Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it. – C.S. Lewis
With regards to the Bulletin articles... Has Corey let the words about spiritual gifts ring out in its full seriousness of heart or is he at odds with his own writing?. What are the fruits of division? Spiritual and physical destruction. How about if our leadership team give all of us the grace of true renewal! Do not allow the hope and light in our midst to blow out! Strengthen our faith, our hope and our love, so that we can bear good fruit! No doubt Deacon Ray was trying like Dean to force the issue of closing the churches without inviting any input from parishioners. No matter how stained the finances are it is time to give ourselves to the Lord and let him work miracles of holiness and transformation. I doubt that it is necessary to close all but one church. It is simply a matter of priorities. Saint Teresa of Avila is correct, they will paint a very dismal sketch of the financial situation and act as if there were no alternative.
It's a travesty that the so called leadership of the parish and his cohorts are taking us down the tubes. It's like riding on a runaway train and there's little chance of stopping it now. Heaven help us all. Thank God there are other Catholic worship sites in the area that treat the congregation with respect and open arms. We might give up buildings but not our Church.
It's time for those yard signs(like the voting signs) to pop up around the area, advertising the website, so everyone knows where to look to see what's going on here. Time to spread the word people to friends and neighbors!
This is all very sad. I have known for a couple of years that parishioners were unhappy but really had no idea of the depth of their anger. Getting hit with 2 punches so close together (Alene and Saint Vincent's), was like an implosion. I wish I could be optimistic about a turn-around but even if Dean were to leave, he leaves behind a very broken and divided parish. Again, I point the finger at the Diocese of Rochester. They have failed to listen, they have failed to provide guidance. Their "this is your problem- work it out" mentality is a cop-out. The Diocese of Rochester is notorious throughout the country for their liberal teaching, lack of vocations, loss of parishioners and general dissatisfaction. Not a surprise.
This is a great article. Today I was at mass in Addison. After mass, I was chatting with another Corning family. They have been attending the Saint Catherine's mass for many years. They shared that they received an e-mail from the pastor this week. Father wanted to know if they were OK. They have been busy with summer activities and had not been at mass in Addison for several weeks. FATHER HAD MISSED THEM! My family has attended mass in All Saints for 25 years. Like so many, we are now at Addison. NOBODY has called to say "we miss you", NOBODY has called to say "What can we do to get you back?" Nobody has called to say "It is not the same here without you." And this, my friends, is the problem. NOBODY seems to care about the lost sheep. And this needs to come from Deacon Dean- the Pastoral Administrator. Until he recognizes that he is responsible for the exodus of many from the parish and until he humbly seeks reconciliation, the healing and the forgiveness that we so desperately need will not come.
It is unbelievably sad! Church is a place where we should be flooded with peace and joy. We should be growing in deeper holiness..not in sadness. Just as a side note, I meant to say "strained finances" above, not "stained finances". I don't like the feeling that I have to stand guard over my heart at mass so I won't think negative thoughts. I continue to pray to the saints and angels for help especially Padre Pio.
I went to a meeting Saturday. I went hoping it was going to be a time I could share my concerns, ask my questions. But, as the youngest at my meeting (42) I was surprised that the majority in my very small group (under 10, with 2 facilitators) were for this! Imagine that...a church built in the 50's is going to be torn down and made into senior housing (which is much needed by the way) I walked out of the meeting almost in tears but with the definite notion that this needs to be stopped.How do we do this? Not quite sure. Is there a legal avenue to be followed? Petitions? It was said at the meeting that our Churches belong to the bishop -- do we go to him directly? Do we direct these petitions to him? Someone mentioned signs in the yards...I would do that, and ask others on my street (close to SVDP) to do the same. During the Prayers of the faithful at Mass(especially at SVDP church) we need to mention "All Saints Parish" & "St. Vincent de Paul Church." If we are going to do something, we need to do it NOW. I know school is about to start and our lives are very busy...but, it looks like a WINDOW might be cracked open here and its going to EVERYONE to get it open all the way.
I agree with the above post stating that the healing needs to come from a humble Deacon Dean. He needs to publically and sincerely acknowledge what he has done to this parish. From my experience, pride will prevent this. He would also need to demonstrate his sorrow by making amends. Again, is pride an obstacle? For example, previous posts have shared that one of the parish maintainance staff takes time each week AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PARISH to vacuum the rectory where Deacon Dean and his family reside. To many of us, this act of entitlement is an abuse of power. Deacon has to know that parishioners are not happy about their money funding this luxury. He has to know that the rest of us vacuum our own homes and the kids help. He also might want to know that there is a difference with maintaining a rectory for the priests, who have no wives or children to assist with household chores. This is just one example where he needs to change his way of thinking if he is ever going to change the legacy he hopes to leave behind.
