This week I’d like to take a look at what the 2020 Plan means for St. Mary’s Visitation Parish. In the 2020 Plan, St. Mary’s will be clustered with St. Joseph’s Parish in Wauwatosa. The plan, furthermore, calls for one priest to be shared between the two parishes. This will be a significant change for St. Mary’s, as up until 2009, St. Mary’s was ministered to by two full-time priests. Within the next two – five years, in all likelihood, St. Mary’s will be ministered to by one half-time priest, the other part of his ministry being shared with St. Joseph’s. This will obviously result in some changes and shifting of priestly ministry here at St. Mary’s which I will explore briefly in next weekend’s article, but suffice it to say this is a change that will happen and needs to be prepared for and, hopefully, accepted with grace, openness, courage and trust.
I want to reiterate again, that this sharing of one priest between St. Mary’s Visitation and St. Joseph’s does NOT mean that the parishes will merge to become one parish – they will continue to be two parishes. However, it does mean that the doors will be opened for a mutual sharing in the mission of the Church, working together for a shared goal. The main change that will face us initially is simply the shared nature of having one priest ministering at both parishes, what else may unfold after that will be guided by the Holy Spirit, the Archdiocese and our respective parish staffs, trustees and Pastoral Councils.
This may be a good time to speak about the Pastoral Council since their role in the unfolding of the 2020 Plan and the Archdiocesan Synod implementation will be key. You may recall that for a number of years each parish had what was known as a Parish Council. A couple of years ago, the Archbishop asked that parishes transition Parish Councils into Pastoral Councils. The resulting change means that a Pastoral Council is charged with helping the pastor / administrator of the parish to identify goals and to vision for the future of the parish. The Pastoral Council serves as an advisory group to the pastor / administrator and, obviously, the 2020 Plan will call for the advice and wisdom of the Pastoral Council as we move through this time of transition. The current Pastoral Council is headed by Mr. Howard Pryor, Chair, and also includes Mr. Jim Carrig, Mr. Jim Olson, Mrs. Ann Rauh, Mrs. Jean Kelly, Mr. David Urbanski, Mr. Joe Puchner, and Mrs. Liz Pesci. The ex officio members are myself and our two parish trustees, Mr. Ignatius Smetek and Mr. Gordon Giampietro. Minutes from the Pastoral Council are available at the Rectory for anyone who would be interested. This is also a good time to thank them for their continued service, wisdom and dedication. They will be a key component of the unfolding of the 2020 Plan for St. Mary’s.
While moving into a new model of parish collaboration, it is good to keep in mind that while, up to this point, St. Mary’s Visitation and St. Joseph’s have been neighbors, the new 2020 Plan calls for us to be even more than neighbors or even friends, but to truly be siblings, sharing a common bond which is not based on blood, but on something far more important and enduring, the bond of our mutual Catholic Faith.