Obviously everyone is talking about the announcement Friday
of the proposed “family” of parishes, of which St. Remy will be part.
That “family” will be made up of the following parishes:
Saint Louis in North Star and St. Nicholas in Osgood,
Holy Family in Frenchtown, St. Denis in Versailles, St. Remy,
Immaculate Conception in Bradford, and St. Mary in Greenville.
There will be three priests in total, one of them as pastor.
There are several things I ask you to keep in mind.
First, this arrangement is not set in stone.
The Archbishop is planning to make a final decision in November.
Second, we don’t know which priests will be assigned to this family.
I hope to stay here, and I’ve offered to be pastor.
But that won’t be known until February or so.
Third, I know everyone is going to have so many questions,
many, or most, of which I won’t be able to answer.
I don’t know if I’ll be the pastor,
and someone else might handle it a different way.
Also, it’s REALLY important that everyone
in all these communities is included BEFORE decisions are made.
So I can’t start spouting off before that happens, you understand?
Please be patient when I keep saying, I don’t know! We’ll get there.
Of course everyone is going to have different reactions:
maybe shock or anger or disappointment or worry.
My reaction was actually relief; because now we know.
We can move forward; less uncertainty is better than more.
Here’s my view of the overall map for all 19 counties.
There are some arrangements that are ridiculously large –
such as in Logan, Champaign and Clarke counties –
while many of the parishes in Cincinnati,
including the Cathedral, are being handled with kid gloves.
That said, when it comes to our arrangement here,
this is as Goldilocks might say, “not too hot, and not too cold.”
I strongly encourage you to go to the Archdiocese website
and leave comments on the plan. You can write a letter as well.
Be clear, be specific, be constructive, be courteous.
As mentioned, there will be three priests for this new family.
Right now, there are five; so obviously,
the daily and Sunday Mass schedules will have to change,
and that will likely have to happen by July.
So, you should be prepared to hear a lot more,
and we’ll figure out how everyone can give input in the new year.
I understand this is all a lot to take in.
I want you to know I intend to keep you well informed and also,
I intend to do everything I can to make this work.
And if we ALL are flexible and cooperate, we WILL make it work.
At the same time, each of the individual parish communities
has its own identity and gifts, and no one wants to lose that.
That’s why the term “family of parishes” is well chosen.
In a family, we are not all carbon copies of each other.
There’s room for a lot of diversity and differences – BUT:
in a family, we aren’t all Lone Rangers, on our own.
In a family, we keep our own personalities, but stick together.
Today is “Respect Life Sunday,” and one of the special things
about this larger community is that so many have a heart
for the unborn child and for their mothers
who sometimes don’t have the help and support they need.
Meanwhile, the readings are all about the true nature of family:
a man and a woman, together for life,
cooperating with God who alone gives life.
Notice: today, every detail of this divine design is under attack:
Man-woman; together-for-life; cooperate with God.
Also notice that every detour from God’s plan,
while it seems to bring happiness, ultimately fails to do so.
Jesus mentions divorce. That’s too complex for this homily.
To state what used to be obvious:
every effort should be made to avoid divorce.
I’ve seen both parties try very hard to heal things – and it works!
Not without pain, and not without great patience and forgiveness.
On the other hand, sometimes a civil divorce can’t be avoided.
And the Church teaches that there can be situations –
involving violence, abuse, danger to the children, or financial ruin –
where a spouse is justified in seeking a legal separation.
What Jesus is saying is that a decision by a judge – a court ruling –
can only change the legal, this-world relationship.
But marriage is more than a legal contract,
and everyone knows that’s true; because even after a divorce,
there are still relationships and responsibilities,
particularly involving children.
I also want to say to anyone who has been through a divorce:
sometimes you think you can’t be Catholic anymore. Not true!
Rather than try to deal with all the questions here, just call me!
I’m not going to shake my finger at you.
I’ll be very glad to clear up misconceptions, and help any way I can.
As you’ve noticed, we’ve talked about family a couple of ways.
I know there are negatives to this parish reorganization,
and we will just have to sit with that for a bit.
But at some point, you and I have to get on to the task –
forgive the repetition – of being a family.
Meaning, we’ll have our arguments and push and shove,
but we’re a family; we are in this together.
The reason the family exists – I mean both the natural family
and the spiritual family, which we call the Church –
is to be God’s image in the world and to bring God’s life into the world.