Jun 7, 2005

(Sacramental) Monsters, Inc.

Sacramental Minister
"Have stole, will transubstantiate"

25 years ago, Father Lawrence Estrada was ordained a priest at the future Saint Vibiana Performing Arts Center/Hotel/Restaurant complex over on 2nd and Main. He's held several assignments throughout those years, including a stint as Archbishop Roger M. Mahony's priest-secretary, as well as serving as pastor of St. Stephen's Church in Monterey Park from 1996 to 2003.

You can still find him at St. Stephen's, but he doesn't answer to "pastor" anymore. He is now the designated SACRAMENTAL MINISTER. He steps in when you absolutely need something to be done "ex opere operato." For all your other pastoral needs, you must go to Sister Susie. You remember her.

"I love to vision for the future and think about how we're going to get there," said Sister Slater, [Parish Life Director] at St. Stephen Church in Monterey Park. "There's enough work for all of us. It's about doing it together and not being threatened by each other."

As PASTORAL LIFE DIRECTOR at St. Stephen's, Sister Susan Slater baptizes, she witnesses marriages, she officiates at funerals and preaches homilies. She probably even slices and dices for all I know. And she does all this right smack in the middle of Los Angeles with Father Estrada just a few steps away. Isn't that somethin'? Looks like the future is already here.

"Sacramental Minister."
"Parish Life Director"

These terms form part of the specialized lexicon for the "new church" which is being "sung" into existence in L.A. by the painfully tone deaf Cardinal Roger Mahony. And about the only one at St. Stephen's who is escatic about this radical retooling of parish life is Sister herself. No doubt she'd love to be the SACRAMENTAL SISTER, but since that's an impossibility, PARISH LIFE DIRECTOR will do. After all, she is doing everything a priest does except transubstantiate. Theoreticaly, she can even hear confessions. That is to say, she can listen to peoples' sins; she just can't absolve them. But very likely Sister doesn't believe in all that hocus pocus anyway.

This is all part of Mahony's "broader" vision (no pun intended) to deal with a future with fewer and fewer priests. The Cardinal wrote about this in his pastoral letter, As I have done for you.

"What is called for is a major reorientation in our thinking about ministry as well as in our ministerial practice."

Wittingly or not, what the Cardinal is promoting in his Archdiocese is nothing short of a kind of Frankensteinish tinkering with the priesthood. SACRAMENTAL MINISTER is really a euphemism for SACRAMENTAL MONSTER. Men are ordained to be priests, not sacramental machines. I do not know Father Estrada or what he thinks about all this, but I do feel very sorry for him. 25 years ago when he lay prostrate on the floor of St. Vibiana's Cathedral, did he or anyone ever think it would come to this?

How long, O Lord?


Blogger Clayton said...

I had no idea it had gone this far here in LA. A more discreet movement was underway in Saint Paul when I was in major seminary there. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I experienced as a "resident" student in the MDiv program (alongside the "commuter" students)... this was the way they dealt with the distinction between lay students and seminarians at the Saint Paul Seminary...

I think a lot of Catholics, even those who are deeply faithful to the Church's teaching, think that the concern about blurred distinctions between priests and laity is just a tempest in a teapot. I disagree. And the Church has formally expressed its concerns too, in a 1997 document that has been treated with silence, derision or embarrassment by many in the Church. I'll be writing an article about it on my blog later this week.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

This story sorta gets my blood boiling. You guys need like a red phone in every parish to call the Pope in case of heretical crisis points. So much damage is being caused.

9:30 AM  
Blogger winston7000 said...

This is a sick, sick situation. It's beyond disgraceful. It's damn well sacrilegious. Mahony needs to be farmed out with Weakland (and Gumbleton) et al, as soon as possible.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous tony c said...

Here's the problem: This "lay pastor" stuff is being promoted as the solution to the "priest shortage". It won't be a temporary thing. It will be a run-away train.

Think the Sr. Susie's will step down in a few years as priestly vocations increase?

Add it along w/ EMHC's and altar girls as part of the plan to destroy the Church.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Jules said...

I like to vision about making up words.

This kind of dichotomy is really terrible. The message it sends is that Catholics don't necessary deny that women can be priests, we're just either a. too stubborn to change the wording or b. too snobby to admit we like that protestant idea.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in the Tidings that Sister Susie is baptizing infants. There is no way that can happen under Canon Law unless the child is in threat of death.

Can anyone confirm that this is happening. I grew up in LA in Hancock Park and was baptized and confirmed @ ST. Brendans. This was a great diocese under the previous prelates. So sad. Pray for the people.

Deacon Padraic

6:26 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

I asked a priest from L.A. who knows this situation well and he confirms that Sister Susie is indeed doing everything that is mentioned in THE TIDINGS article that I linked.

L.A. Catholic doesn't make this stuff up. I am not that imaginative.

Nor do I smoke pot or take LSD.

