Initiative 1: Combining Our Parishes
We are happy to announce that, in 2016, Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parishes will officially be combined into one parish – which will be known as Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish.
Of the five Initiatives developed by our Parish Transformation Committee, none is more important, or foundational to the other four, than than the proposal to canonically combine our parishes. The Parish Transformation journey, and the current challenges facing our parish and the Archdiocese, led the Committee to see this critical change was needed. As a single, unified faith community, we will be better able to meet our goals and move forward together with renewed energy and optimism.
“As a single, unified faith community, we will be better able to meet our goals and move forward together with renewed energy and optimism.”
While this change comes about as a result of the Parish Transformation process, it is actually the last step in a transition that began 15 years ago.
Let’s briefly review our history:
In 2001, Father Pat Lee, then pastor of Immaculate Conception, agreed to serve as pastor of both Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes. The Archdiocese asked Father Pat to do this for two reasons: 1) having one minister serve as pastor for two parishes made economic and pastoral sense; and 2) it was believed that, after a brief transition, the two communities would cooperate and support Father Pat to make it work, which is exactly what happened.
In the intervening years, we accomplished a great deal:
- The North Park campus of our school opened in 2002 and the Hill Street campus opened in 2012.Now, the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph School serves children from Pre-K through 8th grade and is earning recognition and awards for its quality of staff and academic excellence.
- Our facilities also serve as a great resource for the Religious Education Program.
- One Parish Council was created composed of an equal number of parishioners from each church and one Finance Committee, also with equal representation, was established to oversee the financial health of our parishes.
- St. Joseph’s Church was completely renovated in 2006 with the building of an addition for offices, a new rectory, and meeting rooms that serve all parishioners.
- In 2013, Father Larry Lisowski was assigned to serve as Pastor of both parishes and has made additional improvements.
- Father Larry also worked with the Archdiocese to help reduce the amount of our debt to bring the parishes to more stable financial footing.
- He has been instrumental in further streamlining administrative structures and reducing operating expenses. For example, the support staff for both parishes is now one team, providing the same service at both church locations.
“We...are eager for this next step – to bring all parishioners together...as one parish with two church locations....United in faith....”
We are proud of our history and accomplishments, and are eager for this next step – to bring all parishioners together under one umbrella as one parish with two church locations. United in faith, we see ourselves as one parish with two worship sites.
You may be wondering “Why are we officially combining Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph now?”
We are doing so because we are stronger as a whole and will be better able to meet our goal – a united parish with a single faith community that works together and is excited about the future. As a single faith community, we will be prepared to focus on the other four critical initiatives established by the Parish Transformation Committee.
This is a very exciting time for Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish and we are eager to let you know all about it. To do that:
- Individuals from the Parish Transformation Committee will make presentations at all Masses the weekend of February 6th/7th, and Committee members will be available after Masses to answer questions the weekends of February 6th/7th and 13th/14th.
- A detailed Q&A can be found below. Additional questions can be answered by calling our Parish Business Manager, Mark Besztery, at 312-944-1230 extension 5. You can also leave a message at that number and Mark or a member of the Parish Transformation Committee will promptly return your call.
- This page, and our main ICSJ Parish Transformation Program page, will continue to be a source of information throughout the combination process.
Even though the New Year celebrations are over for 2016, for us at Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish, new opportunities are just beginning. Please join us in celebrating this major commitment and help us work on these exciting initiatives for Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish.
See our complete Q&A below
IC-SJ Combination in the News!
Parish Combination Q&A
We've tried to answer many of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Parish Combination Initiative, but if you have additional questions please call Mark Besztery, our the Parish Business Manager, at 312-944-1230 extension 5. You can also leave a message at that number and Mark or a member of the Parish Transformation Committee will promptly return your call. Thank you!
Q. What are the benefits to Parishioners?
A. Combining parishes is a very positive development which has several benefits, including:
- As the Parish Transformation initiatives unfold and the parish focuses on volunteer, education, outreach, support, and mission opportunities, the combined parish provides a greater number of people and greaternumber of talents from which to draw.
- One unified parish provides a clearer identity to the larger Near North Side community. It is easier to market one parish community and to register new parishioners for one faith community.
- The unified parish provides the flexibility of two worship sites to fit parishioner needs.
- A combined parish will be more efficient, save money, and free up staff time for other needs.
Q. Why are the parishes combining?
A. The combined parish is consistent with the Mission Narrative that Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish is a “family of families... committed, dedicated and united in Christ.” During the Parish Transformation process, it became clear that a unified parish was important to our identity and to the success of the many initiatives and opportunities that will be discussed in the coming weeks and months. In many ways, the parishes are already combined (staff, school, website, bulletin, Parish Council, Finance Committee). Officially combining parishes will help staff be more efficient and help us move forward as a parish to accomplish our mission.
Q. When will this change happen?
A. This change requires approval of the Archdiocese. The Parish Transformation and Leadership Committee met with Bishop Kane on January 26 to present the results of the Transformation effort, including the request to combine the parishes. The transition process will begin as soon as approval is received. The formal effective date of the change is expected to be July 1st. Details of that process will be communicated as the process is developed.
Q. What will the new parish name be?
A. The new name will be Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish when approved by the Archdiocese.
Q. How will this impact me?
A. In most respects, there will be very little change. Worship, school and ministries will not change. The major impact will be on bookkeeping and database consolidation. The parishes are currently officially separate within the structure of the Archdiocese, which requires separate bookkeeping systems and requires parishioners to make a membership selection. We have already been operating as one parish and have recently begun to report combined financial results in the bulletin. Here are some key administrative areas as we go forward:
- Registration: During the transition, the parish databases will be combined and you will become a member of the combined parish. You do not have to do anything.
- Checks: Assuming approval of the name change, you can make checks payable to Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish. Currently checks made out to IC or ICSJ are electronically deposited at Chase Bank, and checks to St. Joseph are manually deposited at Oak Bank. Once the combination is finalized (July, 2016), we will use the Chase Bank account and all St. Joseph checks will be returned and asked to be reissued under the new name.
- Electronic Giving: There are no changes to your electronic giving. None of the bookkeeping changes will require you to do anything different.
Proactive communication will be a high priority throughout the transition in an effort to minimize the possibility of problems. If you experience any issues, please let the parish office know as soon as possible.
Q. Will one church close over time?
A. Absolutely not. This change does not mean that one church will close over time. The parish will continue to maintain two worship sites, just as it does now. In fact, combining parishes now increases the viability of the unified parish. The Archdiocese has invested much in our community, opening a school in 2002 and a second campus on Hill Street in 2011, working with Fr. Larry to bring us to a more stable financial footing. The Archdiocese views the Parish Transformation process and the decision to combine parishes as optimistic signs for our future.
Q. Will use of the churches change?
A. No. Just as now, the Immaculate Conception Church is used for weekly and daily Masses, weddings, funerals and baptisms. The school’s North Park campus uses the Immaculate Conception Church for weekly prayer services and monthly Masses, Advent and Lenten devotions, and Stations of the Cross. The St. Joseph Church is used for weekly and daily Masses, funerals, baptisms, and is especially popular as a wedding venue. The school’s Hill Street campus uses the St. Joseph Church for liturgical and devotional services. Parishioners will be able to move freely between churches as they wish.
Q. What will this mean for our history?
A. Our parishes will remain two of the oldest in the Archdiocese, each with its unique history that will continue to develop as a united parish into the future. Just as marriage does not destroy the individuals’ history, but enhances their future, combining parishes will not destroy our past, but will enhance our future.
Q. Will this impact the school?
A. This will have no impact on the school, which is already combined and continues to operate two facilities under one management.