MANHATTAN, NYC: Holy Innocents to remain open!

Today’s Hell’s Bible has a story about the decisions Card. Dolan made about parishes that were under consideration for closure or merger.

It seems that Holy Innocents, the only parish in Manhattan to have the Extraordinary Form every day of the week, will for the time being remain open.

Also, St. Michael’s in Hell’s Kitchen, where Fr. Rutler is pastor, will remain open for now.  Fr. Rutler is also the administrator of Holy Innocents.

My spies tell me that St. Michael’s might only have a couple more years.

In that same general area of the island, St. John the Baptist will merge with Holy Cross near Times Square.

Changes to parishes go into effect on 15 August 2015.

I am happy that Holy Innocents has receive a stay.  It is a spiritual treasure.


I received this from a reader:

Today Father George W. Rutler, announced some good news from the pulpits of his two Manhattan parishes.  The  historic Church of the Holy Innocents where Father Rutler is Administrator,  will remain as it is.   In the past year it has been increasingly active and free of debt.  Recently there has been widespread interest in the fate of the historic parish.  The  even more historic Church of Saint Michael, once also considered for closing,  has also experienced a growth in membership and in the past year contributions to its support  have increased more than 500 %.  Cardinal Dolan has decided to “hold in abeyance”  a recommended  merger of St. Michael’s with another parish and stated in his letter to the parishioners that he intends to monitor its situation “in the month and years ahead”  in consideration that the church  may eventually be moved to a more central location nearby in the heart of the Hudson Yards area which now  is the largest real estate development in the history of the nation. [move the church? Or build a new church?]  Father Rutler expressed thanks for the prayerful support of parishioners and visitors at a time when many parishes in the archdiocese are being reconfigured in response to a long period of study in the “Making All Things New” program.  A year ago Father Rutler was transferred from the Church of Our Saviour where he had been pastor for twelve years.  Originally, that  church was once considered for closing but since then it has become internationally known and debt free, [I hear that the black ink line is plummeting like a paralyzed falcon…] with many priestly vocations., gaining Father Rutler the nickname “Father Fixer-Upper.”  He asked parishioners to respect the many difficult decisions that the Cardinal has had to make and expressed his wish that the faithful will honor the confidence that archdiocesan officials have placed in them by working harder to spread the Gospel in the great city and archdiocese of New York.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gregorius says:

    Well, it seems to me that if it is true that Holy Innocents is financially stable, then of course there is no reason to close it. Still, good news indeed.

  2. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Prayers answered!

  3. mamajen says:

    Our parish (the only one in the area with the TLM and an ad orientem NO) received similar good news today. Significant changes are taking place in the “pastoral care area”, but our parish will be preserved as is for the foreseeable future due to its “specialized” nature. Father called it nothing short of miraculous (you’d have to know the history of this area and the details), and I quite agree! I am not one to cry out of happiness, but my eyes did tear up–I had been so worried. Our bishop has been very good to us.

  4. VexillaRegis says:


  5. No More Tambourines says:

    I was at the mass at Holy Innocents when Father Rutler gave the good news. Cheers, tear and applause filled the church.

    Thanks to God for answering our prayers.

  6. Rob22 says:

    I do not attend a TLM, but am glad Holy Innocents will remain open.

    If the parish is financially viable I’d think it would not be an issue. How big is the congregation?

    One thing I have noticed, visiting FSSP sites and such, is that most EF parishes tend to be small and not grow beyond several hundred members.
    A year ago I read that the FSSP parish in Denver was rebuilding at the same site. But because the old church could not be maintained anymore. Not so much a need for expansion. I think the new church will seat just a few more.

    These seem to be islands within the greater sea of OF parishes and why some might oppose the EF makes no sense. Its not like these parishes are going to suddenly become huge and take away from OF parishes. That just does not seem to happen.

  7. Yankeegirl says:

    This has truly been an answer to my prayers. Right around the time I found this blog I got a new position at work that brought me in to NYC several times a month . I go right by Holy Innocents and popped in one day thanks to Father Z. It is such a beautiful parish and the sense of peace I have found there is unlike any I have ever felt before in a church. Very good news indeed!

  8. Nordic Breed says:

    This is great news. Now, to make the parish grow, a plan of action for evangelization should be implemented pronto. More than the “Catholics Come Home” effort. A serious boots on the ground go out and get ’em, show the joy of the Gospel of life message. The grace of God can be irresistible.

  9. frahobbit says:

    It was always full of peace for me to pray at Our Lady of Peace on my lunch hour. The side door to the garden was left open; sitting in the bench outside, one could still see the Tabernacle, while hearing the birds, the bees, smelling the wonderful roses on the rose “tree” in back of a statue of St. Therese, and watching the koi in their pond. How many graces received there, of healing and victory over weaknesses. Inside has always been, to my eye, stunningly beautiful. I don’t know which artist did the stained glass windows, esp. of the ‘Agony in the garden’ but they evoked Tiffany style beauty in their glowing textured colors. I hope that it’s not sold. I hope it survives for the day when the Catholic faith in Manhattan receives the graces of revival.

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    This is excellent news. The choir of praise that is the Catholic Church has many voices and many ways of joining in the Eternal Sacrifice (Mass of Bl. Paul VI, Usus Antiquior, Anglican Use, Uniate Eastern Churches). We should always support the reverent celebration of the Mass in all its forms.

  11. philosoph0123 says:

    I don’t have official numbers, but I do attend the TLM at Holy Innocents regularly. I would guesstimate that at the 10:30 AM TLM, we get 150 – 175 every Sunday, not including the altar servers and choir. When my wife and I started to go 3 years ago, it would be 30 – 40. The Sunday collection has increased by a factor of 3 or so (I would also guess).

  12. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Being from the Midwest, I am not familiar with the Archdiocese of New York or the situation with these parishes, including their total number of priests, which priests are assigned to the EF parishes, etc.

    Also, I am definitely a fan of preserving the EF parishes when possible, and think it is a great gift to the Church, so am glad to hear about Cardinal Dolan’s decisions.

    His dictis, it seems that there may be something important that some commenter here are overlooking: when some mention that the parishes are financially stable, so there is “no reason to close them,” they may not be taking into account the very unfortuante effect of the priest shortage.

    The ordinary ((arch)bishop of a diocese) has to make the very tough decision about how to allocate a very limited number of priests to serve his parishes. Priests can only take on so man parishes before becoming burned out, so that it may be necessary for a bishop to close or merge parishes even when they are financially stable, simply because there are not enough priests to pastor them. (There are lots of canonical obstacles to this, but it is possible).

    Please keep praying for more priestly vocations — and wisdom for our bishops who have such tough decisions to make!

  13. Gratias says:

    Thank you Cardinal Dolan! This was the right call. The TLM is a treasure for the Catholic Church.

  14. Lori Pieper says:

    Good news about Holy Innocents. Do you suppose all those vilifying Card. Dolan over this will now apologize?
    Interesting news about St. John the Baptist. It belongs to the Capuchins and the church is part of the friary. They also have a Padre Pio shrine. I have been there several times for Franciscan gatherings and for Mass, though it’s a ways away for me living in the Bronx. It’s right in the middle of the business district, near Madison Square Garden. One of the friars told me they don’t so much have parishioners as they do people working nearby who might come to pray or to Mass at their lunch hour (they have four Masses each weekday). They don’t have that many people on Sunday.
    I guess “merging” probably means those business people people will now “stop in” at the other Franciscan church, St. Francis, just a block or so away, the church will remain for the friars, and any regular parishioners can go to Holy Cross instead? A lot of logistics to these things!

  15. mamajen says:

    Cincinnati Priest,

    I am from upstate, but I think you are correct that it’s much more about shortage of priests than money matters. In my area, reorganization efforts are to prepare for two priests where we have five (and those five are already handling multiple parishes after previous mergers). It’s a dire situation. I imagine it’s not much better downstate. I’ve seen parishes close that have plenty of money.

  16. Rob22 says:

    Thank you Philosph0123. It sort of fits my sense that the EF parishes have several hundred attendees. I think that these parishes should do more of a general outreach in their neighborhoods and not just rely on cradle Catholics discovering them.

    I am not saying that none of these parishes have outreach as I don’t know personally. Coming from an evangelical background I just normally revert to my days when we’d go door to door (once in a while – we were not Mormon or JW) as well as have “open house” events.

    Like I said originally, when I read about the new church for the Denver FSSP apostolate there did not seem to be anticipation of growth. Hopefully more outreach will occur at Holy Innocents.

  17. All the to say that Our Lord still wills Father Rutler to the front lines of the Church Militant. I, for one, will sleep better tonight….

  18. Athelstan says:


    Good news about Holy Innocents. Do you suppose all those vilifying Card. Dolan over this will now apologize?

    I can’t speak for others, but I never vilified His Eminence over a decision he had not made yet. I will add that the process by which this entire set of parish decisions was made and communicated left a very great deal to be desired – but presumably there is a collective responsibility for that.

    That said, I look forward to Cardinal Dolan’s withdrawal from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the termination of the archdiocese’s insurance coverage of abortion and contraception or, failing that, having the decency to at least move Cardinal O’Connor’s body out of the archdiocese

  19. Thorfinn says:

    Rob22: “Like I said originally, when I read about the new church for the Denver FSSP apostolate there did not seem to be anticipation of growth.”

    I don’t think this is a sound conclusion. First, the referenced parish has only three Sunday Masses and I doubt they’re all full; I would guess they could double Sunday attendance before even needing to add a fourth Mass. Second, TLMs generally attract from a wide area. Should tremendous growth occur in future in that or nearly any TLM, the likely response would be to start a second TLM parish (of some variety), not expand the existing parish church.

    While the Ecclesia Dei societies may have a different emphasis from diocesan TLMs, these parishes are all intended to evangelize in all the usual ways plus revitalizing existing Catholics not familiar with or exposed to the richness of our Tradition & attracting non-Catholics, a proven virtue of the traditional Mass for many centuries.

