Cleansing Fire

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Attendance Numbers and the St. Thomas Closing

January 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

If attendance was a big reason why St. Thomas will be forced to close, I think that is a pretty pathetic excuse. Below are the attendance numbers of former DoR churches shortly before their closures. As one can easily see, St. Thomas’ roughly 500 parishioners per week far exceeds any of the attendance figures we have seen thus far for churches that have been closed in our diocese. What does all this mean? Is this the beginning of more closings for churches than don’t get at least 600 people per week? If so, there are many parishes out there, suburban, urban and rural, that need to watch out. You could be next, so don’t think your parish is safe. If you’re thinking this St. Thomas situation doesn’t affect you; you’re wrong.

Let’s take a look at some numbers. These are compiled from various bulletins over the years. When more than one number appears, it means that more than one attendance figure is available.

Our Lady of the Americas:
St. Francis Xavier- (2006) 334
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel- (2006) 345
Corpus Christi: (2006) 321 (and this is the parish that remained open of the three…)

Just for fun, Corpus Christi after the closings of SFX and OLMC- 330, 399

Commentary on the above: Closing parishes really worked here, didn’t it? Corpus Christi’s numbers after the closures were roughly the same as they were before SFX and OLMC were shut down and merged with Corpus! Clearly merging parishes was a complete disaster and failure here.

19th Ward:
Ss. Peter & Paul- (2006) 95, 119
St. Augustine, Our Lady of Good Counsel, and [still open] St. Monica combined attendance: (2006) 295

City West:
St. Anthony of Padua- (2007) 353, 241
Holy Family- (2007) 299, 303, 211

What do these numbers tell us? Well, that St. Thomas is far outperforming the other parishes which were forced to shut down. Is St. Thomas really in need of closure? I don’t believe so. Even if money is a contributing factor; there is still the Msgr. Burns fund of $500,000 that can be used for allegedly necessary repairs.

Now let’s take a look at some current attendance numbers around the diocese, specifically non-rural Monroe County parishes, and see how many did worse than St. Thomas. I went through all the bulletins that print attendance numbers. These numbers are all from the most recently available bulletin:

St. Thomas the Apostle: 492
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Holy Apostles/City West: 399
Church of the Annunciation: 142
St. Andrew: 229
St. Anne: 473
Our Lady of Lourdes: 475. [Nice job, Sr. Joan. You can pat yourself on the back now that you have killed two churches. Even Lourdes, a progressive parish!]
St. Salome: 377 [Now slated to close]
Our Lady of Mercy: 214 [Will close soon]
Holy Name of Jesus: 386
St. Monica: 263
St. Bridget: 30 [Will close soon]
Immaculate Conception: 81

Can someone tell me, where is the justice here in Rochester? St. Thomas the Apostle is outperforming several other Rochester parishes, yet it is they who will be closing. Their performance is also at least one hundred persons higher than the previous DoR closings.

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4 Responses to “Attendance Numbers and the St. Thomas Closing”

  1. I remember Saints Peter and Paul in the 50s and 60s, when the rolls had about 5,000 parishoners in a church that sat approximately 1,100 and we had about 800 kids in the school.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    Another important factor in the equation is that St. Thomas has only two Sunday Masses, one at 8:00 and one at 11:00. People may consider the 8:00 too early and the 11:00 too late, so they?d go somewhere else.
    Christ the King has three Sunday Masses, including the most popular time at 9:30.
    How fair is that to St. Thomas?

    Holy Days?St. Thomas has one Mass at 8:00 in the morning, plus one the evening before. Christ the King has four Masses throughout the day.

    I think I?m beginning to see a pattern here.

  3. avatar Bernie says:

    What a mess this diocese is in. There's no rhyme or reason to any of these clustering/reorganization schemes. It would have been much more humane if the bishop had just announced what stays and what goes in one short news release rather than putting everyone through a long agonizing process the conclusion of which is predetermined. At least it wouldn't have pitted parish against parish and people against clergy. The bishop probably doesn't literally dictate to the committees but they know what he will approve and what he won't.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    As I have unfortunately said: When you dance with the devil, nothing good comes from it. The DOR has had a waltz with the "underground" for 30 years. We see the rotten fruit.


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