Cleansing Fire

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Dying One Thousand Deaths

July 8th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Each passing week, many parishes in the Diocese of Rochester continue to see moral, theological, financial, liturgical, and spiritual declines. None more so than the once-proud and majestic St. Anne Church on Mt. Hope venue. Without fail, we receive a constant stream of Joan Sobala-related items from our readers and staffers, most of which we just omit because they’re the pathetic dying breaths of a dying breed of heretics. However, this is one we just had to convey to you, the readers, so that you can grasp the depths to which Sr. Sobala has dragged the people of the parish.

Every year, since the parish’s inception, the parishioners have held a beautiful and well-attended “Novena to St. Anne” which attracts, not only the parishioners themselves, but devotion-loving Catholics from the entire Diocese. Each year, a noted preacher from out of town has delivered the nightly sermons – all prestigious for their theological prowess. This pattern came to an abrupt end in 2008, when Sr. Sobala & Co. took over St. Anne. That year, Fr. Michael Marigliano, a Franciscan, was the preacher. I attended some of the nightly services, and I was moved by his zeal for the Faith and the Church. However, he did not care for Sr. Sobala’s seditious actions at the parish, and he made his sentiments known. Indeed, he inserted into the petitions at the closing Mass certain words to the effect of “We pray also for those faithful who suffer under corrupt leaders in the parish setting. May they suffer spiritual martyrdom for the glory of God and His Church.”

And so, Sr. Sobala has stopped the three-quarter century tradition of preaching excellence in favor of a more affordable (fine), simpler (fine), more local and controllable approach (not fine). The parish went from having priests like Fr. Marigliano preaching firey sermons to – now get this – Fr.’s Kennedy and Palumbos. Of course, this is an improvement over last year’s Sobala-Tyman-Lawlor rotation, but still . . . consider their orthodoxy. They have both been long-associated with being (I put this tactfully) associated with the “plight” of gays and lesbians in the Church. I know we need to reach out to these people, but not by signing our names to a letter of open dissent. They also contribute proudly to organizations of dubious moral focus.

So what are the people of the parish to expect this year, in terms of sermons? They used to be solid, theologically beautiful, and proud of their Catholicity. But now, it seems that cost and politicking are dancing hand-in-hand down the aisle at St. Anne. I fear for the people who still attend this novena, for many are unaware of the immense damage that the staff of the parish has caused.

Let us pray that Fr.'s Kennedy and Palumbos do not slip their political quest into the prayerful tone of the annual St. Anne Novena.

Now, I wholly understand needing to trim the budget. That’s a good thing to do, and if you can find preachers of the same caliber for no cost, that’s the way to go. But you cannot whore out a devotion for the cause of politicking (politickling?) gay rights. We can hope this doesn’t come up, but when you think of a list of DoR priests who are openly fighting for gays in ways they ought not to, what two names are at the top of the list? Kennedy and Palumbos. Of course, I’m sure they’re both charming gentlemen, but they (and many like them) need to realize that the pulpit is no place for dissenting political views.

What strikes me as the most telling fact in all this is the perpetual decline in attendance at St. Anne. If people liked what they were hearing at Mass (and things like the novena) attendance wouldn’t have dropped by around 50%. In a similar way, if people are engaged and challenged by what they hear on Sunday, they will become even more active in the parish. St. Anne is no longer attracting the vast number of volunteers it once had – you can see that in their bulletins, where the same names are repeated week after week. Indeed, they don’t even have children serving their 4:00 Mass anymore – when young people are replaced by the elderly, there is something seriously wrong there. If a child of 12 or 13 knows there’s something bad going on at Mass, so too should well-informed people in our situation.The novena used to be something which everyone at the parish looked forward to, and was advertised all around the diocese. I myself found out about it from Catholic Radio around 10 years ago. But now, the novena is just one more thing they (and we) have to worry about. “Will there be sound preaching?” “Will they be vested in a proper and dignified way?” “Will there be overt politicking/politickling?” The faithful ought not to worry whether or not church will be uplifting, and that’s why we’re seeing a massive decline in attendance, not just at St. Anne, but at every parish whose curriculum vitae leans away from Church doctrine and towards the glorification of error.

If anyone is planning on attending the novena, I would encourage you to record and document it to the best of your ability. Fr. Tyman himself has disparagingly referred to us as the “self-appointed bulldogs of orthodoxy,” so let’s not disappoint.

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16 Responses to “Dying One Thousand Deaths”

  1. avatar benanderson says:

    self-appointed bulldogs of orthodoxy

    I think I speak for all of use when I say that this is not a task we wish were set before us. But nevertheless we, as faithful Catholics, feel it our duty and obligation to not sit idly by and watch local Catholicism dwindle away to nothing because our leaders have decided to invent their own religion.

