Pastoral Region

Pastoral Region

May 5, 2013 Pastoral Region Update
The Pastoral Region Committee has received the results of the Mass survey and are in the process of reviewing them. We will then submit 2 Mass schedules to the Archdiocese for approval (one in the event we are assigned an assistant and one in the event that Fr. Tharp is the only priest for both parishes). We will keep all parishoners informed. Also as of July 1st Father Tharp will need the help of both Sacred Heart and St. Ann parishoners in some tasks that the laity can help administer. Please give prayerful thought to any request that Father may ask for assistance in.

April 7, 2013 Pastoral Region Update
By now you have seen the letter from Archbishop Schnurr indicating that St. Ann and Sacred Heart will be canonically promulgated as a “Pastoral Region” as of July 1, 2013. Last week I received a call from Bishop Binzer indicating that the Archdiocesan Priests’ Personnel Board has recommended, and the Archbishop has agreed, to name me as “Pastor” of both St. Ann and Sacred Heart. Because this is a new pastoral region, the clock starts running on a new term of pastorate for both parishes. In other words, if I live long enough to fulfill the first six year term and two years of a renewal term, I will be at the mandated retirement age of 70. I pray God gives me the physical and mental stamina to make it for eight more years.

I am very grateful for and humbled by the support and encouragement I have received from the people of both St. Ann and Sacred Heart. I promise I will do my best to serve the pastoral needs of both communities. Please pray for me.

Thirty six years ago when I was ordained, I answered five questions put to me by then Archbishop Bernardin. The answer to the first questions was “I will.” The answer to the fifth question was “I will with the help of God.” That fifth answer was the one I gave to Bishop Binzer last week. I promise that, with the help of God, I will do my best to serve the needs of the St. Ann / Sacred Heart Pastoral Region. Please pray for me.

March 31, 2013 Pastoral Region Update
The Pastoral Region of Sacred Heart and St. Ann will be activated on July 1, 2013.  With one priest serving as pastor for both parishes, one of the adjustments will be to our weekend and holiday Mass schedule.  The Pastoral Region Planning Committee has put together a survey to allow parishioners of St. Ann and Sacred Heart to provide input about the possible new Mass times.  You can access the survey online through one of the following options: 1. Enter the following URL into address bar on your web browser,; 2. Go to your parish website and click on the link for the Mass Schedule Survey. For those of you who prefer to fill out a paper version of the survey, you can pick one up at the Church doors or in the Parish office, and return it to the parish in person or by mail.  All surveys must be received or submitted by 8:00pm on Friday April 12, 2013.

February 17, 2013, Pastoral Region Planning Committee News

The Pastoral Region Planning Committee has set up an e-mail address to allow a single location for you to send questions or comments to the committee regarding St. Ann and Sacred Heart becoming a Pastoral Region. The e-mail address is This e-mail address is accessible to only one individual, and any use of the comments or questions sent to this e-mail address will not include the sender’s name, e-mail address, or other information that would allow identification of the sender. Your privacy will be respected!

January 23 (Wednesday) Meeting of St. Ann and Sacred Heart Parishes
The Archdiocese has indicated to me that it is all but certain that St. Ann and Sacred Heart will officially become a Pastoral Region during the summer of 2013. In one sense, we are already functioning as a pastoral region in many ways since I am dividing my time as equally as possible by celebrating Masses one weekend at Sacred Heart and the next at St. Ann. I celebrate most of the weekday Masses at both parishes, with Fr. Muhlenkamp taking the early Mass two mornings per week.

I have celebrated most of the funerals for both, and a number of weddings at both. So in one sense, it could be said that St. Ann and Sacred Heart are already functioning as two separate parishes sharing one priest; in other words a “Pastoral Region.” In a true Pastoral Region model however there will need to be Mass scheduling changes so that one priest can celebrate all the precept Masses at both parishes.

There will also have to be collaboration of the parishes to draw forth lay leadership and ministerial talents so the priest chosen as pastor of the two parishes by the Archbishop can serve the needs of both without causing an inordinate or unrealistic stress on his health. Bishop Joseph Binzer and Fr. Len Wenke from the Archdiocese will run the meeting and guide the discussions, but we need good representation from both parishes so that the word can be disseminated to all the members of both parishes. The only requirement for coming to the meeting is that you care about your parish and want to help the Archdiocese understand the unique needs of the Lindenwald/Fairfield City and Township area. The location of the meeting is the F.O. P. lodge at Joyce Park. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Preparing for the Future of our Pastoral Region
As a result of the vote regarding possible rescheduling of weekend masses, the Pastoral Regions Committee came to the conclusion that we may not be communicating the issues facing our parishes well enough. So the purpose of this letter is to provide information about why we are meeting and what we are working to accomplish for St. Ann and Sacred Heart Parishes.

In 1977 there were slightly under 400 priests serving the 259 parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In 2012, we have 180 priests serving the 214 parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. With the current number of seminarians and projecting out to 2020, coupled with the expected retirements, we are looking at the possibility of having only between 80 and 100 priests serving these parishes.As a committee, our purpose is to begin planning for the time when Sacred Heart and St. Ann are faced with having to become a Pastoral Region. As a Pastoral Region, there are three options:

  1. A Single Parish Region- One parish with a Pastor and Sunday October attendance of at lease 2000
  2. A Collaborative Region- Two or more parishes that share a Pastor and function as two separate Parishes, each with its own staff and ministries.
  3. A Merged Region- Two of more Parishes that combine to form a new canonical parish with one Pastor and its own parish staff and ministries.

Our goal is to put together a plan for becoming a Collaborative Region by putting together a system to enable both St. Ann and Sacred Heart to continue to service all of our parishioners as separate parishes, but together to provide continuity and stability in parish operation and parish ministries to allow the pastor to better serve both parishes.

One example of our efforts to work together was in the proposal for a temporary adjustment to our mass schedules. The purpose for the request was to ensure that we would always have a priest available to say mass on weekends. Father Tharp was spending as many as eight hours each week making calls to ensure there would be a priests scheduled for each mass in our current schedules. However, due to the overlapping times, if something unforeseen happened and a priests would not be able to be there at his scheduled time, there would be no one to preside at mass at one of our parishes, since Fr. Tharp would be presiding at the same time at the other parish. The temporary adjustment would allow Fr. Tharp to travel between the parishes to preside at mass should this happen. In order to be able to do this, we needed to get permission from the Archdiocese. We received this permission by writing a joint letter from the Parish Councils of both Sacred Heart and St. Ann. The Archdiocese would not have granted this permission without demonstrating our willingness to work together in the interests of both parishes.

In this same spirit of cooperation and collaboration, our ministries, such as Parish Council and Virtus cild protection program, as well as the staff of each parish, have begun working together to have a plan in place for the eventual need to become a Pastoral Region. More ministries and sacramental planning will follow as we continue to work together and strive to keep BOTH St. Ann and Sacred Heart strong parish communities serving God and each other.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact any member of the Pastoral Region Committee, whose names and e-mail addresses are in your bulletin. You can also look at the Archdiocese website at: