Catholic Church Destroying Itself 2

Quoted from: thealtonroute

I am new to this forum, and I wanted to share with posters the fact that the Church is driving away many of its faithful. In my hometown of Streator, IL the Diocese of Peoria is currently destroying three viable parishes in a very misguided attempt at consolidation. There are three traditional Catholic churches in town and the Diocese wants to demolish them all and have a megachurch of sorts built out in the country. In the meantime, the pastor of the churches in town is running my home parish to the ground. I’m sure that he and the diocese figure a completely demoralized parish won’t present much of an opposition to this joke of a consolidated church. Building evaluations were recently completed on all three churches in Streator. Many people feel that the diocese and the local pastor will exaggerate the weaknesses of our old churches so that they have an excuse to close and demolish them. It’s obvious that priests are being kept out of Streator to exaggerate the claim that there’s a shortage of clergy. There are only two priests in town for three parishes, one of which has a school. In the nearby town of Ottawa, with a slightly larger population, there are 5 priests. My personal feeling is that the parishes are being consolidated so that the diocese can squeeze more money out of Streator. Nothing but money matters on the diocesan level.

A rural parish outside of Streator already has fallen victim to this ill-planned scheme. St. Patrick’s Church in Ransom, IL originally was included in the consolidation plan despite the fact that it had few connections to Streator. At the time it was very obvious that St. Pat’s was being closed so that the parish’s 80 acres of farmland could be sold off to pay for the property on which the new church would be built. St. Pat’s parishioners fought vigorously to get out of the consolidation fiasco. Even though the parish eventually did get out of the whole fiasco, the parish was pretty much destroyed and services are still suspended.

I love the Catholic faith and always go to Mass but my respect for the institutional Catholic Church is rapidly deteriorating. The poor decisions of the hierarchy have caused so many problems in the Church. Streator’s always been a heavily Catholic town, but the actions of the diocese and the local pastor are driving people away left and right. I’ve been protesting this fiasco as much as I can. Although I’m disgusted with the Catholic Church in central Illinois, I never will leave. What disturbs me is that people will leave the Church for Protestant churches without ever fighting against the injustice that is destroying our parishes. Please pray for the parishes of Streator, IL.

End quote.

I had to create another, there is a troll that posted a vile image just after the OP created their thread, so am giving people an alternative thread to use instead to spare them.

In my hometown of Streator, IL the Diocese of Peoria is currently destroying three viable parishes in a very misguided attempt at consolidation.

I realize this is your opinion, but how can anyone know whether it takes all the facts into account or not? Have you written to the diocese and asked for the reasons, or are you simply presuming it is all about cash? Does shortage of priests have anything to do with it? You claim each of these parishes is, economically at least, viable - based on what?

I think it would be interesting to hear the other side of the issue.

There are some dioceses that have some issues. I’m sure that they don’t intend on driving people away. You have to have faith in the Catholic church. Trust that although money might be a consderation, hopefully it’s not the only consideration.

After all, if it were only about money they would care a lot more about driving people away. They might be having financial difficulties and figure the only way to get out is to sell off property and consolidate.

Pray that God’s will be done. No matter what the outcome at the end of the day it’s about you and God. It shouldn’t matter where you worship him, just that you do worship him.

Prayers and peace be with you during this time of rough change.

The odd thing is that before this consolidation was announced the parishes were remodeling and building like crazy. One parish got a new hall, the school at another got a new gym and cafeteria, etc. Strangely, 4 years later the local pastor is claiming the churches are falling apart. The pastor claims that our “ethnic divisions” are driving us apart. Nothing could be further from the truth. The same excuses have been used all over the U.S. to close viable parishes.

