Father Tirso

This coming Tuesday will be the last session for the Grouping Feedback and Discernment Team (GFDT) that is a part of the Renew My Church process. I again ask for everyone’s prayers as the teams from all four parish communities meet this last time to finalize the draft of the summary report of the conversations we have had regarding the possible scenarios that were presented to the four parish communities.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the writing team will generate the final draft. That draft will then be submitted to the executive committee of the Renew My Church team in early December. The executive committee consist of Fr. Jason Malave and other lay people. Once that executive committee has had a chance to review it and make its own recommendations, it will then go to the Presbyteral Council for another review. The Presbyteral Council again is an advisory board to the Cardinal and is made up of priests appointed to represent all of the regions of the Archdiocese along with all of the auxiliary bishops. Once the Presbyteral Council reviews the report and makes its own recommendations, it is finally presented to the Cardinal. He then will have the chance to review the report and make the final decision.

I again ask for not only everyone’s prayers but also patience. We should have a final decision by sometime in late January and/or early February. At this point, no one knows what the final decision of the Cardinal will be. This makes it important for everyone to pray that everyone involved will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in discerning what will be the best direction for our four parish communities.

There is no doubt that the last few months have been full of anxiety for many if not all of the parishioners of each of the four communities in our grouping. Thankfully, the conversations have been honest and sincere. Still, nobody wants to lose the parish that they have been calling their spiritual home for whatever length of time they may have been part of that parish community. But, with the declining number of Catholics living in the area, declining number of priests with the ability to be pastors, and more and more financial resources being devoted to maintenance of buildings rather investing in the mission, we will all need to learn how to be a parish in a whole new way. We are striving to form new realities that will provide us with parishes that are of good size with enough resources for a long time sustainability.

There is no doubt that the next few months until the decision is announced will also be a time of great anxiety. However the future will look like for our particular situation, we will need to rely on the grace of God to guide every step of the process. So I would again like to ask that everyone pray for hearts open to God’s wisdom and guidance.

Of course, once the decision is announced, the journey still continues. It is from that point onward that we will all need to figure out creative ways to be a parish in the new way that I mentioned. That will be a challenge in and of itself for everyone and will still require that hearts and minds remain open to the Spirit of God who will again guide us into the new reality.

Finally, if anyone still has questions regarding the process, you may feel free to contact any member of the GFDT or myself.

Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr.

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