Saturday, November 22, 2008

Church closings- a reader reports

I noticed your blog is interested in Catholic Church closings. I've been following some closings that involve my old parish and the surrounding area. It's been a messy affair, if you are interested I can outline it for you. (Cathcon- many thanks- anyone else with first hand stories are also encouraged to write.)

The key parish in question is St. Rose of Lima, located in Windsor, Ontario Canada. (map) The city of Windsor is located on the other side of the river from Detroit, Michigan in the United States, and as such is a very automotive oriented city. With the decline in the auto industry (even before the recent economic troubles) coupled with an aging population has reduced parish numbers across the city.

Original news article on all the closures

Additional article with picture of the front of the church

The parishioners at St Rose of Lima have been HIGHLY critical of the closure, and have been doing everything in their power to prevent it. One of the most significant steps taken was to get the church declared a ‘heritage site’, which means the building cannot be demolished or otherwise altered in any way that would appearance of the church. This effectively means the building value to the diocese is very little since any sale of the property would only be to those who would use the building as a church, either literally or functionally.

Minutes from the meeting where the heritage designation was debated

There are detailed descriptions of the church and its history at the link above, which can help put into perspective the strong feelings of those involved.

There is also a threat from the family that originally donated the property to the church, that they would contest any sale of the church since a condition for the donation was that the land would be used for the church. Then there was the offer to buy another church that doesn’t have the same kind of history and is in need of lots of repairs. Originally a million dollars was offered, and the offer was upped to 2 million, yet the diocese has rejected it. Story on this and more.

The formal decree from the diocese can be found at the link.

There is also a note that they are extending the use of the church temporarily:

An interesting sidebar to this story is that one of the main players trying to keep the parish open is a very well known and respected Canadian, who has returned his Order of Canada medal to make a stand against abortion. (The Order of Canada is Canada’s highest civilian honour.)
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