Catholics in Galveston, already reeling from the news that O'Connell High might have to close, are facing another post-Ike crisis: most of the Catholic churches on the island might be gone too.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is mulling plans to merge all the Galveston parishes into one island-wide parish at St. Patrick's, KHOU reported.
All the churches in Galveston suffered damage from Ike, and attendance -- and the related collections -- have been down ever since the storm.
Here's the weekly letter from Fr. Niall Nolan to the parishioners at Sacred Heart; it's pretty gloomy.
Fr. Niall writes:
I suppose you are all wondering about the outcome of the meeting last Wednesday evening with Bishop Vasquez and the Cardinal's staff. I assure you that you are not the only ones. At this stage, the rumors and counter rumors have a way of draining us of our energy and enthusiasm, not to mention our good will. It is definitely time to move on.
The meeting with the representatives from all the parishes along with the Cardinal's staff proceeded with a very open and positive mood. It was after much soul searching and some very creative debate in every one of the parishes, taking into account the ministerial, staff, and financial needs, that all present embraced the ideal of one parish for the whole Island.
Let me assure you: this decision was not arrived at easily. It is my feeling that we are all at that stage where we would like to move forward and embrace what we now see is the inevitable.
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He goes on:
To quote Bishop Vasquez "the devil is in the details"--it is my understanding that the next step will be to determine who is going to be the pastor. This is the foundation on which the house will be built. It is with this pastor that the Catholic community of the Island will collaborate and together build the future. Who the pastor shall be will be announced in the new year. Now, I suggest we do some serious praying for the Cardinal and his advisors.
There are six Catholic churches on the island; let the infighting and politicking begin! No word on whether the decision on who the new island-wide pastor is will be announced via white smoke coming out of the Moody Gardens pyramid.
-- Richard Connelly