Now that the dust is mostly settled from last weekend’s announcements, I want to try to unpack them a little bit. First, just in case there are any rumors out there to the contrary: I did not ask to leave Saint Richard. All the priests and deacons were asked to rank their top three preferences, and this place was definitely my number one. However – and this says a lot about this parish – the grouping of Saint Richard and Saint Catherine was the most requested grouping in the entire diocese by a wide margin. Returning to my previous assignment was my second choice; and I had picked a random parish in the South Hills as my third (just to be closer to my parents). I had also expressed an interest in doing educational ministry – I didn’t think that would get me three colleges, but I like a good challenge. But enough about me.
Some folks noticed a line in the Bishop’s letter that caused some unrest: “At this time, no buildings will close.” They read that to indicate that in the future, one of the two church buildings in this grouping might close. Frankly, that’s pessimistic and unreasonable. Given the population of the two parishes, the demographics of the area, the average weekly Mass attendance, and the seating capacities of both buildings, I can’t see a situation where buildings close. Now, there are groupings within the diocese that will be closing buildings, and in some cases, soon. I think the Bishop was speaking more to those parishes than to others.
Some have asked what we mean by “interim” Mass schedules. Father Steve and I will be meeting with Father Bob and Father Chris to try to figure that out. Remember, this group can only have 6 Sunday Masses, including any Saturday vigils. We’ve been ignoring canon law for too long in this matter. The four of us are going to look at what makes the most sense for everyone and try to schedule accordingly. We like to think we’re smart guys, and we have a lot of empirical data and personal observations to work with, but we are human and do make mistakes. So the schedules will be interim – if they don’t work, they’ll be changed.
Finally, someone asked me, “Why does the bishop hate our parish?” The question was obviously in jest, but nevertheless, let me make it clear: he absolutely does not. He thinks very highly of this parish and how vibrant and dynamic it is. Yes, he’s asking us to face another transition after just having to go through one last summer, but everyone’s facing transition at this point. Furthermore, I think it says something about the confidence he has in the Saint Richard family and the resiliency you’ve shown him that he would ask us to do it again.
I think those were the three biggest things I’ve heard so far, so I hope that helped answer some questions and put you at ease. There’ll be plenty more updates, I’m sure.