New Parishes Stronger Together Proposal (updated March 1st)

New Parishes Stronger Together Proposal (updated March 1st)

This is an updated page on the New Parishes, Stronger Together proposal announced by Archbishop Dunn on November 1st. It contains some of the information that appeared on the previous page (click here to access the previous page) as well as updates to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Any of the FAQ updates appear in this blue colour. These updates came from questions asked at the feedback sessions held in October, November and December.

The report for Archbishop Dunn was submitted on Thursday, March 11th.

Proposal Announced
by Archbishop Dunn
Sunday, November 1st

A Message
From Archbishop Dunn
Friday, December 4th

Archbishop Dunn came to celebrate Mass and give this talk. In his talk he makes reference to this document. We encourage everyone to read this document and listen to Archbishop Dunn’s talk.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who made this decision? The Pastoral Council proposed the closure of two church buildings to the Archbishop. He will make a final decision.
  2. Is this proposed closing of the churches related to COVID-19? This proposal was made before the global pandemic. COVID-19 was not a factor in the proposal.
  3. Why wasn’t I asked for input? Parishioners were asked to attend three presentations as part of a series (referred to as ‘the Communications Series’) in November, 2019. During the Communication Series the state of our finances and buildings were raised and the floor was opened for questions. Representatives from each church were on the working group who presented options for the Pastoral Council. People were invited to attend those three sessions in person or online as they were live-streamed on YouTube.
  4. Does the proposal mean my church is closing? The Archbishop has not made his final decision. This will come after the feedback sessions are complete and a report is submitted to the Archbishop.
  5. Why don’t we just build a new building instead of choosing one of the existing buildings over another? The option to purchase land and build was considered but not deemed financially feasible.
  6. Are we the only parish proposing building closures? As part of New Parishes, Stronger Together, Archbishops Mancini and Dunn asked every parish to conduct a review of their current and future resources needed for missionary renewal. So all parishes of our diocese are undergoing a process of resource inventory.
  7. What about people who don’t want to be part of a large parish? We recognize that many people’s experience of Church at Holy Trinity has been tied to a unique church building and unique Church community which is smaller than the whole body of our parish membership. Bringing the dynamism and character of these communities under a common church roof does present both challenges and opportunities, and our parish is working to ensure that all who come through our doors are able to find authentic Christian community in groups large and small.
  8. What happens to my ministry if the proposal is accepted? We believe that ministry is a part of discipleship! We also believe that we have all been given gifts and are called to use those gifts to build up the Kingdom of God. We hope and expect parishioners will continue to serve in ministries going forward. “In our new parishes, we have all the talents and gifts we require and we require all the gifts and talents we have, to become centres of spiritual and pastoral care; to become worshipping and prayerful communities of communities with dedicated disciples ready to be effective witnesses of the truth that Jesus Christ is the hope and light of the world.” (Archbishop Mancini, Becoming Stronger Together letter, January 2020.) As outlined in the parish five-year plan (click here for a summary), we will build a process to onboard parishioners into ministry areas that align with their ministry and leadership strengths and that further the mission and vision of Holy Trinity Parish.
  9. Is the proposal related to the recent class action lawsuit against the Archdiocese? No. Parishes were restructured to increase our ability to live the mission Christ called us to: spread the Good News and make disciples. Our culture, demographics, and realities of the world have taken their toll on our communities of faith in Halifax-Yarmouth. To have healthy, viable, growing communities of faith, we need to change how we live and act as members of the Church and how we respond to the world in which the Church finds herself.
  10. What happens to the buildings if the proposal is accepted and SES and SFA churches are closed? If the proposal is accepted as written, there will be final liturgies for both SES and SFA. The details around the sale of buildings and properties and contents have not yet been decided. This will require input from professionals and our Archdiocese.
  11. Who are the members of the Working Group and the Pastoral Council? Working Group Members: Greg MacIntosh, Stephen O’Quinn, Terry Toner, Madelane Chiasson, Robert Rankine, Dave Nicholson. Parish Pastoral Council Members: Fr. Bryan Sabourin, Fr. Yves Marchildon, Kate Pinto, Colleen Owen, Urban Cannon, Kim Pickup, Greg MacIntosh, Michelynne Gomez, Stephen McDonald, Stephen O’Quinn Previously Serving Parish Pastoral Council Members: Frank Hughes, Catherine Kidson.
  12. What were the three proposals brought forward to the Pastoral Council by the Working Group? The working group considered 6 original proposals:
    • a) Build New Church (deemed not viable by working group)
    • b) Rent space not owned by parish (deemed not viable by working group)
    • c) Maintain the status quo (deemed not viable by working group)
    • d) Sell SFA and SES and upgrade/repair SJV
    • e) Sell SES, use funds to upgrade SJV and SFA
    • f) Sell SJV and either sell or retain SFA*
    • (*The Parish Pastoral Council split part of this proposal into two separate proposals: f.1) Sell SJV and SFA; f.2) Sell SJV only).
    • After a prayerful and detailed analysis of all three proposals, weighing the pros and cons of each, option d. was chosen. The primary rationale for choosing this option was for unification in carrying out the vision and mission of our parish. Financial impact was another secondary consideration.

