The Inside Story of the Closing of St. Paul School in Wellesley, MA: Part 2hy m

July 29, 2015

This post is a follow-up to our first post, The Inside Story of the Closing of St. Paul School in Wellesley, Part 1. The Boston Globe wrote an article about the closing today and got a statement from Terry Donilon at the Archdiocese of Boston.  The article repeats the generic statement from the school, “An attempt to secure solid commitments from parents for the upcoming school year was not sufficient.”   We think the reporters covering this story should ask a few more questions of Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocese.

Announcements blaming the closing on the parents or implying the blame rests with the parents do not sit well with the parents. The parents were asked to make a commitment of $1,500 by July 15th, and about 65% of the parents did. Fr. Sepe never specified just how many deposits would have to be turned in to make it “fiscally possible” to open in the fall.  Nor were parents informed of what the consequences would be if the parish didn’t receive a sufficient number of deposits. In addition, during the Annual fund raising drive (to celebrate 60 years of Catholic education with a $60K goal), the parents — who, according to the announcement did not commit to the school — raised about $67,000 to be used for the 2015 -2016 school year.  The latest tally of Annual Fund donations is $85,000, the lion’s share of which came from the parent community.  To BCI, parents, and others close to the school, this should be proof enough of commitment.

One might reasonably ask the question, “What will happen to those funds now that the school is closing?”  When asked about these monies in the parent meeting (which occurred on Thursday), BCI has heard several varying recountings of what Fr. Sepe told the assembled parents, neither of which is good. One source reported that Fr. Sepe told the assembled parents this was a donation and would not be subject to return.  Other sources recall Fr. Sepe equivocating and saying that if it was the “understanding and the stipulation” that Annual Fund monies were intended to benefit the school in the 2015-16 school year, then maybe the money would be returned. This answer did not set well with the donors or lawyers in the audience.

The full-time faculty were given contracts on July 9th. It is now known by those involved in the situation that they were at-will contracts, not the binding contracts that have been used in the past. Faculty were then called to the meeting on July 23rd and told there would not be an opening of the school due to lack of parent commitment to the school as noted above.  During this timeframe, positions which had been posted as open positions at St. John School were filled.  So good luck to the faculty!  In addition the school secretary who had to work at the rectory one day a week for the 2014-15 school year had been offered her regular full-time position at St. Paul school for the 2015-16 year, but was also then  terminated.  When she asked if she could work at the rectory in an open two day position, she was told the position had been offered and accepted and thus was no longer open.  A reasonable person might ask, if the future of the school was this uncertain in June and July, whey were these open positions filled by outsiders rather than kept open so those who would lose jobs could potentially fill them?

BCI is told that these are just some of the “shenanigans” that are surfacing in just the few days after the announcement.  In addition, Father Sepe is also on retreat for two weeks, leaving the school closing in the hands of a teacher at the school who has never handled any responsibilities such as this that would require administrative, legal or leadership expertise.

Here you have it. The downfall of a once great Catholic school largely because of missteps and bungled management by the Archdiocese of Boston, yet blamed on others. Meanwhile,here is a short video interview with new schools superintendent, Kathy Mears, telling Catholic TV how hard she works to help Catholic schools.

The St. Pauls situation and others similar to it suggest that Mrs. Mears has her work cut out for her. BCI is now hearing of other Boston-area Catholic schools in decline because of mismanagement by the RCAB. Drop us an email in confidence to pass along details if this is happening in your area.


The Inside Story of the Closing of St. Paul School in Wellesley, MA: Part 1

July 27, 2015

NOTE: This post was updated at 10:15pm ET on July 27.

BCI is sad to report to you that St. Paul Catholic School in Wellesley is closing effective this September.  The announcement is somewhat deceptive as to the reason for the closure:

For 60 years, St. Paul School faculty, staff and administrators have worked in partnership with parents to build a faith-filled Catholic school experience for students in PreK through Grade 8.

Over the past several years, St. Paul School has faced a steady decline in enrollment. An attempt to secure solid commitments from parents for the upcoming school year was not sufficient.

This suggests, erroneously, that the biggest problem was insufficient commitment from parents for the upcoming school year and reveals nothing of the mismanagement that led to this place. Several readers had recently reminded us about a question we raised about the future of St. Paul School in Wellesley in a response to a reader back in June of 2013, and we did not have the chance to blog about the latest problems. Because the Boston Archdiocese and local parish are telling only a little bit of the story, in this post and our next post tomorrow, we will give you the rest of the story.

