Enough is Enough

Yes, BCI did see the headline and article in the Boston Globe today, “Unwilling to give up their vigil: Parishioners of 6 churches told to close will begin appeals today.”  BCI is as frustrated with this whole ordeal as our readers are, but BCI feels triply frustrated–with the media, for sloppy reporting, with the protesters, for not accepting what has been a foregone conclusion for some time, and with the archdiocese for the mismanagement of the so-called “vigils.”

1. First, the media.  The Globe reports, “Today, all six churches plan to send letters to O’Malley, kicking off an appeals process expected to last two to three years.” BCI is curious as to where in the world that time range comes from? Who exactly “expects” the appeals process to last that long?  Is it Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes?  The Council of Parishes is apparently so incredibly active as an organization that they simply have not even had a minute to update their website in six years, since May of 2005.  They list sixteen parishes as “members,” but ones like Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton and St. Anselm in Sudbury came off the closure list years ago while others have long since closed.  Does Borre’s “Council of Parishes” actually have bylaws, elect officers, meet as a council, take minutes, make collective decisions, etc., or is now really just a virtual organization that gives Borre a platform of credibility from which to speak and be quoted? (Seems to BCI that we may have more people actively involved with this blog than Borre has with his Council of Parishes, so we should create a “Council of BCI” for added credibility, but we digress…)

And never once has a reporter asked the people who are protesting the parish closures exactly what their involvement was with the former parish before it was suppressed.  BCI hears from former parishioners all the time who have moved on to the welcoming parish that those protesting were virtually unknown in the previous parish community before they took up their protest.  Why doesn’t someone from the media ask them what they did before in the parish–were they CCD instructors, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, choir members, members of the Knights of Columbus or Rosary Society or Ladies Sodality, involved in pro-life ministry or the St. Vincent De Paul society?  Why doesn’t the archdiocese ask them, so they know whether the people they are negotiating with even have the standing to have a say in the matter?

2. The protesters.  People commenting on BCI have said it well.  In our post six months ago, “Free Snow Removal and Invisible Vigils”, a reader, “Priest Just Wondering” said:

I’m “JUST WONDERING” what are these groups waiting for? They made request after request to Rome and Rome has spoken…..N O! What part of N or O don’t they understand?

Reader, Carolyn, said just today:

“This morning’s news brings the stunning revelation that the people who have been periodically occupying a handful of closed churches (and based on the one near me, it is anything but 24/7) intend to stay and seek yet another appeal which they believe will take 2-3 years. These are people who in most cases didn’t darken the door of their parish church every Sunday but seem to live nearby enough to worry about the property value.”

If these people really want to participate in the full life of the Catholic Church–meaning receiving the sacraments, worshiping at a Catholic Mass (not a prayer service), and involvement in other ministries with a spiritual community, why would they not just drive a few minutes down the road to the welcoming parish and join that community instead of camping out in a closed church building for 6-7 years?

3. The archdiocese. We have described the problem of archdiocesan mismanagement of the protesting churches multiple times, including in “Vigil Vigilance”,Free Snow Removal and Invisible Vigils” and other posts.  Lest this be in any way unclear to readers, let us repeat the word: at the root of the problem is mismanagement.

In 2008, Terry Donilon was quoted in the Boston Globe saying: “These vigils have to end at some point. It’s an issue of fairness to the parishes that are open and struggling to serve people.”

Coincidentally, in 2011, two and a half years later, Terry Donilon was quoted in the Boston Globe today saying: “We’re not looking for a confrontation, but at some point, the vigils are going to have to end.”

Does anyone else notice the uncanny similarity between what Terry Donilon said today and what he said in 2008? As of that time, the archdiocese said they had spent $2.2 million on utilities, insurance, and other building costs at all churches that had been in vigil over the previous four years. Two and a half years have passed. Who knows what that cost is today. When is the archdiocese going to put their money where their mouths are and do something?  Nobody knows. Even the biggest brains at 66 Brooks do not know either.

As BCI asked previously, why is it that the archdiocese does not just change the locks and padlock the doors of these facilities when they are empty to end the vigils and stop spending all this money on maintenance that could be used elsewhere? In the beginning, as we have said before, Cardinal Sean’s own instructions to the property management company were that if a building was found unoccupied it should have been locked, and the locksmith called to change the locks.  Then Fr. Bryan Hehir, Ann Carter, the PR wizards at Rasky Baerlein said no, that would be a breach of trust, so even those found empty were left alone. That has gone on for seven years. In situations where a church is occupied, people could be permitted to leave, but no one would be allowed to enter. It is very simple.

