Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part X–Happy Easter

April 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This is a brief interlude in telling the St. Jan’s Sanctuary Story, to show the “Happy Easter” present 

Fr. Robert Ring delivered this week to his parishioners

of nearly 10 years. 



St. Januarius, Naples NY two weeks ago











St. Januarius  in Naples, NY– Easter  Sunday 2011 (in cartoon)

Happy Easter from Fr. Robert Ring, Fr. George Wiant and Bishop Matthew Clark




Yes, you are understanding correctly.  The damage is done.  Father Ring, who has been pastor of the St. Januarius flock for nearly 10 years, abetted by Fr. George Wiant and Bishop Matthew Clark, has caused jackhammering of the St. Jan’s Sanctuary, even though knowing well  the resistance from a large majority (3 to 1) of parishioners; even though there is question about where the money is coming from; even though there is no liturgical reason to do this destruction.  

Fr. Ring has offered Mass from the St. Jan’s Sanctuary for nearly 10 years, yet he has pushed through this demolition at the last minute, so that 64 days before he leaves his flock has to celebrate Easter Sunday at a construction site.  He was asked to please wait until after Easter and he refused.  So, incredible as it seems, the jackhammers began on Monday of Holy Week and have completed the damage in time for Easter Sunday.  

Isn’t it surprising that a pastor and a bishop won’t wait for a new pastor to arrive, but rather will burden the new pastor with a Sanctuary in which neither of them is required to celebrate Mass, and with an injured and disgruntled flock to try to bring to healing?  And that is healing which Fr. Ring himself didn’t do over a decade!  What disregard and lack of trust they seem to manifest toward the next pastor! 

These actions culminate what appears to have been a very damaging pastorate; although, who knows?  There are still 64 days left for more destruction.  When we get the actual pictures, we’ll be sharing on this blogsite.  Meanwhile, please still pray for the people of St. Jan’s who have suffered so much, and for the people of St. Louis who may also be in danger.

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12 Responses to “Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part X–Happy Easter”

  1. Maureen says:

    I am so sorry for your pain in the destruction this priest has left behind as he makes his way to St. Louis…they have a sanctuary too…

    It makes me think that if a mere priest can do this kind of damage to a church days before he leaves, what kind of wreckage could a bishop do? Oh, that’s right…he’s already done it….

  2. Mike says:

    Wow, I can see why you are upset. Leave it to the Diocese of Rochester to give you a sanctuary that looks like that. Typical resurrected Jesus in place of the crucifix. And the lights give it that sixties look that gives it more a lets smoke and watch for aliens feel than it does a worship our Lord and Savior feel. So you say Fr. Ring was responsible for this atrocity?

  3. Monk says:

    To not even wait until after Easter is disgusting! It shows their lack of faith which is at the root of this travesty.

  4. JLo says:

    A parish “belongs” to the parishioners. Though we can’t have our parishes without priests to celebrate the Holy Mass and give us the very Bread of Life, priests of merit intent on pleasing God recognize that they are there to pastor the people, not to engage in brash, unloving clericalism. Shame on those priests (and others in this diocese) for their unlove. We don’t need CEOs and CFOs in our rectories; rather; we need priests fully devoted to the priesthood Jesus gave us. So sad this latest parish destruction in this diocese, and so sad to read of it on this most joyful of blessed and glorious days! Do not let these times in this place take our spirits down!! Happy Easter, everyone! +JMJ

  5. Katy says:

    Bad timing..yes.. but that place is/was hideous! Sorry…

  6. Susan says:

    The Before pictures do explain the need for change, but I share your concern about timing.

  7. Diane Harris says:

    First, I want to apologize if I misled anyone into thinking I was trying to introduce debate on the relative artistic, liturgical or social merits of St. Januarius Church. I doubt there is a church in the diocese that wouldn’t have sincere critics no matter how beautiful the church is, or sincere supporters no matter how trite the facility. And that, indeed, is part of the issue. Only the opinions of those with money seem to have been considered. Fr. Ring is reported to have said he doesn’t care what non-contributors think. To many parishioners, there seems to be, at best, a willful ignoring of parishioner concerns.

