Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘DoR If I Only Had a Hart’

St. Thomas Parishioners Locked Out

July 31st, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

Just when it seemed that the situation in Irondequoit had reached some sort of equilibrium, Fr. English reminds us that this is not the case. After having instructed parishioners of St. Thomas (sorry…St. Kateri Tekakwitha at St. Thomas the Apostle) not to pray their daily Rosaries there, the administration of the “parish” decided to change the locks on the doors to the church. This was done without any prior notification of the parishioners, adorers, or other visitors who sought to visit Our Lord in His holy place. 398574_10150600168381842_509333251_n

Simply put, Fr. English has locked his own parishioners out of their own church. Remember: St. Thomas the Apostle has not been closed. It is an open church, consecrated and fully able to minister sacramentally to the people of the city, presuming, of course, that her priest(s) choose not to shirk their duty to do so. The parish has been stripped of its Masses, its confession schedule, and all devotions, and for no other reason than a warped sense of political expediency. This is not pastoral planning; this is pastoral vengeance.

The people of St. Thomas have been fighting for years to maintain a presence in their own church. They ought never to have needed to do so, based on their stable finances, demographics, and campus upkeep. Indeed, of all the Irondequoit parishes, St. Thomas was in the best position to facilitate a gentle transition to a prosperous worship community. This was overlooked by many, though. Every individual in a position of authority lorded that authority over the people of St. Thomas, and did this only because of one reason: St. Thomas the Apostle rejoices in its Catholic identity. The same cannot be said of Christ the King, where the casual observer finds himself asking, “is this really a Catholic church?”

The willful and deliberate targeting of St. Thomas has been an unquestionable trend for the past several years, and this most recent transgression refreshes in our minds the memories of past injustices. The manner in which the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle has been “dealt with” bears a striking similarity to the Jews’ treatment of Our Lord in his final days. The Diocese, like the High Priest and his minions, hides behind flawed interpretations of Canon Law, and bends the Law to suit its own agenda. The machinations of the priests took place in darkness, hidden from the light of day, from the light of Truth. Fr. English, I think it is fair to say, is not acting entirely dissimilarly in this matter.

76079_461342011841_6916584_n We should ask of him several questions, to see what possible justification he might have in locking his parishioners out of their worship site. Primarily, why now? What happened to prompt him to seal shut the doors of one of his own churches? Was there theft? Was there mistreatment of property? Did someone say their “Hail Mary” a little too loudly for his liking? Next, we should ask what part of Canon Law allows a pastor to lock his flock out of their church? He might say that locks are changed frequently, and for all sorts of reasons. And this is true. However, in most instances when a parish has its locks changed, the pastor sees to it that the faithful actually have access to the church, and don’t find themselves left out on the steps. His defense might be that “we don’t use St. Thomas for Mass any more. We worship at St. Cecelia, Christ the King, and St. Margaret Mary.” Yes, that is true. But St. Thomas is not closed, and being in that state, cannot be locked to the faithful. The Vatican ruled that it could not “save” St. Thomas because, on paper, St. Thomas is not in any need of being saved. It is officially open. There is no doubt about this. And, maybe I just don’t understand, maybe I don’t speak English too good, but isn’t an “open” church actually supposed to be open?

As of this writing, the canon lawyer representing St. Thomas has been contacted, and is working on resolving the situation. Let us pray for a resolution that is just and equitable for the parishioners. But remember: our politically-motivated priests don’t operate with a focus on the Faith, on objective Truth. No. They can’t focus their eyes on anything, living and operating as they do in the shadow-lands of legality. Do not expect, dear friends, to be dealt with by those in charge with any semblance of respect or charity. But stand firm, be vigilant, do not yield. The Office of Compline tells us, “Be sober and watchful, for our adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But resist, ye, strong in faith.” Take this to heart, and approach this issue prayerfully, with composure, dignity, and certitude.

