Pastoral Planning

09-12-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Granato

My Dear Friends,

Last week in my homily I mentioned that the second phase of the pastoral planning of the Archdiocese will be affecting New Britain soon. It is never easy to talk about a church and a faith that is diminishing, but the reality in New England is that the church and our faith is diminishing and the Covid virus did not help it. For centuries people rallied around and worshiped in their respective parishes. It was in their parish that they found and nourished friendships with other parishioners and celebrated their many sacraments. The parish church was another home for them.

In New Britain St. Maurice and St. Jerome were another home for many of you, just as the other parishes were also homes for many other Catholics. But the reality is that in a city of roughly 70,000 people, and only a percentage of them Catholic (and many of these Catholics who do not practice their faith), it is a situation that is untenable to keep 11 church buildings, and the many convents, rectories, school buildings, parish office buildings etc. that are connected to each church, open.

Just as a pastor needs to be a good steward of your donations to the parish, our archbishop needs to be a good steward of his resources as well. These resources are not just money but also personnel. He needs to make difficult decision that will affect the lives of his flock. Many Catholics in New Britain will be sad and upset when they find out that this second phase of pastoral planning will affect them. That’s okay. The sadness that many Catholics will feel is a proof that you care about your parish church. You have every right to feel sad and upset. But even though things change and even though the demographics dictate pastoral planning decisions, one thing is very certain. The Catholics in New Britain will not be orphaned. Yes, some Catholics will lose their “mother” when their church closes, and being asked to become a part of another parish will feel awkward and unnatural, but the church will still be here for you. It might be in a completely different building, but the sacraments will still be celebrated and you will still have that encounter with Christ that is so necessary for you to grow in the spiritual life.

The final decision is out of our hands, so we will be asked to place our faith in God and trust that whatever happens, you are still an integral part of our Catholic faith and the faith life of the church in New Britain. The center of our faith is not St. Jerome or St. Maurice or St. Andrew or St. John or St. Peter or St. Joseph or St. Ann or St. Mary or St. Francis or Holy Cross or Sacred Heart. The center of our faith is worshipping the Holy Trinity and receiving God the Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist. Pray for vocations to the priesthood; pray for our brothers and sisters to return to the practice of the faith; and pray that we will all find peace in whatever decisions are made so that we can come and worship with a clean heart and mind.