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Beacons of Light

December 2021 Message from Father King
 

Guardian Angels Parishioners, 

 

I would like to share some thoughts on the Beacons of Light announcement and our new family of parishes. This announcement came as a surprise to all of us, myself included, especially since it was not in the initial draft of families shared by the Archdiocese in October. We never had the opportunity to provide input on what turned out to be the final pairing of parishes. While upsetting, we must recognize that the stewards of this process had a rationale for the creation of our Family of Parishes; and, the members of our new family, undoubtedly, feel the same way we do. We were not prepared for this, but we have a responsibility to plan the best future possible, together. 

 

We should begin by recognizing the fellowship we have with Saint John Fischer, Saint Jerome, and Immaculate Heart of Mary, that extends beyond geography.  Many parishioners of these parishes were once members of Guardian Angels, and vice versa.  The two largest parishes, Guardian Angels and Immaculate Heart of Mary, already share many services and missions.  For example, the Fathers Team works seamlessly across both parishes, we have joint penance services, we have teamed up for combined youth ministry opportunities, our schools share some sports teams, our children go to high school together, and most importantly, we are united by our Catholic faith. 

 

In some cases, this integration was driven by pragmatism.  Over time, our parish and school enrollments have declined. Our parishioners are increasingly pulled in many directions with less time to give to Parish fellowship activities. And, there has been declining Mass attendance.  Certainly, this issue is broader than just our community; however, we are feeling the impact. 

 

Looking forward, the Beacons of Light announcement feels ambiguous and is creating angst for many of you and those in our community.  We have been told there will be three priests across these four parishes; however, we have not been told who the Pastor will be yet. We do not expect to hear that until Spring.  Many are concerned about the impact on our schools and our children. We do not anticipate changes to our school in the very near future. Our school’s enrollment has been increasing to the point we recently added more preschool classes. IHM also has a strong school enrollment. But the reality is that we do not know what our Family of Parishes will look like in the long-term. 

 

We, the Guardian Angels community, have a lot of strengths to offer our Family of Parishes.  Our location is near the geographical center of the new Family of Parishes.  Our parish enrollment already includes a diverse set of parishioners from Mount Washington, Anderson Township, Newtown, and surrounding communities.  We have a robust offering of ministries.  Our school is located adjacent to Archbishop McNicholas High School and is a neighbor with Mount Saint Mary's Seminary - both of which have enabled us to share our campus resources and provide enriching experiences.  We have an impressive physical campus and we have continued to invest in our facilities.  We have a strong sense of family with generations of families who have called Guardian Angels Parish their home for more than 125 years.  We have all put our heart into Guardian Angels. 

 

The Archdiocese established the new families of parishes under its Beacons of Light initiative. It is now up to us to determine how we come together and worship together as one family of Catholics. We officially come together on July 1st but this process is a long-term one. We are just beginning the planning process that the Archdiocese expects to take up to five years for us – Guardian Angels, IHM, St John Fischer and St Jerome – to complete. 

 

We know there is a lot of speculation out there about what may or may not happen, but right now that is all it is – speculation. We pledge to keep you informed every step of this process. There will be times we just do not have answers to your questions or ours. Right now is one of those times. But as we move forward, we will bring you along with us. We will communicate information through our parish bulletin, parish newsletters, and our parish website. I ask you to turn to these resources for information and not waste your energy with rumors swirling around in the community. 

 

I know many of you are saddened and shocked at this news. Those feelings are all understandable. Regardless of how each of us is feeling right now, please prayerfully consider how we come together with our neighbors and welcome each other into this new Family of Parishes where we will celebrate our faith together. My intent is to support the new Pastor through his transition, which will begin in July 2022. This is also the intent of our Guardian Angels Parish Pastoral Council, as well as our other committees. I hope you and your family join us as we move forward as a Family of Parishes together. 

 

Father King