Skip to comments.Tabernacle Consigned to Cry Room Organ, Piano Enshrined Front and Center
Posted on 10/01/2003 7:49:27 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
Maria Fugazi (not her real name) prays regularly in a rosary group that meets in St. Charles Borromeo Church across from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Barnett Avenue. One day in early August she noticed her pastor, Father Gary Holtey, talking with what appeared to be an architect about moving the tabernacle from its prominent central position to the church's cry room. She said that when she realized what was happening she was "devastated." "He never made it official, but he was hoping to do it. In a few conversations he mentioned that he would like to have it moved. The architect was supposedly the son of the original church architect. We have a choir loft organ and piano, and he moved those to the sanctuary, and now he says he has to move the tabernacle because it's 'too crowded.' We don't know if this is from the bishop of not, but very likely it is. It's probably the work of that gal that wants to change all of the churches and hide all the tabernacles -- Mary Ann Fallon. Supposedly he said that the bishop okayed it. If they do it, I'm finding another parish. I'm through with St. Charles. With all the homeless people and all the people starving and we're wasting money on theses unwanted and unneeded renovations! Whatever happened to charity?"
Such sentiments are not uncommon when a parish faces an unwanted renovation. In The Renovation Manipulation, author Michael Rose writes that the first result for parishes that renovate is an immediate drop in collection revenues. Rose notes that one of the main tricks of renovating is getting parishioners to pay for it, whether they want to or not. In this case Father Holtey seems to have sidestepped the process.
Vince Ortega (not his real name) told me on August 6 that Father Holtey is emboldened to make this move because of an estate left to St. Charles' Parish. "They got the funds from a woman who passed away and left her money to the parish. They're using the money to put the tabernacle in the cry room. I knew this woman for years and she'd probably be rolling in her grave if she knew that they were using her money to move the tabernacle."
Like Fugazi, Ortega is peeved that no announcement has been officially made nor any parishioners allowed to give input. "He hasn't unveiled his plan to the parish, but people have caught wind of it, so the word is out. I think the orthodox parishioners will be really irritated. Many of them know better and want to keep the tabernacle where it is. After all, that's the focal point of the Mass."
Another parishioner told me that she heard Father Holtey telling a group in church during the rosary devotion that he would make an announcement. "He told us that he was 'very hurt' by all the talk going on and that he 'loved us' and he was doing it 'for the church.'"
Father Holtey went public on Sunday, August 10, announcing the move in the Sunday bulletin. In a letter titled Re: Initial Stage of Transference of the Tabernacle & Removal of the Communion Rail, Father Holtey wrote:
"I would have preferred approaching you with this topic after the initial stage was farther along. Then I could have presented you with visual aids, in order to give you a clear idea of what the completed project will look like. These will still be reproduced and displayed as soon as they are given to me. However, because of excessive false information floating around, I wish to clarify a few things immediately.
"The project was seen as necessary in order to 1) provide a more devotional space for private adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, by transferring the tabernacle to the current Mothers' Chapel. Although the church is at present open until 5:00 PM, the number of persons taking advantage of this time for personal prayer is dismal. I believe a contributing cause of this is the immense size of the main body of the church, especially when empty and the lighting is dim. With a private Blessed Sacrament chapel, the space will be much more intimate and inviting to individuals wishing to spend some personal time with Our Lord. I believe this would lead to an increase in the number of private visits during the week. Please note that the design of the chapel will be mainly an open design, allowing the tabernacle to be viewed from either the sanctuary or the chapel proper. 2) Once this has been done, the back altar can be removed, and the Presider's Chair will be placed on the back raised platform. 3) With the communion railing removed, there will then be sufficient space to bring the organ onto the same level as the piano. This will clear up the current congested condition of the sanctuary. 4) The Mothers' Chapel will be transferred to the Window Room, off the vestibule in the front of the church. It will be equipped with a closed circuit TV view of the Mass, as is the current situation. This room will avail parents a much easier access.
"I am pleased to inform you that F.L. Hope, the grandson of the original architect of St. Charles church, has been brought on as a consultant and initial designer of preliminary plans for the project.
