THE BEACON: CELEBRATING WHO WE ARE IN 2018
JESUS MAY HAVE ATTENDED A FUNDRAISER AT COS -- Last Saturday night the PRISM Restorative Justice Outreach Ministry led by Br. Dennis Gibbs and Sr. Greta Ronningen hosted its Third Annual Fundraiser in Cleaver Hall. It may sound disrespectful, perhaps even sacrilegious, to state this, but I tell you truly that those of us who were in attendance came away acknowledging that a special spirit was present as we witnessed amazing examples of the impact of ministering to the least among us, particularly those exiles in prison.
What made this witnessing completely unique was the Program Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta created. After speaking briefly about PRISM'S work in the jails "DOING JUSTICE, LOVING MERCY & WALKING HUMBLY", they dedicated the rest of the Program to introducing the Mission and work of HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES. This Outreach Ministry founded by the legendary Fr. Greg Boyle is a compatible, synergistic extension of PRISM'S work so it made all the sense in the world for this to be the featured subject at this Fundraiser.
The Homeboy's presentation was in two parts. The first was a new, twenty minute documentary which incorporated moving testimonies from former gang members, both women and men, who now have new trajectories in their respective Journeys as employees of Homeboy Industries. Also included in the film was a listing of the incredible number of employment opportunities and services Homeboy offers to those attempting to exit a gang or those returning from prison. In particular, I was intrigued by the fact that Homeboy also operates a Charter School for young people banned from the public system. I urge you to take a look at their website.
Under normal circumstances this would have made for a very rewarding Program, BUT this was just the warm up. The Monks also had invited Jose and Germaine, two senior members of Homeboy Industries, to speak. As part of my own on-going Journey in recovery, over the years I have heard many, many moving testimonies from people beginning the 12 Steps toward sobriety. I have to tell you that I have NEVER, EVER heard more poignant stories detailing the challenges which Jose and Germaine faced and overcame before they found Homeboy. The realities of their young years were so foreign to most of the audience and brought home yet again the incredible differences between the "haves" and the "have nots". The fact of the matter is that we can not possibly understand the challenges caused by deeply dysfunctional families and the sense of security and "family" offered to young women and men by gangs. Jose and Germaine gave us all an education with their honesty, their candor, and their appreciation for the second chances Fr. Boyle has given them.
Upon reflection, perhaps it was not Jesus who was present during the evening but the Spirit of Saint Greg Boyle, aided and abetted by Br. Dennis, Sr. Greta AND Sharon Crandall. What a ministry the latter three oversee; THE Church of Our Saviour is so blessed to have them in our parish and so are the inordinate number of people in the prisons and jails whom they visit every single week! As you consider whom you might support with year end giving, please consider PRISM. Their work warrants your support.
PARISH PROFILE COMMITTEE UPDATE -- I assume the Committee will provide a summary of their presentation at the Sunday Forum. I personally want to thank Chair Paul Kilian, Charlotte Van Fleet, Kathy Feng, Maureen Sprunger, Nancy Duling and Meredith Brucker for all of the time and effort they have put into to bringing the process to this point.
I do have one observation about one point Meredith emphasized during her presentation. She had the task of summarizing the 'challenges' facing COS, and near the top of that list was 'the lack of transparency' which has existed for a long time. As anyone who reads The BEACON knows, I consider that one of my primary duties, my responsibilities, is to keep you informed about what is going on within the parish, the Diocese and the Communion. However, I have to tell you that I do not know very much about what is going on around COS other than what I glean from 'patio' conversations. I could go into great detail, but let me give you just one small example of how little information is disseminated within the parish. At the end of the month the Diocese will hold its Annual Convention in Ontario. This is the most important event in the diocesan year, and each parish is allocated a certain number of spots based in part on its size and contribution to the Mission Share Fund. Obviously, the Vestry already has selected who will represent us, but I haven't a clue who they are -- and neither do you.
A YEAR FOR WOMEN, REALLY -- I have said for many years that what distinguishes the U.S. from almost every other country is our inclusion of the "other 50%" of our population in the daily life of our economy and society. Obviously, this is not entirely the case as the glass ceiling continues to exist in many areas, but opportunities for women in 2018 are order-of-magnitude greater than those available to Sue in 1961 when she graduated from college.
However, sometimes progress comes in large chunks, and we have just witnessed two more outstanding examples. First of all, most of you know that for the first time in history more than 100 women have been elected to the House of Representatives, and there are now 23 women in the Senate. What you probably do not know is that for the first time in history, FOUR DIOCESES in The Episcopal Church searching for new bishops have ended up with slates in which EVERY candidate is a women! You can read an analysis of this dramatic development which appeared in 'The Living Church' by googling "All-women Episcopal Slates Emerge". Times, they are changing!!!
MEANWHILE, BACK IN SAN GABRIEL, CONSIDER WHAT THESE TWO COS WOMEN ARE ACCOMPLISHING --
SHARON MATSUSHIGE CRANDALL: When the Monks from the Community of Divine Love joined us in 2013, they also introduced the opportunity for COS parishioners to become involved in the Diocese's PRISM Restorative Justice Ministry. Initiated by Br. Dennis Gibbs some years ago, he and Sr. Greta Ronningen recruited other clergy and lay people to join them in visiting the thousands of people incarcerated in the L.A. County jail and prison system. Among the very first to sign up was Sharon Crandall who has steadfastly dedicated herself to supporting PRISM. How dedicated is she? Last week she posted the following statement on her Facebook page."I love walking the rows in the jail. Some days it feels like being invited into someone's living room for a heart to heart talk. Some days I don't want to leave...some days, I can't wait to walk out those gates. Just the other day a man said, 'You've walked by my cell and said hello for 3 years, and I never felt like talking until today'...these are the moments you wait for." I cried! This is something I could never do; but I believe in the absolute importance of this Ministry, and we are so proud to support Sharon in her efforts.
SR. GRETA RONNINGEN: I could write volumes extolling the contributions Sr. Greta has made and is continuing to make in her pursuit of caring for the"least among us", but I have come across a recent article which is really a great summary of her Journey. It is entitled "America's Holy Places in the Age of Trump: Greta Ronningen's Prison Pilgrimage", and it appeared on October 31 in 'counterpunch'. I urge you to google the article and read it. You will be amazed by what more you will learn about this most remarkable woman!!! Spoiler Alert: I did not know that among other things she also is taking courses at Bloy House as she pursues ordination.
HOW A SOCIETY ALLOCATES ITS RESOURCES SPEAKS VOLUMES:1966 VS. 2018 -- In March of 1966 Sue and I were privileged to spend a week in Vero Beach, FL at the L.A. Dodgers's Spring Training Camp. My father Jack had been introduced to Walter O'Malley when he moved the Dodgers west in 1956, and he subsequently became very close to all of the senior management team.
In late March Jack, Sue and I were having dinner at the Bucket of Blood with Al Campanis, then Director of Scouting. That spring baseball was witnessing the beginnings of player resistance to the monopoly the owners held over the free movement of their players. As a result, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, two of the very best pitchers in baseball, decided to hold out for more money. That night during dinner Campanis was called to the pay phone and informed that the pitchers had come to terms. Do you know how much they settled for? Koufax: $125,000 ($968,750 in 2018 dollars). Drysdale: $110,000 ($852,500 in 2018 dollars). FYI, a 1966 dollar is worth $7.75 today. Last week Clayton Kershaw, baseball's current premier left handed pitcher, signed for over $30,000,000 per year. This enormous difference in the allocation of resources between 1966 and 2018 pretty much sums up what's wrong with the Darwinian Capitalist Society in which we live today.
NOVEMBER 11, 2018 IN LONDON -- The celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I meant different things in different in countries. Our daughter Molly and her husband Rob who has made a living focusing on documenting the history of World War II decided to attend this year's celebration in London. Molly wrote "I will never ever experience something like that again". Among other things, they stood in line for three hours to view the 10,000 torches for the dead arrayed in the front of the Tower of London, and they went to the British War Museum to see the Weeping Window, a cascade of ceramic poppies falling from the roof to the ground. Then, at 11:00 the entire nation stood in SILENCE for TWO MINUTES, followed by the ringing of every church bell in London and concluding with thousands of Londoners reciting the Lords Prayer together!!!
In contrast, leaving church Sunday, we were saddened to see General Patton standing in his permanent campus space overlooking ONE very small American flag. FYI, if you google "U.S. Commanders of World War II", Wikipedia lists the following: George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, Mark Clark, GEORGE PATTON, JR. I'll bet wherever each of these WWII heroes is honored around the country, there was more than ONE SMALL FLAG.
"O CANADA": UPDATES ON THE REVS. SARAH & CHAS BELKNAP -- Rev. Sarah served as one of our Associate Priests about twenty years ago and was subsequently called to serve as Rector of St. Peter's in San Pedro. Her husband Fr. Chas worked in the Diocese focusing on establishing housing for low income people. He made a major contribution to the Outreach Ministry of COS in 2003 when he provided data which showed clearly that we should, we must, take on the Jubilee Transitional Housing Ministry brought to us by Bill Doulos. That said, in spite of their collective dedication to many in the Diocese of Los Angeles, ten years ago they moved to British Columbia in retirement; and two weeks ago they became citizens of Canada.