Cleansing Fire

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Lay Administrators and Church Attendance

June 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Just for fun, let’s take a look at the attendance totals this past week at area parishes led by some of our most prominent progressive lay administrators. In parenthesis are the 2003 attendance figures, which are the most recent available numbers published by the Diocese of Rochester. It is worth noting that each of these parishes had a resident priest pastor in 2003.

From the weekend of June 5th/6th, 2010-

Anne-Marie Brogan

  • St. Mary Downtown: 455  (2003: 740, difference: 285)

Nancy DeRycke

  • Church of the Good Shepherd: 611 (2003: 1,183, difference: 573)

Margaret Ostromecki

  • Our Lady Queen of Peace- 447 (2003: 563, difference: 116)
  • St. Thomas More- 476 (2003: 881, difference: 405)

Sr. Joan Sobala

  • Our Lady of Lourdes- 437 (2003: 713, difference 276)
  • St. Anne- 365  (2003: 796, difference 431) … 365 is NOT a typo.

A number of thoughts come into my mind when I look at these figures.

First, assigning a lay administrator to run a parish appears to be a very good way to kill a parish. This is especially true when the lay administrator is an intrusive women’s ordination advocate who likes to give the homily and wear an alb. All of these lay-run parishes have experienced sizable losses. These losses appear to be much worse than most other diocesan parishes have suffered.

Second, Sr. Joan Sobala should be ashamed of herself. She inherited two parishes that were drawing in the mid 600s (at least St Anne was) and she has turned both of them into piles of progressive rubble within a span of two years (three for Lourdes). 375 people at St. Anne? 375?! Attendance at both of these parishes has been averaging in the 430s, so don’t think I’m just picking on them on an off-weekend. This low attendance in Sr. Joan’s cluster has been going on for well over a year.  For the record, the attendance during Sr. Joan’s first week on the job at St. Anne in June of 2008 was 675. That’s a difference of 300 in just two years. Go fertilize other parishes, eh Sister? How is that going for you?

Third, if Bishop Matthew Clark truly wants to show that women can be good priests, then his effort to create a pesudo-priesthood of lay women has failed miserably. The people in the pews are not responding positively to his attempts to put women in charge of priests and parishes. People are fleeing these dens of liberalism in droves. The proof is in the numbers.

Fourth, the Diocese of Rochester has major problems that are not being resolved by this administration. Although these examples above are from some of our more prominent declines, the diocese as a whole is witnessing a significant dip. Is Bishop Clark going to do anything to save this sinking ship, or is he just going to stand there and wave goodbye as the Church in Rochester sinks to the bottom of the murky ocean? The bishop has tried a few things (clustering, lay admins, closures), but each of these solutions have been like firing a gun at the bottom of our metaphorical boat; the sinking is happening much faster.

How about we plug these holes and begin making repairs? How about we try orthodoxy and tradition to keep this ship afloat? How about we stop closing churches unnecessarily, and look for smaller, more manageable clustering of parishes (instead of these ridiculous 3-5 parish clusters). How about we appoint teams of retired priests to lead some parishes? If the bishop has no intention to try to save the Rochester diocese, then he should look at himself in the mirror, and submit his resignation to the Holy Father tomorrow. Bishop Clark can’t be proud of what is happening to the Church in Rochester. Pretty soon there will be no Diocese of Rochester if we don’t act now to save our local Church.

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12 Responses to “Lay Administrators and Church Attendance”

  1. avatar Anonmous says:

    The bishop is more interested in promoting his version of catholocism and he doesn’t care about mass attendence. To deal with the problem means abandoning his ideology but that will never happen.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    One correction – Our Lady Queen of Peace was not under the administration of a priest pastor in 2003. Sister Jackie Reichart, RSM was the pastoral administrator.

