Monday, January 26, 2009

Two "Realignment" Parishes Remain At Large

On January 19, 2007 the Archdiocese of New York held a press conference to announce which of the candidate parishes would close under their much-vaunted "Realignment" process. A press release was issued and duly posted as a pdf file to the press release page on the Archdiocese of New York website.

On the same day a press release about the impending closure of Our Lady of Vilnius quietly rolled off the fax in the Our Lady of Vilnius Rectory, informing us of the AD of NY's intent to close us as well. The release was never posted on the archdiocesan website.

Back at the beginning , before I had eaten so extensively of The Kugelis of Knowledge, I looked at St. Mary's as a model of resistance to closure: positive media exposure, a well-designed website offering directives for prayer, comportment and letter-writing, mult-ethnic, multi-racial artists, performers and community activists publicly endorsing the parish's value to the community and lobbying for its survival. What impressed me most was Father Scafidi's open support of his parish in the media. I remember seeing him interviewed by a major network on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral after the Chrism Mass in 2007.

Today Gannett's Time Herald-Record presents a follow-up story on the 2 parishes that have eluded a decision in the Realignment process, 2 Newburgh Catholic churches 'still under review', subtitled "St. Mary's, St. Francis carry on with support of parishioners." The brief piece reminds the reading public that all is not over and that 2 decisions remain while parish life continues as usual. A quote from the article:

"So will the archdiocese eventually make a decision? Ultimately, it's Cardinal Edward Egan's call.

Spokesman Joseph Zwilling would only say there's no timetable for rendering a verdict. For now, he said, the archdiocese will "continue to monitor the situation" in Newburgh.

"We want to make sure it's the right decision, both for the Catholic community in Newburgh and for the archdiocese," Zwilling said.

Two years later I wonder if decisions are really pending, or if their public "revelation" has merely been deferred. I chide myself for suspecting that St. Mary's was destined to stay open all along, a poster parish for the Archdiocese' tolerance for dissenting voices.

I hope that I am wrong. Please pray for my soul.


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