Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Surprise Pastoral Shakeup

May 23rd, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

We just received word today that Fr. Stanley Kacprzak has been named the successor of Fr. Robert Ring as Pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes, starting this September. Fr. K is presently the pastor of St. Paul in Webster, a position he has held for the past nine years (he is currently halfway through his second term). This move creates an opening at St. Paul which, given the low number of available priests, could go to a lay administrator. It is uncertain whether the move will affect the proposed renovation of St. Paul church.

The "Catholic" sanctuary of St. Paul church

I’m not sure how much Fr. K played a role in this, but St. Paul has been anything but orthodox and reverent during his tenure. First, the church itself is devoid of Catholic imagery save for a tiny icon tucked away in the corner. There are abstract shapes for the Stations of the Cross, an octagonal altar on the right side of the sanctuary, and no crucifix to be found anywhere. Additionally, the tabernacle is hidden behind the sanctuary so that a visitor would be unable to find the reserved Blessed Sacrament. Masses at this parish feature street-clothes altar servers and standing throughout the consecration (thanks in large part to the lack of kneelers). To top things off, dissident women’s ordination advocate nun, Sr. Joan Chittister, was invited to speak in the church proper.

Sr. Joan @ St. Paul

St. Paul is a decent-size parish with roughly 1,000 weekly attendees. It will be interesting to see who the bishop appoints to this important leadership position. It is unknown as of now who will lead Our Lady of the Lakes until Fr. K assumes the pastorate.

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20 Responses to “Surprise Pastoral Shakeup”

  1. militia says:

    What are all the colored streamer banners in the middle picture? Is it some kind of gay rights thing?

  2. Bernie says:

    “… some kind of gay rights thing?”
    Annonymouse! Where are you?
    (Just poking you in fun.)

  3. Mike says:

    In the spring of 2002 Fr. Stan was finishing up his first term as pastor at Our Lady of Mercy in Greece and had been giving every indication that he was going to stay on for another 6-year term. In fact, earlier that year after two staff members had almost simultaneously announced plans to leave the parish – one to retirement and the second to take an administrative position with her religious order – I recall him saying in a homily, “That’s it! No one else is going anywhere.”

    Then came early May and the announcement that Bishop Clark had suspended three priests due to allegations of sexual abuse, one of them the pastor of St. Paul’s in Webster. Buffalo Rd. apparently leaned quite heavily on Fr. Stan to take the Webster position – which he did – although he insisted it was ultimately his choice.

    Now Fr. Stan is leaving St. Paul’s in the middle of his 2nd 6-year term there. One wonders how much Buffalo Rd. pressure there was this time.

  4. Bruce says:

    Wow, that is a terrible-looking protestant church in that picture…

  5. Louis E. says:

    Perhaps he was chosen for his fidelity to Fr. Ring’s visions for St. Januarius?

  6. Diane Harris says:

    Amen, Louis E.

    It would not surprise me at all if Buffalo Rd. brought pressure on Fr. Stan to take this pastorate. We repeatedly heard that NO PRIEST applied for the job. No wonder. In my opinion, Fr. Ring has created AND left an impossible situation for any priest to take over. He repeatedly said during pastoral planning that he was the only priest willing to take over OLOL and Karen Rinefierd backed him up by saying he was the only one able to do it (denigrating all the other priests of the diocese). The OLOL cluster is now in SO much worse shape than when Fr. Ring came on that prophetical 9-11-01 date, that anyone taking it over has a much more difficult task. Perhaps not even possible.

    It isn’t just that the attendance OLOL-wide has dropped 35% since Fr. Ring came, and that collections are down about $60,000 but the patrimony of the closed St. Mary’s Rushville is being allowed to rot on the vine, St. Theresa’s has significant structural issues, St. Andrew may or may not have been sold, St. Jan’s has lost 47% of its attendance (much because of the way Fr. Ring handled the Fr. Emo sexual abuse situation, and much because he didn’t seem to even try to bring healing to a hurt parishioner base). St. Patrick has been left alone for the time being because nobody wanted to risk losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a bequest. Even St. Michael Penn Yan has dropped off double digits in the last quarter.

    And, more important, is the alienation of so many souls due to a flawed, unfair, secretive pastoral planning process. When St. Mary Rushville closed (the Bishop says it is still open; it just has no Masses!), 75% of the people didn’t even stay in OLOL; they went to Canandaigua. Now, just for ‘good measure,’ Fr. Ring leaves the St. Januarius situation with a demolition of their sanctuary and many more unanswered questions.

    Fr. Ring is seen to have stubbornly held onto a pastoral planning strategy that made no sense, but which was forced into a mythical consensus by Karen Rinefierd’s tactics. THAT is what pastoral planning is all about in DoR. The simple point is this: the 700+ square mile cluster should never have been one parish to start with (that’s what it’s been amalgamated into.) It has a donut hole in the middle comprised of Mennonite homesteads, which divides the east side / west side. The driving back and forth through the donut hole in all kinds of weather is a terrible stress on any priest, as most glaringly proven last January by Fr. Ring’s flipping (yes, end-over-end AND then side to side) his car driving to morning Mass at St. Jan’s. This is the situation Fr. Stan is stepping into, and the only upside for him is that one would think it can’t get any worse, so he might look good by comparison to Fr. Ring, eventually. However, the Bishop has been so permissive of Fr. Ring, that one has to wonder if Fr. Stan will have any power to change these bad decisions.

    There are three smart things Fr. Stan could do, if he is brave enough to do so (and if he negotiated well with the Bishop before saying “yes” to the assignment):

    1) Get a complete audit before he even begins. THere are just too many questions, and too few financial statements. With some staff joining Fr. Ring in Pittsford, it will be hard to re-create who knew what, when. OLOL has been living off cash of liquidation. It is almost gone.

    2) ask the bishop to cut the cluster in half, with one priest taking the east side, with St. Michael and its school, Keuka College and the orphaned people of St. Andrew too. Let the other priest take the west, with St. Jan’s in Naples, St. Patrick in Prattsburg, and deal reasonably with the St. Mary/St. Theresa situation, where both churches are falling into disrepair and the cash is nearly used up. Then let both these priests give pastoral care where it is so badly needed, and concentrate on saving souls, bringing healing, instead of spending so much time on the road (and parishioners having to spend so much time on the road because Penn Yan, all the way on the east edge, is usually the only place for meetings.

    3) As strange as it may sound, one other thing a new pastor might promptly consider as a sign of change in the cluster is the name. Our Lady of the Lakes may be a “nice” name but OLOL is an awful acronym; everything from “Oh, Lots of Laughs” from text messaging, to “Oh, well; Oh, well” or even, sad to say, “Oh hell; Oh hell.”

    The real question is whether Fr. Stan will be able to do what really needs to be done for the good of souls, or has he been hand-picked to do more of what Fr. Ring inflicted on the parishes? Will he have any pastoral power or will to listen? Time will tell. Please pray for us!

  7. CCM says:

    I had the privilege to attend several masses and funerals at St Pauls by Fr Stan- he is a great man. The parish is somewhat contemporary ( which long pre-dated him ). His actions speak volumes about the great priest he is. He is enthuiastic about the sacraments, and everyone out there loves him.

  8. Eliza10 says:

    Its good news Father Stan is enthusiast about the sacraments. I have found that reverence for the Sacraments is a great sign of holiness. “Reverence” for the Sacraments is a thing of great value, not found that often in the DOR, unfortunately. And one finds it nearly impossible to find either reverence or enthusiasm for the Sacrament of Confession in the DOR! So it is good news indeed if Father Stan has enthusiasm for that Sacrament!

    Diane, that “donut hole” you mention does sound like a good reason to divide the “cluster” in two. [Oh, maybe the new bishop will do away with the whole “cluster” idea altogether!]. Fr. Ring’s accident sounds frightening. Your suggestion is most reasonable, but does it fit in with the Diocesan agenda? I suppose that is the question.

  9. A Catholic says:

    I remember as a child back in the 1970’s going to St. Paul’s one Sunday after my family moved to Webster. One look at the folding chairs and the next week we were at Holy Trinity (then under the capable leadership of Fr. William Hart,PhD.) where we found a home.

