NEW YORK – After much research and analysis, Holy Name Province has announced that the friars will be withdrawing from two parishes in the metropolitan New York area: Our Lady of the Holy Angels in Little Falls, N.J., and Holy Cross Church in the Bronx. This action was precipitated by the decreasing number of friars available for ministry as well as other factors specific to each parish, the Provincial Administration said.
“We are diminishing and we are aging,” said a letter signed by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, which was read to the parishioners of both churches this weekend. “When we were ordained, there were almost 1,000 friars in our Province; we now have 375, of whom 115 are 75 or older.”
The decision to withdraw was made in light of a mandate given the Administration by the Provincial Chapter of 2005 which recommended that the Council “identify ministries from which the Province may have to withdraw in the next three to five years.” The Province’s Ministerial Development Directorate studied various HNP parishes in the metropolitan New York area to determine which would be selected. The detailed process included discussions with lay staff leaders.
Holy Angels and Holy Cross were selected because they are stable parishes that are in good financial condition. The Order’s focus has historically been to staff churches in need of development. In its early years, Holy Name friars built up many mission churches in North Jersey until they were self-sufficient and then turned them back to the dioceses for administration. It is now important for the Province to focus on areas where the Catholic Church is growing and there is a more serious pastoral need, John said. The Province is also placing emphasis on urban, multicultural sites. It is also important for the province to have a strong presence in communities from which candidates to the Order can be attracted.
Both the Little Falls and Bronx parishes have long histories; Holy Angels commemorates its 125 anniversary in 2008 and Holy Cross is more than 85 years old.
Before announcing the news to the parishes, John met with Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., and with Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Sullivan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York. They assured the Province of a smooth transition to diocesan clergy. The two parishes will be turned over to the dioceses this summer; John said that the official dates are not yet determined.
The pastors of both churches, Robert Sandoz, OFM, of Holy Angels and Todd Carpenter, OFM, of Holy Cross are talking with parishioners to answer their questions. Members of the administration will describe to friars the factors that led to the selection of the two ministries at the upcoming a Fraternal Gatherings.