Tears and anger in Boston

This sad story comes from the Boston Globe.

I just posted an entry a while ago, mentioning that Archbp. Burke, when he was in St. Louis, saved one of their great churches by entrusting it to a traditional group.

Closure doesn’t have to be the only answer. 

On the other hand… if people are not supporting it…. what to do?

Last rites
Parishioners at St. Casimir, Holy Trinity gather for final Mass as churches close
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff and Christopher Baxter
Globe Correspondent / June 30, 2008

The three were the rarest of congregations: the only German Catholic parish in Greater Boston, one of the area’s last two Lithuanian churches, and the first local group of traditionalists authorized to pray in Latin.

In each case, a few hundred worshipers were bound by deep connections to history, strong sense of community, and affection for prayer in languages spoken by few in this part of the world.

The Archdiocese of Boston, strapped for cash and priests, decided it could no longer sustain the three congregations, and yesterday, it shuttered the two churches in which they worshiped: Holy Trinity in Boston’s South End, home to the German and Latin Mass congregations, and St. Casimir in Brockton, the Lithuanian parish.

In a ritual that has become familiar in Eastern Massachusetts, where Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has cut the number of parishes from 357 to 292 over the last four years, somber and often angry worshipers packed into three funereal Masses yesterday, taking pictures, telling stories, and wondering what they will do next. Each Mass drew about 300 worshipers.

"This is a sad day, a very sad day," said Diane DuBois, who has been praying at St. Casimir for 38 years. On her lapel, she wore a pin that read, "Jesus hears us. Save our Church."

At Holy Trinity, organist George Krim, whose father, uncle, and great-grandfather also played the organ there, was greeted with applause as he played a final postlude with his teary son standing beside him. "There’s been so much joy here, it’s going to take a while," said Krim, 82.

Krim’s two brothers, both at the service, were angrier. "It was hard for me to walk out of there today," said Joe Krim, 72.

Supporters of both parishes plan to challenge the closings by appealing, first to O’Malley for reconsideration, and then to the Vatican. But the odds are long. Although a few parishes have persuaded O’Malley to reconsider, none has succeeded at the Vatican, and on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI appointed a new chief judge, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, who is viewed as likely to be even less sympathetic to opponents of parish closings than was his predecessor. [That seems like a cheap shot.  I think that he would be very sympathetic indeed.  However, he knows the rights of the Archbishop of Boston in these matters.  He must o by the law, not by what he would prefer or what he would have done himself.]

In several other closed parishes, worshipers have occupied the buildings and refused to leave – in some cases for years. However, there are no plans for such protests in Boston or Brockton.

"We recognize that there is sadness, anxiety, and hurt being felt and expressed in these parish communities," Terrence C. Donilon, the archdiocesan spokesman, said in an e-mail. "We are committed to seeing that the parishioners of Holy Trinity and St. Casimir know that, despite these closings, that we need them to help us in building up our local church."

The archdiocese is offering to accommodate the German-heritage and the Latin Mass congregations from Holy Trinity at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which is less than a half-mile away. But members of the two congregations are viewing the offer with some skepticism, in part because of their affection for the history and architecture of Holy Trinity, which was built by German immigrants and which has the marble communion rail, high altar, and dense iconography preferred for the Latin Mass.

The Latin Mass worshipers, who have been praying at Holy Trinity since 1990, have several other options. O’Malley has established a weekly Latin Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Church in Newton, and last year the pope opened the door to wider use of the older rite, which was replaced with Mass in English and other local languages in 1970, so there are now Latin Masses available occasionally in Brighton and East Boston, as well as, starting next week, at the cathedral.

"You become closer to God here," said Neal MacKenzie, 46, of Marshfield, who attends the Latin Mass with his wife and 10 children. "It feels more reverent."

At the same time that the archdiocese is eliminating Masses in Lithuanian and German – languages associated with immigrant populations that mostly arrived in the 19th and early 20th centuries – it has been expanding its offerings in languages spoken by more recent immigrants. Currently, Mass is said in 20 languages in the Archdiocese of Boston, but O’Malley has said that the primary reason for foreign-language Masses is to enable worshipers to understand and participate in the liturgy, and not to preserve the culture of earlier generations.  [If more Masses were in Latin, and people had hand Missals, many problems would be resolved.]

Lithuanian immigrants began arriving in the United States in the 1860s and established the Brockton parish, originally called St. Rocco, in 1898, according to the archdiocese. The parish, eventually renamed St. Casimir, in recent years had been dwindling, saw its school close, and last year had just one wedding, two funerals, and an average weekend Mass attendance of 161.

But the remaining parishioners were fiercely loyal. [Of course!  Their grandparents made huge sacrifices to build these churches and decorate them for the proper worship of God.  They received the sacraments in these churches!]  In recent weeks, in a symbol associated with Lithuanian Catholicism, worshipers posted crosses in the lawn and gardens surrounding the church and attached them to the church’s fence. At yesterday’s closing Mass, parishioners held Lithuanian and American flags over an icon of St. Casimir during the final procession.

"In this time of trial, you have all tried your best to keep St. Casimir open," said the Rev. Henry Mair. "But the Holy Spirit has come to another conclusion."

Resentment toward the archdiocese bubbled through the morning’s sadness at a gloomy reception after the service. Some vowed never to forget a church they say was unfairly taken from them.

"I feel like I want to smack somebody," said Marilyn Yesonis. "We all went to the church. We paid the bills. The archdiocese has nothing to do with our parish." And Agnes Benoit, who lives next door to St. Casimir and has attended Mass there for 81 years, tapped her finger on a folding table as she said, simply, "This is my church."

The archdiocese says the St. Casimir community will be welcome now to attend St. Michael Church in Avon, and that the last Lithuanian parish in the archdiocese, St. Peter in South Boston, will help minister to the Lithuanian community.

In Boston, the reaction was mixed: Some worshipers were angry and said the archdiocese had betrayed them, while others were nostalgic. That parish was established in 1844 and the current building was constructed in 1877; there was a time when the parish had a school in Roxbury as well as a school and multiple ministries in the South End, but more recently its congregation, too, has dwindled.

"The memories just flood back," said John Doucette, 64, of Salisbury, who was an altar boy and a member of the drum and bugle corps at Holy Trinity in the 1950s, and returned yesterday to say goodbye. "But time goes on."

Michael Paulson can be reached at mpaulson@globe.com.

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58 Responses to Tears and anger in Boston

  1. James says:

    There isn’t a church like it in the archdiocese. What a loss.

    Sadly, the Cardinal has forbidden the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King from the archdiocese. It is a perfect place for one of those two fraternities.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    I am certainly sympathetic to the parishioners who don’t wish to see their parishes closed. But I also understand the realities of diocesan budgets and personnel shortages.

    I remember one bishop who has since gone on to God saying that, faced with a shortage of priests in his diocese, he was tempted to make an announcement that any parish which had provided the diocese witha vocation to the priesthood in the past 20 years would be assured of having a pastor assigned for at least the next 20. Any parish that had not provided the diocese with a priest in 20 years was fair game for closing. Obviously, that’s an unworkable plan and one cannot fault a parish for not “producing” a priest, but it does put an interesting light on the situation. If we don’t have priests to staff our parishes, do we not share part of the blame? what have we done to encourage vocations? (Granted, of course, the fact that seminaries and vocation directors have done a pretty decent job for many years of actively and passively discouraging vocations, but we lay folks – especially contracepting parents – share some of the burden as well).

    So, not knowing the full details of the situation in Boston, I can understand the pain and the anger and the sense of loss. In general, I am opposed to closing parishes as much as possible, but sometimes the reality simply cannot be ignored. If assigning a priest to a parish with 100 people coming to Sunday Mass means that another priest has to bear the burden of serving a parish with 3000 families all on his own, then something clearly needs to be done.

  3. Brian Walden says:

    Each Mass drew about 300 worshipers.

    This stat tells it all. How can these churches support themselves if the last Mass (which I assume would draw more people than normal) had only 300 worshipers? While I’m sure many people are very sad, it doesn’t do any good to blame the Bishop. Hopefully the best can be made of this situation, like maybe moving the altar and iconography from the Holy Trinity to the Cathedral.

    I don’t mean to downplay emotions. My grandmothers Church was recently closed in her diocese and just last week my pastor was promoted to the chancery on only 10 days notice. These types of changes are hard, and we shouldn’t downplay the emotions involved, but we also shouldn’t let those emotions lead us to resentment toward our bishops unless we have real evidence that the bishop is acting improperly.

  4. Supertradmom says:

    The same thing happened in our diocese, in rural areas. One church which was closed had a very large, hand-carved reredos made by German craftsman out of dark oak. It was removed and sold. In another church, the pulpitum carved out of oak by craftsman depicted the twelve apostles. This was actually destroyed. A local priest offered to buy it, but was told it was already “firewood”. What is so tragic is that in several cases, farmers had left money in their wills– considerable amounts of their hard-earned money– to these parishes in order to keep them open. The money was taken by the diocese to pay for homosexual/pedophile settlements, sometimes against the wishes of the families of the deceased and the local community.”bullying”.

