ELIZABETH HERMAN: Responds to previous letter about St. Mary church


Wally Eaton’s letter, “Parish was out of options for St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Shrine,” published on Dec. 14 led me to write.

When St. Mary’s closed, I called, sent letters to the priest and vicar in 2014 and to the bishop in 2015 and received no responses; I wrote to the bishop again in 2018. I expressed concern over pipes freezing and a potential loss of insurance coverage if a fire were to occur and fire engines had no access to the parish due to a lack of snow plowing.

Supposedly St. Mary’s had a few hundred thousand dollars when Father James left. If continued maintenance had been performed with some of this money, the Senior Center wouldn’t be wasting thousands on repairs/cleanup due to neglect.

The closure was grossly mishandled. After Mass sometime in January 2014, parishioners were cruelly told, “This is your last Mass here.” Stunned people did not hear any reason why St. Joseph was chosen to remain open over St. Mary’s and Guardian Angels. There should have been open meetings to get ideas that may have prevented the closures.

Why was St. Joseph chosen? More seating capacity? They have since added air conditioning, new bathrooms and are raising money for new carpeting. St. Mary’s had all these plus a better sound system, better handicap accessibility, no obstructed view seating and plenty of parking. Why was St. Mary’s, which supposedly was in the black, closed?

Supposedly contact with the Detroit Diocese (we had no bishop at the time) led to bulletins including a financial report in 2014. Every month but one showed the school was negative $29,000 to $60,000. This makes one feel the churches were sacrificed for the school.

Recently a bulletin informed us electronic contributions were not being counted. Aren’t the books balanced every month? Detailed reports should be in the bulletin. What is the debt? A recent bulletin implied that if St. Mary’s had contributed, evangelized and prayed more, St. Mary’s could have been saved. Money from parishioners apparently all went to Catholic Community of Manistee, not to each parish.

People should put themselves in the shoes of those whose churches were cruelly closed without adequate discussion and thought. Lessons I hope the church has learned from this are: with future closings, hold meetings to gather input from all, not just a few select people; be transparent — cover-ups make things worse; let people feel they have a say in what happens (respond to people when they write).

I still welcome answers to why St. Joe’s was chosen to remain open. Maybe that will help the healing process.

The new Senior Center will be the most beautiful in the state. I wish them well. I am hurt that St. Mary’s was not included in the name as was initially alluded. I hope the chapel they are supposed to keep will be the St. Mary’s Chapel.

Elizabeth Herman


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