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Father Dumont's Letter
January 1, 2006
St. Peter Parish St. Paul Parish
567 Manchester Rd. 54 Main Street
Auburn, NH 03032 Candia, NH 03034
My dear parishioners,
It has been nearly one year since we began thinking about twinning our parishes. The recommendation of the Cluster made to Bishop McCormack was well received by him. Going forward with this proposal would mean, however, that only one priest would serve our two parishes. After consulting with the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils of both parishes, I have asked Bishop McCormack to twin us “sooner rather than later”. In order to do this, I am going through extensive consultation with all people of both parishes. That is the reason for this letter, which is being distributed at all Masses in both parishes this weekend.
In recent weeks I have engaged in broad consultation to consider the impact such a twinning would have on the pastoral, financial, liturgical and Christian formation areas of parish life. Since being served by only one priest, we will obviously have to adjust our Mass schedules. We now have 7 Masses between the 2 parishes:
St. Peter: 4pm Saturday and Sunday at 8, 10 and 11:30 am.
St. Paul: 4pm Saturday and Sunday at 8 and 9:30 am.
The question arises as to how one priest would be able to celebrate the Eucharist at each parish to accommodate the greatest number of parishioners, with minimum disruption.
The Parish Pastoral and finance Councils have examined our options in depth and worked out dozens of scenarios. They have come to the conclusion of what the most reasonable schedules would be. I am asking all of you to take this letter home and reflect upon the options. You will be invited to give your preference when you attend Mass next weekend.
I would now like to go over these possibilities with you and ask your careful attention and prayerful consideration.
#1. Saturday evening Mass. One Mass should be celebrated at each parish. St. Paul Parish seems to be quite comfortable with having a later Mass in the evening, optimally at 6 pm. This would allow families with young children to continue uninterrupted family activities during the day while closing the day with Mass. This schedule of a 4 pm Mass in Auburn and a 6 pm Mass in Candia can fit into the schedule of one priest. However, through our Cluster discussions, the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Epping would participate in a rotation with the pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul at the 6 pm Mass. This would allow for an occasional Saturday evening wedding at St. Peter Church.
#2. Sunday Masses. This schedule is more challenging. Each parish would have to eliminate one Mass. We know that St. Peter would be able to accommodate the people who now attend 3 masses on Sunday morning with only 2 Masses. The same is not true at St. Paul. The church in Candia would somehow have to reconfigure the seating capacity, now about 160, nearer to 200. The 2 Councils in Candia are willing to face this challenge. But a greater consideration is the time of this one Mass. A very early or a very late Mass would effectively force people elsewhere or nowhere. A mid-morning Mass would impact St. Paul the least.
St. Peter Parish would also have to change their Mass schedule. Although they do not have as severe a capacity problem as Candia, there is a problem of Mass times. Which schedule would best serve in Auburn? If the priest must be in Candia in the mid-morning, then what would be the times of the 2 Masses in Auburn? After much discussion we came up with several possibilities.
Here are the three schedules that would probably be all concerned.
Option 1: St. Peter 8 and 11 am: St. Paul 9:30 am
Option 2: St. Peter 7:30 am and 10:30 am: St. Paul 9 am
Option 3: St. Peter 7:30 and 11:00 am: St. Paul 9:00
As you can see, those most affected would be the people who regularly attend the 10am Mass in Auburn. They would have to choose between an earlier or later Mass or attend on Saturday. In Options 1 and 2, I feel there would not be enough time for me to spend with the parishioners of St. Paul Parish after their only Sunday Mass. In Options 2 and 3, everyone concerned would have to shift their Mass schedule.
Obviously I will have many other points to ponder and consider. I do value your opinion. I know in advance that not everyone will be satisfied with my decision, but that would also be true if I do not speak to you or consult with the Parishes’ Councils.
I do realize that occasionally some people from St. Paul will attend St. Peter, and vice-versa, because of the family schedule. Be assured that the envelopes deposited in the offertory will be returned to the respective parish.
We are all trying to make sure that most people benefit in the most reasonable way possible. Next weekend you will be given the opportunity to make known your preference. Immediately following the homily, you will be asked to check off your preference on the Option sheet found in the pews, and also to indicate the Mass you usually attend. Please place your Option Sheet in the collection basket.
Thank you for your consideration in this important matter
Very Rev. C. Peter Dumont, V.F.