The Kalispell Deanery Planning Group makes the following recommendations and notes its hope that any changes be made with sensitivity and compassion to those parishes experiencing change, and that changes are implemented on an “as needed” basis.
St. Matthew Parish, Kalispell remains as it is currently, with one priest. The pastor at St. Matthew currently has responsibility for a large parish and a parish school. If possible in the future, this would be a good parish assignment for a Parochial Vicar. Even if, in time, the grade school would become a regional school, the pastor at St. Matthew still would have responsibilities for pastoral presence at the school.
Blessed John Paul II in Bigfork would continue with the services of one priest. St. Richard Parish in Columbia Falls with summer service in Glacier National Park would remain with the services of one priest. There also are two newly ordained deacons who are sponsored by St. Richard.
When there is no longer a priest to serve St. Charles, Whitefish, the first option would be to cluster St. Charles with St. Richard in Columbia Falls, the two parishes sharing one pastor and a pastoral administrator appointed for the parish without a resident priest. A second, more long-term option, as priestly resources are no longer available, is to merge the two parishes (St. Charles and St. Richard) using the larger parish facility for both congregations and, finally, in time, when and if it is economically feasible, to look for land in an appropriate place between the two sites to form one amalgamated parish.
Risen Christ Parish, Kalispell, would, in time, and if there is not a priest available to serve there, look to one of two options – either to cluster or merge with the St. Charles/St. Richard constellation or be clustered or merged with St. Matthew in Kalispell. If clustered, it is recommended that a pastoral administrator be appointed for Risen Christ.
As long as possible, Our Lady of Mercy in Eureka would remain with the service of one priest. In the event that there is not a priest to serve Eureka, all options will be explored, such as service by a retired priest or service from Whitefish (if there were still a priest in Whitefish), or perhaps other options that we can’t foresee at this time.
St. Joseph Parish in Libby and Immaculate Conception Mission in Troy would remain with the services of one priest.
Immaculate Conception in Polson would retain one priest who also serves Sacred Heart Parish in Ronan. A pastoral administrator would be maintained at Sacred Heart. The Mission church at Charlo becomes a “Church of Occasional Worship” with Mass celebrated there at least once a year or, if that is not financially feasible, service there would be discontinued. Service to Charlo would be discontinued only after specific permission is obtained from the Bishop.
St. William in Thompson Falls; St. James in Plains; and Sacred Heart Mission in Hot Springs all are served by one priest from Thompson Falls. The mission at Noxon, St. Augustine Mission, becomes a “Church of Occasional Worship” with the frequency of Mass being provided recommended by the pastor of St. William and St. James and approved by the Bishop.
All sites in this Deanery and throughout the Diocese will be part of a yearly, ongoing process to study their sustainability. Some of the aspects of this study will include a yearly look at Parish Mass attendance, annual offertory income, debt retirement (if any), parish plant maintenance, and parish and diocesan financial obligations met. It will also consider parish vitality and engagement. This study will be completed each year and any adjustments needed to the plan will follow.
The Kalispell Planning Group also recommends the Diocese formulate a program for the training and formation of pastoral administrators and that this program be developed soon to accommodate the need.