First of all, I'm NOT surprised that Holy Apostles has come to this point. However, I am a little surprised that it even lasted this long!
The cause of low attendance falls on the priest's shoulders. He has such indifference and extreme apathy towards people who established this community and built it. He has given NO respect for the founders of the community.
One may say it's Bishop Jackel's decision not to loan the current priest...but I want to say that his decision may have been strongly influenced by the low attendance of the community to a point where he didn't think it was worth the sacrifice of loaning a priest out to the community.
There is only ONE founder that remains with the community. The rest of them were gone mainly because they were very hurt by the priest and their extreme apathy which is prevalent in the Roman Churches. Very sad, indeed.
If I can remember correctly, there were about at least 15 TRULY canonically Byzantine Catholics that once attended Holy Apostles no longer attend there. That does not include the highly probable numbers of people who is in the process of changing rites (at least around 5 people). I've asked them why they left, most of them simply said that the priests didn't care about them or whether they come or not. SUCH APATHY and INDIFFERENCE!!! That is an outrage!!!
Plus the current priest there is extremely Latinized...latnizing the Community...the Liturgy...the rubrics...etc. VERY SAD.
Now...there is something that NOBODY knows about for a very very looooong time. It is only very recently (less than a month ago) that I've told 5 people about what I'm about to say here. Since Holy Apostles is closing down, and to bring full closure, I think it's a very good opportunity for me now to say something out loud and it needs to be heard...people NEED to know about this:
Holy Apostles wouldn't exist so much without my persistent badgering to a former priest to get it set up. That former priest is Fr. Peter Leigh. (sigh)
I met with Fr. Peter way back in fall of 1999 and I've asked him to see about setting up a Byzantine mission in Wichita. He was going to wait a YEAR to do that...in matter of fact...it was highly likely that he was NOT EVER GOING TO DO IT!!!
Anyway...I kept bugging him to have it set up...make an announcement to see what the responses are...etc. like if it had low responses, then we'd drop it. I've bugged him for couple months...finally he kinda gave in. Sure enough he was very surprised of the overwhelming responses as a result for posting an announcement in the Roman Catholic newspaper (in Wichita).
The first service Holy Apostles ever had was Agape Vespers in 2000. The rest is history.
Now...Bishop Michael Wichwar (sp?) was the Bishop of Chicago at that time...and he was transferred out to another Eparchy not so long after that...I may be wrong...but perhaps by around late fall of 2000 or early 2001.
Now...if you recall...Fr. Peter was NOT going to do it for at LEAST a year to try it out...if he DID wait that long...and with Bishop Michael leaving at that time...Holy Apostles would NEVER have had happened at all. Of course nothing can ever happen without the bishop. Chicago didn't have a bishop for THREE years!
The reason I never said this to anybody is because I didn't want to feel like I was pretty responsible for it to happen...I gave G-d the full credit for it...and I was his instrument for it to happen. Fr. Peter was very serious about not doing it for quite a while.
Also, I've taught all adult altar servers (with one or two teens and one older kid around 10) every they know about serving.
I've taught a lot of people about Byzantine Catholicism. The community members constantly depended on me to do things for them or help them because Fr. Peter didn't care to be around to help out or whatever (SAD to say).
I poured my heart and soul all out for the community...sweat, blood, money, tears and FAITH. And so did the other co-founders.
Fast foward to 2004...Fr. Peter left...two priests took over...one was Melkite and the other was current Holy Apostles administrater a "bi-ritual" priest Fr. Joe Tatro. I don't know if he's truly a "bi-ritual" or not because I left while the Melkite priest was there because later on (after I left) the Melkite priest was transferred out. (BTW, Fr. Peter is no longer a priest, sad to say)
Basically...both priests "kicked me out" for WHATEVER reasons...which is UNKNOWN even to this very day. I've asked the priests what I did was wrong to make them "kick me out" and they REFUSED to tell me why really.
I have NOT done anything wrong...except this one very bad trouble maker who may have spreaded lies about me because he was jealous of me or something. Honest to G-d, I am innocent and I haven't done anything bad to anyone at Holy Apostles. I always was very respectful, moral, and in very good standing.
Sad to say that one of the adult altar servers were "brainwashed" by this "trouble-maker" to a point where he "laughed at me" saying that he's in charge now "ha ha ha" and I'm not (since I was kicked out). I was seriously hurt and backstabbed.
This "trouble maker" thinks he's a priest or something (he's not). He'd give me a "blessing" in a Christogram form of Cross. He'd lead Akathist service in the Community when the priests weren't there. He'd use the incensor like a priest would, and all that. Basically he's NUTS!!! CRAZY LOONEY TUNE! I've told the priests about that...they kinda dismissed me about it. Whatever. (roll eyes)
Of course, this "trouble maker" no longer was there...the priests realized that he was indeed causing problems and divisions.
And of course the priests never bothered to ask me to come back or ask for forgiveness or even apologized. The community was outraged...I received many letters from the community begging me to come back...they missed me...and all that. I refuse to go back until the priest make formal public apology to me for what they've done to me which I felt was very VERY cruel and unjustified.
One by one, the members of the community have left since then.
So, there you have it...the story of the life of Holy Apostles.
I'm not bitter or angry towards Holy Apostles at all. In fact, I feel sorry for them because they've gone as low as they are at and of course G-d isn't so pleased about it either.
Oh, I want to mention that the following Sunday after I left Holy Apostles (in 2004), the Melkite priest there have spilled ashes every where ON the Altar and the floor from the incenser, candles tipped over, etc. as if it was being jinxed (I won't dare say that it's because I left) but because it was happening at the expense of the priests bad actions. You know what it's about the spilling of ashes in the Old Testament. Very frightening. Wow.
I'm fully in peace with the Greek Orthodox Church as I've been to since I left Holy Apostles. The Greek community have embraced me in and out unconditionally and with full love as if I'm "one of them."
I've been in the Orthodox Church since 1992 (actually from 1992 to 1998 went occassionally because I was in college at that period of time plus working a lot and was busy with girlfriend at that time). So since 1998 I was real actively attending to Orthodox Churches on top of being part of the Holy Apostles from 2000 to 2004.
Orthodox Church has been my true home for quite a while anyway with or without Holy Apostles.
What's very VERY IRONIC...is that...(by the way I wasn't going to make an announcement until after the fact it happens)...I am going to become Orthodox on that VERY DAY Holy Apostles are offering a last Divine Liturgy. It really makes me fall on my chair when I heard about Holy Apostles here and wonder what G-d was saying. It was like, "WOW!" That's some powerful stuff.
I CANNOT wait for April 29th!!!