The campaign goes national

The campaign goes national

It looks like the campaign to save liberal parishes in Boston slated for closure has gone national. The Los Angeles Times profiles St. Susanna’s in Dedham. Once again, we have lots of happy talk about buildings, programs, and activities, but nothing about how the parish uniquely provides them with a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, helps them worship better, or anything of that sort. And check this out:

At a recent Mass, Father Stephen Josoma asked worshipers to fill out a brief questionnaire indicating what they planned to do if the parish closed as scheduled. Only 17% said they would join another parish. Many in the remaining 83% said they would stop practicing their Catholic faith altogether.

What this tells me is that the parish is a failure. Parishes are not exclusively about building small faith communities. They are primarily about helping people to deepen their Catholic faith, connecting them to universal Church. If the faith of 83 percent of those who attend Mass at the parish is so shallow that they’d rather quit worshipping God than go to the parish down the street, then the parish and Fr. Josoma have failed.

  • OUCH!

    Blunt. But accurate, Dom. I agree with you, and I have big-time sympathy for people who are upset about the closing of their parish and even confused and angry about criteria which are unclear to them. Being Catholics means having a sacramental/incarnational spirituality, and the sacred places and things with which one has associations are treasured by Catholics. It must be awful to see your church close.

    But, Jeez. For so many to say they’d abandon the sacraments if this parish closes… Unless their trying to bluff, thinking it might sway the Archbishop, I have to wonder if the parish was sacred to them for the wrong reasons.

    On a practical pastoral note, I’m now starting a rumor that my parish is going to close because the collections are 40% below the diocesan gold standard. Strikes me this is a good way to save on the fee for the pro fundraising agency…

  • “Many in the remaining 83% said they would stop practicing their Catholic faith altogether.”

    Hey, if they declare they’re willing to stop practicing the Catholic faith, they’ve already lost it.

    Anyway, Dom, don’t be spun by the statistic. The statement doesn’t say that 83% declared they’d quit the faith: rather, “many” did.  “Many” isn’t very specific.  All it means for sure is that the number is plural.

    And what’s our data source about this very scientific survey?

  • “Many in the remaining 83% said they would stop practicing their Catholic faith altogether.”

    Anyone want to lay odds that Fr. Steve Josoma is in the 83%?

  • It’s a very sad comment on the state of much of the Church.  But what else can we expect with “Sesame Street” religious music, touchy-feely homilies, campaigns for new parish centers for those remaining in the pews, nuns doing Enneagrams, pycho-babble, and welcoming “faith” communities?  A bit further down the slope and we’ll be in Hari Krishna land.  And, of course, let us not forget the exemplary leadership by the bishops—“ain’t no sheep like most shepherds” and their sabotage of the Church in the US.

  • Trying to prove a point by refusing the sacraments? Will they also hold their breath til the Abp changes his mind? Talk about childish. This is practically emotional blackmail. Sounds like the sooner this place closes, the better!

  • They’d leave the Church?  I guess they don’t really hold much with “Where will we go, Lord?  You have the words of everlasting life.”

  • It must be awful to see your church close.

    Father Wilson? I can be really, really sad when a parish closes—but not all that awful. Really. Not in cases like those in Boston.

    When it’s really awful is when there aren’t Catholic parishes nearby or even in existence at all. I’ve got relatives in the midwest, for example, who simply can’t believe that here in the Archdiocese of Boston, daily Mass is an option. These are people who count themselves blessed if a Mass is available on Sundays! And as for Sacraments such as anointing or reconciliation—they’ve got to work for them, in terms of time and travel.

    Here in Boston we’ve got hot and cold running Holy Water all over the place. We’re amazingly blessed by the availability of Mass and the Sacraments and will continue to be so, even after these parishes close.

    (By the way…any truth to what I heard about your parish closing?)

  • “Many in the remaining 83% said they would stop practicing their Catholic faith altogether.”

    Liberals stopped practicing Catholicism long ago.

  • Their parishes are closing BECAUSE they lost the faith.

    Goodbye dead fruit!

  • Isabel?

    Not really.

    The parishes are closing because of various reasons. And never mind “dead fruit,” with all due respect.

    Let’s be careful out there! grin

  • I prefer to be truthful Kelly.  These parish churches are closing for spiritual reasons first and foremost.  We have all heard about the protests, the litigation, petitions and town meetings but no where is there a novena planned,  a single holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, a Mass, a Rosary a candle. 
    These remedies are of the world and for the world.  They will never restore what these people have lost.  They have lost Jesus Christ and no petition or law suit on this earth is going to bring Him back on their altars.

    If they really wanted Our Lord back, they would beg Him to stay.  Is anyone begging Jesus to stay with them? 

