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From Father Schilli's Column  July 31, 2022  PART FIVE ALL THINGS NEW – THE DISCIPLE  MAKER INDEX SURVEY RESULTS 

The final sections of the DMI once again explore the quality and extent of the outreach.  The first emphasis is on collaborative efforts. All of these points have already been cited previously in the response.

       Meeting the needs of the poor and marginalized:  Ste. Teresa-St. Bridget parish, Affton Food Pantry, Friends of Honduras, St. Vincent De Paul clientele, and charitable work of Knights of Columbus

       Our work with rural Parish Workers at Christmas, St. Patrick Center, School supplies for Cabrini Academy, Our Lady’s Inn, drives to collect blankets, baby bottle campaign, coat drive, diaper drive, and other service projects

       Our parish has appointed an ambassador from Catholic Charities to foster communication and collaboration

The final section allowed for room of other comments from the Team:

OLP’s roots in the community are deep.  Despite past issues over the years ranging from priest misconduct, differences over capital investments and prior pastoral differences, healing has been able to be accomplished and renewed commitment to parish, neighborhood and the Archdiocese has been restored for many.

Given the small parish area and confusion of boundaries, a great deal of “parish shopping” particularly by new residents has been a reality. These realities have been a challenge to attract new parishioners, we also find a willing spirit of collaboration with neighboring parishes has grown in strength.

The two primary strengths we see in ourselves going forward in All Things New is 1) the giving and generous nature of parishioners in outreach and stewardship and 2) a tradition of lay leadership and volunteerism are clearly woven into the fabric of the parish identity.  These strengths have demonstrated a resole in the past to be innovative in the face of challenge.

To recap, this document was submitted to CLI on June 26, 2022.  This response will be added to the other information:  demographics and financial to propose a set of recommendation in a first draft to be considered by the planning are for consideration and adjustments.  On Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 2023 the Archbishop will approve the final set of recommendations for implementation going forward for a period of three to five years.

Once again, your comments, insights, and questions are welcomed.  Please feel free to approach one of the members of the Leadership Team, one of the deacons or myself.

From Father Schilli's Column  July 24, 2022  PART FOUR ALL THINGS NEW – THE DISCIPLE  MAKER INDEX SURVEY RESULTS 

Current Evangelization Efforts

     Recent efforts in evangelization have been small in scale and outcomes of various programs related to faith formation and spiritual growth.

     Retreat programs like ACTS and the White House Retreats, Man Up reading group, prayer groups, bible study provide opportunities.  Most of these are small scale efforts.

     Totus Tuus has been offered for the past four years during the summer.

     A new youth ministry was established in June 2022.

     Again, efforts in evangelization need to be extended to include those who minimally practice faith to bring about a renewal and resurgence in personal faith leading to a deeper commitment to an active parish life.

Parish Path of Discipleship

     Moderate effort to align the social life of the parish with the call to discipleship needs to be reinvigorated.

     Exploring both customary parish activities as well as developing new strategies to connect parishioners, especially younger families and single adults into the life of the parish.

     Greater emphasis of the importance of the relationship between parish members and actively engaged need to involve deeper awareness of the role of the Gospel and the Church’s evangelization and more connection to the personal prayer life and liturgical life of parishioners.

Assessing the Parish Evangelization Efforts

     There is significant strength already present within the parish and already acknowledged in well-established parish programs.

     Future efforts must be derived from the fruits of the Eucharist, the essential and central activity of parish life, and its relationship to the work of evangelization.

Challenges that Evangelization Presents

     Catholics have not been formed from childhood in the true meaning of and tasks of living and sharing the Gospel and thus feel ill-equipped to carry out this mandate.

     The busyness of life, especially for young families, creates many perceived obstacles to the work of evangelization  and true faith formation.

     Measuring the effectiveness of evangelization efforts is difficult without well-established and objective criteria.

Outreach Through Social Services

     Given the size of the parish, OLP already has very active and strong participation in charitable outreach of many kinds.

     HCA also  collaborates in efforts among it various partner parishes to bring an awareness of needs.

To be continued next week on July 31.  Your comments and questions are welcomed.

 

From Father Schilli's Column  July 17, 2022  PART THREE  ALL THINGS NEW – THE DISCIPLE  MAKER INDEX SURVEY RESULTS

Over the years our parish has become active in many varied works of charity and mercy by reaching out to various agencies, some direct extensions of ministries of the Archdiocese or of local parishes.  Some of the most important of these are: St. Teresa-St Bridge parish, St. Patrick Center, St. Agnes Senior services, St. Frances Cabrini Academy, St. Pius V ministry for elderly, Rural Parish workers, Friends of Honduras, and assistance through St. Vincent De Paul Society.

Other outreaches include Afton Food Pantry, Crestview Senior Living Center.

The most important ministries active in our parish are St. Vincent de Paul, Reach Out Weekend Food, ACTS retreat, Men’s Club, Women’s League, Man Up, Justice Seekers, and Pro Life efforts.

Work of Catholic education through HCA & PSR

THE PARISH CAMPUS

The parish, founded in 1954, still utilizes some of its original buildings:  rectory and school building.

The Church built in 1954 and connected to the school was renovated into a gym and parish meeting rooms following the building of the current church in 1988.

Timely maintenance and repair has been done with some upgrade to HVAC systems including a new school boiler in 2021.

The grounds are well maintained with particular attention paid to the athletic fields.

The church has good handicap access including ample parking.  The school building is more limited in its handicap access and more steps.  Some parking is a bit distant to building access.

A playground installed some ten years ago meets all safety requirements and is well maintained.

BUILDING CAPACITY

Church capacity is cited at 550 persons well above the current collective attendance of 350 per weekend over three Masses.

One drawback to the campus is that there are few large spaces for gathering.  Only the gym and school cafeteria provide room for more than 100 persons.  Parish meeting rooms offer one room which seats 50-75 persons; and two room for fewer than 20.

GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING OUR FUTURE

The greatest challenge to our parish moving forward is declining membership due to demographics factors, particularly our aging population and the lack of engagement of younger families

To address this challenge going forward will require faith formation for parishioners in coming to a new understanding of “how we do Church”.  That is to say that renew emphasis on evangelization and personal invitation to those with minimal engagement in the life of the parish.

THE MOST SUCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PAST TEN YEARS

The creation of Holy Cross Academy provided and strong and vibrant opportunity for full time Catholic Education with a new model of governance unlike most other parishes in the Archdiocese.

Although the model does present continuing challenges and the necessity strong collaboration among the partner parishes and adjustments to meeting both educational and financial needs this model has proved successful because the extended the availability and presence of a Catholic school in the region.

One of the most important outcomes of the development of HCA is the ability of parishioners to learn to think beyond parish boundaries.

To be continued next week – July 24

Your comments and feedback are most welcomed. Please email a Leadership Team Member.

From Father Schilli's Column  July 10, 2022  PART TWO 

ALL THINGS NEW – THE DISCIPLE  MAKER INDEX SURVEY RESULTS

Last week I began sharing with you our results from the DMI and our official parish response.  Over the next several weeks I will complete this report.  In the meantime, the Team and I welcome your feedback and questions.  In the Autumn, parishes will receive a FIRST ROOUGH DRAFT of proposals and recommendations for a new strategic plan. 

THERE ARE MANY OPPORTUNITES FOR GROWTH HERE AT OLP

Both efforts in Evangelization and Adult catechesis are important areas of growth. Inviting others to Mass, equipping parishioners to talk about the faith, share their personal faith stories, confidently talk about faith and answer questions, share the story of Jesus and seek pastoral counseling and spiritual direction are necessary.

There is great need for and potential in reaching out to the age group 36-45 and identify ways to engage them and their families.  This group showed lower frequency of agreement on Church teaching, regular engagement in worship, opportunities for spiritual growth, adult catechesis, financial support to the parish.  Parish involvement all too often is dependent upon the engagement of families in school activities.

Another area of needed engagement is in young adult formation.

In recent years our connection with Kenrick–Glennon Seminary has diminished due to fewer seminarians available.  The parish could do more to reestablish this engagement.

OLP’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE REST OF THE PLANNING AREA

We are aligned into a planning area of 17 parishes in the western part of south St. Louis city (west of Kingshighway) and the eastern part of St. Louis County that includes the Holy Cross Academy partnership.

We affirm the demographic realities already stated for this area:  aging parishioners, fewer families and children, too many parishes with too few clergy to serve them

We need to discover a “new way of being Church” by abandoning the 19th and 20th century parochial models that can no longer sustain our viability

The creation of the Holy Cross Academy partnership has been of great value to us over the past ten years.

During these years, OLP has developed new relationships in various ministries with Annunciation, Seven Holy Founders, St. Michael, and St. John Paul II parishes not limited to the partnership with HCA, but including PSR, scouting, youth ministry, retreat programs and sacramental preparation.

OUR LIVED EXPERIENCE OF PARISH

The level of giving and amount of generosity for our parish size is one of the greatest qualities at OLP.  Even as we have grown smaller, the giving has enabled us to retain a reasonably healthy financial health.

There has remained, from the beginning of the parish, a wide variety of social and economic characteristics with major suburban communities providing their influence and strengths.

Over the years we have been able to adapt and respond to challenges leading to change.  Some examples of parish vision and flexibility are demonstrated in educational and charitable efforts:  e.g., Parish garden, annual golf tournament, and many other outreach programs.

The late Msgr. Forst who built the current church building (1988) incorporated many talents and craftsmanship to create a place and environment of worship that is adaptable and serviceable as well as comfortable.

 

From Father Schilli's Column  July 4, 2022  PART ONE

ALL THINGS NEW – THE DISCIPLE  MAKER INDEX SURVEY RESULTS

Over the next four (4) weeks my bulletin columns will be entirely devoted to reporting to you the results of the parish survey conducted in all parishes in March, 2022.  The Disciple Maker Index (DMI) reflects the responses of more than 450 parishioners of OLP who responded to the survey.  Much of this information will be of no surprise to many of you.  I will be presenting points from the formal response written by the team of Parish Leaders along with the deacons and myself during the month of June.  The full report runs near twelve pages.  During July I will be summarizing the response we submitted to the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) and the Archdiocese.

Some general comments:

Our Catholic population continues to decline. In 2021 the Catholic population in the Archdiocese dipped below 500,000 for the first time since the 1960s.

Although across the Archdiocese the number of Baptisms still outnumber the number of funerals; this is not the case at OLP

As many as 5,000 “leave” the church or no longer engage actively after high school or college.

Mass attendance at OLP pre-COVID stood at an average of more than 700 per weekend, now post-COVID weekly attendance averages 350 per weekend -- less than half from 2019 and show no sign a rebounding.

35% of the priests (74 of us) are 65 or older.  These priests could retire within the next ten years.  By 2026 there will be fewer priests than we have parishes in the Archdiocese.

There are six schools in our planning area.  Of those six, only St. Gabriel school and Holy Cross Academy enjoy enrollment of 50% capacity or more.

Some things the Team discovered about our parish (and Planning Area)

Parish boundaries matter less for those who identify themselves as Catholic.  Those who identify themselves as OLP parishioners:  55% lives within the boundaries, 45% do not.  Worshippers no longer feel constrained by parish boundaries.

The creation of Holy Cross Academy has enabled OLP to successfully provide Catholic Education to its five parishes more economically than when operating as a traditional parochial school.

OLP parishioners report that the parish helps connect individuals with the local Catholic Community. 78% feel both welcomed and “at home”.

The two greatest opportunities for growth for OLP are: 1) personal engagement at Mass and 2) sharing personal witness stories.

Only 38% of respondents agree/strongly agree that their parish equips them to have conversations by growing confidence in the church’s teaching and thus be able to answer others questions about the faith.  These areas are critical to both faith formation and evangelization.

Our strengths as a parish are: nearly 70% agree/or strongly agree with church teaching; value of supporting and educating in the faith- both through full time school and PSR; recognizing God working in our lives, belief in Scripture as the Word of God; exhibiting care for members of the community.

This presentation will continue next week.  The team and I welcome your feedback, responses and questions.  This Autumn, we will receive the FIRST ROUGH DRAFT recommendations for a new strategic plan.