    I was listening to someone (perhaps the founder) of the Cardinal Newman Society talk about how they were labeled a watchdog group when they first started out. He said that’s not really what they were going for. Instead they wanted to work with campuses to help bolster the Catholic faith. But in order to gain support for their cause they first had to demonstrate that there was a need to “do something”. Many people didn’t realize there was a problem on our Catholic campuses. And so, they had to report “the bad” to get people to be aware of the problem. They continue to do so, but also work to help repair damage and build up the faithful. In other words, obviously there is a need to report on “the bad”. It helps to alert people to the problems. Then we can join together and work to fix them.

  2. avatar Gen says:

    Precisely, Ben.

  3. avatar Bernie says:

    I don’t know Fr. Kennedy at all other than overhearing him once make a remark that, to me, betrayed a rather superficial attitude toward wearing the clerical collar (he decided against it that night). Fr. Palumbus gave a sermon one Sunday many years ago at Good Shepherd in Henrietta that changed my life so let us hope that he rises to that kind of preaching for the novena and leaves the nonsense for his private conversations.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    Could you please tell us where this picture was taken? I find it rather disturbing.

  5. avatar praedicator says:

    You know, that bulldog comment has a negative connotation…

    Until a burglar breaks into your house. Then, I bet you’d be real happy to have a growling bulldog. Just take it as a compliment! You’re being apologists, defenders, loyal (hey! dogs are loyal!), and self-sacrificing — and it’s in defense of the most precious treasures we have.

    Thieves are hopping over the wall left and right. Keep growlin’, my friends.

  6. avatar John Larish says:

    As a member of St. Anne church and now I am proud of the warm friendships I found as part of our cluster. Too many people who lack knowledge and vested interest in the cluster might best be represented by the words of Robert Burns, “a little learning is a dangerous thing .“

    First let me start by saying that what I’ve heard of Sr. Joan Sobala before she became our pastoral administrator did not make me happy. It wasn’t helped by a parishioner who placed a printed condemnation of both Sister Joan and Father Tyman under our windshield wipers at mass one Saturday. Expecting rain, he conveniently put each in a separate plastic bag.

    St. Anne Parish was in trouble before Joan came. A mortgage of more than $300,000 still remained from the rebuilding of the church property, not a small sum for a parish that had an aging population. I was a member of the financial committee and one of the few who tried to get some restraint in the music program. For example I thought that $20,000 for a grand piano could better be applied to the church mortgage. I also questioned the expense of hiring Eastman students as paid choir members to improve the choir. That’s nice but not with a $300,000 plus mortgage.

    Even today, the challenges of maintaining a property like St. Anne church are awesome. Front pillars were rotting and needed repair—thanks to the bequest of a deceased parishioner, it was done. The main aisle carpeting was wet from leakage and damaged even the plywood subflooring—another major expense just this month. There is a lot more than meets the eye in a beautiful but complex facility like St. Anne Church.

    I have attended, lectored, and even carried our church banner for the St. Anne Novena during the last several years. How many of the most recent critics have even been to a recent novena?. Very few young people make it and it is rare that a family was there except for the ice cream social at the close of the Novena regardless of the speaker.

    Last year’s Novena homilist, Father Mike Marigliano from New York City had spoken at a previous Novena. His final homily, one addressed to the St. Anne parish members, would be a wonderful message for people here to listen to. I asked Father if he could repeat his message to allow me to record it for others to hear who were not at the Novena. I will be happy to provide it to Cleansing Fire—it is a great homily for our times.

    When I became an Altar Boy in 1939, I learned all my Latin prayers and responses and did not understand a word spoken or sung. Today, our young servers respond in their own language as do all around the world in their own countries. Is not the Mass the most beautiful prayer in our world and now we can respond in our native language. My parish church in Cleveland, St. Lawrence Church, was closed after 100 years on this past June 20th. I shed my tears –tears of joy for what St. Lawrence had given me, and sorrow for the closing—it was the smallest of a Cleveland, Ohio cluster.

    Our local priests are not always our best homilists—it is something that our Seminaries need to work on more diligently—it can be taught. For this year’s Novena, we will hear from two of our own Diocesan priests. Why not listen to their message—stop pre-condemning them.

    Maybe it is time for Cleansing fire to stop defining slander and define the love of Christ, not arrogant pomp and show. It was He who gave us so much love and in the simple clothes of a Jew. God’s blessings to each of you and I continue to ask you for your prayers for my health—I can use all I can get with or without any written intention in our St. Anne book of prayers.

  7. avatar Dr. K says:

    Why not listen to their message—stop pre-condemning them.

