Back in 2009 an archdiocesan plan was formulated involving mergers, in which one or more existing parishes would be merged into one parish, and clusters, in which one pastor would be responsible for two or more independent parishes. The plan called for St. Dominic to be clustered with Annunciation of Hazelwood. Initially we thought the cluster would take effect in 2010. The archdiocese subsequently indicated it would be January of 2012. That month came and went, as did that year and the next. In the fall of 2013 we received word that the cluster would take place in June or July of this year. Once again, things got delayed, but not for very long. The official date for the cluster of St. Dominic and Annunciation has been set for this coming Saturday, August 16, 2014.
With my being named pastor of both parishes, there will necessarily be a few scheduling changes. Thursday evening Mass will be at Annunciation. There will be no Mass here on Thursdays. The Spanish Mass, our most heavily-attended weekday Mass other than the school Mass, will move from Thursday to replace the Tuesday English Mass at 5:30pm.
The weekend Mass schedule at both parishes will remain the same, although a few adjustments may be made to the 8am Sunday Mass here to allow me time to get to Hazelwood by 9am when no priest helper is available.
The cluster has been a long time coming, giving rise to anxieties among people at Hazelwood that their parish would be shut down or merged to become a satellite of St. Dominic. Not the case. Each parish retains its own independent corporate identity, financial management and decision-making. For those who might be wondering…no, I will not be receiving a double salary! My pastor’s salary and benefits remain the same. The expense will be split on a percentage basis between the two parishes.
There may be areas in which both parishes determine it would be advantageous to share resources. Faith Formation is one example. With classes here on Wednesday evening and at Annunciation on Sunday morning, parishioners may enroll at either parish without having to change parish registration. Another example is Sunday envelopes. People can put their envelope in the collection at either parish.
The clustering of St. Dominic and Annunciation is not new. Although independent parishes, they shared the same pastors from 1872 until 1940 when Hazelwood received its first resident pastor. I thank you for your prayerful support, understanding and patience as I strive to serve the needs of both parishes.