Boston Archdiocese to reorganize management of parishes

This week at BCI started with a discussion focused on one parish closing in Cambridge and local regional reorganization. We continue that theme with a discussion of the new plan being broadly socialized for how the Boston Archdiocese will reorganize the management of parishes in the future.

Priests in the archdiocese have been called to a special meeting on Monday, December 5. The topic is, “Strengthening Parishes as Primary Communities of Faith.”  The Boston Globe and other papers have reported on the plan leaked to them. (not by BCI). Below are excerpts from the Globe article.  But before we get to the media coverage, it is important to remember why this plan is happening.

The document says, “The present way in which pastoral services are structured in the Archdiocese of Boston is not healthy and it cannot be sustained much longer. Priests are being stretched too thinly; pastoral associates and religious educators are not being replaced in sufficient numbers; permanent deacons are unevenly deployed; and we face a growing number of parishes (40%) unable to pay their bills, even as the cost for services in our parishes continues to climb.”

What the document does not remind us of is that underlying much of is this is a precipitous decline in the number of people going to Mass every week and identifying themselves as Catholic. Back in April when we discussed the Catholics Come Home initiative, we shared the table found to the right.  Through 1990, about 1 million Catholics attended Mass every weekend in the Boston Archdiocese.  Now it’s just 294,000.  The number of people who identify themselves as Catholics is down as well.  If 1 million people were attending Mass every week instead of 294,000, it is reasonable to assume that parish contributions and finances would be in much better shape. And if the same percentage of those million people decided to pursue vocations to the priesthood or some form of lay pastoral ministry or religious education as do today with lower numbers, then there might be 3X the number of priests, pastoral associates and religious educators.

That said, this substantial problem of declining numbers of Catholics going to Mass is not solved and the practical reality is as described in the planning documents. BCI commends the archdiocese for the efforts that have gone into this creative plan to keep parishes open and more effectively utilize the resources available. Here is an excerpt from the planning documents that naturally, has not made it into the mainstream media reports:

The principal thrust of the current draft of this pastoral plan is to form stronger Christian disciples by strengthening our identity as a Christ-centered, mission-minded, welcoming and evangelizing Eucharistic community of faith.

This challenging vision will be accomplished through five “Mission Initiatives,” specific actions that arise out of the strategic priorities established by Cardinal Seán. These initiatives are:

(1) Becoming a Church that More Readily and Actively Welcomes Every Man, Woman and Child to Conversion of Life in Christ Jesus; (2) Strengthening our Parishes as Primary Communities of Faith;
(3) Growing the Church through Evangelization;
(4) Developing Excellence in Faith Formation for Catholics of All Ages; and
(5) Re-energizing Pastoral Leadership.

All admirable goals.

Now, excerpts from the Globe report, to give you a few key details.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is proposing to reorganize the management of its 290 parishes by creating teams to oversee multiple parishes under a single pastor, in a search for efficiencies that would save money and allow staff to concentrate on the growth of the church.

The plan, to be unveiled Monday at a priest-only meeting with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, does not call for the closing of more churches. The archdiocese proposes to create about 125 pastoral service teams that, once created, would be free to merge programs among churches and make recommendations to the cardinal about closing and selling churches, rectories, or other buildings.

“This would be something that comes up from the ground, not something imposed’’ by church leaders, said Monsignor William P. Fay, pastor of St. Columbkille in Brighton and cochairman of the Archdiocesan Planning Commission.

The exact number of teams and the way parishes are to be grouped together have not been announced, but most teams would oversee two or three parishes. Each parish would retain its own name and identity, though parishes within a group would probably share some staff members, as well as their pastor.

Church officials said yesterday that the plan would, in time, lead to a reduction in the archdiocese’s roughly 3,000 employees.

The introduction of the plan Monday will kick off months of consultations and fine tuning before any reorganization would be put into effect. If the final plan is approved by O’Malley, the changes would take three to five years to implement, Fay said.

The reorganization, years in the making, is the archdiocese’s response to a long list of recent challenges: falling Mass attendance, shrinking revenues, a shortage of priests and of lay people willing to serve professionally in the parishes, and the inevitability that pastors are going to be required to take on responsibility for more than one parish, according to a written explanation sent to priests by the archdiocese.

“The present way in which pastoral services are structured in the Archdiocese of Boston is not healthy, and it cannot be sustained much longer,’’ the document reads. Priests are being stretched too thin, and 40 percent of parishes are unable to pay their bills. “By improving pastoral services and reducing the costs for providing these services, every parish can better use its resources and talents for the sake of living and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’’

The parish teams would include priests, deacons, pastoral associates, and advisory councils, as well as lay ecclesial ministers, who are trained and educated in church teachings but are not ordained. Each team will come up with a plan “for how best to utilize and apportion their resources, property, and facilities’’ to strengthen the parishes, the archdiocese said.