"All in all, I believe I am doing my utmost, along with the initial and on-going approval of the parish and Finance Councils, and proper Diocesan offices, to make certain that this project will produce a finished product that will be a source of joy, beauty and spiritual consolation for each and every parishioner. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome. For two years now, my door has always been open, as it will continue to be for the length of my tenure here at St. Charles."
Kevin Silva (not his real name), a longtime parishioner, finds Father Holtey's remarks disingenuous. "Why would we have to move the tabernacle for an adoration chapel? If he wants it more intimate, he could have an adoration chapel without moving the tabernacle. He could put the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel using a monstrance -- other parishes have done that. He talks about congestion at the altar, then why doesn't he move the organ, piano and the choir to the back of the church where they belong rather than tearing out the communion rail? They moved the choir to the front and didn't provide them with kneelers. He even told them to sit or stand during the consecration, but not to kneel. He said kneeling was too distracting! When they said that it was wrong to sit during the consecration, he told them, 'All the other parishes are doing it.' Besides, we already had an adoration chapel! It was across the parking lot in the old convent and it's accessible to everyone."
Maria Fugazi also doesn't believe Father Holtey's reasons for the renovation. "They closed the old adoration chapel! And that was after they put in a really ugly tabernacle. And the whole closed-circuit TV thing is absurd. They could put those monitors anywhere."
Former parishioner Chuck Stout was not surprised by the move, though one of Father Holtey's staff had assured him that he was not going to move the tabernacle (a condition Stout set for teaching RCIA). Stout quit the parish after two years of co-teaching RCIA with director Maggie Welch. Stout was clear that he had taken enough after the 2002-2003 RCIA program and left the parish of his own free will. "It's just another chapter in two years of heresy from Father Holtey. Hotley had grumbled about it a couple of times during the RCIA class. Maggie Welch, to her credit, said that such a move would not go over well at this parish. This guy is very smart. He's knows exactly where the edge is, and he's very careful when he crosses it. He has a sixth sense of how far he can push it.
"Father Holtey is pulling his heretical railroad around the parish. He's notorious for running around the laity at St. Charles and he should be ashamed of himself for imposing this tabernacle-jacking over to the cry room. Only the parish council would approve that, and that council is loaded with Holtey's hand-picked lefties. If there was a vote in the parish, it would be ten to one against this and he knows it, but he couldn't care less. No one wants this. Have you seen those communion rails? They're beautiful pink marble. They're magnificent. That's about the only church left with a communion rail (besides Holy Trinity in El Cajon)."
Jim Behrendt, a Catholic from Our Lady of Grace parish, called this reporter after most of this story was written to say that a close friend of his, a longtime St. Charles Borromeo parishioner, ended up in the hospital after Holtey browbeat him. "If you knew this man, he is one of the kindest, gentlest people you'd ever want to meet. This is a guy who idolizes priests and is constantly donating time and money to his parish and other Catholic causes. He frequently takes priests to lunch whether he knows them or not, just because they're priests. In the first week of September, he collapsed at Mass with chest pains, and they wheeled him out in an ambulance. When he came home a couple of days later, Father Holtey called him up and started shouting at him on the phone, 'Why are you trying to divide my parish?' It upset him so much that he began to have more chest pains and feel weak. He collapsed a couple of days later and an ambulance had to take him to Kaiser hospital for two days of testing."
They fear they'll be labeled "schismatics". It's the new catchword of the neo's.
Generally this is done to encourage concelebration. Side altars are a reminder of the time before Vatican II when there was no concelebration, and each priest had to celebrate his own Mass. It's still true today in some traditional monasteries that there will be numerous Masses occurring simultaneously at different altars. Now the preference is for all priests to concelebrate together at the main altar when there are numerous priests present. I was just reading of the cathedral in Copenhagen where several priests will concelebrate along with the main daily Mass from the front pew. A visiting priest wasn't aware of their presence until after the Mass was over. Of course, the situation of "numerous priests present together" will continue to become less and less of a relevant issue.
To what purpose?
What a weird, Old Testament (and fundamentally an-ecclesial) understanding of God's dealing with his people you offer! A God hungering for excuses to damn sinners and not to save them would be unworthy of worship.
Let's not blame God for the sins of men, shall we?
St. Charles Borremo himself ordered side altars be removed from a Cathedral. Dang modernist...
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