The root cause is likely also related to the fashion in which our church was ill prepared for the ethnic-American boufants in all shades that Lady Clairol herself could imagine actually passing from vitality.
How many of our parishes in the Pirohy Belt have been run by folks collecting social security for how long? Like proto-babushki we counted on their free time and labor to work bingo, make pyrohy, and show up on Sundays. They kept homefires burning, but for whom to come home to? (That isn't anti senior sentiment in the least, that is pointing out that clocks tick and our fertility and retention rates have been abysmal.)
My own beloved home parish in my hometown counted me (when I lived there before college) as one of maybe a half a dozen members that did not experience the Eisenhower administration (let alone voted in the elections!).
Now before we jump on the sensationalism of sex scandals questions that need to be asked are:
- What were the ratios of baptisms to funerals?
- What was the parish income level compared to the eparchial norms?
- How many folks were rostered? How many attended?
Depending upon your half-empty/half-full perspective Eastern communities are either suffering or holding their own. Further, depending upon your half-empty/half-full perspective the closings are either accelorated by Catholic canonical impediments against trusteeship/presbyteral self-support or forestalled by trustees told "support yourselves, pay your assesments" and allowed the leniancy of bi-vocational, self-supporting clergy.
The OCA parish in our city that is the oldest (they have split a few times - but we are in a post-ethnic settlement area here, they were never Greek Catholic, there is no rivalry - we both set up shop in the late 60s, immigrating here from the Pyrohy Belt) has the possibility to outlast us even though we are bigger and have our own building... They could do so on the strength of the fact they have four attached clergyman and they own their own building... As long as they beg, borrow or borrow (Easterners don't steal!) to keep the lights on and the water running, and as long as at least one of their four priests will support himself or collect retirement/SS, they will stay open longer...
But does that constitute growth or stability?
Folks it may be too late, but it is still worth asking: What are we doing to reverse this when the writing is on the wall for Byzantine Christians not enjoying new immigration: Get new members or fade either into non existence or go the way of very tiny Protestant family run churches??? What is to be done and how? What are our long term strategies for passing on a church to our grandchildren and great grandchildren?