Latest Op Ed from InCity times ( 10/ 2016)

OP ED ( written in Mid September )

MOUNT CARMEL PRESERVATION SOCIETY working to fix the Church and Save the Parish on Mulberry Street

In a day and age where crime and drug abuse is nearly epidemic in our city the last thing we need is to intentionally allow a parish community to be destroyed let alone a parish community that also is a community anchor in one of Worcester’s most thriving neighborhoods.

The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Preservation Society is a collective of over 100 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parishioners has been fighting the battle to preserve their church and save their parish on Mulberry Street since the Monsignor/Pastor announced abruptly that the Church will be closed then changed the locks and changed the door within the next two days of his announcement. His announcement came with a declaration that the beautiful historic church 1000 year old church will be demolished as soon as possible. He stated that the City inspectors ordered the church to be closed. Parishioners soon found what the City did ask is for the Church to be repaired and made safe. They estimated that would cost to be about $120,000.

Parishioners rallied and formed the Mount Carmel Preservation Society (MPS herein)with intent to establish an autonomous non-profit to ensure funds raised will go into fixing the church and not elsewhere in the Diocese. The Society along with over 9000 signed petitioners have been asking the Bishop McManus and Monsignor to “fix the church and save the parish” on Mulberry Street in Worcester, MA.

We are faithful members of a community that was founded 110 years ago, in the City of Worcester. Our Church is one of the most active and generous parishes. Last year we ranked fifth in the diocese for donations. This year we rank 8th out of 17 parishes in donations to the Bishops Fund ,even though our Church has been closed, and most parishioners are not attending Our Lady of Loreto. In only a few months this grassroots parish effort raised about $ 89,000 in pledges and over $8,000in cash. MPS is now in the completion stages of developing a Sustainability Plan that will address future maintenance cost for the Church and Recreation Center. This money does not include funds raised by the parish driven Italian Festival or other Knights of Columbus or CYC activities or weekly collections. Other MPS and Parish wide fund raisers are ongoing or in the making both online and throughout our area. Does this sound like a “dead parish”? Mount Carmel has less debt than the Church the Monsignor and the Bishop wanted it to merge with. Does that make sense?

It is not our intention to be disrespectful to those involved in the closing, but the complete story has not been told. We believe our Church was closed against the will of the majority of parishioners. We were told by the Monsignor that the City ordered it to close and it was to be demolished. The Church was never declared condemned and the City’s building inspectors asked that certain facade work be done to make the building safe and ready to be occupied again.

As our parishioners see it, there was little attempt to sincerely pool parish talent together to address the building’s needs and the City’s request. The old way of doing fund-raising which asked for more from parishioners, and failed before, did show increases but not enough according to the Monsignor. Any attempts and suggested solutions made by our parishioners fell on “deaf ears” and were promptly dismissed or not followed through.

Is it right and just to close a parish and a community of faith, one of high historical significance to the Italian Community and to Worcester’s identity ? Is it, in a climate or rapidly decaying neighborhoods, right and just to destroy a community that is vibrant and committed to faith, cultural preservation and community building? So many Catholics have left the church, due to the abuse scandal, the closing of their ethnic communities and other factors influenced by a secular society. Many more will leave with this closing. The Church at large cannot survive with the breaking up of committed communities, tied by ethnic heritage. The Church and religion are essential to provide morality to their communities. In studies done on raising a child, the two most important factors in raising a child are family and religion. Nothing can replace the quality of community or neighborhood or refill the hole left if Mount Carmel Church is gone.

We also feel that Canon Law has not been followed. Our Canonical appeal has been accepted for review at Vatican City. We were not given the opportunity to organize and pursue other options but, instead, the Church administrators used the same fund-raising techniques that were bound to fail and placed the blame on a dwindling parish base. There was never a formal vote by the finance committee or the parish council of Our Lady of Mt Carmel to merge with Our Lady of Loreto or to close the Church. These committees were never formally disbanded. According to parishioners I spoke with, the Monsignor rebuilt these committees and handpicked members from Our Lady of Loreto and Our Lady of Mt Carmel , who supported his wishes to close and demolish the Church and moved forward toward merging Loreto and Mount Carmel. All churches are getting older and many are crumbling and cost to repair. If the Church continues to expect the parishioners to pay there will soon be no churches left in the poorer neighborhoods where they may be most needed. It’s time to try new methods to raise funds to sustain all our churches.

