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Important Message about Masses from Fr. Dave

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

 

Dear St. Francis de Sales Parishioners,

 

This past year, the Diocese of Columbus began a self-study and evaluation of the precious resources available to us: our people and clergy, our parishes and schools, our evangelization efforts and finances. Starting with the number of priests versus the number of parishes and offices/ministries that are currently operating in our diocese, it was determined that to maintain the current operations, we would need at least 120 priests. Currently we have 89 active priests for our 108 parishes. The forecast for the number of priestly ordinations is projected to decline over the next ten years while the number of priests eligible for retirement continues to rise. Within a few years, we will have less than 70 active priests for those 108 parishes. 

 

We have also been studying the trends of Mass attendance and participation in other sacraments that have been celebrated in our parishes over the past few decades. These trends too are consistent across the diocese: Mass attendance has dropped by an average of nearly 17% over the past 10 years. In fact, in the past 25 years, St. Francis experienced the loss of weekend Mass attendance by approximately 50%, according to our annual October Mass Counts. Only in the past few years, due to your increased evangelization and faith formation efforts, has our parish began to grow again. Then COVID-19 happened, and we all know how that has lowered attendance.

 

Given these statistics, Bishop Brennan began a long-range strategic planning process to create a comprehensive Diocesan Pastoral Plan. This plan will take shape over the next year or so, then it will be implemented in stages. While I do not know all that the plan will fully entail, I trust it will be for the greater good of our people, priests, and our mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I ask that you keep Bishop Brennan and this planning process in your daily prayers.

 

In the meantime, parishes have been asked to reduce the number of weekend Masses, especially in parishes where the number of people attending Mass is less than 50% of the seating capacity. This is the case here at St. Francis where our capacity is around 650 per mass, or 2600 per weekend. Before COVID-19, we had a total of about 1,000 people attending weekend Masses. After COVID-19, we have even fewer people attending. After consulting with Parish Council, Finance Council, Liturgy Committee, Staff, and the Senior Leadership Team, we will reduce the number of weekend Masses from four to three.

 

In addition, Bishop Brennan asked parishes that are geographically close to one another, to consider modifying their weekend Mass schedules to better serve the greater Catholic community. Therefore, we have collaborated with Blessed Sacrament, St. Leonard, and St. Edward to adjust our weekend Mass schedule beginning September 1 to the following:

 

Saturdays at 4:45pm

Featuring a variety of musical styles, led by piano and an ensemble of instruments and voices. Confessions will move to 3:45 – 4:15pm. Confessions will also be offered at 5:30 to 6:15pm on Wednesdays. 

 

Sundays at 8:30am

Featuring the parish choir with organ music and a more traditional-style liturgy.

 

Sundays at 11am

Also the livestreamed Mass, featuring a blend of familiar favorites and worship/praise, led by an ensemble of instruments and voices.

 

We know that these changes are less than ideal and may be particularly hard for some of us. As you contemplate this change, remember the recent several weeks when we were away from our beloved Church and were unable to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. My hope is that we all remain grateful that our parish has a full-time active priest, that we have each other and are able to worship together as a community, and that we have so many opportunities here at St. Francis de Sales to grow in faith.  Friends, the way forward, the way through all that we are experiencing, is becoming even more intentional as a parish, as families, as individuals, to grow in our personal and communal faith, and to share our faith with others. This is why a parish exists.  This is our mission. I am proud to be with you here and lead you in this most important mission.     

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Fr. David Sizemore

Pastor 

St. Francis de Sales Preschool

38 Granville St, Newark, OH 43055

Phone:   740-345-4040

Email:   info@stfrancisparish.net

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