“It is just a building.” – UPDATE: Like Planned Parenthood selling off baby parts.

UPDATE 5 Nov 2018:

Here’s the deal.  I’ve been thinking about this demolition thing.  It’s not just a matter of demolishing a church and then selling the property.

What happens is that scavenger experts come in and inventory all the beautiful architectural elements, all the carved stone, columns, decorations, etc.  These things can be taken out before the structure is brought down and then sold off separately for HUGE MONEY.

So, you can see why some who really want lots of money would prefer to keep the church from being repaired.  Instead they would make a lot of money by stripping its bones and selling the parts… sort of like what Planned Parenthood does to babies.  Remember that?  The video of gal talking about selling off the baby parts to make even more money?

Get it?

In many cases – I’m not saying that that is the case here – the powers that be will keep lay people from fixing their church.  They know what the lay people don’t know.  The bits and pieces of their beautiful church are of great value.

I can’t imagine them doing that to THIS church.  Can you?   Nothing much.  Architectural elements?  Meh.

Originally Published on: Nov 4, 2018

One of the long-time readers here sent a copy of the document of the suppression (obliteration) a parish in the Diocese of Fall River.  The Church and Parish of St. Anne are no more.

My correspondent wrote:

It is just a building.  Just like the original Penn Station was just a train shed.

We’re so quick to jettison history for the sake of the almighty dollar.  The diocesan almoner is probably counting the bills as we speak.

I wish you had a chance to see the interior, marvel at the statuary, frescoes, gold leaf, ambulatory shrines…and a 4,000 pipe Casavant organ.

The rose marble high altar.  Stacks of crutches and other medical devices left at the statue of Good Ste Anne.

Yeah, it’s just a building.

In the meantime, another correspondent wrote on the same day about something going on in nearby Providence, RI.

From Rhode Island Catholic:

Traditional Latin Mass a draw at St. Mary’s on Broadway

PROVIDENCE — Two months after it has started offering the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, St. Mary’s Church on Broadway is drawing more than 250 people to its two Sunday Masses.

At the end of August, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a religious society which offers the Extraordinary Form, assumed leadership of the parish. The fraternity was invited to the Diocese of Providence by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

During a visit to the parish on Sunday Oct. 21, Bishop Tobin told the Rhode Island Catholic he was pleased with how the parish was progressing.

“I think they’re off to a terrific start. I think the response among the people has been very strong,” Bishop Tobin said.


We have to think “outside the box” about our old churches and the way we are doing things.

In order to think outside the box, maybe we need to get back into the box.  After all, just about every crazy thing outside the Catholic box has been tried, to no avail.  Maybe by getting back into the box we’ll find what will work, because it worked before.  Inside is the new outside.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’m a bit confused by something contained in that decree. It stated that the pastoral responsibilities for the people who attended St. Anne’s will become those of whomever the parishioners choose to belong. How does that work? I thought pastoral responsibilities and belonging to a parish are territorial and not simply a matter of parish shopping? What about those Catholics who were in the territory, yet stopped attending Mass, but still fell under the pastoral authority of the pastor at St. Anne’s? Are they no longer under any pastor’s authority/responsibility?

  2. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    There is a lot to write about regarding the above post. What is needed most is for people to know *and* truly believe that attendance of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of obligation is necessary for the salvation of their soul.

    Missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin. And if one dies in that state, one ends up in hell. Those who aren’t Catholic and reject Catholicism will also end up there. That statement is straight from the mouth of God.

    With regards to the Mass – obviously sobriety regarding the reality of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reverence, and Fear of the Lord are what are needed at the present time. Notably, that can be achieved without the use of Latin. (For the record, no, this commentator does not hate Latin. An argument can be easily made, though, that a condition necessary for reverence is knowledge of the language used during prayer, and if pray-ers (the people praying) don’t know Latin, then they may be on the verge of irreverence.)

    Priests, deacons, and laity would not act bizarrely during Mass if they knew *and* believed that the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus made present in time and space. Look at St. Pio for an example of one who understood what occurs during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    With regards to Churches themselves, though – it seems that bishops are the ones responsible for wrongly closing, demolishing, or selling Churches.

    It seems that there are numerous wealthy dioceses throughout the U.S. that could collect and give money to maintain Churches in other dioceses that are underfunded. My diocese is apparently particularly wealthy (I base that statement on the fact that the bishop wastes a large amount of money – like close to $1 million per year on things like a diocesan “newspaper” which is really just a liberal propaganda publication; $1 million per year could surely sustain more than 1 Church in a poorer diocese, yet it is wasted on a liberal propaganda publication).

    What is notable is that when the Blessed Mother appears (authentically), she often asks for a Church to be built. That fact alone should assist bishops in determining the morality and “social justice” of money “distribution”; they should not be wasting money on flying around the world, and they probably should even shut down some of the pseudo-charity (“Catholic” “Charities” or “Catholic” “Relief” “Services”) entities that they run. They should be spending the vast majority of money on God’s House – even if at the present time there are not many people frequenting that House. And if they want to be charitable, they should share that money with other dioceses where they are closing parishes due to negligence or abuse by previous clergy.

