That’s why I believe that even if we have fewer parishes with larger boundaries, we will still be able to carry out the mission of the Church throughout North City. All Things New may result in some of our parish properties being reallocated for other purposes. At my own parish, one building is currently rented by Crisis Nursery, which provides emergency assistance and self-referred full-time childcare to families in crisis. Assisi House has offered to purchase our rectory and convert it to long-term housing for men recovering from addiction. Should it come to pass that our campus is no longer a “Catholic” site, it can still be an anchor in the neighborhood. What’s more, if we take the mission of the Church seriously, we will volunteer our time and treasure in these new outreaches. In doing so, wherever we are, the Church will be present even if the buildings themselves are re-purposed.
Pope Francis says that churches that do not have an outreach, that do not evangelize should call themselves museums. At the present time our parishes have a vibrant outreach and are anything but museums. Given our aging population, however, if we do not join to form new parishes, the day may come when most of our energy and resources will be dedicated to shoring up buildings that we cannot afford to maintain. At that point, we could easily become museums despite our best intentions.
Ministering in North City has given me not only a deeper faith in God, but it has also given me a deeper faith in the People of God. I have every confidence that the North City Catholic community and, indeed, the people of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis will step up and make the difficult but life-giving transition to new parish and school configurations. If we do, we will discover we are even better equipped to live out the vision of Vatican II, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.”
All Things New is an initiative that will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel and will identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies. When we become better stewards of God’s gifts, we can improve our social outreach efforts with help from people like those who live in North St. Louis City.