Renew My Church Update #2

October 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners of St. Louis de Montfort,

As we have embarked on a new chapter in our Catholic community as we are now activated with the Renew My Church process.  I would like to begin with an update of our meetings that we had these past several weeks with our St. Louis de Montfort Renew My Church Team Members and the team members with our parish groupings.  I would like to thank my devoted Renew My Church Team that are sacrificing so many long hours voluntarily who have their own full-time jobs and families and still find time to be part of this new chapter.  Many thanks to Guadalupe Centeno, Louise Trail, Donato Zurlo and Lori and Bob Wasik. 

As you are aware, we are the Oak Lawn-Bridgeview-Burbank Grouping consisting of four parishes; St. Louis de Montfort, St. Fabian, St. Albert the Great and St. Gerald.  We are called to be grounded in the overall vision of Renew My Church, the parish grouping rollout, and the process for Discernment and Decisions.  We are reminded to model respect, collaboration, and openness to the Spirit speaking through all of us during this time of renewal.  Renew My Church is the Archdiocese’s response to Jesus’ call to renewal.  Renew My Church has three mission imperatives; the first is making disciples.  Secondly, building communities.  Thirdly, inspiring witness. 

Through the grouping rollout, our goals are to ensure that all parishes have the vision, leadership, resources, and operational foundation necessary for a sustainable Catholic presence in the collective communities within the grouping and to create an effective culture of evangelization that makes disciples, builds communities, and inspires witness. To do so, a grouping must start by answering these questions:  Given resource realities, what do we need to change structurally so we are better together?  How can we be more effective through collaboration?  Our grouping has begun this journey of discussing and discerning feedback on structural scenarios and collaboration that are viable and sustainable and renew the Church given today’s realities.  Who decides what is the best scenario?  Cardinal Cupich makes the final decision; it is his responsibility as our Archbishop. However, he has asked specifically for feedback from every grouping to understand how each scenario would work based on local experience and realities.  He also relies on input from the Renew My Church Commission and Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council (Priests’ Council).  Their roles are to ensure consistency in how scenarios are evaluated in the process leading to the Cardinal’s final decision.

What are Scenarios?  Scenarios are possibilities regarding new parish and school structures in the grouping that enable the vision of making disciples, building communities, and inspiring witness.   This includes:  Status of the parishes.  For example, does the existing parish remain in the current parish structure?  Secondly, unite with another parish and all church buildings remain open.  Thirdly, unite with another parish and some church building(s) close.  Fourthly, what is the Catholic school status?  School status (i.e., remain open, close, merge with another school and explore multi-campus possibilities).  Below is a diagram that illustrates the above listed information regarding scenarios:

We have to ask ourselves this real question, how will our Catholic faith look in the next ten years?  I would like to share with you data that has been provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago for Renew My Church when it comes to our Oak Lawn-Bridgeview-Burbank Grouping consisting of four parishes; St. Louis de Montfort, St. Fabian, St. Albert the Great and St. Gerald. 

In regards to mass attendance based on the October 2019 October Count, here are the following statistics:

St. Albert the Great                 4,325

St. Fabian                                2,413

St. Gerald                                1,640

St. Louis de Montfort             586

Mass attendance has been approximately calculated as trends for 5 years, 10 years and 20 years.  Here are the grouping data results:

5 Year Trend from 2015-2020            St. Albert the Great                 +4%

5 Year Trend from 2015-2020            St. Fabian                                -8%

5 Year Trend from 2015-2020            St. Gerald                                0%

5 Year Trend from 2015-2020            St. Louis de Montfort             -16%

Total Average Grouping 5 Year Trend                                          -2%

10 Year Trend from 2010-2020          St. Albert the Great                 +11%

10 Year Trend from 2010-2020          St. Fabian                                -5%

10 Year Trend from 2010-2020          St. Gerald                                -2%

10 Year Trend from 2010-2020          St. Louis de Montfort             -39%

Total Average Grouping 10 Year Trend                                        -1%

20 Year Trend from 2000-2020          St. Albert the Great                 +56%

20 Year Trend from 2000-2020          St. Fabian                                -25%

20 Year Trend from 2000-2020          St. Gerald                                -31%

20 Year Trend from 2000-2020          St. Louis de Montfort             -55%

Total Average Grouping 20 Year Trend                                        -6%

Church seating capacity data are as follows:

St. Albert the Great                 1,600

St. Fabian                                750

St. Gerald                                1,200

St. Louis de Montfort             600

The following is data regarding the number of Masses on a weekend, including the Saturday Vigil Mass, and how many Masses are celebrated in their own languages in which the Masses are celebrated:

St. Albert the Great              9 Total

English                                    4

Polish                                      4

Spanish                                    1

St. Fabian                               7 Total

English                                    4

Polish                                      3

Spanish                                    0

St. Gerald                               5 Total

English                                    5

Polish                                      0

Spanish                                    0

St. Louis de Montfort           4 Total

English                                    4

Polish                                      0

Spanish                                    0

The following is the very important Sacramental Life of the Parishes in regards to celebrating the Sacraments and funerals based on statistical information in 2019.

St. Albert the Great

Baptisms Under 7 Years Old                                      143

First Holy Communions Under 18 Years Old            137

Confirmations Under 18 Years Old                           146

Weddings                                                                    40

Funerals                                                                       94

St. Fabian

Baptisms Under 7 Years Old                                      65

First Holy Communions Under 18 Years Old           73

Confirmations Under 18 Years Old                           88

Weddings                                                                    4

Funerals                                                                       71

St. Gerald

Baptisms Under 7 Years Old                                      93

First Holy Communions Under 18 Years Old        110

Confirmations Under 18 Years Old                         107

Weddings                                                                    17

Funerals                                                                       75

St. Louis de Montfort

Baptisms Under 7 Years Old                                      19

First Holy Communions Under 18 Years Old         10

Confirmations Under 18 Years Old                          13

Weddings                                                                    0

Funerals                                                                       28

The Archdiocese of Chicago has also a very detailed financial information regarding to the parish groupings finances regarding surpluses, deficits, and total savings on deposit, church operation debts and school debts.

With all of this data, the groupings will develop into scenarios that will concentrate on the vitality of pastoral life that supports:  New and vibrant ways to form missionary disciple.  Secondly, create a culture of priestly vocations.  Thirdly, outreach to all demographics for religious education and faith formation.  Fourthly, meeting the needs of the entire Oak Lawn-Bridgeview-Burbank Community. 

In the future weeks, scenarios will be presented.  We will then be able to discern feedback on possible structural scenarios; considering current realities and our local lived experiences in our community.  Then, the St. Louis de Montfort Team will incorporate feedback or insights heard at the parish and submit a Feedback Summary Report to the RMC Commission and Cardinal Cupich.

I will continue to keep all of you updated to all of our Renew My Church discussions via our parish website during the future weeks.  Please share this information with parishioners who are not able to have a computer and read this update.  I strongly believe that we can do this together and think of the Catholics that we will be leaving our fruits of our faith behind.  We have to ask ourselves again this real question, as I stated earlier, what will our Catholic faith look like in the next ten years?  Will it be sustainable?  Will it be vital?  Will there be a pastor who will fill his predecessor’s shoes?  We do not know what the outcomes of the discernment process will be, but we do know that things cannot remain as they currently are.  We know that the Lord is with us, He continues to remain with us during this process, and we will be strengthened by Him by keeping each other in prayer.  Let us continue to journey together and be prayerful and spiritual.  Let us pray the rosary everyday for the success of Renew My Church and the best outcomes.  Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us! 

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Stan Stuglik