To the editor,
There is much anger and hurt about the church closings here in Oswego and I whole heartedly understand that. I get upset when I hear people say “it is just a building”, it’s not. Church is where we write a large part of the story of who we are. It holds our ancient family histories as well as the ones we are currently writing. If you are a practicing catholic you write a bit of that story with and for your family each week. Even twice a year holiday Catholics, know all of the most important pieces in their lives occur wrapped in the church, baptism, funerals, marriages and other sacraments. It truly makes me sad to see some people writing ugly chapters that will impact our collective histories and once those stories are written they cannot be changed. So in hopes of redirecting some of that history I would like to address a few things. And in full disclosure I am a practicing member at Christ the Good Shepherd at the former St. Paul’s Church.
Losing even one of our churches is a sad thing, each holds their own unique majesty and identity. This church is the Mother church in Oswego and dates back to 1830, almost a century before St. Mary’s was built. That might not matter to you if you think the church is simply a building. But church is never a building. A building does not breathe and contrary to popular belief it does not have a soul, it is brick and mortar. It is and can only be an ornate box to hold the collective spirit of God’s children. The current building at St. Paul’s was constructed in the seventies. It is not as ornate as others, that’s true. It wasn’t designed to do that. It was designed to wrap around the Alter and bring people into a more intimate relation to the Eucharist as suggested by Vatican II. It was also designed to focus directly on the Alter and the crucifix that hangs above. It is modest and humble and calls us each to those qualities as we put ourselves consciously in the presence of God, and it imitates the humility of Christ as much as it can and calls us to do the same. You can say that St. Paul’s is dressed in “tacky 1970’s street clothes,” something similar might have been said of all the early church because it rejected the ornate grandeur displayed in the temple by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, whose self importance blinded them to the presence of Christ.
Some people will think parishioners here won some kind of lottery, it couldn’t be further from the truth. People have been throwing stones at us since the announcement came out; somehow they must believe it will make them happier to hurt their new brothers and sisters, it won’t. They will eventually figure that out. Someone started announcing the new priest out of turn for no other reason than a false sense of authority and power, fortunately that person will not be here forever. Someone else texted me and said “you guys got Fr. Canarro” before we could be told by Father Guy. Guess what, we all get the same priest. Some will tear down or refuse to participate in anything not of their own making. That is OK, God is watching.
St. Paul’s is gone and we grieve our loss too. We are as unsure as everyone else about this new chapter. The one thing we are sure of is our love for our brothers and sisters, wherever or whenever they come. And we will do our best to display that love. I pray that you will let us be your servants and that we will come together in a way that makes us all proud of this new chapter.
Forever yours in Christ,