Archive for category General

Northeast Minneapolis merger to go ahead; 2 additional mergers announced; 3 scheduled mergers this summer

(St. Paul, MN, June 17, 2012) The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is providing an update today on several developments related to its 2010 Strategic Plan which is aimed at fostering a revitalized and sustainable local Church, responsive to the pastoral needs of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

First, the Archdiocese has been informed by the Holy See that the canonical appeals to the previously announced merger of Holy Cross, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Clement and St. Hedwig, all in northeast Minneapolis have been exhausted.  This means the merger will proceed as scheduled and become effective on July 1, 2013.

Second, two additional mergers involving St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph in Hopkins as well as St. Mark, St. Mary and St. Mary of the Purification in Shakopee are ready to go ahead within the coming year.  Both the Hopkins parishes and the Shakopee parishes were noted as “cluster to potential merger” in the Strategic Plan.  ‘Cluster’ refers to an instance when two or more parishes share a single pastor.  Both the Hopkins and the Shakopee parishes are currently clustered.  The newly announced mergers were requested by the parish communities themselves, which informed the Archbishop that their efforts at sharing resources had progressed to the point that merging the parishes would be for the benefit of their communities.  In regard to Shakopee, this announcement is the culmination of more than 40 years of conversation about how to best meet the pastoral needs of Catholics in the growing Shakopee area.

Finally, three mergers announced in the 2010 Strategic Plan will become effective on July 1, 2012: Annunciation and Visitation, both in Minneapolis; Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery and St. Canice in Kilkenny; and St. Genevieve in Centerville and St. John the Baptist in Hugo.

After implementation of all the announced mergers, including the mergers involving the Hopkins and Shakopee parishes and the one merger which took place in 2011 outside the Strategic Plan, the Archdiocese will have a total of 188 parishes in July 2013, compared to 213 parishes in October 2010.

On January 1, 2011, the following mergers were made official: St. Thomas of Saint Thomas with St. Anne of LeSueur; St. Andrew with Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, both in Saint Paul; St Francis de Sales with St James, both also in Saint Paul; and the merger of St. Benedict, St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph and St. Scholastica with St. Wenceslaus, all in the New Prague area.  The mergers of St. Augustine with Holy Trinity in South Saint Paul and St. Thomas the Apostle with Blessed Sacrament in Saint Paul took effect on July 1, 2011.  On January 1, 2012, the following parishes merged: Most Holy Trinity in Saint Louis Park and Our Lady of Grace in Edina; St. Austin and St. Bridget in Minneapolis; and St. Vincent de Paul and the Cathedral of St. Paul in Saint Paul.

A merger decision does not necessarily mean that a merging parish’s church building will close.  Decisions regarding the church buildings of the newly combined parish community are made by local leaders in proper consultation with the Archbishop and the Presbyteral Council, a representative body of priests.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis serves a rich and diverse community of 825,000 Catholics in 12 counties in east central Minnesota.  The Archdiocese’s Strategic Plan is aimed at building up a vibrant community of faith, hope and love through intentional collaboration, ongoing evaluation and greater accountability in support of the mission of the Church.  The Strategic Plan is the result of 20 months of study and consultation, including the input of thousands of people from across the Archdiocese — pastors and other clergy, Catholic school leaders and families, parish staff and parishioners.  The Strategic Plan helps guide the Archdiocese in living out its mission to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved by promoting and proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed through vibrant parish and school communities.

Leaders at local Catholic School Make Difficult Decision to Close at End of 2010-2011 School Year

After struggling for ten years to become financially viable, the pastor and parish trustees have recommended that the Academy of Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto be closed at the end of the current school year. The recommendation has been accepted with regret by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.

Due to ongoing declines in enrollment, the Academy was among those schools included in the Archdiocese’s Urgent Review process announced last October. As a result of this process, school leaders  set a final deadline of May 6 for achievement of a minimum enrollment goal for the 2011-2012 school year of 96 students. That goal was missed by a wide margin, despite a marketing and recruiting campaign, necessitating today’s closing announcement.

