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You can download the March 22, 2018 Minutes from the St. Henry and St. Mary Task Force found on the About page under Pastoral Council and Committees, under the Pastoral Council section.
Marshalltown parishes exploring unification
The Catholic parishes in Marshalltown are exploring the possibility of uniting into one parish. Established in 1869, St. Mary Parish has served Catholics in the Marshalltown area for nearly 160 years. St. Henry Parish was established in 1959 to accommodate the growing number of Catholics. In recent years the Catholic population has continued to grow as a vibrant community. A survey of parishioners conducted in 2011 showed strong support for either combining the parishes or working toward such unification. To meet the growing needs of Catholics, the two parishes have already pooled resources to carry out many ministries. Examples include the consolidated St. Francis Catholic School, united faith formation and youth ministry programs as well as numerous social activities.
Due to this ever-closer working relationship, the pastors have begun a formal process of determining whether a single, unified parish will best serve Catholics and the broader community. A task force, comprised of members of both parishes, the pastors, and a Dubuque Archdiocesan facilitator, is studying this question. The task force meets bi-weekly studying information related to parish assets, ministries, and the benefits of collaboration. Additionally, taskforce members held sessions after Masses on the weekend of February 24th to gather input and questions from parishioners. Information about meetings is being provided after each meeting in the parish bulletins. The Task Force will consider advantages and disadvantages of changing the current independent status of the two parishes. By late spring, the task force expects to conclude its work with a recommendation to Michael Jackels, Archbishop of Dubuque.
Regardless of whether the parishes merge, it is expected that both churches will remain open and the Catholic community will continue to be served by two priests. For more information contact Dick Hierstein, Taskforce Spokesperson, at email@example.com.
The Assets of both St. Mary and St. Henry Churches can be found in a document called "Parishes Assets" found with the Parish Council Minutes.
Listening Sessions Recap
Listening sessions were held after all Masses on the weekend of February 24 – 25. Attendance was light. Those who did attend were supportive of the work of the task force. One recommendation was to increase representation of the Hispanic Community. Discussion on March 8th acknowledged the recommendation and agreed that outreach to the Hispanic Community would be most effective by meeting with Wednesday and Sunday prayer groups to share information and seek input.
The task force also discussed the reasons for the light turnout at the listening sessions. Two main reasons were suggested:
• Parishioners, in general, support this work and feel it is long overdue.
• Parishioners have confidence in the leaders who comprise the task force. St. Mary Short & Long Term Plans
Due to lack of time at the last meeting, Fr. Bahl provided a recap of information presented at the last meeting and discussed short and long-term plans for St. Mary. In the short term, the financial challenges at St. Mary need to be addressed. It is estimated $120,000 will be required for short-term repairs including tuck-pointing and repair of the outside steps to St. Mary Church. The parish is in the midst of a three year, $150,000 fundraiser to cover these repairs. In addition, a structural engineer needs to be engaged to provide analysis and recommendations on the bell tower, foundation and crack in the wall near the southeast entrance to the church.
Another short-term need to be addressed is balancing staffing between parish needs and resources.
Long-term plans include restructuring immigration work. While some income is generated from immigration services and an Archdiocesan subsidy, these resources are not sufficient to satisfy the growing need.
The task force then turned its attention to St. Henry. Fr. Czapla provided an overview of St. Henry including:
• Current staffing and plans for the future
• Updates to parish and school facilities
• Current status of Haverhill Oratory
• Financial trends and Mass attendance trends
2 Fr. Czapla summarized by stating that St. Henry’s finances are strong and there is strong support for St. Francis Catholic School.
Tour of St. Henry Campus The task force tour included walking through St. Henry Church, parish offices and the rectory. All facilities are in good condition and functional. In addition to the pastor’s residence, the rectory property includes two detached garages that provide equipment and material storage. The task force did not tour St. Francis School but Fr. Czapla reported the school building is also in good condition. Upon completion of the campus tour, the task force discussed, in general, their impressions based on the information they gathered over the last two meetings.
