VM: 024/2012 : HAS CORRUPTION BECOME A NORM WITH PARISH AUTHORITIES?

     Silent Voice

        A/7  Rodrigues Compound, Malwani Village, Malad (W),

Mumbai, 400095.   Contact No. 98707 19628

E mail:    silentvoice58@gmail.com

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Voicemail

VM: 024/2012

1st, December, 2012

Good Shepard Church

HAS CORRUPTION BECOME A NORM WITH PARISH AUTHORITIES?

Good Shepard Church           (Z/in. S.V)

Good Shepard Church
(Z/in. S.V)

Dear Friends,

Parish after parish is being affected with corrupt practices by Parish Administrations. This VOICEMAIL is related to GOOD SHEPHER CHURCH, FOUR BUNGLOWS; ANDHERI. The Parishioners approached SILENT VOICE, with a request to take up the matter with Archbishop and exposure on the blog.

Please go through the entire matter, in order to understand the problem.

GREG

CATHOLICS FOR TRUTH TRANSPARENCY AND WEEDING OF

CORRUPT PRACTICES AT PRISH LEVEL.

           Voice  OF A SILENT MAJORITY

Constuted UnderPara 29 of Christifideles Laici

(Post Synodal ApostolicExhortation ofH. H.Late Pope John Paul II)

A/7, Rodrigues Compound, Malwani Village, Malad (W),

Mumbai,400095. Contact no. 98707 19628.

E Mail:         silentvoice58@gmail.com

To,                                                                                                                              26th, November, 2012;

Most Rev. Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay;

SUB:- State of affairs at GOOD SHEPHERD CHURCH, FOUR, BUNGLOWS, ANDHERI.

Your Eminence,

Attached herewith, is a letter addressed to you, together with couple of specimens of pamphlets, describing state of affairs at the Parish, which are self explanatory. We therefore, would not delve on it in details.

The happening does not surprise us nor should it surprise you. Such things have been happening at various parishes, about which we have been writing to you, from time to time.

As regards to financial misappropriation by Parish authorities, we would like to refresh your memory:

  • Rs. Fifty Lakhs spent on minor repairs of the Church, by Parish Priest of OL of Vailankanny, Irla. He resigned??????? After the parishioners hit the streets to protest.
  • Parish Priest budgeted for Rs. Fifty Lakhs, to put up a false ceiling, which is unnecessary, according to parishioners, to St. Paul’s Church, Dadar. We believe, you have issued stop work order after Parishioners raised hue and cry.
  • Manipulation of tenders for providing mandap, lights, chairs etc. for Holy Week celebrations at St. Antony’s Church Malwani; is unique. Besides, there is also a case of Candle stand, where amount is paid is more than twice of actual cost.

Your Eminence, these are just a few examples, where parishioners raised their voice. We therefore, have been seeking transparency in financial affairs of the parish. SOLE TRUSTEE powers to Parish Priests are being misused in most of the cases.

We have been writing about PPC being a PARISH PRIEST’S COUNCIL, rather than PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL, because councilors MUST agree to proposals put up by parish authorities. Those who oppose are disposed off.

A couple of such Examples are:

v  Vice President of PPC was suspended, by manipulating votes, for opposing false ceiling renovation at St. Paul’s Church, Dadar.

v  Civic and Political Cell President, at OL of Remedy Church, Poinsur; was compelled to resign for opposing Parish Priest’s decision to move Church boundary inwards, for the benefit of adjoining society and upcoming building construction. She along with her husband is still being hounded by cronies of PP.

Reverting to GOOD SHEPHERD PARISH, Parish Priests attitude seems to be dictator like. Your Eminence, the Parishioners have formed a group named CONCERNED PARISHIONERS ACTION GROUP (CPAG). Lay faithful have right to form a group under, Christ’s Faithful People (Christifideles Laici). Please look at CPAG as one of such group, working for Church.

Your Eminence, you certainly must remember following words, which contained in one of our letter to you in context of Archdiocesan Consultation.

All they need is a listening ear and perhaps, marg darshan– spiritual direction, someone to reflect back to them what they are doing, or what is right or wrong”. ‘To come closer to people, we don’t need these exercises. All is required is for the Clergy to change their ways while dealing with Laity.’

Your Eminence, Parishioners of GOOD SHEPHERED CHURCH is a disturbed lot. They can’t find a listening ear in the Parish. Parish Priest has even gone to the extent of lodging a police complaint against his own Parishioners, which could be first incident in the history of Archdiocese. It is a Dictator mentality and not of a Catholic Priest.