The rural parish of St. Pat’s literally was destroyed by the diocese, not once but twice. Right before they found out they were to be included in the consolidation, they had completed a thorough renovation of their church. They even had asked the bishop whether their church would close in the next few years and were told no. A half year after the announcement of the consolidation the parishioners of the church were told their church wouldn’t close after all, so they made up all their diocesan appeal money (about 6 grand). Low and behold, a month or so later the pastor of the Streator churches (who also was pastor of St. Pat’s at the time) told them their church would be closed for good. St. Pat’s later was released from the consolidation plan, likely because the diocese finally discovered that the land would be given to the Archdiocese of Chicago if St. Pat’s is closed as a parish (according to the will of the elderly lady who had given the farmland to the parish).

The sad thing is that everything the diocese does is in secret. I’ve sent several letters and emails to it regarding what’s going on and how betrayed my family and I feel by the Church. No reply.

For another sad story on parish destruction, check out the history of St. Brigid’s Church in San Francisco. Nobody could figure out why this church was closed, until it leaked out that the archdiocese had conducted secret real estate evaluations of church properties in S.F. St. Brigid’s was one of the most valuable. So, despite weekly attendance of 1000 or so, the archdiocese closed a viable parish in order to get money to pay off child abuse claims.

Again, it’s important to remember that no matter how poorly the situtation is handled. God will provide you a place to go. You will have a church, you will have a place to go to mass. It may not be how you want it, but God will not leave you. Remember your relationship with God should not be confined to the walls of a particular building.

It’s hard to say what is really going on. Some things are simply poorly handled. Just because they are a diocese of the Catholic Church doesn’t mean they are necessarily good at managing the budget or how to run the diocese well.

You would think that would be a requirement, but obviously, if people are getting angry with the way this is being handled there must be some basic issues with the leadership.

This could be a situation where they feel that this is the best decision to make and they have accepted that some people will be angry. It’s a political job running a diocese you can’t make everyone happy all the time.

Other situations that are common:

  1. They fix up the churches hoping this will make people happy and bring new people in.

  2. They fix up the churches thinking that it will look like they are doing very well hoping this will prevent them from being shutdown.

  3. They fix it up so that it’s more valueable to potential buyers.

In the instance you cited, the San Francisco case, what is it you expect the diocese to do when a court of law holds them liable for something financially? You know as well as I do the court doesn’t play around with these issues. You either take stock of your own belongings and sell what you need to to pay the claim or the court steps in and does it for you. Given that, which would you rather see, the diocese choose what to close or the courts choose what to close and sell off?

It’s been the same almost everywhere in the US. You can’t just point to one parish and say, oh they are viable, and have that be the only basis for remaining open. What if the sale of another property doesn’t net enough to pay the bills? What do we do, close 2 or 3 other smaller, equally viable parishes? There is going to be pain, unavoidable pain, and the sad fact is it has to land somewhere, often where no one there had anything to do with the original cause.

We tend to view “the Church” as the parish we belong to; the diocese does not get that luxury. They have to be concerned with the diocese as a whole, not just one part. To maintain one viable part at greater cost elsewhere isn’t good stewardship.

If your letters are being ignored, call and ask for an appointment, and let them know you want to discuss your letter(s) of (dates) that you’ve waited patiently for an answer to. Since no answer appears to be forthcoming, you’d like the opportunity to discuss the matter in person. Talk to your Pastor, I’m certain he could tell you by name the person to whom you should address your concerns.

But a word of caution here; when you go there, pray beforehand and go to listen.

The particular church you belong to is your diocese. Your pastor is the bishop.

The parishes and priests in them are not OURS. They belong to the Church-- and the Bishop is the head of the Church in the diocese.

People in America have a hard time when they don’t get a “vote” or a “say” and when they have asserted ownership of that which they do not own. It’s not “their” building or “their” money or “their” parish.

Buildings come and go. Parish boundaries ebb and flow. The Church is where the Bishop is. The Mass is celebrated wherever the priest or bishop is. And that is where the people should be also.

I am not discounting the sentiments attached to a parish that has roots, memories, and love within its bounds. But there will be new memories, new roots, and love wherever we are found.

I think about all those Christian martyrs who celebrated Mass wherever they could, and still today have to celebrate in secret and at their bodily peril, they gave their last penny… they gave their lives… they were THANKFUL to celebrate Mass with any priest that they could.

And then I read about a bunch of crybabies who are taking their toys and leaving the sandbox over some paultry THINGS and it makes me sick.

I don’t think parishes are paltry things. My home parish in Streator is a beautiful Romanesque church built by German immigrants in the late 1890s. Granted a building isn’t everything, but for centuries Catholic churches have been known for their architecture and their presence as inspirations of faith. Catholic churches aren’t merely “piles of bricks” for a diocese to destroy as it sees fit. Imagine if St. John Lateran were sold off and demolished so that the Church could pay off abuse claims. The faith and sense of community that have developed over generations aren’t worthless.

It’s a sad consequence of the history of the Catholic Church in America that a diocese can wield so much power over its parishes. I’ve read that in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe parishes own their property and have rights that can’t be taken away by a bishop. Parishioners should have a say about the fate of their churches. I find it appalling that Catholic parishes should be punished for the criminal neglect of American bishops with regard to shuffling around abusive priests.

It’s certainly understandable to be sad when a particular parish closes, but parishes come and go. The Church remains and continues to grow, however.

The Church, of course, isn’t the buildings. As long as you have access to the Sacraments somewhere, you’ll be fine. Many Catholics still travel for miles on foot to attend Mass. And, never forget Divine Providence. God knows everything, past, present, and future. Why? Because He is simultaneously IN the past, present, and future. God doesn’t “forsee” the future, but sees it, like you and I see the present moment. He doesn’t live from moment to moment like we do. He’s had all eternity to know what’s going on at a particular time. This doesn’t impede, in any way, on our free will choices to do right or wrong, but He does know. So, as Jesus said, “Fear not…” He goes before you! Remain faithful to Christ and His Church, regardless of which parish you do it in. And offer up any suffering, including your present sadness, in reparation for sins. Redemptive Suffering is lacking in our time. Everybody wants an Easter Sunday, but nobody wants a Good Friday. :slight_smile:

Mind if I answer your post here Prodigalson? Wrecking parishes is one way to destroy the faith of its parishoners. The old churches are too Catholic for the Modernists. They remind them of the way it was and they hate that, Old Latin Masses, bededictions, retreats, solidarities, miraculous medal, etc. there was nothing like the pre Vatican II parish to help each and every member keep and practice their Catholic faith.

‘And then I read about a bunch of crybabies who are taking their toys and leaving the sandbox over some paultry THINGS and it makes me sick.’ Well 1ke, go get sick all you like.

But no, I do not believe the Catholic Church is destroying itself, I believe God is destroying the post-vatican II Church.

It is that Church’s antics that has the Church’s reputation that in shreds, its influence on world affairs is almost zero, its teachings and doctrines perverted and ignored, its sainthood diminished, what is left of its priesthood and religious decimated and damaged by scandals, some of its sacraments devalued, its liturgy in chaos, many of its churches, denuded of the sacred are near empty, few seminaries and convents now exist because of the dearth of vocations, the Vatican has been turned into a circus, Eucharistic Congresses of old have been replaced by ecumenical get-togethers and World Youth Days of rock and roll prayer jamborees, and the Pope has acquired the status of a travelling pop-star.

Here’s a pic of my church in Streator…the one the local pastor is just aching to tear down.

I’m rather alarmed with the destruction of these old beautiful buildings, they took a great deal of capitol, time, and love to put together and I am in no way thrilled with the modern construction that is going on, including what happened to my parish as well, the new church building just is not the same at all.

In these times, we have a combination of economic strains that are causing certain decisions to be made that I find highly questionable, but understandable, afterall, it’s a human being making these decisions as well as it’s the sad fact, people do not attend mass like they used to, nor do the ones that do really tithe the way they should. With the latter, I try to give what I can, it’s typically out of resources I don’t have expendable, but God always finds a way to let me have enough to get by regardless.