I might have a Bud Light or a Tecate con sal y limón on occasion, though.

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confused about a "priest shortage". My *PARISH* is averaging about one seminarian per year. And what are altar girls? Women are not allowed in the sanctuary at my parish. Are these girls who clean the church? By the way, we are an FSSP parish formed in 1999.
Viva Christo Rey

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I´ve never heard about something like this, but watch out for similar developments. And please don´t count with a red phone to our Holy Father. The former one knew or at least should have known about the situation and did almost NOTHING to stop this develoopment... Sad as it is, this is reality in most parts of the Church today, worldwide. Priests, bishops and even Cardinals can do and say what they want, it´s still "Catholic". Let us pray for the final victory of Mary´s Immaculate Heart !

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, it was upon realizing the scope of the situation and, unfortunately and sadly, the scope of our last Pope´s responsability for the whole that I started attending masses at a local FSSPX-led church in Munich, Germany.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Rudy said...

This is outrageous! This archbishop needs to be booted out before he can do more damage

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Kaycee said...

As a Catholic woman, I am not at all happy with seeing women take over the sacristy during the mass, or altar girls favored over altar boys, or parish secretaries referred to as "Pastoral Directors" who bully priests around. However, neither am I happy with comments like this, "And what are altar girls? Women are not allowed in the sanctuary at my parish. Are these girls who clean the church?"

Comments and attitudes like this are what helped to infect the world and the Church with feminism. Need I remind the commentor that three of the Doctors of the Church are women? Just because we can't (and shouldn't aspire to) be priests doesn't mean we should be relegated to the cleaning lady role. If men truely respect women, then women will stop trying to be men.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I'm with you on all of this, but I happen to know a little more. Fr. Larry confirmed me and also married me and my husband. He was a great pastor at this church, which is the church he grew up in and his parents attend. But he was also assigned to two other churches after they lost their pastors, according to this riduculous "cluster" deal, and his health began to suffer because of the stress. So the current situation is what they (whoever "they" are) came up with. In my opinion, he's as much of a victim as we are.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Steve Skojec said...

Regarding the comments about "what are altar girls...", it bears consideration that traditionally speaking, women have not been allowed into the sanctuary of the Church.

Women play a pivotal role in the domestic Church, but the sacramental Church requires ministers who manifest Christ and the Apostles. Even Saint Paul is famous for saying that women should "be quiet" in Church.

To suggest that they should be nothing more than cleaning ladies could easily be considered derogatory, but in a very real sense women should not be playing an active role in the liturgy, other than by their attendance and therefore participation.

The liturgy belongs to the priest. The altar boys surround the priest for the purpose of training them in the liturgical gestures, so they too may consider this vocation.

It's not unfair, it's simply theologically correct. Women play a vital role in the home that men do not. There's balance here, and it could easily be argued that the role a mother plays in the faith of her children could easily outstrip the role of the parish priest.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

Quintero, I don't see your problem with the title "Sacramental Minister." It denotes a priest who serves a parish, but who is not the administrator. In other words, somebody else signs the checks.

Do you have proof the lay person "baptizes, she witnesses marriages, and she officiates at funerals?" The first may be lawfully done in case of necessity, the second cannot be done sacramentally at this time, and the last is true for wakes, vigils, and committals.

Nothing in your links suggests this is really true, and you might be engaging in a rather emotional game of slander by suggesting things are happening which aren't.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...


Linked to my post is an article from the Archdiocesan newspaper, THE TIDINGS, from which I quote the following:

"After Sister Slater's pastor took a leave of absence from the parish in February, Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala and the Vicar for Clergy's office recommended she be given extra responsibilities as parish director for five months until a new priest administrator could be named for the parish in July. Sister Slater was able to perform child baptisms, offer Communion services (not Mass), preach the Word, direct funeral liturgies and witness marriages." [exact quote]

Here is the url: http://www.the-tidings.com/2003/1003/associates.htm

L.A. Catholic has received e-mail reports from parishioners and others who know the parish corroborating this information.

Furthermore, L.A. Catholic sources tell me that the Archdiocese has indicated nothing about a new priest administrator being assigned to the parish on July 1, which means, Sister Susie will continue to play priest at St. Stephen's.

Todd, in addition to reading THE TIDINGS much more carefully in the future, you might also want to assiduously read and study the following Vatican document which clearly contravenes the practices which are in fact going on in Los Angeles: THE PRIEST, PASTOR AND LEADER OF THE PARISH COMMUNITY. This authoritative document from the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy was approved and ordered published by the late Pope John Paul II on the Feast of St. John Vianney in 2002.

I trust you will soon convey to me your heartfelt apologies for accusing me of "engaging in a rather emotional game of slander by suggesting things are happening which aren't."

Thank you very much and may God the Holy Spirit open your mind and heart.

P.s. Would your last name be Tamberg by any chance?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Gaijingal said...

