2014 SOPC News

The Long Goodbye (Boston Globe Opinion)

Three parish communities in the Archdiocese of Boston — my own parish, St. James the Great in Wellesley, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in East Boston, and St. Frances Cabrini in Scituate — recently got their call last week from the “governor” in the Vatican, a.k.a. the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Supreme Court), telling us that our latest and final appeal to keep our churches open had been turned down. We were the last three holdouts in Boston’s homegrown vigil parish resistance movement, which for the last 10 years has been fighting Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s fateful decision to close us in 2004. Read more...

Five Parishes in Philadelphia fight closings

Five Catholic churches slated to close at the end of the month, together totaling more than 13,000 parishioners, have filed appeals with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. Though their chances of winning are minimal, and the process is costly and lengthy, some parishes already are preparing for a second step: sending their cases to Rome.

Any appeals will not delay parish mergers, set to take effect July 1. So, as they prepare to shut their doors, a few parishes are also hiring lawyers familiar with church law, holding meetings, and raising money.

By Tuesday's deadline to file appeals with the archbishop, the archdiocese had received letters from the five parishes, in Montgomery, Delaware, and Bucks Counties. Church law allows Chaput 30 days to respond. Parishioners can then appeal to the Vatican.

"We're ready," said Ralph DiGuiseppe, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Bristol Township, Bucks County. "The appeal process is being formulated now. So, if this request is turned down, we'll file the appeal to Rome."  Read more

Tests of Faith: Parishes Targeted for Closure Plot Their Next Move

Sunday morning the vestibule of Notre Dame de Lourdes Church in Ridley Township resembled more of a polling place than a worship site, with parishioners seated behind folding tables soliciting worshippers to sign petitions to save their parish.

They learned from their pastor, the Rev. Karl Zeuner, at 5:15 Mass the night before that their parish is among three in Delaware County ordered by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, on the advice of his Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, to close by July 1.

They were told that their parish would merge with Our Lady of Peace Church 1.4 miles away in the Milmont Park section of Ridley Township. Several of them convened over dinner immediately after Mass and reached the consensus that they were not going down without a fight.

"If you take the emotion out of it and simply look at the facts, it doesn't quite make sense. I have to question the motives," said Notre Dame Parish council member Kathleen Hamm, who noted that Notre Dame had nearly three times the number of baptisms than Our Lady of Peace had in the last year and is financially solvent, while Our Lady of Peace is in debt. Read more

Vatican denies final appeal for Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini

The Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Inc. have run out of appeals.  

Last week a decision was handed down by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura - the highest judiciary authority in the Catholic Church save for the Pope himself - upholding the decision by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, to deconsecrate the St. Frances X. Cabrini church.  

"We were shocked," said Jon Rogers, spokesperson for the Friends of St. Frances, on learning the verdict, "especially knowing that similar appeals made in other parts of the country had been so successful."Read more

Local Catholics Worry About Future of 46 Parishes

Catholics across the Delaware Valley are finding out this weekend whether the Archidiocese of Philadelphia will close their parish. Bad news is expected for parishioners of nearly 50 local churches. Read more

Nuncio welcomes "rebirth" of Catholicism in Ireland

The Papal Nuncio in Ireland has spoken of the rebirth of the Church in the country and a renewed enthusiasm among young Catholics for their faith.  But Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, revealed that only two Catholic priests in Dublin are under age 40.  He anticipates greater lay involvement across parishes (Tablet, 7 June, 2014).

Church in UK may close due to shortage of Catholic priests 

A Catholic church that has served a town for almost 150 years may have to be closed - because of a national shortage of priests.

St Francis de Sales in Wolverton was built to cater for Catholic families who came to the town after the opening of the railway works.

But now, following an instruction by the Bishop to reduce the number of priests in Milton Keynes from six to four, a question marks hangs over the future of the tiny building.

Diocese spokesman Rev Paul Hardy said: "We have been told we must lose two priests. They will probably move to areas elsewhere in the country where there are simply not enough priests to cope. Read more

Holyoke Catholics See Progress in Naming Church Historic Landmark 

A proposal to include Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke, MA as part of a Polish Heritage Historic District passed its first hurdle on May 14.   Proponant Olivia Mausel, is frank that the proposal is designed to save the Church from being demolished by the Springfield, MA Diocese. The Holyoke City Council must first approve the measure.  The diocese has a similar bid in the city of  Springfield to create historic designation Our Lady of Hope, another closed church. (MassLive.com 5/14/14) http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/05/holyoke_board_finalizes_propos.html

Archdiocese of New York

In late April 2014, the 40-member Archdiocese advisory board of New York working with the Reid group sent its preliminary recommendations to local clusters. While its unclear how many of the Archdiocese's 376 parishes are slated to close, officials acknowledge that it is likely to be many more than the 21 suppressed in 2007 amidst significant parishioner protest. The final decision is expected in September. 

Archdiocese moves toward large-scale parish closings

Catholic Church closings motivated primarily by fiscal concerns, critics say  

Preparing for parish closures and mergers in New York City  

Monongahela parishioners hold vigil, appeal to Vatican.

Parishioners from St. Anthony's parish in Monongahela, PA have announced their intent to hire a canon lawyer and appeal Bishop David Zubik's decision to close their Church. Laura Magone was the last to leave the Church after parishioners held a 24 hour vigil. She announced the formation of a new organization: the Society for the Preservation of St. Anthony's Church. Bishop Zubik acknowledged the group's right to appeal but characterized the vigil as an "embarrassment" and a "scandal." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4/28/14)

Welsh parishioners considering appeal. 

Parishioners from  St. Mary’s Parish in Bangor, Wales are hoping to appeal the Easter Sunday closure of their Church, citing lack of due process in consulting them.   Parishioner Sue Edwards said: “Unlike  St David’s, which was closed in January,  St Mary’s has no financial or building  maintenance problems.” The Bishop of Bangor, Rt Rev Andrew  John, disagreed saying the buildings drain resources making it impossible to keep the churches open..  (Daily Post North Wales  4/25/14)