Friday, February 25, 2005

Parish Consolidations and Ethnicities

The final South City Deanery Consolidation Plan has been announced by St. Louis Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke.

There are some things that puzzle me about the ethnic representations slated for the various churches.

1) St. Agatha in south Soulard will be the new home of Polish masses sponsored by the Archdiocese, which had been at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist in Plaza Square downtown. What this means for the St. Stanislaus debacle, I'm not sure.

2) Latin mass will be celebrated at St. Francis de Sales; currently, it's at St. Agatha. This seems pretty appropriate; hopefully the funds will be raised to restore de Sales to its glory as the "Cathedral of South St. Louis." However, St. Agatha's been doing this for a while; it's odd to change it now.

3) St. Joseph Croatian Church in Soulard will now be home to outreach efforts to Bosnians. This is very odd. Currently, the Southside Bosnian Services Collaborative is based at Resurrection of Our Lord on Meramec Street. Both school and church will close at Resurrection, a magnificent example of modern church architecture built in 1952. The parish will be consolidated primarily with St. John the Baptist on Delor in the Bevo area.

Wouldn't it make more sense for Bosnian outreach to be conducted at St. John, if Resurrection must close? St. John is located in the heart of the Bosnian community in Bevo. While admittedly a migration to South County is in full swing, the cultural milieu still permeates Bevo with various Bosnian-owned shops and restaurants along Morganford and Gravois. St. John has one of the last remaining parish high schools, as well as an elementary school. It just seems like a more sensible place where Bosnian services would be based. After all, my guess is that St. Joseph Croatian serves mostly suburbanites of Croatian descent. Although the languages are closely related, they are different and distinct cultures here. Particularly most Bosnians are Muslim. Resurrection has worked hard to bring them into the community there. Why move the Bosnian "outreach" to a neighborhood to which they have no connections?

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