Mary, one thing we can do is tell our older parishioners what is happening. I bet most of them have no clue about what is really going on. The people who are peeling off to the ABC churches are younger and with families. The older ones are easily scared about the finances and are limited by their own ability to give.My elderly friends had no idea that anyone had even been laid off recently. So many don't read the bulletin and can't hear clearly what is being told them from the pulpit.We need to keep talking to each other and get the word out. I also like the idea of signs in the yard. I hope the parishioners behind this website are listening to that. Get us some signs if you can!
Mary- After attending the meeting, I conclude that those in my small group who supported the closing of Saint Vincents were motivated by fear. This is part of the "Strategic Plan"- to make the parishioners think that the ONLY way to save this parish is to down-size. This is bull. I also beleive that 95% of the parishioners will not bother to attend a meeting at all. THEY ARE FED UP. They are bright people and see this for what it is...bull. We are experiencing the fruit of the worst possible mix- a poor leader, under the guidance of a poor diocese. What to do? Lawn signs are good if they are positive: "We love our Church- Save Saint Vincent's" As long as we don't encourage anything that causes scandal to the Church, it's well worth the effort. At least we would be sending a message to the community that our Church is important. I would call the Leader and have them print a front-page picture of the signs...just like the front page photo of the demolition of Saint Patricks...
Adminstrator- Tell us where to send the money. I would like to donate $100.00 towards the lawn signs. If we took them door-to-door in the Saint Vincents neighborhood, most all would take a sign. Better order a couple hundred.
I like the sign idea. You know, a few people are saying that it's a terrible thing we are doing- supporting a forum to share experiences and concerns that are related to problems in the parish. They say we are encouraging the division. I SAY: If someone was messin' with my kid, my parents, my best friend, I would fight to defend them. We are fighting for our faith and for our churches. We are fighting back in this way because we were shut down in previous attempts. How can this be wrong?
Repeating and emphasizing, as I have before, that I do not know the answers to our dilemma, nor do I know the players well, I would like to ask each of us here to keep our hearts and minds open. The parishioners that are working on these gut wrenching issues on our behalf, are people of strong faith and compassion, as we all seek to be. Their efforts on our behalf, must be assumed to be sincere and heartfelt...as heartfelt as our own anguish over the choices currently being discussed. Why would they be otherwise? Why would anyone want to close our churches? These are people who's families (as mine) have known and loved these places all their lives. Shouldn't it be clear the anguish these people on these councils must be feeling? I have not heard here the possibility that, as painful as that would be, that the Holy Spirit may be working through them. We all know the Lord works in ways that are not always apparent to us at first. Are we not open to the possibility that this predicament is God's will? I think that the humility of not knowing God's will in this painful circumstance, we leave our hearts open to each other, and absence that seems clearly apparent right now.Additionally, there was a comment above about the small group meetings, to the effect that they would just be so much more steamrolling and snowballing us. I think we can't have it both ways. We can't bemoan not knowing how decisions are made, without listening to how and on what basis they are made. The implication above was that the parish administration and councils have cooked the books (figuratively speaking) and that their presentation and discussion will seek to so much bamboozle us. If all that were true (and I am not prepared to assume it is) there is a remedy. Discernment. Go to the meeting with an open, albeit heavy, heart, and discern for yourself what the truth is. Trust in your judgement as you protect fairness. These folks are our people. Pray for them, of course. Be fair to them? Yes, that too. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to do that.
I agree with the above comments for lawn signs. We really need to organize beyond the signs. Who among us will head up a letter writing campaign to the head of the diocesean Personnel Board, with copies to the Bishop? Who will take the responsibility to call the Leader and the Gazette and have them come for a picture of all of us around a sign and write up an article? We need to acknowledge the lack of support or even a word from the diocesean personell, be it Bishop Clark or whoever and we need to let the Board and Bishop know of the administrator's attendance at Victory Road church and activities regardless of the purpose for going there. It shows a terrible lack of support for All Saint's Parish Liturgies. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and so we must go beyond these pages. I am ready. Who do I contact to get involved?
Bill- I agree that people need to go to the meetings. It's the fair approach. Having said this, I did attend. I feel even more strongly that we are heading in the wrong direction. Closing churches is the symptom to the bigger problem that was not addressed at my meeting. The failure of parishioners to donate money is also a symptom of a bigger problem. We can build the mega church on the hill and STILL not have sufficient funds to sustain it if there are but a handful of parishioners left. Sometimes, even in the Church, tough love must be practiced. Tough love would require a closer examination and a tough response to the parish leadership. With all respect and gratitude for your return to the Church, it is good to hear your objective opinion. Welcome home. You are correct, we need to extend our prayers to include even those we disagree with.
