Change is Hard for Many of Us; Change Among Friends is a Lot Easier

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,

You have probably heard rumors by now of the organizational changes coming to our Diocese of Saint Cloud in 2019. We now have a draft of Bishop Kettler’s plan for our Area Catholic Communities! I want to emphasize that this is still a draft plan, nothing is yet approved or final. These changes will be implemented slowly over the next five to ten years, and some elements may shift as we go along, so please be patient.

The overall plan has a few major goals:

1. To provide ready access to the Eucharist and other Sacraments (within 25-30 miles) for everyone living in the sixteen counties of our Diocese

2. To share resources among Area Catholic Communities so that we might best serve God’s people with the gifts God has provided to us

3. To recognize, celebrate, and share the unique gifts that make each parish special (the bishop’s plan does not involve closing any parishes)

4. To protect our priests from burnout and call forth the leadership gifts of our Permanent Deacons and laity (everyone!)

5. To allow each Area Catholic Community to develop their own solutions to the challenges facing their unique area and cultures

Concretely, in our corner of Otter Tail County, the development task force has asked Holy Cross and Saint Henry’s to work together with Sacred Heart in Dent and Saint Lawrence in Rush Lake. This is no great surprise to me, as we have been sharing our resources for decades in support of our Saint Henry’s Area School. Our four communities share two primary school districts and collaborate in many service organizations such as the Catholic Daughters and Knights of Columbus. Working together in our area is already our way of life; we already act like an Area Catholic Community in most respects.

What does this mean for you and your families? I encourage you to take this opportunity to socialize with our sister parishes; attend their events, mix with their people, attend a different Mass than your usual. Don’t worry, your collection envelope will always make its way back home. Pray for our Diocese during this process. Change is hard for many of us; change among friends is a lot easier. Let’s begin by getting to know each other better and supporting each other in prayer. Over time we may restructure how we collaborate in music and liturgy, religious education and youth ministry, Hispanic outreach and evangelization. Father George, Deacons Mark, Randy, and Richard, and I are working together to form an Area Catholic Community Pastoral Council to get things rolling. We are already planning a common Lenten Mission next March to involve all four parishes.

We will keep you updated as we learn more. I thank you for your patience and your prayers as we continue to adapt to our changing Catholic world. As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.

Peace in Christ,

Father Matthew Kuhn

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