PARISH CLUSTER UPDATE
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.
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.
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
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.
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