Thursday, July 31, 2014

One Project NJ Update

I would like to write a revised blog post about ONE Project and my involvement in the preparation of food for the needy in Mercer County last Saturday, in response to just a couple comments/questions from parishioners.  I could have taken the easy road here and just deleted my posts altogether and moved on to another topic, but this is a good opportunity to share some of our Church’s teachings more clearly. And I also have a responsibility to clarify my statements if I believe that I have mischaracterized Church teachings in any way.

This past Saturday July 26 I joined hundreds of volunteers from Robbinsville to take part in a new community start up organization called “One Project.”  I was so impressed with the number of young people present.  Altogether over the course of over three hours the volunteers present packed and prepared over 15,000 healthy meals for children in the Mercer County area. Those who participated were able to help the unfortunate in such a direct way. There was a tremendous sense of fulfillment in being able to do that. 

I thank the leaders and co-founders of ONE Project for coordinating this particular event; I want to thank them for giving all of us present the opportunity to carry out acts of charity;  I want to thank them for facilitating that.         

I realize now however that the story is just a bit more complicated.

As I walked through the doors of Robbinsville High School, I believed that this organization had the sole purpose of providing an opportunity for people of different backgrounds, points of view and faith traditions to strive together for a goal that everyone shares, in this case feeding the hungry. I thought that that was the only purpose of the organization: social service, helping the unfortunate. If that were true, then everything would have been fine; the Catholic Church is all about serving the poor and the needy.

Two days after I attended this event, however, a former parishioner pointed out to me that on the “Mercer Me” blog site from July 18, 2014, there was the following statement that surprised me greatly:

“The ONE Project plans to host community education programs that will focus on either equality (issues involving racial, religious, LGBT), education, or drug abuse.”

The Catholic Church and St. Gregory the Great Parish have clear, well defined teachings in the area of marriage, human sexuality and sexual identity. These are all good, true teachings:  marriage as a permanent, exclusive bond between a husband and wife, the goodness of children and openness to life. There are many others; I cannot list them all now in this particular posting. I adhere to all those teachings and do not intend to promote any other type of teachings in those areas. 

I do not know exactly what the leader of ONE Project means when he refers to LGBT community education programs, but I must infer that those programs will involve promotion of same sex ‘marriage’ and the spread of teachings on human sexuality that are antithetical to Catholic Christian teachings. If I am wrong about that, I ask the leaders of ONE Project please to correct my erroneous thinking as quickly as possible.

As the administrator of a Catholic parish, I do need to be conscious of how my actions are interpreted by others to some degree, because there is a teaching role in those actions.    In our culture at this time we are so confused and conflicted about what human sexuality and marriage mean, and there are so many evil, erroneous and deceptive messages out there.   I must reiterate that I can neither endorse ONE Project in any way nor participate in any more of their events, so long as they promote false teachings. As President Ronald Reagan once said, at times we must raise a banner not of “pale pastels” but rather of “bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand.”  This is an instance in which such “bold colors” are called for.


  1. Thank You Father, you are such a blessing to our Catholic Community.

  2. Take each event on a case-by-case. There's nothing wrong with preparing meals for hungry people, even if doing so involves working side-by-side with folks who hold different convictions. On matters of equality, Catholics can go a long way with other folks, up until it becomes necessary to break off. Go as far as conscience allows.

  3. I agree with Moonshadow. Take each event for its mission. It is good to work side by side with people of differing beliefs as long as the project is one supported by you and the Catholic Beliefs (feed the hungry). Isolating yourself from the group totally, rather than just on the areas in which our teachings and beliefs differ, makes us seem separatist. You never know what good dialogue could develop.

  4. How far do you take this? How many people/groups/businesses/charities do we stop associating with because of one item their belief statement. For instance, should Catholics remove all Microsoft products from their computers because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the use of condoms in Africa? How many degrees of separation are required before it's alright to have dealings with an organization?

    When others read our position on One Project do they think, “I want to be one of them” or do they run in the other direction? What would happen if those who oppose LGBT equality and those who support it broke bread together (or made lunches for hungry kids together)? Just maybe something good!