But alas, nobody has the backbone at 66 Brooks Drive to do what should have been done 6-7 years ago.  So, kids “raid the fridge” and sleep-over at the church building “in bedrooms that were once the vestry and the church’s confessional.”  Elsewhere, BCI has heard about sleepovers with pizza set out on the altar like a buffet and quilting classes in the sanctuary. BCI is not sure if Peter Borre is still doing his drive-by deliveries of ciboria containing the Blessed Sacrament consecrated by a sympathetic priest or if Eucharist abuses are still tolerated today as they were in the past, when the Blessed Sacrament was sometimes present in the sanctuary during social gatherings.

When exactly will the archdiocese conclude that enough is enough with these vigils?  Will they delay for several months longer and make this yet another item for the new Vicar General to take up in the fall?

What do you think?

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14 Responses to Enough is Enough

  1. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    The archdiocese has no problem taking 18-percent of parish collections to pay multi-hundred-$’ salaries to Jim McDonough, Beirne Lovely, Terry Donilon, and Mary Grassa O’Neill, but this “professional management” can’t put their foot down and evict squatters from church buildings to save millions in maintenance costs. Absurd and pathetic.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      I had a mistake in my earlier comment–I meant to say, “The archdiocese has no problem taking 18-percent of parish collections to pay multi-hundred-$K salaries.”

  2. A. J. Constantino says:

    ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

    As some may know, I am a Deacon assigned to Sacred Heart Parish East Boston.
    Sacred Heart is the “receiving” parish for Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

    I was a bit concerned when I watched the 5:00PM News on Channel 5 Monday evening, I was left with the impression from the report that the people of Mount Carmel may consider continuing their protest!

    I will be bold and set the record straight! The people from the closed Mount Carmel Church have been received warmly and made full members of the Sacred Heart Parish Family!

    Under the leadership of Father Wayne Belschner, Pastor of Sacred Heart:
    1.) Members of Mount Carmel Parish are represented on both the Parish Council and Finance Council in addition our Parish and Finance Councils also include members of the closed Saint Mary Star of the Sea Parish!
    2.) Daily Mass is offered in Italian on Mon/Wed/Fri Mornings at 8;00AM Sunday at 11:30AM
    3.) On Holy Days of Obligation the Vigil Mass and Readings are offered in English/Italian and at 7:00PM in the same languages
    4.) On Tuesday Mornings we pray the Novena to Saint Anthony in Italian
    5.) Countless devotions from Mount Carmel are celebrated at Sacred Heart; the Arch Confraternity of Catholic Women lives on! The devotion of Madonna Della Grazia continues Her statue has FINALLY found a home at Sacred Heart
    The traditions have not missed a beat!

    No one’s heart ever leaves East Boston; many from Mount Carmel, who have moved to Revere, Saugus or Peabody have come to be buried from Sacred Heart.

    A group of Parishioners from Mount Carmel founded the “Friends of East Boston Central Catholic” , our Parish School to help braise moneyl. Mount Carmel was part of the school co=operative and its closing could have put the future of the school in danger, if not for the Friends!

    I’ll even tell a personal story, I used to put up bulletin boards, in the back pf Sacred Heart Church! (I have no artistic talen ..so I was a bit short of imagination!) One of my favorite bulletin boards was for Holy Week, reminding people of the time of services. The first year of Mount Carmel’s closure, I duplicated the bulletin board and brought it to Mount Carmel hoping the “protestors” would put it up and attend Holy Week services at Sacred Heart. When I gave it to one of the “protestors”, it was open – torn up and I was told they would have their own Holy Week Services!

    Before I close, I have to be honest, I was concerned about the two Parishes coming together, I feared that Sacred Heart would lose its identity! Father Wayne was patient and exercised his pastoral authority but most importantly was an example of how each of us can love and accept one another – and built a Parish Family. I am and remain truly humbled.

    I cannot answer for other merged Parishes, Father Wayne and the Sacred Heart Parish Family worked hard to make the merger work and become a success.

    It is now time to move on, to come together and make Sacred Heart an even stronger Parish Family.

    Do you think Bill Fine (VP/GM WCVBTV) or Michelle McPhee (WRKO) will allow this isde of the story to be told?

