Elephants in the Living Room

In Memoriam—We Remember


In Memoriam: Rev. Dr. Anthony ("Tony") Kosnik

Rev. Dr. Anthony "Tony" Kosnik Passed Away September 22, 2017 at age 87

Rev. Dr. Tony Kosnik Image

Anthony Raymond ('Tony') Kosnik was the sixth of thirteen children born to Anastazy and Angeline (Gorzenski) Kosnik. He was born at home, 17928 Norwood, in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday, June 21, 1930. Tony grew up in Detroit, and at­tended Corpus Christi School through the eighth grade. At age 13, he went to St. Mary's Preparatory School at Orchard Lake, Michigan. He graduated in 194 7 and went on for seminary training, first at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, and then St. John Provincial Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan.

Tony was ordained at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit on June 4, 1955. He was assigned to Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish on Detroit's east side at that time. In 1958, he was sent to teach at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary. Before he began teaching, he was sent to study in Rome, where he completed a Doctorate in Morality at Angelicum University in 1960. He spent the next year at the Gregorian University in Rome, and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Canon Law. Tony was in Rome for Vatican II.

Tony returned to Orchard Lake in 1961, where he began teaching first-year algebra and religion in the high school. He was soon "double promoted" to the Seminary Faculty and began teaching moral the­ology. He served as Dean of the Seminary from 1968 to 1983. Tony gave many workshops and seminars for priests on topics related to sexual morality, divorce and remarriage, and social justice. In 1974, he was invited by the President of the Catholic Theological Society ofAmerica to direct a study of Human Sexuality, in order to provide guidance and support for priests and counselors in this area. Human Sexuality was published in book form by Paulist Press in 1977.

As a result of very strong opposition to the book by conservative elements of the Catholic Church, and his refusal to recant, Tony's contract at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary was not renewed for the 1981-82 academic year. This led to strong student and faculty protest, as well as confrontation with the Archbishop, and eventually resulted in his appointment to the faculty of Marygrove College, in Detroit. Tony di­rected the M.A. Pro-gram in Pastoral Ministry at Marygrove from 1983 until the time of his retirement in 2000. He also served on the faculty of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary from 1986 to 2000. He di­rected the Doctor of Ministry Program at ETS from 1996 to 1998. At the time of his retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus at both Marygrove and ETS.

Tony served as weekend associate at St. John the Baptist Church, De­troit, from 1961 to 1980, and at St. Colman and St. Clare Catholic Churches in Farmington Hills, from 1981 to 2002. He served as a judge for the Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and as an ethical consultant for Mercy Health System, Daughters of Charity, General Motors Corporation, and other hospital systems.

In 2002, after forty-seven years of priestly ministry and much prayer, reflection and consultation, Tony made a decision to give up his public priestly ministry and enter marriage. On May 25, 2002, Tony married Dr. Peggy Stack, with whom he had been friends for 20 years. He noted at that time that he continued to have difficulty defending the official teachings of the Catholic Church in the areas of reproductive technol­ogy, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, the ordination of women, and mandatory celibacy for priests. After leaving active ministry, he con­tinued to be involved in groups dedicated to Church reform (Elephants in the Living Room) and political reform (Catholics for the Common Good).

In Memoriam: Father Edward L. Scheuerman

May 20, 1925–March 17, 2017

Father Ed Scheuerman Image

Father Scheuerman was one of the original members of the Elephants in the Living Room, having participated in our founding meeting at St. James in Ferndale in 2003. He was one of the members of the original "Cockroaches", as a vexed Edmund Szoka termed them. All who knew him marveled at his outsized heart, which was matched only by his incisive mind and wonderful sense of humor.

During his 67 years as a Catholic priest, Fr. Scheuerman served our Lord and His Church with faith, hope, and unbounded love. He served as assistant pastor at St. Bartholomew Parish, Detroit (1950-54), then was appointed to the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in 1954.

In 1966 he was named principal of Aquinas High School in Southgate, moving in 1970 to the faculty of Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods. He continued to serve as priest counselor at Bishop Gallagher after he became pastor of St. Martin of Tours Parish, Detroit, in 1971. While at St. Martin, he served (1971-77) as vicar of the Detroit-Grosse Pointe Vicariate.

Fr. Scheuerman was appointed pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Wyandotte (1981-94), then administrator of St. Charles Borromeo, Newport (1994-95).

He was granted senior priest status in 1995, but undertook several brief assignments after that: as parochial administrator of St. Mark Parish, Warren (1995), and in 1999 as temporary administrator of Christ the King Parish, Detroit, and then at Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish, Detroit.

In 1998, he edited a book, "Recollections of Vocation and Priestly Ministry by Priests who Served the People of God in the Archdiocese of Detroit", and his own words in the Preface sum up his approach: "This work is a composite of many minds who answered an invitation to participate by sharing their thoughts and experiences. A letter was sent to all retired priests, those who are active as clergymen as well as those who left the ministry before retirement. It is hoped that the recollections may be helpful to future readers and stimulate some catalytic response through the Holy Spirit by future potential ministers for the Church of Detroit."

