Thank You All

_JAM4985-3 copyChange is inevitable, whether in acceptable time or unacceptable time; we all have to struggle with that. Life is always changing and everything, whether good or bad, will eventually come to an end. As you already know my current assignment here at Holy Family and St. Robert will end at the end of this month of May, 2016. I was not prepared for this; to my knowledge; I thought it was ending summer of 2017. Nothing in this life remains the same; only God is unchanging and constant in His love, at all times.

Although I was not able to do much within those two years I have been here, I am so grateful for getting opportunity to serve you in different ways. It has been a blessing to me being my first assignment as a priest; it means a lot. Archbishop Jerome Listecki has assigned me to the Central City parishes. I will be a shared associate for three parishes: All Saints; St. Martin De Porres, and St. Michael. Please, I do ask for your prayers as I begin my new assignment.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your love, prayers, and support. It is hard to leave, but as I said in the beginning of this note, change is inevitable and all of us have to adjust to it. Just remember what I said over and over. “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good,” even at this time of my transition. God bless and I will miss you all.

Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani


Changes At St. Robert – From Our Pastor, Father Dennis

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxYou have heard that Fr. Peter Patrick will be leaving us in June. The Archbishop has assigned him as shared associate pastor to St. Martin de Porres, All Saints and St. Michael Parishes. The Archbishop has also assigned Fr. David Zampino Sr. to replace Fr. Peter Patrick. Fr. David is formerly an Episcopalian priest who has been accepted into the Catholic Church and was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop Listecki with the dispensation granted to him by Pope Francis. He comes to us as a married man with a family. Fr. David will begin his assignment to St. Robert of Newminster and Holy Family Parishes on June 21st. We are grateful to the Archbishop for sending us a shared associate pastor, especially given the shortage the diocese faces. I welcome him to our parishes and I look forward to working with him in serving you, our parishioners. We are also publishing a question-and-answer document with more information regarding married priests.

Married Priests:  Questions and Answers

1.  We were always taught that married men could not be ordained Catholic priests. How is it possible that we could ordain a married man as a Catholic priest?

Celibacy is a discipline of the Catholic Church practiced universally in the West. Although it is highly valued, Pope Paul VI stated that celibacy “is not, of course, required by the nature of the priesthood itself. This is clear from the practice of the early church and the traditions of the Eastern rite churches.”

Much has been said about practical reasons for celibacy, such as giving the parish priest more time to dedicate to the children of God, etc. When all is said and done, however, we must understand it as a powerful sign of the presence of the kingdom of God. It is not essential to the priesthood, but it is a radical witness to the reign of Christ in the world.

In the West the church eventually adopted the practice of celibacy as a universal discipline. The East, however, never did. Even today, Eastern rite priests may marry before ordination. This historical situation opened the doors to the possibility of a married clergy in the West under certain circumstances – most notably for those whose lifelong traditions allow for a married clergy. This includes certain Protestant traditions.

2. When did the Catholic Church begin this practice of ordaining married clergymen from other churches after they became Catholic?

In his 1967 encyclical, “Of the Celibacy of the Priest,” Pope Paul VI called for a study of the circumstances of married ministers of churches or other Christian communities separated from the Catholic Church and of the possibility of admitting those who desire full communion to the Catholic priesthood and to continue to exercise ministry.

Pope Pius XII had already granted special permission for some married Lutheran clergy to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood shortly after the Second World War.

In a 1980 statement, Pope John Paul II allowed an exception for married Episcopal clergy who wanted to become Catholic priests. That exception has since been extended to married men ordained in other non-Catholic, Christian denominations.

3. Does this mean that the Catholic Church will begin ordaining married men on a regular basis?

No. The ordination of a married man remains an exception and one that is granted only in very specific cases involving men who had already been called to ministry in another church or Christian denomination and later came into full communion in the Catholic Church.

4. Is this practice of married priests wide-spread in the United States?

There are approximately 100 active priests in the United States who are married. Without exception they came to Catholicism from other churches. They formerly served the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Methodist churches as ordained ministers. At some point they felt the call to communion with the Catholic Church and entered a process of transition. They and their families entered into full communion with the church, and the former Protestant ministers petitioned Rome for permission to be ordained as Catholic priests. They are now active in priestly ministry throughout the country.

5. If they were already ministers in their own denominations, why does the Catholic Church ordain them?

The Catholic Church does not recognize ordination in other churches as valid.

6. If these men were trained to be ministers in another denomination, how can we be assured that what they teach and preach is truly Catholic?

Men seeking to be ordained under these provisions undergo a theological evaluation. Their knowledge of seven subjects is evaluated by a team of experts. The areas tested are: Ascetical Theology, Canon Law, Church History, Dogmatic Theology, Liturgical and Sacramental Theology, Moral Theology, and Sacred Scripture.

Based on this evaluation, a prescribed plan of studies is assigned on a case-by-case basis.

After the syllabus is completed the candidate is required to pass one written and one oral exam in each of the seven subjects noted above.

