Sunday, December 28, 2008

LifeTeen Founder Excommunicated

Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted has issued a decree of excommunication to Monsignor Dale Fushek, founder of LifeTeen, and Father Mark Dippre for their establishment of and leadership in an "opposing ecclesial community."

I don't think I even knew this stuff was going on. I'll admit that I've never been to a LifeTeen Mass, but folks on both sides of the fence describe them as more suited for VH1 than EWTN. I have met quite a few LifeTeen promoters and they have all had a few things in common.

1. A striking disregard for the supernatural aspect of the Mass.
2. An unhealthy emphasis on their feelings.
3. Very little idea of what the Church is.

These characteristics also seem to be shared by Msgr. Fushek. He and his colleagues apparently thought that indifferentism was a better deal than the Mystical Body of Christ and decided to found a non-denominational "praise and worship center." According to the CNA article, "Their meetings regularly draw 250 to 300 people. The priests’ 90-minute services begin at 10 am each Sunday and feature much music but do not include sacraments. Reportedly, the priests have repeatedly said their services are not to be considered 'Catholic' in any way."

After repeatedly ignoring requests by His Excellency, Bishop Olmsted, to discontinue their public ministry in this farce, the Msgr. Fushek and one of the above-mentioned colleagues have now been excommunicated.

First, let me remind everyone that we should offer our prayers that these guys will take notice of their errors, repent, and reconcile with the Church.

Second, we should praise Bishop Olmsted for taking such a courageous action in the face of what is probably going to be a lot of negative publicity. He was left with no alternative, though. If you don't think that activities like those of Fushek are bad, I invite you to read these comments from "Catholics" who attend the "praise and worship" services.

"I go to Mass for my sacraments, and I go to Praise and Worship for my Christian fulfillment," Stan Nicpon said, adding that it has a "good community feeling."

Stan is the perfect example of what I described above. Note that he doesn't have any idea of the sacraments as being Christian fulfillment. Yeah, Stan, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and participating in the Mystical Liturgy of Heaven, the Sacrifice of Calvary, and the most important event on the planet just doesn't quite make for "fulfillment," right? What's really important is that we get good feelings out of it.

I wonder if Stan comprehends the selfishness involved in thinking that his worship of God has anything to do with whether or not he feels good.

His wife Jan described her reaction to the service, saying "It is kind of a fulfillment beyond church. It is just a lot of great music that kind of fills you with a good spirit, inspiration and hope — a lot of hope."

Fulfillment beyond the Body of Christ. Fulfillment beyond the communion of self with Savior. Ooo, ooo! And great music, too! Did I mention the music? It makes you feel so awesome!

What Jan is describing sounds more like an Obama rally or a trip to Dave & Buster's. Again, more emphasis on herself, rather than God. More ignorance as to what the Church is.

When a bishop is faced with such revolting comments as those expressed by Stan and Jan, along with willful disobedience from those who would lead the flock astray, he really only has 2 choices (if he's going to be a responsible shepherd, that is). He can either be St. Nicholas or St. Thomas Becket. Thankfully, His Excellency opted for the latter and avoided the potential lawsuit posed by the former.

Pray for all those involved, especially Stan and Jan who do not seem to know how far they have wandered off the reservation.

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