Holy Trinity Parish was suppressed on June 30, 2008 per order of His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap. and the church is now closed. The parish’s assets, including the church building, are currently frozen and will remain so while the parishioners exercise their canonical rights to appeal this decision. The parish’s most valuable sacred objects have been removed from the church for safekeeping and the building is now secured. It is being monitored by a professional property management firm to ensure the building’s well being.
Inquiries concerning the sacramental records of Holy Trinity should be addressed to the Pastor of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 75 Union Park Street, Boston, 02118 (617-542-5682). All other matters concerning the parish should be directed to the office of Rev. John J. Connolly at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184 (617-782-2544).
Although the suppression decree specifically identifies the Cathedral of the Holy Cross as the new home for the parishioners of Holy Trinity, Archdiocesan representatives recognized that the short gap between the letter of intent and the actual closure did not allow sufficient time to determine fully the best long term solution for the people of Holy Trinity. Since it was understood by all parties that the parishioners would file a formal appeal and that this action would effectively freeze Holy Trinity assets and property, the Archdiocese determined that there would be time to discern and evaluate the needs of Holy Trinity’s parishioners before any final assignment of parishioners and of parish assets is made. Accordingly, even though Holy Trinity technically no longer exists, the Transition Team continues to function and the Archbishop has asked Rev. John Connolly to serve as the official Liaison to the former parishioners while the discernment process continues. [Note: on November 21, 2008 the Transition Team completed its work and was disbanded.]
At the same time the Archbishop and the newly appointed Rector of the Cathedral recognize that there is no intent to make Holy Trinity parishioners “homeless” during the discernment process. Accordingly, they are welcome to consider the Cathedral as being at least their temporary spiritual home. While this offer was fairly straight forward for those who attended Novus Ordo Masses, it did present a problem for those who attended the Latin Mass since there was no such liturgy at the Cathedral. Accordingly, Fr. O’Leary, the Cathedral Rector, has granted temporary permission for our Tridentine community to arrange for Mass on Sunday mornings in the lower chapel as often as the necessary logistics can be worked out. At this time, therefore, the availability of a Tridentine Mass at the Cathedral is essentially on a week-by-week basis. It is envisioned that various meetings involving our Transition Team, Fr. O’Leary, Fr. Connolly, Fr. Kaufman as well as others from the Cathedral community will take place before final decisions are made concerning the long-term relationship between the Cathedral and the former parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish. Individuals interested in attending a Tridentine Latin Mass at the Cathedral should join and monitor the “Save Holy Trinity” section at <http://groups.yahoo.com/> for the schedule until such time as permanent arrangements have been established. [Note: During the summer months of 2008, Fr. Kevin O’Leary, Rector of the Cathedral, determined that the weekly celebration of Mass in the Tridentine form would become a regular part of the Cathedral’s schedule even though the final disposition of Holy Trinity and the status of its parishioners had not yet been determined. To this end he authorized physical changes and enhancements to the lower chapel to make it more suitable for celebration of liturgies in the Tridentine form. Weekly Sunday Mass in Latin has continued to this date.]
Log of Holy Trinity (German) Parish while Appeals are OutstandinG
7/06/08 While all Holy Trinity parishioners had been formally invited to attend the 11:30 AM (Novus Ordo) Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on July 6, 2008, during the week immediately after closure plans were quickly put in place also to celebrate a Tridentine Latin Mass on the same date at 11:00 AM in the Cathedral’s lower chapel. Parishioners of the former Holy Trinity from either Mass were then able to assemble in the Cathedral’s Hospitality Room for coffee and doughnuts. Fr. Kevin O’Leary, the newly incoming Rector of the Cathedral, personally welcomed Holy Trinity parishioners to the Cathedral.
7/07/08 While several parishioners exercised their canonical rights by writing letters directly to the Archbishop voicing their concern over the closure of Holy Trinity and requesting that he reconsider his decision, a formal document, referred to as a “Petition for Local Recourse” was prepared on behalf of the general parishioner community by experts in canon law. The petition was signed by many members of the former parish council, the finance committee and about a dozen other parishioners who happened to be available at the Cathedral after the July 6 Masses and was sent to Cardinal Seán to arrive well within the allotted time for such action. A copy of the document can be found by clicking on Local Recourse below.
