January 02, 2008

With 2008 comes change

Yesterday, our pastor said his last mass at our parish. Because of mergers within our diocese, our parish is being merged with another in town and in order to provide us with a fresh start, we have been assigned a new pastor who will begin this week.

It was a sad day yesterday as I thought about how this will be the last time that I will walk in for mass and see him in the sanctuary saying mass and delivering his awesome homilies. His presence in our parish came at a real challenging time. During his tenure, our school was closed by the diocese, the deanery study began and most of us realized that our parish would be changed forever. And as if the past few years have not been challenging enough, he is being reassigned to another group of parishes that are being merged and twinned. So his plate will be full and he will once again step into a less than perfect situation. Please pray for him as his job will not be easy. But the bright spot of all of this is that his new parish is only about 10 minutes from where we live in the next town to the north. So while we will be losing him as our pastor, our friendship with this spiritual man will continue.

The parish was once a mission of the other parish in town, started almost a hundred years ago by Polish immigrants that wanted a parish where they could worship in their native tongue and celebrate with familiar customs and traditions from their homeland. Over the past 18 years that we have been parishioners, we have seen the ethnicity change to more of a melting pot with fewer parishioners who spoke only Polish in the parish.

So now we reunite with the other parish in town. It will be a merger that will not be free of compromise, hurt feelings and probably a little bit of animosity thrown in to challenge our new pastor. And to make the merger even more fun, there has been some animosity between the parishes over the years. We were often seen as the "poor immigrant parish" and have been often treated as the "poor relations" by many. The attitude of some parishioners was the main reason we chose to join our parish and not the other in town.

It will take a lot of prayer to get through the next few months and maybe even years. But with God's help, we will become a united parish of people who put differences aside to worship the Lord. Pray for us, that God will help us to set aside the past and begin a new chapter in our spiritual lives.


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Ellen, you know I am praying for your parish and for mine as they both go through the same changes. We have friends in the larger parish that will merge with our small one, and all we hear is that it's our church's fault that Father is being reassigned...
It's going to be tough on them too. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
May all of us in all these merging parishes have the grace to make it work, so we can do God's work.

Ellen said...

We've heard that our church building won't be used, our facilities will all be sold, and all the usual things that any "alpha" church will say to the small one. Of course, our church is in better condition, has better parking and is easier to find.

I figure that I'll leave the decision making to the new pastor and support what ever decision he makes. In my experience, it is usually easier to go with the flow than to try to swim upstream. But, I won't be bullied either.