St. Francis Of Assisi Parish
Editor’s Note – On June 5, 2014, Bishop Charles C. Thompson formally approved St. Francis of Assisi as the new name for the parish created by the merger of St. Joseph Parish in Dale, Mary Help of Christian Parish in Mariah Hill and St. Nicholas Parish in Santa Claus. The new St. Francis of Assisi Parish officially comes to life on July 1, 2015. Deacon Jim Woebkenberg, who serves the three merging parishes, shares with The Message the story of the new name.
In the book of Genesis, we read that God gave to Adam all the animals of the world, and Adam named them all. Names form and become our identity. When I was born, it was traditional for parents to name their child after a saint. Though we did not get to choose our baptismal names we did have a say in our Confirmation names. Names are important to us.
On Sept. 27, 2013, Bishop Thompson announced that our three parishes – St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, and Mary Help of Christians – would merge into the new parish of St. Joseph on July 1, 2015. St. Joseph had the largest church and was home to the Hispanic community.
Father John Brosmer wrote in his bulletin article a week later that several parishioners inquired about the name chosen for our new parish. After some prayer and reflection he thought it best to at least open up the possibility a new parish name to give the people “ownership and belonging.” In this bulletin article he asked: “What saint reflects the community that we can draw inspiration from?”
In order to reach everyone in all three communities, Father John wrote similar words in the November-December newsletter, adding that we have the opportunity to create something for our children and grandchildren. On Nov. 21, 2013, the tri-parish council came to the consensus that a new name would bring solidarity and create excitement. Thus beginning in December, people would be encouraged to submit their proposed new parish name by answering the three following questions: What is the name? Why did you choose this name? How does it relate to our community? The goal was to have a new name by January 2014.
“Ask and you shall receive!” A total of 80 entries were received by January. Several names were submitted more than once. Each nomination was read, especially their explanations of why it would be good for the community. That night the council reduced the number of parish name entries to 19 mainly by adhering to canonical guidelines for the naming of a parish and duplication of names across our diocese. The people were given a list of these 19 names and asked to comment on them. At the February tri-parish council meeting the names would be reduced to a few strong names.
During this time, lively discussions ensued wherever people came together. Excitement was indeed building, and each council member received many comments. At the February council meeting Father John provided some information about the 19 names, and comments were heard from all.
It was decided that each council member be given three stars from which to put behind their favorite names. Six names remained and a reflection on each of the remaining names was presented to the people of the tri-parish a couple weeks later.
At the March council meeting, two names were selected: St. Francis of Assisi and Our lady of Grace. Both names are identifiable with the Hispanic community. It was decided that more time was needed for comments, reflection, and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
In May the council again took up the discussion of the names. Our Lady of Grace received many positive comments from the people. “Mary will always be with us,” reported one council member, but St. Francis of Assisi represents a new beginning. A unanimous consensus was built to have St. Francis to be our patron and model for the new parish. One cannot put into words the somber and prayerful atmosphere of these council deliberations.
A prayer for the new St. Francis of Assisi Parish was composed in May and approved by the council in June. The prayer calls to mind some of the sayings of St. Francis as well as help from our three existing parish patrons and the Holy Spirit. The prayer is now used at all masses and meetings, and perhaps even at homes or work places.
Prayer for Saint Francis of Assisi Parish
All praise to you God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of heaven and earth,
All praise to you Holy Mother Church, Thy Kingdom in heaven and on earth.
We chose your holy servant, Saint Francis of Assisi, to be our patron and model,
To guide us, through his intercession, to be a living, growing, and faith filled parish.
Thus we pray:
To become poor in our humanity so to become rich in your divinity;
To become rich with patience in suffering so to realize perfect joy;
To become rich in poverty and meekness, and poor in selfishness and pride;
To become rich in mercy and forgiveness; to always see the good in others;
To recognize your presence in the stranger, the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed;
To be compassionate and kind toward all creatures for you made them all.
Transform our new parish, cleanse us from personal gain, so all we have left is You!
We ask for the aid of St. Francis of Assisi, Mary, Help of Christians, St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, and the Holy Spirit to assist us in building the Kingdom of God. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.