. (See the Zeal posts II, III, XV, XX, and XXI.)
Now is she the spokeswoman for Our Lady of the Lakes in evangelization too? The person who calls the Holy Spirit “she?” Interesting! But Fr. Ring defended her gender mis-use; not a surprise in DoR, is it? Well on the video she identifies herself as a “pastoral associate in the Diocese of Rochester.”
So, where does the term “Pastoral Minister” come from? Where does it fit with Pastoral Associate, Pastoral Administrator and Pastor? Lipfert’s title is enshrined in the Diocesan Directory; Wensel’s is not. But before the titles disappear from the website, here is the evidence:
If you play the Wensel video, you will hear her identify herself as pastoral associate, but how can we help but wonder what is around the corner? Why is DoR using these titles now? Not surprisingly, the difficult time Wensel has had in OLOL is at least partly reflected in her choice of words that the Catholic Church is “grounded in community” and it can be a “little rough, a little frustrating, a little difficult”. Oh, my — what evangelization is THAT! If I weren’t Catholic, would I want to run right out and convert? Not likely. Her message is to “try out one of our parishes.” And although she is listed for Yates County, she doesn’t mention OLOL churches. Check it out at: http://spiritualpilgrim.dor.org/tasks/sites/sa/assets/File/Cris%20Wensel%20video.mov
When I first posted, I’d hoped for some input and reaction to the spritual pilgrim program, and was wondering if this is a good way to go about evangelization? However, in the first 10 responses there has been much banter on the comment I’d made about Cris Wensel’s calling the Holy Spirit “she,” and it felt to me like “deja vu all over again” as Yogi Berra would say. Back in Our Lady of the Lakes this was precisely the question I had called Cris on, and for which Fr. Ring defended her. He even used some writing by Scott Hahn to argue that Bishop Bruskewitz endorsed Cris’s language. As the Holy Spirit often and so fortuitously arranges, I actually had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Bruskewitz on the national EWTN call-in show, and here is his reply, soundly defeating the Wensel-Ring arguments, and also some of those arguments posted in the comments below.
Click on this link to hear the commentary with Bishop Bruskewitz: