I have now been here as your pastor at St. John’s and St. Joseph’s for a little over a month, and I am feeling very much at home. I have been delighted to meet many of you – even if briefly – after Masses, and I have loved the opportunities to meet you at your homes as well. I am very open to invites to come over for a meal, drinks, a cup of coffee, or really anything at all. There are several things I’d like to talk about in this bulletin article.
The first thing concerns daily Masses. Beginning with Labor Day (Monday, September 7) all daily Masses will go back to 8 AM. This decision comes for a couple of reasons. The first is that I need to be mindful of Fr. Petrich and his schedule as he is the one who offers Masses on Mondays; the second is that although we do not know what Wednesday evening schedules with faith formation are going to look like yet, I needed to have that evening open for whatever might be decided. I am still open to evening Masses, but I need to see how the schedule this fall shakes out. With other meetings like Finance Councils and deanery meetings, I am hesitant to set a new evening Mass on the schedule before I have a clearer picture of what other evening commitments I will have. I will revisit this later in the fall.
Speaking of Masses, I am currently looking at getting the rest of the pews refinished that are in the choir loft and a couple other places in the church. The plan is to look at moving the choir back to the choir loft and restore the space where the choir currently is to more seating with pews. There are a couple of reasons for looking into this. The first has to do with school Masses. The school has strict protocols that they are following during this time in regard to COVID-19. In order to be able to accommodate those protocols and have Masses available both for students and for our daily Mass goers it is important to have more seating available in areas that can allow for one-way traffic which the choir loft as it is does not.
The second reason for looking into this is in regard to strategic planning for the diocese. You probably haven’t thought about the diocesan strategic plan in a long time especially since it was a five year plan that was promulgated in 2012. However there is one piece that was never finished, and that piece is the east side of Duluth. Fr. Jim Bissonette, our diocesan administrator, has asked the four pastors on the east side of Duluth to work together to come up with a plan that can save us one priest (go from 4 pastors to 3 on the east side). With upcoming retirements in the diocese, we need to be ready for this to take place soon, maybe by next spring. Even if the plan simply involves a re-clustering on the east side, it is likely that the parishes that are not clustered with anything right now would at a minimum have less Masses. This means that parishioners from other parishes might choose St. John’s as their destination for Mass, and it is important to have more seating available that is welcoming and have those pews as a visible part of the congregation. I will keep you updated as we get more information on this potential project.
While keeping to our COVID protocols given by the diocese, we are trying to make Masses feel more like they have, and so one thing we are doing is bringing back ushers in some limited capacities. If you have been an usher or would like to be an usher (we could use your help) please contact us so we can get a list together. Men and women alike are welcome. Please contact Michelle Kessler in the office, and let her know which parish you usher at or would like to begin ushering at. I will be in contact with all of the ushers as I’d like to begin ushering again the weekend of August 29/30.
Lastly, if you know any parishioners that are home-bound, living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, please call the office and let us know. I’d like to have a compiled list so that I can visit these parishioners who otherwise would not have the opportunity to meet with their priest. Please don’t assume we already know who they are. Contact us to help us with this important ministry to our home-bound parishioners.
God Bless. – Fr. Seth