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May 12

I would like to update you on our cluster plan for the parishes of St. Mary (Fennimore), St. Lawrence O’Toole (Mt. Hope), St. John Nepomuc (Castle Rock), and St. Clement (Lancaster).

Based on evolving circumstances, Bishop Morlino has determined that he will work to avoid triggering next summer the linkage of St. Clement Parish in Lancaster with St. Mary, St. Lawrence O’Toole, and St. John Nepomuc Parishes in Fennimore, Mount Hope, and Castle Rock. The approved directives which arose from the Guided by the Spirit diocesan strategic planning process will remain as written, and the long hard work invested by the cluster planning committee remains valid, valuable, and appreciated. Work will continue on the merger of the parishes in Fennimore, Mount Hope, and Castle Rock, and it remains possible that future circumstances will ultimately force Bishop Morlino to assign responsibility for all four parishes to a single priest, but he believes that present circumstances do not require that step. All four parishes remain clustered and asked to continue collaboration as appropriate for the common good of all parishioners.

Therefore, we are moving forward with the merger of St. Mary, St. Lawrence O’Toole, and St. John Nepomuc aiming to complete it by early next year. I will work closely with a committee of representatives from the three parishes to take the necessary steps to proceed with the merger. The outcome will be a new parish family under one name that is yet to be determined. The churches will still retain their current names. St. John Nepumoc’s church will still be called St. John Nepumoc’s church after the merger, for example, but it won’t be an independent parish, but part of one parish family with a new name. Practically speaking, most people who come to the weekend Masses will not see a lot of changes. It is my intention to keep the same schedule of Masses and parish life as each parish has lived it until now. We will, of course, adapt to changing circumstances as we best determine, but for now, we will take it one day at a time.

The real news is that Bishop Morlino will work to avoid triggering the linkage of St. Mary and St. Clement next summer. Because of that, it has been decided for each parish to go back to having separate bulletins.

The new bulletin will start on the weekend of July 1st and will be printed by Liturgical Publications Inc. We will start with a six page bulletin with digital full color covers and possibly full color insides. Of those six pages, the front cover will be editable each week by us and the back cover will always be used for ads. I know what some of you are thinking right now: “Six pages!!! We had two pages before. How come we are changing to six pages now?? Fr. Miguel just wants all that space to write LOOOOOONGER articles.” I hope no one has fainted just imagining that scenario. The reason for six pages is actually to make the bulletin look “less crowded,” to be able to have more white space and to enlarge the font, thus making the bulletin easier and more enjoyable to read. It will also allow us to add photos, Scripture reflections and even a section for kids, if we have the space. I said before that the insides may also be in color because this last option will depend on whether we are able to cover 45 ad spaces. If you own a business or know of one that might be interested in advertising in our church bulletin or willing to support our three parishes, be sure to contact us soon. We will always encourage our parishioners to support our sponsors.

The ads will cover the cost of printing and delivering the bulletin each week, so this change does not add any extra cost to the parish. Of course, all current plans for the new bulletin may change if they don’t quite work for us.

I will keep you updated during the next months on the future development of the parish merger. May God bless our parishes.

Fr. Miguel

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