    Parishes should considered incorporating privately, and not be part of the diocesan corporations. That is the only way to keep the buildings and interior furnishings. However, most of these parishes are inner city, and only the Latin Mass communities and elderly want them open. And such small communities probably do not have the resources. Of course, the newer, suburban churches have not been created for the Tridentine Mass, and most of us would not want to worship in buildings which look like gussied-up auction houses.

    Thankfully, in our town, the TLM will be celebrated in the oldest church in the area, which is beautiful both inside and out. We only have a few weeks longer to wait.

  5. AlexB says:

    There is a rarely-used alternative to church closure: Close the parish and sell the church to a group of motivated parishioners. Incorporate a repo clause in case the new owners do not properly maintain the building. Let the church continue to hold Masses.

    This approach has worked to great success in St. Louis at the Shrine of St. Joseph (http://www.shrineofstjoseph.org) and to more modest success in Detroit at St. Albertus (http://www.stalbertus.org), the latter of which just hosted its second TLM this past Sunday.

  6. Pater, OSB says:

    This really is a terrible situation all the way round – and I know that some of it has to do with demographic shift, ridiculously huge settlement costs and the rising cause of caring for physical plants. However, I think the ‘necessity’ of Church closures has hidden within two important questions (probably even more)…
    1) How has the Church dealt/has the Church dealt with rising payroll costs? That is to say, where there were once priests and religious doing quite a bit of the work at very low (no?) cost we now pay large staffs much higher wages (relatively speaking) because they have families. And often when there are sisters working, they too ask a high wage because they are supporting an aging community. Thus chanceries and individual parishes are saddled with huge payroll and benefit costs… which leaves much less money for maintenance and retention of real estate.
    2) and this is the more important one – What does the role of evangelization (actually the lack thereof) have to play in this mess? Were the Gospel of Christ and the Truths found only in the Church preached throughout these dioceses that suffer such drastic decline? I don’t know that faulting parishes individually would be correct in this case, because the individual parish cannot control the demography of the are. If Christ and His Bride, the Church, have not been effectively preached as necessary for salvation – then should we really be surprised that Churches don’t have enough people to support the upkeep (Again, keeping in mind that the Church has been crippled financially)?

    These are just a couple of questions that I don’t too often hear brought up, which (IMHO) should be addressed. And I’m not trying to target Boston… these are questions that could be asked in most US dioceses (and beyond).

    Fr.Z. – if I’m misusing this thread, please pardon me.

  7. Supertradmom says:

    Actually, I have a question, being politically out of any loops. Why do not bishops allow orders into their dioceses when asked? James’ comment above resonates in other dioceses where those two orders have not been “let-in”. I know in Calgary, first-hand, that the laity paid for the traveling expenses of the FSSP priest until a parish was established. This money, graciously given, allowed the Holy Mass to be celebrated for a few years, until established, without diocesan money spent on the needs of the priest. Is money the problem?

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Nobody owns a church property but the Church. I hope that is clear.

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

    Many immigrant-based parishes are disappearing in the wash of generational loss of ethnicity as children marry – its not just in the Latin rite.

    Whats more to be pitied is the loss of Faith creating these shrinking congregations that cannot sustain these wonderful historical parishes. The Faith has to be passed on in order to keep the \’trappings\’ of that Faith.

    In the day, these ethnic parishes provided sermons and confession in the native language, plus the preservation of those cultures with dinners and festivals. These types of ethnic parishes were hard-won in the predominately Irish parishes of the time. For instance, I believe this is how so many good French priests ended up in Western Kentucky, considered \’outsiders\’ by the predominately Irish hierarchy at the time.

    That being said, I wish there was a way to preserve these wonderful parishes, so full of life at one time, built by hands of devoted men in a very different era.

  9. Pater, OSB says:

    I would guess part of the problem is polyvalent… number of priests, amount of money, etc. But regarding the number of priests – if the people were there to fill the chuches and the money were there to maintain the churches (deferred maintenance is a real problem right now) then you could still make-do without a live-in pastor, and even without weekly Sunday Mass, Masses could be rotated to some degree. Vocations do actually appear to be turning around, so someday there may be priests for some of these parishes… instead young priests will probably get cardboard worship assemble spaces.

  10. It’s easy to blame this kind of thing on legal settlements, but the process began long before. I expect that the new pastor of the parish here will close one of the two churches in the consolidated parish – they’re 0.9 miles apart, according to Google. It will be a loss, but one that a town of less than 15,000 can live through.

  11. Sorry about the google maps link – maybe this one will work.

  12. Chironomo says:

    While serving at St. Colman of Cloyne in Brockton (now known as “All Saints” following the parish merges) I subbed for funerals and other Masses at St. Casamir on a number of occasions. It was a beutiful church with a long and great history. However, while at St. Colman, I also served on our parish’s “cluster committee”. These were set up by Cardinal Law to begin making decisions about parish closings throughout the Archdiocese. St. Casamir was one of the first to be considered at that time. That was 1998. This was not a sudden or “out of the blue” closing… it had been in the works for nearly 10 years. Readers may want to be aware that in the city of Brockton, there were 5 Catholic churches within EASY walking distance of my house, and if I remember correctly, 10 parishes total in what is not a huge city any longer. The 5 smaller parishes had very meager attendance, even on Sunday. I left in 2000 to move to Florida, but am aware of at least one other parish in Brockton that closed since then (Sacred Heart – French language parish) , but it may be more by now. There was also a Polish parish that had about 30 parishioners remaining that was slated to be closed when the Pastor retired. This is the situation in the Boston area. Many of the Churches have nobody left to go to them and cannot survive financially.

  13. Maynardus says:

    I will confine my comments to the question of “supporting” Holy Trinity. In short, the Archdiocese’s “steawardship” over the past thirty years can be compared to that of a doctor who withholds medical care and all but subsistence feeding and then, when the patient is weakened but stubbornly refuses to die of his own accord, pronounces that he must be euthanized due to his condition!

    Consider:

    -Holy Trinity hasn’t had a pastor for over twenty years – maybe closer to thirty.

    -Although ostensibly retained during that time as a “German” national parish, no chaplain
    was appointed for the German community until a year or so ago.

    -The TLM was permitted there under Ecclesia Dei starting in 1990(?) (89?), but no chaplain was ever assigned to the traditional community. Priests – mostly elderly – were scheduled on an ad hoc basis but there was no continuity. On occasion parishioners showed up after a lengthy drive to find… no priest, no Mass. Obstacles were placed in the path of younger priests interested in celebrating the TLM there.

    -Previous administrators atrongly discouraged parish life, and activities during the week or after Mass were deliberately limited.

    -It was not permitted to advertise the existence of the TLM.

    -In early 2007 (pre-SP) the “indult” was moved to another parish in hopes that the parishioners would follow. However, when SP came into effect, the TLM was again requested and did in fact continue (until 29 June) with a growing attendance.

    In short, the community and especially the “traddies” were marginalized as was typical in many dioceses. Despite this sorry record (I’ve only outlined the basics) and numerous challenges, the attendance at the TLM grew over the years and the parishioners financially supported the parish which also has a healthy bank balance.

    I do not regularly attend Holy Trinity, having made the decision nine years ago to worship at the TLM in Providence instead (Boston and Providence are equidistant from our home but in different directions) Many items factored into our decision, but the perceived lack of stability and permanence for the TLM at Holy Trinity (as enunciated above) definitely weighed in our decision. One wonders how many others reacted the same way to the lack of pastoral care by the Archdiocese during those years, souls who longed for the TLM and might under different circumstances have joined *and supported* the parish.

  14. Miseno says:

    I was struck when in the article that the Archbishop said “the primary reason for foreign-language Masses is to enable worshipers to understand and participate in the liturgy, and not to preserve the culture of earlier generations.”

    I suspect that statement would not be said to certain ethnic groups in Boston… i.e. the Irish in Boston. They don’t have to worry about a foreign language, but they do use the Church as means of keeping Irish identity alive.

    I think the Church should help preserve culture of its constuents if that culture helps keep the Gospel alive within the life of the people, but you can’t be selective with the favor. I think St. Patrick’s Day in cities all over America and feasts of the patrons of other Ethnic groups whose identity is attacted to the Church is a good thing because it promotes the Gospel in their lives.

    I think that in some dioceses their are preferred ethnic groups and then some that are less favored depending on what the majority is and what ethnic groups get preferential treatment due to current political trends in the Church.

    I don’t know the real viability of a Lithuanian or German parish in Boston in particular, but ethnic tension within the Church is still a reality. Some ethnic groups are seen as expendible and others are seen as worth the Churches support in preserving their language with foreign language masses and their culture with Church-sponsored national/cultural events.

    Catholicity is something we are constantly working on and we don’t always reach it in praxis on the diocesan level.

  15. Kradcliffe says:

    The Latin Mass in Glasgow has been moved numerous times, as well, I’ve heard. Its current home is at the parish of Sacred Heart, and the building is crumbling to pieces. The turn-out for the Novus Ordo masses isn’t very great, and the EF only adds about 25-30 people to the weekly total. Since the celebrant is going away for the summer, and the Archbishop has declined to find a replacement, I’m worried there won’t be anybody there in September.

    To be honest, I feel a bit guilty about not going to one of the other, Novus Ordo Masses in the meantime, and supporting the parish. But, I don’t think anybody is planning to do that.

  16. Maynardus says:

    The Globe reporter wrote: “Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, who is viewed as likely to be even less sympathetic to opponents of parish closings than was his predecessor.”

    and Fr. Z. fisked: “[That seems like a cheap shot. I think that he would be very sympathetic indeed.”

    To which I comment: the sentiment about Archbishop Burke is either the reporter’s own opinion or an error in his reporting. The attitude at Holy Trinity is that Archbishop Burke is more likely to receive the appeal favorably than his predecessor. Personally I think that there is a little too much optimism there, i.e. “Burke is trad-friendly and we traddies are getting the shaft, ergo he’ll side with us”.

    Ar you stated, he must (and certainly will) go by the law. I’d expect no less and it would be in insult to the Archbishop to suggest otherwise. I do think – and hope, however, that he will be more “open” to seeking an interpretation of the relevant canons which would be favorable to the appellants than might another prelate.

  17. SFCM Organist says:

    My wife and I are going to be in Boston in two weeks’ time, and it’s a shame that the axe had to fall right after we purchased our plane tickets. We’d hoped to be able to attend at least one Mass there. Can anyone living in the area offer some advice as to where we could attend daily and Sunday Masses while on our nine day vacation? Would it be best to drive to Providence every day? Thanks.

  18. Matthew Mattingly says:

    I know that in some cities (like Philadelphia, N.Y., etc.) changing neighborhood demographics has something to do with SOME parish and church closings. After all, when yyou’re down to 120 parishiioners, or 75 children in a parish school withno hope of a rebirth, theen there’s little point to keep the parish open. Demographics do play a part in parish closures.
    But very much of this, including the severe shortage of priests and nuns, and declining Mass attendance, is directly due to Vatican II and the “reforms” that came from it….especially the Novus Ordo. It is a violation of valid judgement to blame the deline in priests or sisters on social changes and more opportunities for young people today ( when truth be told, Orders which are 100% traditional/traditionalist- such as the Nashville Dominicans, or the Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, have more vocations than they can handle….just like the 1950′s when the Church in general was flourishing world wide like never before in modern times. Same positive vocations situation for seminaries dedicated to the TLM (Fraternity of St Peter, SSPX seminaries)- both of which are enrollment wise (Fraternity at over 70 seminarians, SSPX in Winona, Mn. at close to 80 this year), are among the biggest seminaries enrollment wise in the USA. (Doesn’t say much, when before Vatican II even the smaller dioceses which had their own seminaries had anywhere from 40-80 seminarians, while the huge Archdioceses like Philadelphia had prior to Vatican II nearly 600!! (today, 37).
    So, I think any anger from the parishioners should be directed not so much at individuals….but at an entire system and model of the Church—the reforms of Vatican II and especially the Novus Ordo–and all the directives, changes, experimentations etc. that came afterwards for the massive vocations decline and turn away from the Faith that precipitates the increasing need to close hundreds of parishes across the USA each year….and in Europe too.

  19. Rob says:

    Folks,

    Also refer to this earlier post for background on the situation inat Boston’s Holy Trinity.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/06/boston-cathedral-weekly-sunday-tlm/#comments

    Also SFCM,

    A daily Low Mass as recently commenced at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls, MA.

    Please refer to page 6 of the Parish Bulletin for this week’s Mass times:

    http://parishbulletin.com/Bulletins/1096/062908MaryNewton.pdf

  20. Veritas says:

    Consider that Our Lady of the Angels and St. John Cantius, both in Chicago, were either slated (the former) or otherwise considered (the latter) for closure.

    Closure doesn’t have to be the answer. Nor should our response as Catholics be reduced to economics. This is our heritage, really–and what price do we put on that? Can we, on one hand, support the logic behind a summorum pontificum but remain indifferent whenever a parish closes (even if it’s not within our own dioceses)? Our identity is not merely tied up in doctrine or liturgical rubics. And I posit that the current model of “suburban Catholicism” is not and can never rightly be ours.

    Every time a gem of an inner-city parish closes, it affects us all.

  21. Maynardus says:

    To SFCM Organist:

    In one way you’re in luck: A daily TLM has recently been established at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton. The schedule is somewhat variable – seems to be Monday morning, Tuesday evening, and Wed-Fri around midday. The Saturday morning TLM is at 9:00 and Sunday’s is at noon.

    Fr. Higgins is posting the schedule in the bulletin which can be accessed online:
    http://parishesonline.com/scripts/hostedsites/org.asp?p=5&ID=1096

    There is supposed to be a TLM at the Cathedral in Boston starting this Sunday (6 July) at 11:00 but whether it will continue or even happen to begin with still seems up in the air.

    If your schedule is open and you will have a car, you might want to head out to the St. Benedict Center in Still River some weekday morning, Mass is at 8:30 and the whole place is well worth a visit.

    Unfortunately we don’t have a daily TLM in Providence – yet – but if you are looking to do some sightseeing we have a Mass on Saturday at 8:00 and Sunday at 11:00.

    There are lots more options now as well, thanks to Summorum Pontificum. There’s a Mass every Monday evening at 7:00 in East Boston and a couple of new Sunday Masses North of Boston as well.

    Sadness and anger for what has transpired at Holy Trinity, but joy at these new fruits growing from the careful cultivations of the Holy Father!

  22. Sam says:

    A couple thoughts and reactions:

    1) The fix has been in for Holy Trinity for years. I loved that church and the people I met there, but the sword of Damocles had been hanging over its head for at least 7 years and now it’s finally dropped.
    2) Still can’t comprehend why the Archdiocese wouldn’t allow the FSSP or the ICK or some other orthodox extraordinary form religious order to take over Holy Trinity’s Latin Mass congregation. But, the byzantine politics of the archdiocesan chancery baffle me to this day.
    3) Notice that the reconfiguration process in the Archdiocese of Boston never closed an ethnic Irish parish when faced with the choice between closing an Irish and a non-Irish parish. It’s only the French-Canadian, German, Lithuanian, Polish, etc parishes that have been closed.
    4) Yes, demographics change. But ask yourself Why? If you read Michael Jones’ book, “The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing,” you will see that the decimated urban Catholic neighborhoods of cities like Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Detroit (to name the cities on which the author focused his research) was no accident but rather the design of the WASP elite who socially engineered these actions against the rising political and demographic power of urban ethnic Catholics between the 1920s and 1960s. So, Holy Trinity’s South End neighborhood which once had a strong ethnic German character was ethnically cleansed by the Mayor Kevin White administration and now it is populated by homosexuals. The closing of Holy Trinity (and the reconfiguration process itself) is the final page in the ethnic cleansor’s Boston playbook, and they have been aided and abetted by the social justice crowd in our chanceries and seminaries. Every revolution needs its useful idiots, and as Jones’ book points out (and recent events in Boston show), our chancery is full of useful idiots.

  23. “The primary reason for foreign-language Masses is to enable worshipers to understand and participate in the liturgy, and not to preserve the culture of earlier generations.”

    You said it Father – Mass in Latin (ordinary or extraordinary form) is the answer.

    But, even if Mass is in English – why can’t there be English – Spanish etc. hand missals to help keep the immigrants incorporated in the worship of the parish community?
    If I were to settle in a non-English country I might prefer to hear my native language, but I’d also want to learn to worship with the local Catholics.

    I think that the insistence on specialized vernacular Masses only serves to divide Catholics and cause ill will. The Church hierarchy must be careful in this matter.

  24. AlexB says:

    Some reasons I have heard over the years as to why a diocese would not want FSSP, ICK, and other (including non-trad) orders in:

    1. We want “our guys” (diocesan priests) to run our parishes. May arise from the same mentality that caused so many dioceses not to want to have the FSSP seminary within their borders.

    2. Concern about having retirement, health care, insurance,
    and other long-term financial burdens from inviting extra clergy.
    But wouldn’t having additional diocesan clergy bring the same, or more, obligations, since a religious community wouldn’t be there to fund some expenses?

    3. Concern that bringing in priests from foreign countries would involve too much inculturation work.

    4. Concern that order-run parishes don’t participate in diocesan events as actively as diocesan priest-run parishes. Might be valid in some cases, but there are also certain diocesan priest-run parishes that also keep to themselves. Can’t generalize.

    Seems to me that dioceses with severe vocations challenges cannot afford to dismiss opportunities to bring in clergy, especially if viable financial planning is done beforehand.

  25. j says:

    A few things to bear in mind when reading this;

    The Parishioners at Holy Trinity had supported, could support, would support the Parish. The Parish had consistently growing attendance, money in the bank, operating at a surplus, and learned that $40,000 per year was being skimmed of its books by a former Administrator to prop up a failing Church with a nicer Rectory (where he lived). It was not “supported” by the Archdiocese. It is surrounded by Parishes that ARE.

    Holy Trinity had more Vocations over the last 15 years than the next 5 Parishes in the entire Archdiocese. Combined. One a year. Yes, one a year.

    Any of the Tridentine Orders would have been welcomed and were solicited by BOTH EF and OF Parishioners, to help releive the alleged Priest shortage. The Archdiocese is closing Churches INSTEAD of releiving its Priest shortage. It has utterly rejected outside help.

