our Catholic faith forward
And if the world that God created for us continually changes and renews itself, making itself better despite the struggles of the different seasons, I wonder if that, too, is how our great church is meant to be? And, if so, what areas of our church are we presently being called to strengthen and develop? After giving this question careful thought, I cannot help but wonder if perhaps now is the time to consider the needs of the Tri-Parish Faith Formation Program and to address some issues that have recently arisen that could threaten its survival.
For 40 years now, we have had the tremendous blessing of having a Faith Formation Program (funded by the three local parishes) that works in conjunction with our local public school, providing authentic Catholic faith formation to our children during their school day. The decision was made this past spring to close the Prairie Elementary School building and move the smaller children to the middle school in the fall of 2011. This will affect our Faith Formation Program in that we have always been able to have the children walk to St. Mary’s and teach them their lessons at the back of church. This move will now require our students (1st – 6th) to be taught in the PEACE Building at the middle school.
For those of you who have not visited the PEACE Building, it is a two-classroom trailer that was moved to the church’s property behind the middle school 40 years ago. It is outdated, unattractive, and will soon provide inadequate space for the number of children needing to have classes there. Knowing this, I cannot help but think that now might be the time to create a better learning environment for our students – a building designed to reflect on the outside the greatness of all that goes on in the inside of this very unique program.
Considering that the pastoral priorities outlined in “All At the Table” for our diocese ask that we nurture hospitality within our parishes, it may be time to begin asking ourselves what other areas could use some attention, as well. A trip to our local parish office quickly demonstrates that not only is it not handicap-accessible but that it also does not allow for group meeting space or inspiring office accommodations. Though the people who work there are very friendly, the environment itself lacks warmth and does not seem very inviting. Does this reflect who we are as a tri-parish?
I ask that each of you prayerfully consider the areas God is specifically calling you to promote here in our tri-parish. Share your thoughts with those around you. Get the conversation rolling! Bring your ideas to Father and/or your pastoral council representatives (Gladys Sonnen, Adam Forsmann, Julie Sonnen, Linda Stubbers, Judy Uhlorn, Judy Forsman, Ron Riener, or Annmarie Schwartz) so that the decisions they are asked to make in the near future will coincide more closely with the needs expressed by the good people of our parishes. We want to hear your thoughts on how to improve our faith community. We are blessed with three great parishes in this beautiful land that we call home. Certainly, our church should reflect the hard work, dedication, and inspiration of those who fill it each weekend.