Dear Parish Family,
My first weekend here at St. John as your pastor was on June 28, 2014. While on vacation last week, I was able to reflect on the many blessings of my first full year. It has been a delight to get to know so many of our parishioners through the 21 Jackson area neighborhoods I visited through the Thursday night “Fireside Chats with Fr. Chas.” Because there was no set talk and you determined the various topics and questions we would discuss, each fireside chat was different from all the others.
Among the subjects we of course would often discuss included: 1) the background of the specific
neighborhood in which we had the chat, 2) the deep history and your favorite memories of St. John,
including the days when St. Joseph Oratory was its own parish, 3) the challenges that our parish has faced through the years, and 4) your concerns and hopes for the future.
A few of those concerns that you consistently brought up to me were related to our parish’s aging
population and a lack of young families to replenish our parish membership:
- How can we attract our youth and young families to the parish?
- As our parishioners age, how can we make St. John Church more accessible to our older and
- What is the future of our school?
In this second year, I hope to begin addressing those concerns with the parish pastoral council and
other parish groups. Some initial ideas are already percolating to address these aforementioned
concerns. In order to have the parish more attractive to young people and young families, we need to continue making the parish more family friendly. This includes getting back to a full-time youth minister and offering faith formation opportunities specifically for building stronger marriages and family life that run the same times as our children’s religious education.
With regard to better serving our older and disabled parishioners, we need to provide much better
access to the church. For those who park at the handicap spaces by the parish center, our disabled have to go through a virtual obstacle course just to get to the church, having to navigate 7 doors just to get to the main body of the church (the parish center entrance, the four doors through the community room, up the handicap ramp, and the two doors at the church entrance and cry room). To address that concern, I hope to discuss the options with the pastoral council and the building and grounds committee for some type of hallway that provides an indoor straight shot from the parking lot to the main body of the church.
These are a couple of possibilities on the horizon that are in direct response to your concerns. We hope to get more input from parishioners by having at least two dozen parish representatives who will act as liaisons to the parishioners in their area. From these, about eight will serve on the pastoral council, along with a few other ex officio members representing the major groups/committees of the parish. Let us know if you are interested in being a parish representative!
Yours in Christ,