Mike Blanek, Mark Wagener, Carrie Bragg, Jeff Spencer and myself, are the Our Lady of Refuge team that is participating in the Vicariate update on Together in Faith Phase 2.
There are 11 parishes in our vicariate at this time, with Fr. Dave Blasek as our Vicar. Starting this past February, we have begun meeting once a month, and will do so till June. This is in an effort to produce answers to exterior data as well as interior data pertinent to our parish provided by the archbishop that gives us an overall view as to what may possibly affect changes in the way we do ministry here at Our Lady of Refuge.
We first looked at the data for population in and around our parish based upon cities population counts as well as moving trends and available housing, both rental and home purchases. We offered the different ways in which our parish has managed these changes, and how we intend to boost our ministries and the work they do in the ten years to come.
Our Lady of Refuge actually looked pretty good, because our finance council has already seen this data and made many decisions based on their implications. Our systems are already in place to manage the changes.
For instance, our youth program, thanks to Suzanne, has grown to meet the population of that segment of the parish quite well. She acquired and equipped their own room and has built an organization of youth that is a visible part of the backbone of our vicariate. Because of Refuge facilities quality and location, our campus is the most often used for large vicariate gatherings under her supervision.
Our Religious Education department, under Marianne, has changed drastically to meet the demands of families with difficult schedules. She implemented the once a month, all day Saturday Family Catechesis program to accommodate their needs. It has quadrupled in families since the beginning. In this setting, parents as well as their children are relearning their Catholic faith in a setting that is followed by participation in Holy Mass on Saturday evenings. They are all learning by leaps and bounds.
Our School got high marks in the study as it offers the ability to accept more students without crowding and still fills the classrooms nicely – a plan implemented by our principal Sally Cheney and the Parents Club.
Our Hometown Helpers from Christian Service under Paula Dawson gave many parishes ideas on how to care for their aging population. Mark Wagener, who is the immediate supervisor of the project, fielded many questions on this.
We are now working on the new set of questions on the internal data we supplied during the original Together in Faith 5 years ago.
There are still 10 questions to be answering based on that data and new information using all the changes Fr. McEnhill has made expanding our altar ministries in a greater way to our youth, requiring sports participants to be part of Religious Ed or part of school, as well as the hard work done for debt reduction – a feat that is getting very high marks by the parishes listening to our parish data. Our campus is a facility being used by both RE and Youth Ministry participants from all over our diocese and we are the lucky recipients of many compliments for its comfort and utility as well as the fact that we are almost done paying for $700,000 worth of over runs within a 6 year period.
Stay tuned over the next few months for more information on that project. We will try to keep you posted. God bless your week, Mary Theisen.