Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Unfair Pastoral Planning Results

September 5th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In spite of all the lip service given to fairness and input from parishioners, consensus and “no secret plans,” the DoR pastoral planning process has been rife with manipulation, secrecy and results that scream “unfair!”  In the issue this week of It Really Matters, the newsletter principally for parishioners of the Westside of the 700+ square mile Our Lady of the Lakes Parish (OLOL, aka “oh well, oh well” or “oh hell, oh hell”), we printed another evidence of DoR’s unfairness.  We share the following information from that issue:

More Pastoral Planning Unfairness

Over the years we’ve had many indications of the unfairness of the Diocese of Rochester’s (DoR’s) pastoral planning process.  For the moment, we won’t rehash what was done against the Catholics in closed or soon-to-be-closed parishes but, rather, we’ll look at how DoR’s pastoral planning has failed society as a whole, people of all faiths and of no faith.

If one believes that by virtue of our baptism we have an obligation to bring our faith to those without it, to answer the Holy Father’s call to a new evangelization, to be present where we are needed, and to witness to the great gift of faith we’ve been given, then it would follow that abandoning our post is dereliction of duty.  Yet, that is exactly what seems to have happened in the 12-county Diocese called “Rochester.”

We use two sources of data: 1) the www.DoR.org website has a map of the Diocese.  By using the cursor over the map, we can find how many parishes (not churches) are in each county.  2) the 2000 and 2010 census data provide information on total population by county, and its change over the last decade.  The census does not have a breakdown of people by faith, but a most vital point in missionary zeal for spreading the Word of God is that it is meant for all people.  Thus, there should be reasonable proportionality of parishes to total population. 

If pastoral planning had any aspect of fairness to it, one would expect a fairly consistent ratio of total population per parish, with perhaps even a lower total population per parish in the remote areas, where distances are greater.  But just the opposite is true.  Dividing each county’s 2010 population by the #parishes in that county calculates the total population per parish.  The table lists these data by county; DoR averages 10,140 total population of people per parish.

County    #Parishes        #People       People÷Parishes

Cayuga        14               80,026                5,716

Chemung       7               88,830              12,690

Livingston      9               65,393                7,266

Monroe         65           744,344                11,451

Ontario          13           107,931                  8,302

Schuyler          2             18,343                   9,172

Seneca            5             35,251                  7,050

Steuben        14              98,990                  7,071

Tioga*           1               51,125               51,125

Tompkins        5             101,564              20,313

Wayne         13               93,772                 7,213

Yates           1                 25,348               25,348

TOTAL       149            1,510,917              10,140

*Note: DoR reports “4 churches” in Tioga, but Blessed Trinity Parish bulletin lists those churches, so we identify it as one parish.  Other than this one correction, we did not attempt to verify that what DoR publishes as a total number of parishes per county is correct.  We did not slog through the directory or other bulletins to confirm that DoR was reporting its own data correctly.  We simply used what DoR furnished, except for the obvious correction for Tioga, which was the only county for which DoR published # of churches instead of # of parishes.

Some will try to argue that it is the number of open churches, not parishes, which matters, but those in more rural areas especially know that once every activity of significance moves to the “headquarters church”, the continued vitality of the satellite churches is in great jeopardy.  Thus, we consider the number of “parishes” to be significant of the Catholic Presence and activity for the general public, usually where the pastor resides and where everything from RCIA to Youth Programs is held.

The table above shows that Tioga suffers the most, with over 51,000 people in its general population for  a single parish; Yates is next in too high population for the # of parishes, with over 25,000 for just one Yates OLOL, which parish also draws from Ontario County (where St. Jan and St. Theresa are located) and from Steuben (where St. Patrick is located), making the  ratio of population to parish even worse.   The DoR average is 10,140 total population of people for each Catholic parish in the Diocese.  If  Tioga and Yates results are left out, the average total population per parish in the remaining 10 counties is 9758 per Catholic parish, which is only 38% of the population to parish of Yates County, and 19% of the population to parish of Tioga County.  Said another way, the Tioga parish has over 5x as many people in general to be concerned for (and the Yates parish has nearly 3x as many) as the average of other parishes in the DoR.

Double Unfairness:  The double unfairness to people in rural areas  is  1) greater distances to travel PLUS 2) fewer parishes, resulting in a ratio of population to parishes far above what is served by other areas of the 12-county diocese. 

 By the way, we note that both Tioga and Yates are where Fr. Ring was engaged in pastoral planning.  Is it even possible to say with a straight face that there wasn’t a plan from Buffalo Road systematically implemented against the Catholics and their neighbors in these rural areas?