  26. Tim Ferguson says:

    I agree with Alex, and have heard most of the same arguments against religious orders. I would say that, in addition to good financial planning, a clear, written contract (which is called for in canon law, c. 520) should be drawn up, outlining the balance of privileges and obligations given to the religious institute with whom the parish is entrusted. If that’s done properly, that could ensure that many of those concerns are minimized (for example, the contract could stipulate that priests assigned to the parish be present at the annual Chrism Mass, take part in vicariate meetings, be available to assist other parishes with confessions and welcome the assistance of diocesan priests at the parish, et c.)

  27. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    CORRECTION: The morning Mass at St. Benedict’s Center in Still River MA is at *8 am* not 8:30 am. Confession is held from 7:30 to 7:50 (but the priests are often around earlier).

    Still River is part of Harvard, Massachusetts, a town to the west of Boston (NOT the university).

    (Maynardus — are you from Maynard, MA? I go to St. Bridget and to St. Benedict’s)

  28. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Ooops. Should add the Sunday Masses at St. Benedict are 9:15 am TLM at the convent next door, and 11 am (Gregorian Chant) at the St. Benedict chapel. Confession with the monks at 10:30.

  29. I think the focus is wrong when we entertain the argument that “Holy Trinity cannot support itself” or that “Holy Trinity does not have a priest there to administer the sacraments.”

    These are NOT the reasons that Holy Trinity is closing. Holy Trinity is sitting on a piece of prime real estate worth at least 1 million dollars and maybe more. Holy Trinity is a poker chip that is being cashed in to pay for programs like “Talking about Touching” and the bureaucrats’ salaries who administer them.

    The sad fact is that the Church in Boston is not focused on ministry but on subsidizing a bureaucratic apparatus that has been running a deficit of about $17 million per year.

    Their hospital system is bankrupt which is why the state took over the 7 Catholic hospitals last month. There was no objection raised by the Archdiocese or the Cardinal.

    But now we are blaming the parishoners for not giving enough money, not “producing” vocations and not trusting the Archdiocese. It is just surreal.

    Maybe the millions spent on public relations firms and advertising campaigns could be used to some real purpose. Maybe even an important one like saving souls.

  30. Jason says:

    With all these Church closings in recent years, one thing is clear: we need to evangelize Boston.

    So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on the T and start evangelizing. And then we can have Churches bursting with souls.

    See you on the blue line.

  31. Lynne says:

    From Mary Alexander…

    “Holy Trinity is a poker chip that is being cashed in to pay for programs like “Talking about Touching” and the bureaucrats’ salaries who administer them.”

    Hmmmm,

    From a 2007 Boston Globe article…

    The archdiocese, for the second year in a row, published on its website a raft of financial information, including annual financial reports for the archdiocesan administration, as well as for dozens of related Catholic organizations.

    This year’s disclosure was more extensive than last year\’s. Among the additions: The archdiocese released the salaries of its top employees, which range from $23,771 for Cardinal Sean P. O\’Malley to $250,000 each to the archdiocese\’s top fund-raiser and chief financial officer.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/04/26/archdiocese_cuts_2m_from_deficit/

    They’re paying 2 people an annual salary of a quarter of a million dollars each…

    That’s an outrageous amount of money.

  32. but O’Malley has said that the primary reason for foreign-language Masses is to enable worshipers to understand and participate in the liturgy, and not to preserve the culture of earlier generations.

    How sad. And the Holy Father had once stated, “The Chuch is the preserver of cultures.”

    I’m glad I got to attend the TLM at Holy Trinity, Boston at least once.

  33. Boston_Trad says:

    Great discussion! I will respond to a few points that have been raised.

    James:
    “Sadly, the Cardinal has forbidden the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King from the archdiocese. It is a perfect place for one of those two fraternities.”
    After consulting with the FSSP, early in 2004 (when the Archdiocese was considering which parishes to close but had not done so yet), I wrote to Cardinal O’Malley to request that he invite the FSSP to administer Holy Trinity. Under the arrangement, the FSSP would have raised all the necessary money for the upkeep/potential repairs of the building without relying on archdiocesan funds, yet it would return to the Archdiocese the usual proportion of the parish collections. Then Auxiliary Bishop Richard Lennon, replying on behalf of the Cardinal, wrote back to reject the offer and explain that the Cardinal preferred that diocesan priests minister to the Latin Mass Community – without adding any reference like “at Holy Trinity” to designate the location of that community.

    To Brian Walden:
    “This stat tells it all. How can these churches support themselves if the last Mass (which I assume would draw more people than normal) had only 300 worshipers?”
    Holy Trinity DID have 300 worshippers for about ten years before the closure, but, as far as we could tell – proper financial records were not kept at that time – we did not have a deficit. We had no paid staff (or maybe one organist was paid); even the church cleaning was done by the parishioners. We ran such a surplus that a former administrator transfered $176,390 to the other parish he administered. Proper accounting was only instituted in the past year, and the first figures were released in May. Yes, the situation was grim. The deficit was about $100,000 – but that was for the period when the original “indult” Latin Mass Community had been evacuated to Newton, and 50 people worshipped at the remaining Mass. Preliminary figures showed that the deficit was much smaller after the Latin Mass returned in February. Despite the threat of imminent closure, the new Latin Mass congregation increased from 100 to 150 within four months; offertory collections at that Mass were around $1000. With candid discussion about what the parish’s financial needs were (sort of like what they did in Portland, without the stipulation to make a down payment on the apostolate), “Good Will Fund” collections from “offsite” parishioners (this had gone down a lot after the Latin Mass moved and the closure seemed imminent), and a probable increase in the congregation, the parish could easily be self-supporting again. By the way, while a large capital campaign (for repairs/renovations – although the building is structurally sound, it needs upgrades) may seem unrealistic for such a small congregation, I would consult with a professional fundraiser and target the German-American population throughout the United States, people interested in historic preservation, and our ever-generous traditionalists who are building a seminary, at least one convent and monastery, and renovating at least one church (in addition to supporting their own parishes and families of [usually] eight or ten children).

    To Alex B:
    “This approach [selling to a group of parishioners] has worked to great success in St. Louis at the Shrine of St. Joseph (http://www.shrineofstjoseph.org) and to more modest success in Detroit at St. Albertus (http://www.stalbertus.org), the latter of which just hosted its second TLM this past Sunday.”
    While I doubt that the Cardinal would accept this, the Shrine of St. Joseph is one of the examples I cite on preservation of historic churches; its story is especially inspiring.

    To Pater, OSB:
    “What does the role of evangelization (actually the lack thereof) have to play in this mess?”
    The failure to pass on the faith is the core of the problem, not the sex-abuse scandal. If Mass attendance were even 50% in the Archdiocese of Boston, instead of 17%, very few parishes would close.
    While Holy Trinity would – due largely to the loss of German identity among the descendants of the original immigrants – probably still minister to a tiny German-American congregation, it DOES have a large role to play in the new evangelization. While it’s true that the Cathedral parish could minister to everyone its territory, it seems better suited to the families in the area, especially the poor. However, the Boston University Medical School is in the territory, so the area houses many medical and graduate students, as well as young professionals. Holy Trinity, continuing its existence as a shrine or mission, would be the perfect type of parish to reach out to this unchurched yet well-educated group. Its ministry would complement the work of the St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine about two miles to the west, a “hot” gathering place for serious young adult Catholics.

    Tina in Ashburn:
    “The Faith has to be passed on in order to keep the ‘trappings’ of that Faith.”
    This is why I think the parishes are closing. Unfortunately, the loss of any parish, whether historic or not, is most painful to the most faithful Catholics – we feel the loss that Christ feels, live out the tenth station of the Cross: Jesus is stripped of His garments.

    To Pater, OSB
    “Vocations do actually appear to be turning around.”
    Holy Trinity, merely by hosting the EF Mass, did much to foster vocations. When the Holy Name Society re-organized in 2000, it also helped in this area. Since 1995, we have had one FSSP priest and one archdiocesan priest ordained that I know of. An ICR (THIS is the abbreviation, not ICK) seminarian who came from our congregation may be ordained next year (I don’t keep track of him). Several archdiocesan seminarians, as well as men who entered “non-Trad” religious orders, attended the EF Mass; it supported vocations.

    To Maynardus:
    “Many items factored into our decision (not to choose Holy Trinity as a parish), but the perceived lack of stability and permanence for the TLM at Holy Trinity (as enunciated above) definitely weighed in our decision. One wonders how many others reacted the same way to the lack of pastoral care by the Archdiocese during those years, souls who longed for the TLM and might under different circumstances have joined and supported the parish.”
    A good friend of mine and her husband decided NOT to raise her family of four children at Holy Trinity but in the territorial parish just because of the factors you cite. Certainly you are aware of many a conversation during the coffee hour that noted, “This place could close any day.” I’m sure this perception, as well as the lack of true regular pastoral support, (coupled with the perception during the “indult era” that the EF was really “abrogated”) kept many people away.

