Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Hitting close to home

October 5th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike
In conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street movement, a group of people who consider themselves economic outcasts have begun to post their stories at We Are The 99 Percent:
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

So far there are over 700 stories on line.

One of these stories comes from a former DOR Catholic Schools employee …

I was an art teacher in the Diocese of Rochester for 24 years. The pay has always been below poverty level. I’ve worked three – four jobs for years trying to make ends meet. One of my other jobs was to design and build sets for community theater.

Last March & April I received a critical spinal injury, and needed emergency surgery. Because I was a temp., the district had no legal obligation to assist in my expenses. I was hospitalized for 4 weeks. While I was strapped to my bed, my primary employer, The Diocese of Rochester, revoked each of my saved up sick days (over 60 in total). They also demoted me from permanent part-time to hourly. Finally, they refused to relinquish the salary I had set aside for our summer living expenses.

I was assured at the time of my surgery that I would have a job to return to. That was a lie. My principal replaced me with a volunteer.

Our family has suffered greatly from my loss of employment and equally the high cost of medical care. My retirement fund, after 24 years, has less than $2,000 in it. My savings account is empty. I am denied disability benefits because I was part-time. We’ve gone weeks without utilities that include; Gas, Electric, Phone, & Cable. I had to end my physical therapy weeks early because of the high costs per treatment.  Our home is in foreclosure. I can no longer do physical work, and I cannot collect unemployment or disability benefits.

Our oldest son cannot afford to return for college. Our youngest son will go without a birthday party and likely Christmas this year. Both of our cars are broken down wrecks. We rely on them, but cannot afford repairs or legal tires.

We need money to live on. I risk re-injuring my spine and potentially dying or spending my life in a wheelchair if I return to a job now. If I do not find a job to return to, we risk losing what little we have remaining.

I am part of the 99%

Source here.

UPDATE: A large part of this family’s problems would seem to stem from an action taken by the DOR School System in 2009 …

In January, some employees of the diocesan school system received a letter informing them that as of June, ‘09, they would no longer be eligible for health and dental benefits under the auspices of the diocese. The new policy affects all employees who work less than 35 hours a week. This diocesan action primarily impacted employees at the lower end of the economic spectrum who are least able to cope with an increase in medical costs. The employees were told that this action would save the diocese about $300,000 a year. (Source here.)

 

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32 Responses to “Hitting close to home”

  1. avatar Choir says:

    How can we send this guy some money?

  2. avatar Mike says:

    Choir,

    I do not know his name. I did do some digging on line with Google but came up empty.

  3. avatar speedmaster says:

    I know who he is, feel free to email me.

  4. avatar militia says:

    Over and over again we’ve seen the proof. The only thing DoR cares about is money. We need a study on how many of the awful Dor-trocities are toward the more conservative, faithful Catholic, and how many against the liberal fringe.

  5. avatar Nerina says:

    Not to diminish, in any way, this man’s sufferings, but what does his plight under the DOR have to do with Wall Street? I agree that he is in need of support, but does promoting class envy help him or anyone else. He clearly has a grievance with the diocese and he should. The whole OWS movement is nothing but a political ploy that will further divide Americans.

  6. avatar LarryD says:

    Nerina – I had the same thought. I feel bad for this man and his family’s plight – but it has nothing to do with OWS.

    And I wonder how many of the 700 stories are factual. Call me cynical, but we’re at the cusp of an election cycle.

  7. avatar CPT Tom says:

    This guy sounds like he has more of a beef with the diocese. Not Wall Street. He should encamp at the Cathedral

    A more Typical “Story”: (This kind of cranked me up)

    i am a 19 year old student with 18 credit hours and 2 part time jobs. i am over 4000 dollars in debt but my paychecks are just enough to get me to school and back. next year my plan was to attend a 4 year college and get my bfa, but now i am afraid that without a co-signer i will have no shot at a loan and even if i can get a loan i am afraid that i will leave college with no future and a crippling debt.”

    I’m sorry this person obviously made some poor life choices. First…19 with only 18 Credit hours 2 part time jobs and planning on going to 4 year college to get a…BFA? (Bachelor of Fine Arts). Now this is not a very marketable degree in good times, much less a recession. Where is this person’s parents? what kind of crummy advice did they get from their High School Guidance department? How about a real degree, and trying to get an ROTC scholarship, or join one of the services? Of course, the fact they are 19 and just starting to go to college may imply they are, not a very good student, not terribly motivated to work hard.

    I have trouble feeling sorry for this 19 year old.

