BEING AN AREA CATHOLIC COMMUNITY
Brothers and Sisters,
You may have heard from people within our parishes and throughout our Diocese that Bishop Kettler has opted for a model that he is calling “area Catholic Communities” as his solution to the current shortage of priests in our area of the world. This is a new term that, to my knowledge, is not being used by any other diocese in our country – although the basic idea is being used by some other dioceses in the USA. Rather than suppressing/closing parishes our bishop wants to create communities of parishes that work together and share resources with one another. I would like to explain how this will and will not change our parishes specifically.
So, what’s the difference between our current system we have been using of “clustering” multiple parishes under one pastor and the new model given by Bishop Kettler of “area Catholic community” or ACC? Firstly, he envisions multiple parishes served by a number of priests. Most of the Diocese will be see many parishes grouped together and have more than one priest. I have been told by Brenda Kresky, the director of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese, that there may be ACCs of up to ten parishes and three priests rotating between those ten parishes.
Secondly, the bishop wants the parishes within the ACCs to “share resources.” Now, I will admit that this confused me from the beginning, so I asked him directly for clarification. He responded, saying that not every parish needs to have everything: perhaps one parish could offer RCIA for a number of surrounding parishes; let your imagination consider other ways in-which parishes could share resources. The bishop did clarify, however, that money donated to your parish will be used only by your parish – money donated to your parish can only be used by your parish.
For our three parishes, however, the ACC will not really come as a bump in the road – as it might for so many other parishes around the Diocese. Currently, we have three parishes served by one pastor. The ACC plan as of now calls for each of our parishes to be a group of three parishes served by one pastor: no big change so far. The plan that the bishop has decided upon does adjust our current cluster. The bishop’s plan is to transition Saint Gall into an ACC with Saint Mary in Breckenridge and Saint Thomas in Kent; Saint Charles and Saint Olaf are to transition into an ACC with Our Lady of the Runestone in Kensington. Under this plan Saint Gall, Saint Mary, and Saint Thomas will have one pastor, and Saint Charles, Saint Olaf, and OL Runestone will have one pastor. I have begun meeting with Father Leo and Father Peter to make plans for a smooth transition.
God be near,