    To Veritas:
    “Closure doesn’t have to be the answer. Nor should our response as Catholics be reduced to economics. This is our heritage, really—and what price do we put on that? Can we, on one hand, support the logic behind a summorum pontificum but remain indifferent whenever a parish closes (even if it’s not within our own dioceses)? Our identity is not merely tied up in doctrine or liturgical rubics. And I posit that the current model of “suburban Catholicism” is not and can never rightly be ours. Every time a gem of an inner-city parish closes, it affects us all.”
    This reasoning could go into our appeal. If you look at the reasoning of our regional bishop and Presbyteral Council, who recommended/voted for closure, Holy Trinity’s situation has been narrowly and neatly presented so that closure is the only logical answer. Exposing flaws in our hierarchy’s approach (within the framework of the law, as has been pointed out) should be one of the approaches that our appeal takes.

    Fr Z. and others:
    “On the other hand… if people are not supporting it…. what to do?”
    I hope I have demonstrated that Holy Trinity can participate in the rebuilding of the interior life of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston, help to increase its number of priests, and preserve cultural heritage – at no additional cost to the Archdiocese.
    Granted, they will not get the several million dollars that they would probably get from the sale of this prime location for redevelopment. But this money will be spent quickly to patch up a hole in the Archdiocese’s financial situation, while letting Holy Trinity “always be a place of Catholic worship” will be a keystone in the long-term rebuilding of the Archdiocese.

  34. Kathleen says:

    OK Rob here it is again.

    I feel I need to speak up as I think I am the only one posting who attended all the meetings and was and still is a member of the transition committee which ended up being a complete waste of time.

    First we need to start back to last year when we were informed that the Parish would be split (months before the MP was released)and the TLM community was to be sent into exile in Newton. Yes it is exile. I grew up in Newton which is very liberal. So Fr. Mark O’Connell who was our advocate to stay open and also the Cardinal’s to close us (conflict of interest anyone)thought it was an ingenious idea to put the most conservative group of Catholics in the middle ultra liberal Newton (home of Boston College and the Jesuits and I’m also a grad so I know what I am talking about). The MIL community was initially glad to have us as they were on the chopping block but needless to say once we arrived well that was a different story. I found out just recently that our sizable minority community felt less welcomed than we did. Many Hatian women were asked if they were from the nursing home up the hill from the church or home health aids. One told me that the move to Newton felt very white. But no matter Fr. Mark told us that the Church had changed and it isn’t here for us but for new immigrants and minorities so when several minority parishioners spoke up were told not for them but some other group. So it seemed we were set up to fail.

    Back to HT. So now with the majority of parishioners gone it was put before the Presbyteral Council in March to close Holy Trinity as they were down to 50 parishioners. So the parish was intentionally degraded to close it. (please spare me any boo hooing for Cardinal Sean) It was not mentioned that with the return of the TLM in February(which we were responsible for finding and scheduling priests)that the Parish had increased to 200+ and is still growing. The only figures used were from October and not the current parish. Given time we would have grown to our previous levels with mostly new parishioners.
    So at the meeting with Kathleen Heck (the ax women) on May 29th she told us they we could pick our welcoming parish and it could be written into the decree. I was appointed to the Transition Committee at the next weeks meeting June 3rd.

    I was sent out into churches across Boston to see which would be appropriate for the TLM and hopefully take in both communities. So I set off with my camera and note book. Very few Churches fit the bill and we were really talking basements. Gate of Heaven in Southie had a beautiful Lower church which had just been demolished (I can send Fr.Z pictures of he wants). I had concluded given the requirements parishioners gave me(which did not match the committee) St.Columkille’s in Brighton was the best choice for the TLM. It is still in the city accessible by public transit with lots of parking, a diverse population and as intact a Sanctuary as possible.

    One problem of the council is they only talk with each other so they agree on everything (wanting to stay together no matter what). Only 2 of us on the committee actually went out to meet and talk with everyone or as many as possible to get input. I was unaware that some felt a subtle racism in Newton. When I asked a close friend if she noticed the whiteness when we moved to Newton she gave a emphatic YES. When I brought it up with others they couldn’t believe it and had never heard this before.

    Now we are up to the last meeting in which we were to present out findings. We were told that while thank you for your work but it was just to keep you busy. We were invited to the Cathedral to attend the 11:30 NO Mass and that “maybe sometime in the future it could be possible to have a TLM because it was just too much work at the present time”. We could sit together as a group and wouldn’t that be nice. Plus you have to understand that the rector was leaving and it was just too much to do this to the new rector. At this time I exploded. I asked if we were some club or field trip SIT TOGETHER! If that is not insulting to adults. This falls entirely on the Cardinal who chose the day to close us at the same time the rector was switching. His first and primary obligation is to see to the spiritual needs of his flock (not a real estate agent). As hard as he tries to ignore us we are his flock. I said a Low Mass is not that much work. We have managed a Low Mass for Bishop in backyard in the pouring rain in under a hour. Six candles, a crucifix, portable tabernacle and a priest. I think in the Cathedral they should be able to come up with the items. They wouldn’t expect Spanish or any other minority community to go to a welcoming parish with out providing them a Mass. I told Fr. Connolly that the TLM community would not go to a NO Mass that they would leave. His response was “so let them”. That the Cardinal’s actions would drive people out of the Diocese and possibly back to the Chapels, taking their money with them. As much as Fr. Connolly, ever the good soldier, tried to deflect the blame to himself it falls at the Cardinals sandals.

    I keep hearing of priest shortages and money as the blame for closing Churches. Holy Trinity never had either problem. The FSSP and ICKSP were both turned down. It is also on the record that our previous administrator used our money to shore up the Parish that he lived in, St James the Greater,China Town, along with totally refurbishing his rectory. Our maintenance fund was also diverted to St. James(documented in the Boston Globe). So under 2 Cardinals Holy Trinity was intentionally degraded in order to close it. WHY? No answer has been forthcoming from the ADOB but the Boston Herald’s Business page gave us a clue 6/1/2008. The key paragraph was as follows “The hotel plan is one of a number of proposals for a longtime industrial pocket of the South End seen by some as one of the city’s last big development opportunities”(of which there to date 6 possible plans). Holy Trinity sits in the four square block on the map shown on the page. It is worth a fortune as ruble. Follow the money!

    What is so galling is that they are selling off Churches our families struggled to build and not with the extras but with the meat money. When kids ate corn chowder and potato soup because we were giving to God. This is their mess which most have never even apologized for yet still retain power. If Cardinal O’Malley had just been honest and told the us how bad it was. That we needed to compensate victims which we all feel is right. But that the drain on the Diocese was so great because of previous mismanagement, the loans Cardinal Law took out were not that much of a secret, we were bankrupt. I would gladly have given money and most other Catholics would have too. We would have gotten honesty, a apology and a little humility which is sorely lacking from the higherarchy. Through it all I gave every week (I really don’t understand the buck a week group, you can’t even get a cup of coffee, never mind change). The ADOB needs to return to the business of the salvation of souls. The laity are not just a piggy bank.

    Friday night after services I told my close friend who is a priest of the ADOB that after this blatant money grab, abuse of parishioners and the refusal of Rome to hear our cries I may truly have lost my faith. If Rome has abandoned us we have no hope.

  35. BCatholic says:

    I have read the comments on the two recent posts related to Boston with much anguish.

    “The sad fact is that the Church in Boston is not focused on ministry but on subsidizing a bureaucratic apparatus that has been running a deficit of about $17 million per year.”

    First of all, the Church in Boston comprises the entire Mystical Body of Christ there. So I assume by Church of Boston, what was meant here was the employees of the Archdiocese, those who work in the Pastoral Center. But as someone who knows the people who work there, the priests, the religious, and the laity, I don’t share that same judgment.

    Mary Alexander (and everyone else), I can’t imagine the pain of losing your parish. I’ve never had to go through that. And from what I know, it seems that there were many mistakes made in the planning process of the closures. But a very holy sister once told me that there are five steps to living God’s will. The first is acceptance. The second is offering it to God and the third uniting with Christ’s passion. The fourth is thanksgiving. The fifth is rejoicing.

    Isn’t it possible that what has been done in terms of Holy Trinity was what was best for the Archdiocese spiritually and financially? I really don’t know. None of us will. I would NEVER wish the position of Archbishop of Boston on any man because those are the difficult decisions which he faces. God has called Cardinal Sean to that position, to discern the way of proceeding in the Archdiocese. This is why we need to humbly pray for our leaders that God guide them according to His will, even if that doesn’t match ours.

  36. Maureen says:

    What horrible things we do to each other. Sigh.

    Kathleen, all I can say is that suffering is short and eternal life is very long. Don’t let temporary/temporal problems or annoying people drive you away from the Church. Don’t give them that power.

  37. Maureen says:

    What horrible things we do to each other. Sigh.

    Kathleen, all I can say is that suffering is short and eternal life is very long. Don’t let temporary/temporal problems or annoying people drive you away from the Church. Don’t give them that kind of power over you. Stick like glue, and don’t let them pry you away, even with a crowbar.

  38. Kasia says:

    To Lynne,

    A quarter of a million dollars for a fundraising executive may sound outrageous, but to my knowledge it isn’t particularly out of line with average salaries. I don’t know what the market or average salaries are like in Boston (seems they’d have to be higher than in Detroit, not lower), but if memory serves the top fundraising executive at the none-too-wealthy urban university I recently stopped working for made at least $200K, plus a Chrysler 300 and some other very nice fringe benefits. The underlying idea behind paying that much is that you’ve got to do it in order to attract talent, which pays off in terms of fundraising.

