There is an amusing piece at Fishwrap by the strongly biased liberal Peter Feuerherd about a parish in Detroit which has been given over to the formation of new Oratory. Oratories are popping up all over, probably as an unconscious response on the part of priests to deal with the devastating effects on the priesthood of the great springtime of post-Conciliar renewal we’ve all been able to see and enjoy.
Let’s look at some of the article and try to read between the lines. My emphases and comments:
Former parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary in Detroit miss how it used to be
Transformation into an oratory brought new focus, smaller attendance [And yet, in the article, he says that the attendance has stayed the same. Hmmm.]
A gilded statue of Mary stands atop Our Lady of the Rosary Church overlooking the Ford Freeway and Woodward Boulevard in the center of this beleaguered city.
Below, Sunday Mass for the feast day of Corpus Christi commences. It begins with a congregation of 25, swelling to 35 as the Mass continues. Fr. Marko Djonovic, the parochial vicar, is preaching on the Eucharist, with a vivid depiction of the 13th-century Czech priest who inspired the feast day after he experienced the literal blood of Christ drip from the host when he offered Mass.
There is a gospel choir, consisting of a pianist, guitarist and two singers. As Mass continues, the occasional person from the streets of this Detroit crossroads neighborhood wanders in and out of the back pews.
At the sign of peace, there are hugs and greetings spread around the small congregation. They obviously know one another. The greeting sometimes turns into a quick catch-up of news. [Because that’s what the sign of peace during Mass is all about.]
There is obvious friendship and fellowship here, but all is not well at Our Lady of the Rosary. A visitor is greeted with the handshake of peace and is quietly told, “It was better before.” [So, during Mass, the dissatisfied old-lib-guard are trashing the place to a visitor.]
The congregation at Our Lady of the Rosary has always been small, but parishioners say that attendance at Sunday Mass is now about a third of what it used to be. [To be contradicted, below.]
The issue, they say, is the designation last July of the parish as an oratory and the appointment of Fr. Daniel Jones as pastor. Jones is also a professor at the archdiocesan Sacred Heart Seminary. [I know him. He did a great thesis at the Augustinianum about Christ as Priest in Augustine. Smart guy. Faithful.]
Previously, the parishioners said, the parish was focused on the neighborhood, welcoming people from the street, as well as those in nearby homes for the developmentally disabled. Now that mission outreach has been curtailed in favor of what they [who?] describe as a pre-Vatican II theology, [whatever that means – probably something to do with belief in sin and the need for grace] an intent on developing a different kind of parish with few connections to the way the church has operated in the past. [This is hilarious and ironic. “The way it was in the past” is exalted, except when it isn’t.]
“Coming here was refreshing. People were warm and inviting,” Corinne Foley-Bojanic, a 32-year member of the church, told NCR. “There was a lot of community work at Woodward and I-94,” she said. Along with other parishioners, Foley-Bojanic came to the parish from the suburbs, in her case Grosse Pointe, just beyond the city line. The spirit of community and outreach was inviting to those seeking a faith community, she said. [Perhaps there is room for useful criticism here. If under the present leadership people are not “warm and inviting”, then maybe there is an opportunity to improvement. However, I suspect that those comments were made because they aren’t being invited to hold hand and hug each other.]
Like other Our Lady of the Rosary parishioners, Foley-Bojanic speaks in the past tense about the parish. Although she continues to be a choir member, perhaps as many as a third of the congregation has left in the past year. [Again, that claim. True?] Some have apparently left the Catholic Church entirely. [It may be that they had already “left” before they stopped going to church. It may be that the church they were previous going to had also “left” before the Oratory was formed.] Others have moved across town to St. Charles Church, a Capuchin Franciscan community that carries on the social gospel multiracial ministry that urban Detroit Catholic parishes such as Our Lady of the Rosary have been known for.