Processing of that information will begin in earnest at the next meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at St. Mary
Marshalltown Planning Taskforce Notes February 22, 2018 The second meeting of the joint parish planning taskforce was held at St. Mary on February 22, 2018. All taskforce members were in attendance: Melchor Avalos, Fr. Greg Bahl, Brian Burlage, Fr. Don Czapla, Dick Hierstein, Mary Beth Neff, Deacon Tom Renze, Dan Rohner, Dick Schrad, Carrie Seberger, and Julie Swartz. Taskforce Spokesperson: Dick Hierstein was confirmed as spokesperson for the taskforce. Any media inquiries will be directed to Dick to ensure consistency of message. Listening Sessions have been scheduled after all Masses at St. Henry and St. Mary on the weekend of February 24 – 25. Fr. Don and Fr. Greg will make remarks at the end of Mass to provide background information and to encourage parishioners to attend. St. Mary Parish Review: The bulk of the meeting was devoted to reviewing information about St. Mary Parish and touring the parish campus. The taskforce first looked at data found on the 2016 – 2017 parish “trends report” which includes number of parishioners, number of families, number of sacraments dispensed, and financial information. Some inaccuracies were noted due to how the report is generated and the unique nature of St. Mary. Three things of note: • The report shows 47 infant baptisms. It was pointed out that well over 100 baptisms are carried out in the parish each year. • The report shows “Ordinary Income” at $625,664. That does not include cash donations that account for about 25% of St. Mary’s total income. • The column for investments that are held in accounts outside of the Archdiocesan Deposit and Loan Fund shows a balance of $0.00. In fact, St. Mary’s has an account with A. G. Edwards with a balance of about $250,000. Fr. Greg provided background information including: • The parish has undergone major change over the last 40 years. o Late 80’s, church and rectory renovation, o Mid 90’s, addition with elevator added to east entrance, o 2011 survey and subsequent project to renovate St. Francis School o Huge population shift due to Hispanic immigration • The large Hispanic community has changed the work of St. Mary o More foot traffic in the St. Mary office than any other parish in the Archdiocese of Dubuque o High demand for “stop by” assistance o Last spring First Communions were celebrated at every weekend Mass for 10 straight weeks 2 o 26 quinceañeras in the past year o 160 children in sacramental preparation o Numerous requests for house, car and other blessings o High participation in sacrament of reconciliation o Greater demand on pastor’s time for pastoral care and counseling Fr. Greg summarized by stating “We do great work”. Some evidence that this great work is taking hold, often in response to the dedication the Hispanic community has to the Catholic Church includes: • Celebration as family at home and at church, • 20 girls who celebrated quinceañeras last year are now catechists in the Religious Education program. The 20 girls are joined by 5 boys, • Thursday evening preparation by the catechists so they are prepared for Sunday classes, • Choirs at every Mass, • Children’s choir with 10 – 25 participants practicing every Friday evening to prepare them for weekend masses, • Over 1,500 in attendance for Ash Wednesday services, • The response of gratitude from the community. Fr. Greg also noted that St. Mary is an exceptionally young parish when compared to the other parishes in the Archdiocese and there are many hidden needs in a hidden population. Fr. Greg then invited Sr. Chris Feagan to provide additional information on Hispanic Ministry in the parish. Sr. Chris has been ministering in Marshalltown since 1999 and, like Fr. Greg, pointed out that her work has changed significantly in that time. Upon arrival in Marshalltown, there was one weekend Mass in Spanish and the church was half full. St. Mary’s now offers 3 weekend Masses in Spanish and the church is full. And while her ministry is primarily working with Hispanics, it has now evolved into immigration work, with immigrants from Germany, The Philippines, Africa, and Myanmar as well as Central and South America. The many immigration issues that arise include being an advocate for those who are covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). St. Mary Parish is well established and recognized in the greater Marshalltown area as the authority on Hispanic Ministry and immigration topics. The Hispanic Ministry carries out, in Spanish, all of the ministries that the parish also delivers in English. While this ministry is rewarding, it places a high demand on the ministers. There simply isn’t enough time to meet all of the needs of the community…both Anglo and Hispanic. And as non-native speakers, it is mentally exhausting for Fr. Greg and Fr. Don (who devotes considerable time and energy to the ministries of St. Mary) to serve the needs of the Hispanic community in Spanish. 