Fr. David Pettingill led a retreat Aug. 17 for the newly formed pastoral council for St. Monica and St. Thomas the Apostle parishes. Seated are St. Joseph Sr. Noreen O’Connor and Fr. John Sakowski, pastor of both parishes.
SF first: Birth of a 2-parish pastoral council
September 11th, 2013
By Catholic San Francisco
St. Monica and St. Thomas the Apostle parishes, San Francisco, have formed a joint pastoral council to create a common vision of mutual improvement and growth.
The council, with six members from each parish named by joint pastor Father John Sakowski from volunteers who stepped forward to serve, grew out of a year of planning that culminated with a retreat Aug. 17. Led by Father David Pettingill, the retreat drew 43 participants, including clergy, deacons and the principals of the two parish schools.
Before the parish council was formed, the parishes had a successful partnership on religious education and adult education, sacramental preparation and their combined Parish School of Religion. The council expands the relationship into new areas including spirituality, K-8 education, youth ministry and attracting young families.
“We don’t know exactly where it’s going to go but it’s going to get better,” Father Sakowski told Catholic San Francisco. “And how we get there is part of the adventure, and the team we have together has the excitement of deciding how we get there.”
St. Monica was founded in 1911 and St. Thomas the Apostle in 1922. Father Sakowski sees the pastoral council as “a springboard to launch off to another 100 years and take the attributes and gifts of each parish and put them together to form a common bond.”
Father Sakowski, who has been pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle since 2010 and St. Monica since 2012, added that both parishes are financially solvent and retain their separate finance councils.
St. Joseph Sister Noreen O’Connor, pastoral associate and director of religious education at the two parishes, said the council brings together the varied generational and cultural backgrounds of the two communities.
“The whole thing is exciting,” she said. “It’s creative, and we have the staff and the people. Everybody seems to be open and receptive to wanting to do this, which is a miracle in and of itself.”
She said the goal is to create “a unified, bonded community, including the schools.”
From September 13, 2013 issue of Catholic San Francisco.