May 16, 2024

Collaborative Weekend Mass Schedule

The Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle and the Church of Christ the King Collaborative Weekend Mass Schedule.

The Mass is the source and summit of our life as Catholic Christians.  It is the primary focus of our parish communities and of our pastor.

•    It fulfills our desire and our duty to respond to God’s love
•    It allows us to encounter Christ in the most profound way possible
•    It allows us to gather and pray with our parish family
•    It transforms us by God’s sacramental grace

The designation of Saint Thomas the Apostle and Christ the King as a parish cluster, including the new reality of sharing a single pastor, invites us to examine our Mass schedule. Decisions regarding our new consolidated schedule have been made with the goal of achieving a schedule that will work best for the parishioners taking into account facilities, parking availability, youth programs, and the primary importance of building community.

We will begin the transition process to our new combined Mass schedule starting in July with toggling the location of the Saturday evening Mass. We will then move to full implementation in October toggling the location of both the Saturday evening Mass and the Sunday 11:00 Mass. 

July, August & September

Starting in October (full implementation)

A special email account has been created to receive comments, questions, concerns regarding the new collaborative weekend Mass schedule. When you email to this account, your email will be delivered to each of our Coordinating Council members and to Fr. Erich.

April 3, 2024


Parish Cluster Survey #2


 Dear Parishioners,

Our parish cluster Coordinating Committee remains busy working to discern appropriate steps in our process of collaboration for the benefit of both the parishes of St Thomas the Apostle and Christ the King.

One method of engagement with our parishioners is periodically conducting short surveys focused on particular topic areas. Our first survey focused on gathering feedback regarding your perceptions and understanding of the impact of parish clustering.  Alongside listing important components of weekend mass offerings, you noted opportunities around increasing participation in ministries as well as the value of having the pastor be more present to the congregations, among other things. 

This feedback was valuable and highlighted concerns, opportunities, and some items that were confusing.  We have tried to address those items in our communications with you and in our work in supporting you. We will continue to do so.

We invite your feedback in this new survey as we focus on changes to the Mass schedule.  The survey will be open from Wednesday, April 3  to Wednesday, April 10.   If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to communicate with members of the Coordinating Committee or Fr. Erich.

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us and inspire us as we seek God’s Kingdom together.

Thank you,

The Coordinating Council and Fr. Erich

March 21, 2024


Letter from Fr Erich


Dear Parishioners,

Thank you for the strong response to the survey that recently went out regarding the clustering of the parishes of St. Thomas the Apostle (STA) and Christ the King (CTK).  Both parishes participated and the results were viewed both separately and as a whole.  Below, please find the results of the survey and next steps. 

We heard that there is confusion around what defines a cluster vs. a merger.  Clustered parishes can take on some elements of merged parishes (such as co-sponsored programs, or meeting in shared space), which can contribute to that confusion.  In response to that, we owe you greater specificity around how areas such as finance, staffing, facilities, and ministries show up in a clustered parish vs. merged parishes. 

You are most concerned about potential changes to the Mass schedule.  In many cases, there is strong allegiance to current Mass choices and considerable resistance to change.  Both Mass time and location were equally important considerations.  Many of you are also concerned with the ability of one priest to oversee both parishes.  You are concerned for him personally and for the impact on our parishes.  The tension between keeping things the same and making the necessary changes to ensure a workable solution with a shared priest suggests that there are some difficult choices ahead.

We felt your sense of loss as some consider the cluster a threat to the independence of our two long-standing parishes with their proud legacies and strong heritages.  We recognize your desire to keep what is special about each parish as we seek to bring the Best from Both.  There is also a perception that the two parishes are too different from one another for the cluster to be successful, and for some, skepticism that there is enough goodwill among parishioners to make it work. 

However, many see the upside in our two parishes coming together.  The most frequently mentioned upside was in the area of ministries.  Smaller ministries could band together for better programming and greater impact.  New ministries could be created in cases when neither parish could support one on its own.  Youth programs and sacramental prep were specifically called out.  People were excited about a broader base of talent from which to expand the volunteer base and tap into a wider array of expertise.  There was enthusiasm for exploring economies of scale around smart shared expenses (i.e., office expenses), or, for example, finding a daily Mass schedule that serves both parishes.

In all, we were encouraged by the depth, breadth, and passion of your responses.  It will be invaluable as we identify and prioritize next steps. 

To add immediate clarity and specificity to these survey results, an FAQ was released in conjunction with this letter.  On Friday, April 5, please look for our next survey, which will be focused on exploring a new shared Mass schedule between our two parishes.  We expect to announce the results of that survey and a new Mass schedule the weekend of May 11-12.  Implementation of that new schedule is expected to begin the weekend of June 15-16.  Following that, we will dive deeper into additional opportunities to utilize the strengths of all three of our communities.  We thank you for your prayers, patience, and feedback during this period of change.

May God bless you and keep you . . .  from the Coordinating Council and Fr. Erich

March 8, 2024


Parish Cluster Survey Update


From the Coordinating Council:

Thank you to everyone who participated in the recent Coordinating Council Survey. We received almost 700 responses – truly impressive! Your responses included both concerns and excitement for new possibilities. Thank you for your openness. We will be sending a report about the results of the survey to the parish sometime next week. We are planning to follow up with another short survey – this time more directly about our liturgical life together. Please continue to pray that the Lord lead us and guide us in our new collaborations.