Bill,I believe most parishioners are trying to be as open-minded as possible under the circumstances. And we all do love and care for those who have participated in making these decisions, even if the anger level is high at the moment.You do keep missing a key point, though. I hope you will address it:Why was the parish as a whole not kept informed of these issues? Why did the issues get to a critical point, in fact from the perspective of the leadership, a point-of-no-return? How did we go from three churches down to one with no significant input or knowledge from the parish as a whole?I will leave aside for the moment a discussion about the Holy Spirit.This is not a point to be ignored or glossed over. I look forward to hearing your response.
To all who are asking about yard signs and other avenues of action -- yes, we think that's an idea worth pursuing.We are collecting these ideas and will be meeting. Give us a few days to get back about it.Are there people out there who are interested in meeting to discuss further action? If so, please email the web admin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill...you said, "We all know the Lord works in ways that are not always apparent to us at first. Are we not open to the possibility that this predicament is God's will?"Or, perhaps it is God's way of getting us involved. He put us here for a reason. What are we going to do about it.I echo TofA comment of "How did we go from three churches down to one with no significant input or knowledge from the parish as a whole?" We should have been made part of the discernment process. And Bill, I tried as much as I could to be open minded with regards to the small group meetings. But, the decisions were already made. And, my list of questions and comments was only minimally addressed, since Deacon Dean was not present, at least not at my meeting.They took 3 years to come up with "the plan" and yet no "fundraising" was looked into to see if we could save even one of the churches. The only way of raising extra income was to ask people to increase their weekly offering.Perhaps this is God's way...God's way of getting us to defend our faith and our church!
Teresa and Mary,Since you both touched on the same issue, let me respond to you both at the same time.But first - I am open that God is working through this situation in either (or both) ways, and that people of good will discover it for the good of the whole church. I believe that. My voice is only one of encouragement that good will be maintained...no, make that, cherished.As for the 'plan.' Well, I must plead a lack of knowledge. I assume, without knowing, that the structure of the parishes finances is available routinely. So based on that perhaps erroneous assumption, I ask (in all innocence) did we do our part in internalizing this available information? That's a sincere question. This is something you know and I don't.What I have gleaned from many comments herein is the desire for greater transparency, so that the parish may more easily understand the processes at work, and make timely input before major decisions are taken. Again, I confess that I do not know how this currently plays out in our parish. I can say that in my experience, transparency (the more the better) is almost always the way to go. It's also the messiest, because it is often mistaken for there being an equal seat at the decision making table for everyone. And that is a prescription for chaos. My point is that building transparency is more than just someone opening the books more widely. It's a reciprocal process, requiring work and understanding by all parties.Our plight is that there now exists a series of highly emotional, interlocking issues/circumstances that are feeding off each other. From my view it is reaching, or has reached, a critical mass where it's becoming difficult even to structure a productive conversation. What would such a conversation look like to you at this point?B
Bill, I don't mean to be a cynic, but pleading ignorance is not an answer to the question 'Why was the parish, as a whole, kept in ignorance of the issues?' You punted the question, and that is quite telling.You should assume absolutely nothing in this parish.Exactly what should we be internalizing? Go ahead and look at the months and months of bulletins (available on the parish website) and see if you can find 'routinely available' and detailed information about our financial status. Collections are noted. Is that enough information in your opinion? Other numbers are occasionally presented but with little background or context, and with a definite spin behind them.The bulletin and the pulpit are the avenues of information that Deacon Dean has chosen to use as communication channels to the parish. He stated that in a recent meeting with two parishioners and other parish staff. If you would like names, please email us at email@example.com, or ask Deacon Dean to provide the information.A full, detailed and specific budget has not been provided to us, and in light of the drastic measures being imposed, it is shocking. Do you feel that parishioners are not entitled to that, or that only those on the finance council should have that information?To be perfectly honest, much of what you are saying seems to be straight from the leadership's playbook, and that is very worrisome. Many of us have already 'been there, done that'. We see the symptoms, in other words.You know, opening the books to more transparency is a starting point at the very least. Please, please do not expect the parishioners to keep turning cheeks. We have only two to present.Accountability begins with the leadership, wouldn't you agree?Again, I hope that in the interests of sincerity you answer the questions in a straightforward manner. Most of us are prayerful and mature Christians here -- and many of us have been on our knees for years about the problems in our parish.A productive conversation at this point would require a great deal of humility from parish leadership. Hope springs eternal. And prayers continue unabated.
