Monday, June 29, 2009

Three quotes ...

[All emphasis in the following is mine.]

From Jesus Christ, speaking to Simon Peter, Matthew 16:
18-19 ...

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

From Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, May 22,
1994 ...

Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

From Rev. Kevin P. Murphy, St. Louis Church, Pittsford, NY, June 28, 2009 bulletin ...

I know to raise the issue of women ... to be considered as priests is unacceptable for some among us…not for me ... if you feel women ... should be considered [for ordination to the priesthood], encourage and pray for that ... wherever the vocations come from, let us just pray and accept them to serve.

My prayer for this Year of the Priest is that our Church ... would consider the possibility that God has planted the vocation to Priesthood in women’s lives and we would seriously try to discern that.

How any Catholic - especially a Catholic priest! - can still believe that the Church will someday ordain women to the priesthood is simply mind boggling.

But, then, this is the Diocese of Rochester.

Two New Catholic Bloggers

Arialdus and Bellarmine are the pen names of two new local Catholic bloggers holding forth at The Well Done Review.

Check out their recent A Tale of Two Masses.

St. Lawrence Principal Ousted by MCCS?

A reader who is also the parent of a child at St. Lawrence School in Greece informs me that there is more than meets the eye concerning the recent resignation of Mr. Joe Holleran as Principal of St. Lawrence School.

My correspondent writes that

it was never stated, nor rumored in the school, that [resigning] was not his choice until we went to the farewell reception on the 20th.  [Two parents] gave out a survey, asking if parents were aware of any details regarding his supposed resignation, and asked for parent involvement.

These two parents followed up their survey with a letter to St. Lawrence parents, a copy of which follows.

Hello St. Lawrence School family.  I hope the start of Summer Vacation has been a good one for everyone.  Thank you for the strong showing at our Farewell Reception last week.

I am personally appealing to every family at St. Lawrence to make one final attempt at persuading the Diocese of Rochester to reinstate Mr. Holleran to his job as principal at our school. Many families have already phoned their office to voice disbelief at his removal and support of his return, and I believe we are starting to be noticed.  I would like to ask each of you to call on Monday and leave a message asking for Mr. Holleran to be renamed principal.  They are starting to narrow down the candidates for his position next week, so please act quickly.  Listed below are the name, position and phone number of the people responsible for this decision:

Anne Wilkens Leach - Superintendent   328-3228  ext 1258

Rev. Joseph Hart - Vicar General -  328-3228 ext 1216

Most Rev. Matthew Clark - Bishop - 328-3228  ext 1225

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Some in the St. Lawrence community apparently had questions which the two parents then addressed with this backgrounder. 

Dear St. Lawrence School Family,

Based on a number of responses we have received to our request for calls to the Diocese requesting the reinstatement of Joe Holleran, we thought a follow-up message with some background might be helpful prior to making your call.  Listed below are facts pertinent to Joe's "voluntary" resignation.  The most important statement we can make to you is that his leaving our St. Lawrence school family was NOT voluntary.  It is also imperative that you know that while none of our actions are at the request of Mr. Holleran, it is our understanding that he would accept a reinstatement to his position if it was offered to him by the Diocese.

