Enough is Enough: Part 2

There was yet another article in the Boston Globe Tuesday sympathetic to the vigilers occupying churches in the Boston archdiocese–this one, about St. Therese in Everett. As we learned last week, the church building will stay open as an oratory of nearby St. Anthony in Everett.  BCI just does not entirely get what the protesters are still after, and must be missing something here.

Entitled, “Vigilers resist church’s conversion plan,” here are some excerpts from the Globe article:

EVERETT – Catholics who have occupied St. Therese Church for seven years vowed last night to continue their vigil, despite a plan by the Archdiocese of Boston to convert it to a chapel for use by the Brazilian Catholic community.

“We are still in vigil and will maintain our vigil,’’ said Joan Shepard, a vigil leader, standing behind an altar. “We feel this decision is a mistake… .. It’s very disrespectful.’’

“Aren’t we all children of God?’’ asked Gloria Young, one of a dozen parishioners seated in pews. “We’ve been sitting here for seven years, and for what? So that someone else can use it?’’…

A dozen supporters of the vigil met last night in the hot, stuffy church to plot their resistance to the archdiocese’s new use for St. Therese.

The church on Broadway is slated to become St. Therese Oratory, part of St. Anthony Parish of Everett. Masses will be offered in Portuguese, to accommodate a growing number of Brazilian immigrants in this city north of Boston seeking to worship in their own language.

“The Brazilian population is a very significant part of the growth of the Catholic Church,’’ said Terrence C. Donilon, the archdiocesan spokesman. “This is going to address their needs long term.’’…

Parishioners at St. Therese said they would not leave the church. Some have spent dozens of nights in the church, even after the archdiocese shut off heat and water after a boiler broke in 2009.

“This just doesn’t seem right,’’ said Carol Tumasz, 53, who moved into the church for a period. “What about the rest of the people?’’

Shepard said she received a phone call from the archdiocese last Thursday, but she is angry they did not receive a letter from O’Malley.

“I have received no official word from the cardinal’s office,’’ she said. “Our families built this church, and we saved it from destruction. It’s unthinkable that we will not be able to worship here.’’

Donilon defended O’Malley and said all Catholics will be welcome at St. Therese Oratory. “I understand the people are sad, but the cardinal has been very patient… . We think this is a good new use for St. Therese.’’

A church building that, as of about a year ago, was doomed to closure and sale was saved. Yet the dozen vigilers are going to continue occupying the space because they are not completely getting their way, and a different Catholic community will use the building who didn’t occupy it for seven years?  Does anyone else besides BCI see some of the quotes in the Globe as just a bit whiney?

Sadly, the Globe reporting still fails to ask some key questions of the people occupying the building and their motives. Beyond that, the history once again validates the diocesan mismanagement we mentioned in our last post.

For example, who exactly are the people occupying the building?  A commenter on this discussion about the closing from 2008 identified as “55 years in Everett” said:

“The people holding the vigil are only a handful and the dollar a week they put in the box won’t pay the bills, that’s for sure. I know people that go down there everyday and sit for two hours at a time and they are not even Catholic! They never went to the church until the vigil started, it’s just a little social gathering for them, and this I know for fact.”

Above and beyond this question, why is the fact that there are 5 other Catholic parishes within a mile and a half away never mentioned?  If you look at the map below, Immaculate Conception in Everett is less than 3/4 of a mile away, just down Broadway, from St. Therese in Everett.  St. Anthony in Everett is 1.1 miles away, and our Lady of Grace in Chelsea is 1.2 miles away.

Two churches in nearby Malden, Sacred Heart (A, in the picture below), and St. Joseph (C in the picture), are also within 1.5 miles away from St. Therese (B).

BCI is curious as to why these 12 people occupying the church would find it so difficult to drive, take public transportation, or get a ride from a neighbor or friend to one of these 5 churches?  Are they even attending Mass on Sundays in an open parish today, or have they been neglecting their Sunday obligation these past 7 years?

Then we have the question of the mismanagement.  As has been said before, for years the archdiocese has really made no effort whatsoever to end the occupancies.  In most parishes, that could have at least saved money on the added costs of maintaining the buildings to residential standards while the parish closings were under appeal.  This March 2009 article confirms the failure of the archdiocese to even try to reclaim the buildings from the protesters:

Similar vigils have taken place elsewhere in the U.S. — including New York City, Kansas and Ohio — but not every diocese has tolerated the dissent. In New Orleans in January, church leaders called in police after two months, and they broke down a door and arrested two protesters as they cleared out two churches.

