- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

Clergy shortage shouldn't overshadow booming lay movements

Your recent "Pulpits in peril" special series has done a great service, inspiring greater appreciation of the sacrifices our clergy make to quicken the faith of the followers of Christ. However, the article overlooks a plentiful source of ministry in the church. Christ himself issued a call, which is echoed by bishops again and again, to every individual to be a disciple and servant to others.

I am speaking from my perspective as a Roman Catholic layman and father of six. Certainly I do not quibble with the series' accurate claim about a decreasing number of ministers of the word; however, I would urge readers to remember how the size of our ministry encompasses the entire church. My hope is that in reflecting on "Pulpits in peril," we are moved to do as we have been called to do minister actively to one another.

Greatly motivated by the charismatic leadership of Pope John Paul II and his special affection for young people, young Catholics are returning to college campuses in a wildfire of conversion. While your series reported on pulpits in peril, I can speak personally of a lay ministry in focus.

A growing cadre of college-age Catholic missionaries is working to amplify the selfless efforts of devoted, if overworked, priests and religious. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS, is a group I founded only a few years ago. These young adults are the cream of the crop from their graduating classes who set aside high-priced careers for at least two years of voluntary poverty and mission work in the dorms. These missionaries are trained meticulously in more than 200 hours of intensive course work each year with some of the finest theologians in the country. FOCUS missionaries do everything from inviting young people to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, to listening and counseling about approaches to dating that assure a lifelong marriage, to teaching basics, such as saying the rosary.

The primary fact is that the harvest is plentiful. Demand outstrips our growth, but we endeavor to meet the challenge, even as more and more missionaries continue to volunteer. The pulpits may lack sufficient numbers, but the crisis has allowed others to reveal the good news at work.



Fellowship of Catholic University Students

Greeley, Colo.

Probe of training runs sign of military weakness

Simply amazing. The politically correct crowd wants not only to dumb down America, but to weaken it as well ("Marines' training runs probed," July 9).

If a weekly half-hour jog is demeaning to you, maybe you shouldn't be one of "the few, the proud, the Marines." Physical fitness is paramount in the Marine Corps, and I applaud the Miami command headquarters for attempting to keep it so.

What I suspect is that a few out-of-shape Marines are catching a little flack from their comrades and getting their feelings hurt. Instead of rising to the occasion and becoming motivated to get into shape, they prefer to take the politically correct road of whining and complaining.


Lusby, Md.

The U.S. Southern Command is a joint command that currently is commanded by a Marine Corps general. At other times, it has been commanded by Army or Air Force generals. I did not find any indication in your article that the complaining officer was a Marine Corps officer. Consequently, since the general is not commanding a Marine Corps command, and the officer who complained was not identified as a Marine Corps officer, I think the headline "Marines' training runs probed" was a bit improper.

I still hold out hope, even though I know it is not entirely true, that the Marines are training to fight and win a war.


Huntsville, Ala.

Canada correct to criticize Israel

How strange that Arnold Beichman characterizes Canada's pro-Palestinian votes at the United Nations as "ignorant" ("Ignorance thriving," July 5). In fact, most of the world votes against Israel in the General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Commission, and there are very good reasons for that. Israel has killed almost 600 Palestinians in the past nine months, many of them children. Israel also has demolished hundreds of homes.

Mr. Beichman may sniff at international law, but George Mitchell didn't when he visited the area and concluded that Israel is indeed using excessive force. Canada is correct in its criticism of Israel, and the United States should follow Canada's principled lead.


DeKalb, Ill.

Griffith memorial symbol of Washington baseball history

The July 5 front-page article "Marshall's monument to leave RFK" described efforts by the D.C. Sports Entertainment Commission to move memorials to George Preston Marshall and Clark Calvin Griffith from their longtime locations outside the main entrance to RFK Stadium.

The Marshall memorial was erected in its current location after Marshall's death in 1969, but the Griffith memorial has a longer history.

Longtime Senators owner Clark Griffith died in 1955. According to the 1957 Washington Senators Scorecard and Program, the Griffith memorial was dedicated at Griffith Stadium on Aug. 8, 1956, by dignitaries including Vice President Richard Nixon. It is made of Georgia marble, is four-sided and is 7 feet tall. The memorial cost $7,000 and was purchased through a fund-raising campaign by the Home Plate Club of Washington. The memorial's inscription in memory of Griffith was written by columnist Bob Addie of The Washington Post and Times Herald. The memorial was designed by Lee Preston Clagett of the Arlington-Clagett Memorial Co.

The Griffith memorial was located outside the main entrance to the first-base grandstand at Griffith Stadium. It was moved to its present site at RFK Stadium, formerly D.C. Stadium, at some point between 1961, when Griffith Stadium closed and D.C. Stadium opened, and 1965, when Griffith Stadium, now the site of Howard University Hospital, was demolished.

Near the Griffith memorial at Griffith Stadium was a memorial to Walter Johnson, which was dedicated on June 21, 1947, by President Harry S. Truman following Johnson's death in 1946. The Johnson memorial was relocated many years ago outside the main entrance to Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.

I hope the Griffith memorial will be moved to a suitable location where it will continue to commemorate the history of major-league baseball in Washington and that the memorial will then be moved to a new ballpark or a renovated RFK Stadium when major-league baseball returns to Washington in the not-too-distant future.



Gordon M. Thomas is a member of the Ballparks Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research and of the Washington Baseball Historical Society.

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