  • In Spring 2008 after the closing of 13 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rochester, St. Lawrence School was promised a full-time aide in each of our classrooms because of the anticipated growth to our school.  This pledge was made at a meeting of principals whose schools were remaining open.  In Fall 2008 prior to school opening, this promise was reneged upon, with their support being scaled back to a full-time aide in each K, 1, 2, and 3, and ONE aide for 4, 5 and 6 combined.  
  • Mr. Holleran, counting on what the Diocese promised, had already secured an aide for each grade.  Upon the Diocese cutting funding for two of our aides in spite of now having a waiting list for EVERY grade in our school, Mr. Holleran decided to maintain the aide in each classroom without them being on the Diocese payroll.  
  • The funds raised by our annual Walk-a-Thon (over $35,000 this year alone), are dispersed and spent on our children's education as prioritized by the principal.  One of the strengths of our school is the classroom environment, which is a direct result of Mr. Holleran's leadership and direction.
  • In the Fall of 2008, Mr. Holleran wrote a letter to the Diocese expressing his frustration with this situation and questioning their priorities for funding other projects, presumably at the expense of our children's education.  This letter was perceived as a defiant gesture by him, and Diocesan support for him changed thereafter.
  • Mr. Holleran has always been very open about his intention to retire from our St. Lawrence School family in four years when the just finished 2nd grade class moves on to middle school.  
  • During the meeting with Diocesan school officials at the beginning of June after which his "resignation" occurred, at no point was he given the option to remain in his role as principal.  It is the opinion of many parents and faculty members that Joe Holleran was asked to resign, that it was not his choice and that it was directly related to the letter he wrote.  It is also strongly believed that the request for his resignation had nothing to do with his competency, job performance or desire to retire, but instead a vendetta against him. 

The Catholic church has spent millions of dollars across the country to protect members of it's community who have made mistakes and often times harmed or endangered youths and adolescents in the Catholic school system.  At St. Lawrence School we have a man whose every decision is made with the well-being of our children and their education as the utmost priority.  His spirituality is evident in every aspect of his interaction with our children.  Instead of the Diocese rewarding a true mentor and spiritual leader, they are forcing him out of our school and quite possibly their community.  It is our collective belief that this is a major injustice and it is the reason why we are asking for your support by calling the Diocese and letting them know your feelings of support for Joe Holleran and request for his reinstatement as principal of St. Lawrence School.

Nearly a year ago then newly appointed MCCS Superintendent Anne Willkens Leach was quoted in the Catholic Courier as saying that

it's important to restore confidence in Catholic schools and the Rochester Diocese, though "I appreciate the (negative) emotions that are still there."

Forcing a well-regarded principal who sticks up for the best interests of his students to resign does nothing to aid our confidence in our Catholic school system.  In fact, it only adds more depth to the pile of negative emotions still out there.


[Anonymous comments are not allowed on this blog.  If you would like to comment you will need a Google ID.  You can get one here.]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Anonymous comments off

Local blogger Lee Strong is taking to task - and rightly so, in my opinion - various commenters on this and other blogs who have been using the cloak of anonymity to post undocumented assertions and outright insults against Bishop Matthew Clark and other members of the local clergy.

While I firmly believe that Matthew Clark's 30 year tenure as Bishop of Rochester has been characterized by far more negatives than positives and that, as a result, the diocese is in such a state of decline that many years of truly orthodox leadership will be required to bring it back to some semblance of its former glory, I also firmly believe that I can make my case by citing documented evidence and by avoiding ad hominems and other insulting language that shed far more heat than light. (I freely admit that I haven't been perfect on that last point at times, but I am trying.)

And so, in order to discourage a bit those who would rather repeat (or start) unsubstantiated rumors or who have never learned the difference between honest criticism and insult, I have turned off anonymous comments on this blog.

Starting today, anyone who wishes to post a comment here must have - and use - a Google ID.  If you do not already have one you can sign up here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bishop Clark celebrates 30th quietly

RNews is reporting that Bishop Matthew Clark is quietly celebrating the 30th anniversary of his installation as Bishop of Rochester.

He was installed on June 26, 1979.

On July 15, 2012 the bishop will turn 75 and will be required to submit his resignation to Rome.

Story here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Channel 13: Two Greece churches may be closing

Last Thursday (June 18) a Channel 13 reporter and cameraman were at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Greece talking with people about the possible closing of the parish.  An OLM parishioner who happened to be present tells me he was told the station was pursuing a "larger story" that involved the situation at OLM.

Last night Channel 13's Patrice Walsh aired the following.  If there is indeed more to come she did not mention it.

Two Roman Catholic churches in the town of Greece could be closing.

Although it’s still a recommendation, with dwindling attendance, mounting bills and a priest shortage, church members fear it will happen.

Jack and Pat Howell's son was married last weekend at Holy Name Church in Greece. The Howells now attend Our Lady of Mercy Church.

