Friday, August 28, 2009

How often do we make mistakes based upon incorrect information?

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In case you hadn't noticed, the world is getting more complex. Why even youthful me can remember when the only ethnic restaurants in Minneapolis were Cafe de Napoli, La Casa Coronado and the Nanking. There might have been a couple in the Saintly City. But even they have changed, why just yesterday I read that the venerable Cherokee Sirloin Room on the west side has transformed itself into a tavern!!

The influx of immigrants from other than Germany, Scandinavia and Ireland has dramatically changed the color and language of the community.

Last week I received an anonymous email on an older post of mine on "Stella" (lecture coming: fake a name, if you don't want to use your real name because you are a wanted felon or something) from someone who posed a possibly very serious situation:

  • Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Mexican Tradition Runs on Pageantry and Faith --...":

    I received my First Holy Communion at St. Stephen's in May, 1947. I went back this morning to go to Confession and Mass. Tell me why the Mexican people go into the Confessional in groups. They took such a long time, I couldn't go to Confession. I doubt I will go back.

    Posted by Anonymous to Stella Borealis Catholic Roundtable at 8:30 PM
Unfortunately, there is no way for me to contact this person with the correct information so I am posting this in the hopes that "anon." will occasionally come back (hopefully, every day) to seek the answer to their question.

I believe that it is possible for an interpreter to enter the confessional if the priest and the penitent don't speak the same language, but I knew that communal confessions, whether in the confession room or the church proper are illicit and invalid with respect to gravely serious sins.

So I emailed Father Joseph Williams, the pastor of St. Stephen's near downtown Minneapolis, which is also my parish now, and asked him to clarify the situation for my anonymous poster. Father Joseph is if not fluent, very conversant in Spanish. The majority of the parishioners there are now Hispanic. And of course he did:

  • No, Latino Catholics do not go to confession in groups. This past Sunday, after I had heard the post-9:00a.m. Mass confessions, a family approached me regarding their children entering our Family Faith Formation program. Since our confessional is a large, confidential space, that is where we met. It was a beautiful instance of a family coming back to God and the Sacraments. Alleluia!


Had my "anon." possessed the facts in this situation, rather than one of sorrow and perhaps anger, surely it would have been an occasion of joy to witness the return of an entire family to the Faith.

The poster must be nearing 70 years of age. It might have been nice to spend the final years in a parish where they attended as a child. Even with the drastic remodelling (Vosko-ization?) of the inside, it would still bring back the pleasant memories.


Think back for yourselves on all the decisions you have made in your lives. Certainly many turned out to be wrong about people, places, things, incidents, etc., because you didn't have the correct information. Unfortunately, none of us possess the complete information.

That's why prayer and asking Almighty God for help is an excellent way to start any decision making process.
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