As BCI noted in this June 2013 post and comments, previous pastor Fr. Richard Fitzgerald left with little advance notice and was transferred to another parish.  We were told in May by a source, “there has been nothing but turmoil within the school since Father Fitzgerald left” and that the pastor who replaced Fr. Fitzgerald, Fr. Thomas Rafferty had literally “decimated the school.” The enrollment went from approximately 165 in 2012 to about 97 in 2015 and it continued to plummet.  The story is sad and unbelievable but true.  Here is what we have been told:

“To take a parochial school that was consistently ranked among the 5 highest performing schools academically in the Archdiocese, artistically (for 3 years running a student from the school won the Cardinal’s Christmas card design contest) and nationally (as being the only parochial school in the nation to produce a MacArthur Scholar –the Genius Award) as well as many other social achievements for those in need, and destroy it might be worth a look see especially in light of the evangelization push in the diocese. Evangelization is the passing on the faith and SPS did that magnificently.”

“The story begins in the late winter of 2012, when the long serving principal (17 years) suddenly resigned to accept another principal position within the Archdiocese. The former principal was very well connected at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.  This resignation was a shock to the school community.  A search for a replacement was immediately undertaken under the auspices of the Catholic School office headed by Sheila Kukstis, who was then the Assistant Superintendent to the then-Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neil.  There was a short list of candidates presented to the committee–a committee, composed of faculty, parent, parish member and pastor.  Among the list of “light weights” was the woman who was selected.  She did not have the required basic tickets for the position which the other candidates did.  She had only been a guidance counselor at her school,(St. Francis in Braintree with the pastor being Fr. Sepe) and headed up the after-school program.  She was not certified nor did she have the leadership courses required to be certified.  In addition, she was 7 months pregnant.  She was hired anyway and given a strong recommendation by Fr, Sepe who was a classmate of Fr. Fitzgerald (the then-pastor at St. Paul). She started July 1, and was in the building through July 17. She only took two weeks maternity leave.”  BCI conveyed the situation of the principal not being the most qualified for the job in this post and comment to the post.

“The first major crisis occurred when a same-sex couple applied for admission of their child to the school.  St. Paul School enrolled the child of the lesbian couple, and the “two mommies” were introduced to the school body at First Friday Mass and welcome coffee for prospective parents in February of 2013, where they happily presented themselves for, and received, Holy Communion.The couple was introduced as a same-sex couple to ensure that the family would be socially accepted. This caused a major issue among many of the “orthodox parents” (Note BCIs description of St. Paul vs. St. John’s  noted in post of June, 2013).  This resulted in a mass exodus of long time families from St. Paul.  At the end of the school year, as BCI  reported, Father Fitzgerald (who was a strong supporter of the school, as was his predecessor Mgsr. Lind, who was then in residence in the rector) was suddenly transferred to St. Colombkille in Brighton.

The school opened in September 2013 with an enrollment of approximately 125 students (Sept. 2012 enrollment was approximately 165) and the soon-to-be announced pregnancy of the principal.  The new pastor, Father Tom Rafferty, did not come to opening day prayer service (which was well noted by the parent community). The parent community was concerned that the school was on the downslide and they wanted to be assured that Fr. Rafferty would reaffirm the support of the school that had always been evident from the pastor.  A group of parents met with him and offered to work long and hard to increase enrollment by marketing the school, get his assurance that he would support their efforts, and also support the Pre-K to 8 configuration of the school (meaning that the middle school would continue as part of SPS). They received this assurance on more than one occasion. The group met over a 4 month period, did an incredible amount of marketing, website updating, holding open houses etc. to support the school.  This resulted in an increase in enrollment of six students during the school year.  However, as this was going on, Father Rafferty was meeting with Mary Moran (RCAB Interim Superintendent) and James Walsh (RCAB Assistant Superintendent for Finance).These meetings resulted in a serious study as to whether the school would continue, and Ms Moran and Mr. Walsh concluded that the school was a financial burden to the parish. If it continued, it should be a PreK 6 school (in the model of St. John the Evangelist School).