7. Is it up to the diocesan bishop to make the final decision to admit the man to Holy Orders?

The diocesan bishop is required to present the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. A dossier of at least 13 required documents is submitted, including a petition for a dispensation from the impediment of marriage that stands in the way of the ordination. The actual dispensation can only be granted by the pope.

8. Does this mean that the Catholic Church will now allow priests to marry or that priests who left ministry to marry will be able to return?

No. There is historical evidence and contemporary practice that demonstrates that married men have been ordained. However, there is no tradition in the Church of allowing someone to marry after ordination. In fact, should one of the married priests become widowed, he is not permitted to marry again. Also, in keeping with long tradition, a married priest is not eligible to be ordained a bishop.

Living As A True Steward – A Message from Father Dennis

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October 27, 2015

Dear Parishioner,

If you believe in God, you believe in stewardship. True stewardship calls us to recognize one simple yet profound truth: absolutely everything we have has been given to us by Him to be used in service to Him and His people.

Stewardship is not a “program,” or a fundraising campaign or a buzzword or round-about way of asking for more money. Stewardship is a lifestyle by which we recognize everything as gift. Living stewardship allows us to use our gifts wisely to the best of our ability for the good of God’s church and his people.

Living as a true steward requires a conversion of the heart; taking us down a path toward a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. Prayer, worship, reflection; these are the building blocks of faithful stewardship. Stewardship, simply defined, is putting our faith first – making God a priority in our lives. Before we can sincerely give any portion of out time, talent and treasure to God, we must give Him all of our hearts.

Enclosed is your 2016 Financial Stewardship Commitment Form.* In completing your pledge please consider how your life is enriched by our parish community and about how you make a difference for others through your support of parish ministries. An increase in the level of your support would allow us to not only continue the many good things that are described in “What Difference Do My Contributions Make?” but to also strengthen and expand upon them.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Father Dennis Dirkx

*This form is available on line at

What Difference Do My Contributions Make? – 2015 Stewardship Campaign

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Your contributions to St. Robert have a very real and direct impact on
 the ministries of our parish and, for that, we are very grateful. This year
 your donations supported:

445 students ages 3 to 18 being formed in the faith of the Catholic
 Church through our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Religious 
Education, School and High School Faith Formation programs,

Small Faith Groups that began Fall 2014 and have continued to grow,
 expanding recently to include Catholic ID, a more in-depth disciple-
making group,

Those who rely on the St. Martin de Porres, All Saints, and Riverwest
Food Pantries and St. Vincent de Paul Meal Program for food,

Expanded ministry to those grieving the death of a loved one as well
 as those who are sick and/or homebound,

700 people who attend our weekend Masses,

Expanded outreach to those living at area senior living facilities,

The launch of a mothers’ group called “The Way We Grow” whose goal
is to provide young parents an opportunity to get together, grow in their
 faith and create a culture of faith in their homes,

]ohn Paul II House of Discernment and Blessed Mother Teresa
 House for those considering vocations to serve the church, and

500 people who attended the ARISE Mission in September.

After several years of deficits, we finished our last fiscal year with a
 small surplus and have budgeted a similar small surplus for this fiscal
 year. This year’s budget required a significant reorganization of parish
 operations. There were cuts across all ministries, though the most 
significant have been in administrative salaries and expenses. There are
 many, many good things going on at St. Robert. Continuing this work 
will require at least $740,000 in parishioner contributions this fiscal 
year. We are very grateful for your support of these ministries.

Father Dennis’ Letter on Parish Restructuring – May 31, 2015

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May 31, 2015
Feast of the Holy Trinity

Dear St. Robert of New Minster Parishioners,

Our celebration of Pentecost and the great feasts of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi coincide with my year of personal prayer to the Holy Spirit and the deliberations of our Finance Council and Trustees as to how best to address the financial crisis that our parish is facing. The attached Bulletin Supplement describes the organizational restructuring that I have approved and the specific changes that we will implement. Please read it prayerfully.

My role as your pastor is to do everything that I can to provide for the sacramental life of the parish and to sustain its ministries for the spiritual growth of all members. The parish is the place that makes Christ present. Homilies this year, our archdiocesan Synod discussions, and our parish visioning were all influenced by Jesus’ great commission to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). We expressed that call to evangelize in our Vision Statement: Every parishioner will make an intentional commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ rooted in a personal relationship with Him and committed to sharing his/her story.

We know from Saint John Paul II and from our current Pope Francis that our call in this age is to evangelize—to make Christ present to all we encounter.   Our restructuring will help us do this. That does not mean it will not be painful, difficult, or easy to implement.

This year’s Operating Budget will be balanced beginning July 1, 2015 and when it ends on June 30, 2016.  This is a major step forward. We have ended the last three years with deficits of over $300,000 per year totaling almost $1 million dollars. Good stewardship demands that we provide for our ministries into the future and be accountable for our limited resources.   After much prayer and discernment, I believe that the restructuring we will implement now will begin a process of securing our future.

