The Month of July 2019


Friends,
 

“Lead us not into temptation”

Over a period of several months, our Holy Father Francis has presented a series of reflections on the “Our Father” at his Wednesday General Audience. The following is a thought provoking summary of his reflection on “Lead us not into temptation”. It provides a springboard for us to reflect on the words that we all say / recite every time we pray the Our Father. The flock has been moving west from the riverfront for generations.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father’, we now consider the penultimate invocation: ‘Lead us not into temptation’. Here our dialogue with God enters into the drama of the battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. It is not easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek, but we can certainly say that God does not seek to put temptations in our way. Both tribulation and temptation, moreover, are mysteriously present even in the life of Jesus, and this experience makes him completely our brother. In the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus overcomes any temptation to abandon the Father’s will. When we in turn are tempted, we know that we are not alone: for Christ has already taken on himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father’s faithful love.

On the Horizon

There has been considerable media coverage, by both Catholic and secular sources, of the fact that Archbishop Carlson, like all pastors, bishops and archbishops, by Church law, must submit his resignation as Archbishop of St. Louis on his 75th birthday. On June 30th the Archbishop reaches seventy-five and submitted the required letter. It is Pope Francis alone, in the matter of arch/ bishops, who decides whether to accept the resignation promptly or to defer that to a later date. We have no indication of the inclination of the Holy Father regarding the Archdiocese of St. Louis. We wait, grateful for the ten years that Archbishop Carlson has been Pastor of the Church of St. Louis. We pray, also, that when the time comes, the Pope names as 11th Bishop/10th Archbishop of St. Louis one who is a simple, wise, gentle and holy pastor.

The accomplishments realized during the service here of Archbishop Carlson are notable. His unwavering commitment to the promotion of pro-life initiatives is one of them. So also is his unwavering commitment to the promotion of quality Catholic education and faith-formation from elementary schools, to high schools, to adult faith formation.

The new Archbishop, nevertheless, will have to address significant challenges in this local Church. Over the last decade, baptisms for children younger than six declined 20% from 5,711 to 4,564 a year. Catholic school enrollment, in kindergarten through high school, declined 25% from 43,086 to 32,487. The number of parish schools declined 14% from 152 to 131, and parishes fell 3% from 185 to 179.

Much like many “municipalities” that want to retain their autonomy and identity, many parishes want to have their own pastor and parish school, despite fewer numbers of parishioners. A growing model, though, of several parishes supporting a consolidated parish school system in various parts of the archdiocese, is an encouraging example of working better together.

The population of the Archdiocese has been moving west from the riverfront for generations. Today, the three largest parishes are all in St. Charles County: St. Joseph in Cottleville, 18,060 parishioners; Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie, 14,680 parishioners; and Assumption in O’Fallon, 9,885 parishioners. Those three churches are served by nine priests, compared to 31 priests who lead 34,000 parishioners spread across in 26 south city parishes. Overall, the data collected annually, indicate that approximately one fourth of Catholics participate in Mass each week in the Archdiocese.

In 1999 we had 463 “active” priests serving our parishes. Now that number is 324 “active” priests. In coming years, the Ordination Classes of 1974 through 1977 – our largest classes in recent memory – will see some 60 priests reach the retirement age of seventy-five. Ordinations in recent years numbered thirty-two priests.

That said, as a hymn refrain has it, “We rely on the power of God”! And we pray that God will give us, as the Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “a future full of hope”.

In Brief

On June 14th I sent by email, to all households of record, information pertaining to questions about parking on the church lot for the Hockey Blues Stanley Cup Parade and Rally the following day. In part I detailed the following: Very simply, since the 1980's the parish has leased to S&H Parking rights to the parish lot for 1) a limited number of monthly parkers who are residents of the now "City View" apartments; 2) daily business and civic employees in the buildings nearby us; 3) special event parkers. According to the provisions of the lease, drawn up by the General Counsel of the Archdiocese, S&H pays us $1750.00 per month for this arrangement. We have "right of first use" according to the lease, only for "parish related events". These would be Masses, Weddings, Funerals, or other events taking place in the church or parish hall. That monthly revenue is a significant part of our monthly operating expenses. The present lease agreement soon expires. It is being renegotiated with terms including a significant increase in the monthly payments, expansion of the “right of first use”, and other maintenance-related issues for the parking lot. We have enjoyed a cordial and professional relationship with S&H Parking and have every hope this will continue for the benefit of all.

For at least three years there have been significant HVAC issues in the rectory. After unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problems, particularly humidity issues which necessitate dehumidifiers on the first and second floors of the rectory, and emptying from them, three times a day, 60 pints of water, several weeks ago I contacted the Archdiocesan Building and Real Estate Office. They are now exercising oversight for a study, by mechanical engineers, to determine the state of the HVAC system and propose a resolution. They have engaged, too, a highly respected HVAC firm to work toward implementing a solution. This will, obviously, not be without some cost and might involve the approval of the Archbishop. As a side note the rectory system serves the parish house, parish hall and church sacristy. The church itself is a completely separate and independent system. I will keep you posted.

Last August we initiated Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament & Eucharistic Adoration every Saturday from 3:30-4:00 PM during the time when the Sacrament of Confession is available. During this time, at most, there has been one person present for prayer. Often that individual, because of scheduling demands, cannot be here. The Church norms are that there must be at least one person present during Eucharistic Adoration. For this reason it is necessary, effective Saturday, August 3rd, to discontinue Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament & Eucharistic Adoration. The Sacrament of Confession will continue, from 3:30-4:00, to be available.

On Saturday, July 20, at 10:00 o’clock in the morning, parishioners Phillip Heslin and Cecilia (Cece) Reicher will celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage here. They mentioned to me recently that, after our Sunday, 10 AM Mass, at which they are regularly present, some parishioners have asked if they are welcome to attend the wedding. Phil and Cece have asked that I let all know that you are welcome to be present for the ceremony and celebrate with them as they begin a new beginning! They hope you will share their joy!

Faithfully,
Monsignor Delaney