HARTINGTON — In an effort to collaborate and share resources, seven area Catholic parishes will be grouped together under a new reorganization plan by the Archdiocese of Omaha called Journey of Faith.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Randolph; St. Michael in Coleridge; Holy Trinity in Hartington; St. Peter in Newcastle; St. Mary of the Seven Dolors in Osmond; St. Joseph in Ponca; and St. Paul in Plainview, will be considered one parish family. The parish family also includes Cedar Catholic High School and Holy Trinity Elementary schools in Hartington, and St. Mary of Dolors School in Osmond.
The Journey of Faith planning process, which began late last year, addresses the declining number of priests, falling participation in the faith, and shifting trends in both rural and urban areas. The Journey of Faith goal is for each parish family to become a “missional community” of outwardly sharing faith with others.
“When you evaluate the present parish to the goal and ask ‘How well are we doing?’ that’s a big question to ask ourselves,” the Rev. Owen Korte of the Holy Trinity parish in Hartington. “Once people become convinced of the goal - not to just get by but to try to thrive - how do we do that? There are some changes in order for that to happen.”
Under the Journey of Faith plan, no parishes are set to close, Korte said. Where and how many Masses are celebrated may change with limits placed on weekday and Sunday Masses per priest.
“It’s not saying that one priest can all of a sudden take care of 16 places. That’s impossible,” Korte said. “It’s really for us to find ourselves coming together as a church and seeing ourselves more united and working together.”
The current number of three priests will reduce to two by 2033. But models for how parish families operate vary widely with each developing a plan for the best way to move forward. For example, the local parish family may implement the Journey of Faith plan by starting out with only two priests from the onset, he said.
Which priests would be assigned to the local parish family is unknown at this time.
Staffing at each parish may also change.
“We’re trying to consolidate our work together,” Korte said. “It’s trying to take common duties and combine them under one headship if at all possible.”
While some parishes have already taken steps to change Mass times, implementation for all in the archdiocese will begin next year. Korte estimates noticeable changes occurring with the local parish family next summer.
The Journey of Faith is specific to the Archdiocese of Omaha but the issues that lead to the reorganization are spread across the United States, Korte said.
The archdiocese’s 134 current parishes and missions are grouped into 22 urban and 12 rural families of parishes, generally including from two to 12 parishes with some families including from one to five schools.
Korte recognized change is difficult and the reactions from local parishioners to this major change in the church has run the gamut.
“Growth is necessary and it involves change,” Korte said in a Journey of Faith video message about the planning process. “Some changes we choose and some are given to us. But in the end, we’re asked to trust in the Lord.”