With this letter I would like to update you on several areas of our parish’s life.
1. In regard to Staffing in our Learning Department. As I hope you know Paula Kaempffer, has left our staff to work for the Archdiocese. While we received several resumes from people interested in the position of Director of Learning and coordinator of the R.C.I. A. process at The Basilica, we were not able to make a hire for this position. This left us with the choice of continuing to look for someone to fill this position or to consider other options. Since we didn’t think there would be any increase in the pool of qualified candidates if we continued to search, we decided to consider other options.
Given the above, a few weeks ago I met with Cathy Edwards, who recently retired as our coordinator of caring ministries. She has agreed to coordinate the R.C.I.A. Process for the coming year. Cathy knows The Basilica and I am sure is familiar to many of you. Cathy will step into a program that is well structured and a team that is very committed to the R.C.I.A. We are also blessed in that prior to departing for her new position with our Archdiocese, Paula Kaempffer had done much of the work of scheduling and lining up speakers for R.C.I. A. this coming year. Cathy will also be assisted by other members of our staff.
Additionally, we have hired a familiar face to serve as Coordinator of Children’s Learning and Sacramental preparation. Christine Moore who previously served in this position will once again assume these responsibilities. She will begin work this summer.
Finally, with the retirement of Nancy Keller, our Coordinator of Marriage Ministries, Ben Caduff will assume the responsibilities of this position. Ben will continue to coordinate family and young adult ministries, in addition to these new responsibilities.
2. I would also like to update you on the work of our Campus Space Planning Committee. Beginning in January of 2018 this diverse group of parishioners worked to establish a vision for our campus to prepare us for the next 100 years of service to the Church and the city. Earlier this year this group completed its work in providing a vision and set of priorities to ensure our buildings and campus serve both our current needs and the needs of future generations engaged at The Basilica and serving the community. Their efforts have helped us move into the future with confidence and hope. I am enormously grateful for all the time and effort they put into this important work.
As a next step, we began a process to select a team of talented individuals and organizations to assist us in creating a new more specific Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. This team will provide expertise in key areas such as Architecture, Historical Preservation, Urban Strategy and Landscaping. The process, included “Requests for Qualifications” and later “Requests for Proposals” ” and in person interviews. In these requests we wanted architectural firms that could work as a team with urban planners, historical preservationists, and landscape architects. We eventually interviewed three teams and ultimately recommended to The Basilica Landmark Board that the team, led by the Architectural firm HGA be hired to develop a Master Plan for our Basilica Campus. The Landmark Board approved the funding of this recommendation and we began negotiations for a contract with HGA.
Our next step was to form a small Master Planning Committee to work with HGA and their team in the development of the Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. This Committee has begun meeting and will continue to meet for the next several months. We will set up some smaller subcommittees to examine some specific issues, e.g. accessibility, music, parking and liturgy.
3. Feasibility Study: As I have mentioned previously, The Landmark Board also approved funding to hire the firm of Bentz Whaley Flessner to conduct a feasibility study to help determine fund raising capacity for a potential Capital Campaign needed to implement elements of the newly developed Master Plan.
As the work of the Campus Space Planning, Master Plan Development, Feasibility Study and potential Capital Campaign have broad implications for our Parish we have been actively engaged with The Basilica Landmark Board, Parish Council and Finance Committee to ensure our leaders are informed and appropriately involved in providing guidance and approval.
4. Our Strategic Plan: Our Parish, Our Future: As I have mentioned previously, several months ago we began the process of developing a new strategic plan for our parish. (Our previous plan carried us through spring of 2018.) This plan will serve as a road map to guide and direct our efforts for the next three to five years.
The reason we engage in strategic planning is simple. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29.18) If we don’t consciously and prayerfully plan for our future, we are at risk of drifting into a future not of our choosing and certainly not of our making.
I am pleased to report that at the October 2018 meeting of our Parish Council our new Strategic Plan was approved. The new Strategic Plan retains our core Vision, Mission, and Values, and builds on instead of replacing, the previous strategic plan. There are three new Strategic Areas of Focus in our Strategic Plan: The Arts: to move, inspire and transform individuals and communities through excellence in the arts and creative practices. Inclusivity: to build a culture where people feel valued, welcome, integrated, and included. Homelessness: to respond to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
We continue to work with a team of volunteer leaders and The Basilica staff to assist in both executing the strategic plan and ensure we develop the right metrics and governance to ensure the outcomes desired are achieved.
5. Our Parish Finances: As I write this missive we have just ended our fiscal year. The good news is that thanks to the generosity of our parishioners, we ended the fiscal year with a much less than anticipated deficit. (The deficit is covered by a portion of the rental income from our school building.) The bad news is that the income from our financial stewardship is not keeping pace with the increase in our expenses. While we are not at a critical juncture yet, we are at the point where if we don’t do something, the issue will only get worse.
