Friday, April 01, 2005

More parish closings reversed in Boston.

In a mid-December post I discussed Archbishop Sean O'Malley's reversal of his earlier decision to close Plymouth's Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church after concerted lobbying efforts by parishioners. Now the Archbishop has decided to reverse a number of other closing decisions, including earlier orders to shutter St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth and St. Anselm in Sudbury. Spunky parishioners at both churches attracted international attention and widespread admiration for their intense efforts to keep their communities alive, efforts that included round-the-clock prayer vigils, appeals to the Vatican and active media campaigns. As the Boston Globe reports, the people of St. Albert's have a lot to be happy about; even if the beloved Father Ron Coyne won't be returning as pastor, the parish is (in the words of one parishioner) "so much stronger and healthier" following the vigil and the Archdiocese's decision to reopen the church. St. Anselm's, meanwhile, will not be restored to parochial status but will become a chapel of St. George Church in Framingham. Considering the dedication and loyalty its parishioners have shown over the past year, St. Anselm's should be able to maintain its unique and particular identity under this new arrangement. Though the immediate future looks bright for St. Albert's and St. Anselm's, the news is less positive at other parishes whose closings have been upheld - as yet another Globe article indicates. I'm a little taken aback by Archbishop O'Malley's claim that he "did not expect the degree of resistance" that many parishioners have mounted to the reconfiguration process; while the process itself is clearly necessary, deep flaws in its execution have served to exacerbate tensions which would have been present even under the best of circumstances. Though I share the misgivings that many feel about reconfiguration, I'm encouraged by O'Malley's willingness to reexamine and in some cases reverse his earlier rulings. Amid the pervasive darkness of an inherently painful and divisive process, the Archbishop's admission of past mistakes casts a small but significant ray of hope. AMDG.


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