Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Church Closings’


February 12th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

From the Holy Name of Jesus bulletin:

How come St. Thomas the Apostle wasn’t afforded the same opportunity by Bishop Clark?  STA is financially stable, and the new Irondequoit parish has more than enough priests to provide coverage for one to three Masses at STA. St. Thomas also drew about 150 more people than Holy Name. So… why not?

Church Closing Yields Schism in Cleveland

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Bishop Clark is lucky that the following hasn’t happened in Rochester [yet] as a result of the numerous church closings.


“CLEVELAND, Ohio — Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese has threatened the Rev. Robert Marrone with punishment through church law for celebrating unauthorized Masses in a breakaway church.

Marrone and his congregation set up worship space in a commercial building in August, four months after Lennon closed their parish, St. Peter’s near downtown Cleveland.

Today, 48 hours past the deadline, Marrone read to his congregation a letter he had sent to the bishop in response to the threat: “It is my decision to remain in my present position with the Community of St. Peter.”

The congregation of about 300 people jumped to its feet in applause and shouts of “Bravo!”

The closing of the 151-year-old St. Peter on Superior Avenue and East 17th Street was part of a diocese-wide downsizing that saw the elimination of 50 parishes.”

I think what the sad story above teaches us is that we need to be extremely cautious when dealing with church closings, and only shut down those churches which are truly nonviable going into the future. Closings churches in order to create more “vibrant” worship in fuller and fewer church buildings, or because of a temporary decrease in clergy, do not constitute good reasons for closing churches in my book.

Business Blunders

January 12th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Somehow I’m not surprised by this news. Instead of choosing Holy Family as the church to keep open in the City Southwest, the brain trust at Buffalo Road and those who were in charge of the parish at the time decided it was best to go with the costly Holy Apostles church.

This is not the first mind-numbing move made by the diocese.

Think St. Thomas the Apostle. A church that is ready to go, is in good financial shape, and can easily accommodate 1,000 Catholics has been “closed” by the diocese. Meanwhile, St. Cecilia is going to require costly expansion, and St. Margaret Mary is not in great financial shape.

Think St. Andrew. A church that can accommodate over 500 people, is handicap accessible, and has the benefit of rental income will soon be “closed” by the diocese. The new St. Frances Xavier parish is currently spending money to improve the facilities at Annunciation in order to make it handicap accessible. Annunciation is one of the smaller churches in the diocese, meaning it will have a difficult time accommodating all the Catholics from St. Andrew and Annunciation in one building. Additionally, they do not enjoy the luxury of rental income like St. Andrew.

Think Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. This church was rejected over Corpus Christi largely because of a parking lot, which is more than ample by the way. OLMC had a lower heating cost during the winter months, which could have helped the tough financial situation in the Blessed Trinity cluster. Instead they choose to keep open Corpus Christi, whose continued massive debt forced further consolidation with five other Northeast Rochester parishes.

The above are just a few examples of the bad decisions made by the diocese with regard to church consolidations. When are the folks at Buffalo Road going to admit that they have no idea what they are doing?

A Curious Comment

January 10th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

This morning the Democrat and Chronicle ran an article about yesterday’s closing Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the city northeast. In the article, the D&C printed the comments of Fr. Tracy, one of the temporary “assisting priests” for the new parish. In his comments, Fr. Tracy speaks about where OLPH worshipers will be heading next:

“”I want to see you again. We all want to see you again. We all want to be together again and we can and we will,” said Father Laurence Tracy, who was ordained in the church in 1966.

“So next Sunday at 9 o’clock, and every Sunday, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church congregation will be together at the corner of Prince Street and East Main Street, which, for us will be Our Lady of Perpetual Help II,” Tracy said, referring to Our Lady of the Americans [sic] Church [Corpus Christi].”

I find it very interesting that Fr. Tracy is suggesting that OLPH parishioners continue their weekly worship at Corpus Christi church when OLPH has been clustered with St. Michael church for some time. St. Michael also happens to be geographically closer than Corpus Christi. So why is St. Michael not being viewed as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help II” by this priest?

The Train Kept A-Rollin’

January 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

The clustering and consolidation of parishes in the diocese continues. St. Vincent DePaul, St. Mary of the Assumption, and St. Columba will be clustering this June under a single leader. A new (most likely reduced) Mass schedule will soon be announced to these parishes:

Two of these three churches are currently led by lay “Pastoral Administrators.”

