The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“These are our parishes”

New Orleans has now joined Boston as an American city where parishioners have moved into churches and are refusing to leave, to keep them from being shuttered.


Parishioners occupying two Catholic churches in defiance of closure orders from the Archdiocese of New Orleans began laying plans Monday to live in the churches in shifts.


Parishioners from both St. Henry and Our Lady of Good Counsel met Monday night with Peter Borre, a Boston energy consultant who has been involved in Boston parishes’ resistance to a wave of parish closings Cardinal Sean O’Malley ordered in 2004.

Five Boston-area parishes have been occupied around the clock — or under “vigil” — for four years.

In an interview earlier Monday, Borre said he would urge New Orleans parishioners to resist the closings with occupations, in part because “these vigils are the only thing these bishops understand.”

Later, he told a group of two dozen St. Henry parishioners that Boston parishes are being occupied by traditional, mainstream Catholics who are finding their faith enriched in the struggle.


“Here in Catholic America, some people are standing up and saying these are our parishes, and we will protect them against the depredations of our appointed bishops,” he told the group.

You’ll find more about this at the link.

Photo: Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, photo by Sean Gardner, USA TODAY.

Comments read comments(7)
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posted October 29, 2008 at 1:12 am

I’d hate to lose my parish, but the solution is not a “sit in.” The solution is encourage more vocations. How many people do I know who are all for more vocations as long as it isn’t one of their children.

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posted October 29, 2008 at 3:16 am

Let’s pray for these parishioners that they may receive from the Lord the grace of obedience.

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posted October 29, 2008 at 7:08 am

My bishop would probably have me excommunicated for such an act of defiance.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 29, 2008 at 7:23 am

Worm…Vocations would help; but many parishes have far deeper problems. I know in my diocese, a lot of these great old churches were built and sustained by immigrants but, in time, the neighborhoods have changed. The demographics have shifted, and there just aren’t the Catholics there to support them anymore. Dcn. G.

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Mr. Basso

posted October 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

not to put too fine a point on the matter, but if these people are terribly desperate to keep their parishes then why not shift their stewardship of time by staging a sit-in after the fact to a stewardship of treasure by filling the coffers before the issue arises. To say that such sit-ins are the only thing that bishops understand is trite and petty. As though they are not carrying the spiritual buren of being a shepherd, and apostle, and an administrator of a diocese! We are a church poor in donors and catechesis as well as vocations. All three are needed to create a vibrant parish.

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Deacon Dean

posted October 29, 2008 at 11:27 am

I would like to say that our Archbishop is one of the most loving, pastoral, and spiritual men I’ve ever met. His concern for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of his “flock” is without question.It is, IMHO, a tragedy that there are people with agendas who have come to New Orleans to add fuel to the fire of the already raw emotions of the Catholics here who now find it necessary to deal with the parish closures and mergers, much like dealing with a death in the family.New Orleans, like so many other (arch)dioceses, is suffering from a lack of church attendance, a mvoe from the urbs to the burbs, and a lack of vocations. The mergers and closures are a direct, preemptive response to that reality. Our Catholic community needs to come to grips with that reality also, rather than making ridiculous accusations against our Archbishop that his motives are not in the best interest of the parishioners, but are actually motivated by greed.As one columnist in our local Catholic journal noted, while many dioceses measure the distance between parishes in miles, the distance between St. Henry’s (closing) and St. Stephen’s (remaining open) was 360 STEPS. We can no longer afford the luxury of having a Catholic church “on every corner” as we once did.

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posted October 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

I plead a combination of morning person, late night, and lack of sleep for my earlier comment. Thanks Dcn Greg for pointing out my rambling. Of course vocations alone are not the problem. Case in point, the numerous parishes run by administrators. So I guess now everyone knows my pet peeve.I’m not sure what can be done when there aren’t enough parishoners (and dollars) to support a parish. I guess the real solution is to make more Catholic babies. And I seriously doubt that is going to be happening if people are spending their nights in a church.

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