One of the most painful aspects of this priest shortage pickle is watching living, breathing parish communities close their doors.
It is death and nothing less.
But is it necessary?
“Go with God? They’ll Stay!” captures the spirit of Catholics at Our Lady of Peace (OLP) Parish who are refusing to give up on their beloved parish community. They are standing against the sting of death. Their parish, founded in 1918 by Italian immigrants, has been slated for merger by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. It is one of more than 70 that have been merged or closed under the program “Making All Things New”, reducing the total number of parishes in the archdiocese from 368 to 296.
In those numbers are countless hurting, grieving and angry Catholics.
This past Saturday, OLP parishioners held mass outside of their locked church as a sign and symbol of their dedication to keep the community they love open. They also have created a petition that cites the many reasons for keeping the parish open including its financial health, the property’s landmarked status and their outreach programs. They want to get 3,000 signatures by Aug. 31 and are nearly there with over 2800.
The Vatican is now reviewing their appeal and they will learn that decision by September 1, 2015.
There is a holy anger that Jesus exhibits when he starts knocking over the tables of the money changers and sellers in the Temple. He is fed up with the hard hearts of the leaders there and the resulting corruption that allows a holy place to be denigrated.
Many who have seen their vibrant parishes close have felt that sense of holy anger. One parishioner at Our Lady of Peace Church articulated it perfectly. “I’m staying here . . . I’m not going anywhere,” said Agnes Colina, 67. “I’m angry, I’m bitter because they shouldn’t close it.”