Final Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help

December 30th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Confirming earlier reports, Our Lady of Perpetual Help will be having the final regularly scheduled Mass in their church within a couple weeks. The Mass is scheduled for Sunday, January 9th at 9:30 AM.

Also of note: Deacon Dan Hurley is no longer a part of the N.E. Rochester parish.

It appears that St. Andrew church will remain open, at least for another week. Stay tuned for more information about the Northeast Rochester mergers.

Christmas at St. Thomas the Apostle

December 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Monk

As Irondequoit Catholics were encouraged not to attend Christmas vigil Masses this year because of overcrowding concerns at their remaining worship sites, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, the largest church in the diocese was left empty. How sad, that Jesus was left to be alone in the tabernacle of His beautiful house. Loyal parishioners however decorated the Church for Christmas to honor the baby Jesus on His birthday. This once vibrant orthodox parish, filled to capacity on oh so many Christmas’s pasts, filled with the sounds of joyous Christmas carols, was silently empty this Christmas!

St. Thomas the Apostle - Christmas 2010

St. Thomas the Apostle - Christmas 2010

The three wise men find baby Jesus at St. Thomas the Apostle

….A reminder that the sacristy doors of St. Thomas Church are open for visits Monday thru Friday from 8:15 am to 6:45 pm. The rosary and other prayers are said Monday thru Friday at 8:15 am and 6:00 pm and Saturday 8:45 am and Sunday 6:00 pm.

“I feel personally responsible for the closing.”

December 21st, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Thus were Bishop Matthew Clark’s words in recent days regarding the closing of Louvain’s North American College, known in recent decades for a dazzling display of schismatic-embracing lunacy.

This statement made me pause and think to myself, “the bishop thinks he’s personally responsible for the USCCB’s decision to close Louvain, but what about his own churches, schools, and institutions?”

  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of St. Thomas?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of St. Salome?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the >50% decline in attendance in Henrietta?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the destruction of St. Anne Church?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of St. Andrew and Our Lady of Perpetual Help?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of Mother of Sorrows’ school?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the standing-room-only situation at Our Lady of Victory?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of church such as Holy Rosary and Holy Redeemer?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the closing of St. Augustine?
  • Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for the failure of the “Spirit Alive!” program?

Does the Bishop feel “personally responsible” for anything that he has actually been “personally responsible” for?

He ought to. After all, it’s what his legacy will be in two years. Come now, Bishop Clark – don’t feel burdened by the USCCB’s decision to pull the plug on Louvain. You’ve got problems in your own diocese to worry about. After all, you are “personally responsible” for scattering the flock. And that’s not opinion, folks. That’s fact.

Why the Rush?

December 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

From the Our Lady of Perpetual Help website:

“Anyone wishing to see the Church before it’s imminent closing, should probably plan to come to the only Mass for Christmas, which is the Midnight Mass (yes, Midnight). Rumor has it that the change in Mass schedule for the newly created St. Francis Xavier Parish (Corpus Christi, St. Michael’s, and Annunciation) will take effect the middle of January.(see here)

So much for the June 2011 date that had been flying around. I wonder if the DoR is going to pull the same stunt as they did with St. Thomas, and claim that the churches have just suspended Masses and aren’t really “closed.”

How come the closing of St. Andrew and Our Lady of Perpetual Help churches is coming so rapidly for this cluster? The five Northeast Rochester churches have been clustered for less than a year. Why the rush? Are even more closings in store for 2011 that there is no time to waste?

Tip: Interstate Catholic

The Irondequoit Priests (A Math Lesson)

December 5th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

What logically should be:

[Step 1] 4 active priests X 3 weekend Masses for priest per Bishop Clark’s regulations = 12 potential weekend Masses.

[Step 2] 12 potential weekend Masses + 3 “retired” priests who can reasonably be expected to contribute 1 weekend Mass per week = 15 potential weekend Masses.

