Amid all of its teachings — some more controversial than others — many of the Catholic Church’s core beliefs come down, like those of other religions, to treating people with compassion and respect.
Yet, for the second time this year, leaders of the Archdiocese of Boston have shown neither for the people of Gloucester and Cape Ann.
Indeed, the archdiocese’s “pastoral plan” outlining new leadership structures for dozens of parishes — including the two here on Cape Ann — shows an especially heavy-handed lack of respect for one of its most influential local figures by forcing Our Lady of Good Voyage’s venerable pastor, the Rev. Eugene Alves, to submit his resignation within a few weeks after 38 years at Our Lady’s helm. And it similarly shows no consideration for the Rev. John Kiley, the Holy Family pastor who took the reins of that already-merged parish when the Rev. Ron Garibaldi retired as its pastor two years ago.
The archdiocese plan has a context. By keeping all 288 of its churches open, Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s headquarters are looking to address a shortage of priests, as Rev. Kiley’s weekend church bulletin message indicates.
But suggesting that parish “collaboratives,” including one combining Holy Family and Our Lady’s, will allow each parish to retain its own identity becomes almost laughable considering that the pastoral resignation orders will wipe out a big part of Our Lady of Good Voyage’s identity in one swoop. That’s Rev. Alves himself, who has poured 38 years of his life into leading Our Lady’s forward and maintaining its stability, with a hands-on role in maintaining its fishing industry traditions and its Portuguese heritage — from carillon bell concerts to the annual “crowning” ceremony and a important role in St. Peter’s Fiesta.
The merging of parishes across into “collaboratives” offers pastors the chance to apply to head their collaborative when the changes take full effect next June. But Rev. Alves, who is 82, told parishioners last week he would not be applying for any merged role. And a merger of Our Lady’s and Holy Family would seemingly pose all sorts of other issues as well.