A Message from Bishop O'Connell

A Message from Bishop O'Connell about the call to investigate sexual abuse claims

September 7, 2018

by Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

On this past Thursday, the Attorney General of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, announced that he will establish a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the five Dioceses of the State of New Jersey as well as any indications of cover-up by their bishops and leaders in the Catholic Church. 

His decision follows on the heels of the release of a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report investigating similar claims there over a seventy-year period and the revelations earlier this summer by the Archdioceses of New York and Newark of credible and substantiated allegations of such abuse by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of a minor and several adult seminarians.  All of these reported allegations are indefensible, revolting and horrific.  They have done irreparable harm to their victims, their families and to the Church.  Clergy and faithful alike have rightfully reacted with anger, outrage, disgust and disillusionment.  It has profoundly shaken their faith and devastated the credibility of the Church’s leadership.  

As a bishop, I hang my head in shame knowing that even my deepest apology is inadequate.  Still, I offer it again. 
  
A Church — any organization or agency, community or occupation, religious or otherwise, even a family for that matter — where innocent children and vulnerable adults are not protected or provided a safe environment has lost its way.  The crucifixion of Christ continues in their suffering.  Our faith assures us there must be a resurrection ... and that resurrection will occur through our renewed and dedicated work to ensure that all children and vulnerable adults are safe in our Churches, our ministries, our schools, our communities, our families. 

It is my hope and prayer that an objective, honest and independent investigation will confirm what I wholeheartedly believe to be true …. that all allegations received by the Diocese of Trenton have been turned over to the prosecutors in accordance with our commitment made to them in 2002 along with the other dioceses in the state. Even so, we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that accounts from the past – despite being handled correctly and responsibly – may be reported and will be difficult to hear.  It will be a trying process, but one that is necessary when the stakes – the well-being and safety of those entrusted to our care – are so high.  As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I pledge my full cooperation and attention in every way necessary with the Attorney General and his task force.  It will not change the past, nothing will.  Hopefully, it will help us shape a future free of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. 

I would also like to share a report from the New Jersey Catholic Conference outlining both our efforts to prevent this abuse and our responses to allegations: 

  
NEW JERSEY CATHOLIC CONFERENCE STATEMENT 
  
The Catholic Church in New Jersey has committed substantial resources to prevent any abuse of any child at any time by any person.  Each diocese has comprehensive policies in place both to respond to complaints and to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.  These safety policies and practices are regularly verified by an external audit of each diocese.  

  
PREVENTION OF ABUSE

  • Safe Environment:  All New Jersey dioceses have fully implemented comprehensive “safe environment” education programs and have together, over the past fifteen years, trained more than 2.3 million adults, children, employees, clergy and volunteers.  Prior to his anticipated ministry, every priest seeking to minister in every diocese must present a letter of suitability from his bishop/religious superior testifying that he has never been accused of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.

  • Background Checks:  The dioceses conduct background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors.  Over the past fifteen years, some 380,000 criminal background checks have been completed. 


RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE

  • Prompt reporting to Civil Authorities:  All of the New Jersey Catholic dioceses have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Attorney General and the County Prosecutors to facilitate the immediate intervention of law enforcement whenever there is any allegation that a minor is being sexually abused.  The dioceses also promptly report all past allegations of abuse to public authorities, whether the person bringing the complaint is now an adult, no matter how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred, and whether or not the accused is living or deceased.  

  • Zero Tolerance/Permanent Removal from Ministry:  When sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer is established, diocesan policies provide that the offending priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer is to be permanently removed from ministry, employment, or volunteer service and that any such offending clergy may not be transferred to another diocese. 

  • Therapeutic and Pastoral Response:Each diocese has a Victim Assistance Coordinator, who facilitates the provision of counseling and other professional assistance to help those who have been abused.  In addition, all victims have the opportunity to meet with the bishop in order to facilitate healing. 

Settlement of Claims:  Claims of victims involving priests, deacons or others where the abuse has been established, are settled by all New Jersey dioceses.  Altogether, the dioceses have paid out almost $50 million in settlements to victims.  It should be noted that the “confidentiality agreements” reported by the media are never mandated or required by a diocese as part of a settlement.  They are agreements made with victims and their attorneys to protect the privacy of victims. 

We regret that in decades past, some in the Church failed in their responsibility to protect children.  However, today, no institution, public or private, has done more to prevent abuse than the Catholic Church in New Jersey. We will remain vigilant to ensure a safe environment for every child we serve. 
 

