Staten Island had its part in the story of radio pastor Harold Camping's latest failed end-of-the-world prediction. A 60 year old local man, Robert Fitzgerald, spent $140,000 of his own money buying bus and subway ads proclaiming Camping's prediction that the Rapture would occur on May 21st. This retired bachelor from Port Richmond is also the author of a self-published book on the subject called, "The Doomsday Code". The story received some national play, and significant local attention, due to the large amount of his personal fortune spent on this project. On May 21st, he had the faith to go to Times Square and, in front of crowds and TV cameras, proclaim his beliefs and wait to be beamed up. Of course, no Rapture occurred, so he admitted his disappointment and went home, to general mockery.
Our interest in this is thus: With all this attention focused on Camping's prediction, and the local man's notoriety, you would have thought the Staten Island churches would have seized upon this as a golden "teachable moment". It would have given us the opportunity to speak out about the abominable Rapture fallacy, and explain that it is a modern doctrine, popularized in America in the 19th century and that the vast majority of Christians don't believe in it and have never believed in it. It could have been pointed out that it is un-Scriptural, illogical and amoral. Since so many of the non-denominational churches focus so heavily on the Rapture and the End Times, that would have been a very effective strike against one of the major tenets of these heterodox faiths, which have stolen so many Catholics. Instead, I didn't see one letter in the Advance from a Catholic priest, nor did the Advance even quote a priest in its many stories on this subject. I imagine that if a priest had been contacted, he would simply have responded with a shrug, since they are as ignorant of the religious systems that have emptied their pews as they are uninterested in combating them.
Secondly, Mr. Fitzpatrick is a graduate of St. Peter's Boys school and a fallen away Catholic. He lives in Port Richmond and is listed in the phone book. Has any priest tried to reach out to him and lead him home? He is obviously a very troubled and confused man. He needs help and love. I should hope that the Church is trying to bring back this very prominent lost sheep, but knowing how things are...I can only hope.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
ParishSoft, a website which sells software packages for liturgical churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Episcopal), is having a conference on Staten Island on June 9th. I'm not sure if they do websites, but I would assume that's part of the package. So many Staten Island parishes are in dire need of something like this. Take a look at some of the parish links on the right hand side of the page here. A few parish websites are very good. They are attractive, easy to navigate, and "sell" their parish very well. One notable examples is St. Clare's. Most of the others are ugly as sin, antiquated, rarely updated, bizarrely designed, and confusing. They look like they were designed around 1997, the Stone Age of the Internet. And even worse are the parishes that don't even have websites. Parishesonline.com, a parishsoft product, lists the basic info (address and Mass times) for all U.S. parishes, so at least there is that bare-bones web presence for derelict parishes. In this day and age, a public organization seems unprofessional and disreputable without a professional web presence. The good news is that I don't think your average parish needs to spend a lot of money with this company in order to put up a web site. If you have any parishioners under 30, they should be able to put up a website with ease and at minimal cost. (Doteasy.com provides free web hosting. Domain name registration costs about $15, sometimes cheaper). If you don't have any parishioners under 30, or think that you don't need to communicate with the world through modern forms of communication, then maybe your perspective is in need of updating and your priorities need to be reviewed.