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I belong to a parish that is a community--it's a place where visitors and people looking for community come and observe that "people really want to be here and be together." So many parishes I've lived in are impersonal places where there is a handful of active people, but active people who don't readily take outsiders or new people into their group. My children have run into this as they've moved away and into large parishes. Their gifts aren't readily accepted, even as they've offered them. My son trained as a lector many years ago but doesn't often get even offered an assignment and I think he's given up. My daughter has, like her mother, a beautiful voice and would do cantoring, but hasn't gotten even a reply to her offers.

In my parish, the "culture" of the community is that we encourage everyone to bring gifts and talents to build us all up. We have, for example, a new member who came to us at the Paschal Vigil and who now runs a service committee that offers free help to anyone who may need lit "fix up" services. He brought the idea, set it into motion, and it's now become a vibrant ministry with lots of volunteers.

So the idea of community is one that seems to disappear in direct proportion to the size of the parish, in my experience.

Last edited by theophan; 08/17/10 02:25 PM.
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Just a thought: what happens when a mega-parish starts to go into decline?

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Deacon Richard:

That's easy--from a business standpoint. The diocese is left with a huge physical plant that costs far more than the multiple smaller plants closed to maintain. The flock scatters and many times just disappears. Then what to do with a building that cannot easily be converted to another use.

The thing that never crosses the minds of those in the chancery is that people today seem to have a very independent attitude toward being "herded" into larger more impersonal groups. It's very difficult to entice people to joing groups today, especially the young set. Ask anyone who recruits for the civic clubs and other organizations. My professional, educational organization has no members under the age of 45. The younger members want to go home at the end of the day and spend time with their families. Unlike many of us older members, they do not want to hang out with their professional peers and "talk shop" or even seek continuing education opportunities. The parish is no different.

Then there is the issue of "this is 'our' parish and you're the newcomers" when there is a merger. One such cluster in our diocese required the police to monitor Masses for the first year of operation to keep the fist fights from getting out of hand over such remarks.

So breaking up a viable group does not mean the folks will "flock" to another "designated" place. Sometimes, if they do, they go for liturgy and then go home, but don't "join." That means there are large crowds but a small plate and a constant struggle to keep the doors open. Again, if people don't feel part of the group, they tend not to support the group--and that includes financially. Even when people do support financially, there seems to be a tendency to withhold funds when there is disagreement with the way finances are spent--a stewardship issue that the clergy often don't seem to "get."

Couple copper coins worth this afternoon.

Bob

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Slava Isusu Christu!

Ecclesial Community disconnected from the Communion of the Church is not the fullness of Eucharistic and social community and expresses a lack. Many progressive and even ironically several traditionalist American Latin Catholic parishes and several Eastern Catholics have a Congregationalist mentality, which is absolutely foreign to Latin and Eastern Catholic ecclesiology. I know it is natural to preserve parishes from suppression or poaching, but Communion with Rome is more important than even a Temple or physical plant--we can always build more Temples and buildings. I hope the bishop can bring them back home.

Robert

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Originally Posted by Robert Horvath
I hope the bishop can bring them back home.

He's the one who's driving them away!

It is characteristic of tyrants to blame the people for not following their leadership ...

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It is characteristic of tyrants to blame the people for not following their leadership ...


Indeed!

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The twelve final words on the back of St. Peter Catholic Church's Easter Sunday program said it most plainly.

A timeline spanning 156 years ended this way: "Parish suppressed and church building closed April 2010 by Bishop Richard Lennon."



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But before the Rev. Robert Marrone kicked out the wooden blocks and locked the massive arched doors -- that had remained open to worshipers from all walks of life since 1859 -- he served up a forceful sermon.

His words were the last orated in the church ...
... The closing of St. Peter - a part of what he called the church closing epidemic - was not because of economics, or lack of clergy or parishioners, Marrone said.

Instead it was a "steadfast refusal and or inability to imagine things in a different way."


http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/04/final_mass_at_downtown_st_pete.html

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Slava Isusu Christu!

When you belong to a hierarchical religious tradition, things like this should be presumed as a possibility. The bishop is an Apostle of Jesus Christ in the Catholic tradition and the laity, in spite of the generosity of Vatican II regarding the lay apostolate and participation, did not abrogate the Institutional Model of the Church in spite of the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body and People of God. In fact much more authority was given to bishops by the Council and the 1983 Code and the 1990 Eastern Code. Do I agree with Temple closings? No. Is the the right of the bishop or eparch? Yes. All we can do is use the appeal process allowed by law, but the Pope is not going to want to lessen the powers of bishops expanded by Vatican II, by countermanding their juridical actions. This is a sensitive subject and there is no answer that can be pastoral enough for the people involved.

Robert

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