From Our Pastor...

Posted on July 15, 2022 in: Pastor

Dear Parishioners,

January 25, 2022, was the launch of the St. Louis Archdiocesan strategic pastoral planning initiative known as “All Things New.” The purpose is to make the necessary adjustments to our ministries and supporting structures to reflect the needs of our Catholic communities for the next century.

On March 2, 2022, every Catholic in the Archdiocese was asked to take a survey, known as the Disciple Maker Index. This was an important opportunity for each Catholic to be heard. The results for individual parishes were sent to the pastor and parish representatives to provide analysis and feedback to the Archbishop.

Transparency is very important! This is a multi-year initiative focused on evangelization.

All Baptized Catholics are called by Christ to spread His Gospel message and ensure a Catholic presence in every square mile of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. For the first time in over 50 years, the total number of Catholics in the Archdiocese has dropped below 500,000. This is due, in part, to a significant decline in the number of births and baptisms within the Archdiocese. Also, as many as 5,000 Catholics leave the local Church annually or do not re-engage after high school or college.

Currently, we have 178 parishes and 210 active priests, including both diocesan and religious order priests. Significantly, 35% of diocesan priests are 65 years old or older and could retire within 10 years, such that by 2026, we may have more parishes than priests to serve them. This is especially the case in the largest parishes, such as the 21 large parishes with only one priest per 3411 Catholics. While All Things New is not driven by a projected priest shortage, that is a major concern looking to the future.

For purposes of the All Things New initiative, Annunziata is grouped into a “parish planning area” that includes: Immacolata and Little Flower (Richmond Heights), Our Lady of the Pillar (Creve Coeur), St. Joseph (Clayton), St. Genevieve DuBois (Warson Woods), St. Clement of Rome (Des Peres), St. Mary Magdalen (Brentwood), Most Holy Redeemer and Mary Queen of Peace (Webster Groves), St. Gerard Majella and St. Peter (Kirkwood).

Prayer, Tradition, and Service define our parish! Annunziata is a stable parish, with slightly declining parish membership. Mass attendance pre-Covid was 21-24% and post-Covid is around 20-21%--both below the Archdiocesan average of 27%-29%. These figures do not include homebound and vulnerable parishioners watching via livestream. Baptisms have been stable, but PSR numbers have declined in the past two years. The parish is in solid financial condition and has used reserves for some parish building maintenance. Though the offertory has declined over the past decade, reserves have been maintained. The median household income is $182,500, which is well above the archdiocesan average and second highest in the diocese, and 31% of our resident area population is Catholic, versus the archdiocesan average of 18% and 29% for the parish planning area as a whole.

The major themes that emerged from the DMI survey are that our parish is very much alive, in a good place/on the right track, financially secure and blest with well-maintained facilities and an older, devout and affluent demographic of stable, long-term generational households. Our parishioners are heavily invested in missionary discipleship, adopting Catholic Special Education for 35 years and seeking to expand knowledge of how to share our Catholic faith on a one-on-one basis.

Annunziata is a closely-knit community that fosters philanthropy. Families have occupied the same residences for generations. This has driven strong relationships between parishioner families, meaning there is a certain dynamism that propels our parish when it comes to cooperation and stewardship—not just at the parish level but with any needs within the Archdiocese and our community overall. For this, we are very grateful and blessed.

So what’s next? In the coming months there will be further opportunities to provide feedback on your aspirations for the Archdiocese. Preliminary draft models for reorganization will be presented to all the parishes this fall for input. The final models will be announced in May of 2023, with implementation to take place over the next three to five years. Please continue to pray unceasingly to the Holy Spirit for discernment, pastoral vision, and Biblical Stewardship.

God Bless You,

Fr. John Leykam,
your pastor