The Shakeup Continues

May 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

I have it on good authority from more than one source at Buffalo Road that Bp. Cunningham has officially reassigned Fr. Michael Mayer from his position at St. Pius X in Chili to Parochial Vicar at Holy Name of Jesus and St. Charles Borromeo in Greece for one year. Fr. John Firpo will be the Parochial Administrator of Holy Name in addition to his duties as Pastor of St. Charles. This change is effective the final week of June. Additionally, the Greece/Charlotte planning group will look into the long-term viability of Holy Name parish. I think we all know from experience what that means.

A picture is worth a thousand words

October 17th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Below is a collage of photographs detailing the 33-year tenure of Bishop Matthew Clark, and the downward spiral of the Diocese of Rochester that took place during his reign. Have fun identifying the various events and personalities. To see the full size collage, click on the image below.

Click on the image to enlarge

St. Andrew Church Sold, Will Close Soon

July 20th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Updating on what was previously a rumor, St. Andrew church on Portland Avenue has indeed been sold to a Pentecostal community which currently worships near the Genesee Brewery at High Falls. We have been informed that religious art from the church is gradually going to be removed and stored at St. Michael for possible sale or relocation.

From what we hear, Annunciation isn’t in good shape either. Allegedly the community has overspent its budget to make miscellaneous repairs to the tiny old church building. Our readers have told us that the possibility of closing Annunciation has been discussed in recent months. If this happens, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini will have decreased from five (St. Michael/Corpus Christi/OLPH/St. Andrew/Annunciation) down to two churches (St. Michael/Corpus Christi). This five does not include the several area churches to close prior to the formation of SFXC.

This is a sad time for the people of the former Light of Christ parish. Please say a prayer for them and for all those who benefit from their outreaches.

Bishop Clark Closes St. Michael School in Newark

May 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

From YNN comes the following DoR press release:

“Based on recommendations from the leaders at St. Michael’s Church and the Diocese of Rochester Catholic School Board, Bishop Clark has made the decision to close St. Michael School in Newark at the end of the current academic year. This decision was not made lightly and comes after careful consideration and much prayer.

We were heartened to see the strong community support that St. Michael received in its effort to stay open and viable. Unfortunately, despite all of their efforts, the steady decline in enrollment has continued over the last several years. The parish can no longer continue to incur considerable debt to operate the school.

We believe strongly in the virtues of a Catholic education and will continue to do all we can to support the remaining schools across the Diocese of Rochester.”

Close, close, close.

What is going to happen to the $71,000+ raised so far to keep the school open? I hope the diocese will return this money in full to its respective donors.

Please pray that the students who attend St. Michael will find another place to receive a Catholic education.

From Five to Two?

May 23rd, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following comes from a reader. We will let you know if we hear anything more about this proposal:

“This evening at Annunciation (Hall),at 7 P.M., there is a meeting regarding the future of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Parish at Annunciation.We have heard that the D.o.R. is entertaining the thought of not renovating Annunciation and just shutting down both St. Andrew Church and Annunciation.”

I don’t think anyone viewed Annunciation as a long-term solution given the small size of the church and the several costly upgrades required to make it serviceable. In addition to the congregation numbering only ~150 persons, there are few young people who attend Masses at this church. The only reason the diocese might choose to keep it open and renovate the building would be to increase its value for sale.

Why not shut down Annunciation and keep St. Andrew open? That’s right, there are groups interested in purchasing St. Andrew.

Money, money, money…

Vicar General to Offer Mass “ad Orientem”

April 1st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

A nod of the miter to devoted reader “Plautus” for sharing this beautiful bit of news:

“On Sunday, April 31st, Rev. Dr. Joseph Hart, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rochester, will be offering Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. As part of a series of lectures and demonstrations on the ‘organic growth’ of the liturgy, Fr. Hart will offer the Mass ad orientem, facing away from the nave of the church and towards the sanctuary proper. ‘We need to realize that when the priest said Mass like this, he wasn’t turning his back on the laity, or any other such thing. No, he was turning with them to God, and doing so on their behalf. That’s the real beauty of this kind of worship,’ said Fr. Hart. (Wow!) Of course, this is a special event, a ‘one-time-only’ sort of thing, due to the tremendous task of replacing the tabernacle back in the sanctuary for this one Mass. The amount of time going into the planning of this is really amazing, seeing as how the staff of the cathedral are going to have to entirely rearrange the sanctuary, even adding a Benedictine altar arrangement for the occasion.”