With the post anti VII response, there has been a movement I’ve known about for quite some time along people that are against it, the problem is, that is all I know and that is our church, so be it good, bad or indifferent, I still support her in full any way I can. It’s the fact, the church is in a constant state of fluctuation that is missed here, sometimes it’s on the upswing, sometimes on the down, and nothing that is happening now is new what so ever, if you look at the big picture, it’s the same church then as it is now. We live in terrible times these days, it’s the lack of leadership, true leadership that’s wanting and I’m not talking about the Pope or bishops, I’m talking about the average person sitting in the pews. What can you do for the church in the here and now, that’s the question, rather then tearing it down, work upon building it up, regardless of what you agree with, know that what Christ established is upon a Rock, and a rock is unyeilding, not moving, not swayed and not subject to individual opinion. If you want to complain about her, complain as to your involvment, stop asking what the church can do for you, or what it should be like, ask what you can do for it, what you can be like as a child of God within it to show the light that shines within ones self which is Christ instead.

Well all of you who refuse to face the economic reality of liability, I have a suggestion for you. Start calling the diocese and pleading with them to let the court decide the fate of your churches. If you won’t accept what your Bishop decides, then the government will be happy to step in and do it for you. And no, you will get no say in that case either; it will be whatever produces the necessary conversion of asset to cash, be it a Cathedral, a school, a chancery office building (like in LA), a cemetery, whatever it takes.

Some dioceses around the country are in economic meltdown; that is the reality of it. The architectural beauty of a building or the thriving faith of a parish - and I agree with you it is sad - doesn’t come into play when the bill is due and the cash must flow. It’s not as though in this economy there can be any expectation that people can redouble their donation efforts and save anything. People in the Church hurt it severely, and now you get to pay for their mistake.

“God is dismantling the post Vatican II Church” Hogwash. The post Vatican II church is just getting on track, after some people tried to make the church what they thought it should be. The post Vatican II church looks lots like the Church of the 200’s. Architecture aside.

As for the Catholic Church in America, what you’re witnessing in the consolidation of parishes, etc. is the result of the liberalization of the Church by those who wanted to modernize the church, to secularize her. Now we’re paying for all of that. And we will be for a while.

Not being from the Diocese of Peoria (I’m in the Diocese of Joliet), I went looking for a little background and found this

The article makes it sound like it’s more of a priest shortage issue than dollars and cents, although that’s probably also part of it.

I don’t get the impression from the diocesan website at that the Church there is a hotbed of anti-traditionalism. Again, I can’t speak from experience, so I just don’t know what to think without more information.

I do really love those old classic church buildings though. Went to one in Dayton, Ohio a number of years back on a retreat. It was in a very run-down neighborhood, but it was just gorgeous inside.

In my humble opinion, i just dont understand this economic meltdown. if one has money trouble, one just dont destroy the old house to build another one. it seems to me it is more viable to keep what we have than waist money in another building. this idea of destroying the old Churches is discusting to me. how can you explaining the destroying of these beautiful churches? is it construction in today’s world much more expensive?
and where is the money coming from to build these new churches?
if they want to consolidate churches, why not just keep the Old Church to gather the people of the other parishes?

dont get me started…

what is the Vatican saying about these hapenings here in America? i wonder.

and what is up these laughing Bishops anyway? they dont seem to be very serious men.

i watch the bishop in NY i believe, he is always laughing, like everything is a joke or something.

very sad.

why is it the SSPX, just dont accept the propositions of the Vatican and come into communion, so we can all flock into their Churches? pray for that to happen soon.

Here’s a newspaper article about what happened to the parish in Ransom, IL.

