All Things New Report to Parishioners
This past spring, parishioners across the Archdiocese of St. Louis were invited through their parish to share their thoughts, reflect on their spiritual growth as well as provide parish leadership with invaluable insight regarding their parish’s strengths and opportunities through a survey, the Disciple Maker Index (DMI).
This past June, St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish sent to the Archdiocese our response to the DMI and gave a synopsis of how our parish was thriving as a catholic community in St Louis City. During this month of July, we are asked to report to the parish community our findings.
This summary will be posted in our parish bulletin, flock notes and website. Feel free to share this with any parishioner who is on vacation or who is away during this time. Next month, we will take a small, two question, survey that we need to send into the Archdiocese by the end of August.
If you have any questions about any of this or would like to respond to this article, feel free to contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in person. I am grateful for all the participation in this process and feel confident that St Gabriel the Archangel will continue to be a messenger of the good news to our community.
We as a parish have many blessings: a community of faith-filled Catholics, a vibrant school, educational and outreach programs and parishioners caring for each other. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve this community as its pastor.
To the Parishioners of St Gabriel the Archangel Parish:
All of the data from your responses to the Disciple Maker Index has been tabulated, processed and evaluated by a team of your fellow parishioners (Bill Burnes, Ron Coleman, Laura Oldenburg, John Weller, Steve Wilson). This is a summary of that discussion. It has four parts. First is a quick overview of our planning area. Second, a look at the statistics of our parish. Third, we will discuss the strengths of our parish. Finally, we intend to look at our opportunities for growth.
1.) Planning Area St Gabriel the Archangel is in a Planning Area roughly defined by parishes west of Kingshighway in St Louis City and the five parishes that makeup the Holy Cross school. In this area are seventeen territorial parishes, one Oratory and five elementary schools, and the Holy Cross Academy having its school on five different parish sites. We have 22 priests serving this area. Our planning area is fundamentally stable but has experienced a decrease in population, and a decrease in the number of schools. The only City zip code that increased in number this past census was 63109.
2.) Parish Statistics St Gabriel the Archangel Parish is the largest parish in the city 1550 families with the third largest school, 500 students, in the entire archdiocese. Our church seats 800 people, with two daily liturgies during the week and five on the weekend. We are in a desirable area of St Louis Hills with stable demographics. We have good mix of young and old, baptisms are around 100 a year, with large communion and confirmation classes. We celebrate about twenty weddings, forty funerals per year, and offer prayer opportunities through our Acts Retreats, White-House Retreats, Bible Study, Adult Ed and our RCIA program (Nine individuals joined our church this past Easter).
Financially, while our collections have not risen much these past years we continue to run a balance budget and have both a parish and a school endowment with other monies in the bank.
3.) Strengths St Gabriel the Archangel is an active and vital parish, a good place to raise a family, to worship, and educate our children. Every week I hear from people in our Archdiocese what a great parish St Gabriel is! Anytime people visit, they remark about the beauty of the Church and find it to be a place of reflective prayer.
Our parish Fish Fry’s, Parish Picnic and this year a parish block party all are successful community events. We are active in outreach with our Vincent de Paul Society, our monthly food and fuel collection, our ministry to the Homeless. We also offer opportunities for parishioner involvement with our: Holy Name Society, Women at the Well, our Youth Group and our Pro-Life Group, Perpetual Adoration, Rosary and Chaplet groups; along with other liturgical experiences.
With that being said while the majority of our DMI responses were favorable it is good to note that improvements can be made in our liturgies, preaching and the welcoming environment our parish extends to others. Many of the responses were in line with the general trends of the Archdiocese as a whole. We have multiple opportunities to serve as Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Ushers, Choir, Altar Care, Scouts, St Gabriel Players, Athletic Association, Parish Faculty Organization, School Board and many other groups. During the pandemic, St. Gabriel began to livestream our liturgies for those who are homebound and those outside of our parish boundaries. This has been especially helpful in funeral and wedding celebrations. The parish has also for the past two years updated our communication with Flock Notes and our parish app.
4.) Opportunities for Growth With all the above information stated, there is always room for improvement. Beyond the data from the DMI, we would like to see people returning to “in-person” celebrations of Weekend Masses. St Gabriel also needs to provide opportunities for our parishioners to evangelize our community encourage our faith and invite others to our parish. We would also like to collaborate more with neighboring parishes. Our parish can do a better job inviting others to share what we have here at the parish. Finally, we need to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
In conclusion, the entire team and I are grateful to God and to you for all the gifts you share and the love you give to St Gabriel the Archangel Parish.
God Bless You!
Bill Burnes, Ron Coleman, Laura Oldenburg, John Weller, Steve Wilson and Msgr. John Shamleffer