As a result he tells us to expect,
first choice times for funerals or other appointments might not be available; the response time for pas-toral visits will be longer; it will be necessary to call for an appointment to see me (expecting a priest to be available when just dropping in at the office will no longer be real-istic); there will usually be one wedding with Mass on a weekend so early notice will be necessary; Anointing of the Sick should be requested as early as possible, so it can be done in a timely manner; a priest's presence at the many parish events might not always be possible; some of our Christian Formation and Day School students may not see and visit with a priest as often as in the past;
He calls this a challenge. "By rising to the new challenge, I mean that our staff and myself will be asking YOU to help with some new opportunities." Odd he didn't present these as tentative plans and ask US our opinion before making his decisions.
Ours is a very large parish, so why no second priest? Our pastor cites many reasons, but this one stood out.
A parish and priest must have a certain “compatibility” and share a common vision. This did not seem to be the case for those few priests who might have been available.
Would any of these "few priests" have taken on Father Jurkus as an associate, despite issues of "vision" or "compatibility", if the positions were reversed? If one would have, he should be our associate pastor. (If two would have, they should be our pastor and associate.)
Another reason he gave was financial. Something had to be cut, so he cut the associate pastor position. It's like a municipal financial crunch when the cuts in police, fire and sanitation staffing are announced by the mayor's spokesman whose position is safe.
Factually, our giving has not increased sufficiently. (I am edified that our neighboring parishes have reported significant increases in their giving. I am happy for them. I wonder why we are lagging behind.)
How about a persistent lack of leadership, direction, and real vision in the parish? For example, why does he wonder rather than find out?
Last year I emailed the president of our parish council suggesting that, in light of parish trends, it would be prudent to "put contingency planning for closing the parish on the Council agenda". I haven't seen any reason since to withdraw the suggestion.
Update: I should say there might be one reason for hope, the return of the fish fry, even if the beer is in cans.
Update 2: More on the fish fry