I want to thank the ad hoc committees of the Finance Council, the Trustees, and the parishioners with human resource skills who assisted us in developing the restructuring plan. All members of our pastoral staff and school faculty and staff will be affected by the changes. I ask you to join me in special prayers for the dedicated individuals who will be leaving us. Let us pray also for our valued pastoral and school staff who remain to build on the evangelization that we have begun with our discipleship vision and mission.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Dennis Dirkx

Bulletin Supplement on Parish Restructuring – May 31, 2015

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St. Robert of Newminster Parish
2015 Restructuring Plan
May 31, 2015

The last three years the parish has reported deficits of over $300,000 per year totaling almost $1 million dollars. Over the past several months, Father Dennis with ad hoc committees of the Finance Council and the Trustees, have engaged strategic discussions, discernment, and prayer to address the parish deficit situation. As a result the parish will have a balanced 2015-2016 Operating Budget both at the beginning and at the end of the fiscal year. This is a major step forward in securing the future of the parish. Good stewardship demands that the parish—the place that makes Christ present—provides for its ministries into the future and be accountable for its limited resources. The needed adjustments described here are substantial. Over the coming year parishioners will see tangible changes at the parish and school.

Economic realities at the parish have forced parish leadership to reconsider the way St. Robert operates. Throughout the strategic discussion process, parish leadership focused on three primary goals: First, 1.) Reduce the parish cost structure; 2.) Re-evaluate the overall goals of parish ministries and how the parish provides pastoral services to the faith community; 3.) Retain a focus on archdiocesan changes that will impact St. Robert over the next several years.

With these three goals in mind, parish leadership identified areas that could be reorganized to reduce costs and, more importantly, provide efficient services to parishioners. There are six primary areas impacted by the current changes, 1.) Parish Administration, 2.) Parish Life, 3.) Religious Education, 4.) St. Robert Parish School, 5.) Revenue Enhancements, and 6.) Mass schedule.

Changes in Parish Administration

Parish administration includes accounting and the parish front office.

  • Reduce the previous parish accountant and school accountant positions to one staff position to serve both parish and school.
  • Engage an independent accounting firm to assist with financial review, oversight, and financial reporting.
  • Reduce the front office staffing from one full-time and one part-time position to a 30-hour part-time position. Some of the responsibilities of existing staff will be assigned to appropriate ministry offices.

Parish Life Coordination

Stewardship includes both revenue enhancement and pastoral services.

  • Eliminate the Stewardship Director position. The Treasure Campaign and other parish financial support responsibilities will be assigned to the Stewardship Committee. A new part-time position, Parish Life Coordinator, will be created to assume the pastoral services provided by the former position.

Changes in Religious Education Program

Current Director of Religious Education, Gail DeFrancisco, and a team of staff and parent volunteers are leading the creation of a Holy Family/St. Robert Religious Education Program.

  • Consistent with the archdiocesan Synod 2014 focus on parish clusters, in the upcoming 2015-2016 year, combine Holy Family and St. Robert religious education programs.

Changes at St. Robert School

Current Principal Lauren Beckmann, with the faculty and School Advisory Board, are leading efforts to increase operating efficiencies.

  • Enrollment is being closely monitored to align teaching staff with enrollment.
  • At the current level of enrollment, reduce faculty for next year by two full time equivalents. This staffing is subject to change based on enrollment changes throughout the rest of the recruiting season.
  • Change tuition structure to more closely align tuition with increasing educational costs. The combination of cost reduction and increased tuition will improve the school’s financial contribution.

Revenue Enhancement

For many years St. Robert has received supplemental income by leasing part of the convent to Milestones.

  • Continue the relationship with Milestones for before/after school services.
  • Lease remaining convent space to the Archdiocese to be used as missionary housing for young adults serving archdiocesan Campus Ministry programs. Aside from the enhanced revenue, this relationship will continue to grow the energy and involvement that St. Robert has experienced in its Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Mass Schedule

Several months ago parishioners were asked for input on the Mass schedule. Feedback has been incorporated into the restructuring.

  • Recommend no changes to the Mass schedule at this time.
  • With the leadership of Margaret Rhody, and under the auspices of the archdiocesan Campus Ministry Office, continue the 5:30 pm Sunday evening mass at St. Robert.  For current parishioners this continues a convenient Sunday Mass choice.
  • Offer the 5:30 pm Sunday evening Mass as a College Student Mass worship style that attracts young adults and contributes to further parish growth.

Note: Although the parish has been able to maintain its current Mass schedule, it is important to understand that the schedule will likely change beginning in 2017. One of the primary issues surfaced in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Synod 2014 was a focus on parish clusters. St. Robert is clustered with Holy Family and is well down the path toward meeting the archdiocesan goals set forth in the Synod. Clustering is one response to the trend of a fewer number of priests being ordained versus those retiring from active ministry. Today Holy Family and St. Robert are served by a pastor and associate pastor. In 2017 when associate pastor, Father Peter Patrick Kimani, leaves Holy Family/St. Robert to become a pastor, it is expected that no future associates will be assigned to the cluster.

Contacts for Questions, Comments or More Information Regarding the Restructuring

Father Dennis Dirkx, Pastor,
Tom Dean, Trustee,
Joe O’Neill, Trustee,