SYRACUSE — St. Mary of the Assumption Church will operate as a “personal parish” within the consolidated Port City Catholic community, according to a Thursday statement from Diocese of Syracuse officials.
Bishop Douglas Lucia in October 2019 told Oswego Catholics the diocese would undertake an additional review of a May 2019 decision to consolidate the city’s parishes under one banner. The findings of that review have now been released, and Lucia said he’s acting in hopes of “foster(ing) greater unity.”
“A parish is a community of believers, and all should be done to build up and sustain its mission of caring for Christ’s flock,” said Lucia in a letter to parishioners dated May 20.
Oswego’s Catholics have seen a significant amount of turmoil over the past year, as it was almost exactly 12 months ago the diocese announced its plans to reorganize the parishes of St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Stephen the King, St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s. On May 15, 2019, diocese officials announced the selection of east-side house of worship St. Paul’s to serve as the physical home for the new parish, dubbed Christ the Good Shepherd. The selection of St. Paul’s did not sit well with many in the population of St. Mary’s, who said the west side church is home to too much history to neglect.
According to the diocese, St. Paul’s will be designed as the “parish church” of Christ the Good Shepherd, which is a “territorial parish.” A territorial parish is one where all Catholics within its bounds “are its members and its pastoral responsibility.”
St. Mary’s, however, will be designated as a “personal parish, giving it the title of an oratory, or a place of prayer.”
“Personal parish is a canonical term that means the parish will have no territory attached to it other than the land on which it was built,” the diocese’s announcement said. “St. Mary’s Church will serve as the diocesan worship site for those desiring the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, more familiarly known as the Tridentine Mass or the Traditional Latin Mass.”
Traditional Latin Mass is the observance of worship celebrated before the Second Vatican Council enacted in 1970, and using the Missal of 1962. The “old rite” performs portions of Mass in Latin, among other protocol differences.
The St. Mary’s “personal parish” will be supported “by its current assets and by freewill donations,” the diocese said. Christ the Good Shepherd will not maintain St. Mary’s nor will St. Mary’s funds be used to sustain Christ the Good Shepherd, according to officials. Fr. Guy Baccaro will remain at St. Mary’s rectory, and the church will have its own bookkeeper, trustees and a finance council. Lucia also said it was his “intention to bring a Society of Apostolic Life” to St. Mary’s to conduct the “centuries-old rites.”
This story is developing and will be updated.