7/08/08 The Transition Team established by Fr. Connolly at the end of May when the “letter of intent” to close the parish was first made known had its first-post closure meeting in a room on the lower level of the Cathedral. Both Fr. Connolly and Fr. Kaufman attended. The team reconfirmed that its sole responsibility is to assist Fr. Connolly both in discerning the ongoing spiritual needs of the parish community of the now-suppressed Holy Trinity Church and in determining how they best can be met. A copy of the team’s list of what we are looking for in a “Welcoming Parish” can be found by clicking on Welcoming Needs below.
It was announced at the meeting that Fr. John J. Connolly has been requested by the Archbishop to serve as the Archdiocesan “Liaison” to the former parishioners of the now-suppressed Holy Trinity. This unusual role was deemed necessary and appropriate because the short 6-week gap between the announcement of the closure date and its actual occurrence did not allow sufficient time for the normal activities associated with identifying and transitioning to a “Welcoming Parish”. Also, the unique nature of Holy Trinity’s Latin and German liturgies made it likely that the former parishioners would from time to time need access to various sacramental objects (missals, vestments, etc.) not readily available in most parishes during the time that Holy Trinity’s property is effectively frozen pending canonical appeals. Fr. Connolly will be in a better position to expedite such requests than if they had to be processed through routine chancery channels. The parishioners are grateful to Fr. Connolly for his willingness to serve in this capacity.
A task force was delegated with the responsibility of meeting with Fr. O’Leary, the Cathedral Rector, to discuss the list and to determine the degree to which Fr. O’Leary and the Cathedral are able and willing to meet the requests. The Task Force will then report its findings to the Transition Team.
8/02/08 The Archbishop’s reply to the Petition for Local Recourse which was described in the July 7 entry above was received. In his letter he advised the petitioners that he has rejected their request to rescind his order of suppression and acknowledged that the petitioners have the right to take the case to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome. A copy of the document can be found by clicking on Cardinal’s Reply below.
8/05/08 The Transition Team reconvened and learned that for a variety of reasons, the Task Force established on July 8 has not yet met with Fr. O’Leary. They did, however, use the time to better understand the issues and to refine their agenda. These thoughts were shared with the entire Team. It is expected that the meeting with Fr. O’Leary will take place within the next couple of weeks. Fr. Connolly plans to participate.
One item that received further discussion by the Transition Team is the challenge of getting a more complete understanding of the priorities of the ethnic-German community. It was agreed that some sort of general survey would need to be developed and dispatched to this very disparate group. Merely taking the pulse of those individuals attending Mass at the Cathedral and/or participating in the Transition Team activities is not sufficient.
8/18/08 A formal Proposal of Recourse, prepared on behalf of the former parishioners of the now-suppressed Holy Trinity Parish, was delivered to Cardinal O’Malley’s office for him to forward to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome. A copy of the document can be found by clicking on Rome Appeal below. Attached to the Appeal were several supporting documents all of which can be reviewed by clicking on the corresponding links below. These documents are: Chronology of Events Related to the Decree of Suppression, Bishop Hennessey’s Recommendation Letter, Parish Council Response to Recommendation Letter; Letter of Intent, Decree of Suppression, Local Recourse, and Cardinal’s Reply.
8/26/08 The Transition Team reconvened and was happy to have Fr. Kevin O’Leary, Rector of the Cathedral, participate in the meeting. (Neither Fr. Connolly nor Fr. Kaufman, however, was able to attend.) It was reported that attendance at the weekly Tridentine Mass at the Cathedral continues to fluctuate between about 50 and 75. Approximately a half dozen members of Holy Trinity’s German/English community are participating in the Cathedral’s 11:30 AM Sunday Mass.
The Task Force which was created on July 8 presented its report of the meeting they held with Fr. O’Leary on August 12, 2008. In short, Fr. O’Leary had no objection to the principle concepts presented by the Task Force and, indeed, felt that there would not be many difficulties in implementing most of the detailed requests. At the Transition Team meeting Fr. O’Leary repeated his assurances that the parishioners of Holy Trinity were most welcome to join the Cathedral parish family without having to become completely absorbed by it. He was happy for us to add our identities to those groups already making up the parish. The Transition Team expressed its appreciation to the Task Force members for their efforts and their successful results. Their mission completed, the Task Force was disbanded.
