Parish Closing and Appeals News
Metro Detroit Catholics blast plans to close 48 parishes. Retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton recently criticized a proposal from the Archdiocese of Detroit to close at least four dozen parishes. “To me, it looks like a disaster in a way,” Gumbleton said. “The institutional presence of the Catholic Church is going to be gone from the city of Detroit ...” Sister Jolene Van Handel, a parish minister at Nativity, said her parish sustains itself, has 200 families and is in a historic building that should be preserved. “I think if they allowed lay leadership, we could manage to keep our parishes going,” she said. Archdiocesan leaders said closings are necessary because there are currently 293 priests serving in 270 parishes, and the Archdiocese estimates that it will have one-third fewer priests in the next 10 years (Detroit Free Press 11/30/11).
Boston to reorganize 290 parishes. The Archdiocese of Boston recently announced plans to reorganize the management of its 290 parishes by creating about 125 “pastoral service teams’’ to oversee multiple parishes under a single pastor. Once created, the teams would be free to merge programs among churches and make recommendations to the cardinal about closing and selling churches, rectories or other buildings (The Boston Globe 12/1/11).
Closed New Orleans parish reopens as charismatic center. Nearly three years after former Archbishop Alfred Hughes called in the New Orleans police to evict distraught parishioners from our Lady of Good Council Church, the 117-year-old church is being reopened. In mid-December, the new archbishop, Gregory Aymond, announced that a center for charismatic Catholics will move to Good Counsel from their current home (Times Picayune 12/11/11).
Vatican rules no reason to close thriving NY church. For the second time, the Vatican has decreed there was no valid reason to close St. Mary’s Church in Jamesville, NY. In mid-December, advocates for parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Jamesville filed an emergency motion with the Vatican demanding that Bishop Robert J. Cunningham reopen it. “The opening of the Church of St. Mary, I think, is the most important development under canon law in the whole Catholic church in 2011,” said Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes (The Wall Street Journal 12/19/11).
New Miami archbishop reopens three churches. Two years ago, the Archdiocese of Miami closed two of the three predominantly African-American churches in Miami-Dade County. But now, thanks to parishioners, one of them is reopening along with two others closed in June 2009 by the previous Archbishop, Joseph Favalora. The reversal was made by the new Archbishop Thomas Wenski (The Miami Herald 10/3/11).
Vatican High Court to hear Wilkes-Barre parish appeal. After years of recurring defeats in its quest to save Sacred Heart Church, the highest religious tribunal in the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to hear the case. “It’s amazing,” Noreen Foti said with a smile, noting very few appeals ever get past the first screening to reach the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal in Rome. Foti and her husband have spearheaded efforts to save the church for nearly a decade (The Scranton Times Leader 10/20/11).
Vatican extends Cleveland appeals deadline (again). For the fourth time, the Vatican has given itself an extension to review appeals from churches closed in 2010 by Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The new deadline is March 1, 2012. “It’s kind of disappointing, but it’s still a good development,” said Patricia Schulte-Singleton, president of Endangered Catholics, a group fighting church closings. “We’re still alive. We have to be patient” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer 9/23/11).
Angry parishioners confront Bridgeport bishop. When Bishop William Lori decided to close three longtime churches in the Diocese of Bridgeport, over 100 parishioners at Holy Rosary Parish confronted him: “This is nothing more than a money grab,” said Chris Caruso, a parishioner at Holy Rosary and a former state representative. Diocesan officials said the churches will still be available for weddings and funerals. Parishioners have established a Save Holy Rosary Bridgeport Committee and a Facebook page (Connecticut Post 9/26/11).‘Rearranging’ of Norwich Catholic churches underway. In late September, the Diocese of Norwich, CT, began an eight-month study of possible consolidation of services and facilities. Diocesan officials said the diocese does not plan to close parishes and will seek to preserve the identity of each church community. Plans call for a report to be filed with Bishop Michael R. Cote in June 2012 (The Day 9/27/11).