    I fully appreciate that one would think that working for the Church would motivate someone to accept a smaller salary. I know I could make more in the private sector, and when one factors in benefits I even took a pay cut moving from working at that university to my diocese. I accepted it, in no small part because I wanted to work for the Church, and I discerned that it was where God wanted me.

    And for what it’s worth, I’m very aware, when I spend money on office supplies or an event, that the money being used comes ultimately from the parishioners. I would hope and trust that the Archdiocese of Boston is similarly aware, and is weighing its personnel decisions carefully.

  39. Kathleen says:

    Isn’t it possible that what has been done in terms of Holy Trinity was what was best for the Archdiocese spiritually and financially? I really don’t know. None of us will. I would NEVER wish the position of Archbishop of Boston on any man because those are the difficult decisions which he faces. God has called Cardinal Sean to that position, to discern the way of proceeding in the Archdiocese. This is why we need to humbly pray for our leaders that God guide them according to His will, even if that doesn’t match ours.
    Comment by BCatholic — 1 July 2008 @ 8:20 pm

    WHAT! The intentional degrading of a Parish to steal it’s money is spiritually benefiting. As someone who works, benefits and profits from our loss you are in no position to tell me anything. NO I DON’T THINK IT IS POSSIBLE! AND YES I”M YELLING! You really think it is God’s will to turn Holy Trinity to ruble and turn it into million dollar condos because that is the plans for the area filled in Boston. I have never read in the Bible that God told his shepherds steal from your flock and drive them from the Churches. It is exactly that nonsense that only pours salt in our wounds. What drivel!

  40. Leo Higgins says:

    I don’t have time to redact the comments I left on Free Republic’s Religion Forum today, so I am reposting them here. While I know this isn’t the ideal format for this forum, I hope the issues raised help clarify things a bit for those outside of the fray:

    In response to someone wondering about the relatively low collection amounts reported (toward the end of HT’s run, after the closure announcement), I said the following:

    The actual dollar amount of what was in the accounts will possibly never be known. The estimates range from $175,000 to over $500,000. The wide range is explained as “accounting anomalies.” Much of the problem here involves the fact that the previous administrator (who left less than two years ago), was very lax with the book keeping, and this was compounded by his taking the proceeds from various collections dedicated to a specific purpose and mixing them all together in the deposits. For nearly ten years, we contributed to a monthly “Special Maintenance Fund,” which generated over $200,000 alone, yet, when we requested some repairs be made in our efforts to try to stave off closure, the funds “weren’t there.” The church was, overall, in pretty good physical condition, but, even before the closure issue loomed in front of us, we were figuring to use the maintenance collection on things like re-leading the stained glass windows. That, and other repairs, were pushed aside for consideration once we were on the closure list, but the Special Maintenance collection was still solicited anyway (with diminishing proceeds, naturally, once people saw the disingenuousness of it all).
    Speaking of diminishing proceeds…before the closure issue, the parish was routinely pulling in $2500+ per week from a relatively small congregation of Traddies and Germans. Per capita, the contributions were solid compared with other parts of the archdiocese. If the Traddies had been allowed to advertize and “grow” their numbers via such avenues (indeed, before the closure issue, we were slowly but steadily growing anyway), we doubtless could have contributed more financially, but the two Cardinals in residence in Boston during our tenure at Holy Trinity certainly weren’t interested in seeing the TLM flourish – there or anywhere else!

    Between the financial shell games going on with the collections over the years, the deliberate, massive underreporting of the parish’s sacramental index numbers over the years (which figure hugely in whether a parish avoids closure around here, these days), and the local ordinaries’ palpable disinclination toward the TLM, Holy Trinity was never given a chance. It has been a miracle of grace that we staved off the actual closure for several years. We still hope this presages a successful appeal, and the providential naming of Archbishop Burke to head the Signatura may be a continuing of the miracle of grace.

    To someone else, needing more clarification on the same topic, I said:

    The collection figures are the most recent. Consider: the Latin Mass congregation was forced to leave HT by the cardinal in April 2007. This left 30-50 Germans. Then, under the Motu Proprio, an appeal was made to the parish administrator for a return of the TLM. The current administrator is actually a pretty reasonable guy, and granted the TLM’s return. From February 2008 to the end of May, the TLM attracted 100-115 people steadily, including a bunch of “newbies.” Then, during June, with the closure date in sight, the TLM congregation headed toward the 150-200 range. Finally, last Sunday, there were 303. All this in spite of the “competition” of the parish in Newton where the TLM was relocated back in April 2007.
    It seems simple to us…if the TLM had been allowed to flourish, it would have. There are 300 people in Newton, the 150+ showing up lately at HT, several other small “start ups” springing to life under the Motu Proprio, and a number of parishes scattered around in the process of petitioning their pastors. These people didn’t just spring from the rocks last Tuesday. If Law, Lennon and O’Malley had facilitated the TLM a bit, these folks would have found their way to Holy Trinity long since, even under the old Indult.

    But no! They did nothing to help us, obstructed requests for other Sacraments at every turn until very recently, gave us octogenarian and nonogenarian priests from the Regina Cleri retirement home to serve most of our needs (even while denying repeated requests from the FSSP to take over the parish), and made it abundantly clear to all of us that we were 3rd Class Catholics all the way. In spite of this, our collection numbers held their own right up until the rigged closure process (maybe I’ll get into that fiasco later – I’m at work now and have to type fast on break) made it clear that nothing would change the minds of the powers that be.

    With these guys, it seems to be all about the money, and pastoral considerations take a decidedly “back seat.” But, apparently, in their zeal to stifle the TLM and close a church with massive historical, architectural, musical and cultural significance, even this crowd doesn’t want our money!

    I’m just warming up, but I have to get back to work…

    And, finally, to someone expressing the idea that maybe we should be closed because of Masstimes.org’s erroneous claim that there was only one Mass at HT, I said the following:

    A serial “Going Out of Business Sale,” I submit, is not being a Good Shepherd to anyone. The Archdiocese of Boston is in the process of literally abandoning the inner-city parishes of Boston, Lowell, Lawrence and Brockton. When the Re-evangelization that Rome speaks about kicks-in, where will the infrastructure be for the Church to regain more than its current toehold? Look, the vast majority of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston are nominal, at best. Many left the active practice of the faith decades ago over what they saw was a disastrous watering-down of both the Faith itself and its liturgy. The sexual abuse scandal – and Boston is its hub! – drove many others away, disgusted by the palpable set of hypocricies, and the closures, that were largely driven by the abuse scandal fallout, sealed the deal. If the Cardinal and the rest were serious about being models of the Good Shepherd, they would have been doing far more to inculcate orthodoxy and orhtopraxis among the laity, would have ensured proper theological and pastoral training for a whole “Lost Generation” of priests here, would have simultaneously rooted out the ever-growing Lavender Mafia from the seminaries, would have made the glaring disconnect between what the Faith teaches and what certain prominent local “Catholic politicians” are allowed to practice and facilitate a non-starter, would have nipped the sexual predators among the priestly ranks in the bud 30+ years ago…etc. and so forth.
    That they did none of these things, or, at best, did them half-heartedly in a way that any half-asleep layman could see was an exercise in “mailing it in,” speaks volumes concerning the issue of diminishing attendance in many churches here. As it is, Holy Trinity had been growing (slowly, to be sure, but growing, nevertheless)every year from the mid-1990s, thru the onset of the abuse scandal, and right up to the point where we were first slated to be closed. With a little help from the higher-ups, the TLM alone could have staved-off HTs closure, especially if either the FSSP or ICKSP had been allowed in. But, as I said in another post, the success of the TLM (and, by extension, Holy Trinity Church) was most unpolitic, and had to be countered.

    We Catholics belong to the same Church that sent Saint Boniface out among the pagan germanic tribes, with an expectation of his success. Nowadays, our bishops are too afraid to even attempt to re-evangelize their own, merely lapsed flock, who surely cannot be as openly hostile to the Faith as the germanic tribes Boniface dealt with were initially. These “pastors of souls” have quit the field before they even get in sight of it! This is most certainly true here in Boston, and is true enough in whole swaths of the Western Church. The exceptions are few and far between.

    Bottom line: we would not have “attendance problems” at Holy Trinity or elsewhere had the bishops and priests been doing their God-appointed jobs all along. We would not have such problems if they saw their work as a “vocation” rather than as a mere “career.” We would not have these problems if the teaching orders of nuns were not allowed to become heretical and apostate, thereby infecting whole generations of nominal Catholics with similar mindsets. Do the laity have a responsibility to see to their own proper catechesis? Certainly. But their responsibility is mitigated when a second (and now a third) generation comes along without (generally speaking) even an awareness of their deficiencies, and they can be somewhat excused when only one in six of them condescends to go to Sunday Mass here. They don’t know any better. As for Holy Trinity, the attendance didn’t drop off all that sharply even after the announced intent to close (though the donations did, I grant), and the 250-300 people forcibly moved to Newton in 2007 nearly all continued going to the Mass there. They hung in there, and did not wander off in a huff or join some schismatic group. In spite of everything. And now, the church they attended for 17 years (since the Indult was granted to HT in 1990) is closing “because no one goes to it.”

