Two two-parish clusters — one fairly homogenous, the other dissimilar in style and population — have formed in Brighton and the southern tip of the City of Rochester, and plans are being made for parishioners to get to know each other through joint activities.
Each cluster is now sharing a pastoral leader and the services of one of more priests.
Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne
Staff members of the new Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne cluster say the parishes’ differences are many, which is why they intend to build ongoing relationships carefully between the two churches.
Sister of St. Joseph Joan Sobala, the new cluster’s pastoral administrator, noted that many parishioners of St. Anne, which is on Mt. Hope Avenue near the University of Rochester, are longtime neighbors, university students and their families, and people who value classical music and liturgy. The city parish also is home to a Korean ministry.
One of Our Lady of Lourdes’ hallmarks, on the other hand, is its growing number of young families who have moved from the city into the Brighton neighborhood where the church and Seton Catholic School are located, Sister Sobala said. Liturgically and musically, Our Lady of Lourdes tends to be more contemporary, she said.
The parishes are not expected to blend their styles, she noted.
"A blend is an imposition of parts of one style," Sister Sobala said. "I would more describe what we’re expecting and hoping for as some sort of an evolution of relationship. As the relationship between the parishes and communities evolves, there’ll be some new understandings and ways of doing things."
In addition to Sister Sobala, the staff for the new cluster comprises Father Gary Tyman, who has become its sacramental minister after serving as pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Greece, and Rob Layer, faith-formation director, and a youth minister to be hired. Deacon David Hudzinski and retired priests Fathers John Lynch and James Lawlor are helping each parish maintain three weekend Masses.
Father Tyman said he has been impressed by the dedication of many parishioners.
"Overall, my impression has been getting to meet some very fine people in both parishes," he said. "There are people concerned about their parishes because they are in a time of transition, and they want to keep their parishes together and keep them vibrant."
Sister Sobala said members of both parishes have been extremely gracious and welcoming.
"People seem to realize we have a large task before us, and they are being wonderfully cooperative," Sister Sobala said. "I’m grateful for that."
She said the cluster’s staff members are setting up an office at Our Lady of Lourdes’ rectory, and she and Father Tyman also will have office space at St. Anne. Each parish maintains separate office staff to handle operations, she said, noting that staff members have taken part in joint meetings and development opportunities. The cluster staff also is planning an open house for the cluster office.
The cluster plans to mark its formation with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14 at Our Lady of Lourdes, 150 Varinna Drive. Following the Mass, all will be invited to a noon concert at St. Anne, 1600 Mt. Hope Ave., followed by a reception that will run until 2 p.m.
Our Lady Queen of Peace/St. Thomas More
This new cluster also has welcomed new pastoral leaders.
One of the new leaders is sacramental minister Father Michael Upson, who also will serve as chaplain of Monroe Community College. Father Joseph Hart, who has been sacramental minister at Our Lady Queen of Peace, now will serve as a part-time sacramental minister at both parishes in addition to his duties as a diocesan vicar general and moderator of the diocesan Pastoral Center. Margaret Ostromecki, who previously was pastoral administrator for Our Lady Queen of Peace, will now serve in that capacity for both parishes.
The cluster also is receiving assistance from Deacon Wil Johnson and retired priests Fathers Bill Amann and John Walsh. Sister of St. Joseph Ellen Galvin is pastoral associate, and Meghan Robinson is a youth minister for the cluster. For now, the shared cluster staff members are being housed in offices at each church, and Ostromecki will travel between the two parishes.
Ostromecki said the two parishes have been preparing to cluster for quite some time by working together on meetings of the parish pastoral councils, staff meetings, parish-life activities, fundraising for a New Orleans parish, marriage preparation, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults preparation and adult faith-formation programs.
"We see faith formation very much as a joint venture between the two parishes," Ostromecki said. "Even though we have classes at the two sites, the program is very much for both parishes."
The two parishes also will work with Our Lady of Lourdes to present a Brighton-area vacation Bible camp Aug. 26-28.
Upcoming joint staff meetings are expected to help the parishes plan activities for the cluster, Ostromecki said. As the parishes analyze and promote their highlights, such as activities, traditions and social events, clustering may allow them to also pursue new opportunities, Ostromecki noted.
"I think you have a greater pool of resources with the amount of people you have available," she said.
Like Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne, Our Lady Queen of Peace/St. Thomas More kicked off its clustering by combining its two bulletins into a single publication.
No changes are planned to the parish Mass schedule, but Ostromecki said that as of Aug. 1, a Communion service on Fridays at Our Lady Queen of Peace would be eliminated since a morning Mass is available at St. Thomas More. On such weekday holidays as July 4 and Labor Day, the parishes also may combine daily Masses, depending on attendance patterns.
The cluster also will begin examining its finances. Ostromecki noted that St. Thomas More’s financial situation is more complex than that of Our Lady Queen of Peace because the parish also is home to Siena Catholic Academy.
"I think we’ll be meeting with finance council members by the end of August to get a handle on finances," Ostromecki said.