A few members of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in the Boston Archdiocese have been holding vigil in their church for more than ten years since it was announced in 2005 that it would close. These few dozen faithful have, it seems, failed to recognize the signs of the times and the reality that is the Catholic Church in the United States and in the Northeast with its special considerations of a plethora of formerly ethnic parishes. Due to a shortage of priests and resources, Boston underwent necessary changes and reorganizations in its parish restructuring.
In the Diocese of Providence, one can hardly commute to work or school, run errands or visit family without passing at least a few Catholic parishes — most still with full-time pastors. Drastic and sweeping restructuring of parishes in the Diocese of Providence is not in Bishop Tobin’s plan as he frequently has stated. He continues to encourage conversation among the people and their priests to embrace the imminent and necessary changes with ideas and planning. As has been widely reported, the Diocese of Providence, now and in the next few years, sees the numbers of priests to serve parishes reducing drastically.
As people drive a few miles almost anywhere in the state, and pass several Catholic churches, they have to ask, do we have a vocation crisis or too many parishes? The answer is clearly both, and both need to be addressed in prayer and action. Now is the time to work toward resolution, even if it means sacrifice of what we hold precious — the way things used to be.