    Let's not forget who suffers from withdrawing our support: the hungry kids. Yes, we could support an "approved" Catholic charity. But where is the harm in working on mutual goals with others who hold beliefs different from our own? If Jesus were in the same position, what would he do?

    1. As a catholic I have a choice to feed the hungry through an organization that doesn NOT give funds to an issue that is against my beliefs..... I have no choice but to use microsoft products, I need them in my line of business, but you will not find me buying a ticket to the Bill and Melinda Gates charity gala!

  5. I found the “ONE Project Update” blog and resulting comments very interesting. I pondered the points made in the blog and in the responses and considered to which view I subscribed. There were good points made on both sides of the discussion. I considered similar quandaries that I had encountered in the past and came to a conclusion as to where I stand in relation to ONE Project. You see, I believe that in supporting one component or one activity of an organization, you support the whole. When an organization does good, but also engages in activities that are against natural or moral law, any support provided toward the good also strengthens the organization’s capacity to implement its full agenda. Years ago I held membership in a professional organization that decided to include in its objectives the promotion of birth control and abortion. In response, I resigned my membership with a letter stating my reasons. Several years later I resigned my membership and discontinued donation of dollars and my time to a disease-specific organization. Although that group does much good, they also support embryonic stem cell research. I notified the organization by phone of my decision and the reasons for it. Over the years, I have tried to research causes to which I am considering donating my time, money, or goods. If I find an organization is involved in activities that are counter to my beliefs as a Catholic, I don’t support them. Believe me it’s not difficult to identify organizations that address issues or causes that are close to my heart and have overall agendas with which I agree. As to ONE Project, I will not give to them in any way until and unless I know that they are not proselytizing in support of same sex marriage. I may not be able control what Bill Gates does with his resources but I can surely control what I do with mine.

  6. Dear Fr. McClane,

    Thank you for reiterating the clear teachings of our faith. While you made an honest attempt at helping the poor, perhaps you need to do research on the organization beforehand with regard to working with other groups.

    Some say, "Follow your conscience", or "Where's the harm" or "What would Jesus do?". Not just here on the comment board, but I hear these responses all the time.
    I used to say them myself! The problem is that our conscience could be in error and ignorance! So while we are compelled to follow our conscience, we are more compelled to follow the Truth.

    Where's the harm? We send the message that a sinful lifestyle choice is okay. It's not.

    What would Jesus do? He'd say, "Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more."
    The problem is many people do not realize or simply reject that their behavior is sinful. While we are all sinners, Catholics have the Sacrament of Confession, and we strive not to sin. When we do, we go to Confession with a sincere desire to stop sinning, and we are absolved/forgiven by God (in personae Christi).

    Keep up the good work, Fr. McClane.

    God bless.


    Ted Condo

  7. It is wonderful that One Project in Robbinsville is doing something to feed hungry children... but.... gee - Mt. Carmel and Catholic Charities of Trenton have been doing this for decades and decades. Once a year we as a parish are asked to help with feeding the poor at Fr. Rich (Msgr. Richard LaVergetta), Jane Latini and our deacons. We also have parishoners involved in Home Front and Appalachia who help beyond food with concrete material needs especially for Children. There is also the awesome life work of Fr. Brian McCormick who lived his priesthood serving the poor and homeless of Trenton at Martin House for decades and decades. He is a modern St. Francis of Assisi. I am happy for the project in Robbinsville and perhaps much needed that the people of Robbinsville not involved in our faith also help us as so many of of our brothers and sisters of all faiths do. But Fr. Mike has a good point...many priests are not standing up for the centuries old truths of God given marriage which is consecrated in the sacrament of Matrimony. Keep up the good work Father and my community... God walks with and in us!

  8. I am so glad that you are standing up for what you believe and I hope you inspire many others to research before donating time and money. We can all be so easily misguided by so many organizations. Years ago I supported so many Susan G. Komen events thinking they were all about finding "the cure" . I was devastated to find out my dollars supported planned parenthood. I promised never to give another dollar without finding out where and what I was supporting. As a result, I fully give more, and I hope I make a difference to the fewer organizations I support.