You might remember that there was a dust up in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. Some parishoners of Our Lady of Fatima were trying to get their pastor, Fr. Jeffrey Robideau, removed.
So often these stories about about a conservative-minded priests who begins to effect changes in a parish and aging-hippie parishioners rise up against him no matter how diplomatic (or undiplomatic) the pastor has been.
And it is almost always from liturgical changes.
That makes sense, of course. When you change the liturgy, you are making statements about faith and morals.
Sadly, in the past many bishops pretty much by default sacked the pastor, thus contributing to sacerdotal morale and that special bond that exists between bishop and priests. I think those days are passing, by the way.
From mlive.com comes this update with my emphases and comments.
Catholic bishop says priest will stay at Michigan Center church despite complaints from parishioners
By Jackie Smith
December 28, 2009, 11:36PM
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing will keep a controversial pastor in place at a Michigan Center parish, more than a month after parishioners sent a petition asking for his removal.
Some 150 members of Our Lady of Fatima had asked Bishop Earl Boyea to remove the Rev. Jeffrey Robideau. Last week, the parish and diocese sent letters to parishioners saying that Robideau will stay.
In his letter, Robideau acknowledged that some of his decisions have prompted members to leave the parish. Robideau, 42, was appointed in July, replacing the Rev. Andy Dunne.
"While I am saddened and sorry that people have taken offense, I continue to understand that a transition from a pastor of 30 years to a young, zealous pastor like myself is difficult," he wrote. [Could it be that there was an old supporter of the Spirit of Vatican II in that post who let lay people have more authority?]
Included in parishioners’ concerns were Robideau’s decision to disband the church’s choir [Very often a problem in a parish for a new pastor.] and his apparent refusal to train girls to perform altar services [Entirely within his right] or hold church committee meetings. [Depending in what they mean by "committee", that could be a point.]
"It is clear that the pastor has the prerogative to make the decisions in these matters," Boyea stated in his Dec. 17 letter. [God bless him.] "You are no doubt aware that in our diocese, as in any diocese, priests will vary, within the guidelines established by universal or diocese law, in their choices in these matters."
Helen Navarre, a longtime member of Our Lady of Fatima, said she found the response discouraging.
"It seems as though none of the problems we have will be solved," she said. [Actually, they were resolved. Just not in the way she liked.] "I don’t give up very easily. I will continue to go there, hoping things get better." [And I am sure she will be a source of joy for all concerned.]
Navarre said she understood Robideau’s authority to make decisions, but said the change is just too drastic for some. [Drastic? When you read or hear "drastic", what comes to mind? This stuff?]
"Our church has been just like a big family and everybody’s worked together to have what we’ve got now," she said.
In the letter, Boyea told parishioners that he and Robideau "consulted about all the matters which you have raised and discussed every one of them." Much of its content regarded parish finances over construction, specifically a $1.3 million project that could put an addition on the church to seat a total of 940. The project’s planning, he said, is still being discussed. [Okay, that is a good thing to discuss. But church design isn't a matter of a vote for everyone.]
Michael D. Diebold, a spokesman for the diocese, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Robideau also defended many of his actions in a Thanksgiving letter to parishioners. In his letter, Boyea also mentioned Robideau’s sincerity in bringing parishioners back who have left. [Good!]
Navarre is skeptical over whether they would want to return.
"Each Sunday it seems like there are fewer and fewer people in attendance," she said. "My personal opinion is they never will (return) as long as he’s there." [There's a fine response. It remains to be seen if the new pastor will attract new people. The reporter apparently didn't care to explore that.]
It is a sad fact that some changes are painful.
I have in mind St. Augustine’s description of the Christ as medicus, physician. Sometimes painful correction is received in life. The saint describes, nevertheless, that the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.
You might stop for a moment and pray to Mary Mother of the Church for that parish, the priest, and the bishop.