Sunday, August 14, 2005

Biographical snippet rediscoverd 7/3/2005

On Jul 3, 2005, at 11:20 AM, Roseanne Sullivan wrote to family.

When I was looking for something else tonight, I just found the biographical snippet I included below, and I want to share it with you. I added a lot to it. Mary, you might be interested in this because it tells about my life as a student trying to raise two small kids at the same time.

Hope you are all doing well. Happy 4th.

Love you, Mom/Roseanne

When I started at the U of MN in the Fall of 1975 I was 30, older than most of my fellow-students, and raising two small children alone. My son Liberty had been 4 and my daughter Sunshine was 2 years old when I'd divorced my husband the previous April. I am not proud of the reasons I married or the reasons I got divorced. And I'm not proud of what I put my ex-husband, George, my ex-in-laws, my kids, and myself through in trying to finish the college education that I had started at Brandeis University in 1963 at the age of 17. But I just had to flesh out that part of my life a little bit more because I want you to know I wasn't always on welfare.

I had brought up the subject of divorce to George soon after I found out that the State of Minnesota had a generous program (which was cut long ago) to try to help women get college degrees or other training to help them get off welfare. The program paid for child care. That's the only way I could have gotten through.

Writing this reminded me about another thing that had also precipitated my leaving. I had found out some people I knew from Moorhead State College, where I was taking a class every quarter, were moving out of an apartment I liked and that I could afford on welfare. The apartment was in a nice old wood-framed home about 12 blocks from the college. To qualify for the free child care, I would have to take a minimum of 12 credits. It would be hard to be the sole caregiver for two little ones and take a full load, but I would do it since I had to.

Before we broke up, we had been living in the country, 23 miles from Moorhead, six miles from the nearest town for almost four years. In the living room of our little rented house on the prairie, I told my husband that I wanted to separate so we could work on our relationship. I had wanted to leave before, but I would end up staying because whenever I brought the subject up, he would pay attention to me for a while.

So using some convoluted reasoning, I thought that if I left I would be able to get him to really pay attention. I didn't say that if I left I wanted to pursue the goal of becoming a professional with a college degree that he had not followed. It had been a blow to realize that he was never going to follow that goal. And a big disappointment that he had changed the plans we'd made together without letting me know.

He said quickly, probably because that's what he really wanted, "If you leave, we'll get a divorce." And, I guess because that is really what I wanted to do by that point too, I said, "Fine."

I was telling him about the apartment and about the chance for me to get on welfare and still finish my degree, when Liberty walked into the living room with us, and I told Liberty we would be moving. He run out and brought in his Big Wheel to start packing. George and I were both grieved by Liberty's innocent enthusiasm. Poor little LIberty had no idea of what the move would mean for his life.

If I had known what it would end up doing to the children and to us all, I could never have done it. The common wisdom says that children are better off if warring parents divorce. The common wisdom is a lie. A child from a broken home may live a happy, fulfilled, and productive life, but he or she is still going to be crippled. I think of divorce as an amputation. Sure, an amputee can have a full life. But it's not the same life as he would have had with all his limbs intact. Being two, Sunshine was too little to realize much about what was going on.

A few hours later I went looking for George. I climbed the ladder to the hay mow in the old barn, and I found him lying on his back on a sleeping bag he'd brought up there looking up numbly at the beams of sunlight coming through the many holes in the roof. Swallows darted around among the dust motes dancing in the light. He wouldn't speak to me.

I used that image in a poem later that I wrote for one of my poetry classes without much compunction. I was perversely glad to have experienced such a poignant moment and being able to write knowingly about the inarticulate man not being able to express his grief. Now I realizee that maybe he was up there because he didn't want to express his anger.

I finished a B.A. with a double major in English and Studio Arts in 1979. I was able to afford going to college only by applying for welfare, being able to pay less for food by being able to buy the food stamps (do you know people have to pay for food stamps?), by applying for financial aid and loans, and by living without most things that people in this prosperous nation take for granted.

Not only the material things were hard to come by. My family was 1500 miles away in the East Coast and they had their own problems. With the food stamps, we had plenty to eat. But when I was done paying the rent in my subsidized apartment, buying the food stamps , and paying the utilities, I had about $40 left for everything else, such as clothing and transportation. For one of the kids to lose a pair of mittens was a dreadful loss, every bit of clothing was so hard to come by. And without a scramble to get new mittens right away, frostbitten fingers would have been inevitable.

Robin Brown, head of the English Composition program at the U of Minn in those days, indirectly got me started in the direction of the work I've been doing since 1984. He gave me a job as a teaching associate in composition when I entered the M.A. program. The composition-teaching job --even though it was part time and earned only $9 an hour--paid enough to get me and my family off welfare. There I was, taking a full load of classes, and teaching half time. No wonder I was stressed out.

