Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer And Mortification

After a lovely Mass this morning and breakfast at the Pittston Diner, I drove down to see the demolition of St. John the Baptist.

I wish I had my camera.

Only the church is left. Rubble is piled up in front of the doors.

A sobering vision.

Offer prayer and mortification in the hope that we can save more of our churches and fill them with faithful.


Anonymous said...

Sir Rockin One:

Are they tearing down the Church too?

You said all that was left was the Church. What was torn down, if not the Church? Is the Church also to be torn down?

There is a Church in Shenandoah PA-Saint Georges which is getting torn down. The people are upset, but in order to make the Church safe it will cost 6-9 million dollars. That kind of money just isn't in our areas. I think their case is not that dissimilar to the Sacred Heart Church in Wilkes-barre. Sacred Heart needs millions in repairs as well, and this area just dosen't have millions.

Father Dave Bechtel

The Rockin' Traddy said...

I believe the church is going too. I will go by tomorrow if time permits and maybe try to talk to the demo folks. Maybe I can grab a stone or something...

There was a school and rectory on either side of the church. A parking lot is planned, so I'm pretty sure the church itself is going down.


Christian said...

Traddy, I think that if we could just do the latter, then the former will come...

Father Bechtel, Sacred Heart in W-B's case is actually dissimilar to the case in Shenandoah. The church does need repairs. but the millions fugure that is occassionally bandied about is from a RESTORATION to NEW condition project that had included work on it's school as well as paying off $600,000 in Diocesan debt (realated to maintaining the school long after nearby parish schools had closed). The actual figure for repairing the church is substantially less, most of the work does not need to be done all at once either. The dispute over this issue is the driving force behind it's vatican appeal.

The Rockin' Traddy said...

I agree with Christian. The Sacred Heart people are being rail-roaded for some reason. Hopefully the evidence in their appeal is strong enough to overturn the Diocesan decision.

Just another attempt to destroy a traditional-looking church. No holy water fountains or other such nonsense over there.

Anonymous said...


The Sacred Heart appeal will not go through. The parish is going to close. I don't like it, but that is life. The Church indeed is beautiful.

People think the Church courts work in the same way the US courts work- and that is not the case. It does not work in the sense of "I don't like the decision of the bishop, so I am going to go to court and see if a judge will over rule him."

In order for the Sacred Heart appeal to go through and the bishop to be reversed, the people have to prove he violated their Canonical rights- and also that he did not follow the Canonical process in closing the Church. The bishop had one of the worlds leading Canon lawyers working for him as he went through the Holiness and Mission- I garuntee you- he followed the process. All the people are doing is wasting money and time on an appeal that is going to go nowhere.

My suggestion: Face reality- and try to come together and build up the Faith. Focus on evangelization, and bringing people into the Church. Focus on producing and raising up priests- so churches and schools will be BUILT instead of closed.

This is the whole issue-causing Holiness and Mission- the mission started to go from evangelization to management of debt, schools, properties and churches. My job as a priest is not management, fundraising, school issues, and debt reduction- it is EVANGELIZATION and feeding people with the sacraments.

Anonymous said...

Sir Rockin One/Christian:

1) I have been to the Sacred Heart Website and seen firsthand what the plan is and what needs to be done.

2) The debt is 800K, not 600K. You are aware that that must be paid, and I fully support the Diocese in it's need to collect on the debt.

3) I have been a cradle Catholic, and here is my experience with Catholics: They get all excited about a project they will do in "stages." Stage one is of course the most vital- usually structural and safety issues. Stage 2 is the cosmetic, stage 3 is whatever.

My point: my experience is that Catholics are not terribly good at following through on things. Stage one gets done. If your lucky it gets done correctly and rightly-and then the project falls apart and is forgotten about becasue "well, it's good enough for now, we have other priorities we need to focus on."

