Cleansing Fire

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How is Blessed Kateri Parish Doing?

March 14th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Last fall the five Irondequoit parishes of Christ the King, St. Salome, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Margaret Mary, and St. Cecilia were merged by Bishop Clark into a single canonical parish comprising three churches: Christ the King, St. Margaret Mary, and St. Cecilia. I thought it might be interesting to see how well this new Irondequout community of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha has performed since Fr. Tanck eliminated all Masses at two of the churches in the parish. In order to discover the answer, I compiled the attendance figures so far this year for Blessed Kateri and compared these figures to those from the same period of time last year. No surprise; Blessed Kateri parish has lost a number of weekend Mass attendees.

Here is a chart comparing early 2010 to early 2011:

Note: Two weeks of data are missing for St. Margaret Mary in 2010 and one week of data for St. Cecilia in 2011. These weeks were not included in the final calculation. The Masses on Jan 2/3 were not included because they appear to be outliers due to significantly lower Mass attendance compared to the other weeks.

Based upon the available data, Blessed Kateri averaged 3,426 people per weekend in 2010. In 2011, after Masses were eliminated at St. Thomas and St. Salome, the parish has averaged 2,720 people per weekend. The difference from 2010 to 2011 is a decline of 705 weekend Mass attendees in Irondequoit!  This 21% decline is a significant drop in attendance which should not be ignored by Blessed Kateri, the diocese, or the Vatican.

It is worth pointing out that the combined average attendance for the “closed” churches (STA and SS) last year was 777 people. Unless the remaining churches (CTK, SMM, SC) experienced sizable declines despite remaining open, it is reasonable to conclude that most of the 705 lost attendees would have come from St. Thomas and St. Salome churches. What this means is that at worst 91% of the parishioners of St. Thomas and St. Salome have avoided the new Irondequout parish. That is a putrid retention rate of 9%. Now, the actual percentage is probably not that high, but the number of lost STA/SS parishioners is likely north of 70%. This is a far cry from the 2010 IPPG projection that the new parish would lose 20% of St. Thomas and St. Salome parishioners while retaining 80%. In fact, what was actually occurred in Irondequoit is the opposite!

The people of St. Thomas the Apostle predicted this outcome which, for whatever reason, was so difficult for the Irondequout planning group to foresee. Below is a passage from the St. Thomas addendum to the IPPG plan which accurately predicted a 70%+ loss in STA parishioners:

The solution to this problem is clear in my opinion; Masses should once again be offered at St. Thomas the Apostle and, if possible, at St. Salome. As has been stated countless times on this site, STA can financially support itself. They also have ample parking, excellent facilities, and enough dedicated parishioners to keep their church open and vibrant for many years to come. The only Sunday obligation Mass offered at St. Thomas since the “closing” Mass last fall was the very well attended K of C Pro-Life Mass, which was attended by at least 600 people. If this diocese cares about souls, they will demand that Mass be offered once again at these churches.

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9 Responses to “How is Blessed Kateri Parish Doing?”

  1. avatar Monk says:

    You can count on one hand the number of STA parishioners you will see at any BKT weekend Mass. Also, there has been no attempt to preserve any of STA’s parish identity. Their choir is gone, their altar servers are gone, their ushers are gone, the Eucharistic Ministers are gone, their deacon is gone, many of their deserving high school seniors were ignored for the Hands of Christ award, etc. etc. One could argue that some have not stepped forward but there has been zero effort to engage them either. Fr. Tanck has done nothing to personally reach out to the lost parishioners of STA or SS since he closed their Churches. Whether he likes them or not, he is their pastor!

  2. With Fr. Horan leaving, could the mass schedule be reduced further?

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    What I find interesting, is that Blessed Kateri @ St. Cecilia’s Church does adoration very frequently and the doors are open 24/7 for prayer–we can criticize mass attendance etc–but the adoration and benediction are a rare find in the diocese.

  4. avatar Monk says:

    Fr. Leone at St. Cecilia’s is wonderful. St Thomas has had a beautiful open adoration chapel for 19 years. It is still open daily 9am -11pm.

  5. avatar Anonymous says:

    I’m really struggling with this in my own experience at another clustered parish. It is clear that significant numbers of people flee as a result of closing churches – the stats are there. Some move to other parishes, and some simply stop practicing. Souls are in jeopardy. It is also clear that in many cases, a perfectly healthy parish is destroyed. STA is a good example of a closure not being about the money at all.
    So I have to ask, am I out of line to consider this evil? This seems to be beyond pushing a “new church” agenda. When we’re talking souls, the stakes don’t get any higher.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    There is adoration at St. Mary’s Downtown after one of the weekday Masses ( believe it’s Friday).

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    STA has also been criticized by many for not having the tabernacle front and center, but rather in Our Lady’s chapel.

  8. avatar Dr. K says:

    STA has also been criticized by many for not having the tabernacle front and center, but rather in Our Lady’s chapel.

    How is this relevant?

  9. avatar Puzzled Observer says:

    I want to comment on “Monks” post of March 14th at the top of this thread. Did the choir, altar servers, ushers, and Eucharistic Ministers have such little faith in Jesus, that they would rather not serve than explore new opportunities in a new environment? For such a faith filled righteous [Moderator: I will assume you are using the word “righteous” here kindly] parish, 70% of the STA folks abandoned the rest of the “family”. I fail to see how the action of the 70% exemplifies our love for God in any way. Hopefully the 70% have found a home at some other nearby Roman Catholic parish. Lost souls are those that give up on Jesus and walk away because they have a disagreement with another human being.


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