Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another one bites the dust. R.I.P. St. Peter's

Despite giving us reason to believe that there would be no more school closings, the Archdiocese just announced that it will be closing the venerable St. Peter's Girls High School in June and moving the elementary school to the shuttered St. Paul's school complex on Clinton Avenue. The high school girls would be integrated into Notre Dame and Moore. According to the Archdiocese, the high school would only have a mere 95 students in the Fall, thus making it financially unviable. Students and alumni are understandably devastated. So, in the latest humiliation for Staten Island Catholics, the Mother Church of the island, our oldest parish, in our most populous and urban neighborhood, can't even keep their school open.

Predictably, many people are blaming the Archdiocese, but the culprits are endless. For one thing, rising costs have to be a factor. Tuition is $6900 a year. That is far, far above what my Catholic school tuition cost when I was in school, even adjusted for inflation. I can't imagine anyone who could afford that, especially if you have more than one child. In addition, since the Vatican II church's own lax theology has produced a vocations crisis, lay teachers are a considerable expense, as they do insist on being paid. On the other hand, St. Peter's Boys school has over 600 students, a brand new facility and is by all accounts flourishing. Are North Shore Catholic parents mysteriously having a preponderance of boys for some reason? Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that the boys' school is located in leafy Livingston, while the girls' school is located in gritty New Brighton. It's a fact that what was once a largely Irish/Italian/Polish neighborhood back in the 60s is now predominantly black and Hispanic. And as we know, most of us Catholic "ethnics" aren't too big on integration and multiculturalism. That doesn't reflect too well on our Faith, but it's a fact we must acknowledge- the school's base has fled from the area and is not too inclined to send their kids to school there.

Or maybe the problem begins at the top. I don't usually mention people by name here, but any pseudonyms would be transparent in this case. What exactly has Monsignor Dorney done to increase students and parishioners? I don't know much about him except that he has been pastor of St. Peter's for as long as I can remember, and his magnificent church seems to be crumbling about his ears, literally and figuratively. His sermons are dreary and demotivational in the extreme, delivered in a tone resembling that of Ferris Bueller's teacher on Ambien, although I can tell he was well educated. He does not seem to be in good health. He is the co-vicar of Staten Island, whatever that means. He has displayed no leadership over the island's Catholics as far as I can tell. He has officiated at funeral Masses for at least one pro-abortion politician I can recall. He supported the sale of the Margaret Mary convent to the Moslem American Society. I really can't see the man doing anything to evangelize, promote or defend the Faith.

I attended a recent Mass at St. Peter's. A glance at the bulletin showed that there was literally nothing going on in the biggest church and most historically prestigious parish on Staten Island. There were some announcements for events in other churches. Monsignor Dorney was listed as the only priest in residence. There were a mere 50 people at the 12:00 Mass. Surprisingly, there were a few young people. The music was performed by a middle-aged guitarist who I believe plays in a band at Adobe Blues on weekends. With his 1840s style grey mutton chops, he resembles a mild mannered school teacher, but I can testify that this guy can seriously rock out on a Saturday night. He toned it down for Mass, and played the usual syrupy 70s tunes that seem positively out of place in this Gothic style cathedral. Monsignor Dorney gave a sermon about Gandhi. It was excruciating. All in all, it was just a sad and depressing experience. Seeing how the church is run, it is no wonder to me that the school is in the shape it's in.

Wrestling, Islam, and Goodfellas

A few items of interest: of all the things we Catholics need, Mount Manresa feels that they are serving us best by hosting a $30 per person talk by a Fordham professor about the glories of Islam. Wasn't Mount Manresa founded to be a retreat house for the spiritual edification of Catholics, not an event venue for the Staten Island Council of Churches?

Moore Catholic high school is again hosting a major "pro"-wrestling extravaganza in its school gym. Tickets are between $20 to $30. This is embarrassing. Has Moore ever hosted a Catholic speaker? Or a vocations meet and greet with religious orders? Anything related to the Faith? I don't think so, but they roll out the red carpet every year for these vulgar barbarians and the slack-jawed, bloodthirsty morons who pay to see them pretend to fight.