We call upon you to ORDER the Parish Priest to withdraw the police complaints, immediately. Besides, we request you to lend a LISTENING EAR to these aggrieved Parishioners as soon as possible, and douse the flames of resentments against parishioners, before they flare further.

Give CPAG an appointment to meet you, and try to resolve their problems.

Yours always, in our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

GREG R. PEREIRA

CATHOLICS FOR TRUTH TRANSPARENCY AND WEEDING OF

CORRUPT PRACTICES AT PARISH LEVEL

Copy to:-  Edgar Menezes, Convenor, CPAG: Good Shepherd Church, Andheri.

Encl:               As above

PARISHIONER’S LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP.

20th November 2012.

H.E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Archbishop of Bombay

Archbishop’s House

Colaba

Mumbai  400001

Your Eminence,

Greetings from the troubled Parish of Good Shepherd, Andheri West.

A team appointed by Your Eminence headed by Bishop Agnelo visited our Parish on 12th Oct 2012 evening, and had an extensive meeting with our Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) Members.  We had requested Bishop Agnelo prior to the meeting to consider if few representatives of the parishioners agitating for transparency in the functioning of our Parish, could be present at the meeting.  We could not attend, as we were given to understand that the brief given was to discuss matters with the members of the PPC only.  The PPC consists of representatives from the Small Christian Communities as well as the various Associations in the Parish.  It has been a trend that the most compliant/docile member of the Community or Association is usually nominated to the PPC, mainly because the role has been generally limited, to purely ‘reporting’.  All decisions are taken for them!!  The Parish Priest autocratically decides what is best for the Parish and all are expected to tow the line. Disagreement is anathema. Of course we have been blessed with wonderful years under Fr Caesar and Fr Ubaldo, when there was dialogue, discussion and consensus in all decision making; but like the saying goes – that’s another story.

I am sure that Bishop Agnelo and his team got a fairly good idea (though watered down) of the goings on in the Parish; I am sure that they would not have been too happy with what was reported by the PPC.  Their report should have been sent to your office a long time ago.  The crux of the matter is that our very vibrant and young parish is being slowly smothered and if no action is quickly taken, will be dying.  There is no pastoral activity or tangible pastoral support. There is now an attempt being made to revive youth activities; but I fear this is too little and does not address the needs of the various age groups.  The Prayer group / Associations are given no support or encouragement (They were not permitted to put up a Banner for the Mission Sunday Rally 2012, held at the Seminary Grounds). The Small Christian Communities, so meticulously nurtured by Bishop Bosco and supported by earlier PPs, are in the doldrums – there is no Project Coordinator since July 2012.  Any section that speaks for the truth is victimized.

Your Eminence is well aware of the financial mess in our Church.  The accounts have indeed been finalised but it is obvious that they do not reflect the correct picture since many of the transactions have been recorded in pencil.  The Finance Committee which has been appointed consists of compliant Parishioners who do not even raise questions about basic issues such as the non payment of Service Tax or the non compliance with directions given by the Archbishop’s House with respect to expenditure control.  The Finance Committee met after 16 months (after the PPC Vice President, Robert Williams wrote to your Eminence).  During this period major expenses were incurred and it is indeed surprising that none of them thought it fit to either question this or to protest.

To make matters worse your Eminence’s Representative Fr Savio, Chancellor, has been taking a less than impartial position whilst chairing the PPC Meetings.  Since he has been appointed it has been reported that the PPC Meetings are completed within an hour with the Agenda drawn up the PP and the Secretary and no room for any questions.

Your Eminence, it has been over five weeks since the Bishop Agnelo led Committee visited our Church (12Oct12 ) and we see no outcome.  It is disappointing that even the two most urgent issues – the resolution of which is quite simple and would have been immensely appreciated, have not been addressed:

1.  Withdrawal of False Police Complaint filed against Mr. Robert Williams, Vice President, PPC and Mr. Jolly Kochery, Parishioner.

2.  Reinstatement of Mrs. Pamela D’Souza, as Cantor. She has been a Parishioner for 33 years and a Cantor for 16 years and was verbally dismissed by Fr. Jude, for upholding the truth.

The above has unfortunately led to the parishioners losing faith in the resolve of the hierarchy to address the various problems.  Bishop Agnelo and Fr. Salvador, Episcopal Vicar have been briefed on the dismal situation prevalent in our Parish.

I do understand that your Eminence will find my choice of words to be hyperbolic – but unfortunately they are true.  Parishioners are slowly moving out of the mainstream Catholic Church to other denominations because of the autocratic and aloof behaviour of our Pastors. Youth and young couples / families are attending camps, leadership / evangelization initiatives in two non Catholic Organizations in the immediate vicinity of Good Shepherd Church. I would request your Eminence to act urgently and decisively and help us restore our parish to the vibrant, united, strong, caring and loving community it used to be.  If your Eminence reads between the lines of the report which has probably been sent to you by the Bishop Agnelo Committee it will be obvious where the problem lies – the choice of Priests deputed to our Parish.  It is time to stop considering our Parish as a “soft” posting and send young and dynamic Priests to pastor our Parishioners.

