ParishWatch: Tracking Parish Closings in North America
Here is the information we have about parish reconfigurations in this state. Please send your parish consolidation/reconfiguration news to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will update our information.
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Archdiocese shuts off utilities at Wellesley parish 10/15/2011
Escalating its standoff with parishioners at a closed church building in Wellesley, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has shut off heat and water at St. James the Great, angering church members who have occupied the church since it was closed in 2004.
'Rearranging' of local Catholic churches under way 9/27/11
Faced with declining church attendance and aging priests, the Diocese of Norwich Monday began its eight-month study of possible consolidation of services and facilities in the New London deanery, a conference of 13 parishes along the shoreline from East Lyme to the Rhode Island border.
Scituate parish awaits ruling on appeal of church closing 9/18/2011
Despite church officials’ decision to put their parish’s rectory up for sale, members of the group maintaining a vigil at St. Francis X. Cabrini Church in Scituate say they believe canonical courts in Rome will block the sale of their church in a ruling that could come as soon as next month.
Taking on the church he loves: Closed Catholic parishes find a fighter in Charlestown’s Peter Borré 8/20/2011
Unwilling to give up their vigil 7/18/2011
The quilt draped across the altar of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church offers an image of peace, a dove with olive branch. But woven into it is a message of defiance: “Sixth Year Anniversary in Vigil.’’
6 shut churches may be sold 7/15/2011
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is moving to sell six shuttered churches belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, removing the sacred standing of the church buildings through decrees made public yesterday.
Cardinal decides fate of contested churches 7/15/2011
After receiving feedback from former parishioners and other local Catholics, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley has decided on the status of eight church buildings related to parishes that had appealed their closure to the Vatican.
Boston Archdiocese may radically regroup parishes 6/3/2011
The Boston Archdiocese is considering a radical reshuffling that would unite its 291 parishes into 80 to 120 groups so that each cluster could share resources and clergy, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Boston archdiocese pulls listing of closed church 3/18/2011
The Boston Archdiocese has pulled the real estate listing of a closed Roman Catholic church, saying it was causing confusion about its intentions for the property.
Boston studies parishes' future: change ahead for some Toledo parishes 2/15/2011
In the Boston Archdiocese, a team of priests, deacons, religious and laypeople will help lay the groundwork for the archdiocese's future, which will likely result in fewer parishes but a similar number of churches that currently serve Catholics.
Diocese takes steps to retool parishes: Goal is mergers, not closing 2/3/2011
The Archdiocese of Boston is launching a major effort to reorganize its parish structure in response to challenges that have been brewing for decades — declining Mass attendance, diminished financial resources, and a shortage of priests.
Ex-parishioners still hope to reverse church closings 1/6/2011
When the news came this week that Pope Benedict XVI had rejected the last-ditch appeal of a group of former parishioners to reopen nine churches closed in 2003 and 2004, it seemed as if the protesters’ long struggle was finally over.
Pope rejects appeal from closed Mass. parishes 1/4/2011
Pope Benedict XVI has rejected an appeal from a group of Boston-area parishioners who asked him to reverse the seven-year-old decision to close their churches.
Closed Massachusetts churches appeal directly to pope 10/19/2010
BOSTON—A group of Roman Catholics asked Pope Benedict XVI to reverse the decision by the Boston Archdiocese to close their churches, which sparked a six-year fight and several round-the-clock parishioner vigils.
Vatican's Boston decision does not apply to appeals in Allentown Diocese 7/17/10
The recent decision by the Vatican's highest court that a diocese has the authority to close a parish regardless of its financial health or attendance should not affect the appeals of church closings and mergers in the Diocese of Allentown.
Vatican rejects closed Boston churches' appeals 5/18/10
The Vatican has rejected final appeals by 10 parishes closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, leaving parishioners to consider fighting the closings in civilian courts, the leader of a parish advocacy group said Monday.
2005: Five years into the journey 8/15/08 http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=6700
2004: Five years into the journey 8/15/08 http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=6699
Cardinal O’Malley discusses past decisions, challenges ahead 8/15/08 http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=6696
A leader through word and example 8/15/08 http://www.thebostonpilot.com/articleopinion.asp?ID=6693
Last rites 06/30/08 Parishioners at St. Casimir, Holy Trinity gather for final Mass as churches close http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/06/30/last_rites/?page=2
Holy Trinity Church in Boston closing 06/24/08 http://www.necn.com/Boston/New-England/Holy-Trinity-Church-in-Boston-closing/1214778667.html#
Future uncertain for Brookline chapel 6/19/08 http://www.wickedlocal.com/brookline/news/x390613193/Future-uncertain-for-Brookline-chapel
Vatican tribunal denies St. Frances appeal 6/18/08 http://www.wickedlocal.com/scituate/news/x390613112/Vatican-tribunal-denies-St-Frances-appeal
Boston Parishioners Celebrate Good Friday on Parish steps. Parishioners from the closed St. Michael's parish held Good Friday services on the front steps of the building. St. Michael's had 800 members with more than $600,000 in the bank before the Boston Archdiocese closed it in June, 2006. "We have a broken heart here. We definitely feel that our ancestry, our heritage, our Polishness has sincerely been attacked," said parishioner Richard Cushing. Nine churches in the Archdiocese of Boston, including St. Michaels have had their appeals accepted by the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. A Vatican response is expected in the fall. In the meantime, five parishes have continued 24 vigils for over two years and five Boston-area parishioner groups have civil suits pending. (Spring 07) http://www.thebostonchannel.com/print/11553190/detail.html
Boston Parishioners Vigil, Continue Canonical Suits Five Boston churches continue 24 hour vigils to keep their parishes open. Four will celebrate their second full year of vigil activity, logging more than 17,000 hours in the pews, day and night. Nine Boston-area parishes have appeals pending with the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court in the Catholic Church. It is surprising that all nine of those who filed were accepted, because the Signatura, like the U.S. Supreme Court, can simply reject appeals, and usually does. According to Canon Law specialists, the Signatura's accompanying decree instructions to Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, are completely unprecedented: the Signatura formally instructed O'Malley to safeguard all parish properties involving the nine appeal groups while the appeals are heard. Boston's Council of Parishes presented a Friend of the Court brief arguing that Bishops as trustees have a fiduciary responsibility under civil law to safeguard the parishes entrusted to their care, and cannot use parishes as a means of balancing diocesan books. Six Boston-area parishioner groups have filed civil lawsuits against the archdiocese in Massachusetts' courts. The first of these, on appeal from the Superior Court, was heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on February 13. (Winter 07 Report from Council of Parishes)
Mater Dolorosa Church protesters offer to buy the Holyoke church 10/10/11
Protesters who have been holding a 24-hour vigil in Mater Dolorosa Church for more than three months have offered to purchase the building.
Vatican upholds closure of church 9/21/2011
The Vatican has upheld the Springfield Diocese’s decision to close a Holyoke parish it says has serious debt and an unsafe steeple, but parishioners who have been occupying the church round-the-clock since June said they will not leave.
Appeals to reopen closed US parishes see partial victories 3/14/2011
Catholic parishioners in nearly a dozen Pennsylvania and Massachusetts churches that were closed by their local bishop have won partial victories early this year in appeals to the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, said Peter Borre, a Boston Catholic actively engaged in fighting such closings in several dioceses.
Vatican halts closing of 3 Mass. parishes: Springfield diocese decision overruled 2/19/2011
In a rare victory for Catholics challenging parish closings, the Vatican has rejected an effort by the Diocese of Springfield to end worship at three churches in Western Massachusetts.
St. Stan Vigilers Hope Prayers Answered 2/15/11
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is part of an "historic moment" in receiving one of several decrees from the Vatican so far that seem to open new avenues for closed churches.
Judge denies Diocesan suit over historic landmark status of Springfield, MA parish.
After Springfield city council voted to establish an historic district that included recently closed Our Lady of Hope parish, the diocese accused it of "religious gerrymandering" and sued. But On January 4 U. S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor dismissed the diocese's suit in a 56 page ruling in the city's favor.
Parish/Diocese real estate conflict in Western Massachusetts 11/2010
The many church closings in the Springfield Diocese (roughly 25% since 2006) have resulted in a glut of property, some of which is beginning to look increasingly appetizing to tax collectors in the local towns.