    Holy Trinity has great local and national significance for its history and its musical and architectural heritage. This significance is ongoing. Old North Church, on the other hand, has a national notoriety and significance because of events that took place there on just one evening, specifically, the evening of April 18-19, 1775. Yet, could you imagine the outcry if anyone in the Congregational Church (or whatever it’s affiliated with these days) decided to close it down? Why, even the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston would be appalled!

    BTW, we DID have two Masses, right up till last Sunday. Masstimes.org apparently hadn’t been updated since the TLM was forced to leave Holy Trinity in April 2007. When the TLM was allowed to return last February, it was given a Mass time of 9 AM, the German/English Mass was moved to 11 AM.

  41. C says:

    Kasia, not to complain about those people’s salaries, but a quarter of a million would easily pay all the annual operating expenses of Holy Trinity.

  42. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Reading these enlightening posts by those describing the details of Holy Trinity parish: I am so sorry. What a grievous loss. If even half of what is described here is true, how disappointing the behavior of so many. [If misery loves company, many parishes have seen their churches destroyed over the last 40 years]

    I pray that this heartbreaking situation improves.

    On the other hand, there is grace granted to sanctify those who choose to suffer generously. If the time comes to accept an unhappy outcome, I pray that you will be able to bear it.

  43. Matt Q says:

    Well, here’s my response to the O’Malley lunacy. Pray for him, first of all, and secondly, stop giving money of any sort. What is he going to do, close all the parishes of the diocese?

    ======
    Supertradmom wrote:

    “Actually, I have a question, being politically out of any loops. Why do not bishops allow orders into their dioceses when asked? James’ comment above resonates in other dioceses where those two orders have not been “let-in”. I know in Calgary, first-hand, that the laity paid for the traveling expenses of the FSSP priest until a parish was established. This money, graciously given, allowed the Holy Mass to be celebrated for a few years, until established, without diocesan money spent on the needs of the priest. Is money the problem?”

    )(

    For the most part, it’s because many bishops have a socio-political agenda, and any community where the priests are stronger and more stable than the diocesan priests by way of Tradition and authenticity of religion, then they are among those who are shut out first. My opinion, but seems quite evident when one compares notes with different dioceses needing priests, which want the Tridentine Mass and have a shortage of both.

  44. Cathguy says:

    If Cardinal O’Malley has banned the solid and wonderful ICTK and FSSP from his diocese, then the laity have reason to be furious.

    If this is true, it seems to me that this stands clearly and squarely against the intent of the Motu Proprio. Does it reflect a general lack of courage and zeal? Or, rather, is the Cardinal simply confused about the importance of tradition.

  45. C says:

    Leo Higgins: Consider: the Latin Mass congregation was forced to leave HT by the cardinal in April 2007. This left 30-50 Germans. Then, under the Motu Proprio, an appeal was made to the parish administrator for a return of the TLM. The current administrator is actually a pretty reasonable guy, and granted the TLM’s return. From February 2008 to the end of May, the TLM attracted 100-115 people steadily, including a bunch of “newbies.” Then, during June, with the closure date in sight, the TLM congregation headed toward the 150-200 range. Finally, last Sunday, there were 303. All this in spite of the “competition” of the parish in Newton where the TLM was relocated back in April 2007.

    So the parish had more than quadrupled in size in five months. And they still went ahead with the closure. Shame on them!

  46. BCatholic says:

    “WHAT! The intentional degrading of a Parish to steal it’s money is spiritually benefiting. As someone who works, benefits and profits from our loss you are in no position to tell me anything. NO I DON’T THINK IT IS POSSIBLE! AND YES I”M YELLING! You really think it is God’s will to turn Holy Trinity to ruble and turn it into million dollar condos because that is the plans for the area filled in Boston. I have never read in the Bible that God told his shepherds steal from your flock and drive them from the Churches. It is exactly that nonsense that only pours salt in our wounds. What drivel!”

    Kathleen, I don’t profit from your lose since the Archdiocese does not pay me. I said I know people who work in the Pastoral Center.

    When Holy Trinity closed, the people moved to other parishes, and those parishes benefit. That is all I’m saying.

  47. Leo Higgins says:

    The
    pastoral way to pay for the settlements would be to do something like the following:

    Step 1: Then-archbishop O’Malley buys 10 minutes of simultaneous air time on all local TV outlets, paying a premium to take up the end of their 6 PM news slots (this type of time-blocking has been done around here many times by pols before an election).

    Step 2: On the simulcast he has just paid for, the archbishop, in simple Franciscan habit, flings ashes on his head from the pile he is sitting on, begging the forgiveness of his flock while promising (under an oath he has just taken on the Bible) the following:

    A) ALL priests found guilty of sexual abuse of minors will be dismissed from the clerical state forthwith.

    B) ALL priests will be obliged to live up to their promise of celibacy, including those involved in “consentual relationships with adults. From this date, all of these adult relationships will cease; any further continuances will result in a dismissal from the clerical state.

    C) The seminaries will be purged of their homosexual occupants, both among the faculty and among the seminarians. Policies will be put in place to ensure that the archbishop has a hands-on ability to see to it that these corruptors do not infiltrate again.

    D) The seminaries will also be purged of heterodox teachers and teachings (this will largely overlap the purge of homosexuals, but not entirely overlap them). Seminarians and priests of the archdiocese will begin a “review” of proper Catholic theology. Liturgies will be mandated to follow the missal. Failures in this regard will be dealt with personally by the archbishop. Preaching will be coherent and related to the readings, remedial help will be given to those priests and deacons found deficient in this area. Reports on progress will be public record. With this loud, public commitment to Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis, the archbishop is overtly wooing back those disaffected by the institutionalized laxity in theology and practice that has infected the archdiocese for well over 30 years.

    E) In a related effort, ALL parish CCD programs and parochial school religion courses will be stopped immediately. The content, universally guaranteed to be dreck-filled, will be replaced by one or another of the several “sound” CCD text series out there (Ignatius, for example). DREs and other teachers will be obliged to demonstrate competency in theaching the authentic Catholic Faith; heterodox agendas will NOT be tolerated. The archbishop will take-on personal responsibility for oversight in this matter.

    F) The archbishop will make clear that the settlements will be paid for by a combination of the insurance money and the proceeds from the sales of several pieces of archdiocesan property (sold for a total of well over $100,000,000). NOT ONE PENNY of the settlements needs to come from the closure and sale of churches, and not one church will close on this basis alone. Between the two sources named above, there is more than enough to pay-out all of the existing claims. If there is a future need to settle more claims, then, before the Church uses even one church as a cash-cow, it will begin selling off the over one thousand pieces of property it holds that do not affect parishes.

    G) The archbishop will mandate that all archdiocesan clergy, beginning with himself, will personally visit with every single Catholic family (or at least attempt to) in the archdiocese, imploring them, on a one-to-one basis, to consider the contrition of the Church about certain recent events, and its resolve to remedy them. Sexual, catechetical, theological, liturgical, etc.

    H) The archbishop will then continue to heap the ashes on his head, and make one last, plaintive appeal to Catholics to “come home,” promising, under his aforementioned oath, to make things right for them. In other words, he will swear to do the job he was consecrated for. -30-

    If the then-Archbishop O’Malley had done these things when it was opportune, I strongly suspect he would not have had to even consider closing one single church. Even now, if he implemented the actions noted above, and promised no more church closures, he would go a LONG way to restoring the number of faithful attending Mass and other Church functions each week, and thereby solve his real and imagined financial problems.

    Will he do this, or even anything slightly bearing resemblance to this? Almost certainly not! This kind of thing is too hard, and might not generate a cash flow as quickly as selling-off the patrimony, infrastructure and sweat-equity accumulated by many generations of Catholics here! No! Better to destroy that patrimony, abandon the inner-cities, and further alienate the 360,000 remaining Catholics (out of 2.3 million nominal catholics) who have heretofore hung in there in the maelstrom known as the Archdiocese of Boston! Sure! That’s the ticket!

    Look, you don’t live here. You don’t know the MESS that the AoB is and has been for at least a generation. You have no idea of the anger, hurt and sense of betrayal that PERMEATES this area. Even among – and ESPECIALLY among – long-suffering orthodox Catholics who have seen their heritage destroyed and the salvation of many thousands of souls seriously imperilled by the misfeasance and malfeasance of those in power here.

    Don’t condescend to us about the “regretability” of “having” to close “some churches”! They don’t HAVE to close ANY! The settlements are more than paid for by the insurance and the BC sales alone. These guys are selling off churches and schools to create a safety net for “The End” of the Church here in Boston, which looms on the horizon precisely because these guys would rather sell-off EVRERYTHING than try to reclaim the hearts and minds of the erstwhile faithful. All they are good at is alienating the people who have hung-on all this time to now. They will NEVER get back into the fold ANY of the folks who have left over theology, liturgy, sexual abuse or the existing church closures. NEVER!!! Only a remnant of us will remain, and that is only because we trust in Christ enough to see us through. Even then, many of us will take as much of our “business” as possible to legitimate venues outside of the diocese, to Providence, Worcester or whatever.

