This past Friday I began to implement adjustments to our parish’s finances, operations, and ministries. You may remember that this past November I told the parish that our ministries were unsustainable without a large increase in income from parishioner giving. You saw from the weekly collections numbers that, despite the generosity of many of you, we simply couldn’t raise our income enough. Thus I invited consultation from diocesan offices, which has led me to implement these changes.
I was insistent that our main ministries – worship, care for the needy and for one another, and formation in faith – had to continue, even if in changed form. They will. Your generosity has made it possible for me to ask the diocese to supply a third priest when Fr. Ruben returns home, and as I announced last week Fr. Gabriel Miah will replace him; so our Mass schedule and other worship services should be largely unchanged. Sister Alice’s upcoming retirement – which she told me about this past September, before any reorganization was in the works (and had nothing to do with the reorganization) – will mean a reshaping of the services of Parish Social Ministry; but the ministry will remain. There will be some minor changes in procedures in children’s faith formation, but the heart of that ministry (and the staff of that office) will remain.
Similarly, our before- and after-school program, Angel Care, and our Day Care, will be largely unchanged. Our summer programs for young people, Vacation Bible School and Kids of the Kingdom / Summer Fun, will continue to operate.
Parish societies and volunteer ministries will continue and will become even more important – but that’s a topic for another column.
So what will change? Here are the major items; I’ll describe things in more detail in weeks to come.
First, the hours the parish buildings are open are being reduced on weekdays. Evening events will by and large be restricted to Mondays and Tuesdays (except for groups that can provide their own access and security, like the Knights of Columbus and the Boy Scouts). Meetings with priests and deacons will be available other evenings, but only by appointment. Choir rehearsals will be unchanged.
The parish office will have new, shorter hours, which we’ll be announcing as permanent after a few weeks of reorganization and changes in people’s work hours. We’ll be looking to have the office open at the times that are most convenient to parishioners.
The stewardship office has been closed. The stewardship message is still vital to our life and mission, and I will ensure that it stays front and center in the parish’s experience; but much non-core and administrative work will be discontinued or done by others.
The business office has been closed. We will now contract with a diocesan agency, Parish Services Corporation, for business and accounting services. Our maintenance staff will assume all responsibilities for managing our buildings and grounds.
This reorganization has meant staff reductions. Many of those who remain have seen benefit reductions. We did this to save as many jobs as possible, but it was impossible to retain every employee and still reduce our costs as much as we needed to. Many of these people had given years or decades working in the parish – and they remain our neighbors, our fellow-parishioners, and (often) volunteers in parish ministries. We owe them thanks and support in an undoubtedly difficult time.
I’ll have more to say next week. I ask you to be patient while staff adjust to new routines and responsibilities. Keep an eye here, and on the parish website, for updates on shifting meeting dates and times. And please: approach this new time in our parish’s life with confidence, good humor, and readiness to do your part. Until next week, Peace.