My Other Bit of Good News

My other little triumph was — I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa – the national honor society for junior colleges.  I knew I would be invited since the invites are automatic with a GPA over 3.5 after completion of 12 credit hours (mine is currently 3.92) but this past week was the orientation.   The induction ceremony is April 4.

I really didn’t know much about honors society other than that there is additional scholarship money available to honor society students.  And believe me, that is definitely one of my motivations!  I need every penny I can get because I can’t pay for school.  I didn’t know being part of Honors would also increase my options when transferring to a four year school after next year.  From what I heard, this will give me a lot more choices, potentially with full-ride opportunities if I keep my GPA like it is.

So I was excited to see the opportunities involved and available.  I’ve also been wanting to plug into the school community and particularly would like to tutor and mentor.  There’s a part of Honors that does that!  One of my “things” is that I think anyone with an average IQ can succeed.  But I think a lot of people, especially from difficult situations, think they can’t.  All they need is to learn to believe in themselves and get a little help – like learning how to study and how to write papers.  I can help with that!

Cool Little Moment for Me ;-)

Completely departing from the big issues of life, I’ve had a couple neat things happen recently.  I’m going to spread out the celebration and make two separate posts of it.  😉

I got a phone call the other day from the school where I took my GED last summer.  The story on that was, when I applied to college I discovered that my high school “diploma” was not valid.  The school which issued it was not qualified to grant a diploma, so I did not have one.  That was a stressful day! 

Anyway, they were calling to tell me I got the highest GED score in Georgia last year (standardized score of 3980 out of 4000 – as a perfectionist, I’m dying of curiosity to know what I missed; and I want to know who got the highest nationally and what their score was).  The national GED organization wants to give me an award and the school where I took the test wants me to come speak at their graduation in May.  The woman I talked to said there will probably be other speaking opportunities as well.  How cool is that!

Father Michael Kelly Cleared of Sex Abuse Charges

This is such a timely story, in light of recent incidents being addressed on this blog and the post I just did prior to this one.  The writer’s commentary, especially his analogy of the three act play, are so relevant!  And an accusation proven false is always worth celebrating.

My thanks to Tracy Press for this story.

~~~

by Jon Mendelson

In October 2007, a press release shook me like few could have. Father Michael Kelly, a man I’ve known since I was 6 years old and count among my friends, had been accused of molesting a past parishioner.
It was staggering. This couldn’t be happening, I thought, to the priest who once preached from the pulpit at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.

The Kelly I know is a true leader of his flock, a man who has said the most important thing about the priesthood is bringing some of God’s love and light into people’s lives. And he’s put the premise into practice.

When he moved away from Annunciation Church (the seat of the Diocese of San Joaquin in Stockton, where I also attended grade school and where the alleged abuse took place), he returned time and again to visit those he had befriended there. He was especailly beloved by the students. As a pastor, he saw Presentation Church in Stockton go up in flames by the hand of a deranged arsonist and helped it rise again. He maintained relationships with parishioners who anyone else would have long forgotten. And he remembers when your birthday is.

No, this couldn’t be happening.

When the news first broke, I wrote that my intuition and experience told me he was wrongly targeted, even though I didn’t know the facts of the case.

Turns out there weren’t any facts to find.

The wolves were called off last week when an investigation found no evidence supporting the claim of his accuser — a 33-year-old man who said he was abused in the 1980s. We don’t know why that man blamed Kelly or why he refused to talk to investigators, but hopefully he finds some measure of peace.

I was filled with relief for Kelly, and happy that the parishioners of St. Joachim Parish will no longer be deprived of their spiritual shepherd.

But I am also filled with sadness — sadness that the Catholic Church’s shame has affected so many, even those I call friends.

The church’s sex abuse saga is a tragedy in three acts, with no end in sight.

Act 1 opened with priests abusing young boys and girls. They found themselves betrayed by the very representatives of God, people who should have been safe harbors for their deepest fears, hopes and struggles. Many people suffered.

Act 2 began with the revelation of the scandal. But not only were priests outed as molesters, it’s also discovered that church superiors helped cover up the abuse. The church predictably lost the trust and faith of many followers. Some victims got their justice, and all painfully relived their darkest moments. Many people suffered.

Act 3 is the prolonged fallout. Accusations continue, some with merit, some without. While many guilty are still punished, some victims are deprived of their justice, and some priests have their good names irreparably damaged. And many people still suffer.

We’re all waiting for the curtain call, but with revelations and accusations still coming at a steady pace, this macabre theater shows no sign of closing.

But despite the sorrow, there are small victories mixed into the plot. In the case of Father Kelly, I’m just glad a good priest — and a good man — can move on with his life and calling.

Denomination Sued in Leonard Smith Sex Abuse Case

This story highlights what I see coming to Protestant denominations because we are refusing to admit there is a systemic problem with clergy sex abuse.  We’ve been content to bury our heads in the sand and think it’s a Catholic problem — it’s not.  I’ve been expecting to see this, and once the ball starts rolling, it is going to pick up steam and the church is going to wonder what hit it.  The church can also wave goodbye to any reputation it thinks it might still have.   Take a look at what is happening in the Catholic church.  Catholics are losing faith in their church — which so frequently includes losing faith in God — and abandoning the church in droves.  It WILL happen to Protestant churches too unless extreme measures are taken.

When reading the article, note what Alvin Clement says is the reason they are pursuing a civil lawsuit against the denomination.  It’s because when they tried to address the problem with denominational leaders, the leaders blew them off.  The Southern Baptist Convention had better take notice!  It is a problem in most, if not all denominations, but it’s already getting a lot of noise and press in the SBC and convention leaders are persistently making the worst possible choices.  If I had to guess, I’d say the SBC will be the Protestant denomination that will take the biggest and most public hit because they are the most publicly refusing to be responsible, while aggressively bad-mouthing the victims they’ve neglected and the advocates for those victims.  The Bible isn’t kidding when it says we will reap what we sow.

My thanks to The Asheville Citizen-Times for this story.  

~~~

by Leslie Boyd
published March 22, 2008 12:16 am

ASHEVILLE – For years, three members of the Clement family endured sexual abuse by their church’s music minister.

Leonard Smith was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison Nov. 29 for crimes that spanned 20 years.

Alvin Clement, now a state trooper in Guilford County, filed suit with four John Does and Sylvia Clement, guardian for a minor John Doe.

Family spokesman David Clement said the local church knew what was happening, and the state and national offices of Church of God in Christ knew about Smith’s crimes but allowed him to continue in his church and jurisdiction jobs.

“This is a long process,” David Clement said. “If we hadn’t contacted the state and national offices and been blown off by them, we wouldn’t be doing this.”

The lawsuit charges that the church, state office and denomination “knew, or should have known about the lengthy history of child abuse and sexual molestation engaged in by their employee, defendant Leonard Smith,” and that they “failed to take steps to stop Smith’s behavior and conduct.”

The lawsuit brings claims of civil battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, and asks a minimum of $10,000 for each plaintiff, legal fees and “such other relief as the court shall deem reasonable and appropriate.”

Due to Good Friday, church officials could not be reached for comment.