Update on a parish conflict in Michigan

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.

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52 Responses to Update on a parish conflict in Michigan

  1. Oneros says:

    “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.”

    And, almost always, it is just a small contingent of aging parishioners who were used to having the run of the show in the past.

    Parishes have thousands of people nowadays. Even of the parishioners who attend regularly, most just sit through Mass and don’t really have strong opinions about any of it.

    It is only usually a relatively small group of troublemakers who are disproportionately influential/loud, because running the parish was previously one of their “hobbies” that has now been taken from them.

    Priests must be more like this guy. They must not be cowed by the former ruling cabal. For the sake of all the OTHER people in the parish who are not nearly as opinionated.

    On the other hand, traditional and conservative Catholics need to speak up in SUPPORT of their pastor’s initiatives and stuff. The reason the liberals get heard is because they make themselves heard. They nag, they lobby, they raise a ruckus. We should take a lesson from their playbook. It’s the only way we’re going to accomplish anything.

  2. InOurLady says:

    I know this priest from when he was first ordained and during the first few years of his priesthood. He was very good. He attended our Call to Holiness Conference. That is where we met and he impressed me so much that I drove about 100 miles to his parish at that time to get help with a particlular problem. Please pray for him.

  3. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I imagine Fr. Robideau is of the more conservative mold. His diocesan picture is of him in cassock & biretta. Another report claims that Fr. Robideau banned Protestant hymns.

    This is one of the reasons pastors should change every six years or so. If left in one place too long, the place inculcates (word deliberately chosen) the beliefs, strengths and prejudices of the previous leader.

    The Faith cannot be the product of some pastor’s personality. All that we can hope to do is pass along what has been handed to us and get our personalities out of the way.

  4. I think we should ask the “money changers” what they though of their new teacher.

    I don’t know enough about this situation to judge it too much, except to know that there doesn’t appear to be ANYTHING which warrants the removal of the priest. Even if he is wrong in ALL of the mentioned areas, it isn’t enough to warrant removal. In fact, the best thing for the congregation and that church is to keep the Priest and to teach everyone how to work through these things.

    Too often the people run the Church and I don’t recall Jesus telling Peter that upon the Samaritans he will build his Church, and that he hoped that Peter could consult with them and find out how they wanted him to over see it.

  5. patrick_f says:

    “Our church has been just like a big family and everybody’s worked together to have what we’ve got now,”

    Sounds all too familiar a rant. This was the SAME reasoning used by the “Save St. Stan’s” crowd here in st louis (I wont go in to details, look up the docs on archstl.org )

    Yes, Parish is community. No Community doesnt own the Church…nor do they dictate the church’s laws, or procedures

    And It probably was a liturgy committee. Our new pastor disbanded the liturgy committee. People were not pleased. Good Riddance. There already is a committee, Its Called the Congregation for Divine Worship, and there is an instruction manual, its call a “Missal”, and there is also an “Ordo” . Why people feel the need to put their stamp over those, is beyond me.

    The state of parishes reflects a much larger problem. People are under the mistaken impression their opinion is the only one, or for that much, that their opinion in every situation is warranted. They see the church being all about them, them “Being the Body of Christ”, rather then coming to stand before that body crucified.

    Maybe the problem is translations…I am sure if people only spoke latin, the whole thing would make perfect sense…am I being too simplistic?

  6. Melody says:

    I wouldn’t be too fond of a decision to discontinue a Church choir, but it may be a disguised way of saying that he sacked the music director.

    I wish him luck. I hope he will take appropriate steps to replace what he has removed, such as an altar society for girls and a new music director who can organize a classically trained choir.

    Rob: While that might solve some problems, it would create many others. Pastors need to be familiar with their parishioners, and that takes years of care. A good conservative pastor would need far than six years to reform a parish, or build a high altar or new parish hall. Traditions also need to be practiced for quite a few years before they stick.
    The old pastor of our local Basilica spent 20 years funding and building the new altar.

