Cleansing Fire

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Prayers for St. Jan’s Parishioners

April 12th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Some of you have asked what you can do about the St. Jan’s situation and of course prayer is always the best. Wednesday morning (4/13) the jackhammers are set to begin destroying 4 steps of concrete which have held up the altar since the dedication of the church. Holy cement is heading for the dumpster. In addition to private prayer, if you feel able, it would be a wonderful show of solidarity at weekday Masses, where you are permitted to offer prayers for intercession, to say something like: “For the people of St. Januarius who are suffering through the demolition of their sacred Sanctuary space.” Thank you.

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19 Responses to “Prayers for St. Jan’s Parishioners”

  1. avatar Susan says:

    Diane, I’m so sorry. We will be praying for all of you in Naples.

  2. avatar Kevin says:

    That is awful, absolutely awful. Couldn’t the courts have at least halted it?

  3. avatar Diane Harris says:

    In the Catholic Church (unlike churches where a board of elders controis) parishioners actually don’t have any standing to sue,except in a few unusual circumstances. The risk of going for a temporary injuction is that those who do could then be liable for damages to those making money off the church through the project. Messy. But thanks for asking.

  4. avatar Kevin says:

    Well, that sucks. I know how the parishes operate, but I just feel that when the vast majority of a parish opposes a drastic alteration of their holy space and feel that the parish priest is completely ignoring them, something should be done. It’s just not right. Especially the…excuse me, but bs reasoning that St. Januarius needs to be “brought more into line with VII teachings”. How about he actually read the VII proclamations. Might open his eyes instead of just listening to the crap that extreme liberal factions claim.

  5. avatar Kevin says:

    Sorry for if I may seem a little out of line, it’s just that stuff like this really pisses me off.

  6. avatar Monk says:

    Diane,
    Has it been determined who is paying for this destruction? I know you mentioned that the Wegman family is not paying $270,000 for the destruction so where is it coming from? Can parishioners be saddled with a debt they don’t want? Why do we have parishes at all in the DoR? Their rights are routinely trampled on. Hopefully, in the future, the parish can return the most offensive aspects of the renovation to a proper arrangement.

  7. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Thank you for the comments above, and I will try to answer what I can. Monk, your question is the one we are all wondering about. How did Fr. Ring so quickly find the needed funds? Why isn’t he saying who is supplying the additional funds? Danny Wegman looked me in the eye and said he was asked for $300,000 but is only giving $50,000. He was surprised that the project is still going ahead. If another “Wegman” stepped in to fund, how would we know? Or if the Diocese reallocated other Wegman diocesan donations to the project, how would we know? Maybe LaBella is giving them a big discount or a loan; but, how would we know?

    Moreover, the St. Jan’s balance sheet at the end of October and at the end of December shows no movement of such funds in or out. The $50,000 from Wegmans and the $30,000 from parishioners don’t show on the financial statements for those months, just a $9,150 liability on the October 2010 balance sheet and a $22,196 liability on the December 2010 for “Renovation Expense.”

    The civil amalgamation of parishes took place on February 9, 2011 and I doubt we will see any more financial statements; they will all be “amalgamated” into a new OLOL balance sheet. It is possible that OLOL is moving other funds into St. Jan’s. St. Patrick in Prattsburgh (a temporarily surviving parish) had a bequest over $200,000 a few years ago. Maybe it is being used. There should be at most $50,000 left in the St. Mary Rushville treasury, maybe that is being used. Or it could be a mortgage against the two churches closed but whose properties haven’t been sold yet.

    However, on the question of loans, it would take a majority of the 5 Trustees of a parish to borrow. For some unknown reason, it was determined by last summer that St. Jan’s is worth $2.2 million. Only people who agree with Fr. Ring seem to be lay trustees (I got fired as a Trustee when I said I’d never sign to close a church and pointed out that he wasn’t following NYS Religious Corporation Law.) So the Bishop, Fr. Condon or Fr. Hart, I’m not sure for St. Jan’s — and Fr. Ring make up 3 of the 5 Trustees. They could borrow. Or the Diocese could “lend” the money.