Thanking you and I look forward to an inspirational initiative from your Eminence.

Your humble servant in Christ,

Edgar Menezes,

Co-ordinator, SCC Zone 3 Unit 9 (St Dominic Savio Community),

Concerned Parishioner of Good Shepherd Parish.

Mob: 91-9833570783

Copy to:

His Excellency Bishop Agnelo Gracias

His Excellency Bishop Bosco Penha

His Excellency Bishop Percival Fernandez

Rev. Fr. Salvador Rodrigues, Provincial Vicar

FIRST FLIER FROM PARISHIONERS

Good Shepherd Church

Are you aware that a large section of our concerned parishioners have been agitating for over three years?  Some startling facts:

Financial Mismanagement

  • Per the last accounts (2008-09) as published in the Flock News: Collections from Masses / Community Funds / Lawns were Rs 55 Lakhs. Against this expenses (less capital expns) were Rs 25 Lakhs or an annual surplus of Rs 30 Lakhs.
  • Over last three years collections have increased about 100% so it is safe to presume that surplus would be over Rs 30 lakhs each year.
  • Where have we spent over Rs 90 lakhs in the last three years?
  • Church Canon Law requires Finance Committee to discuss/approve all major capital expense over Rs 50T.  The Finance Committee has not met for over 16 months!! And the Archbishop’s House is not aware of any capital expenses!!

Where has the money gone?

  • Poor, needy have actually been turned away / humiliated and from the Rs 6L to be disbursed from Comm Funds each year only Rs 60T has actually been given in 2008-09 for medical / educational assistance.
  • No financial assistance whatsoever to SVP, Youth Group, Prayer Groups, etc etc
  •  Committee mandated by the Archbishop to approve and recommend disbursal of Community fund disbanded.

But we have an arrogant, aloof, stubborn Pastor who

  • The poor, needy, deserving are afraid to approach
  • Dismisses / humiliates parishioners from associations who ask questions including from the Pastoral Council.
  • Suspends / cancels religious services arbitrarily

The Archbishop Cardinal Oswald, has taken the unprecedented step of suspending all bookings for the Lawns / Halls due to the murky deals of the Administrator.

You are called to be a part of the movement demanding transparency.  Begin by

  • Questioning the Parish Priest about funds, religious services, etc
  • Withhold contributions in any form and with immediate effect to Community fund until transparency is restored.

“CONCERNED PARISHIONERS FOR A PARISH BUILT ON COMPASSION, INTEGRITY, TRANSPARENCY, DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE & LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE”

(For additional information pls email < cpag.gsc@gmail.com >

SECOND FLIER FROM PARISHIONERS

YOU MUST KNOW …………..

Why are parishioners protesting? Who called the Police? Was the media called?  What is happening?

The “Concerned Parishioners Action Group” (CPAG) of Good Shepherd is parishioners who have become aware of several malpractices and dubious happenings in the running of the Parish and want them rectified.  We have no personal agenda, vested interests or desire for any power or position.  Our only motto is:

A PARISH BUILT ON COMPASSION, INTEGRITY, TRANSPARENCY, And GOOD GOVERNANCE & LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE.

We have no doubt that when you become aware of those issues you too would be “concerned”.

1.  WHAT ARE THESE ISSUES OF CONCERN?

A) ACCOUNTING MALPRACTICES

  • Mainly “cash” transactions relating to the hire of lawns and allied services – no official receipt.
  • Service tax not being levied / paid to the government – a serious matter
  • Large contributions to ‘Community Welfare Fund’ (CWF) not shown in the CWF ledger but as ‘donations’ to the Church.
  • No receipts issued towards large donations in cash

Some of these transactions are beyond the scope of “audit”.  The auditors do not investigate but only report on what is ‘seen in the books’ presented to them.

