As chronicled here not long ago, I was the world’s oldest living altar boy back in the ’60s, thanks to a deal my Mom (aka Jackie’s Agnes) cut with Bishop Furlong at the Church of St. Thomas More in Manhattan.
In return for an “altar boy scholarship” to Fordham Prep, I became an indentured servant to my parish church.
By the time I was 17, the cassock (long black thing) was way too short for me, and the surplice (short white thing) looked like something Britney Spears would wear on tour.
Not a pretty sight.
Sadly, the former is about to swallow the latter.
From the New York Times:
New York Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter Additional Churches
The sweeping reorganization of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, set to take effect next year, is likely to involve the merger or the closing of significantly more parishes than was originally announced last month, archdiocese documents show.
Church officials said in November that 112 of the archdiocese’s 368 parishes would be consolidated to create 55 new parishes, the largest realignment of the parish structure in the history of the archdiocese, which stretches from Staten Island to the Catskills. In 31 of those new parishes, one or more of the original churches would no longer be used for regular services, effectively shuttering those churches by August.
According to the Times piece, here’s the consolidation the faithful on Manhattan’s East Side are awaiting:
The thing is, St.Thomas More isn’t even sick: The parish has “about 3,500 members and Sunday services that are filled with young families. The parish covers its costs and has $1.5 million in cash reserves.”
The parish has one of the highest per capita donor profiles in the entire archdiocese, Christopher E. Baldwin, a trustee, said. It recently finished an $800,000 round of improvements to the church’s buildings. Its community space hosts a highly regarded nursery school and accommodates some 400 community meetings per year.
When the pastor, Rev. Kevin Madigan, asked why they would shutter a flourishing parish, he said he was told that “since St. Thomas More will eventually close some day, it is better to do it now rather than later, when there is presently a momentum within the archdiocese to merge parishes.”
Good Lord! That’s absurd even by Cathaholic standards.
And a shame. When I was young, St. Thomas More seemed to be where worship happened. St. Ignatius was for ceremony. It’s clear where the Archdiocese’s loyalties lie.
We’ll give the last word to Mr. Baldwin, the trustee at St. Thomas More.
“Closing St. Thomas More reminds me of a man who would eat his leg to fill his belly,” he said. “He may be full for a short period of time, but he soon will again be hungry. And God help him when he gets up to walk, let alone run.”