Turning off the heat

The Boston Archdiocese is finally getting slightly gutsier in their efforts to shut down the so-called “vigils” in churchs that have been closed for years. But it remains a mystery why they will not just shut-down the vigils and tell the occupants they must leave the buildings.

The Boston Globe reported the following on Saturday, October 15 in “Archdiocese shuts off utilities in Wellesley parish“:

Escalating its standoff with parishioners at a closed church building in Wellesley, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has shut off heat and water at St. James the Great, angering church members who have occupied the church since it was closed in 2004.

The archdiocese, which has taken steps to sell several closed churches including St. James, shut off the boiler because it was deemed unsafe by the church’s insurance company, according to a statement released by the archdiocese yesterday. Officials decided not to repair the heating system and shut it down to prevent damage to the property, a spokesman said…

The archdiocese has continued to maintain the church buildings since the closures; in Wellesley alone, the maintenance costs have totaled $370,000, including repairs and winter snow plowing, during the seven-year period, according to the statement released yesterday.

BCI thinks “turning up the heat” on the protesters by turning off the heat is a step in the right direction, but is still baffled why the archdiocese continues to delay just changing the locks on the doors and telling the people that no one may enter the building. BCI has repeatedly reminded the archdiocese of a prior decision by Cardinal Sean as well as advice given to them previously by their own experts–most recently in January in our post, Free Snow Removal and Invisible Vigils.

As of late 2008, the archdiocese said they had spent $2.2 million on utilities, insurance, and other costs at the five so-called “vigil” churches for the prior four years, or an average of more than $500K/year, and it has obviously gone up since then. Even the archdiocesan spokesman said in that December 2008 article, “”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.”  That was three years ago now.

So, why is it that the archdiocese does not just change the locks and padlock the doors of these facilities to end the vigils and stop spending quite so much money on maintenance that could be used elsewhere?

As we have said before, in the beginning, Cardinal Sean’s own instructions to the property management company were that if a building was found unoccupied it should be locked, and the locksmith called to change the locks.  Then Fr. Bryan Hehir and 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 about seven years.

In November of 2004, Cardinal O’Malley said the following in a letter to the archdiocese:

Many parishes are unable to pay their bills. The pension plans for laity and clergy are in danger..I am appealing to all Catholics to be Catholics first. I know that we all have a great love for our parish and parish church, but our first love must be for Christ and the Body of Christ which is the Church…If difficult decisions are not made now, the mission of the Church will be seriously compromised in the future.

Your Eminence, it is now seven years later.  Many parishes are still unable to pay their bills, the pension plan for lay employees has been cut, and the retirement fund for clergy remains in state of danger. The mission of the Church has already been compromised. You and your leadership team have allowed this to drag on for seven years. Even while protesters make a last-ditch effort to appeal the recent relegation to profane use decrees, it makes no sense for them to still occupy the church buildings and cost the archdiocese precious funds for building maintenance and upkeep that could be used for ministry.  How much longer are you waiting in order to make this difficult decision?

Meanwhile, as someone commented in an earlier post, tens of thousands of people from closed parishes have moved on to their new parish homes.” They have stepped up to assist at liturgies, organize parish events and work with religious education programs. My parish immediately elected a new parish council comprised of mezza-mezza, the welcomers and the welcomed, and things have only gotten better from there. It would be nice if just once, the vast majority who are working with the program, rolling up their sleeves and cautiously opening their wallets would get the attention that the bellicose and ‘activist’ crowd does.”

BCI would suggest that the Cardinal and Vicar General revisit the words of the Cardinal from seven years ago and decide what is best for the future of the archdiocese–while specifically excluding the PR folks and Fr. Hehir from the decision-making discussions this time around. Let the PR folks know after the tough decisions have been made, and they will figure out a way to spin it.

29 Responses to Turning off the heat

  1. jbq2 says:

    The question must be asked on why these particular parishes were chosen for dismissal. That is the concern of the parishioners. There is the active embellishment of “gay ” parishes while traditional parishes are “laid to rest”. Malachi Martin has the answer.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      We have to avoid labels (e.g. “gay” parishes)and come to the realization that many parishes led by “gay” clergy and have in those parishes a significant amount of “gay” parishoners. Those parishoners support the parish and others do not – the parishes that have no support are closed and those with support stay open. Realize that is the way enterprise works and understand, the Church is an enterprise that wants to keep pooping along and the only way to do it is with money!

      • jbq2 says:

        I recognize the fact that the basis of the handling of these issues is money. Obviously, the preaching of the Gospel appears to be secondary. Christ Himself did not so such a good job of being pragmatic. If He did so, then he would not have been crucified.

  2. BobofNewtn says:

    I concur with BCI’s comments. I also add the following: if the parishes that were closed and are (now past due) slated for closing were “active” in terms of parishoner monetary support, there would be no closures! Recognize the fact – roughly 1/4 of the Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston attend Mass on a regular basis. Why then keep some places open. We have very few priests, a lack of funds for their pensions, and no $$$$ to sustain “loser parishes” so – bottom line turn off the utilities in those parishes and call it a day. Enjoy the week!

  3. Mack says:

    I agree that the archdiocese should stop funding these closed parishes–what a waste of money! And for what? The Cardinal should tell those holding vigils that any maintenance funds will be taken exclusively from whatever donations they themselves may provide. That would be zero.

