Archive for November, 2005|Monthly archive page

Closing of Parishes

I am sometimes asked, “Why are we closing so many parishes in
Steubenville?” My first answer to that question is always, “Read the
appendix of the Pastoral Plan for the City of Steubenville.”

My shorter answer is a little more graphic: “At present, the Diocese of Steubenville has 70 parishes, 52 priests, and half of those priests are over 60 years of age.” I am approaching age 50, and there are only a half a dozen priests in this Diocese younger than I. In order to truly understand the problem we face, we have to think beyond the City of Steubenville. We priests were ordained for service to the Diocese, not just the City of Steubenville. The bishop has to supply pastors for parishes all over the Diocese. The priests at the University (faculty and students) cannot be counted on for continuous, stable ministry, only occasional help. Their commitments are elsewhere. The retired priests cannot be counted on for continuous, stable ministry, only occasional help. A “parish priest” (Canon Law’s phrase for a “pastor”) must provide continuous, stable ministry.

The bishop has given us two years to implement a new plan because he intends
to remove half the diocesan priests from this City and place them
elsewhere in the Diocese where there is a greater need.

Rev. Timothy P. McGuire

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Design Planning Principles – I

The Triumph of the Cross Building Committee continues to reflect on “Built of Living Stones”, the U.S. Bishop’s document on planning the building of a church. There have been five general principles from that document upon which we have reflected:

  1. The church building must be designed in keeping with Church law and serve the needs of liturgy;
  2. The building should be “worthy of prayer” and “dignified with noble beauty and intrinsically excellent art”;
  3. The building should truly represent the people who will gather there;
  4. The building must foster participation in the liturgy rather than encouraging the passivity of the congregation;
  5. The building reflects the various roles of the participants (a place for the sanctuary, a place for the music ministry, a place for the congregation, etc).

One of the most significant changes in emphasis since Vatican II is number four above. Many older churches, despite other very attractive qualities, were designed like auditoriums. That is, there was a stage (sanctuary) up front with the audience (congregation) watching the divine drama unfold from a long, narrow hall. That sort of design does not encourage the full and active participation that Vatican II calls for.

Our goal is to erect a church building that fulfills all five of the above principles. For some, this will involve a whole new way of thinking about how a new church should be designed.

– Fr. Tim McGuire

Past, Present, Future

Last Sunday, Bishop Conlon installed me as pastor of Triumph of the Cross. WTOV and the Herald Star did a great job covering the event. However, one of the parts of the WTOV interview that got edited out was my acknowledgement that I understand that parishioners are sad that their parishes are closing; some are angry. There is no painless way to do this. I, myself, have ministered to the people of four of the six closing parishes – all great experiences. I, too, am sad to see them closing even though I understand the situation we face.

Despite the sadness and anger, I hope you can also share my optimism for the future. I have made my theme the words of our beloved, late Holy Father, John Paul II:

“‘Put out into the deep!’ These words [of Jesus] ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live in the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence.”

-Fr. Tim McGuire