    Now the Occupy Wall Street movement is getting help from the Unions…they are busing in “Help” (thugs) ala the Madison, Wisconsin Occupation, the off-off-Broadway show now in NYC. This is such a grassroots effort…not.

  8. avatar CPT Tom says:

    As far as unions and fellow travelers from the website:

    workers of:

    AFL-CIO (AFSCME)
    United NY
    Strong Economy for All Coalition
    Working Families Party
    TWU Local 100
    SEIU 1199
    CWA 1109
    RWDSU
    Communications Workers of America
    CWA Local 1180
    United Auto Workers
    United Federation of Teachers
    Professional Staff Congress – CUNY
    National Nurses United
    Writers Guild East

    And:

    VOCAL-NY
    Community Voices Heard
    Alliance for Quality Education
    New York Communities for Change
    Coalition for the Homeless
    Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP)
    The Job Party
    NYC Coalition for Educational Justice
    The Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center
    The New Deal for New York Campaign
    National People’s Action
    ALIGN
    Human Services Council
    Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State
    Citizen Action of NY
    MoveOn.org
    Common Cause NY
    New Bottom Line
    350.org
    Tenants & Neighbors
    Democracy for NYC
    Resource Generation
    Tenants PAC
    Teachers Unite

  9. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    great find, Mike. An interesting topic and a sad story. I’m not sure I see the DOR as employer failing to take proper responsibility here, though. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – there’s not enough info here to tell.

    Cpt Tom, that list scares me, but reading the wikipedia page makes me somewhat sympathetic to the cause, although it’s very vague. The main issue seems to be corruption of government – especially by big money. I think that’s something we can all sympathize with. In that regard I don’t see it as a partisan issue. Many people think republicans are the party of big-business and democrats are the part of big-government. In reality, though, both parties are equally corrupt in that regard and so I see a movement like this could be beneficial, although I do think it could easily be taken over by the progressive agenda.

    One more thing that stuck out at me was this:

    I am denied disability benefits because I was part-time.

    And there you have everything that is wrong with our current welfare state. We set up rules and give hand outs to some who don’t need it, while denying others who do. We actually create a disincentive to work. We treat people like widgets instead of like people. So what’s the answer? Actually our Catholic faith has the great principal of subsidiarity. In my belief instead of big government safety nets, I think we’re better off with each individual community helping out people. Unfortunately our Catholic leaders have so closely identified with creating a massive welfare state (and even do so today) that makes its citizens become dependent on handouts. This makes principals like subsidiarity impossible.

  10. avatar CPT Tom says:

    The problem with the occupation is with the behind the scene players. These are not organizations really interested in fixing the corruption, rather have either participated in it or benifited in it. You could say the DOR falls into that category. From the topic of this Post the Dioseses has some unchristian labor practices that smack of corruption. Frankly as a Catholic you can’t really support either party as they are secular and do not align with the Church.

    With the occupation watch both hands….its a game of there card monty…their stated goals are a cover for coming violence and mayhem.

  11. avatar CPT Tom says:

    that should be “Three card Monty”

  12. avatar Nerina says:

    That our government is corrupt comes as no big surprise. Of course it is, and both parties are guilty. This “movement,” however, is not organically derived and is supported by big money progressives like George Soros. It is purely political. The timing is very interesting and in fact, there was some talk that the “occupations” were originally slated for August, but conservative talk shows blew the whistle then. If you want to know how these people think, watch the videos as they try to explain their cause. Better yet, read one group’s declaration found here:

    http://www.nationofchange.org/declaration-occupation-new-york-city-1317784408

    This group wants desperately to be the answer to the Tea Party. We’ll see. Fortunately, cold weather is coming and that should help disperse the crowds. I wonder if they’ll be nearly as neat, clean and non-destructive as the Tea Partiers were at their rallies? Already, local businesses in the area of the “occupations” are noting destruction of property and the immediate impact on their businesses. But that’s okay, these people have a cause – sticking it to “the man!”

    I’m sorry to be so unsympathetic. Call me a cynic. But I have an interest in successful companies since we are invested in them through our various mutual funds and investment vehicles. We have five kids to put through college and we’re trying to do the responsible thing by saving for our retirement fully expecting Social Security to be gone when, or if, we reach retirement age.

