Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asking the questions

Diane at Cleansing Fire quotes Marco Tosatti at Vatican City regarding a possible reorganization of US dioceses due to the economic and spiritual devastation of the abuse scandals. From the article:

"For this reason, the Congregation for the Clergy in agreement with other departments has prepared a specific document, which will be released after the summer, possibly in October, that is specifically dedicated to the reorganization of American dioceses. The document is currently being examined by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, chaired by Archbishop Francis Coccopalmerio. Obviously the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also interested in the matter. It will provide guidelines on how the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, and each individual diocese must act to rebuild its presence in their area."

And this:

"A diocese in difficulty does well to reduce the number of parishes, but must maintain churches and chapels where they exist, perhaps entrusting the care to families of the faithful who are willing to look after them and keep them open. Then on Sundays it is easy to send a priest to celebrate Mass."

The implications are far-reaching.

You Really Matter

By Susan Miller

Over the past year, I heard some variation of the following many times: “Nothing you do matters.” The overwhelming feeling in All Saints Parish was that the sale of St. Vincent’s Church was a done deal, and it couldn’t be stopped.

Except it wasn’t a done deal. Providence Housing, for whatever reason or combination of reasons, has withdrawn their offer.

One of the reasons I became involved in SOP was because of the process that led to the decision to sell St Vincent’s Church. It was simply wrong. With all due respect to the hard-working members of our parish committees, they were not elected. They were chosen by leadership. No one sought input from parishioners. No one communicated with parishioners about what was happening in these closed meetings. When the decision was made, it was announced from the pulpit. It was such an obvious recipe for further anger and division that I wondered if the purpose was to drive away more people from the parish. It would make it easier to go to the one-church solution, wouldn’t it? Of course people were discouraged.
Now our parish has a second chance to get this right. Here are few suggestions:

• Open all meetings to all parishioners.
• For parishioners who can’t attend meetings, provide detailed minutes from the Parish Council and Facilities Committee meetings. Let’s use our bulletin for its purpose: to keep people informed of parish news.
• Provide financial statements for the parish and All Saints Academy that are timely and detailed. Posting information on the web site some ten months after the financial year ended is not acceptable.

And remember that you, the parishioner, matter. There is no parish without you. You pay the bills. You make the sacrifices. You will be attending mass here long after people step down from committees and new leadership arrives at All Saints. This is your parish. So tell leadership and committee members what you want and what you’re willing to contribute in time and money.

And never stop praying.

Providence House Withdraws SV Purchase Offer

This morning's article in The Leader shares the good news that Providence Housing Development Corporation has withdrawn its purchase offer for St. Vincent's Church.

The Leader mistakenly reported the sale price "being discussed was $350,000." Actually, PHDC upped their offer to $475,000 after a new appraisal was done.

So now the issue of our church's fate goes back to the facilities and finance councils, according to the article. Originally, the plan was to keep both St. Vincent's and St. Mary's.

May this be a God-given opportunity to come together to heal our parish. What could be better than to commit to keeping our churches and to make sure the necessary repairs and maintenance are done so our parish churches remain for generations to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Question regarding collection envelope

Received the following anonymous comment on a post way down, so thought I would bring it up here. Does anyone know the answer?

I have a question about envelopes sent to parish members. I received mine last week and one envelope that is to be used in collection July 12th says "emerging churches", can someone clarify what this means? Thanks

Come and kneel before Him now

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Pastoral Councils -- Part Three

