An Overview of Our Merger – Pastor’s Reflection (January 27, 2016)
This week, at the end of Parish Study, two people manifested some feelings of drift about the trajectory of our merger. Basically, they wanted to know where this is going. Certainly it’s a reasonable concern. I had written some conceptual pieces about the merger, over the summer, but we have not rehearsed the outline of it since then. So, fair enough, and here goes.
On May 5, 2015, the Cardinal announced the merger of the Parishes of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Vincent Ferrer with the understanding that a single new parish will emerge from the process. As we have been teaching in Parish Study, a parish, like the whole church, is a community of souls. Forming such a community is therefore our primary responsibility.
•We will constitute a single community with two churches.
•The parish church for our new community will be the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer
•The new parish will also be served by a second church, the Church of St. Catherine of Siena, which will remain “open for Mass and sacraments.”
•In some merged parishes, the second church has not remained open for ordinary use. Examples near us include Our Lady of Peace and St. John the Martyr.
•In two years, this arrangement will be reviewed.
On August 1, 2015, the two parishes were merged canonically to form the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena. On September 1, 2016, they will become a new civil corporation with united finances. In the mean time,
•They remain separate civil corporations and they keep separate books
•Their collections are handled separately.
•Their funds are kept strictly separated.
We have this year to join the elements of parish life in a careful and deliberate fashion, and this process is underway.
•We are establishing a united parish clergy. Fr. Walter Wagner, Fr Joseph Allen, Fr. Jonah Pollock, and Fr. Innocent Smith
each say mass and hear confessions in both churches. They are assisted by hospital chaplains Fr. David Adiletta and Fr. John
Devaney. These Friars also say mass and hear confessions in both churches.
•Fr. Walter and Fr. Innocent also serve as Relief Chaplains for the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York.
•A single Business Manager, Ms. Lee Ann Rubino, oversees the operations of both churches. Her responsibilities include
oversight of physical plant, supervision of employees, management of income, and coordination of expenses.
•Parish Office operations have been centered at St Vincent Ferrer under the direction of Rachel Miller.
•Office hours for the convenience of the faithful are also maintained at St. Catherine of Siena.
•Adult Formation was united in September of 2015 with the establishment of a joint Parish Study program to reflect on the
nature of the Church and to establish principles to govern the practical implementation of the merger.
•RCIA programs remain independent for weekly sessions, but will be united for the rituals of initiation during Lent and
Eastertide. We expect a fully integrated program next year.
•Religious Education for children remains separate, but we expect to form a united program in the fall.
•The major communal liturgies and social gatherings of the parish year are shared between the two churches, except where the
Parish Church has an assigned role, as in the Easter Vigil and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
•The inaugural Mass involved both churches
•The Solemn Liturgy of All Saints Day was at St. Vincent Ferrer, while that of All Souls was at St. Catherine of Siena.
•The Solemn Mass for the Immaculate Conception was at St. Catherine of Siena, while Advent Lessons and Carols was at St.
•Solemn Mass for the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas) and the Parish Mardi Gras will be at St. Catherine of Siena.
•Winter retreats for parish groups, Lenten Vespers, the Scrutinies will, as Parish Study, already does, alternate between both
•Because of cost, to promote our unity, and to avoid any semblance of competition, we will not duplicate extraordinary
•At the same time, we need to safeguard the bonds of daily life, and to that there will be gatherings such as parish coffees,
handled at the local level, at both churches.
•The united Parish Council has begun to meet.
•Its initial project will be the registration drive for the new parish.
•The Finance Council for St. Catherine’s has made its report to the parish for the last fiscal year.
•We will now develop a protocol for creation of a new Finance Council and a united financial structure.
•Our registration drive will yield a common parish roster and a united envelope system
•As part of the formation of the new parish we will need to commission Readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy
•Conversations Going Forward
•We will need to submit to the Cardinal three choices for the name of the new parish.
•Please Note! The names of the church buildings do not change.
•We will need to talk about the schedule of Masses and confessions.
•This will require us to pay attention to mass and confession availability throughout our neighborhood.
•We will need to reflect communally on the role of music in our worship.
•This will begin with teaching on this subject in Parish Study.
•The next step will be a survey of the whole community.
•A job description for music director will result.
•This will take account of
•Dominican spirituality and mission
•What the new parish can pay
•What assistance will be required given the final Mass schedule and other demands such as weddings and funeral.
•A search will ensue
I do hope this clarifies the movement upon which we have been launched. What things will be like for us this time next year, I surely cannot say. I live with the unknown daily and I must invite you to do the same. I would only offer my settled conviction that an unknown accepted for Christ’s sake will not fail in blessings.
May your winter pass swiftly!