  7. I’m getting a “huggy-feely” kind of sense from the “dissenters”.
    Too bad for them.
    If this pastor is doing what the Church is asking, or allows, he needs every kind of support and accolade.
    I’ve seen this happen, too many times.
    May the Lord give him every grace, esp. that of fortitude, to see this thing through.
    Leadership is tough; it really is a ‘pain’ sometimes (well, maybe, a lot of the time) but I’m not impressed with the ones who are quoted as being against this new pastor.
    Hang in there, Father! God is with you!

  8. ghlad says:

    I will keep the priest and parish mentioned in my prayers, but it sounds like the local padre has things pretty well under control…

    St. Jean Vianney wasn’t very popular in Ars when he began railing and romping against the parishioners’ lax and bad habits that needed to be corrected. Imagine what this lot would do with a Cure d’Ars on their hands! Oh, the humanity! A priest with direction who is not lazy!

    It always seemed to me that a priest ought to have a long list of suggestions readily on hand when addressing some entrenched lay leadership that needs to be removed, male or female. It is my cynical belief that most liturgical “assistance” that the laity provides are for vain reasons. I think that most of the 10 or 12 women that go up on stage, uh, excuse me, I meant to the alter, to be EMHCs, do so because they like the public attention and to show off their new Christmas blouses, not because their presence and actions really provide a concrete benefit to the Liturgy or the church at large. If this woman in particular, but really any active member who the priest has taken issue with really wish to assert themselves on behalf of Christ’s bride, there are plenty of charitable organizations and areas that the Church needs help with. Vanity and selfishness seem like a large impediment to this, and those for whom that is the driving force will quickly be revealed if they are given other, less-immediately visible roles in the parish. Objectively speaking, though, organizing assistance for the community’s poor is much less glamorous than wearing a special EMHC necklace to mass and getting to stand up in front of everyone, though.

  9. AML says:

    I do not know the details of the situation, but it seems the young priest might need a lesson in tact or diplomacy. This, of course, comes with experience. One must pick and choose battles. I think the Holy Father has demonstrated time and again during his pontificate that one shouldn’t rush changes but implement them gradually.

  10. patrick_f says:

    “”

    People also misunderstand “Choir” . The term is used very losely especially in Catholic Churches. For all we know it could have been some folk band that only played things out of Spirit and Song, or worse

  11. Ah-ha!

    After doing a little more research I now know why they are “up in arms”:

    The new priest = wearing a biretta in his Archdiocese picture. He also says Mass in Latin according to the Tridentine Rite.

    The Old Priest = there for 30 years; a parish which the local paper calls “progressive”

    More digging [and you might want to ignore the comments they are difficult to stomach]:
    http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/12/michigan_center_catholic_churc.html

    It appears that this priest is QUITE traditionl. Now I do agree that sometimes the “brick by brick” approach works a little better than “wall by wall” but sometimes you gotta make big moves to get things moving.

    I do think that you get more flies with honey than a hammer, but… the hammer sure does make more of a point.

  12. JimGB says:

    The pastor was appointed in July and by November 150 parishoners were signing petitions asking for his removal? Nothing like giving someone a chance, or working to find common ground. No, just write to the bishop and have him removed and give us someone more in line with what we, the disgruntled 150 want. And what percentage ot total parish population does that number constitute in any event? Probably relatively small, given that they are planning on expanding the Church building to seat nearly 1,000.

    I also note that for a pastor to disband a choir entirely is a drastic step, but probably one he was forced to take after hearing their musical selections and being unable to persuade them to sing hymns more appropriate to Catholic worship.

    It seems as though this priest may have been sent to that parish for a reason, namely to restore a more traditional form of worship to a parish that may have gone off the rails liturgically (Do I see giant puppets?) Has anyone bother to check whether there were letters from unhappy parishoners under the former pastor and what their complaints may have been?

    Pastorates of 30 years are now the exception and for good reason. There was a priest in the parish where I grew up whose only priestly assignment for his entire life was that one parish. He went there as a newly ordained assistant in the early 1960′s and left, as pastor, in a coffin more than 50 years later. He was beloved and no one questioned his decisions (questionable though some were), but is it a surprise that every pastor since has failed to satisfy one faction or another within the parish?