By Thomas G. Kane

The Code of Canon Law further provides:
Canon 1282
All persons, whether clerics or laity, who lawfully take part in the administration of ecclesiastical goods, are bound to fulfill their duties in the name of the Church, in accordance with the law.
Canon 1283
Before administrators undertake their duties: 1st they must take an oath, in the presence of the Ordinary or his delegate, that they will well and truly perform their office; 2nd they are to draw up a clear and accurate inventory, to be signed by themselves, of all immovable goods, of those movable goods which are precious or of a high cultural value, and of all other goods, with a description and an estimate of their value; when this has been compiled, it is to be certified as correct; 3rd one copy of this inventory is to be kept in the administration office and another in the curial archive; any change which takes place in the property is to be noted on both copies.
Canon 1284 Duties
§1 All administrators are to perform their duties with the diligence of a good householder. §2 Therefore they must: 1st be vigilant that no goods placed in their care in any way perish or suffer damage; to this end they are, to the extent necessary, to arrange insurance contracts; 2nd ensure that the ownership of ecclesiastical goods is safeguarded in ways which are valid in civil law; 3rd observe the provisions of canon and civil law, and the stipulations of the founder or donor or lawful authority; they are to take special care that damage will not be suffered by the Church through the non-observance of the civil law; 4th seek accurately and at the proper time the income and produce of the goods, guard them securely and expend them in accordance with the wishes of the founder or lawful norms; 5th at the proper time pay the interest which is due by reason of a loan or pledge, and take care that in due time the capital is repaid; 6th with the consent of the Ordinary make use of money which is surplus after payment of expenses and which can be profitably invested for the purposes of the juridical person; 7th keep accurate records of income and expenditure; 8th draw up an account of their administration at the end of each year; 9th keep in order and preserve in a convenient and suitable archive the documents and records establishing the rights of the Church or institute to its goods; where conveniently possible, authentic copies must be placed in the curial archives. §3 It is earnestly recommended that administrators draw up each year a budget of income and expenditure. However, it is left to particular law to make this an obligation and to determine more precisely how it is to be presented.
As stated, the Parish Council is to be representative of the people of the Parish and to serve in their best interest. If they are to be involved in the administration of the “goods” of the church, they must abide by the appropriate laws of the Church. They are to do God’s will for the sake of his people, not to serve the will of man or any particular group of men or agenda. They are to serve their God with fervor and devotion and to act righteously knowing that their rewards and actions in this world do not hold a candle to what awaits their valued service in the next world. They are to do what is right for “His” sake, not their own or that of any man. May St. Francis of Assisi aid them in his rebuilding of God’s Church and St. Vincent de Paul show them true Christian Charity and may Jesus’ own Mother guide them in their service to His Holy church. They must answer to him alone…

Parts One and Two.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Pastoral Councils -- Part Two

By Tom Kane

In the Code of Canon Law, Canon 536 it states    “§1. If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and in which the Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity.
            I must admit I do not know what rules the diocesan bishop has established for this council, but I would hope it would be representational of the people and led by their own good conscience and the will of God.  That aside, these chosen individuals are to be representative of the Parish and we have a duty to inform them of the voice and views of the people if we are to be truly represented. 
            The point of this article is twofold; to point out the critical role these individuals will play in the Parish and to pray for their proper deliberation, decisions making and consultation in these position of great responsibility, sponsorship, trust and fidelity in this time of great need and turmoil.  Being a member of the council is a huge undertaking.  These individuals are the representatives of the people and Parish and are to keep the Church and Parish best interests as paramount in their minds.   They have a duty to the Parish and the Body of the Church.  They are “your” voice and I pray God will advise and guide them to righteous and just action.   They are to serve the interest of all and not of one or a select few.         
            Never have the members of this august body had such a critical or pivotal role at such a critical or pivotal time.    Regardless of how they were selected, the future of the Parish rests in their hands.  They are to be part of church history.  Their advice and consultation will impact the future or end of this Parish and St. Vincent de Paul Church.  They are the guardians, conservators and stewards of St. Vincent de Paul Church and Parish; the ones entrusted to safeguard a church where many of us were baptized, confirmed, married, received First Holy Communion and First Penance and even Last Rites and burial.  A place where we entered God’s Church and Sacraments and also departed from it for full communion with Our Father in heaven.   Their roles are critical and cannot be understated, ignored or forgotten.  The Church relies upon their input and guidance and representation is these serious decisions.  It is a critical and necessary part of the process.   They must have our prayers and confidence and trust that God will guide all of their deliberations.  The Vatican expects such decision to be made with the input of the Parish Community.   Recent Vatican decisions reflect this thought process. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

On Pastoral Councils -- Part One

Tom Kane sent along an article he wrote concerning the duties of pastoral councils. It has some great information regarding Canon Law. Here is Part One. Parts Two and Three to follow:

Prayers, Support, and Understanding of Parish Council

            Every time I come home, I am reminded that I am unfortunately no longer a member of this beautiful Parish at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Corning, NY, as I once was.  I still own my mother’s house and have an interest in the area and my family is for the most part still here.  I visit my mother and my father and my son at St. Mary’s Cemetery.  (Most recently of course on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.)    It was this Parish that ignited my religious fervor and love of my God, his Mother and his Church.  I know by Church law my family records are still maintained at St. Vincent de Paul Church, but I now belong to another Parish.  I miss my former Parish dearly, but understand I am now just a visitor, but that was never a real issue, since in the past visitors were always welcome at St. Vincent’s, as was anyone and everyone.  It was the nature of St. Vincent de Paul Parish and we all knew how blessed we were to be part of it and how envious other churches were of our little community. You are so lucky and blessed.
            St. Vincent’s of course is entering the most trying time in its existence.  We thought floods, death, the loss of cherished priests and religious and even Vatican II were more trying, but now we realize, St. Vincent’s very survival is the true test of a Parish Community and Church.  Everyone’s voice, opinion, participation and attendance make a difference.  Do not leave your Parish and Church, which was always your Rock during its time of need.  Be a part and make your voice heard.  How can you not?  This Church and Community are too valuable to lose.
            I learned upon my visit home that a new committee or Parish Council is being formed and I wish to extend my prayers, support and understanding to them and ask that they be divinely inspired and nourished.    New members’ names have been provided to serve the needs of the Parish.  There are some questions as to how the individuals were selected and how the determination was made, but I hope they will satisfied the tenants of their faith and serve as the conscience of the Parish.  As an outsider and someone from the past, this was not how selections or councils were created in the past, but perhaps this is a new process.  I have always found having the input of the Parish and community is a good thing and that the opinions and view points of the entire Parish is a good thing.  The Parish Council is to be representative of the people.  Its members should be active, familiar and concerned with the Parish and the Parish business.  In the past, the clergy and staff would often solicit interest from the Parish of those wishing to be nominated for the Parish Council.  The Parish would then elect their representatives and a set number would serve as the Parish Council.  The Council would rotate and different folks would serve at different times.  My parents both served in this role in the past and were lucky enough to be elected by the people and able to serve as God had called them. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt"

Christians know the 'end from the beginning.' No matter the individual battles that may be fought and lost, we can always rejoice in victory. Even when the smoke of battle is all around, the light still shines (John 1:5). I've embedded a couple beautiful musical pieces. The one just below gets going about 45 seconds in, but enjoy the visuals while the music gears up.

Anyway, I came across this post by Ann Barnhardt, who speaks difficult truths without an iota of fear. I've been pondering whether I should write about it or not. It really has to do with Obamacare and how the American bishops have played politics with abortion. But after re-reading it this morning, I realized that it does pertain to our diocese. Were you aware that 66% of the funding of Catholic Charities in our diocese comes from the government? Or to drill down further, it comes from our taxes.

So, the Catholic Church's charitable activities are being paid for, involuntarily, by Americans of all faiths and no faith. Is this something to be proud of, to rejoice in? And if the government is funding the charitable giving in our diocese, what are they then controlling? What strings are attached? No wonder there's no more need for a strong Catholic presence in our communities. No wonder it is convenient to destroy local churches, especially if, like Providence Housing Development Corporation, taxpayers will also be largely funding the destruction of St. Vincent's and the building of a government subsidized senior housing complex. The bishops have apparently 'realized' that it isn't Jesus Christ and His Church that saves lives and souls, it the American Taxpayer via our very own apocalyptic beast--the US government.


And if Obamacare is implemented, your tax dollars will be paying for the murder of unborn babies. Here's a portion of Miss Barnhardt's post:

"Now a quick explanation as to why the Catholic bishops are so gung-ho for ObamaCare, and were willing to overlook the obvious fact that ObamaCare would be used to pay for abortions and sign off on it. And right off the bat, let me shoot down their whole “We were PROMISED that there would be no abortion funding!” argument that they are still making. Remember the so-called “Stupak amendment” and all of that phoney baloney? Please. The bishops KNEW that it was all a ruse and a lie. How do I know? Because I told them, and was met with the standardized response, “We take them at their word and are fighting for the unborn.” Equusfimus. In the first place, you would have to be stupid to the point of non-sentient to believe ANYTHING spoken by a Marxist. A cursory, superficial survey of the 20th century will immediately reveal one fact: Marxists lie. And lie. And murder. And lie. And murder. And lie. Everything they do and say is a lie, driving toward the objective of mass human extermination. Do we honestly believe that the bishops are completely ignorant of 20th century history? No. They knew that the Stupak Amendment and all other lip-service was a lie. They played along with it because it provided a cover for them. And they knew that was all that it ever was - lip service/CYA.

But why? Why do the bishops want ObamaCare so badly? Because if there is a nationalized health insurance, the bishops think that the majority of the funds that the Church spends on charitable healthcare for the indigent will BE ABLE TO BE BILLED TO THE GOVERNMENT instead of absorbed as a cost to the diocese. They see ObamaCare as a massive, massive windfall, essentially freeing up most of the money their dioceses currently spend on charitable care. We are talking billions and billions of dollars per year here, people. Yep. It’s the money. It’s always the money. And these guys are willing to sell all of us out to Marxism AND make all of us complicit in the deaths of millions and millions of babies so they can lay off their expenditures on indigent healthcare and improve their balance sheets. Now that we know that ObamaCare will absolutely cover abortions if allowed to stand, the bishops are claiming that the Marxists “promised” it wouldn’t be so . . . and, and, we had the Stupak Amendment! Yeah, they’re as pure and innocent as the wind-driven compost. Give me a break.

