Midweek at Midtown – September 1

Dear Midtown Catholic parishioner,

Hopefully last week you read Fr. Jindra’s letter pertaining to the work that we will be doing in the next months to redo the Mass schedule.   As he mentioned, Mass schedules are being reset across the Archdiocese.  It has to do with the declining number of priests we will have in the next ten years.  Fr. Jindra mentioned that our target date for this schedule change would be 1/1/2023 rather than the date for the rest of the Archdiocese which is 7/1/23.  This is because Fr. Lorig moved us forward to a place in which we can do this earlier.  

It also has to do with the reality that during these next ten months, there is a special need for help with what we priests are calling our bench.  In baseball the bench is those players that are called in when the regulars need a sub.   We are short of subs right now.   If we get this work done, Fr. Jindra and I would each be able to help with that subbing if it is needed.  This would already have been helpful a couple weeks ago when two of our subs were in the hospital rather than doing the work they had been scheduled for, which was replacing priests who were trying to get some vacation time in before the school year started.

One other concern that some people had with this cutting of Masses was whether this meant that I was retiring.  The short answer to that is no, but there is more to it than that.   When most people reach retirement age, they look forward to slowing down, visiting grandchildren more often, and maybe enjoying some travel.  I don’t have grandchildren, but all of these still apply.  I would like to slow down.  I have cut back my hours to 40-50.  The first thirty years of my priesthood I was putting in 80-90 and I loved it.  I still love my work but have less energy.  I do love to travel and would like to take more time to do that in the next years.  Part of that would be visiting some of what priests have in place of grandchildren.   We have old friends from previous assignments.  

Fr. Jindra and I have been in more assignments than any other priests in the Archdiocese.  That is why, on some subbing jobs, he may be going out to help and I stay at Midtown.  It might be a matter of helping out in a parish in which he has some previous contact.   If it is a place that I have had contact, I would probably head out.  Even when it is not for subbing, I would like to go and visit people in parishes I have worked in over the years and see my grandchildren.  

Some people (Fr. Jindra) like fishing.  I like traveling, especially on cruises, where I can be of help even as I relax.  When I travel with Holland America Cruise Lines, I have a Mass for the passengers each day.  That cruise line works to get a priest on board every one of their cruises.

All of this has to do with my “not” retiring.  A few weeks ago the Archbishop sent a second letter to me about retirement.  Last September I received one concerning this particular year from 7/1/22-7/1/23.  I told him I wasn’t planning on retiring yet so you are stuck with me until 7/1/23.  The letter I received a few weeks ago had to do with 7/1/23-7/1/24.  God willing I won’t be retiring during that time either but I will be working on my plan to get away more often.  I still hope to stay at SJA rectory but may be gone for a week or two every few months during that year.  The good news is that the Mass schedule will make this less of an impact on you and Fr. Jindra, who would otherwise have to double up some weeks in order to cover for me.  The other good news is that it might help with the budget because I will be reimbursing Midtown for the extra time I am gone.  I want to make this fair.

I hope this will be a benefit for both parishes.

In other news, I will be starting my next class this month.  It will be on Sunday mornings.  I was trying to figure out a way to fit this class into the Sunday morning schedule.  The conflict is working that out with the pancake breakfasts that each parish has.   I don’t want to be in competition with these.  They are important fundraisers for different projects and help to build community.  I was also trying to solve a problem that I have been hearing about for years and that has to do with confession times.   The parishes have had confessions during Advent and Lent and then on Saturdays before the evening Mass.  These are not always convenient for everyone.   Good news, we have come up with a plan.

Starting after Labor Day I will have my class on the Sundays that there are no pancake breakfasts.  On Sundays that there are pancakes Fr. Jindra and/or I will have confessions at the church that is serving pancakes.  We will be available for confessions from 9:15-10:15.  When we have a class, it will follow the same time slot and the class will be at SJA from July-December, and at STM from January-June.  Since STM is having a pancake breakfast on 9/11, I will have confessions at STM that day.  The next two weeks I will have class at SJA on the Gospel of Matthew and his Kingdom emphasis.  Bring your Bible.  Fr. Jindra is tentatively thinking of having his classes on Thursday evenings.

God bless you,

Fr. Frank Baumert

Family Formation Registration Information

Registration for Midtown Catholic’s Religious Education Program, Family Formation, is now open! 

You don’t want to miss out on this incredible program that teaches both parents and children about our faith.  It includes catechist-led classes for both parents and children, and opportunities for family faith community events such as Mass, Adoration, Bible Study, Games, and more!  

This program also offers Sacrament preparation for families who are not attending a Catholic school! 

Family Formation starts on Wednesday, September 7th, so you’ll want to register soon.  For more information and to register, check out our website page: https://midtowncatholic.church/family-formation/

 Please contact the Coordinator of Religious Education, Rachel Bielstein, with your questions. 

Her contact info is: 402-556-1456 or rjbielstein@midtowncatholic.church

Midweek at Midtown – July 13

It may seem like a new phase to life in St. Joan of Arc and St. Thomas More parishes, now that we have a new pastor, but it isn’t.  It will involve some changes over the next year, but most things will be the same.  For instance, I will be staying at SJA rectory the pastor, Fr. Jindra will be staying at the STM rectory.  I will still have my office at SJA rectory and Fr. Jindra will have his at STM.  We will continue to share the Mass load, with the two of us taking turns at each parish.  Both of us like to have classes for adults.  The two of us will be making plans for those kinds of opportunities.  

The changes that we will be working on will have to do with a continuation of the process that Fr. Lorig started two years ago.  That was when it looks as if STM, SJA, and Holy Cross would eventually be working together under one pastor.  In the last few months, the Archbishop and the Pastoral Planning Team at the Archdiocese have revised this plan which is now called The Journey of Faith.  Many of you know a little about this plan but only a few of you know a lot.  

This plan is all about trying to reorganize the Archdiocese’s placement of priests so we will be optimizing the impact these priests will have over the next decade.  A big part of that plan is to work to form parish “families.”  This is the new way of referring to groups of parishes that will be working together.  It is a far better way of referring to them rather than clusters.  As the Pastoral Planning Team worked through the initial structuring of these plans for parish families, they decided that it would be better if STM and SJA would be one family and Holy Cross would work with Our Lady of Lourdes to become another family.  Each would eventually have one priest.  Just like each of the other 27 parish families, we need to set things up for that situation of having one priest.  Just so you know, that does not mean that I will just be disappearing.

Some of those parish families, depending on their size, will have anywhere from 1-7 priests.  No parish will continue to stand on its own.  So for instance, one of the biggest families will be St. Vincent de Paul, St. Wenceslaus, St. Stephen the Martyr, and Boys Town Immaculate Conception.  These parishes will remain individual parishes but will be working together as one family with 7 priests rather than the 8 that they have now, and that is the situation for these growing parishes that have thousands of families and are growth areas in our Archdiocese.  

Our family situation, Midtown Catholic, has a great start on dealing with this process because of the work that Fr. Lorig did these last two years.  As it continues, Fr. Jindra and I will do our best to keep you informed.  Because of the fact that there is no longer a paper version of the Catholic Voice, this information will take a while to be communicated to you adequately.  For that reason, I encourage you to stay tuned to these letters.  I also encourage you to share this information with other people in the parish who you are connected with that might not have immediate access to electronic communication from the parish and the Archdiocese.

God bless you all,

Fr. Frank Baumert