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'We need a unity that transcends our parishes'

Page 2 of 2 -- The archdiocese's operating budget has been slashed by $14 million over the past three years, and we still have an annual $10 million deficit. Subsidies to poor parishes, ethnic apostolates, formation programs, and Catholic schools all are affected. Many parishes are unable to pay their bills. The pension plans for laity and clergy are in danger. Thirty-five million dollars borrowed three years ago to pay operating expenses is exhausted and needs to be repaid. Many communities who meet their expenses do so by selling land and buildings and spending down savings. (In the last nine years parishes have sold 150 pieces of property mostly to pay bills.) Some people think that reconfiguration will mean a great surplus of money for the archdiocese. Unfortunately, this is not true. I have asked the finance council to work on a strategic plan for the archdiocese which I shall share with you. I am committed to financial transparency and to using our human and financial resources for the mission of the church.

I am appealing to all Catholics to be Catholics first. I know that we all have a great love for our parish and parish church, but our first love must be for Christ and the Body of Christ which is the Church. Closing parishes is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in 40 years of religious life. I joined the monastery knowing that I would have to do difficult things for the rest of my life, but I never imagined I would have to be involved in anything so painful or so personally repulsive to me as this. At times I ask God to call me home and let someone else finish this job, but I keep waking up in the morning to face another day of reconfiguration. So when people ask why I am doing this, I can only say it is because I love the church and want to give my life to the service of the church. If difficult decisions are not made now, the mission of the Church will be seriously compromised in the future. . . .

We should all be consoled to know that the sacrifices we make allow the mission of the church to continue. If your ''viable" parish was closed it was so some other ''not viable" parish or ministry could continue. If your parish is a receiving parish, I urge you to go out of your way, as so many of you already have, to welcome those coming from another parish. . . .

We need to recognize and build on a unity that transcends our individual parishes and is based on a commitment to live the mission that Christ entrusts to us that begins with loving and forgiving one another. Our energy and passion should be to serve the needs of the poor and downtrodden, to teach our young people about the love of Christ and His Gospel. Past generations of Catholics in Boston have made untold sacrifices to establish parishes and institutions of which we have been the beneficiaries. Future generations of Catholics need our sacrifices so that they can inherit vibrant parishes and institutions in the future.

Discipleship has always meant the cross, but the cross is not the end. Out of the cross comes rebirth and resurrection. In this time of pain we must turn to prayer so that God will strengthen our faith and our faith will make us whole. . . . 

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