4) Hence, IF something needs done-- then DO IT AT ONCE AND GET IT DONE. Don't do it in "stages" or it will never get done. Your point then, about the work "not needing to get done all at once" consequently only more strongly convinces me AGAINST such a project.

If you do not have the money up front to undertake the project you will never have it. If you actually HAD the money RIGHT NOW I would be more apt to listen to what you had to say. Talk is cheap. It is one thing to TALK about how your going to raise money, quite another thing to actually DO it. The Diocese isn't stupid and neither am I.

5) I truly think your efforts as I said at this point are better spent on building up the Faith within your new community.

6) Sir Rockin One if you are correct- and the Diocese is on some campagin against "Traditional Churches" Why is Saint Nicks and Immaculate Conception not closed? Why is Saint Patrick's not closed? Those are all "Traditional Churches" which as far as I know are not slated for closing.

Father Dave Bechtel

Anonymous said...

To the Liberals:

In the Catholic Church, we have something called a HIERARCHY! Follow it, and accept the decisions of the Bishop, which is the will of God. This was taught well before the 60s and 70s, and is still valid today.

Stop rebelling and get in line. Raise your donations if you want to keep churches open. If not, kindly feel free to leave.

Catholic Reader

Christian said...

MY GOODNESS, I seem to have struck a nerve.

Careful Father(s) (is Anonymous #1 you Fr. Bechtel?), you have misread my intentions from my comment.

The present debt to the diocese at Sacred Heart is in the $670-$690K ballpark -- I would check my records, but I don't think its necessary to get more accurate than that. No one said anything about not repaying the debt. The Diocese has graciously foregone interest on the debt while also allowing us to collect interest on our deposits.

I did not state my opinion of the merits of the Appeal here, only that the situation is factually different than in Shenandoah, having firsthand knowledge of it (no, I am not a sponsor of the Appeal...)

I will say for the record that Evangelization is the key to the whole thing -- and although I vastly prefer to worship in churches exhibiting Beauty -- if they are not also filled with people espousing Goodness AND the Truth, then there is no point to maintaining museums of the faith of years past.

Raphael said...

The demolition of St. John the Baptist (and all the others) is a real travesty. With all of this emphasis on building "community," so many of us have lost sight of the importance of the parish church - yes, the physical building - as an awesome, holy place.

Father Betchel, you cite Immaculate Conception and St. Nicholas as "traditional churches." Considering only the physical structures and their furnishings, most historical, traditional trappings have long been removed. At St. Mary's the original stained glass windows were replaced with abstract colored boxes. The "presidential chair" situated at the apex of the sanctuary has aspirations of becoming a cathedra, it seems, as it stretches half way up the ceiling. At St. Nicholas the high altar remains, in part, as a reredos with the mensa hacked off to make room for chairs. These types of remodeling projects happened all around our diocese, country, and Church - the enduring legacy of a militant, but misguided implementation of norms that did not even exist. Think about all the altars that were destroyed as priests and parishioners tried to create a utopian, "renewed" church that never materialized. Will future generations look back at this era in history as yet another regretful failure?

As a Church, we need to rediscover the importance of the church building and its furnishings, especially the Altar. While evangelization and community are important, one cannot cite them as justification for closing and demolishing dozens of churches. The message sent by a church reduced to a pile of rubble does more harm to evangelistic efforts than any words can.

By the way, Father - I hope you are correct about Catholics not always following through on things. Maybe they'll forget about stages two and three of Called to Holiness...

Christian said...

Catholic Reader,I think you will be hard pressed to find many LIberal readers or commenters here. And I wholeheartedly support your appeal to raise our donations! Far too many people spend more at McDonald's a week than they do in support of their parish.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Reader,

Your comments while true and accurate----are not directed to the right people.

This website is not a website dedicated to rebellion and liberal causes. This website is not run by liberals who want to tear down the Faith. It is run by a Catholic, and dedicated to all things Catholic. Traditional Catholocism is it's focus however.