Fr. O’Leary informed the Team that a work order to address the asbestos issue has been approved. The scope includes removal of broken tiles and removal of the exposed metal brackets in the floor of the lower church. Fr. O’Leary also reported that after consultation with Chancery officials he has learned that any renovations at the Cathedral (whether to accommodate specific communities or for the general well-being of the entire parish family) will have to be financed by the parish. The parish cannot expect any subsidies for such purposes from the Archdiocese.
As part of the concern for getting a better sense of the priorities of the ethnic-German community, a recommendation was formally made that the Cathedral’s Sunday morning Mass at 7:30 (in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel) be moved to 8:00 AM and that this Novus Ordo Mass in English also regularly include some German Hymns and a scriptural reading in German. It was generally felt that it would be easier to gauge the German community’s level of interest in reconvening at the Cathedral if we are able to offer a specific liturgy at a specific time. Fr. O’Leary said that he endorsed this proposal and would discuss it with the Cathedral Parish Council (which was scheduled to meet the following evening.) Assuming that there will be no serious objections, a start date for the new Mass time was set for September 21, 2008. Also, a Task Force was formed to prepare, distribute and process a survey of Holy Trinity’s German community.
9/23/08 The Transition Team reconvened at the Cathedral and Fr. Kaufman joined the meeting in progress. It was reported that attendance at the weekly Tridentine Mass at the Cathedral continues in the 50 to 75 person range. It was also reported that the first English/German Mass at the Cathedral was celebrated (by Fr. Kevin O’Leary, Cathedral Rector) on September 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The liturgy included a scripture reading in German, two German hymns and organ music throughout the Mass as was the usual practice at Holy Trinity for many years, Approximately 20 members of the Holy Trinity German community joined the existing Cathedral attendees bringing total attendance to almost fifty. The inclusion of German elements in the Mass did not seem to be a matter of concern among the existing regular attendees and, in fact, some were seen to join in the singing of the German hymns. The next English/German liturgy is scheduled for the third Sunday of October (10/19/08) and will include our annual Rosary Procession. [Note: The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is located on the north side of the Cathedral Building and has its own entrance from Union Park Street. It is a recently refurbished chapel comfortably accommodating, perhaps 75 people. This venue is distinct from the Cathedral’s lower chapel which is a larger space in which the weekly Tridentine Mass is celebrated.]
The Transition Team also endorsed a proposal to schedule the annual German Heritage Sunday for its usual third Sunday in November (11/16/08). An All-German Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Harry Kaufman in the main space of the Cathedral starting at 1:30 PM. Parking will be available in the Malden Street lot behind the Cathedral.
Contractors have begun the work of removing broken floor tiles and exposed pew brackets in the lower chapel. The tasks, which require special precautions to avoid asbestos contamination, are being scheduled so as not to interfere with regular liturgical activities.
It was also reported that a survey to solicit the priorities and preferences of the broader German community of the Archdiocese was mailed on September 12. Reponses have begun to come in; and, formal tabulation and analysis of the returns will begin the week of September 29.
10/21/08 The fifth post-closure meeting of the Transition Team was held at the Cathedral. Due to scheduling conflicts, no member of the clergy was able to attend. It was reported that attendance at the weekly Tridentine Mass on Columbus Day weekend was 112 and that the Our Lady of the Rosary ceremony held in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel after the 8 AM Mass the following Sunday was well received. In addition to the Holy Trinity community members, many of the regular Cathedral community remained to participate in the procession and to sing the German and English hymns.
Since he was not able to attend, Fr. O’Leary passed along a message to the Team that the asbestos work in the lower chapel has been completed. He will share the technical report with the parishioners. Fr. O’Leary also asked that the Team consider providing representation on the Cathedral Parish Council. However, since it was not clear to us whether he was expecting a single representative from the entire Holy Trinity membership or one person each from the Latin and the German communities, the discussion was postponed.
The unsuccessful proposal made at last month’s meeting to expand the membership and scope of the Latin Liturgical Coordinating Committee to include German community liturgies at the Cathedral was reintroduced. On revisiting the issue, the Transition Team voted to accept the proposal. The existing membership: John Salisbury (Music), Leo Higgins (Acolytes), Joe Rizzo (Sacristy), Charles Brusard (Ushers), Roland Horst (Bulletin) and Ed Long (Hospitality) was augmented by adding three new positions bringing the total to nine. The added members and their areas of interest are: George Krim (Music), Genevieve MacLellan (Logistics-German) and Kathy O’Connell (Logistics-Latin). This expanded group adopted the title “Holy Trinity Liturgy Committee at the Cathedral” and agreed to have its first meeting after the 11 o’clock Mass on November 11, 2008.
