We have often been surprised with new investment projects from the Ordinariate parish of St. Thomas More, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and so now it is particularly distressing to hear that they are currently unable to meet their running costs and are forced to put all projects on hold, including the Parish School. Fr. Eric Bergman explains in his parish newsletter:
Dear Members & Friends,
We have included in this edition of our newsletter a detailed summary of the Parish Meeting that was held after the 10AM Mass on the last Sunday in April. I commend this to all of you who were unable to be present with us that day but who nevertheless are intently interested in the health and vitality of our parish. This summary is hard reading, and I know now that I took too long to tell you what is contained therein, but we are defining the problem here so that we can confront and address it.
For the last two years we believed that financial relief was going to come through the proceeds we would receive from our project downtown, namely the opening of a gift store and coffee shop in the old Guild Building. While we as a parish invested only what was required to have a business incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania, amounting to less than $2,500, our benefactors invested hundreds of thousands of dollars hoping to get us up and running at some point last year. They have now taken a bath, as the project is unfinished, the general contractor is off the job, and the space cannot be rented out to help pay down the mortgage. The project is suspended indefinitely while legal matters wait to be sorted out, so we will not be able to count on the steady stream of income we were anticipating, a reality that asserted itself gradually over the past four months.
Our delay in informing you is due only to our sincere belief that the project would at last come through. Now that we know it won’t, we must formulate another plan for financial solvency and growth. The upshot is that all our projects, including our Parish School and Memorial Park, are on hold until we resolve our monthly operating income shortfall. I beg your prayers and your consideration of the ways you can help, detailed within the parish meeting summary.
Since I wrote you last we lost one of the men who had helped our parish since our inception as the St. Thomas More Society back in 2005. Fr. Ed Scott, Pastor Emeritus of St. Thomas More Parish in Lake Ariel, died on April 23rd. Fr. Scott had arrived at our first Evensong bearing an icon of our patron as a gift, and over the years he said Mass for us both before I was ordained and as a substitute on days I was away. Most significantly, perhaps, he went to Rome with us in 2007 on the Pastoral Provision Pilgrimage. As I never tire of reminding people, that pilgrimage helped lay the groundwork for the establishment of the Ordinariates throughout the world, because when we were in Rome we explained to officials in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith exactly what was needed if more communities like our own were to be erected in other locales. The fruit of that pilgrimage came two years later with the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus: everything we had asked for was included in this document that made our Ordinariate possible. Fr. Scott rejoiced with us in 2009, as this priest with the heart of a missionary knew that it would mean the reconciliation of more of our separated brethren to Holy Mother Church. And it has.
In losing Fr. Scott we have lost another one of the men who could remember the ‘bad old days’, when Anglican clergy who dreamt of doing what we had done here in Scranton were thwarted by bishops and bureaucrats in the Catholic Church who were unsympathetic to the goals and methods of the Pastoral Provision. Now that the Ordinariate has its own bishop, the freedom to erect communities of converts to the Faith anywhere in the United States and Canada, the assurance that another priest will be assigned to our parish should I be incapacitated, 75 ordinations in four years’ time, the right to send men to seminary to serve our parishes, and our own Missal as a fixture in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church, we mustn’t forget that it was not always so. Many prayers and tears have gotten us to this point in our development, Fr. Scott’s included, and we must never take for granted that matters have progressed as they have. Without the sacrifices of men like Fr. Ed Scott we might still be delivering the crushing news, words I had to say too often, “Yes, our reconciliation to Holy Mother Church happened here, but there’s nothing we can do to help you there. I’m sorry your bishop hasn’t gotten with the program”.
My point is that the amount of money we send to the Ordinariate Chancery in Houston seems like a lot – we’ll send about $34,000 this year – but you must know that, for the sake of the souls we are helping to save, it is worth every penny. The proceeds from our Cathedraticum (ten cents on every dollar you give) and our parish’s contribution towards the Bishop’s Appeal are doing more than we ever could when, before 2012, we were one of only seven missionary outposts that nearly everyone expected one day to disappear and be absorbed into the dioceses where we were situated.
Therefore, in gratitude for the freedom we have now, because of the sacrifices of men like Fr. Ed Scott, we must gleefully support the work of Bishop Lopes and his staff. As one of only seven trail-blazing communities that helped make the Chancery in Houston possible, we can’t look to Houston for relief. Rejoice with me instead that we have a Chancery to which to send money, and plead Fr. Scott’s intercession that the Lord will provide for all we need to continue this work of evangelization, both here in Scranton and in Houston.
We’ve hit stumbling blocks before. By God’s grace, every single one has been overcome. Desirous of your prayers that the same will be true this time, I am,
Your Servant in Christ
The Rev. Eric L. Bergman