And yeah, I’ll say what many of you are already thinking, because it is true. The bishops see ObamaCare and the resulting windfall as “evening up” the losses incurred by the pedophile priest sex scandals. The truth is, billing indigency cases in Catholic hospitals and clinics to ObamaCare would probably offset the entire payout on the sex scandals within the first year. Beyond that, ObamaCare would be straight-up gravy.

Here is what makes me sick. I have pointed this stuff out to them, and the response I always get is that I am lacking in CHARITY, and if I weren’t so evil, and under the grip of satan, I wouldn’t be so lacking in CHARITY. Uh-huh. This from men who are selling civilization out to Marxists and guaranteeing the deaths of millions of babies SO THEY WON’T HAVE TO EXPEND DIOCESAN REVENUES ON HEALTHCARE FOR THE POOR. Don’t you dare lecture me on charity, Excellency. DON’T. YOU. DARE.

So, what do we do? Do we stop going to Mass? No. We go to Mass as often as we possibly can. Jesus is being betrayed by his own. The spirit of Judas Iscariot is running wild. Do you honestly think that abandoning Our Lord while He is being mutinied by His own is the moral thing to do? Really? What the hell kind of friend runs off when their friend comes under attack? No, no. We stay. We dig in. We ENTRENCH. And we get up in these bishops’ grills like there is no tomorrow. The reason they have gotten away with all of the crap they have gotten away with over the past 50 years is because they never received any significant blowback. That era is now at an end. Call them out. And don’t let them guilt-trip you with the “unity” and “obedience” arguments. They are arguing for UNITY IN EVIL. They are arguing for OBEDIENCE TO EVIL. Marxism is evil. Abortion is evil. We fight evil with every fiber of our beings, because hatred of evil is LOVE OF THE LORD. Jesus went to the Cross for us. It is time we returned the favor.

Stand up for Our Lord. Stand up for His Church. Don’t abandon Jesus because of Judas. Present your bayonets and encircle the Cross. The King of Kings and Creator of the Universe doesn’t NEED to be defended by us, but He gives us this opportunity so that we can show Him, in all of our smallness and feebleness, how much we love Him. And He likes that. It makes Him feel good to be loved by us. It somehow increases His infinite joy when little old you or little old me come to HIS defense in love. Sometimes I think the bigger mystery isn’t that God loves us, but that He actually cares whether or not we love Him back, and that we can actually make Him feel good and increase His happiness if we do. That’s the far bigger mind-blower to me. If we sit around and don’t speak up for Him when He is being attacked, we are NOT loving Him back. We’re taking, but we’re not giving. That’s not love. That’s theft."

One more video of the 'light shining in the darkness':

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's the vision, stupid!

So the 'State of the Parish' address was all good. Last year's description from leadership regarding our parish finances was quite different: 'bankrupt', financial catastrophe, finances 'unacceptable' and so on. I mean the words used were positively chilling and fear-inducing--almost like it was on purpose.

But, Hallelujah, we have had a complete turnaround! Indeed, the projection for the 2010-2011 year is a mere $30,000 deficit, as opposed to the $134,000 deficit for 2009-2010. This is kinda crazy, but if the parish would just balance the budget each year, there would be no deficit. I know, that's asking too much.

But, since things are sooooo good now financially speaking, then why shouldn't we keep our churches? Why is Immaculate Heart of Mary still for sale? A matter of it being prime commercial real estate and not prime religious real estate, perhaps. The priests and parishioners who built IHM had different priorities.

Why is St. Vincent's still on the chopping block? Oh that's right, three Catholic churches in an area of over 5,000 Catholics is too many. Who wants to maintain all that expensive and troublesome real estate? I mean, a temporary priest shortage is surely justification to eradicate those pesky tabernacles. Except it's not.

But, we are not alone in the struggle to protect and preserve our churches. It's a comfort, albeit a cold comfort, to know that others in the DOR are suffering too. A snapshot here about the issues surrounding the Irondequoit churches. One of the comments in that Cleansing Fire post stood out to me:

Monk says:
Interstate Catholic – Yes, Fr. Tanck’s tent is a foreshadowing of his vision of the future. He and the IPPG discussed at their meetings the desire to have one mega-church in Irondequoit.