    • Former Employee says:

      You forgot offering the Extra Ordinary Form Fr. Belschner (who I have never met) should be commended for his welcoming orthodoxy.

  3. QC Guy says:

    I have to add my comments to the many others who are as outraged as I that this problem seems to be continuing ad infinitum !
    when will our diocese use the canonical authority and civil law power it has to evict these usurpers and malcontents ?
    do one church at a time, quietly observe the building until it is empty [ thus avoiding a potential media bad image !!] change locks, chain doors, etc. and move on.! if it can’t be done discreetly, then do a ‘dark of night’ 3 AM, ‘raid’ and drag anyone out who is too stupid to leave. then
    post the property for trespass and have anyone who violates it arrested !
    look what is happening at St. Joseph’s church and school in Salem or St. Peter’s in Gloucester to see what a great outcome is possible when the zealots are prevented from frustrating the rightful actions of the RCAB,

  4. Time for a change says:

    It not poicy that need to change here. It is the management team that is wasting away assets and driving away people. Enough is indeed enough. Its not Cleveland that needs an apostolic visit!

    • sheacrowley says:

      Bishop Lennon of Cleveland requested the visitation to ensure that the process of reconfiguration was handled appropriately in his diocese. The request for the review is just one indicator of his commitment to the People of God in his pastoral care.

      • Mark Frances says:

        Don’t be naive! There is a hidden agenda at work that is not based on economics. Otherwise, there would be several things done. Since the laity can hand out Communion, it would be very easy to set up small chapels for use by the “many old women that bled blood by scrubbing floors for the work of father”. If it is being done here in St. Louis, then Boston and Cleveland could do the same. Unfortunately, there have to be “dead bodies to be hung on the walls of the castle” to make an example of those who resist. Secret deals with the Russians (Metz) have made exspendable the supporters of the “old Church”. We need ethnic cleansing just like the Ustasha in Croatia who butchered the Serb Orthodox on the very site of Medjagorje. Is it any wonder that the Serbs plotted revenge these many years later? Little old ladies are not capable of revenge. However, the justice of God is a just equalizer for those who love Him. Malachi Martin wrote down everything.

  5. David S. says:

    My wife and I were married at St. John Vianney Church at Point of Pines in Revere. When St. Vianney’s was closed, we moved along with the rest of our parish, to St. Theresa’s Church in Revere. Our first 2 children were baptized at St. Theresa’s. And when St. Theresa’s was closed we again moved with the rest of our parish to St. Anthony of Padua in Revere. There were no demonstrations by any of the laity in regards to these Churches being closed. We simply did what our priests instructed us to do.

    I have very little sympathy for the whack-a-doodles who are squatting in closed Churches after all these years. These people need to grow up.

  6. Serviam says:

    1. The Church is not a business and should NEVER be administered as such. Bishop Richard Lennon, a mathematician, prided himself on his Sacramental Index statistical model as a measure of Parish vitality. His model has serious flaws, one being a complete omission (whether intentional or not) on the frequency of the Sacrament of Penance. The Flock (or Souls) cannot and should not be treated as a simple “head count”. A statistical and impersonal term used used by human resource wizards in the corporate world. Think of the one sheep in nintety-nine…Does that work with this mindset? A utilitarian mindset that is unwittingly shared by many Catholics.

    2. Our church buildings ARE Sacred Space and are not simply another real asset subject to utilitarian and secular management. A simple commodity that can be bought and sold at will. How often have you heard the term “Worship Space” parroted? Terminology shapes attitudes and belief, particularly the role sacreed Art and Architecture plays in embodying those beliefs in an unbelieving world. Yet, we allow a retreat from the landscape. How does this bode for a New Evangelization? The theology of Catholic Sacred Architecture has affirmed through the ages the importance of the Domus Dei (House of God) or Porta Coeli (Gate of Heaven). It is the place Catholics traditionally expect encountered our Eucharistic Lord both within and outside the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It should be a reflection, albeit imperfect manifestation of the Heavenly Court we shall all one day stand. The sensus catholicus (Catholic Sense) of this reality should never have been allowed to be reduced to the point we find today where the Sacred is just an old building that can be quickly disposed of. Sadly, little has been taught (passed on) to the Faithful in over two generations regarding the importance of the Domus Dei in Catholic life. I believe the present utilitarianism has more to do with the poor formation regarding the important role of our physical patrimony plays within the economy of Salvation.

