Category Archives: Blithe Spirit

Bishop Braxton’s two sides

1. He’s orthodox and willing to do the bold thing, here telling the ad libbing priest to honor the mass as is, and 2. He’s autocratic, as in his (here reported) non-consulting of his personnel board.

As St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy pastor in Oak Park a few years back, he bounced a non-tenured black nun from the staff after presenting her a contract that reportedly took her out of the pulpit, from which she had been declaiming in regular rotation, including on Mother’s Day Sunday, on which she talked up black power.  (Not kidding, was there.)

But he also enthroned himself for mass, moving the presider’s chair to front and center, from which he took a comfortable slightly leaning pose, hand to cheek, with portable altar moved to one side.  And set up yellow crime-scene-style tapes one Sunday blocking off the back pews because he wanted worships (in half-filled church) up front.

That said, he’s a very smart guy, if only he could get over himself. » Popular priest who strays from Roman Missal resigns.


Dems gonna lose one in Oak Park?

Russ Stewart on something new in Oak Park:

In years past, every self-respecting, politically-correct liberal white Oak Park Democrat would automatically vote for a black over a white, especially for a female black, and even more urgently for a minority and/or woman over a white male whose surname ended in a vowel. To do otherwise would cause a paroxysm of guilt.

But times have changed. And such an aberration is exactly what may occur on March 20 in the Democratic primary for the newly-configured 78th District Illinois House seat. Unless Harmon, like Horatio at the bridge, piles up a huge Oak Park margin to rescue Camille Lilly, the obscure black incumbent, white challenger Mike Nardello may win.

Lily doesn’t relate, being “the quintessential non-politician, viewing public office more as an entitlement than a privilege,” says Stewart, who couldn’t get an interview with her — “not atypical,” says Nardello’s campaign manager Oak Parker K.L. Daly.

Selling religious life in Chicago

CAVA Chicago Archdiocesan Vocation Assoc.. Sister Elyse Marie Ramirez, O.P. heads this operation, talked last night at the Oak Park Serra Club  of the association’s work with women entering the sisterhoods.  

But mostly, as requested, she talked about her own vocation — in dramatic, even gripping terms, including her having to inform her affianced that she was going instead into the convent.  

He’d seen it coming and beat her to it in that moment of truth, pre-empting her announcement.  Quite a dynamic lady and a saleswoman of the first order.  Member 20-plus years of the Springfield (IL) Dominicans.

Chi noosepapers ignore bishops’ complaints?

. . . With Both Hands: News Black Out in Chicago – Catholic Bishops Make Huge Statement on Obama Choice Mandate and No Coverage.

They aren’t the only ones ignoring the bishops.  Our Oak Park parish has had nothing on the point, nor have parishes I have heard from in Pittsburgh, Joliet (IL), and Brookfield (IL).  Nor has anything happened in parishes attended by dozens of my relatives around the country who did not respond to my e-blasted question.

In which vein, let’s hear it for St. John Vianney, in Northlake (IL), where the Tridentine-mass celebrant delivered a very good sermon on the mandate, he who almost never goes political or even currents-events in his excellent homilies.  Anybody else out there who should be commended?

Occupying Oak Park

Berkeley on the prairie could do no less.

Black parents issues from veteran teacher point of view

Oak Park readers are hard to get something past. Consider this from “Old Teacher,” one of a bunch of commenters on the Wednesday Journal story about black parents complaining:

Having taught at high school and higher education levels in various countries I can tell you that there are a lot of students, and parents, that have unrealistic expectations about how they/their kids should be doing given the relational time and effort spent on work. Some kids grow up in households where “learning” only happens in school, don’t develop good learning/studying habits, and then expect to excel.

Creating eager learners happens at a very young age, and at home,and by the time these students, who have spent most of their lives chilling with friends, watching TV, playing Xbox, get to high school, they/their parents have already sealed their academic fate. It take A LOT of hard work, self motivation and determination to turn around the years of educational neglect that has be ingrained. Parent’s of such students largely do not realize this, and pins their kid’s lack of ability to learn on the teacher, with the belief that it must be the teacher.

Now, I’m not saying that there are no incompetent teachers… there are, but I have witness a trend in the U.S. where some parents and students that believe they are entitled to more than they’re willing to work for. It’s a cultural issue, as some here have alluded to, where everyone here believes that they CAN/SHOULD go to college, and once they get there (be it university or community college), but the reality is, a lot of people can’t function there and should [turn] to other work.

Typos aside, some good comment there.

Black parents complaining in Oak Park

It was standing room only last night in a village hall meeting room where black parents and others gathered to talk about how blacks are treated, or mistreated, at Oak Park & River Forest High School.

