As promised, the following is the text that was read by finance council, pastoral council, and our ad hoc long term planning committee at the end of Masses last weekend:
Hello, we are here speaking on behalf of Finance Council, Pastoral Council, and our ad hoc Long-Term Planning Committee. We are here to share the results of our discussions, and the conclusion of the planning process. As you know, we have been assessing options regarding our buildings and campuses since last Fall. In addition to the nearly $1 million spent on capital maintenance in recent years, our parish currently faces over $2 million in needed capital maintenance repairs. Additionally, our parish population continues to steadily decline. With these realities in mind, it is not possible for our parish to sustain this rate of spending indefinitely into the future. So, through our discussions, we have sought a solution to prudently move forward and create long-term sustainability for our parish.
The feasibility study informed us that it would not be possible for our parish to build an entirely new campus. Additionally, with much discussion, we also reached the conclusion that our parish would not currently be able to raise enough money to move the school to the Paulding campus. Therefore, while this has not been a simple decision to come to, we are moving forward with the most prudent and cost-effective option for the long-term sustainability of our parish family.
After much difficult discussion and prayerful consideration, it has been determined that the most prudent way forward for our parish is to keep our school in Payne and to request permission from Bishop Thomas to close the Antwerp and Payne churches. We propose that this plan take place in stages. First, due to the increasingly critical condition of the Antwerp church, October 30, 2022 will mark the last weekend Mass in our Antwerp church. After that weekend, our Sunday 8:30 A.M. Mass and our Tuesday 8:00 A.M. Mass will be moved to Paulding. The Antwerp church will remain out of use until the Bishop makes a final decision about the long-term future of the building. Next, if granted permission to close the Payne church, it is projected that we will celebrate our last weekend Masses in June 2023. After that point, all Masses would then be celebrated in Paulding. By following this proposed plan, we will be making more efficient use of the buildings we have, while at the same time not taking on the immense project of building anything new.
Without a doubt, this transition will be intensely difficult for many of us. But, by it, we seek to be good, prudent stewards of our resources. Our hope is that this transition will allow us to devote more of our resources to our critical Catholic ministries as opposed to the overwhelming ongoing maintenance of all three campuses.
We wish to thank all those who have been involved over the last several months as we have worked to discern the most appropriate path forward for our parish, including Divine Mercy’s Pastoral and Finance councils, our Long-Term Planning Committee, our Parish Staff, and many families throughout the parish.
As I mentioned last weekend after this announcement was read, this process has been extremely difficult for me, and has at times affected my personal health. Please continue to pray for our parish, especially for those who are hurting at this difficult time.