Dear Parish Family Member,
thank you again for your prayers and feedback at various times during the long journey that led up to the decision about future use of parish facilities. After years of prayer, research, and discussion, we have decided that of the three options on the Breton Group survey, the best option to strengthen parish unity and outreach is Option #1: to totally merge into one parish worship space at Mount St. Joseph Church, and to pursue the sale of St. Mary Church. [While the diocese will be managing the sale of the church, proceeds of the sale would go to the parish if/when the church is sold.] We hope that once it is sold, the building will provide service to the community to the degree that is possible. Bishop Hurley encourages us to explore possibly building a school chapel at our St. Mary School. By the way, thanks to the generosity and hard work of many people, our school has been self-funded for the last 2 years!
We are grateful to the Breton Group and the diocese for leading the survey process. We realize it was not a perfect process, and that many were dissatisfied with the information provided on the survey. In the end, the survey was adequate to gather parish feedback. We realize that many desire to have a Catholic Church located in Alma; however, we will explore possibly building a school chapel in Alma, for weekday Masses, funerals, etc.
In discerning this decision, parish leaders considered the 2015 parish survey and written comments, verbal comments made at the 2017 listening sessions, the 2018 Breton Group survey results, and other research. A majority of our Pastoral and Finance Councils members recommended to me to choose Option #1. After much prayer, I believe this option will best strengthen our ability to achieve God’s Vision for our parish: to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and voice in our community. To quote a parish family member, “Being a dynamic living church should be our focus. Serving the poor and loving one another is our job.”
I invite our parish family to reflect on what the Church is: the Body of Christ. I invite us to reflect on what the Mass is: the most powerful way we can grow in unity, and thus be strengthened for outreach. We encounter Jesus in each other, in the priest, in the Word, and most fully in the Eucharist, so that others may encounter Jesus in us. Finally, reflecting on the central truth of our faith, the Dying and Rising of Jesus, gives us hope that as we go through this process of dying and change, God’s future for us beyond what we “ask for or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
I realize that many parish family members are experiencing a sense of loss, mourning, and possibly discouragement. I invite us to pray for AND to reach out to those who are mourning. Pray for unity AND strive to build unity by fellowship with parish family members. To strengthen unity, Sunday Masses were combined into one, and fellowship opportunities will be offered after Mass with meals, speakers, etc. Please invite parish family members to upcoming events, especially our Holy Week Parish Mission April 14-17! God will strengthen our unity not for our own sake, but for the sake of strengthening our outreach to His beloved poor and to those who do not know the “peace beyond understanding” that only Jesus gives. God loves you, I love you, I pray for you, please pray for me,
Fr. Nate Harburg