Sunday, March 06, 2005

Doesn't Alderman Thomas Villa Get It?

The insinuation in the following letter suggests that the Archdiocese lacks a commitment to the city of St. Louis. If one reads Archbishop Burke's letter, "On the pastoral reorganization of the South City Deanery", here (and continued here), one can see the Archbishop did not approach this matter lightly. He states:
In announcing the final decisions regarding the pastoral reorganization of the South City Deanery, I am deeply conscious of the pain which changes in parish and Catholic school life cause. I have the deepest compassion for the faithful of the South City Deanery and regret sincerely the pain which you are enduring. I assure you that the changes which I announce today are made to further the mission of the Church in the archdiocese. They represent prudential decisions, but they are made on the basis of the thorough work of the task force for the South City Deanery Pastoral Planning. I ask you to accept the suffering of change in your parishes and schools, asking that God bless the Church in the deanery and the archdiocese. (#8)
It is by strengthening Christian families that the Church and the city will be strengthened. One might ask what efforts the city has made in the past decades to strengthen Christian families? What efforts has the city made to keep its people from fleeing to the suburbs?
Archdiocese should renew commitment to the city


It is with a great deal of personal pain and mental anguish that I witness the pastoral reorganization of the South City Deanery of the Archdiocese. South St. Louis will witness the closing of 10 parishes and four of its 18 Catholic elementary schools.

The aging population and my aging constituency are experiencing a truly traumatic event. My late grandparents were proud parishioners at St. Boniface Church. Rose and John Spesia were good Catholics and wonderful, generous people.

My late father, Alderman Albert "Red" Villa, got as far as the fourth grade at St. Boniface. The nuns taught him well.

Sts. Mary and Joseph is the parish where both of my parents' funeral masses were held. They were special people of faith who gave of their time and talent to their parish. My late mother worked the card parties and the fish fries because of her love for our Catholic parishes in Carondelet.

I cite my grandparents' and parents' contributions to our South Side parishes because they were emblematic of all the hard-working, wonderful people that made these parishes special. The people of my district are hurt and confused. Sadness reigns, and the changes are painful.

I call upon the Archdiocese of St. Louis to renew its commitment to the city of St. Louis. The city can be great again, but let us not forget what helped to make it special. Catholic elementary schools and Catholic churches and the faithful people who built them are owed a tremendous debt of gratitude.

St. Louis can experience a true revival only if the powers-that-be in the archdiocese are willing to emulate the grit and determination and hard world of the obedient Catholics who made these parishes special.

State Rep. Thomas A. Villa
108th Legislative District
St. Louis
Is not the Archdiocese first committed to the salvation of souls and the life of the Church in the city, rather than to the city first? Archbishop Burke, in his concern for the elderly, further states:
16. In the reorganization of the pastoral care in the South City Deanery, I ask that a consistent and careful attention be given to those "advanced in years" in every parish, so that they may participate fully in parish life. I ask especially that each parish consider how it may best assist the elderly in coming to church for the Mass, devotions and parish activities. Some of our elderly will experience the loss of a familiar parish community, perhaps a community which they have known for a lifetime. May they also experience the joy of becoming fully part of a new parish, treasured for the special gifts which God has given them for the good of all in the parish.
One cannot help but realize that the mass exodus from St. Louis to the suburbs is a critical factor in the reorganization. Perhaps, if more had been done to make it more attractive to stay in the city, the Archdiocese would not have found it necessary to go through this reorganization effort.


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