An Excellent Video from Bishop Robert Barron

Why Remain Catholic? (With So Much Scandal)

From Bishop Robert Barron, Youtube Channel. 

Friends, in light of the recent scandals, I know many people are wondering whether they should remain in the Catholic Church. And I totally get that; the outrage is warranted. But in this time of crisis, I beg you not to flee, but to fight--not violently, with the weapons of the world, but with the weapons of the Spirit. We need you.

Pope Francis: Letter to the People of God

Pope Francis: Letter to the People of God (full text)

Pope Francis has responded to new reports of clerical sexual abuse and the ecclesial cover-up of abuse. In an impassioned letter addressed to the whole People of God, he calls on the Church to be close to victims in solidarity, and to join in acts of prayer and fasting in penance for such "atrocities".


Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
To the People of God
 

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26).  These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.  Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike.  Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.  Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.  The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1.      If one member suffers…


In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.  We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.  But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.  The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands.  Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history.  For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53).  We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.  We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.  I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]!  How much pride, how much self-complacency!  Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart.  We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2.   … all suffer together with it


The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way.  While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough.  Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.  If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.  And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228).  Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person.  A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.  The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness.  Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165).  Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother's keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable.  We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.  This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does.  For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).  To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence.  To do so, prayer and penance will help.  I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1]  This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People.  Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2]  This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred.  Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3]   Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.  To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people.  We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people.  That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.  Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community.  God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6).  Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God.  This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.  Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.  The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion.  In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.  For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.  Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.   An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.  May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.  A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.  A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul.  By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation.  Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross.  She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side.  In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life.  When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319).  She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice.  To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

                                                                        FRANCIS

 

[1] “But this kind [of demon] does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt 17:21).

[2] Cf. Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Chile (31 May 2018).

[3] Letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (19 March 2016).

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. responds to reports of sexual abuse of children

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., published the following message Aug. 16 on diocesan media, and has asked that it be read during all Masses the weekend of Aug. 18 and 19.  
  
Bishop O’Connell’s full statement follows: 
  

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I share with our faithful and clergy of the Diocese the revulsion, disgust and anger you feel at all the recent revelations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in past decades.  Our Diocese has not been spared its own experience of similar past abuses for which, as Bishop, I could never adequately apologize to those affected, to those who have been so profoundly harmed.  Although measures at future prevention have been put in place and all reports of the sexual abuse of minors are turned over to prosecutors, that is little consolation to those who have been harmed by the Church and its clergy.  I offer my deepest, heartfelt apologies to them and to all the faithful and clergy whose faith has been shaken again.  I pray daily for victims and survivors and for all of you, that “nothing will separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, Our Lord (Romans 8: 39).” 

 

ALL SINNERS ARE WELCOME!

Article by Bishop Robert Barron from Word on Fire Ministries  

While I was in central Georgia, filming the Flannery O’Connor episode of my Pivotal Players series, I saw a sign on the outside of a church, which would have delighted the famously prickly Catholic author: “All Sinners Are Welcome!” I thought it was a wonderfully Christian spin on the etiquette of welcome that is so pervasive in our culture today. In a time of almost complete ethical relativism, the one value that everyone seems to accept is inclusivity, and the only disvalue that everyone seems to abhor is exclusivity. “Who am I to tell you what to do?” and, of course, everyone gets inside the circle. What I especially liked about the sign in Georgia was that it compels us to make some distinctions and think a bit more precisely about this contemporary moral consensus. 

Is it true to say “everyone is welcome”? Well, yes, if we mean welcome into the circle of the human family, welcome as a subject of infinite dignity and deserving love and respect. Christians—and indeed all decent people—stand against the view, pervasive enough in the supposed culture of inclusion, that the unborn, the aged, the unproductive are not particularly welcome. If by “all are welcome,” one means that all forms of racism, sexism, and elitism are morally repugnant, then yes, the slogan is quite correct. 

But let’s consider some other scenarios. Would we claim that everyone is welcome to become a member of the college baseball team? Everyone is welcome to try out, I suppose, but the coach will assess each candidate and will then make a judgment that some are worthy of being on the team and others aren’t. Like it or not, he will include some and exclude others. Would we claim that everyone is welcome to play in a symphony orchestra?  Again, in principle, anyone is invited to give it a go, but the conductor will make a fairly ruthless determination as to who has what it takes to make music at the highest level and who doesn’t, and he will include and exclude accordingly. Would we argue that everyone is welcome to be a free member of our civil society? Well, yes, if we consider the matter in abstraction; but we also acknowledge that certain forms of behavior are incompatible with full participation in the public space. And if misbehavior is sufficiently egregious, we set severe limits to the culprit, restricting his movement, bringing him to trial, perhaps even imprisoning him. 

With this basic distinction in mind, let us consider membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. Are all people welcome to the Church? Yes of course! Everyone and his brother cites James Joyce to the effect that the Catholic Church’s motto is “here comes everybody,” and this is fundamentally right. Jesus means to bring everyone to union with the Triune God, or to state the same thing, to become a member of his Mystical Body the Church. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” Bernini’s colonnade, reaching out like great in-gathering arms from St. Peter’s Basilica, is meant to symbolize this universally inclusive welcome offered by Christ. Is the Church, as Pope Francis says, a field hospital where even the most gravely wounded are invited for treatment? Is the Lord’s mercy available to everyone, even to the most hardened of sinners? Yes! And does the Church even go out from itself to care for those who are not explicitly joined to Christ? Yes! In fact, this was one of the reasons the Church was so attractive in the ancient world: when Roman society left the sick to fend for themselves and often cast away the newly-born who were deemed unworthy, the Church included these victims of the “throwaway culture” of that time and place.

However, does this mean that the Church makes no judgments, no discriminations, no demands? Does the Church’s welcome imply that everyone is fine just as he or she is? Here we have to answer with a rather resounding no. And that Georgia sign helps us to understand why. The Greek word that we translate as “church” is “ekklesia,” which carries the sense of “called out from.” Members of the Church have been called out of a certain way of life and into another one, out of conformity with the world and into conformity with Christ. Every ecclesiastical person, therefore, is a welcomed sinner who has been summoned to conversion. She is someone who is, by definition, not satisfied with who she is. To return to the Pope’s famous image, a field hospital receives not those who are doing just great but those who are deeply, even gravely, wounded. The problem is that anytime the Church sets a limit or makes a demand or summons to conversion, she is accused of being “exclusive” or insufficiently “welcoming.” But this cannot be right. As Cardinal George once put it, commenting upon the famous liturgical song “All Are Welcome,” all are indeed welcome, but on Christ’s terms, not their own. 

Article by Bishop Robert Barron

MICHELLE WOLF AND THE THROWAWAY CULTURE

The other night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Michelle Wolf, who I’m told is a comedian, regaled the black-tie and sequin-gowned crowd with her “jokes.” Almost all were in extremely bad taste and/or wildly offensive, but one has become accustomed to that sort of coarseness in the comedy clubs and even on mainstream television. However, she crossed over into the territory of the morally appalling when she indulged in this bit of witticism regarding Vice President Mike Pence: “He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And when you do try it, really knock it, you know. You gotta get that baby out of there.” One is just at a loss for words.  I mean, even some in the severely left-leaning crowd in Washington groaned a bit at that remark. 

It might be helpful to remind ourselves what Ms. Wolf is referencing when she speaks of “knocking that baby out of there.” She means the evisceration, dismemberment, and vivisection of a child. And lest one think that we are just talking about “bundles of cells,” it is strict liberal orthodoxy that a baby can be aborted at any stage of its prenatal development, even while it rests in the birth canal moments before birth. Indeed, a child, who somehow miraculously survives the butchery of an abortion, should, according to that same orthodoxy, be left to die or actively killed. Sure sounds like fun to me; hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 

I realize that these attitudes have been enshrined in American law for some time, but what particularly struck me about the Correspondents’ Dinner was how they were being bandied about so shamelessly for the entertainment of the cultural elite. Let’s face it, the people in that room—politicians, judges, writers, broadcasters, government officials—are the top of the food chain, among the most influential and powerful people in our society. And while the killing of children was being joked about—especially, mind you, the children of the poor, who are disproportionately represented among the victims of abortion—most in this wealthy, overwhelmingly white, elite audience guffawed and applauded.

And this put me in mind of Friedrich Nietzsche. I’ve spoken and written often of the influence of this nineteenth-century thinker, whose musings have trickled their way down through the universities and institutions of the high culture into the general consciousness of many if not most people today. Nietzsche held that the traditional moral values have been exposed as ungrounded and that humanity is summoned to move, accordingly, into a previously unexplored space “beyond good and evil.” In such a morally unmoored universe, the Ubermensch (superman or over-man) emerges to assert his power and impose his rule on those around him. Nietzsche had a special contempt for the Christian values of sympathy, compassion, and love of enemies, characterizing them as the ideals of a “slave morality,” repugnant to the noble aspirations of the Ubermensch. Through his many avatars in the twentieth-century—Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, Ayn Rand, etc.—Nietzsche, as I said, has exerted an extraordinary influence on contemporary thought. Whenever a young person today speaks of traditional ethics as a disguised play of power or of her right to determine the meaning of her own life through an exercise of sovereign freedom, we can hear the overtones of Friedrich Nietzsche. 

All of which brings me back to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. When we live in the space beyond good and evil, when morality is construed as entirely the invention of personal freedom, when nothing counts as intrinsically wicked, when any claim to moral authority is automatically shouted-down—in other words, when we live in the world that Nietzsche made possible—then the will of the most powerful necessarily holds sway. And when something or someone gets in the way of what the powerful want, well then, they just “gotta knock it out of there.” Michelle Wolf’s comment was not just a bad joke; it was a brazen display of power, designed to appeal precisely to those who have reached the top of the greasy pole.

One of the extraordinary but often overlooked qualities of a system of objective morality is that it is a check on the powerful and a protection of the most vulnerable. If good and evil are objective states of affairs, then they hem in and control the tendency of cultural elites to dominate others. When objective moral values evanesce, armies of the expendable emerge, and what Pope Francis aptly calls a cultura del descarte (a throwaway culture) obtains. One of the indicators that this has happened is lots of people in tuxedos and formal gowns, sipping from wine glasses, and laughing while someone jokes about the murder of children.

An Announcement

From the Parish Office

Hello Everyone. 

We sent out an update on Parish activities in January. This is an update on what’s been happening. 

Properties-

OLPH Property Sale to Highlands Borough- The final contract on this sale should be signed in the fall. We presented our plans for the new parking lot on the church property to the Land Use Board of Highlands. Our plans were approved and accepted. We are now preparing for demolition of the rectory building and the garage. 

Mother Theresa School Property- As we said in the update in January, this property is for sale. The Diocese Real Estate office is handling this process- there has been lots of interest, but no firm offers have been received. This sale could take years if it happens at all. Many have asked about the St. Agnes Thrift Shop. The Thrift Shop will remain open until there is a final contract of sale on the property. Having said that, we will be closing the Thrift Shop for a few weeks this summer as we have done in the past, for reorganization, and cleaning. To continue to offer this service to our community, we will need community volunteers to staff the shop. 

Convent-As many know, the pipes in the convent burst in the cold weather this winter and we experienced massive water damage to the building. We have been consulting with the diocesan insurance company and 

Serv-Pro, the company that did the initial clean up; to replace old wiring, old heating and electric and rebuild is not cost effective. The only option we have is to take the building down. The demolition will take place over the summer. 

Other Exciting Activities

Music Ministry and Mass Changes- We are excited to announce that our Organist at OLPH, Courtney Grogan, has agreed to assume responsibility for all music at both OLPH and St. Agnes. Courtney will play at all the Masses and direct the Music Ministry. Because of this change, we will modify the Mass Schedule slightly. Effective the weekend of June 30/July 1, the 5pm Saturday Mass at St. Agnes will now begin at 5:15pm. The 10:30am Sunday Mass will now begin at 10:45am. This will give Courtney ample time to travel between both churches. 

CCD Classes Moving- The CCD Classes will be moving to OLPH School in September. Keeping the Mother Theresa School open for CCD only was costing the parish over $50,000/year. This is an expense we can eliminate by moving CCD Classes. Kevin Connelly will be managing the move and registration for next session. Please contact him with any questions. 

Repairs and Other Activities- You will see us replacing the frames on the windows in both churches this summer. This is critical to preserve and protect our beautiful stained-glass windows. There is work taking place in the Sacristy at OLPH as well- sinks are being replaced, and shelving and painting will happen over the summer. Additionally, the lights in the parking lot at St. Agnes will be repaired/replaced as some point in the fall. 

Volunteerism-We are in serious need of volunteers for several projects- the CCD Move and the Thrift Shop Clean up are only two of many. Adult volunteers and any high school age students who are off this summer and looking for community service hours should contact the parish office. As always, we are very grateful for your help. 

Enjoy the summer!