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Meeting with archbishop fosters hope in Scituate

The Patriot Ledger

Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley will meet within a week with parishioners from three closed churches where around-the-clock vigils are being held.

The news is causing speculation that the fate of those parishes could be addressed before the end of the year.

‘‘I find it striking that you have this tight spacing of meetings taking place,’’ said Peter Borre, co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, an advocacy group that supports parishes closed in the reconfiguration process. ‘‘In my judgment, these meetings are a prelude to some type of announcement by the archbishop sometime before Christmas.’’

Of the 83 parishes scheduled for closure in May 2004, one-quarter have had that decision reversed, Borre said.

Six churches remain occupied. Parishioners from all of them are scheduled to meet with archdiocesan representatives or have already had such a meeting.

Archbishop O’Malley will meet with St. Frances X. Cabrini parishioners in Scituate on Saturday, with St. James the Great parishioners in Wellesley on Dec. 7, and with St. Anselm parishioners in Sudbury on Dec. 10.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston is still working with archdiocesan representatives to come up with a mutually agreeable time. Parishioners from St. Therese in Everett met with Archbishop O’Malley on Oct. 18. Borre said parishioners from St. Jeremiah in Framingham have been holding meetings with Bishop Walter J. Edyvean.

‘‘There is a view, correct or otherwise, that if you dig in and push back, you may get someplace,’’ Borre said.

Terry Donilon, the archbishop’s spokesman, could not be reached for comment.

After he announced the archdiocesan restructuring, Archbishop O’Malley initially refused to meet with disgruntled parishioners. But he recently began approving meeting requests from members of closed churches, and at least one of the upcoming meetings is being held at his own request.

St. Frances X. Cabrini parishioners say they are cautiously optimistic about their first meeting with the archbishop.

Jon Rogers, one of four parishioners who plan to attend, said they plan to pitch the area’s growth and the fact that the church has enough land for a parochial school as practical reasons for reopening the church.

The school at St. Paul’s in Hingham has a waiting list of more than two years, so the demand is there, he said.

‘‘These guys have an opportunity to find themselves in a win-win situation,’’ Rogers said as he typed part of the presentation that will be made Saturday. ‘‘The numbers absolutely do not lie. ...Not only do we need to stay open, we need to expand.’’

Parishioners Marsha Devir and Michael Paulson sat in the Scituate church yesterday afternoon and chatted about the role they would like to see the church play in the community if it is reopened.

Devir led Girl Scout activities in the parish center for years, and Paulson once was an altar boy.

‘‘I think we’re moving in the right direction,’’ Paulson said. ‘‘Any intelligent discussion is a positive step.’’

At St. Anselm in Sudbury, a priest has been saying Mass on Sundays since the church was turned into a chapel of a nearby church in Framingham. The parishioners have had the same priest for a few months, but they were told that it was a temporary assignment and that the situation would be resolved by the end of the year, parishioner William Bannon said.

Parishioners continue to occupy St. Anselm.

Suzanne Hurley of St. James in Wellesley said Archbishop O’Malley asked for a second meeting with parishioners - the first was held Sept. 10 - to talk about religious-education concerns.

The group has asked him to present his specific concerns in writing before the meeting.

‘‘If this is a meeting to say there are no options, that’s not a productive meeting,’’ Hurley said. ‘‘If it’s just a chat, I guess I don’t know how I would take that.’’

She said the flurry of early December meetings may be attributable to Archbishop O’Malley being less available during the holiday season.

‘‘If I was hopeful, I would read into this that it might mean a decision would come down,’’ she said. ‘‘I just don’t know.’’

Diana Schoberg may be reached at dschoberg@ledger.com.

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, November 30, 2005