11/21/08 The Transition Team met at the Cathedral for its sixth post-closure meeting with Fr. Connolly in attendance. It was reported that the congregations at the Sunday Tridentine Masses since the last meeting generally remained stable in the 60 to 80 person range. The Mass on Sunday, November 2 was an exception with an attendance of 104. The special Masses for All Saints Day and for All Souls Day (which was observed on November 3) had attendances of 40 and 68, respectively. It was also reported that German Heritage Sunday celebrations on November 16 were very successful. Mass, celebrated in the main sanctuary of the Cathedral at 1:30 in the afternoon entirely in German by Fr. Kaufman (with assistance from both Fr. O’Leary and Fr. Connolly), was attended by 82 very pleased members of the Holy Trinity family. The reception held after Mass in the Hospitality Room downstairs maintained our longstanding traditions of good company and good food.
Members of the expanded Liturgical Coordinating Committee reported that they have met to plan both Tridentine and German events through the beginning of the year and are submitting their recommendations to Fr. O’Leary for approval. Peter reported that subsequent to the last Transition Team meeting he learned that Fr. O’Leary was happy to accept representatives from both the Tridentine and the German Holy Trinity communities to serve on the Cathedral Pastoral Council. Accordingly Peter submitted the names of the various individuals who said that they were willing to serve on the Parish Council to Fr. Connolly, who, in turn, agreed to present them to Fr. O’Leary. Although this process was not completed in time for the November Council meeting, John Salisbury and Kathy O’Connell attended that meeting as observers on our behalf.
A Tridentine oriented CCD program has begun at the Cathedral under the direction of Mary Ann Gatto. It was reported that the text books have arrived and the Team expressed its appreciation to Patti Strom for the assistance and guidance she has been providing in this effort.
The Task Force established to conduct a survey of the German Community presented its final report. From the 75 replies received out of the more than 450 distributed the Task Force came to the following principle conclusions:
1. The Archdiocese still has a relatively small German community seriously interested in preserving its unique identity but it does not appear that there is a large underground German community ready to reconnect with us.
2. This small active group (approximately 30 – 40 individuals) is not large enough to bear the financial burden of maintaining a dedicated parish on its own.
3. Within this small group there is a diversity of opinion concerning the best time and frequency of German liturgies. There was, however, no clearly persuasive evidence that changing the time of our regular English/German Mass (Sunday at 8:00 AM) or its frequency (each third Sunday) or its location (the Cathedral of the Holy Cross) would result in significantly greater levels of participation.
The Transition Team expressed its appreciation to the Task Force for the care with which they discharged there assignment noting, in particular, the due diligence evidenced by the follow-up communications intended to ensure that every opinion was heard.
Lastly, the role of the Transition Team itself was discussed. It was noted that the immediate spiritual needs of the Holy Trinity faithful are currently being met at the Cathedral (at least for those who chose to participate at that location) and that, therefore, the specific functions of the “Transition Team” as envisioned by its founder, Fr. Connolly, have essentially been fulfilled. The following statement was read aloud on behalf of Fr. Connolly.
During its meeting on July 8, the Transition Team confirmed that since its function as a “Closure Planning Committee” no longer applied, its sole continuing responsibility would be to assist Fr. Connolly both in discerning the ongoing spiritual needs of the parish community as a result of the closure of Holy Trinity and in determining how they best can be met at least during the period in which the decree of closure is under appeal.
To this end, the Team generated a statement of important characteristics of a suitable “Welcoming Parish” for our communities and then established a task force to meet with Fr. O’Leary to discuss these characteristics. The Team also established a second task force to develop a survey to solicit input from the broader German Catholic community of the Archdiocese to determine their level of interest in maintaining their unique identity and their preferences for manifesting that desire. Both task forces have completed their tasks and have reported their findings to the Transition Team.