Both churches were created at a time when the church was growing and Kodak was hiring.

The future of both parishes is uncertain, at best.

“Yes, we are very attached, we will miss that sense of community” Jack Howell said. “It's a big part of people's lives, it's a big part of our lives.

A committee of the Rochester Catholic Diocese is studying the future of six churches in Greece. It has recommended the closing of the Holy Name of Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy churches.

This is not a mandate; nevertheless parishioners fear it could happen. Some people are sad, others are angry. Attendance at both churches is down, and they must share one priest. Closing both buildings would save an estimated $500,000, which, the committee say,s (sic) could be used to make the four remaining parishes stronger.

Deacon Dick Lombard has worked at both churches. “I'm sad at the possibility. I'm sad for the people…the pain they feel,” he said.

Both churches have been open with parishioners about the recommended closings, but according to the diocese, no final decisions affecting the future of any of the parishes have been adopted by the full committee.

There are several churches within miles of each other in Greece that could absorb people if these churches close.

The diocese cautions that there is no final decision yet, and Bishop Matthew Clark will have the final say.

A decision is expected in six months to a year.

Three weeks ago I reported on this situation here, with a follow-up here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The backyard Mass, Sr. Joan and The Shack

Is your parish church too far away for you to get to daily Mass? Well, if you live out Fairport way that might not be a problem this summer. All you might have to do is walk across the street to your neighbor's house.

From the St. John of Rochester bulletin ...

Parish Home Masses: will begin next week (June 30) in neighborhoods throughout the parish each Tuesday evening. Please see the one nearest to you and plan to attend. We will celebrate Mass together and then enjoy one another’s company. Those attending are asked call the host family, bring a snack to pass and a lawn chair (if we are able to be outside).

Further details appear elsewhere in the bulletin.

Hosting Family provides the backyard/home, coffee & soft drinks. Neighbors will bring lawn chairs and cookies to share. Find a neighborhood Mass in your area and join Fr. Peter [Clifford] for the celebration of Mass. Please RSVP to the host.

If Mass by the backyard pool isn't for you then SJoR wants you to consider spending an evening with a prophetess instead.

JOAN CHITTISTER, OSB is a most sought after commentator on the concerns of people near and far. Her broad range of books are often reviewed as prophetic! She challenges complacent spirituality with stories that compel our thinking and praying. She has received accolades as a speaker who draws people to retreats and conferences all over the world. Her books win fans from many perspectives because they are both readable and profound.

We are truly blessed that she will speak on “Prophets Are Needed Today” at Church of the Assumption, 20 East Ave., Fairport at 7:00 PM, Wednesday, June 24. Her books will be available for purchase—and she will autograph! No need to call ahead for reservations. (Free will donations will be gratefully accepted)

Finally, if really loopy theology is your thing, SJoR would like you to be aware of your chance to meet William P. Young, author of The Shack. For those unfamiliar with the book, one reviewer sees it as something of a failed allegory, in that it distorts to one degree or another the deep truths that are supposed to be at the heart of that genre, while another calls it "Oprah-fiction for the emergent Christian which offers the ultimate 'God is my buddy' head trip."

The summer is off to a great start and our friends at SJoR don't want us to miss a minute of it.

Update: The first comment below reminds us that SJoR is one of the DOR parishes featuring lay preaching, a practice outlawed by Rome but allowed by Bishop Clark.

I checked out the most recent mp3 (available here) and heard the priest or deacon preach for exactly 70 seconds and then invite Pastoral Associate Barbara Hesenius to continue with her "reflection." Ms. Hesenius held forth for almost 11 minutes, in places amplifying significantly on her prepared text (see here) and finishing up with a version of name-it-and-claim-it theology that I can only describe as a new experience for me (11:37 into the recording).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MCCS System "really hoping" to register 3,700

Channel 10 is quoting diocesan spokesman Doug Mandelaro as saying that the MCCS System has thus far registered about 3,400 students for the 2009-2010 school year.

