Archdiocesan Reorganization

Fr. Sergio reflects on the announcement made on February 7, 2016 that the Archdiocese will begin a plan that will result in reconfiguration of the Archdiocese and of parishes. What can parishioners expect to come from this process?


 

Dear Parishioners

On February 7th, news broke of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s IMG_2076plans to reorganize its network of parishes. It was revealed that this would entail the closing and or merging of parishes and schools. Understandably, this has created a lot of concern and anxiety.

(Related links: Archbishop’s Announcement:http://bit.ly/1Q63msH / Chicago Tribune Article from Feb 7, 2017: http://trib.in/1RiEWin

Many factors necessitated this course of action. One is the projection that by 2030 there will only be 240 priests available to serve as pastors in the archdiocese’s 350 parishes. Every year many priests are retiring, but only an average of 12-15 new priests are being ordained each year to replace them (this year’s class will only have five). There simply will not be enough priests to staff our current 350 parishes.

Demographics have also changed dramatically. Every year there are less Catholics attending Mass. Our present system of parishes was built at a time in the Church’s history when there were so many Catholics going to Mass that there was a need to build many churches.

Declining Sunday offertory collections have also been taken into consideration for the restructuring. Staffing a parish, and keeping the lights on and the boiler running takes a considerable amount of money. With declines in the collection plate, parishes have had to do more with less. And contrary to what people think, the archdiocese does not give parishes money.

church-edited2Another factor the archdiocese is taking into consideration is the age and physical condition of its churches and buildings. The majority of buildings in the archdiocese are anywhere from 60-100+ years old. Many of them have a lot of deferred maintenance. With every passing year the continual damage caused by deferred maintenance only translates into greater costs to do the necessary repairs.

I cannot predict the future, but I am very hopeful that St Andrew Parish will have a future for many years to come if we continue on the course we have set for ourselves. My hope for the parish is soundly founded on the things I see happening at Saint Andrew Parish. While there is room for improvement, there are many great things happening at Saint Andrew. If we continue to build on our successes while at the same time working on those areas that need attention we have no reason to be anxious.

This past fall when I talked about the annual report I mentioned that after many years of deficits, we had finally turned a corner and that we were doing OK. But, I challenged us to be more than OK by signing up for electronic giving and increasingindex Sunday contributions. Thankfully more people have signed up for electronic giving and there has been a slight increase in the Sunday collection. But we need to do more in both those areas so that our parish can begin to grow its ministries, staffing, programs, etc.

Along with that, we continue to address the physical needs of our campus. Over the last few years we have been concentrating on making some necessary repairs and improvements to our buildings. To date we have invested over $730,000 to repair the leaks in the church roof, renovate the social hall to house our school’s transition program, build a resource room for the school, rebuild the former convent’s parapet wall, and replace the aging boiler in the gym. And this coming summer we will be putting on a new roof on the former convent. We will need to continue being good stewards of the buildings that were entrusted to us by previous generations.

To that end, our participation in the archdiocesan capital campaign comes at a good time. Through this campaign we will be able to not only tackle some more of the deferred maintenance, but we will also be able to enhance our beautiful campus with improvements that will benefit generations to come. The success of this capital campaign that will be starting in a few weeks is of paramount importance for the future of our parish. Please stay tuned for more upcoming information and prayerfully consider your participation in the campaign.

But perhaps, the most important thing that will ensure our parish’s future has nothing to do with the number of warm bodies in the church, or the size of the collection, or the condition of our buildings. Every time I’ve heard Archbishop Cupich speak, it is very clear that as important as these issues are, nothing is more important to him than discipleship. That is to say, our intentional and dynamic faith is what will make all the difference both for our parish’s future and our own spiritual lives. No matter how parishes are reorganized, the Archbishop will want parishes that have the following qualities: they bring others to Christ, ongoing Christian formation, prayer and well-prepared liturgy, communities that are united to Christ and one another, service and missionary activity, promotion of holiness amongst its members, and good stewardship in managing spiritual and temporal goods.

That’s a tall order, but it’s not an impossible one.ptransformation1 In fact we already do many of these things. But we will need to do more to help make our parish truly vibrant. Parish Transformation was the first step on the new path of parish vibrancy. We now have a starting plan, but it will require the commitment and involvement of every parishioner. Over the last year we have communicated the pastoral plan that came from our Parish Transformation, and we have even begun to roll out various initiatives from that plan (read more about the plan here http://bit.ly/1oDyrxr).  I invite all parishioners to participate in making the pastoral plan that came from Parish transformation a reality. The success of our pastoral plan is the true key to the future of all that is St Andrew Parish, both church and school. This must be part of our effort along with increasing Mass attendance and the Sunday offertory. Actually, the more we take seriously Jesus’ call to discipleship and what that means for us individually and as a parish the more successful we will be with attracting others to our parish and raising offertory giving.

For over 121 years Saint Andrew Parish has been the heart of the Lake View community. In my seven years as pastor I have come to know that heart to be generous, caring and compassionate. As intentional disciples, we will grow in holiness and find room in our heart to be even more generous, caring and compassionate. This is the key! In his famous letter to the Corinthians, St Paul reminds us of the three fundamental and interrelated characteristics of the Christian life, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three…” And of these three one has a certain primacy over the others, “but the greatest of these is love.” If we love as Christ loves, then we will find life that can never be mitigated by any reorganization.

In Christ,

 

Fr. Sergio Romo

 

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