When I was in seminary from 2008-2015, we had a saying that any time gossip was being shared it was called the Seminarian Information Network (SIN). The point being that gossip is not a good thing. When I was a seminarian, we would sometimes speak about trivial things that we did not need to talk about.
During lunch with a community leader in West Liberty, where I am pastor, and later with my confirmation class, I asked if they knew about the biggest problem in West Liberty. I answered, if we are honest, it is the neighborhood gossip. One student said, “The whole town finds out and knows everything about everyone. By tomorrow, it ends up in Mexico.” The students and the community leader agreed on this problem. We are not good examples to our youths when we gossip. This leads to more rumor spreading and engaging in gossip.
However, the problem is not limited to the seminary and one of the two towns where I am pastor. Many places struggle with it. Gossip is never good, even if it is true. It is not about the gossip itself but the person who is gossiping. Being the subject of gossip destroys a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
I will share an example of gossip that isn’t true. I had what some would call a “gangster” jacket, which featured an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The lettering read, “Mi Raza Fiel,” which in English means, “My faithful race.” A lot of people loved the jacket but some would see it as “gangster.” People who know me know I couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone another individual. I remember, one classmate saying nervously, “I had heard that you almost killed a person when you were wearing that jacket!” I was appalled at the accusation and very hurt.
As we begin Lent, let’s defeat this evil that is affecting our world, the sin of gossip. One of my confirmation students asked a great question, “How do I know if I am gossiping?” I responded, “How would you feel if the story was about you? Would you be OK with all the garbage being said about you? If the answer is no, then that is gossip and it should not be done to others.”
(Father Guillermo Trevino is pastor of St. Joseph Parish-Columbus Junction and St. Joseph Parish-West Liberty.)