“Heck no, we won’t close!”

“Heck no, we won’t close!”

Reading these stories about people protesting against their parishes closing, I become more and more convinced that a whole lot of Catholics have no idea what a vibrant parish looks like, and they have no idea what it is that a vibrant parish does. For one thing, it’s not primarily a social service agency. Neither is it a model UN. Nor is it a community center. It is a building set aside for the worship of God, and for most of these parishes, there is another one just like it less than a mile away.

When the first impulse of people is to march and hold signs and protest, I’m inclined not to be sympathetic to them.

  • Dom—why are parishes that are not in deficit closing?  Is it because where they are located there are other nearby churches? or some other reasons.

  • Financial condition was only one of the criteria. As you say, proximity to other parishes was another one, as well as the sacramental index, Mass attendance, and physical condition, among other things.

    Also, O’Malley made it clear from the beginning that some big churches would have to close so that the burden wouldn’t fall solely on small, struggling parishes that serve mainly immigrant populations. If money were the main criterion, almost every parish serving immigrants would close while all the big suburban parishes servely mainly white folks would stay open.

    Could you imagine the backlash if that had happened? As it, the burden has fallen pretty evenly across every sector of the archdiocese.

  • If I had a vibrant parish surrounded by seven lousy parishes, I’d close the vibrant parish and force the congregation to split up.  Their mission would be to evangelize the dispirited Catholics in the other churches.

    If I had a lousy parish surrounded by seven vibrant parishes, I’d close the lousy parish.  Those Catholics from the lousy parish who are already lost spiritually will probably just stay home instead of going to another Mass.  Those who might still be saved will be renewed in their faith by attending one of the more vibrant parishes. 

    If I had a bunch of mediocre parishes, and some vibrant and lousy ones, I’d probably close the vibrant and lousy ones, and hope for the best.

    It turns out that it shouldn’t really matter which churches you close.  Good Catholics who are forced to move should see it as their mission to evangelize their new parishes.  Good Catholics at receiving parishes should see it as their mission to evangelize the arriving refugees.  Anyone who admits to being a Bad Catholic really ought to contact Dom privately by e-mail (I’m sure he won’t mind). 

    The point of the district meetings was to see if the churches could come together and reach a consensus choice based on whatever factors the people thought relevant.  Rather than criticize the faithfulness or other qualities of congregations or priests, these groups tended to focus on tangibles like church buildings.  In most cases, consensus appears to have been reached.

    The important task now, besides corralling the sheep into their new units and making sure none get lost (especially elderly and disabled), is the renewal and conversion of priests.  Some priests will be reassigned, others will remain where they were.  They all need our prayers.