I saw the comment below at AbbyJohnson.org where she posted her letter to Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, TX. It was written by a Catholic priest, who had his own experience with Bishop Zurek while he was a seminarian, under then-Father Patrick Zurek acting as vocations director for the Diocese of Austin, TX.I don't know if Troy expected a response from me, but since he took my time in sending the email, I thought that I would return the favor. Here is my response;
Please let me know what you think.
December 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm
First things first: Praise be God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for what the Holy Spirit has wrought in your life!!! I rejoice with you and for you, Abby!
Second, the title of this column and the date of your entry into the Catholic Church is my birthday. I am honored to share December 4 with you for separate but equally special reasons.
Third, I applaud on you on your decision to write your letter to Bishop Patrick Zurek and on the tone of your letter. You simply stated the facts and your feelings about those facts.
Although I have never met Fr. Frank Pavone, I can empathize with him in his current situation with the Diocese of Amarillo. Before he was ordained a bishop, Fr. Patrick Zurek was vocations director for the Diocese of Austin. In the face of strong recommendations from many sources he himself sought out that I should continue in formation to the priesthood, in 1988, he unilaterally discontinued me as a seminarian for the Austin Diocese. He told me, on the telephone, not in person, that I would never be a priest. He never replied to my letters to him or my requests to meet with him personally. My letter to Bishop John McCarthy was met with a reply that rubber-stamped Fr. Zurek’s decision.
In 1996, I was ordained to the priesthood for another diocese.
I pray, Abby, that your letter will be an instrument of Divine Mercy for Bishop Zurek, that he will submit to God’s call to be the representative of Christ on Earth that a priest and bishop is supposed to be. I pray that as you, Abby, were called from the darkness of error and sin though His unfathomable Divine Mercy, so, too, may Bishop Patrick Zurek be called from the darkness of his cold, manipulative, passive-aggressive ways to embrace and extend the warmth and compassion of the Father’s love in Jesus Christ.
Barring a sudden change of heart between now and Sunday, you will receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divnity of the Father’s dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in Holy Communion for the first time from someone other than Fr. Frank Pavone. That someone will be a priest whose ordination is equally valid to that of Fr. Pavone and whose good standing as a priest in the Catholic Church is just as strong as that of Fr. Pavone. And while you are disappointed on the human level, you have it right on the grander scale: It is not who you receive from, but Who you receive.
Sunday will be a joyous day, Abby! You will say, with all of us, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” He has said the Word of healing. His name is Jesus.
God bless you and keep you.
Welcome to the Catholic Church! WELCOME HOME!
At this time, I can only say one thing. Fr. Pavone must submit to his Ordinary. If he be a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo, he promised obedience to that Ordinary and his successors. This is not something to be taken lightly. Fr. Pavone should meet with Bishop Zurek and he should joyfully and completely accept whatever assignment His Excellency has for him. As you know, Fr. Pavone's life is not his own. While he has done wonderous things for the Pro-Life movement, he is a diocesan priest and that comes first. Fr. Pavone is bound by his promise at Ordination to be obedient, to follow through.
As for the response of the priest to Ms. Johnson. Praise God he was able to be ordained to the priesthood. While I certainly am grateful that Father X was able to find another diocese, I trust that His Excellency had his reasons for excluding the good Father from further studies. I am sure that there is more than one side to this story (as is normally the case).
This may not be what you want to hear, but I am a very firm believer that Father Pavone should be obedient to Bishop Zurek and he should submit to the promise he made when he was ordained to the priesthood. In my estimation, this is not a matter of public debate or opinion.
I will continue my prayers that both Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek are treated and portrayed in a charitable light and that Fr. Pavone follow through with his promise of obedience to the Ordinary of his diocese and his successors.
May God Keep You Close,