    St. Peter Eymard says that if we fail to adore Our Lord, He will leave our churches and He will never return.  I believe this saint is speaking to us and I believe this is a warning for the whole Church.  The Eucharist is a gift. We can lose it of our own free will.

    These parishes are responsible for losing the Eucharist and all they can think about is litigation.

    I’m sure Jesus is pleased with this action.

    There is a priest in Boston who has spoken out on these parish closings. His essay is entitled “Let the Dead Bury their Dead.”  I sent it to my sister who is a member of a parish in Sudbury that is closing. She recently took up Hopi Indian spirituality .  Her parish removed the kneelers and no one knelt for Our Divine Lord.  Now, they don’t have a Church to kneel in. 

    St. Eymard says: 

    “It is alarming today to see the Eucharistic Jesus abandoned and left alone, absolutely alone, in so many cities.  And in our rural distreicts the churches are closed for fear of theives and lack of worshipers.  Is it possible?  Do we really want to lose the Eucharist?”

    “We can be quite sure that when Jesus goes away, the scaffold, persecution and barbarism will come back.”

    “Who would there be to stop these scourges?  O Lord, stay with us!  We will be your faithful adorers!  We prefer exile, penury and death to being deprived of you.”

    Jesus would never leave these parish churches for lack of money, Kelly.  He has been forced out by a lack of love.  That is the only reason the Eucharistic Lord does not remain Truly Present with Us

    In case you would like to read that article I mentioned, here is the link.

    God Bless,





  • Oh, gosh, Father Carr is a priest in my parish—trust me, I’ve read the article!

    If Father Carr presumed to judge the all parishioners of the closing parishes “dead fruit” I would have serious problems with him. He doesn’t.

    We have all heard about the protests, the litigation, petitions and town meetings but no where is there a novena planned, a single holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, a Mass, a Rosary a—you almost can’t not be a Catholic in Boston without knowing at least some—and they are not all “dead fruit.”

    These parish churches are closing for spiritual reasons first and foremost. Christ. much fruit but is closing? I think the analysis you offer, while based on sound principles, is a little too broad and sweeping.

  • I must disagree with you as well.  I do not believe the archbishop is an infallible governor but I do believe that whatever happens is God’s will.  The Archbishop can not over rule God as He must will or permit everything that happens.  The majority of people involved in these parish closings seem to believe they can stop them by protesting the
    Church, by litigation or getting the press involved.  I believe the cause and the remedy are spiritual. 

    “If the Christians continue to desert Jesus Christ in his temple; will not the Heavenly Father take away from them His well- beloved Son Whom they neglect?”  (Fr. St. Peter Julian Eymard).

    God does chastise with a loss of faith those who neglect His Son or profane His Sanctuary.  Eighty three percent of the people in this parish have no intention of joining another parish.  That indicates to me that they have lost the Faith which is a spiritual rather than a financial matter.

    I do not believe God would permit the Eucharist to be taken away from a people who loved and adored our Lord.  I do believe He would permit the entire Church to bear the burden of these closings especially those who are most willing.

    So we disagree.

    God Bless,


  • I meant to say eighty three percent of the members of this particular parish were leaving Jesus Christ.

    And you’d still be wrong. I’m not saying “we disagree.” I’m saying you are in error. (And by the way, please don’t imply that because I either disagree with you or point out an error that I am questioning the orthodoxy of any saint you may hold up. That simply will not wash.)

    Putting aside the “everything-that-happens-is-God’s-Will theology,  let’s at least get what the LA Times reported about Saint Susanna’s Parish in Dedham Massachusetts straight.

    17% said they will join another parish.

    100% minus 17% equals 83%. Here I think we’re in agreement.

    Now, the report says that “many” of the 83% will leave the Catholic Faith altogther.

    What exactly does that tell us? It tells us pretty much nothing, is what it tells us.

    What is “many?” I mean, for me, one or two of that 83% would constitute “many.” To the reporter, 3 or 4 or 15 or 22 might mean “many.” We can reasonably assume that “many” does not mean “the majority” or “every one of them” because the reporter would surely tell us that.

    Okay. Now just because, at the moment of the questionnaire, only 83% neglected to say they were joining another parish, do we immediately leap to the conclusion that “83% of the members of this particular parish [are] leaving Jesus Christ”? We most emphatically do NOT. We may only, at best, guess that maybe (maybe) some are.

    You see, the thing about Boston is that you don’t have to “join another parish” to attend daily or Sunday Mass. There are shrines a’plenty. Heck, I know people who have never in their adult lives belong to parishes…and believe me, they attend daily Mass, pray the Rosary daily, adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily. And they probably light candles too.

    I hope this is helpful.

  • Kelly,

    I did not know that in Boston, Catholics did not have to belong to a parish church.  I was always taught that this was an obligation for all Catholics.  So it is true that you have taught me something today and I appreciate it.

    It is certainly my hope that all if not most of the 83% will be going to daily Mass at one of Boston’s many shrines and praying the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament every day, going to confession, and lighting lots of candles for the intentions of our Lady and our Lord.  This would be very pleasing to God and I would gladly receive all of your words as most charitable and sincere.

    Unfortunately, I doubt it as I attended one of the parishes that are closing and know first hand the irreverence that was practiced in the presence of God.

    I don’t believe that our Eucharistic Lord would leave these parish churches without His substantial presence if even one member soul loved Him with all his heart.  That is how far I will go.

    When Jesus leaves a church, He is always the last to leave. 

    God Bless,


  • God bless you too, Isabel.

    Between you and me (nobody’s reading this thread except us!) you’ve made some good points.

    I just hate to see good points be drummed out of the debate by dissenters because of small but mettlesome errors made by well meaning, orthodox Catholics. What happens is, more harm than good is done and you seem like the kind of person who would want to avoid that at all costs.

    And don’t worry about Jesus leaving a church. He isn’t leaving the Church and that’s really all that matters.

    May you haved a blessed Sunday.

  • The Catholic Church is really much smaller than most anyone thinks.  This episode is just an indicator of that.  Imagine leaving the Church because your neighborhood parish closes…..small price to pay, that.  If the price gets higher, what do you think will happen?

    If we ever get down to the point that we are taking real persecution in the Church, it’ll be less than 17% of the previous numbers that’ll stay. 

  • Kelly Kelly Kelly

    Just because others aren’t saying anything, doesn’t mean we aren’t watching from the cheap seats!!

  • Mr Bettinelli

    You’re against voter registration on college campuses?  For shame, for shame!!  Of course you can always find morons on college campuses but it was college students that were at the forefront on the fight against Apartheid.  It was college students that were the most proactive on civil rights.  It was college students that sucessfully got Jesse Ventura elected as governor in my home sta….

    Ok maybe you have a point

  • Kelly,

    We are all watching with great amazement.  Keep on keepin’ on….


  • I am a fellow traveler who lived in Boston for years, and worshiped in Catholic churches there.

    I would observe that there is a large contingent of clergy and parishoners who are functionally protestant-congregationalist, really.

    They are very loyal to their parish church, just as Protestants are loyal to their churches-but they have no loyalty, in fact are vocally and passionately disloyal to the archdiocese and certainly to Rome.

    They deny that they are anything other than “Catholics” – but it’s a funny kind of Catholicism, if you ask me.

  • I do not believe that Jesus had a single adorer left in this parish.  If He did, he would stay for that one soul.

    I don’t believe that suddenly, the remainder of the 83% or some of the 83% or one of the eighty three percent is going to begin attending daily Mass, praying the Rosary at Boston’s many shrines or even stopping in to visit our Lord frequently.  I don’t even believe a single member of the 17% will have a sudden leap in faith in their new parish home.  If they didn’t adore Jesus where they were, they won’t do it anywhere.

    Our Eucharistic Lord does not abandon those who love Him. He does not cut down a fruitful tree at the root so that the entire tree withers and dies. Without Jesus’s substantial presence on the altar, there is no life.  Once this church is closed and there is no priest assigned there, Our Lord’s substantial presence will be gone.  Not one of the members of this parish will ever be able to enter this place again and pray before Jesus in person.  What a poverty!

    We don’t have a lot of shrines here in Alabama but I know that every day, day or night I can go to Jesus in my parish church and it is as glorious as St. Peter’s cathedral.  If I ever lost this priviledge, I would know it was because I ignored the greatest gift God ever gave me.  I would know it was my own fault and I would believe I would one day hear the the words, “depart from Me, I never knew you!” 

    Hearing the news of these parish closings has been sorrowful but inspiring as well.  We do have one very special shrine here in Hanceville, Alabama;  The shrine of the Blessed Sacrament dedicated to the Holy Innocents.  Our little pro-life group goes there once a month to pray. I will ask that we remember the members of this parish in our prayers. 

    God Bless,




  • Once again, Isabel, I’m not as positive as you that there isn’t a single person of faith left in any of the 65 parishes. You still can’t explain how that applies to Holy Trinity Parish, where the Tridentine Mass is celebrated in Boston, which is closing. For that matter, what about St. Joseph’s parish in Salem, where my brother-in-law’s parentsregister to vote, one should take it seriously….

    I totally agree that CNN is promoting political tripe.  But then again, I think that CNN is mainly tripe anyhow…..