    When people fund a church, offer their labor, care for the facilities and celebrate the key events of their life within their church, it seems understandable that they grow in affection for the facility, and are warmed by memories within the walls. It is also understandable if, when they hear snide remarks about what they value, it is as if one had said: “And your mother is not only ugly; she wears combat boots.” So I tend to cut people a lot of slack on what they like within their churches, provide it isn’t against church norms, interfering with liturgical worship, dangerous, or depraved. I ascribe dressing as clowns, or putting a pumpkin where the tabernacle belongs, as depraved.

    It is important, I feel, to stay focused on what the issues are here. St. Jan’s was dedicated in 1967, in the first wave after Vatican II. No, Mike, Fr. Ring didn’t put the lights in (but he left them for 9 ½ years) and many people from St. Jan’s would agree with you that they need updating, and would even contribute to that cause. Funny, but in all the LaBella drawings submitted to parishioners (and in bulletin writings), no explanation or drawing has been given as to what is going to happen to the lights. The Resurrection Christ used to be hung only during the Easter Season, with the Crucifix hung the rest of the year. I don’t know when the Crucifix was last hung. At least under most of Fr. Ring’s pastorate the Resurrection Christ seems to have been left in place. People have expressed to me that they would like to see their Crucifix again, but replacing it apparently wasn’t included in Fr. Ring’s plans, as La Bella’s drawings continue to show the Resurrection Christ, atop the “ugly Christmas tree.”

    There are repairs which many (but of course not all) people of St. Jan’s might support. Many seem to feel the room divider curtain between the church and hall should be replaced, for example. But the project was split into two parts and now no one knows when or if that will be done, or if there even will be enough money left after Phase I Sanctuary Demolition/Reconstruction to do Phase II. (It may have been split into two phases after the Wegmans clarified what they would and would not donate.)

    The issues which the Zeal posts have tried to bring front and center is the disrespect for what bothers a large majority of parishioners, and for which there is no mechanism to be heard. When one isn’t even allowed to speak at a Care of the Community meeting it says a lot. As I understand it, these are the big concerns, including that basic maintenance, like doors which don’t properly lock, hasn’t been addressed, even after a prolonged period of complaint.

    1. Removal of the Tabernacle from the Center of the altar to a place near the exit door, and the presider’s inserting his own chair into the place where the Tabernacle stood.
    2. The significantly lowered height of the altar which will impede children and small adults from viewing the holiest parts of the Mass.
    3. Ditching a beautiful altar and replacing it with an undistinguished small table.
    4. The insertion of “the ugly Christmas Tree” wooden structure behind the altar.
    5. Trashing of what parishioners have contributed in the past, like hand made railings and stone “shrines” without even the courtesy of consulting with the prior donors.
    6. Worries about the pipe organ and organ pipes still missing from the drawings, a pipe organ which Fr. Ring tried to sell for pennies on the dollar of its true worth.
    7. No clarification of funding, and whether or not the parish is going to be burdened with a loan or mortgage for this work.
    8. No clarification/communication about the possibility of asbestos in the cement that has now been jackhammered, of uncovering radon in the soil exposed, or of lead paint, which was legal when the church was built.
    9. Demolition of all four Sanctuary steps down to the bare dirt, and rebuilding only two with an even smaller (more crowded?) Sanctuary floor area.
    10. The potential for structural damage and/or loosing fine particulate into the air for an indefinite period, with potential health effects.
    11. Installation of a ramp which hasn’t been shown in any of the pictures.
    12. Having this work done just as summer visitors are returning, an important source of financial support for St. Jan’s.
    13. Having this work done so it is fait accompli for the next pastor without his apparent input.
    14. General rudeness of the way the entire process has been conducted.
    15. The “scandal” in the Naples Community of using $300,000 for such an egregious self-serving project when true Christian values should lead one to see more compassionate uses.
    16. The sense that somehow Fr. Ring’s motives aren’t transparent, even to his refusal to wait until after Easter, and that it must all be done before he leaves.

