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Sunday, January 18, 2009


The announced church closings
and mergers of largely urban Catholic
parishes in Albany, Troy, Cohoes and
Watervliet is a wrong move for
the future of the Church as well as for
the future of those cities.

The reasons given for these actions
include demographic changes, high
maintenance costs, a declining number
of priests and low attendance at Mass.

There are other reasons not mentioned.

The result of these closures/mergers will
only produce further decline in
the Church as well as in the neighborhoods
and cities.

Churches and neighborhood schools are
the anchors of neighborhoods.
Remove these anchors and neighborhoods/
neighborhood identities disappear.

In cities, like Albany, where a dysfunctional
school district/school board
treats children, parents and homeowner-
taxpayers as pawns, neighborhoods have

The church closings/parish mergers will
only accentuate urban decline, accelerating
flight from the cities and accelerating
decline of the property tax base that supports
city governments and city public schools.

The shortage of priests can be addressed
by recalling priests from the foreign
missions. Reach out to particular Orders
to get the priests to man these parishes.

Low Mass attendance has many causes.
Growing secularism of society is a major
factor. However, the clergy must examine
their own behaviors as another major

The churches, clergy and nuns are very
different than the 1950's when the
Church was at it's peak. When Bishop
Fulton Sheen and others delivered
television homilies which connected
with the people. When Father Peyton
promoted praying the Rosary. When
nuns could be easily recognized, and
lived in communities, in convents.

In a word, the Church has lost
relevance in the lives of the people.

It is an irony that the Church is
contributing to urban decline and
further decline of Church membership
and attendance, when we are on the
verge of people returning to the cities.

The current respite in oil prices and
availability is temporary. High prices
will soon return and oil will become
scarce and not available at any price.

Those living in the surburbs and
countryside will return to the cities.

We should be stabilizing good urban
neighborhoods, revitalizing blighted
ones and rebuilding the aging urban
water and sewer infrastructures to
facilitate this reverse population flow.

These old churches may in need of
some repairs, but they are far more
solidly constructed than many newer

A case it point: St Teresa's church is
closing while the parish merges with
St. Catherine's. Compare the construction
of the two. Which is more sound and
likely to outlast the other?

Of course, St Catherine's has a parking
lot while St Teresa's does not. Even now
parked cars spill over to the adjoining
side streets. This problem will only
intensify after the merger. The irony
is that, in a few short years, the parking
lot will be empty because of oil shortages
and prices.

The church will be empty because the
parish population will be too far flung
and people will not be able, or willing
to walk any great distance to attend

The low participation in school budget
votes illustrates that people in the
city neighborhoods will not venture
to one or two central polling places
in their ward to vote. Of course, the
school district/board know this and
deliberately open only a few polling
places to depress voter turnout
particularly by older homeowners
who vote at their neighborhood
polling places, and who are more
likely to vote against school budgets
because those elderly homeowners
are trying to survive of declining

It troubles me to see the flock
cave in while their heritages and
neighborhoods are being trashed.

Closure of St Teresa's church and
school will result in that fine
neighborhood becoming the next
Park South.

Albany is on the verge of becoming
another Trenton, New Jersey.

If the flock won't rise up for this,
what will they do when their very
survival and the survival of America
are on the line?

RC Church RIP is a major step
toward America RIP.

Joe Sullivan

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