As we begin this month of July, I wanted to publicly recognize Terri Huwel and her faithful service to the Old St. Mary’s Pregnancy Center all these many years. Terri has served as the founding executive director and has been faithful to the mission given to her by Fr. Al. Due to her cancer diagnosis, Terri has decided to retire from the center and focus on her health. May we all pray that the Lord keep her close during this time. I have hired Barbara Rose as the interim Executive Director as we work towards ensuring the center’s mission continues. Barbara will work closely with Martha Spaeth, who will work to continue the delivery of goods to mothers in need. Thank you to Barbara and Martha for stepping up in this time of transition!
As I have been preaching for the past few weeks, I want to begin addressing Beacons of Light. Beacons of Light aims to make the Archdiocese more manageable, not just with few priests but with few Catholics. We often think it is just the priest shortage that may drive decisions to close churches, but it is also just fewer Catholics going to Mass. Now, I want to be clear, neither church is in danger of closing. Anything said to the contrary is simply not true. But a goal of Beacons of Light is that the families of parishes ultimately be merged into a single parish unit at this point within the next four years.
Upon the advice of the Finance Council, I have begun consulting and working toward our parish merger. Externally, as far parishioners are concerned, little will be noticed. So long as we have the priests, the Mass schedule will stay the same, so pray for vocations and the health of the priests that assist! What will change is primarily how the parish office administers the practical nature of running a “business.” Church names can’t change once they have been dedicated to God, but the parish will have a new name. Financially we can track everything separately in our accounting software, but there will be one savings and checking account. We will be able to go down to running just one payroll rather than two.
The good news is that neither parish has debt, which is often the main sticking point in these situations. Both churches have healthy financial assets, as our finance reports show. So there is no concern there. We do need to assess any delayed maintenance, but we have done a decent job of keeping up on this in my tenure.
I recognize that change is often scary, but I believe this act will allow us to function more efficiently and effectively. It will take work in the short term for the office to pull all this together, but I believe it will make us more stable for the future. I remain at everyone’s disposal to answer any questions that may arise. I will keep you informed as we continue this process and will be speaking about it all summer. May Mary keep each of you in the month to come!