Today I thought it would be fitting to review and reiterate what was announced on April 10-11: that beginning on July 14, 2021, St. Benedict parish will be clustered with St. John parish in the Woodland neighborhood. In writing about these matters, I want to emphasize particular truths and some accompanying effects of this decision – so as to give greater clarity on what this decision will mean in practice.
Among the points that I want to repeat and emphasize: on July 14 St. Benedict will begin a way of life of sharing one priest with St. John’s. Among the implications of these two parishes sharing one priest will be the necessity of adjusting scheduled Masses, confession availability, and other sacramental celebrations for immediate implementation on and after July 14. While it is too early to know what those schedules will be, it is important that you are aware that the current schedules at both St. John and St. Benedict will not be able to remain as they currently are – but will need to change so that one priest can serve at both. Speaking particularly of weekend Masses: as St. John currently has a Saturday evening and Sunday morning Mass, while St. Benedict also has a Saturday evening Mass along with one English and one Latin Mass on Sunday (noting that the Latin Mass requires a priest who can rightly offer it), this number of Masses will need to be reduced – such that the one priest will be able to cover a total of three English Masses between the two parishes.
A second point that merits being repeated and addressed is the presence of the Latin Mass. As was initially announced on April 10-11, the Latin Mass on Sunday will remain at St. Benedict through this change. While options for covering this Mass are still being finalized, it must be made clear that the schedule of this Latin Mass may be in need of adjustment to provide for its legitimate coverage – including (but not limited to) such details as which priest will be offering this Mass and from where this priest will need to travel in order to offer this Mass. For, as a third point of emphasis, while it has also been decided that Fr. Seth Gogolin, who presently serves at St. John’s, will begin to also serve as the priest at St. Benedict on July 14, the coverage of the Latin Mass will be by another – though it will take place under the authority of leadership that will be given to Fr. Gogolin. Accordingly, the schedule of this Latin Mass may be subject to adjustment according to these factors, particularly those pertaining to who will be offering it and from where they need to travel to be able to do so.
Finally, I want to once again define the term “cluster.” As written in the “Diocese of Duluth Strategic Plan (2012 - 2017),” the term clustered parishes signifies separate parishes “that work together sharing clergy (and possibly staff), but maintaining separate Pastoral and Finance Councils (although they may choose to have joint meetings). In clustered parishes each parish maintains its church building for worship and is a separate legal entity.” Therefore, in this cluster arrangement, St. Benedict and St. John both remain as separate parishes while sharing one priest.
Please continue to pray for all of the parishioners from both parishes, and to remain open to receiving further information as it is forthcoming – particularly those opportunities to be able to weigh in with perspectives and information toward making many of these decisions. May God continue to bless each of you.