Thursday, July 31, 2008

Save Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

For decades on Long Island, there has been a sanctuary from the ravages of "the Spirit of Vatican II", a place where respect for the Magesterium takes precedence over liturgical fads, a place where Catholic traditions such as Eucharistic and Marian devotion have flourished, and children are nutured in the faith.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Massapequa Park, is a parish which many have centered their lives around on Long Island, which has been in a spiritual desert for my entire lifetime, whose closing Catholic schools, declining religious orders, and errant retreat houses have caused many faithful Catholics pain.
A new pastor, is under the guise of 'inclusion' and the phrase, "we're all Catholics" is undermining some of Our Lady of Lourdes Massapequa Park's decades old traditions. I have been to the wonderful monthly Holy Hours at OLL, and have many friends there. Parishioners at OLL have always been close to the heart of the Church in all matters, desiring only to remain faithful to the Holy Father. It is painful to see the tranquility of the parish threatened by a new pastor who feels he needs to correct the theology of some of the holiest souls on Long Island, without consulting them.
To understand this crisis, go to their website, Save OLL MP and hear from them directly.


LT said...

How utterly lovely an image. What kind of priest would not want to display Her? Apparently, even Our Lady is now under attack.

May God have Mercy on all of us.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys EVER seen any irony, even the slightest mental cringe when trumpeting supposed respect for the Magisterium at the same time as you dismiss Vatican II reforms as "fads", and disparage the whole Church of Long Island and beyond, as well as a very conservative priest such as Fr. Lisante as "unfaithful"? Huh???

Anonymous said...

BTW, full credit to you for allowing opposing comments; unlike the "Save" OLLMP site which apparently has such strong confidence in its views that it includes NO opportunity for comment.

ijanowitz said...

Follow up on what is happening at OLL Rapanaro Investigation Ongoing, Diocese Says

I have learned from my sources at OLL that the discrepancies in the Rapanaro case continue, multiplying the question marks about the Lisante administration of the Massapequa Park parish.

A friend contacted Sean Dolan, the diocesan spokesman today, to seek some resolution on the controversy surrounding the hiring of Peter Rapanaro by Msgr. Lisante as co-music director at OLL. Parishioners were concerned about the hiring of Peter Rapanaro since it became known that he directed an off-Broadway production of "My Big Gay Italian Wedding," which contained numerous offensive references to pedophile priests, oral sex and the Catholic faith and portrays gay marriage in a highly favorable light.

An earlier statement by Dolan reported in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly, that Rapanaro was being investigated by the Rockville Centre Diocese for some "serious" accusations of an undisclosed nature. Today Dolan confirmed that the investigation of Rapanaro by the Diocese is still ongoing.

Several weeks ago a secretary at OLL told a caller that Peter Rapanaro was not being "investigated," and that this was "a poor choice of words," insisting instead that Rapanaro was being "reviewed" and that review had been concluded satisfactorily.

Sean Dolan was asked today to discuss the apparent difference between a "review" and an "investigation," and he explained that OLL conducted its own review of Rapanaro, which is standard for all diocesan employees. However, Sean Dolan added that the diocese is conducting its own separate investigation of Rapanaro which has not been concluded as of this date.

The affable diocesan spokesman was asked why he thought the OLL secretary had characterized his use of the word "investigation" as "a poor choice of words," and Dolan said he had "no idea."

In a further development, last week Msgr. Lisante mentioned to an OLL parishioner that if Rapanaro were let go from the parish, Rapanaro could hypothetically sue him for discrimination. Dolan was asked today about such a potential lawsuit, and he responded that if such a case were to occur, this is Lisante's matter and does not concern the diocese.

Directly afterwards, Dolan stated that Rapanaro was not employed by the diocese and has never worked for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Surprised, my friend asked if it were true that Peter Rapanaro worked for Telecare (as has been mentioned in several places online and in the OLL bulletin itself.) Sean Dolan said it was his belief that Rapanaro never worked for the Diocese or for Telecare, but that he would double-check his facts, and my friend could call him tomorrow for confirmation/correction on this detail.

Just for the record, here are several places online which mention Peter Rapanaro's work for Telecare and the Diocese of Rockville Centre:

1) From the St. Thomas the Apostle bulletin announcement re: Rapanaro's induction to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre:

"The honor is being bestowed on Mr. Rapanaro for his ceaseless lifelong dedication of service to the Diocese in which he has performed thousands of marriages, christenings and funerals, bringing both joy and solace with his God-given voice. His televised masses, locally on Channel 55 WLNY TV and Telicare (sic) Stations Channel 10 and nationally on EWTN stations, bring his vocal gifts to an even larger audience."

