The General Dispensation is Ending!

The Archbishop is ending the general dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass effective the weekend of Pentecost, May 22-23.

We will continue to sanitize the pews, reserve some sections for social distancing, refrain from the sign of peace, and hold off on receiving from the chalice. Slowly we will resume having altar servers and bringing up the gifts. Mask wearing will be enforced as long as the city mandates it and will be highly encouraged when it does
not.

Those who are prevented from attending Mass due to advanced age, sickness, disability, or some other serious reason are excused. For those who are unable to attend, we will continue to provide Mass via livestream.

A Midtown Catholic Parish Puzzle

When I began writing this article last week, it was the same week Fr. Frank was on vacation. While the workload was not much different than other weeks and Fr. Greg at St. Joan of Arc is a big help, it did get me thinking. How are we going to do daily Masses, school Masses, and funeral Masses when we have three parishes and only two priests?

It’s not like I didn’t know this situation was coming, but the blunt reality of it hit me pretty hard this week for some reason. So, being the problem solver that I am, I started considering some different scenarios. Answers were not coming easily. The puzzle really distracted me even during my quiet prayer time in the morning. I wish I could say God gave me an answer and I solved the puzzle, but He didn’t. Rather, I was beginning to envision all the conversations about who gets what Mass, when, and where. I became very discouraged. I began to envision all the difficult and possibly
heated discussions with parishioners about what is fair for each parish. I even began to imagine a strange competition among neighboring parishes for retired or resident priests to live at their rectories so that a parish would not have to change its Mass schedule. I began to envision a very siloed church made up of financially competing parishes, competing for parishioners and money. It’s a scene that would make Jesus roll over in his tomb if He hadn’t already risen from
the dead, of course.

Every pastor faces this dilemma. When you change your Mass schedule, you risk making parishioners mad and losing them. When you lose parishioners, you lose revenue; and when you lose revenue, you risk losing programs, ministries, and extra capitol for building improvements. At the heart of it for most pastors though, is that we risk being a failure, or at least looking like one to others. Yes, because we are human and sometimes not very holy, we pastors often find comfort in our self-importance and false sense of success.

So maybe God did give me an answer. Turns out, the puzzle I was trying to solve was how to make everyone happy, which is impossible. And it turns out, that’s not my task as pastor. My task is to ensure that the word of God is proclaimed in a compelling and effective manner, that the sacraments are reasonably available to all those within our parish boundaries, and that our parishioners join in the mission of reaching more people for Jesus Christ so that more people know that Jesus Christ is within reach. Whatever decisions are made, whether it be about Mass schedules, personnel, or programs, they have to be based on what is best for the whole and not just what is “fair” for a particular parish. We are in this together as a family of parishes. Every parish will have a part to play, but not every parish will have the same part to play.

The real puzzle to solve here at our Midtown Catholic parishes has nothing to do with Mass schedules but has everything to do with how to achieve our ultimate mission to “go and make disciples.” This is what success looks like.

-Fr. Lorig

Job Opportunity

Director of Finance and Operations

Description

Department: Finance and Operations
Reports to: The Pastor

As part of the Pastor’s Senior Leadership Team, the Director of Finance and Operations handles the operational and administrative aspects of St. Joan of Arc and St. Thomas More parishes to align with the parishes’ overall mission and vision. He/she is responsible for the finance, administration, human resources, and overall operations of both parishes. The position exists so that the Pastor may focus on the overall leadership of the two parishes.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

– Attends Senior Leadership Team (SLT) meetings and collaborates with SLT members to execute the parish vision.
– Carries and communicates parish vision to key constituents and groups within the parishes and schools.
– Is an ex officio member of the parish Finance Councils and committees.
– Provides leadership and support to the financial, maintenance, and clerical personnel.
– Develops and maintains accurate and timely financial/demographic information.
– Establishes and oversee parishes’ internal controls and financial due diligence.
– Budgets and facilitates plans for short-term/long-term financial requirements of the parishes.
– Has oversight of employee payroll, benefits, and training.
– Develops and maintains employee policies.
– Oversees maintenance/building improvement projects with maintenance team and committees to ensure they are completed in a timely fashion and within budget.