  3. avatar jetscubs86 says:

    Our Pope is just as much to blame for this mess. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have received numerous letters regarding our Diocese, and nothing has been done about it. Doesn’t the Pope have the authority to dismiss our incompetent bishop, or does he enjoy watching our Diocese falter? It gets frustrating by the minute to see that we are losing Catholics. What great scandal.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    This is a question or point I’ve brought up before. The answer that returned was the pope(s) had more important things to do. The point to be made is this: either the popes and the curia is very incompetent after receiving information regarding Bishop Clark for over thirty years now or, it really isn’t as bad as you might want to think. When you live on either extreme of the theological/liturgical continuum, it’s very hard to know where the center is.

  5. avatar Gen says:

    Compared to the problems in the universal Church, the problems in Rochester are minor. Our problems will be corrected. There is no doubt. However, what about the Church in China? What about the Church in the Middle East? Graver matters, to be sure.

  6. avatar Persis says:

    This post made me wonder about Pius X, which also lost a priest pastor last year who was replaced by a lay administrator, and it seems, at least from the numbers that they too, have lost parishoners.
    Acoording to DOR stats from 2003 Pius X had an average attendance of 1869 over 4 Masses.
    Based on the bulletin numbers for May 2010, the average attendence was 1401 over 4 Masses.
    That is a pretty big loss, also.
    I have no experience with Pius X, and I know that as of June 1, 2010 they will be losing a Mass, but it would be interesting to know what the numbers were like before they lost their pastor.

  7. avatar Dr. K says:

    Acoording to DOR stats from 2003 Pius X had an average attendance of 1869 over 4 Masses. Based on the bulletin numbers for May 2010, the average attendence was 1401 over 4 Masses. That is a pretty big loss, also.

    Indeed it is. If one goes back a few more years, you’ll notice that they had attendance around 2,000 each weekend. The new Mass schedule could make attendance fall to near 1,000.

  8. avatar Mike says:

    Dr. K,

    In the last 7 years DOR as a whole has lost 24.4% of its weekend Mass attendees while these 6 parishes (taken as a group) have lost 42.8% of theirs.

    This would seem to indicate that these four women (again, taken as a group) have been losing their parishioners 75% faster than the average DOR pastor/pastoral administrator.

    I suppose the bishop would say we need more leaders like them.

  9. avatar Dr. K says:

    I get the sense that he (and others) would be happy if there were only 5 people left in the Church, so long as the Church was “inclusive” and progressive.

  10. avatar Anonymous says:

    “either the popes and the curia is very incompetent after receiving information regarding Bishop Clark for over thirty years now or, it really isn’t as bad as you might want to think.”

    So you subscribe to the idea that if you are not punished, you have done nothing wrong?

  11. avatar Daniel says:

    Most people like me will not attend “lay administered” parishes for the same reason I do not let my kids play in dysfunctional homes – it leaves with them the wrong impression of what is the appropriate reality of family life. So, to a “fatherless” parish with some layman (consecrated or not) at its head is dysfunctional and a distorted reality of parish life.

    This is not rocket science, if we do not have enough priests, we should close parishes until we reach parity. A closed parish is superior to a perverted caricature of one.

    I would not let my family in one for five minutes.

  12. avatar Eliza10 says:

    I agree that the bishop and his cronies do not care about huge losses in Mass attendance. They are completely married to their agenda. They have worked long and hard with single-minded purpose to get this far, and they are not about to give up now. Denial is what they’ve grown accustomed to anyway.

    They will see this as a time they need to accept – a period of waiting for “the people” to adjust to the greater good as they see it, and will believe that they will have victory in the end. I think this is the hill they are going to die on. (And if thats what they want then want thats what they will get – God is not going to violate their will).

    We know the numbers won’t get better, only continually decline as the Catholics they have chased away will have time to discover what REAL Protestantism is and they will want the real thing instead of the pitiful imitation. Others will join everr-growing league of Christmas and Easter Catholics. And some will discover real Catholicism and will join us in putting up with it all, while we wait for our new bishop.


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