View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Goodbye Holy Redeemer

The parish council at Our Lady of the Americas Parish has voted to close two of the cluster's churches and to consolidate at the third church.

Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier and Mt. Carmel churches will close this fall, and Corpus Christi Church will remain open, but be known simply as The Church of Our Lady of the Americas Parish.

The pastor, Father Vincent Panepinto, said that at Corpus Christi there will side shrines devoted to St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and that the Holy Redeemer also will be represented in the sanctuary.

He said the parish is also trying to determine if it will be financially feasible to move the 110-year-old marble altar from St. Francis Xavier Church to Corpus Christi . That altar formerly resided at St. Patrick’s and Sacred Heart cathedrals, and was first used by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, who founded the diocese. There's a bit of history I hope won't be lost.

The Corpus Christi facilities are in the best shape. Financially, it was logical to centralize operations there.

As I've noted previously, I have strong ties to Corpus Christi, even though I stopped attending there in the early 1990s when it strayed away from the Roman Catholic Church.

But I also have ties to Holy Redeemer.

In 1976 when I was a seminarian, I stayed at the parish for the summer. The pastor, Father Ted Metzger, was away most days - if I remember correctly, he was taking classes - so our contact was not as frequent as I would have liked, for I enjoyed the times we did talk. A good and gentle man.

The rectory has a coupula where I used to like to sit and read and pray. Even then I liked my solitude.

The coupula helped to inspire my first published poem, "The Widow's Walk."

It was at the parish that I also first tried my hand at being a liturgical musician.

It was also at that parish that I realized that I was called to a married vocation, not the priesthood. Father Metzger was the first person I told.

The old rectory was long ago torn down. The church was sold and the parish moved to St. Francis Xavier, which was later joined with Mt. Carmel and Corpus Christi.

Now even Holy Redeemer's name will be gone.

I understand what's happened to city parishes. It's happening not only here in Rochester, but in cities across the U.S. Populations shift to the suburbs and it becomes financially impossible to keep the old city churches open. But that does not lessen the sadness old-time parishioners will feel. And even though I was not an official parishioner, the news brings back memories and a certain wistfulness.

I wonder if there will be a fund to help move the marble altar? I'll have to check on that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:18 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Alas, no inside pictures. I didn't have a camera back then - some 32 years ago. I do remember it as being beautiful.

I wonder if there are some pictures in the diocesan archives, or if the parish may have some?

I suspect the bleeding will stop when people stop moving to the suburbs, the neighborhoods become safer (in reality and perception), or the Catholic Church really begins to evangelize in the cities.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Closing Corpus Christi Church would have been a PR nightmare for the diocese, especially in the year that Spiritus Chirsti is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Anyway good luck to Our Lady of the Americas. Its located in a nice, visable location. And a beautiful church (I've been in it). And spend the money to move the altar to Corpus. It's part of the history of the diocese.

I drive by the old Holy Redeemer Church a few times a year. The builing has seen better days but its still being used as a church from what I can see. I'd like to see some pictures of the inside too!

3:41 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

It would be wonderful if we had a site with pictures of all the beautiful religious art and architecture in Rochester. There's already one dedicated to public art -(

Of course, there would probably be some debate over what would qualify as "good" - look at the debate over church renovations!

I don't have the equipment or the technical expertise for such a project. Hmm.

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, no website for the Northside Church of Christ. But they are in the former Holy Redeemer Church.

I read on the R News website that a few years back one of the domes lost a sheet of copper during a wind storm and the dome had to be repaired. Other than that not much information other than the church serves the community around them. And their close neighbor? St. George's Church which is celebrating 100 years this year!

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:19 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I've been to St. Stan's and St. Bridget's, but I don't recall ever being to St. George's.

3:58 PM  

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