HOLDINGFORD -- For seven years, the Five Parish Faith Community (a Catholic cluster here) has been one big community, with some big needs.
But thanks to a grant from one of the largest Catholic publishing companies in the United States, some of those needs soon will be met.
Five Parish Faith Community recently received a cash award for $10,000 from Oregon Catholic Press as part of the publishing company's annual parish grants program.
The program, designed to help parishes improve their liturgies, awards $125,000 to 60 parishes throughout the country.
"We're very grateful to OCP for the grant," said Father Gerard Mischke, pastor of the community. "It's a wonderful gift."
The money eventually will be divided evenly among the five parishes and will go toward the purchase of a set of chairs for presiders, an electronic keyboard, a new statue of St. Columbkille (one of the five parishes) and new paint for Immaculate Conception Church.
Five Parish Faith Community is set in a rural community, 20 miles outside of St. Cloud, a community of 60,000 known for its granite quarries.
The area is home to farms and several bedroom communities of St. Cloud. Lakes, dairy farms and urban sprawl speckle the land around the churches.
"It's a real mixture of the old school and the new school," said Deacon Jerry Schwarzbauer, pastoral associate at Five Parish Faith Community.
The needs of the parish haven't changed much over the years, but the money from the grant will help with updates to the liturgies, said Mischke.
The parish employs a small staff, including two part-time staff, a janitor, a housekeeper, two pastors, two deacons and a full-time secretary, who all work out of the central parish office.
The community holds eight Masses on a weekend with two priests celebrating all of them. They have arranged the times of the liturgies to allow for their travel among the churches. The parish administers several outreach programs, including a Helping Hands program for the elderly and homebound and a Giving Tree program each year at Christmas.
The parish community has strong German and Polish traditions.
The invitations to apply for the 2003 grants went out to every U.S. Catholic parish last spring, with a June 30, 2002, deadline to return them. More than 1,400 parishes responded. Applications for the 2004 grants will be mailed this month and may be submitted between April 30 and June 30, with recipients announced the following spring, in 2004.
For more information on the OCP parish grants program, visit www.ocp.org/grants, or call 1-800-LITURGY (548-8749).
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