Without prejudicing our fundamental position that the suppression of Holy Trinity Parish was not in the best interests of the parishioners nor of the Archdiocese, it appears that the basic activities required to ensure that the ongoing spiritual needs of Holy Trinity parishioners can be met pending the final determination of the fate of the parish have been completed. Both of Holy Trinity’s communities have established a working relationship with the Rector and have been incorporated into the routine life of the Cathedral Parish. The recent expansion of the Latin Liturgical Coordinating Committee to include the activities of the German community ensures that there is an ongoing forum in which the common needs of the Holy Trinity parishioners-in-exile can be identified and voiced. It is the judgment, therefore, of Fr. Connolly that since his purposes in establishing the Transition Team have been fulfilled, the group should now be disbanded. He is most appreciative of the good will and generosity shown by everyone in what has certainly been very difficult circumstances.
Since Fr. O’Leary is now responsible for the spiritual needs of those Holy Trinity parishioners who have chosen to join the Cathedral community and has welcomed Fr. Kaufman’s assistance in meeting the particular needs of the German Catholic community, Fr. Connolly’s role is now limited to serving as custodian of Holy Trinity Church and its property and as “Liaison” between the Archdiocese and the members of the now-suppressed parish in matters pertaining to the final determination of the parish’s status.
1/21/09 In August 2008 representatives of the Holy Trinity parish community appealed the closure of the parish to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome. A reply has been received from the Congregation which rejects our petition and upholds the decision of Cardinal O’Malley to close Holy Trinity. Our canon lawyers have advised us that further appeals are still possible and they are reviewing the formal decree before preparing a formal recommendation. A copy of the document can be found by clicking on Rome Response below.
2/09/09 Parishioner representatives formally appealed the Congregation for the Clergy’s decree identified in the January 21, 2009 entry above by petitioning the matter to the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. This step involved engaging Carlo Gullo, a canon lawyer with credentials to argue before the Signatura, to represent the petitioners. A copy of the notice can be found by clicking on Signatura Appeal below
5/28/09 In a letter dated April 27, 2009 Bishop Frans Daneels, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal announced that he issued a decree (dated April 25, 2009) rejecting the appeal submitted on February 8, 2009. He also advised that the Tribunal was prepared to refund most of the deposit which had already been paid if the parishioners decided not to continue the case. A copy of the letter and of the decree (which is in Latin) can be found by clicking on Signatura Decree-1 below. It is our understanding that the parish’s advocate in Rome (Carlo Gullo) felt that the fact that the decree was issued by the Secretary himself, rather than by the Apostolic Signatura, was an unusual procedure and that he has already advised the Tribunal that the plaintiffs do not intend to withdraw their appeal.
1/11/10 In a letter dated December 4, 2009 Bishop Frans Daneels, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal advised that the Signatura has rejected the parishioners’ appeal. It is our understanding, however, that the case was not heard by the Tribunal, but rather it was rejected by virtue of the fact that the Tribunal refused to hear it. It is also our understanding that the question of whether this process (or, rather, lack of process) is either legitimate or fair is being pursued. Bishop Daneels does advise, however, that the parishioners do have the right to file a challenge to the conversion of the property to profane use if and when the Archbishop formally makes such a decision (assuming that the parishioners believe that they have sufficient grounds to make such a challenge under Canon Law.) A copy of Bishop Daneels’ letter along with the decree (which is in Latin) can be found by clicking on Signatura Decree-2 below.
7/10/12 In a Decree dated July 10, 2012, Cardinal O'Malley relegated Holy Trinity to Profane Use. The former parishioners of Holy Trinity are appealing the Decree of Relegation to Profane Use to the Cardinal. A copy of the decree can be found by clicking Decree of Relegation to Profane Use below.
11/26/12 In a Decree dated November 26, 2012, the Congregation for the Clergy rejected the appeal of former parishioners of Holy Trinity and upheld the decision of Cardinal O'Malley to relegate Holy Trinity to Profane Use. A copy of the decree can be found by clicking Relegation to Profane Use: Congregation for the Clergy Decree below.
11/15/13 In a Decree dated November 15, 2013, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura rejected the appeal of former parishioners of Holy Trinty and upheld the relegation of Holy Trinity to Profane Use. A copy of the decree in Latin can be found by clicking Relegation to Profane Use: Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura Decree below.
Click links below to view:
Events Related to the Decree of Suppression
Bishop Hennessey's Recommendation Letter
Parish Council Response to Recommendation Letter
Letter of Intent
Decree of Suppression
Signatura Decree-1 Followed by Unofficial English Translation
Decree of Relegation to Profane Use
Relegation to Profane Use: Congregation for the Clergy Decree
Relegation to Profane Use: Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura Decree
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