RENEW MY CHURCH
ST. WILLIAM AND RENEW MY CHURCH
Since 2017, St. William parish is engaged with the Archdiocese of Chicago’s pastoral program of Renew My Church. This program is about to provide more efficient pastoral activity for the whole Archdiocese, taking into consideration new challenges: shortage of priests, financial problems of many parishes, and the decline of Mass attendance.
- First of all, we notice the shortage of the priests because there are no vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese and in a few years many older priests (about 50) will be retired.
- Secondly, we are witnessing the waves of migration of the people from Chicago to the suburbs and simultaneously many parishes have evolved their ethnic background, as majorities are being replaced by a Hispanic population. This is the case at our Parish.
- Thirdly, there are financial problems related with maintaining Catholic schools, which produces debt to the parish every year more and more. Consequently, the parish struggles with financial problems instead of being a center of pastoral work.
The Archdiocesan program of Renew My Church responds to these challenges and tries to help the parishes in two directions:
- Propose grouping of the smaller (2 or 3) parishes in order to work together now and in the future, eventually, to be combined in one new parish upon a new name and administration.
- Together with the representation of individual parishes and schools (3 to 4 persons) with the help of Archdiocese, make a new founding program in order to increase its financial (scholarship) and personal ability.
St. William was put together in one group with St. Celestine and St. Cyprian from Elmwood Park and River Grove. The Parish has chosen its own representatives (Fr. Ryszard Gron, the Pastor, Gregory Fidanza, Linda Ricchio, Alicja Pożywio), and the school as well (Br. Michael Segvich, the Principal, Maria Montes de Oca, Andrea Alanis, school parents). We have had meetings (10 in general in the time of 4 months), working on parish level in term to explain to the parishioners the whole process of Renew My Church and the involvement in these group sessions. The goal is to propose the best pastoral resolution for the future of each parish. Our grouping session was given two scenarios to review:
A. Combining into one canonical parish with three churches / worship sites with a new name and one pastor (including possibly one associate pastor).
B. Combining St. Celestine and St. Cyprian parishes into one canonical parish, and St. William staying as is because of its trilingual cultural and language diversity. In both cases there are still challenges with the schools. The schools of St. Cyprian and St. William has been given time to increase the number of students and thereby decreasing the debt which is the work of each parish and school.
After 1 year (2018) the Parish has entered the second phase of Renew My Church program, which is more spiritual, and which will change the face of our parish, called, “Building our New Reality”. This phase will help us here at the parish, in preparation to bring new souls to Christ, according to the nature of each parish, which is called to be missionaries. We as a parish will begin to invite people who will reinforce us for the future, building a new parish organism. The Alpha Program will be implemented at the beginning of November this year, with the help of qualified people from Archdioceses and many volunteers. This is not a simple process; it requires a lot of patience and sacrifices. Nevertheless, it will bear fruits. The statistics of similar programs in parishes of England, Canada, and some states of USA confirm that. May the Holy Spirit lead us into this new step opening our hearts and doors of St. William Parish.
Fr. Ryszard Gron
WHAT IS RENEW MY CHURCH
Jesus Christ calls us to constantly renew His Church. Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s response to His call and our invitation for renewal. Called by Jesus Christ we are making disciples, building communities and inspiring witness.
Renew My Church fosters belonging, particularly among young people, and invites them to have a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Renew My Church supports vibrant parishes and schools that cultivate bonds with each other and provoke active participation in His Church. Renew My Church asks us to come together in solidarity and spread the light and hope of Jesus Christ in order to transform the world.