  13. Grabski says:

    My suburban NJ parish had a newshappy pastor who ran up a huge, unfunded debt. He quit as the bills came due and then agitated (even in the secular press) against the new pastor. His groupies left, which has been for the better. The new pastor has paid down nearly the entire debt, cut costs and seems to have arighted our ship. But you can’t meet one of the old pastor’s groupies w/o them telling you how awful the new man is.

    What is it w/ liberals that they can not keep their opinions to themselves? When you give them a different view of the situation than they hear from their friends, they turn angry and belligerent.

  14. Shmikey says:

    A cousin of mine who is a priest, did a similar about face in a parish that had the same result initially. He didn’t go so far as start saying the TLM but he did stop having female altar servers, put a halt to the annoying modern music and reduced the need for EMHC’s. The parishioners that initially left, returned because of the quality of the parish school was greatly improved and the support he received from his bishop went a long way in convincing the parish that he wasn’t out of line in his changes.

  15. patrick_f says:

    While the code (last I read, a few years back) Allows for contemporary instruments, they are not a right, and they are only to sustain the singing of the congregation. it should NEVER become a show. Ever. Thats not why you are there.

    My best guess…. we had happy fingers at the Piano, who probably drowned either the parish out, or played with such virtuosity it was distracting to the liturgy. Both of which I have seen, on more then one occasion

  16. MargaretMN says:

    I agree with the idea that pastors need to be rotated at least every 6 or 7 years. More time and you do get a cult of personality and “we’ve always done things this way” kind of attitude when the change finally comes. Less and the priest barely has a chance to get to know people before he’s gone and the people end up running the parish.

  17. Grabski says:

    As you can imagine, the groupies were unhappy when the liturgical dancers were let go, along with the ‘inclusive language’ lectionary, the speaking out against the Bishop, the cancelling of the unorthodox groups/speakers, etc etc.

  18. “What a mess we have in the Catholic Church. It is sad to say that Father Jenkins has no idea or just does not care what true academic freedom means in the Catholic context. Keep in mind here that I am talking about academic freedom in a Catholic institution. As we know, a secular institution can do whatever it wants, but a Catholic institution must be at the service of the Church and her mission of the salvation of souls.
    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/060411

    But isn’t this what it is all about?

    “He makes me want to be a better Catholic, and I hope people will give him a chance,” said parishioner Penny Marino of Cambridge Township in Lenawee County
    http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/11/can_tradition_work_at_a_proges.html

    God bless this priest!

  19. TNCath says:

    Sounds like this pastor has been sent to this parish to clean up a big mess made by years of the parish being run with the “People of God” mentality, sort of like the good sisters’ reacting to Mother Clare Millea and the Apostolic Visitation.

    As for the choir, a very holy and wise old priest, now deceased, once told me, “A choir can be one of the most destructive forces in a parish.” Over the years, I have learned how true those words can be!

  20. angelusdefendus: I read some of the comments.
    Whiners and malcontents…sheesh!
    But I’m sure this was quite a “cultural change”; from the American-whatever to the Roman Church!
    From the article you sourced it read: “He wrote that pastoral and finance councils — which have not met at Fatima since Robideau became pastor — are meant as “an advisory board to the priest. Notice that they are only advisory and not decision making … in the end it is the priest’s role to make pastoral decisions.”

    He also wrote that he will begin using Latin in Mass because “it is my duty to do so.”

    His letter pointed out that there is “no permission” in the Vatican II church reforms of 1965 for the use of Protestant or more secular Christian genres of music, and the pipe organ — not the piano used in Fatima Masses prior to Robideau — “is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church.”

    Well, like I said, a cultural change is at hand for them.
    I’m not sure if this is accurate about the finance council (I thought it was in canon law obligatory; but he may be right about it being advisory).
    As to the use of the pipe organ and Latin…bring it on!

  21. Random Friar says:

    In general, a “brick by brick” approach works best, especially if you do it with good catechesis at its inception or beforehand, if possible. Turning over the whole applecart at once is often a bad idea, for then, even if the end result is good, you will lose many who think you’re just doing things “your way.” Perhaps a class going over the conciliar documents and what they (really) say about liturgy? The idea isn’t just to “do it right,” but to try to educate and lead as well.