So very familiar. To hear that our finances are suddenly sound, but the sale of two of three remaining churches will go forward, says to me that it was never about lack of money, or priest shortages, but it was always about a 'vision'.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spiritual Adoption Program at All Saints Parish

The Respect Life Committee at All Saints Parish is instituting a Spiritual Adoption program. Go here to read about it. Information will also be in the parish bulletin this weekend. Please pick up one of the program's blue prayer cards in your pew or at the back of our parish churches this weekend. It could be the difference between life and death for a pre-born baby.

The nine-month program will have regular Adoration on the first Friday of the month. It also includes Bishop Fulton Sheen's prayer: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

One way or another

Bishop Matthew Clark’s Catholic Ministries Appeal 'fell short' about $350,000 this year. However, the targeted amount of $5.6 million will be raised.

The deficit will be made up by the parishes that failed to gather their stated goal amounts. All Saints’ deficit was about $15,000 short of the DOR’s ‘goal’ for our parish, which will now be collected through either our savings or regular parish donations.

Wouldn’t it be better if the DOR characterized the appeal for what it really is – a tax? It can’t truly be called an ‘appeal’ when it will come out of parishioners’ pockets one way or another. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the usage of the word appeal as ‘an organized request for donations’ or ‘an earnest plea’.

While the DOR may begin each CMA with an earnest plea, an organized plea, it finishes through compulsory compliance. In other words, a tax has been assessed. Let us call it what it is.

Now, it is no secret that the DOR has been suffering a dearth of vocations for some time. Out of 176 dioceses in the USA, the DOR places 175 on the list for vocations. Having suffered this decline for some time, it would seem efficacious to turn attention to this most important of Catholic issues and expend time, effort and money to turn this situation around.

Yet the DOR’s annual budget of $9.975 million spent just under $435,000 to support “Priest personnel, Sabbaticals, & St. Bernard’s School of Theology & Ministry.”

That is 4.3% of the budget.

To then be told via the parish bulletin that there are no ‘additional priests available’ to our parish of 2,500 families, and that funeral masses may be unavailable for our community, gives the impression that vocations is not a priority. Truly a tragedy for our people and parishes. The priesthood is not only a sacred need, it is a basic need for parishes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

St. Vincent's

I attended the 12:10 Mass today at St. Vincent's. The majority of parishioners there were hoary-headed, the retired of our parish. Fr. Breen mentioned St. Vincent briefly during prayer intentions, and I thought to myself, 'St. Vincent so loved children'. And my thoughts went to Sunday mornings and all the children who attend the Liturgy of the Word. And I think, 'Can we not fight for this House of Prayer? If not for ourselves, for the children? For the next generation?'

The Ascension

It's a Holy Day of Obligation today--the Feast of the Ascension. Mass will be said at Saint Mary's at 10 a.m., Saint Vincent's at 12:10 p.m., and Immaculate Heart of Mary at 7 p.m. Oops, I missed the 6:45 a.m. mass at IHM.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can we say 'Amen!'

A parishioner sent me a link to an article on SD is a charismatic website that often delves into the mystical aspects of the Catholic faith. The article is titled "From Dancing Nuns To New Age, Time has Come to Save Churches and Turn Back to Sanctity," and here's a snippet:

Mysticism is not welcome. It's the chancellor's job to blunt it. Meanwhile, employees strategize on how to best "consolidate" parishes -- close churches -- without losing appeals to Rome.

This is another great development in the pontificate of Benedict:

In a couple of cases, Rome has sided with laity who had fought closure of church properties. Most recently -- this week -- a Vatican ruling saved St. Mary's Church in Jamesville, New York -- at least as a sacred (if not actively ministered) site.

This is a great and crucial cause that all Catholics should undertake: fighting -- respectfully -- to maintain holy property.

It is improper for consecrated ground and buildings to be destroyed or turned into condos, which has occurred. In Italy, one has become a restaurant (the altar is behind the bar). In Upstate New York, a college fraternity bought another. In still other cases, they have been turned into pentecostal-style churches or Muslim gathering places.

While, due to inner-city population shrinkage, and priest shortages, there is the need to pare down active parishes, sacred ground must remain just that. We urge this because we believe there will be a time in the not so distant future when events will swell the ranks of the faithful -- those who seek refuge in church.

The Church is not dying. It is quiescent. It will rise with force in the difficult times to come.

And it will need to facilities. Let Catholicism be prepared! (And also let us not sell property at a down cycle).