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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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The Tragic Story about Alana

alana

There is the story in the news about a Colorado family angry with the Catholic Church over counseling and conversion therapy that they claim played a role in a young woman’s suicide. Alana Chen was, according to all accounts, a beautiful lady, a talented musician and an avid Catholic. As a teenager she thought about becoming a nun. When she questioned her sexuality, she sought out priests at the parish that ministered to students at Colorado University. The bishop assigned the Sisters for Life to mentor students in the cause of life and chastity. Against her wishes, the young woman’s mother said that the sisters convinced her daughter to take conversion therapy. Her mother interpreted the religious intervention (counseling and therapy) as an extended “emotional and religious abuse.” Alana became increasingly “depressed, distraught, and suicidal.” At 21 she had formerly attempted suicide and three years later apparently succeeded. I cannot imagine the pain that her mother and family experienced and still must face each day without her. While left unsaid, I have to think that the priests and sisters involved deeply grieve her loss as well. Most priests are haunted men, always praying for and unable to forget those whom they feel they have failed.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center in Boulder released the following statement regarding the accusations:

“We are devastated over the death of Alana Chen and cannot begin to imagine the pain and grief of her family and friends. Our prayers will continue to be with them during this incredibly difficult time. For those of us who had an opportunity to know Alana, we will remember her as a young woman who was eager to serve God and others and had a tremendous love of the poor. She will be greatly missed. Striving to be a community who welcomes anyone and everyone as Jesus did, we reject any practices that are manipulative, forced, coercive or pseudo-scientific. We believe that every person is a beloved child of God and should be treated with dignity, mercy, and reverence.”

I hope that she has found the peace that alluded her in this world. Rest in Peace.