  10. Diane says:

    My opinion is that Fr. Stan is a wonderful Christian man who sincerely has a pastor’s heart. The people at St. Paul’s love him. My prayer is that he leads more in line with the magisterium and less with his own opinion.

  11. Bruce says:

    Sorry anony-8617, but that would appear to be some sort of circus instead of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And people wonder why young men do not become priests in the DoR. With churches like that, which appeal only to old women, there is little hope at drawing more. The trouble is, despite being part of DoR’s master plan to replace priests with lay people, everyone will stop going. That whole “force our ways down their throats” philosophy of theirs is finally bearing fruit – empty pews in ugly churches and no priests.

  12. Diane Harris says:

    Bruce–some of the most orthodox, Vatican-faithful people I know are “old women.” In my parish many who fit that descriptor stepped up first to sign petitions and mandates when many younger people worried about their kids’ not being allowed to receive confirmation if they criticized the pastor, or fretted about what their neighbors would think. The “old women” didn’t give a hoot….they just wanted a faithful Mass, good accounting, a priest they could trust and who would speak out against abortion and gay “marriage”, and always the TRUTH.

    Diane (above)–I hope you are right! Peace, Diane Harris (different “Diane.”)

  13. Louis E. says:

    Eliza10…I expect many hope the “Diocesan agenda” will undergo a drastic shift in the next couple of years,so not matching it now may be a longterm benefit,and at least some priests may think of that.

  14. Ben Anderson says:

    +1 for “old women” 🙂

  15. Bruce says:

    Well, that church above looks like a nursing home.

  16. Bernie says:

    I remember Father Kacprzak from way back somewhere in my past but I can’t say how orthodox he is now, but, it wouldn’t take much to move the altar back to the center where it belongs and replace that totally inappropriate cross with a crucifix. What is presently displayed there is an affront to the doctrine of the Incarnation. Quite frankly, in my opinion, the image is heretical.

  17. Eliza10 says:

    Anonymous-8617 wrote: “The streamers are not “gay rights” streamers. They are the colors of autumn.”

    But, see, its empty art! What does Autumn have to do with the Catholic Church’s calender year? Or any of the Church’s teaching? “Colors of Autumn” is what you decorate your table with for Thanksgiving. Or you decorate your elementary classroom with “Colors of Autumn”. What are “Autumn colors” teaching??

    When I go to Mass I want to be reminded when I walk in the door of where I am in CATHOLIC TIME. Is it Ordinary Time? Are we in Lent, or Advent? Oh – still in the 50 days of Easter? Pentecost must be coming! Is my heart ready? Or: oh – its red today! We are remembering a martyr. Which? Yes, our faith is not all lightness and happiness. Let us all remember together.

    Caught up in the everyday world, I can forget. But thank God, I can walk into Mass in many DOR parishes (but it should be EVERY SINGLE ONE, always] and immediately be reminded of the “real” time – the time that really matters for all eternity. The colors point the way for me to prepare my mind and my heart to think on these things throughout the whole Mass, so I can truly and fully be united in mind and heart, TODAY, with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – on earth and in Heaven.

    If I walked into the Church pictured above, I would wonder “what time is it?”**. When I look at that picture, not only do I not know what time it is, but it looks like an Episcopal or Lutheran Church. If I was visiting, I might walk back out and look at the sign and see if I missed something.


    ** I want to add that whenever I walk in a parish like St. Paul’s above, where the colors tell an “empty story”, and I don’t know what time it is,, I can usually expect an “empty sanctuary”, as well. Because Jesus, and His Tabernacle with the red light, are either hard or impossible to find.

    From what Dr. K tells us here, it seems like it would be IMPOSSIBLE, for me, a visitor, to find the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus, in the Holy Tabernacle, at St. Paul’s!