What actually is:

(3 churches X 3 Masses a piece ) + Christ the King “family” Mass = 10 total Masses


15 potential – 10 actual = 5 weekend Masses that could be offered which are not being offered

St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Salome churches were closed by Fr. Tanck and the diocese largely due to a shortage of priests. With 4 active and 3 retired priests serving Irondequoit only offering 10 weekend Masses when 15 are reasonably possible raises serious questions about whether there is truly a priest shortage in Irondequoit. I think it’s clear that there is no real priest shortage. If the so-called shortage of priests was a driving force for closing these churches, shouldn’t they remain open with this configuration of priests being in place? Instead of having frequent concelebrated Masses in the merged Irondequout parish and having priests sit on their duffs, let’s restore weekend Masses at St. Thomas the Apostle and use our available priests efficiently.

Also, don’t forget that Fr. Peter Abas could have been another priest offering three weekend Masses in Irondequoit if the diocese hadn’t driven him back to Borneo with their mistreatment by using him as a pinch-hitter in random parishes.

A Vision of a Stagnant Liturgical Dystopia

November 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Brought to our attention by a reader:

Cluster Pastoral Council article from OLoL and Saint Anne Bulletin- 11-21-10

At this month’s meeting of the Cluster Pastoral Council,
Karen Rinefierd, our Diocesan Liaison from the Office ofPastoral
Planning, provided us with both a picture of the Diocese as
a whole and a picture of our cluster parishes.
Karen explained Diocesan strategies to deal with the stagnant
population growth within the Diocese and the decline in available
priests. The Diocese has sharpened its focus and put more
resources into increasing vocations. (There are now 10 major
seminarians within the Diocese.) As in our parishes, the Diocese
has been using either retired priests or foreign priests to help deal
with this decline. Karen did say that the closing of churches has
been driven by financial issues and not by the declining number
of priests. The process of clustering has been happening
throughout the Diocese as has the use of pastoral administrators
who are not priests. (There are now 16 such persons in the Diocese
including three deacons, five women religious, six laywomen
and two laymen. )

The picture of our cluster parishes shows a significant decline
in Mass attendance over the past 10 years. Reflecting the mix of
people in our parishes, it is not surprising that there have been
more funerals (44) than Baptisms (25) in the cluster in 2010. We
were also given other demographic information about our parishes
and the areas in which we are located. The Cluster Council
plans to use this information to help frame its priorities.

Please let us have your thoughts about these or other issues of
interest to you. You may email
or Sr. Joan at

Many points to address here:

1. They reference “stagnant population growth”. Maybe if our priests and lay preachers actually e-nun-ci-a-ted Church teaching regarding contraceptives and abortion, we wouldn’t be in this cycle. When you start neglecting to preach morals from the pulpit, you lose the future of your parish. Good preaching, rooted in doctrine, is the key to reversing the “demographic shifts” the DoR has seen and will continue to see.

2.  “Karen did say that the closing of churches has been driven by financial issues and not by the declining number of priests.” Tell that to the people of St. Thomas and St. Salome. The Diocese contradicts itself time and time again. “Oh what a tangled web we weave . .  .”

3. “The process of clustering has been happening throughout the Diocese as has the use of pastoral administrators who are not priests. (There are now 16 such persons in the Diocese including three deacons, five women religious, six laywomen and two laymen. )” If the processes we see at work in the DoR are driven, “not by the declining number of priests”, but by financial issues, why is this necessary? If we had ample amounts of priests, we wouldn’t need lay administrators. I won’t even bring up the canonical dubiousness of that whole arrangement, i.e. priests serving under lay parish leaders. The Diocese is really clueless.

4. “The picture of our cluster parishes shows a significant decline in Mass attendance over the past 10 years.” Gee, ya think? You take away a solid, liturgically-oriented priest like Fr. Lioi, replace him with another solid priest, Fr. Leone, who is called off to Kosovo, and then have Fr. Abas in charge, only to experience the pernicious backstabbing of other parish administration, and then when Fr. Leone gets back you replace him with Sr. Joan? Does it comes as a surprise that there’s a decline? When you destabilize a parish, that’s bad enough, but when you try to correct the destabilization with a poster-girl (sorry, not inclusive enough) poster-person as Sr. Sobala, that’s even worse. Sr. Joan is a dissident at best and a heretic at worst. This isn’t a judgment on her – it’s fact. Her liturgical practices are wholly illicit, founded only in the hollow norms from Buffalo Road. She chases away the faithful and then plays the “poor me” card by asking her remaining serfs what’s going on. Now that’s the definition of pathetic. She doesn’t need to look into the hearts of the faithful to get the answer to her question. She need only search the folds of her lilly-white alb.

