By Barb Arland-Fye
RIVERSIDE — With most parishes having completed town hall meetings on planning for the future, parish leaders at this week’s Annual Diocesan Parishes Corporate Board meetings were asked about their thoughts on the process.
Some expressed optimism; some did not at the Aug. 28 meeting — the first of two corporate board meetings at St. Mary Parish in Riverside. A representative from St. James Parish in Washington expressed a sense of loss. A representative from St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass said that while discussions had been fruitful, there is still cynicism and skepticism that “what we say matters.”
Father Tony Herold, pastor of Ss. John & Paul Parish in Burlington, and a member of the Diocesan Planning Commission, said Bishop Martin Amos has made it clear that the planning commission was not to make decisions for the parishes. The bishop presided at the Aug. 28 and 30 corporate board meetings and thanked the parish leaders for their work and commitment.
“It would be foolish to get all of this energy going and then say, ‘forget it.’ This is grassroots,” Fr. Herold said. “The solutions are not easy; we really do listen. It’s important that we not have a plan to shelve, but a plan to keep working on.”
Betty Forbes, a lay director for St. Mary Parish in Lone Tree, said her parish has been blessed to have Carol Kaalberg as parish life administer for the three-parish cluster of Ss. Mary and Joseph: Nichols, Lone Tree, Hills. “You make the effort to make it work,” she said.
“It’s up to the people. You are the Church,” Kaalberg said. Whatever decisions parishes make, they should be made for God’s glory and honor. “The Spirit is much alive. Let the Spirit work within you.”
Kaalberg has been parish life administrator of the Lone Tree and Nichols parishes for 22 years and more recently for the Hills parish. Father Bill Kneemiller is pastor of all three parishes. The planning process, Kaalberg said, requires the four “Cs” of communication, cooperation, collaboration and conversion of the ordained and non-ordained to build the kingdom of God.
In her own experience with the clustering process, “It’s been 20 years of conversion and transformation,” she said. The blessings are abundant. “The people are the Church. They no longer attend church.”
An outcome of town hall meetings is a future plan that calls for Ss. Mary and Joseph parishes to cluster with the three-cluster parishes of St. Mary in Riverside, Holy Trinity in Richmond and St. Joseph in Wellman. “We already share programs and projects — we have a six-parish RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults),” Kaalberg noted.
The Diocesan Planning Commission will discuss the outcome of the town hall meetings of the diocese’s 80 parishes at a joint meeting with the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at diocesan headquarters in Davenport.
For more information on the planning process, visit the Davenport Diocese website at www.davenportdiocese.org.