Friday, July 29, 2011

A Sacrificial Lamb

By Susan Miller 

A previous post Close. Cluster. Close. Repeat., discussed how the Diocese of Rochester handles church closings. In summary, as parish schools are closed and parishes are clustered, people leave and income declines. At this point, it’s much easier to close churches.

You might assume that if people keep attending a church and donate more money, the church won’t be closed. If only it were that logical.

For an example of a parish that did everything right and still lost, let’s examine St. Thomas the Apostle (STA) in Irondequoit. Last year, five parishes in Irondequoit were merged to form one parish, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Massses were completely eliminated at two of the churches, STA and St. Salome, and both have been slated for closure.

So why was STA chosen for elimination? 

Maybe it had to do with location? Actually, the three churches still in use are in the same area of the community. It would have made sense to keep at least one of the churches open in northern Irondequoit. 

Is STA a small church? On the contrary, STA seats 1000 people. This large church would have been especially useful at Christmas and Easter. But when former STA parishioners petitioned the pastor, Father Norm Tanck, for holiday masses, the pastor refused. 

Was attendance declining? Attendance was stable until STA was clustered in 2007. At that time, they lost their most popular mass, and so had a decrease in attendance. 

What is the condition of the church and facilities? STA has ample parking and no immediate capital needs. However, plans have been made to upgrade the three open churches at a cost of $1.7 million. 

How about their finances? STA was a financially stable parish with $400,000 in the bank when the proposal for closure was announced. One of the open churches was nearly $400,000 in debt. 

So what happened? Interestingly, the Irondequoit Pastoral Planning Group (IPPG), Father Tanck, and Bishop Clark have never explained why STA lost its masses and is slated for closure. Furthermore, the IPPG’s meeting minutes show that the group had decided to close STA before it had critical data.

However, there was one very important characteristic of STA that separated it from the three surviving churches. STA was a traditional Catholic church surrounded by more progressive churches in the very progressive Diocese of Rochester. Perhaps STA was a sacrificial lamb in a game of ideology?

 In closing, I am not telling people to leave their parish or stop giving money because it doesn’t matter anyways. What I am saying is that these actions alone are not enough to stop any church, including our own, from closing in the Diocese of Rochester.

The good news is that canon law is on the parishioners’ side, and as recent rulings have shown, Rome is enforcing canon law. At this time, the former parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle are continuing their appeal in Rome. 

How is Blessed Kateri Parish Doing? Not well. A Cleansing Fire post from March estimates that 70% of the STA and St. Salome parishioners are not attending masses in the new parish. Not surprisingly, this has led to financial problems. According to Cleansing Fire’s post Crisis in Irondequoit, Blessed Kateri fell about $100,000 short of their CMA goal.   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The posture of creatures

From CNA--Cardinal Canizares speaks. And here's commentary from Father Z's blog: 

"No renewal of the Church can take place without a revitalization of our Catholic identity. No revitalization of our Catholic identity can take place without a renewal of our liturgical worship.

Without a renewal of our Church, our identity, our worship, we as Catholics cannot have an effective impact on the world around us. We cannot fulfill Christ’s great command before His Ascension.

In the presence of God we must adopt the posture of creatures, and for just a few seconds… just a few seconds of our oh so busy lives… make ourselves lowly.

Aside from those because of physical reasons cannot kneel, for those of you think think you have to stand when receiving Communion, I invite you to rethink your “position”.

Do not be afraid to bend yourself and lower yourself before the coming of the Most High God, in the mystery which envelops you during Holy Mass.

Don’t think you mustn’t and can’t kneel to GOD."

Here's more on kneeling from Fr. Z.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vatican II and the Latin Mass -- UPDATED

In the July 24 bulletin, Deacon Dean reflects on Vatican II.

He begins by framing his view of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (aka the Latin Mass), through the fifty-year-old Vatican II. By Church standards, 50 years is the blink of an eye. Vatican II, as everyone knows, is controversial primarily because of the enormous upheaval that the Church experienced in the years afterward. There are endless arguments about Vatican II, both for and against the changes that resulted. To read the actual documents go here. It is important to know what these documents say because they have often been interpreted in ways that do not reflect the intent.