    It is very sad to hear of a nice parish like St. Anne’s being shut down. In fact, “very sad” is an understatement and does not accurately describe it.

  3. Gil Garza says:

    Sounds like there’s going to be a Casavant organ and other top notch items going on sale. I’m sure no one at the Chancery has any clue what these items are really worth. Looks like an opportunity for a wise person to rescue these items for pennies on the dollar.

  4. tominrichmond says:

    Yes, one wonders if the Diocese considered offering the building to the FSSP, or the ICK, or heaven forfend, the SSPX? Perhaps none of those groups could assume the burden, but it would sure be worth asking before allowing the building to be sold to a non-Catholic religious group, or worse, converted to secular use or just razed.

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    It is important to post these closings.

    There are holy priests, especially young holy priests, looking for holy things to put back in their local churches.

    There should be a network available to get the items out of this church back into use somewhere else so they can at least be an inspiration to holiness for some one.

  6. Greg Hlatky says:

    The end of any parish is a sad occasion, but no one (except us rigid clericicalists) seems to ask if The Father Tom Show! (with special guest Jesus Christ) hasn’t led to the great renewal for which so much valuable tradition was jettisoned.

    Then again, progressives never have a Plan B when things go wrong. Or even recognize that Plan A has failed.

  7. Dismas says:

    I have been considering the demographics of late:

    – Right now, the Episcopate is almost entirely filled by those who came of age in the late 1960’s, and were ordained in the 1970’s. Their ages range from mid-60’s to mid 70’s, with exception to some cardinals who are “active” until 80.

    – As of now, the vocations crash is just starting to be felt. The next ten years will see tremendous forces of contraction in Mass availability.

    – The oldest Baby Boomers just turned 72. The actuarial tables started ramping up for them a couple years ago, and go full speed in only a few years. Thus, reduced Mass attendance will really kick in, since much of GenX was aborted, and many of the survivors have lapsed/left.

    – We didn’t get much correction at all in priestly formation until the mid to late 1990’s at the earliest (in the US at least). Considering the minimum time it takes before a man is ordained, we won’t see any of them reach the Episcopate until, at the very least, 2035, and likely much later because of the Lavender Mafia.

    – As of 2029, the last Boomer priest retires.

    – As of 2039, the last Boomer bishop retires.

    – By 2040, most bishops and cardinals worldwide will only have the haziest memories of the Latin Mass.

    – As of 2044, the last Boomer cardinal retires.

    – As of 2045, the last GenX priest retires. (if this is still a practice)

    – By 2048, most bishops will have been ordained after the Sex Abuse Crisis erupted in public.

    – By 2051, no voting cardinal was alive before the Novus Ordo was inflicted upon us.

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    From http://stmarypvdri.org :

    A full parochial life with catechism, sacramental preparation, devotions, and groups of formation for the youth is offered at St. Mary’s, we live in the hope that one day, by the grace of God, we will closely resemble the description of the parish given just sixty-five years ago.

  9. Archlaic says:

    Interesting juxtaposition of these two stories, not only because of the geographical proximity between Fall River and Providence (<20m), but because of the way these two stories have unfolded…

    Five years ago there was a noticeable revival underway at St. Anne’s (including periodic celebration of the TLM) under the auspices of a very worthy priest… he was abruptly removed on the flimsiest of pretexts (certainly not any moral delicts or malfeasance – seemed to have been a chancery “hit” job) and his promising work came to nothing… that was probably the last clear chance to save St. Anne’s.

    Meanwhile over in Providence a great many Catholics (including many of the “traddies”) were gratified but more than a little mystified by the bishop’s decision to offer the FSSP a church barely 3 miles from another historic and noteworthy parish church with a long-established TLM, whose attendance has consequentially been decimated. Will anyone really be surprised if “declining attendance” is soon cited as a reason to suppress that parish?

    It always seems like there’s more to these things than meets the eye…

  10. dbonneville says:

    Mass at St. Mary’s on Broadway today was interesting. The confession line was…two hours long. I kid you not. We had a regularly visiting diocesan priest say Mass while the pastor heard confessions. He was in there about 9:30am. Went right through until announcements before the homily, which he popped out to make. Then right back to the confessional until almost 11:45. I have never seen a confession line two hours long, though I know it was common in the past.

    BTW, St. Mary’s has inherited the debt of a renovation done in the 90’s. It’s substantial, somewhere in the 400K range if I’m not mistaken. Consider a donation at http://stmarypvdri.org.

  11. TonyO says:

    dbonneville, the decree from the Bishop says that the DIOCESE takes on “the financial obligations of Saint Anne Parish” . So it is not just the cathedral parish.

