Parish Transition Team of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church, Yucaipa
This report is dedicated to the Parishioners of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Roman Catholic Church in Yucaipa, California. May each of us remember that as a church community we are in continuous transition, focused on addressing our catholic values and reaching out to our parishioners to continue our support of community in reaching out to be closer to God.
The Transition team is composed of representatives from the three Leadership Teams and Ministry Staff.
- Finance Council – Don Averill and Debbie Serbin
- Liturgy Team – Michael Gross and Cyndi Noble
- Ministry Staff – Lisa Cox, Edith Garcia and Rufina Valencia
- Pastoral Council – Enrique Lima, Alex Amor, Marla Cowan, Veronica Moreno-Nicolas, Calvin Claire, Ursula Benitez, Gudrun Strong, Marion Shymanski, and John & Barb Wray
- Deacon Dan, Deacon Pete, Kirsten and Fr. David were also on the team.
An email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) was created for parishioners to share questions and/or concerns with the Transition Team.
It was the Transition Team’s goal to continue to be transparent in the process. We gave everyone an opportunity to give input into this process as best we could. This was carried out through email blasts, the Parish Bulletin, the Parish website along with announcements. We took the time to celebrate the great work that was done by the people of this community. We wanted to create a seamless transition process as we moved from one form of leadership to another.
We keep in mind that God has a plan and we are all a part of that plan. And from Psalm (40) we remember:
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”
With gratitude to all who participated in the process.
Don Averill, Transition Team Facilitator.
On January 24, 2014, a team of parishioners from St. Frances X. Cabrini Church, composed of ministry leaders, parish staff, the outgoing leaders, and representatives from the Diocese of San Bernardino met to form the Transition Team. The Team was tasked with the responsibility of being the “Ears of the Community” wherein they were asked to listen to the parishioners and receive their comments regarding their current attitudes, feelings, and overall “Vision” of the parish. The mission statement of the Parish served as their guide in preparing for the Transition activities:
The Roman Catholic Community of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is a family of Christian believers filled with faith and hope striving to bring God’s love to all people through word and action.
The Team held many meetings over the course of their tenure. They became better acquainted with each other, worked with the Diocesan Transition Office, worked with Kirsten Thorstad (the outgoing Pastoral Coordinator), Fr. David Andel (the outgoing Pastoral Minister) and eventually the new Pastor, Fr. Santos Ortega. In the early meetings, the team focused on their feelings and how to best listen to the Parish and to each other about the transition as directed by the Diocesan Leadership. The Transition Team was further guided in the process by the following publication – Navigating Pastoral Transitions: A Parish Leader’s Guide by Marti R. Jewell, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota (2013).
The time period for implementing the transition activities was relatively short with approximately six months to address transition activities before the current leadership would depart on June of 2014. To carry out these activities, the Transition Team developed committees to address the major activities that would need to be addressed during this period. These committees included:
- Survey Committee – Conducted surveys for the parish community
- Town Hall Committee – Conducted a “Town Hall” session in order to hear from the parish community and share the results of the community survey
- Prayer and Report Committee – Developed a “Transition Prayer” and compiled the reports and information on the community for the new pastor
- Farewell Committee – Organized the farewell activities for the outgoing leadership
- Welcome Committee – Organized all welcome activities including a “meet and greet” and the installation of the new pastor
The Transition Team met on a monthly basis, reviewed the activities and made decisions about the on-going activities. This effort was guided by the Facilitator and Marco Elias, a representative from the Diocesan Transition Office. Records were maintained on the entire process.
Two surveys were conducted by the Survey Committee. The first was a general questionnaire to the parish regarding their concerns and support for the transition. This information was later shared with the parish through a “Town Hall “meeting. A copy of the survey is included as Appendix A. A second survey was a short survey for the parishioners to share their concerns and wishes for the new pastor. The latter information was of a personal nature and only shared with Fr. Santos.
The first Survey was emailed to approximately 450 parish members with registered email addresses and distributed at all masses for those who wanted to respond and did not have internet access. Approximately 200 surveys were completed and the compiled information was shared at the Town Hall Meeting.
Town Hall Meeting
This committee organized a Town Hall meeting that was held in the church on March 1, 2014 after the Saturday 4:00 p.m. mass. In attendance were Vicar, Fr. Romeo Selection and Marco Elias representing the Diocese. Approximately 80 people were in attendance. Interpreters addressed both English and Spanish responses to the speakers. The minutes from that meeting are listed below:
- Opening Prayer – Deacon Dan Hudec gave the opening prayer.
- Opening Statement – Deacon Pete Bond started the meeting with a statement
that “Change is Good”.
- Introduction of Transition Team and Sub Committees by Don Averill.
- Survey Committee – Fr. David Andel gave the survey results.