Robin required all composition teachers to learn to use computers, and to encourage their students to learn how too. There is no way that I can adequately portray to you young folks out there how radical that idea was then. I find the notion of a computer-free past hard to recall myself. I also got started by acting as a T.A. in a computer science writing class.

I earned an M.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing in 1983, after working with memoirist Trish Hampl on a memoir that, along with some short stories, served as my thesis. After spending another year on courses towards a Ph.D. in American Studies I broke out of the graduate- student coccoon into a technical writing job --which got me and my family finally off of food stamps and out of subsidized housing.

Sad to say, my experience at the U of MN was mostly-friendless, alienated and painful. I remember most of all trudging on biting winter days from one impersonal university office at one end of the campus to another similar office at another end of the campus in the ordeal that was called "registration for winter quarter." I also remember walking home other nights from working late on an art project in that dismal old art building on the west bank, again in the -20 degree cold, walking because I could have frozen to death if I stood for more than a few minutes at any of the bus stops along the long walk home on Central Ave. to Northeast Minneapolis, waiting for buses that never ran on time.

I also remember getting my diploma for my undergraduate degree in Northrup Auditorium, and going up to get the diploma wearing my honors robe, with my son in front of me and my daughter behind. I had nobody there besides them to cheer me on, and I had to take them with me to the stage because I had nobody to leave them with. When we had walked into the auditorium, my son excitedly said that the long walk down the center aisle with all the standing people and flashing cameras on either side reminded him of the award ceremony at the end of Star Wars. It did me too.


Liberty wore my cap and gown while we walked on the bridge across the Mississippi on our way home that day.

(This was mostly written in 2001.) I am now a lead technical writer at Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley, have been for 13 years.)

I like the detective part of my work. I enjoy using the skills I've honed for extracting hidden information from the brains of engineers and from sometimes-impenetrable design documents. And I can write a procedure for--say-- replacing a disk drive faster and better than just about anyone else. Mine is a noble calling, I feel, as I try to depart from the norm. I wrestle every day with the challenges of trying to create computer manuals that clearly tell readers what they need to know, no more, no less. And the nostalgia I sometime feel for the other career possibilities I once contemplated, artist or fiction writer, is assuaged in part by the goodly pay check I get every too weeks.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sometimes the most intolerant people

Date: July 17, 2005 2:38:27 PM PDT
From: Fellow ILM student

Hi, sweetie.

I'm very sorry that happened to you. Sometimes the most intolerant people are those preaching tolerance.

... [ personally identifying info omitted ]

Take care of yourself!


The Real Reason Why I Did Not Graduate With the ILM Class of 2005

Here is a copy of an email I sent to fellow students at the San Jose Institute for Leadership in Ministry.

Date: July 17, 2005 8:21:38 AM PDT

To my brothers and sisters from the ILM,

I think it is time that I tell you all why I didn't take the last year of classes and graduate with you all. Last Fall, I received a letter from [ILM director] Anne Grycz telling me that I could not return to the ILM. That's why .

It happened this way. Someone pointed out to Anne a blog (web log) that I had online. In that blog, which I wrote in Feb 2004 when we were studying "moral theology" with Father Bretzke, I was trying to figure out how a priest like he is could be telling us that we would be morally infantile if we trusted the Pope and the Magisterium on moral issues such as birth control. I used some wording that was unfortunately open to misinterpretation when I wondered whether Father Bretzke's dislike of official Church moral teachings was related to the Jesuit tolerance for homosexual behavior among their ranks (as was evidenced by scandals in the past 15 years). My word choice was injudicious. My only excuse is that I was racking my brains trying to figure out where his position came from. I have since removed the offending words, but you can see the edited blog.

Last September, Anne sent me a letter saying I could not be a leader because leaders have to be very careful what they say in public, and I was out of the ILM. She wrote that it was not because I "struggled" with the teachings at the ILM.

I actually heaved a sigh of relief, because it has been a strain to be continually subject to the teachings of instructors who are out of sympathy with the teachings of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church. When I wrote papers that showed I understood the points they were trying to make, the instructors loved them. When I wrote papers that tried to show where official Church teachings disagreed with the points they were trying to make, they treated me as if I was psychologically immature and unable to accept new ideas or maybe just not very bright.