FAQs Specific to Holy Trinity Parish Finances

  1. Is this proposal driven by finances? Without fully embracing evangelization, restructuring will not be enough. The Archdiocese and Holy Trinity Parish both recognize this and it’s why mission, not money or the state of our buildings, is the primary impetus for the proposal; even if those other aspects are important considerations. Restructuring our parish is only a means to an end, in order to provide a level of stability and sustainability to pursue our shared mission.
  2. If the proposal is accepted and two of our church properties are sold, how much of the money remains with the parish? The Archdiocese assesses all sale of property and land at 14% for the regular assessment and 10% to help with the new constructions of other parishes. The remaining 76% stays with the parish. Renting properties is unable to resource us in a way that allows us to move forward at this time, but should be explored with the Archdiocese if and when we arrive at a decision point.
  3. What will funds from the sale of any buildings or properties be used for? Any funds received from the sale of buildings and land at the St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Francis of Assisi sites would go towards furthering our pastoral plan in support of our shared mission, as well as used towards the cost of repairs and upgrades required for the functioning of the current St. John Vianney church building (estimated at greater than $500,000). And also towards some necessary changes to make that same building better reflect being the church of the new “Holy Trinity” parish.
  4. Is the Seton property completely owned by Holy Trinity and does it have to be used as a church site in the future? The property and building at St. Elizabeth Seton is now the sole property of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth (the Archdiocese legally owns all its church properties) and no longer is a shared building or property with any other church group, and if sold, does not need to be used as a church property.

FAQs Related to Feedback Sessions

  1. I’m against this proposal. Why should I bother signing up for a feedback session if a decision has been made already? While the proposal has been found to have merit, a decision has in fact not been made yet. Feedback sessions can help surface concerns that have not previously been raised, and allow you to voice where you stand.
  2. I’m in favour of this proposal, is it necessary for me to give my feedback? Yes, absolutely! We want to collect all the feedback on this proposal. These sessions can help surface reasons for adopting this proposal that have not previously been raised, and allow you to voice where you stand. So please do sign up to attend a feedback session and share.
  3. How can I give my input? Whatever your thoughts and feelings are, please sign up for a feedback session.

Parish Prayer

Prayed at Sunday Mass beginning in Lent

Heavenly Father,

As our parish contends with our changing world, and adopts the missionary posture necessary to bring the light of the Gospel to it in our time, grant us the courage to re-evaluate all that we are doing in light of that same mission given to us by your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to “make and equip disciples who joyfully go and invite others to Jesus.”

We ask in this time especially, as we discern a path forward along with our Archdiocese, for a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit, that we would be united and explosively alive. Strengthen our community through bonds of friendship, growth in holiness, and commitment to our mission. Empower us for the work of ministry so as to transform the world, making present Your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We ask all this through Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.


Fr. Bryan’s Homily – Sunday, November 8th

Five Key Areas of Consideration

  1. Feedback

The goal of this process is to solicit feedback from our parishioners on the proposal and its implications. This will aid the archbishop in making a decision regarding the proposal once this process is complete. Care will be taken to receive reasons for and against the proposal itself, but also to ask the question, how would/does this proposal impact you personally?

Consultations took place for eight weeks beginning on Monday, November 9th. They were finished before Christmas. They took place by church site.  Consults were one hour in length, and held primarily over Zoom. Provision were made for in-person meetings or conference calls for those who could not use Zoom. Group sizes did not exceed 10-12 participants (plus 2 facilitators).

Sessions were recorded to ensure we captured all that parishioners shared with us. Sign-up began on November 1st and continued through to the end of the eight-week feedback period.

Those taking part in feedback sessions received an online form to fill out beforehand.

