Renew My Church and ICSJ
Jesus Christ calls us to constantly renew His Church. Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s response to His call and our invitation for renewal.
What is Renew My Church?
In January, ICSJ announced that it will begin the Renew My Church program which is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s efforts to face some serious challenges in the coming years. Through a multitude of Renew My Church initiatives, the Archdiocese will re-commit our local Church to our gospel commission to make disciples, build vital communities of faith and inspire witness to bring the light and hope of Christ to a world in need. As a strong and committed Church we will work together to overcome the many challenges we face today:
- Fewer people than ever are connected with organized religion. Many have either left the Church, are not engaged in their faith, or don’t even claim a belief in God.
- Younger generations today are not connecting with religion as previous generations did in the past. 36% of Millennials (those born from 1980’s to the early 2000’s) claim no religious affiliation. Of Millennials who identify as Catholic, only 17% attend Mass weekly. 85% of children confirmed stop practicing their faith by the age of 21.
- Studies also show a 27% decline in weekly Mass attendance over the past 20 years.
- There are also fewer priests serving in our communities. Nearly 500 fewer diocesan priests (39% decline) compared to 1980. More than 180 of the 525 diocesan priests in active ministry will retire in the next decade: an average of 18 retirements occur per year compared to recent trends of 5-6 priests being ordained per year. There are also 63% fewer religious sisters and 2,700 additional parishes without a resident priest-pastor.
- There has also been a noticeable change in our Catholic population. Demographics have shifted significantly over time across the Archdiocese. There are areas of Chicago that were once predominantly Catholic with a parish for each ethnic group. Now these parishes have fewer people and fewer Catholics, but often the same number of facilities as in the past.
- There is also an aging infrastructure to contend with today. Many parishes have significantly underinvested in building repairs, leading to challenges with building upkeep that takes time and resources away from ministry.
How will ICSJ Be Involved in Renew My Church?
One initiative of Renew My Church is focused on increasing the vitality of our local communities. Cardinal Cupich has asked our parish to come together with neighboring parishes (see below) to start a process of reflection, discernment, and planning to consider how we can collaborate and combine resources so that we are better equipped to bring Jesus Christ to the world today.
Our journey from now through May will entail collaborating with our neighbors to:
- Assess current realities in our community,
- Understand the criteria and principles for our planning efforts,
- Discuss possible scenarios for how our grouping’s parishes and schools could be structured in the future, and
- Compile our feedback to share with the Archdiocese as we move to the discernment and decision phase of this important process
Let us hold each other and the other parish and school communities in our grouping in prayer as we enter this time of rededication to our faith in Jesus Christ and planning for the future.
Parish Grouping: Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish has been grouped with four of our neighboring parishes: St. Michael’s in Old Town, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Josaphat, and St. Vincent DePaul. Our Renew My Church Grouping is identified as the “Old Town Lincoln Park Grouping.”
Grouping Team: Each parish has been asked to identify a handful of parishioners who will serve on this “Grouping Team.” Representing our Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish are Fr. Larry Lisowski, Maria Hill and Katie Sullivan (our co-principals), Kim Rak (our Director of Religious Education), Mary Ann Rowan, Bob Douglas, Bryan Lynch, Angela Gore, Anita Homes and Elizabeth Donovan.
Our Grouping Team exhibits a very good representation of our one parish that has two worship sites and our school community. Their task will be to work collectively with our neighboring parishes to figure out new ways on how we can best face these challenges that are before us.
To learn more about the Renew My Church program visit the Archdiocese's Renew My Church web page.
A Prayer For
Renew My Church
Lord Jesus, you speak to us today,
as you spoke to holy men and women
who have gone before us.
In every age and in our own time,
you call to us and say: Renew My Church.
Pour out the gift of your Holy Spirit upon us,
and so enable us
to hear you clearly
to listen to each other attentively
to imagine our future boldly
to discern your direction wisely
to persevere in your holy will courageously
to stay together in charity
to surrender our own plans readily
to embrace the greater good
to hand on your gifts to future generations.
May we remain in the holy company of
the Blessed Virgin Mary, the apostles, and all the saints.
May their example and presence
inspire us with patient confidence
in the work of your grace.
We ask this of you who live and reign
with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
forever and ever.