RANSOM - First a land grab, and now a money grab, says former St. Patrick’s Church trustee Don Ahearn of events at the beleaguered house of worship. “The ‘Good Shepherd’ led his sheep, but it was to be slaughtered,” he said of the Annual Diocesan Appeal for donations, coupled with closing of the church after the last Mass on June 29, and possible loss of St. Patrick’s 80-acre farm to the Peoria Diocese. The 86-year-old church was to be closed by Diocese Bishop Daniel Jenky, apparently because the diocese plans to build a new, $4 million unification church in Streator. The diocese has already purchased the 40-acre site for the unified church at about $500,000. The unified church would combine St. Stevens, St. Mary’s and St. Anthony’s churches in Streator, and include St. Patrick’s Church in Ransom - about 20 miles distant - under one roof. Ahearn said Sunday, however, the local parishioners were told in May that St. Patrick’s would not close after all. He said Vicar General Paul Showalter of the Peoria Diocese told then-Trustee Mary Ross on May 14 there was no plan to close the edifice. “Our goal in the ADA was about $6,000,” said Ahearn. “Once we found out we were going to stay open, I asked everyone to make up their contributions if they hadn’t been giving.” The ADA is an income tax of sorts based on a percentage of income of each parish for the year. If the amount collected from parishioners does not meet the goal set by the diocese, each parish must make up the difference through their church funds. The money is then sent to the bishop to meet their ADA goal. “I hadn’t given any contributions for about six months, because why give to a church that’s going to close,” he said. “So I made up all my contributions, and we raised about $5,000 toward the ADA. Then St. Patrick’s priest, Msgr. James Prendergast, announced on June 23 the church would close after all. The last Mass was celebrated, and most the parishioners are currently attending church in Kinsman, five miles east of Ransom, rather than traveling more than 20 miles west to Streator. “Now he’s going to the Kinsman church and asking them for half the collection of loose money to be sent to him in Streator,” said Ahearn of Prendergast. Peg Phelan, a 46-year member of St. Patrick’s Church, said the church bulletin instructs that contributions given to any church by the Ransom church members are to be mailed to St. Steven’s Church, of which Msgr. Prendergast is also the priest. Ahearn said St. Patrick’s parishioners were told an administrator would be appointed to the church within seven weeks of the closing date, but this has not happened. “The administrator would simply pay the bills and file the papers necessary with the Peoria Diocese on our income to keep St. Patrick’s financially functional,” he said. “And it can stay that way because of the income from our 80-acre farm and the wind turbines on it, and any contributions parishioners still make.” His reference is to the acreage near La Salle Generating Station in Brookfield Township, which was left to St. Patrick’s Church by the late Ada Dooley. Ahearn valued the 80 acres at about $500,000. He said the diocese purchased the 40-acre tract at Streator at $12,500 per acre for a total of $500,000. “What they did was transfer money,” he said. “With our half-million, they bought a half-million dollars worth of land out there. I suspect they will sell our 80 acres to finance the new unified church.” The 80 acres has two wind turbines, each paying about $600 in monthly rent. Ahearn said he researched Dooley’s five wills through the Livingston County courthouse in Pontiac. The final will noted that if St. Patrick’s Church should ever close, the title to the 80 acres was to go to the Chicago Diocese. Bishop Jenky ended Ross’s term as trustee via letter on June 17, she said. On June 23, she received a letter from Msgr. Prendergast, dated June 21, about suspending services for St. Patrick’s Church as of June 30. “On July 23, I called Sister Trish, administrative assistant to the bishop, and stated to her more than once we want a reason for being closed,” Ross said. “She asked me what I thought the reason was. “I told her, ‘Probably because we don’t like Msgr. Prendergast and he doesn’t like us.’ She replied, ‘That’s probably your answer.’” Ross said she has repeatedly tried to speak to the bishop or anyone else who can answer why St. Patrick’s is closed. She says she cannot make contact. “We are being held in limbo,” she said. “We’re still a parish and we’re going on as that, but we have no administrator and they won’t assign us one, so we’re closed until we get one. We’re suspended. It’s not my intent to slam a priest, but this is just insane.” Phelan maintains it’s a shame no one from the diocese has tried to mend the wounds that have been caused by the recent events. “In my mind, it’s never too late. The people of the parish deserve the courtesy to be treated with respect,” she said. “If someone in the parish has offended the diocese, I’m sorry about that. It was not intended or done maliciously that I know of, and it doesn’t reflect the majority of the people in the church.”

