Rev. Flanagan died in 1965. Corpus Christi’s sixth pastor was Rev. John Ballard, no stranger to the parish, having served at Corpus Christi from 1953 to 1964. Although he was overjoyed with this, his first pastorate, he was realistic enough to know that social forces – in the city and neighborhood – would impact Corpus Christi’s viability for years to come. During his term of two years, the number of parishioners and enrollment at the school was small but stable, as were the finances. Participation in church activities continued to decrease, with even the CYO disbanding in mid-decade.
In 1967, the Archdiocese transferred Rev. Ballard into a more promising assignment. His replacement, Rev. Francis Fortenbaugh, was – by his own admission – unsuited to Corpus Christi. The pastorate of Corpus Christi’s seventh pastor lasted about one year, as collections and income fell, along with the number of weddings, baptisms, and enrollment in both the school and CCD program.
In 1968, the Archdiocese conducted an intensive study of Corpus Christi. The report (called the “Carr Report” after its author) made four recommendations: 1) replace the current pastor with a priest comfortable with inner city ministry; 2) close St. Ignatius Church and assign its clergy to Corpus Christi; 3) reconfigure the parish school so that there would be a better blend of Caucasian children from Bolton Hill and African-American children from Reservoir Hill; and 4) work toward better inner-parish relations, especially with nearby (predominantly African-American) parishes.
The Archdiocese approached the Jesuits to staff the parish. The eighth pastor, Rev. William Graham, was named in 1968. He quickly noted the dangers in the neighborhood, noting that crime and fear were two reasons that parishioners did not attend evening functions at the parish. His pastorate lasted but six months when he was appointed Province Director of Pastoral Ministries.
His successor was Rev. Francis Dougherty, appointed as pastor in 1969. For several years, he took no salary and worked not only as pastor but as secretary, cook, and maintenance man. Parishioner numbers and income remained flat. Many parishioners did not understand why the Jesuits were at Corpus Christi and why it was not being treated like other archdiocesan parishes.Go Back