On September 20, 2011, after 10 months of study and consultation, the priests and parishioners who served on the Interparish Pastoral Commission (IPC) have presented their recommendations to the Most Reverend David M. O'Connell, C.M., Bishop of Trenton. The IPC recommends the following parish configurations for the four existing parishes of Holy Spirit Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, St. Peter Claver Church, Asbury Park and Our Lady of Providence Church, Neptune, in order of preference:
1. Principal Parish and Mission
...that the four parishes be consolidated into two, Holy Spirit and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, according to a "main parish and mission" model. The parishes of St. Peter Claver and Our Lady of Providence would be incorporated into the main parish and its mission. No consensus was reached about which parish would be the main and which would be the mission. Our hope would be to avoid a greater/lesser situation by keeping both sites as full-service as is practical. One pastor and one pastoral team would serve both the main parish and the mission. The model provides maximum flexibility regarding shared and distinct ministries.
---that St. Peter Claver Parish and Our Lady of Providence Parish be incorporated into Holy Spirit Parish; and that Holy Spirit Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish be twinned under the leadership of one pastor. These twinned parishes would remain administratively distinct from one another, maintain separate finance and pastoral councils, but cooperate pastorally in every way that would be appropriate.
...that the four parishes be merged into one new parish with two church buildings. The new parish would have one pastor and pastoral team; one administrative structure; one finance council and one pastoral council that are representative of the various cultural communities. Liturgy, Religious Education, and Outreach would be organized to best serve parishioners, with some ministries being combined over time and some remaining distinct to meet the unique needs and preserve the cultural traditions of each community.
All of the above recommendations presume the following with regard to:
- The Pastoral team assigned to the parish(es) will include priests who speak English, Spanish, and Creole.
- The Pastor and Pastoral team will be able to transcend special interests for the benefit of the whole church, respect and preserve the traditions of each cultural group, and serve and lead the parish(es) to serve all.
- Decisions regarding the remainder of the Pastorall team (non-clergy) and parish staffing will be made after the Pastor is named, in consultation with a transition commitee.
- Ministry to Black, Haitian, and Hispanic Catholics will remain part of any parish configuration.
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel School is considered by all to be an important part of the Church's ministry in the area. Decisions about the continued viability of the school will be made by the Pastor with guidance from the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools.
- Holy Spirit Church and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church will remain worship sites and the buildings will retain their names. Mass schedules will be determined after the Pastor is named, in consultation with a transition committee.
- The preparations to construct and operate the St. Peter Claver Center will stay on track and be supported by all the parishes regardless of configuration.
- There is the intention to identify a room or building in the new configuration that is in frequent use by Hispanic Catholics to carry the name of Our Lady of Providence or some derivative of that name.
- The model chosen will improve the financial stability of the parish(es), enable the parish(es) to reduce costs, redirect funds toward ministry, keep current with all responsibilities, and build responsible reserves toward maintenance and unforeseeable expenses in the future.
Terry A. Ginther, Executive Director for Pastoral Life and Mission, Diocese of Trenton