"We usually get a boost in the last weeks of the summer and are really hoping to hit this year's figure of 3,700," said Mandelaro.

Six weeks ago (see here) MCCS Superintendent Anne Wilkens Leach indicated that the diocese would like to "get back the hundreds of families it lost" when it closed 13 Catholic schools last year and that her immediate goal was to get next year's registration up to 4,000.

Bishop Kearney cutting staff

This report from RNews ...

Bishop Kearney High School is cutting 10 faculty, staff or administrator positions because of a drop in enrollment for next year.

Parents were told of the layoffs in a letter.

Bishop Kearney President and CEO Donna Dedee said many families have been hit by the economic downturn and fewer students have enrolled at Bishop Kearney next year.

Dedee said tuition accounts for 80 percent of the school's revenue. She also said there will be additional cuts to the overall operating budget, but the changes will not impact the students' academic program.

Dedee said Catholic high schools throughout the district are experiencing declines and implementing similar reductions.

A similar story on the Channel 10 site reports that 7 of the layoffs involve teachers.  It adds that

projections show Kearney may lose 60 to 70 students in the high school next fall and 20 in the junior high.

Basic math and the DOR

The current Parish-by-Parish CMA report available on begins with the following statement:

As of June 11, 2009, total commitments equal $5,001,563 or 92.79% of the $5.39 million diocesan goal. Thank you for your support.

However, when one adds up the actual amounts in the spreadsheet, one ends up with totals that differ significantly from those in DOR's statement.

Commitments as listed in the spreadsheet actually add up to $4,872,587.99, while the "goals" (DOR doublespeak for assessments) actually total some $5,294,737.00. Using these numbers, the percentage figure becomes 92.03.

The difference in total commitments is $128,975.01 while the difference in total assessments is $95,263.00.

And just to muddy the waters a bit more, it needs to be kept in mind that this report does not include data for Peace of Christ Parish. Early Parish-by-Parish reports gave PoC's assessment as $118,381.

In the words of Yogi Berra, "Go figure."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CMA Final(?)

The 2008-09 Catholic Ministries Appeal was slated to end on May 31 and any payments received after that date were supposed to be credited to next year's drive. DOR, however, has thus far posted two updates this month, the first dated June 9 and the second June 11. A $1,000 pledge (and, presumably, payment) received from a parishioner in Wayne County is the only difference between the two.

The Big Picture

Overall, the 2008-09 CMA has raised 90.72% of its goal, meaning that it has fallen some $502,138 short of its target.

The June 11 update also contains information not seen before. In addition to the total pledges recorded for each parish, this update for the first time reports the total dollar amount actually collected from each parish.

This new information shows that 36* out of 130* parishes have actually met or exceeded their CMA assessments, with the other 94 parishes coming up short.

Of those 36 parishes in the plus column, 7 exceeded their assessments by 10% or more, and 2 exceeded their assessments by $10,000 or more. Overall, those 36 parishes gave $81,273 more than their combined assessments.

Of the 94 parishes that came up short, 76 missed by at least 10% and 29 still owe DOR $10,000 or more. Overall, those 94 parishes fell some $709,837 short of their combined assessments.

Excluding Peace of Christ Parish, 33,451 parishioners in 129 parishes pledged a total of $4,745,937 and all but $79,764 of that amount was actually collected. The average parishioner pledge was $141.88 and the average parishioner actual payment was $139.46

Finally, 468 individuals and members of non-parish faith communities donated another $126,426, for an average gift from this group of $270.14.

Monroe County parishes that kept their schools have outperformed those that did not

The Monroe County parishes that lost their schools last June lagged significantly behind those that kept theirs. Overall, the "Kept Schools" group had pledges running at 99.5% of CMA assessment while the "Lost Schools" group's pledges were at 84.8%. Had the latter group been pledging at the same rate as the former their overall pledges would have been about $112,900 higher than they actually were.

