From Our Pastor – Nov. 5, 2017 Bulletin Message
On Mission Update…
American author James Thurber said of his short story masterpiece, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” that the two most important words in the story are “Things change.”
The words are spoken by Mr. Mitty, a man who feels trapped in his current life situation and loves to dream about the possibilities that lie ahead of him.
“Things change” would be an appropriate tagline for the On Mission for the Church Alive! initiative. It has proven to be a fluid process, and I imagine will continue to be so for quite some time. As I alluded to in last week’s bulletin and E-News, things will change here at St. Alphonsus and around the entire diocese, in earnest, at this time next year.
Specifically, the week of Oct. 15, 2018, is when the priests of the diocese will begin their “new” assignments. Not all priests will move from their current assignments or residences, but all will receive different responsibilities, primarily based on the “new” parish groupings. The bishop will announce priest assignments and the “new” parish groupings on April 26, 2018.
Additionally, there will be fewer weekend and perhaps weekday Masses offered at St. Alphonsus Church and at the vast majority of churches throughout the diocese beginning the week of Oct. 15, 2018. The number of Masses will be determined primarily by the number of priests assigned to each “new” parish grouping. Church seating capacity and Mass attendance also factor into this decision.
The proposed St. Alphonsus/St. Alexis Parish merger is slated to initially have two priests assigned to it. Each priest, adhering to Canon Law, is supposed to celebrate no more than 3 Masses each Sunday. (Sunday in this case means from 4pm Saturday afternoon until 11:59pm Sunday night).
Therefore, the proposed St. Alphonsus/St. Alexis merger will most likely have a TOTAL of 6 Masses offered each weekend, down from the current 8 Masses. The number of Masses at each church building, and the Mass schedule at each church will be decided upon by the administrator/pastor of this “new” parish grouping after consulting with the current parish leaders, i.e. pastors, pastoral associates, etc., and finance and pastoral council members. This decision-making process is to occur between May and October 2018 as priests transition from one assignment to the next.
Furthermore, this “new” parish grouping most likely will have anywhere from 3 to 5 years to be fully integrated into 1 parish. This means: One RCIA program, one religious education (CCD) program, combining various ministries, etc. We will see where the Spirit leads us, in the hopes of strengthening everything about who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ!
Even further down the road…
The projection is that by year 2025, only one priest will be assigned to the proposed St. Alphonsus/St. Alexis parish, given the reality that clergy numbers will continue to decline in the foreseeable future. This will mean more changes (i.e. number of Masses) given his responsibilities and the limits of time and available energy to effectively minister to the people to whom he is entrusted. Glancing this far into the future, while not completely clear, is necessary for planning purposes, and adjustments will certainly be made according to each parish’s situation.
Again, we live in hope and faith that ultimately The Holy Spirit is in charge, and that through this process we are being led into a growing and even more vibrant Church!
We will continue to keep you posted as we move forward. Please stay tuned to all updates via our bulletin announcements, The Pittsburgh Catholic, the On Mission website and social media outlets as we dream about the possibilities that lie ahead.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Kevin C. Fazio