    This place is a seething cauldron of resentment. Even among those of us who know the faith reasonably well, and can see – to some extent, at least – past all of this toward the “bigger picture.” DON’T lecture us about how it’s a “good thing’ to close a beautiful piece of Catholic patrimony with as much historical and musical value (did I tell you that the HT organ, combined with the acoustics inherent to the building, makes for one of the best pipe organ experiences in the eastern US, according to experts?) as Holy Trinity has! It’s a crime and a scandal, and I’m sure it’s part of a much bigger package around here that will be something requiring an “answer” one day from the person(s) who perpetrated it.

  48. Rev. J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    A couple of commenters have written that Cardinal Sean “banned” the FSSP and ICKSP. I don’t think this is accurate. The only concrete information is provided by Boston_Trad who wrote to the Cardinal and, as he posted above: “Then Auxiliary Bishop Richard Lennon, replying on behalf of the Cardinal, wrote back to reject the offer and explain that the Cardinal preferred that diocesan priests minister to the Latin Mass Community – without adding any reference like “at Holy Trinity” to designate the location of that community.” Let’s not put words into the Cardinal’s mouth.

    It’s also important to know that there has been a coolness toward religious priests in the Archdioces of Boston since the days of Cardinal O’Connell and a reluctance to seek their services. Most, if not all, of the orders of religious priests working in the Archdiocese were brought in before O’Connell to serve the immigrant populations. The very fact that Boston had a Franciscan auxiliary and now ordinary are well worth noting.

    The point is, there are a lot of factors that come into play in this debacle…. and debacle it truly seems to be. The real proof wont be known, unfortunately, until and if Holy Trinity is sold and we see where the proceeds go, either directly or indirectly.

  49. Kathleen says:

    Sorry Father you are wrong. When we asked why the FSSP and ICKSP were turned down we were told by Fr. Mark O’Connell that the Cardinal feels there are issues with their possible irregularity, what ever that means. So in effect they are banned in Boston. We have copies of the correspondence between the parties involved. We sat in all the meetings and know the truth. (Leo, Boston Trad and I)
    Coolness? In this priest shortage crisis this in not the time to hold old grudges. The Cardinal needs to grow up!

  50. Kasia says:

    Kasia, not to complain about those people’s salaries, but a quarter of a million would easily pay all the annual operating expenses of Holy Trinity.

    I understand that. And I do not have an opinion as to whether Holy Trinity should have been closed – I am not privy to anywhere near enough information to form a reasonable opinion.

    My point was simply to address Lynne’s concern about the “outrageous” amount of money being spent on two people’s salaries, and to point out that that sum is not out of line, to my knowledge, with average salaries for comparable positions.

    Now, if half a million dollars was being spent on two secretaries, there’d be some serious reason for scrutiny. And maybe there is still reason for scrutiny – some interested person could do some research on average salaries for people in comparable positions in comparably-sized nonprofit organizations. My information is pretty limited, and might be downright wrong.

    But assuming my information is correct, I’d say the question then boils down to whether the ADOB needs those positions. And that’s why I observed that my own experience is that I’m quite careful with parishioners’ money, and I would assume that Cdl. O’Malley is too; so I’m inclined to trust his judgment on that.

    Make sense?

  51. Rev. J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Wow, Kathleen, how could Fr. O’Connell say that? Do you know if he was accurately quoting the Cardinal? I mean, there is no question of irregularity so how could anyone say that? That certainly puts things in a differnt light.

    As far as the coolness goes, its not so much the cardinal as it is the diocesan culture. After all, he is a religious himself.

    Additionally, most religious orders are pulling out of parishes because they don’t have the men to staff them any more and maintain the work for which they were founded. Their charism generally isn’t parish ministry. This is not the case of either the FSSP or the ICKSP as far as I understand it, however. They generally do work in parish ministry.

    What really stands out to me more than anything is that Cardinal Sean never met with anyone in person or attended any of the meetings. When we (the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province) have had to give up or close a parish the provincial has always worked with the parish himself either through the transition in pastoral care or the closing of the church.

    I’m sorry for all you and everyone involved have had to go through. I hope things change and work out that Holy Trinity is kept intact and used for Divine Worship once again.

  52. Maynardus says:

    ‘Cathguy’ asked:

    “If Cardinal O’Malley has banned the…ICTK and FSSP from his diocese, then the laity have reason to be furious.

    “If this is true, it seems to me that this stands clearly and squarely against the intent of the Motu Proprio. Does it reflect a general lack of courage and zeal? Or, rather, is the Cardinal simply confused about the importance of tradition.”

    Cathguy et al:

    There is no formal ban, it is simply that requests from numerous parties have been refused on less-than-believable pretexts. Also, most of these requests were made prior to SP. But it is true that one of his representatives represented the Cardinal as having concerns about those groups’ “stability” and “irregularity”. One wonders who is informing him.

    I’m not in a position to judge the Cardinal’s personal courage, but having had the experience of dealing with him in two dioceses “zeal” is not the first word I would use – or the second, or the third… I doubt anyone else would, although he has been known to show a smidgen of enthusiasm when the subject is Cursillo, RENEW, or the Neo-Catechuminal Way.

    Your last guess may be closest to the truth. He once asked me *why* anyone my age (I was about 37 at the time) would be interested in the Old Mass, and in general he seems disinterested in liturgy and baffled by those who are. I have no doubt of his personal piety and he certainly presents an image of humility, but he is at least out-of-touch and at worst actively negligent in delegating his authority to the “experts” without holding them accountable. One would think that the successor of the unfortunate Cardinal Law would have learned at least to “trust but verify”…

  53. Maynardus says:

    Fr. Z:

    On behalf of those who love Holy Trinity and utterly lament what has transpired in this very sad situation, I want to thank you for leaving the combox open on this thread and letting some of the individuals who’ve been fighting this battle for many years to get part of this story out. Although bits and pieces have been reported by The Wanderer and a few other national publications, and there has been some past coverage on your blog and others, it has been interesting to hear some of the responses from folks outside of Boston and New England as they start to get the whole picture of what has gone on for the past few decades.

    Tina’s post noted, “If even half of what is described here is true…” Well, if only *half* of it were true Holy Trinity would probably still be open. (I’m not knocking Tina!) I’m pretty well informed on this matter and I didn’t see anything asserted above as fact which is untrue. One can always err when ascribing motives, but that is part of the whole point here: these folks have never been given a legitimate answer to the question “why is our church closing?” and so one really doesn’t know the true motive(s) for any of these actions up to and including the suppression. As such, reasonable people will draw inferences and thus far there has been very little cause to revise them.

    Again, thanks for your forebearance, Father. I’m glad you went to that new hosting server and I hope we are not using up all of your storage and bandwidth!

  54. Kathleen says:

    Fr.Scott Bailey yes Fr.O’Connell did say that at our meeting with him Nov 2006.

    Cardinal Sean meet only once with 6 members of the parish council Sept.1 2005. He meet with them for 45 minutes asked one question about our vocations. He just wanted it affirmed that in 11 years we had 10 vocations. This meeting only happened after we protested by saying the rosary and singing hymns every Sunday for 9 months. He promised to get back to us by the end of the month. The next communication was from Fr.Mark O’Connell the first week of November 2006 to set up a meeting with him.

    We invited him on a number of occasions to join us for Mass and special occasions. He refused all invitations. He has never to my knowledge set one sandaled foot into Holy Trinity.

    You know a man by his deeds. We have been ignored and marginalized by the Cardinal always to be treated as third class Catholics. My judgement of him is based solely on his behavior to us.

    We only now will have a TLM at the Cathedral this Sunday because I blew up at last Tuesday’s meeting with Fr. Connolly when we were told we were to go to the 11:30 NO Mass and sit together(isn’t that special). I loudly reminded Father the Cardinals primary obligation is to meet the spiritual needs of his flock. No other minority group would be treated like we have been.

  55. Rev. J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Thank you Kathleen. I know this wont help much, but I want you and all the others who have worked with you to know that I am deeply humbled by your faith and your dedication to the TLM. Your willingness to go to the line for it shows admirable courage and strength. I can’t help but think of the English and Irish martyrs who died for the Mass. Your shepherd may not be reaching out to all his flock, but you can be assured that THE SHEPHERD most certainly is. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I do know that the Cross is always followed by Resurrection.

  56. RC says:

    Oh.

    I think I just figured out an ignominious reason why the “choose your own welcoming parish” option was scuttled. That would have forced the Archdiocese (in accord with the Vatican ruling on previous cases) to give HTC’s property to the welcoming parish, not to the Cathedral.

  57. Kathleen says:

    Fr. Bailey that you for your sympathy. Your kindness and understanding is truly appreciated.

    We still don’t have a priest for Sunday but we are still calling around.

    Thank you Fr.Z for letting those of us who have been deeply hurt by Cardinal O’Malley’s actions vent our anger and frustration. We get very little sympathy from our fellow Catholics in Boston except those who’s Churches have also been closed.

  58. Rev. J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Kathleen, if you are still reading this thread would you drop me an email at JScottBaileyCSsR[at]aol.com ?