February 22, 2024


Parish Cluster Survey 


Friends in Christ

Thank you for being part of our Saint Thomas the Apostle, Christ the King, and Carondelet Catholic School communities.

Our parishes and school are discerning the next steps together in our new cluster relationship. We trust the Holy Spirit is challenging us, helping us, and blessing us.

As we begin, we want to hear from everyone. We would be grateful if you would participate in a survey. The information that is collected will help us in our efforts to move forward in faith together.

The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes of your time.  Your responses will be anonymous.  Please finish the survey no later than Sunday, March 3rd.  You can find the survey here

Gratefully yours, the Coordinating Council and Fr. Erich Rutten

January 21, 2024


January 21 Parish Cluster Update 


Last week I introduced the members of our new Coordinating Council. The Council met again this week on Wed Jan 17. We are in the draft phase of putting together a survey to hear from our communities about our hopes and concerns about our cluster relationship and about practical considerations that might impact a new consolidated worship schedule. While change can be challenging, we are convinced that there will be important benefits for both parishes and our school. We have delayed making any changes until we hear back from the survey. Thank you for your patience. Thank you also, in advance, for your participation in this upcoming survey.

January 14, 2024


Coordinating Council for Parish Cluster


Early in December I announced the formation of a Coordinating Council made up of parishioners from Saint Thomas the Apostle and Christ the King. The purpose of this new council is to help facilitate greater collaboration and unity between our clustered parishes. This group will brainstorm ideas and provide advice on how we might move forward together. Their first gathering was a kickoff social event on Dec 16th. Their first official meeting was January 3. We will provide regular updates regarding their efforts. If you have ideas, questions, or concerns, please feel free to engage with me or the people on this council. Here are the members of our Coordinating Council:

STA – Steve Birch
STA – Claire Schwalbach
STA – Carol Solheid
CTK – Mary Lou Caskey
CTK – Mary Beth Hachiya
CTK – Jim Hidding
CCS – Kelly Zech (STA)
CCS – Rachel Horejsi (CTK)
Fr Erich Rutten

December 8, 2023


Deepening Our Connections with the Church of Christ the King


What does it mean to be in a cluster relationship between parishes? This is not predetermined. It is part of our journey in faith to discern this together. What these first six months have taught us is that this new relationship is more than simply sharing a pastor. The Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle and the Church of Christ the King now share both a challenge and an opportunity to work together and pray together more fully in seeking the Kingdom of God together. To help our parishes move forward together, we are forming a new advisory body we are calling a Coordinating Council to supplement each parish’s Parish Council and Finance Council. Specifically, the new Coordinating Council will be made up of four representatives from each parish to reflect on the question we face together: What does it mean to be in a cluster relationship? They will look at decisions about our offerings for worship times and locations. They will give advice about what programs and ministries might be better done together. They will brainstorm ideas for new community events to bring us together. They will help us discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

The new Coordinating Council, along with both Parish Councils, will be getting together for a “meet and greet” and “kickoff” this Thursday, Dec 14. I will be sharing more information as we get up and started. I want to offer a special “thank you” to all our parish leaders of our many ministries. Please keep our parishes and our new relationship in your prayers.

September 8, 2023

How is our transition going?

Hello Saint Thomas friends,

Thank you so much for your generous welcome here at St. Thomas the Apostle. I’ve been very grateful for the opportunity to meet so many of you. Now that Labor Day has passed, I can feel the energy, busyness and excitement growing. The school and many of our parish programs are back in action. I’m looking forward to “riding the wave” with you.

Some of you have asked about how our transition is going – being two clustered parishes with one shared pastor. My quick and sincere response has been, “So far, so good.” A longer response would be that we are all exploring and discovering our new relationships together. In a merger, two distinct parishes become one. In a clustered relationship, each parish retains its own identity but enters into greater collaboration. There is no “road map” or preconceived expectations for our cluster. We get to explore this together.

In his announcement of the new cluster relationship with the Church of Christ the King, Fr. Michael indicated that the parishes would work together to set a new schedule for weekend masses. The liturgy staff here at Saint Thomas and at Christ the King have already been researching options and ideas and our STA Liturgy Team will also be weighing in. The full staff both here at Saint Thomas and at Christ the King, as well as the respective pastoral councils, will vet the final proposals. We expect to be able to offer similar mass times to our current schedule. Some masses will be at STA and some at CTK. We plan to let you know more about our new schedule sometime in late October or early November.

We might feel as though we are losing something. There is some truth to that. But being in a cluster also offers us important new opportunities – not only for certain kinds of efficiencies, but also for a greater sharing of gifts and talents and hearts and minds. As one politician put it, “We’re better together!”

If you have any questions or concerns, I would be happy to chat.

Again, thank you for sharing your gift of hospitality with me and with our Christ the King friends. I am looking forward to journeying with you.

In Christ,

Fr. Erich Rutten