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Sunday, January 16, 2005

St Albert the Great's legacy.

The non-stop vigil by parishioners at a Roman Catholic church closed back in August by the Archdiocese of Boston seems to be earning the Archdiocese's grudging respect. Bella English, who must have a good book's worth of material on the parish by now, reported in yesterday's Boston Globe:

The chairmen of a committee reviewing church closings for the Archdiocese of Boston visited the occupied St. Albert the Great parish for the first time this week and expressed admiration for the dedication of the Catholics who are fighting to keep their church open.

The officials — Sister Janet Eisner and Peter Meade — would not say whether they will recommend to Archbishop Sean O'Malley that he reverse the decision to shutter the parish, which has become a symbol of resistance in the ongoing controversy. Parishioners called it a productive meeting and said they gave Eisner and Meade "new information" they hope will persuade them to reopen the church. . . .

Before meeting privately with five parishioners for 2 hours Thursday night in the church rectory, Eisner and Meade were given a tour of the church property. In the sanctuary, they saw 300 parishioners who had shown up for the nightly lay-led prayer service. Parishioners have occupied the church around the clock since Aug. 29, and seven other parishes in the archdiocese have followed St. Albert into 24-hour vigils.

Eisner, president of Emmanuel College, said she was "amazed" and "very impressed" by what she saw at St. Albert. "Just talking with the people themselves, the level of commitment they have to the Church, to the mission of the Church. . . . They seemed very genuine, very deeply committed people," she said. "I was really quite impressed with what has happened there."

As an officially closed parish without a priest, St Albert the Great is probably more vibrant than many active churches in quite a few denominations, with or without an ordained minister. St Albert's has become an example of superbly empowered laypeople. How far-reaching will its legacy be? If the archdiocese decides to reverse course and allows St Albert the Great to reopen — as it seems it should — will that decision embolden other laypeople to take charge of more of the ministry of their parishes? One can only hope so. The story of St Albert's has struck the Philocrites household as one of the more inspiring religion stories of the past year.

("Dedication of Embattled Parishioners Noted," Bella English, Boston Globe 1.16.05)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 16 January 2005 at 11:10 PM

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Eric Posa:

January 18, 2005 03:53 AM | Permalink for this comment

This is inspiring. Would that more of our lay-led UU fellowships could find a semblance of this unified vibrancy and excellent lay leadership. (I know a few come close, but I do believe they're the exceptions.)


January 18, 2005 05:54 PM | Permalink for this comment

Always nice to see UUs writing on religious topics in the mainstream press. (Bella's a member of my church.)

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