Those churches which are still buying into the antiquated notion of “experimental liturgy” need to wake up and smell the incense. People don’t want Mass that cradles their pre-conceived notions of God and humanity. They want to be challenged, whether they know this on a conscious level or not. Why do you think places like Our Lady of Victory are bursting at the seams with solid young families? Is it because they experiment with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? No. It’s because they do what is asked of them by the Church Herself, not Her wayward, self-deifying servants.

And before anyone even thinks of saying, “You always talk about Our Lady of Victory. You’re biased,” show me another parish in the DoR that’s actually growing by leaps and bounds and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a valid argument. Liberal parishes are not experiencing tremendous growth. Most are lucky if they are breaking even from year to year in terms of attendance. St. Anne and Lourdes have lost hundreds of parishioners since Sr. Joan Sobala took over. Our Lady of Victory has gained hundreds of parishioners. If only we had some kind of genius who could decipher these baffling clues . . .

Not What I Would Consider Rolling Out the Welcome Mat

November 26th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

A St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner shares the story of their first week worshiping away from home following the “closing Mass” a week prior. This past weekend, a large number of STA parishioners chose to worship at Christ the King in order to give that community a shot (see, the orthodox aren’t closed-minded and living in a cave like some wish to think). Here is their experience:

“The 10 AM Mass at CTK was pretty crowded today.  I got there about 9:45 and the parking lot and the spots in front of the church were pretty much taken.  People stood in the back during Mass.” [Remember that the ample St. Thomas the Apostle church, which seats 1,000, was not chosen by Fr. Tanck and the planning committee. Now situations such as this will prove problematic in the remaining, smaller churches. Then again, perhaps they are expecting their bouncy 5 PM Mass to relieve the overcrowding. The only Mass at STA was taken away so that there can be this extra Mass at Christ the King]

“The music director mentioned that the young children will be able to participate (during designated songs) with rhythm instruments that were passed out before Mass. …  The instruments I saw reminded me of baby rattles.  She said they could be used with the beat of the music.  (I wonder how many little children are musically gifted, and I wonder how many little ones won’t end up putting some of the instruments in their mouths. [A good concern with regard to the spread of germs and choking hazard for younger children])  They are to be put into an adult’s pocket after completion of the song, and then returned to a basket after Mass!”

“Fr. Tanck processed up the aisle and before making the Sign of the Cross, said there were new people in the pews and for everyone to turn around and greet each other.  Of course, the moments of greeting felt excruciatingly long and when Father started into the Mass, you could hardly hear him (people were still talking).” [While Mass at STA was reverent and focused on God, the first journey for many of these people to CTK revealed a more man-focused community. It’s also disappointing to hear that the people do not realize to keep quiet once the Mass has begun]

“We saw no signs of any STA traditions being incorporated into the Mass.  (Back in August Fr. Tanck mentioned that an STA style potluck dinner might occasionally follow the new 5 PM Sunday Mass.  I wonder if this is the only “tradition” they thought worthy of incorporating.  Do you think Fr. Tanck would like to borrow the STA torches that were used in the recent Rosary for Vocations and Benediction?  Somehow, I think most folks would think the torches out of place at CTK.” [This is a complete lie from Fr. Tanck. They had no intention at all to incorporate traditions from St. Thomas. Rather, the whole thrust behind the merger was to force conformity upon the STA parishioners, and to press these people to embrace the “Spirit of Vatican II.” Don’t believe this is their intention? Then how come the only STA parishioners on the bloated parish staff is relegated to the duty of “business manager”? All the liturgical/pastoral positions were given to members of the other four parishes.]