As wonderful as this is, I should point out that, as far as we know, the liturgy itself will be “business as usual” at Sacred Heart. It is rumored that Thomas Warfield will be making a return visit to Sacred Heart, along with students from Nazareth College, who will be performing what is being billed as “a lively expression of God’s infinite mercy.” Bishop Clark will not be in attendance, seeing as how he will be sitting ‘in choir’ at St. Stanislaus for the 1:30 High Mass. There is a reception planned at Sacred Heart after this Mass. Exact times will be posted as soon as we have more information.

Fr. Kennedy Named Head of the St. Mary, St. Boniface, Blessed Sacrament Cluster

March 11th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

According to recent conversations with Blessed Sacrament and St. Boniface parishioners, Fr. Robert Kennedy has been named the new leader of the St. Mary/St. Boniface/Blessed Sacrament cluster. Fr. Kennedy seems like a logical choice for the position, seeing as how Fr. Brickler, long-time pastor of St. Boniface, is due to retire, and Anne-Marie Brogan is notorious for flirting with, nay, warmly embracing dissident teachings regarding Church doctrine and theology. Fr. Kennedy is one of the Rochester priests who put his name on this document, which states the Church should “recognize the blessings of countless homosexuals in a variety of relationships.”

Update (Dr. K): A reader has commented that Fr. Horan will be taking over at Holy Trinity, Webster.

What May Happen Next In Irondequoit

February 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following is my prediction of the blueprint that Fr. Tanck and co. will follow in Irondequoit as a result of the recent announcement that the parish is in financial trouble:

1. It is highly unlikely that Blessed Kateri parish will be able to eliminate the deficit, especially the one caused by the CMA tax.
2. In order to eliminate this deficit, Fr. Tanck will propose cost-cutting measures to make the parish financially viable. As part of these measures, Fr. Tanck will propose eliminating unused or underused facilities in the parish. This will include the St. Thomas and St. Salome campuses. How convenient that would be since he eliminated all Masses there, making these churches underutilized.
3. Fr. Tanck, in collaboration with hand-selected lay persons, will make a recommendation to the bishop that the STA and SS properties be sold in order to pay off the debt caused by the other churches in the parish. He will throw out the usual fluff, that we are all in this together as one parish, that we should all work together for the survival of Catholicism in Irondequoit, and that we can’t be paying to operate facilities we don’t need (again, it was his own doing that St. Thomas is not being used right now when it can and should be).
4. Bishop Clark will support the decision by deferring to the recommendation of Fr. Tanck and his hand-selected lay persons.

In order to preempt this likely progression of events, it is my opinion that parishioners of St. Thomas should recommend that STA be used in place of one of the other costly churches if the financial burden is as serious as it sounds. We knew all along that St. Margaret Mary and St. Cecilia were not financially viable.

Also do not forget that costly expansion is still required at St. Cecilia. STA is ready to accommodate extra Catholics without any expansion. STA and SS should not be sold in order to (temporarily) bail out two debt-ridden churches. We’ll be right back where we are now in a few years, and the resentment this would cause will lead to even further departures and less collection income.

Bishop Joseph Perry – Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester?

January 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

[Update 1/8/11 – With two straight days of no announcements, I think it’s safe to assume this rumor is dead… for now. We’ll let you know if there are any future updates]

Well folks, it looks like we may be “partying like it’s 2012” a solid year and a half early. Supporting earlier reports first broken here at Cleansing Fire, the American Papist blog has reason to believe that Bishop Joseph Perry, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be named the successor for Bishop Matthew Clark as the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Rochester today. Yes, today… January 6th, 2011. For those unfamiliar with Perry, he is a rock-solid, pro-Tradition, orthodox, pro-Traditional Latin Mass bishop who also has done much work for African-American Catholics (he himself is African-American). This would be the first change in leadership for the Diocese of Rochester in over 30 years.  Bishop Clark was installed in 1979.

