Father Tirso

"Mutuality is a vision of justice by which the power of God calls us to reconcile ourselves, one to another, in an effort to usher forth our most liberating, creative possibilities and futures. Mutuality signals relational growth and change, and it constitutes an invitation into shaping the future together.”

One of our parishioners shared this quote with me the other day. I thought it appropriate as I offer a brief update on the process of Renew My Church.

As I wrote several weeks ago, our parish has been grouped together with the parishes of St. Henry, St. Timothy, and Blessed Andrew Stepanic Croatian Catholic Mission in the process of Renew My Church. Again, RMC is the endeavor of the Archdiocese to come up with new and creative ways to shape the future of parish communities wherein they will remain active, vibrant, and capable of spreading the Word of God. On several occasions, I have mentioned to people that the forthcoming changes in our future are all meant to help us to learn to be a parish in a whole new way. This is how I personally am looking at the process of Renew My Church.

Of course, the process of envisioning the future must not and will not be the task of just one person here in our parish community or in the parishes with which we have been grouped. It will necessarily require a conversation between several people and opportunities for input from the greater whole of our respective communities. On our local level, Art Blumberg has volunteered to assist me in the process of Renew My Church. But, again, it will not just be the two of us who will be involved. We will soon begin forming a discernment team in which members of the parish will join in the process of the Renew My Church conversations and envisioning the possible future of all our parish communities. This team will then work in close collaboration with other people and committees from the Archdiocesan level in the very same process. Recommendations will then be presented to the Cardinal who will ultimately make the final decision.

The five or so parishioners that will make up our local team must not only be representative of the parish community but also people who will be able to have their finger on the pulse of the parish. We want to make sure that all parishioner voices are heard. In essence, it will be that sense of mutuality—or collaboration, if you prefer—that will the process.

As we look to the future, the one thing that is most certain is that change will be in the air. We may not like change but changes are inevitable and unavoidable. Yet, change does not necessarily have to mean things will be bad nor should we approach change in a negative sort of way. While they are happening, changes can be unpleasant. But, if we remain open to the grace of God, we will eventually see that with change come new and endless possibilities that we may never have been able to imagine if we stayed in one place. In order for this to happen, we need to envision things together which we will do to the best of our ability.

With that in mind, I share with you a little bit of a timeline of events in regards to Renew My Church:

Date Event Details
Easter 2019 RMC 101 Informational meeting—all parishioners will be invited TBD
May 2019 SMM Team Members will be selected June 1, 2019 Teams gather for prayer and initial conversation with the Cardinal  
June 22, 2019 Teams gather for a retreat to begin the process with prayer TBD
July 17 or 23, 2019 Teams gather for a scenario co-creation meeting TBD
September — November 2019 Renew My Church conversations begin in earnest TBD
December 2019 —January 2020 Recommendations presented to the Cardinal for review and a final decision  
February — June 2020 Parishes are prepared for whatever new configuration that will be forthcoming  
July 2020 New configuration of parishes is implemented  

In the meantime, let us all pray that God’s grace will keep our eyes fixed on the truth that, in the end, we will be a stronger and more vibrant Catholic Church here in West Rogers Park.

Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr.

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