    Really, why should you walk in a Catholic Church and not know where you are in Catholic Time, and not know where Jesus is?? Why should be confronted with confusion, just upon walking in?? Something is really, really wrong with this. Something is really, really wrong with Bishop Clark and the whole DOR administration for allowing this. Any normal, even halfway-nominally-Catholic Bishop will change this in his first weeks after installation in the DOR! And I can’t wait!!!

  18. JLo says:

    Just can’t let the “old women” thing go by. I’m among the grey hairs in the pews at daily Holy Mass, the ones I noticed when I was a kid attending daily Holy Mass before school each day at SSPP. Left there in 1958 and went on to Nazareth Academy. So you can see, Bruce, that this old woman had a shot at being fully catechized, because the Truth was taught, fully taught, back then. I’m still not doddering and I love reading about my Faith in all areas (heavy reading load!), so I bring to the table (wherever/whenever!) a very informed and fully orthodox love of our Faith kept alive and well by almost-daily Eucharist. You should thank God for the grey hairs in the pews, Bruce. Back in the days when I was NOT among them, I was taught that such as they keep the Church holy as they welcome fully and each day the Holy Spirit.

    May God be praised and you blessed in all we do. +JMJ

  19. Rich says:

    I am a current Saint Paul’s parishoner. Allow me to gently correct some misconceptions that have been posted in this thread… or perhaps “correct” is too strong a word… clarify perhaps?

    1. We went thru a terrible time with the abrupt, but righteous, departure of Father Dave. Father Stan walked into a stressful situation and helped us through it. He brought healing and leadership. We were much larger than we are now just before Father Dave’s departure… but we’ve stabilized and are growing under Father Stan’s pastoral leadership. We’re going to miss him!

    Father Stan clearly spelled out that he was asked twice to take over at Our Lady of the Lakes and he refused. He is going now because he wasn’t asked – he was told by the Bishop that he was to go there. He specifically asked the parish NOT to send letters of protest to the Bishop and to accept this change as the will of God, which is how he was accepting it.

    2. We have been told that Father Paul Gitau will be taking over for Father Stan at the beginning of September. Father Paul is currently at Saint Bridgets.

    3. The picture of the church that you are commenting on with the “fall colors” isn’t representative of the typical color scheme of the church — banners with colors appropriate to the church year are typically present. Of course the priest’s vestments also express the time of year so there’s never any ambiguity. But there are colorful reminders of the litergical season throughout the sanctuary.

    4. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is indeed behind the altar and is fairly well hidden. While the presence lamp does discolose its location to anyone who cares to search, its location is not obvious. I agree that it is an unfortunate layout.

    5. When the church was last rennovated the congregation was presented with the option of making the church “prettier” and doing away with the cinder-block walls in favor of a more ornate, or perhaps “traditional”, look. The parish was not in favor of this change, choosing to keep the look of the church the same as it was when it was originally built. We did not start out as a rich parish, and the look of the church reflected that… this reminder of our heritage, our roots if you will, is considered pretty important by the parish. If we were to rennovate in the future, I suspect we’d still keep this “look”.

    6. We are a vibrant church with a healthy mix of “grey hairs” (like me) and young people. We have a baptism (or 2) almost every weekend. We have a wonderful music program, a fantastic youth program (I believe it’s the best in the diocese, but I am biased), and a wonderful and capable staff. Our staff, many of whom preach on a weekly basis (always prefaced with a homily by Fr. Stan or Deacon Mark), is all women… so if you visit, you will likely hear one of our intelligent female staff helping to break open the word of God so that we can come to appreciate it more fully.

    When I moved to Webster with my wife and 3 children we asked around about the Catholic parishes available to us — and the description of Saint Paul’s exactly matched what we were looking for in a spiritual community. Father Paul will be the fourth priest we’ve had in 14 years. I pray, as I hope you will all pray, that his tenure at Saint Paul’s will be rich and blessed… and I pray for Father Stan’s acceptance and success in his new post.

  20. Dr. K says:

    “Our staff, many of whom preach on a weekly basis (always prefaced with a homily by Fr. Stan or Deacon Mark), is all women… so if you visit, you will likely hear one of our intelligent female staff helping to break open the word of God so that we can come to appreciate it more fully.”

    This is absolutely forbidden.

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