Every new year provides a time to take stock as well as a time to look forward. I have found myself contemplating both this new year’s.
This is now my fourth year at St. Dominic Church as pastor and I believe that we as a parish have done some good things worthy of taking stock of these past four years. Through the work of the Finance Council reestablished by Fr. Mike Nolan and chaired by Roger Mowen, the parish is in overall good financial standing. We have committed ourselves to financial transparency as a parish and this will continue. We will continue to share with the parish both the blessings and the challenges we face. Through this financial standing and the generosity of some bequests received we have been able to address needed maintenance both at the parish and school (switching out HVAC units as needed, new roof at school, new paving at both school and parish and many other repairs) and develop a pro-active maintenance plan while also setting funds aside in reserve.
When the bishop called for the tabernacle to be returned to the sanctuary in the churches of the diocese we were able to accomplish this in a way that was both reverential to the Blessed Sacrament and respectful to the existing structure of our sanctuary. Through the funds mentioned above we were also able to repaint the church and develop a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing landscape in the front of our church and around our parking lot. Also, through the bequest we have been also able to reach out in charity and commit ourselves to three years of financial support to Kingsport’s Providence Clinic and the area Catholic Charities Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. We have also set aside funds to cover the cost of our parish’s annual Day for the Bible for this last year and the next three years.
We had what I believe to be a successful completion of the Home campaign (achieving 93% of our goal) and we are now in the second phase of implementing the resources of the campaign. The first phase focused on strengthening our liturgical and senior ministries. We were able to purchase needed musical and sound system resources and bring on staff two part-time positions (Senior Ministry coordinator Kate DeLuca and Liturgical Ministry coordinator Dana Bellino). I am confident that both of these ministries will grow under the ministry of these coordinators. Humberto Collazo has agreed to chair the committees that will implement the second phase of the Home campaign by first gathering input from the parish regarding needs related to technology and communication and then determining how best to prioritize and implement these needs.
Through a review of needs at the parish and school we were able to combine a position of coordinator of religious education at the school and adult faith formation at the parish. Paul Vachon is doing good work in both areas of his ministry. With Paul in this new role we formed a search committee and hired a new youth ministry. Daniel Henninger is doing some very good work in strengthening and expanding our parish’s youth ministry. Our diocese, under the direction of our bishop, is moving the age of confirmation to sixth grade and Karen Lewicki has been directing this shift in our parish while also exploring Catechesis of the Good Shepherd which is a very “hands-on” approach to faith formation for young children.
Through the work of our parish nurse Delores Bertuso we continue to strive to be a healthy community. Delores also developed a rotation staffed by the priests, deacons and lay ministers of our parish that seeks to ensure daily hospital and therapy center visits to our parishioners in Kingsport. We developed a new website and parish app through the leadership of Veronica Bukowski-Stanton and RuthAnn Ranker which enables us to reach out in ministry via the internet.
We took an honest look at our Sunday Mass schedule as well as the needs and evolving dynamics of our parish community and we made changes. There is no perfect Mass schedule that will meet all needs but, I believe, there are positive things occurring due to this change – our Spanish Mass attendance is increasing and our Hispanic community is now more present in our parish’s life in many ways. Our Sunday evening Mass is stabilized and is providing a needed Mass option for our parish as well as the entire Tri-Cities. We have also just started offering the first Sunday of the month 12:30 p.m. Mass as bi-lingual. This, I believe, is a further positive step for our community.
Under the leadership of Tucker Davis, staff and great teachers, our school continues to do great things and be a life-effecting ministry! Through the recommendation of the Finance Council we decided that this was the year to increase the wages of our teaching staff to a more just and life-sustaining wage as well as addressing some other ministry needs in our parish. These decisions together have put us into a deficit for this year but we believe we can buffer this for a year or two if needed with the hopes that parish income can increase through our Sunday collection.
Our Parish Council (reestablished under Fr. Mike Nolan) continues to be strengthened in its role in our parish’s life. Now chaired by David Mooney the council is looking to develop a five-year plan for the parish as well as discussing other issues (i.e. how to assist in the faith life of our young people now that confirmation is being moved to sixth grade).
We have a lot to take stock of but what about looking ahead? Here are a few things in my thoughts for the year ahead:
- A pro-life committee for the parish.We have generally fallen back on the work of the Knights of Columbus for pro-life activities but can we establish a parish committee that will be guided by the full range of teaching found in the documents and resources of the U.S. Bishops in developing the pro-life atmosphere in our parish as a year-round reality?
- Security needs.This is already being talked about in the parish council but how can we be better aware of security needs in our parish?Some ideas being discussed are developing the ministry of ushers at Mass and developing a system of only one open and unlocked door of entry to buildings when in use.
- Women’s ministry in our parish.The parish Martha and Mary group is a good ministry for women of our parish and does very good work but no one group meets every person’s needs.Most parishes I have been to have multiple women’s ministry groups with different focuses.I would be supportive if there is an interest in establishing other women’s groups in our parish as long as there is a form of structure and a ministry focus.It is not my place to implement this but I think it worthwhile to share that the possibility is there for consideration.
- Sunday collection increase.This is not a glamorous goal but it is a reality.For the good work of our parish to continue the Sunday collection needs to increase.As the Home campaign commitments wind down this may happen naturally but it remains in my thoughts that this message needs to stay before the parish in a good, honest and inviting way.We can do great things together!
St. Dominic Church has much good to take stock of and has much to look forward to!
May God bless us in this new year!