Beacons of Light – Fall 2021
It seems important to clarify the process of Beacons of Light. There seems to be a bit of confusion about what will be revealed this fall, what will take years to decide, what will be decided by the Archdiocese, and what will be our responsibility to decide.
By Thanksgiving new families of parishes will be announced, but will not take effect until July 1, 2022 when the priests move. What will be announced in November are the new groupings of parishes called “Family of Parishes” and the number of priests that will be serving the family. What won’t be announced or decided is parish closures, Mass times or reductions, or the names of the priests serving the family.
Before the family of parishes are decided, the Archdiocese would like to gather as much feedback as possible. A draft of the families of parishes will be released for comment and suggestion on the Archdiocesan website at CatholicAoC.org/beacons. From October 1-20 you will have an opportunity to comment on the draft. Please do not call the office to offer your suggestions; utilize the Archdiocesan website. If you don’t have access to the internet, please ask a child, grandchild, nephew, niece, or fellow parishioner to assist you.
After the new families are finalized and announced in November, the Archdiocese begins the puzzle of priest assignments. These should be decided and communicated in February and take effect July 1, 2022.
Once the Archdiocese decides the families and the priests serving in each family, the local level begins to gear up. It will be our (priests, staff, councils, committees, and laity) responsibility to make the family work. One of the first decisions we will have to make is a Mass schedule for the family.
After this, there will be a process of numerous decisions for long term planning. The guiding question is “what will best form people to become saints?” We shouldn’t settle with the question “What will make the least people upset?” or “What is closest to the previous way things were done?”
There are countless things to discern and prioritizing the discernment is a task in itself. We’ll have to figure out: what does RCIA look like, how do we form our youth, what staff do we need, where do they work, what does pastoral council look like, what buildings do we need, how do we best utilize our deacons, how do we care for the poor and vulnerable, what does Holy Week look like, and many many more.
This is why the Beacons of Light is a multi-year planning process. It will take time for things to get worked out.
In all of this, I’m extremely confident. I’m not confident that it will be easy and painless. I’m not confident that I won’t make mistakes. I’m not confident that people won’t leave the Catholic Church. However I’m confident in God. The Lord has seen His Church through numerous treacherous eras. This is the era into which we were born. We can spend our time pining for the good old days, complaining, or being full of anxiety. Or we can get busy becoming a saint. These days I often think of the words of St. Joan of Arc, a 16 year old peasant girl who lead the French army against the English, “I am not afraid, I was born for this.” You and I were born for this moment. Let’s see what God does through us!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson