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Archdiocese’s draft plan for growing suburbs stresses evangelization

Gretna elementary school to be part of outreach

Forming disciples of Jesus Christ – and as need arises, creating schools, parishes and facilities to meet that need above all else …

That is the focus of a draft plan released by the archdiocese at a meeting April 18 at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Omaha with Archbishop George J. Lucas and about 90 archdiocesan and parish leaders from St. Vincent de Paul and nine other Omaha-area parishes.

A Catholic elementary school in Gretna – which has been discussed for several years – is one part of the outreach. Recommended as a joint effort by St. Charles Borromeo and St. Patrick parishes in Gretna with a site yet to be determined, initial planning for an elementary school could begin this summer.

Other aspects of the overall plan might not take final shape for 20 to 30 years.

For example, the plan calls for the archdiocese to look for property for potential new parishes in three locations: 180th and Military Road, 204th and Center and along state Highway 370 between 114th and 132nd streets.

But after purchasing land, the archdiocese would continue to monitor population and other developments, before establishing when and which parishes might be needed.

With the assistance of Wisconsin-based Meitler consulting firm, parish and school leaders have been discussing and shaping a plan for suburban Omaha since last May.

Some changes already taking place are supported in the plan, including St. Vincent de Paul planning to build a parish activity center and St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha planning to construct a new church.

The plan also suggests expanding St. Stephen the Martyr Church in Omaha and new churches at some point for the following parishes: St. Patrick in Elkhorn, St. Matthew the Evangelist in Bellevue and St. John the Evangelist in Valley.

Parishes also are encouraged to collaborate, including helping to establish any new parishes, perhaps as a sister parish or satellite site.

And to help bring more people to the faith, new facilities should include larger meeting spaces, the latest technology, perhaps even a coffee shop, the plan suggests.

The study also concluded that administrators at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School should plan for possible expansion, but that a new high school is not likely to be needed in the foreseeable future.

The draft plan, which could be finalized in late May after feedback is gathered, includes 73 recommendations, from suggestions for effective ministry and facilities to the importance of collaboration among parishes. Some of the recommendations apply to all parishes, such as developing pastoral plans, while others are specific to each parish involved.

But the ultimate goal is spreading the faith, said Deacon Steve Luna, director of pastoral planning for the archdiocese.

“We know we have engaged parishioners, but we want to widen that net,” he said.

Watch for the May 6 edition of the Catholic Voice for more details. Or download the plan at archomaha.org/parishes/west-omaha-pastoral-planning.

PARISHES IN SUBURBAN STUDY

St. Matthew, Bellevue; St. Patrick, Elkhorn; St. Charles Borromeo and St. Patrick, Gretna; St. Stephen the Martyr, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Wenceslaus, all Omaha; St. Columbkille, Papillion; St. Joseph, Springfield; St. John the Evangelist, Valley.

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