Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Pope-ette Strikes Again

October 3rd, 2009, Promulgated by Gen

Are you ready for the latest from St. Anne Church in Rochester? I certainly wasn’t.

This evening I was going between various parish websites for the Diocese of Rochester: St. Michael’s, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Anne. But wait. What did I find at St. Anne?

I found this:

“Disable” the website. Something tells me that the website isn’t the only aspect of St. Anne Church which is disabled. The attendance is down. Contributions are down. Reverence is at an all-time low. And, of course, the once great musical abilities of the parish have begun to crumble.

The noble man who ran this website with such dedication for nine years is, like so many of the one-time parishioners, told to put his gifts of “time, talent and treasure” to better use elsewhere.

To add further insult to already grievous injury, the new “cluster website” is up and ready. One key feature is Sr. Joan’s personal area of reflections. We will watch these with great attentiveness, rest assured. However, the thing which seemed most affronting was Sr. Joan’s “Life Quote.” This is it:

The difference between a crisis and an adventure is in one’s attitude.

So the people of St. Anne Church are on an adventure. Oh, that would explain everything. That would explain the albs, the microphone, the exile of parishioners, the blurring of liturgical rubrics, the removal of Tradition and the over all sacrilegious air which the place has about it now, over a year into Sr. Sobala’s reign. What absolutely unmitigated gall, to force a parishioner, a volunteer, from hosting a website which, in addition to promoting St. Anne Church, promotes priestly vocations and respect for the ordained ministry! Now we are treated to such clever insights as “why Catholics have wings.”

And this woman is not alone. She has numerous fellows in her ranks. “Fellows” such as Nancy DeRycke, Barb Swiecki and many, many others I care not to mention. The general description of the “Church” for which these people stand is this: a Church of gray hair and manly haircuts. The true Church, the growing and vibrant Church, is the one with chant and polyphony, with incense, with dignity and reverence. There is a clear reason why this new style, this passing fad of progressivism, does not sate our religious desires: it is not eternal. The Blessed Sacrament is. The Mass is. Female “ordination” is not. Nor is lay preaching. Nor is disrespect for the heavenly “Bread of Angels.” Why do some among us waste their time and our with this pointless banter of illogical conclusions and short-sighted intuition?

The Church is not Rochester. Rochester is just one small corner of an institution which Christ Himself created. He did not die on the Cross for us so that we could take liberties with His Church and Her Sacraments. To suggest that we, mere human beings, have the power or the authority, or even the ability, to change the Mass to the way which we see fit is to spit in the dying face of Our Lord. He has suffered enough without these people who masquerade as Catholics but declare “let them fertilize other parishes.”

So now the old St. Anne website sits empty. A site which once recalled the glories of the Gregorian chant Masses (which are, according to some, an endangered breed at St. Anne,) now falls prey to Sr. Sobala’s endless politicking. Webmaster Phil’s words could not be any more true or relevant: By their fruits you will know them.

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30 Responses to “The Pope-ette Strikes Again”

  1. Sister Emily says:

    I hope Phil will be joining us at OLV or ST.Stan Actually both are with out a web site.hmmmm.

    I do think she enjoys kicking people around.

    I can almost feel Our Lady's tears.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I feel the pain of these people. How sad that Sr. Joan continues to drive people away from St. Anne. Soon, none of the staff from a year and a half ago will remain.

    The Webmaster is definitely welcome at Our Lady of Victory! He could make a website for us any day!

  3. Kelly says:

    That is very sad news – all of it. Some of it familiar and much of it new. I'm so sorry to all who have been so miserably affected by this whole mess. Do not despair. St. Augustine said, "Christians must not become disheartened in difficult situations, but must themselves help others who are in need.?

    Stick together, rise above those who have strayed and know that the Lord is with you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please pray for the people of St. Anne. They need our prayers. I pray for them daily, please join me.

  5. Lee Strong says:

    One clarification – as a former editor of the Courier, I have to point out that the Courier is not run by the diocese. Financially, it survives by subscriptions and advertising, not diocesan support.

  6. Lee Strong says:

    Oops, one bit more – the money charged to run the calendar would not go to the diocese. It would go to the Courier. I always thought it should be run for free, but I was in charge of editorial content, not the financial part of the paper.

  7. Gen says:

    I still wait for the day when the Catholic Courier has a positive article about the Latin Mass. I'd even settle for acknowledgment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Bishop Clark is the "President" of the corporation that owns the Catholic Courier Newspaper and he runs the newspaper with an iron fist.