As I go through my notes from the classes I have begun to realize that the theories taught at ILM are based on close reading of theologians who in many cases have been reprimanded by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for "dangerous" teachings contradicting Church doctrine. Because they are out of sympathy with Rome (remember that Father Bretzke teaches that it would be morally infantile to follow the Pope and the Magisterium), the CDF condemnations don't have an effect on what is taught in the diocese. Over and over again we were taught theological positions as if they were accepted Church doctrine. Please be aware that what you learned about how things have supposedly changed since Vatican II in most cases does not match what our beloved Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have taught in Magisterial documents.

And think about this: If the Church was teaching the truth for nearly 2000 years, how can the new teachings be true if they contradict the previous teachings? And how could the Church be the true source of doctrine if it was wrong until the modern thinkers came along?

Some repudiated theological positions we were exposed to are: the Vatican II teachings on the role of the laity in the Church means that lay people can and should be able to lead parishes [the ILM is based on that position], the Eucharist forgives mortal sin [Bishop McGrath], lay people will be able to consecrate the Eucharist [Sister Gertrude Marie Rohan], that since Vatican II authority and doctrine comes from below in the local churches [Father Pettingill and many instructors], that morality has to change [Frederick Parellla], and so forth.

With your consent, I'm going to be sending all of you in this alias copies of some articles I've written about the ILM teachings that diverge from the official Magisterium. I''ll send you the original articles in PDF form (so you need the Acrobat reader). Let me know if you would prefer Word format or simple text format instead.

The articles have been edited and published (sometimes under a nom de plume) in San Francisco Faith newspaper. You can find them online at [now a dead link].

I would be interested in your comments.

Please let me know if you don't want to get the rest of my articles on the topic. If you disagree with me, fine. Please do not hate me for it. I would just like to ask you to consider what I have to say. Be charitable, if you can.

The first article (attached) is about Father Bretzke's moral theology. It was published in December 2004 and you can read the edited version in this PDF.

I am continuing to write articles from my notes and from the course books comparing what the ILM instructors have been teaching to the official teachings of the ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, of which I am proud to be a member. One I am working on right now is on how Bishop McGrath taught us that the Eucharist forgives mortal sins.

So that's why I can't be a leader . . . in the Diocese of San Jose as it is constituted now. My personal limitations probably do mean I'm not cut out for a leadership role, but I do think it's important to challenge false ideas when they are being taught to the faithful and to those who will be leading the

In love with Him and with you my brothers and sisters
in the Body of Christ,


Sunday, August 07, 2005

More about my visit to NPH Mexico

At my website this week, I posted a revised article about my trip to the the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos home in Miacatlan Mexico where Guadalupe, the girl I sponsor, and her three sisters live. Today I ran across an old email I sent before I travelled there that has all kinds of interesting info that I'm putting up here so I won't lose it.

Photo of the Miacatlan Home

Here is a photo of the orphanage, formerly Hacienda of Acatzingo, and later named Hacienda San Salvador (probably by Father Wasson). Tour by Mexico has this to say at its Morelos Miacatlan web page about the building: "Established in 1617, today it is the "Casa Hogar de Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos", an Orphanage founded by Father Watson."

Hacienda Cocoyoc

The hotel I stayed at, Hacienda Cocoyoc, is mentioned in this Tour by Mexico web page about Morelos:

"Three of the most beautiful Haciendas being Cocoyoc, Vista Hermosa and Cortes, the latter in Atlacomulco, have been converted into luxurious hotels."

Cocoyoc means coyote.


See Cuernavaca on the left and Miacatlan further south from Cuernavaca on this map.

More Info about the Orphanage

Here is some info from the NPH Amigos page about the Mexico home in Miacatlan:

Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos' first home was established in Mexico in 1954. An old, converted sugar plantation, Hacienda San Salvador, now serves as the main facility for the large family of approximately 1,000 children. Always bustling with activity, it is located in the small village of Miacatlán, 27 miles southwest of Cuernavaca, and 77 miles south of Mexico City.

NPH Mexico boasts an excellent educational system, with its own primary and secondary schools. Many of the paid teaching staff are former pequeños (those who were raised at the orphan home). Many older children attend the NPH vocational school in Cuernavaca and learn a trade to support themselves. Others go on to university in Mexico City or Monterrey.

Extracurricular activities are a valuable part of the pequeños' days. Aside from an active sports program, NPH Mexico can boast of its young people's talent as musicians and folk dancers. At least two times each year, a troupe of youngsters travels abroad to Canada, Europe or the USA, performing their own Ballet Folklórico to raise funds to help support their family.

In 1999, a program was begun to help the families living at the garbage dump of Milpillas, 15 minutes from the home of Miacatlán. Currently, 115 girls and boys are picked up by bus every day and brought to Miacatlán where they receive food and a shower before joining the rest of the NPH children in school. As these children must help their families earn a living at the dump, they return at the end of each school day to Milpillas.