Deacon Dean states, "One purpose of the Council was to make the Church more truly catholic or universal." I cannot find within the writings of the Second Vatican Council any such purpose. The Church, by its very genesis as founded by Jesus Christ, is, was, and always will be universal. This is clearly stated in the documents. That is a presupposition that all Catholics should understand and be able to clearly articulate.

The Church cannot be more universal; it can only express its divinely-authorized universality in ways akin to St. Paul's statement, "I became all things to all men, that I might save all." (I Cor. 9:22) It is important to understand the difference between a Church that is universal by nature of its divine founding, and a Church that needs to become more 'truly catholic or universal'. One is correct in its Tradition, in the Magisterium, in its proclamation of Truth and law. The other is deficient.

Deacon Dean goes on to say, "...the Catholic Church became too entrenched in a single culture (Latin, rooted in the Roman Empire) to be really universal." Again, he is mistaking the divinely held universal nature of the Catholic Church for the expression of it in human affairs. This is a significant error.

Then our pastor goes on to say, "The Church ought not to be stuck as [a] single-cultural institution, using a dead language of an ancient and irrelevant empire." The Catholic Church has never been a single-cultural institution. Latin, as the Church's universal language, served (and often still serves) as a unifying factor at masses all over the world. Latin is also the basis for numerous languages, including English, of which about 70 percent is based upon Latin. The study of Latin is heralded in academia. While it is no longer the spoken language of any nation, to say it is dead is hyperbole. It is inextricably intertwined in the language and cultures of many nations.

Also, to suggest that the Roman culture is irrelevant is breathtakingly arrogant. The Roman Empire remains one of the most influential cultures to have arisen in human history. It's customs, writings, political system, and military prowess continue on in those of modern nations, most notably the political system of the United States.

Deacon Dean then cites the following regarding Vatican II, "Ironically, in 1900 about 2/3 of all Catholics resided in the northern  hemisphere and 1/3 in the southern, and in 2000, those statistics reversed. The Second Vatican Council changed the Church into the global body it is today. Its impact was massive."

To state the obvious: Vatican II did not occur until 1962, more than halfway into the century, yet our pastor credits the Council by citing statistics from 1900-2000! It would be much more accurate to state statistics from the 1960s to 2000. I wonder why he did not. In fact, one could probably make a statistical case for the fallout from Vatican II as a reason for the decline in Catholic identity in the northern hemisphere! Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Finally, Deacon Dean says, "...for some, having a Latin Mass is like running a confederate flag up the pole, symbolizing a protest against the accomplishments of Vatican II." This statement is needlessly provocative and one can hardly imagine anyone in our parish feeling that way.

This is how our Holy Father characterizes such a view: "I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millenium)

Also, Deacon Dean characterizes the Latin Mass as a "bygone tradition." Not so. Not according to our Pope, and to Catholics the world over who attend Latin Masses. It is truly sad that Vatican II is being used in such a way as to characterize Mass in the Extraordinary Form as anything other than a continuity with the Church past, present, and future.

UPDATE: Go here for some more commentary on the Deacon's article.

Some resources:

Summorum Pontificum

What Does the Prayer Really Say?

Canterbury Tales

Crisis Magazine

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Lasting Monument: The Birth of St. Vincent de Paul’s Parish

By Susan Miller

July 20, 1913 – March 19, 1914

Ninety-eight years ago this month, Father James Bustin announced during Mass at St. Mary’s Church that a new parish would be formed on Corning’s Northside, the Parish of St. Vincent de Paul. This parish would be a home for Catholics from Painted Post, Erwin, and Hornby, as well as the Northside. Father John S. Hayes described this history in the Diamond Jubilee Review, St .Vincent de Paul Parish, 1913-1988. If you were a member of St. Vincent’s parish in 1988, you probably have a copy of this well-written booklet.

The announcement on Sunday, July 20, 1913, was the culmination of several years of planning. The land for St. Vincent’s was actually purchased in 1909 due to over-crowding at St. Mary’s school. Father Bustin saw an urgent need for a Catholic school on the Northside, a need which evolved into the formation of a new parish. As Father Hayes wrote, “…the beginnings of St. Vincent’s, the purchase of this property, came from a desire to advance Catholic education facilities in Corning.” Today, the closing of a parish school is often an early warning sign that the parish is in jeopardy.