    For people who may or may not know, parish councils are NOT required by Canon Law. They are good ideas, but not necessary. Finance councils ARE mandatory, however. This is to keep everyone honest, and frankly, many of us clergy are terrible at bookkeeping, anyway. The people of God have a right to make sure their money is spent well and everything is aboveboard. I hate and I loathe sloppy bookkeeping. I want clear and transparent financial statements. I want the people of God knowing just what the collection is going toward. This is where the talents of the laity can really help a parish! It’s also wonderful to have a knowledgeable buildings and grounds committee, development committee, etc, filled with devout and zealous experts.

  22. Thomas S says:

    Fr. Z,

    You’re comments after the article reminded me of a quote from G. K. Chesterton that I keep hand-written on my nightstand:

    “The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need.”

    - G. K. Chesterton, from ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

    There is no doubt that our parishes are in dire need of liturgical reformation and its implications for the proper distinction between clergy and laity. This pastor is addressing the sickness, and suffers a white martyrdom at the hands of his own people.

  23. Kimberly says:

    Thanks “Angelsdefendus”. I also went into the site and was astounded at the whinning that went on in the comments. The reasons given as why they don’t like this priest is childish and …. just plain petty. I’m wondering why they even bother going to church when they can just go to PTA meeting and get the same “feelings”.

  24. I wouldn’t be too fond of a decision to discontinue a Church choir, but it may be a disguised way of saying that he sacked the music director.

    Oh, I don’t know. Silence is better than most of what passes for liturgical music. And let’s face it: a lot of the people in “contemporary choirs” couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Nothing quite like lousy music lousily performed.

    Incidentally, a mark of true service is the willingness to have one’s services dispensed with. Those who are not willing to stand down quietly and uncomplainingly when asked to do so need to consider whether they are serving God or themselves.

  25. padredana says:

    Sounds very, very, familiar.

  26. Random friar: Thanks for the information about finance councils.
    I am not a parish priest; I’m a monastic priest. And so I have to depend upon this ever-failing memory of mine.
    Ask me about religious life law; I can remember that!

  27. ray from mn says:

    I think the really good news for Lansing is the 58 year old Bishop Earl Boyea who has only been there for two years. He was an Auxiliary under Cardinal Maida in Detroit, like Archbishops Nienstedt in St. Paul-Minneapolis and Vigneron now in Detroit.

    Another good sign that good Bishops are being selected by our Holy Father.

  28. momoften says:

    Not only should we pray for this priest, but for the good Bishop Boyea whom I have had the privilege of meeting for backing up this priest! May God bring many blessings to this parish and Diocese!!!!!

  29. Nathan says:

    An important side to this discussion is a young priest’s transition from curate (parochial vicar) to pastor. I assume this is the case here simply due to ages mentioned.

    It seems to me that any systematic program to help curates learn how to handle a parish are few and far between. I have seen a number of very holy young priests get in huge trouble because they were thrown into being pastor of a large parish with a school. They weren’t opposed because of their holiness (although there are plenty of the complaints that “Father’s throwing away Vatican II”).

    They got into legitimate trouble because they didn’t have the leadership experience and wisdom to effectively win the hearts of the widely varied constituencies in the parish.

    We should pray for pastors. It is such a balancing act, even in the most orthodox dioceses–if Father spends to much time in prayer, the finances go. If he spends excess time with the children in the school, the physical plant of the parish and school deteriorate. If he’s really talented at raising capital funds, the music program may require attention.

    The best old-school pastors I’ve known were all holy. They were also leaders, and they took seriously their responsibility to teach the curates the ropes as well.

    In Christ,

  30. Nathan: I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    The split that we have in our contemporary situation is a real hazard for young priests who do not have good mentoring; and I mean this in a solid way, not in a “psychobabble” way.
    It can go either way with the newly ordained who are trained properly and are very solid. They can either be put into a situation where they are “persecuted” or under some kind of “retraining” or they can be put into a situation where they receive very good example, counsel, and training.
    In my mind, and my opinion, it is the spiritual fatherhood of the local diocesan bishop who can make a real difference in where these men are assigned in their first years of priesthood and where they become pastors. The personnel board might have some kind of in-put, but it is the bishop’s role to see that these priests go where they can best serve.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    I realize that I’m an old tightwad when it comes to finances, but it seems like 1.3 million dollars for an addition to increase capacity to 940 persons seems mighty expensive. Are we certain that they’re not just jonesing to turn the church into one of those circular jobs with the platform running down the middle?

