The core members of each parish began the cluster phase of Making All Things New in early December 2013. As reported in the article, "Cluster Planning Crucial to Making All Things New" in Catholic New York, there were 75 cluster groups operating throughout the Archdiocese of New York for a period of two and a half months. At a December meeting of the West Manhattan cluster groups, John Reid, consultant to the Archdiocese and founder of The Reid Group, explained that the core members would be given access to confidential parish records, including those "regarding sacramental life and finances, which Cardinal Dolan believes their work of the next few months requires."
Our Lady of Peace on E.62nd Street was placed in a cluster group with three other churches in the East Manhattan Vicariate: St. John the Evangelist, 348 E. 55th Street; Holy Family, 315 E. 47th Street; and St. Frances X. Cabrini, 555 Main Street, Roosevelt Island.
In their analysis of the parish records and data, the cluster groups were tasked to consider and ultimately suggest one of two parish models: collaboration, in which a parishes formally cooperate and share resources between other parishes; or consolidation, in the which parishes merge, and one is church is ultimately selected to close. The cluster group that included Our Lady of Peace selected the collaboration model.
The cluster group suggestions marked the completion of the second of the eight step process in Making All Things New. They were due to be delivered to the Archdiocesan Advisory Board by the first of March 2014. The 40-member Advisory Board included priests, deacons, and other church leaders, both religious and lay persons. Advisory Board members from the East Manhattan vicariate as reported in the Catholic New York included John Donovan and Rev. Fr. Robert Robbins, who is the contact in the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs department of the archdiocese, according to their website.
The Archdiocesan Advisory Board was tasked with reviewing the recommendations of the cluster groups, making their preliminary recommendations, and then refering those recommendations back to the cluster groups for further review. The preliminary recommendations of the Advisory Board were the third step in the eight step process.
The Advisory Board's function was to place each church into one of three categories: collaboration, consolidation, or closure. In the consolidation model, financial assets from folding parishes would be given to the newly consolidated parish. According to the 6 February 2014 article published in Catholic News, in the closure model, financial assets would be equally distributed to surrounding parishes that absorbed the members of the closing parish.
Meeting in late March in Ossining, New York, the Archdiocesan Advisory board engaged in three days of dialogue. John Reid, chief consultant for The Reid Group, led the meeting.
"The clusters offered their best thinking, when they made their suggestions about the future,” Reid said, as reported in the 2 April issue of Catholic News. “Now the Advisory Group is responding to that by offering their best thinking based on what they know right now.”
Advisory Board members voted to support or oppose the recommendations of the cluster groups, or abstained if there was a conflict of interest.
Responses to the preliminary Advisory Board recommendations from parishes in 75 clusters throughout the archdiocese were due on 8 June, Pentecost Sunday. In these responses, which constituted steps 4 and 5 of the process, cluster teams could amend, affirm, or offer new information.
For the Church of Our Lady of Peace, the Archiocesan Advisory Board recommended that the parish should be merged into St. Vincent Ferrer, a church that was not even included in the cluster group with Our Lady of Peace.
The report, Restructuring of Parishes, Archdiocese of New York, Update June 2014, includes the recommendations of the cluster group that included Our Lady of Peace, the preliminary recommendation of the Advisory Board, and the rebuttal of the cluster group. << Download OLP - Restructuring of Parishes Report June 2014 >>
The Advisory Board gave several reasons for its preliminary recommendation to merge Our Lady of Peace into St. Vincent Ferrer. Among the stated reasons were a shortage of clergy, a small parish with Sunday attendance at 350, five weekend masses, proximity of the two churches, and the elimination of the cost of one facility.
The cluster group said they could not accept the preliminary recommendation of the Advisory Board because Our Lady of Peace is financially solvent, has effective community outreach programs, maintains its landmarked building, and will celebrate its centennial in four years. The cluster group prefaced the June report with a statement that although no final decisions had been made by the archdiocese, "it would be naive to assume that our parish will continue to remain open."