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Published: Saturday, 2/7/2004

Archdiocese of Boston sees attendance drop

FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

BOSTON - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Mass attendance for a typical week has dropped 15 percent since the clergy sexual-abuse crisis hit two years ago.

For the first time, the archdiocesan newspaper published attendance figures and the number of key sacraments performed for most of Boston s 357 parishes (39 did not participate).

The report said average weekly Mass attendance in October was 304,000, out of a baptized membership of 2,084,000.

The general decline over recent decades “was accelerated across the board by the abuse crisis,” a spokesman said.

Dr. Richard Allen Farmer, a pianist and musical liturgist, will present two concerts at Warren AME Church, 915 Collingwood Blvd., on Feb. 14.

A native of New York City and resident of Dallas, Dr. Allen will perform a concert titled “Seeing/Being More in 2004” at 2:30 p.m. and a second concert titled “A Celebration of Love” at 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Farmer “uses his music as a vehicle for inspiring, motivating, challenging, and entertaining the people of God.”

Tickets are $30 from the Warren AME Church office, 419-243-2237.

The Toledo Bible Institute and Northwest Ohio School of Ministry will hold two free seminars on Feb. 14 at its facility in Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 1375 Sylvania Ave.

The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Camerson will teach about “Spiritual Gifts” from 9:30 a.m. until noon, and “Christianity and Homosexuality” will be discussed from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Registration is free by calling the institute at 419-478-6012.

Mary Erb, a Sylvania Franciscan candidate, will become a novice with the Sisters of St. Francis on Wednesday, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Sister Mary Erb became a candidate in the congregation on Jan. 5, 2003, and her novitiate phase will cover two years devoted to learning the essentials of the Franciscan lifestyle.

A widow and mother of two, Sister Mary worked as a hospital nurse for 35 years before moving to Sylvania from Virginia Beach, Va., to fulfill her “lifelong dream” of a religious vocation.

VERSAILLES, Ky. - Only 60 people attended the three services at historic St. John s Episcopal Church on Sunday, while some 180 departing members held the first formal service of their new conservative congregation, St. Andrew s.

The split occurred when Bishop Stacy Sauls and diocesan leaders ousted the parish s governing board and took control of the building and bank accounts worth $1.87 million.

The St. John s board opposed Bishop Sauls support for the consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson, but the diocese said it removed the board for breaking rules in seeking a new minister.

Bishop Sauls said the diocese feared that the board, or vestry, might take the parish out of the Episcopal Church. Vestry members denied this, but said they wanted oversight by a conservative bishop from outside the diocese, rather than Bishop Sauls.

DUPO, Ill. - A high school senior who was suspended from his daily school TV newscast for saying, “God bless” is back on screen.

Officials at Dupo High School dropped James Lord, 17, from his anchor spot in December when he ignored warnings against that signoff. Young Lord appealed, arguing the school violated First Amendment rights.

School Board President Brian Thompson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that young Lord has agreed to not make “God bless” a staple and the board has no problem with occasional use of the phrase. The suspension, supposed to last until Feb. 1, was ended early after the school board met young Lord in closed session.

“I m satisfied,” James Lord said. “It shouldn t have been a big deal in the first place. I was kind of tired of dealing with all this, but I m not doing it just for me. I m doing it for everyone else.”



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