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MORE FROM FR AARON - 06/18/2023

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Thank you for asking honest, hard questions! Here are some more answers.


Will IHM and SJB churches be closed eventually? I can envision scenarios in which some of our churches eventually close. Perhaps most likely scenario goes like this. My sins as a pastor (maybe pride or cowardice) and our weaknesses as a united community makes us do a bad job of helping people meet Jesus. We keep shrinking for the next 15 years. A future archbishop sees that we no longer viable, merges us into St. Anthony of Padua, and closes all our churches. This scenario does not have to happen, but it could happen. If you’d like to hear other scenarios in which churches close, let me know; I have one involving the New Madrid fault that would make a great Netflix series.


How long do you envision keeping the three churches open? Let me expand on what I said last week. Our mission is to love God, love others, and make disciples. From my perspective, at the moment, one community with three churches looks like the best plan for that mission, the plan most likely to yield growth and unity. We’ll need ongoing discernment about whether we are actually growing and uniting. If having three open churches serves our mission, we’ll keep them open indefinitely. If having three open churches does not serve our mission, we’ll need a new path. So, on the one hand, right from day one we’ll evaluate and think and pray whether the plan works. We could change plans at any time. On the other hand, growth and unity take time. My guess is that we’ll need a few years for a fair evaluation of the current plan.


Will the three churches maintain separate financials, or will there be one set of books? As of August 1, 2023, the united parish community will have combined financials that will include the resources and obligations which formerly belonged to SJB, IHM, and SSP.


How will the Pastoral Council and Finance Council be enlarged or changed to include our new parishioners being subsumed into St. Stephen Protomartyr parish? I hope to form a new Pastoral Council and a new Finance Council soon, ideally in August, with equal representation on each Council from SBJ, IHM, and SSP.


Will the three churches maintain separate their various organizations, or will they be combined? I think it will make sense to combine some. Perhaps it will make sense for some to continue as they are? I am not sure. For the moment, if you do something for the spread of the Gospel, the good of the Church, or the care of our neighbors, please plan to continue after August 1! In the coming months, we’ll need to gather leaders and groups from SJB, IHM, and SSP to sort through this question little by little. Feel free to get to know your counterparts and start talking about what might make sense!


Will there be a transition team using people from each parish to work on the merger of these three parishes into one? If so, how would that work? Thank you for the idea of a transition team! I like it. Transitions are the movement from a former way of living to a new one, especially in how people think, feel, and act. A team focused on how the transition is going could really help us after August 1. But it will take time figure out how a team like that would work.


How do we become one parish community in three different buildings? Big picture, we already have a one shared mission: love God, love others, make disciples. We’ll need to find a shared vision: what is the possible and better future for our united community? We’ll need to find a shared strategy: how do we live our mission and pursue our vision? We’ll need to set common goals to execute that strategy in all three of our church buildings and in our many neighborhoods. We’ll need to gather people who worship at each of our three churches to work together on those shared goals. Practically speaking, if you love children and want to help young families practice the faith, it might look like this. You fill your heart by worship at Mass in one church building on Saturday evening. And then you pour out your love in a kid’s group at another church building on Sunday morning, And then you live your faith later in the week by gathering to pray a rosary at our third church building for a young mom in your small group who has a hard pregnancy. How do we help parishioners have weeks like that?


We have a lot to learn, and I would love your ideas. God bless you and please pray for our parish!

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