During the early 20th century, almost all new parishes in the Diocese of Rochester (DOR) started with one building that held both the church and school. “In most cases - St. Patrick’s in Corning and St. Vincent’s are cases in point – the parish would outgrow the original building and a new and more elaborate church edifice would be built later,” wrote Father Hayes. St. Vincent’s current church was built in 1955.

Father Bustin also announced the new pastor of the parish – Father John A. Conway. His appointment took place the previous day when he arrived in Corning. When Father Conway learned that July 19, the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, was his effective date, he asked to make St. Vincent the patron of the parish.

For $25,000, the church/school was built in an amazing eight months. “The first floor contained the church with an auditorium intended to seat several hundred people. The second floor was occupied by the school of four classrooms,” Father Hayes wrote.

He summarized this time as follows: “Energetic leadership and the response of the people is evident in these facts: July 20, 1913, the date of the establishment of the parish and Father Conway’s appointment (first pastor); Bishop Hickey blessed the cornerstone on November 13, 1913…Dedication by the same bishop took place March 29, 1914, again in such a short time-span to have a lasting monument to the faith of St. Vincent’s people….”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why we persevere...

Conforming to this world -- Tron Church

Fr. Longenecker has hit one out of the park regarding the attempt to remake the Church from a worldly perspective. Do read the whole thing. Here's a couple snips from 'Tradition or Tron':
Tron Church is simply a symptom of the same illness. Christians busy everywhere conforming to the world. They turn worship into entertainment. They turn the gospel of repentance into a self help message to boost self esteem. They turn their ministry into a business and they neglect the cross of Christ in favor of a feel good religion that fortifies their comfort zone and excludes all those outside.

And this:

I was surprised when I read in The Spirit of the Liturgy when Ratzinger said that the liturgy was not a place to be creative. Then I understood what he meant--it is not up to me to fiddle about with the liturgy or the teachings of the church in order to make it all attractive and easy. Instead we observe the teachings of the church as best we can. We preach the precepts of the church and the old time religion of repentance, forgiveness and grace. We try to celebrate the liturgy as it has been done down through the ages. We respect and renew and admire and love the age old devotions and prayers of the church.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prayers for those who have lost much

Here in All Saints Parish, our churches are in limbo. Sadly, it is over for St. Andrew's in the DOR.

Read it and weep with all who are living through such times. Stay vigilant. And pray.

Why the Catholic Church?

"The Catholic Church was recognized by the whole Christian world as the true Church of God for fifteen consecutive centuries. No one can halt at the end of those 1500 years and say that the Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ without embarrassing himself seriously. I can accept only that Church which was preached to all creatures by my own forefathers, the Twelve Apostles, who, like me, issued from the Synagogue." -- Israel Zolli, Hebrew Catholic, former Chief Rabbi of Rome.

Zolli's quote above was in reference to the query why he did not become a Protestant.

You can read more about Israel Zolli and his conversion experience in Salvation is from the Jews (from which I borrowed the above quote), and also here, and here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chesterton on Conversion

This process, which may be called discovering the Catholic Church, is perhaps the most pleasant and straightforward part of the business, easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life. It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable. To give anything like a full account of that process would simply be to discuss about half a hundred Catholic ideas and institutions in turn. I might remark that much of it consists of the act of translation; of discovering the real meaning of words, which the Church uses rightly and the world uses wrongly. For instance, the convert discovers that "scandal" does not mean "gossip"; and the sin of causing it does not mean that it is always wicked to set silly old women wagging their tongues. Scandal means scandal, what it originally meant in Greek and Latin: the tripping up of somebody else when he is trying to be good. Or he will discover that phrases like "counsel of perfection" or "venial sin," which mean nothing at all in the newspapers, mean something quite intelligent and interesting in the manuals of moral theology. He begins to realise that it is the secular world that spoils the sense of words; and he catches an exciting glimpse of the real case for the iron immortality of the Latin Mass. It is not a question between a dead language and a living language, in the sense of an everlasting language. It is a question between a dead language and a dying language; an inevitably degenerating language. It is these numberless glimpses of great ideas, that have been hidden from the convert by the prejudices of his provincial culture, that constitute the adventurous and varied second stage of the conversion. (The Catholic Church and Conversion by G. K. Chesterton)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Close. Cluster. Close. Repeat.

By Susan Miller

Cleansing Fire’s recent post, “Upcoming Guidelines for Closing Churches,” contained the following comment by DW about how the Diocese of Rochester (DOR) handles church closings:
“1. Closes parish school (Catholic education not a priority).
  2. Cluster parishes (lack of priests)
  3. Cut masses (3 masses per priest max)
  4. Income falls, attendance drops.
  5. No money, no people = close buildings/parishes.”

Let’s consider how this cycle played out in Corning’s Catholic community. In the 1970s, St. Patrick’s school and St. Vincent’s junior high grades were closed. In 1986, St. Vincent’s school (K-5) was closed. In 1990, the four parishes (St. Patrick’s, St. Mary’s, St. Vincent’s, and Immaculate Heart of Mary) were clustered, meaning they shared one full-time priest and combined services. Masses decreased. Then in 2001, the four parishes became one parish, All Saints.

A shortage of money became a nagging problem. Attendance dropped as church closings and rumors of closings accelerated. St. Patrick’s was closed in 2001, sold in 2008, and demolished in 2010. IHM has no regular weekend masses and has been for sale, on and off, for years. St. Vincent’s narrowly avoided being purchased by Providence Housing this year, and its future is unclear.

As we look back, we can see what we’ve lost and understand how we reached our current predicament. Some decisions were heartbreaking, and perhaps there were no other feasible options at the time. Other decisions were less considered, and parishioners were largely excluded, leading to anger and distrust today.

Some people will ask, “Are you saying we should keep every parish, every church, and every school and never merge or close?"

Let me be clear. I’m advocating that we look at each situation – parish, church, and school – carefully because there are many differences between communities and parishes. The DOR and other dioceses have been following a one-size-fits-all policy that sees only a bleak present and future. In this light, it’s been hard to resist a quick infusion of cash, even as we’ve seen how quickly the money slips away (such as from St. Patrick’s sale). Equally important, I’m asking that parishioners be given every opportunity to save their parishes, and that includes diocesan support.

Imagine how a pastor might handle the situation when he saw financial trouble brewing. He would stand in the pulpit and sound the alarm: “This church (or school) is in danger of closing if we don’t act now. The financial report is in the bulletin. Please join me in the hall on Wednesday night so we can talk about solutions.”

Imagine if the diocese’s priority was to save churches and schools. Perhaps it would send advisors to a struggling parish. Or lower the Catholic Ministries Appeal goal. Or use the CMA money differently by increasing allocations to churches and schools and decreasing other allocations, such as to Catholic Charities (see the CMA Allocations for 2010-2011).

Some parishes would rally, while others wouldn’t. Some would avoid losing their parishes/churches/schools for a while, and then perhaps lose focus. However, each parish would have a chance at survival, based on their commitment. Parishioners would know that they indeed made the choice. Not the diocese. Not an unelected committee. Not leadership.

Friday, July 15, 2011


If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. -- Thomas Paine

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It is high time to awaken out of sleep

Cleansing Fire has posted a devastating indictment of the pastoral planning process in the Diocese of Rochester. Read it and weep. And then decide that you are not going to remain silent about the radical agenda in our diocese and parish. A few of the quotes from a pastoral diocesan council in 2005:
  • “Get rid of all of our buildings and properties and focus on ministry to those most in need”
  • “50% fewer parishes and 50% more active Catholics and 100% more lay ministers”
  • “Sell our possessions to help fund ministries to serve the poor, disenfranchised and marginalized among us. Churches would be borrowed places and buildings not grand and glorious. “
  • “Deacon celebrate mass by teleconferencing at remote sites “
  • “Remembered that Jesus asked for followers, not worshippers [sic]“
  • Every faith community is led by a lay leadership team and priests were servants to the community(ies)
  • Build on mega church
Here is the transcript of the meetings that produced the 'fruit' above. Truly a scandal. The results have been anything but 'fruitful', unless of course you are the devil and then you're rejoicing at the loss of souls.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kneeling while receiving revisited

Archbishop Vincent Nichols from Westminster (across the Pond), has published a pastoral letter about receiving Holy Communion. It strikes just the right tone and is applicable in all places where the usual practice has been to receive in the hand. Read about it here. The letter is here.

