Dismantling the divisions

Dismantling the divisions

Here’s another Boston Globe story on the closing of a parish. Last week, the archdiocese was criticized for closing a parish hall, which it turns out was done in consultation with those criticizing the archdiocese the loudest, and now it’s about a primarily Haitian parish suppressed five years ago because of dwindling attendance.

I don’t know what the big deal is, except that this a primarily minority congregation. What’s happening to the Haitian parish is no different than what happened to French and Irish and Italian parishes before it. After some time the immigrants are integrated into American society and it becomes uneconomical to continue to have a separate parish for them.

The story itself makes clear that the Haitian community had long started to disintegrate in the city of Cambridge where the parish is located, with people moving to other towns.

The article also says that the ministry to Haitians has been moved to a nearby parish that it says is predominantly Irish and Italian-American (not Irish-American?). How much do you want to bet that if you were to sit in the pews on Sunday, there would be nothing to tell you that the people there are of a particular ethnic background. In fact, they are probably pretty much homogenous Americans.

We are a catholic Church, in the sense of “catholic=universal”, and it serves no purpose for the Church to be always divided along artificial lines like country of origin or ethnicity. Those divisions are set up as accommodations for a time to ease transitions, but should be taken down as soon as practically possible. Especially it serves us so much better to know that the Church is truly the most multicultural institution.

1 comment
  • There’s no reason people can’t hold onto their ethnic diversity and be part of a larger parish. Keeping people divided into ethnic parishes brings us back to the old days when the pastor of the Irish parish would throw you out of Mass if you were French or Italian.

    What good is a diversity if the only people who experience it are the people of one culture? Why can’t the Haitian people share their heritage with the non-Haitian community?

    I’m not saying they have to give up their rich heritage, but assimilation is necessary for both a country and the Church. These kinds of divisions keep us from feeling united. Sure, they’re okay in the beginning while they get their bearings in a new land, but eventually you must become comfortable with your neighbors, all of them, to where you can worship with them.