2) From his profile on

"[Rapanaro] recently received an award for his over 20 years of dedicated service to the Diocese of Rockville Centre and New York City, and as Cantor and can regularly be seen on TV 55’s Morning Mass and through the TeleCare stations."

3) Finally, from the Sept. 14 OLL bulletin when Msgr. Lisante introduced him to the parish:

"Peter has worked in Music Ministry in several parishes around Long Island, and can
often be seen leading song on the diocesan TV Mass taped at St. Agnes Cathedral."

I will, of course, let you know if Sean Dolan will correct or confirm his statement tomorrow. Meanwhile, as anyone can see, there is an ever-widening gap between the statements of Msgr. Lisante and the statements of the diocesan spokesman.
Posted by JustTheFacts at 2:54 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Fr. Mason Held Hostage at OLL

ijanowitz said...

No More School Confessions
Is Msgr. Jim too busy for children's confessions, but not for time hobnobbing with his pal Marissa?

A concerned OLL parishioner has written in an email that First Friday confessions for Our Lady of Lourdes school children have apparently been discontinued since the new school year began two months ago:

"I was talking to some of the women and moms from OLL school and the new school policy is quite interesting. Apparently since school began there has been no confession on the Thursday before first Friday Mass. They still (at this point) have Mass but have not had ANY priests come in to hear the children's confession."

For many years it was customary for the parish priests to come to the school every First Friday to hear confessions at different stations set up in the school auditorium. All the Catholic students in second through eighth grade would take turns class by class to go to confession. The whole school would then file across the parking lot to attend First Friday Mass which was always offered by Fr. Mason.

A large part of the radical Lisante Plan mentioned in the last post involves the gradual purging of confessions from the parish schedule. First Friday Confessions at the school are no longer available, and when the new Mass schedule takes effect, confessions will no longer be heard on Saturday nights or after the 8 AM Mass on weekdays.

At the end of this month, confession in the parish will be reduced to one hour/week on Saturday afternoons, despite Bishop Murphy's specific request in his Pastoral Letter on Penance and Reconciliation last February which encouraged the frequent reception of confession.

Bishop Murphy notes in his letter that, "Pius XII confessed daily. Most priests I know confess at least once a month. There is nothing wrong in weekly confession for confession even of venial sins will bring you the grace of the sacrament, a grace that will bind you ever more deeply into the bond of God's love."

The bishop thanks his priests for "the practice of having confessions available once a week usually for an hour before the first Vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon," but he makes this particular appeal to every pastor in the diocese: "By this letter I am asking every pastor, without exception, to establish at least one additional hour at a different time during the week when there will be a priest in the confessional to hear confessions."

The bishop acknowledges this additional hour "may take some adjustment in a priest's busy schedule" but he admonishes that he and his priests "all should be willing to "re-prioritize" our time even if it means we cannot be present at some other parish activity."

In a salutary passage, Bishop Murphy instructs his priests not to be discouraged if noone comes initially when the second hour of confessions is instituted and makes the novel suggestion that priests spend the time praying: "At first there may not be many who come. But be patient. Even if no one comes, it is not a "waste of the priest's time" to be in the confessional. With the Breviary, the rosary or spiritual reading, the priest can take advantage of the time when there are no penitents to pray for the people and be an example of devotion to the sacrament that will in time bring more and more persons to the sacrament."

I'm afraid we'll have to wait a long time for the day when Msgr. Lisante, that perpetually busy man, is found praying in an empty confessional humbly waiting for penitents as per his bishop's instructions.

The Bishop's letter is a beautiful, heartfelt exposition on the Sacrament of Penance and worth everyone's time to read. It's actually quite a scandal that Msgr. Lisante refuses to implement his own bishop's injunctions in this matter, and takes zero interest in the spiritual formation of the schoolchildren in his care.

In contrast with Msgr. Lisante's obvious disinterest for this sacrament, a recent visit to the newly built chapel at St. Anthony's High School comes to mind. Installed in the rear of the striking Romanesque structure are two large wooden confessionals with exquisitely carved details and flourishes. These beautiful antique confessionals were rescued from a church that was being demolished and are the pride and joy of the Franciscan Brothers who see to it that confession is always readily available for their students.

