We Love the Feel of a Full Church!

In South St. Louis, three pastors and their parishioners are making bold moves to bring their communities together in light of what might be asked of them as part of All Things New.

The pastors of St. John the Baptist, Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Stephen Protomartyr began in August 2022 with a small gathering of parishioners from each parish at a restaurant. Their purpose: get to know each other.

Over the next months, the parishes invited each other to potluck dinners, donut Sundays and festivals. They also began visiting each other’s churches for Mass. And they recently met to begin envisioning what the future may look like if the archbishop decides to merge or suppress their parishes. They don’t know the future of their parishes yet – but they agree they want change.

Kathy Anger (parishioner of St. John the Baptist for 50 years): “I was skeptical at first [of All Things New] but now I believe it’s vital. When we all gathered together for Mass at one parish, I loved seeing and feeling a fuller church! When I go to Mass at my own parish, we believe 80 people is a lot of people at Mass. So it’s such a positive experience to be with more Catholics who are singing together and praying together. The sound was beautiful! We may be financially okay as a parish, but we cannot continue if the number of parishioners keeps dropping.”

Elizabeth Cassmeyer (parishioner at Immaculate Heart of Mary for 24 years): “I come from Central Missouri where my home parish, I call it my heart parish, is a mission parish. We share a pastor with another church. It’s required a larger commitment for the parishioners to get involved and we share a lot of resources. But I’ve seen that paradigm work. I know it can work. We have to change here. Our individual history is a beautiful thing but it cannot deter us from moving forward.”

Stephanie Wobbe (grew up at St. Stephen Protomartyr and now works at the parish): “I’m so impressed with the pastors. These priests suggested this for our benefit. They will likely not be the ones shepherding us through the next phase. We know they are likely to be reassigned. So it’s touching that they are trying to make this transition easier for all of us in the midst of their own potential changes.”

Archbishop Rozanski will announce the future of all parishes on Pentecost. But the fire of our Catholic faith has already been reignited in three women from three different parishes who are moving forward in hope together.

All Things New in 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.

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