Sunday, May 1, 2011

St. Philip Parish in Minneapolis to close and merge with Ascension

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I wonder how many know that Mass is offered in French in Minneapolis!

St. Philip Parish in Minneapolis to close and merge with Ascension

French chaplaincy to be created in Ascension and St. William's in Fridley

St Paul, MN, April 30, 2011 - Members of St. Philip in Minneapolis are being welcomed at other parish communities, after parish leaders determined the current community of 250 registered households is not sustainable for the long term. On June 1, 2011, St. Philip will merge with Ascension parish, whose church is a little over a half mile down the street from the St. Philip building.

Earlier this year, the pastor, parish trustees and members of the pastoral and finance councils at St. Philip reported to the Archdiocese that the challenges of growing costs and changing demographics had become insurmountable. Parishioners at St. Philip have been engaged and remain informed of the challenges facing their parish.

On March 31st, parish leaders sent a letter to Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, noting that there were no feasible alternatives to the merger of St. Philip with another parish. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt concurred with the local leaders’ assessment of the situation at their parish. “When the Archdiocese launched its strategic planning process a little more than two years ago, it was our hope that St. Philip could stabilize financially and would be able to remain open,” said Archbishop Nienstedt. “Unfortunately, over the past several months, it has become clear that this is simply not possible. I offer my condolences and prayerful support to all those who are impacted by this decision.”

Ascension parish is ready to warmly welcome families from St. Philip into all aspects of parish life. Welcoming events are being planned now. Ascension pastor, Reverend Michael O’Connell says, “Ascension Parish welcomes parishioners from St. Philip's as together we look toward a future full of hope.”

Since his arrival at St. Philip several years ago, Rev. Omalanga has ministered to a growing community of immigrants from French-speaking African countries. It is very important to note that while St. Philip is merging with Ascension, ministry to these members of the French-speaking African community will continue to be offered through a chaplaincy being established for this purpose. After the merger on June 1, Fr. Omalanga will be assigned to this French-speaking chaplaincy which will be based at St. William in Fridley. The pastor at St. William, Reverend Joseph Whalen says the members of St. William are excited about the arrival of this community. “The Saint William family is very happy to open our arms to these French-speaking African Catholics,” said Father Whalen. “We are excited about the opportunity to learn from and share with one another.”

Because of urgent financial pressures, it has been determined that the St. Philip church building should close. Parish leaders are working to determine if the St. Phillip’s community outreach programs can continue.

On April 29, 2011, a formal decree of parish merger was issued, in keeping with Catholic Church law. Parishioners affected by this merger, who believe they are negatively impacted by the decision, have until May 11, 2011 to request in writing that the Archbishop reconsider the decision. More information about the appeal of a parish merger may be found in Appendix A to the Strategic Plan (pdf). Archdiocese of StP-M

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