Bishop urges Catholics at “blended” parish in Virginia to go elsewhere—UPDATED

Bishop urges Catholics at “blended” parish in Virginia to go elsewhere—UPDATED May 14, 2014

You may remember when this unique parish made news last year. Now it’s in the news again:   

 Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has urged Roman Catholics attending a one-of-a-kind Catholic and Episcopal church to worship at a nearby parish because he has not been able to find a “suitable priest” to serve the blended congregation.

It was the latest round of adversity for a church that has battled to maintain its ecumenical mission in the face of flagging support in the Catholic hierarchy.

In a letter read Sunday to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles, DiLorenzo noted that the 36-year-old congregation’s interim Catholic priest is in poor health and has been unable to serve consistently.

A monthslong search for a replacement, DiLorenzo said, has not succeeded. He urged Catholic congregants to “prayerfully consider” attending Holy Spirit Catholic Church a few blocks away on Lynnhaven Parkway until a new priest is found.

“While we have no current prospects, I assure you that should a suitable candidate come forward, he could be assigned to fulfill the required duties,” the bishop wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond said because the search “has been going on for some time without success, it is not currently an intensive search.”

Members of Holy Apostles said they were disappointed by the bishop’s letter, which they said renewed questions about his commitment to the parish launched under DiLorenzo’s predecessor, the late Bishop Walter Sullivan.

Read more. 

UPDATE: Dominick Hankle, who serves as the Lay Pastoral Associate for the parish, forwarded me the letter from Bishop DiLorenzo.  He believes it explains the circumstances more accurately than the article above.

Part of what he wrote to me:

The first thing to note is that Bishop DiLorenzo did not urge Catholics in this ecumenical community to worship somewhere else nor did he tell them they should switch to a different church as the article suggests. The Bishop did “Invite them to prayerfully consider attending Holy Spirit as long as no Catholic priest is available at Holy Apostles” and thanked them for their patience and cooperation during out transition time in which we are searching for a Catholic priest to serve our community. When we do not have a Catholic priest we celebrate a communion service and some Catholics are not comfortable with that. The Bishop is simply reminding them they have options they can exercise if they like.

Click on the link below to read the bishop’s letter:

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