Skip to comments.New York Archdiocese Sets Biggest Closing in Its 150 Years
Posted on 03/29/2006 6:04:17 AM PST by NYer
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced plans yesterday for the most sweeping reorganization in its history of more than 150 years, recommending the closing of 31 parishes and 14 schools throughout the metropolitan region.
At the same time, the archdiocese recommended creating five new parishes in Staten Island, Orange County and Dutchess County and constructing several new church buildings, mostly in northern Westchester County, Rockland County and Dutchess County, where many Catholics who have left the city have relocated.
The closings would hit the archdiocese the hardest in its southern parts the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, Yonkers and central Westchester. The Bronx and Manhattan alone accounted for 17 of the 31 parishes that are to be closed.
The announcement had long been expected. For more than two years, archdiocesan officials have been studying how to deal with a growing shortage of priests, coupled with the changing demographics of the archdiocese, which in its entirety stretches from Staten Island in the south to the Catskills in the north. Some churches in the northern suburbs have been bulging at the seams, while others in the city have struggled to get by, often requiring large financial subsidies from the archdiocese.
"A lot of these are just no-brainers," said Msgr. John J. Jenik, pastor of Our Lady of Refuge in the Bronx and a member of a panel of lay leaders and priests convened by the archdiocese that recently reviewed the reorganization plans. "When you've got diminishing numbers of priests, large cash investments in places, dwindling numbers and economies of scale, it's not wise stewardship."
Each of the parishes and schools on the list of closings will have the chance to discuss their situations with archdiocesan officials.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
And the conversation goes like this:
Parish official: "But, Bishop, our families need this church, this school. It's been the center of our lives for over 100 years!"
Bishop: "Here's a map to the new church and school. Oh, by the way, tuition will have to go up 25% to pay for all the new buildings. Good day!"
LOL! That is exactly what I was thinking!
Lol ... only 25% ;-)
We've been through the 'purge' up here in Albany and it's not over yet. In one town, 5 of the 6 RC Churches were closed and the entire community combined into one. In their haste to shut these church doors, the diocesan team did not scrutinize the remaining church very well. Only now have they begun to realize that it will cost a ton of money to maintain that one church. Soooooo .... they will probably move the entire congregation into another of the closed churches and shut down this one. Meanwhile, the bishop went down to New Orleans to bring relief to the Katrina victims and lament the sad state of affairs down there. Is it any wonder catholics feel driven from their churches?
You can't argue with changing demographics. Still, this is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in NY (and elsewhere).
When they did the reorganization here they grabbed a bunch of rich donors from the "burbs" and Diocesan yes men (and women of course) to do the job. Some didn't even live in the Diocese, including one Cabinet Secretary who saw it as "get even" time with some of the Priests who weren't cooperative about raising money.
In other cases you had the Vicar Forane unilaterally switch the Parish which had been recommended for closing without telling anyone before forwarding the report to the Diocese.
For proof of the major league probems just look at the number of reversals...I think initially there were supposed to be something like 20-30 more.
Let's hope that they do a better job in New York.
Every time a bishop has to do this, he should wear sack-cloth and ashes for a year afterwards as a sign of his abject failure to increase the flock. If he has to do it more than once in his tenure as bishop, he should be forced to resign in disgrace.
The Schools are in the center of the bullseye, the Archdiocese is picking them off one at a time.
In Somerville they closed one school that was financially solvent at a Parish with no debt then made the Parish take out a huge loan to pay the closing costs. I bet when one of the big donors turns it into 10-20 400k condos (market for that area) there won't be any sort of kickback to the Parish....heck if they throw out the pastoral activities out of the old convent they could build like 50 condos...all with parking, which is at a premium in that area.
A sidebar, the attendance at the parish has plummetted following the closing of the school too.
Parishioner: "It's been the center of our lives, but you would not know it by our actions."
What have the people been doing to increase the flock of Christ? The Bishop is but one man. The people are many millions.
Sad -- NY City is where the catechesis, churches and schools are needed most.
One of the more troubling aspects of these closings is disposition of liturgical vessels, vestments and sacramentals. Many of these churches are filled with beautiful, old windows, pews, confessionals, tabernacles, candlesticks, chalices, et al. When my pastor began looking to purchase a larger church to accomodate his growing congregation, he approached the RC diocese. They turned him down. After acquiring a 150 y/o Methodist/Episcopal Church, he returned to the diocese seeking furnishings from the closed parishes. Again, he was turned down.
This is most disheartening. On one occasion, he was told to come to a particular church on a specific date, only to find wreckers ripping out pews. He had no means to transport them to our new church.
While I sympathize with people whose parishes are going to be closed, it does not make sense to keep parishes open that do not have enough members to keep them going. Diocese in almost every major city in the U.S. are facing the same demographic issue: Catholics are moving out of cities and into the suburbs. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most Catholics lived in cities. Often, each ethnic group would have its own parish, so it was quite common to have a church on almost every street corner. However, the situation has now changed. The ethnic groups that built these parishes have moved out of the cities, and non-Catholics have moved into these areas. City parishes that used to be thriving are now almost empty.
It is sad but it doesn't look like the Archdiocese of New York has much choice.
I just posted this, one of the few good things to come out of the mess. I was familiar with the old Parish these things came from. It was an old Italian Parish turned into a Hispanic Personal Parish, that was slated to close long before the official reconfiguration.
If the local Latin Rite Bishop refused to sell the Church I'm not suprised (you have Hubbard right?) though that is not always the case.
This Melkite Parish is now located in a former Latin Rite Church:
(they got their Pastor from the Latin Rite too!!!)
Oops, almost forgot, Bishop Muldoon, OFM, a Bishop in Honduras who's a Mass Native got truckloads of stuff to build Churches.
As a sidebar, Muldoon is a very interesting man, he stopped wearing his Franciscan Habit because he felt it made him stand out too much since he was the only one around, he felt it more humble and true to his Franciscan vows to scarifice the habit he loved so much and dress like every other Priest.
It really pained him to do it.
In the case of Albany, it's probably because Bishop Hubbard rightly views the Maronites as competitors, not co-religionists. Bishop Hubbard is in the destruction business.
Don't forget the lack of children.
I don't think anyone argues the necessity of these moves, I think people worry given the errors made in some other Diocese (anyone on here from Cleveland? I've heard stories).
I know in the area my sister lives in in MD, the Churches are bulging at the seems...with many transplants from the Northeast, so I know what you mean. Too bad we can't pick them up and move them to where they're needed.
We've had to go the fundraising route ... quite slow. Last year, after filing a gazillion papers, we were able to have the future church recognized as a national landmark, thus qualifying us to apply for matching state grants. This too is quite tedious and slow but, with God's help, we'll get the needed monies. Of course the major difference between Our Lady of the Cedars and us is that they are moving into a catholic church. We have to totally renovate the interior to create a sanctuary and install confessionals. We also have to replace the 150 year old roof and fix the stained glass windows ... those that are still intact. The console from the pipe organ has to be moved from its present position and the organ itself restored. We'll get there ... it just won't be tomorrow.
Again, thanks for the links!