Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Fr. Tanck Attempts to Close St. Thomas and St. Salome

August 31st, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Cleansing Fire has received a copy of the letter which the Irondequoit parish leaders are about to send out to their parishioners concerning the Mass schedule for the newly merged parish (now titled “Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha”). If you wish to read the letter in its entirety, and I encourage you to do so, please click here for the PDF file. In the letter, Frs. Tanck CSB, Horan, Leone and Rice CSB state that the churches of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Salome will close. The St. Salome closing Mass has already been scheduled for September 26th at 2 PM. The St. Thomas Mass is presently scheduled for November 14th, but as we know, a challenge to the Vatican is undoubtedly going to come from the Save STA effort. This appeal could take up to a year or longer, depending on the resources of those appealing the decision and the willingness of the Vatican to listen.

The interesting thing about all of this is that no decision has been made by Bishop Clark! There has yet to surface any public decree from the desk of Bishop Matthew Clark with his signature which calls for and provides reasonable justification for the closure of St. Thomas the Apostle or St. Salome. However, here are the priests and the hand-picked lay transition committee effectively making the decision to close churches on their own. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that such an action is a blatant violation of Canon Law. Priests and laypersons possess no authority whatsoever to close a church. Only a bishop may carry out such an action, after careful consultation with his council of priests. Has either occurred?


1. Bishop Clark has failed to consult the presbyteral council concerning the closure of St. Thomas and St. Salome. His previous consultation with the council concerned the merger of the five Irondequouit parishes into a single parish.

2. Bishop Clark has failed to issue a decree which calls for the closure of St. Thomas and/or St. Salome. A decree is required by Canon Law. You can not “backdoor” close a church by suspending Masses as the Irondequoit Transition Team, headed by Fr. Norm Tanck, is attempting to do. Bishop Clark even stated in his response to the previous appeal that should closure later be necessary, that he would issue a decree which could then be appealed. Where is this decree? The Irondequouit leaders are making decisions about closing Masses before any closure has even been ordered. Who does things like that?

So what needs to happen before STA can even be considered for closure? The bishop will need to meet with the prebysteral council on this matter, he needs to consider their advice (which from what we have heard about the previous meeting, was in favor of keeping STA open), then he needs to issue a decree which the people of St. Thomas can appeal. How can the diocese even think it will get away with closing these churches without permitting an appeal?

Below is the proposed Mass schedule:

Saturday: 4:00 PM Christ the King
4:30 PM St. Margaret Mary
5:00 PM St. Cecilia
Sunday: 7:30 AM Christ the King
8:30 AM St. Cecilia
9:00 AM St. Margaret Mary
9:30 AM (Until Nov 14) St. Thomas the Apostle
10:00 AM Christ the King
10:30 AM St. Cecilia
11:00 AM St. Margaret Mary
5:00 PM (To be added on Nov 28) Christ the King

Monday – Friday: 6:30 (CTK), 8:00 (CTK), 9:00 (St.C), 11:30 (St.MM)
Saturday 8:00 (CTK), 9:30 (St.C)

According to this schedule, St. Margaret Mary and St. Cecilia will both have three weekend Masses, while Christ the King will have FOUR. Is it unreasonable to have this fourth Mass at Christ the King be celebrated at St. Thomas the Apostle? Additionally, Christ the King will continue to have two Masses per weekday. Could not one of these be offered at St. Thomas each day? Why should CTK have 2 daily Masses?

One more time, let’s review the facts concerning St. Thomas the Apostle, and try to determine if their is reasonable justification to close the church:

-STA has a congregation of nearly 500 persons. No parish of comparable size has been closed in the Diocese of Rochester. The next highest number was in the low 300s (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Holy Family). The diocese currently has several suburban Monroe County parishes drawing the same or less attendance than St. Thomas. These include Our Lady Queen of Peace, St. Thomas More, Church of the Resurrection, Holy Name of Jesus, and Our Lady of Lourdes. None of these have even been rumored for closure.

-STA is financially stable. Unlike the other three churches slated to remain open in Irondequoit, STA has no debt and even has a significant amount of money in reserve. STA also has perhaps the most valuable property of the IPPG sites. The former school is rented.

-STA has a perpetual adoration chapel on campus.

-STA has adequate parking.

-STA has the largest church building in Irondequoit, and perhaps even the diocese. This church is appropriate for  “fewer, larger” churches.

-STA requires no capital expenditures such as renovations or additions. St. Cecilia will require expansion.

-STA contains the buried remains of Msgr. Burns within feet of the church building.

-STA has a shrine in honor of the unborn.

-STA is the only parish in the entire diocese to utilize an altar rail for a Novus Ordo Mass.

-STA’s attendance has stabilized over the past year, while St. Margaret Mary’s continues to plummet.

-The diocese and the pastor have done little to strengthen STA or St. Salome. The diocese discouraged St. George Lithuanian from selecting STA as its new worship site. The pastor has been abrasive toward the people of STA (driving many away), and has gone to great lengths to avoid celebrating Mass there. For a couple months this year, he did not make a single appearance for Mass (according to parishioners). Fr. Tanck is also reported to have deprived the people of the Sacrament of Confession once in pettiness.  His bulletin articles have been condescending, including the one where he calls his parishioners “negative, vehement, and organized” (August 23rd, 2009 bulletin). Let’s not forget his appearance in a CBS/Fox piece with a local Sikh reporter that portrayed the good people of St. Thomas as insensitive. The people have received poor pastoral care from their “pastor.”

This whole thing is corrupt. I do not wish any particular success to Fr. Tanck and co. with this new Irondequoit parish. This parish might as well be called Christ the King, because once again, that’s where the pastor’s loyalties will lie. To borrow a quote from Rush Limbaugh, “I hope he fails.”

My prayers for the people of St. Thomas and St. Salome. You have all been treated like dirt by your pastor and the diocese. This is not right, and I wish you the best in your appeal (provided you even get the chance to make one). This reckless endangerment of souls that the diocese is engaged in needs to stop. The political games against the traditional Catholics of St. Thomas is deplorable.

If any of our readers wish to make a contribution to the Save STA effort, you can send money to:

P.O. Box 17664
Rochester, NY   14617
I imagine that they will protect your anonymity if you so desire. Remember to pray, pray, pray. Not only for the people of STA, who desperately need assistance, but that this scary diocesan trend is quickly put to a stop.

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2 Responses to “Fr. Tanck Attempts to Close St. Thomas and St. Salome”

  1. Very concerned Parishioner says:

    It seems that father Tanck is a priest planning to become a Monsignor, or even a Bishop. He’s already making decisions that should be reserved for a Bishop. Perhaps, he’s planning to leave the Order of St. Basil, and become a diocesan priest, so that he would be eligible for consideration as Bishop Clark’s successor. Don’t forget, Bishop Clark must retire in a few years(Thank God).

  2. Bill B. says:

    I doubt seriously if a “local” priest will be chosen. Odds are it will be an out of towner. Of what persuasion he will be, who knows. Just keep in mind that whatever has been perceived as happening here or actually happened in the past does not matter. Our Pontif has already told the world that the church may be quite a bit smaller but more devaut (can’t spell to save my life). So not to worry, it’s not in our hands. This Pontif is a place holder until “they” can get their collective heads in order and prepare for the future. The way I look at it, these priests who say mass here are ordained properly and I will follow what they pass down. We just have to see how the problems shake out. You will survive as a Catholic.

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