Though the archdiocese has not said how it will group parishes, it will take into account parishes that are near one another. Also, to avoid putting together struggling parishes, the archdiocese will aim to create clusters in which total weekly Mass attendance is above 1,600 people and the total annual offertory is at least $500,000, according to the church documents.

Under the proposed reorganization, church staffs would take on some of the day-to-day duties currently handled by priests, things like coordinating religious education classes or dealing with a broken boiler. That would free pastors to provide the vision to evangelize and expand the church, Fay said.

In addition to its upcoming meeting with clergy, the Boston Archdiocese is planning to hold 10 regional meetings to hear from parishioners, probably in February and March, Fay said.

The archdiocese also plans to establish a website to post documents related to the proposal.

After four to six months of consultation, the implementation of the plan could begin next year.

That is all BCI has time to say on this for today.  This is an ambitious plan and whatever happens will need our prayers.  Do keep the priests of our archdiocese in your prayers, and on Monday, pray for the success of the convocation.  A Divine Mercy chaplet prayed at 3pm Monday would be a fine idea.

57 Responses to Boston Archdiocese to reorganize management of parishes

  1. Itstheorientation says:

    It is hard to believe that these cardinal caiaphases w/their teams and monetary concerns and compromises w/Caesar and Herod have ever read the Bible (Old or New Testament). Jesus was one man – and how many did he feed and convert? His 12 apostles having rec’d the Holy Spirit in one day converted 5,000 (a mirror relationship to Babel). Today one can look to Mother Teresa to see what one person who believes in Jesus Christ and the truth He revealed about God the Father can accomplish. As Teresa of Avila said, “There is plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.” Jesus said to Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” If Cardinal Sean would (1) Worship God and (2) Feed His flock there would be no need for this new exercise in futility. As it is, I pray daily for God to send Elijah to put every one of these wolves to the sword.

  2. Michael says:

    Some number of the 3000 employees’ jobs are at risk. How many of those jobs could Mary Grassa O’Neill personally save with a true showing of Christian charity?

    I am certain most of you know what I mean … but for you, Mary, I mean … do whatever it is that you do as a work of mercy. Drop the career plans, give back the money, and start helping out. And once you do that, your overpaid staff might wake up, go get another job in the real world, or show true Christian charity by offering back their outrageous salaries and committing to helping out as well … as a vocation … not a career.

    • Carolyn says:

      Maybe her compensation could be contributed to a fund to be certain that every Deacon receives a stipend…

      • Ombudsman says:

        Why is it that regardless of the post topic some commenters (such as Michael and Carolyn) whine about MGO’s salary?

        Michael and Carolyn – did this pastoral planning proposal not give you ANY thing else to comment about?

      • Carolyn says:

        *RCAB: “we face a growing number of parishes (40%) unable to pay their bills, even as the cost for services in our parishes continues to climb.”

        *Another Deacon:” I do not get a stipend either. My parish is one of those bleeding money. I am “supposed” to go on a retreat once a year with my wife, paid for by the parish. There is no way I can ask for that when we are in such straits.”

        *RCAB stated that they cannot subsidize parishes due to their own financial limitations.

        *RCAB pays MGO (with benefits) about $400K per year.

        *$400K could give 20 deacons each $20K per year.

        That’s not whining; it’s factual, germane comment.

      • Michael says:

        … because paying Mary grass oneill’s $325,000.00 salary is unconscionable. Where is your conscience? Her receipt of it directly contradicts the mission of becoming “a Christ-centered, mission-minded, welcoming and evangelizing Eucharistic community of faith.” Tell me the average salary of the poor slob employees whose jobs are potentially at risk? Then tell me how anyone could justify her salary when it could be used to keep several people employed? Whatever happened to social justice?

      • Michael says:

        … and to answer the question:
        Michael and Carolyn – did this pastoral planning proposal not give you ANY thing else to comment about?

        No BCI is doing a fine job … I have no other questions.

  3. James Scott says:

    I know BCI is very conservative, but wouldn’t now be a nice time to say: “Save the Eucharistic celebration – Ordain married men”.

    • Thanks for your comment. BCI would not characterize ourselves as “conservative” but rather would say we agree with and fully support the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Magisterium is our point of reference. As an aside, beyond that, as best as BCI can determine, other faiths that allow married clergy do not exactly have a groundswell of vocations, so it is not clear that married clergy is somehow a miraculously simple solution to the problems at hand.

      Bottom line, if you are wondering if the topic of married clergy is one we will discuss or permit discussion of, our response is “no,” not here. There are plenty of other venues where that topic is being debated and discussed, and this is not the right place for it.

