Many parishioners were late converts to the counter-revolt, as one explained:
The priests are very convincing. We would say they are wrong. Then we would change our mind and we weren’t sure for several months whether we were right or wrong. We are late-comers to the fight but when Father said certain things to us that were clearly incorrect we knew that those opposing the priests were right.
We sensed early on that all was not well:
I knew that things were going off the rails after the first few Masses in the hall. There was just no reverence. Everybody was talking. Adults and kids. Everyone!
They also noticed that this same newchurch influence, courtesy of experiential catechesis, had permeated St. Joseph’s primary school and was endangering the faith of their children. Left with the same agonizing decision now commonplace among Catholic parents, they withdrew their three boys from St. Joseph’s and sent them to the local State primary and high schools. As if echoing the sentiments of all those forced into taking similar action in recent years, they insisted that it was a traumatic time for the family:
I was one of the first boys to go to the F.C.J. convent school and it was very hard to break the connection with the school. But our kids were not being taught the Faith. Not even the basics. They had no idea what the Ten Commandments were! We discussed it with the teachers but didn’t get anywhere. We were nervous wrecks until our kids settled into the State schools.
This decision prompted a visit from Father during January 1990. He was surprised and concerned that the anyone would contemplate such a drastic step so they queried why their children had not been taught the Ten Commandments.
“We’re not Jews are we?” responded the Moderator.
Shortly after that peculiar retort, Father leap-frogged over papal authority when he informed them that the use of contraception “depends on your circumstances.”
“Everything is grey,” he told them, “because you have to equate it with circumstances. There is only one area in the Catholic Church that is not grey.” Open-mouthed, they were unable to ascertain the precise nature of this “one area.5)
These statements instantly confirmed the belief that they had acted prudently in removing their children from the parish school. But they also pointed to the pastoral and educational pillars of the new church: conscientious contracepting the fulcrum of newchurch dissent, and life-experience catechesis — the conduit through which the rationale for such dissent is transmitted to future generations.
The Team vigorously promoted these interdependent concepts as it set about re-constructing the parish psyche.