I can't find the exact details, but in the province of Quebec (in Canada, for the geographically challenged), it was discovered that in some parishes, parents were allowed to baptize their children. I seem to remember that this happened after the priest allowed a nun to take over his responsibility, and the nun in turn thought it would be nice if the parents were more "involved."

In any case, when it was discovered, many children were called back to be re-baptized by a priest. However, most of the families just weren't interested, since they didn't go to church much anyway.

Formation, anyone?

(P.S. I've just started reading your blog...I lived in LA for 6 months a few years ago, as I was "relapsing" into the faith. I saw some scary stuff with nuns, deacons and lay people. I thought maybe it was all a nightmare, until I saw your site. Reality isn't all it's cracked up to be.)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...


I forgot to mention that THE TIDINGS article I linked was written in October 2003. There has not been a priest administrator there since then. Sister is, de facto, the "pastor" although canonically she cannot be given that title. Hence, the newly manufactured title, PARISH LIFE DIRECTOR.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous christine said...


I don't think kaycee was debating any of your very good points. I think she was remarking on the "tone" of Anonymous' post. I too came away with the impression that he ment "women are less than men and there for not worthy of anything except cleaning up after others" rather than "women have an equally important, but different role to fill".

One should speak the truth about what it means to be a truly Catholic woman but that truth should be spoken with kindness and charity. Sarcasim and superiority will only close people's minds and hearts to that truth.

11:30 PM  
Blogger skeetor said...

The way I read it annonymous "Viva Christo Rey " is probably an esol individual. no sarcasm or evil intent, just "to the point" and serious. disclaimers aren't necessary.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Tradmom said...

As a woman and a stay at home mom, I have no problem with the statement that woman should be cleaning the Church. I don't find offence in being called a housewife and do not think I am any less of a person because I do not leave my home to go off to work. I find cleaning and taking care of my family a very noble thing to do and the highest honor I could think of would be to clean our Lords house. Only someone who looks down on that role would find the statement offensive

6:42 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

Quintero, my apologies. I did eventually find the quote in The Tidings, and I confess my surprise. Your diocese is the first I know of to actually do this. The Alaska dioceses petitioned the Vatican unsuccessfully about 15 years back to have lay people witness marriages, and deacons do funerals with a word service.

I remain suspicious that this comes from a newspaper and not an actual diocesan source. I'm going to call the LA archdiocese directly and check.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...


I accept your apology and appreciate the gracious manner with which it was made.

As you can see, I am not making things up. While there are certainly good things going on in L.A., there is so much that is wrong: from gross liturgical abuses to bad doctrine. Ultimately, it is the man at the top who must answer for this. Believe me, I pray for Cardinal Mahony every day and would ask everyone who visits L.A. Catholic to do the same.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Please do all you can to let the rest of the country know what is going on in L.A. My relatives in other states don't believe it, either. I wrote on my own blog awhile ago about this hideous "new" Mass Mahony has invented and tried to spread to the rest of the country -- who, thank God, didn't go for it. And Fr. Fessio did a good job of fisking the pastoral letter that spelled out the changes. I have the link to that somewhere and will post it here if anyone is interested.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man!!

Sister Susie honey:

If that is where you're at that's you and that's beautiful!!

Australian seminary spirituality of the 70s and 80s and look where it has lead to.

Oh boy I hated that green mitre on Mahony.....that combined with tone deaf singing!!!!

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of these "innovations" are a direct result of the degradation of the Mass and homosexualization of the clergy. I believe our Holy Father is keenly aware of the situation. We must trust that the Holy Spirit will move and speak through him.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Bernardo said...

If this is indeed happening with the Cardinal knowing this, he is a heretic and should be removed.

Im sure when Cardinal Mahoney turns 75, his resignation will be accepted with joy, from not only the people of his Diocease, but from Rome as well, and all us other orthodox Catholics who hate to see these liberal prelates do their own thing.

God have mercy on Cardinal Mahoney for not sheparding his flock in obedience to church teaching.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as someone who worked under "pastor" estrada, i can only say he was extremely difficult....arbitrary, arrogant, and often unkind....and i'm not the only ex-employee who feels that way....you might look into exactly WHY he didn't remain mahony's secretary for very long!

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK here it is August 2007 and we have had a wonderful Priest here for the past six years. He has been reassigned and now we have another wonderful Priest but also a Pastoral Administrator,"Sister D". She is preforming all of the tasks of a priest with the exception of saying the Mass. She is everywhere, giving the liturgy, at Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals..etc. It's a bit to much. We want our new Priest to be our Priest not "Sister". I guess this kind of attitude is not uncommon. She makes all the decisions and then informs our Priest so he can adjust his schedule. Look a Priest is a Priest not a "hen pecked" minister, please give us back our parish because I fear that it will soon dwindle away. We do
like "Sister", but enough is enough.

7:30 AM  

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