Perhaps our self-assured new pastor could take a lesson from the Brothers and begin to rediscover the meaning and purpose of this wonderful action of grace, the sacrament of confession, as Bishop Murphy describes it in one passage in his letter: "the sacrament that shows us God's love as mercy, the sacrament that gives us back a restored humanity, that sacrament that makes us one with God and one with all our brothers and sisters in this Body of Christ which is our true home and the one place we always can find God's life and love!"

ijanowitz said...

The Lisante Plan
The unfortunate new altar arrangement at OLL ushered in the Lisante Plan, the harbinger of things to come. Will the radical Lisante Plan survive at OLL?

In the last post, I pointed out how Lisante's appointment to OLL was an inexplicable response to the overwhelming request by the parishioners for a conservative pastor.

It's obvious to all that Msgr. Lisante was not selected because of his conservative credentials, so what could be the reason he was sent to this parish, well-known as the most conservative in the diocese? For many decades, Our Lady of Lourdes parish has had Perpetual Adoration in the school chapel, daily confession and Benediction, four daily Masses, ten weekend Masses, First Friday and First Saturday devotions, several weekly novenas, Nocturnal Adoration on First Fridays, a Legion of Mary society, a Nocturnal Adoration society and the only Altar Boy Society on Long Island.

What many parishioners and observers have speculated is that Msgr. Lisante was plucked for this job by the three-man team since he was considered the best man to implement the re-education of OLL, a man of sufficient persuasive power to bring OLL into the 21st century, a man with enough charm to sell a complete reform package to the stubborn and hopelessly provincial conservatives of this Massapequa Park parish.

When Msgr. Lisante descended upon this parish in late June, he brought with him a number of priests in his entourage whom he introduced in his second letter in the OLL bulletin:

In addition to the lay staff, I should also mention the presence of two new priests who will be assisting usat Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. These priests are Father Matthew, who comes to us from England and will be here to assist me during the time of transition. And Father Cletus, who comes to us from Nigeria, and is working both at Nassau County Medical Center as a Chaplain and as a help to us at Our Lady of Lourdes. On occasion, you’ll also be seeing Father Andiy Egargo from the Philippines and Father Jack Maloney from Bayside here too.

The addition of five priests including Msgr. Lisante to the existing staff of four priests, caused much consternation among parishioners. Why were nine priests needed to serve such a relatively small parish? Some speculated then that Lisante was bringing in trusted allies to help him reform and re-educate this embarrassing ecclesiastical backwater in a minimum of time.

We know now of course that the Father Matthew mentioned above (without a surname) was the unfortunate Fr. Blockley, a priest without faculties from his bishop, who two weeks later, would find himself expelled from the diocese by Bishop Murphy upon his unexpected discovery by a few parishioners.

Fr. Blockley, it was discovered, was highly educated, specializing in business administration and "strategic management." From his ZoomInfo Web Profile page is this interesting biographical sketch:

Fr. Matthew Blockley is originally from the United Kingdom. His background is in administration and communications. He studied at the Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome and earned his MBA at the Jesuit Ataneo University in Manila Philippines. He was ordained in 1996 for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa where he served as a Pastor, Financial Director and Director of Development. At present Fr. Matthew is working in the Archdiocese of Manila and travels extensively as a retreat coordinator, writer and spiritual counselor. He also provides leadership development training and strategic management for a number of Church organizations and corporate groups in the U.S. and Europe.

During the first weeks of his arrival, Fr. Blockley took a prominent role at OLL, despite his unauthorized presence. Calls for Msgr. Lisante were handled by him, and one parishioner was told by him in a phone conversation that, "When I come to a parish, I make the decisions, and those decisions are final," indicating that he was positioned to take a leadership role in the parish. He further declared in the same conversation that he was about to review all the devotions and customs in the parish and would determine which were 'Catholic' and only these would remain.

It would appear that in Lisante's original plan for OLL, Fr. Blockley was the brain trust of the operation and was to play a key part in reforming the parish. His education (at Rome, no less!), cultured accent and cold, overbearing manner (testified to by several witnesses) were ideal for handling and dispensing with any unenlightened, reactionary, pre-Vatican II-type conservatives at OLL who might object to his decisions. Fr. Blockley would be the "bad cop" while Msgr. Lisante, whenever he blew into town between his other activities, would be the "good cop" and smooth out any problems the rest of his team couldn't manage.

Judging by the many controversial changes made in their first two weeks, the Lisante takeover scheme was an ambitious one. The Lisante Team was clearly on a mission, with Blockley the point man. Who knows what OLL would be like now if things had not gone terribly awry in the first few weeks.