Sister Marian Batho, an archdiocesan liaison to the Boston area’s occupied churches, said O’Malley wouldn’t consider that approach: “Cardinal Sean is a man of peace.”

O’Malley wants to wait until all the appeals are played out, possibly this spring, and only then approach those refusing to leave, [Sr. Marian] Batho said. “We would hope we could resolve this in a respectful way,” she said.

The vigils are billed as 24 hour-a-day affairs, but some parishioners acknowledge there have been short gaps when no one was occupying a building. The archdiocese does not have the buildings under surveillance, and had no one there to reclaim the churches.

Not even trying to (peacefully) reclaim the churches over the past 7 years when the opportunity has been readily available just seems like mismanagement to BCI. Let the appeals keep running, but to allow people to take up residence in the churches for 7 years does not make sense and suggests weak leadership from on top.

BCI agrees with commenter “Serviam” that Catholic churches are sacred worship spaces that are not just a simple commodity to be bought and sold at will.  It is the place Catholics traditionally expect encountered our Eucharistic Lord both within and outside the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They were often built and supported with the labor and financial contributions of immigrants. Catholic churches carry important memories of baptisms, first Communions, confirmation, weddings, funerals. The decision to close a church should never be taken lightly and there must be grave reasons to close a church.

But what should happen when most–if not all of the people–who carry these memories and attachments to a particular church have accepted the decision the church had to close for grave reasons and have moved on to another Catholic parish, and what remain are protesters who never had much of an affiliation with the church? Or, in the case of St. Therese, the building was spared, but the protesters are still upset because they cannot have it entirely their way.

Is there something about this that the Globe and archdiocese get, but which BCI is missing?

15 Responses to Enough is Enough: Part 2

  1. Gerald Brent says:

    I have the perfect solution for the final closing of the occupied churches. Move the responsibility to Mary Grassa O’Neil and her million dollar payroll department. She is great at closing schools and would be able to handle the occupied churches in an equally prompt manner.

  2. Former Employee says:

    Two thoughts on this

    It would be nice if they offered one Mass in English since they are converting the Church to an Oratory…but maybe they are, it is probably up in the air

    I am also very concerned that this will prevent the Archdiocese from creating other Oratories.

    I honestly believe Holy Trinity in the South End would make a great Oratory for Opus Dei, the FSSP or the Institute of Christ the King….especially since they have contributed Vocations to the latter two. The Priests could easily live up the Street with Fr. Baggetta or in O’Malley’s estate on Union Park.

    We all know that 66 Brooks Street is a den of Scoundrels and we could all see them using this situation as leverage to say no to more Oratories.

  3. Marty Shay says:

    St. Pio once kicked a woman out of the confessional for having aborted the baby destined to become the greatest pope that ever lived.
    I wonder if those vigilant vigilers have considered how many priests would have been called to staff those parishes, and how many Catholics would be in attendance at Sunday Mass had they not been aborted.

  4. Just saying... says:

    @former employee You unmask yourself as disgruntled by calling the crappy, falling down rectory at the Cathedral an “estate” it is far from that and the address in Braintree is 66 Brooks DRIVE, not street…let’s cut down on the hyperbole…ok?

    • Former Employee says:

      Hey BCI can you take down this personal attack.

      • BCI did not immediately perceive anything as a “personal attack.” An anonymous reader said “you unmask yourself as disgruntled.” You did sound disgruntled, so BCI does not see that as a personal attack–it’s an objective statement of how you appeared from your comment. That should not come as any surprise as “Former Employee” has often posted in a tone that sounds angry and/or disgruntled. If you would like to discuss with us our rationale for considering something a personal attack, please drop us an email.

  5. A. J. Constantino says:

    Former Employees… I feel badly for your pain. I am sure like many Employees you gave your all to your job and were hurt. However, you may have lost your objectivity!
    The Cardinal has a nice, clean home from what I have observed it is reasonably comfortable but hardly an “estate”.
    There are many hard working, devoted and dedicated men and women, clerics, religious and lay who give 1000% to serving Christ and His Church, please keep them in your prayers.