Individual MCCS parishes

Data for 10 of the 11 Monroe County parishes that kept their schools were reported by DOR. (Peace of Christ Parish was not included, as explained below*.) Half of these parishes reached their CMA assessments and pledges at all but 2 were at or above the diocesan average. In addition, only 1 of these parishes was $10,000 or more short of its assessment: Christ the King ($11,283 short).

12 of the 13 Monroe County parishes that lost their schools are still in existence. Only 2 of this group reached their CMA assessments and all but 2 were below the diocesan average. Furthermore, 7 of these parishes were $10,000 or more short of their assessments. These parishes (and their shortages) were St. Margaret Mary ($10,030), St. Andrew ($10,682), Good Shepherd ($11,008), St. Theodore ($11,505), St. John the Evangelist ($11,585), Holy Trinity ($17,941) and St. John of Rochester ($24,113).


*Data for Peace of Christ Parish is not being reported by DOR but is included here. The parish has combined its CMA drive with a parish fund drive, which means that the parish turns over the full amount of its assessment and is credited with reaching 100.00%. Although Peace of Christ has been dropped as a line item, it was included in a couple of the early Parish-by-Parish reports and its assessment was then listed as $118,381.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Holy Cross celebrates St. Anthony of Padua

In a parish tradition that is older than anyone can remember, Holy Cross Church in Charlotte celebrated the feast of St. Anthony of Padua yesterday evening.

The church was nearly full as Fr. Fred Eisemann celebrated the entire Mass - except for the homily - in Italian, with both Frs. Tom Wheeland and John Reif concelebrating.

Following the Mass many of the congregation gathered in a light rain around the shrine of St. Anthony for the traditional blessing of the St. Anthony's Bread and recitation of the Litany of St. Anthony.

Len Hawley, who has been entertaining Rochester audiences for over 60 years, provided the music at the wine-and-cheese reception which followed.

Slideshow ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A new voice in DOR

Cleansing Fire launched yesterday. Its masthead bills it as

A blog dedicated to Roman Catholic Orthodoxy, Proper Liturgy and Catholic culture. The intent of this blog is to bring various liturgical abuses and abuses of power in the lay-run Church to light, especially in Rochester, New York.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"A grave error"

About two-thirds of the way through my nearly 30 year hiatus from the Church Pope John Paul II made a apostolic journey to the United States. According to the USCCB His Holiness visited 9 cities over a 10 day span in the fall of 1987.

Being a life-long, avid news watcher I'm sure I was aware of his presence in the country at the time and, being uninterested in anything religious at that time, I'm just as sure I didn't pay any attention to what he was saying.

It's now almost 21 years later and I just came across part of JPII's message. The occasion was a meeting with the American bishops held in a Los Angeles seminary on Wednesday, September 16, 1987.

Several portions of His Holiness' address are remarkable for their candor. Excerpts follow ...

  • It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church’s clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church’s moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere. I wish to encourage you in the love of Christ to address this situation courageously in your pastoral ministry, relying on the power of God’s truth to attract assent and on the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given both to those who proclaim the message and to those to whom it is addressed.

    We must also constantly recall that the teaching of Christ’s Church - like Christ himself - is a "sign of contradiction". It has never been easy to accept the Gospel teaching in its entirety, and it never will be. The Church is committed, both in faith and morals, to make her teaching as clear and understandable as possible, presenting it in all the attractiveness of divine truth. And yet the challenge of the Gospel remains inherent in the Christian message transmitted to each generation. (No. 5)

  • [T]he Church is a community of faith. To accept faith is to give assent to the word of God as transmitted by the Church’s authentic Magisterium. Such assent constitutes the basic attitude of the believer, and is an act of the will as well as of the mind. (No. 6)

  • Speaking on your behalf, [San Francisco's] Archbishop Quinn has shown full awareness of the seriousness of the challenge facing your teaching ministry. He has spoken of the dual task of the conversion of the mind and the conversion of the heart. The way to the heart very often passes through the mind, and throughout the length and breadth of the Church there is need today for a new effort of evangelization and catechesis directed to the mind. Elsewhere I have mentioned the relationship between the Gospel and culture. Here I wish to underline the importance of the formation of the mind at every level of Catholic life. (No. 7)

