Boston CRC

Group Leader: Judy Castaldi

Next meeting:

When: Sunday, April 13th, at 1:30pm
Where: St. Cecilia Church
             18 Belvidere Street, Boston

Past Meeting Minutes:

March 9, 2014

Those attending:  Tom Connolly, Nancy Donnelly, Owen Donnelly, Rita Seru-Gardner, Iain Prendergast, Dave Castaldi, Judy Castaldi

Iain Prendergast facilitated a spirited discussion of David Cloutier’s article, “Sending the Wrong Signal – How Luxury Compromises Christian Witness.”  We circled around his five focus questions:

1.  Do you agree that Americans’ attachment to a materialistic lifestyle is the glue that holds us together, despite other differences?

2.  If there is a baseline of material wealth after which more consumerism is harmful, how can people figure that out for themselves, within their vocation?

3.  Are there pitfalls you foresee for people trying to determine what is appropriate with regards to their vocation?

4.  Do you think that acting on these thoughts in our own lives will be a tool of evangelization, as Professor Cloutier suggests?

5.  How can we, personally and collectively, do this?

It was a lively discussion in which several themes emerged.  Should the article have been more Biblically based?  Should it have dealt with systemic and political imbalances, rather than focusing on the individual response to materialism?  Can the Church make appeals or pronouncements to the Church as a whole?  Would that be practical or well-received by Catholics as a group?  Or should it stay on the individual exhortation level?  Where is the line between having enough for one’s needs, and unnecessary luxury?  Where do art and beauty fit into a scenario of avoiding self-indulgence?
Rita Seru-Gardner will facilitate the next meeting.  We will discuss two topics.  The first is the PBS Frontline program entitled, “Secrets of the Vatican.”  If you did not watch it, or want to see it again before the meeting, it can be found online.  The other topic is the article by Donald Kraybill in the March 7, 2014 issue titled, “Why the Amish Opt Out” (an interesting follow-up to David Cloutier’s regarding the appropriate Christian stance on luxury).

We seem to be compiling a list of topics that we want to discuss in the future—though not for the next meeting.  So far these include the two part series by Elizabeth Johnson regarding Darwin and the Ecological Vocation in the January 24 and February 7 issues, Bernard Prusak’s article, “When Should Soldiers Refuse to Fight?” in the February 7 issue, and the series of articles entitled “Who Do You Say That I Am?:  Why Jewish-Catholic dialogue can’t avoid the question” in the February 21 issue.

February 9, 2014

People attending: Nancy Donnelly, Owen Donnelly, Dave Castaldi, Judy Castaldi, Tom Connolly, John Geary, Elyse Raby, Iain Prendergast

The meeting opened with a prayer suggested by Bill Dittrich. Nancy and Owen Donnelly led the group in a discussion of the December 6, 2013 article entitled “Raising Catholics: A Symposium.” The discussion was spirited and wide ranging.

The group decided to try a quick sharing technique—Popcorn Sharing. Each person tried to describe in 30 seconds or less a topic or idea from a recent Commonweal issue that was particularly interesting.

We decided to solicit ideas for topics from all of our members via email.  Two of the topics that were suggested were the two part series by Elizabeth Johnson on ecology in the last two issues ( and, and "Sending the Wrong Signal:  How luxury compromises Christian witness" in December 20 issue.

Please make your suggestions so we can decide for March.  Iain Prendergast is going to be our leader

January 12, 2014

We began our meeting with discussions and decisions about several procedural matters.

We noted that information about other Commonweal Readers’ Groups is available on the site,

We agreed to allow the posting of the minutes of our meetings to the Commonweal local site.

We decided to extend an open invitation to the staff of St. Cecilia to attend our meetings, and to post an announcement about our meetings in the St. Cecilia bulletin for Commonweal readers.

We decided to open and close each meeting with a prayer.

We also noted the fact that several Commonweal authors live in the Greater Boston area. We wondered if there might be some way to invite them to some future meetings.

One member suggested that business or procedural talk be kept to a minimum at the beginning of the meeting, and conducted, instead, at the end—so as to save time for the discussion of the selected topic.

The majority of the meeting involved a spirited and far-ranging examination of the topic of married priests, based on the article in the December 6 issue. Tom Connolly was the leader of the discussion.

Those in attendance were: Nancy Donnelly, Owen Donnelly, Judy Castaldi, Elyse Raby,
John Infranca, Iain Prendergast, Bill Dittrich, Tom Connolly, and Rose Moss.

First meeting - December 8, 2013

Eight people were in attendance:  Jonathan Bruno, Judy Castaldi, Tom Connolly, Bill Dittrich, Nancy Donnelly, Owen Donnelly, John Infranca, and Iain Prendergast.

All attending introduced themselves, and explained the reasons they enjoyed reading Commonweal.  The breadth and depth of  articles was appreciated, as well as the fact that Commonweal is a magazine written by Catholic lay people.

After the introductions, those attending attempted to make preliminary plans regarding the purpose of future meetings, as well as the manner in which the meetings might be conducted. The group decided to call itself the Boston Commonweal Reading Group, although a final decision on a name was not reached.

The group decided to meet at St. Cecilia Church on the second Sunday of each month at 1:00 p.m.  The meetings will last approximately one hour and a half. 

The purpose of the meetings will be the discussion of issues raised and articles found in recent Commonweal issues.

Kaitlin Campbell, the Commonweal intern who is the liaison for the discussion groups throughout the country, will be asked to email Commonweal topic discussion packets to members of the Boston group.

After some reflection, the group decided to choose topics and meeting facilitators for future meetings on a volunteer and consensus basis.  At the end of a meeting, the topic(s) for the next meeting will be decided by consensus of those in attendance.  One person attending the current meeting will volunteer to facilitate for the following month’s meeting.  The topic and facilitator will be announced in advance of the next meeting so that people can  prepare for the discussion.

Tom Connelly will facilitate the next meeting based on the December 6 Commonweal article, “The Case for Married Priests.”  If there is time, Jonathan Bruno said that he would be willing to lead a discussion of the November 15 article, “The Necessary Vagueness of Religious Liberty.”