I am not a traditionalist, but in any case, thank you for your comments. I think they are better served over at the "Catholics for a Free Choice" (As if there was such a thing as a "Catholic for a free choice" Rather oxymornic if you ask me) website, or Mike Miltz's blog, or the Women's Ordination Conference, etc. Those people as far as I know don't post here or read the blogs on this site, and thus your comments while true are wasted on folks like me who agree with them and don't need to hear them.

In short, you are preaching to the choir on this website.

God Bless you sir!

Father Dave Bechtel

Anonymous said...


Yes, you are correct about Immaculate Conception. The Church was "renovated" (wreckovated) at some time in the past, though I don't know when. From the looks of it, perhaps late 70's? Maybe earlier? Maybe a little later? Early 80's? However it could be restored. I don't know much about the Church other then that. It would seem from my being inside it that it is a bit dated and could stand for a restoration. But it is well maintained.

Saint Nicks is a little more traditional- and it would not take much to restore it since they never really "wreckovated" it.

My point was that while the Church's are not a perfect representation structurally of their original glory, they have the potential to be restored- more so then the modern 1970's churches. My point also was that to my knowledge I am not aware that these churches are slated for closing any time soon.

Father Dave Bechtel

Anonymous said...


I wanted to also mention: Holiness and Mission is done. The decisions have been made and by 2012 all churches slated for closing will have closed. People might appeal. In the end all that will do is maybe buy them time, and waste their money. It will also give them false assurance, hope, and serve to reinforce the denial about the whole process.

As I said, what is done, is done. We need to move forward and build a stronger church so in the future we will build schools and churches, etc. If people keep taking the attitude "Just try and make me cooperate" "I am not giving anymore" churches will keep closing until there is nothing left to close and no Faith in this area.

Raphael said...


Thank you for your reply. I see your point about the churches. It is my sincerest hope that the parishioners and clergy will have the vision (and funding) to restore those beautiful structures.

Regarding Called to Holiness and Mission, I realize that it is almost over, but not quite. Remember there are a number of "to be reviewed in three years" situations. My parish in particular and a number of others still exist in a state of uncertainty about their future. I hope that when the time comes for further review, they will leave us be.

The Rockin' Traddy said...

Raphael - You mentioned Saint Mary's and Mon. Bannick's Cathedra. lol! It certainly seems like that, doesn't it?

I went to a 'penance service' there once, and it was very dramatic. It was about two or three years ago, and before the service started, the lights were dim. Mon. Bannick came out and sat in his chair, his gaze falling to the floor. The choir sang some new agey song, and as they were finishing up, the spotlights slowly came up and Monsignor slowly raised his head to look at the assembled. I felt as if I were at a new odd production of Camelot, and King Arthur had just fixed his gaze upon me. As I said, very dramatic. Oh, and he was wearing a cope, which is another reason it was very King Arthur like. Although, Mon. Bannick has always reminded me more of Liberace than Richard Harris.

Christian said...

OUch Traddy! LOL. A year or two back when I was lamenting the state of the liturgy in a certain Wyoming Valley parish that can't stay out of the newspapers, An organist recommended St. Mary's and Msgr Bannick to me. I never went there, I wonder what the Sunday Mass is really like.

Sigh... it just dawns on me -- Isn't this awful talking about who says Mass faithfully and who doesn't? A year or two back when I was in the sacristy preparing the readings, an EM came in and asked who was saying Mass becasue they like the way Fr so and so does. The sacristan indignantly replied, "Jesus Christ is!"

Raphael said...

Traddy, it definitely looks like a cathedra - or maybe a chair for a giraffe?

Sounds like quite an experience at the penance service. If you think that was dramatic, St. Joe's in Berwick used to dim the "house lights" at the consecration and had spotlights on the altar. By the way, have you been to St. Mary's so far this Advent? Do they still have the giant suspended wreath?