New Catholic pastor takes over; parishioners concerned

The pastor of Jamaica Plain’s three Roman Catholic parishes is leaving after only 13 months on the job and will be replaced on June 5, according to the St. Thomas Aquinas Church bulletin.

The pending replacement of Rev. Alonso Macias by Rev. Carlos Flor has stirred concern in local congregations, with the May 6 church bulletin including a special question-and-answer section about the move.

“Certainly not!” the bulletin answered after posing a question about whether the move will undo the parishes’ recent work.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, “has decided to assign a new pastor to build on what Father Alonso has done and bring the ministry to the next level of effectiveness, focusing in a special way on evangelization,” the bulletin said.

A spokesperson for the Boston Archdiocese did not respond to Gazette questions about the move.

Macias oversaw last year’s merging of JP’s three parishes: South Street’s St. Thomas Aquinas, Brookside’s Our Lady of Lourdes and Egleston Square’s St. Mary of the Angels. He serves as pastor for all three churches and appears to be popular among parishioners.

“I want to make it clear to you that I did not ask for the change,” wrote Macias in a note in the church bulletin. “There are no hidden or secret reasons for this change, but only a desire to bring success to the merging process.”

There appears to be no detailed explanation for the move, which has provoked enough questions for a Q&A to run in the next several issues of the church bulletin. The rest of the administrative staff will remain the same and the merger work already done will stay in place, according to the May 6 bulletin.

“A new pastor will certainly have some of his own ideas as did Father Alonso,” the bulletin said. “In time, no doubt, this will bring about some changes to further improve the pastoral and financial situation of our communities.”

It is unclear where Macias will be transferred. The bulletin said only that he has been giving a “very interesting assignment with ministry to a large Hispanic community within a large parish.”

Flor is currently parochial vicar at Revere’s Immaculate Conception. A native of Spain, he speaks both English and Spanish, according to the bulletin.

Flor also is involved in the Neocatechumenal Way movement, according to the bulletin. Modeled on early Christian communities, The Way involves a priest instructing small groups of parishioners and has some unusual features, including Saturday evening Masses. The Way has been controversial, with some claims that it is divisive and unorthodox, according to Catholic media reports. But it was approved earlier this year by Pope Benedict XVI.

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