  4. Jack O'Malley says:

    $500K per year! If they’d only close down those disused novus ordo temples they could afford to pay Mary La Grassa O’Neill a living wage.

    • Michael says:

      don’t be bringing MGON into this … she is just an underpaid slob struggling right now along with the rest of us … btw … what exactly does she do? She has no authority. So what does she do?

    • rf5580 says:

      Some say Mary Grassa O’Neil brings in very large gifts to the Catholic Schools. Even so, $325,000 a year is obscene.

      • Michael says:

        Large gifts to Catholic Schools … like the gift of “letting things go.” Sacred Heart school in Plymouth had a GLBTQ coming out of the closet promotion that she swept under the rug. That’s a nice gift. Providing cover for heretics. Money gifts can’t compare to gifts like that.

        In case you are uncertain about the quality of Catholic education in Plymouth these days, Sacred Heart school’s GLBTQ community does not include “grandma’s liberal buddist temple quartet.” I’ll give you a hint though. The letter T stands for TRANSGENDER. Can anyone guess the rest of the letters?

        Thanks Mary. You have the courage of a Saint. What does she do anyway?

      • rf5580 says:

        Thanks for the info re Sacred Heart High School in Kingston. I didn’t know that were that off the track. If that’s their MO, the faithful need to keep their kids out of it.

  5. Time for a change says:

    Does anyone think that Cardinal Sean is informed and in charge?

    Is there any way to get past those who keep him in the dark?

    Perhaps the problem is not the Arhcbishop but those who keep him from the facts?

    • BobofNewtn says:

      So long as there is BCI, the Cardinal will be informed and, armed with information, he will be in charge. It would not surprise me to find out that he reads these posts. However, let’s not go overboard here. I feel he can take constructive criticism but will be turned off by name calling (e.g. “gay” parishes, Mary Grassa O’Neill’s salary, etc.). He is, I am sure, well aware of his fellow gay clergymen and the parishes they lead. He has to go with the deck he has been dealt and in that deck are gay clergy and we have to be grown up and accept those things as fact as well.

      • Michael says:

        I used to think that O’Malley was authentic. I have over the past seven years changed my opinion though. I think it is way worse than BobofNewton says. Not only do I think he is well informed, but I think he DOES NOT CARE. He is happy saying things that sound Catholic (like Friday night in the North End) and doing things that undermine the Church (too long a list to add here). He is not a poor slob. He is a Bishop of the Catholic Church. St. Thomas More was a poor slob, who had his head chopped off because he had courage. O’Malley sadly has none.

  6. Alice Slattery says:

    To read my first reference, please type into Google:
    Benjamin Mann-“A reality-based approach to children’s stake in marriage dispute”.
    The http://www.catholicnewsagency.com reference I gave isn’t
    showing it for some reason although it is the site where I got the article a few days ago.

  7. Fr. Bill says:


  8. qclou says:

    CAPS should be used for emphasis please. not entire statements.
    says a lonely comp teacher !

    • BobofNewtn says:

      My point exactly. Case closed! Thank you.

      • Mack says:

        You’re right about the caps, but in the past, Fr Bill said he is an older priest and has trouble seeing, which is why he uses caps. It bugs me too but in his case I give him a pass!

      • Presbyter says:

        Yes that is my point too. Cut the guy some slack

    • Jack O'Malley says:


      • Michael says:

        I took two years of latin and have no idea what you said, however, I got the gist of it. … WICKVD FVNNY!

  9. BobofNewtn says:

    We should try to stay “on subject”.

    I feel awful for those whose parishes have been closed and I think all would concur (including the Cardinal). However, it all does come down to dollars and other resources. We have to accept the the Church is in decline and we must accept the fact that we have to pool resources and funds to remain viable. Priests are a dying breed and Mass attendance is falling rapidly. Church membership is comprised of the elderly and our young are more involved with secular things than they are with religion. Catholic schools are passe at best and, those that are competitive, advertise themselves as “Independent Schools” (see the Globe ad last week)rather than associate with the Archdiocese. All is not lost, however: let’s hunker down and go back to basics. Forget the name calling and phony characterizations and welcome all those who want to worship with us. Expel those whose heart is filled with hate and mistrust and let’s move on to save what we have and forget what we have lost because we will never get it back. Think about this for the remainder of the week and let’s re-group again shortly. No CAPS please! Hit ctrl and + and the screen will enlarge and – if you can read this – you need not use caps because you have sight issues – give me a break! Regards.

  10. Fr. Bill says:

    Brothers I am genuinely sorry that my computer etiquite is so lacking …. let us move the point and stay on point ,,, I am happy that BCI is back in “the Swing” … I am grateful for their sincerity + bravery!

  11. q says:

    Some sympathy for some of the vigilers, but not for the racism coming out of others.


    “Still, O’Malley accorded rights to foreigners [Indians – that are CATHOLIC and AMERICAN ] that he refuses to cede to his own laity.”

  12. rf5580 says:

    I would like to think Cardinal O’Malley is interested in this archdioceswe but his actions indicate otherwise. Very, Very disapointing. It probably won’t change anytime soon, either.

  13. rf5580 says:

    They won’t change the locks on the “vigil” parishes because they’re afraid of whaty the Globe, Herald, and other media outlets will say.

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