Redemptionis Sacramentum is quoted in the archbishop's letter and states: “It is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing” (91). Although Mgr. Guido Marini, the Papal MC, has said that the Holy Father’s preference for communicants to receive Holy Communion on the tongue whilst kneeling better sheds light on the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, he did so “without taking anything away from the other”, i.e. from standing to receive Holy Communion on the hand, where this is permitted (see the L’Osservatore Romano, 26 June, 2008). [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, we are living in a parish where a certain theological ideology is almost exclusively promoted and it is up to the laity to become educated on what the UNIVERSAL Church has proclaimed is right and proper, rather than what we are being spoon fed by our leadership. I sincerely hope that the next bulletin will repudiate the "I've got a question" filler article and explain that receiving communion while kneeling or genuflecting, is just as licit as standing. Note that our wise Holy Father did not 'take anything away from the other'. This is a perfect example of tolerance and respect for Catholic brethren.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The implications...

Catholic Culture has picked up on the to-be-released Vatican guidelines regarding the organization of US dioceses in wake of the abuse scandals.

From the article: In recent weeks the Vatican has ruled against the closing of several American parish churches. While recognizing the authority of diocesan bishops to allocate resources, Vatican tribunals have indicated that churches should remain open as sites of worship whenever possible.

There is more than one church in this parish that is in danger of being sold...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Genuflection...a sin? UPDATE

“One who learns to believe, also learns to kneel, and a faith and a liturgy that no longer knows about kneeling would be unhealthy in a central point. Where this gesture has been lost, we must learn it again, to remain with our prayer in the communion of the Apostles and martyrs, in the communion of the whole cosmos, in the unity with Jesus Christ himself.”

(J. Ratzinger, Theology of the Liturgy [Opera Omnia 11]. LEV, Vatican City 2010, p. 183)

On page four of the bulletin today is a question: "I noticed in Mass one day that people do different things. Some change responses, some genuflect before Communion, and one lady went to kneel in front of the tabernacle. Are these part of the new changes that are coming?"

Although no one on our parish staff is named as the author, the pronoun 'I' is used. The person who answers the question frames it in terms of 'liberal' or 'conservative', which sets a divisive tone. Specific expressions of Catholic devotion are couched in political terms, instead of whether they are permissible in terms of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, tradition, and "leaving room for appropriate individual expression."

The point of concern seems to be the act of genuflection before Communion, as well as people doing "things that are distracting, or different than the rest of the community...."

While I have not seen many people genuflect before Communion without a kneeler, I have seen it enough to know that it is not distracting.

The author says he (or she) has seen "people fall because the person in front of them suddenly genuflects before Communion..." The writer seems to be saying that an act of reverence and submission to the Lord, physically present in the Eucharist, is a danger to others. In fact, the author goes on to say that being different than others in one's devotional posture during mass is, "Strictly speaking...a definition of sin: a rupture in our relationship with God and with one another."

I have seen both a priest and a nun genuflect before receiving Communion when visiting our parish. Surely they are not to be named as sinners for doing so.

The highly suggestive statement implying sin is then immediately blunted by the next sentence, "Not that these things are sinful..."

Which is it? "Strictly speaking...sin" or "Not that these things are sinful?"

The writer states that doing anything that is different "introduces a foreign element and breaks the unity of the assembled church." He or she assumes that such things as genuflecting before Communion or kneeling at the tabernacle are "political or religious statements" made by these individuals, instead of genuine and humble acts of reverence toward the Lord.

The historical understanding of the practice of genuflecting, whether in Adoration, before the Tabernacle, Communion, or in private prayer, has roots in the ancient world, though the Catholic practice of such was regularized in the 16th century. The following list gives some background and perspective on the practice of genuflection:

New Advent
Spirit of the Liturgy -- Genuflection
Genuflection 101
Fisheaters -- Posture and Gesture
Ministry and Liturgy -- Genuflection
What Does The Prayer Really Say? (Fr. Z's blog)
Reflections on Genuflection
Confirmation Preparation Article on Reverence 
Genuflection: The Knightly Devotion to the Lord

The practice of genuflecting in a Roman Catholic Church should not be implied as sinful, or distracting, or a political/religious statement. The last sentence of the answer says, "Good intentions do not replace good liturgy!"