  20. Charivari Rob says:

    Cincinnati Priest, thank you for posting that.

    It isn’t just the health or performance of the individual parishes in question. It’s the Cardinal Archbishop trying to provide for the health and performance of his entire local Church,.

    A parishioner would of course be justified in asking questions like “if their parish is doing ‘everything’ right, then why wouldn’t they be a place that the Archbishop would keep – something strong to build on?” The uncomfortable truth is that there may actually be reasons why.

    As to the other question you asked, I read one article that said they are at (or will soon be at) the stage of having fewer active diocesan priests than parishes (order priests make up the difference).

    What I found especially interesting was when I looked up the actual list of parishes affected. Looking at the list for Manhattan, there were some for lower Manhattan (not at all surprising), some for lower-to-mid Manhattan, several for upper East side and eastern areas of Harlem, but it looked like nothing on the upper West Side.

  21. Latinmass1983 says:

    “In the past year it [Holy Innocents] has been increasingly active and free of debt.”

    This seems to be a bit inaccurate. The Church of the Holy Innocents has not been “increasingly active and debt free” only in the past year. It has been very increasingly active for the past 4 years! And it has not had debt or deficits in a very long time! Not only in the past year.

    The Church of St. Michael can more accurately state that the past year has seen an increase in collections and attendance in the past year.

  22. I hope that “moving” St. Michael doesn’t mean destroying a beautiful old church and replacing it with a bland chapel such as was done with Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, or building a utilitarian “space” underneath an apartment or office complex such as we see at St. Joseph’s chapel in Battery Park City or a few other parishes in Manhattan.

    Apart from that, I am very happy to hear that both Holy Innocents and St. Michael have been given reprieves. Now we have to figure out a way to fill them so that they will not live constantly under the threat of closure.

  23. Gratias says:

    Holy Innocents in Manhattan is unique because it is one of the few Diocesan parishes that offers DAILY Latin Mass. We will have to Keep the Faith with a few points of light, and each one matters.

  24. gracie says:

    Just a thought – It’s important to have an EF presence and one way to help that along is to financially contribute to such a parish – even if you don’t attend the Masses there.

    As for the priest shortage – is there a way for priests from one area to be sent as “missionaries” to another area? St. John Cantius, for example, is producing a number of priests – maybe some of them could be sent “abroad” to places like New York or Los Angeles (especially L.A. which is a liturgical wasteland) or Florida or Washington D.C. or . . .

  25. JohnNYC says:

    DEO GRATIAS!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. robtbrown says:

    Lori Pieper says:

    Good news about Holy Innocents. Do you suppose all those vilifying Card. Dolan over this will now apologize?

    During my Roman years he was rector of NAC for a time, following now Cdl Edwin O’Brien. He was known as a very good rector. Cdl O’Brien cleaned up NAC, then Cdl Dolan made it better.

  27. johnmann says:

    “Holy Innocents, the only parish in Manhattan to have the Extraordinary Form…”

    Why is that always repeated? It’s the only parish to have a daily EF but certainly not the only one to have the EF.

    We can still vilify Cardinal Dolan for booting Fr. Wylie from the diocese, can’t we?

  28. Giuseppe says:

    On a pragmatic level, the Cardinal should embrace and endorse Holy Innocents. It is a vibrant community that will produce future priests. (There really is a shortage in NYC, filled by those of religious orders.) Even if these future priests are committed to the TLM, they will have to learn the NO, and they will say a reverent mass.

    So even if these priests wear birettas instead of cheeseheads, they can still be good priests in the Dolan archdiocese.

  29. The article that WideMeadow referenced is excellent. I think Father Rutler gets to the root of the problems there, and challenges everyone, right and left.

  30. APX says:

    Fr. Z,

    Churches can and do get moved to a new location. According to our priest (who is also a civil engineer), it is usually considerably cheaper to buy an old church, disassemble it, and move it to a different location rather than build a new church.

  31. HeatherPA says:

    One of the most beautiful Churches I have ever been inside. Thanks be to God!

  32. JGavin says:

    I have not attended Holy Innocents but I wish to correct a sentence in your post, Father. Holy Innocents is not the only EF Mass in Manhattan. [DAILY Mass] I had the good fortune of going to St Agnes Church which is on East 43 rd street between Lexington and Third avenue. The 11 Am Mass is EF, usually I am told a Missa Cantata which is what it was this past Sunday. I think this is every week. Our friend said that the Bookstore there is likewise excellent. The website:, the address and phone number: 143 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017
    (212) 682-5722. It is about two short blocks from Grand Central. My friend also says that this is the Church where Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen of blessed memory preached the seven last words every Good Friday. The sermon was excellent. The schola likewise excellent. If one is in the New York area and is intimidated by Manhattan traffic , getting here is really easy.

  33. My friend also says that this is the Church where Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen of blessed memory preached the seven last words every Good Friday.

    The parish, but not the church, as the church was entirely rebuilt after a fire in 1992.

  34. JGavin says:

    Thank you for the clarification. Actually our friend mentioned the rebuild. They are in need of new pews and kneelers a fact to which this writer can testify.

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