Message from your Pastor
August 6, 2020
Cardinal Sean has chosen St. Martin de Porres as the new name of our parish, effective, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration
ST. MARTIN DE PORRES PARISH
To: All Parishioners
From: Fr. Brian Clary, Pastor
RE: The New Parish Name
Blessings to everyone:
Cardinal Sean has chosen St. Martin de Porres as the new name of our parish, effective, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration. The top three choices received over 300 votes and were all within 10 points of one another: St. Martin de Porres, Pope John Paul II, St. Michael the Archangel. THANKS for your prayer and selections. We are pleased that he has chosen St. Martin de Porres (pores, one syllable, not 2). In a time of pandemic, we honor St. Martin, who is Patron of public health workers; in a time of intrinsic racial awareness; in a time of economic uncertainly for so many, St. Martin was in poverty his whole life. St. Martin was a voice of faith, humility, unity, equality and charity. He is the saint of our time and we get to honor him.
We have put together a short biography of St. Martin de Porres below. We know you will be very impressed with the life in which he endured and excelled. Simple, quiet yet making an incredible impression and witness to his faith. He is an example to us all.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us – our parish, our families, our country!
Juan Martin de Porres Velázquez, O.P., was a Peruvianlay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony. He was noted for his work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, including fasting and abstaining from meat.
He was born in the city of Lima, Viceroyalty of Peru, on 9 December 1579. He was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Don Juan de Porres, and Ana Velázquez, a freed slave from African-Native American descent. He had a sister named Juana de Porres, born two years later in 1581. After the birth of his sister, the father abandoned the family. Ana Velázquez supported her children by taking in laundry. He grew up in poverty and, when his mother could not support him, Martin was sent to a primary school for two years, and then placed with a barber/surgeon to learn the medical arts. He spent hours of the night in prayer, a practice which increased as he grew older.
Under Peruvian law, descendants of Africans and Native Americans were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. The only route open to Martin was to ask kids in Lima to accept him as a donado, a volunteer who performed menial tasks in the monastery in return for the privilege of wearing the habit and living with the religious community. At the age of 15 he asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a servant boy, and as his duties grew he was promoted to almoner (an official distributor of alms).
After eight years at Holy Rosary, the prior Juan de Lorenzana decided to turn a blind eye to the law and permit Martin to take his vows as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. Holy Rosary was home to 300 men, not all of whom accepted the decision of De Lorenzana: one of the novices called Martin a "mulatto dog", while one of the priests mocked him for being illegitimate and descended from slaves.
When Martin was 24, he was allowed to profess religious vows as a Dominican lay brother in 1603. When Martin was 34, after he had been given the religious habit of a lay brother, he was assigned to the infirmary, where he was placed in charge and would remain in service until his death at the age of 59. He was known for his care of the sick. It was not long before miracles were attributed to him. Martin also cared for the sick outside his convent, often bringing them healing with only a simple glass of water. He ministered without distinction to Spanish nobles and to slaves recently brought from Africa. One day an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Martin took him to his own bed. One of his brethren reproved him. Martin replied: "Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness."
When an epidemic struck Lima, there were in this single Convent of the Rosary 60 friars who were sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the convent, separated from the professed. Martin is said to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was reported in the residence more than once. The professed, too, saw him suddenly beside them without the doors having been opened. Martin continued to transport the sick to the convent until the provincial superior, alarmed by the contagion threatening the friars, forbade him to continue to do so.
Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres on 29 October 1837, and nearly 125 years later, Pope John XXIII canonized him in Rome on 6 May 1962. He is the patron saint of people of mixed race, and of innkeepers, barbers, public health workers and more, with a feast day on November 3, also commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Church of England.
Martin de Porres is often depicted as a young mixed-race friar wearing the old habit of the Dominican lay brother, a lack scapular and capuce, along with a broom, since he considered all work to be sacred no matter how menial. He is sometimes shown with a dog, a cat and a mouse eating in peace from the same dish.
The appeal of St. Martin de Porres is universal. Called an apostle of charity; patron of social justice; father of the sick and the poor; wonder worker of Peru; and helper in hopeless cases, he is powerful intercessor to those in need.
In 1962, His Holiness, Pope John XXIII presented him to the world as the Saint of Universal Brotherhood. Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of St. Martin de Porres on November 3. He is the first person of color to be canonized in the Western Hemisphere.
St. Martin de Porres National Shrine & Institute is located at historic Saint Peter Catholic Church in downtown Memphis, TN,at the corner of B.B. King Blvd. and Adams Avenue. It is directly across the street from the Shelby County Courthouse.
