In a comment on Rich Leonardi's Narcissa takes a bow, Dr. Knowledge may have discovered the hidden agenda behind parish clusterings in DOR. After commenting on Sr. Joan Sobala's August 17th bulletin announcement regarding last Sunday's installation Mass Dr. K. adds,
Something that worried me in the same bulletin is the reasoning she gave for why Our Lady of Lourdes was chosen as the worship site. Sr. Joan said: "Why Lourdes and not St. Anne for this event? The capacity of Lourdes is 619. The capacity of St. Anne is almost 300 smaller."
Now if we look back on the various church closings in our area over the past few years, we'll see that they all began as a clustering of churches, but eventually the new clustered parishes decided to eliminate buildings and choose the "best" church for the single worship site of the community.
St. Monica, Ss. Peter and Paul, St. Augustine, and Our Lady of Good Counsel merged and eventually closed all but St. Monica, perhaps the largest of the buildings in terms of seating (sit in the back of St. Monica and tell me that the priest and deacon do not look like small ants).
Most Precious Blood, Holy Rosary, and the Cathedral clustered. Two churches were closed, and the community worships at a single worship site, the Cathedral.
Holy Apostles, Holy Family, and St. Anthony clustered. Two closed, and now the community worships at one site, Holy Apostles.
Starting to notice a pattern here? Sr. Joan stated that OLoL has almost twice the seating of St. Anne's church. So should the time come when they decide they want one worship site, who do you think they'll settle on? The one with 600+ seats, or the one with something over 300?
Granted, this won't happen tomorrow, but looking at history, and this Bishop's quick reaction to close churches and conglomerate communities, it's quite a possibility in his last 4 years.
Especially consider that we're losing priests left and right to retirement or death as time is going on. If they have the community reside at St. Anne, they probably wouldn't be able to support a combined community of 1000-1300 people in the smaller church, since there may only be 1 priest in this community eventually, and a priest can only preside over 3 weekend Masses per week (I believe). Who knows. But these are things that definitely should be thought about.
The good Doctor just may be on to something here. Has there ever been a case of parish clustering in DOR that has not ultimately led to the closing of all churches in the cluster, save one? Anybody know?