Zimmer dividing Hoboken?
Update from Pastora Santora: “Politics of Pentecost”
Father Alex Santora from Our Lady of Grace Church published an update to his “political” newsletter earlier this month:
“I should have charged for the May 5, 2013, copy of the parish bulletin. They flew off the tables and out of the bulletin boxes on the fences. You may recall that I recounted a chance encounter with former Councilman Anthony Soares and wrote about some concerns I have with Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Two days after it was published, I received an email apology from Anthony Soares and I appreciated his words. Hopefully, we’ll be able to speak in person soon. I also heard from many people in and outside the parish including a mayor of another Hudson County town. He told me he wishes his Catholic priests would get more involved in good government.
And that was the message I tried to convey on May 5. I respect Mayor Zimmer and think that all of us could work harder to make our city better. An elected official is as effective as she or he can involve more people to care for government and to volunteer their efforts to make it work. Part of that pact is that we speak the truth to matters that affect all of us and even some of us. No elected official is perfect and yet the political process is a good one: we work together for the common good.
I related concerns about Church Square Park, the St. Patrick’s Parade and the horrible traffic jams. Parishioners and others talk about these repeatedly. I made mention of the bankruptcy of Hoboken University Medical Center and how it can hurt our churches A program administered by the hospital rented space at St. Joseph rectory. We are being sued in bankruptcy court to return duly-paid rental money for thousands of dollars.
My one regret is that some people took my comments in a strictly partisan political sense. Zimmer opponents liked them; her supporters were angry. That was not my intention. I believe an elected official deserves our respect and support but not blindly. The only way we can correct problems is to name them and work for a resolution. I am also concerned that many of our new residents do not take their residency here seriously. They may only stay for a while and do not even vote here. If you live here, get involved and vote here.
And maybe that was the message of the Holy Spirit to the vacillating disciples on Pentecost: get out of this room and make the world a better place. I am bewildered when people say, “Religion and politics don’t mix.” I wonder about the many German clergy and nuns who had the courage to stand up to Hitler and the Nazis and lost their lives in the concentration camps. There was a moral dimension to their objections that could only come from a deep faith in the abiding presence of God and justice in their lives and the world.
Pentecost is a reminder that faith propels and obligates us to make the Kingdom of God a reality. I know that politics in Hudson County is considered a dirty word. But that’s because historically people relinquish their rights to good government by allowing the few to dictate to the many. I say that we make politics – in its noblest and not partisan way – better by speaking up, getting involved and affecting change. May the force of faith be with you!
Peace, Fr. Alex Santora
Pastor Santora: Zimmer dividing Hoboken
This past weekend, Father Alex Santora of Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken wrote a message about Mayor Dawn Zimmer in his weekly newsletter. As you might recall – Zimmer has a track record of disrespect to certain religious groups in town (remember when she berated Father Vinny Fortunato at St. Ann’s?)
Well, Father Santora lays it out and more:
“One afternoon last week, I was walking up 4th Street next to Church Square Park and I noticed former Hoboken Councilman Anthony Soares driving down the street. He slowed and rolled down his window for what I thought would be a pleasant hello. Instead, he pointed his finger at me and yelled out the window, “Stop picking on Mayor Zimmer. Leave her alone. Stay out of politics!” and drove away.
I hardly know Soares, and only met him once near St. Joseph, where he lives. So I thought two things: I must have gotten under Mayor Zimmer’s skin for one of her lackeys to berate me in public, and Zimmer must feel vulnerable that her supporters are yelling at priests.”
Zimmer burning bridges instead of building them?
“I did not think I gave up my constitutional rights when I was ordained a priest. I certainly have a right to my opinions and the freedom to express them. I know that the pulpit is not an appropriate forum to push political candidates; it is certainly a place for ethical and quality of life observations. I have invited Zimmer to several events at OLG and she has declined numerous times.
When I saw her at Tom Calligy’s wake, I made it a point to greet her as I did at the swearing-in of Hoboken’s provisional (police) officers at City Hall. Her reply was cool, at best, and virtually non-verbal. And that leads to my first observation of our “reform” Mayor. I think she inherited a tough job. I grew up in Hudson County and know it’s a contact sport. She has mad some good initiatives. Dividing Hoboken between old timers and newcomers as she has done, is negative and counter-productive. An astute Mayor builds bridges.
Some other items. She did not put the dog run in Church Square Park, but could have moved it out with the ongoing renovation. She did not. Parks are for people, not animals. I would never put a dog run opposite a historic church entrance.
She engineered Hoboken University Medical Center into bankruptcy, which may still inflict financial hardship on both OLG and St. Joseph.
She is dead wrong on the St. Patrick’s Parade, which originated with our parish.
And she hired that uncivil servant who used to head the parking utility and transportation. He left a legacy of traffic jams that she refuses to ameliorate.
Before I was ordained, I served on a Hudson County Judicial Committee that resolved first-time offenses of youth. As a priest, I was appointed by the State to serve on the takeover of the Jersey City Board of Education for six years. I served on the Jersey City Ethical Standards Board for five years. I am proud of my public service and the battle scars I earned.
People, like Soares, who think the church and clergy should stay out of politics do not understand Jesus Christ’s mission. He entrusted all his followers to make the Kingdom of God a reality here on Earth. I do not recall Jesus telling his followers to tip-toe around politics. Zimmer needs only to emulate her Union City counterpart and State Senator Brian Stack. He meets regularly with his clergy, and relies on them to keep him informed of people’s needs. He appreciates our comments and observations. We are his allies – not enemies.
I had written a letter to Zimmer inviting her to lunch and talk. She has never replied to that or many other letters. The invitation is still open. I promise not to point a finger or yell at her.
Fr. Alex Santora”