“just before the young children left during the Liturgy of the Word, Fr. Tanck had the members of the congregation stretch out their hands to participate in the blessing.” [Seems inappropriate, since lay people may not confer blessings within the Mass. The Congregation for Divine Worship has addressed this issue]

“The whole Mass felt like a stage production.  I know that different people like different styles, but this Mass paled in comparison to the “last” Mass at STA.  Maybe this “upbeat” music has its place (e.g. a school concert in an auditorium), but whatever happened to elevating our minds and hearts to another place–the realm of God?  Songs like Panis Angelicus and Ave Maria seem to help me.” [The churches which embrace the Spirit of Vatican II have little in common with those who embrace Catholic tradition]

And the most troubling of all…

Fr. Trovato concelebrated the Mass with Fr. Tanck.  Fr. Rice was saying the 9:30 Mass–not somewhere else in the new BKT parish, but instead at St. Andrews!  Guess there is a surplus of priests in Irondequoit!  I can’t believe we aren’t allowed even one Sunday Mass at STA!” [For all the hooey about a priest shortage in Irondequoit, there seem to be an awful lot of concelebrated Masses lately (something which should be rare anyway). So let’s see… no priest shortage, and no financial difficulties at St. Thomas. Why again were they closed?]

Even our protestant neighbors have accommodation…..

November 24th, 2010, Promulgated by Monk

for their traditional-minded members. But Fr. Tanck has eliminated traditional worship at St. Thomas the Apostle and the Irondequoit Catholic community. We now must all be subjected to his gong show style of worship.

Lutheran Churches in Webster to Cluster

November 22nd, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

It’s not only the Catholic Church who is clustering parishes. Two local Lutheran churches in the town of Webster will also be sharing a single pastor:

“Two suburban Lutheran churches have agreed to share a pastor and work together on several programs.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1767 Plank Road, Penfield, and St. Martin Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Road, Webster, held a worship celebration at 2 p.m. Sunday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 131 W. Main St., Webster, where a covenant agreement was signed.

Both congregations will continue as separate entities, but, in addition to sharing a pastor, will cooperate on programs, services and projects.

The Bethlehem congregation is currently served by part-time pastor the Rev. Richard Klafehn, while the Rev. Dwight Wascom, also a part-time pastor, serves St. Martin.

Each church now has about 100 members. [Just think… if this were the DoR, these churches would have been closed years ago. Last week, the Diocese “closed” down a church in St. Thomas the Apostle that was drawing almost 500 people per weekend]

Source: Democrat & Chronicle

Fr. Tanck’s Legacy…..

November 21st, 2010, Promulgated by Monk

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish - Sunday morning Nov 21, 2010

A Very Conservative Estimate

November 19th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

From the Christ the King/St. Thomas/St. Salome bulletin:

“800+” is ambiguous. Fr. Tanck in the bulletin also refers to the attendance as “a little over 800.” Was it too hard to count and print the actual attendance numbers for St. Thomas like the leaders do for Christ the King? The number of people at St. Thomas “closing” Mass was easily around 1,000. The 1,000 capacity church was full and people were standing along the wall because there were no pews available. To make what appears to be a false claim that attendance was “a little over 800” is to downplay the excellent turnout so that it sounds less impressive than it really was.

Cesar Chavez Catholic Parish?

November 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Yes… “Cesar Chavez” is one of the names being considered by the Northeast Rochester planning team of Deb Housel and Fr. Paul Gitau to become the name for the new three-church parish in that part of the city. Were the names “Susan B. Anthony Catholic community” or “Rev. Jesse Jackson parish” not available?

Below is the voting form handed out to parishioners:

N.E. Rochester parish name ballot


In related news, it appears that the N.E. Rochester cluster is one step closer to moving forward with the plan to consolidate using three sites: St. Michael, Corpus Christi, and Church of the Annunciation. The following is a comment from a N.E. Rochester parishioner:

“This Sunday, 9-14-2010, we received word via Fr.Paul Gitau that the recommendation that St. Andrew’s Church close was approved by the council of priests and now, only needed to be approved by Bishop Clark.”

St. Thomas in the News

November 14th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

All of the major local news outlets covered the St. Thomas “closing” Mass today. Below are links to some video coverage:

The Mass was truly beautiful and celebrated with the honor and dignity due toward the holy sacrifice of the Mass. There were no liturgical dancers, no little Timmy and Bobby Sue processing with banners from a church anniversary, none of the showy garbage which has taken place at other closing liturgies. St. Thomas the Apostle, a 1,000 seat church, was filled beyond capacity. At least twenty people were forced to stand along the right side wall because of the amazing turnout in support of this parish community. Although Fr. Tanck may be calling this a “final” or “closing” Mass, the people do not believe this to be the case thanks to their faith in God that their appeals will be successful.

