Text of a letter sent recently to Fr. Christopher Martin, Vicar for Strategic Planning, Archdiocese of St. Louis:
Dear Fr. Martin:
As someone who was chosen to be one of the parishioners who prepared the workbook for the next step in this Archdiocesan restructuring, I have many questions that beg for answers. As you stated in your homily at my parish, and is reiterated in all the webinars, publications, and supporting articles: THIS EFFORT IS ALL ABOUT EVANGELIZATION.
My question: How does closing even ONE parish and/or parish school, evangelize? The webinars, publications and supporting articles NOW tell us that parishes and parish schools will be closed. The consequences of previous closures are clear: Parishioners and students are lost ……… to others churches (protestant), to the “Nones” and to public schools.
The downward trajectory of Catholics in the pews, despite many previous attempts to inflame evangelism, points to other serious problems that must be addressed before true evangelization can begin. Among these are:
1. Many years of weak catechesis, even in Catholic schools;
2. Fewer vocations to the priesthood and religious life because of the homosexual scandal in dioceses and seminaries which has not been aggressively excised;
3. The overreaction of the bishops and clergy to Covid-19 which resulted in the shutdown of the Churches far beyond what was necessary. This denial of Mass, the sacraments and public worship of God flies in the face of the definition of Church; and,
4. A lack of transparency throughout the Archdiocese regarding financial decisions funded by and affecting the parishioners. This process has the appearance of a way to increase the finances of the Archdiocese by selling facilities and property.
Until these questions are resolved, any “model” constructed has a foundation of sand. Further, it will institutionalize all the serious failings of the past by not addressing them before the model(s) are presented.
This brings up the further question of the track record of Catholic Leadership Institute. What results have they produced for their other clients? Has evangelization produced record numbers of conversions and entries into the Church? How much are we paying for their services? What is the basis for the modeling projections? Who owns all the data which CLI has accumulated? Are we just giving CLI the means to become Catholic Google?
I look forward to your responses.