A waiter walked up to one of his tables and asked a patron, "How did you find your steak, sir?" The man said, "I looked under the potato and there it was."
This is one of the first things that I thought of after I read the online version of this article last evening.
The piece, A Dwindling Congregation, Aiming to Reclaim Their Parish, disseminates the basic facts about the premature stripping of the church and our subsequent suit.
How did the article disturb me? Let me count the ways:
- Enough credence is given to Joe Zwilling's description of us as "dwindling" to confidently make this assertion in the title.
- A paragraph in the article seems to conflate the dispersion of the Lithuanian community from the area around the church with a dwindling of the congregation. Not so. The church is attended by Lithuanians from the tri-state area as well as non-Lithuanians who like the atmosphere and/or Father Eugene. In addition, its weekday Mass has been loyally attended by the working faithful in the area.
- The Archdiocese has gone out of its way to educate the public on the difference between "national" and "geographic" parishes in its quest to justify the closure of our church. In this article, Zwilling outdoes himself by holding our parish to a new standard, that of the geographic national parish - not only does the parish have to serve Lithuanians, but the Lithuanians must live nearby in order to justify the parish.
- Zwilling states that the church is not for sale. Why were no questions asked about plans for any of the other ways in which profit can be made from real estate?
- "The church's fresco was painted over, he added, to protect it from deterioration because it couldn't be removed." Huh?
- "Even after their church was shuttered, the parishioners held out hope." Mistake in tense. We still hold out hope.
- "..where they brandish their signs, eat Lithuanian rye bread, prop white crosses in the front of the church and pray for its reopening." I don't like "brandish," it has legal connotations of menace. Also the compressed description of our activites sounds mechanistic and trivial: brandishing and eating come before prayer. I would have said that we gather to pray for the reopening of our church, to break bread in the only way that we can right now and to be with one another in the spirit of community that strengthens our conviction that this parish is necessary.
So a neighbor comes up to me and asks, "How did you find today's "New York Times" piece about Our Lady of Vilnius?" I replied, "I lifted up the Archdiocese of New York's press release and there it was."