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Valerie Dowdy, right, and Linda Mooney Nash prayed during Mass on Pentecost Sunday May 28 at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Church in St. Louis. "We get new hands, new brothers and sisters, new people to serve," Dowdy, a  Sts. Teresa and Bridget parishioner for about 25 years, said regarding the All Things New pastoral planning initiative. "I consider it a win all around."
Valerie Dowdy, right, and Linda Mooney Nash prayed during Mass on Pentecost Sunday May 28 at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Church in St. Louis. "We get new hands, new brothers and sisters, new people to serve," Dowdy, a Sts. Teresa and Bridget parishioner for about 25 years, said regarding the All Things New pastoral planning initiative. "I consider it a win all around."
Photo Credit: Trenton Almgren-Davis

Catholics share their reactions to All Things New announcement

At Masses at parishes across the archdiocese, pastors read a letter announcing changes for that parish


 

More All Things New information

The All Things New website has more information on vicariates, parishes and configurations and more information. Visit https://allthingsnew.archstl.org/

More coverage from the St. Louis Review


 

Parishioners of Sts. Teresa and Bridget Parish sang and prayed together, calling on the Holy Spirit as they learned about the future of their parish as part of All Things New.

Many who attended the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Pentecost Sunday wore red, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, who descended upon the disciples as depicted in the day’s Gospel reading.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,

‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:19-23).

Father Scott Jones talked with Edna Hester before Mass on Pentecost Sunday May 28 at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Church in St. Louis. Father Jones will be the episcopal vicar of the Northern Vicarate effective July 1.
Photo Credit: Trenton Almgren-Davis
At the end of Mass, pastor Father Scott Jones read the announcement that Sts. Teresa and Bridget, located in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood of north St. Louis, will join Most Holy Trinity and St. Nicholas parishes to form a new parish, yet to be named.

Pentecost Sunday poses an important question: What is the Church? And what does the word Church mean in a Catholic sense? Father Jones asked in his homily.

“For those of us who are disciples of Jesus,” he said, “the Church is a body of believers, united together in the bonds of love with the Holy Spirit as the guiding force.”

No parish is going to be the same after today, he said. The changes that occur through All Things New will affect everyone in the archdiocese. Ultimately, the health of the Church relies on its people and not the physical place of worship.

“When we leave this building on Sundays after Mass, where is the Church? It’s wherever we go,” Father Jones said.

Dee White has been a parishioner for more than 30 years, first as a member of St. Teresa of Avila, which merged with St. Bridget of Erin in 2003 to form Sts. Teresa and Bridget. Having experienced a merger before, she said her faith “is not based on where I worship; it’s based on the people I worship with. When you are able to feel the love and the Spirit, then that’s the place where you know you need to be.”

In early draft models, the new parish configuration included St. Matthew Parish; but in the final announcement, St. Matthew was moved into another grouping of parishes in the area. White, who was designated a key parish leader for the All Things New process, said that was the only detail that surprised her about the announcement.

Pam White, also a key parish leader at Sts. Teresa and Bridget, said she will miss her pastor, Father Jones, who has been reassigned as episcopal vicar for the Northern Vicariate. Father Mitch Doyen has been named pastor of the new parish, and Father Art Cavitt has been named a part-time senior associate. It will be the first time since the founding of Sts. Teresa and Bridget that the parish will have more than one priest serving there.

She sees the changes as an opportunity to create a new and vibrant parish family.

“We have to get away from the idea of thinking that new people are coming into our family,” Pam White said. “It’s an entirely new family.”


Faith “is not based on where I worship; it’s based on the people I worship with. When you are able to feel the love and the Spirit, then that’s the place where you know you need to be.

DEE WHITE, PARISHIONER AT STS. TERESA AND BRIDGET PARISH


Pam White of Sts. Teresa and Bridget reacted to Father Scott Jones as he addressed the parish regarding the All Things New pastoral planning initiative on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Church in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Trenton Almgren-Davis
At Immaculate Conception Parish in Union, pastor Father Joseph Post announced that the parish will share a pastor with St. Joseph in Neier and St. Clare in St. Clair. Father Post will be moving from Union to become the pastor at St. Paul in St. Paul and St. Joseph in Josephville.

Andy and Karen Guidry, parishioners at Immaculate Conception for the past five years, knew that changes would be coming. The hardest part, they said, will be losing their beloved pastor.

Andy Guidry attends daily Mass and enjoys helping train new altar servers. He said he is willing to help train servers at the other parishes if needed.

The Guidrys experienced a similar restructuring when they lived in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. “It’s understandable,” Andy Guidry said. All Things New “makes sense with the number of priests that we’re going to have over time and won’t be replaced with new priests. So you have to do something.”

Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph and St. Clare will share two priests: Father Peter Blake, who has been assigned pastor; and Father Eric Kunz, who will become a senior associate pastor. Parishioners already have questions about how the Mass schedules will change; those discussions will happen in the coming months. The Guidrys said they will be looking forward to helping their new priests as much as they can.

Father Post said he’s going to miss the people the most. “There are so many people who give generously of their time out here,” he said. “There’s a strong faith commitment, and I love the country life. This parish is like a Swiss Army knife: there are a lot of opportunities and aspects to it.”

At St. John the Baptist Parish in south St. Louis, parishioners learned that their parish, along with nearby Immaculate Heart of Mary, will be subsumed into St. Stephen Protomartyr. Father Aaron Nord, formerly pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, will become pastor of St. Stephen, and Msgr. Vince Bommarito will serve as senior associate pastor.

Michelle Boehne has been a parishioner at St. John the Baptist for 44 years; she also taught at the grade school for 23 years before it closed. She was disappointed to learn that her parish will close, but she was already prepared to work together with the communities of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Stephen in some form, she said.

The three parish communities had gathered a few times to start getting to know each other, including attending Sunday Mass together at each parish. At St. John the Baptist, Boehne has also experienced welcoming parishioners from closed parishes, including the former Holy Family and Resurrection parishes.

“It’s not the end of the world that the parish is closing, and you know that where you’re going there are more good people,” she said. “The center of our Christian faith is Jesus Christ and the Eucharist, and helping each other to get salvation. That’s what it’s all about. We all realize that, and it seems to me that we are all on board for all of that.”

Boehne volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and is thinking about the logistics of serving a larger territory, among other parish life questions. She knows that it will take time — and commitment — to build relationships with her new fellow parishioners, but trusts that it will happen, as she’s experienced before.

“Shared experiences, over time, are what make relationships and communities strong,” she said.

The center of our Christian faith is Jesus Christ and the Eucharist, and helping each other to get salvation. That’s what it’s all about... Shared experiences, over time, are what make relationships and communities strong.

Michelle Boehne, parishioner at St. John the Baptist

In the southwest reaches of the archdiocese, St. James Parish in Potosi pastor Father Rodger Fleming announced that the parish will share a pastor and associate pastor with St. Joachim in Old Mines. St. Joachim pastor Father Anthony Dattilo will be pastor of both parishes. Father Fleming will become pastor of St. Rose of Lima in De Soto and St. Joseph in Bonne Terre.

Faye Jarvis converted to Catholicism 45 years ago and has been a member of St. James Parish ever since. She said Father Fleming has done a lot for the parish, and she hates losing him.

“It’s going to be a big change for everyone. And we’ve lost priests before that we loved a lot, and it’s always hard, but we’ve always stayed right here with our parish,” she said. “And that’s what we’ll do this time.”

She and her husband have been praying the All Things New prayer daily since receiving it. While she is glad that her parish will remain open, she’s eager to learn about any changes to the Mass schedule, among other things. She and her husband are daily Mass-goers, and they enjoy the parish’s practice of praying the Rosary together after daily Mass and hope it will be able to continue.

And although she doesn’t know the parishioners of St. Joachim much yet, she’s hoping that sharing priests might open opportunities for collaboration. “My husband and I were talking about how this might be good, that with sharing a priest, maybe we can get together and communicate a little more,” she said.

It’s going to be a big change for everyone. And we’ve lost priests before that we loved a lot, and it’s always hard, but we’ve always stayed right here with our parish and that’s what we’ll do this time

Faye Jarvis, parishioner at St. James in Potosi

At St. Norbert Parish in Florissant, parishioners learned that they will join with St. Angela Merici in Florissant and Holy Name of Jesus in Bissell Hills to form a new parish yet to be named.

The new parish will include Father Peter Faimega as pastor, Msgr. Matthew Mitas as senior associate pastor and Father Samuel Inameti as associate pastor.

Deacon Bill Twellman, a longtime pastoral associate and director of religious education at St. Norbert, said some of the questions he’s already received include: Which buildings are staying open? What’s going to happen to the school? And, when will Masses be celebrated?

“I told them, this is not the end by any means,” he said. “There are no winners or losers — we are all in this together. We have to put boots on the ground and work together.”

There are no winners or losers — we are all in this together. We have to put boots on the ground and work together.

Deacon Bill Twellman, pastoral associate at St. Norbert Parish

Father Scott Jones gave the homily and talked about the All Things New strategic pastoral planning initiative to parishioners of Sts. Teresa and Bridget May 28.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis

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