    We have a new one of those around here, and it couldn’t have been cheap, even though it really didn’t increase seating and it did get rid of most of the parking space. Thank goodness, it wasn’t my geographical home parish that laid this goose egg.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, we’ve had a rash of building lately, even in this economy. It seems like the pinkos are trying to leave a legacy, now that it’s panic time–the panic time they never thought they’d face in their heyday. They know darned well that when this much money is spent, the building will have to be used until its renovation can be justified.

    The one a few parishes over that I spoke of earlier won’t last long though. It’s nearly all glass, and it’s got to cost an absolute federal mint to heat and cool. (This from the friendly people who brought you eco-everything in-your-face. While driving SUVs. I don’t get it.)

  33. An American Mother says:

    I have always heard it said that a new manager should wait to introduce major innovations until at least a year has elapsed.

    Of course, we’re not talking about widgets here but worship.

    And given the wholehearted support from his bishop, it may have been a case of desperate remedies needed immediately. Still, a young priest who comes in like a new broom has to have tremendous strength of character and a great deal of tact to weather the storms that will follow.

    Prayers for Fr. Robideau, and for his bishop.

  34. An American Mother says:

    cmw,

    We’ve had a ‘rash of building’ lately in our parish, but it’s in a pleasant and traditionally Catholic Romanesque style.

    Also, the old parish hall was sliding down the hill (construction on the cheap back in the 70s) so something had to be done right away before the choir or the Rosary Society found themselves in the lower parking lot without knowing how they got there . . . .

  35. Melody says:

    Anita Moore OPL: Silence can be good, but music gets people engaged. Also, in the liturgical desert where I live, a choir is always a good thing because they sing choir pieces instead of protestant praise and worship music. Even the most stupid Haugen and Haas pieces are a hundred times more bearable when sung by a choir. At one parish near me mass is accompanied by Palestrina, Mozart, and other classical songs rather than the happy-clappy stuff, because the choir director prefers it and no one can deny it’s good music. This is in spite of a rather liberal pastor.

  36. Hidden One says:

    On the subject of sacking the music people, I’d like to request prayers for a priest friend of mine who, after 5 years as pastor of a certain parish, is still quite unable to get a half-decent music program in. The people to do it simply don’t exist in the area, and he’s not in a position to do any more sacking.

  37. Hidden One: Prayers for your intention. Especially that your priest friend does not lose heart; maybe, just a suggestion, could he call Fr. F. Phillips at St. John Cantius in Chicago? He might be able to give some very good advice.

  38. JenB says:

    The same happened to my former pastor.

  39. Supertradmom says:

    Big question-why was the other priest there for thirty years? Most bishops change priests every five or six years. I am amazed and think the parish had a personality cult thing going with the previous pastor.

  40. irishgirl says:

    Wow-talking about walking into a lions’ den!

    Prayers for the Bishop-and for the young pastor!

  41. dcs says:

    If pastors are rotated out every 5-6-7 years, then what happens to a parish when its traditional pastor is moved out in favor of a progressive one?

  42. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    Supertradmom,

    Until recently, there has been a priest shortage, so I suppose diocese personnel wanted to use the ones they had, even iof they weren’t that good. It’s common in many parishes – and we may not see the full effects in the increasing vocations for quite a time – priests don’t become priests overnight, after all.

  43. Don’t worry about numbers. As orthodox-starved people from the area learn of this fine priest, they will replace those who have left without appreciating what they have.

  44. Scott W. says:

    I’m sure the bishop was fully aware of what would happen when he appointed this priest. And the quotes about the letters stating that the priest is to stay put without a whiff of censure in them indicate that the bishop is fully on board with the priest’s actions. The bishop determined that this parish was in need of a major overhaul, and appears to have sent the appropriate man for the job.

  45. Henry Edwards says:

    American Mother: I have always heard it said that a new manager should wait to introduce major innovations until at least a year has elapsed.

    Certainly this is a common view in management circles. But a common mistake in parish situations, I’ve come to believe.

    A wise old pastor, by then a veteran of numerous parishes, once said he’d found that those abuses he did not eliminate in his first year as pastor, he could do nothing about thereafter, because after a year’s blind eye he “owned” them personally.

  46. Scott W. says:

    A wise old pastor, by then a veteran of numerous parishes, once said he’d found that those abuses he did not eliminate in his first year as pastor, he could do nothing about thereafter, because after a year’s blind eye he “owned” them personally.

    Very wise. As much as a Catholic should disagree with Machiavelli, he was right on one point that it is better implement all the hard changes up front than try to dribble them out over time.

    My conversion and confirmation occured in the Lansing Diocese. Former Bishop Mengeling was holy man and excellent bishop, but not much of a fluffy-liturgy status-quo challenger. Bishop Boyea has been in almost two years and I’m willing to bet he has been eyeballing which parishes need the most tightening up, and is appointing appropriately.

  47. Anyone know how many parishioners/families are at this parish?

    If it is being expanded to seat 940, then certainly the number must be double or triple that number.

  48. germangreek says:

    Thanks angelsdefendus for the link to the article in the Jackson paper. Which makes me wonder something, Helen Navarre is there described as a “charter member” of Our Lady of Fatima parish. I’ve been a member of my parish up here in Lansing for 29 years and have never been invited to become a “charter member” here. Is 29 years not long enough, or does Our Lady of Fatima have a different kind of parish organization, one with “charter members”? Or is that the media’s fluff word to describe one of the last pastor’s favorites?

    I think Fr. Robideau could probably still profit from pointers in the tact department, although no amount of tact is going to mollify the folks who need pianos and female altar boys.

  49. isabella says:

    When I was in E. Lansing 5 years ago, all the parishes struck me as very liberal – round churches, etc and the liturgy was just – not right, for lack of a better word.

    Almost by accident, I found one with an orthodox priest (who was having problems of his own with the diocese, so I’ll leave out his name). He is one of the reasons I’m still Catholic.

    I was talking to him in Confession one day about something I don’t want to discuss here. He cut me off and said “I don’t have time to talk to you right now, but I want you to make an appointment to come see me in my office next week.” That was my penance if I recall. He talked to me for almost an hour and sent me out of there with a reading list I am STILL working my way through almost 5 years later.

    I ended up moving home to Alaska and he was featured on your blog within the last year as saying the EF in another city, picture and all. He was a wonderful priest, in a diocese where many priests didn’t even wear clerical garb; they wore expensive suits (with a stole around their neck for Confession).

    Anyway, – God took care of both of us. I need to remember to pray for the diocese itself. I think all dioceses have good priests and bad, this isn’t a perfect world, but I am grateful I met this particular priest in Lansing, as well as some other good people.

  50. An American Mother says:

    Henry and Scott,

    Right you are. That’s why I mentioned that it might have been a case for desperate remedies.

    Stuff like music selection can be changed gradually (at least if it isn’t TOO awful to start with). More fundamental issues like profound errors in the Mass, lay “participation” where it doesn’t belong, etc. (and I suspect from the further reports we’re reading that there were plenty of such issues) are quite another story.

    The fact that the bishop is behind this priest 100 percent tells the tale. And I pray that both priest AND bishop are as tough as our Monsignor (a rock solid Irishman of the old school who gives the impression that he could shift his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and then walk straight through a brick wall.)

  51. Jordanes says:

    germangreel asked: Which makes me wonder something, Helen Navarre is there described as a “charter member” of Our Lady of Fatima parish. I’ve been a member of my parish up here in Lansing for 29 years and have never been invited to become a “charter member” here. Is 29 years not long enough, or does Our Lady of Fatima have a different kind of parish organization, one with “charter members”? Or is that the media’s fluff word to describe one of the last pastor’s favorites?

    A “charter member” would be someone who has belonged to a parish from its very founding.

  52. Jordanes says:

    Sorry for misspelling “germangreek.”