about having access to the Sacraments
like to break with tradition. Instead of my usual political repartee,
I want to share a slightly different perspective on the threatened
breakup of the Sacred Heart Parish Community.
Prior to returning to my Catholic roots, I had the privilege of serving
Rev. Nicolas Zaccardi of the First Baptist Church as his administrative
aide. For three years, I was a licensed Minister and also served as the
Church moderator. In the latter role, I chaired the heart-rending business
meetings in which that congregation anguished over selling its church
Unlike the faithful at Sacred Heart, the congregation at First Baptist
had freedom to remain together as a faith community. We were not faced
with the prospect of dispersing the flock or having to join another congregation.
Our elderly members did not fear distant commutes impeding their ability
to worship with their chosen assembly. In fact, to this day First Baptist
Church is still a vibrant household of faith. They simply moved across
the street and rented space from the good folks at Phillips. Under the
guidance of Pastors Nick and Cheryl Zaccardi, their congregation sponsors
outreach to the community. As well, they provide an excellent education
to the children who attend Christian Life Academy.
the parishioners at Sacred Heart don’t have the
option of staying together. My friend and former colleague Fr. Joe Curran
will be taken away from them. The flock will be scattered to distant
parishes and a community will be dissolved.
Church teaches: “The Eucharist is the source and
summit of Christian Life”… “Our way of thinking is
attuned to the Eucharist and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of
thinking.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The Eucharist is so central to the Catholic faith, that the Church encourages
daily communion. Many Catholics especially older Catholics attend Mass
every morning. Sacred Heart welcomes over 40 such communicants every
sense dictates the Eucharist should be made easily accessible to those
Catholics who seek it. It makes no sense to close the only Catholic
Church in a neighborhood that includes parts of three towns. The impact
of this closure is exacerbated by the recent closings of Our Lady of
Mercy in Belmont, St. Theresa’s
in Watertown, and Immaculate Conception in Cambridge. I have to wonder:
is the Archdiocese abandoning her sons and daughters in this tri-town
swath of territory?
Catholics are indeed called to humility and obedience, but the laity
does have certain rights. These rights are spelled out in the Code of
Canon Law. Among them: “the right and even the duty to manifest …their
opinion on matters that pertain to the good of the Church” (Canon
213) and “the right to worship according to the prescriptions
of their own rite” (Canon 214).
214 normally relates to the way the Liturgy is celebrated, it expresses
the RIGHT of the lay faithful to worship. For Catholics, worship is
more than private devotion or praying together. It is participation
sacrifice on Calvary; made present at every Mass. How can Catholics
exercise this right if the obstacle of distance is unnecessarily placed
in their way?
far more than a discussion about a building and who owns it. It’s even more than the nostalgic sentiments of parishioners who
don’t want the symbol of sacred memories replaced with condos or
a restaurant. Further, it’s not about the “Sacramental Index”.
Rather it’s about the congregants of Sacred Heart in their particular
circumstance being able to live out their sacramental lives as Catholics.
to the Church, I’ve dedicated myself to building
bridges amongst fellow Christians by answering questions about the Catholic
faith. I get a dozen or so emails weekly from people interested in what
the Church teaches. Several of those emails are from would-be converts.
Not surprisingly, some of these good people are scandalized by what they
perceive as cold-hearted church closings. It’s time that the powers
that be in this Archdiocese realize that they are putting obstacles in
the way of our faithful, while also putting a stumbling block along the
path traveled by potential converts. The officials at the Chancery are
making it pretty difficult for non-Catholics to understand the Church.
In fairness, I must say Catholics on the East Coast have it better than
those in other places. In some dioceses parishes are few and far between.
One priest must tend numerous flocks spread out over hundreds of miles.
These folks are lucky if a Mass is celebrated monthly in their parish.
the parishioners of Sacred Heart are not the cause of the Archdiocese’s
financial problems. Like Catholics from other doomed parishes, they
are paying the price for the lack of evangelism, the poor religious
instruction of recent decades, and --yes --the infamous behavior of
the predatory serpents who once wore Roman collars.
has suffered much angst in recent years. It’s
time for healing and restoration. In that Spirit, I humbly appeal to
His Excellency Archbishop O’Malley.
Will this church closing help bring healing and restoration? What would
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government