  13. avatar Nerina says:

    Having now read the wikipedia page, I am even less-inclined to be sympathetic to the movement as a whole (I can certainly be sympathetic toward individuals). This is an acutely far-left initiative that will further vilify “the rich” under the watch of a president who has said we need to tone down our political rhetoric and that “this isn’t class warfare, this is math.” Their complaints won’t stop with big corporations, because as humans we are prone to sin. Their rage will eventually seep towards those owners of smaller businesses or anyone they see as benefiting from a corrupt system. I pray it ends soon.

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    From this D&C article:

    Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, released a statement today supporting the three-week old “Occupy Wall Street” movement that began in New York City and is spreading across the country, including to Rochester.

    “For thirty years, America’s middle class has watched its living standards erode while the wealthiest 1 percent amass fortunes that would make the Robber Barons blush,” Slaughter’s statement said.

    “The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen in the wake of the 2008 recession, precipitated by the banking industry. Yet we are told we cannot afford to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires to pay for better roads and help close this deficit? That’s not right.

    “It’s time for all Americans to pay their fair share. And I’m so proud to see the Occupy Wall Street movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy.”

    Nerina, thanks for the additional insight. I’m turning as unsympathetic as you.

  15. avatar LC says:

    It frustrates me that these comments have become a chance to discuss politics. Our hearts should be open to an individual in need. The post itself is a cry for help from a person who is struggling. Whether or not the OWS protest is something you support or despise, I find that it distracts from my prayers and faith to get caught up in the political fervor of a movement. It is the Church that calls us to love the poor, to help those in need, to clothe the naked and to feed the hungry as Christ Himself has taught us. None of those actions need to be attached to being a Republican, a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. None of those actions should be hijacked by political movements.

    Now, if you want to research his story, he is found easily in a quick Google search. I’m not going to lie, there are pieces of his story that don’t make sense to me…just as there are parts of the OWS that I find suspect. But neither of these things distract me from my desire to give aid when needed.

    As for the inclusion of the 19 year old student, without men and women studying for BFA’s, we would not have the singers capable of singing and directing the beautiful pieces in liturgical history. We would not have the master craftsman capable of building and designing churches worthy of housing the Eucharist, the living presence of God. We would not have artists to create the frescoes, paintings, statues and altar pieces that are worthy of our Father’s House. I understand that it is not popular to pursue the arts, nor is it as lucrative (or respected) as a technical degree or a science degree. But they have worth. The same worth as my degree in an equally less than profitable field in theology from Steubenville.

  16. avatar Nerina says:

    It frustrates me that these comments have become a chance to discuss politics. Our hearts should be open to an individual in need.

    Honestly, LC, I don’t know how politics can be avoided when discussing these stories. It is a political movement. That doesn’t mean that I can’t pray for this man or others similarly afflicted. Heck, if the CMA would directly aid people like this, I’d give to it!

    It is the Church that calls us to love the poor, to help those in need, to clothe the naked and to feed the hungry as Christ Himself has taught us. None of those actions need to be attached to being a Republican, a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal.

    I agree! You might be interested to know, though, that the people who give the most to charitable causes (both in terms of real dollars and in time donated) are religious conservatives. Check out Arthur C. Brooks book “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism.” It was very eye-opening to me.

    Finally, I love the writing of Dr. Kengor.

  17. avatar LC says:

    Nerina, thank you for the book recommendation! I will be sure to look it up. I was aware of the statistic (both in terms of experience and something read at some point in time) but I look forward to reading the book. I hope I didn’t come across as defending the OWS movement. I just find that there are times when political movements and our agreements or disagreements with them obscure the actual matters at stake. In this case, a man’s story was reproduced here and it became a discussion the motivations behind a political protest that the man may be attached to. It should be a time for us to consider his story, find out who he is and what we can do to help.

  18. avatar CPT Tom says:

    What are the actual matters at stake? The Diocese of Rochester has unfair labor practices. It constructs jobs in such a way as to keep from paying benefits. Surprising considering what a big deal Social Justice concerns are to this Diocese. It is part of the Church’s Social Doctrine to pay employees a fair wage. To do what the diocese did in 2009 is definitely against the Church’s doctrine in fact and in spirit.

  19. avatar JLo says:

    Nerina and LarryD, I’m with you… the Wall Street thing going on in NY and in other places is wrong. It is disgusting and more disgusting because it is being encouraged by those who ALWAY encourage rioting and anger and name-calling and never listen and strive to work together, even while they loudly scream such accusations at others!!! Amazing people. They don’t WANT to work together… they want their way and at any cost.

