The diocese will expand its rural- and urban-ministry programs as it reorganizes personnel in its Office of Parish Support Ministries, said Bernard Grizard, the office’s diocesan director.
Grizard said the shift in Parish Support Ministries personnel was prompted in part by the departure of Deacon John Brasley, who served as a liaison in the Office of Liturgy, officer for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, and coordinator of the department’s urban-, health-care- and jail-ministry programs. Deacon Brasley became director of deacon personnel Aug. 8 after Deacon David Palma, the previous director, was appointed pastoral administrator of Rochester’s St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish.
Additionally, Deb Housel, who in June finished a one-year appointment as coadministrator of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, has returned to full-time work in Parish Support Ministries.
Housel and Karen Rinefierd had previously split duties as pastoral-planning liaisons for the diocese, but Grizard noted that the pastoral-planning process is now winding down.
"Pastoral planning is at the point where many of the planning groups that Deb Housel and Karen are working with are one new parish," he said.
Rinefierd will aid parishes still involved in the pastoral-planning process and will provide formation and support for pastoral councils. Housel will continue to support churches in Irondequoit, which merged into one parish in 2010, and will be support-ministry liaison for health-care and jail/prison ministries.
Housel also will be tasked with expanding the diocese’s rural ministry, which will comprise western Monroe County and all areas of the diocese outside of Monroe County. Grizard said the ministry will address how the church positions itself within the rural context, and may help to share best practices among rural parishes.
The diocese also plans to expand its urban outreach by promoting urban-suburban partnerships, Grizard said. Lynette Saenz, who will start work on Sept. 19, has been hired to support a diocesan urban initiative along with Sister of Mercy Janet Korn, who has been supporting urban ministry, and Tom Kubus, who has been working as a financial analyst with urban parishes.
The trio’s work is intended to help put into place the urban-ministry recommendations made by a task force several years ago to counter closings of urban churches.
"It will allow us to reposition the Catholic presence in the city in the midst of changes," Grizard said.
Part of Saenz’s job will be to create educational programs for ministers in the community, build relationships and networking among urban and suburban parishes, and share best practices of successful urban parish projects. She also will help the diocese seek grants to support such programs as youth-empowerment programs and will help facilitate diocesan participation at the National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis next July . Saenz, who was previously a pastoral associate at St. Patrick in Victor, also will assist with the Parish Support Ministries page on the diocesan website.
In addition to her duties with urban ministry, Sister Korn will work with mission education and Asian-Pacific ministries in collaboration with Grizard, who will oversee multicultural services.
For the time being Grizard also will oversee the Office of Liturgy. He noted that the office’s director position will most likely remain vacant until a new bishop arrives in the diocese to replace Bishop Matthew H. Clark, who is required to submit his resignation upon turning 75 in July 2012.
"The director of liturgy is closely linked to the understanding and approach of a new bishop," Grizard explained.
In the meantime, volunteers with the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and the Diocesan Music Committee have stepped up to help fill the void, Grizard said.
"Even without a director, there is not one program that we did before with a director that we did not do without a director," Grizard said. "It’s really due to the incredible dedication of volunteers throughout our diocese."
The diocese also has appointed Meghan Robinson, youth minister at Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Thomas More parishes in Brighton, to a part-time position as the diocesan liaison for ecumenical/interfaith relations in addition to her duties at the Brighton parishes. Grizard will serve as the diocesan ecumenical- and interreligious-affairs officer.
Personnel in the diocesan migrant ministry programs will remain the same: Father Jesus Flores is the diocesan coordinator, Sister Luci Romero serves in Wayne County, Sister Kay Schwenzer serves in Ontario and Yates counties, and Penny Gardner serves in northwest Monroe and Livingston counties.
Brother Juan Lozada will continue to serve with the Spanish Apostolate, and Shannon Loughlin will continue to serve as the diocesan liaison to the Diocesan Women’s Commission.
The goal of all members of the department, Grizard said, is to support parishes in their work.
"Parishes, with our support, can find ways to be present to meet needs and be able to preach the good news of the Gospel," he said.