  • We serve our laity best when we make every effort to provide for them, and in collaboration with them, a comprehensive and solid programme of catechesis with the aim of “maturing the initial faith and of educating the true disciple of Christ by means of a deeper and more systematic knowledge of the person and the message of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Catechesi Tradendae, 19). Such a programme will also assist them in developing that habit of discernment which can distinguish the spirit of the world from the Spirit of God, and which can distinguish authentic culture from elements that degrade human dignity. It can provide them a solid basis for growing in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ through continual conversion and personal commitment to the demands of the Gospel. (No. 10)

If our local ordinary was in attendance the last two decades show no evidence he was taking notes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our Lady of Victory Promo

This speaks for itself ...

Tip: David F.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nuns in habits, teaching school and thriving.

While many older religious orders of women are struggling to attract new vocations, some communities are showing how it is done.

Not too surprisingly, the secret seems to involve returning to full habits, a rich community life, and a deep commitment to prayer and the Eucharist.

The CNA provides us with the inspiring story of the Nashville Dominicans.

[W]hile other religious orders are struggling to stay alive, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, better known as the Nashville Dominicans, are thriving. With 230 sisters serving in 34 schools in the United States, as well as starting a ministry in Australia, the order is truly alive and flourishing.

Founded in 1860, the Nashville Dominicans are preparing to celebrate 150 years of service to the Church. Marked by their full black-and-white habit, their teaching apostolate, and their charisms of joy and fidelity, they are an order that continues to see abundant new vocations in modern times ...

The Dominicans currently have 45 sisters in their initial formation program and are preparing for a large class of postulants to enter the community in August.

Sister Mary Emily, Vocations Director for the Nashville Dominicans, told CNA that she has seen “a steady increase in the interest in religious life and a great openness to considering it.”

“Many young women are attracted to this life that includes a strong prayer life, a strong community life, a single apostolate of teaching and the witness of a religious habit,” Sr. Mary Emily explained.

Read the full report here.

Holy Cross celebrates Fr. Wheeland's 70th

Sunday was a very busy day at Holy Cross Parish. In addition to celebrating Trinity Sunday with a traditional procession and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the parish also celebrated Fr. Thomas Wheeland's 70th birthday.

Beacon Place, the new name for the totally refurbished school cafeteria, was the site and approximately 200 parishioners and other well-wishers showed up to join in the festivities.

A couple of Fr. Tom's old altar boys from his Holy Rosary days were also on hand. John and Joe Dady, a.k.a. The Dady Brothers, provided the crowd with a couple hours of country, bluegrass, folk and, of course, Irish melodies, along with a couple of anecdotes from their 10th Ward days.

Fr. Tom was having such a good time that he even entertained the crowd with a bit of an Irish jig.

The full slideshow ...

Trinity Sunday at Holy Cross

Holy Cross Church in Charlotte celebrated Trinity Sunday with a traditional procession of the Blessed Sacrament after the noon Mass. While parishioners recited the Rosary, Deacon Ed Giblin carried the monstrance out the front door of the church and down the school driveway to the grotto of Our Lady just north of the old convent, where a benediction service was held.

A slideshow follows ...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"We are by no means dead."

It looks like Holy Name of Jesus Parish is not ready to throw in the towel.

From their current bulletin ...

Dear Members of HNOJ,

As many of you know, there has been a Planning Group consisting of representatives of the six Eastern Greece/Charlotte parishes working on long term planning for our area.

The financial committee of this group has recommended to the larger group that both Holy Name of Jesus parish and Our Lady of Mercy parish be closed.

For me, people come first, and we will try to understand people's feelings and have compassion with the parishioners of both our parishes. It is important to emphasize that this recommendation comes from a committee of lay people and not from the priests or from the Diocese. This is a recommendation and not a final plan.

It will undergo further review before going to Bishop Clark. A member of our Holy Name of Jesus Finance Committee, Kathy Prystajko, is on that committee.

