Saying Goodbye to our Parish

Saint Peter the Apostle
A week or so ago I talked about writing a letter to the Bishop. I decided that I would not post that letter, instead I decided I would post the letter that we wrote to our priest and the pastoral administrator about our decision to leave the parish.

Dear Father ######### and Mrs. ######## (pastoral administrator),

Yesterday, we officially pulled our names from the roster of parishioners at St Columba St Patrick’s parish. I wanted to write to you one more time and let you know why.

As we have discussed, we were not happy with some of the changes happening within the parish. Most notably Mrs. ######### giving the homily. Call it what like but that is really what is going on.

As you suggested I have contacted Bishop Clark. I have not heard anything back, but honestly I didn’t suspect I would. This is his policy that is allowing this to happen. I will note that even he says in his book Forward in Hope, that the changes he has made to the Rochester Diocese are not allowed by Church teachings. (if you would like to see what I am talking about read the section about the role of lay administrators starting on page 84.) Nor is it his place to make those changes.

With that in mind we have decided that it is better not to allow our children to be exposed to things like this. And it is better for us not to make coming to Mass a near occasion of sin. When I am so worried about, is Mrs. ####### going to give the homily today. What if she says something wrong? How to I cover the ears of all the kids? How do I explain to the kids after Mass that what they saw shouldn’t be happening? How do I explain to them why no one else in the pews has a problem with this? Instead of paying attention to the Mass and the miracle that is happening right in front of us. At that point going to Mass has become a near occasion of sin, if not actually a sin itself.

Respect of authority is a virtue but how can we teach that in an environment like this?

With all of that in mind, we have decided to leave the parish. Believe me this is not a decision that we take lightly. After a lot of prayer, and discussion with other people we are taking it. We are both deeply saddened by this choice because we felt like St Columba St Patrick had become our home.

Thank you and goodbye.

5 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to our Parish

  1. Hey Jeff,

    I am so sorry you felt like you had to do this. It is so hard to leave a Church when it truly felt like home. I know this, if God closes one door another opens. All we can do is follow our own conscience in these matters and hope said conscience is right. Good luck to you and your family and I hope and pray you are as happy in your new Church as you once were in your former one. God Bless to all of you. SR

    1. Thank you SR. I think we will be. The new Church seems to be very good. We already have a running conversation with the priest and we look forward to many happy years there.

    1. Sorry, I was kind of curt with my response. Non ordained people are not allow to give the homily. among other things. Here is the exact rule from the code of cannon law.

      Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

      There is a place for lay people to speak / preach, and here is the rule for that.

      Can. 766 Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to ⇒ can. 767, §1.

      You will notice that it is sequentially the rule right before the one that says that the Priest or Deacon is required to give the Homily.

      The other problem is the reason behind having a pastoral administrator, in other words a lay person running the parish instead of a priest or a deacon, is also against the Code of Cannon Law.

      Can. 517 §1. When circumstances require it, the pastoral care of a parish or of different parishes together can be entrusted to several priests in solidum, with the requirement, however, that in exercising pastoral care one of them must be the moderator, namely, the one who is to direct the joint action and to answer for it to the bishop.

      §2. If, because of a lack of priests, the diocesan bishop has decided that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish is to be entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons, he is to appoint some priest who, provided with the powers and faculties of a pastor, is to direct the pastoral care.

      Between priests and Deacons are there are more than enough for run the parishes that we have here in Rochester. But the Bishop has choose to ignore these rules. There is a “method to the madness” here. It is not that Priests and Deacons are infallible. They are just humans after all, but they have sworn their lives to protecting the Church. They have dedicated themselves to study of its teachings and are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the parish. By letting the lay person give the homily the bishop (and don’t get me wrong here the bishop is the one I have the biggest problem with, but I am also upset with both the priest and the pastoral admin for not standing up to him on this) has basically said that the priest is irrelevant, you don’t need a priest if you have a pastoral administrator. He (the bishop) has spent the last 30 years doing this, and now we have a Diocese that people outside say things like Yes, that is a wonderful place to live, too bad you don’t have a “Catholic” Bishop, and a generation of people who don’t realize that what is going on it wrong.

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