MAKING A DIFFERENCEBy Marlene Reid
Part five of five
I have with me an article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press printed April 2, 1978 which proclaims, “Pro-decency lobby had a strong impact at session.” It just so happened that we had tallied the pro-life, pro-family, pro-decency votes, displayed them on a grid, and published the grid in the Catholic Bulletin, then followed up with similar ads in the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune. These raised havoc! Informed constituents now knew how their legislator had voted. As a result, a few lawmakers were retired that year, somewhat earlier than they had planned!
Though being as advocate for the family and unborn children is near and dear to my heart, being an advocate for our faith always seemed to be on an even higher calling. I have been proud to be a Board Member of the Catholic Defense League. At one point many of us took to the pulpits to get our message across, that is, any pulpits where the parish priest would allow us five minutes after Communion. A now-deceased Board Member, Walt Stadelman, made all the prior arrangements and always accompanied us to hand out CDL brochures. God Bless him! I’m certain he is enjoying his eternal reward.
My message to these congregations went something like this: “Who speaks for you? The anti-defamation league speaks for Jewish people if they have been maligned in any way. The NAACP speaks up and protests if African-Americans are cast in a negative light. But who steps up to the bat to speak for you, to let the public know that Catholics are not fair game for slurs, smears, and ridicule? - The Catholic Defense League does! The late Harvard Historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., once said, ‘I regard the prejudice against the Catholic Church as the deepest bias in the history of the American people.’ This is a harsh indictment coming from someone who wasn’t even Catholic. Allow me to give you some examples of how the Catholic Defense League is doing something about this prejudice and Catholic bashing:”
Hennepin County sponsored a Diversity Training program that was compulsory for all County employees. Remember, Diversity Training is supposed to teach tolerance. Ironically, those who designed the program had no tolerance for Catholics. The program depicted the Catholic Church as an example of bigotry. Thankfully, the Catholics among the County employees had somewhere to go with their complaint. They came to the Catholic Defense League! The League responded quickly, letting the County Commissioners know that such treatment of Catholics would not be tolerated. The Commissioners had been unaware of the content of the Diversity Program, and apologized to the Catholic Community. They even invited the League’s advice and approval on revision.
In another instance, the St. Cloud State University Social work department issued a directive that students who believed homosexual acts are a sin could not study to become Social Workers. In other words, “No Catholics, or conscientious Christians, allowed!” Students who were victims of discrimination under this directive had a place to go. They contacted the Catholic Defense League. Protests were directed at the University President, the St. Cloud media, and the MN Department of Human Rights. The University’s directive was soon withdrawn. I could give you example after example where the League went to bat in defense of our faith, as could other CDL Board Members, but time does not permit. Do you want the League to continue speaking for you? That is a question you have to ask yourself! Your support could make the difference!
I’m coming full circle here! I want to close with a brief comment about the family track. You can bet that the Religion our children were taught at home had nothing to do with the transistor radio, nor any other gadget. We delved into the truths of our faith. We read and studied the lives of the Saints. One especially comes to mind. When we studied about the North American Martyrs we learned that St. Isaac Jogues was unmercifully tortured by the Native American Indians whom he was trying to convert. They tied his fingers and pulled them until some of them came right out of the sockets and fell off. Imagine the agony and the terror! - and yet he stayed! As a result of missing key fingers, Saint Isaac Jogues was unable to say Mass for five years because the rubrics called for a priest to hold the host between certain fingers when confecting the Eucharist. After five years of petitioning Rome for a dispensation to regain the beautiful privilege of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, permission was finally granted.
The lesson we emphasized for our children at the time, besides learning about faith, courage, and perseverance, was the sacredness of the Eucharist - that Christ in the Eucharist was due the highest respect and adoration at all times. This past spring when our grandson Raphael Latawiec was being confirmed I asked him what name he was taking. He said, “I have chosen Isaac after St. Isaac Jogues. Nana, are you familiar with his life?” Tears sprang into my eyes. I answered, “Yes, indeed,” and hugged him, thinking to myself, “WOW, that lesson took, and was transmitted to the next generation.”
I have good reason to believe that quite a few other lessons were also learned and passed on. Another grandson, Colin Jones, is in his first year at St. John Vianney Seminary beginning his studies for the priesthood. God has blessed our Catholic family, and I want to continue giving back in anyway I can. One of the ways will be defending the Faith through our Catholic Defense League. I ask you to join me! Thank You!