The structure of the meetings itself were:

  • Welcome, introductions, opening prayer
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Opportunity to share reasons for the proposal (pros)
  • Opportunity to share reasons against the proposal (cons)
  • Opportunity to share how the proposal impacts you personally
  • Brief Sharing of Next Steps
  • Closing Prayer

These feedback sessions were run by two trained facilitators who guided participants through the process. They were there to listen, facilitate, and receive feedback. The facilitation sessions were not Q&A sessions but we captured questions and updated our FAQs (see above).

The following people were commissioned and trained as feedback session facilitators:

  1. Kim Pickup (Pastoral Council)
  2. Colleen Owen (Pastoral Council)
  3. Stephen McDonald (Finance Council)
  4. Cecelia MacLellan (Finance Council)
  5. Deacon Art Mitchell (Clergy)
  6. Kate Pinto (Staff)
  7.  Kate Robinson (Staff)
  8.  Steve O’Quinn (Pastoral Council)
  9.  Alex Craven (Staff)
  10.  Deacon Rod Rowlands (Clergy)
  11.  Greg MacIntosh (Pastoral Council)
  12.  Stephen Melanson (Digital Ministry)
  13.  Steve Owen (Confirmation Preparation, In formation for the diaconate)
  14.  Debbie Brown (Care and Companionship, Engagement Team)
  15.  Terry Toner (Music Ministry)
  16.  John Stevens (Archdiocese)
  17.  Elizabeth Craig (Archdiocese)

The facilitation team was commissioned by Archbishop Dunn at the 9am Mass on November 1st.

2. Prayer

The parish staff and clergy are committed to prayer and fasting specifically for the parish and this process for the duration of the feedback period. The staff and clergy met at 9am on Tuesdays to pray together and intercede for our parish from late October until Lent. As part of this prayer effort they prayed a Novena to Saint Joseph, patron of the Universal Church and of Canada (December 15-23rd). We are also praying a Memorare each day.

For their part, the Archdiocesan office for Pastoral Life and the New Evangelization have been holding a Friday Holy Hour to pray for all the parishes, and for our feedback process specifically.

We invite you to join the staff and clergy by setting aside a regular time each day to pray for our parish, and if you can, a slightly longer time each week. We invite you also to fast for our parish.

Regardless of where our feelings and thoughts might lie at this time, we have great need of uniting ourselves to Our Lord, and of asking the intercession of Mary, and all the saints. In particular, we want to ask the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Elizabeth Seton, and Saint John Vianney.

We held two nights of Adoration and Worship, on November 14th and December 12th from 7:30-8:30pm. Both were live-streamed and can be viewed on our YouTube channel (here and here).

3. Pastoral Care

Although the Archbishop has not made a decision regarding the proposal at this stage, we recognize that some people will experience thoughts and emotions that are reflective of being in the cycle of grief. We likewise recognize that the feedback sessions were not the place where the needs of someone experiencing these things were met. We have asked three retired priests to be available to parishioners who may wish to share how they are doing and receive prayer and counsel.

The clergy available for this ministry are:

  • Fr. Owen Connolly
  • Fr. Jim Richards
  • Archbishop Martin Currie

Parishioners who wish to avail themselves of this help can contact Elizabeth Craig at the Archdiocese, who will set up a time to meet with one of the three available clergy.

Alex Craven and Kate Pinto released a video (Hearts and Minds: Preparing Yourself for Feedback) addressing the topic of grieving from a head and heart perspective. We encourage you to watch it.

4. Communications

We hoped to hear from as many people as possible in the feedback sessions. And we want to stay in communication with you during this process. To do that, we plan to use as many tools as we possibly can. This will include messaging in the First 5, post-mass announcements, this dedicated page on our website, a document (with the information on this web page), video messaging from members of the staff and clergy, posts on social media, letters from the pastor and the archbishop.

5. Formation

There are several formation topics that the Archdiocese wants to ensure we speak on in the months ahead. The key topics we have been asked to address are as follows: evangelization, the cost of discipleship, and the nature of the Church. With regard to the nature of the Church, a sub-topic of particular importance is the difference between a parish and a church.

Finally, we have been asked to re-present our mission, vision, and five year plan. The parish clergy plan to address these topics in homilies over the coming months.

Archbishop Dunn, who will visit to celebrate a couple weekday masses, will stay afterwards and record a brief talk each time. One of them will specifically address the difference between a parish and a church. The video from this talk is linked above (and here).