Monday, March 06, 2017

RIP dotCommonweal Online Community

A March 4th post announced that Commonweal was revamping its site, shades of Making All Things New.  The dotCommonweal blog is being integrated into the magazine's site and the lively forum that followed each post will disappear.

I lurked more than I participated, regarding the regulars as the heavy hitters and myself as a lightweight.  I enjoyed the conflict, the wit and the repartee.

We are losing our parishes, and now I am losing my virtual neighborhoods, too.  Like the closing of Our Lady of Vilnius, I think the end of "Comments" is a big mistake.

I hope that the folks at Commonweal, unlike the Archdiocese of New York, will reconsider.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

"Our Lady of Revenue" Revisited 2 Years Later

Two years ago on the 8th anniversary of the abrupt locking of Our Lady of Vilnius, we were joined by Rick Hampson of USA Today.  He wove our our story into a piece titled "Our Lady of Revenue"

The article anticipated the "Making All Things New" pastoral planning initiative from a real estate perspective, and projecting the future sales of property that could result from parish closures.

Today, all of New York City's major news outlets are covering the story of the $100 million mortgage taken out by the archdiocese to fund payments to victims of sexual abuse.  My morning read, the New York Times, titled their story "Archdiocese of New York Seeks $100 Million Mortgage for Sexual Abuse Fund".  The fund referenced is part of the archdiocese's pre-emptive strike against individual litigation and is called the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (ICRP).
Perhaps spooked by the potential for a relaxed statute of limitations on abuse changes, the archdiocese has offered this alternative to victims who are willing to forgo lawsuits.

As one who was orphaned by the demise of 2 parish families I now ask:

  • In the past the Archdiocese has either denied or minimized the extent to which abuse occurred.  Now it casually initiates the process of taking out a $100 million to settle a fraction of these previously negligible abuse cases. 
    • Why doesn't it come clean and explain the magnitude of these cases?
    • Why doesn't it apologize to us for these cases and their concealment ?
    • The archdiocese cites dwindling attendance and paucity of vocations as reasons for closing parishes, yet does not publicly acknowledge the role of the abuse scandal and its concealment as instrumental in alienating the faithful.
    • The laity of the archdiocese is suffering from the consequences of the sexual abuse scandal, but this suffering is waved off as scripture is subverted to provide the "Making All Things New" meme, courtesy of The Reid Group, which is supposed to distract us the way a crying infant can be instantly fascinated and pacified by a jingling ring of sparkly keys.
    • It hurts to have our communities ruptured and our patrimony assessed and sold or warehoused.
    • It hurts even more to see the patrimony that lacked resale value end up in a dumpster.
  • Why doesn't the archdiocese tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  I believe that doing so would increase parish attendance and increase religious vocations.  That would be very good for the faithful, but may drastically reduce the inventory of  parcels to sell.

Monday, February 27, 2017

10th Anniversary: We're Still Here in Spirit and in Flesh

We set up a small altorius next to the construction shed.  The woven stole was created by Stasi Aliliuniene.  We included an empty Revelation tobacco tin in honor of Father Eugene and a piece of brick from the demolished church.

We prayed for the entire Our Lady of Vilnius communion of saints and sinners and prayed that the Archdiocese of New York would end its destructive ways.  We cried a little.  There was a lot of new loss to absorb.

When we were done, we left the photo of the church behind with a note about what it had meant to us.  I wonder what we will find next year.

10th Anniversary: Hallowed Ground

This is the hallowed ground were Our Lady of Vilnius stood for 114 years.  A piece of heavy equipment cast a shadow on the sign touting "Work in Progress: Residential"

10th Anniversary: Fenced in Emptiness at the Corner of Broome and Varick

Without the parking garage and Our Lady of Vilnius, there is a clear side view of 117.  It was shocking to see that the garage was gone.  The men at the garage were kind to us, letting us use the facilities through our six years of outdoor worship.

10th Anniversary: 117 Varick

During our parish's struggle survival, the neighbors were a source of support and solace.  Some of them attended the church, but not regularly.  Even those who did not share our faith loved it.  At least 3 guardian angels in that building let us know when something was going on in our locked church.

I am happy that this building is still standing and offering some kindred spirits a home.