- Town Hall Committee
- Prayer and Report Committee
- Farewell Committee
- Welcome Committee
- Presentation by Rev. Romeo N. Seleccion – The presentation included the explanation of the different Vicariates in the San Bernardino Diocese along with the different types of priests that serve throughout the Diocese. Rev. Romeo also broke down the number of parishes along with the different types of priests that serve these parish Vicariates within the diocese.
- Meeting Rules defined by Don Averill.
- Questions and Statements:
(Q): How will it be possible for this church to be run by just 1 person? (A): St. Frances X. Cabrini Church has an active Parish Council, Finance Council and Office Staff. Kirsten has been actively training these people on all of her job duties.
(Q): Since Fr. David is leaving this Church, does it mean he will be leaving the diocese of San Bernardino completely or just going to another parish in this diocese? (A): Father David will remain a full-time employee with the Ministry of Canonical Services to assist with the judicial dimension of the San Bernardino Diocese. He will be available to fill-in for parishes on an as-needed basis upon request of the parishes.
(Q): Does the Transition Team have the ability to suggest what type of person we would like to replace Kirsten and Father David? No . . . The position has been posted and the Diocesan Personnel Committee will interview and make the final recommendation to Bishop Barnes who will make the final appointment.
(Q): If we do not like the new Pastor, can we contact the Bishop and ask for a replacement?
(A): No. We as a parish are asked to welcome the new Pastor and work with him to make our church welcome to all.
(Q): How will the ministries be affected by this transition? (A): The new Pastor will be advised NOT to make any changes within the 1st year.
(Q): How long will the new Pastor remain as Pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini? (A): The appointments are initially six years and can be extended for another six years for up to 12 years. Since many of the appointments are from religious orders, the assignments may be affected by decisions of the Superior of the order.
(Q): Father David and Kirsten have worked hard these past several years and we appreciate all they have done for us. My biggest concern is “who do I contact if I have a question or problem”? (A): The new Pastor or Office Staff member may be contacted for any question or concern. During the transition period you can also contact members of the transition team. There is an email address set up on the parish mail system at email@example.com . Questions about the transition can be sent to the team through this address.
(Comment): I think a lot of us are having anxiety about the change because we love Fr. David and Kirsten and have a great connection with them and we are afraid that we may not have that with the new priest and coordinator. So thank you Father and Kirsten. The whole parish sustains the same love for Fr. David and Kirsten and we will continue to hold them in our prayers. It is important that we continue to embrace our welcoming spirit at St. Frances X. Cabrini and transmit our love and support for the new pastor.
(Q): How long will the transition team remain active? (A): The transition team is expected to remain active as long as necessary. A decision will be made at a later date.
(Q): Was the Transition Team happy with only 193 people answering the survey for so many of our parishioners or was it deemed that these people spoke for themselves or they just trusted the Bishop to pick the right priest? The online survey went to a little over 400 registered emails that we have with the parish community. In addition, we collected approximately 60 written forms that were added to the database. Based on the number of mailed and submitted requests, the survey provided approximately a 43% return. This is relatively normal for most surveys.
Prayer and Reports
A separate committee was defined from the Liturgy Team to develop a “Transition Prayer” that was shared with the parishioners and recited at all masses. This prayer was approved by the Transition Team and was printed on bookmark size cards in both English and Spanish and distributed at all the masses. The Transition Prayer is listed below:
SFXC TRANSITION PRAYER
God of Love, God of Hope,
As we experience this time of transition, we ask that your hand be upon us to provide hope and inspiration while we accept the challenge to demonstrate our love for you.
Let us see this transition not as a threat to what has been, but as an invitation to build upon the foundation which has been given to us.
You have blessed us with many gifts, talents, and skills that enable us to move forward with your mission.
Help us to use these gifts, talents, and skills to continue to make our community what you truly intend it to be.
Help us to be compassionate people who inspire, teach, and care for your sheep.
Help us to be gentle with one another and to serve you by continuing to serve others.
We thank you for the journey and experiences that have brought us to this moment.
We thank you for your presence in our hearts, our leaders, and our community.
Be with us, we pray, as we continue to take up our cross, to die and rise again – to become your “church”.
Bless our church, all its members, its ministers, and all people striving to do your will here at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.
We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Preparing information for the new pastor was a multi-faceted activity. The parish staff compiled these reports. The reports included the ministry structure of the parish, the parish financial status and parish procedures that were presented to the new Pastor during the 1st week of his new assignment.
The Transition Team went beyond this report to gather information for the vicariate that encompassed St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, its community and the major economic elements that make up the community. These efforts were blended into reports that were shared with the new pastor. Copies of these files are included as pastoral documents that are being maintained in the parish office.