    And if you want to avoid politics in your life, LC, move to Mars… it is in everything we do and are, just as religion is, because God is in everything and man messes with everything. Can’t avoid either, but one can take hard looks at all of it, pray on it, and take direction from Holy Mother Church… not from the Faith-weak bishops here and there and everywhere, but from the Church.

    Take a look at the people rioting… they have no agenda other than taking, getting theirs, and getting it by not earning it, but by taking it, even if by force. We’ve become in many quarters the United States of Entitlement. It’s almost embarrassing to hear some when they are asked questions on camera… they haven’t a clue why they’re there… maybe to get a free meal, or maybe they’re being paid like the union people in Wisconsin were.

    And you who cheer this “movement” on? Get ready… since the Left is losing their arguments in the world of common sense, intelligence, and decency, this is exactly what they will resort to in order to get their way. They figured out long ago (Saul Alinsky, anyone?) that if you get enough people on the dole and enough others believing they’re being taken, riots are what we’ll have and then government will just have to step in….. and so it goes, as it has at other times in history.

    As to contributing to those in need and those who think liberals care so very much, you are so very wrong. It’s all talk, and they only care enough to give YOUR money away. During the 2008 election run when tax filings were public for those running, I took a look at Obama’s filings and Biden’s for four years prior. Turns out I gave more in charitable/church contributions every one of those years than either of those men. Actually, I gave LOTS more… I gave more than their combined giving. Imagine, a man like Joe Biden, for example, whose wife is called “Doctor” and who himself has been a United States Senator for some 35 years (talk about on the dole!!), and he never even totaled three thousand dollars in donations for any year. Same for the other guy.

    Yes, Cleansingfire is about our Faith, but we’re heading into what’s possibly the most important election of our nation’s history, and Catholics need to get this one right. Teach ‘em, Cleansingfire!

    +JMJ

  20. avatar LC says:

    JLo, I know that tone is something that we read into when things that are written, but I feel like I may have offended you. I sincerely didn’t mean to. Or anyone. I agree with you all, for goodness sake! I know how important this election year is and what is at stake when we cast our votes as surely as anyone here. I was just saying that we are 20 comments in and the actual discussion of the man on the post has gotten lost. I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else. I am new to the site and don’t mean to contribute things that aren’t helpful.

    I am really passionate about my Faith and feel pretty isolated here as a conservative, traditional Catholic young person in the DOR (I moved to Rochester a little over a year ago.) I don’t like that politics have taken over the pulpit in my parish. I enjoy this site because it celebrates Catholic Tradition and Orthodoxy and it just…ruffled my feathers that this, too, was becoming political. You are right – there is a connection between the two. And maybe it is unavoidable that we need to talk about it here. I didn’t mean to hit anyone when I threw my two cents in…but telling me to go to Mars might be a little harsh.

  21. avatar CPT Tom says:

    LC,

    I can agree with what you’re saying. This particular post is political because the Occupation on Wall Street is a political situation, and touches some strong emotions (as you can tell!). That said, I am also tired of the politics in the pulpit, especially because it tends to be of a kind that is inconsistent with the Church’s real teachings. You shouldn’t have to go to Mars to avoid politics. But the reality of the culture today is every facet has been politicized. Makes me crazy too…you’re among friends, speaking for myself, I am a bit harden after so many battles with the tragically progressive. God bless and keep you well. Yours in Christ, –CPT Tom

  22. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    LC,

    I am new to the site

    mmmm – I thought I smelled fresh blood! Just kidding – welcome aboard!

    I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else.

    no worries. You’re going to have to do a lot more than that to offend this bunch. We’ve heard it all – believe me.

    I am really passionate about my Faith

    great to hear!

    I didn’t mean to hit anyone when I threw my two cents in…but telling me to go to Mars might be a little harsh.

    please do not shy away from leaving future comments. We don’t want everyone hear on edge about offending people. This is a place where your ideas can get slapped upside the head and you can live to write another comment 🙂 I can witness to this fact as I’ve been wrong many a-times here and am glad to have been corrected (not that your comment needed correction).

  23. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    If this church related blog keeps talking about political issues, it stands a good chance of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service and loosing its tax exempt status! ! ! LOL

  24. avatar militia says:

    Just to be sure everyone got Raymond F. Rice’s “joke” — there is no IRS or tax issue — the bigger issue is not to stay lukewarm and risk being judged by the Highest Court as having refused to stand up for Christian principles. I don’t believe any issue of faith concern should be off limits, and that certainly includes politics.

  25. avatar Mike says:

    Raymond F. Rice,

    This site is earning a profit? No one told me!