Given the above, and to support the implementation of our Strategic Plan, our Parish Council and Finance Committee approved funding to hire a Change Management Consultant to help us identify those ministries, programs, services, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community, and help us determine what services, ministries and programs will continue, change or end. Our new Strategic Plan will provide the foundation to guide our decision making process and prioritization.
6. Archdiocesan Synod: On the Vigil of Pentecost (June 8, 2019), Archbishop Hebda formally announced that our archdiocese will be embarking on a synod, our first since 1939. A synod is a formal representative assembly designed to help a bishop in shepherding of the local Church. It is the Archbishop’s hope that over the next two years, the synod process will involve every parish and draw on the gifts that have been bestowed in such abundance on the people of this archdiocese to discern and establish clear pastoral priorities in a way that will both promote greater unity in our Archdiocese and lead us to a more vigorous proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. In doing so, it will help Archbishop Hebda discern, through a consultative process, the pastoral priorities of our local Church today – and into the near future.
Archbishop Hebda described the local pre-synod and synod process as following Pope Francis’ “listening Church” model. “It’s the confidence that comes from believing that the Holy Spirit works in the faithful, and it’s in sharing those things that are most important to us that we’re able to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit,”
The synod process will begin this fall with prayer and listening events. After these events, in the spring/summer of 2020, Archbishop Hebda will announce the topics that will shape the synod. In autumn of 2020 and winter of 2021 there will be a parish and deanery consultation process. On Pentecost weekend May 21 – 22, 2021 there will be a synod assembly. Delegates to this assembly will be invited from across the archdiocese and will meet to discern synod topics and vote on recommendations for the Archbishop The Feast of Christ the King (November 21, 2021) is the anticipated publication of pastoral letter from Archbishop Hebda addressing the synod’s topics with a pastoral plan to shape the following 5-10 years
I believe the synod process brings with it much promise for the future of our Archdiocese. It will only be successful, though, if people pray, participate, and honestly share their concerns, questions and hopes for our Archdiocese. I will share more information about the synod in the near future, as our parish organizes for our involvement and input. I wanted mention it now, though, so that it will hopefully be in your minds, hearts and prayers.
7. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: As I hope you are aware this year our parish celebrates its Sesquicentennial. 150 years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. The first Mass was celebrated on October 4, 1868 in a shed church. A stone church followed and was dedicated in 1873. When the parish outgrew this building, seven lots were donated at 16th and Hennepin Ave. in 1904. The cornerstone for what is now known as The Basilica of Saint Mary (The Basilica of Saint Mary was originally known as the pro-Cathedral.) was laid in 1908, and the first Mass was celebrated in The Basilica on May 31, 1914.
We kicked-off our year long celebration of our 150th anniversary on Sunday September 30th, 2018 with Archbishop Hebda presiding at the 9:30 am and 11:30 Masses am. We also held a marriage reunion celebration for all couples who were married at The Basilica. This Marriage Reunion took place on Saturday February 23, 2019, at the 5:00 pm Mass and was followed by a reception. It was a wonderful celebration with couples married a variety of years in attendance.
There will be other events in the next few months to help us celebrate our Sesquicentennial as a parish. I invite you to attend as many of these as you are able as we celebrate 150 years of faith. In particular I would like to mention a School Reunion for former students of The Basilica School. This reunion will take place on Saturday September 7.
The celebration of our Sesquicentennial will conclude at our liturgies on the weekend of September 28 and 29 when we will celebrate our St. Vincent de Paul outreach ministries. Our auxiliary bishop, Andrew Cozzens will be our guest presider at the 9:30 am and 11:30 Masses pm that weekend. We are also inviting everyone to participate in “Basilica Serves,” a variety of volunteer experiences to help others in our city. More information about the activities and events surrounding the 150th anniversary of our parish can be found on our website at www.mary.org.
8. Parish Council Elections: I am pleased to inform you that in the recent elections for our Parish Council, Nadia Weber (representing Liturgy) and Donna Bonicatto (representing Learning) were elected to our Parish Pastoral Council. I am also pleased to report that Dr. Deirdre Palmer will serve as the liaison to the Parish Council from The Basilica Landmark. And Katelin Richter Davis has accepted appointment as an at-large member of the Council. Finally, Trevor Adamek will serve as the Finance Committee Representative to the Parish Council. I am very grateful to each of these individuals for their willingness to serve on our Parish Council.
The members of our Parish Council represent a cross section of our parish. The Parish Council meets monthly and works with me and our staff to determine the needs, aspirations, and direction of our parish. As such it plays a vital role in our parish community. I am enormously grateful to our Council members for sharing their insights and expertise as we work together to carry out the mission of our parish.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary