Living in retirement a few blocks from St. Joseph’s church, Monsignor O’Reilly was, of course, causing no “mischief’ whatsoever. He simply could not avoid the violent storm now ravaging his former parish or the human debris it tossed up and deposited on his doorstep. In fact, the constant flow of distraught Catholics seeking out the Monsignor for pastoral advice and assistance prompted him to observe that he had had “more worries” since he retired “than in fifty years as an active parish priest.” He then added:
It particularly upsets and hurts me that practicing Catholics won’t go to Mass. We had about a seventy per cent Mass attendance among the 1200 families in the parish. I’m sure that the silent majority are dead against the Team. On a secret ballot they would be voted right out.
Truth, Justice & The Newchurch Way
With democratic notions like secret ballot about as popular with the Team as Catholicism with Fidel Castro, the lay counterrevolution had lodged the following formal submission with the Diocesan Council of Priests as early as I1 April 1989 in an effort to mobilize clerical support for their cause:
SUBMISSION FROM THE PARISHIONERS OF ST. JOSEPH’S PARISH, BENALLA
DIOCESE OF SANDHURST
TO THE ASSEMBLED FATHERS:–‑
We respectfully request your Council’s consideration and resolution of the following numerous irregularities which prevail in this parish of St. Joseph’s, Benalla, and which have been commenced and perpetuated by the three priests who were appointed to administer this parish as the “Team Ministry” in January of this year 1989.
The principal area of concern is the failure of the Team Ministers to conduct liturgical ceremonies or generally to carry out the normally expected duties in a manner conducive to fulfilling the spiritual needs of the people and upholding the teachings and traditions of Holy Mother, the Church, in the parish of St. Joseph’s, Benalla.
This failure is instanced by the following (inter alia):-
– Omissions and abuses of parts of the liturgical ceremonies other than those allowed by the Liturgy of the Holy Mass, for example:
- Omissions of the Credo on Sundays
- Ad lib opening prayers to the Mass
- Offering of the bread and wine together at the Offertory Rite
- Frequently, proper vestments are not worn by the Celebrant for Holy Mass on Sundays
- After Holy Communion the Chalice is handed over to a layman or woman to consume the final draught of the Precious Blood and to cleanse the Chalice
- On occasions, a lay minister is offered Holy Communion in a “self-service” style off the Paten, and consumes the Host at the same time as the priest after the manner in which the con celebrant receives Holy Communion
– As well there are other changes and deviations which have arisen in the parish, causing great scandal to the people-, amongst these we cite the following:‑
- The Sacrament of Penance is not administered in the proper form as given in ritual for the Sacrament of Penance. The Third Rite of Reconciliation is given in a completely unauthorized manner and in unnecessary circumstances, even in the classrooms of our primary school. Individual Confession is offered on a “by appointment” basis.
- The conduct of the weekly Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, practiced in this parish for some 14 years, has been abolished, despite its regular attendance by a congregation of some 60 people each week and despite the exhortation of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II for the continuance and increase in devotion to the Mother of God.
These and many other deviations from the liturgy of the Church together with a deportment and manner of conduct on and about the altar that is far from reverent, respectful and becoming, are being practiced. Any comments or questions to the priests by the laity on these matters — and there have been many during the past several weeks — meet with hostility and bad manners which is totally foreign to the manner in which the parishioners are used to being treated in the past.
Examples of this attitude are demonstrated in —*One priest informing a parishioner that “we don’t want quantity, we want quality”. (This raises the question as to whether he understands our Lord’s message in the parable of one sheep that was lost!)