For the time being, St. Thomas will remain open for weddings and other special events. That is not good enough  since this could change at any time. The leaders of this diocese worship at the altar of the almighty dollar (metaphorically speaking), and to sell St. Thomas would bring in a pretty penny to keep afloat the other three debt-ridden Irondequoit churches. The only way to ensure that St. Thomas will be around beyond Bishop Clark’s tenure, and for it to return once again as a regular house of worship, is for the people to prevail in their appeal. Please pray that they will.

I will conclude with a scary, and hopefully not prophetic statement from Fr. Tanck as found in the NBC video coverage: “If we can do it, if we’re successful, maybe others will learn something from us.” Let us also pray that this will not happen, since success here could mean consolidations and closures elsewhere.

Today is the “Closing Mass” for St. Thomas the Apostle

November 14th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

A day we have long dreaded has finally arrived. Later this morning, at 9:30 AM to be exact, the “closing” Mass for St. Thomas the Apostle will be  celebrated. These closings Masses have become a regular fixture in the Diocese of Rochester as the diocese has contracted from 159 parishes in the mid-1990s down to 123 today. With all of these closings, there has been pain and sadness. To lose one’s church is like losing a member of your family. Our parish church has been the site for many of the memorable moments of our lives, including Baptisms, first Communions, marriage, etc. Today the people of St. Thomas stand to lose their home in the Catholic Church.

Unlike other closings in this diocese, where parishioners have accepted that their parish is going to close and that nothing can be done, the people of St. Thomas view tomorrow’s “closing” Mass a bit differently. In the words of an active St. Thomas parishioner, “I call tomorrow’s Mass our “temporary” last Mass.” This belief is shared by the congregation. When other DoR parishes have closed in the past, they often have a large meal afterward, much like when a family has a meal after a funeral. Following the St. Thomas the Apostle “closing” there will be no meal. Rather, the people will simply gather together for a coffee hour.

The people of St. Thomas have invested much time, money, and effort into the defense of their church’s right to remain open. These people firmly believe that their church should continue to exist, and they have proven that they are willing to challenge the bishop”s decision (or lack thereof) for as long as it takes. While we certainly don’t know how this appeal will turn out, we must have faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that the appeal will be successful, and that St. Thomas the Apostle church will continue to serve Northwest Irondequoit into the future. I repeat, we must have faith, for with God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Msgr. Burns, beloved Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle who is buried outside this house of God, pray for us!

Through Your Sufferings You Find Christ

November 13th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of St. Thomas the Apostle as they prepare to “not close” their parish. I say “to ‘not close'” because the parish is technically still a consecrated Catholic church . . . just without Masses, a priest, parishioners, collections, confessions, or anything else. I call foul. The church is being closed, even if not in a legal, canonical sense. Perhaps this is the route being taken as part of some backroom plot hatched at the hands of our diocesan officials, or perhaps it’s a way of reaching out to the St. Thomas parishioners – we need to keep our minds open and not leap to conclusions, no matter how likely they may be . . .

This being said, I would like to give to you the following chapter from the Book of Jermiah for your lectio divina for this weekend:

1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.

7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Lying Prophets

9 Concerning the prophets:

My heart is broken within me;
all my bones tremble.

I am like a drunken man,
like a strong man overcome by wine,
because of the LORD
and his holy words.
10 The land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse[b] the land lies parched
and the pastures in the wilderness are withered.
The prophets follow an evil course
and use their power unjustly.

11 “Both prophet and priest are godless;
even in my temple I find their wickedness,”
declares the LORD.

12 “Therefore their path will become slippery;
they will be banished to darkness
and there they will fall.
I will bring disaster on them
in the year they are punished,”
declares the LORD.

13 “Among the prophets of Samaria
I saw this repulsive thing:
They prophesied by Baal
and led my people Israel astray.
14 And among the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen something horrible:
They commit adultery and live a lie.
They strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that not one of them turns from their wickedness.

They are all like Sodom to me;
the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”

15 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets:

“I will make them eat bitter food
and drink poisoned water,
because from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

16 This is what the LORD Almighty says:

“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.

They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me,
‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?
19 See, the storm of the LORD
will burst out in wrath,
a whirlwind swirling down
on the heads of the wicked.
20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand it clearly.
21 I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my council,
they would have proclaimed my words to my people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.