This one is about near-death and resurrection.
I have long been interested in the near-death experiences of some parishes. For example, back in the 80’s, St. John Cantius in Chicago was pretty much moribund. A new pastor with a new/old vision brought it back to life. In Manhattan, Holy Innocents has been struggling with demographic shifts. The inclusion of the Extraordinary Form in their regular schedule has brought it new life and visibility. My own home parish in St. Paul, MN, would surely have died had it gone the way of all other places in the area. Instead, the pastor had a different vision: tradition and music and fidelity. I helped to rebuild a church in Italy after it had been closed and dead since the war. I used Latin and Gregorian chant. Had I done what the other parishes nearby were doing nothing would have resulted.
In England, the great church looming over Merseyside across from Liverpool, the “Dome of Home”, was nearly dead. It lives again because a new breed of English bishop, Most Reverend Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, handed it over to the Institute of Christ the King.
The Dome of Home is thriving thanks to locals’ kindness and priests’ hard work
The institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was invited to take over the running of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena’s church in New Brighton, Merseyside, by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury in October 2011. The bishop officially established the Shrine of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena on March 24 2012, writes Anne Archer.
Everything that has been done so far at the shrine since the Institute arrived has been done with the generosity of local clergy and people. The Institute’s priests rely heavily on God’s providence and people have been inspired to give. They give quietly and often anonymously. They give time, money, statues and altars. Local parishes have been especially generous donating devotional items no longer used.
The church had been used for storage and closed for three years so there was much to do. The priest rolled up his sleeves, started work, and hardly stopped for breath. The people followed his example. The lady who cleaned the brasses of the door plates and altar rails for years returned with her tin of Brasso. A couple crept into the church when nobody was there, with their mop and bucket to clean the floor. Bit by bit, the church became more habitable.
Last winter there wasn’t any heating so the church was perishing. Calor gas heaters were provided to lift the temperature so that we could have Midnight Mass on the Lady Altar. The boilers were overhauled at significant expense. Remarkably, that same week, a donation of similar magnitude was received which covered the cost.
It is still cold in the church because the walls are so damp. The roof leaks, compounding the problem. To keep his finances afloat, Canon only fires the boilers for Sundays and the congregation crowds the cosy day chapel for daily Mass to keep warm.
A seminarian “tweaked” the grand pipe organ in the choir loft for the opening, but it needed serious attention.
As time wore on, its “not-so-dulcet” tones were becoming too much for the suffering congregation. Then, out of the blue, someone donated a brand- new electric organ and a raffle, organised by a hard-working parishioner-covered the cost of speakers.
The Dome of Home has a long history of generosity. The church was built in 1935 on generosity. The great monstrance, the biggest in Shrewsbury, encrusted with precious stones, was made from donations of rings and jewels from the people. It is so big that it has its own lift to elevate the Blessed Sacrament. The diocese has returned this treasure and it is given pride of place in the main church at 5.30pm every Sunday to house Our Lord at Benediction.
When it comes to quality, the young priests and seminarians at the church do give their absolute best. They have encouraged parishioners to do likewise and restore the best of what we have for our King. Carefully made, hand-embroidered vestments belonging to the original church were discovered and many have been lovingly restored. Nothing is too much trouble, but parishioners still have a long way to go.
Readers can follow the progress of the Dome of Home of New Brighton on the Institute’s blog at Institutechrist.blogspot.co.uk
or their new website, which will be coming soon at Domeofhome.org.
That, friends, is how it is done.
I have always said that a) Jesus didn’t found our parishes and b) if people want parishes they will pay the bills and c) market forces then take over.
The inner cities of many of our large metropolitan area have some beautiful churches. Not long ago I was in Brooklyn and visited one that was amazing and pretty much just waiting for the coroner.
Perhaps, Fathers, Your Excellencies, it is time to try something new/old?
Give tradition a try.
You have nothing to lose – except perhaps some pride and some post-Conciliar illusions – and everything to gain.
I don’t necessarily recommend importing a specialized group, such as the Institute or the FSSP. Let young diocesan priests do it. Use your homeboys. Give them pride of place in such and endeavor and let the specialized groups be of support.
The rebirth of and revitalization of our liturgical worship (and some parishes) won’t take off until diocesan clergy take the reins.