Fr. John Gerritts - February 17, 2019
Father Andy Ricci of our Diocese recently looked at
the future of priests in our Diocese. We currently have 27 priests serving 103
parishes; most of these parishes are part of a cluster, so the majority of
priests serve more than one parish. Additionally we have 4 priests on loan to
us from their religious orders, and 11 international priests from India. This
coming year we will need to recruit 4 more priests from India to replace
retiring diocesan priests and religious order priests returning to their communities.
Based on Father Ricci’s projections, in 10 years (when
I turn 65), of the 27 diocesan priests who are currently active, only 6 will be
under the age of 65. We have 3 seminarians, only 2 of which are younger than I
am. That still only gives us 8 priests under the age of 65 to serve 103
parishes. Some of us may continue to serve after age 65, but this is when we
are allowed to retire.
It is important that our Diocese looks toward the
future and creates a plan to help us meet the needs of Catholics in northern
Wisconsin as the number of Diocesan priests continues to decline. To facilitate
a planning process, the Diocese is conducting a meeting in each of the five
regions or deanerys of our Diocese. Our deanery meeting is scheduled for
Sunday, February 17, at 2:30 PM at Saint Joseph Parish in Amery. The meeting
will be finished by 5:00 PM.
Anyone is invited to attend this initial meeting.
There we will hear about previous plans from which our Diocese worked. Then
there will be time to offer suggestions, comments, and ideas. The commitment at
this time is simply to attend this initial meeting. If you are interested in
going let me know by noon on Sunday by either emailing
(email@example.com) or calling me at 715-550-0725. It is especially vital
for us to have representation at the meeting from younger people throughout our
Diocese. Diocesan staff will conduct the meeting.
This weekend we will feel the effects of the shortage
of priests in a small way. Father Kuss, from Saint Paul Seminary will be with
us Saturday evening. Deacon Tim Cone is preaching this weekend at all the
Masses. I will be covering Masses at Spooner and Shell Lake Saturday night,
because the priest who normally serves these parishes returned to India for
vacation. He is having difficulty getting his visa renewed. The priest who was
supposed to cover for him is 85 years old and recently developed some health
issues that are preventing him from presiding at Mass. Father Rich from River
Falls/ Hammond will cover the Sunday Masses here for us.
To help promote vocations to the priesthood, Fathers
Samuel Schneider and David Neuschwander from our Diocese have put together a
visit to IHM College Seminary – part of the University of Saint Mary in Winona.
They plan to leave Hudson at 10 AM on Saturday, March 16 and return in the
early afternoon on Monday, March 18. There is no cost to attend. This visit is
geared to young men ages 16 and up. We have adult drivers to who will handle
getting them there, though could use another driver.
We already have two young men from Hudson and two from
Somerset who have signed up to attend, and it would be great for more to join
them. The boys will attend Mass and prayer times with the seminarians, attend
classes with them on Monday morning, tour the campus, and have an opportunity
for some recreation. This is a wonderful opportunity to see a college seminary,
hear from others who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, ask
questions, and simply grow in one’s faith. If your son is interested in
attending or if you have additional questions, contact me or Father Samuel
Schneider at 715-360-5527. Additionally, please keep the young men attending in
Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Church
Our Parish Council formed a task force to investigate ways Saint Patrick Parish can respond to the issues of clergy sexual abuse within our Church, including hosting a Mass of Healing in October and a listening session in November. Please click here
to learn more about the Task Force's recommendation to Bishop Powers.