Requirements

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
– Active, practicing Roman Catholic in full communion with the Catholic Church, with a demonstrated commitment to prayer and continued formation.
– Sound understanding of generally accepted accounting principles
– Comprehensive knowledge of payroll/related tax issues and accounts payable.
– Ability to adapt and apply knowledge and skills to a variety of parish situations that may occur.
– Demonstrated organizational skills, capable of overseeing multiple projects simultaneously, and prioritizing activity.
– Strong communication skills and effective use of Microsoft Office suite.
– Ability to work and lead from within a team.
– Demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality in dealing with sensitive information.
– Availability on evenings, weekends, and occasional extended periods as needed.

Education and Experience
– Minimally, 3-5 years of progressive and relevant accounting/financial/business experience and applicable college course work/degree.

Application Instructions

Send a cover letter stating your interest and qualifications for the position, a current resume, and 2 or 3 references including names and contact information to Father Jeff Lorig at jplorig@archomaha.org or to 4804 Grover Street, Omaha, NE 68016.

Fr. Frank Has Class

A little over three years ago I wrote a book. It is printed but not published. It is not a finished product. I have been presenting the material in several different ways. The book is designed to be discussed and not just read. For this reason each session will involve discussion time to look at key issues that are affecting our faith experience.

The name of the book is: “Kingdom, the Word We No Longer See.” It looks at how we have lost some of the understanding of our faith because we no longer live in kingdom cultures as Jews and Christians did until the past couple centuries. Each person will either receive a printed copy or an electronic copy of the manuscript.

I can pretty much guarantee that you will learn many things in this class. It will help you tie aspects of your faith together and may even help you explain your faith to others in a way that most people find easy to understand. That is what I hope you get out of the class. What I hope to get from the participants in the class are ways to improve on how the book is written. As I mentioned, I have printed copies of the book, but it is not published. You can help me in spotting weaknesses in how it is written. This is the process that I have been working on for the last three years.

A few of the questions that I will be dealing with are as follows:

  • If God loves me, like we always hear, then why is life so hard?
  • If God’s love is unconditional, then how can there be a hell?
  • If there is a hell, how bad can it be?
  • And, along with many others; how does Jesus, the King of kings, fit into this?

I hope you can join me for this class. Hopefully, you know my preaching style well enough by now, to trust me that it will not be dull.

Fr. Frank

A New Season

A New Name

With this new season of Easter upon us, it is time to announce some changes that are in the works for both St. Thomas More and St. Joan of Arc. I’m not going to mention all the changes here in this one bulletin article, so be sure to check back from time to time. I’ll try to overcommunicate some of these items as they are important and will take some getting used to.

As most of you are aware, we do not have enough priests in the Archdiocese of Omaha to serve as pastors of every individual parish. The scarcity of priests will only increase in the near future as we look at the priest retirements coming up and number of seminarians currently preparing for ordination. Rather than close parishes, medium to small size parishes that have seen a significant decline in Sunday Mass attendance and other sacraments (pre-covid) are likely to be grouped together with other nearby parishes. Parishes are not merging, which implies a closing of parishes, rather, they are grouped together as a network or family of parishes sharing a pastor, a Mass schedule, and other resources like staff, ministries, meeting and office space.

To help pastors keep their sanity and for all the parishes to run efficiently, operations from bookkeeping, maintenance and scheduling to funeral, marriage, and baptism prep, will be centralized from one office staff. To operate as one, it will be helpful to use one name in reference to our family of parishes.
After much brainstorming, suggestions, and discussion, both Parish Councils have approved a shared name. Starting July 1, 2021, the name Midtown Catholic will go live.

Practically, what will this mean for us?

  • One Midtown Catholic bulletin will be published. Separate pages will give specific information for each parish when needed.
  • Our current parish websites will be redirected to one Midtown Catholic website.
  • You will see the Midtown Catholic in emails sent from the parish.
  • One phone number will used to receive the most common parish inquiries and you will hear the name Midtown Catholic used when answering.

This is a new season for the Church in the United States. Almost every diocese in the country is either in the midst of these changes or 10 years behind in planning for the changes. Because some of our pastors here in the archdiocese have been delaying retirement, we’ve been able to buy a few more years, but time is running out. Our approach here in the Archdiocese of Omaha, rather than close parishes, is for parishes to truly work together to combine their efforts in the mission of making disciples.

My goal as pastor is to get Midtown Catholic, that is, our family of parishes in the heart of Omaha, ready for this challenge, ready to for this new season, ready to focus on our mission. A name will not magically make that happen, but it is a first and very necessary step in working as one church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Jeff Lorig