      • rf5580 says:

        It’s unfortunate that the liberal/conservative characterization continues to be uses in reference to characterize membership in the Church. These terms are inaccurate and misleading. However, those Catholice who would describe themselves as liberal definitely to not have the Magisterium as their point of reference. I believe they would readily acknowledge that, also.

  4. Mark Frances says:

    This is not just a strategy in the Archdiocese of Boston. This is being surrepticiously orchestrated in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis as well. This means that this is coming from the Conference of Catholic Bishops. AB Dolan came from Milwaukee but before that was in St. Louis. Pastoral Associates are predominantly women who are being paid a salary. Deacons are paid nothing and do all of the dirty tasks that no one else wants to do. There is no doubt that service teams are a good idea. However, where is this all leading? It would appear that this will lead to women deacons without a doubt and that is what is holding up the ordination of male deacons. My only caveat concerns the treatment of AB (now Crdnl) Raymond Burke in St. Louis. He was “run out of town” by a cabal of Cardinals (of which I have email proof from the Chancery) before he could inflict conservative damage. Again, Boston is only the “point man” for the new strategy.

    • Objective Observer says:

      Fact check:

      This isn’t coming from anyone outside Boston. It’s distinctly homegrown.

      Deacons are paid a stipend, and usually hold down full time jobs in their chosen field as well. Deacons don’t do “dirty tasks,” they confer two sacraments, read the Gospel and preach, as well as prepare people for sacraments and preside at funerals.

      Cardinal Burke was not run out of town, unless you consider being made the second (third?) most powerful person in Rome run out of town.

      Archbishop Dolan has much larger fish to fry than determining how parish staffs are constructed. Pastoral associates range in responsibility from parish to parish. Boston will seek to elevate the qualifications of pastoral associates by showing a preference for those with Masters degrees in ecclesial ministry, and paying them a living wage.

      • A Deacon says:

        All Deacons are NOT paid a stipend.

      • Another Deacon says:

        I do not get a stipend either. My parish is one of those bleeding money. I am “supposed” to go on a retreat once a year with my wife, paid for by the parish. There is no way I can ask for that when we are in such straits.

  5. rf5580 says:

    Correction: It is unfortunate that the liberal/conservative characterization is used in reference to membership in the Catholic Church. These terms are inaccurate and misleading. However, Catholics who would describe themselves as liberal so not have the Magisterium as their point of reference. I believe they would readliy acknowledge that, also.

  6. Liam says:

    It would be exceptionally helpful if anyone who has access to current parish boundary information for the RCAB would publish it. Much of the information is only known by parish staff, but in the era of the Internet, it would be great if there were images (or, failing that, lists) of parish boundaries.

  7. Mack says:

    Less than 20% of Catholics are going to Mass–so a lot of evangelizing has to be done.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      The inserted box above shows that, in 2010, 17.3% of Catholics attend weekly Mass and the number of Catholics in the RCAB decreased by 300K in that same year. However, a follow up story in today’s Wall Street Journal about the RCAB’s efforts points out that in the US, the number of Catholics has risen to 77.7M and that Mass attendance nationwide is about 31%!

      The RCAB has to play a lot of catch-up here and I frankly doubt that its efforts to promote evangelism can succeed any more than did the Catholics Come Home initiative. We have 40% of our parishes unable to pay their bills and does anyone doubt that the buildings in those parishes are in need of major repair (or worse). We have an underfunded clergy retirement fund, underpaid clergy and parish support staff,literally no vocations to speak of and a school system that is passable at best.

      I propose that we go back to the drawing board and put our minds to work: figure out why parishes like Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton when it was under Father Cuenin and St. Cecilia’s in Boston under Father Unni thrive and are vibrant while others like the one in Cambridge (see prior few posts)wither on the vine! We have to look and see what is it that turns people away, what is it that brings people in.

      The reconfiguration as proposed is like, as one blogger in here referred to it, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic! Let’s get real and face reality: the RCAB is failing and doing so quicker than the other dioceses in the US.

      Enjoy the weekend folks!

      • BobofNewtn,

        Thanks for the reference to the Wall Street Journal article. The article does talk about the Catholic population in the U.S. increasing, though the Mass attendance rate of 31% overall is lower in urban areas. As you accurately observed, the RCAB does have a lot of catch-up to do. The article is interesting enough that we will post it separately.

        Just for clarification, the inserted box in our post shows that between 2000 and 2010 the number of Catholics in the RCAB decreased by 300K. The decrease reflected for the year 2010 was not “in that same year” but rather over the previous decade.