B) ADMINISTRATIVE IRREGULARITIES

The rules and guidelines of the Archdiocese regarding finance and administration are flouted with impunity.  Examples:

  • No Finance Committee constituted from 2008-2010 and when constituted in mid 2010 did not have a meeting for 16 months! They met only after a written complaint was given to Archbishop’s House in May 2012.
  • The mandatory approval required from Archbishop’s House not obtained for Rs 32 lakhs spent in 2008. Such large amounts continue to be spent and WITHOUT ANY TENDERS.
  • The committee to administer the CWF set up by Fr Caesar was disbanded and all laid down policies / guidelines were cancelled.
  • Against 50% of the collections of this Fund to be given out towards medical/educational aid, the actual disbursements from 2008 are in the region of 6% (i.e. around Rs 80,000 instead of Rs 6 to 6.5 lakhs!)  Why are our poor and needy being deprived and instead Rs 10 lakhs is being transferred to the Church General accounts.
  • No proper operating procedures, systems and inadequate office staff.  Everything is vested in one staff member.
  • This staff member claims that he has also invested in the lawns and is entitled to retain income in excess of Rs 18 lakhs!  Has such a deal been made?  What are the terms? What is the ‘actual’ income from the Lawns/Halls?
  • There are also other monopolies and vested interests operating (imposed) for catering, decorations, music/sound, flower arrangements in the Church.  Who benefits from these?  Why are these not tendered? Why no panel in place?
  • Why is this high expense for the church building while money is denied to pay the priests who preach our missions, to support Confirmation Catechesis, for prayer services and even to pay a small repayable “advance” for the Youth Summer camp.

We need a Church of the “People of God”; not of cold cement and stone.

C) ATTITUDINAL ISSUES

Complaints regarding the brusque, insolent, brazen style of Fr John Lobo have been galore from the beginning.  Although he apologised once, he has not changed but in fact become even more dictatorial and intolerant.  People are afraid to approach him.  Some are even joining other sects.

  • Remove and Rule Policy – anyone who questions or raises objections is removed.
  • Removed – four Parish Councillors and tried to remove the representative of Couples for Christ and even the Vice President of the Parish Council on flimsy, untenable grounds. Latest dismissals – two Youth Animators and one Cantor – all because they sympathise with CPAG.
  • No steering committee meetings for SCCs for three years.  No support or help to struggling SCCs.  No Parish SCC Project Coordinator since June 2012!

Is this how we promote “The New Way of Being a Church?”

2.  WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

From 2008, many concerned parishioners have been agitating, the concerned parishioners included Parish Councillors, SCC Coordinators, Animators, Representatives of Cells and Associations.

3.  WHY AND WHO CALLED THE POLICE

Fr John complained to the police that CPAG Members were planning to create trouble and disturb masses on the weekend of 30th Sept.  This was not at all on our agenda.  Our previous protests with banners and candle light were silent, absolutely peaceful and dignified.  The police were sent to the house of the VP of the Parish Council.  A police complaint under Sec 149 of the IPC was lodged against Mr Robert William and Mr Jolly Kochery whereby they could be arrested and detained by the police.  For the first time we had the police sitting on the steps of the church during mass.  For the first time in the HISTORY OF BOMBAY ARCHDIOCESE we had a Parish Priest who was trying to have his own Parishioners arrested by the Police!!!

 

4.  WHO CALLED THE MEDIA?

No one!!!!!  And no media came!  The people patronised by the Church and supporting Fr John have created this imaginary scare.  There are also various rumours spread by “interested” parties.

5.  WHO IS SUPPORTING THE PARISH PRIEST

  • Mainly some senior citizens and some people with vested interest as also some people instigated by others who stand to lose if we have transparency and clean governance.
  • Golden Hearts Clubs who have no official standing since they have not adopted the Diocesan Constitution for Senior Citizens groups and hence have to depend on Fr John’s goodwill.
  • Some parishioners who are driven by emotions alone,(which obscures the ground reality) and who are not inclined to dialogue with the CPAG. Very many parishioners do not wish to speak out for fear of victimization.

Our priests are insinuating from the pulpit that those who ask for financial accountability of priests will be punished by God and their children cursed. Many parishioners take this literally and join the silent majority.

6.  IS IT A SIN TO QUESTION PRIESTS OR TO OPPOSE THEM?

 

Never.  Christ constantly criticised the Pharisees and the High Priests.  He physically drove out those who were doing business in the temple,  By Baptism, each one of us has become a partaker in the “priestly prophetic and kingly office of Christ”,  we have rights and a voice because “We are the Church”.  When our rights and entitlements are being abrogated; when money give by us is being squandered, we must speak up.  Christ has commanded his disciples ‘not to Lord it over’ people.  Christian leadership is Servant Leadership not to be dominating and overbearing.

 

ARE YOU NOT CONCERNED? OR ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH INDIGNITY, INSOLENCE, MALPRACTICE AND MISMANAGEMENT? PLS DECIDE INTELLIGENTLY.

Note : For queries / info Email : Coordinator : cpag.gsc@gmail.com

Blog :  http://www.silentmaj.wordpress.com

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12 Comments

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