GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 5, 2013

Church changes forcing out local pastors

St. Ann's, Our Lady's will remain open, but join as 'collaborative'

By Ray Lamont
Staff Writer

---- — A “pastoral plan” being advanced by the Archdiocese of Boston, designed to keep all of its 288 churches open while consolidating them into 135 “collaboratives,” will combine the historic Our Lady of Good Voyage Church with Holy Family Parish and its St. Ann’s Church.

But the proposal is also forcing the resignation of both local pastors, Holy Family’s the Rev. John Kiley and the 82-year-old Rev. Eugene Alves, who has led Our Lady’s and been the church’s driving force for nearly 40 years.

In its announcement, the archdiocese emphasized that each parish in a “collaborative” will “continue to keep its own identity,” but that each collaborative will be led by a single pastor.

While all of the current pastors have been told to resign, each can also apply to head their new or another collaborative as well.

But Alves — who has himself been an enormous part of Our Lady of Good Voyage’s identity in his 38 years as pastor and kept alive many of the church’s Portuguese ethnic traditions, including the annual Crowning of Our Lady procession and ceremonies, carrillon bell concerts, and many other events — told church-goers last weekend that he would not be applying to lead both parishes within the new collaborative.

Both Alves and Kiley — along with other pastors involved in the collaborative consolidation across the archdiocese — are expected to continue to serve in their current positions until next June as part of the transition.

Neither Alves nor Kiley, who succeeded the Rev. Ronald Gariboldi as pastor at Holy Family when the latter retired in 2011, could be reached for comment Friday.

Kiley was on vacation Friday, a church receptionist said, but in a message to parishioners included in the parish bulletins, he outlined aspects of the changes.

“...We will now begin several months of important preparation so that these ... collaboratives can begin on June 3, 2014,” he wrote.

Archdiocese officials Friday did not return phone calls seeking comment, but Kiley’s message outlined other aspects of the changes.

During October and November, “consultation meetings” will be held in all of the involved collaboratives, in which the parish councils and staffs would be asked to advise the archdiocese’s clergy personnel board, Kiley wrote. That board will make recommendations regarding new pastors to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads the archdiocese.

“The pastors will hopefully be named by Christmas,” Kiley wrote, “so that they can participate in the formation of their teams of Parochial Vicars during the winter and early spring.”

“Why this pastoral plan?” Kiley’s message continued. “It is hoped that this will ensure the best use of the diminishing number of active priests, and do so in a way that will avoid merging and closing parishes.

“It is also envisioned that the parishes of a collaborative will have the financial resources to support an adequate staff of clergy and lay ministers so that the priests can devote themselves more fully to the work of priestly ministry.”

Kiley said that St. Ann’s will host an open parish meeting at St. Ann’s Church on Monday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m.

The new collaborative structure with Our Lady’s will be the second in the last eight years for leaders and parishioners at St. Ann’s, which was essentially merged with St. Joaquim Church in Rockport in 2005 — a move that also shut down Sacred Heart and St. Peter’s.

Our Lady of Good Voyage had not been included in previous consolidation plans; the church — called “the Church of the Fishermen,” and boasting more than a dozen models of fishing schooners and other maritime vessels along its interior walls — was built in 1914 and added to the National Historic Register in 1990.

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Times Editor Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.