Saturday, October 06, 2012

Philly parish closings and mine's stats

White ethnic cultural Catholicism’s and the institution’s long retreat continues, because of the larger culture, changed from Protestant but liking the church (making Boys’ Town and Going My Way for example) to hostile again, and corrosive, plus the self-inflicted wounds of Vatican II (caving to the larger culture) and the coverup of the priestly underage gay sex scandal (not living up to the church’s teachings). (The Philadelphia Archdiocese, complacent, parochial and once big with much social and financial capital well earned before the council, is running out of that capital.) It’s a mess. The sinless, infallible church is made up of sinful people (of whom I am the first as the Orthodox Liturgy says), and generational (ethnic) born Catholics know priests are all too human. So in persona Christi and ex opere operato, Deo gratias; I keep my nose in my missal and mind my business, putting my envelope in the basket and letting the priests be. The Latin here means: Like most of us I don’t know the priest, but when he’s vested at the altar swinging the censer he’s Christ.
  • Ascension was the cornerstone of Kensington; it didn’t matter if you went there or not. The carnival was always fun and hanging around the steps and schoolyards was cool.
  • How mine’s doing. Because the friars who took it over last decade high-churchified it per Pope Benedict’s reforms, it’s a trad magnet bringing in people outside the boundaries like me. Here’s the text because the linked page is hard to read:
    The archdiocese will be closing parishes in our area very, very soon. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I know it needs to be done. On the other, let’s face it, a Catholic diocese is a business and businesses follow where the money goes. Given a choice between Our Lady of the Ghetto and St. Main of Line, you know Our Lady of the Ghetto will be gone. Which is a shame. If you want to have a vibrant, real Catholic life in the ghetto, you have to have a parish. I don’t expect churchmen to understand what it is to be poor, and to have the nearest parish more then 20 blocks away with no mode of transportation other than walking. But it’s a reality.

    On the other hand, I do wonder about my own parish. By statistics, we’re pretty good: 7 years ago, we had 604 registered households, now we have 672. We had 24 total baptisms of infants and children then, last year we had 34. And we’ve stayed above the replacement rate of baptisms/funerals by never having more than 12 funerals a year. in 2009, we had 37 baptisms and 7 funerals, which is great. Note that these baptisms don’t include teenage or adult converts.

    Most importantly is attendance. We had an average attendance of 675 in 2007, last year it was 819. For a parish in the city to break above 250 is usually considered somewhat of a miracle,especially considering south of Lourdes is a run-down, poor area. We had 3 kids in CCD in 2007, and 57 last year. We had 2 converts to the faith in 2007, and 13 last year. Holy-day Mass attendance is close to 400. Last year, a total of 500 parishioners attended the annual Forty Hours Devotion over the course of three days. We’ve had a 50% increase in the amount of parishioners going to confession. Not to be mean, but we have three times the attendance at confession than the nearest two parishes.
    Probably because a few old liberals, such as the few remaining nuns, run places like Our Lady of the Ghetto (Our Lady of Hope and Change) so it has liturgical dance for example.
    Giving has gone up as well. There were quite a few collections last fall and this spring that broke 7k. Once upon a time, the parish was happy to have a collection of 2-3k. It shows. The church is pristine, the windows are being restored. There are new flowers on the altar weekly. The music program has expanded with the addition of paid section leaders. The grounds of the church have to be the most immaculately kept grounds in the city.

    Our only blemishes are daily Mass and of course, the school. Formerly, we had over 50 people at daily Masses, now we have only 40, the same as two of the nearest parishes. And certainly, many parishioners never seemed to want to send their children to the parish school. We never got over 250 kids, and sadly, the school closed this year. Of course, it closed after we became indebted to the diocese by the purchase of a $30,000 boiler for the school when the old one failed over night. And certainly, the archdiocese is looking at outstanding debts as a reason to close and merge. But, it hasn’t even been a year since then, and hopefully looking at other parish statistics, we’ll be left well alone.
Pope Benedict’s sounder official church, including my place, and the ‘fanfic’ folk Catholicism that Arturo Vasquez used to write about will keep the faith in places like Philly but again will be much smaller. My place has young trad families; a future.

P.S. Hooray for Archbishop Cordileone in San Fran. He has an Augean task with people gunning for him on top of that.


  1. Looking at the CC's problems post V2 caused in part by V2 AND the clerical sexual abuse scandals (not just V2's doing), one can appreciate the personal motivations for the Protestant Reformers of the 16th Century+ even if the specific conditions for it were a bit different. Common thread, though, is poor episcopal leadership.

    Liturgical dance? Rome outlawed this some time ago (I thought). Cojones-less bishops allow this liturgical abuse to continue.

  2. The problems are with the faithful not with the hierarchy. If Catholics had kept to their rosaries and devotions, kept to the Catholic inner city ghettos and had 5+ children on average none of these problems would of happened. It's the laity's fault. I don't find these exterior reasons as plausible. If the cradle Catholics had remained Catholic in the USA, then everything would of been okay. Seriously what use is their for high-high-high-high church devotional sects within the Catholic Church - when the 90% of churches in the English speaking world are empty? Whatever statistics they give are lies. 25% mass attendance in England, 35% in the USA, 40% in Ireland!! 10% in Canada... Well, the 60-90% of Catholics who gave up the practice of the Faith, where are they?

    Yeah, the people like Meathead in Archie Bunker - the average ethnic-Catholic of 1960's USA - what the 'ell happened to 'em? Oh wait, I forgot remember Meathead's idiotic monologues about civil rights and all of that? Yeah right, it was the priests who mindwashed the Catholics to believe in progress. Sarcasm intended.

    Catholics gave up the faith themselves.


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