    However, since St. Jan’s no longer exists as a civil corporation, it is an interesting question if the parish itself could any longer borrow money. Rather, now following amalgamation, it appears that OLOL would be the entity to have to pay back a loan. And St. Michael in Penn Yan is 2-3x the size of St. Jan’s, but those parishioners snoozed through pastoral planning because they thought they weren’t going to be affected. They were never at risk for closure.

    As to whether parishioners can be saddled with a debt? Yes and no. If St. Jan’s has a mortgage or other loan, it would be the liability of the legal parish entity (now OLOL) and not of the parishioners. However, untrustworthy diocesan leadership or an irresponsible pastor can say “If we don’t get x dollars from those going to St. Jan’s we’ll close the church.” You see, in the end, the real clout a bishop has is to withhold a priest, regardless of the impact on souls. Parishioners’ real clout is money, but losing a priest and/or closing a church is the trump card.

    Sorry to go on, but feel there is much to be learned and shared in this tragic situaton.

  8. avatar Dan says:

    It seems like you need to contact the New York State Attorney General’s Office for help.

    The parish is still a religious “non profit corporation” and if financial mismanagement is apparent, your New York State officials are there to protect the financial interests of the parishioners. Non profit status is not a free ticket for Bishop Clark to run a financial scam.

    Lt. Governor Bob Duffy was outraged that his childhood parish Holy Rosary on Lexington Ave. was closed by Bishop Clark.

    Don’t be afraid to send Danny Wegman letters and keep him posted on these events. Even a millionaire doesn’t want one dollar of his money wasted.

    Shame on the good name of “LaBella” as he receives these no bid jobs from Bishop Clark and is being paid from the hard earned dollars of the parishioners. It is amazing what a person will do to earn another dollar.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    Friends,

    I have some bad news. St Brenards is opening an extention institute in the Diocese of Syracuse. Yes. Cancer has metastasided outside the DOR. It was announced in the Syracuse Sun. Comepete with meetings with Sr. Scholes. I am crushed the bishop of Syracuse leans with Bishop Clark. And on and on it goes.

    I firmly believe the process naming bishops is deeply flawed. Pray for the DOS and the DOR.

  10. avatar Mike says:

    Diane,

    In my experience many of the construction loans are made to parishes by Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. That is one of the ways they invest the perpetual care funds people pay when the buy a plot or a cremains niche in one of HSC’s mausoleums.

    If HSC is the lender here I wonder if the people in charge of making their investments know how much parishioner opposition there is to this project.

  11. avatar RochChaCha says:

    Diane,

    Did I read in an earlier post that Cris Wensel was involved in the St. Jan’s mess? Is this the same Cris Wensel listed in the staff directory at St Louis in Pittsford?

  12. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Its so immoral, so wrong.

    Bishop Clark is some driven man. He will get his agenda through not matter how loud or strong the protest of the people. Having his methods published here in the St. Jan story might have made him hurry up, before too many people get what he is doing and start complaining about his abuses.

    And he will make St. Jan’s pay for his project!

    The priests the Bishop Clark put in charge of making sure his pet projects happen must be well-rewarded, because they are on the front lines and they are driven too, and won’t let anyone stop them. Fr. Rings is like the other ones who have done the same thing. I really wish we could find out what they get rewarded with. But we will never know because the DOR spending is secret. Its not like that at Protestant Churches. And it should not be here.

    Clark must know how to find priests who have a very low morality, and are easily willing to make any moral compromises such as the ones Father Rings has made (which we can we read about here), in order to get whatever earthly reward Clark is promising.

    It looks pretty evil, and it is evil, because it is the devil’s work. But what the devil means for evil, God will use for the good.

    Bishop Clark is almost done. His tunnel vision on his personal glory, his legacy – the physical transformation of the diocese – is the only thing he has eyes for and he must be working furiously to make sure his pet projects get done before he is forced to go. But maybe the well-documented St. Jan’s wreckovation will help insure he gets the infamy and solitude that will do him more good than the glory and recognition he seeks.

