From The New York Times:
Bishop Manuel A. Cruz opened with a head count. “Four,” he said, looking out at the four parishioners in a small chapel behind the soaring Gothic sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart here. “The perfect number, because it is the number we are here.”
Then Bishop Cruz said the evening Mass — the nightly service in English. Of the four worshipers, one was a lay reader, Edna Tan, who came to the United States from the Philippines 27 years ago. Also at the service was the cathedral’s head sacristan, Sister Ana Julia Frias, a nun from the Dominican Republic. The third worshiper was black, the fourth white.
Ninety minutes later in the same chapel, another Mass began, the weekly evening service in Spanish. The pews were full, about 50 people in all.
The difference in attendance illustrates one of the main challenges facing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark as it prepares for the arrival of a new leader, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, currently the archbishop of Indianapolis. The cathedral is the seat of a troubled archdiocese stretching across four counties in northern New Jersey. It encompasses some of the state’s wealthiest communities, and some of its poorest.
But Archbishop Tobin will face other challenges in Newark, where he will succeed Archbishop John J. Myers, the leader of the archdiocese’s 1.5 million Catholics for the past 15 years.
Archbishop Myers — who in July turned 75, the age at which bishops routinely submit their resignations to the Vatican — has been faulted for the archdiocese’s handling of a case involving a priest convicted of sexual abuse. He has also come under fire for using more than $500,000 of church money to build an addition to his weekend home in Hunterdon County, N.J. — a three-story wing with an exercise pool and an elevator.
“It seems to me it is a place that needs some serious healing,” Christopher M. Bellitto, a professor of history at Kean University in Union, N.J., said of the archdiocese.
…Professor Bellitto said that “Newark needs a pastor, not a prelate or a prince” and that Archbishop Tobin would fit the bill. Once he arrives in Newark, the professor said, parishioners would “feel as if a bishop is being named to hear them, as opposed to being named to preside over a wealthy place and talk to wealthy people all the time.”
Photo: Bryan Anselm for The New York Times