Dear parishioners of St. John Fisher,
As I have mentioned at Masses since August, we have begun and are formally in the “Renew My Church” process. This initiative, started back in September of 2015, reminds us that we are called by Jesus Christ to make disciples, build communities, and inspire witness. It looks at the strengths and weaknesses of all parishes in the Archdiocese in light of a serious decline of priests being able to pastor parishes and the ability of parishes to sustain themselves and remain viable. This necessitates a close look at each parish to determine its future. Two of the benchmarks used to consider a parish “viable” are the number of people attending Mass on a weekend (the “October Count” taken each year) and the parish income -excluding schools. For a parish our size, approximately 1900 households, that benchmark is 800 people attending Mass on a weekend and an annual income of $750,000. The statistics for all of the parishes in Wave 5 (our larger grouping) are taken from 2019, the last “normal” year before COVID.
Our parish has met neither of those benchmarks for quite a few years. Our October Count for 2019 was 684 people at weekend Masses, and our income was $681,694. While that might come as a surprise to some, I have spoken about those numbers the last few years as a warning/encouragement. We are grouped with two other neighboring parishes for Renew My Church: St. Cajetan and St. Christina. Saint Cajetan has similar numbers to us, while St. Christina easily meets the benchmarks. We have been in dialogue and conversation with these parishes since we formally started the process in August of this year.
Each parish has a Grouping Feedback and Discernment Team (GFDT) composed of six members. Our team consists of (in alphabetical order) me, your pastor; Dr. Elena Chermak, our Director of Religious Education; Mr. Joe Goldrick, from our School Advisory Board; Mrs. Margie King, veteran parishioner; Mrs. Maura Nash, our principal; and Deacon Tom Siska. They are all very strong advocates for St. John Fisher Parish.
On the weekend of October 2-3, our grouping will receive from the Renew My Church Committee various scenarios of possibilities for our parishes going forward. They will be published in the Bulletin and posted on the parish and school websites. I will also be presenting them at the weekend Masses on Saturday and Sunday. That following Tuesday, October 5, we will have a Town Hall meeting in Church at 7:00 P.M. to discuss the various scenarios proposed by the Archdiocese.
There will be many more discussions and meetings before any decisions are made. In the meantime, keep our “Team” in your prayers. They are putting in a lot of extra time and effort into this process.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Ken Budzikowski