In Memoriam: Joann Vasely

March 5, 1950–February 5, 2017

Joann Vasely Image Joann Vasely, membership chairperson of the Elephants in the Living Room for ten years, passed away on Sunday, February 5, 2017. She oversaw the registration table at educational forums as well as the distribution of food. In addition, Joann was a member of SS. Simon & Jude Parish, Westland, MI, where she was chairperson of the Worship Commission, parish representative on the Vicariate Commission, and pastoral minister for funerals.

She was born Joann Gilbert on March 5, 1950 in White Plains, NY. She leaves behind Tom Kyle, her husband; a brother, William Gilbert, in Florida; three daughters: Christine, Marybeth and Jessica; and three grandchildren: Samantha, McKenna and Harley.

Joann Vasely and Tom Kyle Image She attended Schoolcraft College, Madonna University and Sacred Heart Major Seminary. She served her church well throughout her life; but what she will be remembered mostly is: she gave her life so that her grandchildren could have a life. Her last strength was providing a home and security for them.

In Memoriam: Father Bob Wurm

April 28, 1934–July 25, 2016

Fr. Bob Wurm Image

This is a tribute to Fr. Robert L. Wurm from the Elephants in the Living Room. Fr. Wurm went to the Kingdom on July 25, (appropriately, the feast of St. James—the parish he served so well as Pastor for 19 years). He was a founding member of the Elephants in the Living Room. In fact, the first meeting of the Elephants took place in St. James rectory in November 2003. There were twelve priests and eight laypersons; and we discussed the sexual abuse crisis. Today the membership has grown to over 1800 members, mostly around Detroit, but also throughout the United States. Fr. Wurm was a board member of the Elephants in the Living Room from its beginning until he was admitted into American House, a geriatric home in 2011.

Fr. Wurm grew up in Detroit. When he entered Sacred Heart Seminary in 1950 as a day student, he rode to the seminary daily on his bicycle. He was the student organist for seminary liturgies. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 4, 1960. In addition to serving as pastor of St. James Parish, Ferndale (1985-2004) and St. Stephen Parish, Port Huron (1976-1985), he also served as associate pastor of St. Pius X Parish, Southgate (1960-1964); St. Bartholomew Parish, Detroit (1964-1968); St. Hilary Parish, Redford (1968); Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Harper Woods (1968-1975) and St. Linus, Dearborn Heights (1976).

Endowed with a deep love for music, liturgy and scripture, he went back to school early in his ministry and earned the B. Mus. from the Pius X Institute at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. He later earned a Masters in Liturgy at what is now St. John's University and Abbey, Collegeville, MN. He served as Chaplain to the Detroit Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and also earned their coveted Ch. M. (Choir Master) Professional Certification.

Fr. Wurm attended the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for several years until he could no longer travel. He was a mentor of young people. He empowered those around him and watched with satisfaction as they grew in stature and responsibility. He was a lover of nature and planted several hundred trees in his lifetime at his beloved Pater Noster Club near Tilbury, Ontario. He was known for his hospitality and love of liturgy. He also served as an advocate for good organs in Archdiocesan churches, and consulted on many such projects.

I was fortunate enough to have the great gift of his friendship for over 53 years, and worked with him at St. Stephen Parish (Port Huron) and St. James, Ferndale, for 22 years. He proclaimed—and lived— three great themes throughout that time: "All are welcome!"; "We are continually dying and rising in and with the Lord", and "Trust in the Father!"

As Pastor at St. James, he worked tirelessly with parishioners to build Block Clubs to revivify the neighborhoods, invited in and worked with Habitat for Humanity, established a highly successful LOGOS Youth Program, organized parties to regularly take in performances at the Opera (in the stratospheric seats, of course), and printed Mass Leaflets for every Sunday liturgy in his tenure as Pastor with excellent artwork, wonderful settings of the psalms, commentary on the day's Scriptures, etc. He also helped organize and sustain an effective Ecumenical Council of area ministers. Parishioners well remember how on one Good Friday he led an outdoor ecumenical Stations of the Cross up Woodward, including picketing a local Strip Club and later driving it out of the area. When the Hertel organization wanted to turn the State Fair Grounds into an outdoor auto racing track over the objections of the neighborhoods around it, he led the protests and attended hearings that resulted in the defeat of the proposed project.

He devoted an enormous amount of time to researching, reflecting upon and studying the Sunday Scripture Readings, planning Sunday Celebration months in advance. He also created a listing of Sundays where the Scriptures supported Stewardship, and freely shared this with other clergy. He was a great champion of Morning and Evening Prayer, purchasing many copies of the Chicago LTP books of the same name, and encouraging celebration of these Offices, He adapted and produced a booklet, Evening Prayer for the Dead, and regularly used it for wakes in the parish; this same booklet was used for his own wake service held in St. James Church.

