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The Low Countries

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 06, 2003

Amy Welborn links an article from Commonweal by Fr. Willard Jabusch, in which he finds the breath of the Spirit blowing over the ruins of the Dutch Church:

Today's young Catholics in Zevenbergen should be forgiven if they seem to have forgotten the centrality of [the priesthood and the Mass], for now the priest arrives only once every five weeks. This does not mean that there is no reason to go to church other Sundays. Nor does it mean that there is no resident pastor. The pastor is now a nonordained woman, Pastor Eveline, who does not offer Mass, hear confessions, or anoint the sick.

The change from resident male priest to female pastor was not an easy adjustment for some parishioners. Even now my friends in Zevenbergen, a young Dutch-French couple who studied in Chicago, are still getting used to it. Each Sunday, Pastor Eveline leads a service of readings and songs. She has a fine voice and is aided by a good choir, a splendid pipe organ, and a highly competent organist. Wearing a beautiful vestment, something between a priest's chasuble and deacon's dalmatic, she processes to the altar led by two altar boys (no altar girls!). Her sermons are long by American standards, but they are delivered with passion and enthusiasm.

We get the hint. Had he more space, Jabusch would have mentioned that Eveline reads Gregory of Nyssa (in Greek) for pleasure, heals lepers after the Tuesday Youth Group meetings, and tuck-pointed the church belfry herself. We could all write the punch line at this point:

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is nudging the Catholic Church to begin thinking "outside the box." Could it be that something of our church's future can already be discerned in the parish at Zevenbergen and in its new pastor?

For my money, Charlotte Allen shot back the perfectly apposite rejoinder in the comments thread to Amy Welborn's posting:

Wonder why Jabusch didn't say the Mass. He's a priest, after all, and he was there. But that would have spoiled the political point he was trying to make: that the church should go ahead and ordain Pastor Eveline.

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