    3. “What is the Parish? It is the smallest section of the one universal flock which has been entrusted to Peter by the Lord. Under the authority of a responsible Priest who has received the care of Souls from his Bishop, the Parish is within the Church of Jesus Christ, the first community of Christian life; it is a community cut to human dimensions, in which the Shepherd…at the heart of this area, we find the Parish church with its Bell Tower, its Baptistry, its Confessional, its Altar and Tabernacle, a symbol of unity and the center of community life.” Pope Paul VI

    4. For the record, fellow Catholics have every right to exhaust the Canonical appeals process, whether one chooses to do so or not. What is correct is not always moral. We should respect and be sensitive to what these “buildings” manifestly represent to many Faithful from Baptism to Eternity. Contemplata Aliis Tradere.

    • QC Guy says:

      I believe I understand some of the concepts presented above , but there must also be an understanding of the reality of our Church in the world. , Maintaining a building is an empty gesture when it is consuming resources which could be better directed to real concerns , such as active evangelization, human justice, education in the essence of our Faith and so many other tasks which need emphasis. Remember Christ’s words about Render to Caesar…..

  7. A. J. Constantino says:

    Serviam, I have read your response several times, it is very thoughtful and has many valid points.

    Perhaps, I was a bit strong in my reply and it came across as clinical – not at all how I intended it to sound.

    I would, however, like to ask you and others to consider:

    1.) I agree, the Church is not a business; I shudder at the term “Corporation Sole”.
    There are, however, temporal needs of the Church. Building maintenance, heat, electricity, insurance, salaries and you know the rest and more. The question then becomes, how does the Parish meet those temporal needs? It is in the numbers. On a weekly basis, how many people come to Mass and how many are able to contribute? Is the Church acting responsibly when it maintains a Parish that cannot support itself or where the Sacramental Index is below a certain level?

    To interject some humor, in my going through the RCAB Catholic Directory, I noticed a Parish ( I know well) reported average weekly Mass attendance of over 1300, while the number was published, I would have to ask the statisticians of the RCAB; do you honestly believe this Parish has average per Mass attendance on Saturday and Sunday of over 300? I can tell you from personal observation average Sunday Mass attendance is about 75-100 per Mass.

    The individual Parish has temporal needs that can only be met by people in the pews; I cannot think of any other standard of measurement but then again I am not a mathematician or a statistician.
    How can a Parish that needs over $2.5 million to bring the church building up to code with an average weekly collection just over $2.0K and at the same time has a school to support expect to survive? You do the numbers! (Yes that Parish was closed)

    I know Parish closings have hurt many good souls and as I have written, in the past I think some closing may have needed further consideration as may have been the case of Saint John Vianney, in the Point of Pines section of Revere. Although, David S and Family and others have proved me wrong – I stand corrected.

    2.) I refuse to believe than any administrator of the RCAB wants a Church building turned over for “profane” use. It is, however, a reality of the 21st century!
    We have caused these sacred buildings to be sold because of our lack of support.
    2.) Every Canonical Law has been exhausted!
    Look I have written over and over, about how I feel high salaries etc. but this is not the issue.
    Each of us is responsible for our Parish well being – and it goes beyond $$$, it includes that Sacramental Index – Baptisms Communions – Confirmations – Weddings – Funerals and most importantly Mass attendance!
    Q,: What is the Church? A: The Church is the people and the people are the Church.
    Let’s stop the worry about buildings let us focus on leading all souls to salvation!

    Serviam, I have read your response several times, it is very thoughtful and has many valid points.

    Perhaps, I was a bit strong in my reply and it came across as clinical – not at all how I intended it to sound.

    I would, however, like to ask you and others to consider:

    1.) I agree, the Church is not a business; I shudder at the term “Corporation Sole”.
    There are, however, temporal needs of the Church. Building maintenance, heat, electricity, insurance, salaries and you know the rest and more. The question then becomes, how does the Parish meet those temporal needs? It is in the numbers. On a weekly basis, how many people come to Mass and how many are able to contribute? Is the Church acting responsibly when it maintains a Parish that cannot support itself or where the Sacramental Index is below a certain level?

    To interject some humor, in my going through the RCAB Catholic Directory, I noticed a Parish ( I know well) reported average weekly Mass attendance of over 1300, while the number was published, I would have to ask the statisticians of the RCAB; do you honestly believe this Parish has average per Mass attendance on Saturday and Sunday of over 300? I can tell you from personal observation average Sunday Mass attendance is about 75-100 per Mass.

    The individual Parish has temporal needs that can only be met by people in the pews; I cannot think of any other standard of measurement but then again I am not a mathematician or a statistician.
    How can a Parish that needs over $2.5 million to bring the church building up to code with an average weekly collection just over $2.0K and at the same time has a school to support expect to survive? You do the numbers! (Yes that Parish was closed)

    I know Parish closings have hurt many good souls and as I have written, in the past I think some closing may have needed further consideration as may have been the case of Saint John Vianney, in the Point of Pines section of Revere. Although, David S and Family and others have proved me wrong – I stand corrected.

    2.) I refuse to believe than any administrator of the RCAB wants a Church building turned over for “profane” use. It is, however, a reality of the 21st century!
    We have caused these sacred buildings to be sold because of our lack of support.
    2.) Every Canonical Law has been exhausted!
    Look I have written over and over, about how I feel high salaries etc. but this is not the issue.
    Each of us is responsible for our Parish well being – and it goes beyond $$$, it includes that Sacramental Index – Baptisms Communions – Confirmations – Weddings – Funerals and most importantly Mass attendance!
    Q,: What is the Church? A: The Church is the people and the people are the Church.
    Let’s stop the worry about buildings let us focus on leading all souls to salvation!

    Serviam, I have read your response several times, it is very thoughtful and has many valid points.

    Perhaps, I was a bit strong in my reply and it came across as clinical – not at all how I intended it to sound.

    I would, however, like to ask you and others to consider:

    1.) I agree, the Church is not a business; I shudder at the term “Corporation Sole”.
    There are, however, temporal needs of the Church. Building maintenance, heat, electricity, insurance, salaries and you know the rest and more. The question then becomes, how does the Parish meet those temporal needs? It is in the numbers. On a weekly basis, how many people come to Mass and how many are able to contribute? Is the Church acting responsibly when it maintains a Parish that cannot support itself or where the Sacramental Index is below a certain level?

    To interject some humor, in my going through the RCAB Catholic Directory, I noticed a Parish ( I know well) reported average weekly Mass attendance of over 1300, while the number was published, I would have to ask the statisticians of the RCAB; do you honestly believe this Parish has average per Mass attendance on Saturday and Sunday of over 300? I can tell you from personal observation average Sunday Mass attendance is about 75-100 per Mass.

    The individual Parish has temporal needs that can only be met by people in the pews; I cannot think of any other standard of measurement but then again I am not a mathematician or a statistician.
    How can a Parish that needs over $2.5 million to bring the church building up to code with an average weekly collection just over $2.0K and at the same time has a school to support expect to survive? You do the numbers! (Yes that Parish was closed)

    I know Parish closings have hurt many good souls and as I have written, in the past I think some closing may have needed further consideration as may have been the case of Saint John Vianney, in the Point of Pines section of Revere. Although, David S and Family and others have proved me wrong – I stand corrected.

    2.) I refuse to believe than any administrator of the RCAB wants a Church building turned over for “profane” use. It is, however, a reality of the 21st century!
    We have caused these sacred buildings to be sold because of our lack of support.
    2.) Every Canonical Law has been exhausted!
    Look I have written over and over, about how I feel high salaries etc. but this is not the issue.
    Each of us is responsible for our Parish well being – and it goes beyond $$$, it includes that Sacramental Index – Baptisms Communions – Confirmations – Weddings – Funerals and most importantly Mass attendance!
    Q,: What is the Church? A: The Church is the people and the people are the Church.
    Let’s stop the worry about buildings let us focus on leading all souls to salvation!

    1

    1

  8. Mack says:

    At least some responsibility for the fiasco of these continued vigils has to rest on the shoulders of those pastors who did not help the people to see the reason for the closings and accept what had to be done. I recall being at Mass at one of them in the months before the closure, and the pastor was angry about it. His attitude, I’m sure, had a good bit to do with the fact that the vigil happened in the first place. His homily was like a gripe session, and it didn’t feed the people spiritually. Even if the priests had some good reasons to be angry, it’s not good for them to spew out that anger at the pulpit.

  9. sheacrowley says:

    well said Mack! I attended one reconfiguration process session where a pastor said he would leave the priesthood if his parish was closed!

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