Renew My Church
Renew My Church Retreat Reflection
As a member of the Renew My Church grouping feedback team for our parish, I recently participated in a virtual retreat. Dr. Terry Nelson Johnson shared insightful stories and offered his reflections about the correlation between the Paschal mysteries and the Renew My Church process. He took us through the four days of the passion, the mystery of our faith, where we were able to see the plan for our salvation that is revealed to us by God.
Dr. Nelson Johnson talked about the four events that make up the passion of Christ-His suffering and crucifixion, His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. He illustrated a direct correlation to the journey through Renew My Church and the individual life-long journey that we personally travel everyday. In addition to relating his stories to Renew My Church, I saw the correlation between the Paschal mystery and my personal journey throughout my life, especially my journey throughout this Lenten season.
Starting with Holy Thursday, Dr. Nelson Johnson pointed out that God is eager and desires to feed and nourish us on our journey through life. Through the Eucharist given to us on Holy Thursday, we are given grace, as strength, nourishment and food to sustain us. Dr. Nelson Johnson also reminds us that when we pray “Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts…”, we are not just referring to the food we are about to eat, but to all the gifts God has given us. In my own personal reflection I realized how blessed I am because God has given me so many gifts. He has given me the gift of life, the gift of love, the gift family, and most importantly the gift of His Son, for which I am truly grateful.
On Good Friday, through the Stations of the Cross, in the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus, we are reminded of our own mortality. Dr. Nelson Johnson says that this is not about our suffering and last breaths but about surrendering and letting go. In many ways we all carry our own crosses and suffer as we struggle with everyday life challenges, but we must trust in God and respond to His call. On Good Friday, dying is holy and “GOOD”—it is the way to get to Easter.
Holy Saturday is what Dr. Nelson Johnson calls the “in between” day. We need to be reminded of who we are and where we are on our Paschal journey, and our journey through life. This journey is the path that leads us to Easter. We need to be patient and hopeful, as we anxiously wait, because God IS coming. Holy Saturday is not an easy day of the Paschal mystery but it leads us to Easter.
In the past, I have often found Lent to be full of sadness and depressing, but now I see the Lenten journey and the Renew My Church process as a path to Easter Sunday. Easter is an expression of our journey between God, Jesus, His people and ourselves. Just as Spring brings new growth and new life, so does Easter. We are all given the opportunity to welcome the newly resurrected Christ into our lives. Easter Sunday is the day that new life arrives, for the suffering of Jesus leads us to the joy in the tomb. – to the risen Christ, who brings us a new beginning of peace and hope.
Letter from the Pastors
Over the past several weeks, the Renew My Church teams from the six parishes in our grouping have been meeting. Our grouping, as you may recall, consists of the following parishes: Mary, Seat of Wisdom (Park Ridge), Saint Paul of the Cross (Park Ridge), Saint Juliana (Chicago), Our Lady of Hope (Rosemont), Our Lady of Ransom (Niles), and Immaculate Conception (Chicago).
Having reached the halfway point of the Discernment and Decision phase of Renew My Church, the teams have received three different structural scenarios involving potential inter-parish changes. Today we are sharing those scenarios with you.
It is important to realize that there is no scenario that would close any of the six church buildings. What is being considered are other structural changes that may be necessary for the future health and stability of the Catholic Church in our area. In crafting the scenarios, the Archdiocese has two benchmarks that determine where changes may be necessary: An average weekend Mass attendance of 800, and yearly non-rental income of 750k+. Since not all parishes in our grouping meet those benchmarks, new structures must be considered. The three scenarios are:
Scenario 1: Our Lady of Hope becomes a second worship site of Mary, Seat of Wisdom or Our Lady of Ransom.
In this scenario, two current parishes fully unite as one parish and organization structure, i.e., one pastor, one pastoral team, one budget, and one set of financial accounts. The result of this scenario would be one parish with two worship sites.
Scenario 2: Our Lady of Hope becomes a mission of Mary, Seat of Wisdom or Our Lady of Ransom.
One parish becomes a mission of the other, i.e., sharing the same pastor and planning/budgeting together, but the mission retains separate organizational identity and separate financial accounts. A mission does not provide the range of ministries that a parish does, but rather focuses on specific populations or a specialized set of ministries. The result of this scenario would be one parish responsible for one mission.
Scenario 3: Our Lady of Hope remains a full parish with its own pastor.
All six parishes would retain their current structures. The Archdiocese has said, given that Our Lady of Hope does not meet the benchmarks, a strong rationale would be needed for this scenario to be considered.
In the coming weeks, the members of the three parishes involved in these scenarios will have the opportunity to offer feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of each scenario. That information will be used to compile a feedback document that will be presented to Cardinal Cupich and the Renew My Church committee. Based on that feedback, local demographic trends, and future availability of pastors, they will decide which scenario will be used moving forward. That scenario will take effect on July 1, 2021.
As the pastors of the O’Hare Neighborhood Grouping, we invite all our parishioners to pray for one another, opening our hearts to how the Lord is inviting us to make disciples, build communities, and inspire witness.
In Christ we are,
Rev. Derek Ho, Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish
Rev. Britto Berchmans, Saint Paul of the Cross Parish
Rev. James Wallace, Saint Juliana Parish
Rev. Wojciech Oleksy, Our Lady of Hope Parish
Rev. Matthew R. Bozovsky, Our Lady of Ransom Parish
Rev. Matthew Heinrich, Immaculate Conception Parish
Our parish grouping and next step
The "Discernment and Decisions" phase of Renew My Church is beginning this week in our area. We are called the "O'Hare Neighborhood" grouping and the six parishes are: Saint Juliana, Immaculate Conception, Saint Paul of the Cross, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Our Lady of Ransom, and Our Lady of Hope. A group of five parishioners from each parish, the six pastors, and representatives for the Archdiocese will begin meeting from now until early April. Please check here for regular updates on our meetings.
April 4, 2021
The writing team is currently working on synthesizing our group’s thoughts on the three potential structural scenarios. Soon all six parishes will work on formalizing their parish renewal assessments, including discussing ways we can best work together in the future. Please keep us all in your prayers during this process!
March 9, 2021
This week all members of our O’Hare Neighborhood grouping met on Zoom to discuss our parish renewal assessments, in both intra- and interparish break-out teams. With members of other parishes, we discussed possible opportunities for collaboration in the future. The writing team meets next week to talk about putting together the feedback summary, and our entire group meets again in two weeks.
February 16, 2021
We had our second Renew My Church meeting Tuesday, February 9 with our “O’Hare Neighborhood” group over Zoom. Over the next few weeks, the team representing Saint Juliana (Father James, Father Emanuel, Marie Dombai, Julie Hammerle, Diane Holmen, and Cathie Scotkovsky) will spend time completing our parish assessment—taking time to reflect on our parish’s culture and activity. Feel free to reach out to any of those individuals for more detailed updates.
January 27, 2021
We had our first Renew My Church meeting Tuesday, January 26 with our group--Immaculate Conception, Saint Paul of the Cross, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Our Lady of Ransom, and Our Lady of Hope. We met over Zoom for about two hours and spent some time getting to know one another while learning about the data-driven benchmarks to consider as we proceed with our discussions. The team representing Saint Juliana is Father James, Father Emanuel, Marie Dombai, Julie Hammerle, Diane Holmen, and Cathie Scotkovsky. Feel free to reach out to any of those individuals for more detailed updates. Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 9.
For more information on Renew My Church, please visit the Archdiocese's website.
Renew my church article on Chicago Catholic.