12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Dear Epiphany Family,
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 2:4-5
These two Scripture verses have been on my mind and heart a lot since I came to Epiphany. I have been reminded time and time again since I became a pastor (nearly 6 years ago) that we need to keep Jesus, the Living Stone, at the center of all we are and do, so we can truly become the living stones that God calls us to be. There are many things that happen in a parish but if Jesus is not at the heart of it all we are not living up to our calling. We are called to grow closer to Him, build each other up in Him, become more united in Him, and offer the sacrifice of our lives united with His in both the celebration of the Mass and our daily lives, making Him known to all. We, the living stones, are the parish and members of the larger spiritual house of the Diocese of Toledo and the universal Church.
As Epiphany of the Lord parish, we have a beautiful history and heritage from the original 6 East Toledo parishes. Old photos of each church with each of the parish’s founding years hang here in the parish office. While we wish the East Side was as thriving and alive as it once was, so much has changed since that time, including the various clustering of the parishes together. Then of course in 2013, Sacred Heart, St. Stephen, and St. Thomas all closed as parishes to be formed into our one parish of Epiphany of the Lord. Later in 2015 Good Shepherd closed and became part of Epiphany as well. So much heritage, history, and traditions here on the East Side have made a mark on many hearts.
Our Epiphany of the Lord parish has had to learn to bring together people from the various former parishes so we can better become the living stones we are called to be. Yet with our many properties and facilities, our physical stones have been an obstacle to the care of and building up of the living stones of the parish. So much time, energy, and resources have been spent on merely maintaining (or at least attempting to maintain) all that we have. I spoke early on in my time here with both Finance and Pastoral Councils about the challenges we face with our physical stones. Similar conversations happened before I arrived in July, but now the time has come to better study and evaluate our facilities in light of our mission so we can better become living stones rooted in the Living Stone of Jesus, building His Kingdom here in East Toledo and beyond.
I recently formed a Facilities and Mission Task Force with members from each of the three campuses. We met for the first time on Wednesday, June 9th, along with Andrew Reinhart, the Parish Life Coordinator for the diocese, who works with parishes on intentional planning. Andrew reminded us of the mission of a Catholic parish, shared some data about our parish boundaries, demographics, Mass attendance, and our spending on the maintenance of facilities compared to other parishes in the diocese. The purpose of the task force is to make recommendations regarding our facilities that will help us better focus on mission. To help us better understand the condition of all our facilities, we are planning to have a facilities assessment done by an architectural firm. One of our next steps will be to interview architectural firms to help determine who can best help us in our process and discernment.
Members of the Facilities and Mission Task Force include: Karen Van Dyke (Chair and member of Pastoral Council), Charlie Duvendack (outgoing member of Pastoral Council), Sue Veres (Finance Council), Judy Zbierajewski (Finance Council), Josh Anderson, Michelle Hammond, Rick Niehaus, JR Torda, JoAnn Rawski (Epiphany business manager), and me. I plan to update you more in the future when there are updates. Please pray for us and our parish.