January 11, 2011
Cluster 22 Formation History
In 2004, Bishop Malone created an Evangelization Task Force to assess the parishes in the Diocese of Portland on how we can work collaboratively to tell anew the story of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior. The Evangelization Task Force made a recommendation to Bishop Malone in the document entitled, “Telling Anew the Story of Jesus,” which focuses on strategies to foster this spirit of evangelization among the Catholic people in Maine. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit has led us into this time of shifting demographics, uncertain economics, and insufficient number of priests, is to rediscover and reclaim our true identity and calling as Catholic Christians to boldly proclaim Christ to the world.
The Evangelization Committee recommended to Bishop Malone that there be 27 clusters of parishes in the diocese. Each cluster was assigned 1 pastor and in many cases one other priest to serve as a parochial vicar. In some cases, a large cluster has 3 priests assigned. Each cluster of parishes will be challenged to work together to design a plan of organization and administration. Several cluster models were suggested.
In 2005, a committee of representatives from each of the four parishes in Cluster 22 was formed to create a plan of organization and administration for our cluster. The original committee members were Rev. Msgr. Michael Henchal (Administrator of St. Bartholomew and St. Maximilian Kolbe), Rev. Michael Gendreau (Pastor of Holy Cross and St. John the Evangelist), Rev. James Morrison (Former Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe), Donna Brassard (St. Bartholomew), Beth Carmody (St. Maximilian-Committee Secretary), Peter Cianchette (Holy Cross), Chris Crawford (St. Maximilian), Scott Ewing (Holy Cross-Committee Chairperson), Bob Falconer (St. John the Evangelist), Deacon Steve Harnois (Deacon for Holy Cross and St. John the Evangelist and principal of Holy Cross School), Laurie Kelly (Parish Catechetical Leader of Holy Cross and St. John’s), Pam Koonz Canarie (Holy Cross School), Sheila McDonough (St. John the Evangelist), Sybil Riemensnider (Holy Cross), Dick Sawyer (St. Bartholomew-Committee Vice Chairperson), Michelle Sirois (St. Maximilian), Kathleen Sparda (Pastoral Assistant at St. Maximilian), Michael Tranfaglia (St. Bartholomew), Jim Welch (St. John the Evangelist) and Kathy Williamson (Pastoral Associate at St. Bartholomew). A recommendation to keep the four parishes as four separate parishes and other organizational and administrative decisions about Sunday liturgies, collaborative ministries, and cluster-wide staff was drafted and sent to Bishop Malone on June 19, 2006.
The Bishop accepted our plan, but asked the Cluster Committee to take another look at the possibility for merging the two parishes in South Portland – Holy Cross and St. John the Evangelist. One of the recommendations made by the Cluster Committee was to form a Cluster Pastoral Council made up of 3 representatives from each of the four parishes, which was created and convened in September 2007. This council meets on a regular basis about every other month to discuss long-range goals of the cluster and to map out strategies for further collaboration among the parishes in our cluster. As a result of these council meetings and with the leadership of our pastoral staff, we have been able to establish several collaborative ministries in our cluster (such as, the marriage preparation team, the baptism team, the adult faith formation offerings including the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and Disciples in Mission, and our webmaster team) and we’ve hired two cluster staff personnel, our business manager, Tom Sheehan, and our funeral coordinator, Rita Thompson. In the future, we plan to collaborate on social justice initiatives and perhaps some fellowship events.