By Fr. Terry Kerner

Last weekend at two of our masses I spoke about the changes we are implementing for ourselves and three of our neighboring parishes. The arrangement embraces St. Alphonsus — St. Clement, St. Barbara, St. Kateri and St. Maria Goretti. All four parishes will remain open and retain their priest, finances and responsibility for parish properties and assets. The change comes with the clergy, who while primarily responsible for the parish he resides in, is also being asked to be available to serve and collaborate with his neighbors. The Archdiocese across the board is adopting the new model and has named it “Family of Parishes”.

The new arrangement is driven by the shortage of clergy being projected for the near future. In the next ten years we will see a drastic reduction of priests. Understandably, because you always have a priest when you go to mass, the average Catholic does not feel any loss or shortage. Priests do and we realize the need to live parish life a little differently.

In any one parish there are several tasks and responsibilities that have been traditionally performed by the clergy. Obviously sacramental ministry is the primary and sole focus of the priests and deacons assigned to a parish. At the same time many administrative burdens, when given to competent lay persons, can free up pastors to be able to enhance the work he was ordained to do. A new model for parish ministry allows for collaboration with other parishes in areas that promote and serve the Faith we cherish. Outreach such as food banks and St. Vincent de Paul ministry, faith formation for children and adults, liturgical services and training, social justice programs and plain old fashion socializing and events are just a few of the areas that open up when parishes begin working together. In the months ahead we priests and deacons will be tapping local talent to become “directors” for the collaborative ministry envisioned. You may be interested in taking on a leadership role bringing your talent to the tasks that lay ahead. Let me know since it is my job as “Moderator” to facilitate the ministries and our relationships in the years ahead.

Change can be unnerving and at the same time challenging and hopeful. I encourage all of us to embrace what we experience in the months ahead. Pray for vocations as well as a joyful grace to share your own faith with your neighbor!