By: Fr. John Jasica


What is the real purpose of our family of parishes and the Church in our world today?  This is a very important question as we discern the future of the Chatham Catholic Family of Parishes.  Is our mission to keep things the way they have always been?  Is it to maintain buildings?  Is it to manage decline?  In order for us to truly understand our future, we need to re-embrace the mission Christ gave us.  This is the only way we can really move forward.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives us the command and mission for the Church of every age:


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)


It is very clear that we are to make disciples, to form people as faithful followers of Jesus, who are Christ in the world.  We are to love and serve like Jesus, who washed the feet of the disciples.  We are called to live and share the Good News with those who are in need.  Our faith calls us to conversion and then to action so that everyone may see the grace and light of Christ in our world.

Our family of parishes is commissioned by Jesus to be a presence of the kingdom that constantly and consistently forms parishioners to be active, joyful and impactful witnesses of God’s eternal love in a world filled with troubles, pains and darkness.  We become a sign of hope.


Pope Francis sees the need for a change or shift in the Church so it can most effectively, efficiently and powerfully share the love and presence of Christ in the world today—which is very different than many years ago.  In his Apostolic Exhortation THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis write about a missionary option:

“I dream of a ’missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” (#27)

Pope Francis sees parishes as an important instrument to bring the Gospel to our world today—but tells us that we need to adapt and change so that we can be relevant and impactful in the present, and not trying to live in the past.

“The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community…if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be ‘the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters;” (#28)


What does this mean for us in the Chatham Catholic Family of Parishes?  Since my arrival to Chatham in July of 2021, I have preached at Masses and discussed at many various meetings that we can no longer remain the way we are.

We as a family of parishes, like others in the diocese, are facing declining Mass attendance, declining finances, declining number of volunteers while trying to manage with insufficient staff.  In addition, we have aging buildings requiring increased maintenance and have too many buildings for what we really need.  In the end, in our present circumstances, we cannot fulfill our mission to proclaim the Good News effectively—we need to change.


We are now in the process of prayerful discernment for the future mission of the Chatham Catholic Family of Parishes.  Through prayer, reflection, review, sharing and conversation, we will discover where the Lord is calling us and how we are to help share the Good News in a very challenging and different world.  This requires us to re-organize and make some very difficult decisions so that we can most effectively be a sign of hope in the world.  This process of discernment will help us become of one mind and one purpose as one true family of faith offering the Risen Lord to the world.

More information is coming in the follow weeks with “sharing sessions” happening in March.