St. Saviour

Parishioners at St. Saviour are heard

In 1 on December 29, 2009 at 6:21 pm

On the evening of December 16th, 40 parishioners were given a forum to air their many grievances about their church governance. In November, under pressure from his own council members, the pastor, Father Daniel Murphy, allowed an outside facilitator to come in and discuss what might be done to heal the parish. The facilitator requested that Father Murphy not attend so that the council members could feel more at ease. Twenty people attended from the open call to the Finance & Welcoming Committees, Parish Staff, and the Pastoral Planning Council. They spoke to the facilitator about events leading up to the fracture in the parish community. It was at this time that the facilitator decided that he needed to hear from the protesting parishioners as well, so he set up the December 16th meeting in the Parish Hall.

The meeting was attended by 40 parishioners on a bitter cold December night. Time was limited so approximately 20 parishioners were allowed to speak before the group. Mr. Rudy Vargas, the facilitator, laid out some ground rules before the discussion began. He asked that people be brief and to the point, that no one was to interrupt, that is was ok to disagree (no one did), and that they should avoid searching for resolution at this juncture and allow God’s grace to help over time. The topics ranged from the forcing out of the parish music director, misrepresentations of events in the bulletin, people being shut out of the Pastoral Planning Council, lack of outreach and communication to disenfranchised parishioners, violations of Catholic Teaching, abrupt and harsh dismissal of elementary school principal after 25 years of service, false charges levied against principal, lack of transparency regarding church financials, parishioners attending other churches or checking the bulletin to avoid Fr. Murphy’s masses, liturgical irregularities, cronyism, and lack of participation or interest in elementary school and fundraisers until just recently. Most of the speakers were from families with long histories of being members of St. Saviour. Many were graduates of the Elementary School and/or High School with children presently enrolled in the schools. All in attendance mentioned feeling unwelcome in their own church and wondered what, if anything the Diocese could do about it.

The facilitator reflected back to the group that regardless of whether or not Father Murphy remains at St. Saviour or is re-assigned in June, he recognizes that these parishioners are members of a broken community that needs to find ways to come together and that it won’t happen overnight. Parishioners left feeling uplifted and unburdened. The third phase of the facilitation will be a meeting of protesting parishioners and church council members sometime in January. For coverage of the facilitation on the Catholic News Network, The Net, click here (start at 3:30 into program) and here at 6:32 into program

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