Over the past few months I assured you that when information about the future of our parish became available, I would inform you. I have more information.
During a 48-hour layover here in Akron, I was called to meet with Bishop Lennon. We had an open and honest discussion regarding the establishing of a parish at St. Mary Church and School; its future direction as it will serve those in its neighborhood; some challenges and limitations I possess, and the best interests of you, the good people of St. Bernard-St. Mary Parish, as we face another transition. The bishop expressed his gratitude for what we have accomplished over these years here in Akron and his confidence in my pastoral leadership.
With that we both agreed that effective July 16, 2012; I would serve as pastor of St. Mary Parish and its St. Mary School while at the same time serve as pastor of St. Bernard Parish and its ministries.
The Bishop is aware that I am making this announcement to you at this time because 1) we are both aware you have been waiting this news for some time, and 2) because I will be away from the parish this week when it will be announced in the media and I preferred that you hear it from me first, as soon as I learned of it.
I realize this long-awaited news will come as a disappointment to some, and a relief to others. My hope is to be able to pastor those who never came to the new (now ending) St. Bernard-St. Mary Parish. There is still great potential to work together to provide for the pastoral and sacramental care of the Catholics in the downtown and southtown areas of Akron, evangelize and welcome others, and serve those in these distinct neighborhoods.
Like other parishes in a similar situation as ours, the naming of a pastor will help many discern whether to stay where they are or return to a re-opened parish. Because we are not alone, the Jesuit Retreat House is sponsoring a discernment workshop for people making parish membership decisions. There are two workshops being offered in the near future as shown below. If you think a process like this would be helpful, please call and register to reserve a seat. There is no charge; a freewill offering may be donated.
WHETHER to REMAIN or REBUILD
Saturday, July 7th from 9:00 am – 11:00 am, or
Saturday, July 14th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Martha Campbell, a licensed psychologist, and Director of Lay Leadership Programs at Jesuit Retreat House in Parma.
Sr. Felicia Petruziello, CSJ, a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and staff member at the Women’s Outrach Center of River’s Edge.
Registration by Phone at: 440-884-9300 ext.10, or
Online at: www.jrh-cleveland.org
Jesuit Retreat House, 5629 State Road, Parma, Ohio
These facilitators have assisted parishioners at Blessed Trinity Parish in Cleveland, and the response was very positive. I have also asked Fr. Norm Douglas to consider facilitating a workshop for us, possibly later in July. He is willing to assist us once we can find a date that would work. I want to be sure people are free and supported in their decision, whatever is decided.
Another aspect of our situation of two established parishes with one pastor (and that is to say, one priest) will be the formulation of a new Mass Schedule. This will be part of my discerning process these next few weeks, now that I know where I’ll be remaining and rebuilding. We will need to adjust to new weekend and daily Mass times to incorporate St. Mary. Priests are few and masses for the few can be costly.
As in the case of other re-opening churches and parishes, it is up to the pastor to determine when Masses will begin. I can say that my preference would be sometime in early August before the school session begins – so, that leaves August 5, 12, or 19. And, it gives me time to coordinate a new Mass Schedule.
Once again I am grateful to Deacon Ray DiMascio, who will serve as deacon at St. Bernard. And, of course, to Fr. Norm Douglas of Heart to Heart Ministries, who has been extremely helpful over the years when his schedule permits. I’m confident we will be discussing together some aspects of ministry at the new St. Mary Parish and School.
St. Bernard-St. Mary School will be returned and renamed St. Mary School. How St. Bernard Parish may possibly assist now that parishioners are aware of its outreach to Akron children and families will be a future discussion, I hope.
The furnishings that were removed from St. Mary church two years ago have been returned. We yet need to return the furnishings from St. Bernard’s. The Diocesan Facilities Management Office will be cleaning the church building in preparation for its re-opening.
There will be no official closing or opening ceremonies as was the case two years ago. The transition will be canonical paperwork. The only official ceremony to take place at this time is my installation as pastor. That will occur sometime in August once the Bishop and I can coordinate our calendars, possibly the same weekend we begin having a weekend Mass at St. Mary.
Well I hope you have a good week. It is with some sadness that I am not with you as we mark the 2nd and Last Anniversary of St. Bernard-St. Mary Parish on July 4th. It’s been a blessed two years with you!
I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July celebration. Thank God for Freedom and those who defend our religious liberty. Peace, Fr. Dan