In a letter to parents and parishioners, Father John Gallas, pastor of the parish, wrote, “In spite of our very best efforts, we did not make our goal. This parish has valiantly and willingly carried the financial burden of the school for many years, but at the present time, the burden exceeds our capacity to give.”

Father Gallas told school parents that a meeting for all parents will be held next week. Representatives from neighboring Catholic schools and the Archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools will also be in attendance. Since the parish has always set aside a percentage of its offertory income to support the Academy, the pastor explained that a portion of these funds will now be used to assist parents to continue their children’s education in neighboring Catholic schools. All families seeking assistance in finding a Catholic school which meets their needs are invited to call the Catholic Schools Hotline at 612-SCHOOLS (612-724-6657).

The Academy began the urgent review process in October 2010 with the forming of a local school task force. The local task force engaged in careful analysis and review of data related to financial management, academic quality, Catholic identity (adherence to archdiocesan religion standards and other guidelines), and advancement (marketing, development), as outlined in the Strategic Plan under the criteria for viable schools. The urgent review process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders at the school during which the local task force detailed the status of the school as relates to each of the viability criteria.

Beginning next fall, there will be 94 Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. During the 2010-2011 school year, more than 30,000 students are attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. Catholic school enrollment trends generally mirror that of public schools which are also challenged with a decline in school age population.

The Archdiocese remains firmly committed to Catholic schools, which offer benefits not only to students and families through excellent education of the whole child, but also to the greater community. Catholic schools in the Archdiocese save Minnesota taxpayers roughly 300 million dollars annually in costs related to public school education. Catholic schools have a 98% graduation rate.

Archbishop Nienstedt’s Open Letter Regarding School Closings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The closing of a Catholic school always involves sad and difficult decisions. Families and school staff are deeply impacted, as is the entire parish and school community. We may take comfort, however, in knowing that when a school building closes, the history and tradition of the school community lives on in the generations of students who walked its halls and were formed in its classrooms.

This week, I accepted the recommendations of local school leaders from St. Joseph School in Red Wing and St. Mathias School in Hampton that their schools should close at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. Task force members at these schools carefully examined demographic, financial, and other data in making a realistic recommendation regarding their schools’ viability. Additionally, leaders at San Miguel Middle School of Minneapolis, an independent school administered by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, have announced that their school will also close at the end of this school year.

Viable Catholic schools are an essential element in fulfilling the mission of the Church in this Archdiocese even as they are beneficial for our society as a whole. In addition to receiving a high quality academic and religious education, Catholic school students are given an opportunity to live out their faith in service to the larger community, providing a foundation for students to become faith-filled ethical leaders in the local and global community.

Catholic schools face the challenge of remaining viable while also being affordable to all families who desire a Catholic school education for their children. Catholic schools encounter many of the same shifting dynamics that impact public schools: there are fewer school age children than several decades ago; buildings are aging; and providing the skilled teachers and up-to-date technology to educate the leaders of tomorrow costs more today than it did just a few years ago.

Under the Strategic Plan for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which was announced in October 2010, all Catholic Schools will engage in ongoing evaluation of sustainability and a structure of greater accountability aimed at strengthening the fabric of Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. Catholic school viability is measured against criteria in four areas: Catholic identity, academic quality, financial management, and community outreach.

The Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools is working with Catholic schools from across the Archdiocese to reach out to families from the schools that will close at the end of this school year. Together, we will do everything we can to help these families find a new Catholic school to meet their needs. Families wishing additional assistance may call the Catholic Schools Hotline at 612-SCHOOLS (612-724-6657).

I am also asking staff from the Office of Catholic Schools to work with the teachers and administrators affected to assist them in finding employment in other Catholic schools.

May God continue to bless you and the members of your parish and school community as we strive to provide for the mission of the Church during these difficult times.

Cordially yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop Nienstedt’s Open Letter Regarding School Closings (Spanish) (pdf)

Catholic Spirit Coverage of Strategic Plan

The Catholic Spirit provides extensive coverage of the Strategic Plan on its website and in a special issue sent to all registered Catholic households in the Archdiocese on Monday, October 18th.

Please see TheCatholicSpirit.com for more context and in-depth information regarding this historic plan.