Monday, July 20, 2009

Catholic Courier: Proposed suburban church closings "unprecedented"

An article appeared today on the Catholic Courier web site calling the proposed closings of three suburban parishes "an unprecedented step."

The Irondequoit Pastoral Planning Group has voted to recommend that both St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Salome Churches be closed, while the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Planning Group will recommend that Our Lady of Mercy Church also be closed.

From what I can glean from folks I know at OLM, there just aren't enough people still attending Mass there to pay the bills. As DOR planning liaison Karen Rinefierd is quoted in the article, OLM

has no money. It's a wonderful, warm community, but they truly have run out of money.

Over on the east side of the river the decision to recommend the closure of two parishes does not seem to be particularly unexpected.  What is causing controversy, however, is which two of the five possible candidates should get the axe.

The Catholic Courier article gives none of the reasoning behind the selection of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Salome for closure and blogger Eugene Michael is reporting that the planning group's internal selection process seems cloaked in secrecy, despite claims that it was "open and honest."

Eugene also raises some very  interesting financial questions regarding, among other things, a $300,000 fund at St. Thomas which the deceased donor specified could be used, if necessary, to save the parish from closure.  See Eugene's post (here) for full details.

Finally, in a glaring refusal to acknowledge the presence of the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, the article attributes these potential closures, as well as all those that have already taken place, to "demographic and economic change as well as the declining number of priests" and that "reaching this juncture punches home the reality that all parishes are facing the same issues."

While changing demographics certainly have played a large role in the closure of many city parishes, there is absolutely no evidence of which I am aware that Catholics are leaving the suburbs, especially Greece and Irondequoit.

What is happening is that many Catholics have stopped attending Mass in Greece and Irondequoit (and the rest of DOR), but that is not the same as moving away. 

What DOR really needs - but refuses - to do is to reach out to all those AWOL Catholics (over 27,000 in just the last 8 years) and invite them to come home.


Anonymous said...

"demographic and economic change as well as the declining number of priests"

Our Lady of Victory is located in a terrible part of the city that few if any Catholics reside in, yet they are experiencing strong growth over the past year. Demographics just doesn't cut it as a reason. As for economics, St. Thomas is allegedly not in financial trouble, and even if they were, the Msgr. Burns fund should help them stay afloat for some time. Economics doesn't cut it. Finally, we're left with the priest shortage. As of now, there are still enough priests to serve the area. There certainly are enough priests to offer at least one weekend Mass at St. Thomas. Declining number of priests is not a particularly strong argument for closure.

~Dr. K

Interstate Catholic said...

"Survivor" DOR style.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Clark is doing nothing fruitful to stop the decline in Mass attendance, to bring people back to the church who have been alienated by him and his progressive priests, and to make our church stronger. His retirement couldn't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Is it any surprise that St. Thomas and St. Salome were selected for closure? The good Bishop had already clustered them into Christ the King as one parish, and you betcha CTK wasn't going to close, as the Basilians are (thankfully!) there. But STA and SS had no separate representation on the committee, so, voila, they were on the short end.

Now some of the Msgr. Burns fund will probably have to be used to dig up and re-locate Msgr. Burns.

This is all so very sad, and not happening (at least to this extent) in conservative dioceses around the country.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Now some of the Msgr. Burns fund will probably have to be used to dig up and re-locate Msgr. Burns."

If only Msgr. Burns would have known this, he would never have left the money to the parish.

Maybe they can use the money to pay for the renovations of Sacred Heart Cathedral?

~Dr. K