Sunday, April 2, 2017
Parish Bulletin Article: "Selling our Rectory": 4-2-17
Last weekend I spoke to our parishioners about selling our house. Thank you to our parishioners, our Financial Council and our Pastoral Council. I hope that I show this process with transparency with the gifts that God has given you as you own this house, not me!
I have joked that if Pope Francis knocked on the door of this house, he would probably say, “Fr. Ben, you need to go to a different place to live!” Now I could tell him, “Pope Francis, we are now looking for a smaller house to serve our parishioners and discern God’s gifts to us.”
Here are a couple of steps for this procedure. As I wrote above we must go with our parishioners. At the same time, we needed to work through the Diocese of Duluth through their Presbyteral Council, financial leaders and the councilors. These are the people who voted for us so I received a proxy to sign the papers to sell this property. I am glad that our diocese discerns how a pastor and his parishioners to support us for good decisions. Their job is to make sure we (or I!) don’t do anything crazy with the treasures that God has given us.
Please pray as we continue into the next steps forward. First, I received many thoughts for the next place your pastor should live. Thank you for many of your ideas, conversations and opinions. I also listened to my priest mentors (Fr. Rich Kunst and Fr. Jerry Weise), priest brothers, our Bishop Paul Sirba, our Vicar General Fr. James Bissonette and others around our diocese.
The biggest decision is to have a smaller house which is close to our church so a priest could walk to St. Thomas Aquinas. We are looking into a place with a few rooms and bathrooms for visitors who are coming to God’s country. Finally, it is a very important choice for the pastor to live away from our church. As our parish used to house the priests above the offices in our building, this must change today. The best balance for a priest in a rectory is to allow privacy and accessibility. Choosing a house rather than the “old rectory” allows a professional relationship between the pastor and our employees, volunteers, families, etc.
Please continue to pray for our next steps and let us listen to God’s voice to show us where to go.