Bill...thanks for the response. You posted..."So based on that perhaps erroneous assumption, I ask (in all innocence) did we do our part in internalizing this available information?"I don't understand what you are saying? Is it...that they revealed this information about the churches finances and need for going down to one church but internalized it (i.e. meaning we somewhat ignored it or put in the back of our mind?) If that is what you are asking then my response would be this. Did I know the parish was in a poor financial situation. Yes. (Where I grew up, when I was growing up, just about every parish was in debt.) I even think I figured out when I heard from someone that we'd be down to one priest at some point that we'd have to go down to 2 or 1 worship site. I just think the manor in which this has happened is wrong. Quick and dirty. When you are accepting an offer from an organization on one of your buildings/churches (which wasn't for sale in the first place), you don't tell your congregation about it in the bulletin and/or on a video at Mass...You tell them in person. AND, you should have come to us last year letting us know someone is showing interest in purchasing this church/buildings...you don't tell us after the fact.So, I hope I answered your question. If not, then I look forward to your future post.
Bill,I think what people are seeking is to be part of the process. This is OUR parish- does one have to sit on the Parish Council or parish staff to be privy to information that involves the selling of our "home". Yes, our "home". Mary is right- we should have been told months, perhaps years ago, that Saint Vincent's MAY be sold in the future. We should have been offered the opportunity to raise funds to maintain the property. This is getting very nasty. People are pissed. Dean has underestimated the passion people have for the beautiful Church of Saint Vincent's. You are going to see one heck of a battle and I commend these fine people for loving their Church enough to fight for it. Demolish Saint Vincents? I DON'T THINK SO!
Thank you all for your responses.Teresa. >>>pleading ignorance is not an answer to the question 'Why was the parish, as a whole, kept in ignorance of the issues?' You punted the question, and that is quite telling.In my case, lack of knowledge (not ignorance thank you) is the answer. That's why the best I could offer was a probing assumption about information I would have thought routinely available (like a budget.) Hardly a punt. I'd be interested to know what is 'quite telling' about that. Taking you at your statement, I do not think the parish should have been kept ignorant of the issues.I think I indicated that I am for transparency, the ability to see what is going on, with it's possibilities and results. That implies robust access to information. Hopefully that answers your question about what I think parishioners are entitled to. I really don't care what communications channels are used to secure that, as long as it works.>>>...what you are saying seems to be straight from the leadership's playbook, and that is very worrisome.Then that makes two of us worried...me by your response. Quite uncalled for.>>>Accountability begins with the leadership, wouldn't you agree?I do not agree. Accountability rests with each one of us at every turn. That said, the leaders I admire most are those that hold themselves strictly accountable.>>>... I hope that in the interests of sincerity you answer the questions in a straightforward manner.Though I reject the implication, you have my assurance that I am sincere, and like yourself, both mature and prayerful. Mary.Let me clarify if I can. I really think I wrote that badly. My question (an honest question from one who has not had recent experience in the parish) was if information was available that was as you say 'ignored or put in the back of our mind.' That was precisely what I was asking. Teresa has provided an answer to that. And so have you. I find what you've written very thoughtful. Anonymous August 23, 2010 4:58 PMI think the only point I'd raise is to ask how you think that process would work in practicality. Not that you are not entitled to be told about such momentous happenings, you (we) are, but after you know, how do you see your involvement from there? Is it parish halls (town halls)? What does that look like to you?
Bill said, "That implies robust access to information. Hopefully that answers your question about what I think parishioners are entitled to."Thank you, Bill. That does give a little better indication of your thinking.When I say that your tone is worrisome, that is not a snark. Lack of clarity and obfuscatory communication, whether intended or not, is a hallmark characteristic of our parish leadership. I applaud your desire for productive communication, but it must go in both directions and it must begin especially now with our leaders. Parish leadership, by the very nature of its position and authority, is called upon to set the tone, be the example, and to serve the best interests of the faithful.If accountability does not begin with leadership, what is the point of leadership? Who would follow a leader that wasn't accountable to an agreed upon system or set of values, especially to the high calling of Christ?I sense concern in your comment to anonymous regarding "parish halls." From all I have seen and heard, the desire is that leadership function in the way the Catholic Church intends -- as servants to Christ's body.This parish is one that is very tightly-knit, very happy in their churches, and not prone to rebellion or other such notions. It has taken four years to get to this point. That, I believe, is a testament to the patience and perseverance of our parishioners--especially in light of the damage that has been inflicted.
Bill- I would like to know why minutes from the parish council and finance council meetings are not provided to the parish. They should be presented as an insert in the bulletin EVERY time there is a meeting. There should be FULL disclosure. There should be no surprises of the magnitude that we are presently facing- the unexpected sale of Saint Vincent's.Anonymous 4:58pm