  26. avatar JLo says:

    LC, it actually was the turning of our religion into a political arena that sparked my response to you. That doesn’t come across, as I was being specific to the day’s subject, but it actually was the why of it, and so I agree with you and all who are sick and tired of the agendas in our churches, even from the ambo, being about social justice instead of understanding the Faith Jesus gave us. I am so sorry if I sounded harsh. My excuse, honestly, is that passionate opinions often come across that way in writing, but my style is also certainly a hit-you-over-the-head kind. So, once again, I’m sorry. And how wonderful to have a young conservative on board. You certainly will find via this website the company and information you long for… even as you often find over-the-top contributors like me!! +JMJ

  27. avatar A Catholic says:

    It was sad to read about this DOR employee- many people are suffering during these times and many are going through similar situations. The “greed of Wall Street” is only part of the problem. Personally, I don’t invest in stocks because pyramid schemes don’t appeal to me. Furthermore, as a Catholic, I don’t want to give my money to companies that may invest it in immoral ways, even if by doing so I might make a quick buck. Maybe if less believers invested in the stock market, it wouldn’t be the idol that it has become.

    Having said that, I should add that I believe that the current protestors are ignoring many other real factors that contribute to our current economic woes. These other factors include more people taking from the government than giving back. If only there was some way to separate out those who are milking our current entitlement system from those who are truly in need.

    Furthermore, I believe the expectations that people have nowadays about what kind of benefits a job should provide are completely unrealistic. Years of prosperity since WWII have spoiled us all. The reality is, there’s no going back to those days- low-cost college, jobs with great benefits and great retirement- that’s all in the past. We’re in a different era and each person ought to do some belt-tightening on their own without waiting for either the government or their employer to step in: for example, maybe make a go of it with one car rather than two; maybe encourage your children to start college at MCC or stick with state schools. We should get encouragement from how our grandparents and great-grandparents made the best of it during the Great Depression before the age of entitlements. Sacrificing, sticking together and helping one another. And those who can should up their contributions to help those who can’t.

  28. avatar LC says:

    JLo, Ben and CPT Tom, thank you kindly for your responses and warm reception! I look forward to reading and commenting in the future!

  29. avatar JLo says:

    One last comment for those still tuning in on this discussion and interested in the Wall Street thing and our economy in general, how we have made some wrong turns ourselves and been dragged that way as we were in the dark on such matters. Michael Brown at spiritdaily.com just this week put out a wonderful article on just this subject. He lays out in details such as I need or can absorb just what our economy is suffering through right now and how our country has gone wrong. This is a real primer on things done and as they stand, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for your own reading and use in our future. Find it at: http://spiritdaily.com/allthedevils.htm

    +JMJ

  30. avatar pebbles says:

    I feel sorry for the art teacher, but he is being used by the Left as part of their co-opting of the Catholic concept of “social justice,” which has to do with charity, not government entitilement. It is so obvious that Occupy Wall Street and 99% are socialist/communist groups, in coordination with David Axelrod and Obama’s “foot soldiers,” deliberately using the vulnerable members of society to generate social unrest in a pathetic attempt to deflect attention away from the failures of Obama’s socialist agenda. Same deal went on in Wisconsin. As a former teacher living in the failed socialist state called Illinois, I was disgusted by the behavior of teachers, unions, and Democrat politicians in Madison. They had jobs, and yet they abdicated their sworn duties as public servants to whine about the duly elected majority implementing measures to reduce the state debt. No concern at all for the millions of PRIVATE SECTOR unemployed. No concern for the taxpayer who funds their jobs.

    If this sounds all political and has nothing to do with religion, it has everything to do with religion. Chesterton said that if he was not allowed to talk or write about politics and religion, then there was nothing to talk or write about at all. Everything is related to those two topics. The current President voted for partial birth abortion as an Illinois state senator, said that stating when life begins was “above his paygrade,” and that if his unmarried daughter got pregnant he would favor abortion because he wouldn’t want her to be be punished for her mistake. Do you really think he cares about the plight of this art teacher? He, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd are only interested in power and control. That’s it. Occupy Wall Street is a campaign strategy.

  31. avatar annonymouse says:

    As noted above, this OWS movement is all about sinful ENVY, and our President is shamelessly attempting to gain re-election with this one campaign plank – ENVY.

    Father John Riccardo (whom I’ve caught a few times on Catholic radio) has a good homily on this very topic:
    http://frjohnriccardo.libsyn.com/september-18-2011-noon-mass-at-olgc


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