Towards Apostolic Mission
A very Happy Solemnity of the Assumption to each of you. I pray that the Assumption of Mary instills a deep hope in the Lord and trust in God. As mentioned in last week’s bulletin, this Sunday evening is our Marian procession through Botkins. We will meet inside Immaculate Conception at 8pm for Evening Prayer and the procession begins on the north side of the church around 8:30pm.
I want to provide an update about the Beacons of Light, however the most important aspect of it isn’t the “what,” but the “why?” I know people are curious about the timeline or the imminent changes, but we can’t forget the reason for this process. Ultimately the goal is to better proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our parishes exist so that people may come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ in His Church. I would guess that around 18,000 people live within our parish boundaries. Only about 1,300 of them are at Mass on a given Sunday. The goal of this process is to reevaluate our parishes, ministries, and resources so that we can better draw people into the Church. Our Catholic Church has struggled to confront the challenges of our modern era, hopefully this process enables us to engage our communities in a new radical way.
Our world is in a state of change and I think all of us realize this in some way, shape, or form. If you are interested in a small book with a profound analysis of our cultural change and a roadmap for the Church to engage it, please contact the office. The book is entitled From Christendom to Apostolic Mission. Our staff is currently reading it and I’m more than happy to offer it to any interested parishioner. It is an incredibly profound book that provides a hopeful roadmap for the Church.
I imagine that you are also curious about the details of the Beacons of Light process. This is the multi-year pastoral planning process for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The goal is to plan for the next 100 years of the Archdiocese and to especially focus on the next 10 years. The basic question is, “what do we need to do to provide stability and dynamic ministry in the next 10 years of the Archdiocese?”
The first step is to look at our parish structure and the current pastoral regions. Currently there are 109 pastors in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Many of the pastors are serving past retirement age and many will be able to retire in the coming 10 years. We need to be at a place where we have 60 pastors in 5-10 years. This means that the current pastoral regions are being re-evaluated and re-grouped into “Families of Parishes.” These families will be told how many priests will be assigned to serve. The local communities, with guidance from the Archdiocese and consultants, will decide how to best serve the people entrusted to them.
In the immediate future, this means we will need to be prepared for change. At the end of September, all the priests of the Archdiocese will be shown the latest draft model/groupings of families of parishes. From October 1st – 20th everyone in the Archdiocese will be able to comment and provide insights about the proposed families of parishes. These new groupings have already gone through multiple drafts. Your feedback will be taken into consideration. Hopefully in November, the new family groupings will be announced and in the winter pastors will be assigned. The new pastors and parishes will have the first half of 2022 to prepare for changes in priestly assignments. The priests will take on the new roles on July 1, 2022.
My best guess is that there is a 95% chance that our four parish region will change. I doubt that our parishes will be split apart, but it could happen. More than likely, we will be combined with another parish or parishes. I know that this sounds daunting and challenging. When combining parishes and regions, pastors will have to move, even if they don’t want to. Unfortunately at this point we don’t know what will happen. All will be revealed in due time.
In the midst of change, it is important to remember Jesus Christ. I am so proud of our parishes and how far we’ve come in the past few decades and years. You have shown that change doesn’t necessarily mean the end of all things that are good. Of course there are challenges and difficulties, but Christ is still present. At the end of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus says, “behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson