Cleansing Fire

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Fertilization and the Good Sister

January 6th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Many people may remember the infamous quote from Rochester personality Sr. Joan Sobala SSJ, “Let them fertilize other parishes.” Well, the fertilization gets more complete with each passing month. I was blessed to be in attendance at Our Lady of Victory for the Midnight Mass – the spectacle was grand. Standing room only, and of that not a whole lot was open. I would wager that the Little French Church was well over capacity that night. For the various Christmas Masses, I would humbly guess that there were approximately 800 people over the 24 hours of Christmas Masses. Even the Holy Day Mass on January 1 was packed, according to a most reliable source. Well, in this past week’s bulletin, Our Lady of Victory disclosed the amount of its Christmas collection: over $14,000. I assumed, with soul brimming with Christian charity, that the “disgruntled parishes” would be about the same, what with the hordes of the faithful (who become faithful only at Christmas and Easter) bolstering the ranks of every parish in the nation. Oh, I was woefully wrong.

The statistics for the Christmas week for the Our Lady of Lourdes+St. Anne cluster are below. Note that Our Lady of Lourdes had a Christmas collection of about $10,000. Note also that this parish is in a much better area than Our Lady of Victory, whose downtown presence is located conveniently between a news store with more pornographic publications than newspapers, and a burned-out shell of Rochester’s former Catholic glory, St. Joseph’s. This doesn’t include the occaisional vagrant, drug-addict, prostitute, or transsexual child of God. (I hope I’m not over-selling the parish.) Our Lady of Lourdes, in “old Brighton,” is in a bubble of economic prosperity which, evidently, has been cleft in ‘tween by the combating views of orthodoxy and heterodoxy.

Now for St. Anne – the attendance, though about 100 more than Our Lady of Lourdes, contibuted to a Christmas collection of only $7,330. That is half the amount of Our Lady of Victory, in terms of monetary sacrifice. If any of you remember the days of Fr. Lioi, you will recall that the collection at Christmas was vastly more than that pitiful amount.

Over the past two years, countless numbers of refugees from this cluster and others like it have ended up in the safe presence of Our Lady, made manifest in Our Lady of Victory-St. Joseph’s, St. Stanislaus, St. Boniface, and even the monasteries of the Carmelites on Jefferson Road and the Trappists in Piffard. Truly, Our Lady smiles on those whom she has picked to be her own. There are those who assert, and perhaps correctly, that some these communities exist only because of bitterness, pain, anger, and resentment. “They aren’t natural.” Perhaps one should consider that there is no other recourse.

Let us recall the words of Shakespeare from the “Saint Crispen’s Day soliloquoy,” from his play Henry V:


From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here.

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7 Responses to “Fertilization and the Good Sister”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    "For the various Christmas Masses, I would humbly guess that there were approximately 800 people over the 24 hours of Christmas Masses."

    The number was significantly higher.

    According to the DoR pastoral planning material, OLV's capacity is somewhere in the upper 300s. We'll call it 350 as a low estimate. So if OLV was overflow at midnight, and overflow at 4:30 (of which I can attest), and we assume that Christmas morning was roughly full if not overflow, then OLV drew at least 1,050 people this Christmas. That's pretty darn good for an inner-city parish where one is likely to find a bag of weed or a needle used for heroin on the sidewalk leading up to the church entrance.

    OLV has been drawing around 700-800 each week as well, which is a sizable increase from their 2001 average of 268 persons per week. OLV is, to borrow DoR terms, a truly vibrant and growing parish.

    It's also very interesting that OLV brought in more bucks than Lourdes, a very wealthy Brighton church.

    ~Dr. K

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    St. Anne only outdrew in the inner-city, Lyell Ave Holy Apostles church by some 11 people.

  3. avatar Bernie says:

    "…and we assume that Christmas morning was roughly full if not overflow…"

    OLV 10am Christmas Mass was not packed or even full. Respectable, but not full. Still the point is well made: the little French church is vibrant and growing!

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    OLV sounds great. Where can you park?

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    There is a parking lot to the right of the church (next to the open greenery with the shrine to Our Lady). That's the lot most people use. There is also a lot across the street. Both are free of charge for the weekend Masses. I'm not sure whether you need to pay, or how much, on weekdays. This is inner city parking after all, and OLV does not own these lots which are used by downtown workers during the work week.

    ~Dr. K

  6. avatar Rob says:

    Those attendance numbers are very low. My prayers for you all.

  7. avatar Sister Emily says:

    They also have security guards there. I always speak to them so they know we appreciate their watching over our cars and they do watch over us.

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