The question keeps coming up, why is the Dioceses appear to stand against our efforts to raise funds and reopen the Church? Why is it so eager to effectively kill a thriving parish that sites on what might be one of it’s most valuable plots of land? It raises many questions. We want disclosure.

We noted that many revenue raising opportunities have been squandered due to what appears to us to be poor asset and operational management. This has been draining the parish finances also.

When the committee met with the Bishop on May 27, 2016, we presented numerous new options for consideration to raise funds including a sustainability plan to maintain the Church into the future. Our suggestions were met with a resounding “NO”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church has a history that is an essential part of the history of the City of Worcester. It was the foundation of the Italian immigrant population and Shrewsbury St.,and a meeting place for all cultures and organizations in the city. Its founders and parishioners were among the wealthiest and successful people in the city. Look at the names on plaques in the Church and recreation center of the donors. Many of the ancestors of these people still are active members. Many others who could not give large donations donated time,skills and their expertise in many areas. We are a Family. The parish has opened its doors to all cultures, and creeds. The Hispanic population under Rev. Michael Bafaro was welcomed and helped to integrate into the city.

Festivals and cultural events and organizations including: Irish, Indian, Italian festival, art exhibits, Italian singers, writers and artists , famous speakers, fashion shows banquets Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy,funerals, mercy dinners, banquets, etc. ,were and continue to be held on these historic grounds.

It has also served the city when the need arose. When the city experienced the horrors of the Cold Storage Warehouse Fire, Mount Carmel Recreation Center, (through the generosity of former Bishop Riley and Rev Michael Bafaro, and the parishioners), opened its doors and was a command center for all operations during this tragedy. Food was provided and volunteers were brought in to serve those involved . This went on for an extended period of time. It also hosted the the teachers union and the city during contract negations for many years. This Church has been a haven for poor families in the city by having a food pantry, funds and donations at Christmas and Thanksgiving, special fundraisers for various causes, a free preschool, and helping the poor, regardless of faith ,when in need. It also hosts a Golden Years Club at the Center every Tuesday.

Why, when we have such an active and committed group of people, are we being closed? It is our feeling that the diocese did not want us to organize or come together to find solutions. We feel that the land we are part of and have supported and nurtured for 110 years is the answer. Is money more important to the diocese than the people ? This is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

We ask for the support and cooperation of the people, of the City of Worcester, to realize the necessity of preserving and protecting this historic site and our community.

In May, 2016,The City’s Historical commission ordered the Diocese to begin work to make the Church safe and work with our Mount Carmel Preservation Society. To date ( Sept 21,2016) there is finally a crane in front of the Church. Hopefully to begin the make safe work.

This is good news because so far for the MPS every step of the way in our effort to fund raise we faced road blocks. Request to have mass, on campus,temporarily, until the Church make safe work is completed, in the Parish Recreation Center was denied by the Monsignor. That would have helped the parish raise substantially more at each weekly Mass. When we asked to access the parish mailing list or place a paragraph in the weekly bulletin in order to raise funds and pull resources together in our attempt to save the Church and parish, the Pastor’s answer was NO. When we asked if we paid for a flier to be inserted into the bulletin to reach out to fellow parishioners,the Monsignor said NO. When asked if we purchased a banner to display on the church , the Pastors answer was NO.

When the Monsignor was asked to accept Preservation Worcester’s honored nomination of our church into the second round National Register of most endangered historic sights, his answer was NO, ” I am not in favor of that.”

The MPS promised to raise the funds needed to alleviate the burden of cost to the Diocese to “make the Church safe” per order of the City. The amount the City told us was $120,000. The Monsignor asked us for a sustainability plan that will maintain the Church and address future building issues (which we have already nearly completed) The Monsignor challenged us to also find an Architectural firm or building engineer that will inspect the building to assure it is safe and or determine other immediate building needs.

The Parishioners have met that challenge. The Mount Carmel Preservation Society is very close to goals with a reported $ 89,000 in pledges, and about 8,000 in cash, the Society’s sustainability plan is near completed and we have a Certified Architectural firm on standby.

Now is time for the Diocese to do it’s part. Fix the Church and Save the Parish on Mulberry Street.

Respectfully submitted by the Mount Carmel Preservation Society

T Shirts To Help the Mount Carmel Preservation Society SAVE Our Lady OF Mount Carmel Church and Parish

A great way to show your support is to purchase this cool T SHIRT it cost only a $15 donation. Stand tall with us to “Fix the Church and Save the Parish”. Great for your CYC or class filed trips. Have all your students wearing one.