Church wins to fight to stay open 9/19/10
Parishioners at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in the city's Indian Orchard neighborhood have won the fight to keep their beloved 100-year-old church open.
Rallying To Save A City Church Parish won't surrender 6/24/08 http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_9680893
Countdown to closure: All Souls will celebrate its final Mass tomorrow, and the other five parishes will be shut down by July 6. 6/14/08 http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_9584746
Six Catholic Churches Closing 2/15/08 http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/15528582.html
No closings here: This Catholic diocese sees room for growth 7/24/08 http://www.dailynewstribune.com/state/x1346891968/No-closings-here-This-Catholic-diocese-sees-room-for-growth
Five Closing Churches Celebrate Last MassDiocese Predicts More Closings/ST. Casimirs appeal 6/29/08 http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/16741934/detail.html
Parish life memories not forgotten 06/29/08 http://www.telegram.com/article/20080629/NEWS/806290438/1116
BISHOP BANNED: Parishioners don't want him at St. Casimir's last Mass 6/29/08 http://www.wickedlocal.com/brockton/news/lifestyle/religion/x390618967/
Parishioners give to the end: Donations collected for the poor 6/23/08 http://www.telegram.com/article/20080623/NEWS/806230589/1116
Church closings unveil a silver lining 5/25/08 http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20080525&Category=
Diocese to close five churches :Parishes were facing ‘serious decline’5/18/08 By Jacqueline Reis TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF http://www.telegram.com/article/20080518/NEWS/805180708/1116
Bishop McManus to head Worcester diocese/Parish closings discussed
By Kevin Luperchio
Special to The Pilot WORCESTER — On March 9, an announcement was made in Rome that Pope John Paul II had appointed Bishop Robert J. McManus, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence, the fifth bishop of Worcester. Later that morning, Bishop Daniel P. Reilly introduced his successor during a press conference in the chancery.
"Bishop McManus is a very talented and dedicated bishop who has been blessed with good pastoral experience and tested by challenging administrative assignments," Bishop Reilly said. "His years of service to the Diocese of Providence in education and ministry formation have prepared him well for his new responsibilities among us."
Worcester auxiliary bishop Bishop George E. Rueger recalled the words of the diocese's first bishop, Bishop John J. Wright, who said the arrival of a new bishop means that "all can be new again."
"May the years ahead bring fruitful ministry and much happiness," Bishop Rueger said.
Reading a prepared statement, Bishop McManus described it as a "challenging time" to be a bishop or even a Catholic in the United States, especially in New England.
He said the clergy sexual abuse crisis has brought shame and ridicule to the Church in the United States, but the crisis is not the whole story.
"The Catholic Church in the United States has much to be proud of," Bishop McManus said. "While we cannot undo the past, we can chart the course for the future."
The bishop, who is a non-voting member of the Providence diocese's child protection board, said he was not familiar with the clergy abuse situation in the Diocese of Worcester.
He noted that the Worcester diocese received two commendations in the national audit released in January by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop McManus said he wanted to continue the work of Bishop Reilly and be a strong leader to the faithful so as to help restore trust. A by-product of the abuse crisis, he said, is a hesitation on the part of clergy to work with young adults.
"I think that's tragic," he said. "That is something we need to work on."
He said youth are necessary to the vibrancy of parishes and essential in the search for new vocations.
"How can you cultivate vocations if you are intimidated about approaching young men?" he said.
Bishop McManus also spoke briefly about the possibility of closing parishes, a move he said seemed unnecessary at this time because of the diocese's clustering plan. Clustering allows parishes to share resources and ministries, he said.
Bishop Reilly agreed, but said closings may become necessary depending on finances and the number of clergy.
If that situation did develop, the closings would not be of the same scope as those occurring in the Archdiocese of Boston, he said.
"These are two different situations," Bishop Reilly said.
When asked if he had any advice for his successor, Bishop Reilly said Bisho McManus need only be himself.
"He is a man of Church – a dedicated priest," he said, adding that the new bishop would be a natural fit in the diocese.
Kevin Luperchio is a staff writer for the Catholic Free Press of Worcester.
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