    Bishop Clark has set the tone for the content of the paper. The editor maintains the tone or will be looking for a new job. The articles about parish and school closings are written in favor of the diocese and Clark.

    To prove the point, I would like to see Lee Strong pay for a small ad for the Cleasning Fire web site in the Catholic Courier. Let's see if it gets published. Many parishioners will glad to pay for the second and third week.

  9. Lee Strong says:

    Let's see, information provided by a former employee of the paper, vs. assumptions about the way the newspaper works voiced by someone who did not work there. Hmm.

    Bishop Clark did not have an iron fist during the nearly 12 years I was there (87-99). He never interfered with content, stories, etc. We were never told by him or his staff what to write about, and what not to write about. Our contact with the Bishop generally consisted of his secretary bringing down his column each week.

    As for the ad, if I were to pay for an ad, it would be for my own blog. Perhaps anonymous should try to run an ad (oh, wait, that would require revealing who you are!). Any decision about such an ad would be made by the newspaper staff, by the way, and not the Bishop.

  10. Dr. K says:

    Lee, perhaps you might be able to answer this question I have. I understand that Bishop Clark probably does not have the "iron fist" with regard to Courier content like some say. I am curious if you know why so many of the articles in the Courier over the years tend to promote a more progressive vision/view of Roman Catholicism? Is this a product of the people who are writing for the Courier, a result of the preferences of the editors selecting what content to publish, or are some other factors involved in this? As one reader noted, you don't often see much on traditional Catholic topics. I much more frequently see an image of a liturgical dancer in the Courier than a Latin Mass. The presence of the Rev. McBrien piece every so often also suggests that the Courier leans to the left.

    I hope you can provide some insights into this. Thanks for posting.

    ~Dr. K

  11. Gen says:

    Anyone care to pay for the ad?


  12. Anonymous says:

    How much is it?

  13. Lee Strong says:

    Dr. K – busy day, I was not able to post earlier, and it's getting late.

    Article ideas during my tenure primarily came from the writers (each of whom covered a region of the diocese), submitted article ideas or requests for coverage(which the editor or a writer would then bring up at the weekly news meeting), or from breaking news.

    Each week we held a news meeting – the editors, the writers, the photographer(s), the design people, the head of advertising. The advertising head/editor in chief would give us an idea of how many pages we had based on ad sales. We'd then bring up story ideas, including stories that had to be covered – breaking news, major events, etc.

    Except for the big items – major diocesan initiatives, a cardinal or significant speaker coming to town, etc. – the story ideas came from the staff. Thus the stories often reflected areas of interest of the staff members.

    During my time, in addition to the regular stories, each of the four writers was responsible for an in-depth story. We rotated those, so each of us had to come up with one every four weeks. Those stories even more reflected the predilections and interests of the writers.

    The "slant" of the stories often reflected the views of the wirters – not the editors. When I edited, I looked more for clarity, completeness and balance, than for pushing any one view of things.

    Speaking for myself, I was often the one who surfaced stories about things like saints, Chesterton, the Catholic League, ASrchbishop Sheen, Catholic writers, health issues, and life issues (Indeed, I met my wife while covering an abortion protest. She was committing civil disobedience. Pretty, and committed – a definite turn on!)

  14. Lee Strong says:

    … In terms of picking stories, we looked at how much space we had – dictated by ad sales. Then we considered a variety of factors, such as which of the stories was the more significant at that point in world or diocesan history, stories that we had not covered before (or, in a negative way, ones we had covered too much. It seems like we could have written a Corpus story a week even back before the parish went off the deep end, so we tended to push some of those stories aside to cover other parishes.) The editor played a significant role at this point. It there were two possible stories of comparable value, only space for one story, and if none of the writers was willing to fight foa story, the editor would generally decide on one.

    But the "slant" again, would be the writer's individual slant.

    When I was there, of the four main writers, I was the more "conservative" in orientation. Two of the writers were more "progressive" in orientation – one, in fact, was not even Catholic but a very good writer).

    Some beats we had little contact with, and so I think they did not get covered as much as they should have. None of us at that time was particularly Marian in orientation (though I did do a cover story on how to say the rosary), for example, so some Marian or Medjugorje stories probably got neglected.

    Being human, we also considered whom we would have to interview. There were some people in the diocese even then who were so angry, negative and unpleasant, and who would twist things, that it was hard to get them to talk in a reasonable way – or even to get them to return our calls (and when they did call, it often started out with complaints and criticisms. "How come you never cover us!" "Well, I'm calling now to cover you." "Yeah, but where were you before?")

