5/19/2007

WWJD?

Woke up this morning to the brilliantly simple story on the front page of today's Buffalo News. Reporter Jay Tokasz asks, "Should the Bishop's Home be sold?" Like, duh...
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I've archived the full text of the article - Selling 79 Oakland. I've been asking this question for years. Most recently here - Flipping (off) Jesus... - in the context of the St. Matthew's Deaccession.
Yesterday - back in the 90's, Transfiguration and St. Matthew's, were lost. Tomorrow - well, Bishop Kmiec is just getting ready to make the announcement about the latest church closings. Meanwhile he still lives at 79 Oakland Place, the Diocese still owns a vibrant - lovely terra cotta building at 785 Main Street and manages the mostly vacant - and desired devlopment spot just outside of East Aurora - here, Christ The King Seminary.

Seems to me that if the Bishop desired to return to the City and model the behavior necessary to turn the tide and fill the pews once again, he could. With three of the most desirable properties under his thumb (79 Oakland is one of the most expensive residences in the City, Main Street could fill a shortage of downtown class A office space and the seminary, well...) there are plenty of resources to shore up - and moth-ball - some of the most vibrant pieces of our cultural heritage here in the City.

Then again, what do I know? Flipping (off) Jesus is the latest chapter in Diocesan Deaccession. It's what happens on the urban prairie, the abandoned, forgotten and vacant steppes of Buffalo.
Just like Land Banking, selling 79 Oakland Place is becoming part of the emerging conversation here in Buffalo as we look to right-sizing and rescuing our City and bringing it back from the brink.
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3 comments:

Michele J said...

One thing that has always puzzled me is why the nuns take a vow of poverty,live in the inner city and do more work within the community than the anyone else in the diocese and others who do nowhere near the work the nuns do live in 2 million dollar homes w/ maids etc?

Anonymous said...

The Bishop was overheard talking in confidence to on of his aides ..."LET THEM EAT CAKE"

b said...

I'm not Catholic so I shouldn't have a say in how the Diocese spends their money, but:

1.) Based on common sense, yes they should sell that extravagant Oakland St. property and to be consistent with priestly vows of poverty they took, the bishop and assistants should live in lower cost buildings. Michelle makes a good point that nuns take poverty vows, and so do priests and being promoted up the chain to the level of bishop doesn't undo that vow.

2.) The $2 million or so they get for the house won't make any big difference in terms of keeping parishes or schools open, but it could be spent on human needs.

3.) Just as it's not a good use of Diocese money to house the bishop in a mansion, it's also not good use of money to indefinitely keep boarding up (re-boarding, re-re-, etc.) a no-longer-needed building after every break in. When the Diocese closes a building such as St. Mathews they should pay to demolish/deconstruct it and have it quickly "die in dignity". As with the city, smart shrinkage of the Diocese should include realization that beautiful buildings, even churches, aren't intended to stand forever when there's clearly not a feasible use for them, and no matter how much emotion attaches to a building it's not a reason for it to live on as a vacant eyesore, nuisance, and indefinite money drain. Converting St. Matthews to a community center is ridiculous for so many reasons it's hard to believe the current owners seriously planned that. And whatever weird fantasy a future buyer has is a waste of time and money. Only someone a great distance away would consider it. Do they have any idea of the gun crime and poverty that surrounds that building? That's why the population declined so much in that Bailey/Ferry/Grider area, which is a big reason parish membership fell so much. Many became afraid to live near there or even drive to there. Sad in many ways, but also reality.