If only that statement were taken to heart when parish leadership endorses ongoing liturgical abuses that certainly do distract from the liturgy. It is permissible, apparently, for parish leadership to encourage changes in the rubrics of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass up to and including lay homilies/testimonies, films, and skits to name a few. But, to bow at the knee in solemn and humble reverence for the King of the universe is something to be frowned upon.

Before the kneelers were removed, communicants in our parish received Communion while kneeling. Perhaps Scripture says it best:

"That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth..." (Phil. 2:10)

UPDATE: A friend sent this along from EWTN:  "The norm in the United States is to bow before receiving Holy Communion. However, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has stated that it is OK to genuflect prior to receiving Holy Communion, and that anyone who prefers to receive Holy Communion while kneeling is not to be refused or mistreated."

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Selling God's House

 By Susan Miller

There’s something about driving on Denison Parkway and knowing that behind some barriers, mounds of dirt are being moved around where the beautiful St. Patrick’s Church and school no longer stand. There’s something about seeing a For Sale sign stuck in the earth at Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It’s ugly. It’s disturbing. And I wonder: Why are so many Catholics not upset by the sale and destruction of churches for money that is quickly spent and forgotten?

A Roman Catholic Church is sacred space. When it is consecrated by the bishop, he anoints it with holy chrism and “dedicates a building to the service of God, thereby raising it in perpetuum to a higher order, removing it from the malign influence of Satan, and rendering it a place in which favours are more graciously granted by God," (Pontificale Romanum). Furthermore, each church houses the actual presence of Christ, in the Eucharist, in the tabernacle. We are literally sharing the same space with God.

On this point, Catholics begin to fall away. Recent statistics show that 40%-50% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine are merely symbols of Christ.

For those of us that do believe in Christ’s presence, maybe we take it for granted. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing lack of reverence in a number of parishes/churches. Some people don’t genuflect or bow when they enter or exit the pews. There’s steady conversation before Mass and not in whispers. Bare skin is common in the summer months, even in air-conditioned churches.

Maybe parishioners are simply reflecting their surroundings. How many churches have been emptied of most, if not all, statues, flowers, and candles? How many resemble a meeting hall rather than a church? Are plays and other events held in church?

Is there time during the mass for silent prayer, or is it a show of music, skits, and other attention-grabbers? Are videos shown during mass? Do children sit around the altar? Do lay people give homilies?
We have lost the sacred. Unless and until we regain it, we will continue to lose our churches.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Working Together

The bulletin last weekend imparts some hope that parishioners will be able to work with leadership to assure the health and vitality of our parish community, including our churches.

A generous gift from a parishioner enabled St. Mary's to build a new bathroom. Deacon Dean said, "The gift inspired some further thoughts on doing smaller, incremental improvements at the church. Some parishioners may want to give very directed contributions to make specific improvements. We are in the process of prioritizing these and sizing up the costs. Some of these could include redoing the entrance ways to our church, improving and expanding the child care area, fixing the north side stained glass window and ...."

This is lovely to hear and it blends very well with this article from Vatican Insider, quote:

"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."

At last year's community meeting, parishioners came together to brainstorm ideas on how to proceed with the issues in our parish. Go here and here. As you can see, the idea to do" directed contributions to make specific improvements" was one of the suggestions. This really is good news. In fact, we are hearing from parishioners of the desire to do just such a directed contribution to repair the steps at St. Vincent's.

That said, it must be noted that in his article, Deacon Dean did not use the plural word 'churches' but only church, and only in reference to St. Mary's. And, in his article titled "Update on St. Vincent Church Property", Deacon Dean says, "In light of this new development, our Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, and Facilities Council will work together to develop the best plan to ensure the strength of our parish community."

Surely he does mean to include all parishioners and not just the selected council members who do not have decision-making powers. It would be heart-breaking if parish leadership continues to use closed sessions and  secret meetings, and fails to follow diocesan guidelines for communication and input from the parish faithful.