Kathy has written a very eloquent “minority report” that is strongly opposed to this recommendation.

Pursuant to that report:

Our Parish Council and I will recommend to the Planning Group that Holy Name of Jesus Church remain open.

We feel that our track record over the past two years has proved our ability not only to survive but to prosper.

While we know we can no longer justify having our own full-time priest, we are by no means dead. If we are supportive and do not "bail out" now, we can stay open and it can be a win-win situation.

Our future is in our hands, as we try to respond to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Sincerely, Father Gagnier

Tip: Interstate Catholic

"Our Lady of Mercy is not financially viable."

A few days ago I reported on some information that had come my way from several sources.  The subject was a report issued by the finance sub-committee of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte PPNM Steering Committee.

Much more detail has now been published.

From the Holy Cross Church bulletin ...

Pastoral Planning Update June 2009

The Eastern Greece/Charlotte Steering Committee has been working together since the Spring of 2008 to create a new pastoral plan for our six parishes, Holy Cross, Holy Name of Jesus, Our Mother of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Charles Borromeo, and St. John the Evangelist. This process has been undertaken at the request of Bishop Matthew Clark. The Steering Committee is made up of four representatives from each parish. There are currently three sub-committees, Ministry and Worship, Finance, and a Pastors committee.

Finance Sub-Committee Report

On May 26, 2009 the finance sub-committee provided its report to the full Steering Committee. It must be remembered that the recommendations of the sub-committees are simply that...they are recommendations. The full Steering Committee will have to choose what portion of the reports from each of the sub-committees will be adopted, and in what form, and to what extent, if any, they will be so adopted.

Once the Steering Committee has prepared a revised five year plan, meetings will be held with parish pastoral councils and staff for their input to the plan. A revised draft will then be prepared, parish “town meetings” will be held, and parish pastoral councils will meet to make any final revisions to the plan, so that the six parish pastoral councils can affirm the plan and submit it to Bishop Matthew Clark.

The Finance Sub-Committee of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Steering Committee in its report to the Steering Committee recommended the closing of Holy Name of Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy. Some of the factors considered by the Finance Committee are as follows:

  • Bringing more parishioners together in fewer parishes would result in more robust remaining parishes.
  • Overall weekend Mass attendance for the six parish EG/C planning group has decreased 36% (decrease of 3,015 from 8,313 to 5,298) over the past ten years.
  • Demographics are not favorable for any meaningful growth in numbers of parishioners in the EG/C parishes.
  • From a financial perspective the number of parishes should be reduced from 6 to 4.
  • Because the number of priests available for assignment in our parishes and within the diocese as a whole will continue to decline in the short-term future, we should not try to maintain any more parishes than necessary.
  • The closing of Our Lady of Mercy & Holy Name of Jesus would have the least impact within the EG/C planning group. They represent 12.2% of average weekend liturgy attendance, 13% of annual sacraments, and 8% of religious education children.
  • These closings could eliminate over $500,000 of expenses, and these resources could be redeployed and better utilized at other parishes.
  • There is more than adequate space and programs at the other four parishes to absorb all of the parishioners from Our Lady of Mercy and Holy Name of Jesus.
  • Clustering parishes does not seem to be justifiable from a financial standpoint. Priests and staff could be better utilized at other parishes to serve the needs of all of the people in fewer buildings.
  • Our Lady of Mercy is not financially viable.
  • While Holy Name of Jesus is currently financially viable, with average Mass attendance of 372 parishioners (7% of the total EG/C Mass attendance), the continued use of limited priest resources is not justified.
  • Continuing to use financial resources to maintain and repair excess buildings is not justified. There are more than sufficient buildings at the other four EG/C parishes.

What’s Next?

As a result of the recommendations of the finance sub-committee, the Steering Committee has scheduled an additional meeting on June 16, 2009 for further review of the report. It is the intent of the Steering Committee to adopt a proposed configuration of parishes within the planning group at the regularly scheduled June 30, 2009 meeting.

