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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A Christian Experience Weekend retreat is a time to gather with fellow Christians and rediscover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It is a weekend to relax, spend time with friends (or make new ones!), and be filled with the Holy Spirit! CEW 2018 is February 16-18 for women and March 2-4. for men Check out the CEW page for more information, or print a brochure to sign up!
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