Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Preferential Option for the Poor?

Former Rochesterian Rich Leonardi commented yesterday on the CatholicCourier.com story reporting on last Sunday's final Mass at Holy Family Church.

In response, one of his readers sent Rich a copy of a flyer he found on his windshield following the Mass:


Among the issues addressed by the flyer are the closing of almost all of the Catholic schools in the City of Rochester and the fact that but 3 Catholic churches remain on the West side of the city. It then asks, "Where is the Diocesan commitment to serve the poorest of the poor?"

Recent events have pretty much revealed the diocese's answer to that question. While the diocese can arguably claim that declining church attendance caused, in part, by shifting demographics has led to the closure of so many churches, it has a much harder time explaining away all those school closings, especially in city parishes that had clearly and convincingly demonstrated that they were ready, willing and able to operate their schools on their own.

Once the CMA data revealed that it was pretty much the better-off parishes that got to keep their schools at the expense of the poorer ones, the real motives underlying the Bishop's decision-making process became clear.

In DOR it's going to be lip service for the poor, churches and schools for the rich.

I guess our Bishop isn't that much of a liberal after all.


Rich Leonardi said...

Former Rochesterian ...

I prefer "native son."

Cincinnati is one year away from Archbishop Pilarczyk reaching the retirement age. While he isn't the thoroughgoing malcontent that Clark is, he's bad enough. And things have gotten much worse as "75" approaches. His chancery officials have dug in their heels, and I have no doubt their Rochester peers will adopt a scorched earth policy between now and 2012. Get ready.

Mike said...


"Native son" it is.

I don't think there's really a whole lot of earth left to scorch in the city proper, but some of parishes in the inner suburbs could be next on the chopping block.

Out my way (eastern Greece/Charlotte) I see 2 parishes going under in the not too distant future: Holy Name of Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy. Each had weekend Mass attendance figures in the low 400s last October and each just lost one of their three weekend Masses. I don't know yet about HNOJ, but OLM took an immediate 12% attendance hit as a result. If either or both do close the proximate cause will be more financial than anything else.

St. Charles has been in something of a downward spiral lately due to a frequent turnover of pastors and losing their school (which had been renamed "Catherine McAuley") certainly won't help. They also just closed their Borromeo Prayer Center (housed in the old convent), partly due to the retirement of its director and partly due to the ongoing financial cost to the parish.

Right now I don't have a good sense of what's going on in places like Irondequoit and Gates. I've heard from one source that St. Margaret Mary might be in trouble, but another source denies it. However, I do happen to know the DRE over there; maybe it's time to give him a call.

Rich Leonardi said...

St. Margaret Mary is my sister's parish. Relatively speaking, it's a healthy place: decent Mass attendance, "normal" -- i.e., not agenda-driven -- liturgical practices, and solid preaching from weekend celebrant Fr. Rossi. It seems to draw people from throughout Irondequoit, but then again there probably aren't that many options anymore. My mother's family attended St. Ambrose, and I have fond memories of the place from my childhood.

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Rich Leonardi said...

8. Possibly even Our Lady of Victory, according to a couple of scenarios listed on the DoR site.

He would have a riot on his hands, and I would make it my personal mission to give it national exposure.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
Good post and I agree with your assessment.