10th Anniversary: The Rectory

The rectory was shrouded in scaffolding.  What else is new?  The rectory is being renovated, morphing into a high end Hudson Square residence.  This photo was taken through the rectory window.  The little square of light in the center is the window in what used to be the rectory office.  The rest of the photo is a reflection of the parking lot across the street.

10th Anniversary: Cody's in Name Only, at Least for a While

I was glad to see that the building that housed Cody's was still standing, but dismayed to find that it was no longer Cody's.  Gone was the dark, homey atmosphere.  Ten years ago Joy, Elaine and I had gone to have a bite and a pint while trying to recover from the shock of being locked out of the church so abruptly.

10th Anniversary: The Great Wall of Dominick Street

This hideosity was looming at the end of Dominick Street.  The smaller slice of sky made me feel a little confined.

10th Anniversary of the Locking of Our Lady of Vilnius: Herself

Yesterday I mounted a photo of Our Lady of Vilnius and a photo of the church on each side of a peace of posterboard and set out on a small pilgrimage to acknowledge the day that I found Our Lady of Vilnius had been locked, February 26, 2007.

I sat on the train with Our Lady facing me, and so I studied her for a long time.  Her expression is very complex and I couldn't quite grasp it.  This was the altar icon in our church.  The photo, by Charles "Chuck" Lopez, puts more orange into the image as well as elongating it.  It is not an exact replica of the icon, but I like it.  The painting was created by a married couple of artists, Tadas and Helen Sviderskis.  I was sad to hear that Tadas passed away in 2008.  Helen survived him and is still working.  I wonder if our Virgin Mary resembles her.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nothing is More Important Than Love

We have a president who campaigned on uniting the country.  His election has created an ideological civil war.  People who have never, in long years of friendship, expressed political views are sending me partisan e-mails.   Political snark has infiltrated my Sunday coffee social. The semiotics of my hair and wardrobe are being interpreted and misinterpreted causing embarrassing entre nous conversations on both sides of the divide.

Don't let politics undermine the ties that bind. Be kind to one another.  

What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding.  Good God, y'all!  Nuthin!  Hit, Nick and Elvis...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Search for Truth Department: Pope Francis blesses a real estate transaction?

The most recent print issue Catholic New York, the archdiocese's house organ, features an article titled "Pope Francis Blesses Our Lady of Peace Church Sale to Egyptian Coptics"

Here is the part about the papal blessing:

"The overall tone of the letter was hopeful—in no small part due to the blessing of Pope Francis for the Egyptian Coptics to purchase the church to use as their cathedral. “Some months ago, Cardinal Dolan had the occasion to introduce the New York Egyptian Coptic Orthodox bishop, His Grace Bishop David, to the Holy Father, at which time they spoke about their dream to purchase Our Lady of Peace as their cathedral,” the letter states.

“Pope Francis was delighted to learn that your parish, together with the archdiocese, was interested in assisting the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, in this way,” Bishop O’Hara wrote. Pope Tawadros II of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church and Pope Francis “have communicated with each other” and “both popes have given their blessings.”

  •  The item above states that Pope Tawadros II and Pope Francis and Pope Francis "have communicated with each other."  It does not specify that the communication was about Or Lady of Peace Church
  • The paragraph above states that both Popes have given their blessings.  It does not identify the recipient of the blessings.
The style, the spin, the mental reservation all remind me of the PR materials spewed about the closing of Our Lady of Vilnius.  It's history repeating!

Hit it, Shirley!

Friday, February 17, 2017

St. Stanislaus Kostka Community Loses the Corporeal Presence of Irene Testa

Early this morning a Holy Rosary Society member let us all know that Irene Testa passed on.

Irene had been an altar server at St. Stan's.  I will always picture her in profile at the side of the altar, a slim black-clad sprite with a pixie haircut. Her husband, Vincent, also a St. Stan stalwart, notably passed away the weekend after St. Stanislaus was closed in 2005.  His most visible role in the parish had been to ring the bell summoning us to Mass.

After St. Stanislaus closed Irene continued to travel with the flock, attending our weekly coffee social, most recently with the assistance of her daughter.

While I will miss her, I look forward to sitting across from her again in the perpetual coffee social that I imagine as heaven, where the coffee is always strong, the rolls are always fresh and the butter can't clog our arteries.  We will need a new song because "Sto Lat," 100 years, is a second within an eternity of warm companionship free from the pain of loss.

Read her Journal News obituary HERE.