If the people you are speaking of are truly “faithful” they wouldn’t be leaving the Church because of a building. The church building is an expression of your faith, not your faith an expression of a church building. It’s what goes on inside the building that is what is important, not the building itself. If people are leaving, they are using that as an excuse and it isn’t the real reason. If you talk to them you will find they are leaving the Church because they don’t know what it teaches and why it teaches it and we all should be educating them.
What many people don’t understand is that each parish is responsible for their own expenses, i.e. utilities, maintenance, salaries, etc… In my parish, the yearly expenses are approx $80,000 a year and they take in approx $65,000 a year in adult contributions. We had to take up special collections for new furnaces in the church building and rectory (and barely got that money together) and then another special collection for painting the bell tower and tuck pointing so the building didn’t leak and fall apart which would have cost even more to repair. We didn’t get enough money so that extra money had to come from somewhere, there goes the emergency fund. If it weren’t for special collections, many churches would never be able to meet their financial obligations. People seem to think that they don’t need to give because someone else will take care of the funding. That just isn’t how it works. The Catholic Church, in and of itself, is not as rich as many people think. They do not OWN the extensive art collection in the Vatican, they just spend the money to protect and preserve them with no monetary reward. Most of the money sent to the Chancery is used for various charities and for the running expenses and salaries of the Diocesan staff (and they aren’t paid that well). The Bishops and their staff do the best with what we don’t give them.
Many of the church buildings that are being evaluated are 100 years old, more or less, and probably have not been properly maintained over the years. Some of these evaluations are to determine just how costly it would be to bring the building up to standards, and in some cases, code. If the individual parish doesn’t have the congregation to fund the projects necessary, or if the congregation WON’T fund the projects, what would you suggest they do. Many of those who complain want the church buildings in their back yards but they do nothing to actually support the privilege. Many of these buildings would be too costly to renovate, it would be less expensive to build new buildings. Also, many of these parishes don’t have a large enough congregation to justify not combining them with a nearby parish. Operating expenses would be less, staff salaries would be less and the parishes would same money in the long run. THAT EXTRA MONEY DOES NOT GO TO THE CHANCERY!!! Any money sent for Diocesan Operating expenses is based on parishioner numbers and if the congregations of 2 churches combine, the number doesn’t change.
Lastly, there is a shortage of priests. As you mentioned, there may be a large parish close to you with 5 priests but have you ever considered the amount of work involved running that parish and caring for the faithful? For a Priest to do what he has been called to do, shepherding the faithful and being there when they need him, you would need at least 1 priest for ever 4-500 people. As it is there is approx 1 priest for every 3,000 or more Catholics in America. That means middle of the night phone calls, counseling, attending special occasions, Confession, Mass, Baptisms, Funerals, Marriage Prep, Weddings, Religious Education, etc, not to mention coordinating staff (if there is any), arranging for general maintenance of the property, dealing with salespeople, and general business and financial responsibilities of the Parish of 3000+ people. Many of our Priests are pastors of more than one parish because, as in our Diocese, we have about 130 parishes and only 70 active priests. One question I have for anyone who wants to complain about churches closing because of a shortage of priests is “are any of your sons priests?” “When was the last time you encouraged a young man in your parish to look seriously at the priesthood?” Our sons learn how to listen and answer the call to the priesthood at home and if it is not being taught and encouraged, we will not have more priests anytime soon. Most parents teach their children that the only way to measure success is by how much “stuff” you have and how much money you can spend, not by who you are and how God sees you.

It is easy to place blame for everything we see an mistakes on the Bishops, etc… but, before placing blame, one had better be sure they have lived up to their responsibilities to their parishes, dioceses, and the Church according to their own priesthood through baptism and confirmation. This attitude of “it’s someone else’s fault” has got to stop.

I pray for the Church as a whole. I also pray for our Bishops and Priests who, whether they want to or not, have to make some very difficult decisions, knowing that there will be many not happy with those decisions. These decisions are not easy in the best of circumstances and we should be supporting and encouraging them, not making things more difficult for them.

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