It was important to the community to have an appropriate farewell for the leaders that served us so well and guided major changes in our parish including the construction of a new church, the expansion of our ministries, and the enrichment of our ministry leaders through both education and a focus on stewardship enrichment. A committee was defined for this process and the following activities were addressed:
- Funding for the transition had not been planned into the budget, so the Transition Team had to develop sources and an opportunity for the parish to create a transition fund to cover these expenses.
- The Committee had to define the appropriate gift for the outgoing leaders and were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet this need.
- The Committee had to define an event, knowing that the departing leaders wanted a simple event and the opportunity to say their good-byes to all the parishioners.
- There was a need to define an appropriate time and space for the current leaders to move on after the change of leadership.
- The Committee had to provide for closing statements from the current leadership team.
All of these activities went smoothly and were supported by the entire community.
The final step to the transition process was to welcome our new leader, Fr. Santos Ortega to the parish. We were fortunate to have an early lead on the announcement and time for the former leadership to share in the transition process and to have time with Fr. Santos prior to the exchange. Several activities were completed to address an appropriate welcome for our new Pastor.
- The Survey Committee devised a simple survey for the parishioners to address three questions with personal comments to Fr. Santos. This information was only shared with Fr. Santos. Following are the questions asked in the survey:
- 1. What is the one thing that the new pastor, Fr. Santos, should focus on at St. Francis X. Cabrini Church?
- 2. What do you want Fr. Santos to know about you and the parish?
- 3. Write a prayer of welcome and blessing for Fr. Santos.
- The office staff and the committee prepared documents and reports and information on the current operation of the parish for him to learn about our operation, our focus and our strategic plan.
- Gifts and other items of welcome were prepared and left in the rectory to welcome Fr. Santos.
- Reports and information on the parish were compiled into a working file for Fr. Santos with documents from the staff and collected within the community to acquaint him with the parish and the community.
- A welcome “Ice Cream Social” was arranged for the parishioners to meet Fr. Santos after the Saturday 4:00 pm mass.
- Meetings were arranged with the Transition Team and main ministries for Fr. Santos to meet and work with these groups. This activity started the transition back to the ministries to support the operations of the parish. Specific monthly meetings were established for the following ministries:
- Pastoral Council – Scheduled to meet the first Tuesday of each month
- Finance Council – Scheduled to meet the third Tuesday of each month
- Liturgy Committee – Several ministries involved in the liturgy were defined into a Liturgy Council that is scheduled to meet the 4th Tuesday of each month
- Installation of the new Pastor – Deacon Pete Bond worked with the Diocese to confirm a date for the installation for Fr. Santos. This event was held on September 13, 2014 followed by a reception in Cabrini Hall.
The Transition Moves On
All parishes are in some form of transition as they establish missions, develop strategic plans, and implement their ministries. It is now time for this formal Transition Team to close out its activities and transition the day-to-day operation to the Pastor and the established ministries.
It is important to note that the members of the formal Transition Team are also leaders from the various ministries of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church. This will leave a memory of what the parish has experienced in this transition of leadership that will guide us as we move forward.
We have come together in prayer, in fellowship, and as a community to assess our needs and accept the change of leadership of our parish. All attempts were maintained to have an open dialogue, maintain an open ear and keep the parish community informed of the steps of this change. Our parish community has proved to be accepting and resilient and is ready to support our new leadership and pastor.
Fr. Santos has expressed a desire to meet and review all operations of the parish and to move slowly with change. He can be expected to be open and accepting of the traditions and activities supported by this parish, but also recognizes his responsibility to provide pastoral leadership. Discussions have been held on providing coordination of the liturgical ministries now in place and in dealing with the financial oversight of the parish.
Our parish community has always been open to creating fellowship and understanding among our diverse community and the growth of our parish brought about by our new church. This has resulted in increased involvement of all segments of our church community in our ministries and a caring and loving support of those most in need of our understanding and involvement. Now is the time to focus on our ministries and communicate with the Pastoral Council to ensure that we are there to support each other and to join Fr. Santos in enriching our catholic values in this community.
Each member of our parish community can be an integral part of our success, by working with the Pastoral Council, the Finance Council, and other key ministries to share ideas and support for the ministries that are there to enrich your Catholic life. We all have a responsibility to maintain our involvement in our church community and support each other in sustaining our Catholic values and sharing our love with our Catholic family and others.
As we move forward along the path of continuous transition, may we recall our own responsibilities as stewards of this parish to share our own time, talents and treasures with others in our parish community. Maintaining a spirit of stewardship and support for each other and all those in need of our love and prayers will enrich our community in the future.
Now our Transition Moves On
Your 2014 Transition Team
As I embrace this new community as their spiritual leader, I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the transition team for their help and support throughout the transition process. May God bless all the work they have done.
Father Santos Ortega