Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has offered to let a small Indian Catholic community move into a closed Framingham parish that has been occupied by protesters for the last three years.

The unusual development, which will apparently result in the Indian priest living in the rectory across a walkway from where the Framingham Catholics are sleeping in the choir loft, is a new twist in the battle between the archdiocese and local Catholics over the fate of a handful of contested parish closings.

St. Jeremiah's in Framingham is one of five closed parishes still occupied by protesters, but is already in a strange state of limbo - officially shut down, purged from the archdiocese's online and printed directories, but with weekly Mass said by priests supplied by the archdiocese. The closed parish has baptisms when members are born, and funerals when they die, but is barred by the archdiocese from celebrating weddings if any of their worshipers fall in love.

Now the archdiocese says it is inviting a little-known Eastern Rite Catholic community, the Syro-Malabars of southwestern India, to join the protesters in worshiping at the closed church.

An Indian priest, the Rev. Kuriakose Vadana, is to say an Eastern Rite Mass, facing away from the congregation, in Malayalam, which is the language of the Kerala region from which the Syro-Malabars hail; Vadana will also say a Latin Rite Mass, facing the congregation, in English, for the Framingham folks.

Read it here.

The Archdiocese of Boston is calling this "a testament to improved relations between church officials and the protesters". The protesters say they were not consulted about this move, but they are willing to share the parish with the Syro-Malabars.

St. Jeremiah's was the parish home of the astronaut Christa McAuliffe who died in the Challenger disaster. Bells at the parish were purchased in her honor.

The Syro-Malabar community of about 100 members will assume financial responsibility for the parish. When all appeals presented by the protesters have been decided, and taking into consideration the results of those appeals, the church is tentatively going to be transferred to the Syro-Malabarian Eparchy.

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