Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Archdiocese of New York Parish Closings Upset Many Good Catholics

The most sobering thing I read in the recent New York Times article regarding parish closings and mergers in the Archdiocese of New York ("Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter More Churches,")  was the statistic that less than 15% of Catholics in the Archdiocese attend Mass on an average Sunday.
"The parish reorganization is being driven by a shortage of priests, financial troubles and declining weekly church attendance....."
What a shame that more Catholics are staying home, or replacing morning Mass (or Saturday evening Mass) with something else. I've been in Manhattan on a Sunday morning and restaurants have lines of people waiting to have breakfast or brunch. Obviously they're not all Catholic. But it seems from the statistics that young Catholics for the most part in trendy neighborhoods of Manhattan have replaced Mass with socializing with friends over a meal or going to the gym. And those are good things of course, if they didn't replace attendance at Mass. In the life of a Catholic, their should be room for both.
It's very disturbing, that the Eucharistic celebration with all its graces and blessings is not important to so many of the baptized.
The Diocese of Brooklyn just started an aggressive media campaign to encourage more Catholics to attend Mass. And that's good. But more is needed.
The world has changed rapidly, more rapidly than any time in history, because of the internet and social media and the Church while remaining true to her teachings has to think "outside the box," and come up with new and innovating programs to encourage the young (and families) to come to Church.
Closing so many parishes at once, sends the wrong signal. Closing parishes that are financially secure and vital is not a good idea, in my opinion. The article states that St. Thomas More Church on the Upper East Side is "vibrant and strong" and filled with young families. Why would that Church be in danger of closing or merging? I don't understand that, so I can imagine the confusion and anger of the parishioners of that parish.
Exploring and finding solutions to the crisis of low Church attendance should be a priority of every diocese, that has that problem.