If the implementation of the new pastoral plan across the Boston Archdiocese looks anything like we hear it looks in Newton, MA, we are in for a steep decline.
Latest news on the pastoral plan is that the 90-year-old retiring pastor of Sacred Heart in Newton, Fr. John Connelly, has packed his bags and is moving this week because he was asked by the Boston Archdiocese to leave the parish where he has served as pastor for the last 30 years. Out of obedience to his bishop, this very orthodox pastor has agreed to the plan and is moving to another rectory where he will now reside with two of the least orthodox priests in the archdiocese.
As background, as part of the parish collaborative effort, Sacred Heart in Newton is combining with Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton. According to local parishioners, the two parishes could not be more different. About a month ago in Boston Pastoral Planning Problems, we wrote how Sacred Heart has been led by an orthodox pastor while our Lady Help of Christians is more “new agey” in their liturgies and ministries:
Pastor, Fr. John Sassani of the new collaborative offers yoga at Our Ladys, despite the known objections of the Vatican and risk to the spiritual health of participants. His history of allowing promotion of agendas that dissent from the Catholic faith is well documented in his parish bulletins. Just take a look at the books his parishioners are encouraged to read in their book club, and see this comment from Newton church-hopper:
BCI you should look closer at Our Ladys. Besides glass vessels for the blood of Christ, look at the kinds of faith formation programs they have.
Our Ladys Book Club was reading “sister” Joan Chittister’s “In Search of Belief” last fall.
Chittister is a dissident nun, 60′s leftist and new-ager, supports women’s ordination, speaks at Call to Action conferences.
What an insult to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Fr. Sassani to have “Our Ladys Book Club” reading a book by a dissident nun who disobeyed the Vatican’s request she not speak at a women’s ordination conference!!!!:
What happens when the new pastor from the bigger parish takes over the smaller parish in the collaborative? They boot the former pastor, even if he is 90-years-old and ordained a priest for 65 years. Here are several notices in the Sacred Heart bulletin that detail the progression:
January 20, 2013: Fr. Connolly wrote in the bulletin about the pending collaborative and impact on him:
“Some folks have been asking how all this affects my situation here at Sacred Heart parish where I will complete my thirtieth year on June 30. A pastor who resigns his parish is obviously eligible for another parish. however, nobody wants a 90-year-old pastor. A pastor who retires has a number of options. He can live in his ancestral home, which I do not have. He could live alone in a condo he purchased decades ago, which I did not do. My option, therefore, means I would live in a rectory somewhere and help out. My present desire would be to remain where I am and be active in priestly ministry in the new collaborative here in Newton. I would prefer to live where I am living but I could move to Our Lady’s Parish. However, final decisions must await the appointment of the new pastor in April.”
February 3, 2013: Fr. Connolly wrote in the bulletin about a different plan for him:
To understand my future means to understand what it means to be a diocesan presbyter working under the Diocesan Bishop. When I was ordained in 1950 I freely and willingly made the solemn promise of respect and obedience to the bishop. This is what I have followed throughout my priesthood. Accordingly, I must say that at this time I shall remain on as pastor of Sacred Heart until June 2013. I will then assume the role of Senior Priest to serve anywhere else in the diocese except here in the new collaborative. I agree with the diocesan policy. The point of the policy is to allow the new pastor to assume his new duties as he meets his new parishioners and they meet him. My many years of teaching theology, especially the teaching of the faith on original sin, makes me understand and make sense of this diocesan policy.
If you read one of his final messages in the May 26, 2013 bulletin, you will see a summary of Fr. Connelly’s life (“Hopkinton to Heartbreak Hill”) and yet another example of what an amazing priest we understand Fr. Connelly is.
The going-away party for him was Sunday. BCI understands he is moving to the rectory at St. John’s in Wellesley (closer to his sister at Seton Residence /Sisters of Charity, Wellesley) where he will live with dissidents Fr. Bryan Hehir and Fr. Thomas Powers (who was pastor when Voice of the Faithful was founded in their school basement hall).
Big parish led by unorthodox pastor merges with smaller parish led by orthodox pastor. Unorthodox pastor with his unorthodox parochial vicar (founder of Boston Priests Forum) take over; 90-year-old orthodox pastor of smaller parish obediently follows orders to leave, goes to live in rectory with leading diocesan dissidents to be nearby elderly sister. If BCI got some part of this story wrong, please let us know.
How exactly this represents forward progress and a chance to better evangelize the truths of the Catholic faith is unclear to BCI. What do you think?