Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Founder of Intercessors of the Lamb steps down at request of Bishop Lucas

In July of 2009, Bishop George Lucas was installed in the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska.  Just over a year later, Mother Nadine Brown, the founder resigns from the Intercessors of the Lamb and the community is given a trustee by Bishop Lucas. 

I have a couple of items on this, including a brief commentary at the bottom.

First, here is the press release, which appears on the Archdiocese of Omaha's website, and on the community's website.  Emphases mine in bold.

Foundress of Intercessors of the Lamb resigns

Archbishop Lucas appoints priest to oversee operation of religious organization

October 4, 2010 (OMAHA, NE) – On Thursday, September 30, Archbishop George
Lucas accepted the resignation of Mother Nadine Brown, foundress and general director of the Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb. Lucas appointed the Rev. Gregory P. Baxter trustee of the association. Baxter is charged with governing, managing, and guiding the association.

Located at 11811 Calhoun Road, the Intercessors of the Lamb is a contemplative, intercessory, and mixed (lay men, women, and clerics) association of hermits. Founded by Brown, a former member of the Sisters of the Cross (now the Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd) in St. Paul, Minnesota, it was originally recognized by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan as a private association of the Christian faithful in 1992. Its juridical status changed in 1998 when Archbishop Elden Curtiss erected the group as a public association of the Christian faithful.
In May, Archbishop George J. Lucas retained the services of a canon lawyer to act as his delegate in conducting a canonical visitation of the Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb. The Rev. James J. Conn, SJ, JD, JCD, a canon law professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, conducted the first phase of the canonical visitation last summer before returning to Rome. Conn examined the association’s governance structure, in addition to reviewing the doctrinal, spiritual, moral, and financial aspects of the association. The visitation was conducted in accord with the Intercessors’ statutes and in accord with the Code of Canon Law.
Lucas said Conn’s visitation has helped him better understand the unique structure, mission and purpose of the Intercessors. “Father Conn’s preliminary findings, as well as Father Baxter’s appointment as trustee, will help chart a course forward for the community,” Lucas said. “I’m grateful for Father Conn’s good work, and I have full confidence in Father Baxter’s ability to guide the visitation to a successful conclusion.”
Baxter’s appointment as trustee took effect September 30. The appointment is for an indefinite period of time. Lucas and Baxter met with association members October 1 to discuss Baxter’s responsibilities as trustee and take questions from community members. Baxter, who has an advanced degree in spirituality from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, will remain pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish. He has held key archdiocesan leadership positions, including moderator of the curia, chancellor, and director of vocations.
We learn a little more from Catholic News Agency.  You can read the full article there, but I want to quote this.  My comments will follow below...

Deacon Timothy McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese and director of communications, explained to CNA on Monday in a phone interview that Sr. Nadine had approached the newly installed Archbishop Lucas last year in order to move the group's status to the next canonical tier.

In an effort to familiarize himself with the group before advancing Sr. Nadine's initiative, Archbishop Lucas had canon lawyer Fr. James Conn act as his delegate in conducting a canonical visitation of the Intercessors.
“We learned some things that were kind of alarming,” said Deacon McNeil, adding that the findings showed that “they were not ready to make the next step.”

“The findings were such” that if the group was going to advance to the next canonical status, he noted, “it would have to be under the leadership of another individual.”

For that reason, the deacon said, Archbishop Lucas asked Sr. Nadine to resign “and she agreed to it.”

When asked what the specifics findings of the visitation were, Deacon McNeil explained that they included “discord within the group, widespread dissatisfaction with current leadership, reservation of the Eucharist in a way that is not provided by ecclesiastical law,” poor “management of temporal goods” and an inability of group members to articulate the Intercessors' charism.
“The combination of all of these things,” he added, “resulted in the group needing a new leadership change.”
Kudos to the bishop for bishoping and for not just rubber stamping them based on past approval. He familiarized himself. He then took the necessary steps for the good of the souls in that community, which also protects the Church. We should remember, in charity, that these people have all given themselves to God. Let us pray that they will have the necessary humility, docility and perseverence to follow the guidance of Fr. Baxter and Bishop Lucas.

There are many new communities emerging. No bishop would want to hinder the Holy Spirit. However, human fallen nature and poor formation - especially in this era when so many are poorly formed in the faith - can allow things which are foreign to will of God to enter. In fact, any new community will be vulnerable to subtle attacks from the Angel of Darkness as well, which could throw them off.

Humble obedience and docility to a delegate, spiritual advisor, trustee, or whatever name you want to give them serves as a test in the "discernment of spirits". It serves to purify the community of those things which are foreign to the Holy Spirit and stemming from human weakness or Satan. As I have said many times, this kind of obedience is a gateway through which only the Holy Spirit may pass, and this same gate serves as a barrier to the Angel of Darkness who can mock humility, but never obedience... "non serviam".

Comments are back on for the time being, but I may shut them off again in the near future so I am not tied to watching for incoming comments to moderate. 

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