As of right now, we don’t have anything official to sink our teeth into, so to any media outlets who follow the blog, it would be best to exercise caution until something official comes out. However, Thomas Peters picking up this story supports what we have been hearing here at the Cleansing Fire rumor mill over the past week.

It is also worth noting that the Diocese of Rochester website was down for much of this evening. It could be possible that they are preparing to update their site to include information about the future bishop of Rochester.

Anyway, here is the full text of the Thomas Peters article:

“While I haven’t been active in the new bishop buzz recently, I did receive a fascinating report tonight that Bishop Joseph Nathaniel Perry, an auxiliary of Chicago, may have been chosen to become the next bishop of Rochester, New York.

The announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow morning.

The diocese of Rochester needs a new bishop. There are blogs dedicated to cataloging the woeful liturgical and doctrinal abuses that take place in that diocese. I know several Catholics who have lived in the diocese who confirm how far it has declined.

The current bishop, Matthew Harvey Clark, has 555 more days to serve. But according to my source, Bishop Clark may be allowed to retire early (described as a “sabbatical”, even though such a thing does not exist for a bishop). [This is part of the rumor we heard as well. We at Cleansing Fire believe that Perry will serve as coadjutor until July of this year, when Bishop Clark will retire a year early]

There is some interesting circumstantial evidence to support Bishop Perry as a reasonable choice for the daunting task of saving the diocese, but I’ll save that for another time.

If what I’m hearing is confirmed by the Holy Spirit, we’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s pray for the poor souls of Rochester, that their day of liberation from heterodoxy may soon be at hand.”

Cleansing Fire will monitor the situation closely and relay news to you as it becomes available. We do wish to caution everyone that this could be false. It is just a rumor as of now. Please stay glued to your computers today for immediate updates throughout the day!

Update 11:00 AM – Still no word on this. Oh what a cruel joke for people to play if this is false! If our priest/deacon readers hear anything one way or the other, send us a e-mail to: . With each passing hour, this is looking less likely to happen today (if at all).

“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

“More Ancient Form of the Roman Rite”

December 6th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

The following letter from Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati highlights many of the great points of faith we as a Church are seeing in recent years. (Click to see larger.)

The important thing I drew from this letter is this: a vacant church structure is being assigned, by the (arch)bishop for use as a parish which will be thoroughly “dedicated to the ancient  liturgy.” He then exhorts the faithful of his (arch)diocese to support their efforts, to aid them in the restoration of the building, and “donate generously for this purpose.” (Think “St. Thomas the Apostle”)

I wonder when Bishop Clark will instruct the faithful to patronize the “extraordinary expression” found in the Rochester Latin Mass Community? After all . . . it’s a Mass, and a Mass is a Mass is a Mass unless it is illicit or invalid. Just because it doesn’t appeal to a certain individual’s liturgical tastes, that is no reason to act as if it doesn’t exist.

In an upcoming post, we will examine the possibilities and feasibility of having and oratory take ownership of an unused Catholic church.

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 . . .

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.

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!

A Lesson in Diocesan Administration

October 27th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

The New Irondequoit Parish Staff

October 12th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Fr. Tanck has released the names of the people who will make up the staff for the newly created Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha parish in Irondequoit (comprising Christ the King [CTK], St. Thomas the Apostle [STA], St. Salome [SS], St. Margaret Mary [SMM], and St. Cecilia [SC]).

Below is the list of the staff members, along with their church affiliation (excl. maintenance crew):

Donna Moll (Pastoral associate) [SS]
Mary Ann Noto (Pastoral associate) [SC]
Donna Walker (Pastoral associate/senior) [SMM/St. Anne community]
Mary Ann Obark (Faith Formation) [CTK]
Charles Prindle (Asst. Faith Formation) [SMM]
Jean Grizard (Music) [CTK]
Sarah Mancini (Asst. music) [SMM]
Jack Fianacca (Asst. music) [SC]
Kevin Spears (Youth) [SMM]
Karin Spears (Youth) [SMM]
Ruth Bailey (Youth) [CTK]
Jeff Bailey (Youth) [CTK]
John Luken (Business manager) [STA]
Mary Merkel (Asst. business manager) [CTK]

The number of staff members per Irondequouit Pastoral Planning Group parish:

SC 2
SS 1

So much for Fr. Tanck’s claim that he wishes to “combine(s) all the best of the five former parishes into a new, stronger and unified community.” Ten of the 14 staff members for Blessed K. T. parish are from two of the five churches. Surprise surprise, Christ the King is out there in front with five, while STA is bringing up the rear with only one staff member.