After Fr. Blockley's untimely demise, the original Lisante Plan came grinding to a halt. A new personal secretary had to be hired (to help replace the very useful Fr. Blockley), the reforms were stalled and precious time had to be spent repairing the new pastor's public image. The other "assistants" started to vanish, one by one, as well. Fr. Andiy's name has not been seen on the Mass schedule for some time, and Fr. Jack Maloney never showed up at all. Fr. Cletus still says Mass regularly and is widely admired for his devotion and friendly manner, however, word has it that he will soon be returning to Nigeria.

Whether Msgr. Lisante's original strategy is permanently on hold is hard to say. A few mid-level lay managers have been hired. The new Mass schedule seems to be still in the works, but all other liturgical changes so far are not apparent.

There are rumors that there is great dissatisfaction with the present altar arrangement which is discussed in great detail on the Save OLL blog. Placing three block-shaped chairs in front of the main altar is apparently the brain-child of Fr. Blockley and another priest in the parish, but it has not met with widespread approval. At least one of the priests in the parish will not use this arrangement, and the great shuffling of books and microphones the new arrangement causes the priest and altar servers during Mass continues to highlight the inefficiency of the experiment.

I have been told that the new altar configuration actually would have been scrapped long ago if there had not been so many complaints about it. The boldness of the criticism on the Save OLL blog, in particular, I have been given to understand, has so irked some of the clerical staff that they refuse to move the chairs back as this would look like capitulation.

If this is so, such obstinance is hardly praiseworthy since the whole parish will continue to be subjected to this awkward, ineffective configuration indefinitely just for the sake of principle. Does such a refusal to concede really make sense, if it is true?

In spite of a rocky beginning and several subsequent roadblocks, including the Rapanaro fiasco and the Children's Mass debacle, will the Lisante Plan to Liberalize OLL be resurrected and put back on track, or will the infamous Lisante Plan have to be left on the ash heap of history?

(I have been reliably informed that a prayer campaign is well underway for the latter intention. Let's see what transpires.)

ijanowitz said...

Fr. X raises some important questions about Fr. Blockley's illicit activities while in the DRVC.

A priest of the Rockville Centre diocese has agreed to write a second post on the situation at Our Lady of Lourdes. As I have mentioned before, this good priest is willing to publish his name, but I have decided to keep his identity in confidence for his own protection.

Financial/Moral Implications of the Lisante/Blockley Affair

Let us turn to the Catholic Church's position on the public Masses Fr. Blockley celebrated while serving as Msgr. Lisante's assistant. Since Fr. Blockley was with Msgr. Lisante eight years, we are talking about hundreds of such Masses.

The Church regards all of these Masses as gravely wrong both for Fr. Blockley in saying them and for Msgr. Lisante in allowing them. Why? A suspended priest is forbidden to celebrate Mass unless the Bishop grants permission. Bishop Murphy did not give permission.

What about the money that Msgr. Lisante's paishes gave to Fr. Blockley for the past eight years? How much was it? Was it more than Msgr. Lisante gave to priests in good standing? Apparently, only Msgr. Lisante knows. There is no mention of Fr. Blockley in any of Msgr. Lisante's financial reports to the bishop.

Knowing that Bishop Murphy would not approve of Fr. Blockley's presence, Msgr. Lisante successfully hid Fr. Blockley from the Bishop for many years. If Bishop Murphy had not found out, Fr. Blockley would still be with Msgr. Lisante.

Why does Msgr. Lisante violate Church law for Fr. Blockley while treating Fr. Mason with contempt? Unlike Fr. Blockley, Fr. Mason can hear confessions validly. Unlike Fr. Blockley, Fr. Mason can officiate at marriages validly. Unlike Fr. Blockley, Fr. Mason can celebrate public Masses licitly. Unlike Fr. Blockley, Fr. Mason's presence does not require Msgr. Lisante's to give him a salary.

Could the answer possibly lie in one other area where Fr. Mason and Fr. Blockley are not alike? Unlike Fr. Blockley, Fr. Mason is a strong defender of the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.

In contrast, in past years, Msgr. Lisante has invited the pro-homosexual group Dignity to present its propaganda to impressionable Catholic teenagers. Msgr. Lisante has also attacked the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. Here are Msgr. Lisante's exact words on this subject:

"A whole lot of people are living what you would call false lives because that's what's demanded of them by the Church."

A pastor with such views would not want a priest like Fr. Mason either to preach or to hear confessions in his parish.

Please ask Our Lady of Lourdes to console Fr. Mason in his suffering at this time.

