frmark_headshot_150x150I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news first.

For many years, Eucharistic ministers from STM have been visiting Catholic patients at Emory Hospital, offering them Eucharist and praying with them and otherwise accompanying them in their illnesses. Over the years, the number of ministers involved in this service has grown greatly, and we have developed a good working relationship with Emory Spiritual Health staff. For a very long time, this staff has provided our ministers with a list of Catholic patients at the hospital and their room numbers. Our ministers have then visited each one of these patients, caring for them and their families. As a result, our ministers have contributed greatly to their well-being. Parishioner Richard White has been instrumental in growing this ministry.

Unfortunately, citing concerns for the privacy of patients, the Emory Spiritual Health has informed us that they will no longer provide our ministers with the list of Catholic patients. Instead, Emory Spiritual Health staff have told us that they will inform us when a Catholic patient asks to see a Catholic priest or Eucharistic minister. Our experience at the hospital leads us to believe that this new protocol will leave many Catholic patients without access to Eucharist and the Sacrament of Anointing.

Fr. Rudy and I have met with Emory Spiritual Health staff to express our dismay at this new policy, to say that Catholic patients will be disproportionately be hurt by this new policy, and to suggest ways to protect patients’ privacy interests without compromising our ability to meet their need for the Sacraments. So far, we have been unable to bring about a change in the new policy.
This development is very unfortunate. Without access to the list of Catholic patients and their room numbers, our ministers are no longer able to care for our people as before. and the Catholic patients at Emory are the ones who will suffer.

Rudy and I will continue to look for ways to restore our ministers’ access to Catholic patients. In the meantime, we will do the best we can to care for our sick brothers and sisters at Emory.

The good news:

Representatives from the Washington, D.C., planning and architecture firm, Cox Graae+Spack, have begun work to prepare a master facilities plan for STM. The 5-month project involves a thorough assessment of the condition and remaining useful life of our parish buildings and building systems, forecasting our need for new and/or expanded facilities well into the future, and the development of a phased program of improvements based on their relative priority. CG+S will be guided throughout this project by staff from Catholic Construction Services, Inc. of the Archdiocese and a committee of parishioners led by Bill Morrison.

CG+S staff spent this past weekend and all day Monday visiting the STM campus, attending parish events, including Sunday Masses, and observing parish and school activities in order to get a sense of what goes on here and how we operate. These reps also met at length last Sunday with Bill Morrison and the Facilities Planning Committee to discuss the planning process and get ideas on how to fully engage parishioners in the planning process. CG+S and our planning committee are deeply committed to allowing parishioners ample opportunity to participate in the planning process by relating their experience with parish facilities and offering suggestions regarding their improvement. CG+S plans to speak directly to those parishioners and staff who, because of their work in the parish, have the most experience with parish facilities and know first-hand their strengths and deficiencies. CG+S expects to meet with these “stakeholders” during the month of February.

Beginning in early March, CG+S will solicit feedback from parishioners in general through a variety of means so that all parishioners will have an opportunity to be heard.
The expectation is that, by the beginning of the summer, we will have a good idea of how we might proceed with improving our parish buildings, systems, and grounds. It is possible that we can undertake the highest priority projects by the beginning of 2019.

I encourage parishioners to take advantage of the opportunities to offer feedback. We don’t want anyone to feel that they have not been heard.

Fr. Mark