    In addition to the foregoing, there are concerns about Phase II if it were to go forward in the future, especially regarding the aisle-blocking problem of a baptismal or immersion tank. One also needs to remember that all this is happening in a parish in which now 47% of parishioners have departed since Fr. Ring arrived on the scene.

    Obviously, Mike and Katy see elements which could be improved, with which even many St. Jan’s parishioners might agree. But I wanted to clarify lest the real issues be lost. Such issues include how the whole process in parish, diocese and in Rome is not responsive to parishioner input, fails to investigate the truth of complaints, and is negligent even in the process given under Canon Law to exercise the rights of the faithful. That will be the continuing theme of the Zeal posts.

  8. Susan of Corning says:

    I’m so sorry the parishioners are enduring this. It makes no sense whatsoever, and the way you were treated by the diocese, as well as your leadership, is terrible.

  9. Barnyard says:

    I still will not be surprised if the back wall falls in/out. If Wegmans only gave $50,000 where did the other $250,000 come from???? I would not be surprised to hear that the church is probably in debt up to the eyeballs from getting mortgaged to pay for this destruction. Now that Father Ring has done this to St.Jans, he will move on to St.Louis and guess what, they have 4 or 5 steps there also. I guess he will be bringing the jackhammers to Pittsford to do more wreck-a-struction. If you love your church, get Father Ring as your pastor. He will ‘cure’ your love.

  10. Louis E. says:

    Will all the reconstruction be done by the time Ring is gone,or can the new pastor be deluged with suggestions for its being put back the way it was rather than as planned by the now former pastor?

  11. Diane Harris says:

    Some good questions. Here’s a few semi-answers:

    1. Easter Mass (and for many weeks/months to come) was in the Parish Hall on the other side of the accordian curtain which separates it from the church.
    2. I am not aware of any announcement yet of who the new pastor will be. I expect a delay until the last minute, to minimize any interference from him in Fr. Ring’s project. Fr. Jeff Tunnicliff is already in OLOL; Fr. Jeff’s title isn’t given in the bulletin but it is probably Sacramental Minister, I would think. A PA might be added since there aren’t apparently enough diocesan priests to go around, but a PA isn’t needed and can’t do much in that group of parishes. It was a waste of money, in my opinion, to have had the pastoral associate position, and I don’t see a PA doing more. Plus OLOL is likely to have financial problems left behind by Fr. Ring, and unable to afford hiring extra people.
    There are two retired priests. Retired Fr. George Wiant has lost a lot of popularity due to his pushing this Sanctuary devastation. Retired Fr. Jack O’Connor also helps out, except a few months a year when he is in Florida. With two churches closed, and no Mass at Keuka College in the summer, there are only 7 Masses (over 700+ square miles.) Fr. John Mulligan has a house nearby and it sounds like Fr. Kevin Murphy when he recovers will be moving to his cabin in the Bristol Hills. Maybe they’ll give some help. Priests (like the late Fr. Jerry O’Connor) like to move to this area for retirement, which is why closing churches in OLOL was unnecessary, in my opinion.
    3. Regarding whether a new pastor can make a difference, I think what Fr. Ring is doing will make it hard, but not impossible. Hopefully, recentering the Tabernacle should have first priority. I think Fr. Ring has been more interested in the demolition than the rebuilding, but that is just my opinion. What a new pastor can or can’t do will be a measure of his stature. If he’s afraid of Fr. Ring because of his presence on the Priest Personnel Board, obviously he will do less boat-rocking. If he believes/acts like its about souls, he will do more. Sorry I can’t answer better than this for now.

  12. militia says:

    I hope the people of St. Louis are learning a lot from how Fr. Ring does things.

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