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