Neither Fr. Brian nor Fr. Pat?

“Perhaps neither Fr. Brian nor you will be our new pastor?”  This question caught me by surprise.  A couple of weeks ago while hearing confessions and after an anonymous person was absolved and the confession finished, the penitent raised the question above:  maybe the archdiocese will send a new priest altogether and neither Fr. Brian nor I will be pastor?  Wow!  I hadn’t thought of that possibility.

It took me only a moment to recover from the surprise question.  I said to the penitent, “That is crazy thinking.  Why would the archdiocese want to ruin the lives to two priests instead of just one!”  By that, I meant that both Fr. Brian and I are in the fourth years of pastorates.  I don’t know about Fr. Brian, but I feel like I’m just getting settled in and that great progress at Incarnation is just starting!!

Progress at Incarnation

For example, the renovation team was set up about two years ago.  We had a meeting this past Thursday, where Elevar Design presented what will be the second-to-last draft of the master plan for renovation.  That’s not all.  If we choose to renovate, it is likely a major five year capital campaign will occur, a monumental effort on the part of the pastor, so many parish leaders and every parishioner!

Also, about two years ago we formed a parish leadership team PLT under the guidance of Amazing Parish.  We defined our reason for existing: that we are called to “Incarnate Jesus in our community.”   As well, we unearthed our core values, that “We jump in with both feet…reach out with both hands and encounter and become Jesus for others.”

About a year and a half ago, pastoral council member, Brian Kohr, lead us as we launched into a parish strategic plan.  Truly, the goals and activities to accomplish our strategic priorities in the areas of culture, communication and growth are just getting off the ground!

What’s more, after four years, I feel like I might perhaps know more parishioners by name than any other person on staff and even in the parish, a “critical mass” of people which can make pastoral leadership more a joy and more effective.  Due to such knowledge and connections further fostered by the sharing of my thoughts, feelings and life in bulletin articles and homilies, I am feeling more at home and in the-groove at Incarnation!

I’m sure after four years, Fr. Brian is experiencing similar, wonderful feelings of settling in at St. Francis.  Therefore, I stick by my gut response to the both of us leaving question.  It would be unthinkable that the archdiocese would break the hearts of two priests, both at the beginning of pastorates!

A Walk at the Mall

Speaking of Fr. Brian, he and I met two Tuesdays ago at the Dayton Mall to take a walk and talk.  After chatting a bit, we talked about some of the first steps that might be taken as our parishes begin “sistering.”

A first step we agreed to take was to have parish staff members meet.  Therefore, a staff member from each parish is working together on a staff gathering, some time for staff to welcome and begin to know each other.

Eventually, parish leadership teams will meet together.  Both parishes have open staff positions and it might well be possible that some staff positions can be shared by both parishes.  Ideally, the named pastor of both parishes would be included as a part of staff search teams.

However, there is clear direction from archdiocesan leadership that parishes wait to follow centralized instructions from the archdiocese.  I understand that.  However, there are plenty of pastors and parishioners with more experience in bringing parishes together than many archdiocesan leaders.  For example, Fr. Brian agrees with members of our Leisure Club (as I related a couple of bulletins ago) who spoke about their own desire to begin coordinating efforts with the St. Francis’s senior group.

As We Wait

In the meantime, I encourage Incarnation parishioners to read St. Francis’s bulletin as well as our own.  Links can be found on our website and in our weekly Flocknote.  This is a great way to get to know Fr. Brian, staff and parishioners at St. Francis.

When doing so it will be noted that St. Francis is having a series of meetings offering parishioners a chance to consider things like “fears and concerns about the future,” remind themselves of their parish mission and vision and how “sistering” with another parish relates to our continual calling to be missionary disciples.

Based on feedback from pastoral council, staff and parish leadership team, I am not sensing that there are particular parishioner concerns that warrant large meetings.  Most simply want to know who will be appointed pastor!  However, just to be sure, we sent a Flocknote this week asking parishioners to offer questions and feedback about Beacons of Light and us.  Otherwise, keep reading our weekly bulletin/Flocknote for news and information!

Reconvening Mass Time Subcommittee

One final very practical note regarding “sistering” with St. Francis.  I will be asking Incarnation’s  Mass Time Subcommittee to reconvene.  Originally convened two years ago, our outstanding Mass Time Subcommittee helped us to weather well the elimination of two Sunday Masses and some Mass time changes.  I am most grateful to them for their wonderful work!!

Undoubtedly the most monumental change that Incarnation will face related to “sistering” will be the elimination of two or more Mass times.  Wonderfully, our Mass time subcommittee offered several options for a future with only one priest and no associate.  This is one of the first essential challenges that lies before us!

Sincerely and with Love in Christ,

Fr. Pat