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Diocese of Joliet announces Restructuring of St. Charles Borromeo Parish

Diocese of Joliet announces Restructuring of St. Charles Borromeo Parish

Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of the Diocese of Joliet has accepted the unanimous recommendation of his targeted restructuring committee regarding St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bensenville.

This unanimous recommendation comes after a deliberate process involving the pastor, Fr. Michal Twaruzek, members of the St. Charles Borromeo Parish and Finance Councils, and the parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Parish.

This thorough process began in late July 2022, shortly after the diocese had streamlined its own operations at the Blanchette Catholic Center by reducing staffing from 99 to 70 employees and updating its organizational chart to reflect an outward-focused, effective and efficient approach. On July 27, Bishop Hicks convened the inaugural meeting of the diocesan targeted restructuring committee to begin a review of the vibrancy and sustainability of parishes and schools in specific geographic areas of the diocese – hence the term “targeted restructuring.” The team he assembled consists of himself; the eight pastors who serve as deans of the diocese’s eight deaneries; and senior diocesan staff. Former General Counsel Maureen Harton directs and oversees meetings of the targeted restructuring committee.

Over the subsequent weeks and months, members of the committee first reviewed diocesan-wide statistics – such as trends in number of clergy, Mass attendance, parish and school financial health, structural and maintenance needs, etc. – before asking the eight deans for recommendations of parishes and schools that require further scrutiny. The targeted restructuring committee then categorized the recommendations into three stages: urgent; in the next year; and in two to three years. Bishop Hicks wrote of this process in his October column.

St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bensenville was placed in the urgent phase due to several factors, including but not limited to long standing financial problems and increasing structural and maintenance needs that the parish lacks the means to address. Bishop Hicks’ vision of Catechesis, Evangelization, Faith into Action is focused on the mission of Jesus Christ and not on the preservation of our buildings. As he wrote in his October column, “As missionary disciples, we should all desire a Church that is thriving, growing and following the Gospel. In other words, everything we do as a Church needs to be about the salvation of souls. With deep faith in God, we need to prune some of the structural branches, so that our Church can continue to produce great fruit.”

Harton first met with Fr. Twaruzek and members of parish lay leadership twice last fall and again in February. With clarity and transparency, Harton informed them that a restructuring was going to take place at the parish. Harton presented four canonical scenarios, one of which would be the ultimate outcome. These canonical scenarios were the following: (1) merger with another parish forming a new parish; (2) subsumption into another parish; (3) division between two existing parishes; or (4) extinction (closure). Parish lay leadership was asked to submit their written recommendations on each of these scenarios to the targeted restructuring committee.

On the weekend of March 4–5, 2023, an announcement concerning the restructuring appeared in the parish bulletin. The process and timeline were outlined in the announcement. Thereafter, two parish listening sessions were held at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, on March 15th and March 25th, respectively. Harton displayed a PowerPoint presentation with quantitative data on the diocese, the Eastern DuPage Deanery, and St. Charles Borromeo Parish. Parishioners then expressed their heartfelt feelings about the parish and Fr. Twaruzek, while Harton and other diocesan senior staff listened intently. One message they heard loud and clear was the need for a Polish Sunday mass in the deanery. We are pleased to announce that commencing the weekend of July 8-9, mass will be celebrated in Polish each Sunday at Holy Ghost Parish in Wood Dale.

Parish lay leadership was again asked to submit their written recommendations on the four canonical scenarios presented last fall. They expressed their desire that the status quo remain at the parish, thus echoing the sentiments of the parishioners.
The targeted restructuring committee met on April 19 and carefully reviewed all the data, two “Growing Every Day” presentations created by members of the parish lay leadership, letters and emails received by the Office of the Bishop, and placards parishioners displayed at the two parish listening sessions. After thorough and prayerful consideration of the written materials and parishioner input, the committee unanimously decided on the following recommendation:

  1. Canonically extinguish the parish;
  2. Transfer the territory and assets of the parish to Mary Queen of Heaven Parish in Elmhurst;
  3. Transfer the sacramental records to the diocesan chancery office;
  4. Assign the existing diocesan debt to the Diocese;
  5. One weekly Sunday mass in Polish will be celebrated in the Eastern DuPage Deanery;
  6. Direct that if St. Charles Borromeo’s real estate is ever sold, the Diocese will be reimbursed for all forgiven diocesan debt, assumed diocesan debt and expenses incurred by the Diocese in maintaining the property from the time of closure of the parish until the sale of the property. The remaining sale proceeds will go to Mary Queen of Heaven Parish; and
  7. The effective date of these actions is June 30, 2023.

The targeted restructuring committee sent the unanimous recommendation to Bishop Hicks. On May 3rd, Bishop Hicks conferred with the College of Consultors and the Presbyteral Council, as required by Canon law. Both canonical bodies voted in favor of the recommendation and after prayerful discernment, Bishop Hicks accepted the recommendation.

The diocese is sincerely grateful to Fr. Twaruzek, parish lay leadership and the parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Parish for their patient, thoughtful and respectful input throughout this process. Other parishes in the Eastern DuPage Deanery will soon be hosting open houses to welcome St. Charles Borromeo parishioners. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide all St. Charles Borromeo parishioners as they seek a new spiritual home.

About the Diocese of Joliet

The Diocese of Joliet serves approximately 545,000 Catholics in 125 parishes and missions in DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will Counties, a geographic area of 4,218 square miles. The diocese has more than 2,700 employees in its agencies and ministries, including two early childhood education centers, 40 elementary schools, three high schools and Catholic Charities.