The Steering Committee feels very strongly that action must be taken no later than the June 30 meeting to adopt a proposed configuration of parishes so that other aspects of the plan may go forward. Until such a decision is made, it is impossible to do any real planning for the group. It must also be remembered that the plan will still be subject to review by the parish pastoral councils and eventually by Bishop Clark.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reaching out to the lost sheep

Last year I purchased a copy of the Catholics Come Home DVD for use with my religious ed class.  Yes, I'm aware these kids haven't left the Church, but the first 105 seconds of their 2 minute Epic video is an excellent promo for the Church and a great conversation starter.  (It's here, if you haven't seen it yet.)

Anyway, my purchase seems to have put me on their mailing list and the following arrived in my inbox today ...


Pictured Above (L-R) Bishop Julian Porteous and Cardinal George Pell (Archdiocese of Sydney), Tom Peterson (Founder,


Sydney, Australia (June 2, 2009) - founder and president, Tom Peterson, graciously accepted the invitation of His Eminence Cardinal Pell, and the forty-four Bishops of Australia to present the evangelization outreach program to key religious leaders and lay media specialists among the various Dioceses within Australia.  Australia's bishops were impressed by the incredible results following the television outreach in the United States, and are discerning implementing the TV ad campaign in Australia. 

Peterson also was invited to present the keynote speech at the Australian National Catholic Media Congress, addressing the communications directors and media ministries of all Dioceses, prior to his presentation at the Plenary Meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops.

Internationally, is also in initial discussions with officials in Brazil about a future Catholics Come Home campaign for South America. 

In the United States, more than a dozen Archdioceses and Dioceses have plans to launch television and web campaigns in Advent of 2009 or Lent of 2010.  Some CCH partners include: Chicago, Atlanta, Omaha, Charlotte, Providence, Green Bay, Venice FL, Rockford, Joliet, Colorado Springs, Lincoln, and others. 

Following the Diocese of Phoenix launch in Lent 2008, Bishop Olmsted reports that as many as 92,000 inactive Catholics and converts returned to the Church in the Diocese of Phoenix alone, in the months following their campaign.  The Diocese of Corpus Christi, TX completed their bilingual campaign in Lent 2009, and initial results show a 40 percent increase at key parishes during Easter Masses. is a successful multimedia initiative of Catholics Come Home, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not for profit, independent charity. invites inactive Catholics and others, home to the Catholic faith, through television commercials and an interactive website.  After the diocesan campaigns, the directors plan to air nationally on the top television networks and programming in December 2010.

To help bring Christ to a world in need, get involved in this apostolic mission.

One would think that the excellent results in both the Phoenix and Corpus Christi dioceses would be lighting up radar screens in more chanceries than the 11 listed above. 

DOR, with its 25+% decline in weekend Mass attendance in just the last 8 years, ought to be first in that list but I somehow suspect Buffalo Rd. isn't even interested.

Two Greece parishes to close?

The Steering Committee of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Pastoral Planning Group has been meeting frequently of late in an effort to chart a course for the six parishes in the group.

The parishes involved are Holy Cross, Holy Name of Jesus, Our Lady of Mercy, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. John the Evangelist and St. Charles Borromeo.

Last year's weekend Mass reductions at HNOJ and OLM have had the predicted detrimental effect on both attendance and finances. HNOJ has seen its Average October Attendance fall 15.5% in the last year while OLM took a staggering 35.8% hit over the same period. HNOJ's 2008 AOA was 372 and OLM's was 276.

Three sources have now confirmed that the Steering Committee's financial sub-committee has spent considerable time of late crunching the numbers and has now issued its recommendation. To no one's surprise, the sub-committee believes that neither HNOJ nor OLM are financially viable over the long term and has recommended that the parishes and the Planning Group suggest that the diocese close both.

I am also told that various approaches to clustering were considered and ultimately rejected, due primarily to the almost universal long term failure of that process in other planning groups.

At this point in time the report and the recommendation are just that: a report and a recommendation. It is now up to the parishes and the Planning Group to decide what course of action they will pursue.