St. Francis de Sales and St. Stephen parishes in Geneva — which are currently known as the Roman Catholic Community of Geneva — are in the process of becoming one parish with a new name.
The diocesan Priests’ Council discussed the matter at its Sept. 12 meeting, and now the parishes are waiting for Bishop Matthew H. Clark to decree that they combine, said Father Daniel Condon, diocesan chancellor.
Over the summer, parishioners were asked to submit suggested names for the new parish, said Father Roy Kiggins, pastor. The 80 or 90 suggested names were forwarded to Father Condon, who will narrow the list and send it back for the parishioners to vote on, he said.
Parishioners have been involved in the pastoral-planning process since it began in 1997, Father Kiggins added. The Geneva parishes clustered two years later.
“When a cluster is established, the expectation is eventually it’s going to come down to a single corporation,” Father Kiggins said.
When the parishes clustered, a new Mass schedule was implemented and the parish staffs combined. Eventually the parish councils and most ministry and faith-formation programs were combined as well.
The parishes spent several years researching a possible merger and gathering input from parishioners, Father Kiggins said. In 2006 the pastoral council approved the formation of one parish and surveyed parishioners about a revised Mass schedule. That new schedule went into effect in early June, so parishioners probably won’t see many more changes after the new parish is officially formed, Father Kiggins said.
But the change will help the parish staff work more efficiently, allowing them to keep only one set of financial and sacramental records instead of the two separate sets they’ve had to maintain thus far, he added.
The Geneva parishes are not the only ones in the Finger Lakes region in the process of forging new connections. The majority of parishes in the Finger Lakes planning groups are moving toward change.
Geneva/Seneca Falls/Waterloo Planning Group
This group comprises the Geneva parishes, St. Patrick in Seneca Falls and St. Mary in Waterloo. Planning-group members have drafted a five-year pastoral plan, and will spend the next few months revising it. Karen Rinefierd, the diocesan pastoral-planning liaison to the group, said although it is not yet set in stone, it appears that St. Mary and St. Patrick will form a cluster in June 2007.
Auburn Planning Group
This group encompasses the seven Auburn-area parishes of Holy Family, Sacred Heart, St. Alphonsus, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hyacinth, St. Mary and St. Ann. In late June, St. Hyacinth and St. Francis of Assisi formed a new cluster with Father Eugene Dobosz as its pastor.
Eastern Wayne-Northern Cayuga Planning Group
This group comprises churches in Clyde, Savannah, Weedsport, Cato, Port Byron, Lyons, Red Creek, Wolcott and Fair Haven. In July 2005 St. Joseph, Weedsport; St. Patrick, Cato; and St. John, Port Byron, merged to form Our Lady of the Snow Parish. The three parishes had been working together since the 1980s as the Northern Cayuga Cluster.
The parishes of St. Mary Magdalene, Wolcott; St. Thomas, Red Creek; and St. Jude, Fair Haven, have for several years been clustered as the Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity. Father George Heyman, pastor, said the churches recently began functioning as one parish, and Father Condon noted that the parish is in the final stages of legally becoming one entity.
St. John the Evangelist in Clyde and St. Patrick in Savannah are currently clustered, and the group’s pastoral plan calls for them to further cluster with St. Michael in Lyons within the next year or so, said Deborah Housel, the diocesan pastoral-planning liaison to the group.
Northwest Ontario Planning Group
This group encompasses the parishes of St. Dominic, Shortsville; St. Felix, Clifton Springs; St. Francis, Phelps; St. Bridget/St. Joseph, East Bloomfield; St. Mary, Canandaigua; and St. Patrick, Victor.
St. Felix and St. Francis clustered in 1992, and they will further cluster with St. Dominic in June 2007, Housel said. St. Mary and St. Bridget/St. Joseph parishes also plan to cluster in June 2007, she added.
Southern Cayuga Planning Group
The churches in Aurora, Union Springs, Scipio, Moravia and King Ferry were some of the first in the region to experience reconfiguration, forming a new parish — Good Shepherd Catholic Community — several years ago, Housel said.
South Seneca Planning Group
This group — made up of Holy Cross, Ovid; St. Francis Solanus, Interlaken; and St. James, Trumansburg — is unique Rinefierd said, because all three parishes are staffed by Capuchin friars. There are no significant changes planned for the group at this time, she said, noting that Holy Cross and St. Francis Solanus are clustered in essence, since they share the same pastoral leader, Father William Winters.
Western Wayne Planning Group
This group comprises the parishes of St. Patrick, Macedon; St. Anne, Palmyra; St. Gregory, Marion; St. Mary of the Lake, Ontario; Church of the Epiphany, Sodus; St. Rose, Sodus Point; and St. Michael, Newark.
St. Anne and St. Gregory are already clustered and are expected to further cluster with St. Patrick within the next two years. St. Mary of the Lake, Church of the Epiphany and St. Rose also are expected to cluster within that time frame, Housel said.
Yates Planning Group
This group is made up of St. Michael, Penn Yan; St. Andrew, Dundee; St. Theresa, Stanley; St. Mary, Rushville; St. Januarius, Naples; and St. Patrick, Prattsburgh, collectively known as Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community. These six parishes are planning to consolidate into one within the next year, Rinefierd said. The group’s pastoral plan calls for the new parish to reduce its number of worship sites — churches open for worship and ministry — from six to three within the next few years.