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11 Responses to “Unfair Pastoral Planning Results”

  1. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “By the way, we note that both Tioga and Yates are where Fr. Ring was engaged in pastoral planning. Is it even possible to say with a straight face that there wasn’t a plan from Buffalo Road systematically implemented against the Catholics and their neighbors in these rural areas?”

    Wow. This 51,000 and 25,000 people PER PARISH is astonishing and so, so sad! And that Fr. Rings was involved in making these numbers happens is telling. Yes, he must have had just the kind of hard-nosed, anti-shepherd personality Bishop Clark needed to get this dirty job done.

  2. avatar Susan of Corning says:

    Very eye-opening, Diane. And as you said, the data supplied by the DOR could be wrong. I doubt that Steuben county has 14 parishes at this time.

  3. avatar brother of penance says:

    “If one believes that by virtue of our baptism we have an obligation to bring our faith to those without it, to answer the Holy Father’s call to a new evangelization, to be present where we are needed, and to witness to the great gift of faith we’ve been given, then it would follow that abandoning our post is dereliction of duty.”

    As the Diocese of Rochester clusters, consolidates, closes and sells, ecclesial groups of other traditions are evangelizing, discipling, growing, expanding, and building. Dereliction of Diocesan duty? Absolutely.

  4. avatar Gretchen says:

    I wonder if the parishes are being counted differently according to each situation — some with multiple churches being counted as more than one parish even though they are clustered, and some being counted as one parish because they are clustered and merged. I believe there may be a canonical difference between just clustered, and clustered and merged?

  5. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Maybe money has something to do with it. Richer parisher, excluding STM, will be favored. The dollar rules.

  6. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Re comments by Susan and Gretchen, that is why I’m using what DoR calls “parish.” They may well be wrong (and I think they are) but I will use their own data rather than argue the point. A parish is a canonical entity, a cluster is not. So a cluster of 6 parishes is still 6 parishes under Canon Law as I understand it. When they are amalgamated it becomes one parish, under Canon Law. Remember, too, that this is different from civil law. Parishes may be disincorporated and merged civilly, but not on the same time table as the canonical actions. So you can have (in this example) one parish of 6 churches which still may be 6 civil corporations until merged. Confusing? yes, indeed. Someone likes it that way.

  7. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Diane:

    Another one of your detailed, accurate and complete analysis of a situation. However it was like a forensic pathologist doing an autopsy on a dead body!! This diocese is dead and no amount of analysis can bring it back. What we need is to have Jesus resurrect us from the tomb like Lazarus!!!
    In light of this, has anyone done a spiritual needs analysis of the diocese to find out what should be going on under the new bishop?? He will need input as to what ought to happen to bring back a Spring of renewal!! Rehashing the situation like separating junk at the recycling center will not cut it.

    I think we need to go from the past to what we need in the future. I myself have written to the powers that be but also told them my opinion of what is needed in this diocese.
    What parish is solvent, what about vocations, what about the quality of parish retreats (if they are ever held??). How to upgrade the quality of the homilies?? When can we have sermons again. When can we get b-weekly letter from the bishop as in the Kearney era? How can we recruit nuns. How can we upgrade the theology coming out of SBI. How can we upgrade the deacons and in some cases get them doing something??. How can we get the bishop to visit “little parishes” that have not paid in full their “stamp” tax to the diocese.

    And how can we create a dynamic, observant, and loving diocesan community ready to meet Jesus should He decide to drop by and ask us what we are doing?????????

  8. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Afterthought!!!

    I think, for our next bishop, we need a Franciscan who is totally grounded in the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience!!!

    PS: see Philadelphia and Boston!!

  9. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I doubt Boston is orthodox? There was a very recent scandal of Cardinal O’malley allowing a gay mass. And if you read the promotion of the mass on the archdiocese web site it would make you sick.

    The other big issue is the selling of Catholic hospitals to private concerns who would allow abortion and the distribution of birth control. Catholic lay people have complained but I don’t think anything has been done. Correct me if I am wrong.

  10. avatar TheAltonRoute says:

    Remember to make use of Canon 1222, which regulates the relegation of a church to “profane but not sordid use.”

    As for the RC Archdiocese of Boston, that place is a mess. How many more names of abusers will be revealed? If you’ve read Rite of Sodomy, the scandal in Boston (or at least the majority of it) can be traced back to the days of Cardinal O’Connell in the early 1900s. Cardinal O’Connell was gay. Cardinal Madeiros was accused of abusing a young man or men in the 1970s. Law, well, he’s got his own weird personal life.

  11. avatar militia says:

    I have heard that there is a closed church in the DoR which is entertaining a bid from the Masons. Is that allowed? Does anybody know?


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