Thursday, January 6, 2011
Win One for the Little Guys (and Gals)!
Nothing is ever easy in Camden, is it? Leave it to them to turn something simple into something, well....keep reading.
As you may remember, a few years back the Camden Diocese announced a sweeping plan to close or consolidate nearly half their parishes. Take that, North Philadelphia Swath of Destruction and Year of Hell! Ha!
One of those parishes, St. Mary, was closed early and without fanfare--sans farewell mass or anything--due to supposed boiler problems. But as luck--or more likely, Diocesan stupidity--would have it, the building was left unlocked. So in response to the closing, a small group of parishioners have taken up residence in the church to protest.
More detail below:
Philadelphia Inquirer: Parishioners hold out in shuttered church
NBC Philadelphia: NJ Parishioners Protest Church Closing
All jokes aside, you have to admire this kind of gumption. The parishioners have even started a campaign, Save St. Mary's Malaga, and the alleged malfunctioning boiler has been fixed. All good, right? Right?
As we all know by now, any (Arch)Diocese never changes its mind about such things. Whatever they decide, that's the rule, regardless of what the aftermath might be. I'm not entirely versed on the rationale behind closing St. Mary's in the first place (if there was any), but any logical organization would have to look at this and reconsider. I mean, hell, if parishioners are willing to camp out for an unlimited amount of time to keep the place around, then they certainly seem capable enough to keep the parish afloat.
Logic, sadly, doesn't apply to these matters. And while the Diocese currently hums that it has no plans to do anything about the squatters, we all know that's going to change quickly, especially as this becomes a bigger story.
For what it's worth, the Project salutes you, parishioners, and wishes you well. One word of warning, though: decide now just far you want to take this, because it will escalate faster and more dramatically than you may realize, and you'll have to make some tough choices.
Look no further than the story of St. Louis' St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Lengthy and ongoing battles with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and a succession of archbishops (including our own Cardinal Rigali!) over control and closing led parishioners to break away and essentially form their own church. They've all pretty much been excommunicated, and their new sect has developed some interesting progressive slants, but you know what?
They still have their building. In this day and age, that's saying something.