"The Sad State of Affairs"
Thanks to the most generous disposition of my classmate, Fr. Charles Zanoni, C.S., pastor of the Church of St. Rocco, I had been able to announce that we were being welcomed, as a parish, to have our Annual St. Bartholomew Feast on the grounds of St. Rocco Church. It would have opened our festival to a much wider audience bringing in much needed revenues to our financially-stressed parish. What could have been more symbolic of our shared Catholic Faith than this public and beautiful outreach to us from our Scalabrinian neighbors?...these words are of use far beyond the church in Rhode Island.
And then it began. Unsigned letters began to circulate denouncing not only this beautiful and charitable decision, but letters and phone calls to parishioners, parish staff and the Chief of Police denouncing even members of my family. How sad that baptized Catholics should wage such a verbal "war" against a neighboring parish community. At a meeting with the representatives of both parish groups and the Chief of Police of Johnston, it was officially stated that some of the Catholic population of Johnston would not tolerate the presence of the Catholics of Silver Lake.
Under these circumstances it seemed best to simply cancel the effort. What a sad and disturbing indictment for Johnston! After 2000 years of ministry and Faith....we are still putting Our Lord on the cross with nails of prejudice and hatred. After an over 100 year history of sacramental ministry, we still close our hearts to our brothers and sisters of other cultures and other parishes. And to think that I had dedicated 13 years of my priesthood as the pastor of St. Rocco and, just recently, had been asked to return as administrator while serving as pastor here at St. Bartholomew.
In this light, and thanks to our good hardworking volunteers, we have decided to hold our feast on our own grounds trusting in good St. Bartholomew and Our Blessed Lady to help us with their intercessions. I can only recall the words of an atheistic philosopher who once wrote, "How can I become a Catholic when those of you who claim to follow Christ, live as if you do not know Him." Let us pray for the Church in Rhode Island.