Beginning on December 3, 2023 (The Feast of St. Francis Xavier), there will be officially be one pastor, Fr. Paul Lickteig, S.J., for Bellarmine Chapel and St. Xavier Church. Fr. Paul will support and oversee all the Jesuits who are assigned to the family of parishes as well as both parish staffs.
The Jesuits remain committed to growing the important sacramental and pastoral work that is happening in our family of parishes. This past December, Karl Kiser, S.J., the provincial of the Midwest Province reaffirmed that commitment by dedicating four full-time Jesuits (with additional sacramental support coming from all the members of the Cincinnati Jesuit Community) to the family of parishes. In other words, the number of Jesuits committed to serving the parish family at both locations will grow. We are in an exciting and unique position as a family: instead of contracting or reducing our footprint, we show signs of growth. Both parishes continue to attract new members.
Our burgeoning collaboration allows us to create an organizational structure that supports each place of worship. We are attracting talented new parish staff and providing new professional opportunities for our existing staff. We are called to be a church on mission, and it shows!
Yes and no. Our parishes started to think about these changes when the Archdiocese initiated the Beacons of Light process. Cincinnati is rare among cities of our size because we have two vibrant Jesuit parishes. Our process, while running at the same time as the Beacons of Light process and working with the Archdiocese, is unique in that it operates out of our shared Ignatian charism and this determines our timelines and processes. Given our shared Jesuit charism and a need to share ministerial resources, even if the rest of the archdiocese had not started this process, we would have started looking for ways to better serve our region through collaboration.
There are currently no plans to change the mass times or the confession schedules at either of the parish churches. But, we will continue to collaborate with the other Jesuit ministries in Cincinnati. For example, we will again join with the other ministries for a mass at Xavier University to celebrate the Feast of Saint Ignatius on July 30th.
The core leadership teams that the Bellarmine Chapel parish community is familiar with will not be changing. Small faith sharing groups will also continue to be supported. This gives us the opportunity to leverage the best practices across the entire Jesuit Parish Family. We expect new groups to emerge to help out with needs that surface at each parish. Each parish will continue to have a local parish advisory committee and a local finance committee in addition to the core/leadership teams that already exist.
The Bellarmine Chapel parish community has a long history of working toward inclusive public language. There is no plan to change this tradition.
The Jesuits have spoken with the Archdiocese and the Midwest province and plan to keep the finances of each parish separate for the foreseeable future.
Local pastoral decisions will continue to be made by the local parish staff. Local pastoral advisory councils (LPACs) (formerly known as the Bellarmine Advisory Committee and the St. Xavier Parish Council) will still advise the pastors, priests, and staff as they have in the past. A Joint Pastoral Advisory Council (JPAC) was formed to advise on matters that pertain to both parish communities.
There will be no immediate changes to staffs. Bellarmine and St. Xavier already have some staff members who are shared between both parishes. As we continue to grow as a family, more shared staff positions will likely emerge.
For almost everything, it’s still the same people. Both parishes have an amazing parish staff that will keep everything moving forward. For contacting priests at Bellarmine, you can call the same numbers. Parochial vicars (local priests) handle sacramental or pastoral care needs for their assigned parishes – including things like pastoral emergencies, home or hospital visits, anointings, confessions, spiritual counseling, and liturgical questions.
When Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. starts at Bellarmine on August 13th, he will be handling sacramental and pastoral care needs. At St. Xavier Church, Fr. Jacob Boddicker, S.J. takes on the role as Parochial Vicar beginning on September 1, 2023. Until September, you can reach out to Fr. Eric Sundrup, S.J. as the pastor of Bellarmine and Fr. Paul as the pastor of St. Xavier Church. After September 1st, you can reach out to Fr. Paul for administrative concerns (e.g., organizational or structural questions).
Yes, and more – with the exception of Fr. Eric who has taken a new job. Each parish will continue to see the same rotation of celebrants you have come to know and love. With the addition of new priests, you will even have the opportunity to welcome some new faces.