Prayer to Martin de Porres
Lift up our Hearts
To you Saint Martin de Porres
we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you.
Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every colour the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of His kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.
Most humble Martin de Porres, whose burning charity embraced not only thy needy brethren but also the very animals of the field, splendid example of charity, we hail and invoke thee.
From that high throne which thou dost occupy, deign to listen to the supplications of thy needy brethren that, by imitating thy virtues, we may live contented in that state in which God has placed us, and, carrying our cross with strength and courage, we may follow in the footsteps of our Blessed Redeemer and His most afflicted Mother, to reach at last the Kingdom of Heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
God, Who has given us in Thy Humble Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the model of all virtue and perfection, grant to us the virtue of humility. We think so little of Thee because we are so full of self. We cannot love Thee more until humility shows us our own nothingness and makes us rejoice in our complete dependence upon Thee.
You have given to the world a glorious apostle of humility, St Martin de Porres. Guide us by his example and strengthen us through his intercessions in our efforts to conform our hearts to the humble Heart of Thy Crucified Son.
Renew, O Lord, in these days, when pride and forgetfulness of Thee are so widespread, the wonders which You performed through Thy humble servant, Martin de Porres, during his lifetime. We pray that all the world may know of St Martin and of the surpassing value of the virtue of humility. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
through mutual benevolence in God, men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.
A Lengthy but Important Letter on A Major Decision on The Future of St. Ann And St. Brendan Parishes.
May 10, 2020
To: Members of St. Ann and St. Brendan Parishes
From: Fr. Brian Clary, Pastor and Fr. Bob Connors, Temporary Administrator
FROM FATHER BRIAN
First, I want to thank everyone who has offered their prayers during my stem cell transplant. I felt them
very much and they helped me in many moments during the past few months. I am on my way to stable
health and hope to return to the rectory within the coming weeks. It has been quite a “trip” not only
enduring the treatment itself which had many up and down days, but also dealing with the on-going
course of the pandemic. It’s hard enough to “feel” separated from you; and worse, to “be” separated from
you. Again, my heartfelt gratitude. God willing, I will be back working in a few weeks.
I want to acknowledge the “journey” we are going through, not only as families, workers, neighbors, but
also as a faith community. Who could have ever imagined this experience? It has been a heavy burden
for you and all priests who miss serving you. Our ministry is who we are. At the same time, trying to
keep in contact through the Flock Notes, etc., I hope has offered some connection. My prayers are for
everyone who is suffering because of the virus, especially for your family members and friends who have
contracted the disease. I pray for relief for those suffering mentally, physically, spiritually and financially.
FROM FATHER BOB
With the pandemic arriving, the task as Administrator, added to my other ministry, was a less time-
consuming, but I am glad to do it. I want to thank the staff, the Leadership and the people of both parishes
for their prayers – for me, and especially for Fr. Brian. These are very difficult times to journey through
and praying with/for each other is important. It is a time of openness and trust in the Holy Spirit. I hope
you and your families are doing well. I know you look forward to Fr. Brian’s return, but even in his
absence, critical issues arise and must be addressed with urgency. We are fragile and have no choice.
* * * * * * *
This letter is to inform you that we are in a high-risk financial situation threatening our
sustainability and causing us to make a difficult decision regarding the relationship between the
two parishes – the same challenge being faced by many parishes in the Archdiocese. With the
consultation and consensus of the Leadership, we are asking the Cardinal to merge St. Ann and St.
Brendan Parishes into one new parish retaining the two worship sites. For the future of the
Catholic presence in the area this action must be taken. We thank the Leadership for their
prayerful, thoughtful and clear advice in this matter. It is no surprise we are struggling just as many
of you are struggling. The goal is to retain the Catholic presence in our neighborhoods. Let’s review our
ministry with you for the past two years, so you can appreciate coming to this decision.
Two years ago, the Archdiocesan concluded that neither parish could survive financially—the debt being
incurred was overwhelming. Almost $300K was borrowed from the Archdiocese to meet operating
expenses, just to keep going; the situation was dire. Both parishes were facing diminishing cash on hand
and the Archdiocese might have to come in and close both—which no one wanted. Rather than enact that
painful decision, acknowledging the frequent change of pastoral leadership, knowing the painful past
experiences of both parishes, and not wanting to lose the Catholic presence in this area, the Archdiocese
assigned two “well-seasoned” priests as co-pastors to observe, judge and act - to try their best to revitalize
the parishes. One last try. That decision was made “for” you. We were not sent here to close the
parishes, but just the opposite, to do what we could do to keep that presence. Finances were strained;
repairs increasing; most of all, participation was dropping.
