FROM THE PASTOR
October/November 2019 Bulletin
Once again I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish life. I have mentioned some of these items before, but I want to ensure everyone has heard of them. Also, I have included new information in regard to some of these items.
1. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: As I write this column we are heading into the final events for the celebration of our parish’s 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.
150 years is an impressive amount of time. It speaks highly of the faith and dedication of those who have gone before us that not only has our parish survived, but it has thrived during the past 150 years. As our parish moves into its next 150 years we are extremely blessed by our parish leadership and our staff who serve our parish so well. It is a task and challenge for all of us, though—and it will take our combined efforts—to ensure that for the next 150 years our parish will continue to be a beacon of hope on the Minneapolis skyline and a place of welcome for all who come to our doors. I am excited by this challenge and very hopeful for our future.
2. Our Strategic Plan: Our Parish, Our Future: As we move into the next 150 years, we will be guided by our 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.
As I have mentioned previously, 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 ensuring we develop the right metrics and governance to ensure the outcomes desired are achieved.
3. Our Parish Finances: This fall we once again will be encouraging people to support our parish through their financial stewardship. The good news in regard to our parish finances 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.
4. 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 let 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. To this end—since I first informed you of the synod—we have established a parish synod ambassador team who will work to solicit feedback from our parishioners and keep everyone informed as the synod process moves forward. I will share more information about the synod in the near future, as we continue to organize for our involvement and input. I mention it now, though, so that it will hopefully be in your minds, hearts and prayers.
5. Parish Council Elections: I am pleased to inform you that in the recent elections for our Parish Council, Nadia Webber (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 service 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.
6. I would also like to update you on the work of our Campus Space Planning Committee. Beginning in January of 2018 this committee began working to establish a vision for our campus to prepare us for the next 150 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 at The Basilica and 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 selected a team of individuals and organizations to assist us in creating a more specific Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. 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.
As a next step a small Master Planning Committee was formed to work with HGA and their team in the development of the Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. This Committee has been meeting for the past few months and will continue to meet this fall. In addition to the whole Basilica campus this committee will also examine some specific issues, e.g. accessibility, music, parking, and our liturgical space.
7. 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 has 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.
8. Second Collections: While no one likes special collections, it is heartening to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last special collections here:
On the weekend of May 4 and 5, $5,676 was contributed to The Basilica Landmark Annual Appeal.
On the weekend of June 15 and 16, $10,184 was contributed to the collection to cover the costs of air conditioning The Basilica.
On the weekend of July 27 and 28, $6,787 was contributed to our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude and prayer for your generous and caring response.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary