While the Dioceses of Peoria grows more wealthy as the Bishop closes and sells most of the “merged” churches due to his policy of “growing in faith together,” what I see is many parishioners losing their faith altogether.
When I was the ADA director in the ‘90s, we had 198 Catholic churches in the Diocese of Peoria; now there are 158. There were 128 families that attended St. Thomas More in Dalzell; now since closing and opening our church, there are 20 families that attend.
Once the merging is finished there will be one church in each town, and some towns will be without a church like Seatonville and Ladd. The Diocese of Peoria may not have more than 40-50 churches in its Diocese, once the merging is accomplished.
We don’t have to do what they are saying; we should speak out against “growing in faith together,” and tell the Bishop to make the priests in the Diocese work a little harder by saying a Mass in churches they are closing. Let the laity handle the administrative/physical operation. If I could get an audience with Pope Francis, I would tell him of the destruction of many churches because of Peoria Diocese policies.
I see nothing wrong with Father Spilman of the Nativity of Our Lord Church (St. Anthony’s) handling the Masses in the other two churches in Spring Valley — Sts. Peter and Paul and Immaculate Conception. Our priest, Father Fixsen of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Cherry, has to travel to Dalzell and Arlington to give us Masses over the weekend. Father Spilman will not have to travel to other towns—all the churches are in Spring Valley, and these churches won’t have to close or be sold.
I have said there are but a few priests that emulate the poor Nazarene and the humble Jesus. Priests take a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. Today, there are few priests that follow those vows, and I see many priests drive some of the most expensive autos sold today. When it comes to autos, poverty is not a part of a priest’s vows.
It is time the parishioners take back the churches they paid for, furnished and repaired. Today we have Bishops and priests who live comfortably while parishioners struggle for their church’s survival. I think it is hypocritical to fill one’s mouth with pious words, based on scriptural readings and yet not lack of anything, while parishioners feel the stress of merged churches meeting their commitment of a weekend Mass that once existed in their hometown.
Who can we reach to influence the Bishop to change his mind? We should go to the Diocese and bring along the press and TV cameras to tell our side of the story that is never told. We must never give up the fight for our churches. “Growing in faith together” is just another way to destroy many of the churches that existed years ago. The Diocese will be richer, but the merged towns and churches will be poorer.
Read Sister Agnes Sasagawa’s statement on the chastisement where churches and altars will be destroyed when Satan takes over the churches. Is Satan and the chastisement closing in on us?