From September 6-20, data was collected from 128 St. Gertrude parishioners about Renew My Church options through paper or electronic surveys, collecting both quantitative data on Renew My Church scenario rankings and qualitative data on supporting reasons for highest- and lowest-scenario rankings and related feedback. Based on this data, the major findings are:
• Two-parish scenarios were preferred among most, though not all, St. Gertrude respondents; a single worship center approach was not generally preferred.
• While St. Gertrude respondents preferred scenarios that favored maintenance of their parish and church, these respondents also preferred scenarios that maintained St. Jerome as a parish and church.
• Northside Catholic Academy was a frequently-identified reason to sustain St. Gertrude with important costs and risks associated with its move.
• Respondents noted the tension among Renew My Church principles, emphasis on data used in the decision-making process, and foundational spiritual and community development, which face critical challenges from major forces within the Church itself.
More detailed information from the data collected are reported below:
Most (75%) respondents had been parishioners for >10 years compared with respondents who had been parishioners for 10 years or less.
Among the top three ranking scenarios, there was no majority scenario identified:
• Scenario 4, 47%
• Scenario 5, 41%
• Scenario 1, 40%
Among the bottom 3 ranking scenarios, Scenario 9 was selected by most parishioners:
• Scenario 9, 52%
• Scenario 10, 41%
• Scenario 3, 38%
Results were generally consistent across parishioner groups, though Scenario 8 was among the bottom 3 scenarios among respondents who had been in the parish 10 years or less.
Extensive, wide-ranging comments were captured from parishioners and were analyzed and synthesized by the Renew My Church team.
1. Reasons supporting highest-ranking (n=104 respondents) and lowest-ranking (n=88 respondents) scenarios:
• Two parish scenarios were generally preferred, and single worship site scenarios were generally not preferred. A single parish scenario was noted to be “the defeatist option with little hope in the future” with challenges in pastoral care to provide “ministerial and spiritual needs” that are part of the Renew My Church objectives, including evangelization.
• Northside Catholic Academy was frequently mentioned in both highest-ranking and lowest-ranking scenarios as a central consideration and transition to another facility was thought to be “very costly”. The positive influence of Northside Catholic Academy among young families, including “bringing back” parents to the Catholic Church was also noted.
• Recent capital investments and projected costs at St. Gertrude, which was identified as “our beautiful church”, which long-term parishioners see as part of their own and their neighborhood’s identities.
• St. Jerome’s strong Mass attendance was frequently noted by respondents and as an important consideration.
• The Loyola Mission Center has the potential to be an important institution and was generally identified as a positive option, but the pandemic makes this option appear uncertain at best, and “pie in the sky” at worst. The Jesuit order’s charism on education, rather than parish ministry, was also noted.
• Concerns about cultural and liturgical differences across parishes, including LGTBQ acceptance and inclusivity, and helping dispersed parishioners integrate into new faith homes.
2. Major implementation challenges (n=99 respondents) and additional feedback (n=60 respondents):
• Bridging the parish and neighborhood communities, including identifying a pastor and team with sufficient time, support, and language skills to provide leadership. Such demands may be “unrealistic” for clergy.
• Transportation, especially among older respondents, with greater difficulty expected based on closures at St. Gertrude and St. Jerome.
• The Covid-19 pandemic has made this process, which already felt rushed and difficult, even harder. The result of any decision will be painful for community members most closely affected.
• There was skepticism in decisions already having been made by the Archdiocese but also appreciation for the outreach from the parish team. Some respondents disliked the number and complexity of scenarios presented, and others disliked the survey presentation.
• Tension among declining attendance numbers, other key data across parishes, and potential for growth through reimagining the Catholic Church in Rogers Park/Edgewater through the Renew My Church process.
• Length of scenario consideration differed among respondents and inherent uncertainty in projecting the future of the neighborhoods over the next 10-20 years.
• Allocation of funds received from any sale or leasing of buildings was not clear in scenarios that reduce the number of buildings yet seems important in decision making.
• Larger forces driving down participation in the Catholic Church are being neglected in this process, including related to vocations, and the “downsizing in responsive to massive funding losses due to clergy abuse” will lead to “resentment”.
• “Spiritual formation and community” have been ignored over “numbers and dollars”, despite the importance of the former to influence the latter.
• RMC implementation planning with a “strong component of laity” was considered “very wise” at the current stage.
Dear fellow St. Gertrude parishioners,
We are writing as members of the Renew My Church team. We have been working with our counterparts at St. Jerome and St. Ignatius to identify our strengths and challenges and to outline some scenarios by which we can ensure a vibrant and sustainable Catholic community for the northeast corner of Chicago for the foreseeable future. We encourage you to go to the St. Gertrude website where we have posted a wealth of material, including:
Now we need you.
Below, you will find a survey outlining the various scenario options. Basically, they come down to two issues: Will we combine into one or two parishes, and how will the worship spaces, the three church campuses, be used?
This discernment process will be developed into a letter to the Archdiocese (to be delivered by the end of 2020), with the final decision made by Cardinal Cupich.
We hope that you will let us know your thoughts by completing the survey below digitally. Videos of both parish meetings are available on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel, and each of us is available for questions or concerns.
We request you provide your comments by September 14. Kindly evaluate the scenarios using the evaluation criteria established by the Archdiocese. Topics to consider include:
May God grant each of us wisdom and the heart of Jesus in this process. James 1:2-8
Thank you and warm regards,
~ Lisa Erceg, Denise Goodman, Tim Harrington, Mark Huffman, Kim McInerney, Rob Sierzega, Fr Rich Prendergast
Our second Renew My Church meeting was Sunday, August 30. A link to the live-stream is available on Facebook and on YouTube. (Please note, there were a few questions that were difficult to hear. They were repeated a bit later in the broadcast. )
Here are documents from the meeting:
We would like your feedback! Please fill this form out and send your responses to email@example.com or drop it off at the Rectory office. Click HERE for guidelines for visiting the Rectory. Additionally, these questions will be mailed to registered parishioners.
Scenerio visual presentation (pdf)Download
RMC Edgewater Rogers Park Key Data Table v10August2020 (1) (pdf)Download
Foundational principles Wave 4 (1) (pdf)Download
RMC Data - Parish Data handout - St. Jerome - English (1) (pdf)Download
RMC Data - Parish Data handout - St. Ignatius - English (1) (pdf)Download
RMC Data - Parish Data handout - St. Gertrude (1) (pdf)Download
Renew My Church - 1st Parish Session Aug 16 2020 (pdf)Download
RMC docs for 8.16.20 newsletter (zip)Download