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Parish Closing and Appeals Round-up

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Parish vigil hits eight years. On Friday October 25, parishioners at St. Frances X. Cabrini in Scituate, MA celebrated a dubious eight-year anniversary of continuous vigil in a church  the Archdiocese of Boston has been trying to close since Oct. 26, 2004. The building has been occupied 24/7  by parishioners who say they built it, paid for it, and it belongs to them (Boston Globe 10/20/12).
 
Boston cardinal approves plan that keeps parishes intact. Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Thursday approved a plan that aims to stabilize the Boston Archdiocese’s declining finances by combining its 288 parishes into 135 clusters that share staffing and resources. The number of available priests will plummet from 316 in 2011 to 178 in 2021; only 17 percent of local Catholics now attend Mass.  Boston’s plan is being watched closely as other dioceses around the country conduct their own reconfiguration plans (Associated Press 10/15/12).  (Editor’s note: Boston’s new plan is being watched closely as other dioceses around the country create their own reconfiguration plans)

Vatican urges parishioners to seek church lawyer. Monsignor Antonio Neri, undersecretary of the Congregation for Clergy, has written parishioners of St. John the Baptist Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts telling them to seek a canon lawyer and make a formal claim to keep their parish open. Parishioners are opposing Fall River bishop George Coleman’s March announcement that he would close the church (South Coast Today 10/10/12).  
 
Last of eleven victorious Cleveland parishes reopens. “We are now on the road to reconstruction,” said Cleveland St. Emeric parishioner and church organist Miklos Peller at the parish’s November 4 opening Mass.  Along with ten other parishes Peller had filed a successful appeal to the Vatican after Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon announced in March 2009 that he was closing dozens of churches. Even after winning their appeal Lennon initially denied St. Emeric parishioner requests to reinstate their Hungarian speaking pastor, Rev. Sandor Siklodi. Siklodi was finally reinstated but only after parishioners again appealed to Rome (Cleveland Plain Dealer 11/5/12).

Closed church to have Mass again. On December first, the doors of St. Patrick’s Church in Chicopee, MA reopened to worshipers again. Father Darisuz P. Wudarski, the Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Chicopee announced in mid-November, that St. Patrick’s would re-open for a single weekly Mass starting at the beginning of Advent. A group of parishioners launched a successful appeal to the Vatican after Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell closed the church in 2009 (WWLP Television 11/14/12).

St. Peter Church reopens but Community stays in rented space. On Sunday September 9, after the Vatican upheld parishioner appeals, St. Peter Church in downtown Cleveland reopened its doors.  But most members of the original congregation stayed away. More than 350 members of the St. Peter Community along with their pastor Fr. Robert Marrone, had refused to disband when Bishop Richard Lennon dissolved the parish in 2010. Instead they moved to nearby commercial space to continue worshiping and ministering in the city.  By all accounts, the new Community of St. Peter is flourishing and now numbers over 450.  Members express little inclination to return to the original church without Marrone who had been threatened with suspension by Lennon (Cleveland Plain Dealer 9/9/2012).

Belgium diocese will shrink 300 parishes to 70 Bishop Joahn Bonny of Antwerp recently announced a five year action plan that includes consolidate the dioceses 300 parishes into 70,  searching for priests “from abroad,” and hiring more paid lay staff (The Tablet 11/2/12).

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2013

 

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