July 6, 2016 // Local

Decision about future parish in Huntertown

Dear Friends in Christ,

During the past year, I have had meetings with a committee to study and discuss the possibility of establishing a new parish on diocesan-owned land in Huntertown. Because of the significant increase in population in that area in recent years, the possibility of a new parish has been discussed for several years, going back to the time that Saint Vincent Parish built its new larger church.

An important part of this study was the survey sent several months ago to all registered Catholics living within a five-mile radius of the Huntertown site. I received the results of the survey in February and discussed these results with the committee. In the past few months, after consultation and much reflection on the survey results, I have come to a preliminary decision. I am very grateful to all the people who responded to the survey. The many comments received, along with the survey answers, have helped me a great deal in coming to a decision.

The majority of survey respondents (491) said they would not likely register in a new parish in Huntertown. 402 households responded that they would likely register in a new parish. 157 respondents said they were unsure.

The survey thus shows that about 38% of Catholics in the territory of a new parish would very likely or somewhat likely join a new parish. The survey also revealed that 162 respondents would contribute to a capital campaign for a new parish. This statistic is a matter of significant concern since a strong financial commitment would be needed to move forward in the planning for a new parish.

It was clear from the surveys that the majority of respondents were happy with their present parishes and reluctant to join a new parish. The majority of those who supported the establishment of a new parish expressed the preference for a smaller parish community. Few were dissatisfied with their parishes or significantly deterred because of travel time to church.

I have come to the decision that it would not be prudent at this time to establish a new parish in Huntertown. This has been a difficult decision to make. It seems to me that the hard work of building a new parish, the investment of a full-time priest, and the organization of all the ministries needed for a strong parish would require a greater need and a higher level of financial commitment than the survey revealed.

I am not ruling out the possible establishment of a parish in Huntertown in the future if the need becomes evident because of further growth in the area. This will become apparent if the present parishes in the area, particularly Saint Vincent Parish, continue to grow and if the churches become overcrowded. At this time, it appears that there is some overcrowding, but only at some liturgies on special feasts like Christmas and Easter.

I wish to express again my deep appreciation to all who participated in the survey and especially to the pastors and committee members whose counsel helped me in arriving at a decision.

Finally, it was very encouraging to me to learn of the satisfaction of the great majority of respondents with their present parishes. Many who prefer a new parish also were happy with their present parishes, though many of them would prefer a smaller parish. In my opinion, this information is very helpful for me and our pastors in seeking ways to engage more parishioners through small faith communities in our larger parishes.

May the Lord bless all of you for your participation in this consultative process!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend

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