3 After this discussion, the task force toured the facilities of St. Mary. The campus is comprised of 4 buildings: • The rectory is large and ornate. It once was the residence of 3 priests and a housekeeper. Until recently, the first floor housed the offices of the parish while the upstairs served as Fr. Greg’s residence. Today the offices are no longer in the rectory. Meetings continue to be held on the first floor and in the basement. Fr. Greg continues to live upstairs. One complication – The kitchen is on the first floor. When meetings are held on the first floor adjacent to the kitchen, it is difficult for Fr. Greg to comfortably prepare meals. • The church, dedicated in 1900, is well decorated but has deferred maintenance issues. Tuckpointing and repairs to the bell tower are overdue. Estimated cost to complete that work could exceed $250,000. A crack has developed in the interior of the church near the Southeast entrance. At certain times of the year, the structure moves enough to prevent the entrance door from operating. The plan is to contact a structural engineer to assess the situation and make recommendations for repair. • Recently a building was acquired and remodeled and now serves as the parish office. It is well appointed and functional and provides an attractive workspace for the parish staff. • A former transmission repair building was also recently acquired near the parish offices. It is currently vacant but provides some options for expansion in the future. Upon completion of the campus tour, the meeting came to a close. Next Meeting: Thursday, March 8 at St. Henry
The first meeting of the joint parish planning taskforce was held at St. Mary on
February 8, 2018. All taskforce members were in attendance. Taskforce members
St. Henry St. Mary
Fr. Don Czapla Fr. Greg Bahl
Brian Burlage Melchor Avalos
Dick Hierstein Mary Beth Neff
Julie Swartz Deacon Tom Renze
Carrie Seberger Dick Schrad
Dan Rohner from the Archdiocese of Dubuque will serve as facilitator.
The purpose of the taskforce was discussed. The taskforce is charged with studying
the possibility of uniting St. Henry and St. Mary into one parish. The expected
product of this work is a report to Archbishop Jackels recommending whether St.
Henry and St. Mary should become one or remain separate parishes. If the
recommendation is to become one parish, it is expected both churches would
remain open and two priests would continue to serve.
Taskforce members introduced themselves and commented on what they hope to
accomplish through this work and what concerns they may have. A summary of the
• True unity
• Focus on how to best serve the Catholic community
• Help people to know Jesus
• Be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit
• Recognize strength in our diversity
• Focus on our sharing of one faith
• Be “transparent”, communicate well
• Resistance to change
• Discomfort leading to anger
• Apathy among parishioners, loss of interest in the faith
• Resistance to attending services at church across town
• Being unable to respond to parishioners’ questions, comments, concerns
The taskforce discussed the importance of proactive communication with
parishioners as well as the community at large. Various methods of communication
will be used including:
• Bulletin announcements after each meeting
• Announcements at weekend Masses
• Website updates
• Publication of the names of taskforce members inviting parishioners to
contact them with questions and comments
• Invitation to parishioners to attend taskforce meetings as observers
• Town hall meetings (first ones tentatively scheduled for the weekend of
February 24 & 25)
• Proactive communication with area media (recommended that a press
release be sent after the March 8th meeting)
It was recommended that a spokesperson be chosen to be the point of contact for
media inquiries. A spokesperson ensures the consistency of message and relieves
other taskforce members from being placed in a position to answer questions to
which they don’t feel qualified to answer.
The meeting concluded with confirmation that the task force will meet on the 2nd
and 4th Thursdays of the month through May. The next meeting is scheduled for
February 22nd in the basement of the St. Mary rectory.
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