NEXT FROM FR. X: Fr. X discusses Msgr. Lisante's prolonged absences from his parishes.

Edward Cassone said...

Is A Financial Audit of Msgr. Lisante Called For?
Fr. X has pointed out several areas of concern in Msgr. Lisante's pastoral practices. Of gravest concern is the employment of Fr. Matthew Blockley, a suspended priest without faculties and the matter of Msgr. Lisante's regular absences from the parishes he has managed.

A quick summary of the damage done by Fr. Blockley's illegitimate activities in the Diocese of Rockville Centre:

all the Masses Fr. Blockley celebrated while at St. Thomas the Apostle and Our Lady of Lourdes are illicit.
any confessions he heard are invalid
any marriages at which he officiated are invalid
Fr. Blockley's salary was off the books as there is no mention of his employment in Msgr. Lisante's financial records.
In light of these points and the questions Fr. X has raised, it would appear that a full financial investigation of Msgr. Lisante is in order to determine how Fr. Blockley was being paid while he was employed for eight years at St. Thomas the Apostle Church and while he was at Our Lady of Lourdes.

In addition, there should be an accounting of the stipends given to Fr. Blockley for the illicit and invalid Masses and sacraments he performed during his time here in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Msgr. Lisante should have to pay that money back to St. Thomas the Apostle parish, as well as the salary which Fr. Blockley was paid for his services there.

There should also be an investigation to see if Fr. Blockley was paid the same or more than the other priests of the parish. If Fr. Blockley was paid "off the books," as Fr. X has reported, than it should be determined if Msgr. Lisante filed false and fraudulent tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service during that time.

All the evidence points to the need for an independent investigation/audit by the appropriate authorities to determine how much money, if any, has been improperly used in the parishes at which Msgr. Lisante has worked and to what degree false and fraudulent information has been filed with the government.

Clearly, there is enough reason to suspect possible unethical and immoral activities on the part of Jim Lisante. Only an investigation can answer these questions definitively and assure the people of Our Lady of Lourdes that their money is being used properly and responsibly.

Edward Cassone said...

Fr. X's Statement

Some Catholics have asked me about reported events at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Massapequa Park. According to the reports, the new pastor (Msgr. James Lisante) has banned the old pastor (Fr. Robert Mason) from hearing confessions on Saturday evenings and from celebrating a Children's Mass on Sunday mornings.

These reports are true for the present. Msgr. Lisante still allows Fr. Mason to say a daily Mass for now. In private, however, Msgr. Lisante has indicated that even Fr. Mason's daily Mass is a only a temporary arrangement. The ultimate goal is to "excommunicate" Fr. Mason completely from the people of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Msgr. Lisante defends himself by claiming he is following the wishes of Bishop William Murphy and Auxiliary Bishop John Dunne. Is Msgr. Lisante telling the truth in putting the blame on these two bishops? In view of the way Msgr. Lisante deceived Bishop Murphy in the Blockley situation, I doubt it.

What was the Blockley situation? Fr. Matthew Blockley is a suspended priest. This means that any confessions Fr. Blockley may have had while serving in any of Msgr. Lisante's parishes (outside of danger-of-death confessions) as well as any marriages at which Fr. Blockley may have officiated---these would all be invalid under Church law.

(Note: If any Catholics may have been tricked in this way, they should go to a priest in good standing in order to receive the Sacrament of Confession or Matrimony.)

Msgr. Lisante invited Fr. Blockley into his parish knowing he was a suspended priest. Knowing that Bishop Murphy would not approve of Fr. Blockley's presence, Msgr. Lisante successfully hid Fr. Blockley from the bishop for many years. If Bishop Murphy had not found out, the suspended priest would still be with Msgr. Lisante.

In contrast to Blockley, Fr. Robert Mason is a strong defender of the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. Could this be the one reason Fr. Mason is now in trouble? In past years, Msgr. Lisante has invited the pro-homosexual group Dignity to present its propaganda to impressionable Catholic teenagers.

Msgr. Lisante has also attacked the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. Here are Msgr. Lisante's exact words on this subject: "A whole lot of people are living what you would call false lives because that's what's demanded of them by the Church."

A pastor with such views would not want a priest like Fr. Mason either to preach or to hear confessions in his parish.

Please ask Our Lady of Lourdes to console Fr. Mason in his suffering,
and pray for his protection, as we will always need him for ours.

Anonymous said...

Itzik continues his attacks of the new pastor with outdated and irrelevant posts. The man needs mental help.