Catholics in crisis

Let it be said right up front that when it comes to good Catholic boys, Mauro DePasquale is as fine a specimen as any I’ve known. Mr. DePasquale’s allegiance to his religion is quite apparently more profound than that of others to theirs. It certainly ranks higher in degree of commitment, it would seem, than the WASPish character “Hubbell Gardiner’s” (as portrayed by Robert Redford) was in the film The Way We Were. Why else would Jewish Marxist Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) question the depth of it—point blank—in light of her Hubbell’s wayward eye? A strong faith rooted in the Italian -American heritage of Worcester’s East Side is of course not Mr. DePasquale’s only redeeming attribute (some in the current and previous municipal administrations would dispute even this, based on their nemesis’s persistent and as they view it over-the-top bullheadedness in lobbying for budgeting consideration for the downtown community-access station). That is he not reluctant in expressing his opinion about faulty decision making at City Hall is evident too in a recent Facebook posting in which Mr. DePasquale railed against a trial run for so-called “smart meters”—asking “isn’t this a little over the top? An attempt to squeeze as much as possible out of taxpayers? Did the people vote for this? A video to instruct you on how to use the tool? Give us a break!” A self-described “TV Executive and Professional Musician” which indeed he is as GM of the city’s WCCA TV 13 (now in the midst of celebrating a 30th anniversary) and as an “all-thatjazz” performer who subsequent to the training he received at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee established a name for himself at venues all around the area (Union Station, Basil n Spice, et cetera), Mr. DePasquale deserves admiration and high praise for his tenacity. And for his willingness to take on tough fights. He has done this again in spearheading parishioners’ longshot effort to save Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Mulberry St. from the demolition ball. I only question the logic of the initiative, given the structural tenuousness of the building and the ability of the rescue movement to generate enough monies to turn restoration from a pipe dream into a reality (Mr. DePasquale has said for Mount Carmel to not reopen would be patently “unjust”). But with Mount Carmel’s future in doubt, as is that of the nearby Notre Dame des Canadiens, I can’t help but wonder if Catholics like Mr. DePasquale don’t now consider the construction of such grandiloquent edifices as an overreach on the church’s part? Wouldn’t less auspicious houses of worship have been sufficient, since the Mount Carmels of the world are crumbling under their own weight? Disintegrating under their own magnificence? (Our Lady of Angels, in Webster Square, may be the next to fall into this category. Fr. Charles Monroe confided to me last spring that limestone was an ill-advised material with which to build the towering structure that is OLA. Water seeping through cracks is compromising the integrity of the building). The West Endicott Baptist Church in Endicott, New York—my maternal grandparents’ church, would never have won any awards for architectural eminence. It is today the simple building it was then, having undergone no significant changes, with a small side door (pictured at the far left, in the photo, above) leading to and from the Sunday school rooms. I used that door to “cut class” in order to make a run to the candy store up the block—returning just in time to ease my way into the pew for Rev. John Green’s interminable forty five-minute sermons. Vestal United Methodist Church, in Vestal, New York, where I married the former Doris Marie Joiner in 1968, though far “classier,” if you will, than West Endicott Baptist, also is not of the caliber of a Mount Carmel. I hope my Catholic friends, including Mr. DePasquale, will forgive me for asserting that you don’t need a St. Paul’s Cathedral in New York City to keep a congregation close to the savior. It is becoming more obvious than ever that an insatiable appetite for glitz— emanating from Rome outward— was misguided

One thought on “Catholics in crisis

  1. It seems to me that generally speaking, religious facility closings in downtown Worcester – especially perhaps, Catholic Churches – seems indicative of two major trends; a lessening of these churches’ relevance with younger generations, and the flight of families out of downtown neighborhoods over the years. While the Mt. Carmel issue specifically seems to involve negligence and indifference by state officials, these two trends still seem at play in the sustainability of this parish, like so many others, unfortunately. One has to wonder how the Church may address the former issue at least?


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