Dearest to his heart was the organ project at St. James. In 1986 he persuaded the "Moonies" at the old Fisher Mansion to donate their Aeolian pipe organ to St. James. Then in 1993 he was approached by a wealthy dentist and organ buff who ran a Wedding Chapel down the road from Ann Arbor. The dentist had a 1910 Austin Pipe organ he wanted to give away when he moved to a retirement home in Florida. The pipe work and console from the Austin was combined with the Aeolian pipe work, and Fr. Wurm asked the great Charles McManis (an organbuilder from Waterbury, CT whom he knew) to fly in and tonally "finish" the combined instrument. In addition, Fr. Wurm purchased out of his own funds a small "Portativ" pipe organ by Dobson which was used down in the front of the church to support appearances by visiting choirs in concerts he organized for the parish each year, and to support the singing of the Passion each Palm Sunday and Good Friday in Gregorian chant by the ministers and congregation.

One of the final highlights of Fr. Wurm's priestly ministry was to preside at the liturgy of the American Catholic Council at Cobo Hall, Detroit in June 2010, attended by approximately 1,000 clergy and laity. The photo at the upper left is from that Mass.

He had many gifts and he shared them abundantly. There aren't many like him; and we will deeply miss he presence and friendship.

In fulfillment of his wish, his cremains are interred in the Columbarium of St. James Church, Ferndale, where he served so ardently and well for 18 years.

Gerald Furi and Tom Kyle

Robert Blair Kaiser: January 11, 1931–April 2, 2015

Robert Blair Kaiser

Robert Blair Kaiser came into prominence is 1960, when Clare Booth Luce, wife of Henry Luce, owner of Life Magazine and Time Magazine, helped Bob to become Time's correspondent at the Vatican. He not only covered and reported on events there, he held Sunday soirees for bishops and important guests at Time' rented villa; but he had such notable theologians, such as Hans Kung, who were helping bishops in the back rooms of the villa prepare presentations in Latin for the upcoming week. These presentations laid the groundwork for many of the sixteen documents of Vatican II.

Although the bishops were sworn to secrecy not to discuss the goings on inside Vatican II, a few drinks from Bob's hospitality loosened some tongues. Bob continued as Time' correspondent for some time after Vatican II.

He returned to his home in Phoenix, AZ where he earned his income as a religious writer, on Vatican II and other subjects. Newsweek hired him to cover the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI. He was an organizer and president of JAZZ, a social organization of Jesuit priests and former Jesuit seminarians. At the time of his death, he was the co-founder and leader of Catholic Church Reform International. He belonged to Call to Action and was an organizer of the American Catholic Conference, which held its national conference in Detroit in June 2011. He was a member of the Elephants in the Living Room and delivered an educational forum to the Elephants on October 27, 2006. His talk was entitled, Making Our Church a Peoples' Church.

I am proud to have known Robert Blair Kaiser for the last fifteen years. I have stayed at his home in Phoenix, have shared numerous meals and conversations with him at various national conventions, such as Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action. These I will always cherish. I also assisted Bob in promoting one of his books, Cardinal Mahoney. I consider his passing a loss not only to me, but to the Catholic Church. Bon voyage, Bob.

Remembering Eugene Kennedy


Eugene Cullen Kennedy

Eugene Cullen Kennedy, a writer, psychologist, and former Maryknoll priest transformed into a lay Catholic activist, died Wednesday. He was 86. Kennedy died in Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, MI., with his wife, Sara, beside him and surrounded by family.

Kennedy, retired psychology professor at Loyola University Chicago, was comfortable both inside powerful church circles—he was a confidante to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and authored books about his friend -- and on the outside, lobbying for changes about how the hierarchy handled sex abuse and other issues. Much of his retirement was spent talking to groups such as Voice of the Faithful, galvanizing lay action on church issues.

"In many ways, he was right in the middle of the church and he looked around. He also stepped to the edge and looked deeper at some aspects of the church," said Msgr. Ken Velo, a Chicago priest, former aide to Bernardin, and friend of Kennedy's

. In an essay for NCR, posted online in June 2002, soon before the bishops met in Dallas to chart a response to the sex abuse crisis, Kennedy blamed the scandal on the "characteristic passivity of American bishops" and warned against the secretiveness of clerical culture. He castigated what he called a "Pontius Pilate Syndrome" in the hierarchy, a "getting along by going along."

Tom Fox, writing in NCR, gave a beautiful appreciation of Kennedy's life and impact.

Robert McClory: d. April 3, 2015

Michael Crosby, ofm cap

Bob McClory, I remember, was an early leader on the development of Call to Action in Chicago. He was a long time member of the Board of Directors and believed that the concepts of Vatican II should be applied and implemented in parishes across the United States. He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition, Bob served on the faculty of Northwestern in the School of Journalism. When the U.S. bishops turned away from Vatican II, Bob became a consummate dissenter. To that end he wrote a book on Faithful Dissent and spoke to the Elephants at an educational forum in Detroit on September 10, 2009, Faithful Dissenters.

I remember his talk was interrupted several time with applause from the audience. I also remember receiving a personal phone call from Msgr. Robert McClory, Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Detroit, complaining that he was receiving phone calls from certain Catholics asking why he was delivering a talk on dissent.

I believe the Robert McClory of the School of Journalism at Northwestern served his Church well. I hope that the issues he championed will come about. Good and faithful servant.