This week we have our Annual Clergy Conference held at Arrowwood Conference Center in Alexandria, MN. Our conference begins on Sunday evening October 7th and runs thru Wednesday, October 10th . As always, this is a great opportunity for Bishop Kettler along with all his priests and deacons who serve our diocese to come together, renew collegial bonds, and discuss important issues and topics that are pertinent to our day.
This year is unique in that we will talking strictly about the future of our diocese in regard to parish planning. If you remember, last Spring each parish in the St. Cloud Diocese (including St. Peter and St. Paul) were asked to have various ‘Parish Hall’ meetings in order to receive your input as parishioners on what the future of our parishes might look like, how best to manage the current shortage of clergy. We had some excellent conversations and input, which I then passed onto our Diocesan Planning Office for review.
n a very short time we will have only 48 priests serving 131 parishes! How do we manage that? Will there be more consolidations and if so, how? Will there be parish closings? At this time, I certainly can’t say nor do I know. What I can say is that change is coming! Our current shortage is largely due to large number of priest retirements coming soon (now and within the next 3 years) along with not enough newly ordained priests to take their place.
All summer our Diocesan Planning Office has taken each parish’s input and put together a plan that will hopefully sustain us for at least the next ten years and beyond. At our Clergy Conference then we will be discussing this plan. We will listen to talks on parishes and staffs working together. We will be looking over the proposal and hopefully coming up with ways on how we can best implement the proposed plan. There may be some changes in this process, but I suspect these will be only minor at best. Eventually this plan will be announced to the public, and then the work begins. I am not sure as to exactly when the plan will be implemented. I suspect some of it will begin to be put in place this next July of 2019 and the rest over the course of 1-2 years. All this will be up to the bishop and Planning Office.
I ask all of you to please pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work in this process. Pray for our Bishop, Deacons and Priests. I, for my part will pray for a smooth transitioning process, that we all resolve to work together to make it work! We as the Church are the “Body of Christ” and as a body our call is to build up the Kingdom of God, to use all our resources, not just for our self, rather for everyone’s benefit and growth in Christ.