    When I think of all the money he has spent to reshape the physical appearance of this diocese, and contrast it to all the Catholics schools he has closed, I know that this man does not care about our Catholic children. And its not just the Catholic school children I feel so bad about, its also the children of all those DOR Catholic families who have left the Catholic Church in droves because of what Bishop Clark has done here. Yet he is constantly getting the Catholic Courier to publish photos of him with innocent children smiling at him while he is touching them, dressed in his regalia. Those pictures give me the creeps every time.

  13. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Anonymous wrote: “I have some bad news. St Brenards is opening an extention institute in the Diocese of Syracuse. Yes. Cancer has metastasided outside the DOR. It was announced in the Syracuse Sun. Comepete with meetings with Sr. Scholes. I am crushed the bishop of Syracuse leans with Bishop Clark. And on and on it goes.”

    It think it is like I just said. Clark’s days are numbered so he is scurrying to get projects completed to make sure his legacy is as complete (to his liking) as possible. Don’t worry. These things can be easily dismantled. With a spiritual renewal, people will happily pay to get their wreckovations redone. Bishop Clark is wearing himself out for nothing.

  14. “I really wish we could find out what they get rewarded with.”

    Perhaps the pastorate at St. Louis?

  15. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I will simply answer the question from RochChaCha about Cris Wensel by reprinting excerpts from last weekend’s issue of the It Really Matters newsletter, Vol. 6 #5:

    “Some folks have begun saying to this Editor and other mandaters “You called THAT one,” meaning predicting Fr Ring would be assigned to St. Louis in Pittsford. First, let’s see what we actually said in this Newsletter, and why we said it.

    In Vol. 3 #8, we broke the news to OLOL from the St. Louis bulletin; i.e. that Cris Wensel would be a 20 hr/wk pastoral associate in Pittsford, in addition to her 40-hour week in OLOL. Fr. Ring hadn’t announced or explained this to his parishioners; so, we published. But, it was not an apparent cost reduction strategy for OLOL, since Cris was to continue to work 40 hours in the cluster too. There had to be a bigger reason for her holding down two jobs, so geographically far apart. Most companies would never tolerate staff employees holding down two jobs for three years; it is seen to take away too much energy and initiative from one or the other, and to set up conflicts of interest. For we know that someone can’t serve two masters.

    Cris herself recounted many times her being very tired, of having acupuncture for her pain, her eyes bothering her, headaches. Something had to be worth all this extra wear and tear of what she calls 14 hour days (16 with the commute). But without explanation from Fr. Ring, parishioners had to speculate.

    In Vol. 3, #16 we called attention to the fact that Cris was writing the same article for both parishes. We questioned who paid her for that work, or did both parishes? We commented also on the inappropriateness of what she had written, for both audiences. It seemed demeaning at best, overbearing at worst.

    In Vol. 4 #2 we complained that no explanation had been forthcoming on how OLOL was getting its value from Cris Wensel as a pastoral associate or DRE in OLOL, and we asked which parish pays for benefits and travel, but the secrecy persisted. We felt that there should have been some sharing of expenses. Again, no answers were forthcoming.

    In Vol. 4 #16 we pointed to a travel expense in the OLOL Faith Formation account of $564 in just 2 months (over $3,300, annualized). Was this the travel back and forth to Pittsford? It didn’t seem logical to incur so much expense in just two months. “Why should OLOL pay more for travel than before Cris had her second job?” we wondered.

    In Vol. 4, #18, we again pointed out the many unanswered questions about Cris Wensel’s work at St. Louis and in OLOL.

    In Vol. 5 #6 we wrote what was probably the most telling comment, and we wrote it in response to the absurdity of what was being said in OLOL; i.e. that the St. Jan’s Sanctuary had to be jack-hammered because the altar was too high, that people were allegedly stumbling up and down the steps, and even some far-fetched liturgical argument was made. We merely photographed the four step ascent at St. Louis, with its slippery black marble steps and no front railings, wondering why St. Louis wasn’t jack-hammered too, if there were a true liturgical argument (there isn’t.) People seem to do fine there, even the pastor, with a partial foot amputation, goes up and down up several times during a Mass. We showed a picture of the St. Louis Sanctuary, and asked: Why not? Because it just isn’t necessary?” That’s why.

    There were other clues, too. During February 2011, Cris had asked some people to “pray” for a “miracle.” She said that something really good was about to happen for her and her family. In early March she was still asking for prayers for a miracle, said on March 4 it hadn’t come through yet, but on March 8 she said it had happened, and that her family was blessed by it. The timing is interesting. On Friday evening, March 11, Japanese Tsunami Day, Fr. Ring announced at St. Mary’s that he was assigned to St. Louis, Pittsford! We can’t be 100% sure, but it looks like that was the “miracle” for which Cris was asking people to pray. If not, well she got a “two-fer,” since it seems highly unlikely a new OLOL pastor would have kept her on staff, or given her the kind of unreasoned support she had long received from Fr. Ring. More on the “unreasoned support” soon.

    Our prediction is that Cris will leave OLOL as soon as Fr. Ring is ensconced at St. Louis, and that she will be hired in Pittsford full time, with a raise and title change. This will be a benefit to OLOL to save a salary which never should have been added, which wasn’t needed, and didn’t provide the value; a benefit to Cris to save all that extra driving time and health stress; a personal benefit to Fr. Ring, who seems to have had it planned well in advance for his own reasons. Before he even arrives, he will likely have the lay of the land, with opinion pre-shaped. We expect Cris will still be his gatekeeper, as in OLOL. The rest is up to the people of St. Louis.

    I go there frequently for weekday Mass and look forward to seeing / reporting how it evolves. These are reasons it seemed to us quite likely that Pittsford would be where Fr. Ring would be heading: the secrecy and mystery with which he shrouded Cris’s 60 hour a week job-share for three years, such as who paid last June for her ministry meeting in Florida? His lack of explanation and expense secrecy seemed more about future plans than just about just more money for Cris. Also, the Bishop’s naming Fr. Ring to the Diocesan School Board last August signaled that he would likely be transferred to a parish with a school, and there aren’t many left. Adding to the speculation was Fr. Kevin Murphy’s planning to retire. When the Diocese decided to return the St. Louis School to the parish, he seemed to be planning to stay another year. Then he abruptly announced his retirement plans. Very abruptly!

    At weekend Masses at St. Louis on March 12 and 13, … the Pastor’s letter in the Bulletin [detailed] how a new pastor would be selected [That bulletin is still available on the St. Louis website.] But from the pulpit at those SAME Masses, it was announced that Fr. Ring would be the new pastor, destroying any credibility which the selection process might have had with the parishioners. Fr. Kevin must have sent this Bulletin to the printer just a few days earlier; so one might ask what was the earth-shaking event which forced immediate announcement? Hmmmm. Fr. Ring also apparently showed up the same day to meet with those planning to be married at St. Louis in the second half of this year.”

    So the question isn’t what we knew and when we knew it. The question is when Fr. Ring knew he was getting the St. Louis post? Could it have been nearly three years ago?

    .

  16. avatar Anonymous says:

    Hello Diane. Jack here. Could you give me a call re. this issue. Thanks.

  17. avatar Anonymous says:

    Eliza,

    I worry that Bishop Clark has a friend as the bishop of Syracuse. He wouldn’t sign on unless he was in agreement with the philosophy and theology of St. Barnyards

  18. avatar Anonymous says:

    There are always two sides to every story,don’t believe everything you hear.

  19. avatar Raymond Rice says:

    Sometimes the time comes when people have to step forward and do something concrete in the face of overwhelming odds. Prayer is fine but God does the impossible; the possible He delegates to us!! In this case it looks possible to prevent this if it were to come to the attention of the wider Catholic family. If it were my parish, I would lie on the steps of the altar to interfere with the demolition process. But that’s me. I don’t expect others to do the same. I just often recall the early martyrs who got in the faces of the judges to tell them they were doing something wrong. Or St Paul, , a rather short but feisty guy, getting in the face of big hulking Peter!!!


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