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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Closed parish wins 10-month stand-off with archbishop.

On the heels of the Boston Archdiocese's hasty retreat on its preemptive closure of Our Lady of the Presentation School, the archdiocese also announced the reopening of St Albert the Great Parish in Weymouth. As readers of this site and practically everyone in the greater Boston area knows, St Albert the Great has been occupied around the clock for the past ten months by its parishioners — an extraordinary act of devotion and congregational stewardship — to prevent the archdiocese from taking possession of the church it decided unilaterally to close.

Good news, of course — although the opening paragraph of Michael Paulson's Boston Globe report makes it clear that Archbishop O'Malley has been stalling all along and might still be waiting for the laypeople to give up:

Ten weeks after promising to do so, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley has issued a decree formally reopening St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth, which has been occupied by protesters for nearly 10 months.

The delighted parishioners — who still want the archbishop to reappoint the dynamic and liberalish priest who helped revive the parish and empowered its laypeople, and whom the archbishop has essentially put out to pasture — aren't packing up their sleeping bags and going home, though:

A spokesman for the parishioners said they would continue to sleep at the church at least through Friday night, when they have a scheduled parish council meeting, at which they will discuss whether to end the occupation. Parishioners will also seek assurances from the archdiocese that it plans to return the parish's money, estimated at $200,000; that it will restore a full complement of daily and weekend Masses and other sacramental activities; will return the parish's records, which were sent to church archives; and will support the return of church groups that existed before the parish was closed last August.

"The lack of progress during these 10 weeks was frustrating and unnecessarily aggravating," said the spokesman, Colin Riley, who pointed out that a longtime parishioner who lived across the street from St. Albert's recently died knowing that her funeral could not be celebrated at her parish because the archdiocese had not yet technically reopened it. Riley said the parishioners are mindful of what has taken place at St. Bernard Church in West Newton, where parishioners abandoned a vigil after O'Malley promised not to close the church. The archbishop has yet to fully restore the staff, programs, and worship services that parish had enjoyed before being targeted for closing.

It's always disheartening to watch religious leaders make "promises" the way politicians do. ("Weymouth Parish Achieves Vigil's Goal," Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 6.15.05, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 15 June 2005 at 9:36 PM

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June 20, 2005 08:40 AM | Permalink for this comment

St Albert the Great will maintain its round-the-clock vigil through the July 4 weekend and will hold a weekly overnight vigil even after the parish officially reopens in July, the Globe reports in an article about the fate of other closed parishes. ("No Reprieve, but New Hope," Sarah Schweitzer and Megan Tench, Boston Globe 6.18.05, reg req'd)

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