For many Catholics living in the New York metropolitan area, Nov. 2 looks like it will be “Bloody Sunday." - Aleteia
Instead of a typical All Souls Day, lighting candles to commemorate the faithful departed, churchgoers at more than 50 parishes in the Archdiocese of New York will be greeted with the news they dreaded for months.
"Let me be candid," wrote Cardinal Dolan in his column in Catholic New York, "there will soon be a real sense of grief at some of our parishes as we get set to announce publicly what we’ve been preparing for the last five years, namely, the merging of some of our beloved parishes. In a few places, there might even be a feeling that something has died."
A dark moment for pastors who were summoned to the archdiocese on Halloween. But let's get to the point: It's not a merger, it's an acquistion with no mention of closure, or that other ominous word, suppression. It's not a feeling that something has died, it's a Black Swan event involving thousands of people - a reorganization of unprecedented size as reported by the New York Times.
For the Church of Our Lady of Peace on East 62nd Street - finances in the black, self-sufficient, in a landmarked historic district on the Upper East Side - it makes no sense. Their cluster group voted for collaboration among four parishes working on the Making All Things New initiative - a reasonable step. The Archdiocesan Advisory Council recommended merging them into St. Vincent Ferrer, a church running a $500,000 deficit. That was counterintuitive.
Our Lady of Peace parishioners found out about the proposed merger at the beginning of August and mounted a fast and furious letter-writing campaign, petitions in the back of the church, and online. They proudly hand delivered a book to Cardinal Dolan. They sat in Bishop O'Hara's office until they were heard. They invited the Cardinal and the Bishop to tea (invitations graciously declined) as recently as last week.
"As we now come to the decision point of our Making All Things New strategic pastoral planning, which began years ago and intensified the last year-and-a-half," Cardinal Dolan wrote in his column, "about 14% of our parishes will undergo a 'purgatory,' with decisions to merge them with their welcoming neighbors."
For Our Lady of Peace, the decision, in the form of a letter dated November 2, reads in part, "The Parishes of Saint John the Evangelist and Our Lady of Peace will merge into a new parish. The church of Saint John the Evangelist will be designated as the new parish church."
Once a decision or decree has been announced publicly at each church, according to Canon Law, parishioners have 10 useful or calendar days to appeal to the Cardinal to rescind his decision.