Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Some Items on the Irondequout Situation

November 24th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

A reader over at DoR Catholic, believed to be the pesky Irondequouit Catholic, has recently suggested that the reason for St. Thomas the Apostle’s decline in attendance is because it is too conservative (orthodox). I do not believe this to be the reason at all.

Below is a look at the attendance numbers of the five Irondequoit Pastoral Planning Group (IPPG) parishes from 2000-2003 and 2008. This data come from the DoR pastoral planning page, and from IPPG documents. You will need to click on the image to enlarge the content to readability:

Though it is true that St. Thomas has experienced a significant decrease in attendance, it actually has not witnessed the greatest fall of the five IPPG parishes. St. Margaret Mary, located off the southern portion of St. Paul Blvd. in west Irondequoit, has lost 493 parishioners since the year 2000. St. Thomas, on the other hand, has lost 354. Both parishes are within 1 percentage point of each other in terms of the percent drop in attendance since 2000. If we take the most recent available data (2003) and compare it to today, we see that St. Margaret Mary has lost 384 parishioners since 2003, or a 34% decrease in attendance, while St. Thomas has lost 216 since ’03 for a 30% decrease in attendance.

St. Margaret Mary would probably not be classified as a “conservative” parish according to most Catholics; it’s probably more around the middle of the pack. So if St. Thomas’ “conservatism” is the reason why the parish is approaching forced closure by the IPPG, why is St. Margaret Mary also struggling, and experiencing a far greater decline than St. Thomas? Could it be that the reason for the lower attendance figures for these parishes compared to the other IPPG parishes is the decline in the number of Roman Catholics in West Irondequoit? I think that theory makes far more sense than St. Thomas’ orthodoxy and traditional ways being the reason for its lower attendance. For the record, every single parish in Irondequoit has experienced at least a 10% decline in attendance since 2000. All except for Christ the King have had a decrease of at least 30%.

After analyzing these numbers, I began to think about the whole situation. Is St. Thomas really the church which should be closed along with St. Salome? I don’t believe so. The church which has experienced the greatest fall since the start of the decade is St. Margaret Mary. I think it would make far more sense to shut down St. Margaret Mary than to close St. Thomas. I ask you to take a look at the graphic above once again. I added an interesting column to the chart, which is the number of households in each parish’s geographic area. St. Thomas has 777 households, and is bringing in 504 parishioners on average. Contrast this with St. Margaret Mary, which has 1,309 households but only brings in 755 parishioners on average. The parish which appears to be having the greater struggles is the one which the IPPG wishes to keep open over St. Thomas. This does not sound right to me. I think the better situation would be for St. Thomas to remain open should only three parishes stay open in the final IPPG plan. St.Thomas could serve north Irondequouit and west Irondequoit. St. Margaret Mary would only be able to serve south west Irondequoit. St. Thomas also has a larger church to accommodate new parishioners.

Regardless of what ends up happening with the IPPG plan, there is likely to be a significant decrease in the number of Masses available among the IPPG parishes. The drop from 5 parishes to 3 would mean, according to the IPPG proposals (see graphic above) a decrease in total Masses offered from 15 to 10. The IPPG is also considering a drop to 8 Masses. Given the history of dropping Mass times in our diocese, this figures to have a major impact on attendance, and not for the better.

Please pray for the Catholics of Irondequoit.

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One Response to “Some Items on the Irondequout Situation”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, those numbers tell the true story. The ippg would like to have us think that St. Thomas and St. Salome are the ones crashing and burning, when in reality it's one of the blessed trinity of greed who is falling apart at the seams. Save St. Thomas, sacrifice St. Cecilia or St. Margaret Mary.

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