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MORE FROM FR AARON - 07/23/2023

Our first weekend as a united parish is two weeks away! Msgr. Bommarito and I are looking forward to seeing you on August 5-6, at Saint Stephen Protomartyr at 4:00 pm, at Immaculate Heart of Mary at 7:00 am, or at Saint John the Baptist at 10:00 am. On Monday July 31we’ll start our new daily Mass schedule: 6:30 am Monday-Friday at SJB, or 8:00 am at IHM Monday / Wednesday / Saturday, and Tuesday / Thursday / Friday at SSP.


Here are more answers to parishioner questions.


Are choirs combining? Yes. A united music program is extremely important for our united parish becoming a growing parish in its three churches. Especially for people just starting or restarting in faith, music matters a lot for prayer. Music can open hearts to respond to God’s word. Excellent music gives parishioners confidence to invite people they see searching or hurting. As I considered a music ministry plan for SSP parish, I prioritized, as best as I knew how, music that would help people just staring or restarting in faith pray at Mass. Here’s what I hope we’ll see happen. Greg Hulub, our interim Worship Leader, will lead a Worship Ensemble at 10:00 am Mass. A volunteer will lead a similar Worship Ensemble at 4:00 pm Mass. A cantor will help us sing some Mass parts at 7:00 am, but mostly this mass will be quiet, as has been the tradition at SJB and IHM. A volunteer choirmaster will lead a Seasonal Choir for big feast days. We’ll have a volunteer Funeral Choir, and the current SSP school music team will lead music at school masses. Do you want to help? Use the QR code here to tell us how! Do you want to know more? Contact Stephanie Wobbe, our Communication Manager at stephaniewobbe@saintstephenstl.org. She’ll send you a presentation describing our vision for music ministry vision.


What about the meetings that are held throughout the month? Will we be able to still have them? Yes. We’re planning to continue the prayer groups, social groups, and service groups that we’ve had in the past at SSP, SJB, and IHM. I hope our groups will be open to welcome new members. Eventually we’ll talk with these groups on a case-by-case basis to see if it makes sense to combine some of them.


Will we have a special evening Mass for All Souls Day, as IHM did in the past? I’d like to see us continue this beautiful tradition. Do SSP or SJB have any special traditions for All Souls Day?


Will the parish hall be able to be rented out? Yes. When the parish halls on the SSP, SJB, or IHM campuses aren’t being used by parish activities and organizations, people will be able to rent them.


We have heard that you do have not allowed fundraising events at IHM. Please advise on this purpose as we feel that these events are community building. Will we be able to continue with events like our quilt bingo? As pastor at IHM I limited fundraisers. I think many fundraisers can have a negative impact on people just starting in faith who come to our churches wanting to hear about Jesus and his teaching, and many fundraisers can reduce parishioners’ willingness to volunteer for key ministries or to make a committed worship offering. Stephanie Wobbe can send you a fuller explanation which I wrote to explain my concerns. However, I recognize the importance fundraisers have for many people in our united parish. As far as I can tell, Our Lord is asking me to compromise on this point. Currently, I foresee us continuing the fundraisers which SSP, SJB, or IHM had in the past, at least for this first year. We’ll evaluate how this goes and adjust as needed. That means the famous SJB quilt bingo is a go!


How will parishioners be involved in some of the decisions that need to be made? So far, we’ve used surveys, listening sessions, conversations with individual parishioners, and meeting with parish leadership groups to involve parishioners in decision making. One of my goals for August is activate key leadership groups for our combined community, including a Transition Team focused on hearing parishioner concerns and evaluating how we are doing, a Finance Council focused on wise use of our funds for our mission, and a Parish Council focused on organizing events and programs.

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