    Besides the oddity that APX notes, here is another oddity (though not all that odd when you think about it): The bishop decrees that “temporal goods… be transferred to the Diocese…” Now, in a certain sense, given that at least under United States law, the diocese is a “corporation sole” and all of the property of a diocese vests in the “ownership” of the bishop, Canon Law provides that the temporal goods of a suppressed parish is supposed to go to providing for the care OF THOSE VERY PEOPLE who are now transferred to a new parish. Since St. Mary now takes over, the temporal goods of the old St. Anne’s should have been transferred for the use of St. Mary’s but sequestered or at least made subject to a sub-account designated for the costs of care for St. Anne people, not just co-mingled with the other funds of St. Mary’s to do whatever they feel like.

    But since when do bishops follow Canon Law when they don’t feel like it?

    A bishop is perfectly right to suppress a parish when it is impossible to keep it as a going concern financially due to excess costs or too few parishioners. But when a bishop takes away a priest who is making a difference in bringing in people, removes him on flimsy grounds, and THEN says that the parish can’t support itself, well that’s quite another matter.

    And if the bishop uses any of the money from the sale of St. Anne temporal goods, (including pipe organ) to settle law suits relating to priests who were not at St. Anne’s, then he is mis-using those funds.

  12. MrsMacD says:

    “Just a building,” reminds me of this passage from, ‘Jesus King of Love,’ by Father Matteo Crawley-Boevey SS CC, PG 9, 1933″”Father, you cannot exaggerate the transcendent importance of the cursade which you are preaching*. I know what I am speaking about: the Freemasons, of whom I was one for so may years, have but one single aim, and that is the de-christianizing of the family. Once this object is attained, in whole or in part, they may safely leave in the possession of Catholics all the Cathedrals, churches and chapels. Of what importance are these buildings of stone when they have taken possession of the sanctuary of the home? In the measure in which this sectarian strategy is successful, the victory of Hell will be secure. It was thus I reasoned, and for this I worked, Father, when I was in the ranks of Freemasonry.””

    *Father Matteo is known as ‘the apostle to the Sacred Heart.’ He preached all over the world and spread the devotion to enthrone the Sacred Heart as King of one’s family.

  13. Maineman1 says:

    All of these events prove that Vatican II was an unmitigated disaster. You don’t have to be a scheming, paranoid rad trad to arrive at this obvious conclusion. Western Catholicism is virtually dead in less than 50 years.

  14. Julia_Augusta says:

    “Parts is parts.” (chicken commercial)
    “It’s just a piece of bread.” (what non-Catholics say about the Sacred Host)
    “It’s just a community meal.” (what non-Catholics consider the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)

    Reduction of everything in life to its utilitarian element, the triumph of materialism. No wonder people are so depressed and suicidal. Look at our cities and our neighbourhoods, our new and wreckovated churches, our schools, our offices and what do you find? Architecture and interiors designed for purely utilitarian purposes. Modernist churches that look like crematoria. Schools that resemble prisons. The Catholic Church’s hierarchy focuses too much on materialist goals, like an NGO. Not surprising that they are selling off beautiful churches. In Italy this summer, I saw a lot of boarded up churches – who knows what is inside?

  15. JonPatrick says:

    “It is just a building. Just like the original Penn Station was just a train shed.”

    Interesting analogy. The original magnificent Penn Station was occupying a valuable piece of real estate in order to provide for train travel which to people in the 1950’s seem to be going the way of the stagecoach. So it was torn down and replaced by monstrosity of a sports arena. Utilitarianism triumphs over Art. The basement was grudgingly left to accommodate the few remaining passengers.

    However the outcry over the destruction of this building did result in the creation of movements to save other structures, notably Grand Central Terminal which was likely to receive the same fate. Perhaps even if St. Anne’s is not saved, it might at least motivate people to insure that other threatened churches do not meet the same fate.

    As an aside, rail travel has made something of a comeback at least in the Northeast. That basement of Madison Square Gardens is getting very crowded. There is now a plan to turn the old Post Office, a building that no longer serves its original function, into a new station. There does seem to be somewhat of an awakening in the secular arena of the value of good architecture. One only hopes that a similar awakening will happen in the Church.

  16. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    That parish Church is far more lovely than my local Cathedral. Faaaaaar more.

  17. Charivari Rob says:

    Dioceses typically make salvaged elements available to their other parishes for renovations, etc… – or use them in new construction.
    If either of those things doesn’t happen, they end up warehoused, or sold through an architectural fittings antiques house.

  18. Evan C says:

    I am a parishioner at St. Mary’s in Providence since the FSSP took over. I currently live in the Diocese of Fall River, but now drive about an hour each way to attend St. Mary’s. My family is very grateful for Bishop Tobin’s actions, and we pray that all bishops will embrace the full tradition of the Catholic Church.

  19. MrsMacD says:

    It seems a little big to do what they did in this book;

    But maybe not.

  20. veritas vincit says:

    Seems to me that if the Fall River diocese wanted to save this magnificent church building, St. Anne Parish would be combined with another parish, not suppressed. I have seen parish consolidation work well, both in cities and in rural areas.

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