    To the BCI Team a great post! One minor correction, it is Sacred Hearts Church. Church of the Sacred Heart the lower church chapel is The Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    There is no question the Boston Media is anti-Catholic. How WCVB TV has won a half dozen Gabriel Awards eludes me.

    Terry Donilon aside, why has no one from the RCAB sat down with a Reporter and fully explained what is/has been going on to lead the RCAB to the decisions made regarding the (8) churches? At the same time, the individual, representing the RCAB, could be telling of the success stories of Reconfiguration.

    Why not ask WCVB for time on Chronicle or WGBH Greater Boston? I would think WBZ Radio Talk Show Host, Dan Rare would be open.

    I know it would not be easy but worth the effort!

    • Former Employee says:

      I do lack a certain degree of objectivity, I was even physically assaulted by my supervisor when I was there. However my issues with the current administration come from something else,

      I have received contradictory statements made in writing to me from the outgoing Vicar General that I asked for an investigation of and have yet to have my questions addressed. I provided dates and written evidence under his signature that was easily accessible to the higher ups.

      I think “Estate” is a very fitting description of a large home with premium off street parking in on of the most Wealthy areas of Boston within walking distance of numerous four star restaurants.

  6. Save Holy Trinity! says:

    The Committee to Preserve Holy Trinity Parish would welcome with open arms the deal that St. Therese in Everett got.

    From 2004-2007, we prayed a perpetual novena for the reversal of the decision to close Holy Trinity. At that time, the petition included the phrase, “that we may always worship at Holy Trinity.”

    In April 2007, the indult then required for offering the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was moved from Holy Trinity to Mary Immaculate in Newton. The remaining parishioners (Holy Trinity would not close for another fourteen months) changed the petition to, “that Holy Trinity may always be a place of Catholic worship.” This is the form in which the petition is offered to this day.

    It doesn’t matter that WE worship at Holy Trinity; it matters that the Triune God is worshipped there.

    Given Holy Trinity’s great potential to assist in the salvation of souls, we look forward to the day when Holy Trinity is reopened as an oratory run by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter / Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest / Fathers of Mercy / for the Brazilians / Nigerians / Syro-Malabars / as the National Shrine of St. [fill in the blank – maybe even Pope Saint Benedict XVI (!) BUT we need him to reign some more SO that would be a long wait] / WHATEVER – JUST REOPEN HOLY TRINITY FOR DIVINE WORSHIP PLEASE!

    AND because we have previously received an offer for a religious order to renovate/repair the church at ITS OWN expense AND provide ITS OWN clergy WHILE STILL returning to the Archdiocese its share of the collections – the sort of arrangement that will make the many pragmatists who comment here HAPPY because the Archdiocese could make some money WITHOUT having to spend any or provide a priest – the Archdiocese could reopen Holy Trinity and stay within its stated aims of Reconfiguration.

    Above all, Holy Trinity could serve the glory of God and salvation of souls.

  7. JRBreton says:

    In my opinion you’re on the wrong side of this one. In the earlier closings under Lennon and the early O’Malley administration, ecclesiastical law was violated. The Vatican said as much. So it was proper for the offended parties to appeal. They lost those appeals. Now on the point of relegation, they also have a right to appeal. Let them make their appeal! Your argument really amounts to deriding their legal rights because it might be costly to the Archdiocese. That kind of practical consideration should not be allowed to undermine legal rights. You might consider that the mess and corruption in the Archdiocese would be largely checked if laws were obeyed.

    • It seems that perhaps you have misunderstood certain things BCI wrote in this post. BCI has never said that people did not have a right to appeal. If you reread this post, we said: “In most parishes, that could have at least saved money on the added costs of maintaining the buildings to residential standards *while the parish closings were under appeal…*Let the appeals keep running, but to allow people to take up residence in the churches for 7 years does not make sense…”

      The protesters in Everett wanted the church to stay open, and in this situation, the church will now stay open. St. Therese in Everett has not been relegated to profane use. What further basis exists for them to be occupying this church, and what more is there for them to appeal?

      If your issue is with what BCI has opined previously about the other parishes and appeals of their relegation to profane use decrees, we suggest that would be the right topic for a previous post.

