Tuesday, June 2, 2009

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.

10 comments:

Interstate Catholic said...

The parish councils will say no and the planning group will do it anyway.

I bet the parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy are now sorry that they spent thousands of dollars in church renovations just a few years ago.

Mike said...

Interstate,

My wife and I were two of those who helped fund those renovations. At the time AOA had been growing (it peaked at 806 in 2000) and the future sure looked rosy.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the parishioners at Our Lady of Mercy spent 1.5 million dollars on the church renovation, which was forced by Bishop Clark.

Bishop Clark is forcing these parishes to close. Don't let him fool you.

Check out this web site and send it to all Catholics on your email list.

http://www.thereoughttobealaw.net/

Mike said...

Anon. 9:02,

Get a grip, man! Everyone knows that you have no use for the bishop, but spreading outright lies about him doesn't help your case one bit.

I was on the OLM parish council at the time the renovation project was approved and launched and I can assure you that Bishop Clark played absolutely no role in the process.

For years the parish had been exploring various ways of either replacing or renovating its old worship space. A building fund had even been established and over the years had grown to about $500,000.

If it was the bishop pushing this down the throats of the parishioners, how do you explain both that $500K building fund and a capital campaign that reached its $1 million goal in a matter of weeks?

The truth is that this was a parish initiative, pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

So 5 parishes will soon be closing. The latest Courier article mentioned another 3 churches closing outside of Monroe County.

Mike said...

Anon. 11:01,

My sources do not anticipate any final decisions for at least a year and probably longer than that.

I am told that the sub-committee's recommendations focused on LONG TERM financial viability. Neither parish is currently in critical financial condition, although both are dealing with challenges.

Rich Leonardi said...

Any sense of what accounts for such a precipitous drop in Mass attendance since 2000? I know the diocese as a whole has experienced this trend, but I'm curious to know what might account for it in these two parishes.

Mike said...

Rich,

With regard to HNOJ: There have been 3 different people in charge over the last 8 years (2 priests an a pastoral administrator) and a very well-liked faith formation director retired about 4 or 5 years ago. Also, the parish lost 1 of its Sunday Masses in 2001 and a second Sunday Mass last year, leaving it with 1 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. HNOJ's AOA decline has been pretty steady over this period, averaging about 9.2% per year (from 802 in 2000 to 372 last year).

The OLM story is similar. The parish is on its fourth pastor since 2000. It, too, has lost 2 Masses over the last 8 years, leaving it with 2 Sunday Masses. Also, a very well-liked DRE left for a Fairport parish within the last year because she needed more work hours than OLM could afford to pay for. I'm told that most of the families with young children weren't very happy about this and they, too, have now also left the parish. OLM's 35.8% AOA drop in the last year seems due to this factor, combined with the loss of its Saturday Mass.

Anonymous said...

It would be a sin to close Our Lady of Mercy.

The original plan was always to build a new church building. As you know, the Parish Council is only an advisory group to the Pastor and Bishop Clark operates behind the scenes, through the Pastor of every parish.

When it was publicized that Mercy would be spending over a million dollars to renovate the parish, we wondered why Bishop Clark would allow the parishioners to spend all of this money on one of the weakest parishes in the cluster. We knew that Mercy and Holy Name of Jesus would be the first to close. There was also publicity about the diocese trying to sell the Our Lady of Mercy grammar school.

I certainly hope that the Our Lady of Mercy parish council didn't approve of the "smashing" of the beautiful 5 inch thick, white marble Altar, during the renovation. The Pastor smashed the Altar with a sledge hammer and pictures were posted on the Internet. I believe that the popular Pastor was transferred to another parish after the renovation was completed.

Mike said...

Anon. 8:16,

It would be a sin to close Our Lady of Mercy. In the last year OLM lost 154 Mass attendees, leaving it with just 276 to support the the parish. One more hit of that magnitude and they won't have enough money coming in to have any hope of paying the bills. If OLM does close it will be because of money (or the lack of it) not sin.

The original plan was always to build a new church building. That was never the original plan, only the original wish. Once we found out in the early to mid 1990s that a new church building would cost between $2.5 and $3.0 million we had to scale back our expectations to match what we could afford, which was an extensive renovation of the original worship space.

As you know, the Parish Council is only an advisory group to the Pastor and Bishop Clark operates behind the scenes, through the Pastor of every parish. Actually, I don't know that. As I wrote in another comment above, I was on the OLM parish council at the time the renovation project was approved and launched. If Bishop Clark was pulling any strings during those 3 years he did a masterful job of hiding it.

When it was publicized that Mercy would be spending over a million dollars to renovate the parish, we wondered why Bishop Clark would allow the parishioners to spend all of this money on one of the weakest parishes in the cluster. "Weak" only in the sense of lowest AOA. However, we still had over 800 people at the time and more than enough money coming in to support a full staff and pay all the other bills.

We knew that Mercy and Holy Name of Jesus would be the first to close. I wonder how you knew that? If OLM still had 800 people showing up for weekend Mass no one would be talking about closure.

There was also publicity about the diocese trying to sell the Our Lady of Mercy grammar school. Wrong again! The diocese never tried to sell the old school building. However, the OLM parish council did explore that possibility as part of a potential renovation/rebuilding scheme. The deal fell through when the developer could not get the low interest state loan he needed to go ahead with his end of the deal.

I certainly hope that the Our Lady of Mercy parish council didn't approve of the "smashing" of the beautiful 5 inch thick, white marble Altar, during the renovation. The Pastor smashed the Altar with a sledge hammer and pictures were posted on the Internet. The old altar was not to be used in the new worship space and no other church wanted it. It was broken up and the pieces were buried as is proper under those circumstances.

I believe that the popular Pastor was transferred to another parish after the renovation was completed. Fr. Stan Kacprzak was not "transferred." He had finished his first 6 year term at OLM and had the option of staying on for another 6 years. He was asked, however, to consider taking over at St. Paul's in Webster, as that parish had just lost its pastor. It was Fr. Stan's decision to stay or go.