    Maybe because we are not “pre”-condemning them as you claim. In case you are not aware, Church of the Assumption makes most of their Masses available online in .flv video format. Being the curious type, I have watched many of these Masses. In doing so, I have heard plenty of garbage from Fr. Palumbos and from his lay preacher, Deni Mack. We have listened to his message.

  8. avatar John Larish says:

    Just a bit more about St. Anne Church today. Sister Joan has renegotiated the church mortgage for more favorable terms and it is now $260,000. None of us like having our parish with a significant mortgage and I am most happy to see St. Anne Church in a healthier financial position.
    Also–I stand corrected. Father Mike Mirigliano preached in 2007 and 2008. The great homily I have offered was for the close of the 2008 Novena.

  9. avatar Dr. K says:

    Sister Joan has renegotiated the church mortgage for more favorable terms and it is now $260,000.

    She also drove away approximately 200 weekly attendees which has produced smaller collection totals.

  10. avatar John Larish says:

    If Sister Joan has brought down the mortgage with 200 fewer weekly attendees, she is running a tight ship in challenging times. I am sure you will not make the Novena, Dr. K, it is for us older people and those who can use the prayers and the messages of the homilist.

  11. avatar Dr. K says:

    If Sister Joan has brought down the mortgage with 200 fewer weekly attendees, she is running a tight ship in challenging times.

    Because saving money takes priority over saving souls.

  12. avatar John Larish says:

    Nice line, “Saving money over saving souls”–RG&E, Frontier, the bank and others are waiting for their pound of flesh. I give credit to Sister Joan for what she has done; and you know, she is a good homilist when she teams with the Mass celebrants. As Bishop Clark says, “We are all God’s children.” Sometimes, some of us forget that message–Christ didn’t. Maybe instead of our push for the mystique version of the Mass, we should read more of the words of the Bible. Many may need to learn the old words again, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

  13. avatar benanderson says:

    As Bishop Clark says, “We are all God’s children.” Sometimes, some of us forget that message–Christ didn’t.

    wow – that’s a broad generalization. I don’t think any of us has a problem with that statement. How exactly would you say we’ve forgotten that message?

    Maybe insted of our push for the mystique version of the Mass, we should read more of the words of the Bible. Many may need to learn the old words again, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

    so now I guess you’re asserting that we don’t read the Bible and that our spirituality is lacking? If everyone read scripture more frequently and had a truly more humble spirituality, we’d all be better off. Sure, that’s a good thing, but I’m not sure where you’re going with that. Could you clarify? You might also be interested in reading more posts around here, like this one

  14. avatar Dr. K says:

    “I give credit to Sister Joan for what she has done”

    I didn’t know that driving away 200 people and putting a parish on the brink of closure was something to be commended for. If that is true then Nancy DeRycke, Anne-Marie Brogan, and Margaret Ostromecki have all been wildly successful in their administrative stints.

    and you know, she is a good homilist when she teams with the Mass celebrants.

    With the exception of the many incorrect details in her homilies and the occasionally heresy, sure, why not? Regardless, lay homilies are illegal. I’m sure you already know that and have chosen to ignore what the Church has to say on this topic.

  15. avatar Gen says:

    Mr. Larish, it seems you’re overlooking our commenting policy. If you want to continue to engage in dialogue, leave the snide remarks to a minimum.

    You “give credit” to Sr. Joan for what she has done. So do I – she has raised the weekly collections at Our Lady of Victory from 2,000 dollars to over 5,000 dollars. She has made people rediscover the beauty of authentic liturgy, in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms. She forced people to do research, and become well-acquainted with Church teachings on liturgy. So, yes – we must give credit where it is due. I can comfortably say that Sr. Joan Sobala has done more work for the cause of orthodoxy (aka “Catholicism”) than Our Lady of Victory, the Latin Mass Community, or any other lay preacher or ordained priest, er . . . sacramental minister. All I know is that it’s pretty darn pathetic when a large and beautiful semi-suburban church like St. Anne attracts less people than a tiny 19th century parish in the heart of the ghetto.

    I am certain you will say something along the lines of “what makes you guys the definitive word in Catholicism?” The answer is that we merely pass along Church teaching, side by side with humor and wit. If you have a problem with what we say, don’t start these arguments here on the blog – write to Rome and say, “Holy Father, Sr. Sobala gives AMAZING homilies – you’re wrong saying that she can’t according to Canon Law, Redemptionis Sacramentum, and Sacrosanctum Concillium.” You’re falling into the trap of “shooting the messenger.”

  16. avatar Gen X Revert says:

    I am glad to read of Fr. Michael Marigliano here because he is related to me. I will pray for all the members of this Diocese. Rockville Centre (Long Island) is proof of what good can happen over time when an orthodox bishop is assigned. A lot of things have improved greatly over time and I am sure the same will happen in your Diocese.

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