        Lastly, BCI thinks the suggestion to “go back to the drawing board and put our minds to work” is a fine one. But BCI has long been troubled by even the highly subjective definition or characterization of so-called “vibrant parishes.” BCI is very familiar with both churches cited, and we do not have the time or desire go into the various concerns regarding theology and ecclesiology in both parishes. Suffice to say, BCI does not concur with the suggestion that they should be looked at as a model, and would suggest going back to a different drawing board. Just one of many many fine examples in this archdiocese you may wish to consider is St. Catherine of Siena in Norwood under previous pastor, Msgr. McRae.** (NOTE: To the priests and pastors of countless other outstanding parishes, we are not intending to neglect you–we are just citing but one example for purposes of time and brevity).

  8. BobofNewtn says:

    Hi BCI – Yeah; I agree that “vibrant” is a lame term and I do not know why I used it.

    With respect to Fathers Unni and Cuenin, I cited them because I know what they did and are doing in their parishes and, judging from the attendance at their services, they seem to be doing something right (or, at least, their congregations think so). I do not know of Msgr. McRae but I accept your characterization of his efforts.

    I have a problem with your reference to “countless” other outstanding parishes because the attendance figures do not support that type of an adjective. If there were so many outstanding parishes, we would not have either an attendance nor fiscal problem. We have both and lag our other dioceses in that regard.

  9. Alice Slattery says:

    While BCI does not want to address the 2 parishes mentioned by BobofNewtn, it is a grave injustice to Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese that The Pilot, and any spokesperson for the Archdiocese, will not print the facts that the “drawing card” for those 2 parishes had been that they advocated for the founders of New Ways Ministry dissident “teaching” , namely Sister Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, who openly opposed the teaching of the Catholic Church. Most Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese have no knowledge of the fact that they were ordered to stop their New Ways Ministry by the Holy See on Nov. 17,1999. The reason for this ban was that when they were interviewed as representatives of the Catholic Church, they were quoted in the Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays(PFLAG) document:”Is It a Sin?” , they stated:”God has created people with romantic and physical attractions to the same sex, as well as those with attractions to the opposite sex…..All of these feelings are natural and are considered good and blessed by God. These feelings and attractions are not sinful”..”Since God is a God of justice, one could logically argue that god approves of same gender couples pledging their love.”( quote from Sr. Gramick); and Fr. Nugent stated: “A religious ceremony would say clearly that the couple(same sex) took their relationship with god seriously and would also witness to the social impact of their relationship on others of the faith community.”
    The Paulist Center honored Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent in 1995 “for their bold ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics,their families and friends.” In the Nov.11 issue of The Pilot, a letter from Fr. Bob Bowers on “behalf of the staff” of the Paulist Center, was printed condemning The Pilot editor for printing Dan Avila’s theory regarding the temptations of Satan(the devil) in the development of same sex sexual activities. Apparently such involvement of Satan must never be theorized but Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent have every right to theorize that same sex sexual activities are “good and blessed by God”. in the mind of the Paulist Center staff. Yet, when Sr. Gramick stated :”God has created people with romantic and physical attraction to the same sex.”(PFLAG document ), thereby maintaining that same sex sexual activity is God-given, no one is supposed to question this assumption!
    Since The Pilot has failed to print the position taken by Fr. Cuenin(Our Lady Help of Christians,Newton), Fr. Uni (St. Cecilia’s, Boston)and his “Rainbow Ministry”(New Ways Ministry), and The Paulist Center in their praise of Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent’s teaching, there is no way for Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese to know that these locations appear to be “thriving”, when,in reality, they are forming a magnet attraction to those who desire to dissent from the teaching of the Catholic Church on this vital issue. For that reason, I ask that you don’t refuse to print their dissident position, too. Nobody else will!!

    • marie elena saccoccio says:

      WOW! Where have I been?

    • Alice, The main topic of this post is the reorganization of parishes in the Boston Archdiocese. BobofNewton gave as an example, two parishes, and BCI observed there were issues with those parishes. For one of the two parishes, the issues appear to now be in the past.

      Among the reasons that BCI keeps moderating your comments on this topic is that you keep going to back to PFLAG, New Ways Ministry, and situations from more than a decade ago. You have commented on those same situations a number of times already and we let the comments remain, but you keep repeating the same thing about these situations from the distant past. The Paulist Center was not mentioned in BobofNewton’s comments, and they are not an archdiocesan parish, so BCI does not see why what happens there or happened there is germane to this specific post. Even if The Pilot recently published a letter from a priest currently working at the Paulist Center, that is not relevant to the topic of this post.

      The best way to avoid comments being moderated is please simply stick to the topic of the post.

      • Mark says:

        I am confused. Things that happened several years ago are now off limits to comments? Really? A lot of what we rag on about with the people from 66 Brooks Dr is several years old already. Please clarify the rules here. Are we still allowed to criticize people for their decisions from 5 years ago or not? Or was the point that only BCI can do this and we should not?

      • Mark, Thanks for asking for clarification. The vast majority of our posts–if not all of them–have dealt with people, actions and decisions since 2003. So, you will not see BCI complain about reader comments that pertain to people or events going back even ten years in the past.

        Our issue is that one particular reader keeps rehashing criticism of people and actions from as far back as 1995-1999, and invariably on the exact same topic, which is NOT the main topic of the blog post. In some cases, the people and players have changed and the actions that were subject to legitimate criticism are no longer happening, but we still get a rehash of the past with lengthy commentary.

        We are simply asking that readers keep their comments relevant to the topic of the blog post. Even if you see some tiny opening via a comment from another reader to take the discussion into a topic of major interest to you that is not the topic of the blog post, please resist the temptation to head in an entirely different direction. And in the case of one particular reader, we also ask that they accept that their comments on certain problems of the late 1990s have been more than adequately aired here already. We would like to keep comments focused on actions and decisions of today and the past several years–meaning within the last ten years.

      • Michael says:

        Again, I have to disagree with BCI. You raised the topic … Bob sent it off in a relevant tangent. BCI commented and then Alic continued to explain and bring the conversation to a further tangent. Totally understandable and BCI should stop trying to over control the content of this blog. These are relevant issues whether or not you agree substantively with any particular point. That is what FREE SPEEACH is all about. Don’t start getting like the folks over at 66 Brooks Drive. Pretty soon you will be spending money on investigators and big name Boston law firms investigating who is behind Alice Slattery’s comments; just like the RCAB does to BCI.

  10. Alice Slattery says:

    The PFLAG publication that I referred to for the quotes from Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent is :”Is Homosexuality a Sin?” That was published in 1992. a current report on this document ,with quotes from Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent on p.p.6&7, can be found at

  11. Jack O'Malley says:

    As long as there remains a protestant mass, there will be de-facto protestants in the pews. The Unni-ites and Cueninites are just the tip of the anti-Magisterial iceberg.

    That St Cecilia’s and Our Lady Help of Christians (Good Lord, what an ironic name for that place) and the Paulist Center are flourishing while St. Francis of Assisi languishes is evidence that we are approaching the nadir of Catholicism in the archdiocese.

    Why in all justice the FSSPX ought to be presented a “doctrinal preamble” to sign as a touchstone of their Magisterial fidelity and those three hotbeds of heresy, schism and apostasy, never mind the moral degeneracy applauded there that would cause an ancient pagan to blush, are suffered by the Cardinal Archbishop to sow the seeds of sedition is a profanation of the faith that cries out for punishment in this life or the next.

  12. Lazarus' Table says:

    Just some reflections.
    I was always taught that it is the FAMILY that is the primary community of faith. The Boston plan tells us the parish is the primary community. How you look at it, I guess, will determine where/how you will focus your energies.

    Forming pastoral teams will be a challenge in more ways than one. WHat about the parishes that will be served by that one pastoral team. To be honest, we all know that not all parishes are “on the same page” with respect to ways of worshipping, evangelizing, theological understanding, etc etc. SOme parishes are very vibrant. Some are just dead. In forming pastoral teams, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on those parishes where it can be discerned that the Holy Spirit has already been at work– parishes that have faith, life, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, the ability to teach and share? And then spread THOSE folks out to the other parishes. Someone once told me different parishes can be described in health facility terms: some parishes are like ‘teaching hospitals’– up-to-date, innovative, effective, producing good fruit. Some parishes are like a community hospital– ok for general care, but if you have special needs you better look elsewhere. And some parishes are like quickie “Health Stops”– if you need something ASAP they’re ok but you don’t want to commit to or invest anything of yourself.

    WHat if a pastoral team has to deal with a parish that is “dead” and one that is “alive”? WHat if those parish staffs have to deal with each other? What if one parish wants to advance the canonizaiton of Mother Angelica and the other parish says “Mother Who”???

    I dunno this is gonna be real tricky.

  13. Alice Slattery says:

    To prove that what I have said about the New Ways Ministry is current and relevant (not consigned to the 1990s as BCI claims) please take a look at this June 13,2011 article about the Rainbow Ministry Mass at St. Cecilia’s,Boston parish this past summer at
    The New Ways Ministry is very active in the Boston Archdiocese in many parishes that are trying to convince parishioners that the Catholic Church is now teaching that the behavior is good and acceptable. For BCI to claim that it is no longer influencing the thinking of Catholic parishioners is simple not true. To claim that what I said is ancient history is false. I hope you will apologize to me for your error. I find it very insulting and harmful since I know many Catholics who recently have been influenced by this fraudulent thinking.

    • Alice, You did not cite a New Ways Ministry example from 2011 in your prior comment–you referenced examples from the 1990s. BCI knows of no examples of the controversial speakers banned by the Vatican appearing in archdiocesan parishes in the last five years, though we could be wrong. BCI does not dispute the legitimate problems from the past and present you raise. We are simply asking that comments be kept relevant to the main topic of our post, and that you accept that your legitimately troubling examples from the 1990s have been adequately aired here and need not be repeated.

      • Michael says:

        Just go ahead … hire a big law firm to intimidate her and shut Alice’s comments down.

      • Michael, BCI resents your implication that we are not allowing free speech or are “shutting down” Alice’s comments.

        We have repeatedly asked readers to follow a few simple guidelines with their comments–keep them relevant to the topic of our blog post and avoid personal attacks.

        The availability of a forum for open comments does not mean readers should just post whatever they feel they want to say. Letters to the Editor in a mainstream media publication are in a sense “moderated” (in that only a few of those submitted are published) and most online comment forums are moderated more extensively than BCI. Elsewhere, comments are either not posted without undergoing review by the blogger, removed without explanation, or not permitted at all.

        Readers would make it much easier on BCI if you just respect and abide by our straightforward guidelines.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        Having been guilty (or should have pleaded guilty) to several bogging posts, I understand BCI. Thank you.

  14. Alice Slattery says:

    Since the web address I gave is not coming up, please goggle the article itself. It is “Priest says all are welcome in his church
    Supports gay,lesbians after Mass was canceled” by Laura Nelson, Boston Globe. It is on the web site of The New Ways Ministry. I am not lying!!

  15. Carolyn says:

    If It’s OK to wade in here with a comment about the pastoral plan announcement…

    I would like to see the diocese move any pastor who has been in place for more than five years, and who is under age 70 to a new location. Work with me here:

    The “think locally, act locally” concept appeals to me a lot. North Dorchester should think together, Marlborough and maybe one other town (Hudson?) should think together, and so on. I actually think that works really well.

    But what about a pastor who has been in place for a long time, and is not nearing retirement age. Doesn’t it start to feel like the big parish with the longtime pastor is taking over the other parishes? And doesn’t it make a place like Newton or Wellesley susceptible to pastoral head butting? As we’ve seen this week, Cambridge could be a little too interesting. (No offense to Cantabrigians, but you’re looking at about ten cabs for ten pastors there.)

    By assigning new priests to these pastoral whatchamacallits, you’re more likely to reduce acrimony and level out discussions.

    Does anyone else have a thought about this?

  16. Carolyn says:

    PS – These pastoral clumps, or whatever they’re calling them, should run along school district lines for the sake of common sense. If two towns (Dover-Sherborn or Concord-Carlisle, e.g.) share a school system, twin up their parishes. If a town has two high schools, group parishes according to the high shcools lines. In the long run, this makes a natural unit, and it allows families to know each other at school, at sports and at church.

  17. marie elena saccoccio says:

    Are you suggesting a kind of clergy term limits??

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      I think Carolyn’s referring to a kind of PASTOR term limits.

      Carolyn, thanks for returning to the pastoral plan announcement. Alice, no offense, but I agree with BCI. I think BCI picks good topics but too many readers keep trying to steer the discussion to a totally different agenda.

  18. Lazarus' Table says:

    If I remember correctly, several years ago a pastor/parish referred to its parishioners as “consumers” (I kid you not!) Not that bad an analogy since people do tend to “shop” for a parish that suits them. Parish ‘boundaries’, if they exist at all, exist only on paper. How are people ‘sold’ on a particular parish? Certainly not by that parish’s emphasis on mission, giving witness to Christ, or living out one’s faith. Most Catholic faithful still believe all that is “Father’s” job. How many of our young people still consider Confirmation a “graduation” not only from religious ed. but especially from having to go to church? WHat does it take to have a baby baptized? Nothing, really, excepting wanting to have it done (or the baby’s grandmother wanting it done). To get married in the Catholic church doesn’t require that you actually practice the faith. All in all, we’ve just been offering alot of “cheap grace” and now expect people to jump aboard a plan that requires real commitment and faith. Ain’t gonna happen. Oh, there’ll still be plenty of ‘consumers” (fear of hell is still a great marketing tool) but as an institution the Church will continue to atrophy due to lack of living tissue.
    I still think that if fruitful effort is to be excpended, form pastorsal teams to minister to (groups of)parishes that have already shown the presence and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not be stormtroopers who descend on parishes/communities with the sword of Mohammed (“convert or die”!) and accomplish nothing.
    Considering our aging clergy, and the lack of support (health, financial, emotional) for them, could we form independent groups of laypeople to provide assistance to our priests? [Keep the money especially out of the hands of RCAB].

  19. James Christopher says:

    I, like most of you, am eagerly awaiting Monday’s conclusion to the secret process of how we will be a parish(s), a Diocese and a witness to our fellow believers and non-believers in Massachusetts. What most concerns me (distilled from a host other thoughts) is that in a fractured, combative and computerized society decisions are being made that could cause us to loose personal touch with our fellow parishioners and neighbors. Witness to our God requires more than the 45-60 minutes of face time on Sunday with the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit: it is personal prayer, works of charity and an openness to be directed by the Spirit in a community. I am not that strong in my faith that I can go this alone as part of a mega-church; I need your faith to be present to me in a visible and tangible way – and you need to see that I am praying with you and for you as well! I hope our Apostolic leaders will not extinguish the public ‘Sanctuary Lamp” our parishes are or try to be. Might I suggest one thing to our Archbishop that could solve a number of problems: lets dump the imperial past and start treating this Archdiocese as missionary territory and tap into the zeal that the Holy Spirit will provide to us, lay and clerical, to do God’s will, order our lives in prayer and make us a mirror of God’s love. I pray for this and all of you this weekend.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t help but notice how the last two post are related. It seems to me that a great deal of real estate is suddenly slated for sale. (Or at least being prepared for sale in the next ten years or so) Who is ultimately stands to gain from this sale? Developers? Construction companies? Banks which will provide loans? Who runs RCAB and what did the do before they became leaders of the RCAB? Sorry to point out the obvious. . . .

    • WTH?? says:

      Friend (out of curiosity) called archdiocese and asked for list of property up for sale. it was emailed to him and then to me. Want to buy 9 acres of land in Plymouth, walking distance to beach, for 299K???

  21. Jack O'Malley says:

    I am in the process of writing a letter to Bishop Fellay of the FSSPX telling him of the forsaken churches here in the archdiocese. Perhaps he will consider sending a small cadre of priests (not “presbyters”, “presiders” or “barkeeps”) to staff an actual parish here. Hopefully, he will hold out for an ordinariate structure for his Society (to remain independent of Cardinal O’Malley and Archcardinal Connors) and a red hat (not biretta) for himself at the first consistory after Rome accepts his terms.

    Three men who ought to be canonized: Pacelli, Sheen, Lefebvre. Sit voluntas Dei.

  22. mike says:

    Why does a place like St Cecilia’s have full pews on Sunday? Because there is something going on there that speaks to people. There is a wonderful music program with music that is much better than you’ll find in 90% of other parishes (visit YouTube and search on RJCCeciliaMusic to hear their choir); there is an obvious committment to social justice concerns and service to the poor (just see their bulletin –; and they are welcoming to everyone. This isn’t rocket science, folks. The shame is that other parishes can’t figure out how to make a difference in people’s lives while being a place of praise and worship to the God who who prefers inclusivity over exclusivity.

  23. Jack O'Malley says:


    I listened to a few of the novus ordure chants on youtube and I agree some are very beautiful. Not liturgical but in a new age buddhistic sort of way. But in the Catholic sense, if there are active homoerastics plying their vocal chords in simulated adoration of the Saviour of mankind, then they deceive themselves. And Unni, as an enabler of vice, is an agent of Satan. Were I the archbishop of Boston, based on the publicly available evidence, Unni would be cleaning the latrine in a leper colony in South America where there is undoubtedly a “sister church” and an orthodox Catholic priest would be preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to the sodomites.

    “Social justice” and being “welcoming” is, in the Church’s language, stercus equinum. Christ excludes. That is the meaining of pro multis. You can’t be a practicing homo and expect to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Consult the Catechism if you doubt this.

  24. Alice Slattery says:

    Regarding Mike’s response on this issue of the BCI issue of how best the “reorganization management of the parishes” can be conducted, the framework of reorganization certainly can help the financial condition of the Boston Archdiocese and, as Mike claims, the great popularity of St. Cecilia’s ,Boston, can be highlighted by Catholics like Mike on the grounds that “there is something going on there that speaks to the people.” The problem is : What is it that St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry “speaks to the people”?
    The spiritual cost of this attitude,however, is enormous. Because Cardinal O’Malley has publicly given the impression that he favors the way Fr. Unni leads St. Cecilia’s , with its Rainbow Ministry/New Ways Ministry belief that homosexuality is natural and God-given, he must address this impression and publicly explain why this belief is erroneous. All the financial savings in the world are not worth the cost of destroying the real meaning of God’s plan for human sexuality which is fundamental to our very civilization and to Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese..

  25. ACS says:

    I would love to know how this is going to work from a canon law perspective. Doesn’t canon law require that the pastor is solely responsible for the faith mission of the parish? So how will it work if multiple parishes (as remaining entities) have to share one pastor? And, it is also my understanding that a pastor must resign before a new pastor can be named. If that’s the case, does that mean the Cardinal will receive 290+ pastoral resignations so that 125 “megapastor” positions can be filled? Good luck with that, particularly for the guys who have been around for a while. Then there’s the question of how parishes will be divided among Vicars Forane.