Parents attempted to meet with Fr. Rafferty to have him assure them that SPS would continue.  He refused to meet with them and would not give them assurances of the school’s continuing (unlike his previous statements).  The principal during this time was seen as ineffective and leadership was non-existent. (The parents had contacted the Catholic School Foundation to see if they could help.  A meeting occurred with a large group of parents and a representative of the Foundation to which the principal was invited.  The principal was only invited to the introduction of the meeting and had a prior commitment, but with the principal having left early, many of the parents were left dumbfounded and without guidance on how to proceed with the Foundation).  The school community was in turmoil.  In February 2014, a group of parents met at the Wellesley Library trying to save the school.  (BCI is told that faculty members, who were very concerned about the future, were instructed not to attend or to take any part in this under the unspoken threat of losing their positions).  This parent meeting was precipitated by the fact that the pastor’s confidential statement delivered to the newly constituted School Board (made up of 90% of parents), at their first meeting, that the middle school would be closed. This statement got out and there was revolt, since, in previous meetings with the parents, he had intimated that he would support the school. At the Board meeting, Fr. presented three options for consideration, one of which was closing the middle school. It was this option that he asked them to seriously consider to keep the school financially viable.

The school year continued.  Father Rafferty met with 5th and 6th grade parents and still did not give the assurances the parents needed—namely, a continuation of grades 7 and 8 at St. Paul. The result was that 14 out of 16 sixth grade families did not reenroll. (Other grades experienced similar decreases in enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year).  This resulted in an opening of the school with about 92 students.  The principal went out on maternity leave and was replaced by an interim principal.  The plan was then announced to decrease faculty, combine 7th and 8th grade, and eliminate the library. This was left to the interim principal to implement. As the part of decision to close the library the collection of resources were first made available for faculty to take what they wanted for their classrooms and the rest (about 70%) was taken to the Wellesley Town dump and disposed of in the dumpsters there at the Leave and Take.  No other schools (inner city or suburban) were contacted to take the remaining part of the extensive library collection.

The school opened in September 2014 with (as noted before) an enrollment of about 92 students.  The parents continued to be concerned about the destiny of the school.  A long time parent introduced an individual who had experience in school marketing to the principal, and the principal decided to enlist her help. The individual and the principal worked closely together on initiatives throughout the yearThis individual worked pro-bono on a major professional marketing plan and campaign which seemed to generate a interest in the school.  A survey was done to determine the needs and desires of the community.  During this time (former interim Superintendent) Mary Moran and Assistant Superintendent Martha McCook became involved.  They did a six week study of the feasibility of SPS and met, along with Superintendent Kathy Mears, twice with the parents of the school.  There was no commitment made at any of these meetings.

As all of this was occurring, the two parishes (St. Paul and St John) went into collaboration.  Father Rafferty was not appointed pastor.  The priest who was appointed was Father Sepe (above).  In addition, the school celebrated its 60th anniversary and the school community raised $60,000 for its annual fund as an indication of the community’s support of the school. (The amount currently stands at $85,000). Then, in the middle of spring vacation, the principal was terminated (effective immediately), and the former interim principal was brought on as acting principal, Father Rafferty refused to meet with parents, but parents who had reenrolled their children were been asked for a further $1,500 deposit to be paid by July 1st (an unprecedented demand). (The principal was terminated for stated reason “We do not have confidence in your ability to lead the school through its current crisis”. No option to finish the school year was given. Several times it was described that the BSCO was actively helping her find a job, but to date she has not heard from them. It should be noted that, under this principal, the Annual Fund reached $70,000 and enrollment was on pace to stay level and possibly increase for the 2015-2016 academic year.)  He also stated that he would leave the future of the school to Father Sepe, who is scheduled to assume his new position on June 1.  In addition, the former principal was told by Father Rafferty that there would not be a search made for a new principal at St. Paul (as an aside, St. John the Evangelist school was seeking a new principal based on a posting on the Archdiocese’s website at the time and hired Michael Dibbert, a former English teacher and coach at BC High who got a Masters in Education from BC).

So in a period of three years, a stellar, high performing Catholic school with a 60-year history was allowed to disintegrate.  A school that was the only Boston Archdiocese Catholic school that, in addition to innumerable doctors, lawyers, priest, religious, teachers, nurses and other professionals, had a MacArthur Fellow among its alumni and which had passed the faith to generations of the faithful was left to implode.

Next Post Part 2: The Closing and Keeping of $60K+ Raised for the School


On the strange situation of Fr. Walter Cuenin and the Brandeis Univ. Chaplaincy

May 29, 2015

A number of readers have been asking us to share news and commentary about the strange situation of Fr. Walter (“Call me Walter”) Cuenin and what is currently going on with the Catholic chaplaincy at Brandeis University. Cuenin left Brandeis in January on short notice for undisclosed health reasons, and Brandeis is balking at having the Boston Archdiocese appoint a replacement.  To paraphrase Shakespeare, something smells rotten in Denmark.

As BCI readers may recall, last October we called Fr. Cuenin out for flying a GLBTQ banner over the Catholic chapel at Brandeis.   We wrote:

There are so many things wrong with what is going on there, it is tough to express in words. How can a Catholic priest be allowed to promote “gay pride” and gravely sinful, immoral behavior and remain in active ministry?  Imagine a 17 or 18-year-old child away from home for the first time who might be confused about their sexual identity going to talk to Fr. Cuenin for a Catholic perspective–and instead of hearing about how Christ calls them to chastity and holiness, they see the gay pride flag there with a Catholic priest advocating for the gay lifestyle and the sinful, disordered, medically unsafe behaviors that are a part of it.  This crap from Fr. Cuenin has been going on for at least 12-15 years, if not longer. His public testimony to the Mass Legislature in 2002 opposing a ban on “gay marriage” should have gotten him permanently removed from ministry.

We also urged readers to write to various archdiocesan officials to call for his removal. Well, by and by, about 2 months later, in January Fr. Cuenin left Brandeis on short notice for undisclosed health reasons. All that Cuenin has said is he is “in a clinic in Michigan for treatment.”  Cuenin previously left Brandeis temporarily in 2012 to undergo treatment for cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In the October 9, 2012 issue of the Brandeis Justice, he described the treatment program as a Church-sponsored course for priests “to get them in better shape” and said he hoped to address not only his cancer but also “other psychological and spiritual issues.”  It is unclear whether this year’s permanent departure is related to the health issues of 2012.

This brings us to what Brandeis has been doing to block the filling of the vacant Catholic chaplaincy role with a faithful Catholic priest.

In the original announcement of Fr. Cuenin’s January departure, Brandeis said that Sr. Marie Labolitta would be helping ensure “Services are available this weekend…there will be transportation provided to attend Service in Newton.”  Beside their failure to properly refer to the Catholic Mass, Sr. Marie Labolitta, formerly at Our Lady Help of Christians when Fr. Cuenin was pastor there, is bad news. She is a founder of a non-denominational womens’ spirituality group called “Sacred Threads.”  One look at their website, which promotes a local talk by dissident Joan Chittister, and you know she is problematic. BCI heard that since Cuenin’s departure they have been transporting students to Our Ladys in Newton, even though St. Marys in Waltham and other more orthodox Catholic Churches are much closer to the Brandeis Campus.

Sources tell BCI that in leaving Brandeis, Fr. Cuenin  organized a student “initiative” to change the nature of Chaplaincy. Initially, Brandeis said they would be working with the Boston Archdiocese to fill the role. Fr. Dan Moloney was proposed by the Boston Archdiocese and started saying Masses at Brandeis in early February. But Brandeis said they wanted to consider a new vision for the chaplaincy. We are told that Fr. Moloney was found by the “Cuenin acolytes” to be “inadequately liberal, aka Cuenine” and rejected. He is not longer there, sources also tell us there is no regular Catholic Mass on campus, and students are still being directed to “progressive” Churches that may not be anywhere near Waltham.  We have also heard that Cuenin is still “advising”, aka undermining, the Brandeis Catholic students, even sending them to WomenPriests for Mass. The person coordinating Mass arrangements is Allison Cornelisse, described as “a member of the Brandeis Catholic community.”  A Google search on her name reveals nothing whatsoever about her background, but if she is the one bypassing nearby Catholic churches in Waltham and Newton (St. Marys, St. Charles Borromeo, Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes) that are true to the Catholic faith in favor of churches farther away where the tenor is not so true to the Catholic faith, then we see her as problematic.

As for the search for a new Catholic chaplain, Brandeis said there is a committee working on it–in the context of looking at campus Chaplaincy across religions and faiths.  The faculty chair of that committee is Prof. Wendy Cadge. A brief look at her CV shows a number of articles she has about Buddhism and in support of the gay agenda in churches. (e.g. her chapters in a book Gay Religion, entitled ““Reconciling Congregations Bridging Gay and Straight Communities” and “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Buddhist Practitioners”).  BCI cannot fathom how a secular college committee of any sort–let alone one set-up like this–would be in a position to set the requirements for a Catholic priest/chaplain. Given this is the way Brandeis seems to be operating, BCI thinks the only thing that could be done for the Catholic students on campus would be for the Boston Archdiocese to appoint an orthodox Catholic student to help coordinate transportation to Masses at nearby parishes faithful to the teachings of the Catholic faith.


Holy Trinity Church in Boston Being Turned into Boutique Condos

April 29, 2015

For those who have not yet heard, Holy Trinity Church, the former home of the German Catholic Community and the Traditional Latin Mass is being redeveloped into boutique condos.  We posted last June that the property was up for sale, and in November we learned it had been sold, however the identity of the developer was not yet publicly available. Oddly, the archdiocese has not announced the sale price, or what will become of the millions of dollars of proceeds. Now the plans are up for approval by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A picture of the proposed development can be found below.

Here is what has been written about the proposed plans.  In “You Could Soon Live in This 19th Century South End Church” we learn:

Finegold Alexander + Associates, Inc. is hoping to transform the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and Rectory – located at 136 Shawmut Ave. in Boston’s South End – into an eight-story structure boasting 33 residential units. (The firm is acting on behalf of owner 136 Shawmut LLC, formed out of New Boston Ventures, according to the Boston Globe.)

According to a report filed by Finegold Alexander principal-in-charge James G. Alexander with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, this particular housing development will keep the church and rectory’s exterior facade while the interior of the building will be completely demolished and rebuilt – assuming, of course, the project is approved by the BRA.

Atop the building, however, will rise a glass and steel structure that, the report notes, is expected to “blend old and new, creating a bold centerpiece for this developing neighborhood.”

Not counting the basement containing 24 parking spaces, some 57,000-square-feet of residential space could be built, more than 69,000-square-feet in total (counting the basement lot).

The BRA a held public hearing to gather community input on the project on Monday, April 27.

Regarding the “eye-popping design,” the Boston Globe reported:

“You could tear it down and start over, which would be a tragedy — you’d lose the details, the social and religious history,” said architect James Alexander, who led the building’s design team at Finegold Alexander + Associates. “But re-using it as it was, with the shape of the roof and the square footage, it just wouldn’t generate the return.”

Alexander and his team, along with New Boston Ventures, fine-tuned the design over several consultations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Officials there asked the designers to move the front of the new structure back from the street, so the church’s central tower would remain visually prominent.

As we have said before, BCI thinks the sale and loss of this magnificent church (see pictures here) has been a great tragedy. The conversion to boutique condos would appear to now put the nail in the coffin. Any chances of this great Catholic church ever being a Catholic church and place for Catholic worship again are probably forever gone.


Boston priest puts GLBTQ rainbow flag on Catholic chapel

October 30, 2014

In our last post, we reported on how Boston priest, Fr. Walter Cuenin, promoted a petition to have the gay “rainbow” flag cover the Oval Office in Washington, but we learned hours later that we missed some even more scandalous things this priest has done.

For the month of October, Fr. Cuenin has had what he describes as “an enormous gay pride flag” displayed outside the chapel to “recognize both Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History Month. A photo is below.

flag

Here is what Fr. Cuenin had to say about this in an interview with the Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice:

In an interview with the Justice, Rev. Walter Cuenin, the University’s Catholic chaplain and coordinator of the Interfaith Chaplaincy, explained the chapel’s display and its significance in detail. He described the flag right beside the chapel as an “enormous gay pride flag.” He also mentioned that a pink cloth covers the altar and added that there are also pink candles in the chapel. Cuenin said that he wanted students to be aware of issues regarding discrimination pertaining to the LGBTQ community and breast cancer awareness and research.

Cuenin acknowledged that a priest hanging an LGBTQ pride flag outside of the chapel might be a bit of a surprise, stating that many believe “a priest would never do that,” given the Catholic Church’s stance that homosexuality is morally wrong. He said he feels deeply that there needs to be more focus on how people act outside of the Church as opposed to good deeds and social activism being confined to the Church.

As we all know the gay rainbow flag is a symbol of “gay pride”  and LGBT social movements.  This is commonly associated with gay pride parades and gay pride weeks, where the following is typically on display:

  • Sado-masochism
  • Profanity and vulgarity, much of it in an angry tone
  • Homosexual sex; condoms and anal lubricant given out almost everywhere
  • Horrible “gay” diseases and psychological problems
  • The problem of “gay” domestic violence
  • Hatred of traditional religion, particularly Catholicism
  • Perversions such as cross-dressing and transsexual body mutilation
  • An obsession with children and teenagers

This is what Fr. Cuenin promoted outside the church in October.  One article reports that when one enters the church, inside the foyer year-round he also proudly displays a multicolored gay pride flag, while this article says he has the rainbow flag inside the chapel. The article continues, “Father Cuenin is also a official LGBT ally on campus, through his work with Trisk (Brandeis’ GLBTQA student group). He also continuously makes himself available and accessible to struggling students in his role as a confidential resource.  This article says, “Father Cuenin has always displayed a rainbow peace flag inside the chapel, as a statement that the chapel is friendly to people of all sexualities. That will continue to be the case when the pride flag outside is taken down at the end of the month. Cuenin also commented that he takes his role as a confidential resource on campus very seriously, and hopes that more students will feel welcome to talk with him as a result of these displays.”

There are so many things wrong with what is going on there, it is tough to express in words. How can a Catholic priest be allowed to promote “gay pride” and gravely sinful, immoral behavior and remain in active ministry?  Imagine a 17 or 18-year-old child away from home for the first time who might be confused about their sexual identity going to talk to Fr. Cuenin for a Catholic perspective–and instead of hearing about how Christ calls them to chastity and holiness, they see the gay pride flag there with a Catholic priest advocating for the gay lifestyle and the sinful, disordered, medically unsafe behaviors that are a part of it.  (The matter of the pink cloth on the altar for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and using the altar to advance his own ideology and agenda is an entirely different issue).

This crap from Fr. Cuenin has been going on for at least 12-15 years, if not longer. His public testimony to the Mass Legislature in 2002 opposing a ban on “gay marriage” should have gotten him permanently removed from ministry then.  Write to the following people and ask for his immediate removal.

Dir. of Campus Minisry, Fr. Richard Clancy: frclancy@mit.edu
Vicar General, Bishop Peter Uglietto: vicar_general@rcab.org
Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications: tdonilon@rcab.org.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley: archbishopsean_o’malley@rcab.org
U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano: nuntiususa@nuntiususa.org

 

 


Boston priest promotes petition for LGBTQ banner over White House

October 30, 2014

This came in to BCI in mid-October and we are just getting to post it.  Fr. Walter Cuenin (call me “Walter”), currently Catholic Chaplain at Brandeis University and formerly pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton sent the following email to members of the Brandeis Catholic Student Organization promoting an initiative to have the gay “rainbow” flag covering the Oval Office in Washington. But there’s more beyond that.  Read on below, and also see our most recent post about how he is displaying the gay pride flag over the Catholic chapel.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Walter Cuenin
Date: Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:41 PM
Subject: [cso] PETITION for GLBTQ awareness month
To: cso

One of our students is trying to organize an initiative to have the gay flag or banner to cover the Oval Office in Washington.  He is a fine young man and a senior and a friend to me.I am sending you a link so that if you wanted you could lend your voice via email. They need a lot of people to sign up. Thanks
The message:  For the full month of October, we the people respectfully request that LGBTQ History month be honored publicly by hanging a full sized banner – to cover the entire White House oval office exterior – as a  show of solidarity and support from the Executive branch of our government. Men, women and ungendered Americans across the country are often marginalized from their communities due to their personal identification. A strong message of support- by way of visual symbolism- would make hundreds of thousands of Americans feel represented in our Capitol, and has the potential to save the lives of those who are struggling with their  identities.   email https:// petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/drape-full-sized-rainbow-colored-banner-white-house-oval-office-exterior-lgbtq-history-month-october/XQnzH3BN  THANKS

(Thankfully, in the end, the petition failed to get enough signatures). Still, Fr. Cuenin has long been a supporter of the GLBT agenda and other agendas other than what the Catholic Church teaches. In 2002 he provided testimony to the Massachusetts Legislature opposing a ban on same-sex marriage. This piece from the Brandeis Hoot gives more background on him. Here are a few excerpts:

It may be rare to encounter a multicolored gay pride flag upon entering a church. But Brandeis’ Catholic chaplain, the Rev. Walter Cuenin, proudly displays the rainbow flag in the Bethlehem Chapel’s foyer. With the word “Peace” written across the middle, the flag symbolizes a proclamation of acceptance and unity for each person who may walk through the Bethlehem Chapel’s doors.

Cuenin bases his decision to exhibit a gay pride flag on a tale about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. According to Christian tradition, when Mary and Joseph arrived at a Bethlehem inn, Mary was forced to have her baby in an outside stable since there were no rooms left at the inn. Cuenin connects this story to Brandeis’ Bethlehem Chapel by using the multicolored flag to portray that “in this Bethlehem, there’s always room for everyone in the inn.”

Cuenin is currently an ally of Brandeis’ LGBT group, Triskelion. He claims that while the Catholic Church does not support gay marriage, it does welcome gay people to its churches. In fact, when he was a pastor for a larger church nearby, Cuenin had even performed a baptism for the baby of a gay couple.

“The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage, so I cannot directly say I support it, but I have seen from my experience that for many people it creates a much healthier environment … For example, if you were to go to Provincetown in the summer time, where a lot of gay people go, it’s a radically different place today than it was 20 years ago,” Cuenin said. “They are there with children and married, raising kids, so they go home at night. In other words, it has transformed the whole gay scene … it hasn’t led to total debauchery. In some ways, it has pulled people back together,” Cuenin said.

“When I was a pastor of a large church … I would always say I welcome everybody to this church, whether you’re gay or straight, divorced or remarried. Sometimes people in authority can take that the wrong way, but my understanding of being Christian is someone who welcomes everybody.”

No, Fr. Cuenin, your understanding is missing something important. Jesus commanded his disciples to go out into the world and preach the gospel. The mission is to save souls by carrying out the saving ministry of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15 (1-4) says: “Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”  You as a priest are to be a shepherd and help save lost souls. You will be held accountable for that before God. It is fine to welcome people, but you need to let them know about sin, discipleship, taking up the cross, confession, conversion, and how the path to salvation of souls comes by rejecting sin.

Beyond that, it is heresy and scandalous to equate the birth of Jesus Christ by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem with welcoming gay people committing grave sins. That Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese allows Cuenin to continue leading souls astray like this is also scandalous. What does it say about Cardinal O’Malley?

It is obvious that Fr. Cuenin should not be in any position of teaching or public ministry. We ask readers to send a message to the Director of the Boston Archdiocese’s Campus Ministry, Fr. Richard Clancy <frclancy@mit.edu> and the Archdiocese of Boston Vicar General, Bishop Peter Uglietto <vicar_general@rcab.org>. Forward this blog post and ask them to take action to remove Cuenin from a position of public ministry. Please let us know what kind of response you get.


Boston’s Holy Trinity Church Up for Sale

August 27, 2014

We are sad to report (belatedly) that Boston’s beautiful Holy Trinity (German) Church is up for sale. For decades, it was home to the German Catholic community and Traditional Latin Mass.  We wrote about the relegation to profane use of the neo-gothic style 1877 church building back in 2011.  The property went on the market in June, but we never got the chance to report it at the time. Here is the For Sale listing. The Boston Archdiocese believes it could sell for up to $4M to a residential developer.

An anonymous BCI reader submitted the following piece about the fate of Holy Trinity, and we are publishing it unedited.

The Stripping of Holy Trinity Has Begun

The appearance at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross of several items that had belonged to Holy Trinity Church in the South End has signaled the beginning of the stripping of Boston’s historic German church.  When this winter the Archdiocese learned that the Apostolic Signatura had upheld the relegation of Holy Trinity to profane use with no further possibility of appeal, the Rector of the Cathedral, to which all Holy Trinity property now belongs, began to bring items to the Cathedral, most notably the baptismal font, which was used at this year’s Easter Vigil.  Holy Trinity’s former parishioners appreciate the pastoral care they have received from the Rector of the Cathedral and his concern to find suitable homes for the religious items.

Overall, however, the Archdiocese is the poorer – much poorer – both spiritually and financially for the closure.

Is There Room for God in the New South End?

In the increasing spiritual vacuum that is the South End – at least three other churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been converted to housing there within the last five years – Holy Trinity had a unique draw on young adults who appeared to not be practicing any faith.

One mild Saturday afternoon in December 2005, when parishioners were cleaning the church in preparation for Christmas, a young man and woman passing by gaped through the open doors.  The parishioners cleaning the glass doors in the vestibule – doors etched with the phrase “This is the House of God and Gate of Heaven” – invited the couple inside, but only the young man accepted the invitation.  He walked about the nave in astonishment – he had no idea this church in his neighborhood was so beautiful – and was incredulous at the parishioners’ explanation that the Archdiocese planned to close the church. 

Years later, at the closing Mass in June 2008, a clump of young adults (both men and women) watched the service from folding chairs in the choir loft.  They lived in the neighborhood and “always wanted to see the church.”

More like them are coming to the South End.  According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority web site, the South End will soon hold almost 1900 new condominiums and apartments, including 62 condominiums in the former Immaculate Conception Church, the Jesuit church across from Boston City Hospital.

Shortly after the closure of Holy Trinity, its adjacent neighborhood was re-zoned as an “Economic Development Area.”  The acceptable height of buildings neighboring buildings may now be as high as 150 feet, and the ratio of building size to lot size increased as much as 63%.  An example of this is the 11-story office and retail building that has been approved for development a few hundred feet away from Holy Trinity.  The building’s developer, Ron Druker, also owns the 1-story warehouse immediately to the left of Holy Trinity and the parking lot immediately behind it.  In an area to be transformed into an extension of downtown, is it unreasonable to speculate that he might want to purchase the church and demolish it to build another glass and steel tower on the combined lot?

As things stand now, however, these new residents and office workers will not have the opportunity to worship at Holy Trinity as did generations of South End residents (even those who were not German) before them.

The Costs of Closure

While Holy Trinity Church was open, parishioners paid all expenses, including maintenance and repairs, without any subsidy from the Archdiocese of Boston.  Holy Trinity has since incurred well over $350,000 in expenses merely because it is closed.  The largest of these are property taxes assessed by the City of Boston beginning in 2011, which have totaled $246,708.99 through June 2014.  Maintenance fees, including contracted property management fees with the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank firm and the erection of a barbed-wire fence and other minor repairs due to break-ins by vagrants, are estimated at $125,000 at this time.  (The total was $88,000 as of May 2012.)

Now, the cost of stripping the church can be added to the total.  The removal of some items before they have a buyer, especially the rare stained glass windows, could cost thousands of dollars.  (The high altar and pews have been sold to another Catholic church that will remove them at its own expense.)

Who has paid these expenses?  As announced by the rector in May 2012 parish council meeting, the Cathedral Parish, one of Boston’s poorest, has been forced to assume them by taking a loan, which at the time totaled over $212,000.  The loan would be repaid from proceeds of the sale of Holy Trinity.  In the interim, the debt has been a great strain on the Cathedral Parish.  Note that the Cathedral Grammar School closed in June, 2013; this strain may have been one factor in its closure.

Thus, no one has benefitted financially from the closure of Holy Trinity.  Expenses have been incurred, not eliminated.  Even the City of Boston may not have benefitted; if 15 or more former Cathedral Grammar School students transferred to the Boston Public Schools, the cost of educating them ($17,000 per student according to 2010 figures) would exceed the tax revenues collected from Holy Trinity to date.

The Costs Were Avoidable

Unknown to Holy Trinity parishioners fighting its closure, a vigorous church preservation movement was saving churches around the country, especially in the Midwest.  Over 50 of these groups have been at work since as early as the 1920’s, preserving churches that are in some cases the only building remaining in their now-abandoned town.  One of the most well-known of these, Saint Joseph Shrine in Saint Louis, Missouri, once so dilapidated that the droppings of nesting birds covered pews and statuary, has been completely restored by a preservation group that has raised over $4 million since 1979.  Mass is held there weekly.

As soon as they learned about this movement, Holy Trinity parishioners formed a preservation group in October 2013.  Their plan, modeled on the plans of other preservation groups, was to assume all the maintenance costs of Holy Trinity Church in return for the Archdiocese authorizing one Mass there per year.  When the offer was made by telephone to Fr. Paul Soper, Director of the Office of Pastoral Planning, he rejected it, saying that parishioners needed to “move on.”

Had the plan been implemented at the time of closure, the Cathedral Parish would have incurred no expenses on account of Holy Trinity.  An annual Mass would have eliminated taxation by the City of Boston, as the church would still be in religious use.  A group that was able to gather annually would have collected enough money to pay the property management and maintenance fees.

Although the Holy Trinity’s relegation to profane use was upheld despite the founding of the preservation group, another group has had its church’s relegation to profane use overturned by the Vatican.  The fact that parishioners of Saint Ann’s Church in Buffalo, New York had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for its preservation was cited by the Congregation for the Clergy (the first appeal step) as evidence that the bishop did NOT have a grave reason to relegate the church to profane use.  Money talks at the Vatican.

Is It Too Late For Holy Trinity?

The best hope for Holy Trinity Church to continue evangelizing in the twenty-first century and for the waste of closure expenses to end is to sell it to a religious order.  They would staff the church and, with the help of the Holy Trinity Restoration Society, bear the maintenance and repair costs of a 135-year-old building.  Proceeds from the sale would repay the loan taken by the Cathedral Parish with the surplus to be used as the rector sees fit.

Anyone interested in this effort is invited to visit Holy Trinity Boston Restoration Society on Facebook and to pray to Our Lady Undoer of Knots:  Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots


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