We carry an insurmountable debt of $900K+ ($300K+ at St. Ann; $600K+ at St. Brendan with the
school). [Note: the loans come from funds deposited by other parishes. We owe, not the “Archdiocese”,
but our sister parishes. We used their money to keep operating.] More distressing, we cannot address the
huge deferred maintenance as the buildings continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate, raising some safety
concerns. With little cash reserves, no more loans from the Archdiocese and the unknown consequences
of the virus, we need to work together for the Church community, assess future property use and act in the
interest of the parishioners. We all know our financial situation was tentative. We feared that a major
unforeseen expense would be a problem. Who would have ever expected that a pandemic would force us
to this hard decision?
Honestly, at the beginning of this year, even before the virus, after significant efforts, exhausting ideas on
many fronts from incredibly passionate and dedicated people - we were in a more fragile position than we
were two years ago. Above all, the decreased attendance, coupled with a strained cash flow - even using
half of an additional $200K line-of-credit (we spent only $50K/each thanks to the extra $100K raised by
the Gala) - hampered efforts at outreach and the ability to do any repairs. Due to the virus consequences,
the Archdiocese is now incapable of providing any more money and has canceled the remaining $100K.
[On a good note, we received the SBA/PPP loans to cover all payroll for two months.] Still, the national
trend is foreboding. Every social survey confirms a continued drop in religious affiliation and active
participation. Those predictions describe us – parishes with fewer younger people.
Last Fall, Fr. Brian proposed to your leadership that it was time to consider consolidating both parishes
into one. Then, his sickness prevented further detailed discussion. Now, because of the virus, our
situation is critical because of three realities: First, as noted above, prior to the virus, decreasing
attendance and income has flattened or lowered. Second, the buildings are in serious disrepair. Third, we
have a challenging high debt. In the wake of the pandemic, all forecasts predict a very slow phased-in
recovery. We are not alone. Over half the parishes in the Archdiocese expect to face a crisis both in
returning attendance and financial solvency. We need to prepare for the future.
A merger allows us a consolidation of effort, combining all the assets and liabilities of both parishes, and
the ability to work together to build the local church. Note that both worship sites remain – in fact, both
church names remain. The merger will mean a new “parish” name (to be determined). This hard decision
is also based on a “Long-term Feasibility Study” done for us by the Archdiocese addressing all areas of
collaboration with the conclusion that closing a campus had to be considered. The Leadership disagreed
with the conclusion and stressed a merger must keep the two worship sites. With dwindling cash flow,
attendance numbers uncertain; going forward, a merger provides hope to sustain a Catholic presence.
These past two years, to meet our needs, so many have worked beyond what anyone could expect. Your
Leadership has met for over thirty times. We held four open meetings to update you, had constant
discussions – with agreement and disagreement – and above all, were willing to accept the ideas which
surfaced in almost every case. Trying to get people back to church, raising money, esp. with the Gala, was
persistent. One effort/idea came after another. No one should feel bad about the efforts. They were
wonderful. But apart from a spike here and there (the curve if you will), the energy and effort in both
parishes has been carried on by a small group of people who have worked hard; yet, factually, we have
about the same average attendance but less income now than we did two years ago.
We are aware there will be negative reactions to this change. We know the emotional depth of both
communities for their parish. We fully appreciate that merging is difficult to accept. Above all, we are
very sorry to bring this matter to you during the COVID-19 crisis. It is not the best time, but we have no
choice. Time is running out. It’s projected each parish will lose $7K-$8K a month and could run out of
savings within a year or so. We need to prepare for where we expect to be a year and a half from now,
because the deficit in finances and the deterioration of buildings continues. Asking the Cardinal to
approve a merger is moving forward in a positive and proactive way.
We brought this decision to your Leadership and proposed we act decisively: First, to ask the Cardinal to
merge the two parishes into one parish. [Note: this is critical for the school. If an “independent” St.
Brendan Parish closes, then the parish school closes. If the parishes merge, the new parish assumes the
responsibility for the school.] Second, there will be a time-sensitive urgency to engage in serious
discussions leading to informed decisions regarding pastoral care, staffing, sale/lease of buildings and
finances, the result of which will mean significant changes as our new parish grows. One praying
community – with two sites - together - can support and nourish an active faith life for everyone.
