Top stories of 2021 include continued perseverance in a pandemic, examination of history, recognition of anniversaries and announcement of a strategic pastoral plan.
Missouri celebrates its bicentennial
The existence of Catholicism in the St. Louis area predated the founding of the state of Missouri by more than 120 years. The Show-Me State celebrated its bicentennial anniversary in August.
At the time of the founding of Missouri in 1821, the great westward expansion was moving at flood tide, starting about a year prior, according to the late Jesuit Father William Barnaby Faherty in his history of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, “Dream by the River.”
Msgr. Michael Witt, associate professor of Church history at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, said the contributions of the Catholic Church to Missouri are enormous, starting from the early days. The Church was involved in issues such as social concerns, education and health care.
https://www.archstl.org/the-catholic-churchs-presence-at-founding-of-missouris-statehood-200-years-ago-has-had-a-longlasting-impact-6690 New strategic plan announced for archdiocese
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski announced a new strategic pastoral plan, which will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel, and identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies.
The effort, called All Things New, is a multi-year process that will impact the archdiocese for the next 75 years. All Catholics will be called upon to pray and offer their feedback about the future of the archdiocese. The archbishop said the effort “will shape the footprint of our efforts in the future in very significant ways. This is something that I believe cannot wait and we must immediately seize the opportunity to radically change our approach as to how we evangelize and reach the people of this archdiocese. To effectively do this, we can leave no stone unturned. We must honestly assess our ministry, our structures our approach and our effectiveness.”
Archdiocese researches involvement in slavery
The archdiocesan Office of Archives and Records has been researching the archdiocese’s involvement in the institution of slavery as part of a project named “Forgive Us Our Trespasses.”
The archdiocese began its initial research in 2018, and it became a formal project by February of 2021. Bishop William DuBourg (who at the time was Bishop of Louisiana and the Two Floridas, with his episcopal seat in St. Louis), Bishop Joseph Rosati, and Archbishop Peter Kenrick, along with an unknown number of clergy, enslaved people.
The archives office has compiled a list of names of those who were enslaved. The number is expected to fluctuate as records and variations in names are further researched, said Eric Fair, director of archives.
The project acknowledges that a wrong was done, said Joyce Jones, program director for racial harmony in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who also serves on an executive committee overseeing the project.
“When you talk about enslavement, there was a period of time in the Catholic Church where our leaders thought of African-Americans as less than human,” Jones said. “There were some racist ideas that were going around. Granted, there were people who were against racism, against slavery, but time after time, you see documentation where archbishops and priests were OK with it. This acknowledges that — for whatever they thought during that time period — it was wrong.”
Archbishop Rozanski celebrates one-year anniversary
Archbishop Rozanski marked his one-year anniversary in St. Louis on Aug. 25. In a video interview with the St. Louis Review, the archbishop said the breadth and depth of the Catholic faithful in the archdiocese has inspired him.
One of his priorities includes evangelizing others. “To reach out to bring the message of the Gospel to others, and to know that that Gospel message is not just for a certain age demographic but it is for all ages — from our young people all the way through to our senior citizens,” he said. “We’re called to proclaim the Gospel.”
See the interview here: https://www.archstl.org/a-witness-to-serving-the-lord-with-gladness-6747
A deep admiration of a carpenter from Nazareth
In declaring the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis called it an opportunity to increase our love for and knowledge of St. Joseph and “to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.”
Many St. Louis Catholics already have a deep relationship with the patron saint of the Universal Church, and explained why they find comfort in their patron saint.
For example, a carpentry, cabinet and remodeling business in Perryville is named Joseph’s Shop after St. Joseph, the carpenter. Owner Bob Schumer named it for his family’s devotion to the saint.
Joseph Simmons of St. Augustine Parish in St. Louis appreciates the saint he refers to as the foster father of Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth.
Priests ordained for archdiocese
Six men were ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 29 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Archbishop Rozanski conferred the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Fathers Charles Archer, Mitchell Baer, Joseph Detwiler, Edward Godefroid, Jonathan Ruzicka and Ryan Truss. It was the archbishop’s first priesthood ordination since he had arrived in St. Louis in 2020.
“In a world still dealing with effects of COVID-19 virus, divisions of so many kinds and lack of the sense of the sacred, it is necessary more than ever to be bold prophets of God’s love in witnessing the divine healing power bestowed by God upon His people,” said Archbishop Rozanski. “As priests, dear brothers, you will forgive the sins of the repentant, counsel those who are lost, anoint those who are in the throes of illness and bring the Eucharist to God’s people as they gather for Mass.”
Extraordinary ministries at parish are built on love
In 2005, just after he was ordained, Deacon Bob Orr had a conversation with Msgr. Norb Ernst, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, about where he could help. The parish pastor suggested that the new deacon organize the parish ministries to avoid duplication. One of the groups was the Needs and Services ministry, which had just formed.
The ministry allows parishioners to pitch in and take care of fellow parishioners needs in many areas.
Carol Murray called the parish’s outreach a great gift. “As a caregiver, there’s so much involved, so many responsibilities. I couldn’t take care of myself if I didn’t have this program,” she said. “For people to open their hearts and to say yes, they’ll be God’s hands and feet, is just beautiful.”
Gratitude reigns in newly renovated area at St. Patrick Center
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit a year ago, the women in the St. Patrick Center’s Women’s Night Program moved to the former Little Sisters of the Poor building with separate bedrooms run by the City of St. Louis. Up until then, the women were housed on the second floor of St. Patrick Center in one large room and slept on cots within close proximity.
“It definitely wasn’t a good environment during COVID times,” said Anthony D’Agostino, chief executive officer of St. Patrick Center.
The federated agency of Catholic Charities of St. Louis applied for funding from the City of St. Louis through a federal program related to COVID-19 assistance, which allowed the facility to be renovated to include individual dorm rooms at St. Patrick Center. Construction ensued from October to March, and women staying at the temporary location were moved back to St. Patrick Center April 15.
Over and over, Sandra Ware described herself as grateful. That’s because she’s gone from homelessness to a spot in the night program. “My prayers were answered to have shelter,” Ware said. “That’s how I got here.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish remembers victims of COVID
Members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Ferguson remembered those who died from COVID at a prayer service in May. At the time, 26 people with direct connections to the parish or school communities, and more than 40 relatives of parishioners or school families, had died from COVID.
Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Father Eric Olsen said the prayer service was important as an outreach of the Church to those who are grieving. “St. Paul says we are amabssadors for Christ,” he said. “If we don’t reach out to the brokenhearted, if we don’t offer comfort to the grieving, who else is God counting on? Christ is counting on us to share His mercy and to share with others to experience His love.”
Rural Parish Clinic offers dental care
The Rural Parish Clinic, a mobile medical clinic providing health care services to uninsured and underinsured people in rural communities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, expanded its services to offer dental care in 2021. Both clinics are supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.
The dental clinic opened in January, seeing clients at Father Dempsey’s Charities; it then expanded services in June to Washington County, based at St. Joachim Parish in Old Mines. The dental clinic operates as a separate department of the Rural Parish Clinic, which was launched in May 2019 and currently provides medical care services at several sites in Washington and Franklin, Jefferson and St. Francois counties.