Checks for $15 donation per shirt plus $5 for shipping, payable to MOUNT CARMEL PRESERVATION SOCIETY , 146 Morningside Road, Worcester, MA 01602

Thank you and GOD BLESS

T SHIRT FRONT

T SHIRT BACK

Mount Carmel Preservation Society

Over 70 members of The Mount Carmel Preservation Society officially formed the foundation for it’s non-profit status last night on June 20, 2016
Meeting JUNE 20_2016

Elected Officers are President Mauro DePasquale, Vice President / Treasurer Carmelita Bello, Secretary Elaine Bafaro
The Elected Officers will be appointment Board members and the Board members will propose By-Laws for the general assembly to approve.

Our Mission: to FIX the Church and SAVE the PARISH on Mulberry Street. We have two priority goals to save it from demolition and to repair and re-open the Church for Masses, to save our parish family on Mulberry Street. To accomplish this through a concerted fundraising programs, a strong business plan that address Our Lady of Mount Carmel Asset management and encourages an increase of parish member population and also t embrace the diversity of the community to participate in our mission.
Our Vision: MCPS and instrumental role in assuring the preservation of Our Lady Mount Carmel Church and Parish on Mulberry and also in maintaining a strong viable parish rooted in our Italian American Historical Heritage.

Mount Carmel Preservation (MPS) is working to preserve Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and Parish. If successful we will soon see masses back in Mulberry Street and our long term viability program will sustain operations and programs there well into the future. It will take $220,000 to make the Church Save and functional, over a 5 year plan cosmetic issues will also be addressed. Its doable and our MPS is determined. We invite the Sons of Italy, the Worcester Knights, the CYC, and other parishioners to join our effort. Contact Mauro DePasquale at mauro@wccatv.com to get involved. Let’s work to Fix our Church and Save our Parish on Mulberry St. +

One more positive step. Mount Carmel Preservation Society is now allowed to meet in the Recreation Center of OLMTC Campus

A small number of us met with Monsignor Pedone and Vicar General Fr. Reidy last night at the Mount Carmel recreation Center. Thank you for your prayers THEY WORK +

Without going into minute details here is the outcome:

Monsignor Pedone will allow us to have our Mount Carmel Preservation Society meetings in the recreation center. These will have to be scheduled in advance as to not conflict with other activities there.

Monsignor Pedone is opened to having Mass in the recreation center until HOWEVER this first requires permission from the Bishop. We can expect and answer from the Bishop’s Vicar in about a week or so regarding that.

We request a commitment from the DIOCESE that if the Mount Carmel Preservation Society and it’s supporters can come forward, ready to implement a sound Fundraising, business plan within it built in strategic plan for building repairs, sustainability and a viable parish, the Diocese will guanatee we will have immediate access to the Recreation Center, have masses celebrated there until we can move into the Church building once it is made safe to occupy.

We expect an answer from teh Bishop in about a week. If his answer is positive we will succeed with our plan, if his anwser is negative the MCPS will decide upon the next step.

IF we, as the MCPS can prove through a solid and what will need to be a comprehensive strategic / business plan, that we can raise $ 210,000 in TWELVE MONTHS to cover the cost for the “Make Safe” repairs which includes the banding around the tower, water proofing, tie backs to stabilize the facade, and the ceiling rosettes, there is a CHANCE we will be allowed to have mass in the Church building again, PROVIDED THE BISHOP IS AGREEABLE.

Along with our ability to raise the cash the Bishop wants to see a viability plan worked into our strategic plan. In other words a plan to increase the number of people coming to weekly masses.

All in all ideally according to the Diocese we need to raise 1.3 million and have a business plan that will make the Church and parish viable.

We hope to first hear from the Bishop’s answer regarding Masses in the recreation Center.

The ability to have Mass at the Recreation Center, with a guarantee that if we can raise the $210,000 to make the Church safe, we can have Masses in the Church when it’s safe, is what we need FIRST in order to move forward.

