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Update from Fr. Jim Mitulski on Northeast Deanery School Planning

posted Oct 25, 2016, 11:31 AM by Cara Koen   [ updated Oct 25, 2016, 11:31 AM ]
October 25, 2016

Dear Northeast County Deanery Parishioners and Members of our Catholic School Community,

Recently I have heard many rumors concerning the future of Catholic Education in the Northeast County Deanery, of which your parish is a part. I want to share with you what is really happening.

Throughout our Archdiocese and throughout the country, the number of students attending Catholic schools has been on a decline. The Archdiocese of St. Louis has been one of the shining examples of quality Catholic education in the country. Archbishop Carlson wants to preserve this charism of quality Catholic education in the Archdiocese. As the student population in Catholic schools has decreased in many deaneries across the Archdiocese, Archbishop Carlson has called on each deanery to explore the best way to insure the continuation of quality Catholic education for the long term throughout the Archdiocese. Since each deanery has its own strengths and challenges, the Archbishop recognizes that this planning needs to be done separately for each deanery.

Under the direction of Bishop Edward Rice, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese and chair of the Archdiocesan School Oversight Committee, two listening sessions were held in the Northeast County Deanery. These listening sessions took place in April and May of 2016 and had two purposes. Bishop Rice wanted to hear the concerns surrounding Catholic education from representatives of the deanery. He also wanted to share the statistical analysis of Catholic population trends in our area. These trends indicated a need to begin planning for a new approach in assuring quality Catholic education in the Northeast Deanery. The first listening session included the pastors of the parishes in the Northeast County Deanery. The pastors were then asked to invite two representatives from their parish council, two from their school board and two from the parish finance committee. The same group of people was invited to the second meeting along with the principals of the parish schools.

When Bishop Rice was appointed the Bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, Monsignor Mark Rivituso, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was appointed by Archbishop Carlson to take his place as his representative to the School Oversight Committee. At the time of Monsignor’s appointment there were two deaneries in process of searching for the best possible solution as to how to ensure quality Catholic education in their deanery. These two deaneries are the Northeast County Deanery and the South St. Louis City Deanery.

Monsignor Rivituso considered the reports from the two deaneries and examined the concerns of the laity and clergy of these deaneries. He along with the Archdiocesan School Oversight Committee determined that the deaneries were asking for more assistance from the Archdiocese. To assist the deaneries Monsignor Rivituso and the School Oversight Committee appointed three individuals to study the South City Deanery and the Northeast County Deanery. The individuals selected include:
  • Mrs. Maureen DePriest, Associate Superintendent for Elementary School Administration for the Archdiocese
  • Mr. Mike Duffy, Director of Internal Audit for the Archdiocese
  • Mr. Al Winkelmann, retired Associate Superintendent for the Archdiocese. 

Since July 1, 2016 these three individuals have been:

  • interviewing each pastor individually, 
  • collaborating with the Archdiocesan offices of Catholic Education, Finance, Hispanic Ministry, Internal Audit, Pastoral Planning, and Today and the Tomorrow Foundation in understanding the needs and challenges facing the deanery, 
  • collecting and analyzing data and statistics in the areas of: 
    • demographics: parish, school, and city/county population trends 
    • enrollment: history and projections 
    • programs: Catholic identity and academics 
    • facilities: Capacity, Space Utilization, AC, Facility Issues 
    • finances: budgets, offertory, school investment, parish reserves. 
In a nutshell, they have been studying all of the above data and preparing a report for the School Oversight Committee. The report will have a specific plan for the deanery that will be presented to the deanery offering an opportunity for response.

The report is nearing completion at this time and, as a result, no recommendations have been presented. What you are hearing are rumors. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that we are all open to His plan so that he can show us the way to share our faith with our children.


Sincerely,

Very Reverend James Mitulski, VF

Pastor, St. Norbert

Dean, Northeast County Deanery



A footnote:

For those of who may not be familiar with the term “deanery,” the Archdiocese of St. Louis is divided into smaller sections of parishes called deaneries. The Archbishop then appoints a Dean for each deanery. The job of the dean is twofold:
  • assisting parishes in carrying out the mission of the Church as expressed by the Archbishop 
  • bringing to the Archbishop the concerns articulated by the local church (the deanery).