    I know we have serious staffing and resource shortage to face, but creating a brand new model seems to be putting the last nail in the coffin in Boston. Rather, should we be modeling things that are causing churches to flourish in the South?

    Our good and holy priests need continual prayer! I think we should all be on our knees tomorrow praying powerfully for the Spirit to guide the magisterium! Get out your Chaplets of Divine Mercy and pray!!!!

    • ACS, In response to your first question, the Code of Canon Law says the following:

      Can. 526 1. A pastor is to have the parochial care of only one parish; nevertheless, because of a lack of priests or other circumstances, the care of several neighboring parishes can be entrusted to the same pastor.

      We wholeheartedly support your call for us to pray for our good and holy priests!

  26. Mack says:

    To return to one aspect BCI’s post mentioned, many Catholics think that being a good Catholic doesn’t require participation at Mass. I think this reflects an underlying problem of a lack of catechesis. No matter how good the music is, people aren’t going to keep on coming to Mass unless they understand what the Mass is.
    In the second volume of his book on Jesus, Pope Benedict speaks of how the Mass is the renewal of Christ’s self-offering to the Father in atonement for our sins. How many priests actually explain this in their homilies? I’ve hardly ever heard them talk about it, and I’m a faithful Mass-goer. Priests really need to use that homily time to educate and motivate their congregations. I’m not trying to criticize the priests, but just to point out that so many homilies are not very good.

  27. Jack O'Malley says:


    As one who grew up pre-V2 and certainly before the “spirit of Vatican 2” poisoned the Church and eviscerated the Mass, I can tell you that there are only two things which sanction Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity”: one, the abysmal state of Catholic homiletics and two, the retention of the offertory as the proper place for passing the hat. (Do they still call it the “Offertory” or is there a protestant term for that now?)

    All the rest has evanesced in the smoke of Satan.

    • Dan Flatley says:

      Why do we care about simple numbers, like the number or percentage of people in the pews? When you have pagans in Roman collars like Father Cuenin leading the flock astray, if those folks leave, who really cares? Let them go. He is about as Catholic as my dog. If they want to go become Unitarians, who cares? Ted Kennedy was no shining example of a Catholic. He voted not just pro-abortion, but in favor of outright infanticide (or partial-birth abortion). So why should we care if our liberals leave? The real problem is that because we had homosexual predators among our clergy and we didn’t boot them and report them to the police, but covered it all up, we started losing conservatives or traditionalists, too. That is even more worrisome. I can’t recall the last time I heard a pro-life sermon from a priest. If we lose the traditionalists, there’ll be just crickets in the pews. Most of the priests that remain are good guys, but they don’t stand for anything. And after the gay marriage decision was handed down by the Mass. SJC, I sat through a pro-gay marriage sermon one Sunday. If a priest ripped that decision from the pulpit, I have a feeling the Archdiocese would censor him and exile him to some tiny, far away parish. I am tired of the Church trying to look like one of these liberal “Protestant” churches, whoring after the latest liberal false god. There is no such thing as a “pro-choice” (pro-abortion) Christian. Roe v. Wade is just constitutionalized savagery, and we need strong priests to proclaim that from the pulpit, and take the consequences.
      Dan Flatley

      • Carolyn says:


        Doesn’t this lead back to the ordinary? When priests are confused, or worse, shouldn’t the faithful look to the ordinary to lead? When the priest who is cabinet secretary for life issues does not show up at the pro-life walk each October, in fact is invisible, isn’t it the ordinary who needs to make a change?

        Why do we never hear sermons asking women to advocate for their babies during pregnancy — a time when the mother is the baby’s only real advocate? Why do we never see young women truly active in the pro-life movement in Boston the way one does in Phoenix or Dallas or Minneapolis? Why are the only characterizations of pro-lifers in this diocese as scolds? Why can’t the ordinary lead by example, with words of respect for the great effort it takes for a woman who is full of fear to bring her baby into the world?

        Why is Boston’s pro-life office treated like a doily on a dresser — quaint and we keep it there because it was grandmother’s, but it doesn’t really go with our trendy social justice decor? And why are we trendy about social justice when we need to be on our knees begging God’s mercy for abdicating our responsibility to the women who are so desperate they seek abortion? Where is the clarion call of our ordinary?

        For relief from this misery, I read Archbishop Dolan quotes. That man speaks the truth about the need to care for the most vulnerable and their mothers.

        Apologies to BCI for straying from the topic. Dan’s comment resonated, and I respect him for it.

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