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Faith & Parish

Philadelphia archdiocese announces major school closings

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Updated 5:45 p.m. central

Dramatic realignment to the Philadelphia Catholic school system is coming. Today, the archdiocese announced that it will close four high schools, and 44 elementary schools will either close or merge with other schools.

News of which schools were affected spread after a closed-door meeting this morning between the archdiocese and priests and school administrators at Neumann University. At a press conference this afternoon, Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke with optimism for the school system’s future.

“I’m convinced, if we take this report to heart … we can renew Catholic education across the archdiocese,” he said.

Other key recommendations from the commission were the establishment of a foundation dedicated exclusively to raising money to support schools; a new governance model consisting of an executive education board chaired by the auxiliary bishop overseeing Catholic education and four additional boards representing each area of education; and advocacy for government support to allow parents free choice in schools.

A checkup in Rome for the American bishops

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An ad limina visit, the trip Catholic bishops are required to make every five years to Rome, is a bit like a routine physical. It might flag a serious problem, but usually it’s just a checkup covering a wide variety of aches, pains, and ups and downs.

If nothing else, it’s revealing to learn what doctor and patient are thinking about, because it might provide hints of treatments to come.

In the face of church's change, new liturgy is really 'Whatever'

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Commentary

We were visiting family over the holidays and attended Mass at a parish where there was evidence of the ongoing tussle with the new liturgy. At one point during an attempt to keep up with that unnecessarily unwieldy construction of "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," someone nearby got tongue-tied and finished it off with, "Whatever."

I chuckled. It was good to laugh about it.

Those of us who by virtue of our circumstances (religion writers, for instance, or professional liturgists) know the back story to the changes are more likely than not to bristle at the rather saccharine presentation of reasons for the changes. The reality, of course, is that the changes were as much as anything else about power and maintaining control, rolling back the language that came to reflect the changes in theology and community disposition that occurred as a result of the Vatican Council of the 1960s. Yes, yes, it was to restore some of the majesty and awe, some of the precision of the Latin upon which the prayers are based, to restore anew the sense of mystery and to re-establish the distance between priest and people.

San Francisco parish to build columbarium behind main altar

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Responding to repeated requests for a parish columbarium, Dominican Fr. Xavier Lavagetto, pastor of St. Dominic Parish in San Francisco, has announced that 320 niches for cremated remains will be installed in the Friars Chapel behind the church's main altar.

It will be the only Catholic church in San Francisco to have a columbarium. In the 1930s, the city mandated the closure and removal of all cemeteries within its borders except for three historical sites. Four Episcopal churches and the Neptune Society now have columbaria, but Catholics must travel outside the city to bury their loved ones.

The niches at St. Dominic's will be reserved for registered parishioners and their families and will cost from $4,200 to $15,200, depending on their location. The parish also plans to include a low-cost community niche for those who cannot afford an individual niche. The columbarium will be financially self-sustaining and will not require any special fundraising among the parish's 3,200 registered parishioners.

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July 18-31, 2014

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