I also wish to point out the positions being filled by these staff members. St. Thomas the Apostle does not have a single staff member in the areas of music, faith formation, youth “ministry,” or as a pastoral associate. The only position given to a St. Thomas parishioner is the job of business manager. If it wasn’t obvious before that the diocese had an agenda to eliminate St. Thomas’ traditional practices, it should be apparent now since STA does not have a single staff member in a position of influence pertaining to the celebration of the liturgy or education of the congregation.

The DoR Can’t Play Ignorant Anymore

October 2nd, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

If one wanders over to the Diocese of Rochester Mass times page, you will probably notice the following in big bold letters and highlighted in yellow:

Clicking on the link will open a press release which mentions the name for the merged Irondequoit parish, as well as the new Mass times and “last Sunday Mass” dates for St. Salome and St. Thomas the Apostle churches. If you recall, Bishop Clark stated in his official response to the St. Thomas appeal that, and this is a word for word quotation:

“My decree of May 26, 2010 addresses only the consolidation of the parishes. Should the Diocese of Rochester decide, in the future, to remove the church building as a place of worship, you will again have the opportunity to voice objections and propose recourse.”

If it is the case that Bishop Clark’s decree of Mary 26th, 2010 addressed nothing more than merging the five parishes into a single parish, then how can the DoR explain the following from their press release:

Bishop Matthew Clark recently approved the move to a new, single parish encompassing all the former Irondequoit parishes with three worship sites (Christ the King, St. Margaret Mary and St. Cecilia). As part of that transition:

  • The last Sunday Mass at St. Salome will be celebrated on at Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 p.m. followed by a reception at the church.
  • The last Sunday Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, followed by a reception, will be on Sunday, Nov. 14, at a time to be announced.”

Bishop Clark claims that his decree only address the merger of the five parishes. However, the Diocese of Rochester has posted to their own website that Bishop Clark has given approval for two churches to be eliminated from the newly formed parish. The consequence of this is that two churches will cease to function as a “place of worship” since no Masses will be offered there.

A few comments:

1. Bishop Clark’s decree did not call for St. Thomas and St. Salome to be excluded from the merged Irondequoit parish. If this is not the case, then Bishop Clark lied in his response to the STA appeal when he states:

“Objection 1 asserts that the consolidation of the parishes in Irondequoit penalizes St. Thomas the Apostle above the others. That is not the case since the decree treats each of the current parishes in the same manner.”

This statement from Bishop Clark would be false since St. Thomas and St. Salome are not treated in the same manner if these two churches have all their Masses terminated while the other three do not.

2. If Bishop Clark granted approval to close St. Thomas and St. Salome at some point in time after the decree dated May 26, 2010, then he has failed to properly notify those effected through written decree that he has decided to close St. Thomas and St. Salome as “places of worship.” No decree has been publicly issued which calls for the closure of either parish. A decree must be issued so that the people of St. Thomas can appeal the move to eliminate St. Thomas as a Catholic church.

3. To eliminate Masses at St. Thomas and St. Salome without, or prior to the issuance of a decree from Bishop Clark is an assault on the rights of the lay faithful and a very un-pastoral action.

Fr. Tanck says in the news release, “These can be times of sadness and change but get ready!” The ones who should get ready are Fr. Tanck and the Diocese of Rochester. These shameful actions to backdoor close St. Thomas and St. Salome will surely be challenged. I firmly believe that the cause to save St. Thomas the Apostle will prevail if the parishioners fight it out until the end.