Some Things New?
I was recently out for dinner and ran into a priest friend of mine. I asked him how he was doing since his parish (for the time being) is slated to be merged with some others. “How is your parish re- acting to All Things New?” I asked. “I think it should be called Some Things New,” he responded, refer- ring to the fact that some parishes (including Holy) will remain stand-alone parishes. I was a bit taken aback by the comment and thought about it for a long time. It is a tad unfair in some respects, but, if we’re honest, he may have a point. Let’s look at it, as Joni Mitchell might say, from both sides now.
“Why does Webster Groves get preferential treatment?”
It began back in August when the first models were presented to all the clergy of the Archdiocese. One of the models, if you remember, kept Holy Redeem- er by itself (Model C). Immediately, complaints were registered. “Why is Holy Redeemer by itself? It is too small.” My response to that is that the other models made Holy Redeemer far too large. We are surrounded by six parishes (Immaculate Concep- tion, St. Michael’s, Cure of Ars, Annunciation, Mary Queen and St. Mary Magdalen) and yet, the other models had us joining with two of the largest of our neighbors (Mary Queen and Mary Magdalen) along with the next largest parish (Annunciation). I under- stand that the parishes in the Holy Cross system wanted to stay together, nevertheless, the other models seemed clumsy and difficult. When the second draft was revealed and Mary Queen be- came a stand-alone (can we think of a different term for this?) parish, some people were even more perturbed. “Webster Groves is getting preferred treatment!” said one website which was against the entire All Things New project. My response to that is that Holy Redeemer would have been welcoming of merging with other parishes, but (and it’s no one’s fault) geography and numbers just didn’t work out.
Perhaps I am a bit defensive when it comes to this subject because it seems that Webster Groves in general and Holy Redeemer in particular, always comes up in the discussion of parishes which will remain as they are. Fr. Gene tells me I take this far too personally. He also may have a point. But I have been wrapping my brain around Mass attendance numbers, school capacity, dot maps for a whole year now, and although I think that we could have easily merged with another parish, none of those plans offered to us were feasible. I think that having our parish remain as its own entity was the best, most logical option.
Business as Usual?
That being said, I think my brother priest may have been on to something. It has to be ALL Things New, not SOME Things New. I think this whole pro- cess has been a bit of a wakeup call for all of the Catholics in the Archdiocese. Archbishop Rozanski was wise and farsighted in doing this project now, while we still have a good number of priests serv- ing, because in about ten years, that will not be the case.
What that means for Holy Redeemer (I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating) is that we cannot go back to business as usual. Back in January, before the new draft model, our Parish Council met trying to reboot itself after Covid and figure out who we are and where we are headed. Although it appears that we will not be merging with anyone else, we are still looking at these vital questions. We are ex- amining our guidelines and attempting to put some- thing in place that will outlast us. (That is the key to life in my humble opinion.) We will be looking at our ministries (which are strong, but can get even bet- ter), our liturgies (same thing), our outreach in faith to our community. We will be attempting to make every aspect of Holy Redeemer stronger and better.
This will take each and every one of us here at Holy to accomplish this task. I would ask that you con- sider your gifts, your time, talent and treasure and help us thrive in the future. So that when someone asks, “Why did Holy get preferential treatment?” we can say, just look at what we have done and built. Just look at where we are headed. That’s why.
It is time to make ALL things new.