PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish


February, 2019

Three Parishes Into One

            In 1999, Fr. Tim Kitzke was commissioned by the Archbishop of Milwaukee to bring Holy Rosary, St. Rita and St. Hedwig on the near Eastside of the city into one.  It became Three Holy Women, a single parish with three locations.  The first thing Fr. Tim did was to calm people’s fears about “losing my parish home.”  He did this by focusing on relationships and not buildings.  “First of all, we need to get to know each other and be mission-driven to this area, not build our own little kingdoms,” he remarked.  Rather than merging the three sites into one, each one remained a viable place of worship. 


People Will Go Where They Are Fed

            The neighborhoods that Three Holy Women served were in the midst of transition when Fr. Tim arrived.  Many young adults were taking up residence while most of the retired people remained.  This created a wide spectrum of ages.  Fr. Tim began his pastoring by hiring good musicians at each place in order to provide a positive sense of liturgy.  He also focused on making the three worship sites places of hospitality.  He made sure that the growing staff worked well together and that it included those with a business background so that Three Holy Women would be on solid financial ground.  Soon a formation person was added to the staff, as well as a person to direct the social justice aspect of the parish.  When he first arrived, the staff had only three people; now there are twenty-five.  The yearly number of baptisms rose from 3 to 140.  “Be creative about what staff you hire,” suggested Fr. Tim.  “The concept of a parochial parish serving only those in the area is over.  When people witness a place with vision and purpose, they will come, and what is more, they will become engaged.”


Becoming Pastor of Three More Parishes

            A few years after Three Holy Women came into being, the Archbishop asked Fr. Tim to take over another parish but with the mandate not to merge it with another parish.  Thrown into the bargain was an associate pastor as a help to Fr. Tim.  The new assignment was a downtown parish which served a mixed clientele of working professionals and visitors to the city.  This meant at least one more Mass added on to the three celebrated on the weekends at Three Holy Women.  About six years later, another parish, Ss. Peter and Paul, was having difficulty, so it was added to the pastor’s plate, followed by a third parish that was itself the result of two parishes coming together as one.  To handle this new challenge, Fr. Tim pulled together a team of three priests to serve this community which was very different from Three Holy Women.  If you are keeping score, Fr. Tim was now the pastor of four parishes at six locations.   


How Does He Do It?

            According to Fr. Tim, “It has to do with leadership, it has to do with spirit, it also has to do with flexibility.”  He went on to say, “You can not live in the suffocation of planning.  Jesus did not say, ‘Go and form a strategic plan.’ Rather he said, ‘Go teach, go baptize, go proclaim the Kingdom.’  I am not deriding the need for good plans, but as a priest, I just want to be a dreamer.  Along with that, I want to be a coordinator of charisms.  I have now hired everybody on staff and they are all excellent in their specific field.  Lay ecclesial ministry is absolutely essential for the running of any parish.  I have discovered that the more I share the ministry, the stronger my priesthood becomes.  And the more I share the coordination of charisms, the stronger my priestly authority becomes.  These parishes are now looked upon as successes because we have full churches, full sacramental programs and we are taking care of the poor.  We have so much energy, both from the young and the retired.”