For an outsider, the changes undergone in the parish might seem small, taken individually. But Our Lady of the Rosary parishioners, now seeing themselves as exiles at St. Charles, note a pattern that has produced widespread discontent. [It’s their choice to go to a different church.] They trace the problems to when the archdiocese designated the parish as an oratory, a move done, they say, without consultation.
Gone are homilies dealing with social issues affecting the city and the world, such as gun violence. [Why, one might ask, do you need constant homilies about gun violence? Who is in favor of gun violence? Are the aging hippies who frequented the place before at risk of becoming terrorists? ] In their place are pious reflections on the Eucharist. [Which is the “source and summit” of our Catholic identity.] The optimism Pope Francis has brought to the wider church, with a call for parishes to operate as a field hospital for the wounded and for ministers to smell like their sheep, has passed by Our Lady of the Rosary, they say. [Let’s look at that claim: “Pope Francis has brought ‘optimism’ to the wider church.” Recently studies show that Mass attendance isn’t up, nor are confessions and vocations. Of what use is vaporous “optimism” if it isn’t translated into deeds?]
The new oratory, which includes three diocesan priests, has eliminated Polarity, an alternative medicine program offered free to parishioners (the practitioner was told the medical approach was contrary to church teachings). [What is “Polarity Therapy”? HERE – IT is “a synthesis of the health wisdom from the West and the East. The energy flows through energy centers that are based on the Ayurvedic chakras and the Traditional Chinese Medicine principle of yin and yang.” Got it? I can’t imagine why Catholic priests would stop that in a diocesan parish.] The sanctuary used to be a hubbub of social events, [get that? THE SANCTUARY… and not in the protestant sense, but the actual sanctuary of the church] but the new parish administration wants it reserved largely for formal church worship. [LOL! “formal church worship” as if there is any other kind.] An annual Valentine’s Day dance for the developmentally disabled adult community had to be moved to another parish. [I suspect there is more behind that move.] A couple who put up Christmas ribbons to decorate the church was told to put them away last year because the colors mimicked the LGBT-rights’ banner. [In other words they were the gay-rainbow thing!] One street person who came for Communion was denied the sacrament during Mass after he was asked if he was a baptized Catholic. [What do you want to be that he said that he wasn’t Catholic?]
Former parishioner Fran O’Connell said the homilies began to take on a familiar message. “God was seen as a punisher. God was keeping track of all the evil we do,” she said. [What do you want to bet that, at the end of Mass, she also couldn’t tell you what the reading had been.]
For Jones, the issue is one of defending church teaching and practice. [NB: When priests become pastors they have to make a formal oath of fidelity. Just sayin’.]
“I’ve got to do the Mass the way the church asks for it,” he told NCR. He took out prayers that had been part of the Sunday liturgy that are not formally part of the church rubrics. [LOL! I love that. “not formally” part of the rubrics. ROFL!]
As for other issues: the Polarity process is similar to reiki, he said, which a Vatican document raised questions about. A Valentine’s dance is not an appropriate use for the sanctuary, he said. [Well… YEAH!] Students coming to Mass asked if the parish was supportive of an LGBT-rights agenda after seeing the Christmas ribbons. [In other words everyone saw they ribbons as the gay thing.]
As for the man denied Communion, Jones said that “we get a number of street people. This fellow was obviously disoriented.” Jones said the man was given a blessing and has since returned to Mass and Communion. [Okay, so he was Catholic after all. But normally the Eucharist isn’t to be given to people are not able to discern what it is that they are receiving.]
The Sunday liturgy changes do “boil down to little things. But I can’t say ‘yes’ to everything. Because I am attentive to what the church says we can do, it is upsetting to some folks.” [Folks who have lost what it means to be Catholic.]
While it wasn’t evident in the Sunday morning Corpus Christi Mass, Jones said that the parish has attracted new worshipers, particularly students from Wayne State who come for a Sunday evening liturgy preceded by an hour of confessions. The total numbers, he said, have remained about the same, even with the defections.
Okay, that’s enough.
You get the drift.
In sum, a pathetic article.