Pastoral region plan mitigates loss of pastor
September 2, 2012
By Jeanne Hunt
Special to The Catholic Telegraph
St Simon the Apostle Catholic Church, 825 Pontius Road in Delhi is beginning a new chapter and change is in the air.
No one likes to change. We get comfortable doing what we have always done. We feel secure knowing that all is right with the world and that we can count on life happening in a predictable pattern.
If there is one thing that West Side Catholics could always count on, it was that their parish priest would be available when they needed him. As all Catholics know, the availability of the pastor is vital to the spiritual heart and soul of a parish.
In the last year, parishioners of St. Simon Church experienced a dramatic change in their parish’s life, beginning with the death on Dec. 14 of Father Michael D. Beatty, the long-time pastor of St. Simon. Father Beatty was pastor of St Simon since 1992. While the faithful grieved the loss of their beloved priest, they didn’t give a second thought to their belief that his shoes would be filled by another in a long line of committed and faith-filled men assigned to shepherd a flock.
What the St. Simon parishioners may not have realized is that the line of such men to draw from has gotten painfully short in the last 30 years. In fact, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has resorted to innovative solutions to the situation of having more parishes in need of a pastor than available priests to serve as pastors, and so change is necessary to keep parish life vibrant and complete from a ministerial and administrative perspective.
To respond to the situation of a parish in need of a pastor, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has determined that a wise and pastorally sound direction is for the parishes of St. Simon and St. Aloysius on the Ohio, 134 Whipple St., to share a pastor.
Beginning July 1, Father Richard Dressman began shepherding these two West Side flocks. Both parishes are working to create the plan for what is now called a pastoral region.
Some things will not change for these sister parishes: both will retain their identity, separate membership and separate funding.
“In its wisdom, the archdiocese started preparing all of us for this day, nearly 30 years ago,” Father Dressman said. “The time is now here and many are in wonderment. I understand the concerns and the feelings of loss for both of these fine parishes. I do believe, that like with any loss, their faith will be strengthened and the formation of this new family will provide many wonderful opportunities for each parish to grow and prosper.”
What will change is that the two parishes — St. Simon and St. Aloysius on the Ohio — will share their pastor. Lay staff will play a more active role in the day-to-day responsibilities of church administration. Parishioners of both parishes will want and need assurance that their parish life will continue.
St. Simon staff member Beth Schumacher believes that the great tradition of hospitality and deep faith will continue at St. Simon: “Everyone knows your name at St. Simon’s. We are a strong and welcoming community of faith. The people here will do anything to help anyone who needs it.”
A family has lost their father. And like all families, they feel at a loss to replace him. However, those who are wise tell us that you cannot return to the past.
The faithful of St. Simon are moving forward into uncharted territory. They are writing a new chapter of their story. The archdiocese can count on another thing: St. Simon will take the fertile soil of its beginning and with faith-filled courage turn their sorrow into the joy of a vital and living church. The beautiful church and grounds will remain and prosper as a testament to the leadership of Father Beatty and the tenacity of the St Simon community.