The Archdiocese of Chicago is setting a new path for Catholic parishes in the South Suburbs, merging two parishes with St. Joseph Church in Homewood and two parishes with Infant Jesus of Prague Church in Flossmoor to form new parishes.
The announcement to take six parishes and form two groupings was made Monday, Jan. 24.
St. Anne Church in Hazel Crest, St. Emeric Church in Country Club Hills and St. Joseph in Homewood are coming together as a new parish. St. Joseph will serve as the parish church.
Infant Jesus of Prague Church, St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Matteson and St. Irenaeus Church in Park Forest will form a second grouping. Infant Jesus of Prague will serve as the parish church. Infant Jesus of Prague School will serve as the parish school.
Before making the decision, each parish appointed a three-member team to conduct meetings and be part of discussions on how best to serve the Catholic community. Their feedback reports were submitted to the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission, which includes representatives from across the archdiocese. The commission reviewed the feedback reports and other information, including demographic data, financial summaries, and parish and grouping trends.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops and Presbyteral Council discussed the commission’s recommendations.
Each newly constituted parish will get a new name, one pastor and one pastoral team. The changes go into effect on July 1. At each of the new parishes the pastors, with parish leadership input, will set the timeline for fully transitioning a mass schedule.
“All Catholics are members of the body of Christ. We all look forward to getting to know our fellow Catholics,” said Tom Brabec, one of three representatives from St. Joseph Parish who served on the Renew My Church committee studying how best to work through the changes. If COVID-19 protocols can be met, Brabec anticipates having members from other parishes join St. Joseph for its athletic association annual Lenten fish fry dinners as a first step toward melding into a new parish.
According to the archdiocesan statement: “Over the next few months, the archdiocese and the current parish pastors, together with the archdiocese Renew My Church Accompaniment Team, will work with local leaders to ensure uniting faith communities and staff are supported through this time of change.
“All parishes will embark on the next phase of renewal to become stronger, more sustainable and capable of reaching more people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ, building communities and inspiring witness,” the archdiocesan statement said.