Although their church building was officially closed by the diocese on Jan. 18, parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Roman Catholic parish are continuing to meet: for prayer, fellowship and to express their concerns about the diocese's reconfiguration plan. Their next gathering will be this Sunday, Feb. 1, at the church--INSIDE OR OUTSIDE--building at 11 a.m. for a prayer service.
This week the National Catholic Reporter newspaper published a front-page story on the problem of church closings across the United States. (See www.ncronline.org) The article notes that parishes in other parts of the country are handling the shortage of priests without closing churches. These parishes hold services without a priest and hold a Mass when a priest is available and may serve communion.
St. Andrew's had operated with a shared priest, Father James Matthews, who also is pastor of St. Lucy's Church in the city of Syracuse. The bishop has asked St. Andrew's parishioners to join St. Lucy's Church.
The Action Committee of St. Andrew's notes that:
The church's own canon law, specifically section 517.2, allows lay members of the church to carry out services when a priest is not available.
St. Andrew's is a vibrant, viable and fiscally solvent parish with a priest who wants to continue to serve there and at St. Lucy's.
The parishioners of St. Andrew are continuing to gather for prayer and fellowship even though their building has been taken from them.
Two prayer services were held the morning of closure (Jan. 18) at the church, located at 124 Alden St., in Syracuse. Parishioners gathered the following day outside the diocesan headquarters in downtown Syracuse to urge Bishop Moynihan to reconsider his decision to close St. Andrew's and other viable parishes. Bishop Moynihan's policy regarding 40 church closings planned for the diocese is: "one priest, one parish."
Parishioners will gather this Sunday at 11 a.m., the traditional time of Mass at St. Andrew's, to share in prayer and fellowship. The service will take place whether the church doors are open and space inside available or outside on the steps of the church regardless of weather conditions. Parishioners are asked to bring cans of food for soup kitchens in the community.