Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Lists Roll Out

As planned, Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit makes his reconfiguration proposals public -- only five parishes to close at this point, but a broad clustering or merging of 86 parishes is on the table.

Full list and more coverage at the Freep
With his announcement, delivered at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, Maida capped an 18-month review of parish finances and demographics known as Together in Faith that will affect the churchgoing habits of an estimated 1.5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“Yes, we did have to cope with the declining numbers of priests and shifting population trends in southeast Michigan. … But from the very beginning, Together in Faith, was about making parishes and schools stronger and more responsive to the emerging needs of the church and world at the beginning of the Third Millenium,” Maida said....

The plan is to be implemented over the next five years, and whether some parishes survive will depend on whether their pastors choose to stay, and stay healthy, past the typical retirement age of 70 for priests.

The realignment was necessary to deal with a dwindling number of priests in the Detroit archdiocese. The number available to work in the Detroit area has declined 23 percent since 2000. The average age of priests working in the archdiocese is 56 and there are no priests currently under age 30.
So that's why they're talking about sending Bruzzy Bear to take Maida's place....

And in New York, 31 parishes and 14 schools face the axe. In the northern half of the archdiocese, however, some parishes have been tapped to expand
The closings would hit the archdiocese the hardest in its southern parts — the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, Yonkers and central Westchester. The Bronx and Manhattan alone accounted for 17 of the 31 parishes that are to be closed....

Some parishes whose members were sure they would lose their churches were spared. In these pockets, there was a feeling of relief, even celebration.

"I'm having a cardiac arrest right here," said Msgr. Robert McCabe, who had been certain his parish, St. Mary in Haverstraw, Rockland County, would be closed because of dwindling attendance and other factors. "I was 99 percent sure I was going to be closed. Now I'm going to unpack my bags."

There was even greater relief in areas where parishes and churches were added.

At St. Joseph's Church in Croton Falls in northern Westchester, more than 2,800 attend Sunday Mass every weekend, according to archdiocesan figures, but the church has space for only 160 people. Church officials also use the school auditorium, which holds 325, but the result is eight different Masses on Sunday, three at the church and five in the auditorium, an organizational nightmare.

In the spring, 165 children in that parish are scheduled to receive their first communion, said Msgr. James R. Moore, and they will be split into eight different first communion services. "I knew the cardinal was looking at all of the different areas, so we feel very blessed to have been picked for expansion," he said.

The Times said that the decisions have the New York proposals have the potential of "convulsing" the archdiocese. But, unlike in other places, with Egan overseeing it all, it's a given that each piece and process is canonically airtight and, therefore, unassailable upon recourse.