Dear Parishioners,
Every five years, the Office of Education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis has every elementary school undergo a periodic self-study so as to understand the school’s strengths and weaknesses.

[There are 3 foci: the Catholic Identity of the school, the curriculum and, lastly, finances and infrastructure.] Although a lot of effort is involved, it almost always translates into a stronger school for the children. Interestingly, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is also asking every parish to undergo a similar self-evaluation of its ministries and programs to understand its strengths and weaknesses so as to determine the future viability of the parish. After consulting with the members of the Parish Council, the Finance Council and the School Board, we have decided to work with a strategic planning organization called the Reid Group and, in particular, two of their consultants: Lucien Roy and Maureen Gallagher. The Reed Group is a national firm that specializes in guiding dioceses and parishes in developing strategic plans for the purpose of sustaining their life and ministry.

Why do we need a strategic plan for St. Dominic Savio parish? We need a strategic plan for a number of reasons. There are some parallels between what we are being invited to do as a parish and what we are invited to do as individuals when we prepare for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. We examine our consciences in order to better ourselves with the help of God’s grace. If we want to grow in the likeness of Christ, we need to examine ourselves periodically and make the necessary course corrections in order to arrive at our final destination. Those that don’t examine themselves from time to time get farther and farther off-course and fail to reach their hoped-for goal in life. I heard many great things about our parish and have found all of them to be true. We have wonderful outreach to the poor and needy. You are generous people. We are nourished here by the worthy celebration of the Sacraments. We are committed to the dignity of every human person and have a strong Respect Life Apostolate. We have an interest in the missionary effort of the Church. We care about young people and invest in them in a variety of ways: the school, the PSR program, our scouting programs and athletic association. We are concerned about our elderly parishioners and care for the bereaved. I could go on and on, this is only a partial list of the good fruit God’s grace has produced in us as the Catholic Church in north Affton.

At the same time, we have some challenges and we need to pause for a while and reflect on some questions as a community of faith. Questions like: who are we as a parish? What are the values by which we live our lives? What are our hopes and dreams as a parish? What are our resources? Are the resources we have sufficient to realize our
hopes and dreams as a parish? After two years together, I believe we have to update our self-understanding as a parish. We are not the same parish we were in 1975. Neither are we the same parish we were in 1995. Significant changes have taken place in our parish, in our school and in our society. Many parishioners imagine we are the same parish now that we were when they moved into the parish or when their children attended our school many decades ago. We need to update our self-understanding as a parish and prayerfully discern what God is calling us to be as a parish in 2015. In order to re-imagine ourselves and discover God’s will for the parish at this moment in our journey of faith, we need the expertise of those who are skilled in guiding parishes through a prayerful discernment process.

Please welcome the Reid Group, representatives Lucien Roy and Maureen Gallagher, who will be guiding our strategic planning. The goal is to make this discernment process an engaging and productive experience for as many parishioners and school families as possible. All parishioners and school families are invited to complete the survey online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JNXJHC3A. The survey will be available from Sunday August 23rd-Wednesday September 9th. We realize not everyone is in a position to respond online so we will have hard copies of the Survey available in the back of Church for those who prefer to respond by filling them out a hard copy.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us,

frrothsig

Fr. Paul J. Rothschild