In the meantime, until my next email I am asking all of you , especially our Captains, to begin thinking of how you can contribute to develop the funds needed and the solid plan. We will need to shore up our organization, and begin to develop a business plan to:

1. Raise as soon as possible 210,000 with a total goal of 1.3 Million ( pledges, actual cash donations, grants, fund raising programs, annual donors drive, a calendar of affordable events to raise money, etc.)
2. Increase parish attendance and weekly basket donations at OLMC masses in the recreation center ( if the Bishop approves the Center for use )
3.Review, propose and implement a new strategy to handle parish finances, expenses, and asset management.
4. To increase volunteer contributions to defray some internal parish cost.
5. To better monetize property and assets over the longer term ( Rent parking lot, increase Rec center rentals, hold church tours, concerts and other fund raising events on site , ongoing fund development plans and schedules, etc. )
6. I am calling for a strong branded campaign designed to give us a strong public presence, we will need strong community partnerships, support from notable and able community members

Our NEXT MEETING IS SCHEDULED for MONDAY JUNE 20th. We will answer more questions at that time.

There is a lot of work to be done. I am counting on everyone to participate. We will need more than ideas, we will need doers.

Thank You
God Bless you and God Bless Our Lady Of Mount Carmel

God Really Does Work In Mysterious Ways

Our parish family felt shattered when hear our Church will be closed and that the Parish will be forced to merge with another. We rallied, organized and fought and continue to fight hard with hearts fixed on Mary and Her Son Jesus.

Some of us who came together to support our effort to FIX the CHURCH and SAVE the PARISH were criticized for “COMING OUT OF THE WOOD WORK” as one news paper put it.

I realized that with all the strife, the sacrifice and effort placed toward saving our beloved Church and parish, that there is so much more to it. People are coming back. Not to just our church but to their Faith and to the loving witness of Christ that exist in HIS CHURCH no matter which neighborhood the Parish resides in.

Here is an example I left out the persons name for privacy reasons:
“Dear Mauro
I have been one of the long lost, come out of the woodwork ones the womag talked about. But you all didn’t care you didn’t skip a beat, I showed up & you’ve included and respected me like I’ve been there all along (in my heart I have) I can not begin to put into words how much that has meant to me, and I love you all for it! I’ll never be lost again I’m right where I should be now!
Just had to tell you that & say Thank You ….”

Alleluia ! Our Church and Parish has historical significance and our Diocese has changed the locks and locked us out, but THANK GOD our Parishioners are showered in HIS ever loving GRACE and strive to share GOd’s love on earth.
+

DIOCESES LOOSES IT’s BID FOR A DEMOLITION DELAY WAIVER:Mount Carmel Parishioners are VICTORIOUS

Over 100 parishioners and community supporters along with a number of City Councilors stood tall last night on JUNE 6, 2016 as they appealed to the Historical Commission to deny the Demolition Delay waiver requested by the Worcester Diocese.

Historical Commission were not convinced the Diocese does not have the capacity to correct the safety concerns suggested by the Diocesan hired architects and that all options were explored to properly monetize the property and to make it safe. Whereas the real owners of the building, The Diocese, did not make a case for under financial hardship, the demolition delay waiver was denied. The building can stand for another 12 months to allow time for concerned parties to find a solution to FIX the CHURCH and SAVE the Parish.

Repairing the building is not insurmountable. The Mount Carmel Preservation Society has been working on a comprehensive REVENUE AND OPERATIONAL plan that makes it worth 12 months to explore. The Diocese however needs to be opened to its parishioners needs in this case and willing to work with the MCPS.

In addition to a very thorough presentation by the Engineering firm hired by the Diocese,pointing out serious structural issues. The Mount Carmel Preservation Society agreed there are serious matters however called for time to organize a current repair project assessment with a plan to address priority risk and move forward with ideas and tools that the parish finance committee simply did not pursue.

The Diocesan representatives continued to blame dwindling parish members and weekly collections. The hearing brought light to the fact that to simply blame parishioners who for generations have committed huge amounts of money and sacrifice for their parishes, they deserve a chance to be heard and at the table when it comes to decision regarding the future of it’s church and parish.

Every Church may be facing dwindling parishioners rather than blaming the parishioners let’s ask them why they are leaving. Let’s find an answer to that and find a solution(s) to get them to return to the Catholic Church. That solution(s) should be at the heart of the Capital campaign brand. If the financial committee hasn’t done that , they failed at the start.

Phil Nigro a member of the Mount Carmel Preservation Society stated on his Facebook “Brilliant work on the part of this wonderful group of impassioned faithful parishioners. Quite a day in the history of Mt Carmel Church. My father would have loved it. To see the Worcester Historical commission raise their hands in unanimous support of the faithful parishioners was really something extraordinary..Unforgettable.”

I saw brilliant testimony but most striking was the overwhelming declaration, supported by a packed Council Chamber, of the strong faith, universal holy spirit, and love of parish family and community at this hearing. To think, this went on for hours, in City Hall, people professing their heartfelt FAITH and LOVE for their CHURCH is stunning and remarkable. Now the real work begins. Is the Diocese will to Shepherd it’s people, to allow them to participate fully in regards to the destiny of their beloved parish? Time will tell. It’s in the hands of our LORD Jesus Christ.
Holy Mary Mother of GOD, pray for us all. +

NEXT: Now is a time for some healing to be followed by opened cooperative dialogue. +

Tom Quinn reporter from Worcester Magazine wrote of last night’s Victory

http://worcestermag.com/2016/06/09/demolition-delay-waiver-denied-mount-carmel-church/43537

Welcome to our Preserve Our Lady Of Mount Carmel webpage

We are parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, working together as the MOUNT CARMEL PRESERVATION SOCIETY to Save our Church and Parish from being needlessly demolished. We represent over 100 caring, dedicated, loving parishioners, and supporters, in a battle to Preserve Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Church and Parish Community and to save the Church building from being demolished and our Parish from being dispersed. Stand Tall with us as we face a difficult challenge ahead to raise funds needed to strengthen our fight to “FIX the Church and Save the Parish” OUR EXCLUSIVE FUND RAISING SITE for DONATIONS is:
https://www.gofundme.com/23uc7q4 and our Petition / appeal to the Bishop and our Pastor to reconsider the life of this vital and active parish and our beautiful church building can be signed here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/952/109/835/save-out-lady-of-mount-carmel-parish-and-community/. Our Faith is strong and so is our hope and trust that God, our Father, hears our prayers, through Jesus Christ, to accomplish our goal. We are well organized, working with civil and Canon Lawyers, Engineers and would like to work with our Church leaders if they are willing, however, whether they would be or not, we are determined to muster resources and the support needed to find a solution to Preserve Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and Parish. and now moving forward with a fund raising campaign to accomplish our goal. Will you be a Mount Carmel Angel and show us your support?

Mt Carmel Lady

FURTHER BACKGROUND

We are located in Worcester Massachusetts on Mulbury Street. Our Parish is over 100 years old. For generations we have been the epicenter for Community, Youth, Italian American Culture, and Religious activities. At Our Lady of Mount Carmel you will find well attended masses, and exciting catechism programming, CCD in action, Italian Cultural education programs, Language classes, Book clubs, Senior Clubs and Societies, Art Gallery, and coffee shop. We are an Anchor to the Restaurant District and a gateway to a developing downtown in the second largest city in New England.

Our Church building needs structural work from damages caused by a State Highway that was imposed too close to our building. After many years this expedited the wear and tear upon the building. Our Pastor and Bishop have closed the Church with less than 24 hours notice and they want to merge our parish with another on the other side of our City. We parishioners are dedicated to preserving both the Church and the Parish. Today we are working to save it and restore it to it’s former beauty. Join us as we “FIX THE CHURCH AND SAVE THE PARISH” we have formed a SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL. We sincerely hope you will join us.

A video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4USRrJhf42Y&feature=youtu.be

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel Bless us ALL +
#PreserveOurLadyOfMountCarmel

Our Mission and Vision as THE MOUNT CARMEL PRESERVATION SOCIETY

MISSION:
MPS Mission and Vision Statement: The Mission of the Mount Carmel Preservation Society (MPS herein) is to FIX the Church and SAVE the PARISH on Mulberry Street. We have two priority goals to save it from demolition and to re-open the Church for Masses, to save our parish family and to continue to celebrate Catholic Masses on the Our Lady of Mount Carmel campus on Mulberry Street, in Worcester, MA. . The MPS expects to accomplish this through concerted parish wide fundraising programs, and to develop, suggest, and implement, if the Diocese is agreeable, a strong business plan that will address Our Lady of Mount Carmel Asset management and encourages an increase of parish member population, and also through educational programming and events that is focused upon preserving the Italian American Traditions, Historical significance, Italian traditions and values.

VISION:
MPS is a well-recognized organization playing an instrumental role in assuring the preservation of Our Lady Mount Carmel Church and Parish on Mulberry and also in maintaining a strong viable parish rooted in our Italian American Historical Heritage and traditions and Italian and Italian American Arts, History and Culture, while embracing a diversity of community participation.

June 2016

Grazie !