January 17, 2014

All Saints, St. Catherine parishes created in Batesville Deanery

By Sean Gallagher

In recent months, some parishes in the Batesville Deanery were closed and merged with nearby faith communities.

Other changes have also occurred. Some parishes have been merged together to create a new parish with a new name.

On Dec. 1, 2013, St. John the Baptist Parish in Dover, St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon, St. Martin Parish in Yorkville and St. Paul Parish in New Alsace were merged into one parish. The new faith community, located in Dearborn County, is called All Saints Parish.

On that same date, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg and St. Maurice Parish in Decatur County were merged into one parish. The new faith community, located in Decatur County, is called St. Catherine of Siena Parish.

Both sets of changes resulted from the Connected in the Spirit planning process, which took place in the Batesville Deanery during the past two years.

Although new parishes with new names have been established in the deanery, the church buildings that each new parish will use will retain their original names.

Father Scott Nobbe, administrator of All Saints Parish, recognizes that the changes are difficult for some members of the previous parishes. He said that the new All Saints Parish is fitting because “it’s going to take all of us together to get through this, not only all of us here on Earth, but also the communion of saints in heaven.”

Father Nobbe had been pastor of the four previous parishes since 2011, and has worked since then to bring members of the communities together in various ways. He knows, however, that it takes a while to build up a new parish community.

“People are still focused on what they’re losing instead of the potential of gaining something new in the midst of all of this,” he said. “I’ve tried to be sensitive to that.”

Nonetheless, Father Nobbe and the pastoral staff at All Saints Parish are working to be positive about the future.

“It’s a new chapter in this area,” he said. “And a lot of good things can come from new beginnings. That’s what we’re trying to focus on. We’re trying to help people along the way.”

Father William Ehalt, administrator of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, and Gary Nobbe, a member of the new parish’s implementation team, both said that the merger of the former St. John and St. Maurice parishes has been made easier by the fact that those faith communities had already shared a pastor and collaborated on other programs for the past 27 years.

“The parishes are only five miles apart,” said Father Ehalt. “Parishioners would frequently attend Mass at the other site [in the past]. So it’s not a big change. Also, the size of the parishes and the assets of both are very comparable.”

Gary Nobbe previously served as chairperson of the parish council at the former St. Maurice Parish.

“We didn’t really lose anything,” Nobbe said. “We still have our Masses. We still have a priest. We still have our churches.”

At the same time, he recognizes that having a new parish with a new name is something that longtime members of each former parish will need some time to get used to.

To help build up a spirit of community in the new parish, Nobbe decided to volunteer as a lector for Masses celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Church. In the past, he had only served in that capacity at St. Maurice Church.

“When this thing first started out, people said to me, ‘I didn’t know that you were going to be a lector at St. John,’ ” Nobbe said. “I said, ‘I’m not. I’m a lector for St. Catherine.’ The idea is that we have to use the new parish name so that we kind of keep that unity and get away from that [attitude of] ‘This is mine and that’s yours.’ I think that’s going to help us a lot.”

(For more information on the Connected in the Spirit planning process in the Batesville Deanery, including the decrees that brought about changes in parishes there, log on to www.archindy.org/connected.)

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