  8. Carolyn says:

    This is going to take some serious reading between the lines…

    There are some facts missing here that might help when the topic is Everett. The church in question has almost no parking, and is in bad shape. (Check it out on Google Earth.) The “nearby” churches are tricky to get to in bad weather, and don’t have a lot of parking either. But what this really boils down to, unlike other places, is demographics in reverse.

    In Wellesley, it seems like the protest is primarily about property values. Remember the lawsuit? The people went to other churches for Masses but kept up the protest hoping to be “made whole” for their loss. The lawyer for the family that gave the land 60 years ago wanted it back (actually wanted the $ not the land), the neighbors didn’t want subsidized housing there, and so the protest. NIMBYism

    In Scituate (the one I am the most familiar with), the people who filed the original appeal were NOT the people who “jiggled” the door to gain entry after the locks were changed. The jigglers are led by abutters who want to control the property — more NIMBYism. The original appeal people moved on to other parishes and resented the “vigil.”

    Ditto Sudbury from what I’m told (now a chapel). So these Volvo and Audi drivers in Wellesley, Scituate and Sudbury don’t want their views spoiled or their neighborhood invaded by condos, etc.

    Everett was about loss of another kind. Read about those people. They have seen Everett change, they have seen their neighbors move to the ‘burbs, they have seen property taxes go through the roof to subsidize the skyrocketing population of immigrants who live in rental housing but use schools, health care, etc. They’ve lost their pensions, they’ve lost their health and they’ve lost their parish community… mainly because most of the parishioners left town. Their neighbors have sold to landlords who pack as many people into apartments and houses as they can possibly fit.

    And so, even though it makes sense to have the growing Brazilian community worship there, and even though the Brazilian population is sort of the new Irish in Everett, the protesters see it as another example of them losing what they built and supported, and the new people getting to have it all without sacrifice. Same houses the post-war crowd scraped by to pay for are now abutting houses with 10 and 12 people living in them. The old high school that was good enough for the post-war crowd has given way to a shiny new high school paid for by tax dollars. The same church that the post-war folks cared for and worshiped in and supported is being “given” to the new people. Those who stayed and tried to be “loyal” to Everett and the homes they owned and their parish, ended up seeing everything they treasured change, and be given to others.

    I don’t think they are bigots, but I think if you read between the lines they are hurt and tired. They are the generation that was used to being relied upon, but there is a difference between relied upon and being taken advantage of. They have probably been far less savvy and obnoxious than the people in Wellesley, Scituate and Sudbury… Maybe someone from Brooks Drive should have gone out there a few times in the past two years since the boiler broke and talked to the folks and more importantly, listened. But Everett isn’t Wellesley, or Scituate or Sudbury. It’s invisible to the cool guys on the 4th floor at Brooks Drive.

    The woman in the article laments that they received no letter from the cardinal. If I got a letter “from” the cardinal I would figure it had been written by one person, signed with his name by another and never seen or known about by the man himself. The woman in the Globe article would have opened her letter carefully, held it up for all to see and exclaimed that finally they heard from the cardinal. So who’s the cynic? Me or her?

  9. Mark Frances says:

    Lennon in Cleveland is being challenged on his closings. Maybe the people in Boston from whence he came feel energized. Johhny Carson talked about the “fork in the road”. The “road less travelled” is the spiritual one. It is obvious that there is a hidden agenda involved with the closings. This is a psychological issue and the “old time Catholics” are the target. There is no doubt as seen at St. Cecilia that Crdl O is as slippery as a snake and has a definite agenda that is slithering in the shadows. Remember the “Super K funeral”. This closing issue is country wide. If it was an economic issue alone, then bring in the gendarmes. However, look at the targets. The “little old ladies” who scrubbed floors for “money for father and his work” have been “sold down the river”.

  10. Puzzled says:

    I guess I’m puzzled by all this. Change happens in all walks of life and when it comes to the Church we act like petulant children…I don’t know what to think of all this.

  11. Mack says:

    The comment by one protester about they didn’t do it just so someone else could worship here illustrates the real problem going on. It’s a lack of the sense of the universal church. It’s bigger than my little parish, and if my little parish has to close for the sake of the greater good, then the hand of God is in that too.

    I can understand people’s attachment to churches their ancestors may have built, etc., but times change. There was a great example from one parish–I forget its name–that donated many items from their closed church to a parish in South America. The parish lives on in a different place, even some of the physical goods of that church. Isn’t that a great reminder of what the Church is really all about?

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