    Then there were the people who would nit pick anything we wrote because they felt we did not give their favorite subject the coverage it merited, not taking into account limitations like space.

    In other words, people who made it difficult for us to work with them would be less likely to get a staff member pushing to cover a story involving them. And thus they were less likely to get their views and pet concerns covered. I remember that being a factor with some of the Traditional Latin Mass folks when they were trying to get it back in the diocese – something that I actually supported and that I thought the diocese was mishandling.

    I always tried to be fair in my stories, but I know I'm human with my own views on issues, so I probably fell short many times.

    Overall, I'd say the orientation of the staff would have been in the eyes of this blog's typical readers "progressive." That's true of journalists as a whole – though the Courier's staff would have been considered conservative by the mainstream media standards.

    And I think that they did try to be objective and fair as a whole. Of course, people on the left complained at us for being too conservative, and people on the right complained at us for being too liberal.

  15. Dr. K says:

    Thanks Lee. Plenty of good information.

    ~Dr. K

  16. Anonymous says:

    It has been about 10 years since Lee Strong worked at the Catholic Courier and many Catholic Schools and parishes have been closed against the will of the parishioners.

    I wonder what happened to the hundreds of letters to the editor sent to the Catholic Courier regarding Bishop Clark's negative actions? Did they go into a file cabinet or straight into the garbage can?

    My challenge is still out there for Lee Strong or another parishioner to run a ad in the Catholic Courier Newspaper, promoting the Cleansing Fire web site. I would like to see the ad placed right next to Bishop Clark's column.

  17. Gen says:

    It looks like the rates are between 40 and 80 dollars.

  18. Bernie says:

    I hope and pray for a website for OLV and I hope Phil is the webmaster. His work is terrific. His Catholic Links page was a great source for me. I'm not sure OLV would want a website, though. I've wondered why we don't have one but I never asked.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I will see choirs $10.00
    Now we have 20.00. I know this is a difficult time for many but if 4 more could contribute 5.00 , we would about make it. Sister emily.

  20. Gen says:

    I'll put forth $10 for it.

    How about it folks?

  21. RochChaCha says:

    Count me in for $5. I'd love to see this ad get placed, or at least the request made for it.

    BTW….does anyone know why OLV does not have a website? I have a resource who could likely make a charitable donation to host a site and build the basic structure. He is also an excellent web developer and could produce something that could make the rest of the diocese sites look like they were developed 15 years ago.

  22. Gen says:

    Please have him email the parish at I am certain that if a minimal or non-existent price tag were affixed, the administrator would be highly pleased.

  23. Scott/Mary says:

    Put us in for 10.00 I'm not quite sure why OLV doesn't have a web page. Please contact Fr. Antinarelli. I think it would be awesome. I have a question. Will the calendar that St. Anne's used to put out where we pray for a priest on a certain day, still be printed out? Or is this another wonderful apostolate Sr Joan axed.
    Please email where I should send the money. Or can I give it on Sunday to "In the choir", at Latin Mass?

  24. Gen says:

    If Choir is willing, I think that would be best.

    Anyone else who has volunteered money for the Catholic Courier advertisement, either give it to Choir at Latin Mass or email me at your convenience. Of course, the "Choir option" depends on his humble "fiat."

    Lee, I'm still waiting for your contribution. lol jk

  25. Choir is always ready, willing and able to accept $$$$ moola $$$$. I am very trusthworthy, just ask Father B.

    I'll be at St. Stan's tomorrow and WEdnesday, if that matters. Sunday as usual too. I'll be at OLV on Friday.

  26. Sister Emily says:

    I will give you mine on Sunday as well. I wonder if you know who i am.

  27. RochChaCha says:

    In the Choir,

    I'd like to give you my $ on Friday at 12:10 mass. How will i know who you are. BTW, this past weekend, my family and I officially became new parishoners of OLV.

  28. Gen says:

    If I am able, I will also set up a "donation box" at the top of the page. I hate to monetize this blog, but it's for a good and noble cause. If anyone feels uncomfortable with the fund-drive, just let me know and I will alter the approach. I don't want to be as one more CMA or "Commitment Weekend" to you all. lol

  29. Anonymous says:

    I would be interested to know if lee strong thinks c f will be abel to place an ad in the courier or are they gooseing rainbows? Also any advice?

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