We have worked well with your volunteer Leadership for over two years. They know the facts;
they are well informed; they understand the consequences. We accept their unanimous consensus
that a merger take place with the following understanding: (1) they strongly support maintaining
two worship sites; (2) St. Brendan's school remains open as long as it is financially viable (see
above - a merger is a safeguard!); (3) The new parish can sell properties to address the debt
and deferred maintenance. They agree that the financial problem is our costs are projected
to exceed our revenues for an extended period because of the pandemic and that there are
insufficient reserves to allow us to ride out the crisis. The merger only allows the two
parishes to access each other's current bank accounts and does nothing to address a
negative revenue problem, nor the decreasing attendance. But, in working together, a
merger gives us promise. To assure a Catholic presence remains, we can do more together
than separate. It is a challenge and they are accepting the challenge to address the high-risk
realities that face us after the merger takes place. They are a faithful, hopeful group working to
represent you – and they do it well. Their emails are listed on the next page for your response. We
are grateful for their willing to risk with courage and determination, and trust in the Lord.
A parish is not its buildings, nor its bank accounts - it is the people of God. It is about growing in faith.
Yes, money is a problem; it is not the solution nor our goal – an active Catholic presence IS our goal!
We hope this merger will be approved by the end of June so that we can work this summer on solutions
moving forward. We will keep you informed. Also, we apologize, but know that this less-than-ideal
method of communicating such a major change was not our preference, but with the shutdown and an
unpredictable future, it is necessary. We can’t wait! Time eats away at our resources. We ask you to trust
in the Lord who is with us always. Easter Jesus is our Hope! The Holy Spirit is our Guide! May God
continue to be with you and your family during this viral crisis.
Thank you for listening. Peace.
Fr. Brian Clary, Pastor Fr. Bob Connors, Temporary Administrator
Christine McLaughlin (SB PPC)
Tom Tobin (SB PPC)
Mary Lou O’Connor (SA FinCom)
Michael Ryan (SB FinCom)
Michael Flynn (SA PPC)
Larry Feeney (SB FinCom)
Mark Hegarty (SA PPC)
Ann Grigas (SB FinCom)
Bill Sansone (SB PPC)
Liz Angell (SA PPC)
Stefanie O’Shea (SA PPC)
Tina Higgins (SA FinCom)
Jim Hunt (SA FinCom)
Message from Fr Bob Tuesday, March 17, 2020
SEPARATED BUT UNITED - THE BODY OF CHRIST. I keep thinking how hard it is for my mind to get around all that is happening. I suspect that this is true for you as well. We have gone through some tough times in the past few decades, but this is truly unique. It is not the worst we have experienced, but it is a challenge. In the worst of times, who would think the church would stop Mass? Not you or I! This crisis has to be faced honestly and intentionally by us all. We have to cooperate if we are going to end it as soon as we can. No one likes the church shut down, yet we are in unprecedented times. We may be separated but we can be united in our intention, our patience and our solidarity as a Catholic people. Please know that we are praying for you and your families. Please offer a prayer for us as well.
On a positive note, Fr. Brian has turned the corner of his treatment and is beginning to feel better. Thanks for your "prayer a day for Fr. Brian". It is working. He still has a road ahead of him, but knowing our support and prayer is really helping him. Keep it up.
During this Lent 2020, who would have thought that we would be bearing this cross? Last Sunday, Jesus was thirsty at the well. He will also express his thirst on the cross before He dies. We are experiencing a variety of "thirsts" this Lent and in the coming weeks. Let us reflect on the "life-giving" waters that Jesus has given us, and realize how our suffering can be balanced by recalling the suffering of our Savior. He knows our pain. There are a lot of resources online and on TV with masses, etc. If you are feeling that need, please connect with them.
God bless us all at this time. PEACE be with you.
SHARING OUR JOINT NEEDS - THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGE WE ALL FACE. It is very clear that as the crisis continues, every sector of our country will face economic challenge: Families, Business, Institutions and Parishes - including ours. We want to let you know that we do understand the choices that you have to make. We ask that you consider our choices as well. We depend on any support that you can give us. ONLINE GIVING can really help us and I encourage you to join that. Also, we will be appreciative of any support you can give to the parish. Gratefully, this past year, with your continued support, we have not had to borrow from our line of credit. Thank you so much. You have been generous in so many ways and we hope that you can continue to remember the parish with its liabilities just as you address your own. May God and God's Spirit lead us through this incredible and mind-blowing experience.