Mother after mother, and one father arose to castigate the school, which more than one said has fallen far short of their expectations of a non-ghetto public institution. One mother told of visiting a class that was 90% black where spit balls were being thrown and the teacher ignored the lack of order.

A student complained of her honors class teacher who would neither see her nor answer her emails.

A white mother told of students in the village’s northeasternmost elementary (K-6) school being “profiled” — she didn’t say how, except by address — and sent repeatedly to classes taught by sub-par teachers, framing the issue as going beyond the high school. Later in the meeting, she spoke in favor of a law that would require not only integrated schools but integrated classrooms.

A black mother said all was wonderful for her children at Oak Park’s Beye school, then at the middle school began to deteriorate, and then fell apart at OPRF high.

A white mother asked about placement at the high school based on entrance tests, not race, but black mothers spoke out, several at once, about their children not being prepared well for the more demanding classes.

A common thread was disappointment at Oak Park in general, where there was little room at the academic top, a black mother said, and what she considered unfair tactics by unnamed individuals to keep black kids away from it.

The meeting had been variously described beforehand as about finding a way “to pass the AYP again,” Adequate Yearly Progress assessment required by the No Child Left Behind law, and a chance for “supporters of justice” to meet “regarding racial equity at the high school.”

The school was represented by the superintendent, Stephen Isoye, who spoke briefly at the end, describing ongoing plans to improve the school, and a half dozen administrative staff people. Longtime Oak Parker John Duffy, a veteran teacher at two area high schools, chaired the meeting, which for all its criticism of the school was measured in tone and language.

It was held in a smaller room than had been expected. Indeed, village hall is an unusual venue for a meeting about issues at the high school, which has many meeting places of varying sizes, of course. The organizers were ready to move everyone down the street to the elementary District 97 building a half mile a way, but nothing was said about the high school itself.

In fact, a press release said the meeting would be co-hosted by Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley, whose interest in high school issues has hitherto escaped public notice. Chief Tanksley did not appear at the meeting, nor was mentioned.

The village hall’s council chambers, with tiered seating and gallery and room for hundreds, was not available — a matter pointed out by a black mother from River Forest as suspicious, with implications of unfair discrimination. (The chambers were being used by another group, apparently a citizen commission, with commissioners at the trustees’ table, and onlookers scattered in the seats.) [See below]

Perhaps the evening’s most telling comments were about the lack of discipline at the high school, with reports by at least one student of sexual activity in the corridors between classes and dress-code violations — with security guards doing nothing about it but rather being friends with students, joining them at cafeteria lunch tables, for instance.

The meeting’s organizers have in mind a movement to change things at the school. John Duffy gave his views in the Wednesday Journal prior to the meeting, arguing for a “vision of bringing diverse people together around a shared vision” of how to remove the black-white learning gap.

There’s a news story in the Journal today. Two, actually. The second is a fuller version.

Later: In fact, the council chambers were being used probably by the village board itself, for one of a series of budget discussions for 2012.  So this ad hoc black parents group was  bumped at Village Hall for a village government issue of prime importance.  Probably, because the village’s Plan Commission was also meeting at that time.

Like the road-gang guard in “Cool Hand Luke,” we had here a failure to communicate?  Who booked the prize-venue council chambers in the first place?  Chief Tanksley, billed as a host but otherwise missing from the proceedings?  The chambers were booked on the village hall events calendar.  Didn’t he or someone else look at the calendar?  Where was he when the venue was changed?

And finally, with all due respect to the ad hoc parents group leaders, was it not premature at best to imply racial discrimination in the abrupt change of venue?

Buddy, can you spare five minutes?

Do it. This week with Father Dan Whiteside of Oak Park’s St. Catherine-St. Lucy parish, where I was a boy. Typically good stuff from Catholic New World’s Dolores Madlener.

Yes, yes! in Oak Park

Buy a knuckle sandwich (ham, salami, etc.) at Red Hen, having passed Oui-Oui porta-potty a few doors down

Punchy eating, French convenience. All one could wish.

Black-white gap at Oak Park & River Forest

Customary hand-wringing at Oak Park & River Forest High about blacks’ low achievement, plummeting in recent years at yet higher rates. Hopeful sign, however, as a board member very carefully sounds a different note:

Board member Terry Finnegan countered that, while raising minority scores is and should be a priority for the school, teachers and the administration can only do so much.

I dont want to lay it all on the school, Finnegan said. Every day is a 24-hour period of which the school does not control the entire day. While we have to be leading in the education of our kids, its not the only factor involved.

Meanwhile, never any talk of dismantling the current race-based programs, unconstitutional on their face and failures on the record.