And the Catholic Church scene in Calumet City…
Our Lady of Knock and St. Victor churches have been in meetings for two or so years. We (I’ve been involved in the process all along, hence the “we”) have merged to a degree — some shared administration, one parish council, shared religious and social activities, shared facilities — and we stated to the Archdiocese of Chicago that we would like to be one parish while both church sites remain open.
The Archdiocese liked our plan, but said that their plan was to have all three Catholic parishes in Cal City, the third being St. Andrew, to be involved.
The entire Archdiocese is involved in a rejuvenation process called Renew My Church. All parishes were given groupings and told to meet with the parishes in their grouping to devise plans to merge, consolidate, coordinate and, in general, better utilize the resources of the Archdiocese.
This restructuring is needed due to the realities of the times. More priests are dying and retiring than are being ordained, fewer people attend and therefore support churches, buildings are aging and in need of maintenance.
In the present reality, there are simply too many parishes in the Archdiocese.
Hence, Renew My Church.
A small group from each of the three parishes has been meeting to devise a plan. Each parish has held a town hall type meeting to explain what’s going on and to gather input from its parishioners. And on March 20, there will be a joint meeting to discuss the issues involved in a closer interaction of the three churches.
The Archdiocese is asking for a plan by the beginning of May.
Not all the groupings in the Archdiocese are meeting at the same time. A small pilot group has already done its work and the Calumet City grouping is in the first wave beyond that.
Several of the pilot groupings have decided to merge as one parish, but keep all the worship sites open.
The grouping closest to Cal City that has formed its plan is the group consisting of St. Ailbe, St. Felicitas and St. Joachim on the Southside. They have decided to become one parish and meet at St. Ailbe while the other two buildings will close sometime before July 2019.
My guess about the Cal City groupings is that there will be a merging of the administration of the churches with each church building kept open. Especially since none of the three Cal City parishes requires a subsidy to operate. Yes, all three parishes are solvent.
As with any change, there are those who fight against and those who are angry or uncomfortable, but as we all should know, change is inevitable.
It may be hard, but I can see good things to come.
Thanks for reading.