Not a Staten Island story, but it bears on the state of our Church. Catholic New York ran an announcement for a talk at a Manhattan church. For $15, you will get to watch the movie "Goodfellas" in a Catholic church, and then get to hear a talk by a Fordham professor.  Enough said.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm ok, you're ok. Why be Catholic?

The annual Christian Unity jamboree was recently held at St. Teresa's. I'm sorry I wasn't able to attend. I'm sure it would have been as amusing and frustrating as the last one I witnessed. The usual suspects got together to sing "We Shall Overcome" and honor Martin Luther King. So....this might be an awkward question, but how's that unity thing coming? Are the non-Catholic participants any closer to recognizing their errors and re-uniting with Christ's Church? Or were they confirmed in their beliefs by the general promotion of "tolerance", "diversity" and "co-existence"? Let us remember that this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was begun with the intention of having Catholics pray for the eventual conversion of all Christians to Catholicism. However, like so much in the Church, the original meaning was subverted and the idea was co-opted by the liberal destroyers. The next disgraceful surrender on the calendar should be Father O'Hara's annual Passover seder.

Monday, February 7, 2011

St. Patrick and Female Impersonation

Staten Island gays will "honor" St. Patrick's Day with a dinner dance at the once-respectable Cichon Post American Legion in Port Richmond. The event will be hosted by female impersonator Lady Clover Honey. Not really a Catholic issue, but I wonder how the Cichon family, one of whom is the pastor of Assumption/St. Paul's, feels about this.

Gospel here! Get your Gospel here! Red Hot Gospel! Only $10!

The heretofore unknown to me Mother Franciska House of Prayer is sponsoring a series of religious talks at their location on the campus of St. Joseph Hill Academy. The "suggested donation" for each talk is $10. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Is the Gospel for sale? Isn't the Gospel something that belongs to everyone? Shouldn't priests and nuns want to seize every chance they can get to preach the Gospel and save souls, whether or not there's a profit involved? Isn't this the very definition of simony? I realize it's only a "suggested" donation, but if it's important enough to them that they mention in the newspaper, I would guess that it would be a very strong suggestion at the door, which few people would have the strength to resist. I for one would be discouraged from attending an event with such a suggestion. However, I would have no problem with them humbly asking for money in an unobtrusive way once I arrived. I would be happy to donate money to the good sisters, if I were able. But to post admission like this is very distasteful, and reflects very badly on our Faith and our commitment to evangelization.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For our priests: how to learn how to speak...

Toastmasters International is a world renowned organization devoted to promoting effective public speaking and leadership skills. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Catholic priests I've encountered need to join one of these groups, in my opinion. There are several groups that meet on Staten Island:

North Shore Toastmasters Club- Club #: 6927, Dist #: 83, Est: 09/01/1994
6th Floor Conference Room
56 Bay Street, St. George, Staten Island, NY, 10301, United States
718 727 6575
Meeting Time: 7:00 pm, last two Mondays

New Day Toastmasters- Club #: 665371, Dist #: 83, Est: 06/30/2004

Staten Island University Hosp. North, Seaview Ave
Conf. room off the Cafeteria -- 2nd Flr., Staten Island, NY, 10305, United States
(718) 816 5991
Meeting Time: 7:00 p.m., Last Thurs.

Richmond County Toastmasters Club - Club #: 3817, Dist #: 83, Est: 03/01/1976

Staten Island University Hospital-North Site
242 Mason Ave - Medical Arts Pavilion, Staten Island, NY, 10305, United States
718 967 4628
Meeting Time: 7:00 p.m., 1st & 2nd Wed

Business Leaders Toastmasters - Staten Island
43 Ramona Ave /
Meeting Place
Staten Island, NY 10312

Arlene Trunzo


Even for those priests who seem comfortable speaking to a large group, Toastmasters may help you put together a coherent thought, or help you deliver it in a way that is memorable and inspiring.

In addition, I heard about this website- - which has recorded sermons in mp3 format that priests can listen to for inspiration of delivery and content. I haven't listened to it yet, but it has been highly praised by orthodox Catholics.